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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good Things Come in Small Packages
Guest Post from Patricia Sierra

PLUS a giveaway you don't want to miss!

Today, I welcome Patricia Sierra to Cookie's Book Club, co-author, with John Philpin, of The Prettiest Feathers and Tunnel of Night. Sierra has written many other books including J.D. The Plot to Steal J.D. Salinger's Manuscripts, which I enjoyed and reviewed earlier this year. Click here to read my review and interview with Patricia Sierra and co-author John Philpin.

Stay tuned following Sierra's guest post for a fabulous giveaway. The winner will receive three books: The Prettiest Feathers, Tunnel of Night AND a bonus book. Read on to discover which one!

Good Things Come in Small Packages
Thoughts on the short story
from Patricia Sierra
     There’s a saying that good things come in small packages, but as a child I was always more excited about the big boxes under the Christmas tree—those wrapped in red foil or green paper and tied with a huge bow.
     The year I turned ten there was one box too large to fit under the tree. It was half as tall as I, and three times as wide. I remember how excited I felt, tearing off the wrapping and lifting the lid. But inside all I saw was yet another box.

     I unwrapped that only to find another, then I unwrapped that and found yet another. And so it went until I was down to the final box—one not much bigger than a sandwich. My heart sank because I hadn’t yet learned that good things really do come in small packages.
     What I found inside that final box was an antique book called Aesop’s Fables. Each fable was two or three pages long with a pithy moral at the end.
     That was my introduction to short stories, though the fables weren’t called that. I’ve been a fan ever since, discovering over and over again that some of the best writing is found in short stories. For proof, check out those written by John Cheever, Joyce Carol Oates, J.D. Salinger, Alice Adams, and Tennessee Williams. They’ve created perfect worlds, isolated moments in time, that would have been ruined had they been bigger, stretched to fill a novel. The short story is an art form that looks deceptively easy, almost as if anyone could pick up a pencil and jot one off, but just try it and you’ll see that it’s far more difficult to write a good short story (where there’s so little room for mistakes) than it is to write a novel.
     I’m always on the prowl for well-written short stories. In 2011, I stumbled upon a volume that became my favorite find of the entire year. No, make that my favorite find of the past decade. It’s The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea by Christopher Meeks.
     Meeks, an indie author, has several titles available in the Kindle Store on Amazon.com. I’ve purchased them all, but so far I’ve read only the volume I just mentioned. I’m almost afraid to get into his other books because the standard was set so high by that first one. Still, I know I will get into them because I want to see more of what this excellent author has to offer.
     As I was reading Meeks’s stories, I found myself experiencing a cascade of thoughts: “he’s telling the truth,” “he’s capturing something universal here,” “he’s creating an emotional response with art, not cheap manipulation,” and “what a beautiful sentence, what a moving image.” Finding a born writer, a real writer, is a wonderful thing, and that’s exactly what you’ll discover in Christopher Meeks. Think of his short stories as small packages containing very good things. His work is mature, it’s meaningful, and it’s wise about the human heart. It’s also one of the best gifts you can give yourself. 
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About the Reviewer

Patricia Sierra likes her privacy, but I can tell you this: She's a very good writer. See the list of her books at Amazon.com under Patricia Sierra and pen name Sierra Philpin (with John Philpin). As a bit of an aside, for fans of John Philpin, Sierra's sometimes co-author, John Philpin has a new book out called Bad Dog, available in paperback at Amazon.com (coming soon in electronic format).

If you're looking for more on Sierra, here is what a fellow author had to say about Sierra:

Patricia Sierra Biography - by special guest investigator, André Jute

"Of all the things Patricia Sierra denies as she reinvents her life, the one we surely can all understand is the serial killer who hooked up with the profiler who caught her, together to write a novel from "inside the experience". Her time may be served, but many people think such sentences should be for life, no remission, no redemption. And, now that the CIA is so unfashionable, the patriotic act by which Sierra earned redemption, the assassination of the misappropriator of American property, Salvador Allende, on behalf of unnamed American secret institutions and corporations, is perhaps best swept under the carpet. But why should Sierra deny that, in the more spacious years before she became a serial killer and a grandmother, she was Bob Dylan's "touring girlfriend"? Sierra, with her bright blue eyes and her spotless white tennis shoes, is an enigma to the end." — from André Jute's forthcoming Rolling Stones profile

Sierra says, “I don't mind Andre's other revelations about me, but I wish he hadn't mentioned my fling with Bob Dylan. My current boyfriend, Jon Hamm, is terribly jealous and will probably dump me now. I hope the Rolling Stone profile is no more damaging to my good name than this, but with Andre's ability to ferret out the truth, one can never get too comfortable with one's secrets.” 

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WIN ALL of the following:

Two full-length novels, The Prettiest Feathers & Tunnel of Night by Patricia Sierra and John Philpin
PLUS, courtesy of Patricia Sierra, a copy of The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea, a collection of short stories by Christopher Meeks

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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This giveaway is linked up with:

I Am A Reader, Not A Writer


Claudine said...

Having read some of the small packages Patricia Sierra has written, I definately do agree that no matter the size of the package, short stories told by authors who have the gift of setting a scene in so few words are true gems.

Margie said...

Wow, another stellar guest post by a gifted author! How am I ever going to find time to read all these wonderful stories? That gift of the antique Aesop fables sounds perfect for a reader and author such as Sierra. Good things in small packages---gifts of love...

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I have never read a book by this author, however, I could always start with these.
Do you have a favourite mystery author. I do like mystery book giveaways.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

SavingsInSeconds said...

I have never heard of this author, but would love to read one of her books.

Unknown said...

I'm going to quote JM Tohline (author of The Great Lenore)from his blog -- the quote reflects my feelings on short stories better than I could ever express....

"Short stories are more difficult to master than novels. In order to execute a short story, you must accelerate everything in the story's development - without making it feel rushed. In fact, those short stories that feel "perfect" are often the ones that feel slowed-down - that feel longer than the actual word count or number of pages - in spite of having this accelerated pace. These are the stories that stick with you, that hit you harder than you imagine something so small could."

~JM Tohline (jmtohline . com)

Thanks for the giveaway & have a Happy New Year!

elizabeth @ bookattict . com

Denise Z said...

I have often not cared for short stories, simply because I want more, I want to get so into a character when I am reading that I cannot not wait until they come to visit with the next installment. Recently I have been reading more and more short stories that have proven to be real jewels and I find myself changing my view of the. I have a friend I was discussing this with recently and she said her primary reading base was shorts because she was sure she would be able to finish the story with her personal time constraints. This gave me a new perspective on the short as well. I looked up these intriguing books and I think there are definitely some good reads here :) Thank you for sharing with us and for the lovely giveaway opportunity.

Helen said...

short stories are good for a quick read but I usually prefer a more developed read

Darlene said...

If I am in the mood to buy a book, I don't often seek out short stories. Having said that, I had the opportunity to review a number of short stories last year (sounds weird saying that!!) and I was surprised at how much I did enjoy them! I was actually quite surprised that the length of the story did not affect the depth of character development. I think a good author can hook you, regardless of the story length!

Thanks for the giveaway!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Elizabeth, thanks for sharing that quote. Very enlightening!

Cookie’s Mom said...

Congratulations to the winner, Claudine! I hope you enjoy your books!

Thanks to all who entered. Stay tuned for more author interviews, guest posts, reviews and giveaways!

Thank to Patricia Sierra for her generous gift of two of her own books plus this wonderful collection by Christopher Meeks!

Claudine said...

Oh cool! My first ever giveaway win!

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