Monday, January 2, 2012

Tom Mach - Stories to Enjoy - Guest Post

Guest Post

"How I Made All My Characters Come Alive for Stories to Enjoy"
by Tom Mach

Making all of your characters come alive for a collection of short stories is a difficult task. Unlike developing characters for a novel, where you can spend time flushing out your protagonist, you don’t have that luxury with a short story. I’ve compiled a collection of sixteen different short stories in Stories To Enjoy. With each of these stories, I had to interject myself into the characters and see everything through their eyes and experience their reaction to evens through their own thoughts and feelings.

For instance, in “Assassin” in my short story collection, I’m a woman who is about to die. I put myself into the mind and body of Kerry Kingston, the President’s Press Secretary, who has just been shot. I do more than simply say she was shot….

A sudden pain in her chest, the sharp stabbing pain took her totally by surprise. What was happening? Why was she dropping to the floor? The hot, burning pain was now tearing through her chest. A rainbow of bright colors flashed through her brain.

In “Priscilla’s New Word” I am an 8-year-old girl named Priscilla who is jealous of her classmate Barbette because her father gives her anything she wants. I made Priscilla come alive by going into her thoughts as her dad has her fitted for glasses….

These glasses would help her study harder and become smarter than anyone in class—especially Barbette. She’s so stuck up and thinks she’s better than everybody just because her parents give her things…but she will be at her feet, begging to know the answers to an important test, and Priscilla would tower over her like a queen.

A real challenge is in creating a believable character in a short scene. In “Son” I describe an old man by revealing his past failure as a father and by his thoughts about the urgent need to see his son again. In “Breakfast, Over Easy” I show how emotionally confused a young man is by being enticed by his best friend’s attractive fiancĂ©e. I don’t have to describe the physical attributes of these characters nor do I have time to do so.

It reminds me of a story I heard about a little boy who asks his father, “Daddy, I don’t have much.” And his father replies, “But that’s okay, because you have enough.”

That is a point to reflect on when we create characters for a short story.

Book Summary

This unique collection of 16 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."


The professor focused his entire attention on what Ford’s Theater looked like back in April of 1865. He imagined himself to be John Wilkes Booth’s friend and stagehand—Edman Spangler. After a long while he felt himself growing exceedingly tired, and when he opened his eyes he found himself in the real Ford’s Theater. There was no one in the presidential box and Wilson, who now believed he was indeed Mr. Spangler, ran his hand over the balustrade.

“Spangler,” a voice called out to him from below, “are you still working on removing the partition of the box to make room for the President and General Grant?”

It was John Wilkes Booth himself speaking to him!


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



PLEASE MENTION THE PRIZE THAT THE AUTHOR WILL BE GIVING AWAY (a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter) and encourage your readers to follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. Hi again Tom,

    Looking forward to following you on this new tour. I've been reading some reviews about this book and I'm convinced I will soon buy my copy.

    I thought it was interesting that you interject yourself into the bodies of the main characters to tell the story through their eyes, but I understand the stories are written in third person. Why did you choose 3rd over 1st for your stories?

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  2. What a great way to write. Putting yourself into the characters. I admire that about you.

  3. I'm looking forward to the tour. To interject yourself into 16 characters & stories is no mean feat.


  4. Karen H--

    The reason I chose to go into the third person for most of my stories is that I wanted to be able to see an event from more than one person's eyes and to get into the minds of more than one person. It's sort of like playing "God" where I can observe things other than what one person sees or says. Good question. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I'm still trying to catch up with my emails.

  5. MomJane--

    Good to hear from you again. Yes, putting oneself into a character is one of the reasons I enjoy writing fiction.

  6. marybelle--

    It's nice to hear from you again. Hope you had a great holiday. Tough getting back into the swing of things.

  7. To the host of "Character Connection"

    Thanks. Nice treatment of my bio and guest blog.

  8. Tom, it's always a pleasure to host you.

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by.