Short and, well, not sweet

In which I tell you about of my collection of stories.

Yes, I’ve mentioned these stories here before, but they’re available again, this time under my name.  Preternatural is now available as an ebook (sorry, digital only), but at a reduced price ($0.99-how much of a bargain do you want?).

Preternatural Gabi Stevens_300 Pixels


What’s so special about these stories? Well, they are a departure for me. I’ve been published in romance. These stories are definitely not romance. Their mostly science fiction, but a couple are horror, and there’s a little fantasy in there too. The stories are short–I mean really short, and for whatever reason, my brain goes to really twisted ideas when I write short.

One of the stories is I think the best piece o writing I have ever done, and originally I wrote it in German. And it’s only two lines long. We had an assignment in college to write a fable and I did. The professor must have agreed with my opinion of the piece because I got an “A.” I threw it into the collection because I do like it, and I really like the moral. Heck, As You Wish explores the same theme.

The rest? A couple of them I wrote when I was teaching a unit on Edgar Allan Poe and short stories. Each year, I had my students write their own short stories, and I contributed one as well. We collected each story and I copied off a “book” for the class. I still have those collections. One I wrote several years ago, that always made me smile at the end (but in a wry way, not because it had a happy ending) Many I wrote in the space of a couple of months when I was encouraged to get a slim volume together.

In any case, they are re-available. The first time they appeared, I used a pseudonym because the stories are so different from my romances, but it didn’t get much traffic. Now they’re under my woo-woo name. (Anything paranormal will be under Gabi Stevens)

I hope you’ll try these tales if you haven’t already. And if you have, I’d love a review at Amazon or Goodreads or where ever.


Books I’m reading now:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe


Where have all the good men, ahem, books gone?

…in which I lament my taste in books.

I finally found a book I absolutely loved last year. It was THEFT OF SWORDS by Michael J Sullivan. I blasted through it and then snatched up the next two in the series and literally cried at the end for having such a wonderful experience. Okay, the tears might have been a little insane, but it has been so long since a book/series has swept me away. I have recommended this book to a close friend and my daughter, and turns out they have felt the same way. In fact, my daughter told me she hasn’t been able to read another book since because she’s afraid it just won’t live up to the experience. I know what she’s talking about. I have since read a book I enjoyed enough to follow up on the series, but not with the same enthusiasm. But the series has to wait until I finish reading some required reading. And I’m not enjoying these books at all.

My Harry Potter Shelf--books in German and English
My Harry Potter Shelf–books in German and English

Yes, they are fiction, and they are in a genre I supposedly love, but they are nothing books. Nothing about them makes them stand out. One was readable; one was riddled with errors a good editor could have easily fixed (other than the weak protagonist); the others have been, well, nothing books. Nothing about the stories was original. If one subscribes to the theory that no plots are original, then nothing about the books was fresh. It’s not that they were bad; they were all forgettable.

It must be my taste. It seems like every book I read in this particular genre these days are the same. Not the plot; just, forgettable. I don’t know who’s to blame. Is it the editors in charge of buying books and who are afraid to take a chance on something different because something unproven is risky? Is it the readers who glom these tepid books because they’re comfortable? Is it the authors who are writing to what they think the audience wants (and apparently the audience for such books is huge because they are selling)? As I said, it must be me.

HARRY POTTER blew me away. READY PLAYER ONE blew me away. BEWITCHING blew me away. THE LOST DUKE OF WYNDHAM blew me away. I, ROBOT; DANDELION WINE; THE MARTIAN; TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD; these all blew me away.

Then there are the next level books that I enjoy enough to be glad I found, and if they’re series I will continue with them. Heck I even re-read some of them. But for the most part, I end up with forgettable books.  Nothing books. My taste. Then again, what do I know. It isn’t as if I have “best-seller” after my name. In the meantime I search for the next book that will blow me away.

Because being blown away is absolutely the best experience in the world.


Books I’m reading now:

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

Networking . . .

. . .Or the big fail. At least for me. In which I look at networking.

I admit it. I suck at networking. After twenty plus years in this business, attending major conferences almost yearly, having been published by some of the big five in NY, I should have contacts out the wazoo. I should have lists and lists of author friends, sheets and sheets of readers’ information, editors and agents I can call by first name or just call on the phone. The fault is mine. It isn’t that I haven’t met these people–I have–and they were all very nice (with the exception of one agent I met early in my career before my first sale, who shall remain nameless but basically told a group of us that if we weren’t Nora Roberts, he wasn’t interested in us). I’ve been on panels with big name authors, had lunches and dinners with editors,  always behaved professionally and politely, and I can boast that I have NEVER missed a deadline (the latest I turned in a contracted novel was the day before it was due). My novels have required little revision (seriously, two scenes in ten books), I’ve had more than one copyeditor say that mine has been the cleanest manuscript they’ve ever seen and more than one write me a special note that they loved my book, and, for the most part, I’ve received positive reviews (There would be something wrong with my writing if everyone loved everything I wrote.)

So what’s the issue?

I am hopelessly shy.

Who could be afraid of this face?
Who could be afraid of this face?

Put me in front of a room of people and make me speak, and I do great. In fact I love it. I love to teach, elucidate, share my knowledge. But I don’t know how to reach out one-on-one to the people who could forward my career. I don’t want to “bother” them. This is the special dichotomy many writers share. I KNOW my stuff–grammar, story structure, formatting, etc.– and because I do, I tend to go it solo. So because I’m competent, I don’t bug people. Yet I am filled with self-doubt. I really crave recognition, acknowledgement, and frankly, if I’m so good that I don’t get editing, why am I not on the best sellers lists? Something is missing and I think it’s personality.

I know authors who are people magnets. They walk into a room and make everyone feel as if they are their best friend. I walk into a room and try not to feel uncomfortable. I try to push myself into talking to people, but that’s an almost insurmountable obstacle for me. It’s rare that I can bubble in front of my close friends, much less in front of strangers. If however anyone comes up to me and starts a conversation, I am so grateful. My readers have no idea how much their reviews or emails mean to me. I do enjoy learning about the daily lives of editors and agents. I just suck at initiating such conversations.

So here’s my tip to you.  If you ever meet me somewhere, come up and say, “Hi.”  Please. I will love you for it. Or just drop me a line. Or review one of my books (Even if you hated it–one of my favorite reviews was one from someone who didn’t rave but wrote a thoughtful account of my novel that she enjoyed, but didn’t love. But the review was so fair and well thought out, I had to reach out and thank her.) The same is true for any author. They will probably appreciate it.

Remember: I am more afraid of you than you are of me.


Books I’m reading now:

Can’t say. It’s RITA time again.