Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stories To Enjoy

Back with us today is Tom Mach to talk about his short story collection:

This unique collection of sixteen short stories written by prize-winner Tom Mach includes stories such as "Real Characters," which is about a writer who gets his wish--that his characters come alive.... "Breakfast, Over Easy" makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation.... "When Kansas Women Were Not Free" takes you to a time when women were less free than former males slaves.... "Son" make you think differently about compassion. One novelist describes STORIES TO ENJOY as "memorable and intriguing, with O. Henry twists that are sure to surprise and entertain."

Those Characters in My Short Story Collection—Are They Misbehaving?

In my novels I find that my characters frequently want to deviate from what I had originally planned for them. For example, in my novel An Innocent Murdered, Detective Matt Gunnison has more heart than I imagined. In one scene, he’s crying over the death of a little girl.

It’s a little different with the characters in my short stories. That’s probably because they normally perform in only one scene and I don’t give them enough latitude to shift into diverse directions. However, there are some exceptions. For example, in “The Crossword Puzzle Murders,” a story in Stories To Enjoy, Detective Agatha Pulaski cares more deeply about Pete, her wayward brother, than I initially imagined her to be, as depicted in this scene:

Aggie wished people knew how sensitive her brother was to criticism, especially from women in authority. She assumed this stemmed from the fact that they had a stepmother who was the CEO of an investment firm and who always let Pete know that he wouldn’t amount to anything in life. Maybe that’s why he was more comfortable solving a Rubik’s Cube or completing a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle in record time.

Robin was inconsiderate about a coworker of hers named Sara in my story “The Lead Bird”, which also appeared in Stories To Enjoy. This surprised me because she appeared to be quite concerned about the welfare of birds. First, Robin callously asks her boss whether Sara is still on vacation, feeling that, because Sara is the owner’s niece, she’s been given a longer vacation than she’s entitled to receive. Later, when Sara shows up for work, Robin’s anger rises to the surface….

Sara widened her smile. “I hear you moderated a focus group for Synthia Labs yesterday. I wish I could have been there, but I was so tired I went to bed early.”

Robin arched a sarcastic eyebrow. “I suppose you’re tired after enjoying a three-week vacation. You must be absolutely exhausted.”

I personally think it’s a good sign for a writer when a character wants to take off on her own. That means a character has become a three-dimensional, living and breathing person. But the writer’s job is to either rein her in so she stays true to the plot or to let her go into another direction—realizing, of course, that you will have to change your plot accordingly. It’s a tough decision every writer must face.


Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at

Tom can be found at:

Tom will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter.


  1. It must be very difficult to flesh out a character in the limited space constrains of a short story. Have you ever considered taking one (or more) of your short stories and expanding it into a full length novel?

  2. Hi Tom, Your short stories sound great and I can't wait to read them. Just from the excerpts you mentioned I agree with Karen as to considering taking them and making them full length novels. I love romance, mystery and HEA and know I will enjoy reading your book.
    Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  3. I have really enjoyed reading all your tour information. Your stories sound really interesting and fun.

  4. (I am having a hard time getting this posted, so I'll try the "anonymous" button, although my name is Tom Mach)
    Karen H and MissKallie2000--

    Since you both raised a similar question, let me say this... It all depends on the scope of the short story to depend on whether or not it can be expanded into a novel. For instance, "The Crossword Puzzle Murders" probably can because I could go into a lot of depth leading to a rationale as to why the man turned out to be a killer. But with a one-scene scenario such as "Breakfast Over Easy" it would be a lot more difficult.

  5. When a character takes on a life of it's own for the writer, that's translates well for the reader actually. There is a depth.