Tag Archives: reading

Short Story Spotlight: The Grammarian’s Five Daughters


Growing up, I was never into short story anthologies. I read Goosebumps, Choose Your Own Adventure books, various novels, and the works of Shel Silverstein. And as a young adult, I went through a Stephen King phase, reading about anything of his that I could get my hands on. Which included his short story collections. And that’s when, I think, I discovered the magic of the form. Short stories were, and still are, a box of chocolate to me. Each story was a different flavor and texture, some nuttier than others and some containing a delicious surprise that was unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable.

About ten years ago, or more, my brother gave me The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: The Thirteenth Annual Collection, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. Inside is gathered the stories of many talented writers, the tales steeped in shades of magic or probing the darkness. It is a delight to read, and every so often the volume calls to me from my bookshelf and I once more lose myself within its pages.

One of my favorites, and it so difficult to choose (which is why I will list some more favorites at the end of this post) is The Grammarian’s Five Daughters  by Eleanor Arnason. This story is whimsical, part fairy tale and part grammar lesson, both beautiful and charming. If interested, you can read it here The Grammarian’s Five Daughters

And as threaten–uh, promised, here are some of my other favorites:

  • Crosley by Elizabeth Engstrom
  • The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse by Susanna Clarke
  • Halloween Street by Steve Rasnic Tem
  • Darkrose and Diamond by Ursula K.Le Guin
  • The Girl Detective by Kelly Link
  • Harlequin Valentine by Neil Gaiman
  • You Don’t Have to Be Mad by Kim Newman


Do you read short stories and what are some of your favorites?


Research: A Strange Journey


As a writer, I find that I often need research in order to flesh out plots and characters. In the past, I have researched drug use, conspiracy theories involving government agencies, astral projection, physics, the Great Depression, Prohibition, Medieval life, knights, solar mega storms and radiation, religion, ghosts, mythology, folklore and other interesting topics that all seem to lodge partially in my brain.

There was a major solar storm in 1859 that was called the Carrington Event. It was so severe that telegraph operators reported their machines sparking and some had actually caught on fire. The Aurora Borealis could be seen as far south as Cuba and Hawaii. They were so vivid and bright that some people in the northern part of the U.S. claimed that they could read a newspaper by the lights.

Time travel? I once read that if a time machine was created, the traveler could only go as far back as the day the machine was completed. So much for walking with dinosaurs or dancing it up at a speakeasy. I’m a little disappointed with that one. But still the idea fascinates and ignites the creative juices.  And there is always the possibility that someone could figure out how to use wormholes to travel through time. So all hope is not lost.

Parallel universes. Another me somewhere is a prima ballerina or has a pet alligator, or loves tomatoes. Maybe she is an artist, a mother, a dictator of a small country that she has carved out of the United States (yeah, right) or maybe she is a farmer raising an army of rabbit/cat hybrids. I’d call them cabbits and I hope she’d have the good sense to do the same.

Black holes. Yikes! One sucked into a black hole would be stretched as thin as spaghetti and falling toward the event horizon would appear to take forever for anyone observing the poor victim.

I have read accounts of people’s experiences with astral projection. They were interesting. I learned the importance of making a psychic shield in order to remain safe as one travels the lower planes since demons often lurk there. Some say that a level of the astral plane resembles a city.

Resurrection. This was an interesting thing to stumble across. I have read both the religious and the scientific ideas concerning resurrection.  One theory stated by a physicist said that in the far future a society will figure out how to resurrect the dead through digital means.  If this interests you, search for Omega Point or Frank J. Tipler, a fascinating subject.

The Civilian Conservation Corp was a group devised by Franklin Roosevelt which combined his love of conservation and the belief that the youth of America should have something productive to do. The young men were responsible for building wildlife shelters, digging ditches and canals, stocking lakes and rivers with almost a billion fish and they also planted trees in areas ravaged by fires or on barren land caused by natural erosion or lumbering. The CCC planted millions of trees and were responsible for over half of the reforestation that has taken place in U.S. history. A regular stint in the CCC consisted of staying at a camp where they were taught discipline and respect for authority since the camps were operated under the army’s control. Camp commanders were to be addressed as “sir”. A regular stay at the camp lasted usually anywhere from six to twelve months. An unexpected side effect occurred due to the CCC. When the U.S. entered WWII, the army had experience in managing  large numbers of men and the paramilitary discipline the youths had gone through helped in preparation.

Soon I will be once more delving into research. Several ideas simmering in my brainpan require more seasoning to be just right. But I never know when the recipe will require unexpected ingredients and I am led on a search for the perfect spice. What new things will I find?