Archive for January, 2012

Robin MeisterRobin Meister has recently joined Flash Fiction Chronicles as a staff editor.  Welcome!  

by Robin Meister

My husband is a drummer. He went to music school in the late eighties and locked himself in a practice room that smelled like sweat and pepperoni for eight hours a day. He played his drums for mid-day traffic outside Fenway Park in Boston. When I told him about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour maxim for mastery, he said to me, “Yeah, I’ve done that.” He is, without a doubt, a drummer. In fact, he probably assumed this title the moment he picked up his first pair of drumsticks, even before high school marching band and jazz ensemble.

Even though I write, I’ve never called myself a writer. A social worker, a teacher, a mom, yes, but never a writer. Sure, there were those poems I wrote in sixth grade. I found Natalie Goldberg in my twenties and “wrote down some bones,” tried to “free that writer within” before locking my notebooks away in a filing cabinet. In my thirties, I wrote an 8,000-word fictional memoir, noodling out some residual teen angst. It was rejected by The Ontario Review and hidden away in that same filing cabinet, in a manila folder marked “Girl in Car Story.” Calling myself a writer feels as fraudulent and self-important as calling myself a mechanic because I know how to top off the windshield washer fluid in my Hyundai.

I got my first publication credit last July in 50-to-1. And what a rush it was. But did it help me call myself a writer? Not quite. Then, there was THE CONTEST. I clocked ten more hours on my Gladwell timeline and created a 78-word piece that won me a trip to New York as a finalist in Esquire’s Short Short Fiction Contest. Oh, no. Now was I expected to call myself a writer?

I’ve always felt this tug, like someone pulling on my shirt, and when I look down there’s only an echo of a voice saying, “Don’t forget you want to be a writer.” Sometimes, this reminder comes in the form of a paper wad striking the back of my head. Lately, it’s a glaring yellow sign on every corner. Who was it that said, “It’s soon or never?”

The New York trip was an extravagant prize for writing something shorter than this paragraph: a two night stay in a swanky mid-town hotel, a workshop with author Colum McCann at the Hearst Tower, cocktails with the Editor-in-Chief of Esquire, and a literary “showdown” with nine other finalists at a penthouse in Brooklyn. Surreal. When I met a fellow finalist at the airport, she said, “If I wake up in a bathtub with a scar where my kidney was, I’ll be pissed.”

I decided to pretend I was an actual writer while I was there. I wore a magenta scarf I’d never wear at home. I bought new boots and wore a silky black raincoat. I introduced myself to a publisher or two at the penthouse and collected some business cards. It felt good to act like a writer. It made me want to be a really good one.

I shifted into high gear. When I returned to Buffalo, I wrote everyday and haven’t stopped since, trying to make up for lost time. People at work mistook me for a minor celebrity because of my 78-word ticket to New York. “Can we read it now?” they asked, and I said “Sure, sure, I’ll email it to you,” which roughly translates as “Absolutely not. My story is drivel. Give me a few more years. “

I sat in the lunch room, eating root vegetables and questioning my literary future. The chair of the English Department, a highly respected sage in his final year of teaching and a closeted poet himself, said to me, “Late Bloomers. Have you read what Malcolm Gladwell has to say about them?”

What he says is this:

Almost half of Robert Frost’s most widely-anthologized poems were written after his fiftieth birthday. The same is true of his literary contemporaries William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wasn’t published until Mark Twain was forty-nine. Daniel Defoe was fifty-eight when he wrote Robinson Crusoe. Alfred Hitchcock made his best films in his fifties and sixties. French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne did not have his first solo show until he was fifty-six years old. He often threw his paintings into trees and shredded his canvases in fits of self-doubt. People laughed at him and called his work ugly, a fear that has stalled my writing more than once and plunged me into my own “dark period.”

These observations offer some reassurance. But to truly call myself a writer, I feel I need to understand where I’m going. I find myself stuck between poetry and prose, flash fiction and the short story, sitting on a stack of ideas in search of a genre. Do the notebooks in my filing cabinet count for anything? Gladwell cites David Galenson’s research that suggests late bloomers, as opposed to youthful, more conceptual prodigies, take an experimental approach to their work. “[They] build their skills gradually over the course of their careers, improving their work slowly over long periods.” (The New Yorker, 10/20/08)

And, just as I’ve wanted to throw my dead-end stories into the trees, minimize my few minor successes, Galenson warns, “These artists are perfectionists and are typically plagued by frustration at their inability to achieve their goal.“

My husband is retired from drumming now. He did reach his goal and discovered it wasn’t his passion after all. He is embarking on new adventures: the mysteries of open-source software, perfecting his Spanish. What a view it must be, though, from the other end of 10,000 hours, looking back at what’s he’s mastered so far.

I don’t know if I’ll reach my goal, but I’m going to keep trying, regardless of fear or age or frustration. I have all those experiences to distill – from being a mom, a social worker, a teacher – and all those notebooks to dredge up. And I have to re-visit that girl in the car. And learn how to call myself a writer.

________________________________

 Robin Meister lives in Buffalo, NY, where she is an under-employed English teacher. She is an increasingly confident writer, thanks in large part to the motivational community of writers at Zoetrope’s Flash Factory. 

by Jim Harrington

Markets Added

  • Absinthe Revival (1,000, varies) considers all genre and styles
  • Dragnet Magazine (1,000, quarterly) publishes literary fiction
  • (em) Review (1,000, bi-annual) publishes literary fiction and creative non-fiction

Contest Added

  • Press 53 Weekly Pokrompt

______________________

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.

Rumjhum Biswasby Rumjhum Biswas

Looking over the posts in my column, I discovered that the incredibly talented writers and editors I interviewed last year had shared experiences and opinions that readers, all of us here in fact, could carry away and mull over; words of wisdom that could take us forward into our writing lives in this brand new year. The quotes compiled here are ones that I felt best expressed their personal viewpoints and advice on Flash fiction. I’ve included the links to the posts as well, so you can read the whole interview if you want.

Tim Dicks (Interview in March 2011)

“With flash I want to eliminate as much narration as possible, so I try to think of actions, etc. that will convey the most relevant information about a character’s internal life. Then during a break I’ll write up a draft, and on another break I’ll return to it, and later I’ll return again, until it’s finished. I know I’m done when I go through and don’t find any words that make me cringe.”

More about Tim at Moonshot/writing for writing, duh and read some his writing at UnCanny Valley, “His Sleeve Stretching 16″ Biceps. “

 

Anuradha Kumar (Interview in April 2011)

“I think they (Flash Fiction) are really difficult to write. For these should resonate long after you’ve read them and that may be difficult with 250-300 words even.  But I love Bradbury’s short short fiction really…. It (the story) should have one memorable character, an image, something that stands out. Build the story around that. And the first sentence should grip.”

 

Benjamin C Krause (Interview in May 2011). 

“The fat. Eliminate unnecessary words, phrases, and images. Reduce when possible, reuse only when necessary, and never recycle. Choose the best words and put them in the right order: when it comes to short versions, this applies to prose just as much as poetry. Make sure everything from your words to your punctuation to your paragraph breaks  has a purpose. And when you’re writing extremely short prose, don’t be afraid to use dialog. Some of the best 20-word-and-under prose I’ve seen has used dialog, but sadly, most submissions to twenty20 Journal still neglect it.”

More about Benjamin at Twenty20 Journal  and his press at Diamond Point Press.

 

Hema Raman (Interview in June 2011).

“I started with flash fiction and it is still one of my favorite forms though I don’t write as many of them as I used to. The main advantage I think for  those like me who don’t write much poetry is that flash is a way to explore those epiphanies that just must be written down. Writing them down  satisfactorily gives me the kind of immediate gratification that longer pieces cannot. The disadvantage is that being shorter it kind of cheats you into believing it is easier, but for a flash fiction to really shine the editing takes really long.”

Hema Raman was recently shortlisted in the Tibor -Jones South Asia Prize for her unpublished novel Fear the Hero .

 

Beate Sigriddaughter (Interview in July 2011).

“I think flash fiction suits our age of impatience and conceptual overload very well. When well done, it is powerful. A few words. A lot of punch… On the opportunity side, flash fiction compels the reader to focus and to dwell on a single or limited scenario, i.e., it almost invites the reader to pay more attention, NOW, rather than being led by the hand in a longer piece where a reader tends to relax more and goes for a more leisurely and passive ride. The challenges? No room for fluff… I go with my gut feeling and that usually means moving toward a story that has more emotional impact on me than others. It is a very subjective thing, and I feel that the subjectivity simply cannot be avoided. I feel if a story really grabs me, there will be others who will also be grabbed by it and so I want to single it out for attention.”

More about Beate at The Glass Woman Prize.

 

Oonah V Joslin (interview in August 2011)

“For me the advantages of Flash as a writer are that it gets you writing. Setting out to write a novel would be way too daunting for me. Begin with a Flash and it can take you anywhere… little stories can stay with you in a very powerful and unique way… The art of précis. Knowing what to cut out is all important with both Flash and Poetry and it is that above all I think that attracted me to Flash – that it can have the density of poetry. These are short forms and so, like a good sauce, the secret lies in reduction… My heart sinks when I see any sentence that is constructed: Looking out the window, he saw Mrs Smith watering the garden.Picking up the telephone, she said hello. This seems to be very prevalent in much contemporary writing and it grates with me every time. Much better: He looked out the window. Mrs Smith was watering the garden.She picked up. ‘Hello.’ And these are shorter too. Short sentences are key rather than convoluted clauses and a lot of gerunds.”

More about Oonah at Oonahverse and her viewpoint at Every Day Poets.

 

Vanessa Gebbie (Interview in September 2011)

“Every piece of fiction has its own right length, I think. A story feels ‘right’ at the length it was meant to be…You can feel it when the writer tries to push the envelope, tries to add enough words to make a good flash into a short story, for example. Or to extend a flash a few hundred words to cross a minimum word count. Or indeed, you can feel it when a writer slices too rigorously, without an ear for sound, for rhythm in sentences…As for flash – it is so hard to define, everyone has his own thoughts on the matter, and I guess that’s part of its charm. It’s a slippery beast! And like all slippery beasts, gives the impression it is easy to catch hold of – when actually, it is anything but…Flash is a superb discipline, for the writer, and for the reader.

“It is not something to gulp in one bite – but something to linger over, to reflect on. Often a good flash will continue to reveal its layers on second or third read. Like the best poems. Flash as a process, freeing up, writing to a prompt, for example, as I do, maybe in a timed session, can produce extraordinary results…It’s useful to look at what it isn’t – flash is not a scene from something longer, it’s not a character sketch, not an anecdote with no echoes. You can’t afford to use the same constructs you use when writing a novel. Or even a short story.

“Every word, every punctuation mark, every space really does need to be considered, and has to earn its place. Sometimes it’s a story, sometimes it hints at a story – and that’s where it is most successful, for me, anyway – when the reader is complicit, and makes what is missing into part of the whole. Sure, a flash can be worked up into something longer… but unless the whole modus operandi changes too, I think the writer risks losing something quite precious in the effort…I look for voice, for authenticity, for intrigue, for confidence. If a writer can deliver that lot, I am secure in the knowledge that this is a writer I can trust to deliver me a great reading experience, and I forget I’m reading, completely. Doesn’t happen often, sadly! So many writers seem to think a flash piece is just something less than so many words. It isn’t. The words, the spaces between words, all have to weave together to create a tight tapestry. No holes.”

More about Vanessa at Vanessa Gebbie’s News and vanessagebbie.com

 

Nathan Rosen (Interview in October 2011)

“Before you can write horror, you have to open yourself up to it, and that’s the hardest part. Each and every one of us has our own comfortable paradigm, and horror comes from outside of that. You have to take a chance and look beyond the things you know, and when you do that you run the risk of discovering literally anything. It’s difficult, and it’s scary, but I like to think that by pushing those boundaries horror writers are doing a service for all of humanity…

“Like any editor, I’m looking for the new and original. That doesn’t mean I dislike stories about old familiar tropes, but I’d like to see them explored in unusual ways. I want good atmosphere, realistic dialogue and characters who are more than just props. And for my own tastes, I love twist endings– I’m a huge fan of the old EC horror comics. If you can twist a story well, and create an ending that brings the whole thing around without cheating, it’s guaranteed to make me smile… For the love of the Old Gods, people, please take care with your spelling and grammar. The English language is the tool you’re using to create your stories, and no good craftsperson abuses tools. If a writer doesn’t care enough to proofread, I’m going to assume that he or she doesn’t care enough to write a good story, either.”

More on Nathan at nathanrosen.com.

 

Dipika Mukherjee (Interview in November 2011 )

Sometimes it is a question of whether to write a poem versus flash fiction, but never flash fiction versus a longer short story… I think there is still a certain distrust of flash fiction, almost as if it’s a disease of our modern society which can’t handle anything longer than a sound bite. But of course, flash has been around in Chinese literature for a long time. It is slowly gaining popularity among writers, and online magazines are mushrooming with flash fiction because it IS easier to read something shorter online than a story of five thousand words.

“Some students who come to a Creative Writing class like flash fiction as warm-up exercises; I have found that the brevity of the medium is less daunting than asking them to, say, start writing the prologue of their Big Novel. Students do eventually enjoy writing Flash Fiction, but essentially, a short story of 3000-5000 words is still generally considered a tougher thing to write and flash easier…I think a good flash fiction needs to have the impact of an epiphany–not in the religious sense but in the way it hits you. Something commonplace made uncommon. One can’t dither about or meander on a separate trail when writing flash–it has to be tight with a punch. Like other genres, bad flash fiction also ends with a whimper.”

More about Dipika at dipikamukherjee.com   and her novel, Thunder Demons.

 

Angel Zapata (The last interview for 2011)

“Successful short fiction is like screaming “Fire!” in a crowded room. People won’t need an incentive or a back-story to react… When flash or micro fiction is done well, the genre is inconsequential. Success can be found for literary and speculative fiction writers alike and is based solely on the talent and creative ability of the writer… Too many writers fear the restraint (myself included) of completing a story in so very few words. They let that fear override the voice of their muse.

“My advisement is for writers to tell their stories in as many words as it takes to complete it. THEN, condense it to fit the form you require; be it 1,000 or 25 words. Practice it. Try shortening, refining stories you have laying around on your desktop or have previously published…We writers are often hesitant to ‘chop’ any of what we deem to be a perfect string of words. We consider our works as babies, so severing away any part of it seems an almost monstrous act. Writers need to begin to think of editing as more of a ‘grooming’ and less of a ‘maiming’. Invoking the baby analogy, refining words from a manuscript should be likened more to the trimming of hair or clipping of fingernails and not the loss of a limb or a beheading.”

More about Angel at A Rage of Angels and his journal at 5 X 5 Literary Journal.

________________________________

Rumjhum Biswas ‘s fiction and poetry have been published all over the world. She has won prizes in poetry in India, was long listed in the 2006 Bridport Poetry Prize and also was a finalist in the 2010 Aesthetica Creative Arts Contest. One of her stories was among the notable stories of 2007 in Story South’s Million Writers’ of the Year Award. She has performed her poetry in Chennai and Hyderabad. She is one among ten Indian poets to feature in an exclusive forthcoming anthology edited by Jayant Mahapatra along with Yuyutsu RD Sharma.She blogs at Writers & Writerisms and polyphagous.wordpress.com.

.

by Michelle Reale

Michelle RealeRobert, honestly, I am a huge fan, but I don’t even know where to begin with this interview–you are everywhere!   Make a list of your top five writerly activities at the moment.

Robert Vaughan: Ah, Michelle, the feelings are completely mutual. Top five this moment:

1)     Published my first book: Flash Fiction Fridays chapbook of all the stories we aired live on our radio show in 2011.

2)     Participating in collaborations like Exquisite Quartet, edited by Meg Tuite or Stripped, An anonymous Anthology, edited by Nicole Monaghan.

3)     Working on my poetry and flash fiction chapbook.  Any  interested publishers?

4)     Preparation for AWP Conference, and the Truth & Beauty Workshop I am attending in May-June with Marie Howe, Ellen Bass and Dorianne Laux.

5)     Redbird-Redoak, the local organization where I lead writing roundtables, and work with the children’s program every summer.

Michelle:I am so intrigued by your foray into radio, thus taking the written word to the airwaves.   Tell us about Flash Fiction Fridays.

Robert: We are so lucky to have WUWM, the local NPR affiliate, and its program “Lake Effect,” which is so supportive of writers of all genres. I was invited on the show initially in August of 2010. I’d sent some short fiction pieces to one of the editors, Stephanie Lecci. During our initial taping, we talked about publishing, and the state of indie presses, and some other business things that were all off tape.

Stephanie asked if I’d return for a second segment and read more of my flash in September. After that, unbeknownst to me, Stephanie pressed to have a monthly show, and got approval by her boss, Mitch, and the powers that be. Voila! Our concept is to showcase local writers who submit their work, and if chosen, come in to read their writing. Then I select a “national” writer whose piece I read every month. Stephanie and I tie them together by discussing them thematically. It’s a blast, and we work so well together. She is also a fantastic editor!

Michelle: Tell us how you juggle your creative activities.  One of the hardest things for writers is “keeping it all together.”

Robert: For me, support is essential. So many writers or artists are in the “closet” and I’ve had to work through that process, ongoingly, about what, where, and how to share my work.  It’s vital, I believe, to gain support, by finding ways to GIVE support. This is such a basic premise, and yet, it really a cornerstone of my beliefs.

I’m pretty active in some online writing communities like Fictionaut.  New members will ask me how to get the most out of the site. I suggest they read 5-10 pieces a week (most are short fiction or poetry) and comment on them.

Also, I write whenever possible. Every Saturday I gather for prompt writing with three or four writers. Again, seems inconsequential, but this commitment, these “exercises” keep my mind fresh, and engaged in starting something new that I return to edit later.

Michelle:I know you are going to AWP, though how you find the time, I can’t figure out!  How does a conference like this keep you writing/motivated/connected?

Robert: This will be my first AWP.  I tried to go last year and Mother Nature had her way with me: a huge storm prevented it. This year, I’m centering my focus on off-site readings. I will be reading in three different events: Festival of Language on Wednesday night, Connotation Press on Thursday afternoon at Kasey’s, and Larry O. Dean’s event on Friday night.

I love the energy of readings, hearing writers share their work orally. I was invited to read last October in two events in NYC, Fiction Addiction hosted by Christine Vines at 2A and Susan Tepper’s FIZZ at KGB Bar. Both were spectacular, so I’ll continue to seek these opportunities. This April, I’ll read in Timothy Gager’s Dire Literary Event in Boston. Reading and attending fundraisers to support indie bookstores, like Milwaukee’s Woodland Patterns, our poetry focused gem, is vitally important, too.

Michelle: Your short piece, “Implications,” in red lightbulbs is deceptively, simple—and the effect is AMAZING!  (That last line is a killer) Walk us through the writing of this little piece.

Robert:Writers often draw from personal experiences in order to create fiction. It’s inherent in the process. I actually knew someone who went through a similar experience, told to me by a mutual friend. I was in my young 20s. Sometimes, with hindsight, these experiences become less “trying to get it all right,” and more about the essence of the experience.

A boy, barely a man, has murdered someone in self-defense, but there were no eye -witnesses. He then tells his mother (in “real life ” it was our mutual friend). I wrote the scene in pure “memoir” first. Then I embellished: changed POVs, added details. There is no question that sometimes life is scarier, or stranger than fiction. This was one of those events, my first acquaintance that went to prison for murder.

The last line of the piece came much, much later. I wanted something that left a haunting umbrella. I thought of how they offer criminals whatever they want for their “last meal” before an execution. Gruesome, but that was the seed of it. Sometimes you can go to those core thoughts, then scale back. Especially in flash, because of brevity, often LESS IS MORE. In “Implications,” his “last meal” became symbolic of the mother-son relationship.

Michelle: RANDOM QUESTION ALERT:  Describe one of our mutually favorite people/writers, Meg Tuite in five words.

Robert: Brilliant, soulful, hysterical, empathetic, ballsy (you can check out Meg’s and my interview forthcoming at The Lit Pub on 2/23)

Michelle:You are about to be dropped on a deserted island where you can only write in one genre–which will it be, fiction or poetry, and why?

Robert: Poetry. Economy of words, paper might run out. I’d discover new ways to communicate beyond traditional techniques, like my writing friends Joseph Quintela, David Tomaloff, and Eryk Wenziak are currently experimenting with. I’d take cues from turtles, frigates, urchins.

In the 1980s, I spent time on Maui, and of course, not a deserted island by any means, I sometimes fantasized it was. I lived for a time in the jungles of Huelo, and felt like Mowgli. I like remote places without people, continuously seek them out.

Michelle: TAKE MY CHALLENGE!  Write a 150 word flash piece with the following words:  shelves, circular, enemy Philadelphia, corduroy, Prozac , cookies.

Robert:

Slips

She dozes as images slide in and out of her mind, snapshots from a 1930s silent movie. Churling smoke hovers in the gauzy air, the wheels of the train lull her further toward sleep. But she forces her eyes open.

Empty slips hang on a line over a pool, blow in the wind and snow, hover over empty shelves and benches. In each circular frame there are no people. Only a portrayal of a person, a ghost-like enemy permeates past and corduroy present. The empty slip is vacant of the body. It defies a sense of gravity as air passes through, creating a dance, cookie-cutters of time.

It was in Philadelphia that the Prozac stopped working. She exited the train, into spitting rain, slipping into a silky night.

Michelle:

Thanks so much, Robert. “Churling” is such a sick word.  I love it.  Is it still okay if I hero-worship you?

Robert: Only if I can bow at your feet.

Michelle: Yes, please!

__________________________________________

Robert Vaughan’s plays have been produced in N.Y.C., L.A., S.F., and Milwaukee, where he resides. He leads two writing roundtables for Redbird- Redoak Studio. His prose and poetry is published in over 200 literary journals such as ElimaeMetazen and BlazeVOX. He has short stories anthologized in Nouns of Assemblage from Housefire, and Stripped from P.S. Books. He is fiction editor at JMWW magazine, and Thunderclap! Press. He co-hosts Flash Fiction Fridays for WUWM’s Lake Effect.  His maintains a  blog, One Writer’s Life here.

Bernardo Bolt Gregoriby Bernardo Bolt Gregori

I woke up this morning fully reinvigorated. The velocity with which bold viral venues multiply these days, toting literature worldwide, titillates my moods. It really does. Breathe in, breathe out and another venue is born. Every Day Novels  is one of these newborns. Founded by Every Day Publishing, it has just launched its debut serialized novel.  Every Day Novels is an electronic magazine created to offer serialized novels to literature lovers with little time to read. That is, it aims to offer first rate works combining Monday to Friday chapters gauged as flash fiction, except that they encompass depth and complexity of a novel.

Author K.C. Ball is the first contributor to embrace this project. She describes her first novel, Lifting Up Veronica, as a suspense story “set in rural West Virginia in 1960. It follows sociologist Michael Kovac there to film and record a week-long revival tent meeting at Mount Zion, a congregation of signs followers who practice the handling of deadly serpents and other dangerous practices.  The encounter does not go well.”

Lifting Up Veronica goes live Monday to Friday from January 23rd (today!!) until May 4th when the last chapter, n. 70, will go online.

In addition to being a novelist, Ms. Ball blogs on a moving line, is the publisher and editor of 10Flash Quarterly, a magazine dedicated to genre flash fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror and suspense – launched in July, 2009, and she has published both in print and online, such as the compelling Snapshots I Brought Back from the Black Hole, at Light Speed Magazine issued in June, 2011.

K. C. Ball kindly agreed to talk to Flash Fiction Chronicles readers about this unique experience.

FFC: Ms. Ball, tell me a little bit about the elements you looked for to help you build a solid background as a writer. Books, courses, habits, trips, behavior…

KC Ball: I believe the most important element leading to a successful writing career is writing.  By this I mean setting aside the time each day to it at the keyboard and build your story word by word. All the wishing in the world, all the wonderful research and education can lead to a short story or a novel unless you are willing to put it all to use at the keyboard. It can be a nine-to-five schedule or a couple hours early in the morning, before the needs of life intrude, or a couple hours just before bed, but it needs to be regular and steady. That’s the key.  If you want to write, then find the time to write and guard that time jealously.

FFC: How and why did you start writing flash fiction?

Ball: I was drawn to flash fiction because of my journalism background. As a newspaper reporter, I already had the habit of writing short and tight.  My first sales five years ago were flash fiction, to Every Day Fiction and to other markets, and the magazine I edit, 10Flash Quarterly, is devoted to flash fiction. There is an intensity to good flash that longer stories just don’t capture.  Every word has be do double and triple duty.  I believe flash fiction is a good training ground for writers, because it forces you to say what you want to say in a concise manner.  You quickly learn what you need and what you don’t need for your story.

FFC: How and why did you start writing a novel?

Ball: Not every story can be told as flash fiction or in a longer short format.  I began Lifting Up Veronica because I had that longer tale.  Writing a novel is a much more complex effort than writing short fiction.  It something you have to experience to truly understand.  It can be daunting, but it’s not insurmountable.

FFC: What attracted you to the project proposed by Every Day Novels of publishing a serialized novel, that is, a novel which readers will have access to one chapter a day?

Ball: I see it as a grand experiment.  Serialization isn’t a new idea, but it’s a method of presentation not used very much today.  I was pleased and honored that Every Day Novels selected Lifting Up Veronica as its first serial novel and I’m crossing my fingers hat it will succeed.

 

FFC: What important elements contained in your story do you think will seduce a reader to come back every day – Monday to Friday – from January through May to learn how the story develops?

Ball: I believe the two main characters – Kovac and the circuit preacher, Ransom James Driscoll – both offer compelling tales. They’re surrounded by a cast of interesting support characters.  I’m hopeful that the way the two men (Kovac and Driscoll) interact with each other and how they deal with tragedy will keep readers hooked.

FFC: Do you think Lifting Up Veronica could be seen also as a collection of flash fiction stories? Or, although borrowing some elements of flash fiction, a serialized novel is a distinct approach to storytelling?

Ball: Certainly, each chapter is flash-sized, but lack the elements of a complete story, which is a requirement of flash fiction.  All the pieces fit together to tell the total story.  I do believe that serialization is a unique way to tell a story and has elements – such as a cliffhanger ending on Fridays to draw the reader back Monday morning – that a standard novel doesn’t need as much.

FFC: How did Kovac come to life? How do you build up a character that is the protagonist of many very short stories which are part of a longer one?

Ball: Michael is a man far from his roots.  He has created a persona for himself that doesn’t involve who he was and life has become confusing.  I’ve known men, and women, like Michael,  and based his character on them. When you distance yourself from family and home, you run the risk of becoming lost.  Being lost, actually or metaphorically, is dangerous.

FFC: How did you create the sect portrayed in the story?

Ball: Didn’t have to.  The signs followers are real and the history presented in my story is true.

FFC: What changes to storytelling do you think are happening in the viral medium when compared to the in-print world?

Ball: I believe readers have a shorter attention span online.  It’s one of the reasons for the growth of and interest in flash fiction.

FFC: What knowledge or skill acquired as an editor helps you as a writer? What knowledge or skill acquired as a writer helps you as an editor?

Ball: Same answer to both questions.  Genuine understanding of what the other side of the equation goes through leads to patience.  And we all can do with more patience.

FFC: What’s the future of flash fiction according to K. C. Ball?

Ball: I believe flash fiction is here to stay.  People are hungry for story.  Story-telling is as old as humanity.  Story is how we learn and we communicate.  It’s what we do as people.  But we don’t have the time or the means to gather around the campfire every night.  The electronic media – television and movies and the internet – are stepping up to take the place of that nightly gathering.

FFC: Is there anything you would like to say, that I didn’t ask?

Ball: No, other than thank you for offering me the chance to talk to the readers of Flash Fiction Chronicles.

 

______________________

Bernardo Bolt Gregori is a poet who has recently moved to the countryside where he is ecstatic to learn from the birds and squirrels and bushes so many magical ways of dwelling as a human. A proud member of The Flash Factory, a community devoted to flash fiction run by author Richard Osgood, his works have appeared in publications such as Tuesday Shorts, Flashshot, Daily Love, 3am Brazil, among others.