Welcome to The Chain Story
Thanks for joining us for a exciting project designed to allow writers to have fun and readers to discover stories by their favorite authors, and sample the work of brand new authors.
Let me give you a little bit of background on the project. I’m Michael A. Stackpole and I’ve done a lot of work in franchise universes like BattleTech™ and Star Wars™, as well as creating my own universes for novel series. My first novels came out in 1988 and since then I’ve gotten to know a lot of other writers. I’ve even had the good fortune to collaborate with a number of them, and for years have been told things like, “I found you because I like reading Tim Zahn, and there was that story you two did…”
For years I tried to put together a project where authors could collaborate with each other, but always ran into a snag. Collaborations and short stories take time, but there’s no real market for them. Without a way for readers to find the stories, creating them is like running a movie in an empty theatre. If a story doesn’t have readers, does it really exist? Prior to the advent of digital publishing, the cost of getting stories out to readers was prohibitively high; and when you’re writing for a living, you want income flowing in, not money flowing out.
In 2009 Jeff Mariotte and I shared a table at Phoenix Comicon and talked about a way to do a loose collaboration. Later that year, at the World Fantasy Convention, Jeff, Robert Vardeman, Nathan Long and I spoke at great length over the concept of The Chain Story. We hit upon a means through which writers could collaborate in as easy or complex a manner as they desired, and then share the work with readers.
The Chain Story has several goals. The first is to allow writers to amuse themselves by turning out stories they want to tell. We also get the chance to work with our friends, which we actually get too little of. Musicians get to jam, playing off each other’s riffs, and we’d all like to do that, too. This project and format lets us be a bit more spontaneous and to shoot things back and forth.
Second, we get to entertain readers. In abstract terms we know (well, we hope) readers enjoy what we do. But the process of bringing a book to market usually is several rounds of having what we did wrong pointed out to us and working hard to fix it. It’s really weird how being told that 4,000 words out of a 150,000 word manuscript need work—implying the other 146,000 are just fine—can make you feel like you’ve totally screwed up a project. Here we get to turn out some fun stories that you can all enjoy.
Third, we get to share our work with brand new audiences. Jeff’s fans will read his story, come back to this site, and will see that Bob or Nathan or I have stories they can read. If they’ve never heard of us, they get a chance to see what we can do. The Internet makes this sharing of audiences really easy to do and all of you, in finding a story an mentioning it on Facebook or Twitter, suddenly help get the word out.
Fourth, we actually do hope to make some money at this. All of the authors are going to offer stories for free, for a while, for however long they want. After that, they’ll sell the stories. Some will sell them off their own websites. Some will offer them via Amazon or the iBookstore. With any luck, some enterprising publisher will decide to collect stories into an anthology. By following the links on the stories on our Table of Contents page, you’ll get links to where you can read the story for free, or purchase it.