I still remember the very first short story that ever made an impact on me. I was in third grade and our teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story involving the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. It wasn’t the first writing assignment we had been given in her class. Mrs. King loved reading books to us and always encouraged us to use our imagination in our writing assignments. But it wasn’t until this particular assignment that I realized just how gifted some individuals could be at story telling.
It was the final day before Thanksgiving break when Mrs. King stood up in front of the class and told us that she had a very special story to read to us in preparation for the holiday. The story was written by my good friend Sara and it chronicled the life of a turkey family living on a ranch with hundreds of acres of roaming space. They were a happy family; a mother, a father, and three little ones, and they lived a perfectly happy life until the father was dragged away by the ranch owner and sacrificed in front of his entire family for Thanksgiving dinner.
For a third grader, the writing was amazing. Mrs. King had to stop reading more than once in order to collect her emotions. By the time she was finished reading her face was stained with tears and all of us were whimpering at the thought of eating a turkey dinner the next day. In fact, as an adult, I still recall with perfect clarity the emotions from that experience while I’m stuffing my own prized bird each year. I also find myself silently praying that this turkey wasn’t sacrificed in front of his family like the one Sara wrote about so long ago.
Flash forward many, many years and you’ll find that I’ve developed a passion for reading short stories. My coworkers have heard me talking about them ever since I was introduced to short story collections a couple of years ago. I love, love, love them. In fact, my love affair with short stories collections started while reading 8 Pounds by Chris F. Holm and Needle: A Magazine of Noir. For me, there is something truly amazing about reading a story for twenty minutes and walking away feeling no different than if you had just finished a 400 page novel. When done correctly, the characters are strong, the information is just as descriptive, and the emotions you develop while reading the stories are probably more intense since you are getting an incredible amount of info in a really small amount of time.
Almost two years ago, when Kent Gowran decided to create Shotgun Honey – a flash fiction website featuring hard-boiled crime in 700 words or less – I happily promoted the site on twitter and sent him a quick message letting him know that if he needed help with anything I’d be happy to assist. I was thinking more along the lines of cheerleading… ‘cause I’ve got a loud voice, but Kent felt I was capable of more. So for 18 months I worked with Kent and Ron Earl Phillips and Chad Rohrbacher reading and editing short stories, and helping new writers find a place online. It was rewarding and enlightening and… rewarding. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to work with others, and I also learned how hard it is to write a rejection letter. (For those of you that have ever received a letter like that from me, please know… from the bottom of my heart… how difficult it was to write.)
Then, about 18 months into my editing gig, talk of an anthology came up. A few months after that, Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels came to life. Both Barrels is a fantastic collection of stories written by some of the best in the business and I’m honored that I could play a small part in getting it ready for the world. It was a labor of love by all of us… something that I’ll look back on with fond memories; forever thankful for the lessons learned and the family that was created because of it.
So, in this incredible anthology… with an awesome cover, btw… you’ll find a variety of stories featuring people from all walks of life suffering the consequences of choices made by either themselves, or the predators so creatively written. From the foolish man in Cameron Ashley’s The Blonde Chimera to the vampires in Steve Weddle’s unique tale in The Awakening: From the Cyborg Lesbian Vampires Chronicle (yeah, you read that right), you’ll find that each story in Both Barrels are as originally broken and hard-boiled as the authors that wrote each tale.
Both Barrels is a collection of the bad; a collection of the ugly; a collection of suffering… and a collection of writing that any good girl with a heart full of bad, like mine, will fall in love with.
And, for the record… I did not pose for the cover!