Wed 28 Dec 2011
Link to to Lifting Up Veronica:
Wed 28 Dec 2011
Link to to Lifting Up Veronica:
Wed 28 Dec 2011
With the holidays upon us, we decided to take a hiatus from Wednesday December 28 through Tuesday January 3 2012! All our regular programming-The Slant with Michelle Reale, Rumjhum’s Ruminations, and Aubrey Hirsch’s First Mondays will return in February. Our normal publication schedule will resume on Wednesday January 4.
We at Flash Fiction Chronicles want to wish you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Mon 26 Dec 2011
Years ago I had the honor of interviewing Ernest Gaines when he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. When we scheduled the interview he said it was to take place at “ten o’clock, sharp” at his home in Lafayette, La. I left on time, got caught in traffic on I-10, and arrived on his doorstep at ten minutes after. Mr. Gaines opened the door, balanced on his cane, chided me for being late (You’re late were his first words, followed by hello) and led me to a sitting room where we commenced the interview. Needless to say, we’d gotten off to a semi-rocky start but soon he was telling me about his life and inspirations, accepting my not-too-gushy praise about his work, and autographing one of his novels for me.
Toward the end of the interview, I asked Mr. Gaines about his writing process. Being a writer myself (of slightly more modest means), I try not to romanticize the process too much, but when he replied that his writing process involved waking up and writing until a specified hour every day, I was a bit deflated. He said he set aside the same chunk of time for writing and that’s when he wrote, whether it was fifty words or five thousand. This caused me to reflect on my own writing process, which went something like this:
I feel like writing, so I’m gonna.
Over the years I’d read technique books and interviews with admirable writers and discovered that each had their own process. One writes one-thousand words a day, no matter what. Another writes from nine p.m. to eleven. Still another writes one chapter and closes shop.
This all seemed so disciplined and professional compared to my own process of I feel like writing, so I’m gonna.
Determined to discipline my own novels, I tried various approaches. I sat down and told myself I wouldn’t get up until I wrote one-thousand words. Twenty minutes later, I was staring at one paragraph and a blinking cursor.
I set aside a block of time to write, but found myself uninspired when the scheduled time came.
I tried writing one chapter, but it felt more like a school assignment than a personal masterpiece.
I wanted to have a more serious approach than just writing whenever, until I finally came to a glorious revelation: It’s okay if I only write when I wanna. Know why? Because I always wanna. About eighty percent of my waking hours are spent writing, either in my head or on paper. So if I only write when I wanna, I would eventually have a novel.
I was right. Once I broke the cuffs of scheduled writing, the words came more easily and soon I’d written two novels and two dozen short stories. I realized that I’d become so swept up in what it means to be a “serious writer” that I’d lost sight of the writing. The fact is, what works for one doesn’t work for all. As writers, we have to follow our own routines and we usually know it better than anyone, because we know ourselves.
When people ask me how I find time to write, I just shrug and say, ‘I write when I wanna.’ It works for me, just like Ernest Gaines’ block of time works for him. (Granted, his process is working much better for him than mine is working for me – but at least it’s not from lack of words on paper.)
I’m not the type to tell someone to meet me somewhere at such-and-such-time-sharp, just as I’m not the type to only write from nine to noon. Great writing can come from many different routines, all of them dependent on the individual – and thank god for that diversity, otherwise all of literature would read like bland school assignments.
Readers: What are your thoughts on writing routines? Do you have a set routine or do you just write when you wanna?
Erin Kelly is staff editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles. Her fiction has been published widely in places like Keyhole Magazine, Monkeybicycle and the Kyoto Journal. She was short-listed for the Eric Hoffer National Fiction Prize and the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction. She currently has two novels under representation with the Jenks Agency in Cambridge and New York and works as a freelance fiction editor, as well as assistant editor for Thrive Magazine. Read more at www.erinkellywrites.com.
Sat 24 Dec 2011
Fri 23 Dec 2011
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
silver-white winters that melt into spring
These are a few of my favorite things.
–My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music
In the spirit of the holiday season, I wrote a few of my favorite things. In paragraph form, they sort of look like a piece of flash. Perhaps this prosey list (or listy prose?) can act as prompting for some new flashes, or just remind others of some of their favorite things.
My husband’s lobster-mitt hands. My daughter’s almond-shaped eyes. My other daughter’s beauty mark, a lone cinnamon sprinkle on her cheek. My six-year old son’s bare shoulders, tender. Puppy paw pads. My hip hop shoes, their flex and click. Fictional characters I can’t forget, who I miss or remember unexpectantly. Scratchy voices. Coffee, the first sip. Peanut butter, wine, and cheese, in that order. Unlikely friendship. Music loud in my car, thumping. Erotically choreographed music videos, my fantasy to dance in one. Words, the exact ones in the exact order. Thunder storms and the smell they leave behind. Skinny days. The lady at the supermarket who lets me go ahead when I have fewer groceries, just because she’s kind. Learning something from someone three decades my junior. Learning something from someone three decades my senior. Crushing on someone, its sweetness when nothing will come of it.
Nailpolish, red. Hot baths with candles and books I’ve already read, must read again. The smell of inked paper. Songs that re-mood me. Plans gone wrong that are more right. Blue, every shade. Titles. Siblings, the history and bonds. Tears for strangers because they’re human too, and because I understand. Cracking up and how that erases stress. Kisses, every kind except goodbye. You reading this, and maybe wanting to write something, or just enjoying the words.
To view a video clip from the wonderful musical Sound of Music with the song that is like a string of flashes around a melody, click here: My Favorite Things
Nicole Scarpato Monaghan is editor of Stripped, a Collection of Anonymous Flash Fiction due out from PS Books in spring, 2012. She has been honored with several writing awards from both the 61st and 62nd Annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conferences for her literary short stories, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry including three first prizes in 2010. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Bartleby Snopes, Storyglossia, Foundling Review, PANK, Used Furniture Review, and many other venues. Visit her atwww.writenic.wordpress.com, where her literary posts have become regular contributions to the Philadelphia Stories Weblog. She lives with her husband, three children, and Redbone Coonhound puppy outside of Philadelphia.
Wed 21 Dec 2011
Writing flash fiction appears deceptively simple. After all, some flash fiction can be as little as 100 or 200 words. When compared with an epic novel, that may seem like child’s play. For many, finding ways to distill your story to so few characters can be more challenging than filling thousands of pages with new worlds. As with any creative writing, sometimes just finding a place to start can be the biggest challenge. How do you find ideas for your stories? When space is a constraint, there can be even more pressure to come up with a good story idea.
The next time writer’s block hits you and you’re unable to figure out how to get your story started, or you’re just stumped for a story idea, try one of these prompts:
Put your iPod or iTunes on shuffle. Write a story based on the next song that you hear. You can find inspiration in the story or the emotions of the song. A lyric could even become the title for your story.
What Do You See?
Look at the photo below. Write a story about what you see, or a story that’s inspired by the emotion it elicits. If you aren’t inspired by this photo, or you want to try a similar prompt in the future, try a random Google image or Flickr search.
Take out your old scrapbooks and photo albums. Find a picture that moves you, and write a story about it. You can start by using your own experience, or you can draw on the emotions that the photo inspires.
Ask “What If…”
Spend some time imagining “what if” possibilities, such as “What if I could travel in time? Where would I want to travel?” or “What if I could talk to any person who has died? Who would I talk to, and what would I say?” Write a story about the answers.
The Saying Goes …
Think of an old expression such as “The early bird gets the worm” or “Penny wise and pound foolish” and write a story about it. There are books and Web sites devoted to these old adages.
Browse through until you find one that inspires you.
Whittle it Down
Think of your favorite movie, book or short story – it may even be one you wrote. Now condense it to a piece of flash fiction. Start with writing only 500 words, then see if you can get it down to 100.
Change Your Point of View
Pick up a random object in the room where you are sitting, or rummage around a junk drawer or toy chest and draw out a random object. Now write a story from the point of view of this object. What has it seen? What role did it play?
Imagine the Possibilities
Imagine a wrapped box. You open it. What’s inside? Write a story about what you discover.
Let your dictionary fall open randomly and point to a word on the page. Use it to inspire a story.
Let Computers Do it For You
If you’re still stumped for ideas, try a random story idea generator, such as this one. There are also character and name generators available, which could also offer inspiration.
We’d love to read any stories you create by trying these prompts! Be sure to share them in the comments, or tell us about any of your own favorite prompts.
Erinn Stam is the managing editor for clinical nurse specialist programs. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about nursing school rankings. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.
Mon 19 Dec 2011
This is an intermittent series by the author about using Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World.
I love the classic Disney films because most often they are about wishes and dreams being fulfilled. From Cinderella to Simba, the characters overcome obstacles, find the courage to follow their dreams, discover beauty within themselves, and learn that wishes really can come true.
Throughout the past two weeks I’ve faithfully written my Morning Pages, taken myself out on an Artist’s Date and have pondered and gained insights during my Weekly Walk. Week two in Walking in this World by Julia Cameron is entitled Discovering a Sense of Proportion, and “inaugurates an ongoing process of self-definition.” Julia introduced me to the chapter with these words, “As you redraw the boundaries and limits within which you have lived, you draw yourself to a fuller size.”
As human beings we’re filled with self doubt, some of us more than others. When we look in the mirror we see ourselves as ordinary and maybe even odd, we wonder if we’ll ever ‘fit in’ and whether or not anyone will find us beautiful. But, if we close our eyes and turn off the voices, we see the part of us that we’re afraid to let out. I think Julia says it best, “Part of us knows we’re more than they see; part of us fears we’re less than we hope.”
I cried when I read the story she told of a man who became a composer after two decades of denying the truth in the compliments he received about his talent. He had convinced himself that he was ‘just the appreciator’ in a family of musicians. It took a trip and time spent with people who knew nothing about him or his ‘musically gifted’ family for him to begin ‘jotting down notes.’ When he returned, “He didn’t call himself a composer, a songwriter, or even a musician, but he did call himself happy.”
It made me wonder how much we hold ourselves back because of how we think others see us. And it struck me that often we are lucky enough to have people in our lives that see more than we do, people that challenge us to see ourselves as creative and competent, who encourage us to “spread our wings,” and to become who we were meant to be.
I was also reminded how I discovered my love for writing, how I heard the words but not the message when people told me how much they enjoyed reading what I wrote. “You’re very nice, but I’m not a writer,” I would respond. Thanks to a persistent friend, I took my first writing class and I now know that whether or not I become famous or ever earn a dime doing it, writing has become like breathing and I call myself happy now.
The previous chapter focused on self acceptance and faith, this week she carried those themes through while gently nudging us into the world of growth, transformation and the idea of ‘living large.’ Living large doesn’t mean driving a flashy car, living in a mansion, or vacationing in the trendiest hot spot, it means admitting dreams, miniaturizing doubts, and trying on pieces of our new identity one step at a time.
I was moved by her reference to Nelson Mandela who remarked that “we do no one any favors ‘hiding our light’ and pretending to be ‘smaller than we are.’”
I’ve never considered myself to be a “dreamer,” but I am an unrivaled “wisher,” which is why I think my favorite task was to create a wish list. The instructions were to number a blank sheet of paper from 1 to 20 and complete the phrase “I wish” as quickly as possible, ranging from large to small, whatever came to mind. My list ran the gambit, everything from “I wish” my tummy was flatter to “I wish” I was debt free, and “I wish” I could write a book.
I was amazed at what came next. She revealed the secret of the list, “Very often, each ‘wish’ will suggest some small action.” I read over my list and made notes in the margin. Out of the twenty items, the only one I couldn’t take at least one small action toward making it reality was, “I wish travel was less expensive.” In that moment, I realized that my wishes are also my dreams, and that within me lies the power to help them come true.
I hung on every word as she explained that “art is not linear” and that “life is as much about mystery as it is about mastery.” I thought about transformation, and the many times in my life that I was ready for change and somehow just what I needed found its way to me.
The final task was once again the most difficult and yet the most illuminating. After answering a series of questions designed to invite feelings of vulnerability and expose secret dreams, I was asked to write a letter to myself, to my “inner artist” about the dream that was revealed and to find a concrete form in which to take action toward achieving it.
I’m not quite ready to share my innermost dreams, I’m still “trying them on for size.” The letter to myself concluded with the following. “Continue to express your humor and intelligence through your words. Continue to ‘build it’ and ‘it will come’.”
Dream a dream
Set it free
Trust your heart,
Reprinted from Beth Lee-Browning’s Blog, it’s a whole new world on October 2, 2011.
Beth Lee-Browning is originally from the Midwest and currently lives in Pennsylvania. She is a proud mother of three, a full time professional, and an aspiring writer. Beth maintains a very observant blog, ”It’s a whole new world” here, where this article was first published.
Sun 18 Dec 2011
Jim Harrington discovered flash fiction in 2007, and he’s read, written, studied, and agonized over the form since. His Six Questions For. . .blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” He’s also the Markets Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles’ Flash Markets Page. You can read his stories on his blog. He can be contacted at jpharrin [at] gmail [dot] com.
Sat 17 Dec 2011
Lifting Up Veronica follows Michael Kovac, a sociologist from Ohio State University, as he travels to rural West Virginia in the summer of 1960 to shoot footage for a documentary during a week-long tent meeting at a Signs Followers church — a Christian sect best known for their practice of handling venomous snakes and participating in other potentially deadly practices…
EDP has a launch promotion up right now (20% off the subscription price) but that won’t last long, so anyone who wants to benefit from that shouldn’t wait. More information about the Every Day Novels concept can be found here: http://everydaynovels.com/about/.
Link to to Lifting Up Veronica: http://everydaynovels.com/liftingupveronica/
Fri 16 Dec 2011
Some view fiction as a mental escape — the chance to disappear into another world which does not include all of our daily chores and obligations. Others relate to the realities that such a medium provides; an opportunity to use another person’s words to delve deeper into our souls and witness things we had not noticed before. “Bulletproof“ by Divya Raghavan is just such a story: One that serves as an escape into an otherwise mundane life event of another person and causes us to reflect on our own life choices.
The story was voted by readers as Every Day Fiction‘s top story for November. Flash Fiction Chronicles recently interviewed Divya about her story and the motivations behind it.
FFC: What inspired this piece?
Raghavan: I wrote this piece for a fiction-writing class I was lucky enough to take with author Amy Hempel, so the piece has benefited incredibly from her and my classmates’ feedback. I wanted to start a story with “riddle me this,” so I did, but in the writing process the story turned into something unexpected, and the first line didn’t fit anymore. But the underlying theme is from a few friends’ experiences with dating, and observations I’ve made from trying to understand others’ situations.
FFC: What I found most interesting about this piece — and most works of great short fiction — is how it’s able to convey a range of emotional depth during an otherwise mundane life event. Some of the most extraordinary works of short fiction are set during ordinary daily life. What are your thoughts on how everyday life speaks to us and how it has spoken to your narrator here?
Raghavan: I think ordinary life is much more interesting than our extraordinary experiences. The things that I end up repeatedly mulling over are always mundane life events, every day conversations, etc., rather than once-in-a-lifetime events. In this story, I intended for this event from everyday life to serve as an indicator of how her everyday events tend to go, how she is repeatedly hiding things and giving up little parts of herself.
FFC: What do you find uniquely fulfilling about writing flash fiction?
Raghavan: Well, it’s always satisfying to finish something. And people are much more willing to read your writing and give you feedback if it’s short. But I am always surprised by the amount of characterization an author can fit into a short piece. I love when you feel like you have created a full, three-dimensional character in so few words.
FFC: What do you find uniquely challenging about it?
Raghavan: It’s tough to get a character to really resonate with readers in short fiction. In longer pieces, it’s more likely that people reading it will find something in there that they can relate to. There are plenty of books where I don’t like one scene, and flash fiction is just one scene.
FFC: A few of the readers pointed out that this piece has more telling than showing, which is typically a fiction-writing sin. Yet it works well in this piece. In your opinion, how would the story have changed if you’d have depicted the couple interacting? What makes the “telling” work in this piece, in your opinion?
Raghavan: I think the “telling” works because the piece is less about their actual interactions and more about how she interprets their interactions. And I think that staying in her head the whole time allows readers to relate to her more than they would if it had been a third-person story. I focused on the character more than the story itself, so it made sense to stay with the character the entire time. But maybe it would have been more interesting if there had been more action. I think those reading it would have felt less close to the narrator, though.
Divya Raghavan grew up in Cleveland, went to college in Boston, and now lives in England, where she is working towards a Master’s degree in psychology. She enjoys writing, music, and spending time with all the wonderful people in her life. She is 22.