“Shortcuts”

Steve Williams: “Will there be more like “Wait For Signs”? Really enjoy the short stories as well. Wish more authors would publish these nubs of ideas.” I think when you’re first starting out as a writer, one of the most difficult things to do is gauge the scope of a tale and be able to tell if what you’re looking at is a novel, a novella, or a short story. Over the years I’ve gotten to be like a gambler at the racetrack, looking over stories and attempting to determine if they’re a quarter horse, good for bursts of speed at a relatively short distance or thoroughbreds who are likely to go the full-length- novel distance. I’ve often told the story of my wife somewhat forcing me to write my first short story, Old Indian Trick, for the Cowboys & Indians / Tony Hillerman / Pen USA Short Story Contest, simply because she wanted to have dinner with Tony. I think it was a transformative point for me, allowing me to see that even though a story is only twelve pages or so, it can still have an impact and a message rivaling those of an entire novel. As the holidays approached, I sent out that first short story to everyone on my Post-It mailing list, and didn’t really know what kind of trouble I was making for myself until the next December when readers started asking when they’d get this year’s free Christmas Story… It became a tradition, and one I really enjoy. All through the year I’ll be combing the newspapers or eavesdropping on conversations that might provide a vehicle for my little holiday stories. After I got about ten of them done, I was contacted by A.S.A.P. Press in California about doing a limited-run anthology. They had published these beautiful, leather-bound, illustrated editions with Tony Hillerman, Margaret Coel, and others, and I thought — sure, why not? It was only after I looked more closely at my contract with Viking/Penguin that I realized they had first-refusal rights on all of my writing. I quickly got in touch with my editor there and explained the situation. They were great and said no problem, so long as it was a limited run. Later that year Viking/Penguin approached me about doing an anthology, mostly based on the sales of my first novella, Spirit of Steamboat, which had sold pretty well. It was a tough sell in that short story collections don’t really garner much of a response unless you’re somebody like Tom Hanks… (Who I was fortunate enough to see at the Rancho Mirage Writer’s Festival in Palm Springs and he was marvelous; funny, smart, insightful). Actually, now might be an opportune time for me to release the news that I’ll be at the Festival again this coming January with some guy that plays a sheriff on some TV show. Anyway, I persisted, they relented, and Wait For Signs came into existence having chugged along onto the New York Times Bestseller’s List and continued sales ever since. Here in another year or two I’ll be approaching enough of the short stories to consider writing a few extra to fill out another anthology which I think Viking/Penguin will be open to, probably continuing to use the phrase with Stay Calm. A message for the times, don’t you think? Some authors write short stories and get them published in magazines or collections, but other than the one in Cowboys & Indians, I kind of keep mine close. I’m not sure why more don’t do it, other than the financial renumeration really isn’t worth a lot unless you’ve got a well-defined fan base. You do have to change gears in the process, but I think that helps expand your abilities as a writer, and that’s always worthwhile. For anybody who hasn’t read any of the short stories, here’s the one I sent out for Christmas to the folks who subscribe to my Post-It Newsletter. See you on the trail, Craig Return to 52 Pick-Up 2.0

52 PICK-UP 2.0 - WEEK 15

© Craig Johnson All Rights Reserved

Author Of

“Shortcuts”

Steve Williams: “Will there be more like “Wait For Signs”? Really enjoy the short stories as well. Wish more authors would publish these nubs of ideas.” I think when you’re first starting out as a writer, one of the most difficult things to do is gauge the scope of a tale and be able to tell if what you’re looking at is a novel, a novella, or a short story. Over the years I’ve gotten to be like a gambler at the racetrack, looking over stories and attempting to determine if they’re a quarter horse, good for bursts of speed at a relatively short distance or thoroughbreds who are likely to go the full-length- novel distance. I’ve often told the story of my wife somewhat forcing me to write my first short story, Old Indian Trick, for the Cowboys & Indians / Tony Hillerman / Pen USA Short Story Contest, simply because she wanted to have dinner with Tony. I think it was a transformative point for me, allowing me to see that even though a story is only twelve pages or so, it can still have an impact and a message rivaling those of an entire novel. As the holidays approached, I sent out that first short story to everyone on my Post-It mailing list, and didn’t really know what kind of trouble I was making for myself until the next December when readers started asking when they’d get this year’s free Christmas Story… It became a tradition, and one I really enjoy. All through the year I’ll be combing the newspapers or eavesdropping on conversations that might provide a vehicle for my little holiday stories. After I got about ten of them done, I was contacted by A.S.A.P. Press in California about doing a limited-run anthology. They had published these beautiful, leather-bound, illustrated editions with Tony Hillerman, Margaret Coel, and others, and I thought — sure, why not? It was only after I looked more closely at my contract with Viking/Penguin that I realized they had first-refusal rights on all of my writing. I quickly got in touch with my editor there and explained the situation. They were great and said no problem, so long as it was a limited run. Later that year Viking/Penguin approached me about doing an anthology, mostly based on the sales of my first novella, Spirit of Steamboat, which had sold pretty well. It was a tough sell in that short story collections don’t really garner much of a response unless you’re somebody like Tom Hanks… (Who I was fortunate enough to see at the Rancho Mirage Writer’s Festival in Palm Springs and he was marvelous; funny, smart, insightful). Actually, now might be an opportune time for me to release the news that I’ll be at the Festival again this coming January with some guy that plays a sheriff on some TV show. Anyway, I persisted, they relented, and Wait For Signs came into existence having chugged along onto the New York Times Bestseller’s List and continued sales ever since. Here in another year or two I’ll be approaching enough of the short stories to consider writing a few extra to fill out another anthology which I think Viking/Penguin will be open to, probably continuing to use the phrase with Stay Calm. A message for the times, don’t you think? Some authors write short stories and get them published in magazines or collections, but other than the one in Cowboys & Indians, I kind of keep mine close. I’m not sure why more don’t do it, other than the financial renumeration really isn’t worth a lot unless you’ve got a well-defined fan base. You do have to change gears in the process, but I think that helps expand your abilities as a writer, and that’s always worthwhile. For anybody who hasn’t read any of the short stories, here’s the one I sent out for Christmas to the folks who subscribe to my Post-It Newsletter. See you on the trail, Craig Return to 52 Pick-Up 2.0

52 PICK-UP 2.0 - WEEK 15

© Craig Johnson All Rights Reserved

Author Of

“Shortcuts”

Steve Williams: “Will there be more like “Wait For Signs”? Really enjoy the short stories as well. Wish more authors would publish these nubs of ideas.” I think when you’re first starting out as a writer, one of the most difficult things to do is gauge the scope of a tale and be able to tell if what you’re looking at is a novel, a novella, or a short story. Over the years I’ve gotten to be like a gambler at the racetrack, looking over stories and attempting to determine if they’re a quarter horse, good for bursts of speed at a relatively short distance or thoroughbreds who are likely to go the full-length-novel distance. I’ve often told the story of my wife somewhat forcing me to write my first short story, Old Indian Trick, for the Cowboys & Indians / Tony Hillerman / Pen USA Short Story Contest, simply because she wanted to have dinner with Tony. I think it was a transformative point for me, allowing me to see that even though a story is only twelve pages or so, it can still have an impact and a message rivaling those of an entire novel. As the holidays approached, I sent out that first short story to everyone on my Post-It mailing list, and didn’t really know what kind of trouble I was making for myself until the next December when readers started asking when they’d get this year’s free Christmas Story… It became a tradition, and one I really enjoy. All through the year I’ll be combing the newspapers or eavesdropping on conversations that might provide a vehicle for my little holiday stories. After I got about ten of them done, I was contacted by A.S.A.P. Press in California about doing a limited-run anthology. They had published these beautiful, leather-bound, illustrated editions with Tony Hillerman, Margaret Coel, and others, and I thought — sure, why not? It was only after I looked more closely at my contract with Viking/Penguin that I realized they had first-refusal rights on all of my writing. I quickly got in touch with my editor there and explained the situation. They were great and said no problem, so long as it was a limited run. Later that year Viking/Penguin approached me about doing an anthology, mostly based on the sales of my first novella, Spirit of Steamboat, which had sold pretty well. It was a tough sell in that short story collections don’t really garner much of a response unless you’re somebody like Tom Hanks… (Who I was fortunate enough to see at the Rancho Mirage Writer’s Festival in Palm Springs and he was marvelous; funny, smart, insightful). Actually, now might be an opportune time for me to release the news that I’ll be at the Festival again this coming January with some guy that plays a sheriff on some TV show. Anyway, I persisted, they relented, and Wait For Signs came into existence having chugged along onto the New York Times Bestseller’s List and continued sales ever since. Here in another year or two I’ll be approaching enough of the short stories to consider writing a few extra to fill out another anthology which I think Viking/Penguin will be open to, probably continuing to use the phrase with Stay Calm. A message for the times, don’t you think? Some authors write short stories and get them published in magazines or collections, but other than the one in Cowboys & Indians, I kind of keep mine close. I’m not sure why more don’t do it, other than the financial renumeration really isn’t worth a lot unless you’ve got a well-defined fan base. You do have to change gears in the process, but I think that helps expand your abilities as a writer, and that’s always worthwhile. For anybody who hasn’t read any of the short stories, here’s the one I sent out for Christmas to the folks who subscribe to my Post-It Newsletter. See you on the trail, Craig Return to 52 Pick-Up 2.0

52 PICK-UP 2.0 - WEEK 15

© Craig Johnson All Rights Reserved
Author Of