Category Archives: Short Stories

Experimenting With Stories

I’ve found myself experimenting with stories recently, which is a bit surprising since I’ve been writing on and off for most of my life and haven’t typically been too experimental. But lately I’ve concocted three different experiments.

First, I wrote a story in an unusual style. Rather than the narration and dialogue that typify most tales, “Testimony” is a science fiction tale told as a condemned prisoner’s appeal to a planetary governor. More unusual still, due to a nefarious form of espionage technology, the condemned has no memory of events and must rely upon the testimony given by others to construct his defense.

Second, by way of illustrating the writing process, I wrote two stories, revised them, and polished them “as readers watch.” Obviously readers weren’t really watching, but I annotated these works as I developed them, to show my thought processes. The first story, “Zoe,” is one of my recent favorites. I presented it in both first draft with annotations and final draft without annotations. The second story, “The Test,” was presented in three drafts, first, revised, and final, with annotations on the first and revised drafts. Taken together, these two experiments offer a number of insights into the writing process.

Finally, “The Stones on the Shore” was originally written as a flash fiction story, then expanded to a longer short story. This is an interesting creative exercise, because every story has its natural length. You can’t just lengthen a story. It changes in the process. In this case, a new character appeared in the longer version, and the ending differs significantly.

I hope you enjoy all of these experiments. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Image “purple outdoor light turned on” by mahda doglek on Unsplash

Introducing Laura Koerber

Recently I’ve been reading novels by newer, largely unknown indie writers. By way of helping them along, I’ll be introducing some of them here. These authors are up-and-coming, at varying stages in their development as writers. They may not all have the polish of traditionally published authors, but I think they all have potential and deserve encouragement.


Laura Koerber wrote her remarkable literary debut, The Dog Thief and Other Stories under the pen name Jill Kearney.  Dogs and sometimes cats meander through this collection of twelve beautifully told stories. Populated by the infirm, the destitute, and the desperate, these are not pretty tales, but they are riveting. I was hooked right from the start with the bold rescue of abused animals in “The Dog Thief,” and I stayed hooked until, like the little fish in “Circles,” Kearney finally let me go. Her character sketches are drawn with bold lines, bringing to life a collection of pathetic, courageous, beaten, and triumphant human beings living on the fringes of society.

You might find your own life reflected here in some way. Strangely, the dog introduced in the first sentence, Lucky the three-legged pit bull, reminded me of one of my granddogs, who has a bum leg and usually doesn’t put any weight on it. The female protagonist in the final story is 59 years old, like me, and some of her reflections mirror some of mine at this time of life. Koerber has us pegged, it seems. Her stories are more than worth every penny.

I recently asked Laura Koerber a few questions about her writing:

What inspired you to write The Dog Thief?

I was inspired to write the first story, “The Dog Thief” by a series of events involving the rescue of five dogs from a situation much like the one in the book: a backwoods neighborhood of eccentric, hardscrabble people, neglect and abuse of animals, and various efforts, legal and extralegal, to help the animals. That kind of opened a door and out poured more stories. I had not previously thought of myself as a writer. I have a degree in art, and I paint.

Had you published anything previously or since?

I have published three books under my real name and am working on a fourth.

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found is a non-fiction account of the rescue of 124 dogs from a hoarder in Washington state, an amazing story that involves lawsuits, assaults, arrests, protests, and an attempt by the hoarder to run away with the dogs packed in a semi-truck.

I just published Limbo, which is a fantasy about life after death. Actually it’s about souls in Limbo who decide to have a neighborhood block party.

I also published The Listener’s Tale, which is a light, cheerful escapist story for people who want something relaxing to read.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a novel about a mother/daughter relationship.

Where can readers find you?

On my Amazon author pages (Jill Kearney and Laura Kroeber), Goodreads, and Facebook.

More Reading Material

Yeah, so I’m not very good at keeping up to date with this. Here are three more books that I’ve recently read and reviewed on Goodreads.com.

Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew by John Pickrell
Something dinosaur lovers might want to read, but to be honest I wasn’t overly impressed. Click on the title to read my review to see why.

Under God’s Big Sky by Shannon Heuston
I read this as part of an indie writers’ group. It’s a pretty good tale for a first novel by an indie writer. I want to say more on that general subject in my next blog post, but for now click the link above to see my review.

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
A classic collection of short stories by one of the masters of fiction. I reread this for the first time in many years and found it every bit as wonderful as I remembered it. Again, click the link to see my review, but more than that, read this book. You won’t regret it.