Author interview with Theresa Van Meter

Always exciting to introduce to you a new author! In 2017, I met Theresa at a Serious Writer conference in Ohio. We’ve corresponded since then, and when I wanted to feature someone who writes short stories, I knew an author interview with Theresa Van Meter would be the perfect fit. Welcome, Theresa!

You are a sweet romance author. What makes a story a sweet romance?

For me a sweet romance story is filled with romance, and no sex.

Why do you write sweet romance stories?

I took my writing seriously in the ’90s with a goal toward publication, and I needed to focus on a niche. The possibilities were as wide open as an eight-lane highway. I could write anything. Despite my freedom, I couldn’t imagine, writing a scene that I’d be embarrased for my grandma to read. However, I knew that there was money in writing titillating stories and writing sweet could reduce my chances of publication. I wrestled with my decision and I even considered using a pen name. But, in the end I chose sweet.

After my grandma died, I no longer needed to worry about her reading a racy scene that I could write. However, I am a Christian now, and my road is narrow, so I still write sweet.

What a wonderful story! I understand the desire to write something your grandparents would be pleased to read.

What was the inspiration for your romantic short story, “Buried Treasure”?

Inspiration came to me when I saw a photograph in the local newspaper. It was a photo of children taking part in the annual treasure hunt at Lake Alma. There was a story there, but I needed to find my character’s names. Once I have the names, ideas flow for me.

I use an old phone book to choose their names. I have a routine that I use, so that the names I choose are random. The names chosen for this story were David and Della.

Those names sparked the idea for my fictional story. On a personal level, David is the name of my first love that I lost at the ripe old age of five. So, I wondered what might happen if my characters lost their first loves. Words flowed, and after days of rewriting and editing, the result was “Buried Treasure.”

I love choosing names for characters! Sometimes, if a character isn’t working well, I figure out I need a better name.

Why do you enjoy writing short stories? 

The simple answer is, it’s fun. But fun isn’t the only reason I enjoy writing short. I am a pantser. I don’t have a plan for how my story will start or end. In my opinion, it is easier to write short without an outline. I know it’s difficult to write a novel without an outline. I have a manuscript written by the seat of my pants and it is an editing mess. It may never be published.

By writing short, I can write many stories. I can enter my character’s lives and enjoy their story. Then savor the ending and move on to the next story. For me, it takes much less time to write a short story compared to a novel.

What are some of your favorite short stories?

This is a hard question for me to answer. I love to read. But the lack of free time limits my reading. However, one of my writing goals for 2021 is to have a short story published in The People’s Friend. I need to read that magazine again. The editors fill it with lots of well-written stories. Hmm, that gives me an idea for my website. I may create a list of my latest favorite stories from The People’s Friend.

It’s a hard questions for me, too, because there are so many I love different kinds of short stories. Click here for a list of some of my favorites.



By My Side brings you twenty of the best romantic stories from writers around the world.
Be transported to the past in the war-torn “Three Months of Summer” and back to the present in the gentle modern everyday situation of “The Pool Doctor.” Feel your heart racing through the ethical dilemmas in “Would You Shoot Me?” and the danger and drama of “Run From the Sun”. These stories will transport you to a world of love and romance and leave you breathless. In far-away locations or in everyday situations, there really is someone for everyone.


Theresa Van Meter comes from a long line of storytellers and loves to spin tales of sweet romance. She has published her short stories online, and in magazines and her short story, “Buried Treasure”, is in the romantic anthology, By My Side. On her website, she enjoys interviewing authors about short stories. When she isn’t writing, she sells jewelry online, enjoys exercising, and playing board games with her family. Find more at Facebook or on her website

Prompt for a Short Story

Last week the prompt for a short story was a setting. This week it’s an object. Asking who, what, when, where, why, and how can help kick off your inspiration. Here’s how I answered those questions.

What?–An empty shoe with spots of wet blood.

Where?–An abandoned railway line.

When?–A hot July afternoon.

Who?—Two brothers, middle school age.

Why?–The brother are killing time in the woods near their home and find the shoe.

How?–They begin to look for the owner of the shoe and find more blood deeper in the woods.

How does the photo inspire you to answer the questions?

The Long Way Down by Edward D. Hoch

Because this month’s theme is short stories, I was faced with the delightful problem of choosing one to feature. Over the years, I’ve read so many great stories, from a variety of genres, penned by accomplished writers. I decided to go with “The Long Way Down” by Edward D. Hoch, the latest short story I’ve read that made my jaw drop with astonishment at both the plot twists and the expertise in which the author crafted them.

I read “The Long Way Down” last spring when my husband surprised me with the anthology, The 50 Greatest Mysteries of All Time, complied by Otto Penzler. Since it’s considered one of Mr. Hoch’s best short stories, I was surprised I’d never read it before in other collections. A word about Edward D. Hoch. The man was a master of short stories, writing almost a thousand of them before his death in 2008. Although he wrote in several genres, crime fiction was his specialty, and his specialty within that specialty was impossible crime stories.

Published in 1965, “The Long Way Down” begins with the main character McLove, chief of security for the Jupiter Steel and Brass Corporation, walking to work in Manhattan through the fog on a March morning. He goes to his office on the twenty-first floor, where the executives are waiting for the president of the company, Billy Calm. Billy has been out of town, working on a merger, and is supposed to return that morning for a meeting, announcing his success in getting it.

While in Billy’s empty office, McLove hears voices in the hall. He comes out just in time to see the door close to the meeting room. A crash from that room brings McLove, the secretary, and the executives into it on the run. They find a shattered window. The secretary says, “Billy jumped.”

McLove races down the elevator to the ground floor and runs outside but finds no body. Neither do the police. No one can figure out how a man could leap off a skyscraper and not hit the earth.

While McLove and the secretary take lunch in a nearby diner, a commotion draws them back to the Jupiter building. A crowd surrounds Billy Calm’s smashed body. He hit the ground three hours and forty-five minutes after he jumped. As one executive puts it, he took “the long way down.”

Not only is the mystery memorable, the solution left me reeling but agreeing that it made perfect sense. The reason it all works so well is that every component of the story has a purpose, even down to the names of the characters and the weather, which I didn’t realize until the last line. If you want to write mystery short stories, this is one you can study to learn how to write lean and mean while still delivering plenty of punch.

For more reviews of my favorite short stories, click on the stories below

“A Scandal in Winter” by Gillian Linscott

“The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse” by G.K. Chesteron

“Owls Hoot in the Daytime and Other Omens” by Manly Wade Wellman

“Summer Job” by Amanda Witt

“The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked Room Mysteries” by Otto Penzler

What are your favorite short stories?

Prompts for Short Stories

This month’s theme is short stories. I loved reading them and writing them! My prompts for short stories provide inspiration by asking who, what, when, where, how, and why questions.

Today’s prompt is a setting. Answering the questions below gives me the beginning of a story.

What?–A well-kept room in an old family mansion

Where?–A small midwestern town.

When?–A dusty, hot August afternoon.

Who?— An elderly woman, who lives alone in the house, and a young woman, who cleans her house.

Why?–The young woman knows a mystery surrounds the elderly woman’s family and has found something in the attic that might be connected to it.

How?–The young woman shows the elderly woman the object and tells her what she thinks it has to do with the mystery.

For another setting prompt, click here. How does the photo inspire you to answer the questions?

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