My science-fiction novelette collection is nearing completion. Eddy Shinjuku put together an eclectic cover sourced from the various stories I plan to include. I've always dreamed of publishing long, epic fantasies (and I will), but much to my surprise, I’m on the verge of publishing a collection of short science-fiction stories instead. So where did these stories come from? How did I go from writing long narratives with more than twenty characters each to snapshots in the daily lives of a few?
I’ve been writing since grade school and excelled at any assignment that required creative words on paper, limited only by the directions and the amount of paper handed out. All of my stories were hand-written in notebooks, including one my classmates and I wrote in fourth grade about Sonic the Hedgehog playing basketball. When my family got its first computer in the mid-nineties, I learned how to type, and expanded my story-telling from backyard adventures to massive universes, fantastical reality, and mind-bending worlds, all without the internet.
After we connected to the internet (cue the electronic sounds of dial-up calling aliens for authentication), I began writing stories with people across the world in role-playing groups, such as The Crystal Palace, where we appended story describing actions and thoughts from the perspective of our custom characters in an ongoing narrative. I learned from a variety of people with different ideas, styles, and skills. My writing improved, so much that I spawned my own forum, An Empire, to answer the requests of many who wanted to write with me exclusively or as part of a larger world. After managing characters, online and offline, became a challenge, I created a desktop application called Roleplayer to help manage the creation and archiving of characters (another story for another time).
During college, I expanded on a few of the many worlds I’d started, including a high epic fantasy piece titled The Summoned (see Bellator anthology for a prequel story). I wrote more than one hundred and fifty thousand words between engineering classes. I went on to make digital maps, commission artwork, and even create a demo video game with characters from the series. After I graduated, I moved to Huntsville, AL and joined the North Alabama Science-Fiction and Cake Appreciation Society (NASFCAS).
I brought my epic fantasy stories to Huntsville, and the NASFCAS writers challenged me to write and complete shorter pieces, so I could experience all the phases of creating a work of fiction, from brainstorming to publishing. And I did. Like getting a tattoo, completing short stories became an addictive form of art.
I still had one challenge: My stories often exceeded 5,000 and 8,000 words, the maximum word counts of short stories for many online publications. I'd molded my craft into novellas and novelettes, not short stories. “The Path of Time” began as a novella. The dream story I mentioned earlier in this article is a novella. Every story in The Dark Side of Light, with the exception of one, are novelettes. And I’m happy with them. I set aside the word count requirements, and wrote until the story was told. And when I couldn’t find a home for them, I created one—much like An Empire—a novelette collection without limitations.
I tried to stand in the light of my dreams, but that meant casting shadows on all the norms along the way.