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Over the years I am sure that the authors here have received a good deal of mail about their work. Isn't that a source of great satisfaction? But several times I have been asked which story I have posted do I consider my favorite. I generally hesitate to answer the question in a straightforward manner because I like them all, if only because I see them all as a labor I love.

Just this past week I got another of those queries and decided to pick one of the stories to recommend. The reader who asked is young enough to be influenced by what he sees here, and we all have fine examples to show him.

I would love to hear what the other authors here see as their favorite. Pick a story you would like a first time reader to view as an example of your efforts. Here is mine:


I enjoyed the writing​ phase because this one took some long hard research into unfamiliar subjects, and of course, it includes a great deal of history, my favorite subject. The characters worked so well together in my mind, the dialogue came easy, and the plot just seemed to fall into place. Fantasy was new to me when this was written but it became an integral part of the story.

We all hope there is a young audience out there who seek confirmation of their lives, and Awesomedude provides that outlet. Time to share.

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My favourite is probably Funeral Address:


This was one of the first stories I wrote, though it went through a number of subsequent re-writes. The reason it is my favourite is that it was the first story in which I wrote an unexpected twist at the end which impacted on the whole story. I still think it is the one where I have done this most successfully.

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I find that question impossible to answer. I too get it asked frequently. But how can we have a favorite? As Chris says, each was a labor of love. Each was a struggle being brought to fruition.

What I always do is provide a list of my five favorites, and sometimes turn that into ten, because even that is too hard. If I pick a top five, I'm leaving out ten more that should be included.

I simply don't know how to pick only one. And what's the criterion? The one I most enjoyed writing? The one I think is best written? The one I think readers would enjoy the most? The one I'm most proud to have my name on? The one that gives me the most joy to read again? Try wrapping all those together and come up with one story. Impossible.

When I make out my list of five, or ten, and send it along, I always regret some I've left off. It's too hard a question!

But Chris doesn't want dithering: he wants an answer. And so I'll give you five stories of mine I really like for several reasons. Which means I won't be mentioning even more which share equal merit in my mind. Here they are, in no particular order.

Well, no. After going through the list, five is just too few. I have to leave too many off I really like. So here are ten.

Independence Day



Duck Duck Goose

Middle School


On the High Plains of Wyoming

Dinner For One

English 10

When He Was Five

Saying why I like each is also hard. There's usually a slightly different reason for each one. And it would take too many words to spell it all out. All gave me a great deal of satisfaction to write, all touched something inside me, all made me very proud to post.

It would be easier to be specific as to why I like it so much if I could name only one. But I can't. If you have kids, which one do you love the most, and why?


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I don't think anyone will have an easy time with this question. I'll take a different approach to answering it, though. I have several stories I love a touch more than the others, but could not identify a specific favorite from them, because I love them all for different reasons.

So I'll name those few and talk about the ways I love them:

From The Cup of The Worthless: Although this hasn't gathered as much attention as I'd hoped, I consider it my best work technically, which makes sense as it's the most recent. This is the story I put the greatest amount of research into, and I loved it before it was even written, but it also had points where my muse was so demanding I was emotionally drained after writing it. To follow Cole's analogy of the children, this was the child I stayed up with all night when it was sick and nursed it back to health. You can't avoid growing a bit closer to one you've sacrificed that much for.

Return With Honor: I wasn't immediately attached to this story when I started it, to be quite honest. When I wrote it, it was out of desperation to get something posting because I've tried to keep a constant flow of material to the various sites I post, and this was something I knew I could write, considering it was set within a culture with which I was intimately familiar. That familiarity ended up drawing me into my own world while writing it, however, and by the end I was in love with it. It has more of me in it than I'd thought it would, and that puts it up near the top.

The Navigator: Although it has its flaws, this was the first novel where I felt I'd reached a new level in my writing. It was what told me that I could do this, that my dreams of becoming a published author might just be attainable. Someday I may go back and rewrite it, to smooth out its rough patches, but a part of me wants it to remain flawed as a symbol of where I've come from, a step on the road I can be proud of.

As for my short stories, I couldn't possibly pick a favorite. Short stories are still my favorite thing to write. I could list some honorable mentions, but I'd be here all day trying to figure it out.

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While I'm happy to hear from readers who value my work, at heart I'm uneasy about most of my attempts. If I had to pick something toward which to point someone thinking of reading my work, I would suggest the short story, "Outside In," which has unusual structure but deals with the issues that have most concerned me over my life.

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This is a really tough question, because it depends on so many factors whose weighting can vary over time or even mood!

I would also distinguish between my novels and short stories because I don't feel you can compare the two. What you look for in a short story is very different to what you look for in a novel. I know judges in shows have to do things like compare the best of two different breeds of the same animal, but they're professionals (usually). I'm just a writer who does this as a hobby.

My favourite novel is, at the moment and subject to change without notice, Leopard Spots. But it's not one I'd recommend for a first-time reader because it's the second book in a series. I picked it because while there are other novels I really like, they have flaws in them that detract. I also loved the complexity of the story line, with lots of interwoven story arcs that kept the story moving as one arc finished and another arc starts to hit its peak. However, Leopard Spots itself isn't completely standalone because there's a book three that's just started posting...

My favourite short story is...whichever I'm reading at the time. Sorry, I just can't pick one. :sad:

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I agree with Graeme that this is a really tough question to answer. But Chris gave me a way to accomplish it when he wrote, "Pick a story you would like a first time reader to view as an example of your efforts." I'm interpreting "first time reader" to be a teen or young adult, so for that audience my favorite of my serial novels is Reorientation.

It's even harder for me to pick one of my short stories. So I'll pick several: A Totally Messed Up Halloween, Bad Haircut, The Dying Game, Nightmare, and Rescue. Note: three of these short stories do not have a gay theme.

Colin :icon_geek:

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I don’t write novels, or even very long stories, thanks to my background and inclination as a poet to get things over with in a hurry—in a single page, if possible. But I’d have to say that my personal devotion among my stories is to a series I wrote about a character named Jesse growing up in a town in western Massachusetts, since in so many ways he reflects the kid I’d like to have been. But from the point of view of the charge we’ve been given by Chris James to pick a story we’d like a first-time (young) reader to view as an example of our effort, I’d have to choose “The Americanization of Alex S.” for mine, for I take Chris to be also asking what story would I most like to be remembered by, and that’s the one.

I wish I had a list of fifty-plus stories to select among, and I love Cole’s answer to the question. All of you who are prolific writers have given this reader the gift of so many good stories to read and reread that I certainly can’t choose any one from each of your lists, and I admire all of your reasons for making those choices.

James Merkin

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What would be even more interesting to me than my naming my favorite story would be something that Merkin touched on: what story of mine is a favorite of fellow writers, and why. To get the ball rolling, I'll name one from each respondent above. Again, it’s isn’t easy to pick just one:

Chris James: Marathon Gold

I really got into those characters and the setting. Evocative work.

Nigel Gordon: Miss Jenkins’ Work

Quite a ride! Wonderful description, creative adventure. I was in this story all the way, enjoying the ride.

Cynus: From the Cup of the Worthless

This story built and built as it went along and grabbed me. Exotic setting, unique characters.

Bi Janus: Courage

Who wouldn’t love these boys and the pathos of this story? Very mature and skilled writing.

Graeme: New Brother

Great interplay between many characters. Here it was done adroitly and we cared about the protagonist.

Colin Kelly: Escaping Katrina

We felt the emotions of the setting and the characters. Great ending.

James Merkin: The Americanization of Alex S.

Such warmth, such characterizations, such humanity. Outstanding story.

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Colin Kelly: Escaping Katrina

We felt the emotions of the setting and the characters. Great ending.

I found it interesting that Cole selected my novella Escaping Katrina as his favorite of my stories. That story was developed from a extra-credit class project I did for my Advanced Placement U.S. History class in 2005 when I was a fifteen-year-old eleventh grade student. The prologue to the story implies that I wrote the story itself as my project. That is misleading; I wrote a more typical and considerably shorter student paper titled "Escaping Katrina" without characters and dialogue. But it stuck in my mind, and I wrote the first draft of the story itself and posted it elsewhere. Then I did a heavy editing job and posted it on Codey's World in 2008.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Chris - I've just finished A Warrior's Promise and am in absolute awe at what you have created. I'm not surprised that you have chosen the story because it's one of the finest stories I've ever read. Now if only I could get to the Smithsonian and pick some locks...!

Thank you for an incredible journey.

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