My 10 Favorite Alphabet Short Stories

I’ve been kind of busy and neglecting the blog, so I thought I should do a quick post just to let people know that — you know — I’m still alive.

I’ve been working on processing the next installment of the 2017 Alaska Cruise, but it’s been slow going because of the whole busy thing. Being short on time, it’s not ready.

So, how about a quick post listing my ten favorite Alphabet Challenge short stories? And, just to be clear, I mean the favorite of my stories (yes, I have an ego). I’ll push the Broxon Twins to do likewise for their stories, but they don’t do my bidding (a sad thing that).

But first, a picture . . .

More on that later . . .

So, at the end of the challenge, I published a post listing all the stories (mine and the ones from the Broxson Twins). Click on this LINK for that post; it gives readers a convenient place to access all of the Alphabet Challenge stories.

I’d also ranked my stories halfway through the challenge (LINK). All three writers were supposed to list their favorites but so far it’s only been me, and this might be no different.

Of course, I like all my stories (I have to say that so they don’t develop emotional issues; don’t tell them otherwise) but I’m likely to re-read some more often than others (keep this mum, too).

For this post, I re-read all my stories over the course of one week . . . and I was surprised at the standings moving around a bit.

It could be because of the mood I’m in, or that I’ve been away from the stories for months . . . but I think it comes down to both the story and the quality of the writing. I’m not tooting my own horn — heck, I don’t even own a horn — but some stories are better written than others. Nearly all were written pretty much at the last minute before the deadline — and some after — so it’s not that I spent more time polishing one story versus the other, and all are pretty much the first draft with only spelling and grammar edits.

But, re-reading them months after I wrote them is closer to what a reader might experience. Not that I’ve forgotten the plots or characters, but a bit of separation has me read differently than when I’m proofing right after writing something.

Anyway, enough . . . here are the rankings as of this writing.

No. 1 – Permeability Police (winner of the “P” round)
The title is forced, but — as a reader — I really like the setting. I like the humor, the references to the occult, magical characters and items, and the dialogue and interactions of the characters. This is a setting and world that could easily be turned into a book or a series of short stories . . . and maybe it will.

No. 2 – Zoo (winner of the “Z” round)
I did a lot of research for this story; much more than what I needed for it, and I could have easily written three or four thousand more words because this is another “book-worthy” idea. As it was, I should have written at least another thousand words to clear up some things and shape the action a bit more. This idea will surface again in my writing; I’m sure of it.

No. 3 – Homophyly (second-place finisher in the “H” round)
Another book idea (or at least a novella) that got sacrificed to the short-story gods. Again, the characters, the plot, and the blending of human and magical characters are what works for me. I wonder how many noticed there was only one human character, and it was only a minor and inconsequential role. The title was a stretch, but it’s based a bit on face recognition technology and the idea it may someday supplant ID cards. It will be interesting to see if kids will try to wear fake faces to get into bars.

No. 4 – Soldier (second-place finisher in the “S” round)
This was a bit of a stretch, but it imagines a true melding of humans and machines. Of course, I hope that we won’t still be fighting wars when this technology becomes available . . . but we probably will be. It’s a human thing; it pretty much defines our whole history, so I assume it will endure. As far as the story, I used a theme that can be found in many of my stories; the strong helping the weak. I know, I know; completely opposite of real life . . . but one can dream, no?

No. 5 – X (Marks The Spot) (winner of the “X” round)
Another story with a lot of background research, as well as lots of Google Earth screenshots so that I could accurately describe locations and movements. Many readers probably saw the “twist” coming, and I admit I was rushed to finish, thus doing a poor job of masking the end reveal. Frankly, I was surprised this won the round, but hey . . . I’ll take it.

No. 6 – Astronaut (winner of the “A” round)
I had ranked this my favorite in my previous list of favorites, and I struggled with it dropping to sixth place (although there are new stories in the running now that weren’t yet written at the time of the first ranking). I like the concept and it’s a nice story, but I think the pacing and writing show the writer (me) rushing a bit and cutting some corners. Then again, it’s supposed to be a short story.

No. 7 – Combat (third-place finisher in the “C” round)
This story grew on me from when I wrote it. I’d given it an honorable mention in the last ranking, but upon re-reading it, I like . . . well, I’m not sure what I liked. But the idea that we bond with objects is not without evidence. I assume it would be even more so with bipedal robots. It’s easy watching a dancing robot and forgetting it’s a machine. In fact, it’s often difficult reminding oneself there is nothing driving its movements beyond a piece of software.

No. 8 – Falcon (third-place finisher in the “F” round)
What can I say . . . I so want to be Jen, flying around the Galaxy . . . I don’t mean I want a sex change; it’s the flying around the Galaxy part that I would like, and only if Melisa is with me. Also, once again, the underdog doing well and then helping others . . . unrealistic, I know, but something I like writing about. As for the story, imagine two or three hundred years ago when people traveled to faraway lands, likely to never return (all the people who moved West, for example); there is a spirit of adventure in humans that unfortunately has little outlet in the modern world. I think humanity will pay a price for its lack of frontiers.

No. 9 – Gauntlet (winner of the “G” round)
To say this was an easy write is an understatement, and it obviously connected with a lot of people who probably were experiencing the same thing at the time this was published. As a humor piece, it’s even funnier for me because it’s basically a retelling of an actual shopping experience.

No. 10 – Novel (winner of the “N” round)
I like writing humor . . . it can’t be done on-demand, at least not for me. This is another story that just flowed with seemingly no effort on my part. It has its roots in the many references about my fictional Muse. I think I had named him Guido, but now I’m not sure . . . he’s been gone for a long while and — truthfully — I kind of forgot about him. Anyway, perhaps he was present when I wrote this. I especially liked writing all of the different versions and, surprisingly, the poem at the end. Who knew!

And that’s the (current) top ten Alphabet Challenge short stories. Who knows, perhaps in six months the ranking will again chance. I said I like all my stories, and I do. Of the twenty-six that I’ve written for this challenge, I find only two a bit clumsy and obviously rushed to the point of suffering and making me want to change them (I won’t . . . they sit there as published). The ideas were interesting, but the execution lacked.

I said I’d have more information about the photo at the beginning . . . the photo, by the way, is a reworking of a wave breaking on lava rocks on the Big Island. The treatment is meant to make it look . . . hellish. Why?

That’s a placeholder for the graphic accompanying the stories of our next challenge . . . The Seven Deadly Sins. You can see them listed on the right, with the first — Lust — scheduled to go live on May 15th.

The plan is for each of us to write a story a month going down the list of deadly sins. The stories can be anywhere from 666 words to 6,666 words in length. If ambitious, the writers will provide accompanying graphics. These stories will not be anonymous because some writers may want to use the same characters for each story and write a series — or book — encompassing all seven sins. Finally, interpretation of the titular sin is up to the writer.

For example, “lust” may refer to a person or thing. Check the dictionary if you want to read all applicable instances of the word “lust”.

We’re also working on a logo; the embossed image at the lower right corner of the book is our first attempt, but we’re still discussing the details.

Stay safe.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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