Every Day Fiction


The annual Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll is open for voting until January 14. If you find FFC a valuable resource, we’d appreciate your vote. You’ll find us under the heading “Writers’ Resource/Information/News Source”. As of this writing, FFC was tied for fifth place. I know we can do better!

http://critters.org/predpoll

Related sections

Every Day Fiction–under Fiction Magazines/ezine
Lifting Up Veronica by K.C. Ball (publisher Every Day Novels)–under All Other Novels
Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (published by Every Day Novels)–under Anthologies Page

Thanks for you continued support.

Jim Harrington
Managing Editor
Flash Fiction Chronicles

by Aliza Greenblatt

Carl Steiger lives in a house near Seattle overlooking Lake Washington along with his wife and two small children.  Unless he decides to do something else with his limited free time, he tries to write stories at home when everyone else is sleeping, or at the office during lunch breaks.  He keeps up on his reading while commuting on the bus.  He has traveled extensively across Asia, less extensively in other regions, and generally enjoys “otherness” in literature, music and cuisine.

Aliza Greenblatt: So let’s get the obvious questions out of the way: What type of Bond villain are you striving to be? Weapon of choice? How are your plans for world domination coming along?

Carl Steiger: Ha!  Two separate teams of amateur career counselors recommended this path to me (probably out of frustration with my snarky attitude toward the Myers-Briggs test).  I think my preferred MO would be mass mind control, a la the Mule in Asimov’s Foundation yarns.  Alas, the odds of making it as World Dictator are even slimmer than making it as a famous author.  My best bet appears to be simply waiting for civilization to collapse on its own and then picking up the pieces.

AG: I’m assuming from your bio (and correct me if I’m wrong) that you do not write fiction full-time. What made you want to start writing in the first place? What types of stories do you tend to write? Do you mostly focus on flash fiction or do you like longer forms as well?

CS: You assume correctly.  Some dear friends of mine (including a couple EDF contributors) have been writing fiction for some time, hanging out with writers’ groups, attending workshops and generally having the time of their lives, apart from the misery of marketing their work.  Not counting a couple abortive stabs at fiction writing, I had been content to vicariously enjoy their strivings from the sidelines.  But then my daughter woke up in the middle of one night, crying about being scared of sphinxes.  I was actually pleased by this – after all, any child can be scared of monsters, but my kid, showing some creativity, is scared of sphinxes.  Anyway, I thought I could make something out of that, and the result was my first appearance in Every Day Fiction.

Any story I write is going to have at least a small fantastical or surreal element.  If I attempt any science fiction, it will have to be basic space opera, because I’m too lazy to do the research needed to get technical details right.  I’d love to get some longer works done, but flash is ideal for me just because I can get a flash piece completed before I’m too distracted by other things.

AG: Can you tell me a little about your writing process?

CS: A little?  I can probably do that.  I seem to need something to get my attention, something peculiar, out of place, off-kilter.  What’s the story behind that, I’ll ask myself, and then I’ll just make something up.  The germ for this story was a photo I remembered seeing, of a sweet-faced old guy, all duded up in a suit and tie, with a tsantsa hanging on a cord around his neck.

AG: Luis is a collector of rare, beautiful, and eclectic things. But collections are made to be admired and preserved, which I believe (and again, correct me if I’m wrong) is why Luis originally struck up a conversation with the narrator. But I was curious, what other things does Luis collect? And why rare stamps?

CS: Yes, Luis desires admiration for his accomplishment.  Certainly he has a fabulous library, probably full of awful, forbidden books that would bring damnation upon anyone who perused them.  He treats his companions as accessories, so I guess to some extent he collects people as well.  I envision his “museum” as something you’d expect to find in the Addams Family home.

Indeed, why rare stamps?  As I was writing about this fiend, I noticed he was starting to remind me of myself, and I deliberately made mention of a field that I’m not so passionate about, just to create some distance.  I do have a stamp collection, but it’s dwarfed by the coin collection.  And at this point I should declare that I have no tsantsas, mummies or anything similarly appalling in my possession.

AG: In the story, the narrator has a morbid fascination with the shrunken head and Luis takes the opportunity to explain the history of tsantsas in detail. Which made me wonder, how much research on tsantsas did you do for this story?

CS: More than I should have, perhaps.  A little searching on the internet got me what I wanted pretty quickly, although some of the information (or misinformation) was contradictory, but I went a little too far and wound up on the “taxidermy gone wrong” page on Facebook, and suffered psychic injury even as I was laughing at it.

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

CS: I just sent another flash off to EDF the other day.  I’m also pecking away at two longer projects, both fantasies, but not feeling any hurry about either of them.  Once I finish them, I’ll have to try to find a home for them, and I foresee a rough road when it comes to that.  There’s an 8000-word SF fable (one I called an “abortive stab” earlier) that’s been rotting in tor.com’s slush heap for six months, and I wish they’d just send me a rejection so I can tinker with it some more.  All I can point readers to at this time is the four previous flashes that have appeared at Every Day Fiction.  And I should take the opportunity to thank EDF’s editors for the comments and encouragement they have given an entry-level writer.

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

CS: Thank you, Aliza!  It was a thrill to get the honor!

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Aliza profile-pic-2

Aliza 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 Aliza Greenblatt

milofowler

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. An active SFWA member, his short stories have appeared in more than 70 publications, including AE Science Fiction, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, and Shimmer. His future noir novella Immaterial Evidence was recently released by Musa Publishing, and his novelette Girl of Great Price is now available from St. Martin’s Press. Many of his other stories can be purchased wherever eBooks are sold. www.milojamesfowler.com

Aliza Greenblatt: Welcome back! This is the third time you’ve had the top story of the month and “Night Stalking” is your eighth publication at Every Day Fiction. For you, what is the appeal of writing flash stories? What are some of the challenges?

Milo James Fowler: I wasn’t sure how “Night Stalking“ would be received, so I’m surprised and honored to be back! I enjoy the challenge of writing flash fiction, specifically making every word count. I tend to be wordy, and I’m always cutting down my prose. Writing flash keeps those editing muscles in shape, and I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I can create a lean, well-written story in a thousand words or less.

AG: Do you read lots of flash fiction? What are a few of your favorite magazines?

MJF: Besides Every Day Fiction? Are there any others? Nature and Daily Science Fiction are a couple of my favorites, but honestly, I read more novels than short fiction.

AG: This story is very different from the adventures of Captain Quasar, which was satirical and poked fun at tropes. “Night Stalking” on the other hand is dark and blood chilling.  What draws you to horror stories, both as a writer and reader?

MJF: We all have fears that we try to keep contained beneath the surface of our lives. Most of us probably don’t want to explore them, but horror writers—the good ones, anyway—have a knack at taking extreme situations and delving into their impact on a character’s psychology. One of my favorite themes is What makes us human? And I’m a sucker for survival horror.

AG: A commenter described the narrator as having “Superman Syndrome” – trying to giving some meaning to his life by “saving” another. I wondered as a reader, has the narrator felt this desperate longing for a while? Did he dream of it changing the world before he retired?

MJF: This story was based on an event from my childhood. My mom was driving late one night, and a woman in a trench coat stepped out in front of our station wagon. When Mom slammed on the brakes, the woman’s face dropped, so disappointed, before she hurried away. We never saw her again. Like most of my stories, I started by asking “What if…?” then went with an unreliable POV to tell the tale. The guy is messed up, no doubt about it.

AG: There are lots of overlapping themes in this story: Desperation, belonging, self-deception, and wish fulfillment to name a few. What are some of your favorite parts of this story? What were some of the challenges of writing it?

MJF: I liked the line “A lot can change in a couple weeks.” As a middle school teacher, I work with young teens, and according to recent statistics, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for kids 10 and up. But folks any age contemplating suicide need to realize no matter how dark things get in this life, there’s still hope. It’ll get better. Reach out, ask for help; don’t let the darkness swallow you whole. The biggest challenge with “Night Stalking” was writing a story with a message without making it preachy. I wanted it to read like a good horror tale—one that would linger.

AG: Since we last spoke, do you have any new publications or projects you would like to tell us about? Anything you’ve read (short stories, fiction, nonfiction, etc.) recently that you can recommend to our readers?

MJF: Yes indeed: I just signed my contract with Every Day Novels last week, and they’ll be serializing Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Space-Time Displacement Conundrum next year. I’m super-stoked to share my first published novel with readers, and I can’t wait to see what they think of this 80-episode space opera.

As far as reading goes, my queue is full this month thanks to Creepy Freebies. Every Friday on my blog, horror writers are giving away eBooks perfect for All Hallow’s Eve—or even before. Why wait? Follow the weekly event on Twitter (#creepyfreebies) and spread the word!

__________________

Aliza 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

milofowler

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day and a speculative fictioneer by night. An active SFWA member, his short stories have appeared in more than 70 publications, including AE Science Fiction, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, and Shimmer. His future noir novella Immaterial Evidence was recently released by Musa Publishing, and his novelette Girl of Great Price is now available from St. Martin’s Press. Many of his other stories can be purchased wherever eBooks are sold. www.milojamesfowler.com

Aliza Greenblatt: I’m always curious about how writers’ daylight careers affect their stories. According to your bio, you mentioned you are a teacher.  Do you find that teaching has affected the way you tell stories? Or visa versa? Do your students ever read your work?

Milo James Fowler: Working with 7th and 8th graders has given me an appreciation for their incredible sense of humor; they keep me on my toes, always expecting a witty comeback. When I teach my creative writing class the wonders of manuscript format, I’ll use my work as examples, but my classroom is all about my students’ work. They know I’m a writer, and I hope my success thus far lends credence to what I teach: writing well is a valuable skill.

AG: Can you tell me a little about your writing process?

MJF: I try to vomit out 1K a day, then clean it up later through multiple drafts. When I’m not in the middle of creating a new project, I’m neck-deep in revisions.

AG: Captain Quasar is not the most practical of people, but he does show some capacity to deceive his enemy while he’s constantly deceiving himself.  In some ways, he is both a hero and an anti-hero in his own adventures. This is a tricky thing to pull off, especially in flash. How do you handle this balance?

MJF: I hope readers can laugh at him and root for him at the same time. He’s ridiculous, but there’s something about his fallible nature that most of us can relate to on some level. When I came up with Captain Bartholomew Quasar back in the spring of 2010, I was going for a mash-up between William Shatner’s James T. Kirk and Dudley Do-Right from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (but in Quasar’s case, things seldom ever go right). He’s one of those classic pulp heroes with a heart of gold whose narcissistic tendencies often land him in hot water.

AG: This piece is part of the series of flash stories featuring the crew of the Effervescent Magnitude. What are some of the challenges of writing flash stories that feature the same characters in the same universe? What are some of the benefits? 

MJF: So far, this is the third flash-sized Quasar tale published by the awesome editors at EDF. Four short stories appeared at Ray Gun Revival, one of which will be included in the Raygun Chronicles anthology. Each is a stand-alone tale, but all together, readers will notice recurring characters and references. The first Quasar tale was published by EDF three years ago, and Quasar died in it (SPOILER! Oops. Too late…) – but after all the great feedback from readers, I knew I had to revive him. Flash is a challenging form by nature, but each episode has been a great way to explore the characters and their world a little at a time before committing to a longer project.

AG: You mention on your blog that Captain Quasar and his crew also have their own novella and novel and that “the characters demanded” these from you.  Can you tell us about that demand a bit more? What was the process like of transitioning flash fiction characters/stories into much longer works? 

MJF: In some ways, these characters jumped out of my mind fully formed, and once I saw how much fun they were, I knew they would need a much larger canvass at some point. I kept toying with the idea, but it took an invitation from a certain editor of a certain online flash fiction publication before I dove headfirst into the novel-length project. It was a blast. Finished the manuscript last year, and now it’s making the rounds – as is the novella I wrote earlier this year. Of all my recurring characters, Quasar & company just might be my favorites. (Shh… Don’t tell the others.)

AG: Aside from the misadventures of Captain Quasar, what other projects are you working on now? Are there other stories of yours, either upcoming or published, that you can point readers to?

MJF: I’m currently deep in the revision trenches, working on a future noir / time travel novel. My novella Immaterial Evidence is now available, courtesy of Musa Publishing, and my novelette Girl of Great Price was released just this week by St. Martin’s Press in the Girl Trouble anthology.

I’ve posted links to my published stories on my website, and all of my Captain Quasar tales are currently available on Amazon. If readers are interested, they’re welcome to subscribe to my blog for Sunday posts and Friday freebies – no spam, guaranteed. And speaking of readers, thanks for making “Captain Quasar and the Pestiferous Pirates of Narvana 6″ the top story at EDF last month! Y’all rock.

__________________

Aliza profile-pic-2

Aliza 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 Aliza Greenblatt

Flash Fiction Chronicles interviewed Michelle Ann King about Every Day Fiction’s Top Story for March, “Not the Pizza Girl“ a story about deliveries, demons, and a race against time. 

 

Aliza Greenblatt:  According to your biography, you’ve had many different careers – insurance claims handler, tarot reader, and makeup artist – before becoming a full time writer.  What made you want to pursue writing professionally? Do experiences from past careers often find their way into your stories?

Michelle Ann King:  Writing is something I’ve done for fun all my life–one of my very earliest memories is of making up stories about my favourite toy, a space-faring poodle called Charlotte. In recent years, the internet created a whole new market for short stories, and the revolution in e-books made self-publishing a viable option–so when I was made redundant from my last office job it seemed like a serendipitous opportunity to make a hobby into something more.

I think all writers use their past experiences in one way or another–to a large extent, ‘write what you know’ is less advice than inevitability. Certainly, I can immediately think of two of my stories that feature tarot card readers and claims handlers.

AG:  Was there any particular prompt or inspiration for Not the Pizza Girl? Did you have any specific goals when writing this story?

MK:  Tying in with the answer above, when I was a make-up artist I would often drive miles to see a client who would totally have forgotten about the appointment by the time I got there–so a lot of Lisa’s frustration is pure autobiography. The idea was inspired by reading two stories in quick succession that both featured pizza boys, and I started thinking about what else people might want to be delivered quickly.

AG:  Can you tell me a little about your writing process?

MK:  A lot of my ideas are sparked by other stories–something I read jumps out at me, and takes me in a new direction. I usually rough out a basic outline using a version of the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet (http://www.blakesnyder.com/tools/) and then write the story in the kind of  ‘cycle draft’ that Dean Wesley Smith uses: run at it until you hit a wall, cycle up and re-read until it prompts you forward again, then repeat until done.  Dean Wesley Smith’s whole blog is fascinating reading, especially the ‘Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing’ series: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/

I also try hard to follow the advice of Heinlein’s Rules and Ray Bradbury: write, finish, submit, write more.  The Write1Sub1 community (http://www.write1sub1.com/) helps massively with this. It’s a wonderful, friendly and supportive group that I’d recommend to all short fiction writers.

AG:  What are some of the challenges of writing stories that are both flash and genre (science fiction/fantasy/crime)?  What, if anything, is simpler?  Were there any particular challenges with this story being both fantasy and humorous?

MK:  I love flash, because it’s so versatile. You can tell a novel-length story through hints and implications, do slice-of-life (which is always fascinating with a speculative spin) or tell the intimate, detailed story of single minute. With crime, you can put high focus on intense moments or mindsets that would get too much in a longer story. Humour is always tricky, because it’s so subjective. The best you can ever do is write something that amuses you and hope for the best. In a way, I think fantasy can make it a little easier, because the juxtaposition of something mundane, that everybody can relate to, with something unexpected or weird, can be funny in itself. A lot of the humour in Not the Pizza Girl comes from Lisa’s very pragmatic, jaded attitude towards what to us seems like an extraordinary situation.

AG:  There is an interesting duality of the tension in this story.  One part of it is Lisa’s race against time, which is her primary concern.  The second is the slow dread the reader experiences as we realize that Lisa is standing on the porch of a house that has terrible things going on within. And the occupants do not seem…stable. It made me wonder, what sort of training (if any) does a delivery girl like Lisa need for her job? Is it a common occupation or is “Eddie’s Ethereal Emporium” a niche business?

The ‘ticking clock’ aspect was one of the first elements of the story, and the rest built around it.  I love the idea of ‘emergency magical supplies,’ and I see this as a world where magic is real but new–leading to a lot of people ending up with emergencies. I think Eddie spotted a need and stepped in to fill it–the equivalent of the first plumber to offer a 24 hour on-call service. I envisage this as a family business, with Lisa as a highly-trained magical expert who gets press-ganged into taking over whatever job currently needs doing.

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

MK:  I think there are definitely more stories to be told about Lisa’s world, and it’s something I want to explore further. For now, my latest story, a dark fantasy called ‘Never Leave Me,’ will be published at Daily Science Fiction (http://dailysciencefiction.com/ ) on Monday 22nd April. (And if anyone would like to see a breakdown of how this story was structured with the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, I’ll be guest posting shortly at Dianna L Gunn’s blog, http://diannaswritingden.com/ ) I also have a horror story in the upcoming issue of The Journal of Unlikely Entomology–where I share a ToC with Cat Rambo, which is a huge thrill!

The first two volumes in my Transient Tales series of short stories are now available, plus a collection of crime flash. Details can be found at my website, http://transientcactus.co.uk/

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

___________________________Aliza profile-pic-2

  Aliza 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

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