May is Short Story Month – #excerpt of THE SEARCH

It is a rainy May here in Texas. May is also Short Story Month so if you have to stay inside, check out some short stories this month.

Short story month began back in 2007 to showcase books that could be read in one sitting. Now there isn’t an official number of words that constitutes a short story but the general consensus online is that a short story is between 1000 and 7,500 words.

Hmmm…that makes my “short” story, The Search, which is a prequel to my The Elemental trilogy, not technically a “short” story. However, I call it a short story because 12,000 words is much less than my full length novels that have 80,000+ words.

So in honor of Short Story Month, let me share with you an excerpt of my “short” story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo StoreiTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon.

The Search: Book Description

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

The Search: Excerpt

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesso

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”n into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.

 

In honor of Short Story Month – an #excerpt of THE SEARCH

May is Short Story Month.

Short story month began back in 2007 to showcase books that could be read in one sitting. Now there isn’t an official number of words that constitutes a short story but the general consensus online is that a short story is between 1000 and 7,500 words.

Hmmm…that makes my “short” story, The Search, which is a prequel to my The Elemental trilogy, not technically a “short” story. However, I call it a short story because 12,000 words is much less than my full length novels that have 80,000+ words.

So in honor of Short Story Month, let me share with you an excerpt of my “short” story The Search.

You can get The Search for FREE from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo StoreiTunes or Smashwords where it is available in all e-book formats.

You can also purchase it for 99 cents on Amazon.

The Search: Book Description

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

The Search: Excerpt

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw.

You can’t be serious.

“We can make it,” Nolan said, speaking directly into his mind.

Tosh looked up at him, but Nolan wasn’t looking at the ravine. He was looking over his shoulder at the three men on horseback chasing them. Tosh caught a glimpse of a hefty man with a red beard leaning forward, urging his mount to run faster. He clearly was gaining on them. Tosh looked at the ravine before them.

It is too far for her to jump.

“Ah come on, Tosh. She’ll do just fine.”

Tosh sighed. Nolan rarely listened to any advice he gave him unless it coincided with something that Nolan already wanted to do. Knowing there was no way and no time to change the young man’s mind, Tosh curled up against him. He dug his claws deeper into the saddle and wrapped his tail protectively around his body. He felt Nolan lean forward as the mare’s hooves left the ground. He closed his eyes, counting the seconds until he felt the mare land on the other side. She stumbled slightly, and Tosh opened his eyes to see a small section of ground at the ravine’s edge fall.

Nolan reined in the mare and turned to look back at the ravine and the approaching men. Tosh glanced up and saw the look of concentration on his face. Suddenly, the ground shook. The edge of the ravine crumbled. Rocks and dirt fell until the gorge was three feet wider than it had been moments earlier. The men pursuing them pulled their mounts to a halt at the edge of the gorge.

“You won’t get away from us,” the redhead yelled.

Nolan raised his hand and waved before urging the mare toward the forest. Tosh glanced back to see the men swearing as they eyed the ravine which now was clearly too wide for them to jump. As they entered the forest, Nolan slowed the mare to a walk.

“That was amazing,” he said with a chuckle.

You’re lucky the mare made it.

“Oh, Tosh, you worry too much,” he said ruffling Tosh’s fur.

Tosh turned to glare at him and then proceeded to lick the fur back into the correct direction. We wouldn’t have had to find out if she could make it if you just learn to control your temper.  

Tosh didn’t really expect Nolan ever to learn to do that. He had been trying to drill that lesson into him since he was a headstrong teenager but to no avail.

“I know. I know. And stop using my Elemental power in front of others,” Nolan said with a sigh. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

I have never said you shouldn’t use it. You just need to decide when it is wise to do so.

“So using it to defend myself isn’t wise?”

Defending yourself is one thing. Picking fights is another. Tosh sighed. I guess this means we are moving again.

“But first we have to go pick up our belongings.”

They circled back toward the town. When they entered it an hour later, Tosh kept an eye out for the men, but the streets were nearly empty. No one paid them any attention as Nolan stopped before the boarding house where they had been staying. Tosh remained on the mare as Nolan ran upstairs to gather their things. Within minutes, the young man had returned, and they were on their way out of town.

 

Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

This post is the twenty-fifth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

As you write your story, you may wonder how long or how many words you need to write before it is complete.

The simple answer is as long or as many words as it takes to tell the story. Unless you are specifically looking to write a novella or a short story, you should be more concerned with telling the story than the word count.

But in case you are wondering, here is a guideline for story lengths. Note though that there is no unanimous consensus on the length of each of these.

Flash Fiction – under 1000 words

Short story – 1,000 to 7,500

Novelette – 7,500-20,000

Novella – 20,000 – 50,000

Novel – Over 50,000

Now, you don’t have to label your writing based on the above list. I wrote a short story prequel to my trilogy which turned out to be 12,200 words, which according to this list makes it a novelette. I figure most readers might not know what that is, so I market it as a short story because it is much shorter than the shortest book in my trilogy (which has 81,800 words).

But each of these classifications in more than just word count. They each bring about different images.

Short Story

Often these are meant to explore a particular situation or set of circumstances. Of course, there may be no “purpose” to the story. It could be a simple sketch of characters or situations. They are short enough to be read in a single sitting and typically only have a handful of characters.

Novella

Unlike a novel which may contain more characters and subplots, a novella focuses on a particular point or single issue. It typically does not contain the variety of subplots found in a full-length novel.

Novel

A novel is a long fictional narrative and usually involves more than just a few characters. Compared to a short story or novella, it has a complex plot.

When looking at word length, the genre of the book should also be taken into consideration. Young Adult books tend to be shorter (50,000 to 80,000 words) while science fiction and fantasy tend to be longer (up to 125,000 words).

If your story goes over 110,000 words, you might consider either cutting some words or perhaps splitting it into two books or even expand it into a trilogy.

Remember all of these are merely guides. The most important thing is telling a good, compelling story.

Writing a Trilogy or Series

So maybe you think writing a trilogy or series of books sounds like a good idea. It does have many positives. You have a built-in audience for each subsequent book. You will have already developed your world and your main characters, so there is less preparation to do before writing books two and three (or beyond if you write a series).

Here are some tips if you want to write a trilogy.

1.) A trilogy is not only a set of three books with the same characters but three books with one overarching storyline tying them together. A trilogy can be like a three-act play where each book is one act.

Act/Book 1 – The Set-up/Decision to Act

Act/Book 2 – The Confrontation (traditionally this one ends on a “dark note” – think The Empire Strikes Back from the original Star Wars trilogy.)

Act/Book 3 – The Resolution

2.) Develop a larger story for the whole trilogy. But each book in the trilogy will need to stand alone as a complete story in itself. This really is the biggest challenge about writing a trilogy.

3.) Be sure you have a strong character for your trilogy. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a likable character but a well-developed one that will be able to last through the whole series.

Here are some Dos and Don’ts of writing a trilogy.

DON’T – Write a full-length novel and divide it into three parts.

DO – Write a story that can be sustained through three full-length novels. This can be one long story broken down into three acts, or it can be three separate stand-alone stories using the same characters. In romance novels, this is often done with three sisters/friends finding love with each sister/friend being the focus of one book. The other characters are prevalent in each book, and their stories are either building or being rounded out as the current love story takes place.

DON’T – Just write a trilogy because you think it will help you sell your novel or get people to buy subsequent books. (See the message above about having a story that can support being a trilogy.) Yes, a trilogy brings with it a set of eager readers who want to read books two and three but that only works if book 1 is good. Many fantasy authors may choose to write a fantasy novel because it is popular for this genre, but sometimes they need to stick with either a long stand-alone book or pare down the story rather than drag it out over three books.

DO – Make sure the first book can be a stand-alone novel, if needed. Take Star Wars: A New Hope, the first of the original Star Wars trilogy, as an example. It ended with a medal ceremony and could have easily been the end of the story.

DO – Plan ahead for when you write a trilogy. It makes things easier, and you can plant clues to the ending throughout the books. I wrote my trilogy without planning it until after the first book was written, which actually happens quite a bit. While it worked out in my case (and others), it would have been better to have been planned from the beginning. (less rewriting if nothing else.)

DO – Keep detailed notes and a timeline to make sure that your characters stay true to form throughout the trilogy. If someone is pregnant at the end of book 2, you need to be sure that the age of the baby works out in book 3. Or if your character received a wound that scarred in Book 1, you need to make sure the scar is there in book 3 (and in the same place). You can probably catch errors such as these in many books and movies and some observant reader will probably catch your mistakes too.

The difference between a trilogy and writing a series of books is that the trilogy is that one overall story arc. A series of books can be complete stories that take place in the same location often with the same characters. Examples of series include the alphabet mysteries by Sue Grafton, the Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffery or the Jack Ryan spy thrillers by Tom Clancy.

Writing a trilogy or series of books can be a challenge. It takes planning and an overall story arc that can go the distance. But it also is great to continue to develop and work with characters you already created. It is kind of like working with old friends.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

Today’s Featured Author – Michelle Stimpson

Please welcome author Michelle Stimpson to my blog. Michelle currently is on a virtual book tour for her short story, Who Killed My Husband?, which was released in June.

Guest Post – Advice for first time authors

The publishing industry has changed tremendously since I first became an author in 2004. In fact, I would say that anything written about publishing/marketing books before 2012 is pretty close to obsolete.  Here’s what I would tell first-time authors who are entering the market in this digital age.

  • If you’re writing non-fiction, know the purpose of the book before you publish. Did you write this book to get clients? To establish yourself as a fresh, innovative voice in your field? If your goal is to use this book to validate your expertise, use it that way—not necessarily as a money-making tool. You might end up giving away more copies to secure radio/TV appearances than actually selling them online to the general public.
  • If your goal is to become a full-time writer, realize that also means become a full-time marketer. This doesn’t mean you have to become a sales person, per se, it just means you have to be serious and deliberate about reaching your market with your message. Be prepared to pay money in order to get in people’s faces on social media and Amazon. Free advertising is just about over these days. Can you post stuff on your page? Yes. Can you make and share memes? Yes. But the question is: How many people will get to see them? These days, not many unless you pay for the exposure. Don’t be afraid of this. You can start small ($2-5 a day for 7 days), then gauge your success. If it’s not working, quit and try something else. When it does work, scale up to $10 and more a day for as long as it works. You’ve got to think of this like: Somebody’s selling 20-dollar-bills for $10. The only catch is you have to wait 60 days to get the $20. If you’re in it for the long haul, this is not a problem.
  • If you really don’t have a goal for your book, that’s okay, too. Whatever happens happens. It’s all good. Write because you want to have fun with it. If your book helps just one person, you’ve succeeded in your own way. This is what matters most. You won’t have to live with regrets your whole life about not ever writing the book that’s been sitting on your heart.

Book Blurb

Ashley Crandall finally convinced her husband, Allan, to attend the Christian men’s retreat…but he ends up dead there. What happened to him on the campgrounds? Who would want to kill Allan? And why are the detectives pointing fingers at Ashley? In her quest to solve the mystery and clear her name, Ashley will learn something about her husband that she didn’t want to know and something about her Christian faith that shifts her life.

About the Author

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults. In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Falling Into Grace. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at http://www.wegottaread.com. Michelle serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in Dallas, TX. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored by churches, schools, book clubs and other positive organizations, and she has taught writing classes at the University of Texas at Arlington. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

You can find out more about Michelle on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Who Killed My Husband? on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Google.

Today’s Featured Author – Chinadu Enechi

Today, author Chinadu Enechi stops by my blog. His debut novel, Ifechidere, came out in November.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a social person, very determined and ambitious.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Nsukka and I grew up in Onitsha. They’re both in Nigeria. Anywhere I have family, including my brothers and sister, is home to me.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My late mother Mrs Josephine Nebechi Enechi was my inspiration.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I wrote my first novel titled “Wise ones never Loose”, my father then gave it to a friend who was then an English Lecturer in their school to edit but then said man disappeared with the book because of that, my mum swore to promote my writing career and she was there till she died.

How much of yourself, your personality or experience, is in your books.

A couple of the characters in my books have my personality. What I write mostly contains my experiences of experiences of those around me. In fact, the story of “Ifechidere” is mainly based on my mother’s life.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I actually have two projects I am currently working on.

One is about a young man who married an older woman and how he was antagonized for it, by his father, his family and even her family. A man marrying an older woman is frowned upon in Nigeria and this story offers view points of why it is so, and how some people navigate that problem.

The second story is about a young man whose love turned sour, after his poor parents visited his girlfriend’s family. The girlfriend was pregnant …

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
The best is that I can let people know my thoughts and feelings on some things, as well as inform them about some current events or facts.

The worst is the criticism from people who get upset that I am writing a particular thing, because of their bias.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

My family, friends and my dream of being a successful writer whose work is enjoyed by fans.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas are a combination of my experiences, experiences of people around me, stories heard and sometimes figment of my imagination.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Sometimes, I do; sometimes, I don’t.

Book Blurb

ifechidere-coverThe loss of both her parents, even before she is old enough to speak, appears to pre-determine Ifechidere’s life. She is made to toil from dusk to dawn.

Yet, Ifechidere is no modern-day Cinderella, as she finds that faith in the will to survive, which is stronger than any absentee fairy godmother, will propel her to find herself. And it’ll lead her to the thing that was always meant to be

About the Author

Chinedu Enechi is a Philosophy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MA student of Political and Social Philosophy at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. His hobbies include cooking, reading, watching movies and hanging out with friends.

You can purchase Ifechidere on Amazon US, Amazon UK (and all other Amazon affiliates – simply search by author name or book), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, ITunes, Kobo and Okadabooks.

Today’s Featured Author – Grant Kniefel

Please welcome author Grant Kniefel to my blog. His short story, The Soundtrack of Life, was released in September. You can find it on Amazon.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Grant Kniefel. I am 18 years old and was born in Anchorage Alaska.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I started writing in 2nd grade. I would hang out with my dad when he coached wrestling at the high school he worked at, so I would write a lot. When I was in 9th grade, I wrote my first real short story called She Married Kevin. I Am Fine Now. I think that was the point where I really started considering writing as the thing I want to do with my life.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

My next project actually isn’t a book. I am currently trying my hand at stage directing and script writing. I am currently tied to an original project entitled Rylan and Bec which deals with a teenage romance in the confines of a treatment center. I am also directing the film adaption of my short story The Soundtrack to Life.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I am currently attending high school actually. I write during the free periods I have. I tend to sit down for at least 45 minutes a day and do something with the piece whether it’s editing or writing new content.

Please tell us about your current release.

My most recent and current release is called The Soundtrack to Life. It deals with the journey of a young musician who releases that his own narcissism is ripping apart every relationship he has. In doing so, he finds solace and therapy in writing music and begins to truly love himself and creates his magnum opus, his “soundtrack to life”.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Yes. The main character, Jeremy Cabb, is actually based on my own personal journey through the landscape of arrogance and narcissism. The female lead, Ramona, is based on a dear friend I once had and how I ruined that relationship. Their conversation that opens the story was similar to that of which we shared together.

How did you come up with the title?

This is my favorite story out of writing it. So I was on my way to church with my grandmother. I told her that I was writing a new short story and that it wouldn’t be overly inappropriate. (My last two were so much so that she read through the first few pages and stopped). So I was originally going to call it “This is Not for Stupid People”. She said it didn’t really fit with the story so I shouted out some ideas. At one point I said, “Jeremy Cabb and the Soundtrack to Life.” She said “How about just the Soundtrack to Life?” and it has stuck ever since.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

I think that the hardest was the ending. In retrospect, I honestly hate it. I find the whole chapter to be hokey and fake. However, in that I find that the epilogue is much better at representing what I wanted to write.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I think that the best person to be would be Jessica Riley from my short story She Married Kevin. I Am Fine Now. This is due to the fact that she is a nymphomaniac who torments the hero, Blink. The whole story is dedicated to how much she screwed him over and so I think it would be interested to see what it would be like to be in her head as she is not too unlike Amy Dunn in Gone Girl.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I go through books like they’re pizza. It is always so hard to come up with simply one all time favorite. Currently it’s a small list which includes The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Which leads me to…

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Firstly, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I love his work as a whole. He is who I consider to be my favorite author. He is a master of description and his pieces make me want to go back in time and live in the Jazz Era. The other one would be J. D. Salinger. This is because, while not included, The Catcher in the Rye has had a complete and utterly life changing effect on me. I want to thank him for giving his piece to the world.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

In my opinion, the best part of the writing process is listening to music. I never write without music. My current favorites are Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, Kanye West, Childish Gambino, Neutral Milk Hotel, Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix, and the soundtrack to the film La La Land. These are all so incredible and so diverse that they create a whole universe when combined together.

Book Blurb

The Soundtrack to Life by [Kniefel, Grant]Jeremy Cabb is making it somewhere. But when his own ego threatens to rip everything to shreds, he finds himself looking inside to find the answers he needs and to help create his best album ever.

About the Author

grantGrant Kniefel is an 18 year old who lives in Alaska. He has written and published short stories, articles, and reviews, and currently attends to his blog entitled “Movies That Aren’t That Bad”. He tends to find himself writing more and more and likes to push boundaries to create raw and emotional pieces. You can find him on instagram(@suburban_yeezus), where he is much cooler than he is in real life.

You can purchase The Soundtrack to Life on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – ML Kennedy

Please welcome author ML Kennedy to my blog. His book, 100 by 100: Stories in 100 Words, came out in August. You can purchase it on Amazon.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is ML Kennedy. I’ve written three books. The first is a road trip novella starring a vampire called The Mosquito Song. The second is a book called Thanksgiving for Werewolves and Other Monstrous Tales which is a collection of short stories anchored by a novelette featuring an independent pro-wrestler battling vampire terrorists. The third is a collection of 100 word stories called 100 by 100.

Additionally, I help run a writing group in Chicago on the South side called the Indie City Writers. We’ve held reading in bookstores, flower shops, and occasionally the basement of a grocery store. Our writers are aspiring, small press, independent or self-published authors, but there are over a hundred thousand copies of our books out there. With modern technology, there is virtually no gateway now between an author and his/her audience.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

As a kid, I always wrote stories. They were usually two-page rip offs of one of the Hardy Boys Casefiles or homemade comic books starring Marvel super-heroes fighting some supervillains I made up.

I don’t know if any writer ever feels legitimate, but I did feel like I was on to something when I got an Honorable Mention in a Disney Adventures story contest back when I was eleven. Stephen King picked the winner! And now, to come full circle, I’ve seen my books next to his on bookstore shelves, though admittedly his are on many more shelves than mine.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I generally have two or three projects going at once. I’ve been doing world-building for a cheeky fantasy series based on one of the short stories in my book Thanksgiving for Werewolves. That’s way down the pipeline.

I am also about two-thirds of the way through a first draft of a time-hopping, existential crisis, soft sci-fi novel. You know the sort of thing that is always called “Such and So’s Wife” or “Such and So’s Daughter”? Well, this time the woman gets to be the “such and so” and the men don’t get to take center stage.

How do you conceive your ideas?

I am often inspired by criticism. Critical analysis of a story, is a big muse for me. Mostly it serves as a jumping off point. For instance, I acknowledge a plot hole in a movie I’m watching. Then I think, “what would happen if the characters behaved logically in that moment instead of just doing the things they did to move the plot forward?” That would change X, Y, and Z. Then it becomes an instance where I start asking, “Well, does this character need to be this type of person?” “What if this situation were closer to mythology?” “Why hasn’t anybody done it like this?”

Then again, my first book was inspired by a road trip I’ve taken a hundred times, Penn Jillette, and a Talking Heads song. Basically, ideas are everywhere.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest book is 100 by 100: Stories in 100 words. Just like it says on the label, it is a collection of 100 stories that are each exactly 100 words long. I was writing them for fun, and started using these 100 word stories as a gimmick for hosting readings with the Indie City Writers. They generally get a good response, so I figured I’d bundle them for the Kindle.

Most of the stories are light-hearted sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. It’s kind of amazing what you can accomplish with 100 words.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I research a little bit of everything, often for background details or stuff left in the subtext of the book. For Thanksgiving for Werewolves I researched Native American skin-walker lore, baseball, terrorism, pro-wrestling, hostage situations, and other stuff that probably put me on some NSA watch-lists.

The 100 word stories require the shallowest amount of research as there is no time for a lot of exposition. So instead of a normal research routine, I often ended up incorporating things I was reading at the time like Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, a book by drive-in aficionado Joe Bob Briggs, and Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

According to my wife, yes. She always tries to equate my characters with our friends. “He’s just a nicer version of Bob.” Or “I can’t believe you killed off Meridith!”

What book are you reading right now?

My stack of books currently consists of a history of recent horror films called Shock Value, books by fellow Indie City writers like KB Jensen and Jennifer Bisbing, and one of the few Roger Zelazny books I’ve never read that I found at the local Powell’s bookstore. I’m on a never-ending mission to find all the Roger Zelazny books I can get.

Book Blurb

100 by 100 Cover FINAL100 by 100 is a collection of 100 stories that are each 100 words long. Mathematically, that makes each worth 1/10 of a picture. Some of these 0.1 pictures are scary, some are funny, some are funny and scary, while others are just odd.

Possible uses include: 
Causing bad dreams
Prompts for community college writing group
Bedtime stories for children with narcolepsy
Reading aloud to cats to curtail crippling loneliness
Inspiring new videos on your unpopular YouTube Channel
Conversation starters at the weddings of your spouse’s co-workers
A story-a-day calendar from January 1st until April 10th (non-leap years)

General entertainment

About the Author

M.L. Kennedy was born in Buffalo, New York, land of chicken wings, kimmelweck rolls, and Super Bowl disappointment. Currently he lives in Chicago, land of thick pizza, Italian Beef and rebuilding years. 100 by 100 is his third book, following his debut novella The Mosquito Song and his short story collection Thanksgiving for Werewolves and Other Monstrous Tales.

No, he doesn’t think that was a silly thing to call a book.

(Yes he does.)

Follow Kennedy on Twitter.

You can purchase 100 by 100: Stories in 100 Words on Amazon.