In Need of Creative Ways to Store Your Book Collection?

Books? Like those paper-and-ink thingys? Yeah, people still got ’em. And if you’re like me and never get rid of any of your books regardless of how many times you’ve read them, you will love these incredibly creative and unique ways to display/store/show off your collection.

Click here for the article from Chatelaine.com.

My particular favorite is #5 (linked & pictured above). What’s yours?

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How Long Can A Short Story Be?

My 9th grade honors English literature teacher told us during the first week of our unit on short stories that “a short story is short enough that it can be read in one sitting.”

That’s all fine and dandy, of course, except for one thing: I read the sixth Harry Potter novel in one “sitting” (I stayed up all night to finish it). I only paused for dinner, and there have definitely been times where I read short stories for school and paused to eat dinner. So the next logical question would be, “How long is one sitting?” And of course, there’s no real definite answer to that!

So how long can a short story really be? I’m currently refining a short story I wrote for publication in my college’s literary magazine, but it seems like every time I revise, the piece gets longer! I decided to turn to Google to see what the Internet’s consensus was on the appropriate or average length of a short story.

As you might have predicted, there doesn’t really appear to be a consensus. On one website, http://fiction-writing.yoexpert.com, there was a handy little chart that classified projects based on the number of words, as seen here:

While it might not be possible to capture all of the numerous subgenres of narrative fiction that have been imagined, here is a brief list of the more common types of stories, organized by length from shortest to longest:

•     Under 1000:     Flash fiction, or “short short” stories
•     1,000-7,500:     Short story
•     7,500-20,000:     Novelette
•     20,000-50,000:     Novella
•     Over 50,000:     Novel

But on the short story Wikipedia page, the length of a short story is placed at anywhere between 1,000 and 9,000 words, and uses Edgar Allen Poe’s The Philosophy of Composition as “the” measure for a short story at about 4,500 words. A third source over at http://talktoyouniverse.blogspot.com/ draws the line at 7,500-12,000 words. This author also mentions having a “natural length” where a writer feels comfortable with his/her short story, which is something to consider. Maybe I’m just naturally long-winded, and therefore have a longer “natural length” for my short stories!

Clearly, there isn’t a correct or universally accepted length for a short story. My current project is bordering on 7 double-spaced pages, so I’d estimate it at anywhere between 4,000-7,000 words. Guess I’ll find out when I try to submit it whether or not that’s too long.

Feel free to chime in on your own natural length or what you believe is too long for a short story!

Merits of Self-Publishing

It’s not going away: products like Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle, as well as their various spinoff technological devices are changing the way that we read. Digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines, and electronic versions of books and novels are becoming more and more popular.

But besides changing how people read, e-readers are changing the way we publish books.

I did some light research on self-publishing (so feel free to add your own knowledge) to figure out whether it’d be an avenue worth pursuing when I’m ready for that step. Turns out that self-publishing can be a great way to get your name out there and get readers interested in your writing. And as it turns out, self-publishing a book doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get a “traditional” deal with a big-name publisher. Just take this advice, compiled by Joanna Penn at her blog “The Creative Penn,” as an example. Here’s an excerpt:

A successfully self-published book can propel you down the road to a book contract at a commercial publishing house.

That’s the truth of the matter, despite the worries I hear from writers that self-publishing could doom their hopes of ever landing a real book deal. Don’t listen to those persistent rumors and urban myths that agents and editors won’t take on books the authors have published themselves.

She also cites two examples of books she’s worked on with self-published authors. Check it out at: http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/2010/03/11/how-self-publishing-can-lead-to-a-real-book-deal/

For anyone who, like me, is just starting out and looking to test the waters before going full-throttle into getting published, I’d recommend looking into it.

 

Getting Started

During one of many long internet surfing sessions, I discovered this blog by author K.M. Weiland. I love it! She’s “helping writers become authors” with tons and tons of blog posts about various elements of writing. In keeping with the theme of beginnings, I wanted to share this gem from Weiland’s blog about writing good opening lines that will hook readers and make them keep reading.

The entire post can be found at http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.com/2011/09/5-elements-of-riveting-first-line.html, but here’s an excerpt:

“The opening line of your book is your first (and, if you don’t take advantage of it, last) opportunity to grab your reader’s attention and give him a reason to read your story. That’s a gargantuan job for a single sentence. But if we break down opening lines, we discover a number of interesting things. One of the most surprising discoveries is that very few opening lines are memorable.”

At first, I thought, “What?” But Weiland goes on to ask the reader to recall the opening lines of the last five books you’ve read, and she’s right. Even my very top favorites, like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series or any of Emily Giffin’s novels, aren’t engraved in my memory!

The opening sentence, a notorious labor for many of us, really isn’t all that memorable to those who will eventually read our work! Check out Weiland’s post for her “5 Elements of Riveting First Lines” and stop fretting over those first sentences!

 

“The story I am writing exists…”

“The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.”

Jules Renard, French Author

I think all of us writers can relate to Mr. Renard’s quote here. It’s pretty amazing that authors who were alive for the turn of the 18th century went through the same creative struggles as writers today.