Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Fiction: The Destruction of Ys

Today's review is of a very short story and an outrageous experiment!

Ruth Nestvold is an accomplished storyteller, one who mixes historical fiction with fantasy and/or science fiction as easily as she translates her work from English to German.

"The Destruction of Ys" retells how an ancient city ceased to exist in 11 short pages as part of a "Jack Daniels" challenge from Joe Konrath.

I offer no spoilers here: We see familiar conflicts between daughter and father, between female authority vs. male, sensuality vs. spirituality, and old goddesses vs. new gods.

The opening sentence compellingly sets the scene in sheer Arabian nights beauty:  "Once there was, and once there was not, in a place I can take you where I have never been, a beautiful princess by the name of Dahut."

Although the cover is enticingly designed, a model for e-books, for me, the story was far too short, the conflict resolved too quickly. Princess Dahut's character reveals much complexity, as does the world she inhabits on her own terms and is worthy of a longer tale.

But the concept of a short, short used as a marketing tool is brand new.

Readers benefit from a short, short by sampling a writer's style. Readers can sign up on the writer's mailing list, learn about the writer's background, and jump to other books written by the writer. They may even actually purchase additional books. Oh, lucky writer!

For writers, a short, short puts some hefty marketing tools out there -- especially useful if the writer has more than one book readily available.

Why do I call such a short, short outrageous? Because the concept seems to have been born over a quart of Jack Daniels, with a writer using this format (and a pen name) to spin out titles like "Seventeen Ways to Persuade A Woman to Date You." At 99c per, perhaps writers can look to the short, short to generate income or to broaden our platforms.

Konrath says to lighten up. We writers don't have to be sooo serious all the time. Just at the last gasp of summer, in response to a guest post by Tim Myers that begins by talking about the pen names he has used, Konrath hosted the "Jack Daniels Franchise and the 8-hour E-book Challenge," which opens this concept to all writers.

Ruth Nestvold's "The Destruction of Ys" will appeal to readers of her genre who love that heady mix of well-written historical fiction and fantasy.

Konrath's contest has ended, and I didn't enter -- but the idea of introducing my historical fiction books being e-pubbed later this fall with a short, short is percolating. Thank you, Ruth, and thank you, Joe.

So, what's your reaction when you buy and read a short, short for Kindle or Nook?

Read a little more:
Ruth Nesvold's blog is here and see her publications on Amazon.
The Destruction of Ys is currently free on Amazon, through September 1.
Joe Konrath's Challenge to write an e-book and publish it within 8 hours is here.