I've now produced three publications: a full-length historical mystery (A Pig in the Roses), a 10,000-word adventure for children (The House on Athene Street) and a collection of previously-blogged historical short stories (Voices from the Past). So what exactly is the particular pleasure of writing short stuff?
The stories in Voices from the Past are a varied lot, some very short, some humorous, a ghost story or two. One story, Hoard, set in Roman Britain, has already appeared on this blog and here's a bit from Hallveig, a brief sketch set in medieval Iceland :
Below her the farmhouse sat comfortably into the fellside, thick turf walls on a timber frame buried in the earth, the floor inside lower than the grass cropped outside by Gelli’s sheep. Inside Hallveig’s sullen daughter Rannveig, fifteen and ripe for marriage, would be taking bread from the oven, practising for her husband. Red Gelli and his sons had been out after the fish all day on the breathing sea to the south, opposite to the thunder.
Hallveig smiled and picked up her spade. She remembered Gelli in his young days, burning with the stories brought back by the companions of Leif Eriksson, tales of the seas beyond Greenland, of the vine-country, of the skraelings with their skin boats and red hair and furs. They had taken ship together, sturdy young man and wife and baby sons going a-viking, sailing west late in the season to find new lands unknown to Leif Eriksson. Several days out at sea they hit seas like mountains, seething and roaring, sucking at the keel of the ship, winds that tore the sail and lifted the waves inboard. Back they came through icebergs striped like the jaws of whales, wallowing in the tide with nothing to show for it, and never sailed out of sight of land again unless it was after the fish.
Oh, wonderful, Xanthippe thought. The great get-Xanthippe-married-off-to-the-Nose conspiracy is up and running. And here he comes, the great one himself.
Sophilos appeared in the doorway, a gangling youth of nearly seventeen with a vague smile lighting up those parts of his face not occupied by nose. He rubbed hands on his tunic, leaving soil stains, and nodded shyly to the visitors.
‘I’ve been chasing the pig out of the vegetable patch,’ he said. ‘It likes onions.’
Xanthippe felt a giggle rising up her body and threw her brother an imploring look. Save me, it said. Please don’t let me laugh at him!
Hermippos marched over to Sophilos and grabbed him by the arm. ’Tell me about the pig, Sophilos,’ he said firmly. ’And have you started cadet training yet? It starts at your age, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to start, but I’m too young.’ Together the boys sauntered out into the sunlight. ’Is that the pig over there,’ Hermippos went on happily, ’digging up turnips with its nose?’
Her fingers clasped over her mouth and tears of silent laughter in her eyes, Xanthippe heard her mother say, ‘There, Lysikles, I said the boys always got on well together.’
The House in Athene Street is $2.99, Voices from the Past is $1.99 and A Pig in the Roses is $3.99. All are Smashwords premium titles and available in all the usual ebook formats. Details are on my Smashwords page and at http://www.peteralanorchard.net/, where you'll also find a short story, Starlight, for $0.99.