Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Post - Theresa Milstein

Theresa Milstein has been a wonderful online friend of mine for a couple of years now. LOVE her. Recently, she was published in an anthology called Fangtales. YAY! And we are going to help her celebrate!!

Book Blurb:

Fangtales is the third anthology in the popular ‘tales’ collections published for the YA market by Wyvern Publications. It joins Dragontales, published in 2009, and Mertales, published in 2010.

Fangtales visits the terrifying realms of the most popular creature ever to grace the pages of fantasy fiction. The vampire. The tales are fresh, original and scary enough to send delicious shivers down the spine of every reader. Each tale brings something new to the genre, and will be a welcome addition to any fantasy fan’s bookshelf. Vampires will always be a hugely popular theme – there’s a very good reason why Bram Stoker’s Dracula has never been out of print since  it was first published in 1897.

Lose yourself in the blood-soaked pages of Fangtales, where a best friend mysteriously disappears; wonder why a small child roams the woods alone at midnight, and how a terrified girl can get help when her house is surrounded by hungry vampires.

Guest Post:

Thank you for letting me guest post, Shannon.  You’ve been a great blogging buddy and friend.  I appreciate it.

When I asked Shannon if she’d be interested in helping me promote Fangtales because my short story “Daisy” is included, she came up with an interesting idea for a guest post:

“You know how I like to have guest posts about writers' journeys to publication. Would you be willing to do a guest post about what it's like to write and submit short stories?? That's an area we don't hear about very often.”

I agreed.

Before I seriously wrote, I tried writing two short stories for fun.  I didn’t finish either of them.  When I began to write seriously, I kept reading the advice to submit short stories because it was easier to get them published (less submissions) and it would boost a writer’s resume.

Sounded great. 

One problem: I was intimidated by the short story.

My first attempt was to take first chapters of longer pieces I’d written, revise them a little to make them more complete, and submit them.

Shockingly  That didn’t go anywhere.

For good reason.  As my blogging buddy, Alesa Warcan
Stories are like fruit trees... A novel is a big mature apple tree that produces big juicy red fruit. Trying to make a short using only the first chapters of a novel is like trying to get fruit from the roots of an apple tree... Possible but unnatural. 

Tangentially, A two chapter teaser of a novel is like the picture of those roots, making you wonder as to what the fruit must taste like.

A short story is like one of those miniature fruit trees... Perfectly proportionate, just tiny in comparison, and bearing delicious bite-sized fruit.
She should be writing this post, right?

I kept seeing calls for short stories, but I ignored them for YEARS.  Finally, one intrigued me enough to try to write something.  Wyvern Publications had published Dragtontales and Mertales.  Last winter, they requested short stories to include in Fangtales.  The vampires needed to follow the rules set in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  In other words, no sparkly vampires need apply.

I started off with a couple of sentences, having no idea where I was going with it.  But as I wrote, the story began to take shape.  Halfway through, I had a vague sense of what might happen at the end.  I thought it would be hard to be confined to a certain word count, but I found it made me sparer and clearer with words.  All of the elements of the story were easier to keep in my mind.  It was like savoring a satisfying piece of chocolate instead of being forced to write  eat an entire cake.  The editing process is also a lot quicker. 

Last winter, there was a call for submissions to raise money for Australian flood victims.  While the word count for Fangtales was 5k, 100 Stories for Queensland had to be 1k.  How could I write a short story with such a puny word count?  But a few lines came to me, and I was able to do it.  I went from a Recess Peanut Butter cup to a mini.  Smaller, but still satisfying.  This story was accepted too, and came out in May.

This summer, the editor of 100 Stories for Queensland was putting out another anthology.  These stories had to be around 1.5k.  My short story was accepted.  The anthology Tiny Dancers will be published in the next few months. 

Short stories have validated my ability to write.  For most of us writers, landing an agent and obtaining a publishing contract takes years.  And once that coveted contract is presented, it will be years before the authors see the book in print.  Short stories have a better chance of being published and a quicker turnaround.  And the best part is you get edit suggestions from an editor.  You get a sense of what it will be like to get an 8-15 page edit letter for an entire manuscript. 

I still don’t have an agent.  But when I query, I have publications to list.  I’m listed as a published author on Goodreads.  Writing short stories has made me a better writer and given me confidence that I belong here in the publishing world. 

Helpful links:
Theresa's blog:
100 Stories for Queensland:
 Thank you, Theresa!!! 
And Congratulations on your inclusion in Fangtales!!


Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome guest post Theresa. I love the analogy to the fruit tree. I still feel totally incompetent to write a short story and I admire you for being able to do it.

Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on being published.

Old Kitty said...

Loved how gorgeous Theresa's short story in Fangtales came to be!!! No sparkly vampires and lots of chocolate!! Yay!!!

Theresa's Tiny Dancers is WONDERFUL!! I loved it - it's a fab story!!

Thanks lovely Shannon for hosting! Take care

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks again for hosting me, Shannon.

I shared your post on FB and Google+ earlier. But then I had to shower. Now I've just posted the link to your post on my blog. Please visit and read it.

(( Hugs ))

LR said...

Love this post, Theresa.

I agree that short stories are an awesome way to get practice. They definitely build confidence and with each story you grow.

And in some cases, the short story can eventually turn into a novel.

Anne said...

Great post, Theresa. Thank you for sharing your journey into the publishing world.

C D Meetens said...

Thanks very much for this information, Theresa. I'm afraid I still react with, "How on earth can I write a story that short?" whenever I consider writing a short story. I think it would be good practice for condensed, yet clear writing though.

Samantha Vérant said...

Theresa is the bomb! And she's also how I found out you got an agent! CONGRATULATIONS! Go Snoopy dance! Or have some champagne! Better yet...both!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Short stories are an art. Great post.

Slamdunk said...

Well done. I think their are many roads to success and glad to hear that your short stories have you on one of them Theresa.

Congrats as well on the big news Shannon.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Theresa's pretty much the coolest person I know.

I can write some smashup short stories, and Theresa's successes with anthologies has inspired me to work on that area of my career.

Michael G-G said...

Just met Theresa through the P-I-F blogfest. This is a great interview. Great stuff, Theresa: I can't wait to read your stories.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Congratulations, Theresa, on getting your stories published and on being included in anthologies. Enjoyed your discussion of how you got into story writing and what you find so satisfying about it. It's been awhile since I've written short stories. I had a few published before I became so intent on writing children's books, and sometimes I miss that feeling of earlier closure on a work.

Julie Musil said...

Yay for Theresa and Fangtales! Anad yay to you, Shannon, for landing an agent. I love it when great things happen to great people.

Janet Johnson said...

congratulations, Theresa! I confess, the short story intimidates me, too, but I've always wanted to try. Maybe I will.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your journey, Theresa!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I actually think short stories are harder to write than novels. It's fantastic to get a few published shorts under your belt :)

Golden Eagle said...

Great post!

I find short stories harder than novels; whenever I think of potential stories, it's like my mind is hardwired for full-length books.

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome post Theresa - makes me want to try my hand at those short stories one of these days! :) said...

Congrats to Theresa for getting published. I totally agree with you about it being a confidence booster. And yay Shannon, that's awesome news you've got an agent. Thrilled for you.

J.L. Campbell said...

Isn't it amazing how success breeds success?

I think I'm gonna have to pass on Fangtales, Nervous Nelly that I am. :(

WritingNut said...

Awesome post Theresa! And very inspiring :)

And congratulations on your big news Shannon!

Laura Pauling said...

Congrats Theresa! Such great news all around! :)

Heather said...

As a vampire lover (and supporter of great authors!) I've got to get this!

Krispy said...

I love the topic, and it's making me consider the short story form again. It's hard though. I've always had trouble pacing out a story in so short a space.

Thank you both for this insightful post!

LynNerdKelley said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with short stories, Theresa. Congratulations on all your published short stories, especially this latest one for Fangtales. That's so cool. I enjoyed reading your guest post.

And, Shannon, huge congrats to you on getting an agent! Woo hoo! I read Theresa's post about you on her blog, and had to come over and congratulate you. I hope your agent finds you a great publisher and deal for your book.

Jackee said...

Awesome, Theresa! Love what you said about feeling you belong and how exciting it is to be a "published author". I'm so excited for you and seeing that dream take off.

Short stories often intimidate me too. Thanks for the great advice. And thanks for hosting, Shannon!


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon and Theresa .. what a great interview packed with useful information - a really interesting read. Just makes so much sense doesn't it - fantastic you're on your way to your third short story publication .. and you can say you're published.

You've obviously stirred a few thoughts here - great post .. and good luck to you both for your futures .. cheers Hilary

Dawn Simon said...

I'm happy for you, Theresa! Everything you said really makes sense. I loved what you said about the fruit trees. What a great post!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post, Theresa. I wish I was a short story writer. It would flex my writing muscles and I'd embrace brevity (whereas many times I write wordy, but I'm getting better at controlling that). And yay on the publication list.

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks to everyone who commented. I appreciate the support.

I'm hoping that re-reading this post will give me the boost to finish editing an old short story and submit it. Deadline is looming...

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