Short fiction markets

Once upon a time, the now-defunct Redbook Magazine was a key market for short fiction, especially from women writers. In a given week, Redbook received more than 42,000 submissions. They published only 12 a year so the market for short fiction has always been tight.

I think if you can successfully write short fiction, then you hone the skills that will serve you well in writing long fiction even though there is more distinguishing the two forms than mere length.

If you like the short fiction form, reading it, writing it, or both, you've probably wondered where are the markets? I wish I could list ten markets for short fiction that pay well, but I can't.

Short fiction has been dying out in print for the last couple of decades. Sometimes romance publishers produce anthologies of novellas, much longer than the typical short story, from multiple authors, but for the most part, you just don't see short fiction in print publications.

Online markets do publish short fiction, but the quality is uneven, and the pay isn't enough to tempt most pro writers into spending the numerous hours needed to craft the little gem that short fiction should be.

So what's a writer who likes the short fiction form to do?

In my case, as a pro freelance writer and a published novelist, I try to create my own markets. I write a lot of web content using fiction techniques. These little articles, told from the viewpoint of a character I've created, put the point across while entertaining. I liken them to a really good commercial you might see on television that captures your attention so much that you don't flip channels during the breaks.

I've also created an original series for a client's e-newsletter with a new short story each month. The series started in September 2007 and runs through August 2008 and has the premise "pay it forward."

I've loved writing this connected 12 month short fiction series. Sure, the client's product is an integral, though subtle, element in each story, but the story has all the elements good short fiction should have. I'm proud of it, and equally proud of the client's reaction to each month's story.

Take-away truth: sometimes, when there's little demand for a particular form of writing, you have to create your own market.

Moonlight On Snow

Here's some exciting news about a romantic comedy for you from me. MOONLIGHT ON SNOW: A LOVE STORY will be serialized and will run from January through December this year on, a site that celebrates romance.

Look for Chapter 1 of MOONLIGHT ON SNOW this month. It should be posted any day now.

More than good intentions

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

This was one of the first admonitions I remember hearing at church. Back in the day, men of the cloth really loved preaching about Hell and the many ways humanity has of reaching that fearsome place. Give me that old time religion? Nope. You can keep it. I'll take the revised version designed to make you feel good and empowered because I think people as a whole feel bad enough to begin with. We may have been born with original sin but every person I've ever seen seems to have received a heaping of low self-esteem as a side order.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Why it's New Year's Day, that 24 hour period where we all contemplate changes we want to make in ourselves and/or our lives. We are all filled with good intentions on this day.

Unfortunately, good intentions are about as useless as a screen door in a west Texas dust storm. You've got to arm yourself with more than your good intentions if you want to make a change. The real weapon of change is action. You must take specific actions to achieve specific results.

So if you're writing up that fantasy list of resolutions or goals or whatever you want to call them, write down specific actions to take this month, this week, this day that will bring about change in due course. Due course means set a deadline with markers along the way to achieve your goal.

Breaking down the steps between where you are now and where you want to be actually gives you a chance of turning good intentions into achievement.

Good luck and happy new year!