Archive for October, 2009

Here is the calendar of stories to be published in November by Every Day Fiction.

November’s Table of Contents
Nov 1 Richard M. O’Donnell The Inheritance
Nov 2 Stephanie Scarborough 8-Bit Procrastination
Nov 3 Jessa Marsh Us In Tapes
Nov 4 Barbara A. Barnett Mind Games
Nov 5 Ben Werdmuller Meaningless Battles
Nov 6 Alexander Burns With the Band
Nov 7 Aaron Polson Faith
Nov 8 Celestine Trinidad Fifty-five Percent
Nov 9 Christian Bell The Art of Stealing Sharks
Nov 10 Grá Linnaea Your Own Personal Genie
Nov 11 Mark Partin Sergeant Smith
Nov 12 Patsy Collins Overlooked
Nov 13 Brian Dolton El Mystera Del Tempo
Nov 14 Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz Game On
Nov 15 Oonah V Joslin Dock
Nov 16 Ian Rochford Dog People
Nov 17 JR Hume Tears of the Android
Nov 18 Laura McHale Holland Invasion
Nov 19 Jennifer Tatroe Daddy’s Girl
Nov 20 David J. Rank Friday Midnight Five Stars
Nov 21 Stef Hall Back from the Hills
Nov 22 Nora Offen Lessons Learned
Nov 23 K.C. Ball The Maple Leaf Maneuver
Nov 24 K.C. Shaw Fall or Fly
Nov 25 Deven D Atkinson How the Human Got His Free Will
Nov 26 Bob Jacobs Broken Waters
Nov 27 Finale Doshi The New Pet
Nov 28 Wanda Morrow-Clevenger Heineken Haze
Nov 29 Jameson Parker Layaway
Nov 30 Frank Roger Mirror, Mirror

Ginger B collins

With NANOWRIMO, (National Novel Writing Month, www.NANOWRIMO.org.) starting on November 1st, I’m faced with a challenge . . . can I practice what I preach?

Once I bring up a topic on my blog, I feel obliged to take my own advice. When I wrote about the awesome sensation of finishing a novel during the 2008 NANO, consciously or unconsciously, it was a set up. In talking about last year’s experience I was giving myself an ultimatum. I have to sign up for 2009, and I definitely have to write the 50,000 words!

Okay, maybe I’m delusional, but this little ploy works for me. Here’s another example. A few weeks ago I picked up the hub at the Halifax airport. He had been in the States for over a month and we agreed that a long weekend would be a good welcome home gift to each other. We headed to Prince Edward Island to explore, eat seafood, and play kissy-face. That was our agenda. Writing was the last thing on my mind.

Yes, I brought my computer, and yes, I brought the outline and notes from my work in progress, but it was mainly because I feel lost without the computer close by, and believe that having the current WIP at my side is kind of like actually working on it. (Probably a topic to pursue with my therapist.)

Driving to the north cape, (the point where the waves from the Northumberland Strait crash against the waves from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we listened to CBC’s Definitely Not The Opera. It was a show on transformation and reinvention, and explored how hard it is to escape your past in the days of Facebook, MySpace, and camera-phones that record daily activities. Today it’s suspicious when someone drops off the grid and reappears in a new location, with a different look, and sporting a different personality.

It made me think of my main character, Ellie. When I started the novel I thought the biggest challenge would be finding the voice of a contemporary teenager. The real-time lives of today’s teens hadn’t occurred to me. My first thought was to turn up the volume, listen close, and write down my thoughts later. But no . . . I had to practice what I preach. I dug out my little notebook, got into Ellie’s character, and wrote my impressions on the topic.

Back at the hotel I found a podcast of the show and downloaded it to listen again later. I read over my notes and realized there was no way I could have “remembered” in such rich detail. I also knew that I wouldn’t have bothered to write in the notebook if I hadn’t just talked about it on the blog.

So, be prepared to read numerous blog posts about my NANOWRIMO experience next month. It’s all one big plot to get 50,000 words on paper in 30 days. That breaks down to 1,667 words a day . . . or about 90 minutes of straight writing . . . or 3-30 minute sprints.  Are you with me?

 

Ginger B. Collins writes short fiction and creative non-fiction. Her work appears online and has been published in Freckles to Wrinkles, Silver Boomers, and the newly released Scratch Anthology of Short Fiction. She recently completed her first novel. Read excerpts at www.gingerbcollins.com.  All writers are invited to follow the blog and share experiences. http://coppertopcollins.blogspot.com.

TanyaschI’ve noticed something about my writing lately. The less I TRY, the better the finished product is. This seems counterintuitive, so I spent some time thinking about it – while I was supposed to be editing Fear of Falling.

If I were a comic book character (Writer-Girl, saving the day with her impeccable grammar, excessive parenthetical references, and her catchy turn-of-phrase!) I would have an arch-nemesis. (That’s one of the rules. Good guys are really boring without bad guys.) Self-Sabotage would be mine, thwarting me at every turn. (Kind of like Spiderman vs. Spiderman in the black outfit. I picture Self-Sabotage looking like Writer-Girl, only dressed like one of those women in a courtroom drama with the suit and the glasses perched on their nose so it looks like they’re looking down on everyone else.)

To carry on with this analogy, the second Writer-Girl sits down at her keyboard to Write Something Important, Self-Sabotage gets a call and shows up to throw the whole arsenal at her – insecurity, fear, distraction, indecision, doubt … you name it. And sure Writer-Girl can slog through, pretending to ignore the efforts of her arch-nemesis, telling herself she can revise it later. But we all know that Self-Sabotage shows up at the revision table too.

Interestingly enough after fifteen minutes visualizing the adventures of Writer-Girl and her struggle to finally defeat Self-Sabotage, the few plot points in Fear of Falling that had been giving me trouble fell into place, and I finished the revision without difficulty.

I had an idea yesterday morning. I looked at the word-crumbs for writer-pigeons, and did my vocabulary thing. (I list the prompts, then give either a definition or a synonym or two or three out beside it. Thinking about non-traditional ways to use a prompt sometimes starts the creative process.) But then I pulled up Bejeweled 2, and started playing in Hyper mode. Self-Sabotage just smiled to herself, thinking she was so good at her job, she didn’t even need to show up anymore …

And between rounds, I made a few notes about how the prompts could tie together. But before I could get too serious about it, I went back to Bejeweled. While most of my brain was scanning for matching gems at warp five, the rest of it was thinking about the prompts and the quote.

Twenty minutes later I had the skeleton of an entire story, which I wrote with little interference, and which turned out to be pretty decent. Decent enough, in fact, to have the potential to be a real short story and not just a flash piece. (Not that there’s anything wrong with flash. Just sometimes the characters need more space to tell their tale.) In contrast, the story I tried to write last week – when I was determined to write and wouldn’t let myself do anything else until it was written – is terrible. Beyond terrible. A complete cacophony of contrived, disjointed images. I only haven’t deleted it entirely because I can’t bring myself to think it’s beyond saving. Yet.

To test the theory that sidetracking my logical mind can improve my creativity, I did the same thing again this morning with a different set of prompts. And lo, twenty minutes later I have the outline of a story that looks to be good (I was so excited that the shameless trickery worked that I had to blog before I actually wrote the piece.) I guess it’s based on the same logic that dictates you will not think of the answer to that random question while you’re thinking about it, but hours later you’ll sit straight up in bed and say “Ethyl Merman!” (or whatever the piece of information you were looking for is.)

So yeah. In case there’s anyone out there who gets super paralyzed when they sit down with the intention to write, maybe you can try not trying and see what happens. Worst case scenario: you’ll get better at Bejeweled. :p

(Reprinted from Blogging in the Dark)

TL.Schofield is an old mom and a new bride, living in central GA with a white dog and a black cat – one of which she is allergic to. Her first published piece is currently posted at 10Flash. She recently placed two stories, Arrival and Escape, in Flash Fiction Chronicles String-of-10 Flash Fiction Contest and blogs at Blogging in the Dark.

BethCatoWhen my story “Nipped in the Bud” posted on Every Day Fiction in August, I was eager to see the sort of feedback I would receive.  And then I saw what people had written.  Oh boy.  Reader comments ranged from calling it “hokey” to “it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere.”  I cringed, but I couldn’t really complain.  After all, when my own mother read “Nipped in the Bud,” her first reaction was, “That’s awful!”  She understood the story, and it horrified her.

If one of my greatest supporters says that, I can’t really gripe about comments from strangers.

However, I’ve seen other stories on Every Day Fiction and elsewhere get similar feedback.  Some authors don’t take it well.  They respond to every negative comment, getting both apologetic and defensive.  It leaves me wondering – will this author keep writing?  Or will these harsh words convince them to stop submitting?

Internet anonymity inspires people to type words they wouldn’t dare say face-to-face.  Honesty is important, but so is tact.  Instead of subscribing to the motto of, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all’ people do say very un-nice things to total strangers – and people get hurt.  Some give up writing.

I’m not at that point now, but I have been in the past.  When I was a teenager, I vowed to be a published novelist by the time I was twenty.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the spine to make a real attempt.  Two of my well-meaning uncles approached me and told me that I was putting my immortal soul in peril by writing fantasy.  My college creative writing teacher witnessed me reading a fantasy novel and was aghast.  “That’s not a real book,” he said.

By the time I was nineteen, I wasn’t even sure what to read anymore.  As for writing, I stopped completely.

Yes, I was a wimp.  Writing and rejection require a hard shell, and I couldn’t cope.  I wanted my writing to please everyone – which was downright impossible, no matter the genre.  It took me another ten years to mature and take my writing seriously and understand that criticism is part of the business.

Time and time again, editors advise writers “don’t take it personally.”  There is truth to that.  However, as a writer – especially a vulnerable beginner – some people will have a harder time separating themselves from their writing.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given negative feedback.  It’s necessary.  It’s how we grow and improve, whether the project is flash fiction or a full novel draft.  But even if a story comes across as complete nonsensical garbage, that doesn’t mean it should be described in comments that way.  Tact and respect are not antiquated notions.  At least, I hope not.

I can handle my story being hokey and sometimes misunderstood.  As long as some people get it – and enjoy it – that’s what matters.  If I’m going to put my soul on the line, I don’t want it to be a total waste.

Beth Cato’s work has appeared in places such as Every Day Fiction, Niteblade Fantasy and Horror Magazine, Crossed Genres, and Six Sentences. A full list of her publication credits is available at BethCato.com.

mary daleyCongratulations to Mary J. Daley for her story “The Forever Summer.” 

She placed second in The Flash Fiction Chronicles String-of-10 Contest held in August.  The challenge was to write a piece of short fiction, 250 words or less, using at least four of the following prompt words: 

 STRING OF TEN: BLOW BACK-STORM-JAUNDICE-STEAM-TATTOO-SENSE OF FUN-CANTALOUPE-STREAKED-UMBER-DRIPPING SWEAT

 QUOTATION: And when is there time to remember, to sift, to weigh, to estimate, to total? –Tillie Olsen*  

 

THE FOREVER SUMMER
by  Mary J. Daley

He had seventy-nine tattoos from his ankles to the nape of his neck. All declaring the same thing, “Wanda Forever.” Wanda’s sense of fun had started it. On the twenty-first day of June she approached him and said,  “I’ll let you bed me on one condition.”

He happily left her bed two hours later for the tattoo parlor.

He loved her immediately.  She stood four foot four and had long golden hair streaked with black that she refused to touch with clip, elastic or brush. She smelled of ripened cantaloupe during sex, ate only steam vegetables, and liked her whisky neat.

Wanda blew his summer into all shades of happy, and only asked that he mark each bout of love making with his confirmation that it was forever.
But when autumn came, Wanda refused his touch, even when he stood naked in front of her pointing to her name and his promise that encompassed his body.  She just shook her head and said nothing, and he stood there with seventy-nine tattoos, hoping somehow they would blow back the best summer of his life.

 

Mary J. Daley lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and  two daughters. Her short fiction has appeared in Allegory, The Harrow, Gryphonwood ,and Gemini Magazine. 

 

Third Place was published here at Flash Fiction Chronicles on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 and First Place will be published at Every Day Fiction on Sunday, October 25, 2009.

 *The quotation was also part of the prompt, but there was no requirement to use it in the story.