Short Story Month and a Diabolical Treat

by Paula Gail Benson

In World News ERA, Ashleigh
Durden wrote an article
“Why
is May Short Story Month?”
that delves into the history and practices to
celebrate short fiction. She traces declaring May short story month to Dan
Wickett, the founder and editor of the Emerging Writers Network (EWN), who on
April 7, 2007, posted an article suggesting a short story month, just as April
had been designated National Poetry Month. That following May, Wickett read and
reviewed a short story a day. Due to reader enthusiasm, the next year it
increased to two stories a day and in the third year to three stories a day.

Meanwhile, writers were urged
to set a goal of the number of stories they would write during the month.
StoryADay.org continues
this tradition with suggestions for short stories to read and prompts and advice
about writing short stories.
 

Earlier this month, on May 9,
Malice Domestic released its latest anthology,
Mystery Most Diabolical, published by Wildside Press and edited by
Verna Rose, Rita Simmons and Shawn Reilly Simmons.

Art Taylor featured three of
the stories in his The First Two Pages:
“All
in the Planning”
by Marco Carocari, “There
Comes a Time”
by Cynthia Kuhn, and “Fly
Me to the Moon”
by Lisa Q. Mathews.

In addition, Barb Goffman, winner of the Agatha Award twice as well as the Macavity,
Silver Falchion, and 2020 Readers Award given by 
Ellery Queen’s Mystery
Magazine
, described her story, “Go Big or Go Home,” in her Sleuthsayers post “Everything
is Fodder”
, where she explains how almost any irritation can lead to a
mystery short story.

Contributors to the anthology
include editor, Edgar nominee, and Derringer award winner Michael Bracken; Agatha
and Thriller award winner Alan Orloff; Agatha nominees Alexia Gordon, Cynthia Kuhn, and Keenan
Powell; Al Blanchard award winner Mary Dutta; and Margaret Lucke who wrote an
excellent craft book,
Schaum’s Quick Guide to
Writing Great Short Stories
.  

I’m proud and humbled to have
my story included with those of many accomplished and distinguished writers.
Here’s a complete list:

Leah Bailey · “A Killer in the Family


Paula Gail Benson · “Reputation or Soul”

M. A. Blum · “Little White Lies”

Michael Bracken · “Locked Mesa


Susan Breen · “The Demon Valentine”

Marco Carocari · “All in the Planning


Mary Dutta · “Devil’s Advocate”

Christine Eskilson · “The Reunion


Nancy Gardner · “Death’s Door”

Barb Goffman · “Go Big or Go Home


Alexia Gordon · “Happy Birthday”

B. J. Graf · “Servant of the Place of Truth


Maurissa Guibord · “Into the Devil’s Den”

Victoria Hamilton · “Reunion with the Devil”

Kerry Hammond · “Strangers at a Table”

Peter W. J. Hayes · “The Ice House”

Smita Harish Jain · “Keeping Up with the Jainses”

Cynthia Kuhn · “There Comes a Time”

Margaret Lucke · “The Devil’s-Work Ball”

Sharon Lynn · “The Professor’s Lesson”

Tim Maleeny · “A Cure For Madness”

Lisa Q. Mathews · “Fly Me to the Morgue”

Adam Meyer · “Crime Rate”

Alan Orloff · “There Once Was a Man Named Larue”

Keenan Powell · “Miss Millie Munz”

Graham Powell · “A Rough Idea”

Lori Robbins · “Accidents Happen”

Cynthia Sabelhaus · “Exegesis”

Nancy Cole Silverman · “The Case of the Sourdough
Starter”

Shawn Reilly Simmons · “The Devil’s in the Details”

C. J. Verburg · “A Terrible Tragedy”

Andrea Wells · “Taking Umbrage

Here’s a little about the
background for my story, “Reputation or Soul.” When I saw the call for
Mystery Most Diabolical, I looked up “diabolical”
in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It had a note about the origins of
the term, from the Greek “diabolos” that means “slanderer.” Usually,
“diabolical” is associated with the devil. I began thinking about a trade off:
if given a choice, which might a person be willing to live with–losing a soul
or having a maligned reputation?

I started with an image
of a jilted bride, sitting in a turret room in the church, knowing with certainty
that her groom had skipped the ceremony as well as stealing a substantial sum
of money. I was certain the bride remained calm about this occurrence and
equally certain that her younger brother, the narrator of the story, was
completely puzzled about her response.

Together, they went to
visit their abusive father, now confined in a nursing home. The father berated
them, but the sister spoke kindly to him without telling him about the runaway
groom. Then, the sister asked her brother to go with her on her honeymoon trip,
to a location where she expected the groom might resurface.

Whose action will hurt
most? In a scenario where almost everyone has a reason to seek revenge, will it
occur and what will be the consequence?

There are still a few more days left in the
short story month of May 2022. Why not check out the stories in
Mystery Most Diabolical? 

3 replies
  1. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Paul, congratulations. This sounds like a fabulous project for May. Thanks, also for explaining where your idea came from. So… is an anthology created every year after May? And how are story participants accepted? Again, congrats!

    Reply
    • Paula Gail Benson
      Paula Gail Benson says:

      Thanks, Donnell. This anthology was initiated by the Malice Domestic Mystery Conference. So far, it has published sixteen. I don't know that the StoryADay group publishes an anthology. I think they certainly encourage more folks to try writing shorts.

      Reply

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