Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Romantic Short Fiction

by M.L. Buchman

I started out as a Science Fiction fan. (Okay, caught me, I still am.) I came to romance quite late in life, when the publisher of my first novel (a quirky fantasy that would eventually launch my Deities Anonymous series) dragged me to a romance convention in 1996.

My first ever writing conference was the Romance Writer's of America National Conference. I learned several things:

  • The 1,800 women who attended were very serious about romance and the business of romance.
  • Being one of the 7 men to attend left me standing out in the cold quite often. Despite being published, there were agents who wouldn't even talk to me. Despite the "Sale" sticker on my name tag, they just assumed I was only a boyfriend.
  • Romance was a heck of a lot of fun! I read my first three romances at night during the conference (because who needs to sleep at a conference) and I discovered they were a blast.
  • There are no short fiction romance markets.
Say what? Coming from SF, I was raised on short fiction. Magazines, collections, the basis for movies and Star Trek episodes. Though it wouldn't be until 1998 that Harlan Ellison wrote a short story while sitting in a bookstore window, taping the finished pages to the window as they rolled off his typewriter, short stories were integral to the genre.

Not in romance.

Romance novellas are gathered into collections like my recent NSDQ that appeared in Way of the Warrior, a charity work benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.

Short stories?

"They're too hard."

"There's no market for them."

"They just don't work and..."

It's funny that I bought into that for so long. I reached the point where I always insisted that "I only write novels." Until the day an editor grew sick of hearing me say that. Kristine Kathryn Rusch's answer was to invite me to be a lead author in her Fiction River anthology Christmas Ghosts. Ghosts of Willow's Past was named "one of the standouts" by Publishers Weekly. It continues to be my most popular piece of short fiction ever, though a few from this summer on finally on the verge of overtaking it.

I now release a new short story every month on the 14th, the Ides of Matt. Not always romance, but often. I've come to love short fiction romance. It's fun and it's flirty. I can dip in, find true love, sigh happily, and be back out in 5 or 10,000 words. Short fiction has grown until it represents a third of my writing income...too bad there's no market for short fiction romance. (Have I mentioned that I love this new age of publishing?) 

This month I'm releasing not only my monthly story, but also a collection of last year's. A baker's dozen with brand-new intros and where the ideas came from. So whether you want to finally see Mark Henderson's horse ranch and just what happens to a cowboy during Christmas at Henderson's Ranch or grab the whole Ides of Matt 2014 collection, I want to invite you to the world of wonderful romance lurking in short fiction!


M. L. Buchman has over 40 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the Year,” nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews, and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year” placing two of his titles on their “The 101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.

He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at


  1. Shorter romances are only just becoming popular. I feel for you being the odd-man out (bad pun). In the real world, people always assume I don't work since I don't wear business attire. I get "volunteered" for a lot at my daughter's school, and I have to say no.

  2. Being "odd-man" at the RWA conference was actually a huge eye opener. As I shared the experience with various female friends, every single one responded with "Well, DUH! Welcome to our world of everyday life." I was horrified and it is one of the things that has shaped both me and my writing over the years so that "Strong Women and the Men They Deserve" is actually the definition of both my writing and my personal aspirations.

    As to not working, I look them square in the eye and say I work 60-70 hours a week, do you? ...and then, yep!, I'm the guy who chaperoned my daughter's school field trips, volunteered in the classroom, etc. etc. etc. :)