Category Archives: fantasy

Believe in Fairies? Yes!

The Faery Handbag  by Kelly Link

Tuesday’s Tale of Fairies   November 26, 2019

 

Today, let’s believe in fairies.  Flower fairies, fish fairies, tree fairies, beach fairies to name a few. We should believe in everything until it’s disproved, right? And no one has disproved that fairies exist. Nightmares and dreams are not part of our waking daily activities yet they exist in everyone’s night life. So, let’s believe in fairies.

Fairy stories always bring me back to my childhood, but this one by Kelly Link brings me beyond my childhood. The Faery Handbag opens with Genevieve and her friends shopping in the Garment Center. She is in search of her Grandmother Zofia’s faery handbag—who are said to live inside it. Here is how Genevieve describes it.

“The faery handbag: It’s huge and black and kind of hairy. Even when your eyes are closed, it feels black. As black as black ever gets, like if you touch it, your hand might get stuck in it, like tar or black quicksand or when you stretch out your hand at night, to turn on a light, but all you feel is darkness.”

A chilling moment, yes? This story is mostly about Grandma Zofia who claims to be over 200 years old.  Do you know the difference between a horrible liar and a wonderful liar? What fun, and because this little adventure is so well written, I’m sure you will not be able to stop reading. The story won Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards, and was originally published in the anthology Faery Reel: Tales From The Twilight Realm, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It is also in Kelly Link‘s second short story collection, Magic for Beginners.

You can read the short story by Kelly Link here at SmallBeerPress.com

https://smallbeerpress.com/free-stuff-to-read/2005/07/01/the-faery-handbag-by-kelly-link/

Kelly Link is an American author who writes magic realism, fantasy and horror. She has won several awards for her short stories, including the World Fantasy Award in 1999 for “The Specialist’s Hat”, and the Nebula Award both in 2001 and 2005 for “Louise’s Ghost” and “Magic for Beginners.” Link  is the founder of independent publishing company, Small Beer Press, along with her husband, Gavin Grant.

 

On the same subject of fairy tales but from a classic perspective, if you’ve never read The Tale of Tales, Giambattisa Basile’s 17th-century book of fairy stories, you might enjoy these very odd and magical tales that are more for adults than children. On Amazon:

 

The FaeryReel by Ellen Datlow has a variety of short stories by such authors as  Charles de Lint, Delia Sherman, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, and Hiromi Goto, and more. On Amazon.com  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0142404063

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

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“A Terrible Beauty” Published at Unfading Daydream

Unfading Daydream Literary Magazine

A Terrible Beauty by Paula Cappa,  Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dear Readers:

I am happy to announce that my newest short story, A Terrible Beauty is now published at Unfading Daydream, a literary magazine  founded by LL Lemke and Adelei Wade. They have been successfully publishing speculative fiction since 2017.

 

The October 2019 issue’s theme is possession.  Twelve short stories in this edition bring you into worlds of ghosts, ouija board, psychic phenomenon, enchanting princess, and more.

In A Terrible Beauty, you will discover the power of quartz crystals, a young man Charlie Crowe, an entity known as Datan, and the endearing Li’l Clare.

Here is a peek.

The trap opened at sundown. Inside of a great, clear crystal swirled the presence of a bat. No; I call it a bat, but this was no flying rodent in any earthly sense. It only appeared bat-like. What I immediately learned was that this odd presence claimed she could eat men like air.

Being an ordinary man, I shuddered.

I say she, although I was not at all certain of the gender, because something about the curves and cleaves, the quivering grooves of the grim shape, reminded me of a woman. My experiences with women were quite limited in my rather over-protected twenty-one years of life, but I remained an admirer of the starlet Marilyn Monroe, and who could better exemplify a model for feminine cleaves and curves?

When I asked this presence how she could do this—eat men, that is—she released these thoughts into my head:

“I tap the temples, neatly plucking a section of brain matter, seizing the shafts of lightning therein, and absorbing the essence of the man like a sponge into my crystal. Then I plant the human head into an ice gulch and let it vegetate like a cabbage.”

I recalled pulling my cap lower around my ears as her thought—actually a thought-noose—nearly made me cry out.

 

Speculative fiction is a genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world but in very important ways. These stories explore the human condition. The term was coined by science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein in 1948.  This genre includes unproven theories, ‘what if …?’ scenarios, fantastic elements, action hinged to the realm of science fiction and to horror. It’s for readers who want to believe in the impossible and the unknown. In these stories, the sky is not the limit.

Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall is probably one of the most popular speculative fiction short stories. And of course the novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

What I love about speculative fiction is that you are in the real world but you are not in the real world.   A Terrible Beauty brings you into that space between reality and unreality. As a writer, this can be really challenging because the story, characters, action must be totally convincing and carry a deep sense of suspense.  This is a story about what could be, not what is. My readers here of Greylock, A Dazzling Darkness, and Night Sea Journey, as well as my other short stories, are familiar with such imaginary realms of the supernatural.

 

You can purchase the magazine here on Amazon.com Unfading Daydream Issue Possession October:

 

Are you a speculative fiction fan? What are your favorite authors or stories? Please post a comment! And if you do read A Terrible Beauty, I’d love to hear your feedback.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

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Within the Monastery of Mountains: Melville’s The Piazza

Tuesday’s Tale    July 30 and August 1, 2019

READING FICTION BLOG

MELVILLE AT 200

 

August 1st is the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth date, born in 1819 (click to visit Arrowhead website). Hence, the celebration this week of Herman Melvillle’s fiction. I am featuring one of his short stories The Piazza because it reflects his homestead, Arrowhead, at the foot of Mt. Greylock in Pittsfield, MA.

My readers here know how precious Mt. Greylock is to my creative writing, and many who have read my supernatural mystery Greylock, will appreciate this post today. Melville began writing his most famous Moby Dick in 1850 during the snowy month of February at Arrowhead, the farmhouse built in 1780. The novel, as we all know, is a story of the unrelenting Captain Ahab who is driven to pursue the white whale who ends up destroying him. Melville would sit at his desk in the upstairs study, his window in full view of Mt. Greylock.

 

The piazza, after which the story and the book “The Piazza Tales” were named, is a porch Melville added to the north side of Arrowhead’s farmhouse shortly after he purchased the farm.

(Arrowhead, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the piazza on the back side of the farmhouse.)

When I visited Arrowhead Homestead Museum in Pittsfield and gave a reading of Greylock there in 2017, I toured Melville’s home, walked through his study and ran my finger along his desk as if I could touch the dead author. For a long moment I soaked in the view of Mt. Greylock, one of the most ghostly and mysterious mountains in Northeast America. As a writer of ghosts stories, I sometimes think we can connect to the dead through our own thoughts and by reading their words; this moment was a deep one for me.

 

 

 

 

Here you can see Melville’s exact view out his study window of Mt. Greylock. Look closely and you’ll see it resembles a great humped whale in the sea of sky. How inspiring is that! Visitors to Arrowhead can  stand on that piazza and soak in the same view Melville did when he spent hours there in his rocking chair.

The works Melville wrote at Arrowhead included Moby Dick, Pierre, The Confidence-Man, Israel Potter, a collection entitled The Piazza Tales, and such short stories as I and My Chimney, Benito Cereno, Bartleby the Scrivener, and The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids. Melville became known as one of the Dark Romantic writers, much like Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody, Mary Shelley, and Poe.

This short story, The Piazza, takes place at Arrowhead—a view from the piazza—and the narrator makes a magical journey to the mountain he calls “old Greylock, like a Sinai.” Sitting on this piazza, our narrator absorbs all of nature on the mountain—the far forest, hill and valley, flower and berry bush, and the woozy air. Light, shadows, dreamy thoughts from this mountain play hide-and-seek before his eyes and mind.  At one point yellow birds appear on a darkened path. Then, little footprints form among the ferns. He follows the footprints to a cottage, thinking he is entering a fairy land, a place where blond fairies dance.

Melville brings us beyond Mt. Greylock, into a place between two azure worlds. Can you smell the moss? Hear the yellow birds? Can you hear Marianna’s dusky voice? Listen with your highest awareness to truly enjoy this adventure with Melville. Celebrate one of our greatest American writers at 200 years.

 

Read the short story here:

https://americanliterature.com/author/herman-melville/short-story/the-piazza

 

Listen to the audio on You Tube by Librivox Recordings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x266a5alws4

 

 

 

View my original blog post from my book signing at Arrowhead at the foot of  Mt. Greylock: https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/06/

THE PIAZZA TALES BY HERMAN MELVILLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Piazza Tales include 6 short stories: The Piazza, Bartleby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, The Lightning-Rod Man, The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles, The Bell-Tower.  You can read all these tales FREE at Gutenberg.org: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15859

The Melville Society: https://melvillesociety.org/

Melville at 200: https://melvillesociety.org/calendar/eventdetail/9/-/melville-s-birthday

Please comment below if you are a Melville fan

or an admirer of Mt. Greylock!

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Wandering the Sky Naked

The Daughters of the Moon  by Italo Calvino

READING FICTION BLOG

 Tuesday’s Tale of Magical Realism,  June 25, 2019

Nude women, New York City, and the moon. If you love magical realism that holds deep edges of fantasy folk tales, this is your story. Author Italo Calvino asks the question, can the moon die? What if the moon orbited  close to Earth? What if the moon was full of eyes and shimmering colors? This 1968 short story is unusual and unforgettable. Calvino was a passionate believer that art could unite the self and heal. His writing just explodes in this rather vigorous and imaginative ride.

“The moon is old, Qfwfq agreed, pitted with holes, worn out. Rolling naked through the skies, it erodes and loses its flesh like a bone that’s been gnawed. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. I remember moons that were even older and more battered than this one; I’ve seen loads of these moons, seen them being born and running across the sky and dying out, one punctured by hail from shooting stars, another exploding from all its craters, and yet another oozing drops of topaz-colored sweat that evaporated immediately, then being covered by greenish clouds and reduced to a dried-up, spongy shell.”

 

 

The ending, what happens in time, will grab and hold a long time. A beauty!

 

Read the story at the New Yorker Magazine:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/02/23/the-daughters-of-the-moon

Listen to the audio here: https://www.wnyc.org/story/adee7d1df5ac724bab592aa2/

 

 

Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy, the Cosmicomics collection of short stories, and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveler.

“It is not the voice that commands the story; it is the ear.”

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

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Don’t Go Into the Forest: The Third Bear

The Third Bear  by Jeff Vandermeer

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 16, 2019

2007 SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD NOMINEE, 2007 WSFA SMALL PRESS AWARD NOMINEE

I dare you to stop reading this story. The Third Bear is a horror story, not the ‘quiet horror’  I prefer but it’s done well so I was good with it.  A ravenous bear on a killing spree, a banished witch-woman in the woods, a mysterious door hidden among the dark woods, and a town’s desperate passion to survive. But more than all this, we have a story of good old-fashioned fear with an ending sure to strike.

 

The door. In the middle of the forest. It was made of old oak and overgrown with moss and mushrooms, and yet it seemed to flicker like glass. A kind of light or brightness hurtled through the ground, through the dead leaves and worms and beetles, around the door  …

 

Read the short story here at ClarkesworldMagazine:

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/vandermeer_04_07/

 

 

I want to add for all the fiction writers who follow my blog, this story is a supreme example of well-written suspense, characterization, plot, and theme.  And the descriptions! Here is the author Jeff Vandermeer’s Eight Writing Tips. I found these tips to go beyond the same ol’ advice you’ve likely read before. Vandermeer has new thoughts, absolutely refreshing and inspiring. He believes  “in letting the things about writing that should be organic remain organic, but also working in targeted ways on those things that can be improved mechanically. (It may be six months to a year before I begin to write a novel).”

I also like the fact that Vandermeer honors an author’s “time spent thinking about what you are going to write.”  He speaks to the ecstatic vision about a scene or character. Lots more here:

https://chireviewofbooks.com/2018/03/05/8-writing-tips-from-jeff-vandermeer/

Jeff VanderMeer is an American author. He is an editor and literary critic. He established his fame in the New Weird literary genre and became known as ‘the weird Thoreau’ by the New Yorker Magazine. His bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy brought him into mainstream fiction and the book hit some 30 Best Lists in 2014. He is winner of numerous World Fantasy Awards, Hugo Award, and Nebula Award. He won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel for Annihilation. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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When I Was a Witch

When I Was A Witch  by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Witches    February 19, 2019

Women and their identities have long been a theme in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fiction. This short-short is a cunning little story about when wishes come true. If you are an animal lover of cats, dogs, horses, and fascinated by the power of witches, you’ve got to read this one!

 

“The thing began all of a sudden, one October midnight–the 30th, to be exact. It had been hot, really hot, all day, and was sultry and thunderous in the evening; no air stirring, and the whole house stewing with that ill-advised activity which always seems to move the steam radiator when it isn’t wanted. I was in a state of simmering rage–hot enough, even without the weather and the furnace–and I went up on the roof to cool off.”

 

 

Read the short story (30-minute read) here at Fantasy-Magazine:

http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/when-i-was-a-witch/

Listen to the audio (21 minutes) on YouTube:

Librivox  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3XDqr7H3rc

 

Many of you here at this blog know Gilman for her ground-breaking, bestselling The Yellow Wallpaper (read it here). She was a member of the prominent Beecher family of Connecticut, author of novels and nonfiction, 200 short stories, plays and thousands of essays, a poet, philosopher, and Utopian feminist for social reform.  Suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt called Gilman “the most original and challenging mind which the (women’s) movement produced.”  Gilman was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman took her own life in 1935 after learning she had inoperable breast cancer.

 

“It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it.”  – CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Leave a comment

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Steering the Craft of Fiction

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story  by Ursula K. Le Guin

Book Review and Commentary  May 17, 2016

Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_La_Pia_de_Tolomei.jpeg

 

Are you a storyteller? Have you been writing for a while now? Steering the Craft is a comprehensive but short guide for writers who are not beginners, but those who need direction about their narrative prose. Ready to target some of your writing weaknesses?

Filled with lots of exercises (I’m not big on writing exercises but these are better than most), this book can function as you own private writing workshop. There’s a wealth of examples of writing achievements by authors like Alice Walker, Jane Austen, Dickens, Grace Paley, Virginia Woolf.

In Chapter One, Le Guin asks you to listen to the sounds of your writing. Listen to the forward movements, pace, rhythms, the silences. How does the changing sentence rhythms express the emotions of the characters? The examples here are breathtaking.

Of course, she touches on punctuation and grammar, but more importantly she touches on the ‘fake rules.’ Yes, she recommends breaking the rules. Every grammar bully should read this book.

“Craft enables art.” Learn how to bring deeper understanding to your craft. Le Guin goes beyond the mechanics and execution and shows you how to elevate your writing. On page 46, Le Guin discusses the famous F-word. When will that word strengthen or weaken the prose? When will it trivialize or invalidate? Good advice here. If first person vs. third person, passive voice vs. active voice has you in a jumble, these chapters will set you straight. What is “pathetic fallacy”? What is the skeleton of a sentence?

plot

Do you know the difference between story and plot? When I think of all the writing I’ve done over the past 20 years in fiction, the difference between story and plot is always a fascination and so important to understand.  Is story plot? Is story action? Aristotle addressed it and so did E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel (1927): This is the famous example of the King and the Queen. In Chapter 9, Le  Guin gives us a counterweight opinion.

Le Guin says “The story is not in the plot, but in the telling. It is the telling that moves.”

Le Guin’s Steering the Craft is a “story boat, magical, and knows its course. You, as writer, will help it find its own way to wherever it’s going.” Come aboard!

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UKLbyMarianWoodKolisch

 

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author: novels, children’s books, and short stories. She writes science fiction and fantasy. She has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Le Guin’s thinking about breaking the rules of writing, see About Writing, On Rules of Writing from her website: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/AboutWriting13-OnRulesofWriting.html [Photo credit: Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch].

Paris Review, The Art of Fiction, interview with Ursula Le Guin.

Famous quote: “Listening is not a reaction, it is a connection. Listening to a conversation or a story, we don’t so much respond as join in — become part of the action.”

 

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My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

owlimages

Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

 

Next writing book on my list to review is

How to Write Like Chekhovedited by Piero Brunello and Lena Leneek.

dante_gabriel_rossetti_-_la_pia_de_tolomei

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