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

 

 

Is Fiverr a Good Site for Writers?

I decided to do a little post on my experience using Fiverr as my side hustle for money.

I was paid to post legit comments on reputable blogs and articles, and made quite a bit of money writing up promotional material for authors.

Many of you who write are probably interested in making a little extra cash and to put something on your resume, but I am telling you now, be careful with many of these sites.

Writing online can be fun and rewarding, but being careful and trying to build your own platform and brand is key here.

Okay, so let’s talk about it…

Why Did I Start Using Fiverr?

I began using Fiverr because people were talking about it.

I also wanted to make money. Simple as that.

What did I do on Fiverr?

I started out just helping people get traction for their blogs by posting well thought out comments that were keyword dense. Eventually I realized that my love of reading could be marketable too, so I would promote author’s books on my social media after reviewing it in full or in part.

Do you have to be an expert?

It is preferable.

If you are passionate and relatively good and what you do. Go for it. In my opinion we should always look into perfecting our craft and professionalism should always be high.

What can a person do on Fiverr or what makes the most money?

You can offer ANY gig on Fiverr(within legal limits of course!). From my research, the most popular gig offers are for making promotional videos. If an individual or company wants you to try their product and review it in a video, that is what seems to be selling like hot cakes on Fiverr.

And it is super easy to do and make tons of money too.

Another popular gig is writing and designing. You will have to figure out your niche.

Is the pay good?

I will say this. I charged only five dollars for my gigs and once Fiverr took their cut and then Paypal took their cut, I was left with earnings of $3.92. No lie! But it added up quickly. I made probably $50 bucks or so off of my gigs when I was serious about it.

Why did I leave?

Here is the straw that is breaking the camel’s back. Poor camel!

I left because one bad review can take your popularity down a notch. I had just made top seller and one- just ONE of my customers was upset because she/he did not read my gig right.

Also, Fiverr took down one my writing gigs because it failed Terms of Service…? They did not give me details of how that happened and it was very shady how they did it too.

This does not mean Fiverr is a scam, but it made me rethink my business model.

My Journey to Freelance Writing Freedom

I don’t have all the knowledge yet on my new writing venture, but I do know this. I am tired of writing for companies that twist your money and work any kind of way just so you could earn pennies.

It is disgusting.

I now spend my days studying and honing my craft even more, submitting to literary journals and other places and getting my name out there.

If you are serious about becoming a writer-preneur then the first step is perfecting your craft and hosting it on your OWN website. I don’t have a domain yet but I will soon.

I am interested in how many of you are living your life free to write. Comment below or give this post a like!

Sincerely,

Ericajean 🙂

Thick Skin Over My Haiku, Dealing With Poetry Submissions

Hello Bloggers, readers, and writers!

A few days ago, I was hoping Frogpond would get back with me to let me know my “Stellar” haiku has made it into the online journal.

I open my email from them.

This is what I see…(Hopefully you can see it, if not, my reaction will inform you)

screenshot frogpond

My reaction:

upset cat

Needless to say I was not particularly pleased that the poetry I’ve shared with others and received great response, received a “we’ll pass” from Frogpond.

Note: With Frogpond you can submit poetry you’ve shared on social media just not on any blogs.

Also any journals and contests I mention in these posts, I’ve hyperlinked them so you can check them out too!

I will be posting regularly about poetry and other writings I am submitting this year. This is the year I buckle down and start submitting to contests, literary journals, the web, etc.

So are the people online wrong? Are they a bad judge of haiku?

Is Frogpond looking for some other kind of haiku? Does it have to be 5-7-5 strictly?

I don’t know.

What I do know is I am going over my haiku now while writing more poetry in other formats. I love haiku so I am hoping to perfect it.

How have you dealt with rejection? Comment below!

Happy writing everyone and I hope to bring back better news in the meantime 🙂

 

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé(Book Review)

Morgan Parker
Blog design by Ericajean using Pixlr/Book Design Courtesy Tin House Books

4.5 Purple Hearts

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce, Morgan Parker

Edition: Paperback

ISBN: 978-1941040539

Price: 14.95 USD(Get First Edition on Amazon for less)

*Book received for free from Netgalley.

With a title such as There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce, Morgan Parker is setting the reader up for poetry that will be evocative, provocative, enthralling and enriched, steeped in the black and black woman experience.

For a greater experience of Morgan Parker’s writing, check out her article on Afrofuturism that is amazing!

My Reaction:

Reading Parker’s poetry was like taking a deep dive into some subconscious quagmire that only those in touch with pop culture will sink into. However it was hard not to judge this book subjectively because with poems like “13 Ways of Looking at a Black Girl”,“Afro”, and “RoboBeyonce” I had a party in my head and I understood exactly where the speaker was coming from.

Take these words for instance:

“I’m too small to see but I’m listening.”

Or

“On the last day of the year I enter a scalding tub and think you away.”

Many poems I understood, just from living it.

However, some poems I came across seemed to be from a stream of consciousness that my mind just froze upon. That is okay. Stream of consciousness is good. I delve into it with my own writing too, creating abstract poems with my abstract brain.

This is a great book of poetry, I do recommend it to those who enjoy poetry infused with pop culture and plenty of interesting, uncharacteristic rhythm.

Five Fiction Books That Changed My World

woman reading

Without further ado, here is the list!

  • 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult, is hailed as a “raw and important work” about school violence. A teen is picked on mercilessly and eventually becomes something to be very afraid of. This book opened my eyes up to the seriousness of bullying.

We all know it is serious business, but Picoult wrote the story from an angle that felt as if many voices were speaking at once. I learned that writing with care and the art of research is important in any story.

This particular series follows a five thousand year old blonde vampire named Sita who we are supposed to hate, but I couldn’t help but relate. She is depicted as fully human with her own struggles and enemies.

I am not ashamed to say I cried a little. Perhaps because of the series ending and not necessarily what happens in the end..? Bottomline: If a vampire story can make me cry, then it was a good darn book. Also, if I can empathize with a wicked vampire, I can empathize with anyone, right?

  • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews– need I say more? With Lifetime cranking out the books to television and Andrews’ books continue to pop up at Walmart, Bookstores and online in an unending ghost written foray, these books remain popular.

This book was probably one of the first books to keep me up at night.

There I was, 12-13 years old reading a gothic fiction about children being left in an attic so long that confusion, incest and other problems arose. That book made me understand that sometimes family is just in blood only. Anyone can hurt you.

Flowers in the Attic is one of those richly dark travesties of literary treasure and genius.

  • Seed to Harvest Series by Octavia E. Butler was a masterpiece. Still is. I bought the thick tome off of Amazon one year, maybe 2011, and dived right into it.

Patternmaster/Seed to Harvest, dates back to pre-slavery Africa where Anyanwu is gifted with shape shifting abilities, while Doro can literally jump his spirit self into other bodies. It awakened my own need to write sci/fi this good. It reminds me of the “Black” version of X-Men, but so deliciously written.

  • The Station Series* by Trish Marie Dawson gave me chills and sweet thrills. This book showed me that writing about a sensitive topic such as suicide can be dealt with using fantasy, research and great insight(and an amazing author!). In the series, Piper Willow dies and wakes up at The Station, where suicides go and become mentors and volunteers to people on earth who are considering suicide. The goal is to prevent people from committing suicide in the first place. Romance was high in this series too.

It gave me a new perspective on death in general.

It is not the end but a new station in existence. No one has the concrete answers but fiction allows us to play with what the answers could be.

Those are the five books which have changed my life in some way.

*The link will take you to a free Kindle copy of Dying to Forget, Book 1 in the station series.

**Affiliate links are sprinkled through this post. This simply means the link will take you to a site where you can learn more about the product and if you purchase anything I will receive coins for it. I appreciate you!

Please post your comments here and like or subscribe if you like the content. Thanks again to all of you reading and clicking around on my blog.Without

These posts are for you, the ultimate bookworm or writerworm 🙂