Hi, everyone. Before we get to today's guest, I need to tell you about something. The past few (can you believe it!) months, our brothers, sisters, animals, and land of Australia, has been through so much suffering it's hard to imagine. The following is a bit from fellow Wild Rose Press Author and Australian, Stephen King.
*Recent rains have helped enormously, still there are fires, but not to the same extent as there were, and the focus now is more on recovery and rebuilding. To that end there are advertising campaigns now to stop what’s called the second wave disaster and that is people staying away from tourist areas and business who rely on travelers and visitors to survive. Most of our tourist destinations are unaffected, yet people think the whole country is gone, which of course isn’t true. The problem of course is that if people stop visiting, businesses will go broke, making the overall recovery much harder. With the rains, re-growth has already begun and some burnt out areas have grasses and shrubs recovering already. *
For the full story please visit www.thewildrosepress.com/australia-burns
This 3 volume set is available for purchase with proceeds going to Australian Wildfire relief through the Red Cross.
Today's Campfire Blog is a bit different. Fellow Wild Rose Press Author, Julie Howard is going to share with us about writing Short Stories. I hope to learn somethings because recently I've dipped my toe into the short story world. So without further ado, lets get comfortable. Engage your imagination. Smell the campfire. See the fellow campers in the distance. The sun peaking through the trees? Listen, children's laughter mingles with the Hootey-Hoo of a nearby owl. Are you relaxed now? Good.
Hi Julie. What a beautiful dog! Hali, my girl says, "WOOF." (Translation what's your name and can I sniff your butt). Quiet, Hali, Julie say his name is Patch, and Patch says keep your nose to yourself. Thank you both for visiting us. What’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Definitely coffee. I’m an early morning person and I love watching the sun rise with my first or second cup of dark roast. I frequently write at cafes, and nurse another cup there while working.
Coffee it is. I can't survive without my cuppa joe. Tell us have you ever camped?
I grew up tent camping and loved being out in the forest. I wanted my kids to have the same experience so we camped as often as possible when they were little. When they wanted more space, we got a camper (nice soft bed for us) and the kids each had their own tent outside. Let’s see, we’ve camped in California, Nevada, Idaho and parts of Mexico and Canada.
Good for you. I'm all about the amenities provide by my 5th Wheel. We get the experience with the comfort. One day I hope to make it out West. Now, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
Wild Crime, released in December, is the third and last book in a full-length mystery series. It follows the story of my flawed heroine, Meredith Lowe, as she seeks the answer to long-buried family secrets. She discovers an old letter with the words “I’m a murderer”, and she works to peel apart a mystery that may threaten those she loves most.
Hang on, I have to add it to my To-Be-Read list. Okay, I'm back. Do you have a tagline?
How far will she go to discover the truth?
How long did it take you from conception to publication?
Wild Crime is the last in a three-book series, so I suppose the concept started with the first book, which I wrote in 2016. However, I typically spend a week or two outlining a new project and a full-length novel will take about a year and a half or more until it becomes a product on Amazon and other sites. This varies widely from book to book; I have one book I’ve been writing for close to ten years!
It never ceases to amaze me, how some stories almost write themselves, while others need to be coaxed into existence. Perseverance. I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
I’m like you, with several more projects underway. My next book, a novella set in Australia’s Outback, is called House of Seven Spirits and comes out next month! I have a short “beach read” mystery that will come out this summer and then am mid-way through another full-length mystery. I have so many books yet to write!
You're a busy lady. And as you can see from my opening blurb, Australia is near and dear to my heart. Can you tell our other guests what literary success look like to you?
I’m not sure, really. My goals change all the time. Initially, I just wanted to get one book published and now I have several. Now, I just want to keep living this life, where I get to spend my time writing and developing new stories.
Goals need to be flexible. Life takes us in many different directions. We definitely need to adapt and change. Here we go. Personal insight questions.
1. Favorite childhood book? “Black Beauty.”
2. If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be? Sushi. Love it!
3. If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why? I’d go to the future, on a different planet, when mankind has made it livable and comfortable. I’d love to see, for a while at least, what a different world could look like and how man could adjust to another place. I can’t imagine the technologies that would exist a hundred or two hundred years from now!
4. Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants? Oh, definitely, the first-class travel.
5. Most campers play board games. What games do you like? I love them all! Recently, we played Exploding Kittens and Code Words. Both are addicting. I really enjoy Trivial Pursuit, although I hardly ever win. For a writer, though, there’s nothing more fun than Scrabble.
6. Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and talked with? In my former life as a newspaper reporter, I’ve interviewed CEOs and celebrities. But I find my kids and my new grandson the most interesting people to talk with. I’m always fascinated by what they are up to and how millennials think. Many baby boomers despair of the next generation, but I’m always hopeful after I spend time with my kids. I think the world is going to be left in very good hands after the baby boomers all retire.
Now, one of the things I asked when looking for interesting people such as yourself to be on my blog, are those with specific ideas and skills to help other writers. You graciously offered to talk about writing Short stories. Thank you for spending the time to put this next section together for us.
And fellow guests, don't forget to continue on to Julie's book blurb and information. Add it to your to-be-read list. And thanks for popping by. Make sure you tell us all about your favorite short story in the comments. Mine? Mrs. Todd's shortcut by Stephen King.
My lifelong dream was to write fiction. I have so many stories in my head and not enough time to write them all down. But I’m trying, day by day. With four published novels behind me, dozens of short stories, and another book set to be published this spring, I truly am living my dream.
My biggest surprise along the way has been the joy in writing short stories and novellas. Just last week, my short story “Three Ghosts” was included in the Australia Burns anthology my publisher published, with all proceeds going to help relief efforts from the devastating fires in that country. Nearly fifty authors are participating in a series of anthologies produced by The Wild Rose Press this month, with proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross. There’s so much intrinsic satisfaction to know my story will go to this good cause.
But I’m a novelist, right? Why spend my time with a short story? I’m not the only novelist who loves the very different craft involved in developing a smaller piece. Amazon has an entire series they call “short reads,” written by best-selling authors such as Dean Koontz and Alice Hoffman. Steven King wrote a number of short stories early in his career under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (I love them!) and continues to write them today. Readers love something they can consume in a few hours, and they’re great for a plane ride or an afternoon at the beach.
There’s nothing “dumbed down” about shorter novels. John Steinbeck wrote the classic “Grapes of Wrath”, but most of his books including “Of Mice and Men” and “The Pearl” can be considered novellas. Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” are also stories with big ideas in small packages. Hemingway, Henry James, Melville, James Joyce – I could go on and on with examples of great writers who wrote short as well as full-length novels.
On the writing side, there’s an art to writing short. The plot needs to be streamlined, with one subplot at most, and there’s no time to chase any red herrings. The plot can shine more brightly in a short story since there aren’t subplots that distract the reader. For some stories, this makes more sense. If a writer is ‘padding’ a story with too many descriptions, the reader may not be entertained – they may get bored and stop reading!
I’ve written stories as short as three pages and my novellas are about 125 pages. In fact, I have a series made up of novellas, called the Spirited Quest mysteries. The next in this paranormal mystery series, House of Seven Spirits, will be released next month.
Since I write mysteries, a shorter piece creates a quicker pace, fun both for the reader and author. My novellas race forward and are very plot driven. I think there’s a satisfaction to getting to the end of a mystery quicker.
I also love full-length mysteries and their drawn-out suspense, the ability to create a fictional world for the reader. Sometimes, too, I fall in love with my characters and just can’t let them go away too soon. This is the case with my first series. The third and last book in this mystery series, Wild Crime, was released in December, and it was hard to say goodbye to my flawed yet determined main character, Meredith Lowe! She got under my skin.
I have several more books, both short and long, in various stages of development. My Spirited Quest novellas will continue, and I have another small stand-alone story coming this summer. A full-length mystery series will begin next year, fingers crossed. For the near future, I’ll continue to write both short and long.
Do I have a preference? My only hope is that, to paraphrase someone (I can’t recall who!), I only write as many words as is required to tell a good story. If I can do that, I’ve done my job.
How far will she go to discover the truth?
"I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer."
Those three repeated words discovered in an old letter propel Meredith Lowe in a cross-country pursuit to unveil her mother's murky past. Danger stalks Meredith back to Hay City, Idaho as she peels apart the mystery: who is her father, and did her mother kill him? In finding the answer, will a growing love slip through her fingers?
Past merges with the present as the story races to its stunning conclusion.
Her hair fell below her waist, ripped free of its ties and weighed down by the warm, lashing rain. The sky-blue dress, so carefully chosen for this night and tried on so many times in her bedroom, was ruined. One strap had torn from her shoulder and dangled down her back. Mud splattered the hem. Sweet Cantaloupe lipstick, a lovely coral that heightened the green in her eyes, was smeared like a bruise on one cheek. She ran.
The high school gym behind her, decorated in crepe paper and curtains, vibrated with electric guitars and teen-aged hormones. Couples gyrated on the dance floor and then disappeared into dark corners. It was late and the Spring Dance was in full throttle. No one would miss her for hours.
Before her, trees dripped moss, barely visible in the darkness. She envisioned the moss brushing her shoulders, low branches snagging in her hair, the possibility of snakes both at her feet and above; this made her hesitate. It would take one scream, one gasp, and he would find her.
About the author:
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.
Buy links for Wild Crime:
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wild-crime-julie-howard/1134112545?ean=9781509228638
Thank you all for stopping by and don't forget next Saturday when Krystal Dawn Harris will be my guest.
Today's quote is taken from a letter from Author Stephen King the Wild Rose Press...
Firstly – and I know I’ve said it before – my heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for participating in whatever way you have. Forty eight stories simply is mind-blowing, and the offers for promotion, trailers, editing, cover design, formatting and of course redirecting the money has been so uplifting I can’t even begin to tell you – and for someone who uses words all the time – that’s saying something. Secondly, if ever you’ve thought about visiting this country, now’s the time. And as Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) once said in some fantastic famous ads in the US and across the world. “Come on down; I’ll throw a shrimp on the barby for you. – Author Stephen King