Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Short stories, short shrift, and free Kindle stories

In the world of reading, short stories get short shrift.  Perhaps it's because we don't have a shared body of popular, modern works that we can discuss with friends and family, or because there are few mainstream published collections, or because the only time we've read them was in school when we were forced to analyze them to death.Whatever the reason, I wish they were more popular, especially for young people and reluctant readers.

Recently, there have been two great efforts to get short stories into the hands of kids.
  1. Jon Scieszka's Guys Read, are themed collections of short stories.  Vol. 1, Funny Business, Vol. 2, Thriller, and Vol. 3, Sports.  Stories are written by such heavy hitters as Christopher Paul Curtis, Kate DiCamillo, Adam Rex, and Jack Gantos, just to name a few. 
  2. Kazu Kibuishi's Explorer series does for the graphic novel, what Scieszka's collections do for boy-themed stories. Vol. 1, The Mystery Boxes, and Vol. 2, The Lost Islands . Here, the premise is slightly different.  The stories aren't within a certain genre, rather they  feature a certain item - a mysterious box in Vol. 1, and a mysterious island in Vol. 2. These also feature big name artists, e.g., Jake Parker, Dave Roman, and Raina Telgemeier. (My book club kids want to Skype with Raina Telgemeier ... just throwing that out there')  
For a YA audience, my favorite collection of short stories is Kathi Appelt's, Kissing Tennessee: And Other Stories from the Stardust Dance.

Laura Sullivan
©Laura Sullivan
So, why am I going on about short stories today?  Because, in addition to writing middle-grade fantasy and young adult historical fiction, author Laura Sullivan (Under the Green Hill, Guardian of the Green Hill, Ladies in Waiting, Delusion), is also a master of the short story. 

While all of her stories are available for sale, she is making them available for free in Kindle e-book format for a limited time.  Below is a list of all the available stories.  

Two are written for young audiences  "Snake Plant" is a creepy tale (think "Little Shop of Horrors" creepy) and will appeal to every child who finds his mother overbearing (isn't that all of them?) and "Clever Elody" is a feel-good fairytale about brains, love, and perseverance. 

"Snake Plant"
In the children's horror story Snake Plant, a young boy longs for a pet – any pet – but has to make due with an exotic vine that helps him battle his controlling mother.

"Clever Elody"
 The romantic children's story Clever Elody features a poetic prince, and the poor girl who teaches him how to turn one borrowed chicken into perfect bliss.
 Mark your calendar and take advantage of these free short stories as they become available - or spring for a few dollars and buy them whenever you the mood strikes you.
Thanks, Laura! :)

Lana Halliday is a comedy for adults about a consummate meddler who saves her friend from a gold-digger.
(Note: I read this story as well.  It's a great yarn that, while modern, harkens back to classic stories of simpler times.)
Larval is an adult science fiction story about a dissolute young man who finds out that humans are only a larval stage of a vastly powerful organism.
In A Man of Kiri Maru, a scientist visiting an exotic island falls in love and must undergo a ritual involving the dangerous, man-sized Humboldt squid.
An Ideal Household Appliance is an adult science fiction story featuring an insect-loving genius obsessed with the woman next door.
In Louring Age, an independently-living ancient woman with a vivid past comes up with a scheme to fleece residents of a nursing home... and then finds herself trapped there, mistaken for someone with Alzheimer's.
The Butterfly Hunter is an adult horror story about a man who devotes his life to shooting butterflies.
An Artistic Temperament is a comedy about a sixteen year old girl on holiday who is traumatized (and liberated) when she meets a man pretending to be an artist who specializes in death scenes.

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