Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Short (Fiction) Attention Span by Raquel V. Reyes

 LUCY BURDETTE: Today it's my pleasure to welcome Raquel Reyes, who's getting a ton of buzz on her first novel. She even made it into the New York Times! Congrats and welcome Raquel!



RAQUEL REYES: As a debut author, this last month has been something of a promotional tour with guest blog posts, articles, and podcasts. There are two questions that are almost always asked. What are you reading? What are you working on? My answer to both is short stories. Yes, I am, of course, working on book two in my Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series. But when I hit an impasse, I take a breather from the big 80K mountain and write a short story. Short stories are the perfect morsel. They are so satisfying to read and to write. Reading a short story in one sitting is unlike reading a chapter in a novel. The latter leaves you hanging until your next sitting, but the former ties everything up. My leisure reading is usually before bed. I can read for only about an hour before my eyes start to cross. I love that I can have a beginning, middle, and end in that short span of time. And if I don’t fall in love with the characters or setting, no problem. Tomorrow, there will be a new story to try.  

I’ve loved short stories since high school. I remember the weight and punch of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman staying with me for a long time. But I suspect my love of the short form might have come from an even earlier time. As a child, I had a subscription to Cricket magazine. The illustration-rich monthly had multiple stories in it along with poetry and games. 

Recently for a library panel, I was asked to recommend a few titles by Latinx writers. I replied with Miami Noir, San Juan Noir, Noiryorican, ¡Pa’Que Tu Lo Sepas!, and Midnight Hour. 






Not all the authors in Midnight Hour are Latinx, but several are, including yours truly. 

My bookshelf doesn’t have enough space for all the anthologies and collections I want. So, I’ve imposed a few thematic requirements (like Florida) for physical book purchases.





And if I’m attending a conference that has an anthology, I’ll always get it. I like meeting the authors and getting their signatures. Writers are fans, too. I was lucky enough to have a short story selected for the Malice Domestic Mystery Most Theatrical anthology. None of us got to go to the conference, thanks to the pandemic. You better believe I’m packing my copy in my suitcase to get it signed at Malice 2022.  

There is another theme that will always tempt me, and that’s a music-themed collection. Murder-A-Go-Go’s edited by Holly West has some treasurers. And then there is The Great Filling Station Holdup which fits both my Florida and music requirement as each story is titled and inspired by a Jimmy Buffet song. Down and Out Books has an incredible catalog of music-themed anthologies, including Trouble No More, a collection inspired by Allman Brothers songs. 


What is your favorite short story or collection of stories?


Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Trouble No More, which has my story Multicolored Lady in it. (USA/PR shipping only) A winner will be drawn at random at the end of the month.  


 Raquel V. Reyes is a 2021 debut novelist. The New York Times said her culinary mystery, Mango, Mambo, and Murder, “executes its mission—with panache.”  Raquel writes stories with Latina characters. Her Cuban-American heritage, Miami, and the Caribbean feature prominently in her work. Her short stories appear in various anthologies, including Mystery Most Theatrical, Midnight Hour, and Trouble No More. 


ABOUT MANGO, MAMBO, AND MURDER: Food anthropologist Miriam Quiñones puts her academic career on hold to move back to Miami. Mix in a new house, an opinionated mother-in-law, and a husband rekindling a friendship with his ex, and Miriam is at her wit's end. Gracias to her BFF, Alma, she gets a  job as a Caribbean cooking expert on a Spanish-language morning TV show. But when a socialite dies, and the finger is pointed at Alma, Miriam must use her culinary knowledge to solve the murder. 

32 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your debut novel, Raquel . . . I’m looking forward to meeting Miriam.

    I enjoy short stories, too. There are several on my bookshelves, mostly science fiction. My favorite collections are those written Isaac Asimov . . . .

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  2. I struggle a bit with short stories. I find that there is usually always one clunker in a collection that really turns me off. And, while I have collections I've bought with the best of intention to read them, it's always the novels that keep calling my name.

    Congrats on the debut!

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  3. Congratulations on your debut novel, Raquel. You got my interest with mango and food anthropologist.

    As for short stories, I agree the upcoming Midnight Hour anthology has some great, diverse stories by CWOC. And the Shattering Glass anthology recently won the Anthony at Bouchercon and featured stories of strong women.

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  4. Welcome, Raquel! I also love reading short stories, and writing them. I was delighted to have a story in Josh Pachter's collection of Joni Mitchell themed stories, The Beat of Black Wings, which released last year.

    There's nothing like being at a group signing at a conference - we're planning one at Crime Bake next month for Bloodroot - with fans bringing their anthologies down the line for signatures. Fingers crossed for same at Malice! (Which reminds me to pick up my copy of Mystery Most Theatrical.)

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    1. Thank you Edith! I'll have to take a look at the Joni Mitchell themed anthology.

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  5. For me, I usually pick up anthologies based on whether or not an author I like has a story in it.

    It's not a very sophisticated system but as someone who likes to at least attempt to have everything an author I am a fan of writes, this leads to LOTS of purchases but for me it is worth it.

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  6. Raquel, I am so intrigued by your Miriam's profession--the anthropology of food is a fascinating and (forgive me) delicious field of study. How did that come about for your character?

    I'm more like Mark Baker, above, in that I usually prefer novels to short stories. My favorite collection would be that of Hemingway's stories--visual, moody, ambiguous.

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  7. Congrats on the debut, Raquel. I just finished MIDNIGHT HOUR; I enjoyed it.

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  8. Mega congratulations on your debut novel's publication, Raquel! I'm off to find it...

    I'm not a major fan of short stories -- I find that I'm just getting fond of the characters and setting and -- BAM -- it's over. Themed anthologies are more appealing to me as, at least, the theme is consistent throughout the pieces.

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  9. Raquel, welcome to JRW and congratulations on the release of Mango, Mambo and Murder. I am definitely adding that to my TBR pile and am happy to hear that it will be a series. It's funny how one's taste in literature can change dramatically over the years. Since my retirement in 2011, I have been immersing myself in series and find that I cannot wait to hear more about favorite characters created by talented, imaginative authors.

    As a younger reader, I was never shy about picking up tomes like Wouk's Winds of War. But I have rarely sought out short stories. My favorite book of short stories is Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut. I think that I enjoyed every single story in that one although it's been years since I read it. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't realize that there are anthologies created around songs by favorite groups or singers. I love the Allman Brothers Band and Jimmy Buffet. Short stories derived from their songs sound like absolutely brilliant and enticing books.

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  10. A food anthropologist! What made you choose such an interesting profession to write about, Raquel? And who was your inspiration for that character? I'm thinking of maybe Bill Buford, or the late Jeffrey Steingarten: would they be considered food anthropologists?

    I've loved short-form fiction all my life, peaking when I found Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines, on which I spent a lot of babysitting money when I was a teenager. My mother's Redbook Magazine was never safe around me, because of all the short stories. I can still remember a couple of them, or at least snippest of excellent writing. Now, Redbook is just another lifestyle/hair/makeup/shopping mag, but in the 1950-1970s it had half a dozen or so short stories monthly.

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    1. Wow, Karen. I didn't discover EQMM and AHMM until I started writing short stories!

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    2. I was 14, and visiting my aunt in Maryland. My cousins are a lot younger, so I spent a part of every afternoon walking to the local 7/11, where I discovered them.

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    3. Redbook had wonderful short stories! I think I even submitted a few to them when I was just trying my hand at writing. None were accepted!

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    4. I used to read Mom's Redbook too. It was either that magazine or Cosmo that had a big fiction edition every August. Short stories galore.

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    5. I had forgotten about Redbook. I subscribed to it once upon a time and did read the short stories. Totally forgot.

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  11. Great to find out more about you, Raquel. Are you planning the FL conference Sleuth Fest and will ot be in person?!

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  12. I don’t know why the block is giving me a hard time this morning! Welcome welcome welcome, Racquel. I have to say, when I saw that rave in the New York Times, I absolutely stood and cheered. Fabulous!
    And thank you for all you do in the crime fiction community, you are amazing.
    I recently had the honor to edit the Bouchercon short story Anthology, and that was quite an education! We had more than 400 submissions, can you believe it? Luckily a team of judges divided them up, and sent me the top 30 or so. The stories were anonymized, so we did not know who had written them until the final unveiling of the top 10.
    They are so amazing – – and really reminds you of the power of a terrific a short story
    And only you, darling Racquel, would take a break from writing to… write!

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  13. Welcome to JRW, Raquel! Your book is going on my TBR list.

    Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines are great to read on the train! And what I like about mystery anthologies is that I don’t need to read from front to back; I can pick up the book and read whatever story most appeals to me in that moment.

    DebRo

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  14. Congrats on all the amazing buzz you're getting with MANGO, MAMBO AND MURDER, Raquel! I fell in love with short stories via the classic science fiction magazines: Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Amazing Stories and Asimov's. I loved the format, so I was primed when I was introduced to literary short stories in school - Poe, de Maupassant, Cheever, etc.

    Alas, I don't have the gift of conciseness. I've only managed a few shorts, and all of them have been basically fan fiction of my books. I tried a stand-alone story once; I got to 19,000 words and realized I was starting a novel instead. My novels, btw, average 127,000 words, so you can see where I'm coming from...

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  15. Congratulations again, Raquel! I loved your debut, and look forward to book 2!

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  16. Congratulations on your debut novel. A food anthropologist sounds fascinating. I enjoy anthologies. My favorite is The Lost Heifetz and other stories by Michael Tabor. This collection was captivating.

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  17. Congrats and best wishes. I have been reading short stories for years. My father introduced me to so many authors especially science fiction - Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and this began my love with many short story treasure.

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  18. Welcome to Jungle Reds, Raquel, and congratulations on your new novel. I just learned about your novel from my bookstagram account on Instagram looking at other bookstagrammers' posts about your novel.

    Once in a while I read short stories, mainly from mystery conferences.

    Diana

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  19. Welcome to Jungle Red, Raquel, and congratulations on your debut! I am fascinated by the food anthropology connection--and the food! Mango, Mambo, and Murder is going on my list asap!

    I'm not such a fan of short stories, however, which may explain why I'm not very good at writing them. I do like the idea of the themed anthology, though, so will have to check some of these out.

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  20. I've heard a lot of good things about Mango, Mambo, and Murder! As for short stories, of course children's magazines had nothing but! I read Jack and Jill and later Calling All Girls. And then I started swiping Mom's magazines (Redbook, McCall's, Good Housekeeping) for their short stories. During my literary period I read Poe, Saki, O. Henry, F. Scott Fitzgerald. And always Alfred Hitchcock collections. That's where I found and read The Birds eons ago. My only short story reading these days happens when I'm gifted a book or I find a story written by one of "my" authors about characters I follow.

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  21. Thank you all for the warm welcome. It seems we have several short fiction fans in the group. :-)

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  22. Fantastic, Raquel!!! I am always up for a food centric mystery and adding in cultural elements -- even better! Can't wait to pick up a copy. Congratulations on your debut.

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  23. Congratulations, Raquel. As a wine (& sometimes food) historian, I'm eager to read mysteries solved by culinary knowledge. And thrilled to hear this resonates with many readers, too.

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  24. I love short stories! I've written a column, Writing Small, about them and other short forms for DIYMFA.COM. I'd love to win a copy of Trouble No More.

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