I had a novel published before I managed to get a short story in print. I recommend to new writers that they go about it the other way. I think I would have learned more about the craft faster had I took the short route first.
There is an art to telling short stories, compacting action and drama into fewer words. I've had roughly one hundred short stories published and have edited many anthologies and magazines of short fiction. So I've come to understand and love the form.
It's introduced me to authors I'd not read before. I guess it's like strolling into a grocery store on "sample day," when there are folks setting up trays of cheese, cookies, pizza, and whatnot, enticing you to try something. And if you like a tidbit, you might buy an entire package.
I had the good fortune to be invited into one of Faith Hunter's Rogue Mage anthologies. I'd read her Jane Yellowrock books, but not her Rogue Mage offerings. So, naturally, I bought a couple, needing to understand her world if I was going to write in it. It's a good world. A real good world. If you haven't visited, I suggest you go to a bookseller and indulge.
The anthologies, Trials and Tribulations...click on the words to go to the Amazon links...feature great stories by great writers, some of who I had not read before. I love "sample day."
I was also fortunate to be on a short fiction jury for the International Association of Tie-In Writers (IAMTW). We just finished our work and sent in our nominations to the Scribe Awards chairman. It is always a pleasure to serve on one of these juries and get an opportunity to read in genres I might not otherwise pick up. Again, I found some new authors to follow. I got to read fiction set in: Halo, Star Trek, Shadowrun, Battletech, and X-Files universes, and more. The truth is surely out there.
I'm gonna sign off and get back to work...and find a place to shop my mystery short story.