Sunday, June 17, 2012

Please Welcome Small Town Gal, Helen Ginger, an Author and Editor at The Corner Cafe

Helen Ginger
The Corner Café
I live in a small town outside of a big town. When I moved here ten years ago, we had one stoplight and a couple of stores. We were just a bump on the road to the lake. Now we have many stoplights, two huge walking malls, a cinema, and lots of traffic. Big or small, one thing we don’t have is a corner café.

So, when an online group I belong to decided to put together a short story anthology and call it The Corner Café, I wondered what I could contribute. As it turned out though, we didn't have to write about a café, we just had to mention the corner café somewhere in the story. Since all proceeds on sales would go to charity, I really wanted to contribute.

I ended up writing two stories, one long, one short, and both got accepted.

The long one is called Gila Monster. Here is its logline: Neree, who parked her beat-up truck, Gila Monster, in the senior parking lot, hopes to find it still there at the end of school, but what she finds is an unexpected possibility.

The shorter short story, called One Last Run, is only 360 words: When a couple ski a black diamond run in a blizzard, the truth of what happened is in the blood.

The length of a short story doesn't matter as much as the story itself and the twist or surprise at the end. You want the reader to have a visceral reaction to the story - a laugh, a gasp, a smile, an "ah-ha" or an "oh no" or perhaps an "I didn't see that coming!"

But as you write, you have to remember that it's a short story. That means every word has to count, have meaning, move the story forward. Cut wasteful words. Focus on the character. Focus on the ending. Get there without being distracted by minor characters or incidental plot lines. Short stories mostly have one plot line -- the one that leads directly to the end. But that means that the end is the pay off, so you can't reveal it beforehand. This isn't to say that the end will always be some huge surprise or reveal. It may be quiet or satisfying or something that doesn't hit you upside the head, but touches your heart.

A short story can be two paragraphs or twenty pages. After all, what's short to you may not be short to someone else. I’m 5'9". I used to be tall, but now I'm short. Oh, I'm still 5'9", but my daughter is 6'1", my husband is 6'6", and my son is 6'10". So, when you see us together, I'm short. It's all in how your look at it.

If you've never tried your hand at writing a short story, give it a go. Why not!
                            
About Helen Ginger's new release, Angel Sometimes.
Angel Sometimes has a plan: Go home to Oklahoma and ask her mother why she loved her one day, then threw her out like garbage the next. At 12, she was left on the streets. She's now 22 and swimming as a mermaid at The Aquarium. She's almost ready to confront her parents, but to do that, she needs three things: her high school diploma, a car and a gun.

Helen Ginger is also the author of three books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series. You can find two of her short stories in the just released anthology, The Corner Café. Her free ezine, Doing It Write, now in its thirteenth year of publication, goes out to subscribers around the globe. You can follow Helen on her blog, Straight From Hel, on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. She is also Co-Partner and Webmistress for Legends In Our Own Minds® and the Coordinator of Story Circle Network’s Editorial Services.

Amazon Author Central Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/helenginger
Website: http://helenginger.com/diw.htm
Blog: http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MermaidHel
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HelenGinger1
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/HelenGinger
Legends In Our Minds®: http://legendsinourownminds.com/
Story Circle Network Editorial Service: http://www.storycircleeditorialservice.org/

Please welcome Helen Ginger to Double M by leaving a comment.
Next Tour Stop is Tomorrow At http://patbean.wordpress.com/

Check Out the Complete Corner Cafe Tour List Here At:
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/2012/06/blog-book-tour-for-corner-cafe-tasty.html

45 comments:

  1. Welcome to Double M, Helen. I'm halfway through Angel Sometimes and am dying to know what happens next!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

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  2. Hi Morgan. Thank you for inviting me to Double M! You have so many fabulous books out. Do you feel as excited with each one as you did the first?

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  3. The first will always be special. What I do feel with each book is nervousness. Did I fix everything? Will everyone like it? From remarks by other authors when their books are released, I don't believe I'm alone when it comes to nervousness.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

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  4. Hi Morgan,
    I always wondered what it would be like to write a short story! Not sure that I could, but you make it seem doable. You're books look interesting.

    Lawna Mackie
    www.lawnamackie.ca

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    1. I was pleasantly surprised when I tackled the two I wrote for The Corner Cafe. I always have trouble getting my word count up, and with short stories, I don't have to worry about that!

      Morgan Mandel
      http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

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  5. I think Gila Monster probably is the best-named story in the book! That one is next on the reading list.

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  6. I used to write short stories all time time. Need to dig out those old notebooks sometime.

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    1. You could make an anthology, Diane.

      Morgan Mandel
      http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

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  7. Great to see Helen again. She is a fantastic writer and I always enjoy her blog on Straight from Hel. Good interview, Morgan.

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  8. Hi Gwyn! Hi everyone.

    Lawna, think of a short story as a long story stripped to the bones. No extraneous characters, no side story threads. Look for the core of the story and focus on that. Instead of having less, you end up with a very rich story because it is so focused.

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  9. Great post Helen! I wrote a few short stories, but they ended up in my books. One I used to as chapter one for Breakthrough. Its a mini-adventure that didn;t have anything to do with the main story but was a lot of fun to write and a good way to start off my book.

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  10. I found your descrition of stories interesting. I think of a short story more as a snapshot of a moment in time, something that captures a feeling or emotional state. I've read many that have no real ending, but they linger in my mind, make me feel as though someone understood a deeply felt but difficult to articulate emotion.
    That said, I enjoyed your stories very much!

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  11. Enjoyed the interview, and thanks, Helen, for that concise description of what is included in a short story. That is most helpful for anyone who does not know how to write one. When I first started with short stories, I made the mistake of focusing deeply on more than one character. That can work for a novel, but not a short story.

    BTW, I have read your stories in The Corner Cafe, as well as Angel Sometimes, and I enjoyed them all.

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  12. Great tips for writing short stories. I hope writers will read this!

    Angel Sometimes sounds really interesting. Is Sometimes her last name? Is she really a mermaid?

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  13. Helen your book sounds great! Congrats!

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  14. And remember that short stories change with the times. They don't necessarily HAVE to include a lot of action and plot. They can be a momentary snapshot in time, which gives insight about a place, an emotion, that sort of thing. There isn't really "resolution" in this type of short story, yet the reader has to feel a sense of completion - like they got something from the read. The toughest part of writing a short story is ending it. It should not be the first chapter of a book, making the reader turn the page to find out what happens next. Nice tour stop, you two. Always nice to learn more about the authors. I know what Helen means about feeling short these days. I'm 5'10" and always seem to be looking up to young people.

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  15. I'm 5'4", with a 6'4" husband, so let's have none of this short talk! Except for the stories, which are a blast to read. ;) Thank you both for a neat post, ladies!

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  16. Red, Angel is her given name, but Sometimes is a last name she gave herself. She's not a real mermaid. She swims in a mermaid tail in a restaurant/bar in the music district of Austin. Because she's in a big main tank and smaller side wall tanks, she has more restrictions than I did when I swam as a mermaid in a resort park.

    Silfert, you and I like 'em tall, don't we!

    Lauri, I so wish it were available in your area!

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  17. Morgan, when you get a moment, come by my blog. I have a surprise for you.

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  18. Hi Helen, thanks for the good advice on writing short stories.

    Morgan, I like the look of your blog.

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  19. Helen--I recognized your name because I remember The Gila Monster. I
    loved that story, and laughed out loud. I also cheered the girl on for being spunky and brave, while shaking in her boots, and also for not tattling on the stupid seniors. You have a real talent for that kind of writing.
    I've not read all the stories in the Corner Cafe, but I will....so far, all are very good. Thanks for the entertainment.
    P.S. I taught high school kids. I actually liked them.

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    1. Hi Celia. I'm so glad you liked The Gila Monster. I, too, liked Neree. She's still "talking" to me and may end up being the star of a full length book.

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  20. Hi Helen, I will remember your advice when I write short stories. Every word has to count. How true. BTW I am short short at 5.1!

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    1. I just went shopping today, Mona, to try to find some pants. They're always short on me. I bet you have the same problem, in reverse.

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  21. I've been writing some short stories lately. (Have one accepted into an anthology.) I think these tips are awesome. And I will not forget them as I'm working on another right now. I truly enjoyed your stories down at The Corner Cafe. :-) *waving*

    Forever Young is on my TO BUY list this week. I was so busy last week I could never get by to purchase it. I cannot wait to read it. :-)

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    1. Hi Robyn. I've read Forever Young -- I think you'll like it. I did!

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    2. Thanks for your interest in Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, Robyn. I hope you enjoy it!

      Morgan Mandel
      http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

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  22. I'm enjoying reading The Corner Cafe stories so much, Helen. I've tried to write a few short stories but never seem to quite get it right.

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    1. Don't throw them out, Patricia. You'll come back to them later and they'll work. I've found that sometimes it just takes some pondering. Maybe a week, maybe a year.

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  23. You have one tall family, Helen!

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    1. I do indeed Alex. Never considered that when I said "I do."

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  24. Excellent points, Helen. I started out writing short stories, still do, and plan on writing more. I think all novelists should write them, and I have a long list of reasons why. I've spoken to several groups on the subject and will do it again at Lexi-Con in Denton, TX, in July.

    All the best to you, my friend.

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    1. Earl, you are probably the best at short stories. I hope you have fun at Lexi-Con.

      To anyone going to Lexi-Con in Denton in July, be sure you catch Earl's workshop.

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  25. Morgan, I love this "Reply" button on the comments. I need to find how to get this on my blog!

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  26. Thanks, Helen, for the great advice on writing short stories. I often write "seat of the pants" style without regard for reason.

    I thought we had a tall family--I'm 5'8", have two daughters also 5'8" and one 5'11". My husband is 6'3". Now we seem short!!!

    Great post. Thanks Morgan for the interview.

    Monti
    Mary Montague Sikes

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    1. See Monti! It's all relative, in more ways than one.

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  27. This is a great testament to the short story, Helen, and to being short, which I'm 5'1", so I know about short :) What wonderful advice you offer here for writers. Loved it!

    Alice

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    1. When I was in high school, Alice, I did not like being tall. I've come to accept it, though. It's still not easy to find pants long enough, though! No matter what height you are, there is always a challenge.

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  28. Great advice about writing short stories. It really does require a lot of discipline

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    1. So true, Kate. Whether you're writing a short story or a full length book, you have to make every word count. Most often, that means cutting and condensing during the edit and rewrite stages.

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  29. I have both books. Angel is going on vacation with me next week.
    Corner Cafe is my inline read (times when I have a short wait but don't want to think about it). I'm really loving the all the twists so far.
    Great job.

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    1. Short stories are wonderful to keep on your eReader or in your purse. You can whip it out and read whenever you have down time.

      Mary, I'm so happy you're going to read Angel Sometimes. I really hope you enjoy it. It's odd that I feel so much more invested in my first fiction book than I ever did with any of my non-fiction books.

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  30. Helen, I've read your super short story that takes place on the ski slopes. A perfect example of "story" in compact delivery. It's a talent few writers can lay claim to.

    Thanks Morgan for having Helen post!

    karen

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  31. Great post, Helen. I downloaded a copy of this book. I look forward to reading your stories.

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  32. Thank you Karen.

    Hi Cheryl. There are some great stories in The Corner Cafe. I hope you enjoy them all!

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