Write a short story with Hannah Tinti!

Fancy.Hat (2)

Crazy hat that I wear on our last day of class.

When I first started writing, I didn’t know how to tell a story. I had a lot of ideas, some descriptions, and strings of scenes that didn’t work together. My friends and family would read something I wrote then hand the pages back saying, I liked it. But I could see that they were not moved.

It wasn’t until I started studying and working with editors that I began to understand structure—how to bring shape and form to the page and use it to guide a reader through my fiction from start to finish. It was like someone had handed me an X-Ray machine. Suddenly I could see the backbone running through all of my favorite books and stories. So that’s how they did it, I thought. That’s how they made me feel this way.

Learning this technique changed the way I wrote. Now, I’d like to share it with you—while also having some fun. So let’s write a short story together! Through videos, power point presentations, online lectures, and message board discussions, I’ll lead you sentence by sentence, explaining each step along the way. At the end of the week—you’ll have a story with strong bones, ready to go wherever you want to take it.

This online class meets on your schedule. Each day, the next class will be automatically uploaded. You can log in any time to access the materials, watch my online “video lecture,” read advice on craft and form, and take the next step in our guided writing exercise. (You’ll be writing 5 sentences a day.) Have a question? Jump into the discussion boards and I’ll post an answer to the group. You’ll also be able to share your work with fellow students and connect with writers across the globe. If you fall behind—no worries!—all the class materials will be left up for an additional week for you to catch up.

Last summer, I taught this class for the first time—we had writers from all over the world, from Africa to Alaska, sharing their ideas and forming an online community. I hope you’ll join me for an entertaining and engaging week that will shed new light on your writing process.

Write a Short Story with Hannah Tinti will take place April 26-May 3rd. Deadline for sign up is April 23rd. For complete details and to sign up, go here.

One Story Literary Debutante Ball: The Pictures!

There's Got to be a Morning After (640x427)Thanks to everyone who came out to our 2014 Literary Debutante Ball on May 22nd at Roulette in Brooklyn. It was a wonderful night, honoring Mentor of the Year Colum McCann and the first books of our seven Literary Debutantes: Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans); Rachel Cantor (A Highly Unlikely Scenario); Amelia Kahaney (The Brokenhearted); Celeste Ng (Everything I Never Told You); David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals); James Scott (The Kept) and Ben Stroud (Byzantium). Here’s some pictures of from that wonderful night! You can also read a great play-by-play of the evening over at The Story Prize blog.

 

One Story on Selected Shorts

Last spring, Selected Shorts hosted a gala evening to celebrate One Story’s 10th Anniversary at Symphony Space. Four One Story authors, Seth Fried, L.Annette Binder, Tom Barbash and Jim Shepard came to New York City and introduced their stories to an eager audience, then listened in while four outstanding actors performed their pieces live on stage. Now that same wonderful performance is being broadcast on national public radio.

When Maribeth and I launched One Story back in 2002, we wanted to create a new kind of magazine, one that would support up and coming authors, create a community of readers, and celebrate the creative form of the short story by publishing authors one at a time. Since then, One Story has published 170 authors from all over the world and become one of the most-read literary magazines in the country. It’s great to be recognized by a program like Selected Shorts, that has been bringing great short fiction to listeners for over thirty years.

The first story featured in the program is “Nephilim,” L. Annette Binder’s heart-rending portrait of a lonely woman with gigantism. “Nephilim” was published in One Story in the fall of 2010 and went on to win a Pushcart Prize. According to Genesis, the Nephilim were the offspring of fallen angels and ordinary human women. They were giants, and supposedly so hungry, that they ate everything, and nearly destroyed the earth. But there are different kinds of hunger, and Freda, the giantess in this story, still hungers for life, even as her condition keeps her from experiencing it. L. Annette Binder captures that longing so well—you can feel Freda’s emotional aching, along with the physical aching in her bones. Rise, L.Annette Binder’s first collection of short stories, includes “Nephilim,” which is performed on stage by Colby Minifie.

Author Tom Barbash re-imagines his childhood home in “Ballon Night,” which was published by One Story in July 2007. The story is set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan the night before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, when all of the giant balloons are inflated. Barbash grew up on this “Balloon Block,” and has fun putting a dark spin on the ritual of “Balloon Parties.” The story captures how holiday parties–where people from your past and present come together–can sometimes represent your entire life. “Balloon Night” will appear in a new collection by Barbash, forthcoming in 2013. Tonight, it is read by Tom Cavanagh.

Our last story is by short story master Jim Shepard. “Cretan Love Song” slices through time to 1600 B.C., and the moment when the volcanic island of Thera erupts and eclipses Minoan civilization, changing the landscape of the world forever. It’s an extraordinary, and extraordinarily short piece. Yet in those few pages Jim Shepard captures this historical moment perfectly, while plunging deep into its emotional center by focusing on one man’s final moments. Jim also graciously stepped in to be my co-host for the radio program. His short story “The World to Come” was One Story issue #16. “Cretan Love Song” is performed by Joe Morton.

Unfortunately we couldn’t fit all four pieces from that night at Symphony Space into an hour radio program, and so Seth Fried’s story, “The Adventure of the Computer Program,” will appear later in the season (we’ll post more on it then). For now you can find Seth’s issue of One Story, “Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre,” in his marvelous collection, The Great Frustration. Meanwhile I hope you’ll check your local time/public radio station, download a podcast of this program, or simply click below to hear three amazing stories, brought to you exclusively by One Story magazine.

Harper Perennial Summer Short Story Sale

Few things surpass the joy of discovering great new fiction with the July sunlight warming your face.  One thing that may make it better, though, is getting that enthralling new book for under two bucks.  Our sponsor and partner, Harper Perennial is offering thirteen of their favorite short story collections in digital edition for $1.99 each through the month of July. 

Collections of two One Story authors, Ben Greenman and Lydia Peelle, are included in the sale, as are works by Simon Van Booy, Deborah Willis, Holly Goddard Jones, Barb Johnson, Kevin Moffet, Rahul Mehta, David Vann, Justin Taylor and Valerie Larken. 

There’s still a week to go on the sale. To take advantage of these low prices and maybe find a new favorite story, visit the summer short story sale HERE!

One Story & the 2012 Pushcart Prizes!

Hey One Story readers! The 2012 Pushcart Prize Anthology has just been published, and we are thrilled to have so many One Story authors in the mix! Two of our stories won 2012 Pushcart Prizes: “Nephilim” by L. Annette Binder (OS issue #141) and “Number Stations” by Smith Henderson (issue #136). And two other One Story writers, Anna Solomon (issue #73, “What is Alaska Like?”) and Celeste Ng (issue #86, “What Passes Over”), have new stories in the anthology as well. But that’s not all: OS author Ben Stroud (issue #119, “Eraser”) received a special mention, as did our former associate editor Marie-Helene Bertino for her story “Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph.” We’d like to congratulate all our writers, and if you want to check out the 2012 Pushcart anthology, you can get your copy here!

Get In If You Want to Live by John Jodzio

We’re excited to hear that One Story author John Jodzio is about to publish a new collection of 19 fiction short-shorts: GET IN IF YOU WANT TO LIVE. Each story in the collection is accompanied by a specially curated illustration from hand-selected local and international artists, including Jennifer Davis, Ruben Ireland, and Andres Guzman. We are so excited about this project, which will be published by the indy press Paper Darts. Go here to order your copy today–or if you live in Minneapolis, be sure to join John as he throws a great big launch party for the book: Saturday, Oct. 15th, 7-10pm, at Honey,  205 E. Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Reading with John Jodzio  will be Joe Midthun & Jenny Adams Salmela. There will also be live music by  Joey Ryan and the Inks, and a raffle of an original Jennifer Davis painting. Go here to find out the details!

A Guide for Bookclubs reading Short Story Collections

I’ve heard from a number of people lately who are using issues of One Story in their bookclubs. The members all subscribe, then meet every three to four weeks to discuss their “story of the month.” (I will now stand up at my desk and applaud these lovely folks. Huzzah! Huzzah!) But these same readers often admit they have a hard time discussing story collections. This is a terrible shame–they are missing out on so many wonderful writers! Now One Story author (and debutante) Robin Black has written a great guide for bookclubs reading short story collections. I encourage all bookclubs to take a look. And then pick up Robin’s wonderful book, If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, which includes the story Robin published with us a few years back, Issue #104, “Harriet Elliot”.

Miroslav Penkov’s Debut Collection: East of the West

We’re excited to share more good news about another One Story author, Miroslav Penkov (Issue #148: “A Picture With Yuki”)! Penkov’s debut collection of stories, East of the West: A Country in Stories, is a creation inspired by the eighteen years he spent growing up in Bulgaria (as well as the distinctive wit that grew up with him).

East of the West has already received great reviews that highlight Penkov’s notable sense of humor and his unforgettable characters. His devotion to the history, pain and exile of these characters helps lay the groundwork for intense but comical stories. The powerful plot turns and dramatic setting found in “A Picture With Yuki” are consistent throughout East of the West, assuring an intriguing read.

I encourage you to learn more by reading Penkov’s interview with himself (Parts One & Two) on his entertaining blog,  in which he tackles the question of “Why do you write?” as well as why interviewing oneself should never be socially acceptable. Example:

Interviewer (a.k.a Miroslav Penkov): “Why read when you can write your own?”

Interviewee (a.k.a. Miroslav Penkov): “This might be the stupidest thing you’ve said so far.”

Go here to learn more or to purchase East of the West.

From the Trenches: Audio Books and the Experience of Listening

Each summer, One Story opens our blog to the interns in a section we like to call “From the Trenches”. Our first piece is by Abby Ryder-Huth, on the magic of reading work out loud. Don’t have someone to read to you? Then I’d suggest tuning in to Public Radio’s Selected Shorts to hear great short stories read by top actors of stage and screen. (Full disclosure: I recently joined this show as commentator/sidekick.) Go here to find your time/station or listen to free podcasts. -HT

NPR’s story last weekend about Alice Ozma’s book The Reading Promise caught my attention: every single night for almost nine years, from when she was in fourth grade up till her first day of college, Ozma’s dad read to her. Even on prom night. Taking a break in between hair-styling and corsage-pinning to pause and listen to a story is probably not what most people did before prom; reading aloud and being read to are things that seem to have been mostly written off for people without young children, who are themselves no longer young children. It feels kind of decadent to be read to now. You have to really listen, which at once is very easy and can be done almost anywhere, but also forces you to slow down and focus your attention on just the sounds of the language.

Storytelling too then manages to be a throwback to childhood/the world pre-printed book, while also being a (not so) innovative way for more people to experience more literature. Publishers Weekly recently took a look at the audio book industry (June is apparently Audio Book Month), which you can read about here. There’s an interview with celebrated audio book narrator Scott Brick that got me thinking how reading a story aloud really changes your own experience of it. Prose is usually not judged with the same criteria as poetry, but sound and rhythm can just as easily be crucial to a paragraph of fiction as to a stanza (for a very in-depth look at sonic sentence construction, check out Gary Lutz’s lecture, “The Sentence is a Lonely Place,” as printed in the Believer.) Reading “Tiger” on the train this morning, there were passages I wanted to read to the people around me, if only just to listen to how they sounded.

So if you have any favorite stories to listen to or read aloud, or thoughts on how hearing a story affects your experience of it, let us know—if a party ever gets too tiresome, reading a great story aloud is sure to make up for most of the dull ones.

Tennis, Love, Balls: A Review!

Cheston Knapp, author of "A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love"

For you tennis/sports/short story nuts out there, Long Island Tennis Magazine has a great review of OS author Cheston Knapp’s story “A Minor Momentousness in the History of Love,” which he published with us last year. Roland Garros may be a mere business week away but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your tennis fix in the meantime, while reading about a great story and an ascending young writer.

Cheston Knapp is managing editor of Tin House magazine and executive director of the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Portland, OR, with the choices he’s made.