advice


by Sarah Crysl Akhtar

Sarah Akhtar

It’s like the pangs of afterbirth. There’s your lovely story, ready to send out, and you can’t for the life of you think what to call it.

Happened to me once. Put a working title on a flash piece so I could at least submit it. Revised the title when I did the rewrite, but knew it was still a dud. The right one finally came to me, literally in the nick of time, shortly before the due date, so to speak. And to my enormous relief, one commenter remarked that the title was perfect for the tale. If she’d known how I sweated that one. . .

I’ve looked in some strange places for titles. I loathe, fear and despise mathematics, but my offspring has a gift for it. Go figure. And it so bothers me, being locked out of that world he inhabits so naturally, that with the bounteous help of Wikipedia, I’ve named a number of my stories for mathematical or scientific concepts. Those titles sounded so elegant, while making me feel closer to my kid. And strangely, they expressed just what I wanted to say.

Without the intuitively perfect title, a story’s luster is a little dimmed. And a bad or mediocre title may keep readers away from a piece they might have truly enjoyed.

If you’re struggling to name your story, take a little break. I once had to leave something alone for a couple of months, until my main character’s voice called to me so clearly that the right title fell naturally into place. It was frustrating not to be able to submit something I believed in and had worked hard on, but part of growing into your craft is recognizing when you haven’t fully achieved your intent, and waiting until you do.

Resist the urge to slap something on your story because you’re facing a deadline or just want to mark it as completed. You don’t want any child you love to go out into the world ill-named.

____________

 Sarah Crysl Akhtar‘s shtetl forebears gifted her with the genes that impel her to make much from little. So of course she writes flash fiction, cultivates orchards on her windowsill and bakes fabulous shortbread. Her son gives her what’s immeasurable–the best of all possible worlds. Less miraculous fruit of her labors has appeared on Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Online and Perihelion SF Magazine.

 

by Andreé Robinson-Neal

christinefandersonChristine F. Anderson is the force behind CFA Publishing and Media; of her many talents, she is a skilled marketer. After shopping her own manuscript, she gained deep insight into the process of bringing a book from idea to manuscript to bookshelf/ebook seller. She took some time away from her work to share insights on the value of marketing with FFC.

What is your relationship with writing?  How long have you been writing? What have you had published?

I have been writing since my earliest memory, including writing haiku in the third grade. I was alway one to journal, write letters, and keep meticulous notes in school. I wrote and self-published my memoir, Forever Different, in 2013.

What was your experience like getting published?

I had several contracts from various publishers, all who required an astronomical retainer for marketing services. With more investigation I realized that what they wanted was for me to do a lot of the work before submission, so I decided that since I didn’t have the type of money they were requiring I would try self-publishing.

What made you start your own publishing company?

I started Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media in order to give authors who have a story to tell fair representation when it came to publishing and publicity and marketing.

Talk a bit about your marketing background; how did you decide to focus that experience toward the world of publishing?

I obtained my MBA (Masters, Business Administration) in Marketing from New York University’s Stern School Of Business in 1991 and felt that in order for a book to be well-represented it had to have a considerable amount of marketing.

Let’s face it: this is a saturated market, particularly since the advent of self-publishing opportunities. I utilize various methods, including  social media outlets, and have developed a plan that works for my authors.

Why is the marketing aspect so important for new authors? How does it differ in the small press or self-publishing market as compared to the larger market?

Since we are on content overload when it comes to the publication of books, it is important for new writers and those who are looking to work with a small press or to self-publish to develop their own unique brand. I encourage all my authors to be different. Dare to be different!

What marketing skill or advice do you believe is most important to new writers?

The most important marketing skill I can suggest to a new author is to start by doing the research: who is the audience of your book? Start by knowing that and the rest of the marketing process tends to go smoothly.

What have you seen as one of the biggest obstacles for new writers wishing to get their work to market? How do you see yourself helping them overcome this obstacle?

I think the biggest obstacle facing writers is the lack of guidance; the key is to publish good work and I feel that accepting mentoring and guidance is vital to success. I would like to think that my authors can learn from my experiences since I am a writer, I self-published, and already made all the mistakes!

In your experience, in what areas do traditional marketing strategies fall short for new and existing authors?

I think the old adage of “build it and they will come” is nonexistent in the pro-publish market; taking an ad out and waiting for sales just won’t cut it. In this era, communication and contact are key and if you are not accessible and don’t stay in tune to current demand, you are dead in the water. Thank the good Lord for the dawn of social media, because it gives us access to that market demand in ways we never had in the past. It has helped answer a lot of the prayers of marketing executives.

What one piece of advice would you give to writers looking to publish?

I would tell them to write from the heart and to tell their story with the intention to inspire others!

____________

Christine F. Anderson obtained her MBA in Marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1991. She has a long successful corporate career working for such companies as Citicorp and MGM Grand, Inc. She became an independent author in 2013 and while working on self-publishing her memoir, Forever Different, discovered a void in affordable book publishing and couldn’t find a publisher that provided a pro-active and  aggressive publicity and marketing strategy, so she decided to launch Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media. It is Christine’s desire to give a voice to fellow authors’ works and guide them through the difficult world of publishing and promotion and assist them in achieving the greatest level of success with a fair business model. Her motto is “Tell your story to inspire others.”

 

by Alyssa Ast

Alyssa Ast

You’ve published your first book–now what? If you haven’t done so already, you need to create an author website. Author websites help promote your book and aid an effective marketing strategy. Author websites are also important for adding a certain level of professionalism and credibility behind your book as they add legitimacy for a reader. However, a website is only as effective as the amount of time you spend creating it.

You can’t just throw up a quick website and expect it to produce results. You need to spend time making a well-designed and attractive website. Plus, it needs to be search engine optimized to boost your online presence; thus, increasing potential sales. A quality website produces numerous benefits, not just a higher search engine ranking, but also attracts potential readers and acts as the professional front to your book.

So, where do you start? One of the single most important facets to any website is the URL. When choosing a URL, you want it to be short and simple, yet describe the website. The best URL will also be keyword friendly for the best SEO (search engine optimization) results. Ideally, you want to use a URL that involves the title of your book, your name, or something similar. Remember, short and simple is best because it’s easier for your readers to remember and to share with others.

When designing your website’s theme and template, keep it similar to your book’s cover. This is important for brand recognition and overall brand development. Of course, include images of your book, especially in high visibility areas, such as your header.

Now, when you begin creating your website’s pages, there are many components to consider, such as how many pages and what you’ll put on them. A basic author website contains a page dedicated to your book, which includes the book’s description, purchasing information, and reviews of your book.

You’ll also want to include an author biography page with a professional picture. You’ll need a quality landing page with a strong call to action to encourage readers to purchase your book and share your website. Its a great idea to add a blog page, but you must keep it updated.

Now that you have your pages established and your template created, you need to begin developing the optimization process. Always remember, quality content reigns king. Don’t just write anything.

Spend time researching keywords that will work well for your site. You’ll want to use the name of your book, your name, and other low competition keywords related to the subject of your book. Also include transactional keywords, and if your book is location based, navigational keywords, too.

Your page URLs, page titles, page meta descriptions, and tags need to be filled out correctly. Create unique titles and meta descriptions for each page. You don’t want to have any duplicated content of any kind on your website.

When writing the content for your web pages, be sure to include your keywords in the first and last paragraph of each page, as well as 2 to 3 times within the body of the content. However, be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to keyword-stuff. Instead, your content needs to flow naturally. Make sure the content you create is engaging and will attract readers, not just once, but time and time again to keep them returning to your website.

If you’d like to boost your online presence even higher, here are a few more important optimization tips to remember:

  • Don’t forget to optimize your alt tags for videos and images.
  • Internal link build your website pages.
  • Choose proper anchor texts. Don’t just use “click here.”
  • Be socially engaged and offer social sharing on your website.
  • Create a site map and submit it to search engines.
  • Mobile optimize your website.

By taking the time to develop a well-designed and functioning website, you’ll notice a difference in how people view your book and your credibility as an author. With these two aspects combined, you’ll reach a higher sales potential.

____________

 At heart, Alyssa Ast is an author, writer, and journalist. However, throughout her career, she has also developed a strong passion for SEO, digital marketing, and website development. Through this passion, she has authored The Fundamentals of SEO for the Average Joe and offers many services to help business owners and companies succeed online.

 

by Christopher Bowen

Bowen

Many authors see publishing contracts as a given, or a dream come true. When one is offered to you, you take it.

When I ran a chapbook press, it was expected that all the authors sign individual contracts. Some of the stipulations included a percentage of each print run returned to the author, as well as reduced lifetime cover costs for those authors. There was some give and take in them, such as design, public appearances and, of course, review copies, with all of it based on time-lines.

I wanted my authors to challenge themselves as much as their work challenged me. I got the first draft of the Burning River agreement skeleton from a Toledo attorney. He had been listed years ago on the VLANY website (Volunteer Lawyers For The Arts) and after a phone conversation mentioned he was now a criminal defender. Though he had worked mostly for visual artists and galleries.

For a two hour road trip and two hundred bucks, he drafted what would become a two page agreement between myself and other authors. It was worth just the security of its intent, protecting myself and the authors from third parties who could misuse copyright or their or my own work in the projects.

But what comes to mind for first-time signing authors? It can obviously be a really intimidating experience.

I asked Tyler Crumrine of Plays Inverse Press a simple, small set of questions on what or how his small press sees signing authors.

Christopher Bowen: What do you see as the most overlooked yet challenging part of an author’s understanding of their commitments to a small press?

Tyler Crumrine

Tyler Crumrine: As publishing becomes more and more remote online, communication between press and author is key. One of my authors, for example, lives and does a lot of readings in Chicago. I, on the other hand, live in Pittsburgh, and because this is a SMALL press, I’m also its marketing/PR/social media department. It’s super important in small press publishing in general to let people know when/where they can find your book, but because I’m not a part of my author’s local scene, unless he gives me a heads up on a reading that I haven’t organized or I happen to catch an announcement over social media or via Google Alerts, there’s no way for me to know about it. Same thing with publications in journals, etc. Even though you’ve signed a contract with someone, continued promotion of a book, as well as an author, is always a collaborative effort, and the more you keep your publisher in the know, the more they’re going to be able to promote you, your work, and by extension, their press. And that means letting them know as early and promptly as possible so they can help spread the word in a timely manner.

 CB: How do you see interaction and commitment between small presses and small press authors evolving?

TC: I’m a sucker for audio & visual art, and I always love seeing multimedia collaboration between presses and their authors. Book trailers are really coming into their own, especially within small press circles, and I’m starting to see more small presses putting out audiobooks too (frequently read by the author). Sometime these “extra” things are author driven (if the author has the time/connections to put something extra out, awesome!) but I wouldn’t be surprised if more presses start to make a multimedia component standard for their releases. Maybe it’ll be a podcast series interviewing each of their authors, maybe it’ll be videos of strangers reading from an upcoming work, who knows, but as it gets cheaper and easier to put cool things online, I’d love to see more cool things online, whether that push is author or publisher motivated.

I’d also love to see more collaboration between other small/indie/DIY scenes and small presses. Recently Tyrant Books and Holler Presents teamed up with Fat Possum Records to help distribute the Hill William audiobook (as well as a 7″ from Scott’s band). How many other small labels would be jazzed to add new and unique audiobooks/spoken word to their catalog… especially if they had a publisher to help select pieces, advertise, and divvy up the work? Or small performance companies to help produce readings? Those are some of the things I get most excited about, and hopefully more folks will start teaming up with authors and their presses in the future.

CB: Have you ever had to overlook an author or their work because of their inability or want to commit to a contract?

TC: Kind of. As a small press publisher of drama, some of the playwrights we’d like to work with already have agents and relationships with big script publishing houses. While our focus is on creating high-quality, reader-focused books, there’s more money in cranking out acting editions as quickly as possible so you can collect royalties on performances. The trick is finding authors who have just as much love for the page as the stage and would be interested in the kind of literary/artifact editions we offer, despite smaller runs and distribution. Sometimes it just doesn’t make as much sense career-wise, which while I hate reading acting editions, I totally understand. That’s part of why we love working with cross-genre writers who are starting to toy with drama though, to serve as a kind of mid-way point between the small press and play publishing worlds, maintaining book-quality printing standards while also introducing them to things like performance rights, etc., on a smaller scale. Ideally as we expand, however, our size will be less of a limiting factor in regards to contracts and representation.

***

With this in mind, I also gratefully turned to Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director of CLMP, the Council for Literary Magazines and Presses based out of New York. Taken from one of their monograph series on contest code of ethics:

CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believe that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

 Christopher Bowen: There’s a code of ethics that CLMP has developed over time for literary contests that has been repeated throughout the small presses. While this code may be implemented by a small press, what do you believe fundamentally does this mean for a small press author?

Jeffrey Lependorf pic

Jeffrey Lependorf: We developed the CLMP Contest Code of Ethics in response to what had been not only a major issue, but also one developed in response to multiple problems. For one, there were (and sadly still are) a number of contests out there by unscrupulous publishers that existed for only one purpose: to make money from writers. Some of these, with names like “United States Library of Poetry,” awarded anyone sending in anything with the dubious honor of paying various amounts for different levels of deluxe editions that contained all of the winning poems. Contests like this euphemistically call what is vanity publishing a contest. The “winners” essentially pay to be published. Legitimate publishers do not charge their authors for the privilege of being published. These volumes of prizewinning poems would never be found in bookstores or ever receive a review. At the same time, and more importantly for our purposes, some well-meaning contests by legitimate publishers (those actually mission-driven to make the work of authors known to a reading public) had genuine breaches of ethics by judges, plus sometimes real or simply perceived or implied breaches of ethics due to contests not being run in the best possible way, even if the intentions may have been good.

The CLMP Contest Code of Ethics goes along with a set of guidelines for publishers for various models of ethical contests. The primary takeaway for us was that there are multiple ways to ethically run contests, any one of which can be of value to certain writers—ethics has to do primarily with intent, transparency and clarity. Whether a contest, for example, is judged by a single well-known writer, or by an editorial staff, or whether the judge or judges sees all entries or only reads finalists, what the prize may be, or any number of other factors, have little to do with ethics. The important thing is for the exact process and intent to be made known, and then of course that that process to then be followed ethically as defined in the guidelines. It’s up to a writer to determine the real value of a contest to her and if, for that particular contest, an entry fee or judging process is appropriate. What makes a contest ethical or not then is not implicit in any mechanism of the contest, or what it might cost to enter, but in whether or not that contest follows through as promised. In the case of my example of an unethical contest above, something presented as a contest was actually a marketing scheme. The breach of ethics there is clear. In the case of a judge in a contest from a legitimate publisher, for example, choosing a current student as the winner, if the publisher holding the contest presents along with guidelines how they define a conflict of interest (and this is an obvious one; harder when it’s something like a student who attended a school where one teaches but never took a class with the judge, for example), then this is a breach of ethics.

What the code of ethics does for writers at the very least is let them make an informed decision about the value of a contest to them. If a publisher follows the code of ethics (which is not a law, it’s a guideline for ethical behavior), and a writer doesn’t like the process, she can simply not enter that contest. At the same time, it serves as a guide for publishers about how to go about doing the right thing, which comes from making their judging process clear, defining conflicts of interest, and specifying exactly what one actually gets for winning, being it a cash prize, publication, etc. My advice to authors looking at contests, before they even try to determine if the publishers follows the Code or not, is to first ask themselves if this is a publisher they would want to be published by. She should look over the list of previous winners and judges. It’s generally self-evident even just from this if a contest is legitimate. If the publisher is a CLMP member and states the code, in all likelihood the contest is being run with the best intentions. Lapses of ethics can of course always happen (i.e. a judge picking a former student even though a conflict of interest policy may clearly state not to), and in that case one should look at how any former breach of ethics was handled. The community we are a part of (independent literary publishers) share information; a bad-acting judge will generally not be asked to judge again. Ultimately, the real question for the author is “do I really want to win this contest?” This may seem obvious, but most of the contests that have clear breaches of ethics are being run by publishers that any writer having done just a little due diligence (i.e. perused the catalog of the press) should never have wanted to have as a publisher. The most important things to know is that legitimate publishers, such as those in the CLMP community, really do want to help writers’ work get out there, and that most of them are writers themselves. The overwhelming majority of small presses holding contests also function as nonprofit, mission-driven organizations whose primary shared goal is discovering new literary voices and connecting them to readers. It’s also true that many hold contests to provide essential earned income streams. It’s up to a writer to determine if a contest charges too much given its possible reward, and if so, not to take part. If a contest really does seem to have acted unethically in terms of not doing what it claimed it would, they should begin by letting the press know and seeing how it’s handled. Again, in terms of contests, ethical behavior has to do with intent, clarity and transparency; many excellent models of ethical contests exist, but not all contests suit all authors.

CB: In your opinion, is there an author’s code of ethics out there somewhere?

JL: I’m unaware of one, but there certainly could be one. Ethics should be a two-way street. As much as authors should expect ethical behavior from a publisher, they should act in kind. Ethics are what someone should do, not what one legally has to do. For authors to work well with legitimate publishers—who really are on their side—I think it’s generally less a matter so much of acting ethically and more a matter of acting kindly toward folks who are doing their very best for you. For example, if a writer has a work accepted for book publication through a contest or by a literary magazine, where what a publisher gains from this exchange is “first publication,” and it’s then accepted for publication elsewhere or wins an award somewhere else, the author should ethically decline that second award or publication, or at least be in immediate communication with the publisher who first contacted them to discuss what to do. Publishers and editors think of themselves as partners, not gatekeepers, and certainly not as “the enemy.” If an author feels that she isn’t being treated right by a publisher, she should first simply talk to the publisher about her issue before jumping to seek legal counsel. In terms of the legal, if an author’s going to have a book published, she should make sure that any concerns are addressed in her contract to avoid any possible issues later. I think that ethics and legalities are frequently confused.

CB: Taking this all into consideration, what do you personally believe are an author’s rights? Not necessarily in legal terms, but in being people and when presented for the first time with a small press contract?

JL: I think the only real rights are legal ones, but it might be helpful for authors to remember that (until they are signed) “all contracts are negotiable.” Every author should feel she can question anything in a contract that she doesn’t understand. She should know that if a particular specified right (i.e. anthology rights, digital rights, etc.) is not explicitly given to a publisher in a contract that the publisher does not automatically have that right (and vice-versa). Writers should probably make sure that there is a provision for how the rights of a book might revert to them (i.e. if a title “goes out of print” for some period), and how they might purchase discounted copies of the book (or receive some number of books without cost as part of the deal). They should know that they can choose to retain certain rights even though their publisher may be publishing their book. Finally, they have the right to decline a contract if they don’t feel it’s fair. When we’re talking about rights, though, we’re really ultimately talking about legal rights. Simply put, if a right is not in your contract,  you don’t have it (this goes for the author and the publisher). Making sure a contract is not only fair, but that it addresses all of the things it should, is a primary function of literary agents. Some kinds of books, such as poetry books, generally do not have complicated contracts or address certain kinds of rights (i.e. film rights), and even royalties may be a non-issue in the case of poetry books where the authors frequently simply receive a fee. In all likelihood, if it’s a legitimate publisher, it will be a fair contract, which is not to say that various issues may still be negotiated. One should of course have a contract before a book is published. A contract is common sense. If things do go sour, nothing really matters except what is in writing. I would say that it’s an author’s right to request a contract. Most importantly, though, being published should be thought of as a partnership. You should want to be published by the press offering you a contract. If it doesn’t feel like a good match, chances are it isn’t.

***

So, after all this thought and information, what do you believe a writer should do when approached with a publishing contract? And I think that’s what really matters. What “you” as an author feel is right and what has been alluded to above, that sometimes you just have to go with your gut. And if that isn’t working, much less in the end will for the book itself.

____________

Christopher Bowen is an Ohio author and culinary chef. His recently released personal fiction chapbook, We Were Giants, is available from the publisher, Sunnyoutside Press. He blogs at burningriver.info.

by Gay Degani

kathy fish We must buryKathy Fish’s story, “See Jane,” impressed me the first time I read it in her collection, Together We Can Bury It, yet somehow, the second reading felt more profound.  I wanted to find out why and began a discussion on Flash Fiction Chronicles’ New and Emerging Writers Group on Facebook.  Here are some of the questions I posted and the discussion that followed.

What does the title, “See Jane,” conjure for you? What expectations do you have based on that title?

Stephen V. RameyStephen V. Ramey:  Well, the title prepares me for a character study and a bit of distance in the telling. In harkening back to the Dick and Jane” readers of yore, it suggests the possibility of a simple, straightforward and active prose. The title is itself active and reaches out for me to participate. All in all an intriguing title but not a “must read” if it was all I saw in a TOC.

Chris Galvin NguyenChris Nguyen: The title leads me to expect something to do with a female child, of course. On reading Stephen’s comment, I do agree that the title alone wouldn’t grab me. But the first line sure does and the next lines keep pulling me through the piece.

Stephen: Yes, and I’m firmly in the camp that titles are nice but not essential. First lines and first paragraphs, though, THEY matter.

gay 2Gay: Stephen, you see what I see, which is the promise of active prose, straightforward, subject-verb, and as Chris says, it tells us that the story is about a female child.  “Dick and Jane” books are etched in my brain. That’s how I learned to read. So for me the title also promises nostalgia. Those aspects all together appeal to me. Did anyone think, when reading the title “See Jane,” of the sentence from one of those old readers: “See Jane run?” And in the end, we see “running” defines her: “Jane ran and came back, ran and came back, until she grew up and rode a train through the snow to Chicago…”

Chris: The title, because it evokes the “Dick and Jane” books, might have led me to expect a simpler story–maybe one that stayed in the time-frame of childhood–but having read other stories from Kathy, I suspected that though the story might seem simple, there would be other layers.

Jayne Martin

Jayne MartinI found it intriguing that while the title tells us to “See Jane,” the piece ends with Jane’s face veiled. Clearly, Jane doesn’t want to be seen.

Gay: Jayne, this is classic Kathy Fish!!  Veiled face as counterpoint to the title which states “see Jane,” the perfect circle of a well-told story. But what Chris alludes to is how Kathy raises our expectations to anticipate a simpler tale, to expect to see Jane through the story, but that there are layers beneath. Although Kathy delivers on that expectation, she also manages to shatter that expectation. At least for me.

What about the first two sentences? What does that set you up for? Then read the sentence that follows those. What are you thinking? What strikes you about them individually as well as when read together?

Stephen: The matter-of-factness of that opening sentence, combined with the just-out-of-kilter image of a pink pig inhabiting a girl, mixes me up in delicious ways. Also, the mother accusing her daughter of selfishness so very gently (“sweetie” and “little pink pig” as opposed to “pig”) confuses my emotional investment. I see love, maybe gentle instruction–much like the “Dick and Jane” books–but I also feel a seed of foreboding as well. Calling a child selfish even in the gentlest terms seems wrong from a parent. I want to dislike the mother and like the child. The following sentence begins the story experience for me. We’ve got an inciting incident: moving to a new house and the beginning of adulthood.

Gay: I’m echoing you on that, Stephen. That third sentence  gives me insight into these parents, suggesting  they are interested in moving upward, which isn’t necessarily bad, but also that the mother is guilty of what she’s accused her daughter, the need for more-more-more – a bigger house, a better neighborhood.

Jayne:  I agree with your comments about the mother, Gay. It does seem like she’s the one wanting more/better and because we humans often project what we don’t like about ourselves onto someone else, Jane is the one admonished and likely used as the mother’s excuse for wanting more/better. The hint at domestic violence and how Jane runs from it (but comes back because where does a child go?) sets up how she may have grown up wishing to hide herself, thus the veil.

Kathi Pith Madoni: So often I feel like a complete dunce when it comes to literary fiction. While I am intrigued by the first two sentences, I am left scratching my head about how they relate to the rest of the story. What am I missing?

Gay: For me, those sentences set up the character of Jane and her parents, their relationship.  I disliked her mother or at the least distrusted her, but as I read on and discovered the relationship between the mother and the father, I realized the mother’s criticism must be taken in the context of that marriage. There is a shift in the reality of the story. I think that’s what “literary” goes for, that shift.

Lucinda KempeLucinda Kempe:  “See Jane” is a perfect little story. It’s 240 words with a beginning, middle and end, and a great example of compressed prose hinting at the bigger story, which could be a novel if the writer chose.  Jane is a young woman who escapes a marred childhood. She grew up in an old house with “that steep staircase that everyone had fallen down,” Fish tells us.

When we first meet her, she’s moved to a new house with her mother, but mourns that old house with its troubles and troubled people, and, perhaps, mourns her father who is only mentioned in the past tense.  What I love most comes at the very end with Jane, now living in Chicago, drinking gimlets and whiskey sours, “tipping the glass under a veil she wore over her face.”  That veil conveys much. For me, the best stories don’t spell it all out (does life spell it all out?), but leave the reader with a longing for more as does “See Jane.”

 

Bios

Gay Degani’s serialized suspense novel, What Came Before, is available in flash-sized chapters in print at Amazon.com as well BN.com. You can find a list of published work at her website.

Stephen V. Ramey‘s short works have appeared in many places, most recently Every Day Fiction, Pure Slush‘s 2014 Project, and Chrome Baby. He lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania and edits the twitterzine trapeze.

Chris Galvin Nguyen writes and edits in Viet Nam and Canada. Her writing and photos appear in an assortment of places, including Asian ChaDescantPRISM internationalPure Slush and a number of anthologies. Chris is currently working on an essay collection.

Jayne Martin‘s short story “The Heart of the Town,” won the Fall 2013 WOW-Women On Writing Flash Fiction Competition.  Her book of humor essays, “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry,” is available and digital formats at Amazon and BN.com.

Lucinda Kempe lives in an Arts & Crafts style house on Long Island where she exorcises with words. Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, decomP, Corium, Every Day Fiction and Metazen have published her work.

Kathi Pith Madoni is a pseudonym.

 

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