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I like short stories.

I read them because they’re fun. I especially like the stories that hit me like an episode of the Twilight Zone, leaving a bit of strange in my brain or feelings in my heart. Ones that change me. Novels can do that too, but with shorts it’s more of a … BAM!

I started writing shorts to acquire publishing credits. Ten years ago, when I began typing words, e-books were not everywhere, you could submit to bigger publishers, and having publishing credits in your query was good and that letter to the editor I wrote just wouldn’t cut it. Overall, the idea of needing to be published to get published seemed a little crazy to me and I feared my head would explode, still do, but I pushed on. I wrote a couple of short stories and sent them to Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition. And I received an honorable mention (meaning I finished somewhere between 11 and 100). Yea for me! Holy moly! Maybe I can do this writer thing.

But writing shorts taught me something I hadn’t expected. The contest had word limits. I had to pick and choose what words were really necessary for the story. I learned to cut, delete, say good-bye to the needless ramblings I love so much. That doesn’t mean I don’t write too many words all the time, it just means that I know I do it and will at some point recognize it and throw them away.

I kept at this short story thing and entered more. Some didn’t do anything, but I won another honorable mention. Not quite as thrilling as the first, but good for me. I took one of the stories that hadn’t placed, rewrote it, and sent it to a magazine. And it was accepted. Possibly you heard me scream in joy. Although the honorable mentions were fun, I had a desire to see my name listed in the magazine in the top ten list. I entered one final time and my story placed ninth. Mission complete.

Last fall I entered the ProjectReutsway competition and had SO MUCH FUN! Deadlines and frantic writing and rewriting made me all warm and fuzzy. All the friends I discovered being the icing on the cake. Two of my four stories won their place in the upcoming anthology from Reuts publishers. One will be featured on their ProjectReutsway runner-up tour on their blog (found each Thursday). The final story, I rewrote, with a little help from a fabulous CP, and sent to a magazine. Now I wait.

But because I have this blog, which can’t reject me, I have been dying to share what I write (good or bad), I added a page, a sample of what I do. My YA fantasy/humor The Day after I Died, Part 1 is a new addition to the menu. Check it out. Tell me what you think. Good or bad, I love all comments. Hopefully it leaves a bit of weird in your head and laughter in your heart.

Short stories carry their own magic. For writers we have less words to create a world or characters, to hold a reader’s attention and give that reader something entertaining. I learned a lot writing shorts and have become attached to reading them. I love Stephen King’s shorts and get my fix of twisted fairy tales each Thursday at Reuts publishers blog.

Anyone else out there like short stories? Writing them? Reading them? Or both?