With August being my birthday month, I often take stock of how the year is going in all kinds of ways. Since this website focuses on my fiction, that’s where my thoughts turned today.
I didn’t especially plan it as 2021 came into focus through the chaos and confusion toward the end of the decade of 2020, but this has turned into The Year of Short Stories and Collections. And I’m having all kinds of fun with the writing and the publishing!
The whole thing started with an informal challenge from one of our writing mentors, suggesting writers should aim to publish a short story a week for a year to really boost discoverability and built up our published inventory. Check out the original blog if you still wonder why I jumped into this particular madness!
The truth was I had a bunch of short stories that were ready to publish, but I hadn’t been consistent in getting those out either as stand-alones or as part of collections. The idea of sending one out into the world each week seemed like a great way to form better habits and to build up my catalog.
And yeah, I’ll admit I’m entirely motivated by both a streak and a challenge. So this was right up my alley as a focus for the year.
Then my sweetie Jason A. Adams and I got a chance to sign up for a series of collection workshops in December. The idea is to write five new short stories in five weeks, then get those published by the end of the nine week workshop.
Oh yes, you’re right! My creative and competitive eyes lit right up over that!
All kinds of wonderful new writing, a bunch of great learning, AND a steady supply of stories to keep my publishing challenge moving forward? Of course we signed up immediately.
So here we are nearly into September, and I’m delighted to report both the collection workshops and the publishing challenge are going quite well!
Last week I published The Strange Critter at the Old Johnston Place, for short story number thirty-two out of fifty-two for the year. I have more lined up to get me into at least mid-December, so I’m cautiously optimistic about hitting that challenge. But whether I do or not, I’ve learned a ton about cover design, writing sales copy, and my own publishing process, so it’s been well worth the time and more.
That story was also number three out of five in my collection Investigations Beyond Belief: The Initial Adventures of Deb Powers: Otherworldly PI. For that one, I set out to create a brand new character set in my fictional Appalachian town of Estonoa.
Deciding which sort of paranormal case Deb would have to investigate turned out to be the best part. I’ll definitely be revisiting that series!
My other collections as part of the workshop so far are the portal fantasy collection Stepping Out of Reality: Short Spells of Appalachian Magic, and Facing Down Extraordinary: A Series of Ordinary Heroes, with side characters from my ongoing series featured as heroes and heroines in their own tales.
On deck for next month is Fantastic Side Trips: Side Characters Take Center Stage. That one has been the easiest and most enjoyable to write so far. I decided to focus on expanding my new epic fantasy series Misfortune and Magic by writing stories set in different times and locations, and had a great time as a tourist inside my own imaginary world. Stay tuned for the first two novels in the series, A Knight Sets Out and Demon in the Sky!
Keeping up with the year of the collection aspect of 2021, I’ve also published on my own, and with Jason. So far I’ve collected the first five Dana Sanderson short stories into Hacking Cybercrime, brought together Shadows Mountain Deep: Six Appalachian Crime Tales with Jason, and published my first contemporary fiction collection with Passages in the Real World: Stories of Life’s Transitions.
In other words, you’re sure to find a collection that suits your tastes for your end-of-summer short story reading!
Be sure to check back in October for A Kaleidoscope of Cat Tales: Five Stories of Cats and People Who Love Them. And look for at least one more short story roundup before the calendar turns over to 2022.
Happy end of August, and happy short fiction reading!