Birthnight & Gifted

Posted in ebooks, self-publishing, Short Stories.

There are two stories, which are much shorter than the previous six. They were written at about the same time – very early ‘90s, and over­lap­ping by a month.

It’s inter­esting for me to reread them, because I often don’t reread my short fiction unless I’m looking for specific details in a partic­ular story – for instance, when looking up the Maker’s Guild in Memory of Stone. As I approach the task of proofing them (and describing elements of each story to the graphic designer), I’m struck by the sense of watching myself change as a writer over a decade and a half. These stories were written twenty years ago. All stories come from the sum of our expe­ri­ences, obser­va­tions, and inter­ests, but not in completely predictable ways. I do not remember writing these stories, because two decades and small chil­dren have changed me.

They’re not the stories I would write now, either. They both have some of the feel of fairy tale in their language and the way event unfolds, and they are both about the end of immor­tality. I think that’s one of the subjects that’s always spoken to me as a reader — the passing of an age, the loss that it entails.
——

Birth­night is the first, and has the distinc­tion of being the first short story sale I’d made to that point. I’d sold two novels (although they had yet to see publi­ca­tion, since the lead-time was much longer than it is now), written most of a third. My third attempt at a short story became the Books of the Sundered. So this would tech­ni­cally be my fourth attempt at a short story, because novels were my natural writing length.

I think it works better read aloud, which surprised me; when I wrote Birth­night, it had such a strong voice for me and the cadence of the sentences was entirely natural. But it’s possibly because it has some of the feel of a fairy tale of the type I might have listened to as a child, although I wouldn’t have under­stood the why of the end.

The story is avail­able now at Smash­words, and is in the queue at Amazon​.com and iBooks.

——

Gifted is mostly set in a contem­po­rary urban envi­ron­ment, but the tone of the language itself isn’t hugely contem­po­rary, because it’s written from the view­point of the last of the Genies, and in this partic­ular small universe, Genies perish when they grant their third and final wish, so the narra­tive voice is distant because distance is how he’s survived.

The second char­acter, the human, is an old woman who lives alone.

I think it’s a little short at the end; I hadn’t completely learned how to balance tone, voice and, well, length. That struggle, at least, has continued.

The story is also avail­able at Smash­words, and is in the Amazon​.com and iBooks queues.

I’ve added links to the author pages on the side-bar in “Other Stuff About me”. I’m in the process of adding links to Amazon.com’s author page(s) as well.

17 Responses to Birthnight & Gifted

  1. fyreink says:

    I think I under­stand what you mean about looking back at old written work. I’m still a college student, but when I go through my old notes and essays that I wrote from elemen­tary school to the present, I can’t help but notice how much my hand­writing and writing style changed through out the years as well as my self. Looking back at it all brings back a strong sense of nostalgia and a bit of embar­rass­ment. I was different then compared to how I am now.

  2. fyreink says:

    Oh, forgot to mention, both the covers for the ebooks are very beau­tiful. They remind me of the cover for The Memory of Stone.

  3. @fyreink: I really like the cover of Birth­night. I don’t mind the cover of Gifted, but I don’t think it works as well. With these covers, the designer went with Photo­shop brushes rather than single images. I really like some of the later covers (she’s done the first thirty in total, so the hold-up here is on my end. It takes, at this point, five solid hours per story, although that will possibly go up as the stories get longer — which they will.)

  4. Michael says:

    That struggle, at least, has continued.

    Keep losing the good fight, Michelle! I’m rooting for “you”!

  5. I greatly enjoyed ‘Gifted’ when I read it in ‘Speaking with Angels’. Regards to your self-crit­i­cism — unbal­anced ending and all — I think this is more apparent to you than to your readers. I know with my paint­ings and sculp­tures that every single flaw glares at me shouting ‘guilt, guilt, guilt’ yet at the shows no one sees them. I’ve even shown some to friends who later couldn’t find them again. Doesn’t mean the little crafts­man­ship voices will shut up, but I’ve learned to adjust :)

  6. Genna Warner says:

    Just finished reading both of them. And I loved them both for different reasons but Gifted I think is my favorite of the two. I don’t think the ending was unbal­anced at all and worked well with how the story was told. The ending did make me cry. *sniff*

    On Birth­night, I see why you think this would work better read aloud. The short story screems at me to add illus­tra­tions. The scenery that you paint in this story is very vivid in my mind and I think it would augment the text very well.

  7. @hugh: it’s always a problem for creative people, though: we think we’ve improved, but it’s hard to be objec­tive about our own work. It’s why I try very hard not to rewrite every­thing while proofing it. Very hard >.>.

  8. @genna: First: Thank you!

    Second: I have no visual artistic ability what­so­ever. I can barely draw recog­nize­able stick figures >.<. I have a very good eye for commer­cial type­set­ting, but no ability what­seover to do it well — just well enough that it looks like it ought to be better.

  9. @Kerri: thank you! Gifted and Birth­night were put up at the same time, and I just checked iTunes, and they’ve released Gifted as well. I’ll add the links to my short story page.

  10. @Michelle: The comment on Amazon refers to the sample. If you down­load the sample, because the Amazon samples are based on percent of the total length, you don’t get any of the story =/. At Smash­words you can set a percentage of the total as a sample (with a default of 20%); at Amazon, you can’t.

    So if you buy the story, you get the whole thing, but if you ask for a free sample, as it’s 5k words, you don’t get any of the story itself.

  11. LOL — Learn some­thing new every day. Thanks! I’m still reading Birth­night. I got halfway through and a phys­ical book grabbed my atten­tion…

    TBH, it doesn’t make ANY sense to down­load a sample of a short story…

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