This unique collection of 16 short stories written by prize-winner Tom Mach includes stories such as "Real Characters," which is about a writer who gets his wish--that his characters come alive.... "Breakfast, Over Easy" makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation.... "When Kansas Women Were Not Free" takes you to a time when women were less free than former males slaves.... "Son" make you think differently about compassion. One novelist describes STORIES TO ENJOY as "memorable and intriguing, with O. Henry twists that are sure to surprise and entertain."
Guest Post by Tom Mach
My Thoughts on the Short Story Format & Increase in
Short Stories/Novellas/Flash Fiction eBooks
Short Stories/Novellas/Flash Fiction eBooks
I’ve witnessed this phenomenal interest in eBook short fiction myself, having sold over 1,300 copies of A Belt Buckle for Camilla with little effort on my part. I’m also seeing a rise in readership of my collection of stories, Stories to Enjoy, as well. I’ve asked myself the same questions others are asking: What is going on? Why are eBook short stories selling better than my eBook novels?
I think a couple of things are happening to explain it. On the one hand, the reading public is trending toward reading shorter works of fiction. I think that’s because of our faced-paced life style. People are more accustomed to writing emails because they’re faster than handwriting letters. The same thing happens with 140-character tweets on Twitter because it takes just seconds to jot something down and send it. We want to eat faster (look at the boom in fast-food restaurants) or we want quick-to-prepare foods if we eat at home. We want drive-through car washes, ATM machines and internet banking rather than stopping at brick-and-mortar banks, and we want cell phones so we can drive and talk.
On the other hand, more and more writers are leaning toward writing shorter pieces, be they short stories, novellas, or flash fiction books. These are viewed as being easier and less time-consuming than full-length novels. I should probably digress here and explain the differences of these three types of story-telling. A short story typically contains about 2,000 words or more and is like a photograph that captures an important moment in time. Some change takes place or is about to and this change is either subtle or obvious. It covers a short expanse of time in the life of a character. Flash fiction is a much shorter story, under 1,000 words. It is face-paced with minimal description of character or scene. A novella is a much longer story, in the range of 20,000 to 50,000 words and may involve several scenes while focusing on one major theme.
Since I have written both short stories and novels, I can say this: both kinds of fiction require good writing but a novel is a far deeper commitment by the author. I think this is why many writers shy away from doing a novel. When I wrote my first novel Sissy!, a historical novel set in 1862 Kansas, I found it took two years of my life—and it involved a considerable amount of research of that time period—including not only the events, but what towns looked like, how people dressed, what they ate, and how they spoke. I had to double-check and triple-check my facts. And I not only had to write the full novel, I had to rewrite major sections of it as many as ten times over.
While each short story in my book, Stories to Enjoy, did not take as much commitment from me as any on my novels, I did have to spend time thinking through the situation involved and the characters described in each of my short stories. For example, in “Frozen History,” I have two characters, Dante Lamprey and his wife Helen. They have just received news that America’s East Coast will be struck by nuclear missiles from Iran. Dante inherited a special ring from father, who had claimed it possessed magical powers. While I knew that I wanted it to be possible for Dante to “freeze” the world and stop the missiles, I had to spend considerable time weaving a credible plot and two distinct personalities (Dante and Helen) that would put them in conflict with each other. My point is that even though it is a short story, considerable thought has to be put into it and much rewriting has to be done to polish it to make it a great story rather than just a good story.
Like many others, I don’t know when the eBook explosion will stop, nor do I know why the vast majority of eBook readers prefer fiction over nonfiction and short stories over novels. I just know that some authors are tempted to believe that easy money lies in writing eBooks. Not true. Only good writing that pleases readers can ultimately grow a writer’s reputation in the long run.
Excerpt from Stories to Enjoy:
Detective Pulaski agonized over the challenge. This one was tougher to solve than the other three. When she finished the upper portion of the puzzle, adrenaline again pumped through her body. She felt a pain in her chest as if she were about to have a heart attack. Aggie blinked twice as she stared at the answers to today’s puzzle:
“Agatha Pulaski,” she said aloud, her voice quivering. “Policewoman, Sib, Twelve.”
That’s crazy. My own brother wouldn’t rape and kill me, would he?
About the author: Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011. Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.
His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: www.TomMach.com He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at http://tommach.tumblr.com