Blog of Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author, Jory Sherman. Get the latest information on his books, appearances and his candid reflections on writing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Imagination is a wonderful gift and a marvelous tool for the writer. Recently, I conducted a short story workshop for the Northeast Texas Writers Organization ( at the Northeast Texas Community College's new extension building in Pittsburg. The room had 20 brand new computers and some of us brought our laptops. There were 24 participants, no, make that 25, for I was one of those.

Our mission was to start and complete a short story from scratch in the 4 weeks allotted, with each session lasting 2 hours on a Saturday morning. I started my story the same way I advised the enrollees to start theirs. We began by using free association to create a list of titles which might stimulate our imaginations.

I began just as they did, with nothing but a blank screen. The titles served to stimulate our imaginations. I looked at every title and most of them inspired me to begin a short story. In a few minutes everyone in the room had plunged themselves into a story inspired by one of the titles.

I wrote 2 stories during the course of the workshop.

This workshop rekindled my interest in the short story and in the next two weeks following the conclusion of the course, I wrote two more stories and I have begun still another in the past week.

Following this period, I learned of a new feature on Amazon ( called Amazon Shorts. Furthermore, the editor was Dan Slater, who was my editor at NAL/Signet. I asked him if he would look at a short story and he told me to email him one. I sent the second story I wrote during the workshop.

Now, Amazon Shorts offers short stories, essays, plays and articles that are short for 49 cents each. It's simple. You see a story or a piece you wish to read and the download is almost immediate following the transaction. I downloaded several stories written by writers I knew, Terry Bisson James Lee Burke, and Thomas Sullivan, a one-act play by Bisson, and a piece about writing written by Bruce Holland Rogers.

Dan didn't want the story I sent because it was not a western. He said there would be time for me to experiment and stretch myself into other genres later on. In the meantime, he wanted a "western" story.

I wrote Dan that he was sending me up a dead end street, that my story was neither a stretch nor experimental. I pointed out that I had sold over 500 short stories over the past 50 years of my writing career. But, I sent him a story I wrote following his email called UTE MOUNTAIN. He took the story and it should be posted as an Amazon Short this week. It will be the first "western" story on Amazon Shorts and, so far, is the only "western" short story available there. He kept the other story; the first one I sent him. For later consideration, I assume.

He asked me to do more, so I wrote another "western" short story and sent him that, along with the first story I wrote in my workshop.

In the meantime, I can't get the short story out of my mind. I have been reading stories downloaded from the web. I read several of Bruce Holland Rogers' stories that were posted on other sites and were free downloads.

Bruce has a subscription service for the stories he writes. You can learn more about this writer and his work, his offerings by going to his website, I subscribed to his service. For $5.00, he will send you three new stories each month for a year. That works out, he says, to about 14 cents a story. He writes a new one every 10 days or so. Most are short shorts and each one I've read is fascinating, absorbing, well-written. I told him I'd like to offer a similar service from my website, only mine would not be short shorts but full-blown stories of 2500-5000 words. He answered my questions and gave me some good advice. As far as I know, he is the only one doing this on the web.

I've been to several websites which publish short stories and, frankly, the quality is poor. Rogers is a master storyteller. He does some other things on his website, too, which I won't go into at this time. But, he's a fascinating writer and I enjoy reading anything he writes.

My stories will be offered for the same price, $5.00 a year, but the subscribers will get a story a month. But, my stories will take as long to read as 3 short shorts, so it's still a bargain.

Norman Mailer, in a talk shown on Book Talk, C-Span2 television this past week, said that for this country to be great, it must elevate the language. He said the Irish became a great country because of this, and it all springs from the work of James Joyce. James Joyce was the writer who kindled my deepest yearnings to be a writer and invoked a love of language that continues to this day. I believe the short story, and certainly Joyce's were wonderful examples, such as those in DUBLINERS, helps to elevate the language and nurture the imagination. I also believe that, because of writers like Bruce Holland Rogers, there will be a renaissance in short story writing and reading. Many of the best markets for stories no longer exist. This is a shame in my estimation. The short story is just the thing for busy people who love to read, who love the English language, and who haven't time to devote to reading a novel. Rogers has subscribers all over the world. In a sense, he may be the spearhead for this rejuvenation of the short story, especially the short short, which is an even more difficult medium than the longer stories which I write.

So, look for my stories on Amazon and take a look at the stories I will write over the coming years by subscribing to my subscription service. I think your imagination will be stimulated and you may even take to writing your own stories.

I take notice that all of these events, the workshop, Amazon Shorts, my discovery of Bruce Holland Rogers, and my renewed love of writing and the short story all coincided with the publication of my Ozarks short story collected, THE SADNESS OF AUTUMN, by this past month.

I believe the short story Renaissance is at hand.

Jory Sherman