Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

10 Writing Prompts to Get Your Day Going

If you troll about the Internet, you’ll see that a lot of writing advice out there, if you want to make a career out of writing, says to be as productive as possible. More stuff written = more practice and hopefully better stories = more material to send out to readers = loyal fans = success, or something along those general lines.

Since I have small mobile ones, I’m not terribly productive, so I can’t speak to the truth of this sentiment, but I do spend a lot of time gathering writing prompts for more stories than I’ll ever be able to write, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Also, you might look into some short story challenges if you’re interested in getting some practice in. The 12 short story writing challenge has a goal of writing one short story every month for a year. That’s doable even for someone like me. If you have more time or inclination, you might try the Ray Bradbury challenge, where you try to write one short story a week (and also do lots of reading).

Anyway, on to the prompts!

Sweet Home Chicago by TheEnderling

Nokken by Kim Myatt

Creepy gif from Pinterest

Fantasy Bg 77 by Moonglowlilly

Tumblr post by mspaintadverturing

Ball Thingy by Charly Chive

Man, it is surprisingly hard to find the original artists for Pinterest pins. Just a reminder to always credit the artist!

Happy writing, squiders!


In Other News

Hey, squiders, I appreciate you guys coming along with me while I work on my nonfiction books here on the blog. It’s been really beneficial for me, and I hope it’s been beneficial for you as well! I’m pondering when the best time to work on finishing them up and publishing them will be–maybe October/November, in time for Nano? Or maybe for January, when it’s a new year and people will be committing or recommitting to their writing goals.

Anyway, not important right now.

We’ve done a lot of nonfiction lately (interspersed with some conference flailing), so I thought you guys might appreciate an update on the other things I’ve been working on.

Admittedly, I haven’t been terribly productive. We received a medical diagnosis in May that’s kind of thrown everything off balance (don’t worry, no one’s dying), so some weeks I’m not getting much, if anything, done beyond posting here. So thank you guys for being here, for giving me an excuse to write on a regular basis. It does help to know that I’m at least getting a little bit done.

(Oh! As an aside, both Hidden Worlds and Shards are FREE at Smashwords till the end of the month. Which I realize is, like, three days from now and I probably should have mentioned something sooner.)

I also just opened my yearly To Do list for the first time a few months, and of course I’m behind schedule on most things. Sigh. Oh well. We keep trucking along.

ANYWAY. Here’s where everything else stands:

  • I finalized my submission documents and made a list of agents for my YA paranormal that I finished editing last year. I admit I’m going veeeerrrryyy slowly on the querying, but it is happening. I’m still kind of in a trial and error sort of mode on it (“Is the query letter working?” “Are my pages working?”). I have gotten a partial request, so it’s not going terribly. I also got a rejection within 12 hours on one. So, you know, a range of responses.
  • I am still working on the rewrite of the first book of this high fantasy trilogy. (My husband is currently reading Book 3 and keeps commenting on how good it is, like he’s offended by the quality after reading the first two books, har.) It is still moving slowly, but it IS moving again, hoorah. It’s at just under 60K words right now and I just finished the midpoint, which probably means the book will be longer than my estimated 100K. Every time I rewrite this book it gets longer.
  • I was using the very excellent Fighter’s Block to write because I’d gotten really stuck–not plotwise, not motivation-wise, but I think just being so overwhelmed (see above medical note) that my brain simply could not focus. When I was writing, I was managing 100, maybe 200 words a day. Fighter’s Block helped me get going again over the course of about two weeks. Now that I’m going again, I’m getting in a couple 1000 word+ days a week, plus a few couple hundred word days.
  • LiveJournal going full Russian has kind of put a damper on my serial story. I have been writing it in a prompt community there for years, but I transferred everything over to DreamWidth. The community also “transferred” but in reality it’s stayed put with most people just ghosting. It’s been pretty dead. I didn’t write anything on it for a few months because I wasn’t sure what I was doing. But in the end, I’m almost to the end of the draft, and I’d to get it done, even if I don’t know if I’ll ever revise the story or do anything with it in the end. (The beginning, written seven years ago, is especially terrible.) So I wrote a 500-word section earlier in the month, posted it on DreamWidth, and then linked to it in the LJ community, which seems to be an okay alternative.
  • I have a short story coming out on Turtleduck Press on Aug 1 (entitled “Unwritten”) though I still need to do the final edits on it.
  • Aside from that and the short story in Spirit’s Tincture a month or so ago, I haven’t sold any more shorts, but I did get a revise and resubmit, which is interesting because I didn’t know places did that for shorts. I revised once, realized I made the story way worse, and revised a second time, but it still needs some tweaking and see above re: getting things done. I shall get it done. But it certainly isn’t getting done fast.
  • I have a couple of stories that have been out for over a year. I queried one months ago with no response, so I should probably pull that story from that market and put it back into rotation. The other one I queried in January, got a response (they’d switched emails for submissions and said they’d look to see if the story got overlooked) but never any sort of rejection/acceptance. I queried again a few months ago to crickets. So I should probably pull that one too. Nnnnnrgh.

That’s really about it, aside from some poking at Fractured World stuff and the usual mid-book God-I-wish-I-were-writing-a-new-book thoughts.

How are you guys doing? Anything new and interesting going on?

Cover Reveal: The Short of It

Today, Squiders, I am pleased to reveal the cover for my short story collection The Short of It: Speculative Short Stories which will be released on February 8th.

Short of It cover

(Let me tell you how many times I have typoed that as “Shirt of It.” It is a lot.)

The collection includes four previously published short stories from 2011-2013, as well as one new one. As I previously mentioned, I’m going to release the collection on Kindle exclusively, at least at the beginning, to see if there’s any merit to that particular brand of madness. The collection will be $0.99.

Stories included:

  • Time Management, science fiction, 2011
  • Doomsday, science fiction, 2012
  • The Knight in the Lobby, fantasy, 2017
  • The Door in the Attic, horror, 2012
  • To the Waters and the Wild, magical realism, 2013*

(*To the Waters and the Wild is also included in The Best of Turtleduck Press, Vol. I.)

So, tada! I’ll let you guys know next Wednesday when it goes live.

Thursday we’ll go back to the nonfic posts and jump on the madness that is self-publishing novels.

Amazon Singles (Hybrid Publishing for Short Stories)

I want to take a moment to discuss Amazon Singles while we’re talking about self-publishing short stories.

Amazon Singles is a program you can submit your previously self-published or unpublished short stories and novellas (between 5000 and 30000 words). They also accept proposals.

They promise a turnaround time of six weeks. Stories need to be previously unpublished anywhere except Amazon to be accepted. If previously unpublished, accepted stories are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform and authors receive normal KDP royalties.

There seems to be no additional monetary compensation to the program, but stories selected for Amazon Singles are then listed on the Amazon Singles page, which could potentially boost a story’s visibility and improve sales.

NOTE: At this time, Amazon Singles does not accept how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, children’s books, or short story collections.

I was going to put this program into the options for self-publishing short stories, but there is some level of gatekeeping to the program as Amazon has to accept the stories for inclusion. But they don’t actually do anything a “traditional” publisher would do in this sense–the author still uploads the manuscript, provides a cover, sets the price–so they’re just putting the book on a page.

What do you think, Squiders? I’d put this as an example of hybrid publishing myself.

(Also, if anyone has any experience with Amazon Singles and would like to share, please do so! I haven’t published anything in the accepted word count range so I have no first hand experience myself.)

Self-Publishing Short Stories (Part 2)

Continuing from yesterday’s post. Just a reminder that there’s not really a submission process for self-publishing, since you make the decision on what you want to publish yourself, so this section mainly focuses on possible publication locations and how they work.

Online Retailers

Most retailers that sell ebooks allow you to upload a short story directly, or you can use a distribution service to upload your story once and have it sent to a variety of different markets. Retailers in this category include:

  • Amazon (KDP)
  • Barnes and Noble (Nook Press)
  • Kobo
  • iTunes
  • Google Play

The largest ebook distributor is Smashwords, though there are others, such as Draft2Digital. Distributors take a single file (often a Word document), convert it into a variety of formats (mobi, epub, PDF, etc.), and then list your book at many of the retailers noted above, as well as other, smaller ones. Smashwords also has some partnerships with various library systems, meaning that libraries can put your book into their system for their patrons to check out.

NOTE: Amazon does not currently allow ebook distributors to list ebooks on their site. If you want your ebook to be available on Kindle, you will need to deal directly with Amazon.

Some retailers may have a minimum word count that you need to meet before you can publish your short story as an ebook. Amazon, for example, recommends that an ebook have at least 2,500 words.

NOTE: If you are doing children’s books, such as picture books, there may be different criteria. Amazon offers a KDP kids program to help create picture and chapter books that will be properly formatted for reading on the Kindle.

When you self-publish through an online retailer, you can set the price of your short story. Most retailers allow you to set the price for free; Amazon requires a $0.99 minimum, but if you have the ebook for free on other retailers, you can get Amazon to match the price.

Pricing is a subject of much debate, but be aware that readers will expect to get their money’s worth out of an ebook. Pricing a 5,000 word story at $4.99 may earn you some bad reviews.

While you can also create POD versions of short stories and sell paperback copies through online retailers, it may be cost prohibitive if your story isn’t closer to novella-length. Many POD services charge a base price based on the size of the book and the number of pages. CreateSpace is one of the most popular POD services as it is associated with Amazon and easy to get your book listed on the mega-retailer.

Short Story Collections

Like individual short stories, you can also self-publish short story collections through online retailers and ebook distributors. The process is much the same. Collections typically have at least three stories, but could have up to a couple dozen, depending on the length of the stories and what your goal with the collection is.

The appeal of doing a collection over an individual short story is that some readers may feel like they’re getting a better value for their money, since they’re getting more than one story for their effort.

Additionally, since collections tend to be longer, they’re a better value if you decide to also sell the collection as a paperback.

(Hey, Squiders, how important do you feel it is to go into an in-depth discussion of POD services? The main point of this book is to explain the submission/publication options and generally how they work, rather than explain all the details, so writers can decide on the best course of action for them and their works, and get started on putting those methods into action. I’m unsure if going into a lot of detail on POD, aside from what it is and how it generally works, is out of scope.)

Questions? Anything confusing? Let me know!

Self-Publishing Short Stories (Part 1)

All right, Squiders! Today we’ll start talking about methods for self-publishing a short story. Unlike “traditional” publishing, there is not really a submission process for self-publishing, since the only gatekeeper, in most cases, is yourself. You decide you’d like to publish something; you go for it. The only thing to consider is the best method/location to do so.

NOTE: Because there are no gatekeepers for self-publishing, you are responsible for the final product. That means that your cover, your editing, your formatting, etc., all reflect on you. You may find it beneficial to hire professionals for areas you may be lacking in, or to otherwise improve your skills in order to ensure that your final product meets the quality standards expected by readers.

Self-publishing locations for short stories fall into the following main categories:

  • Blogs/websites
  • Online fiction/book websites
  • Online retailers
  • Short story collections


The easiest way to self-publish a short story a short story is to post it on your blog or website. For a journaling website such as Tumblr, LiveJournal, WordPress, etc., you can include a short story as its own post, which, depending on the platform, may then be shared by your followers.

Some authors also include a short story section on their author websites. This is a place where they collect the short stories they have available to be read through their site, making it a static page people can visit.

WARNING: Many publications consider posting a story on your blog or website as the first publication of that story. That means that if you later decide you’d like to sell that story to a magazine or anthology, they will consider the story already published, and will consider your submission a reprint, which may be a harder sell, if the publication takes them at all.

Online fiction/book websites

Many websites exist where you can post your original fiction of varying lengths, including short stories. Often these are websites where you create a profile and all your works are collected under that one name. There is often a community aspect to them, with readers/other members being able to favorite stories and leave comments.

While there are a large number of these sites available of varying sizes, popularity, and focus, the major ones are Wattpad,  FictionPress, and Figment. Some sites are more focused on critiquing and reviewing than on building readership, so make sure you understand a website’s main goals before posting your work.

Some fanfiction-based websites such as Archive of Our Own also allow original fiction to be posted, though it may be harder to find.

Book websites where people can track the books their reading and rate them, like Goodreads, may also have sections where authors can post short stories or excerpts from longer works.

Question, Squiders–do you think I need to specify that these are non-paying markets, that their main purpose is to build readership and get feedback? Or is it obvious?

Anything I’m leaving out here?

Publishing Short Stories Traditionally (Part 3)

Here’s our final stop on this particular story type/publication method combination, Squiders.

Short Story Collections

Like anthologies, short story collections are, as the name implies, a collection of short stories. The main difference is that an anthology features the work of multiple authors, while a short story collection includes the work of only one. As such, short story collections tend to operate more along the same principles as novels than selling a single short story at a time.

The first step toward submitting and publishing a short story collection is to have written a number of short stories. These can be ones that have been previously published, or they can be new ones. A number of stories is necessary; most traditionally-published collections are equal in length to novels. These stories can be related, such as all featuring the same characters, or the same universe, but they do not need to be.

If you have an agent (see agents section–note for blog: not written as of yet, so don’t be confused that you can’t find it), you can have them submit to publishers for you; some publishers will accept submissions from unagented authors. Like novels, you will need to write a query letter that you or your agent can send out. The query letter will need to have statistical information about the collection (number of stories, word count, genre if possible, etc.) as well as some sort of hook to inspire a publisher to look closer at your stories. An interested publisher may ask for a sample, or may ask for the entire collection to aid in the decision-making process.

NOTE: Short story collections are notoriously hard sells, especially if you are not an established, traditionally-published author. Publishers typically find them hard to market, and readers may not pick up a collection if they are not previously familiar with the author in some way. Previously published stories may be an easier sell in this case, especially if they’ve been published in top-tier markets or have won industry or genre-specific awards. Alternately, short stories that are linked to a novel series can also be easier sells, since readers are more likely to seek them out to augment their reading of the series in between novels.

A publisher will have a contract you will need to agree to before they’ll publish your collection. If you do not have an agent, you might consider asking one or a rights-specific lawyer to look over the contract to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal. Some publishers will pay some amount of money up front, called an advance. You have to “earn through” your advance before you can start earning royalties. Others may not pay an advance at all.

All right! That’s it for traditionally publishing short stories. Please let me know if you feel I’m leaving anything out, or if anything is confusing.

I’m going to take about a week off of the book posts (I’m reading a terrible Star Trek novel to share with you guys on Friday) and then we’ll jump into self-publishing short stories (which is a massive beast). And then another break from those sorts of posts and then into the novels, egads.

Happy Tuesday!