Five Reasons to Write Short Fiction

Writing Clip Art(2)jpgFor the first decade of my writing life, I worked solely on short stories and the occasional personal essay. I wrote everything from 100 word ‘postcard’ fiction to 3,000 word pieces in different genres. I wound up with fifty published short stories, and even won a few writing competitions. It was a great training experience for full-length novels, and here’s why:

  • With only a limited amount of writing time, it allowed me to create finished, polished work
  • I learned how to make every word count
  • I learned to meet deadlines
  • I learned to accept rejection and benefit from editorial critiques
  • I built a list of publication credits, which helped acquire a book publisher

Back in the day, I was fan of Canada’s literary magazines and subscribed to a number of them, so many in fact that I had stacks of unread issues, which took a long time to get through, but I did. I also learned that guidelines are firm rules, not suggestions. If my 2,000 word piece was actually 2,200 words, it could be automatically discarded.

One big reason for publishing success was that I listened to editorial advice. If I was lucky enough to receive feedback, I incorporated suggestions, resubmitted, and wound up published. The experience certainly helped me understand the process when I worked with book editors.

These days, I spend too much time working on novels to return to short fiction, but I still love reading the work of others in my writers’ groups. They remind me of those early days. They inspire me to think that writing both short fiction and full-length novels is doable at this stage of my career.

This must be why I was drawn to the attached link from, which lists Canadian literary magazines and journals now accepting fiction. Regardless of where you are in your career, I recommend giving short fiction a try.



Back From a Whirlwind Vacation

Deb on Tour Bus-1Well, it’s back to the grind, but at least I feel more rested. No major sunburn on this trip, and tons of great memories. Even as we boarded the plane, my husband and I weren’t sure what kind of vacation we were going to experience. We just went with whatever we felt like doing, which turned into tours, walking, shopping, meeting up with my husband’s former coworker who’s now living down there, and of course lounging by the pool.



As you’ll see from the photo, we took a tour of the city, exploring both poorer and wealthier sections of Puerto Vallarta, plus a restaurant meal in the jungle, shopping at an amazing jewelry store, and a tour of a tequila distillery. I’ve never been a fan of tequila until now.

Mexico-2We spent time just exploring the touristy, but fun Malecón area, with plenty of souvenir shops, restaurants and a beautiful ocean view.

The only mishaps were hubby’s two falls. One took place during his early morning run, when he tripped over a brick on the sidewalk. (There are a more of them then you’d think). Those who’ve been to this area are well aware of the uneven surfaces, ongoing patchwork jobs, and some very steep curbs. Happily, he only wound up with some scrapes.

The second mishap was on a hike with his buddy, following the up-and-down trail along the coastline. Somehow, he managed to fall again, this time landing on his back, which remained sore for the remaining two days of our trip. He saw his doctor this week, and he’s fine. Healing nicely, in fact, and will be back to running soon.

Mexico-1The last mishap turned into a bonus. We were about to board the Air Transat flight home when they abruptly cancelled the flight. Long story short, we wound up with a free night at the Sheraton, three free buffet meals, and decent credit toward our next trip. Given that we didn’t have to return to work for four days, an extra day in warm and sunny Puerto Vallarta was worth the inconvenience.

Would I go again? You bet. I felt safe, the people were friendly, and the weather unbelievably good. I’m already anticipating next year’s trip!

#am blogging By the Time You Read This

My husband doesn’t like traveling. Other than taking our kids on short summer vacations, the occasional long weekend for ourselves, and writers’ conferences for me, we’ve only been in an airplane together twice in thirty-five years. Finally, trip number three has arrived.

This is our 30th wedding anniversary year, and as a gift to me, we’re going someplace warm. Just in time too. As you’ll see from the photo, this is what I’m leaving.


 This is what we’re going to!

Porta Vallarta

Yes. Puerto Vallarta! It still seems surreal. It won’t be a long trip. Both of us have day jobs and other responsibilities, yet even he is thinking that this could be the beginning of a new era for us, if all goes well.

So, with new passports, pesos in our pockets, and shots up to date, we’ll be on the plane by the time you read this. I’ll be completely off line for a little over a week and won’t be blogging for a couple of weeks, so if I don’t respond to comments, etc., please forgive me. I’ll catch up with you when I return.

#amblogging Editing in Bits and Pieces. Yikes!

self-publishing[1]As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, I like to work on more than one writing project at a time. It keeps my goal-oriented life focused and on track…mostly. One goal I completed last year was to finish the first draft of my first urban fantasy novel. It was a satisfying moment because I’d been thinking about the book off and on for about eight years.

During that time, I’d been writing and publishing mysteries which is my comfort area and something I know well. An urban fantasy that is centered around Wicca and witches required more research than I thought, and a wild stretch of imagination. As it turns out, it’s also stretching my editing skills.

Unlike my 70,000 word mysteries, this 100,000+ word book has five sections and over 70 chapters so far. Some of the sections take place in different periods of time. The book is written in present tense, which works for the sections set in current time, but I wondered about the sections set in the past, since they basically provide backstory.

After reading Manuscript Makeover and mulling it over, I decided to go back and write the sections those backstory sections in third person. By this point, though, I was already 250 pages into the second draft.

So, I’m back to section two (set in 1953) and am starting again. It’s slow-going as I’m not only changing the tense but adding new aspects and depth to the plot and characters. At the same time, I’m bringing earlier pages of that section to my writers’ group and making notes on section One that I’d thought was in pretty good shape, only it isn’t after all. I’m also waiting to jump ahead to pick up where I left off in section four (p. 250) before reworking the tense changes. All this going back and forth is leaving me dizzy, and I’m not sure that it’s working as smoothly as it could. That I only have a small amount of time each day to devote to it doesn’t help.

I remember listening to Diana Gabaldon speak at several Surrey International Writers Conferences (she even presented me with an award once), talking about how she writes a novel in pieces and at different places, then eventually knits them altogether. To this day, I don’t know how she does it. Having experienced a taste of editing in bits and pieces at different points in my manuscript, I’m beginning to think that the straight, chronological approach works better for me. I’ll know more once the second draft is finally finished. At this rate, however, I have no idea when that will be.

#amblogging Need Inspiration? Watch the Olympics

2018 OlympicsI remember writing about my admiration for Olympic athletes in the past, and for me it applies even more today than it did back then. I’m not an athlete and never have been. I am an author who’s always been passionate about writing.

Over the years, I’ve learned to deal with rejection, obstacles, setbacks, and occasional outright disappointment in my work. I’ve also learned the importance of perseverance, commitment, and finding new ways to improve and keep on learning.

Sounds a lot like what Olympians experience, doesn’t it? It’s incredibly interesting and moving to hear about the things they went through just to earn a spot at the Olympics.

We all keep going because this is how we choose to live our lives and because it matters to us, win, lose, or draw. This is why I’m still writing, still working toward goals, and still taking on new challenges.

Of course, writing is far less punishing on the body. Nor do we have TV cameras showcasing our successes and failures to the world. Unfortunately, we don’t get a nice shiny medal if we actually publish a book, although wouldn’t that be cool?

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author Debra Purdy Kong

I’m delighted to be a guest blogger on Sally Cronin’s terrific blog today!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Today’s guest is author Debra Purdy Kong who will be sharing the background to why she writes mysteries, her publishing adventures, her viewing preferences and favourite quote. We will also find out more about her work at then end of the interview.

About Debra Purdy Kong

Years ago, when I was a criminology student, I spent many hours writing about criminal behaviour for term papers. By the time I received my diploma, I realized I’d rather write crime fiction than work for the Criminal Justice System, a decision I’ve never regretted.

While I learned the craft of writing, I worked as a secretary for accountants, professors, lawyers, and a host of other interesting people and businesses. Many experiences from those years worked their way into TAXED TO DEATH, my first mystery novel, which was followed up by FATAL ENCRYPTION.

When I left full time employment to raise my children, I…

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When You Find a Good How-To Book

Manuscript MakeoverIn my quest to read more nonfiction and improve my writing skills, I picked up a book that was recommended to me several years ago. It was a good decision. Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon is one of the best how-to books on editing I’ve read in a while.

One of the great things I’ve found about how-to books is that they trigger ideas for improving my plots, characters, settings, and so forth. It happened several times throughout this book, which has caused me to go back and make key changes to the second draft of the urban fantasy I’m working on.

Now I find myself with three sets of notes to type up. One for the book review I’ll post. The second is a quick summary of editing tips I specifically need to address in all of my manuscripts. The third is to incorporate all of those notes I scribbled down about the urban fantasy.

The last section is entitled ‘Marketing’, but it’s not about promoting and increasing visibility. It’s about properly preparing your manuscript to submit to publishers. Lyon offers some really great tips on writing query letters and a synopsis. If you’re a fiction writer, I strongly encourage you to read this book. With any luck, new ideas will spring up for your work.