A new conference

I’ve been addicted to short stories since reading Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery.” Although only 3,400 words long, that story has haunted me way longer than many of the novels I’ve read. When I started writing short stories myself, I had no idea who to ask for writing advice, and so I did what I always do. I read. Probably a thousand stories over a decade. Which I loved, but I did wish there was a simpler process, and now, lo and behold there is. This year there is going to be a new conference devoted to the short story.

ShortCon is an immersive, one-day event that will, according to its website,  help writers “learn how to write short crime fiction, get your stories published, and develop and sustain a long-term career writing short.” For now, it is a one-day event, to be held on Saturday, June 22 in Alexandria, Virginia.

There will be an all-star group of teachers. (I’m not related to any of them, so I am an impartial admirer, though because our last names are similar alphabetically, I have sat next to short story superstar Michael Bracken at various anthology signings.)

Here’s the line-up: New York Times bestselling novelist and multiple-award-winning short-fiction author Brendan DuBois will offer three hours of in-depth instruction on how to craft short crime fiction. Michael Bracken, author of more than twelve-hundred short stories, will offer his insights on How to Create a Long Career Writing Short Fiction.  Alfred Hitchcock’s and Ellery Queen’s Senior Managing Editor Jackie Sherbow will give an insider-look at the world’s leading mystery magazines. And then Stacy Woodson will moderate a discussion on Everything You Forgot to Ask. In addition to being an award-winning short story writer, Stacy is also a US Army veteran and a member of the Screen Actors Guild. 

So pleased this conference is taking place and wish all involved best of luck. (I will be visiting my son in London or I would go.) But I do have some questions I’d love to ask:

1. Do stories have to follow the same narrative arc as novels?

2. Is it true that Hollywood producers are always looking for short stories?

3. Are there any rules about flash fiction? 

How about you? Any questions you’d like to ask?


  1. I, too, have recently (the last five years or so) come to love short stories, and I’ve written them as holiday giveaways. My latest involve 1920s Chief Inspector Henry Blackstone of the Metropolitan Police. Since i tend to write long, short fiction is a welcome challenge. The conference sounds amazing. Wish I could attend.

  2. I would totally go to that if it wasn’t so far away. If it’s ever held in NY, I’ll be there! I would love to hear what Jackie Sherbow has to say about it all.

  3. This does sound interesting. I’ll be away on a book tour with the new Trudy Genova or I’d drive up for this one! I find short stories a real challenge as I like the luxury a novel gives for more descriptions and depth. I often listen to classic radio in the car and am impressed on how they can do a complete story in less than half an hour. When I set out to write one, I keep in mind great advice short story maven Barbara Goffman gave me: “ A short story is about just one thing.”

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