Since this anthology spans several years, and most of my short story work during that time, you can see a lot of experimentation going on. Any writer will tell you they throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall, hoping for something to stick. Not every story idea works. Some show bright promise at the beginning, only to finish in blind alleys or vanish down rabbit holes halfway to completion. Some inspire fanatical devotion in the author but don’t quite connect to the reader.
Some ideas are best not explored at all.
Odd Little Miracles, happily, represents ideas that worked, or at least worked well enough to induce people outside my family to publish them–and pay for permission to do so. It was still a struggle, even for the best ideas. For every acceptance, there were many rejections. Some stories went through several submissions to different markets before finding a home.
I learned a lot in the process. I began to get a feel for magazines that were a good fit for the stories I liked to write, because a rejection often doesn’t mean a story is bad. It may just mean that it doesn’t work within the framework of a particular magazine or alongside the other stories in a particular issue. Feedback from editors helped me figure out why some things worked and other things didn’t. So, you’ll see a mix of styles, voices, and character points-of-view. There’s science fiction, fantasy, and horror, mingled with humor, romance, adventure, and satire.
Yep, I’m all over the map.
Of course, I’m still learning, still trying to master the skills that will help me write even better stories that will be able to compete for publication in the most visible, selective markets. I hope this collection reveals some of my growth as a writer. On the credits page near the front of the book you’ll find publication dates for the stories, though there was a longer gap between completion and publication for some of them than for others, so it’s not a perfect timeline.
I’ve also explored some different ways to present my writing and make it more accessible. After “A Taste of Honey” was published, I re-imagined it as a “kinetic novel,” a multimedia form blending the text with pictures and music, and modified the ending a bit. It’s a much different experience than just reading the story, though I like both versions. “The Time-Share” was republished by WilyWriters as an audio podcast which I think is even more chilling than the original.
“Of All Things, Seen and Unseen” was inspired by Rob and Karina Fabian’s Rescue Sister stories and inhabits that universe with their permission. I’ve since written another Rescue Sister story that will appear in Residential Aliens later this year. These are unique because they force me to write from a Catholic point-of-view, which is challenging, not being a Catholic myself. I’ve had to do a lot of research into the Catholic expression of Christianity, and that’s demolished some prejudices and stereotypes I collected over the years.
Expression of my own Christian faith in my stories is something I’ve experimented and struggled with since I began writing. I don’t typically set out to write “message” stories, though you can probably find a message or moral in quite a few of them. If a character happens to be a Christian, his or her faith will probably come up in the discussion at some point. In “Pilgrimage,” an alien ambassador abruptly inquires about my heroine’s belief in God, and she stumbles through a brief summary of the Gospel as she tries to collect her wits. I hadn’t planned for this to happen, but sometimes characters take matters into their own hands. Perhaps it’s a form of divine inspiration. I hope so.
Anyhow, that’s enough time in the lab. If you find one of my ideas worked particularly well, and you’d like to see it again, let me know. Next time, I’ll talk about some of my personal favorites among the stories in Odd Little Miracles.