Tag Archives: Sniplits

Published! Almost.

I got some great news today – Sniplits has accepted two of my short stories for publication and will be sending a contract for the audio rights!

I could not be more thrilled.  Getting short stories published is tough, there are so few outlets and the submissions are so time-consuming.  So to be accepted by Sniplits is huge.  I’m already a fan.  The stories are great, many authors are familiar names, and the narrators are excellent.  Plus, this year Sniplits was named one of 12 approved periodical and online pubishers by the Mystery Writers of America, which means that I will move into their “active member” category. I am seriously pumped.

I’m excited about the stories that were accepted, too.  One (Dumpsville) is a chapter from my first, as yet unpublished novel.  It’s a modern story of star-crossed lovers that end up together, but not without a lot of complications.  It’s a fun read and would make a great movie.  The other (Do the Right Thing) is one story in a series about a female Chicago cop. These stories tend to be procedurals but have a dark, funny edge, and this one features Det. Kathy Martinez’ after-hours efforts to keep a mother and daughter safe.

I have no idea how long it will take before my stories are recorded and up on the Sniplits site.  I do have the opportunity to listen to the various narrators and suggest who I would like to have read each one, and that’s just amazing.

Gee, I hope I can get to sleep tonight.

Lollapalooza of Literary Events: Columbia Story Week

My friend Anne asked me if I was planning to go to anything for Columbia College Chicago’s Story Week, and I have to admit, I was only dimly aware it was coming up.  This despite the fact that my son is a sophomore there (vocal performance major and the 2011 American Idol).  It’s March 14-19 and the theme for this year’s week is right up my alley: Genre Bending: The Faces of Fiction, reflecting the increasingly porous boundaries between literary and genre fiction.

Perfect for the theme is omniliterary author Joyce Carol Oates as featured reader, with two sessions on Monday, March 15.

Other highlights of note include a panel called Genre Bending – the Faces of Fiction featuring Mort Castle, On Writing Horror; Maggie Estep, Ruby Murphy mystery series; David Morrell, First BloodKevin NancePoets & Writers / Host: Joe MenoThe Great Perhaps. You’ll know David Morrell as the guy who invented Rambo and, if you’re into short stories via iPod, you probably know Mort Castle from his short stories on Sniplits.  That’s on March 17 at 2:30; 6:00 will bring a reading by Mort, David, and Maggie.

Students from the department have multiple opportunities to showcase their work, and a selection of published alumni will read on Friday, March 19th at 7 pm, including Phyllis Eisenstein, Sorcerer’s Son; Mike Black, Hostile Takeovers; Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood; Stephanie Kuehnert, Ballads of Suburbia; Marc Paoletti, Scorch; Earl Sewell, Have Mercy. I’ve heard Mike Black – crime fiction & mystery writer/real-life cop – and know Earl Sewell, so this would be a panel to come out for.

Programs are free and most are open to the public.

Resolution: Keep living the literary life

Friends and readers know that I had resolved to get an agent in 2009.   Sadly, missed that one, but I did get lots of extremely nice feedback from agents who blamed the economy and the tightening publishing market for not picking up Character-Driven, my first-in-series mystery featuring former actress Paula Berger.  Kind of took the wind out of my sails for the second book in the series, In Scene.

But, by working with Addy, Michele, and Claire to found a new writing group, I gave myself a kick-start and things are humming nicely, with about 80 pages complete that I’m pretty happy with and the next few chapters all outlined.  It’s fun and you’ve got to have faith, right?  If you’d like to read the first chapter of this book, here it is:  InSceneChapterOne.

And I’ve been dragging my feet on sending short stories out.  I’ve got some literary shorts and then some mysteries/crime stories, many of which feature a Chicago detective named Kathy Martinez.  It’s tough to decide where to send them after Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen reject them.  But then, out of the blue, I got an email from author Robert Friedman, thanking me for my reviews of his short stories on the audio shorts web page, Sniplits.  (Go there!  It’s awesome!  You can fill up your iPod and enjoy your treadmill time much more.)

He suggested I might enjoy his story, The Actor in the Family, published in Story Quarterly Online.  (I did.  He’s a great storyteller and there’s always a little something extra by way of character development.)  We emailed back and forth a couple of times, and wow!  He turned me on to a new resource.   Authors in search of publishing options, check out Duotrope’s Digest.

Duotrope is more than just a listing of publications, it’s interactive with a snazzy search feature.  Pick your genre, pick your theme, pick the length of your fiction, pick your payscale… and you end up with a list of publications that might want to buy/publish your work.  Searching for mystery short stories, any theme, token payment or up netted me 30 publications (including Hitchcock and Queen, of course).  There’s a separate search function for poetry.  Fabulous!

It seems like the fates are conspiring to keeping me living the literary life in 2010… and that’s just fine with me.  Unlike resolving to eat healthfully, exercise faithfully, and become fluent in French, resolving to live literarily is like resolving to hug my pugs…easy to do, and rewarding, too.

IPod-friendly Short Stories

I like music as much as the next person, and my iPod betrays my eclectic approach – some Tegan and Sara, all of Dar Williams, recently The Essential Michael Jackson, the soundtrack to the movies Once and Moulin Rouge.  But recently I’ve been adding short stories to my iPod… and suddenly my commute is flying by!

One source for short stories is the podcast for Selected Shorts from Public Radio International – it’s free and available on iTunes.  Subscribing means you get them as they come out, automatically loaded to your iTunes library and synched to your iPod whenever you remember to synch it.  Upside:  there are usually 3-4 stories per podcast, they’re really fantastic short stories, they’re read by famous actors with recognizable voices (Stockard Channing, Patricia Kalember, etc.), and there’s a theme.  Downside -it’s an hour for each podcast and I haven’t been able to figure out how to skip from one story to another (although I have been assured that this is possible) so I’m stuck listening all the way through no matter what.

Another source I’ve been delving into is Sniplits.com.  Sniplits has dozens of stories available, all under a dollar and many under 50 cents.  They’re nicely categorized by type (horror, mystery, literary, etc.), author (with many recognizable names, such as Chicago’s own Libby Fischer Hellman), and length of story.  This last is ideal for me – I find that any story over 20 minutes can be confusing… my mind tends to wander… so I’ve been selecting the 10-20 minute length.  You have the opportunity to rate the stories you’ve purchased, and I’ve been trying to do so, because it is so helpful to me to read others’ ratings.  Every author has a “fan club” page, which is fun if you like to know more about the author.  Readers are Chicago actors, so buying Sniplits stories contributes to the livelihoods of the not-so-famous, but talented.

I’ve listened to several by Laird Long, who writes PI stories in the noir style – it’s a little over the top but fun.  Mort Castle’s Henderson’s Place: The Girl with the Summer Eyes sets a mild-mannered salesman with some serious mental problems and a normal high school girl on ever-so-slowly converging paths, with tragic results.  And my most recent favorite is Robert Friedman’s story, It Had to be Done. A fun, funny and heartwarming story of family life, the story’s “voice” is the not-quite-teenage son.  Between goofy mother, stern father, stoner brother, and the family handyman (no matter what the quote, everything that needs to be done ends up costing $1000!), life is interesting.  Friedman has two other stories on Sniplits and I bought them tonight, looking forward to tomorrow morning’s ride on the el.

For authors, Sniplits is another possible publishing opportunity – most print pubs don’t purchase the audio rights, so even if you’ve sold the story, you can sell it again!   And with few general interest print publications (save the New Yorker and the Atlantic fiction issue) publishing short fiction these days, every outlet is welcome!