It’s only June but I was recently thinking about wether or not I would participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I decided I would, but I won’t be writing a novel. I have participated for several years now and had no difficulty in producing a 50,000 word draft for a novel, so it feels like there is no challenge. It still remains a great way to get a draft down but this year I decided I will try to write 50,000 words worth of short stories.
I know May is National Short Story Month but that celebration feels like one mostly for reading, plus I was focused on completing a novella that was due. It seems like a good use of the community and environment that NaNoWriMo creates to help me get more short stories written. So I’m going to call November, NaStoWriMo (sorry if that isn’t original) and over the next few months I’ll be collecting ideas for six or seven short stories. Then, for thirty days I’ll be writing them out fast and furious.
Anyone else interested in #NaStoWriMo?
My to-be-read list of short stories, novelettes, and novellas is growing. So many good things being published right now it’s hard to keep up, but I did work my way through a few items lately and here are the most remarkable:
The Only Harmless Great Thing“>The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander is a terrific novelette. If you like alternate history Fantasy and Science Fiction this should be on your reading list.
Origin Story, T. Kingfisher
River Doll, Tariro Ndoro @MissTariN
I have noted before how I’m a slow reader. I read each word and then I re-read as I go because, as a writer, I can’t help it. Despite my slowness, I have managed to read more by making reading a priority. If I consider myself a serious writer I have to spend time writing, and reading.
What to read?
As widely as I can. I know, that sounds more like a ‘how’ rather than a ‘what’ question but really it is about what to read.
How wide is wide?
This is a question about genre. How many genres or sub-genres is only part of the equation. I see Format as part of widening a genre. Short stories, novellas, and serials, even within a genre, provide a rich and varied set of voices.
The same is true with publishers. The Big Five and their imprints are fine but small presses and small magazines are publishing some of the best, and award winning fiction. The best things I read recently came from small presses like Small Beer Press and small magazines such as Shimmer.
Readers seem to be embracing the diversity of format and sources given the success of novellas and serials recently. I’m excited to see this trend because as a writer it provides me with more ways to reach an audience. More chances for an acceptance letter.
It also means I need to read in the emerging wider world and I’m happy with that.
Here is my short list of favorite novels read in 2017, provided in no particular order.
Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. In my mind this is a modern fantasy classic.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. In addition to reading this wonderful book I met David Mitchell at the World Fantasy Convention this year and I was fascinated and inspired by our all-too-short conversation.
The Non-Existent Knight & The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino. Not a recent title but a recent find for me.
The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan
I put an emphasis on reading short stories this year, and keeping track of the best ones. Here they are, in no particular order.
- Tender: stories by Sofia Samatar. This collection is among the two best things I read all year. Each is a truly immersive fantasy and effortless prose.
- Three Messages and a Warning edited by Eduardo Jimenez-May & Chris N. Brown. Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic. This book was a give-away for my purchase of Tender at the Small Beer Press booth at the World Fantasy Convention this year. It was an unexpected gem filled with so many talented Mexican authors.
- Red Dust and Dancing Horses and Other Stories by Beth Cato. The Souls of Horses captured me with its humanness and its ‘horseness.’ I think the author would know what I mean as would any reader.
- Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip. Patricia McKillip makes writing feel simple and elegant at the same time. The stories are full of imagination.