My Historical Short Stories

Upon completion of a fiction writing course I took in 2001 through the continuing education department of Queens University of Charlotte, I was afforded the opportunity to join the Queens Writers Group. The group thrived under the guidance of Queens University writing instructor Judith H. Simpson.

Before Judy’s death and the subsequent disbanding of the Queens Writers Group, I got to write historical short stories that were published in two books:  Inheriting Scotland, edited by Theresa Reilly Alsop in 2002 and Tales For a Long Winter’s Night, edited by Judith H. Simpson in 2003. Both books were self-published in paperback and printed on-demand.

Look for "The Tailor's Shears" in this book of short stories
Inheriting Scotland, edited by Theresa Reilly Alsop

Inheriting Scotland

For a story to be considered for inclusion in Inheriting Scotland, I had to choose an item that had been hidden away in Lochar Castle in Scotland centuries ago and write a short story around that item’s history when it is discovered in the 21st century. The item I selected was the tailor’s shears. My story, “The Tailor’s Shears,” is set in 1703 and begins on page 177.  Inheriting Scotland is available in paperback and Kindle edition from Amazon.com.

Tales for a Long Winter’s Night

Imagine my surprise when Judy told me that she had selected my story, “Slip-Sliding Away!” to be the lead story in Tales for a Long Winter’s Night! She praised the strength of my story and gave my writing ego a boost. My story is set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina in the year 1771.

I got the idea for “Slip-Sliding Away” from an oral history story about the funeral of President Andrew Jackson’s father. In my story, why did Daniel die? And why was his funeral so funny? This book is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and my story begins on page 3.

The short story about which I'm proudest.
Tales for a Long Winter’s Night, edited by Judith H. Simpson

It was a thrill to see something I’d written in print for the first time! I had fun writing the two stories and have toyed with the idea of writing several more historical short stories for self-publication in book form. I hold the rights to both stories, so I can publish them as I wish.


What’s next for me?

My semi-confinement due to my fractured leg and subsequent pulmonary embolism seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to pursue the idea of writing a collection of short stories. On February 29 I started working on a couple of short stories. I plan to write several stories set in America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

It’s not been easy to get my creative juices running during this new normal in which we find ourselves. Slowly, though, I’ve gotten back into doing the historical research necessary for the writing of historical fiction. Although I take creative license in imagining some relationships and all conversations, I try to make the setting and the people as true to life as I can based on my research.

Most recently, I’ve enjoyed reading and rereading some documents and various books that offer background information for the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Signed by 27 men of some standing in old Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (made up of the present counties of Cabarrus, Union, and Mecklenburg) on May 20, 1775, it predates the national Declaration of Independence by more than a year.

I’ve written a rough draft of a story set in May 1775 in Mecklenburg County from the perspective of a couple who feared that war with Great Britain was inevitable.

You’ll be the first to know when I’m ready to self-publish a collection of my stories! I think it will be a good way to “get my name out there” before I finish editing my historical novel. Self-publication will be a learning experience for me and one that I will gladly share on my blog. Stay tuned!

Since my last blog post

In addition to researching and writing a short story, I’ve been for physical therapy twice. It’s strange to put on a mask and enter a place of business where the receptionist and therapist are wearing masks and to try to make small talk when there’s nothing happening except the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s slowly sinking in that things will never go back to the way they were in 2019.

Restaurants in North Carolina are still open only for take-out or delivery. Banks are open on reduced hours. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies remain open for pick-up and delivery. As of May 8 at 5:00 pm, a few stores opened in the state, but there are restrictions on how many people can be inside a store at any time. As of Friday, we in North Carolina entered “Phase One” of reopening for business. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

Each of the 50 states in the US have their own rules and regulations for reopening businesses and getting people back to work. It is a confusing hodge-podge of conflicting and restrictions. I don’t think anyone knows just how bad this pandemic is and will continue to be for years to come until a vaccine is developed and made available worldwide.

Until my next blog post

Be creative. Be careful. Stay safe. Stay well.

I hope you have a good book to read. Last night I finished listening to Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain.

Let’s continue the conversation

Do you like to read short stories? Would you consider purchasing a book of my short stories? (Don’t worry. I won’t hold you to it!)

Janet

26 thoughts on “My Historical Short Stories

  1. That is great Janet! I am so glad you had your stories in print! I think that taking this time to write is a very good idea. The isolation needs to be broken with creative work, otherwise we will tend to think too much about this situation. I am glad that your city has entered Phase 1, we did not pass and are still stuck on Phase 0, until today at 1400 hours when our president presents the work our community has done to the Ministry of Health of the nation (in Madrid) to see if we qualify to go on into Phase 1. It is crazy. My wife and I just bought one of those plastic shields, they are more comfortable than masks for walking as masks fog up your spectacles when you breathe…but the whole thing is crazy! Well, let us all keep writing and trying not to think about all this madness. It is quite a lovely day here in the Mediterranean, hope you enjoy your Wednesday too and that you continue with that series of short stories, I am sure they will be smashing!
    All the best Janet and take good care,
    Francisco

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  2. Thank you for your words of encouragement, Francisco. I hope my writing of short stories will be a bridge to getting my novel published — even if I have to self-publish. I read an interesting article recently in which a British author speculated that this pandemic will result in a major transformation in book publishing. She speculated that the major publishing companies will only publish the big name writers, leaving self-publishing as the only choice for those of us who haven’t made it yet. I used to say I’d hold out to be published by a “real” publisher, but I now think chasing that dream is no longer realistic. If I can establish myself as a serious historical fiction writer through my short stories, hopefully, I can begin to build a base of readers who will be familiar with my name by the time I finish my novel.

    You’re so right about one’s glasses fogging up when wearing a mask. I’m also finding that after a while the mask slips under my glasses and into my eye! There’s a learning curve. I haven’t left the house enough yet to get the hang of this. North Carolina has slipped from holding steady to seeing an increase in infections this week, so we might be stuck in phase 1 or have to revert to phase 0, too.

    I’m ready to write and enjoy the summer, even if it’s like no summer anyone has ever seen. You’re correct in saying we need to not dwell on the pandemic. It’s something we might have to learn to live with, like the risk of terrorism.

    All the best to you as well,
    Janet

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  3. Thank you Janet… I think you’ve the right approach with the thought of self-publishing and starting with the short stories you are bound to start developing a readership that will know you by the time your book comes out. I guess breaking into the other publishers is practically impossible unless someone pulls you in, connections you know, absolutely necessary in any aspect of the business of art or literature, but nowadays we’ve many options with the internet and we can reach many more people than before…I wish you all the best and I know you will succeed. Take good care and keep writing and walking and strengthening yourself and I’m pretty sure we’ll come through this pandemic madness and life as we knew it will resume. Have a pleasant evening and good night from Spain,
    Francisco

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for finding my blog and for leaving a comment. I’m glad to know there are others out there who enjoy short stories. It’s wonderful that you are recording some of yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. We’re so fortunate to have the resources of the internet today to share our work with the whole world. Good afternoon from a warming North Carolina.
    All the best,
    Janet

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Actually, my intention was to make my own book into an audio book, but so far have only recorded other works – Maupassant’s short stories and books of the Bible, which I have illustrated and put on YouTube now. There’s always so much I want to do. I do love historical fiction though…. but I just love real stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry I’m slow getting back to you. Life intervened. It sounds like you’re well on your way to being able to record your own book. I’m impressed with what you’ve done.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, Rosina. I’m so very pleased that you enjoyed my blog post today. That was a terrible time in America’s history, and shows that sometimes even the U.S. Supreme Court can and does make decisions that are hurtful to people and that we can look back on now in disbelief and horror. Thank you so much for your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Janet, you’re very busy researching, thinking, writing, recovering. Your recovery reminds me of mine some months ago from the injury to my spine. Seems to me our recoveries were slow. and yours is still taking place whil mine is finally over, though one is always fearful that has happened once can happen again. Keep working–you and I are no different probably. The writing life I lead is no different than the one anted to lead as a child, and as I have lived all my working life..As I say, I’ll bet you’re very similar.

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  10. For so many weeks I felt like I was spinning my wheels. Now that I can navigate around the house, I’m starting to accomplish more. I reworked my blog’s editorial calendar this weekend to incorporate more history posts.That has energized me a bit and given my blog a better-defined focus.

    Recovery seems slow, but I’ve come a long way. The physical therapist asked what my goal was at my initial appointment. My answer was, To forget which leg I broke. ” Every week, he asks me if I remember which leg.

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  11. I’m so happy you’re more mobile and able and with it now. I think that your goal to forget whether the leg you broke was the left or right one is ideal. I too found recovery longer than I expected, progress cruelly teasing, turtle-like., aggravating. But as I say I’m fine now except I am not allowed to lift anything that weighs more than five pounds. (This is being written by a man who was a weight-lifter.)

    I wanted to mention to you that my current post features some of my poetry you might like.

    Stay well, friend..

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello, David. I was getting ready to read your poetry post more than several days ago but was interrupted. I haven’t gotten back to it. I think the physical therapy twice-a-week after 13 weeks of inactivity caught up with me on Monday and caused a fibromyalgia flare up. I look forward to reading your poetry, and I apologize for being slow to get around to it. I’m counting on tomorrow being better than the last couple of days.

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  13. I never envisioned that the profession of writing would come in handy during such a pandemic as we are now facing. So it’s inspiring to read that you can keep on writing amidst your physical issues. As for historical research, my recent lockdown obsession with the Netflix series Outlander has moved me to prepare a a historic journey to Scotland with my wife next year. Stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah, the Outlander series. I loved the books and have been glued to the tv show. You will love Scotland! My sister and I made that trip three times. Would love to go again, but I don’t expect to. On two trips, we rented a car and drove all over the country. Stayed in B&Bs. Met a lot of nice people along the way. I hope you and your wife enjoy it as much as we did.

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  15. Thank you, Rozina! I apologize for taking more than a week to respond, but I just saw your comment tonight. I don’t know how I missed seeing it earlier. Thank you for your encouraging words. They mean a lot to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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