FAVORITE SHORT STORIES–WHAT ARE YOURS? by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl7126Do you like short stories? I love them, both as a writer and as a reader. I’m so thrilled that they’re making a comeback in today’s world! I remember as a teenager in high school English class, some of the short stories that were taught at the time. You can probably recall these classes, too—we read many short stories and novels that couldn’t reach into our world and touch us, not at that age.

It’s odd to me that had some of the selections been different, or more age-appropriate, this might have fostered a love of reading the short story rather than dread for so many. The essay questions at the end of the story seemed hard for many of the students to understand, much less formulate answers to in order to show what they learned from the story. As high school freshmen in the 14-15 year-old age range, and with our limited knowledge of the world, it was difficult for some to be able to grasp symbolism or foreshadowing among other story elements. I realized later on that some people never grasp it, no matter how old they are. Reading with that kind of intuitive understanding is not something everyone is able to do.The Lady or the Tiger

Being forced to read something for a grade rather than enjoyment was something I didn’t understand. For one thing, I enjoyed reading. As with any kid, some things held my interest more than others. But I never could fathom some of my classmates who actually said, “I hate to read.”

The Most Dangerous GameI had some favorite short stories, even out of the ones we were forced to read. Who could forget Whitney and Rainsford in Richard Connell’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME? Frank Stockton’s THE LADY OR THE TIGER? Or, TO BUILD A FIRE, by Jack London?

Those stories were what inspired me to want to write “like that” and I often wondered in later years, seeing my kids’ English books and the stories they contained, where our next generation of writers would come from? There was certainly nothing “inspiring” in those stories. I was wishing there were some of the stories from “the good ol’ days” in their books, even though at the time I had been their age, many of my classmates had detested those same stories that I loved so much.

But one day, my daughter came home from school and said, “Mom, we read a story today that was so To Build a Firecamp-firegood! It’s about a guy who is trying to survive in the cold and he tries to build a fire…” And a few years later, my son couldn’t wait to tell me about a story they’d read about an island, where men were hunted…

Not everyone who loves to read wants to become a writer.  So I’m wondering…was there a particular short story that you read when you were younger that made you want to write? Or even just made you become an avid reader? Since so many of us write westerns, was there a western short story that influenced you when you
were younger? The one that I loved was not really a short story, but a short novel, Fred Gipson’s OLD YELLER. In later years, another one that stood out was Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY.Old Yeller

TheGunfighterI’m giving away a free copy of one of my short stories today, THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL. This is a re-issue of one of my earlier stories, SCARLET RIBBONS.  All you have to do is comment, and check back later this evening after 9:00 to see if you won!

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Cheryl Pierson

A native Oklahoman, I’ve been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors–you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com

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http://petticoatsandpistols.com/sweepstakesrules


51 Comments

  1. Hi Cheryl. I also loved to read in school. And, to write and illustrate for short stories. I would love to win your book. Don’t know how I am missing so many of these contests. I get on here and they aren’t posted then they have already picked the winners. Gotta get on the ball about this. Maxie
    Mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. I didn’t exactly love reading in high school, but I remember a book I had read when I was younger that stuck with me. I like shorter stories for those times I don’t have too long to read, but want a good story.
    Lattebooks@hotmail.com

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    I was a late bloomer when it came to reading. I too, loved Old Yeller but it seems like I really got into reading as a late teen and young adult. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn wasn’t a short story but it certainly moved me. Now, books are a must in my life. I sure hope to be a winner of your book. Thank you for the opportunity!

  4. As a child I made daily trips to the library so have always loved to read. Books were my best friends. So in high school I devoured everything that I was asked to read and more. I cannot name one in particular that was a favorite. I just love to read!

  5. I remember reading a lot of short stories in my younger years… Reading filled a lot of hours for me growing up..I wrote my share of them for English class too.. I remember reading a book in HS called Mrs. Mike… I had to choose a book for a book report and it had to be about Canada and this story was about a young woman who was raised in a the big city and had to live in the NWT with her Mountie husband… was a fascinating story.. Books short or a full novel can bring us such joy.

  6. I have read since the first day I learned; books are a great part of my life and I love all genres. I do not recall reading a short story on the West but certainly have read westerns — always wanted to live there but grew up on a farm in the South. My favorite short story author is Edgar Allen Poe.
    I have not read any of yours but will certainly check out Amazon.

  7. I REMEMBER THAT GUY TRYING TO BUILD A FIRE!!!! He froze to death, right? (spoiler alert!)

  8. I remember one called The Celestial Omnibus. In the end a professor died because he wasn’t open minded enough of in some way as cool as the kids. I don’t think that was a very wise choice for our English teacher to assign. Like we didn’t all already think we were way too cool for him!!!!!

    🙂

  9. Two short stories stand out in my memory and they were both written by O.Henry. I loved The Ransom of Red Chief, which makes me laugh every time I think about it. The other story is Gift of the Magi.

  10. And one awful one…I want to say…wow…no title comes to mind…but a house that utterly is computerized and caters to the children’s every need until the parents realize the children are becoming too dependent and very spoiled and it’s bad and they try to shut the house off and the house kills them.

    Yep, romantic comedy!!!!!

  11. Edgar Allen Poe, the Telltale Heart! Yikes.
    Are all short stories gruesome? Thinking????

  12. Hi Maxie!

    I hope you will visit often and check through the posts for the giveaways–there’s not a giveaway every day, but we do quite a few of them! You are entered in the drawing, and I will be drawing tonight sometime after 9:00 p.m. to give everyone a chance. GOOD LUCK!

    Oh, and you’re an illustrator? That is wonderful! My mom was a wonderful artist and my daughter is–she just illustrated her first children’s book for an older Choctaw lady and it should be out within the next month. Me? I couldn’t draw to save my life! That takes such talent!

    Cheryl

  13. KATHLEEN I remember Mrs. Mike. Didn’t her children all die of some disease? Yeesh. Thanks a lot for this Cheryl. I may need a three martini lunch to get over this one!!!!

  14. Susan,

    I always loved to read, but some of those “classics” we read in high school really were not age appropriate to hold the attention of kids that age. I love writing the shorter stories, now, but every once in a while I have to harken back to my novel roots. LOL Thanks so much for coming by!
    Cheryl

  15. For some reason, I didn’t read a lot of short stories when I was in elementary – junior highschool. The reason being that I loved reading so much that short stories were just too, well, short for me. I was influenced to write by the children’s historical novels I read and loved. Rifles for Watie and Wait for Me, Watch for me, Eula Bee in particular made me want to write about the American Old West.

    If I was to name a short story I read at some point in the past that made me want to write westerns, that would definitely be Louis L’Amour’s “The Gift of Cochise.”

  16. AH MARGARET The Ransom of Red Chief! YES! NOT ALL GRUESOME! Thank You! Mary Remains Sober! PHEW

  17. Oh, Melanie, I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, too. And Old Yeller…so many great books out there, and short stories, too. It’s funny how as we get older and have a little life experience, the stories have so much more meaning to them. I found a lot of new books when I read to my kids when they were younger. We read a lot of things together in the evenings rather than spending so much time in front of the tv. They loved that time, and so did I.
    Cheryl

  18. I didn’t read much as a child but picked it up in high school, when I started reading romances. I love reading short stories when I don’t have a lot of time to read.

  19. WOW, Connie! That would be a wonderful childhood–going to the library every single day! I always got to go on Saturdays, while my mom was in the beauty shop. She’d be there for over 2 hours, and when she’d come to get me, I’d always beg to stay longer. We had one of those old, wonderful, musty libraries, that had been there in that old building since statehood, I think. Our librarian was the sweetest old woman, Goldie Barnett, who had a hunchback and had never married–books were her life and I think she knew every volume in that building.
    Cheryl

  20. Kathleen, that does sound like a good book! No wonder you remembered it. Yes, you’re right–to me, length really doesn’t matter as long as it’s a good story. Thanks for coming by today!
    Cheryl

  21. Sandra, I love Edgar Allen Poe! Some of the old short story writers are so wonderful, now that I have the age and life experience to understand the nuances and appreciate the writing. Most high school students could not care less about looking at the whole story and studying it–and it’s not their fault–they just don’t have the life experience to understand a of what is chosen for them to read. Reading is a huge part of my life, too.

    I write a large variety of genres–contemporary romantic suspense, western historical romance, paranormal romance and westerns, and plain ol’ regular westerns. I hope you will jump on over to Amazon and take a look! I will enter you in the giveaway, and thanks for your comment!
    Cheryl

  22. Yep, Mary, he sure did. LOL I never read Celestial Omnibus, but you’re right–it seems the English teacher would have chosen something else, given the way high school students feel about their teachers. LOL

    I had one English teacher in 9th grade who spent an entire 9 weeks on mythology. Which was great because it’s something you need to be familiar with, but also because she knew it and loved it so much that she injected a lot of interesting side notes into her teaching that made us more interested, as well.

    Always love your comments!
    Cheryl

  23. Mary, just saw your other comments about the computerized house — I don’t know that one, but it’s really kind of scary in the fact that we ARE becoming so computerized! EWWW. “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.”

    Also loved Edgar Allen Poe, and I think the reason kids like him is because he IS gruesome in odd ways that make them think in ways they never thought before. And I don’t mean it makes them think about actually doing those things, but it makes them think, “What if?” Which is the magical key, isn’t it?
    Cheryl

  24. Margaret,
    I loved O. Henry. The Gift of the Magi and The Ransom of Red Chief were two of my favorites, too. BTW, Tom Rizzo just did a blog over at the Western Fictioneers yesterday about O. Henry doing some prison time along with Al Jennings of the Jennings gang, and getting some of his material from Jennings.

    Congratulations again on your starred Publisher’s Weekly review!

    Cheryl

  25. Oh, Mary, wait! There’s still time to get you going on that three martini lunch! LOL Have you ever read “The Sniper?”
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    Cheryl

  26. Hi Quilt Lady,

    I don’t have a lot of time to read anymore but I always make time for SOME reading every day. I wish it didn’t make me so sleepy–night would be the best time for me. But I can lie down and relax and pick up a book, and five minutes later, I’m ready to sleep.
    Cheryl

  27. Frindlesmith,
    I have not read The Gift of Cochise, but you can bet I’m adding it to my reading list. Rifles for Watie was a really good book, and both my kids read that in school.

    I hear you about short stories being too short! LOL Sometimes, I want a story to continue on and I can feel myself screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” when the last page is coming up.
    Cheryl

  28. Hi Cheryl, oh, you brought back so many memories today! The Short Story unit was always a favorite when I taught high school Freshman English, and we covered many of the stories you wrote about today. I also seriously admired Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. (Juniors, American lit.). Today, RIP Elmore Leonard, maybe it’s Fire in the Hole. Great post today! Xoxoxo

  29. I’m probably wrong about the computerized house author but Ray Bradbury comes to mind, just because he’s so crazy famous and it seems like we were reading short stories from classic authors.

  30. I remember reading Bret Harte’s “THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT” in school and loved it. Great story. He was quite a writer. I bought “The Gunfighter’s Girl” but haven’t had time to read it yet. I know it’ll be a good one. Good luck with it.

  31. I have always loved to read. Sometimes a short story is just long enough.

  32. On of the things I miss in today’s magazines are the short stories. Good Housekeeping always had a short short story plus a short story and a condensed novel some times. I don’t remember many of the titles but I do remember reading Pearl Buck stories in all three forms in different issues. Summer time my sister and I looked forward to the new GH and McCalls arriving in the mail so we had new stories to read in between loads of hay to be stacked in the hay mow.

  33. I really disliked reading as a kid… being told to do reports on the books made me lose enjoyment in it… it was not until after school that I found the enjoyment of reading again… short stories are great when I have a small time frame to squeeze some reading in…

  34. Yes, Tanya! I remember “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”– there was a short movie with Henry Fonda in it, I believe, and we watched that, too. Ambrose Bierce wrote several good “quirky” stories. I remember reading Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”–which needed some explaining, and the teacher was unwilling to do that–so no one was understanding the true meaning of the story.

    Yes, RIP Elmore Leonard. What a great body of work he leaves behind!
    Cheryl

  35. Mary, I bet it was him. That sounds like him. We read one by him that was VERY short, called The Gift, I think, about this family going into space at Christmas time. Such a powerful story in a small amount of space.
    Cheryl

  36. Linda, that’s one story I’ve heard about but haven’t read. I am going to get that and read it. I’m glad you got The Gunfighter’s Girl–I know you’ll enjoy it!
    Cheryl

  37. Goldie, I agree! And short stories can be so powerful that they just haunt your thoughts for days, or even longer. They really pack a punch sometimes.
    Cheryl

  38. Hilltop Farm Wife,
    My mom used to take magazines just for that purpose. She loved the short stories or serialized stories in them because she didn’t have a lot of reading time. Magazines were just perfect because they did have those short versions of stories, and short stories included, along with the latest fashions and home designs, too. I remember a magazine she had and I think it was Ladies Home Journal, but I’m not sure–anyway, it had a Christmas story in there that she must have loved because she kept it for years.
    Cheryl

  39. Cheryl–I don’t recall much that I read in high school, but in College Freshman English I recall bits and pieces. I do recall short stories by Eudora Welty, the Queen of the short story. Her story Death of a Traveling Salesman, one of her best, supposedly, never intrigued me as it should have, but some of her others, did. I bought a very old edition of her stories titled A Curtain of Green, and since it contains so many, I read a few at a time. Now, I need to get it out and read some again.
    I recall a short story about an elderly woman walking up a hill with a little boy. The boy has a white bandage around his neck. He had drank some kind of liquid, maybe lye or something, for his throat was damaged. We were asked about the old woman, something like “What do you think really happened to the boy?” Heavens, I didn’t know, and still don’t. I wish I could remember that story.
    Gift of the Magi–everyone’s favorite–is one to easily remember.
    Good topic!

  40. Colleen, I agree–I think knowing that you are going to be graded on reading and writing a paper about what you read really does take so much enjoyment out of it. I wish there was another way to “grade” on reading other than that. They still do it today with the system where certain books are worth so many points for each grade. I think, for one thing, kids don’t know some of the words or the reasoning behind some of the things in stories and there’s no one to ask to explain. So many times, the stories just don’t make sense as they would if there was someone there to read along and talk about the story with them.
    Cheryl

  41. Celia, now I am intrigued. I never read the story about the boy with the bandage, but now I’ve got to try and find it! LOL

    We read one in college that was just weird, called “Some Of Us Had Been Threatening Our Good Friend Colby”. All the narrator would say was the “Colby had gone too far”–you never found out what Colby did. But he agreed he had, indeed, gone too far, and agreed that he should be hanged for what he did. All through the story, you’re thinking, is this for real? Are they going to hang him?

    I have to say, The Most Dangerous Game was one of my very favorites. That always makes an impression on kids when they start reading serious short stories.

    There are so many good short stories out there, aren’t there? When you think of all the stories in all the genres.

    Cheryl

  42. Wow, I can see this great post has really generated some interest. My favorite short story as a kid (about 9) was Sir Author Canon Doyle’s THE LOST WORLD. Man oh man, I couldn’t turn that book loose. Right after that, I decided Doyle was so good I read THE WHITE COMPANY (not my cup of tea), but when I started reading the SHERLOCK HOLMES stories, well, I was enchanted. I took on the personna of Sherlock, ran around in my dad’s old trench coat with a hat and my plastic bubble pipes and a magnifying glass looking for clues. Of course, I had to watch my back in case Moryarty (spelled wrong I’m sure) might be sneaking up on me. I loved some of the stories we had to read in school like William Faulkner’s A ROSE FOR EMILY…very creepy. I also liked Hemmingway’s THE CRYSANTHIMUMS and THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. I loved everything by Scot Fitzgerald, but amazingly, I was not into westerns…not then anyway. Now, I’m a western maniac, but not in my youth. I liked Jack London, especially THE CALL OF THE WILD. I didn’t like Stienbeck…too dark and dreary for me. Naturally,I had to write a term paper in college and choose THE GRAPES OF WRATH. One of the greatest influences on me that made me ache to become a writer was Louisa May Alcott’s books and poetry like THE CONGO.
    Great blog, Cheryl. I’ve practically written a short story as a comment. I have read Scarlet Ribbons and the new version, Gunfighter’s Girl, so don’t enter me in the contest.

  43. Sarah, I love long comments like yours! I learned a lot about you, dear friend! I always loved story poems, like those of Robert Service who wrote about life in the Yukon, and ballads–The Highwayman, etc. My favorite of all time was The Listeners, by Walter de la Mare.

    If you had been raised in Oklahoma, you probably would have gotten to read The Grapes of Wrath at least once in high school, and if you went to college here, you’d have read it another 2-3 times by the time you graduated. LOL I did love it, once I got to college and had a wonderful professor who loved to talk about symbolism and foreshadowing.

    Hemingway was another author I really did like, though at the time, I didn’t have enough life experience to truly understand everything. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are just genius. There truly are a ton of wonderful short stories out there!

    You’ll find a lot of Louisa May Alcott fans at this blog, too, Sarah. She was such an awesome writer.

    Thanks so much for coming by!
    Cheryl

  44. Sorry I missed your 9:00 deadline. I just can’t get here much earlier very often.

    O’Henry’s RANSOM OF RED CHIEF is my all time favorite. Another one that has really stuck with me over the years is THE BAMBOO TRAP. Off hand I don’t know the author and haven’t yet found it to read it again.

  45. Patricia, I had planned on “early bed” tonight, but that didn’t happen. Would you please send me your e-mail addy? Mine is fabkat_edit@yahoo.com I located the story THE BAMBOO TRAP by Robert Lemmon in this book, Great Tales of Action and Adventure at Amazon, available for only .01 plus shipping and handling in case you are interested. Thanks for coming by, and please e-mail me!
    Cheryl

    http://www.amazon.com/ACTION-ADVENTURE-Stephenson-Chesterton-Bennett/dp/B001DKF4I4/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377148703&sr=1-3&keywords=Great+Tales+of+Action+and+Adventure+by+Bennett

  46. Oh, I like the sound of this story! Love westerns.

  47. Nowadays time is more precious than ever and there is always too much to do, so I love short stories. Still after all this time, one of my favorites is The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

  48. How can we participate in a giveaway when we don’t receive the email until the giveaway is over and winners chosen and announced in the same email as the giveaway. This has happened a couple of times before, but I had not said anything. What am I doing wrong?

  49. Melody, I hope you’ll go snatch it up. It’s only .99 since it’s a short story!
    Cheryl

  50. Gemma, I agree! Time is at a premium as never before, isn’t it? Life is hectic! I like short stories for that reason, too–it makes you feel like you’ve finished something and does give you food for thought without waiting until later to finish the book up.
    Cheryl

  51. Barbara, I’m so sorry you have that problem! I truly don’t know what is happening, unless you are on some sort of digest type notification. We do an awful lot of giveaways on this blog. I try to check every morning and read the posts, but of course I am not eligible for the giveaways. LOL I don’t know what’s going on, but will try to find out.
    Cheryl

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