CRAFT


by Aliza Greenblatt

Tina Wayland

Tina Wayland is a freelance copywriter, part-time fiction writer and full-time mom to a great wee kid. Her story, Red Handed, was the top story for July.

Aliza Greenblatt: I’m always curious about what drives authors to write, so can you tell me a bit about that? Do you typically write horror or do you venture into other genres as well?

Tina Wayland: Good question. I don’t know what drives me to write—the curiosity to see where the story will take me? The challenge to get a good piece of writing down on paper? I’m not a writer who’s driven to write. It takes a lot to get me to sit and put stuff down. But I’m always fascinated by the outcome.

I used to write horror way back when I studied Creative Writing. It’s something I haven’t done in about 20 years. This story was supposed to be about a simple conversation, but it took a wrong turn down a back road somewhere and I just had to follow along.

AG: When you sit down to write a new story, what is your process like?

TW: Haha! Fiddle, fiddle, get a glass of water, check my emails, fold some laundry, check my emails. At some point I focus and start writing, and in those rare moments where the writing stars align I find that perfect groove and I’m lost in the writing. For me it’s more about overcoming the obstacles than following a process. But somehow it works.

AG: The desire to escape was a major theme in the story and the two major characters in the story were desperate for a way out. But it slowly became apparent that the boy would use any means possible to do so. Did the characters’ desperation carry the momentum of the story as you wrote it? Do you think the boy will ever stop running?

TW: I don’t know if I saw them as desperate. I think they both believed they would win—that they’d get what they wanted, in the end. In my mind, the boy never questioned that he’d escape, and the detective never questioned that he’d get his answers. But the boy knew better. I don’t know if he’ll ever stop running. All the story gave me is this small glimpse into his life. Once he was out the door in the wall, he was gone—out of my control. I’d like to believe he’ll keep running, though. I don’t know what else he’d leave in his path.

AG: This piece used language very deliberately, and I loved how almost all of the sentences in the story were short and concise. Did you have a reason for writing in this particular style? Was it a conscious decision?

TW: No matter how I start off, I always end up writing like this. Economical. Deliberate. It’s about the words but it’s also about the rhythm of the words. I love the poetry of it. I can spend a whole lot of time looking for the perfect two-syllable word to balance out a sentence just right.

AG: From your bibliography, this is not your first flash fiction story. For you, what is the appeal of flash? What are some of the challenges you face when writing stories with such a limited word length?

TW: I think my writing style lends itself most easily to flash fiction. I cut and cut and cut until I’ve excavated the right sentence, the right words. By the time I get to my third draft, I’ve lost more than half of what I started with.

For me, the challenge of flash is to get the story right, and quickly. It’s less of a build-up to your characters and more of a quick look into one moment of their lives. There’s no time, and no words, to waste.

AG: What other projects are you currently working on? Are there other stories of yours, either upcoming or published, that you can point readers to?

TW: I have a handful of stories desperate for a second draft. I’ll have to dust one off for my writing workshop soon.

I also have a poem just published in From the Depths. You can read it in here, free.

Plus I have a small collection of published stuff on my work website at http://tinawaylandcopywriter.com/fr/published-fiction.php.

A few of my stories are up on EDF, and it is a great honour to be published alongside so many wonderful authors on such a great writing site. What a thrill that Red Handed touched so many readers! It was unexpected and truly wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to ask me these great questions about writing. It was great fun to think about the answers and pass them along!

AG: Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with us. Best of luck with all your writing endeavors.

__________________

 Aliza profile-pic-2Aliza T. Greenblatt works in a firmly non-writing field when the sun is up and writes under a desk lamp at night.   Fueled by a sheer love of books and a tyrannical imagination, she writes the stories that appear over her morning coffee and won’t leave her alone until they are put down on paper.   She writes, raves, and blogs at http://atgreenblatt.com. and on Twitter  @AtGreenblatt

 

by Julie Duffy

JulieDuffyHeadshot200x300

Slipstream is one of the newest and most indefinable sub-genres to gain notice in the science fiction universe. According to some literary observers, it has been there since the beginning,

Considering the uneasy reception of Bradbury’s work by purist critics of SF, The Martian Chronicles could be said to exemplify what today is referred to as slipstream…From the moment of its naming SF has always had its slipstream—a steady line of texts that failed to contain themselves within the envisioned borders of the genre. – Paveł Frelik

Flash Fiction Chronicles contacted E. S. Wynn, chief editor of Smashed Cat Magazine, to find out more about this intriguing sub-genre.

Flash Fiction Chronicles: How would you define slipstream as a genre?

2523121E. S. Wynn: When defining slipstream as a genre, it’s important to be vague. As soon as you try to tack down, pigeonhole, or apply rules to set the boundaries of slipstream, you kill all of the potential it has to really soar. Slipstream is anything and everything. It’s Dungeons and Dragons meets Dragnet. It’s angels and cyberpunks. It’s Kafka, Lovecraft, Asimov and Anne McCaffrey all rolled into one story. It’s cosmonauts and argonauts teaming up to battle Huguenots in Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. It has no bounds, it slips between the streams, and the weirder it is, the more your fans will (probably) love it.

FFC: What do readers come to this genre for?

ESW: Slipstream is fresh. It’s new, it’s the final frontier. It’s the place where other writers have never dared to go. That’s what makes it good. That’s what fans of the genre look for. Newness, novelty, voices and perspectives they’ve never heard before.

FFC: Complete this sentence: Slipstream is probably for you if you’re the kind of writer who likes to_____

ESW: Slipsteam is probably for you if you’re the kind of writer who likes to mix otherwise incongruous elements into a fruity cocktail drink as potent as a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

FFC: What are the most common pitfalls when writing slipstream?

ESW: One common pitfall is a writer’s inability to really make things weird. Having a skunk for a pet is not weird. Finding out that the young, buff, handsome CEO crush of your story likes to wear lingerie when he’s alone is not weird. People from other countries than yours are not weird. Talking dogs from alternate dimensions that lead people through libraries full of hairy books whose knowledge can only be smelled, not seen– that’s weird. The basic premise can be as mundane as Michener, but the story itself won’t be slipstream unless the imagery and the meat are all outside the conventions of multiple genres.

Also (it doesn’t happen often) but the story can’t be too weird. Stay with me– if a writer puts together a story that isn’t coherent, readers won’t be able to get into it. Plant dragons that breathe methane and fly through space? Cool, but make sure it serves the story. Telling us about your plant dragons and then writing a bit of grandma’s apple pie recipe into the story for “weirdness” isn’t going to fly, most of the time. The weird is important, but it must make sense.

FFC: What difference does it make when the story is 1000 words or fewer?

ESW: All the difference. Writers these days have to compete with the fast pace of television, video games and Youtube. Stories in the 300-500 word range are all that most people think they have time for these days. If you can’t streamline your stories into a box that size, you’ll still find readers, just fewer of them.

____________

E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print and the chief editor of seven online fiction journals, including Smashed Cat Magazine.

Julie Duffy is a writer of short fiction and host of the annual creativity challenge StoryADay May.

 

by Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen

I was first introduced to the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography’s publishing when I downloaded a free pdf of a book by Chicago local, Ben Tanzer. It was a book based on his thoughts while jogging.

Years later, I found myself part of a reading in Chicago through Curbside Splendor, where I met Ben, had coffee, and discussed CCLaP and Jason Pettus.

 

CCLaP

The design work in CCLaP’s books is phenomenal. And their website boasts multiple free pdfs of titles—something I had tried as a chapbook publisher, but executed here very well just by the sheer numbers in their line. I believe this is not only extremely innovative, but an important note to the literary community.

When I returned to Cleveland, I wrote Jason and requested an ARC pdf of one of their most recent titles, Four Sparks Fall, by T.A. Noonan.

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A novella of a coming-of-age story between two teenage twin girls, Four Sparks Fall will catch you off-guard. As one of the sisters reconciles her friendship with her twin while preparing to leave for an acclaimed prep school, the story is told from the two perspectives of one leaving, of one behind. It’s difficult at first to decipher their individual voices this way (as one’s thoughts are in italics, the other’s grounded in unitalicized paragraphs) but as twins doesn’t this make sense?

The story goes and the pages turn, you see these two distinct young women for who they are, who they were to each other, and for what they may become from “the biggest small town in the world,” Baton Rouge.

T.A. introduces us to a slew of mutual friends: the boy who comes between the twin sisters, the parting gifts these two girls leave for each other  in reconciliation, hope for the future, a new diary.

What I found really entrancing about this novella was its seriousness about adult issues given to teenagers. They ‘inherit’ the problems of their Baton Rouge adults and parents. How do we escape our past? How do we reconcile for the future, even with the things we are born into? Part dark, young adult literature, part smart, literary process, Four Sparks Fall is just that. It’s about sparks that have fallen, the lost optimism and innocence of youth, and the story of twins, Geminis, meant for distant, distinct places in our universe.

If you get the chance, I would definitely meander over to the CCLaP website and browse their catalog. Find this book, download it (it’s free) and enjoy. Chicago has a lot to offer the literary world.

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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 Sarah Crysl Akhtar

Sarah Akhtar

I thought I was writing a simple, direct piece of flash–protagonist has problem, and resolves it.

Found myself wrestling with one of the Big Questions–what does it really mean to be human?

And how do you express the capacity for complex thought when your characters have only a limited vocabulary?

More than with any other story I’ve written, for New Song (Every Day Fiction, 3/15/14) I had to look out at the world from my protagonist’s eyes, and try to understand how she’d express her own feelings to herself. A first-person story is either an interior monologue or an intimacy between the narrator and the implied listener. But how can a primitive character speak convincingly to us, through eons not only of time, but of transformation into what we’ve ourselves become?

I had to bring the reader into my heroine’s sensory world; write a powerfully visual story without much description; express intense emotions without elaboration. And I couldn’t impose on her the horrors of “primitive-speak”–think of every silly movie you’ve ever seen, where characters never, ever use contractions, and even three-word conversations sound like epic proclamations

If characters can be expected to use colloquial speech among themselves, we should resist the temptation to “translate” that into something that screams “not our English [or whatever language we're writing in]). Credit your readers with enough intelligence to figure that out, once you’ve set the scene for them.

Is recognition of the power of language–as thought or out loud–something that distinguishes us from other sentient creatures?

My protagonist uses her unspoken words as if she believes they might have almost magical properties:

Suddenly I hated Old Ma. I wanted to smash her.
But I was clever even in that moment. I stopped
my hand and sang my anger inside my head where
nobody else heard it.

Later, as she hunts desperately for her child:

I made a song to my baby inside my head. Where
are you? Don’t you feel me searching for you?

My character doesn’t just see–like all of us, she perceives in accordance with the priorities of her world:

That night the moon showed its whole face, eating
up the dark.

From the response of first readers during the editorial process, it seems I succeeded in what I hoped to do. One editorial commenter called it a “[v]ery visceral piece.” And it’s one of the very few of my stories accepted without a rewrite request.

My protagonist struggled to make sense of her place in a vast and largely unknowable universe. Perhaps the characters we write help us to do the same for ourselves.

____________

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 FictionFlash Fiction Online and Perihelion SF Magazine.

by Andreé Robinson-Neal

Andree-New

Like the tinder box that it is, FFC kept things all a-glow during the month of July. Jim Harrington got us started by sharing thoughts around the answers posted to the Facebook FFC New and Emerging Writers Group about music and the muse it draws or chases away. Susan Tepper ignites our collective spirits of justice in her UNCOV/rd with Pat Pujolas as they share around his book, jimmy lagowski saves the world.

And speaking of sparks, Sarah Crysl Akhtar took us back to a gem that caught her eye (and breath) in this month’s From the EDF Archives. She gives us a tantalizing sample of a morsel called Jellyfish. Go check it out for yourself.

We got a glimpse into the writing persona (and more) of Christine F. Anderson in a July publisher’s interview, where she shared her thoughts on marketing. John Towler then did a bit of marketing for Every Day Fiction, by way of a personal top 10 list of memorable stories (note that he passed the 5,000-story mark back in March!). Len Kuntz got us to the middle of the month with an insightful Why I Write Flash Fiction, in which he reminds us of the value of creamy bullets.

So, why do you write? Rohini Gupta answered the question in a way that delights writers: she answered it with more questions, each of which was insightful enough to spawn a post of its own.

Writers worth their salt will tell you that an important part of the process is reading. Fortunately for us, Gay Degani provided a list of readings that will certainly inspire. She offered a 103-entry list of readers’ choices from the 2014 Short Story Month entries.

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.

Now if that bright flash of wisdom did not get your attention, you need to go read all the others offered in a post that was chock-full of goodies from Sarah Crysl Akhtar about naming your story. As the month moved toward its end, we met Krystyna Fedosejevs, who shared her thoughts on what happens after you name that story and what her journey has been like in the world of flash fiction.

As you plan your next submission, why not learn something about Submittable? Christopher Bowen got some time with Submittable’s co-founder, Michael Fitzgerald. If it’s been a while since you have used the platform to send in manuscripts, you’ll be interested to read what Michael and his team have planned for Submittable’s future.

Julie Duffy brings us in sight of the end of July with her “nuts and bolts” approach to understanding genres. This month’s offering provides some thoughts on science fiction: what it is, what it isn’t, and what it can be.

It was a full month to be sure, and FFC never closes on a low note. Aliza Greenblatt interviewed Jessi Cole Jackson, the EDF Top Author for June. Jessi shared insight on her flash fiction work, as well as what it really means to live in the Garden State.

Be sure to stop by Flash Fiction Chronicles to catch up on all the articles, advice and information from last month and get ready for an exciting August!

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Andreé Robinson-Neal got bit by the writing bug back in the late 1970s while watching Rod Serling and reading Ray Bradbury–both of whom are everyday inspirations; although she has worked in education for more than a quarter-century, she has never been cured of her penchant for speculative fiction. Find some of her flash fiction at starvingartist.com. She writes under the name AR Neal, who will hopefully one day be identified as a famous NaNoWriMo participant.

 

 

 

 

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