by Radine Trees Nehring
Advice? Just like in most professions, a lot of advice is available to writers.
One oft-repeated bit of advice offered to writers during many past years was “Don’t bother with a book of short stories. They don’t sell.”
Okay with me. I didn’t plan to write short stories anyway.
Oh, I did end up writing a few, since, now and then, I received a request to submit a short story for a fund-raising anthology or to showcase the talents of the members of a writers’ organization I belonged to. Over a period of probably fifteen years I wrote and sold four short stories and one novella to organizations. But a whole book? No. I thought the “for a cause” anthologies must be the exception to the black mark against books of short stories.
Then, within the period of a little over two years, the head of the company that had published my eighth novel, the publicist I had worked with for many years, and my tech specialist and business manager (my husband, John) died. For over a year after that I wrote nothing at all. Though I continued to promote and sell my existing books, I had no interest in writing anything but emails and blogs. I thought my writing career was over.
But the state of Arkansas and the two major characters in all my novels would not let me alone. Carrie McCrite and Henry King, the major characters in all my mystery novels, along with their neighbors and friends in Blackberry Hollow, were still with me. Not only that, their possible adventures in several locations I was quite familiar with kept popping up inside my head. What now?
That blinding white gallows enclosure at Fort Smith National Historic Site. The rusty red truck John and I had found during a woodland walk off our road. And, what about Ozark Folk Center State Park? Though I could not drive myself there alone now, John and I had loved visiting there many times over the years, and, why couldn’t I visit in fiction? Just think…?
The statement from a reader at one of my book events hit me like a bombshell. “I am looking for books of short stories. I don’t really have time to commit to a long book these days but can relax with a short story and read it all after supper. I now find most of the short stories I read in magazines.”
I questioned her. “Several of the people in my office feel the same way,” she said. “Your stories sound good, but why don’t you write a whole book of short stories about those people? I’d even buy extras for a few of my friends.”
I wrote down her contact information.
And that, my Kings River Life Magazine friends, is how Solving Peculiar Crimes began.
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