Little man’s complex: short stories that pack a powerful punch

This is cross-posted at The Season.

Taming of Mei LinI love short stories. I studied them in college and some of my all-time favorite authors (like Flannery O’Connor and Angela Carter) wrote brilliant short stories.

I’ve never been a big fan of romance short stories, though—until recently.

Last year I won a copy of Jeannie Lin’s The Taming of Mei Lin. It sucked me right in, and, best of all, I didn’t have to stay up late and go to work bleary-eyed just so I could finish reading it.

Then, recently, the amazing Suzanne Johnson posted a short story on her site. Now, Suzanne’s one of my critique partners and I Chenoire coverget to read her stuff regularly, but her first novel isn’t being published until next year, so her short story Chenoire is a (free!) taster for the rest of you. Let me tell you, the world Suzanne has created is amazing. Think about all the strange things you hear about from the Deep South. Now add fantasy and paranormal characters, and a wicked funny voice. That is the recipe for a Suzanne Johnson story.

After reading the wonderful Chenoire, I discovered Kelly Fitzpatrick was giving away her short story Holiday Hostage.  Kelly is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter. Every conversation I have with her leaves me clutching my sides. So an opportunity to check out what her writing style’s like? I’m all over that. Holiday Hostage is funny and full of attitude—like Kelly’s tweets, but longer. Even though I never ever ever buy e-books (no e-reader, and I hate reading on my laptop), I bought Kelly’s debut novel Lily in Wonderland. Yep, couldn’t help it. The short story gave me a taste of Kelly’s voice, and I had to have more.

Holiday Hostage coverThree authors. Three vastly different voices and types of story. All awesome. And two of them—Jeannie Lin and Kelly Fitzpatrick—made me fans of their work by tempting me with a well-written short story first. (I confess, I was already a huge fan of Suzanne Johnson’s writing.)

Aside from being short and easy to consume when you don’t have much time, one great benefit of these stories is that they’re cheap (or free) ways of trying out a new author. You don’t need to invest much time or money and end up disappointed and broke.

Do you like reading short romance stories? Have you ever bought an author’s novel after loving their short story writing style?


  1. I just got a magazine of romance shorts (about 2k or less each) and I’m enjoying them! It’s a cool way to get a little story while waiting in the drive thru. Lol!

    1. What magazine, Mallory? Sometimes I can only handle a very short story before I fall asleep, and a good novel will keep me up all night.

  2. Kat – get an e-reader. I only bought one because…all my stuff is out in e-format. But I’m quite fond of it. I still love my paper books and dream of having one some day. A girl can dream, can’t she?

    1. I know, I know. There are lots of times when I think it’d be so handy. One of these days…

      And I’m really looking forward to reading Lily. I’ll just have to cuddle my netbook in bed as I read.

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