Today, I’m excited to have my friend Holly Schindler here to talk about her short story cycle, Forever Finley.
Here’s the description from Holly’s website:
True love never dies – or so Amos Hargrove, a brave Civil War soldier who lost his beloved before they could marry, still believes. His spirit, some say, pervades the town he founded and named for his sweet fair-haired young beauty. In Finley, dreams come true, love blossoms, and second chances are unearthed. Is Amos’s spirit truly at work, granting wishes as he continues to search for his own love? Does his unfulfilled desire continue to have influence on those who call Finley home? What will it take to finally unite two souls meant to be together?
Forever Finley is a collection of stand-alone yet interconnected short stories; when read cover to cover, the stories build like chapters in a novel. As a whole, Forever Finley explores the many facets of love – whether that love takes the form of friendship, romance, or passion for one’s life calling. These warm, uplifting, often magical tales detail loss and perseverance, the strength of the human spirit, and the ability of love to endure…forever.
COURTNEY: Today, we’re talking about the writing and publishing of FOREVER FINLEY. Can you tell us about the writing process? What were some pros and cons of writing and publishing a new short story each month?
HOLLY: I honestly didn’t plan on writing one a month when I wrote the first installment. In late 2015, I indie published “Come December,” thinking it would simply be a stand-alone holiday short story. But the story really took off in a surprising way. I moved a ton of copies—readers were coming to my work for the first time, dropping me messages about having enjoyed the piece. It made its way into the hands (and tablets and Kindles) of so many new readers that I thought, “It’d be a real shame to leave it at that. I’d like to continue the story.”
The obvious answer probably would have been to catch up with Natalie again (the protag of “Come December”). I was actually more interested in the setting, though. What kind of place would allow Natalie to meet George (another character from “Come December”)? It seemed a magical place. A sweet place. A place I really would like to return to time and again. As I brainstormed, it suddenly became clear that I had enough ideas to return to Finley once a month throughout 2016…
COURTNEY: Like many readers, I came to FOREVER FINLEY through “Come December.” I’m a sucker for a good holiday story—it’s all I read in December—and good new reads can be hard to find. But you took it past the holidays. What were some pros and cons of writing and publishing a new short story each month?
The pros of a publishing a new story each month? Learning to go with my gut. I’ve been writing full-time since 2001 (my first book was accepted in 2009). As we all know, the process of first draft to publication is fraught with rejection. And after you sell a book, you’re then inundated with editorial letters and reviews. Everyone has their own opinions, identifying various strengths and weaknesses. You could almost get whiplash from it all! Most dangerously, though, you can begin to doubt yourself.
COURTNEY: Yes! One of the toughest things about drafting and revision is knowing which feedback to take seriously and which to let go. Which is helpful and necessary, and which is a very subjective matter of opinion or personal preference? I bet it was a relief to bypass all that in this project, but I’m sure it was also nerve-wracking to put work into the world without it.
HOLLY: Once I decided to turn “Come December” into the FOREVER FINLEY series, I was shocked at how quickly a month could go by! (Which was really the only downside.) I was never without new ideas. But I was also working on full-length projects as well. In 2016, I indie published an adult novel (MILES LEFT YET) and my first illustrated children’s book (WORDQUAKE). My fourth YA (SPARK) also released with HarperCollins. And in the midst of all that, I was always working on a new FINLEY story—which required its own cover and synopsis in order to list them on KDP, Nook Press, iBooks, etc. Going at that pace, I couldn’t second-guess myself. I wrote; I gave each story my all; I revised and polished; I published. I learned a ton about cover creation and writing eye-catching copy. And my readers taught me that while revision is always required, often your first instincts regarding a piece are the best.
COURTNEY: I’ve always been in awe of how prolific you are, and now you’re doing traditional and indie publishing. Can you tell us about the experience of being a hybrid author? Why was indie publishing the right path for FOREVER FINLEY?
One of the best things I think I’ve done for myself is go hybrid. Obviously, FOREVER FINLEY never would have been released in regular, short installments with a traditional publisher. (The best I could have hoped for going traditional would be to sell a few stories to periodicals, then collect them into a single volume.) That’s the great thing about indie—independently published works are no longer books that aren’t “good” enough to be published. They’re just not a good fit for the traditional publishing platform.
Obviously, genre lit (romance, mystery, etc.) were the first works to really take off in the indie world, but I’m anxious to see more experimental, literary authors come to indie pubbing as well. The door is wide-open in terms of what’s possible. One of the best parts of having your foot in both worlds is that you can really start to see how traditional publishing and indie publishing influence and affect each other.
COURTNEY: I’m excited about the possibilities for indie publishing, both as a reader and as a writer. It’s giving us so many opportunities to do high quality work that for whatever reason, just doesn’t fit with a traditional publisher. Short stories are a great example of that.
I’d like to thank Holly for being here today, and to invite you to join us tomorrow, when we’ll talk about the stories Holly tells in FOREVER FINLEY.
In the meantime, check out Holly’s work at her Amazon author page
or at HollySchindler.com.