Tag: short stories

Now Available: THROUGH DARK INTO LIGHT

Like scary stories? There are some in here! Don’t like scary stories? There are also non-scary stories! What a deal!

Today’s the day! My short story and poetry collection, THROUGH DARK INTO LIGHT, is now live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will (should?) be available at other online retailers soon. But I know, for sure, that it’s live at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Promise.

But Craig, you may be thinking, How do I know I’ll like any of the stories? I didn’t read your first book because I couldn’t pronounce the title so I don’t know what to expect.

To that I say check out the Vignettes section of this here website. If you’re a frequent reader of the vignettes I post you’ll probably recognize a lot of the stories in the collection, since many of the stories in the collection were originally vignettes that I posted here.

If you need more convincing, here is a list of the stories with a short description of each:

  • Followed: Driving home to his sick daughter, a man is followed by three mysterious vehicles that become more aggressive as he gets closer to home.
  • Nightmare / Dream, Dream / Nightmare: A man’s dream is a woman’s nightmare, until the tables are turned.
  • Real Monsters: A little girl has to decide what scares her more–the monster under her bed or the monsters invading her home?
  • A Night Not to End: A young man tells a strange girl at a party that he wishes the night never had to end, and she grants his wish.
  • The Secret Monster: From childhood a man is terrorized by a creature that tells him the secrets of those he loves.
  • Hit and Run: On his way to a party at a cabin deep in the woods, a teenager hits a family dog and is haunted by the guilt–and the dog.
  • Together Forever (Poem): A poem about being with the person you love as the world ends.
  • A Cold, Silent Nothing: Before a scientist is allowed to use a time machine to travel to the end of the Universe he must first meet with the only other man to make the attempt and learn what he saw that drove him insane.
  • Every Day the Same Dream: A bored office worker varies his routine in an attempt to break the monotony of his life.
  • Say Something New (Poem): A poem about creativity.
  • Distance: The captain of a generation ship uses its resources to clone the wife he left behind until there is nothing left.
  • Eryn’s Dream (Poem): A poem about empathy.
  • Thoughts and Actions in a Car Crash: A man reacts as he rear-ends the car in front of him on an icy road.
  • Ode to the Ellipses (Poem): A poem about the deep meaning of the ellipses.
  • Letter(s) to the Girl(s) I (Once) Love(d): A letter to a girl a young man once loved.
  • A Brief History of Their Love: A chronicle of the relationship between a man and an android, and the extremes each will go to protect or fight for the other.
  • To Go Back: An old man explains the purpose of his time machine to his daughter.
  • Small Decisions: A man is faced with the consequences of his indiscretion.
  • You Will Be Remembered (Poem): A poem about passwords, multi-factor authentication, and sometimes unwelcome reminders.
  • Her Tea: The routines we break and the small imprints we leave in our lives can be the most lasting reminders of love, as one young man learns.
  • A Sixteen Year Old’s Lament (Poem): A poem about pressure, responsibility, and cliche from a sixteen year old’s perspective.
  • The Final Days of Florence: An old woman negotiates with an Angel for three more days of life so that she can make amends with her estranged son.
  • Your Anger (Poem): A poem about watching your parent die from their own mistakes.
  • The Passenger: As a man escorts his father’s corpse across state lines, he is helped by his father’s spirit when he finds himself in bad situations.
  • Cliched Goodbye: In the warm light of sunset two friends say goodbye and reckon with their unspoken feelings.

The collection is organized to start in the dark, with horror stories, and end on a lighter, more reflective note. I think there’s a little something in here for everyone. If you did read ANH NGUYEN AND THE DISCORDIAN and liked it, then you’ll probably like this. If you read ANH NGUYEN AND THE DISCORDIAN and didn’t like it, well this collection is totally different, so give it a shot.

If you enjoy anything I write, leave me some love on Goodreads.

Announcement / Cover Reveal: THROUGH DARK INTO LIGHT

Available October 1st!

From childhood a man is stalked by a creature that tells him the secrets of those he loves. A man’s dream is a woman’s nightmare until she turns the tables. The captain of a generation ship uses its resources to clone the wife he left behind. A woman on her deathbed negotiates a deal with an Angel for three more days to make amends with her estranged son. A teenager runs over a family dog and is haunted by the memory–and the dog.

This eclectic collection guides readers from the darkness of a moonlit highway to a field under the warm light of a late summer sunset. Through these 18 stories and 7 poems you will feel emotions that spill out in great waves of yelling, crying, and laughing and be reminded that sometimes the best way out is through.

Come October 1st, just in time for Autumn (my favorite time of year) and Halloween (my favorite holiday) I’m releasing a collection of short stories and poems. Some will be familiar to anyone that’s kept up with the vignettes I’ve posted–all nine from last year are included in this collection–but many are new.

I’ll write more about it after release, but the collection is meant to take the reader on an emotional journey of horror, existential despair, doomed romance, grief and regret, and unspoken love. I tried to complete an arc in the way the stories are ordered, and in doing so learned lots about themes I’m obsessed with, fears I have, and things that interest me.

The collection will be available in print and ebook at most online retailers.

Organizing a Short Story Collection

These are short story collections.

Last year I made a plan. In 2020 I was going to build a website (check!), consistently update that website (mostly check!), and I was going to self-publish a novella and a short story collection (… not check…).

So obviously, 2020 being what it is, things have changed. When I made this plan there was no Covid on the horizon, I wasn’t thinking about buying a house, and I didn’t expect to become a father. Yet, somehow, all of those things happened. And you know what? I kinda like the unplanned stuff more (except Covid–that can suck a big fat donkey dick).

Anyway, all of those things are a delay, not a cancellation. The novella is written (but needs some editing, and a rewrite of at least one section), and I have enough stories to put together a collection. The plan was always to pull down the vignettes and collect them with unpublished stories. I’m going to do that, but as I sat to think about what that could look like I realized that short story collections are more complicated than just taking a bunch of stories and throwing them together.

First, if I’m going to self-publish something, even if it’s only priced for $0.99, I want the reader to get value out of it. A book made up of 12 vignettes would top out at 15,000 words, if that. I don’t think I’d buy that book, especially when the vignettes were already free online at some point. This wouldn’t be as simple as just collecting and self-publishing what is already on this site.

The idea was never to only do that, but I did want to ensure that I had enough stories of varying lengths to make a purchase worthwhile. I went through everything I’ve written, including what I knew I wanted to include, some works I wasn’t sure about, and ideas that aren’t written but I’m excited about. I put them all into a spreadsheet (youse know how much I love spreadsheets) and wrote down the exact page count for each, as well as whether the writing was a vignette, short story, or poem.

Seeing all the stories laid out quelled my fear that I wouldn’t have enough writing that I was proud enough to publish. I saw there was a decent mixture of lengths that, together, added up to something worth $0.99. The next step, then, was figuring out how to organize them.

I didn’t quickly find many articles online for organizing short story collections. That said, much of my thinking from here on out is influenced by this blog post from BOOKFOX, so instead of cribbing from it I’ll just point you there.

Specifically, I found guideline #3 to be helpful: “Build your own structure, and then order stories according to that logic.” The post describes five different types of structures for a collection–hourglass, möbius strip, mosaic, musical improvisation, and instant replay. The hourglass structure most appeals to me for this particular collection.

Having decided on a tentative structure (it may change as I work toward publication), I had to figure out how to fit the stories I chose into this concept. My stories tend to wander between genres, but touch on common themes or play with similar styles. I went back to my spreadsheet and added “Genre” and “Subgenre” columns. Sticking to only a few genres so as not to overcomplicate the exercise, I put the writings into loose groupings.

Then, on the advice to start with your strongest story to draw the reader in, I arranged the order from that story down. From there, I tweaked the order in which stories appeared to have a better flow from genre to genre, and from idea to idea. Now, the collections starts with a series of horror stories, eases into existential dread, turns into experimentalism, dovetails into romance and sci-fi (I tend to use sci-fi to explore romantic notions–who knew?), and ends on a dramatic note.

This collection has required far more thought than I expected, but it’s also challenged me to think deeply about what I’m including and why, and illuminated common themes in my work.

I hope to have the collection on Amazon by December or January.

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