There are two things writers must do a lot of:
Simple, right? I write some on a daily basis, I am also regularly reading fiction, but I have long known I’ve been deficient in my short story reading. I read short stories from lots of sources, but not enough. So for 2018 I have challenged myself to read 365 short stories, preferably from markets I submit stories to.
This will be entertaining and good for my short story writing. I’ll get a better feel for markets and what they like and I’ll be infused with ideas from other writers. Some of my best stories have been a reaction to other stories, kind of like, “That was a fun idea, but I wished they’d done _______,” and then I go and fill in that blank and write that story. Other times it’s just ideas that dive down into my subconscious and come bubbling up later.
As I learned last year with the Short Story Writing Marathon, public accountability can be very helpful. So every month, I’ll be here telling you about the stories from the previous month that I LOVED.
Why loved? Why not review all of them? Well, first off stories are very subjective. The stories I’m reading are all stories that some editor paid for, so they must have loved them. Second off, I’m not a professional critic, nor do I want to be. I’m just going to share stories I love with you and maybe you’ll love them too (and if you’re fond of my writing that just might work out okay).
Some of these stories you’ll be able to click through and read for free, some will be only available for purchase. I encourage you to try some of the pay-only magazines and anthologies I will talk about here. This is a great time for sci-fi and fantasy short stories. I’ll babble on about the importance of short stories in a further installation of this, but for now, let’s get to it.
Stories read in January: 41
Words read in January: about 83,000
OMG I So Love These Stories!
These are what I consider “must read” stories. Read them now or I will hunt you down!
A Rabbit Egg for Flora
Caroline M. Yoachim
Fireside Fiction, free, approx 1,600 words
Charming and inventive near sci-fi with a strong ecological message. Caroline has lots of professional credits and it shows.
Fireside Fiction, free, approx 4,000 words
Dark, fierce, terse, and packs a hell of punch. I need to go track down more of Millie’s stories. This one’s free, so seriously, go read this one right now!
Black Fanged Thing
Shimmer Magazine, free, approx 5,000 words
A dark, foreboding wow that brings Stephen King to mind. I don’t even know how to describe this story.
Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, Issue Zero, $4.99 for the anthology, approx 3,000 words
Ok, so this story is about cowboys that herd Idaho potatoes. Yes, you read that right, but Kent is such a great writer that this story is a glorious hoot. I’ll be reading this one again as a writer, just so I can try to learn how he pulled it off.
The Library of Orphaned Hearts
Pulphouse Fiction Magazine, Issue Zero, $4.99 for the anthology, approx 4,000 words
A magical story about hearts and how they heal. Annie’s writing is magic, seriously. She is another writer I will be actively seeking out as a reader and studying as a writer.
Other Stories I Love
I love these stories too, I just won’t hunt you down if you don’t read them immediately, so take your time, but do check them out.
Rab the Giant versus the Witch of the Waterfall
Brian M. Milton
Fireside Fiction, free, approx 4,000 words
A charming story about a Giant and a Witch in modern day Glasgow. It reminds me of some of Terry Pratchett’s work, and believe me, that is a compliment.
Last Man Out
Dean Wesley Smith
Smith’s Monthly #39, $6.99 with other shorts and a novel, approx 3,500 words
This one is about golf and sex with a healthy dash of depth. It’s a great read. Originally written for the late, great Roger Zelazny for Wheel of Fortune, in 1995. Most definitely a story only for adults. Full disclosure, Dean is one of my writing mentors.
Every Day Fiction, free, approx 1,000 words
Touching and very short. It’s hard to write flash fiction (1,000 words or less), but this one manages it quite nicely and sweetly.
The Weak Force
Adam R. Shannon
Every Day Fiction, free, approx 400 words
This story is etheric, haunting, and dark, very hard to pin down. Not the kind of story that I can write and not the kind I normally love, but there is something here. Check it out.
P.S. There will be no hunting down, not my style (and who has the time?). Just making a point. There is great short fiction out there, so many opportunities to read, so GO READ!