Saturday 5 August 2023

Jim Bates talks to us about his involvement with CafeLit


What inspired you to write this story / these stories?

For this year’s anthology since the stories were published on CafeLit in 2022 I will have to go back to 2021 for the genesis of the three stories January, May, and August that I was fortunate to have included in this year’s 2023 Best Of edition. My idea at the end of 2021 was to write a serial dealing with Covid-19. I chose a young married couple and their two small children and had them move to a small town in northern Minnesota to “get away” from the crisis. Of course, that was impossible to do as the young couple soon found out. What they did find, however, was that they became closer as a family, they made some really good friends, and they learned a lot about themselves. Each story centered on a month of the year 2021 they were there. I sent CafeLit a story a month. Three were selected for the anthology. It was a fun series to write.


How did you get to find out about CafeLit?

I first started to seriously write in 2011. In 2015 I met Kathy Sharp and Gail Aldwin, two authors who encouraged my development as a writer. In early 2018 they each suggested I submit to one of the online publications they both highly respected which, of course, was CafeLit. I sent a story into Gill and waited literary shaking in my shoes to find out if my story was good enough to be accepted. It was! I was over the moon with joy. Since then, I have been a regular submitter to CafeLit. It’s definitely one of the best publications around.


Do you enjoy reading short stories? What’s special / important about them?

To be honest, I used to hate reading short stories. I loved the long novel format and that’s where I spent my reading hours. For many, many years. When I met Kathy Sharp at an online writing class, the final project was a 500-word story. I hammered it out and was not unsatisfied with the results. Kathy liked it. From that moment on (2015), I refocused my writing efforts from the rather long and rambling 8k to 12k stories I had been writing to the shorter form. I was hooked. The first story Gill published on CafeLit was less than 2k. I found that I loved the short format and still do to this day because it forces me to be succinct and to not fill up the page with a lot of fluff, something I am prone to do. (Still do LOL!) I read a lot of short stories now. I just finished a collection by Truman Capote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Other Stories” which was interesting, enjoyable, and inspiring. I also recommend “We Live In Water” a brilliantly written collection by Jess Walter as well as “Shots Fired” a collection of perfectly realized short stories by the gifted contemporary western author C. J. Box. As I concentrated on short stories, I came across a form I was unfamiliar with flash fiction. I also came across 100-word drabbles. Again, I was completely unfamiliar with them. So, I started writing even shorter stories!! Summing up, I love to write. I will always let the character (s) carry the story, but sometimes it’s good to challenge myself to go with a particular format, e.g.short story, flash fiction, or drabble just for fun. I find it keeps things interesting and fresh. Hopefully for both myself and the reader!


Tell us a little more about your writing

When I started seriously writing in 2011 my commitment was instigated by serving as a care-giver for my dear mother at the end of her life. I realized that not only was life finite, but I needed to address the one thing I’d been putting off for years; that is to be a writer. From that moment on I started writing and I haven’t stopped. I try to write every day. I have a cozy little space under the eaves of the second floor of our home which used to be one of the boys’ bedrooms. It faces east so I get the morning sun which is lovely in the winter. I wake up at 5 am, go upstairs to my workspace, do half an hour of exercises, grab a glass of ice water, and get to work. I find that by working early like I do that I’m pretty assured of getting my writing done without interruptions. I try to write 1-2 hours a day in the morning. Then it’s on with the day. If I can carve out another hour in the afternoon, that’s golden. Usually, I can’t. I garden so that takes up a lot of time during the spring, summer, and fall. Winter in Minnesota? I love it! Tons of time to write.


Thank you for the opportunity to do this, Gill. You have been an incredible advocate of my writing for going on six years now. I thank my lucky stars that Kathy and Gail pointed me in your direction!! Here’s to many more productive years to come!


About Jim

Jim lives in a small town west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He loves to write! His stories and poems have appeared in nearly five hundred publications. Resilience a collection of twenty-seven short stories was published by Bridge House Publishing. Periodic Stories, Periodic Stories Volume Two, Periodic Stories Volume Three - A Novel and Periodic Stories Volume Four are collections of stories based on the periodic table and were published by Impspired. A dystopian adventure novella Something Better was published by Dark Myth Publications. His story 'The Maple Leaf” was selected Non-Poetic Publication of the year 2022 by the readers of Spillwords.

Click on the links below to view Jim's publications: 

Resilience, my first collection published by Bridge House Publishing:


Short Stuff, my collection of flash fiction and drabble published by Chapeltown Books:


The Battle of Marvel Wood a 35k YA novella my most recent publication. Published July 2023 by Impspired:

1 comment:

Sarah Swatridge said...

Just read Remembrance Day by Jim Bates in Magnetism (collection of short stories edited by Gill James). I loved this gentle story. The grandpa loved his grand daughter so much and was thoroughly enjoying the time they spent together. I must admit I did have a few tears at the end. A beautiful read. Thank you.