My first collection of short stories, Scaring the Crows: 21 Tales for Noon or Midnight, was published by StoneGarden.net Publishing in October 2009. Although StoneGarden was a small press, they took a chance with a relatively unknown author, allowed me to choose my illustrator, and ultimately published a book I’m proud of.
Short story collections are often very difficult to place in the publishing world, and this one in particular was tricky, as a number of genres are represented. Some of these stories could be considered (among other things) mysteries, fantasies, horror tales, thrillers, mainstream tales, and speculative fiction. It’s a grab-bag of a book, but that’s how I wanted it — each one is a surprise. The subtitle 21 Tales for Noon or Midnight is the only “grouping” I did…Some are positive, affirming stories, while others are real screamers, or at the very least not tales with “happy endings.” It took a great deal of work (and it was a great deal of fun) to choose the order — which hopefully livens up the experience of reading the book by keeping you on your toes.
Besides the fact that Scaring the Crows is my first collection, it’s also special to me because my dear friend and mentor Ray Bradbury personally read and critiqued 17 of the 21 tales, sometimes in great detail, over the course of four years. Sometimes he went so far as to propose an alternate ending to a story, sometimes he suggested specific edits, and sometimes he pointed to a scene or description that needed tweaking…Invariably, his comments resulted in a tighter, more effective tale. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from him in terms of line-editing is the importance of cutting; every word should matter, or out it goes. I learned more from Ray during the process of critiquing and editing these stories than I ever could have in a classroom. And why not? He’s the best there is. Presenting him with the very first copy I received is something I will always remember with pride — for such a small book, it certainly signifies something very big to me.
This was followed in late-2012 by my second short story collection, On the Edge of Twilight: 22 Tales to Follow You Home. (While The Uncanny Valley, first published in 2011, is technically a collection of short stories, I consider it a “unified collective,” and also part of something much larger–of exactly what will become clear when the prequel is published in 2015.)
I organized the stories in On the Edge of Twilight in much the same way I did Scaring the Crows. Both the contents and the order evolved greatly over the course of the time spent preparing it for publication, and I think …Twilight stands as a good companion to the earlier collection.
I was very excited to give Ray Bradbury the very first copy, just as I did with Scaring the Crows, but we lost him in June 2012, just two months before publication. It is dedicated to his dear memory, and to his daughter, Zee–also a wonderful friend. The last of the stories Ray read and critiqued are included, so the publication day of On the Edge of Twilight marked a significant milestone in my writing career, as well as my life.
StoneGarden.net Publishing ceased operation in June 2013, their stock quickly slipping out of print and their Kindle editions disappearing from Amazon. Although StoneGarden.net is no more, both Scaring the Crows and On the Edge of Twilight are still in print as the two parts of my short story omnibus Crows at Twilight, published in October 2013, and available on Amazon here. All the original art (both interior and cover) for both books has been carried over, and John York created a beautiful new cover piece for it, too. This is the format that will remain in print for the foreseeable future, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.