Like most authors, I write short stories and articles in addition to books. For one thing, short pieces like these are easier because, well, they’re short!
I explored a particular interest in an article published by New England’s Sisters in Crime group. Social Change Through Fiction explains why novels are such important vehicles for social change messages. Researching the piece I learned, for example, that the abolitionists’ book Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best selling book of the 19th century next to the bible.
Last year my short story Bless America’s Visitors was selected for and published in an anthology titled Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories (Level Best Books). I was thrilled to be published with the likes of Lucy Burdette, Bruce Coffin, and Edith Maxwell.
Bless America’s Visitors begins when crusty retired lobsterman Barney McRae steps onto his lobster boat Bless America. It’s dawn and Barney is horrified to find a dead man in his wheelhouse. Barney staggers backwards into the coaming on the stern of his boat, clutches his chest, and slides down the transom onto his butt. On shore, ER doctor Nadia Almasi sees Barney, thinks he had a heart attack, and runs to him. The story brings Barney face-to-face with a female doctor from a country he can’t even guess. It’s a story of old-time and contemporary Maine—people who seemingly have nothing in common who end up helping each other.
This year I’ll submit another story for the Level Best competition. In The Seeding of Brianna Mahoney’s Destiny, still in draft form, a Maine mother has been told her autistic daughter needs to attend a private school the family can’t afford. Maureen, the protagonist, can get a lot of cash fast if she cheats on her quota for catching eels. But Maureen comes from a proud fishing family that greatly values conservation of fish, lobsters, and other Maine critters. She must choose between preserving her family’s reputation and the future welfare of her only precious daughter.
I’m working on another “Flash Fiction” story for the Maine CrimeWave meeting in June. Starting with this sentence—On the thirteenth alligator gizzard she opened with her scalpel, out poured a dazzling array of cabochon-cut star sapphires, mingled with mud, grit, and a rotting human finger—we must write a story of no more than 500 words. It’s a challenge for sure, but I’m hoping my entry titled Because Gators Need Stones will be recognized. I’ll let you know!
Magazines are another terrific outlet for writers (and they pay). A First-hand Lesson in Lobstering appeared in the 2017 November/December addition of Maine Boats, Homes, & Harbors. In that piece, which was really fun to write, I describe a day on the water when a lobsterman was kind enough to let me tag along. At the time I was working on Secrets Haunt the Lobsters’ Sea and had never actually watched how lobstering is actually done up close. It was a lovely day and I learned a lot.
Writing is hard work and you have to keep at it. Other the other hand, I wouldn’t give it up for the world.