I love that word. In Biology it means “the development of similarities in unrelated organisms living in the same environment.” Its root word is, of course, converge, meaning “to move or be directed toward each other or toward the same place, purpose, or result.”
Convergence was the theme in my first paying writing gig, a Christmas short story about two ham radio buddies. That story, titled “The Christmas Tree,” appeared in the December, 2004 issue of the international Amateur Radio magazine QST and so touched the readers that they enthusiastically voted for that story to win the magazine’s coveted QST Cover Plaque Award. The following December, 2005 I won it again for another Christmas short story titled “Jimmy’s Wish.” I was off and running on my professional writing career.
The unseen power of this convergence thing was really working for me and I pushed forward with my writing. More and more short stories started pouring from my mind onto the screen of my computer. I gave myself permission to bravely write what I never would have dreamed years ago.
As the archive of my short fiction pieces grew and grew, the idea of bringing those stories to the vast readership of the Internet seemed more and more necessary and appropriate for the times. After an entire year spent researching the viability of the short story marketplace in the Internet age, I determined that it was time to build a website to showcase and sell my work.
At first, I floated my dream with a few local companies who designed websites. They tried to turn my vision into their vision. They just didn’t get it and their prices reflected that.
So I ventured onto the Internet to find a website design and hosting partner that was like no other. One that put my needs ahead of theirs. One that didn’t talk down to me as I came up the learning curve of having a state-of-the-art Web presence.
After viewing hundreds of website design firms’ sample offerings, I made a long-distance call to one in Ohio. The owner’s name was Eugene Barnes.
Mr. Barnes did not immediately answer my call so I left a brief message outlining my creative vision for this website project. Within an hour he called me back. We immediately hit it off and Eugene promised to send me a proposal that would meet my creative and budgetary needs perfectly.
That forward-moving force, that convergence of old, was right there with me as I studied Eugene’s proposal and price quotation. My wife and I agreed that he was the one-in-a-million website guru that I had been looking for. I signed his contract and the rest, shall we say, is history.
After a year of countless emails and samples going from Eugene’s Ohio design studio to my writing office in Wisconsin, together we hammered out a finished e-commerce website design that would beautifully represent my vision for my writing home.
I called it LongShortStories, a clever play on words, linking my last name with my creative writing purpose. It had that snap that I was hoping for, that catchiness that would serve me well as a unique writing brand.
June 1, 2007 was the official debut of the LongShortStories Web home, this creative collaboration between Eugene and I after all those months in the trenches, tweaking and fine-tuning it like a world-class race car. We held our breath and waited with schoolboy nervousness as the statistical data on readership started to trickle in. It was like giving birth or sending your kid off to their first day of kindergarten.
One of the unique features of the LongShortStories website was its state-of-the-art email subscription system which allowed readers from all over the globe to purchase via PayPal either 30 or 60 story subscriptions of my stories, delivered automatically for a nominal price to their email inboxes every twelve days like clockwork. The customers loved it as we had hoped they would. One of the short stories in the final collection of over 100 stories was one specially dedicated to Eugene, titled simply “Bugs,” my unique way of saying thank you for all his superb help in bringing this Little Engine That Could to the top of the creative mountain.
That was then.
This is now. June 2012 and that original LongShortStories website has undergone many changes, some subtle, some quite radical. All because of my desire to keep the content fresh and the creative mission of “BE what you wish to see!” moving forward toward the next big thing, that next convergence where writing and electronic technology merge.
My ongoing research was telling me that, as awesome as the subscription model for marketing my stories was, the marketplace was starting to feed its need for reading in a whole new way.
Enter the Kindle e-reader by Amazon.
It was a masterstroke of tech genius. A handheld device that stored thousands of downloadable digital ebooks. And for the short story writer like me, it offered the marvelous promise of multiple income streams and infinite shelf life for my growing collection of ebooks.
Eugene was right there on the cutting edge as we transformed the digital archive of my stories into a series of ebooks, starting with the groundbreaking 34-story Stories from the Edges. Eugene worked his graphic wizardry and produced the awesome cover of that first ebook collection that now is marketed globally by Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. and has earned many 5-star reviews.
Since then he has created the covers for my two other ebook collections, Flash In The Hand and Eye Candy, and most recently the beautiful cover of my ’50s-era ham radio-themed short story, Slow Dancing.
I owe this creative genius a lot. He has been there through thick and thin. He has quietly withstood my occasional rants and he has also been right there to share in the limelight of a writing career that has been blessed in so many marvelous ways.
Eugene Barnes is my e-brother, my friend and my creative touchstone that never ceases to amaze. Thank you, Eugene, from the bottom of my heart.
For all of you out there who are searching for that perfect creative website solution, look no further than Eugene Barnes Website Design & Services. Here is that URL: http://www.eugenebarnes.com/.
I hope you all have enjoyed this 5th Anniversary celebration as much as I have. One thing is for sure. I couldn’t have done it alone. A writer is nothing without his dedicated readership. Thank you, one and all for believing in me, for purchasing my work, and most of all, thank you for your friendship.
Wayne C. Long