Henry and Marc can’t seem to catch a break. They’ve had two disastrous dates—the first trapped in a car during a blizzard and the second locked in a basement—followed by nearly two months apart. Even though they work for the same firm, their relationship is held together by flying visits, phone calls, and text messages. A joint assignment in Washington D.C. might be more togetherness than they can handle, however.
Henry is still battling insecurity, and this assignment is too important to his career to mess up. Marc is committed. He’s falling for Henry and looks forward to having him permanently on his team and at his side. But the real test isn’t the assignment. When Marc finally lays his heart on the line, can he count on Henry to be there for him, in every way that matters? And can he do the same for Henry when Henry needs it the most?
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address), and complete the Rafflecopter to enter! There are two prizes, both available internationally. One winner will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store. A second winner will receive the entire Counting series in ebook format, gifted through the Dreamspinner Press store.
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11/22 Dreamspinner Press Blog
11/27 We Three Queens
11/28 Love Bytes
11/28 TTC Books and More
11/29 The Novel Approach
11/29 Boy Meets Boy Reviews
11/29 Scattered Thoughts
11/30 Joyfully Jay
11/30 Bayou Book Junkie
12/1 Diverse Reader
I adore short stories. Back when I reviewed professionally (for a European SF&F magazine), I was the one who got all the magazine and anthology requests because my editor knew how much I loved the short story format, and how much I liked delving through collections. So it was probably no surprise that my first forays into fiction were short stories and novellas.
Like many writers, I have an email folder full of rejection letters from the SF&F magazines that didn’t want to publish those early efforts, and it wasn’t until I switched to romance (combined with a little SF) that I saw my first story in print. It had aliens and a geeky girl and a sweet love story all rolled into one tangled little ball and I loved it. Not many other people did, but publishing your first piece of fiction is a rite of passage, no matter how it’s received. You learn a lot and what I learned was that I’ll probably never write the sorts of stories that have wide appeal. I’m a little too weird. I like aliens and spaceships and I want people to fall in love while they’re exploring the stars.
Thankfully, for me and my readers, I also like reading and writing stories about ordinary people doing pretty ordinary things, which is what the Counting series is all about. Henry and Marc are accountants. Most folks think accountants are pretty boring and some might struggle to understand why anyone would consider such a profession interesting. I wonder about dentists and proctologists. And the feet people, whatever they’re called. I… don’t like feet. Feet are weird. I think accounting is fascinating. I studied accountancy for a year (at night school) and loved both contract law and tax law. My math skills are what let me down and convinced me to stick with what I was doing at the time, which was more marketing focused. You know, writing and stuff. ;)
Henry and Marc are far from boring. Both are very driven individuals and I infused them with my love for numbers and order. And though their collected stories are short, I invested a lot of time building their characters, from backstory to hopes and dreams, with the hope they’d leap from these small adventures, inviting you to continue the journey with them.
One of the things a short story requires is a definite format. You have fewer words to play with, so you can’t wander too far off course. I see it as a puzzle of a sort. There’s a definite beginning and ending, even if the story is only a slice of a larger adventure. For the Counting stories, I had a definite frame for the first two: Henry and Marc were going to get stuck somewhere. This would give them time to not only get to know each other—mostly through conversation—but for other sorts of barriers to fall. For them to open up and become a little “unstuck” mentally and emotionally. Only then would they find their way out of their predicament.
In the third and final novella, Counting on You, I wanted to continue the stuck theme without locking the guys anywhere, so I went with mental and emotional sticking points and had the guys “act” to become unstuck. A flip on my original formula and I think it works well for this story, which is about ten thousand words longer and quite a bit more involved than the first two.
In addition to the three novellas in the Counting series, I also wrote two short stories. I’ve mentioned how much I love short stories, right? All though both of these are super short—5000 words each or there about—I still took the time to create a frame for each. “Counting Stars” covers the dinner invitation issued by Henry at the end of Counting Fence Posts (Counting #1). He takes Marc home for Christmas and it’s sweet and awkward, and… sweet. “Counting Stars” serves as both an epilogue and a teaser for Counting Down (Counting #2) as Marc asks Henry out on an actual date at the end.
“Counting the Days” is set between the second and third novellas and again serves as connective tissue. This one is a collection of text messages between the guys as they travel in opposite directions. They’re often random and silly, but as the exchange progresses from day to day, their discussion and relationship deepen until they admit they’re counting the days until they can see each other again.
You can read both of my short stories, “Counting Stars” and “Counting the Days,” for free at my website. Go to https://kellyjensenwrites.com/books/the-counting-series/ and scroll down to Excerpts and Extras. Both stories were released to newsletter subscribers first. And if you’re new to the Counting series, the first two novellas are discounted through the end of November at all retailers, making this a great time to get stuck with Henry and Marc.
Q: Do you like short stories?