Anthology 1800X2700-72

A short story anthology from the Southern California Writers Association

Edited by DP Lyle

Includes “Splash” by DP Lyle



Everything begins with an idea.

Whether it’s building a skyscraper, walking on the moon, or creating a work of art, the idea comes first. The dream, the vision. Then the hard work of bringing the idea to life begins.

So it was with It’s All in the Story

The idea to publish an anthology began in late 2016, when the Southern California Writers Association (SCWA) Board of Directors approved this project, and the work began. When I was asked to serve as editor for this anthology, I was honored and enthusiastically accepted.

The SCWA provides a forum for encouraging and promoting the welfare, fellowship, spirit, and continuing education of published and unpublished writers in the Southern California area. Monthly meetings feature world-class instructors of all genres, experience, and skill levels who share their knowledge and expertise with the members.

And now, an anthology. 

Sixty-four stories were submitted for evaluation. The quality of these submissions was exceptional. An editorial committee read and ranked each manuscript, and though each was worthy of inclusion, ultimately 24 were chosen for publication in this edition. During the ranking process, author identities were carefully hidden from the committee, and all rankings were based solely on merit. The result is an amazing collection of stories.

Everything begins with an idea.

This is particularly true in storytelling. It’s the classic What If? What if this happened? Or maybe that? What would happen next? How would this, or that, effect the protagonist? What responses would it invoke? What feelings and emotions would it stir? What pressures, complications, and obstacles would test the hero? This is the stuff of great fiction.

This is how every story begins, and develops. 

Many believe that writing a short story is easier than writing a novel. I mean, doesn’t creating 3000, 5000, or 10,000 words require less effort than hammering out 100,000? In many respects, this is true. A novel takes more time, there are more elements to weave together, and characters and plots must be developed more deeply. But, with longer fiction, the writer has more “room.” Room to thoroughly explore characters, to devise more complex plots, to offer brighter descriptions, to write longer dialog exchanges, and to craft more exposition that deepens and cements the story.

In shorter fiction, there is much less room to maneuver. Each of the above elements must also be addressed but the reduced word count puts significant limitations on the author. Developing empathetic characters, interesting plot twists, sparkling dialog, and vivid settings is no less important but in shorter fiction the telling must be economical, concise, and chiseled. No easy task.

Each of the authors who submitted stories for this anthology faced this challenge head on and all acquitted themselves well. Whittling the 64 submissions down to the 24 selected was a difficult process. But, in the end, the result is a compelling collection.

Each included story roots itself in California—-the history, geography, culture, and the wonderfully quirky folks who inhabit the “Left Coast.” The stories span from 1812 San Juan Capistrano to the California gold rush to the modern-day Newport Coast.

In this collection, you will find heroism, tragedy, humor, and both realized and broken dreams. You will “hear” many voices, and meet a host of memorable characters, each facing unique personal challenges. 

A young woman, struggling with her past, unsure of her future, and looking for that interpersonal connection that will allow her to smile again. A couple, both damaged. She by abandonment and a fractured heart; he by war, a broken body, and undeserved guilt. Can love survive that? A would-be photographer who shoots aging surf musicians and a famous-for-being-famous star, each making their own “California Promise.”

We will meet three Cal Tech nerds as they plan to break Vegas; a concert pianist who is damaged both physically and emotionally; a pair of bank robbers who get much more than they bargained for; siblings who take their high desert “full service” gas station to an entirely new level; and even William Randolph Hearst, the vampire.

You will encounter star-crossed lovers divided by culture, race, and social standing; a fallen angel on a quest, and on the run; a demon who devours souls; and a “Kick The Bucket” tour operator as she ferries tourists past famous LA murder sites. You will meet a young boy who seeks the impossible pot of gold at the end of the rainbow only to cross paths with a digger of long-forgotten Orange County graves and a killer who must dispose of a body in a Disneyland motel. Who’s the real victim here?

And so many more wonderful characters and fascinating tales.

So, I invite you inside. Get comfy, sit a spell, and enjoy these remarkable stories. Each is beautifully written, thought provoking, and will linger with you long after the last page.

Welcome to It’s All in the Story.

DP Lyle, editor and contributor


Introduction by D. P. Lyle 

After the Wave Breaks—-Jo Ellen Pitzer 

Angel of the Morning—-D. J. Phinney 

House at Pooh Corner—-Julie Wells 

California Dreamin’—-Casey Pope 

Christmas in Santa Ana—-Biff (Harold D.) Baker 

Earth Angel—-Maddie Margarita 

Filthy Lucre—-Andrew R. Nixon 

Full Service—-Steven G. Jackson 

I Love California, Except for the Flakes—-Wanda Green 

Just for Fun—-Glenda Brown Rynn 

The Kick the Bucket Tour—-Jo Perry 

Life Dies and Then You Suck—-Steven G. Jackson 

Magdalena—-Lani Forbes 

Solving for X—-Anne Moose 

Splash—-D. P. Lyle 

Steps—-Phyllis Blake 

The Inevitable Avocado—-Jeffrey J. Michaels 

The Quest for Avalon—-Catheryn Hull 

The Unpleasantness in Room 27A—-Dana Hammer 

The Untimely Death of Sweet Mims—-David Putnam 

Verity’s Truth—-Maddie Margarita 

You Can Bank on the Breeze—-P. J. Colando 

Zolota: Another Gold Rush—-Rose de Guzman 

The Mighty and Me—-Janis Thomas 


"D.P. Lyle has built a wonderful anthology, a window on California both wide and focused. Each story is a gem! You don’t want to miss this!"—Brett Battles, US Today bestselling author of the Jonathan Quinn series

"IT'S ALL IN THE STORY is a moveable feast of California literature, brilliantly selected to illustrate the value of the compelling short story.”—Kimberley Cameron, Kimberley Cameron and Associates Literary Agency

“Whether dark, humorous or darkly humorous, the tales are infused with the California spirit, often in unexpected ways. A moving, lovingly crafted collection of tales of redemption, loss and hope.”—Jacqueline Diamond, author of he Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries

"Any good collection of short stories requires emotion, thematic connection, and engaging characters; this book has them all. Dripping with California soul and filled with quirk, pathos, and literary style,It’s All in the Story: California delivers. If you like short stories, you’ll love this collection.”--Jeff Lyons, author of Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success

"What John Steinbeck said about one of his stories—that he wanted it to “strike without the readers’ knowledge”—might be said of many of these tales of friends and married couples, college students and gas station attendants, California dreamers, aspiring actors and ghostly figures. Characters surprise and delight. Settings shift from Hollywood to Alta California. This collection is as expansive as the west itself.”—-Dr. Susan Shillinglaw, Director, National Steinbeck Center

"You will find it all in It’s All in the Story. This carefully curated anthology will grab you from the outset and take you on a journey of beautifully rendered stories that are all California through and through. With the conclusion of each short story you will reflect, smile knowingly, and jump into the next one and the one after. The promise is in the title—great stories, expertly told."—Ara Grigorian, international award-winning author

© Douglas Lyle 2015