Thursday, December 23, 2010

National Short Story Day

On December 21, the U.K. recognizes "prose’s short-yet-perfectly-crafted form," the short story, with National Short Story Day. Events throughout the country celebrate this art form, a followup to their National Short Story Week in November.

I call it an art form because of all the styles of writing, short stories challenge authors like no other. Ian Rankin said it best: "The best short stories pack the heft of any novel, yet resonate like poetry.”

I love Naomi Alderman's quote too: "The short story is the most astonishing form: more supple than the novel, because of its length it’s possible to be more experimental, to do away, sometimes, with plot or character or logic. Instead of having to fill in details, to explain itself, to come to a conclusion, a short story can simply throw a thought at the reader, hurl a moment. It’s gemlike. There are no perfect novels, but there are perfect stories, I think.’

I would have loved to have been across the pond to join in the celebration. Better yet, I wish the U.S. would plan something similar. But if you're like me and didn't attend any of the planned events, don't fret - you can still read or listen to specially commissioned short stories.

The mark of any great story is the way it resonates with readers. How long it will stick with you after you've finished reading it.

Of the authors I consider masterful at crafting short stories, T.C. Boyle (shown in photo - *hey T.C.! Come to visit anytime!*) and Charles D'Ambrosio top the list. If you've never read these authors, you're missing out. I highly recommend D'Ambrosio's Dead Fish Museum.

T.C. Boyle's latest collection, Wild Child and Other Stories, comes out in January. It's on my wish list! If it's anything like his other collections, it's amazing. The ending to the title story of Tooth and Claw still gives me shivers!

Other favorites include Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore. Stacey Richter and Aimee Bender are nothing short of dazzling. There are too many others to mention.

After writing poetry for years, I moved on to short stories to challenge myself. Yes, finely crafted novels will keep you reading, but short stories have to pack a wallop in limited space. I had some success with web zines and journals. You can find links to many of them here - click on Web Zine Stories.

This year, I was lucky to have won first place in the Pearl S. Buck inaugural writing contest for a short story I'd written years ago. Will I keep writing short stories? Absolutely. Authors need to exercise their writing muscles to keep them in shape, and short stories provide a great workout.

Many epublishers are open to short stories. This year, Eternal Press released Winning, a short speculative.

Wild Child Publishing released Liberation via Pen, a short chick lit story about a girl who frees herself through writing.

Freya's Bower released The Lure of the Vine.

The Wild Rose Press published my shorts, Going with Gravity (a 2011 EPIC finalist!), Design for Life, The Duende and the Muse, Seventh Heaven and my free read, Cinderella Dreams (are tough to shake).

Click on the links to read excerpts, reviews, or view the trailers for each.

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