By Sally Carpenter
A short story anthology is like a box of chocolate—you never know what you’re going to get.
Like all small presses, Cozy Cat Press doesn’t have a big advertising budget, so publisher Patricia Rockwell is always looking for new ways to promote her authors. One year the authors joined together to write a group mystery, “Chasing the Codex” (I wrote chapter 3). Another year CCP published a cookbook.
This year Patricia wanted to release an anthology to showcase the writers. Instead of paying for one author, the reader gets 25 different voices to sample.
Submissions to the anthology were voluntary. Some writers had other commitments and some chose not to take part.
The anthology doesn’t have a theme because that proved too limiting. Some authors wanted to use an old story they had sitting in a drawer. Others wanted to write about their CCP series characters. Others wanted to pen something different than their books. In all, an eclectic mix.
This year I’ve been working on a novel to launch a new series, so it was fun to revisit Sandy Fairfax, the star of four books of his own. He has such a distinct personality that I jumped back into his voice with no effort.
The story takes place on a children’s TV show, an idea that sounded fun but not meaty enough to stretch into a 200-page novel. Besides, I’d already written two books set on a studio lot, so I wasn’t interested in rehashing that idea for another book. So the kids’ show was a simple concept suited for a short story.
In late spring/early summer this year I wrote “The Puzzling Puppet Show Caper.” My books follow chronologically, so this story immediately follows book four. I wanted to reuse a character from book two, but in reviewing that book I discovered the character couldn’t make a comeback. I created a new character to take its place. I’d forgotten how book two ended, so it’s always good to reread ones books now and again.
I manage to sneak in a recurring character, Sandy’s agent, who appears in all four books, and his girlfriend, who arrives in book two. Short stories have no room for subplots, so none of Sandy’s family members show up.
The time frame is shorter. The novels cover one to two weeks. The short story is set in one day.
Like the books, Sandy involves himself in a murder investigation and gets caught in a “death trap” at the end. He’s been in more cliffhangers than the Perils of Pauline.
Enough about me. I ordered the book because I’m eager to read how the other authors put a story together.
The other authors in the anthology are Amy Beck Arkawy, Allen B. Boyer, C.F. Carter, Linda Crowder, Glen Ebisch, Bart J. Gilbertson, Helen Grochmal, Lorrie Holmgren, Bret Jones, Mary Koppel, Elizabeth Lanham, Owen Magruder, Jane O’Brien, Joyce Oroz, David Pauwels, Emma Pivato, Joe and Pam Reese, Megan Rivers, Patricia Rockwell, Rita Gard Seedorf, Rae Sanders and Annie Irvin, Lane Stone, Margaret Verhoef and Carmen Will.
The print version is a larger size than the regular CCP paperbacks in order to accommodate all the stories—340 pages!
So if you’re looking for a tasty story this holiday season for yourself or as a gift, dip into the “Coy Cat Shorts” smorgasbord.