I had never thought of myself as a short story writer. But if it hadn’t been for short stories, I never would have “broken in” to this business. I’d always wanted to write longer projects, and in fact, had written a huge saga-type western novel that I still have hopes of someday revamping (and it will take a LOT of revamping) and getting out there. That was the true book of my heart that set me on this path. But I had a lot to learn about writing.
After sending the query and first three chapters out to several agents, I did land one. But after a year of nothing happening, I couldn’t see anything changing. I was getting very depressed, to say the least.
A friend of mine found a call for submissions from Adams Media for their Rocking Chair Reader series. This series was somewhat akin to the Chicken Soup For the Soul books, and my friend and I had already missed the deadline for the first of the series! But there was another anthology coming out as a follow up to the first one. The second one was called, ROCKING CHAIR READER—MEMORIES FROM THE ATTIC. These stories were true stories about something the writer had found years later that brought back memories of something that happened in childhood. I had the perfect tale! I wrote it and submitted it, and thankfully, the editor liked it, as well. That led to several more publications with Adams Media through these anthologies, and then a few stories with Chicken Soup.
But these stories were all based in truth, and I wanted to write fiction. Western romance fiction. It was shortly after that when I sold my first book, FIRE EYES, to The Wild Rose Press, and then branched out into contemporary romantic suspense with SWEET DANGER. While writing these novels, I had been approached by a couple of publishing companies asking for fictional short stories. But did I really want to go back to short stories? The answer was YES.
Writing those short stories in the beginning helped me realize that while I was adding to my portfolio of credits, I was also proving to myself that I could write compactly, in short story form. Writing a short story is a totally different breed of cat than writing a novel. Making each word or scene count and not seeming to rush the story while doing it is something I will forever be working on, just to improve the telling of the story even more.
Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. This is what he wrote: “Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.” If that doesn’t tell a story, I don’t know what does.
I’ve written many Christmas-themed short stories–most of them with a western historical holiday setting. A Night for Miracles, Homecoming, Meant to Be, and The Gunfighter’s Girl are all included in my single author collection, A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS.
One of my favorite Christmas short stories is Outlaw’s Kiss–because I love stories that give the hero his redemption!
I have two other single author anthologies of short stories. WINTER MAGIC is a set of three stories about three brothers and how they meet the woman of their dreams–under less than ideal circumstances!
And DARK TRAIL RISING is a collection of western short stories, containing my Western Fictioneer Peacemaker nominated stories HIDDEN TRAILS and THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT, as well as two other stories, SHOT FOR A DOG and THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS.
All of these stories are available at my Amazon page:
Here’s a bit about some of these stories.
A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission for a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier’s final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he’s suffered because of the War, including his fiance, Sarah. Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?
THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL:
Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.
When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing.
Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the scarlet ribbons set Miguel on a new path?
THESE ROUGH DREAMS:
When Southern socialite Gabrielle Mason discovers she’s pregnant, she takes her future into her own hands. She has her family name to consider, and a husband is what she needs. She answers an ad for a mail-order bride in Indian Territory. But the man who proposes isn’t the man she ends up marrying.
Johnny Rainbolt is not a family man by any stretch of the imagination…but Fate is about to give him no choice. His late sister’s three children will be arriving on the next stage, and he has no idea what to do with them. When cultured Gabby Mason is left waiting for her prospective groom at the stage station, Johnny sees a way to solve everyone’s problems.
Some dreams get off to a rough start. A mail-order marriage is only the beginning. When one of the children is stolen, Johnny and Gabby are forced to depend on one another in an unimaginable circumstance that could turn tragic… or show them what might become of THESE ROUGH DREAMS. ** SENSUAL
Talia Delano has been humiliated before the entire town of Rock Creek by Jake Morgan. A known gunman, Jake has bid an outrageous sum for Talia’s “boxed supper”, a kiss, and the gift of her time for the rest of the Independence Day celebration. But, as always, Jake changes the rules and takes more than he should—especially with the whole town watching. Talia’s chance of happiness is dashed, along with her reputation, when Jake leaves Rock Creek suddenly.
When he shows up five months later at her farmhouse, wounded, and in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, she can’t turn him away—even though she knows being alone with him will cause tongues to wag once more. But with Christmas only two days away, how can she harden her heart against the handsome outlaw who has no place else to go—even if he is being trailed by someone just as dangerous? Magic and danger are woven together in the OUTLAW’S KISS.
The Diamond brothers are cast out into the world by a crooked business deal at a young age. They’ve lost everything—including their father. Although they are forced to make their own way, brotherly bonds remain unbreakable: It’s all for one and one for all.
HEARTS AND DIAMONDS—Revenge sets hired gun Nick Diamond after a bride, and nothing will stand in his way. But when that bride happens to be outspoken firebrand Liberty Blankenship, all bets are off. Anything can happen when HEARTS AND DIAMONDS collide!
SPELLBOUND—Safecracker Brett Diamond and witch Angie Colton take on a border gang leader who is pure evil. Can Angie’s supernatural powers save them? No matter what, Brett and Angie are hopelessly SPELLBOUND.
LUCK OF THE DRAW—Handsome gambler Jake Diamond and beautiful fledgling sorceress Lainie Barrett make a last-ditch effort to reunite Lainie and her mother for Christmas. Along the way, Jake and Lainie realize there’s no escape from the powerful attraction they feel toward one another. But do they know each other well enough to become a family when they rescue an abandoned infant? With their own particular talents, they discover life is one big poker table—and love can be had if they are willing to risk it all!
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE DRAWING OF A DIGITAL COPY OF OUTLAW’S KISS OR THESE ROUGH DREAMS! I WILL PICK TWO WINNERS AFTER 8:00 P.M. THIS EVENING.