The Art and Craft of the Short Story( a book review)

art and craft of short stories
Book cover courtesy of Open Road Distribution(October 2016)

The Art and Craft of the Short Story by Rick DeMarinis

Originally published by Story Press(2008)

ISBN: 978-15040-3685-6

If you’ve ever wanted to take that Master’s course in creative short fiction writing, I recommend none higher than DeMarinis’ The Art and Craft of the Short Story. This is no short book with quick, easy clichés to get you writing better. On the contrary, you will learn the anatomy of the short story and how to tell the difference between a good one and bad one.

What makes this book so good?

  • It is straight to the point with explanations of the tools of creative writing.
  • Lots of exercises.
  • Examples of amazing short stories written and published.

As someone who loves reading poetry and short stories, I had to pick this one up. I needed a book from an expert who will not only tell, but show me what good writing looks like.

DeMarinis breaks down beginnings, endings, plots, imagery, theme and more.

You realize he is speaking to you as a gentle instructor, showing you what you already realize as a reader: that a story has to grab your attention from the get go.

Here is just a few of the sage advice you’ll find:

  • “If there is a thematic point in a story to be made, it would have to emerge organically-not forced”(pg.59) meaning as you are writing, you may not want to focus on theme, just tell the story. Readers will have their own thoughts on what the theme truly is.
  • The contemporary short story is mostly character driven.
  • Shifting points of view may bring the story into sharper focus.
  • Closing a short story is similar to closing a poem(really loved this topic!)
  • The weird yet glamorous world of meta-fiction writing.

I think the biggest take away from this book is the breakdown of stories. As DeMarinis puts it:

“In fiction, every sentence is innovation.”(pg. 135) Stories are made up of Narrative(voice that tells the story), narrative summary(moves story forward), and scenes(place characters on stage).

Seeing it condensed like that after reading his book, really nailed it.

So if you are interested in writing short stories and getting them recognized and/or published, you will be doing yourself a favor by picking it up either on loan from Freading.com or clicking its title above to purchase from Amazon.

I wish I could spill all the information from beginning to end on this book, but writing is your journey and yours alone.

Would you pick up this book to improve your own writing or to learn about short fiction?

What are some books you have read on short story writing? Share here!

Sincerely,

-The Write Web

The Power of Shorts

shorts
Photo Image by Josh Willink and blog design by Ericajean using Canva

I’m not talking about the tiny things people will be wearing on their legs this summer.

I’m talking about the incredible short fiction that is actually selling well on the Kindle and Smashwords.

Don’t believe me? Check this out:

“I know of one writer who sells collections of short pieces of erotica. She tells me she makes $15,000 a month, and expects to make more, as she releases more collections… So short stories are goldmines, these days.”[ http://www.fabfreelancewriting.com/blog/2013/06/25/writing-kindle-ficion-make-money-with-short-stories/]

Let’s Talk Short Pieces and Long Money

Just from those pieces of information, I know two things: One, short fiction is back.

Two: Writing in the popular categories(a.k.a. romance) will earn you more money as a writer.

Do I know this from personal experience?

Yes and…no.

I’ve written a story less than 150 pages for Smashwords and Barnes and Noble and it amassed about $23.00  at 0.99 per book.

Why the low sales?

Actually I received thousands of downloads when it was free. When I experimented and set it to 0.99 for a short while, it earned $23 buckaroos. Not much.

But I did not lose hope.

I began sifting through articles to find real writers who are earning an income and they are totally making a living out of this short fiction thing.

But, I don’t think it is as easy as it may seem.

Picking the Piece That Fits You

What if you don’t like writing romance? What if you are into mystery and thrillers or nonfiction?

Well, the stats are in the favor of these top four categories:

Lucky for me, I enjoy all four of these categories and regularly read the books within them. But I’ll be honest. Romance is my #1 fav hands down.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading D.K. Cassidy’s Room #42 and last year enjoyed Trish Marie Dawson’s The Station Series.

These books are fantastic and are not chunky page-wise.

In fact, Trish Marie Dawson’s The Station Series’ books, are less than 200 pages each and still I craved them enough to spend  3.99 on each book. Her first book is free.

Hopefully, knowing this is making it easier to consider writing short fiction. If not, here is more to persuade you…

I just bought D.K. Cassidy’s Sleepless book because her short read, Room 42 had me hooked to her writing.

The Key to Serving Up Your Stories

I notice a trend in pricing models too. For example, series seem to do extremely well online- especially if the first book is free.

If you want people to gobble down your books, serve them up a free appetizer and you will see your audience grow(of course this all depends on factors such as cover design, selecting the right categories for your book and great writing skills).

As a bookworm and writer I see the benefits from both ends. For one, as a reader I need to know where your stories are going and your tone in the books before I make any kind of extra purchase within the series.

C’mon even movies have trailers.

Secondly, as a writer, posting up free reads is a genius plan to get people hyped about the following books.

I heard of Kindle Singles and Kindle Worlds as well for writers to place their short stories. I am unfamiliar with these tools so please help me out if you know anything, comment below!

Want to strengthen you short story skills? Try out these powerful resources below:

The Art and Craft of the Short Story by Rick D.eMarinis

Jerz’s Literary Blog

The Seven Key Elements of Fiction

How to Write Short Stories That Sell

How to Make Real Money Selling Short Fiction

 

 

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror ( a review)

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

Edited by Ellen Datlow

Published by Tachyon Publications (October 31, 2016)

ISBN: 978-1616962326

*Book received for free from Netgalley

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This collection of short stories can be classified as  “weird” with horrific spices added into the pot.

It was just that good; and unfortunately(or fortunately), some stories give you pause. Make you cringe. Make you think.

Make you not want to sleep.

I’ve experienced that while reading this book. The individual tales can seem disjointed somehow, almost experimental like Gemma Files’s “Spectral Evidence”. A seeming innocent act of collecting notes, speculating about a dead medium, turns out to hold more suspense than sitting in a theater watching The Ring.

“Orbs hover over her right eye, pineal gland and heart chakra, roughly the same areas in which she would later develop simultaneous(and fatal) aneurysms.”(Nightmares, 2017).

Or “Closet Dreams” where a girl is questioned by authorities about how she escaped from a sexual predator when there is no human way possible that she could have escaped. That one left me with chills…and questions.

Many more stories are diabolical, dreamlike, downright nightmarish and I loved the collection.

Definitely worth the read.

If you’re not scared.

 

 

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider (a review)

The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity by author/illustrator Grant Snider

Published: Abrams(2017)

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2317-9

*Book received for my unbiased review from Netgalley

Ever wonder where ideas come from?

Interested in how to catch them?

Don’t wish to read too many words on how ideas are shaped?

Then great. When I downloaded Snider’s Shape of Ideas, I was pleased to see cute pictures illustrating the many aspects and processes of generating ideas and entertaining inspiration.

“With every new thing I make I think I’m getting closer to whole.”(The Shape of Ideas p.45)

As a writer and creative thinker, it was pretty cool to have a visual of the process of forming an idea.

The drawings are simplistic enough, but with a tad bit of humor as you journey through sections such as:

  • Inspiration
  • Perspiration
  • Improvisation
  • Aspiration
  • Contemplation
  • Exploration, etc.

The book’s goal is to mirror what happens when we think about creating.

The book poses poignant questions and offered up sage advice within the art.

“You can be anything you want to be… but can you be everything you want to be.”(p.57)

In sum, The Shape of Ideas had some timeless, sage advice- most we identify with on a day to day basis but it was still a neat illustrative book.

About Grant Snider

You can find Grant Snider on incidentalcomics.com. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Kansas Star, and The Best American Comics 2013. He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his wife and 2 sons. More examples of his illustrative genius can be seen in Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts.

 

Rock-N-Ink Series Presents, Beautiful Mess(a review)

Beautiful Mess(Rock –N-Ink series, #2) by Kasey Lane

Published: Sourcebook Casablanca 2017

Cover and Internal Design by Sourcebooks, Inc. Cover Art by Craig White

Read this on my LG Tribute, downloaded from Freading.com but you can also grab books 1 and 2 of the Rock-N-Ink series on Amazon/Kindle today!

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It is that feeling you get when the ride is over. You do not want to close the book, but alas, it is over.

I have enjoyed both Beautiful Crazy and Beautiful Mess- a LOT.

In Beautiful Mess, we meet JamiLynn Dillon, Mason Dillon’s little sister and prim and proper attorney at law.

JamiLynn’s heart was broken by the heartthrob drummer, Jackson “Jax Pain” Paige five years ago while she attended college. She did not expect to run into him at his own tattoo parlor, Tatuaggio, and once again old feelings stirred up in her heart for this super gorgeous man who took her heart and body, gave it a ride she has not forgotten, then discarded her by walking out on her years ago.

When Jax sees Miss Prim and Proper Jami, it is as if whatever was missing in his soul, was finally piecing itself back together again. However, there are two problems: she is Mason’s little sister and he walked out on her all those years ago.

With all the heat and old feelings of regret and guilt building up,you begin to wonder if the two will ever make it.

Between Jax’s reason as to why he left, and Jami not being able to let go of the past nor let her hair down and then the fact that her parents have more control of her life then need be, it will take a miracle for these two to rehash the past safely and just get on with it.

This book earns five purple hearts for excellent pacing, memorable characters, and a storyline brimming with sizzling sensuality, camaraderie and lots of rock and roll and ink.

First of all, I loved this series because how can you go wrong with music, tattoos and romance? You just can’t.

Jamilynn may be an attorney but she has her heart trapped in a steel cage and for good reason. A boyfriend in high school hurt her. Badly.

Then in college, she meets Jax who is her artistic, amazing hot tutor and then Jax walks out on her- it is pretty understandable why she does not want to fool around with Jax Pain(or any dude) anymore, but darn it, Jax knows the right words to say and it helps that he is older, wiser and have discovered new ways to bring her to new heights(in bed and in life)

“Because right now, right here, Jax Paige knew only one thing for sure: he wanted JamiLynn Dillon more than he wanted his next drum solo, more than he wanted a multimillion dollar contract.”(Beautiful Mess, pg. 112 , 2017).

I could not get over the feels and chills and outpouring of sexuality and equal amounts of pure adoration and love Jax had for this woman.

JamiLynn may be cute and very smart but she was really damaged by her past, which actually made her equal parts stoic but also a teddy bear underneath. We rejoice when she realizes she is just like everyone else, she is a part of something bigger and the past does not have to keep her.

Did I mention the scorcher bedroom scenes(SWOON!)

Or the way Jax defends her and constantly dotes on her?

My favorite scene of all is when he receives a text message from her that she is tired and wants to go home but he is there. At her place. Waiting for her and fixes her tea, soup and rubs her feet after a hard day.

Can I get an AMEN!

The tone of the book is marshmallow sweet with the savory sauce of romance I was looking for.

If you are into rock n’ roll and tattoos you will love this one.

Be sure to check out Kasey Lane at www.kaseylane.com for more of her books!

Also, if you are into bikers and romance, I reviewed an equally hot novel you may want to check out today too!

You’ll be Panting and Maybe Crying after Reading Overdose, A British Bad Boy Romance

 

Overdose image
Overdose by Raven St. Pierre

Overdose: A British Bad Boy Romance by Raven St. Pierre

Published October 2016

I purchased this book from the Kindle Store for $3.99. Get it now. Not kidding!

Warning: This book deals with some SERIOUS issues such as abuse and other forms of violence.

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The author warns us that this hero is flawed and dirty.

However, nothing prepared me for the rollercoaster ride of feels and even threats of tears in my eyes as I read this work. Let me tell you why.

Zander Hale is all kinds of messed up. He is a narcissist. Insomniac and a sex addict. Dr. Vanessa Ferris of Ferris and Ferris has to treat him. But what she did not expect was a primal, sexy beast who is also a mental health doctor himself, to take such an interest in her.

It also didn’t help that her soon to be ex- husband works with her and is always so nosy. They have a son together, but Vanessa is truly done with her cheating husband.,

The first time Vanessa tries counseling Zander, she finds him too prideful and way too cocky, but he is an honest man. He makes it known on first meeting that he wants her. To Zander, Vanessa is becoming his very own brand of addiction and if the tension becomes too much, he’ll have to do something about it.

Now, here is where the book earns a whopping five hearts: This is the first time that there isn’t a “comedy relief” or “sista-friend” in this work of fiction for the protagonist to lean on.

To me, sista friends and comic reliefs for certain books, slows down the pace.

There were times reading this book that I wish I could help her with her situation with such a controlling husband. But it was refreshing to not have that interference, she mostly drew her strength from Zander and so I appreciated the alone time they had with each other.

I also really liked the fact that there really weren’t any heroes in this story. Everyone had flaws. The difference is in how they handled themselves.

Without giving too much away, Vanessa shut her husband from her life as soon as he cheated, but it seems he had something important to tell her that she just would not hear. I paid attention to this in the story, knowing good and well he blew his chances with her, but still…something was off about him.

Zander, to me was the true victim all through life. Again, I will not spill his beans, but his times of being cocky were obviously “bravado masks” for when he was hurt. But I  enjoyed him bantering with Vanessa and the way they steam up the darn eBook was FIRE!

I found it interesting that the main characters: Dr. Simon, Ferris, Zander Hale, and Vanessa Ferris are all mental health doctors, but Vanessa gave Zander the time of day to hear why he does what he does, instead of affording her husband the same listening ear.

However, you will quickly figure out the darkness her ex- husband was hiding and will be glad she turns to Zander.

The book goes more into Zander’s background than Vanessa. We get bits and pieces of her past life as far as academics and career is concerned but I do not recall her mentioning her own parents at all.

I highly recommend this book because it is a testament that true love can kick any bad situation’s butt if we hold out hope for one another and the future. The hero in this book not only made me swoon hard, but conveyed that all people deserve a chance at happiness.

Another great page turner from Raven St. Pierre!

Kamaria G. Powell Asks Us: WTF is Enlightenment(a review)

What the F#@k is Enlightenment? By Kamaria G. Powell

Publication Date: March 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1365305320

Perfect Bound Paperback, get it on Lulu today!

*Received from Netgalley for my unbiased review*

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I know I have an amazing book on my hands when I just can’t stop highlighting enlightening words and anecdotes. Kamaria G. Powell’s words feel as if they are bubbling from a pot of sincerity and love, as if a sister is trying to encourage you in your darkest hour.

WTF is Enlightenment is a clarion call and book of personal experiences, detailing just what the heck spirituality is and all it can be.

The really cool thing, is that Kamaria does not just tell us what enlightenment is, she reiterates over and over that we “have to embrace our own spirituality” and this can be difficult for many of us because who we are tend to be tied down to religion, passed down teachings, titles and material wealth.

“What I learned from my deep longing to be seen as a spiritual being, was that you don’t need anyone to knight you.”(WTF is Enlightenment, 2017)

How is it that we allow people outside of us to tell us who we are? That is impossible! Whatever the Creator of the universe has given us, was given by Him. If we need to make moves and make a change, we are already equipped to do so.

Kamaria even gives us some background on her own life story. She does not sugarcoat her mom’s mental illness or her dad’s incarceration, and her choosing to see the lessons and the light from that situation will encourage the reader too.

This book is a welcome fresh air that was not difficult to understand at all. As I said before, this book is a clarion call to be who you are. What can be more beautiful than that? Here are a few tidbits from the book that were precious gems to me:

  • Listen to patterns in your life.
  • You are the access to the Divine- everyone else is a guide.
  • Being spiritual does not require a specific text.
  • You are an expression of God.

Plus many more affirmations.

“You have the power to start thinking of your life as a science that you must study in order to discover your personal truths…”

After reading this wonderful book, I have become more aware and will definitely heed to the lessons Kamaria points out in the material.

If you’ve ever wanted a guide that was not boastful , yet intelligently and simply written. Please choose this one.