An update and Some Short Short Story Reviews

I’m back.

This past semester I’ve been fairly busy with work at the hotel, reading for my third semester teaching pedagogy project, and actually teaching my writing workshop (in order of priority). My own fiction writing has taken a back seat, which depresses me because I’m nearing the end of my time at Stonecoast (graduation in January 2015!) and I want to leave the program feeling like I’ve found my “system”–that is, a way to work, and write, and live! Not quite there yet, but I’m hoping that a change of career will help me achieve more of my writing goals. I’m counting down the days at the hotel, and when I return from the Summer residency in Freeport, I’ll immediately begin training in my new position as program manager at Literacy Volunteers.

I have a post-it stuck to the bulletin board above my writing desk that reminds me to “Focus on the system, not the goal”–a golden nugget of wisdom taken from this article here . In short, I’ve come to realize that it’s more important for my process to write each day (or at least multiple times a week) rather than pressure myself to finish individual project like the novel…which will probably be finished (enough) to send out/self-publish by the end of the year. I’ll be discussing self-publishing in a later post…

Part of my “process” the past two months has been to binge-read short stories in order to educate myself on how to write more short stories. The short story form does not come naturally to me. So I’ve had some fun reading short story collections. And in the spirit of being brief, I’m going to comment on a few of the collections with tweet-like brevity:

Stories, Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

Great mix of fantasy, horror, and creepiness. Worth the purchase for Joyce Carol Oates’s “Fossil-Figures” and a sneak peek at Gaiman’s short-story-turned-novella “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”. Surprise appearance by Liz Hand; her story “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon” blurs the line between reality and fantasy so beautifully that it had me wondering how much of the story was inspired by real people and events. #isthisthereallife #isthisjustfantasy

City of Saints and Madmen, Jeff Vandermeer

My first Vandermeer experience did not disappoint. The book is made up of short stories all based on the historical figures and events in a fictional city called Ambergris. The book presents itself as a historical document, made up of personal accounts, diary entries, letters, interviews, research papers, etc. Fun to read, but not before bed as the violence in Saints and Madmen is very graphic. You will never see mushrooms the same way again. #mushroommurder #Fearthefungi

The Bloody Chamber, and other stories, by Angela Carter

Required reading for any feminist who has ever read fairy tales with a bad taste in her mouth. Carter makes the men in fairy tales even more monstrous, but her female characters have a deadly quality about them as well. The heroine in “Wolf Alice” is the monster. #donotopenthisdoor #noreallyyoudonotwanttoknow

The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tartar

Maybe Hollywood has made me numb to most violence, but I actually expected the Grimm versions to be…more grim. Regardless, this is a must read if you plan to put your own spin on a fairy tale–know what’s been done before. #whyarethesegirlssostupid


That’s all for now.


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