Category Archives: Short Fiction
"There is a monster in my closet. It’s standing in there behind my clothes, and it wants to come out. I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know how it got in there, but I know that it’s been there for a long time, waiting.
"Mum and dad don’t believe in monsters (and until yesterday, neither did I), but during dinner tonight, I had to tell them."
Just in time for Halloween, I wrote one of those short, scary stories that I would have enjoyed when I was in middle school. It's online at my blog, but I made ePub and Kindle versions for those of you who prefer to read on an eReader.
Sunken Treasure is $2.99, and Hunter is 99 cents.
Hunter is a short Sci-Fi story set in a dark and desperate world. Here’s a small preview:
Pyke chased the girl down a street still wet with the afternoon’s rainfall. A thin sliver of moon was glowing behind the thinning clouds, but it wasn’t bright enough to pierce the darkness between thefew street lamps that still worked. The girl was fast. He had to stay close, or she’d escape.
Pyke had let the girl put about 500 feet between them when she ranthrough a bright pool of light and was swallowed by darkness. When she didn’t reappear, Pyke knew he had her, for there was only one place she could have gone. He followed her through a once-ornate gateway into the old city, where the colony had been founded a century before.
Her footfalls echoed off rows of empty windows down narrow streets that seemed to turn back on themselves, an ancient trick intended to confuse invaders. When the Gan arrived, they solved this puzzle by simply bombarding most of the buildings and walls from low orbit until there weren’t many places left to hide. Hunters like Pyke—a second-generation Goa colonist who’d grown up in the old city—knew every twist, every turn, every blind alley and every hidden basement.
It wasn’t the first time Pyke had pushed a rebel into the avenues. In the six months he’d been working for the Gan, he’d let dozens of terrified patriots think they were making their escape into the old city’s maze-like streets, only to trap them in one of its countless dead ends, where he’d have a little fun before turning them over to his masters.
He heard a splash just down the block, followed by a yelp. She must have fallen in a puddle, Pyke thought. Shallow craters were everywhere in these streets; filled with water, they made quite effective traps. Pyke slowed to a jog and grinned. It was only a matter of time now.
Hunter is a short story, just about 2500 words. I figure that’s about the length of a story you’d read in a magazine, but I’m not really sure what the appropriate cost is, so I’m experimenting with the Pay What You Want model that seems to be working really well for a lot of artists I respect and admire.
If I sold it to a magazine, I’d probably get around $125 or so (assuming I could get the SFWA professional rate of five cents a word. I figure that at least 125 people will want to read this, so if all of them donated a dollar, I’d feel really good about this, and I’d be able to do it again in the future.
So here’s what you do: click this big ugly button and decide what you want to pay for this story. Then, choose your format and download it. Or, download it, read it, and then decide what you want to pay; it’s entirely up to you. I just ask that, if you like it, you tell your friends about it.
If you prefer to use Google Checkout, you can do that, but it won’t let me set up a pay-what-you-want button, so I set it at $2.00, which is right in the middle of what people seem to be paying for this story.
READ THIS BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT: After you’ve decided what you wish to pay (from the low, low price of FREE to one billion dollars in pure diamonds), choose the format you want by clicking on one of the links below. Your download should begin automatically. Some mobile users may have trouble. I’m trying to fix the issue, but until it’s resolved, you should be able to get a copy from any non-mobile browser. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Hunter is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license.
I’d love to hear your feedback. If you’d like to comment about Hunter, you can do that on the Hunter post at my blog.
tl;dr: The Day After And Other Stories is once again available for download. It's $4.99 at Lulu. Yay!
In December of last year, I released a very short collection of very short stories for a very short time – just ten days, actually – as an experiment in releasing short fiction. It sold fairly well, wildly exceeding my expectations. I got very good feedback from readers, but I'd committed to pulling it off the shelf in its print version at the end of ten days, so that's what I did. I'd always planned to keep the eBook version on sale, but I got busy after I pulled the print version offline, and didn't get around to republishing just the e-version until today.
So, for those of you who want to read a very short collection of very short stories for a very small price ($4.99! Cheap!), now you can.
If you're wondering what this is all about, here's what I wrote back in December:
Last year, I collected a few short stories I'd written and sold them as a chapbook at PAX. It was a scary thing for me to do, because while I feel confident as a narrative non-fiction writer, I am paralyzed with terror whenever I think about releasing something I invented out of nothing more than an idea to the public, and before I actually release it, I hear Carrie's mother screaming at me, "THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU!"
A couple of things have happened recently, though, that gave me the courage to actually release this short collection of short stories to anyone who wants to buy it. First, Project Do Something Creative Every Day is making me feel less and less afraid of sucking. Like I said recently, the goal isn't to be perfect; the goal is to be creative. I don't think The Day After and Other Stories is perfect, but it is creative, and the few people I have shown it to told me they liked it.
Second, over 400 people expressed an interest in buying an autographed copy of The Happiest Days of Our Lives over the last couple of days. That really blew me away, and made me think, "Well, maybe there aren't as many people out there waiting for an excuse to laugh at you as you think. Also? It's adorable that you think you're that important to anyone, jackass."
I've had these files ready to put on LuLu for over a year, and it wasn't until this morning that I screwed up the courage to actually do it. I'm sticking to my original plan, which is to sell the paperback for a limited time (10 days) and then just offer the PDF version. I'm not quite sure why I wanted to do it that way, but it's nontraditional, and a little weird, so there you go.
Here's the introduction:
Every year, before the summer convention season gets underway, I pull a few excerpts from whatever I plan to release in the fall, take them to my local print shop, and make a deliberately lo-fi, limited edition chapbook to take with me on the obligatory summer convention circuit.
I’ve done previews of Dancing Barefoot, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, Memories of the Future, and in 2008, I pulled together a sampler that eventually became Sunken Treasure.
While Memories of the Future is 2009’s “big” fall release, it didn’t make sense to me to release a Memories– based chapbook this summer, because one already exists.
It looked like there wasn’t going to be a 2009 entry in the traditional Wil Wheaton Zine-like Chapbook Extravaganza, until I realized that I have several pieces of unpublished fiction sitting in my office, just waiting to be published.
“Hey,” I said to myself, “people keep asking me to write and release fiction, and I’ve been waiting until I have an actual novel to give them. But these things totally don’t suck, and I bet readers would enjoy them.”
“That is an excellent idea, me,” I said. “And have I mentioned how smart and pretty you are?”
“Oh, stop it. You’re embarrassing me,” I said.
Together, myself and I collected some of my (mostly unpublished) fiction and put it into this chapbook, for safe keeping.
Even though this is limited to just 200 copies, it represents a significant step for me in my life as a writer, because it’s the first time I’ve collected and published stories that I made up. (You know, like a writer does.) I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for your support!
The more astute among you may have noticed that this says it's limited to 200 copies; that's because this was originally offered as a limited chapbook at PAX, and we're using the same files. Think of it as a delightful legacy issue, or something like that, if you must. I don't know how many of these books I'll actually sell, but I doubt the number will be exactly 200. When the paperback goes to the Land of Wind And Ghosts, though, I suppose I can check to see how many were sold, and you can use your very own Red Pen of Doom to put the actual number into your copy. Hey! Look! It's interactive!
I hope I can get this available in .mobi and .epub sooner than later, but I don't have conversion software at the moment (Clibre and Sigil barf on the .pdf, so I have to start over with a .rtf file when I have the free time).
Also, because it's a FAQ: If you want to print it out and make your own book from it for your personal, non-commercial use, you have my permission to do that.