Our latest literary guest is Wayne C. Long – despite his surname he writes short stories. He has published four LongShortStories collections (Stories from the Edges, Flash In The Hand, Eye Candy and Where Less Is More), and Slow Dancing, a short story single, which can all be found on the Amazon. He has a nice place on the web, called LongShortStories, where you can find some author info, free samples of his work and the link to his blog.
Hi, Wayne! It’s great to have you here. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello, Renato and thanks for inviting me. I am an American short story and flash fiction writer. I was born in Chicago, Illinois and now live in Wisconsin with my wife, Diane. We are both graduates of Northern Illinois University and we have two married children (a son and daughter), a 7-year-old granddaughter and a ten-month-old grandson. After I retired early in 2003 from a successful sales and marketing career in the environmental services field, I really began to write professionally.
Maybe your readers can get a keener sense about me, the writer, from this extract from my “About the Author” page of my LongShortStories website that you mentioned:
Wayne C. Long is a digital storyteller.
His self-proclaimed mission statement is “BE what you wish to see!”
His self-portrait as a professional short story writer:
First and foremost, a reader.
An individual, unafraid.
A professional listener with an overclocked imagination, able to translate life’s complexities onto the head of a pin.
Multi-talented, multi-dimensional, yet singularly focused like a ruby laser.
A disciple of “nothing happens until the final edit.”
A social anarchist, a covert moralist, a zealot for the rights of the downtrodden, and an ardent supporter of independent thinkers everywhere.
A servant worthy of his hire.
A lover of animals and irony.
Strongly grounded in the classics, yet able to throw off the straitjacket of commercial genrefication.
A healer and repairer of breaches.
A guardian of ancient secrets.
A cosmic engineer and modern-day alchemist, able to turn thin air into leaden truth with a single keystroke.
An outsider with an insider’s perspective.
A gifted seer, able to distill from the glorious music of the spheres one bad-ass, street-smart bass line that resonates in the thumping hearts of eager readers everywhere.
Someone whose sensory perception has been refined to high art.
A mental moviemaker.
A keeper of the artist’s bowl and the sacred flame.
A lover of words.
A soldier of love.
A prophet often unwelcome in his own country.
A first-responder to the Dreamworld and an ageless shapeshifter.
A shaman of his tribe.
A bullshitter’s bullshitter.
One who does not believe for a nanosecond the tired urban myth that the short story form is dead.
And maybe, just maybe, the last one sane in a world gone horribly mad ….
How/When did you discover the urge to write?
Back in the 1960s, I was blessed with a wonderful high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. Webster. She saw that “something” in my work which she then encouraged and praised. I am so grateful to her.
How do you see the writer? Do you see him as a man with a way to connect to people through giving them an escape into the world that you invented or more as a man on a mission to make the world a better place?
Actually, Renato, I see it both ways. It is my most enjoyable challenge to create story settings that grab the reader and plunk them down into the action. In addition, I seek out themes that are at the edges of society, those gems that no one is writing about and that need spotlighting to the world at large. Themes like homelessness, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers, child abuse and a whole host of issues that are both positive as well as negative. With today’s state of our world, I have more than enough to write about.
Is your work inspired by real life and real events or is it more powered by imagination and observation?
I have a vivid imagination and have been trained in the art of active listening. Add to that my cinematically-trained mind’s eye and my unique take on the real world and you have the essence of LongShortStories.
Do you do a lot of research, study and planning? Do you have a “method” of your own?
Renato, I do a LOT of Internet research to be able to capture the essence of the people, places and things I inject into my stories. I don’t outline but instead have pretty much a fully fleshed-out view of what things will look like on the page in my head. Being a licensed Amateur Radio operator for over fifty years, I know my world geography and cultures very well and having traveled extensively to all fifty states and more than twenty countries sure helps me write realistic stories.
Do you see Twitter and Facebook mainly as productive writer’s tools or just as the way to spend time away from writing?
I have both a Facebook and a Twitter account and I use them to strategically promote my writing. Being a trained sales and marketing person, I know how to use these tools wisely while also balancing the fun aspect of Facebook and Twitter. I intentionally have kept my Facebook Friends list small (around 60) and have chosen each Friend wisely for their skill and interest in writing and music. You, Renato, are one of those valued FB Friends.
My mother was a classically-trained pianist and she gave me an appreciation of all genres of musical expression. I use that to enhance the FB experience of those gathered each day in my personal “great room” by selecting music YouTubes appropriate for the occasion. Then, I will occasionally offer up a bit of writing about social themes and maybe even do a bit of self- promotion every once in a while. It’s a delicate balance and I feel that my Friends like what they experience there.
Incidentally, I have used a professional book tweeting service to promote my work and to direct avid short story readers to my Amazon ebook ordering pages. I greatly appreciate it when my Twitter friends retweet my own tweets about me and my writing career.
How would you describe your style?
I write across many short fiction genres and can also claim to have created a genre of my very own over the years, one that identifies me as the owner of the LongShortStories brand.
What I strive to give my readership is cutting-edge short fiction filled with believable characters and accurate settings. But more than anything else, I have mastered the power of vocabulary to inject just the right imagery into my stories. Imagery that excites all six senses of the reader. After all, writing great short stories is all about choosing just the right words to convey that sense of “Where Less Is More” that all great short fiction needs. My stories are often literary fiction, dark humor, social satire, military fiction, science fiction, coming-of-age themes and even romance.
Are you primarily focused on the short form or can we expect a longer piece of work, say, a novella or a novel?
A long time ago I made a commitment to thoroughly explore the short story form and to foster its future growth as a unique art form. So far, I have digitally published more than 100 short stories and flash fiction pieces for my appreciative global readership.
Who are your literary heroes?
Ahh, Edgar Allan Poe of course. Annie Proulx, Benjamin Percy. Alice Munro. Native American short story master Sherman Alexie. And the many soldier-scribes that have vividly shared with us what combat is really like.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am putting the finishing touches on a five-part noir crime serialized story set in southern Louisiana. The bad guys are very bad and the good guys are equally bad-ass! It will roll out soon on Amazon as an ebook series.
Can you give any advice to aspiring young (and not so young) writers?
I’d be happy to, Renato. As I mentioned before, one of my goals is to foster the short story form in any way I can. For the past several years I have held the LongShortStories Short Story Contests twice each year. I encourage budding unpublished (including anywhere on the Internet) short story writers to submit their best efforts after carefully reading the simple Contest rules. We have three great prizes: First Prize is an $800-value professionally designed website built by my very own webmaster, Eugene Barnes. Second Prize is $150 cash. Third Prize is $100 cash. Lucky winners will have their winning stories posted on my blog for all the world to enjoy for an entire month and then their stories will be archived on my blog. All rights revert back to the winning writers.
Being one of the judges of the LongShortStories Short Story Contests, I see a lot of manuscripts that could have been great if the writers had only learned their craft from reading the masters of the short story form. Too many aspiring writers write for the current fad market employing vampires and zombies. What I am looking for is something so unique that it will knock my socks off! Stories rich in vocabulary. Stories that have snappy dialogue, well-punctuated and grammatically correct. There are rules to follow in writing great short fiction. Aspiring writers should take the time to learn them and make them their own.
I would be remiss if I didn’t advise your readers about another important aspect of becoming a professional short story writer (one who actually gets paid regularly for their hard work).
Writing is a business. To call oneself a professional writer, one must realize that they need a five-year plan for their business, just as any other business professional has. The professional writer needs to know (or learn) how to manage their time each writing day, to know how to market their work to the world, and to know how to manage their writing career as an agent would. Traditional publishing is changing so radically today that the smart money is on self- publishing by brave new writers who can handle it all. From A to Z.
If aspiring writers can accomplish that, Renato, our beloved short story art form will indeed have a glorious future!
Thank you very much for your time, Wayne.