To me, a good short story is like a song with lyrics or a melody that relate to who I and where I am in some compelling way. It may simply say something that I "amen" too or have a deep understanding for. Arthur C Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God comes to mind. Being grabbed by a story like this is great, and even better when you have a compilation of such stories. Consuming each over a space of time is like snacking on tortilla chips and rotel dip with a dark larger beer when I don't feel like a steak dinner. Though my tendency is towards epic novels in my fiction reading, in trying to do my own writing I've come to appreciate the art of the short story.
My old friend and writing teacher, John Floyd, has made a career of writing short stories and gotten them published in many prestigious magazines (Alfred Hitchcock, Ellery Queen, The Strand, Saturday Evening Post, to name a few). I just finished reading his latest compilation of short stories called, Deception. I described my purchase and John's signing of this volume in an earlier journal entry (05-May-2013: Mr. Floyd's Deception).
John is an excellent writer and teacher with a large following in Mississippi. I very much enjoyed Deception and wrote a review of it that I posted in GoodReads and Amazon (links to these are below).
In a nutshell, I highly recommend it as an entertaining read, especially if you love the mystery genre. And if you're an aspiring fiction writer in the Jackson, Mississippi area, John's classes in the Continuing Education program at Milsaps College are well worth the money.
Speaking of short stories, I also recently finished writing one called, What I Call Life, that I've submitted to a local magazine. I dropped everything and spent about two months writing this story just so I could submit it for the magazine's fall issue. It is a story that has been on my mind for years and this was my excuse to tell it. The magazine hasn't accepted it yet. If they do, I'll tell you about it in another journal entry.
One reason I'm even trying to write and publish fiction is the prompt I got from taking John's Short Stories classes (there is a part I and II). He was an example that proved to me it was possible to actually write and publish. Prior to that it was all theory to me--something other people did elsewhere. Now I believe it can be done and am very deliberate in my efforts.
I'm not musical. I can't sing or play an instrument. But I do love music, from Beethoven to Josh Groban to Fun. I've found that my singing is best done in written prose, where I can express my songs in thoughtful tales and ripping yarns. Maybe someday I'll be able to compile them in a volume like Deception and strum some sympathetic heart chords, as John does.
My review of Deception on Amazon.com
My review of Deception in GoodReads
Deception page at Dogwood Press website
Find John's short story writing classes here