Every Day Fiction


by Aliza Greenblatt

Jessi Cole Jackson

Jessi Cole Jackson lives and works in the prettiest part of New Jersey, though she’s not from there. By day she builds costumes for a Tony Award-winning theatre. By night she writes stories, questionable poetry and lots of abandoned outlines. She’s currently up to her elbows designing costumes for a children’s theatre camp and writing an MG novel. When she’s not working she enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring local farms. You can read more about her sometimes exciting (but mostly just normal) life at jessicolejackson.com. Her story, Remnants of a Quilter’s Memory, was EDF’s highest-rated story for June.

Aliza Greenblatt: According to your blog, you are mostly a science fiction/fantasy writer for middle grade readers. What draws you to speculative fiction? When did you first decide to write stories? For you, what is the appeal of flash fiction?

Jessi Cole Jackson: I love the juxtaposition of “other” and “same” in speculative fiction. As a reader, I can experience whole worlds outside of who or where I am (or could ever be). As a writer, I can explore class, religion, nationality, gender, race, illness without getting tied up in contemporary politics. And I can make the exploration fun.

I first started writing in school, but gave it up in college, because I didn’t think it was practical…instead I went into professional theatre—ha! I started writing stories again seriously in the winter of 2013.

Flash fiction gives me a chance to explore. I can try new styles, new techniques, non-traditional narratives without worrying that I’ll “waste” too much time on a draft. And it gives me a chance to practice my craft in small bursts.

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

JCJ: Usually stories come to me as ideas or situations, so the first thing I struggle with is plot—what’s the beginning? What’s the end? What happens in between that isn’t too expected, but still fits the characters and their lives? I outline it all in the broadest of strokes.

Then I often start writing longhand—pen to paper. I like how visceral and visual it is. Plus, it gives me time to think. Writing everything out takes time. Sometimes, I’ll finish the story in my notebook and then edit it while transferring it to Word or Google Drive or Scrivener. Other times, I’ll get frustrated with the slow going of writing, and I’ll switch to the computer to finish the initial draft.

I’m not disciplined about when I write, though thoughts flow easier for me in the early mornings when the world is still not quite awake.

AG: When I first read this, I was smiling because I know in your day job you are a costumer and spend a lot of time working with different fabrics. And I couldn’t help wondering—do you have bits of cloth from costumes lying around? Do you ever re-purpose them?

JCJ: During a show at work there are often bits of costumes everywhere! But those don’t ever come home with me—they get bundled up with the show in case there is a tear or hole that needs repaired.

But I do have lots of fabrics from personal projects through the years. So far, I’ve only slipped them into a few baby quilts for friends—a bit from an old apron, a strip from a favorite shirt. Quilts are the best places for those well-loved fabrics to land. If only they weren’t so time-consuming!

AG: Using remnants from her own life not only helped Louise remember but made sure the people she loved didn’t forget. But as I read, I wondered, did Louise know that her memory was failing her? Did she sew as much for herself as for others, to hold onto those old threads and memories for just a little longer?

JCJ: I think Louise knew something was wrong, but wasn’t entirely sure what it was. I think she was angry. More than that though, I think she was frightened. Especially as she got older and lost both the ability to create and the enjoyment in her art.

As with all artists, I think Louise quilted as much for herself as for her “audience.” Fabric was her medium. The quilts were a tangible way to pass on what was most meaningful to her, since she couldn’t hang onto them herself.

AG: I liked the use of repetition in this story. It emphasized not only what Louise recalled, but what she needed to remember. But the tragedy of the story was she remembered the repetition, but not its meaning. Was it tricky balancing the repetition and suspense in the piece? What were some of the challenges in writing such a short story?

JCJ: Thank you! I think Remnants’ super-short length is necessary for both the suspense and the repetition to work. If it were much longer, the poetry of it would quickly become a formula and it would start to grate on the reader…or at least on me!

When I originally submitted this to EDF it was only 300 words. It didn’t quite work at that length—it was more of a vignette than an actual story, which is a common problem for me. But the editors must’ve seen something in it, because they asked for a rewrite. Taking into account their feedback, I added the scenes where Louise, Margreet and Ruthie interact. These gave the quilting sections more of a framework and doubled the length. It’s still not the most traditional narrative, but I think it’s a more cohesive story.

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?

JCJ: I’m currently working on expanding a few flash stories that don’t quite work (that whole plot thing!). I’m also (very patiently) waiting for feedback from beta readers on a draft of a middle grade novel based on my first ever published story, The Rum Cake Runner, available over at Crossed Genres Magazine.

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

JCJ: Thank you.

__________________

Aliza Greenblatt

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 John Towler

JC Towler

I’ve read a lot of flash as an editor at Every Day Fiction. (We have a tracking system that counts how many stories we’ve commented on, and I passed the 5000 mark during the second week of March.) It seemed to be a good time to come up with a “Top 10″ list of the most memorable pieces we’ve published in my four-year tenure. This list is based on my memory and opinion, and does not reflect any sort of editorial consensus of Camille, Carol, Joe or any of the other fine folks I work with.

These are all great stories from talented authors. I hope you’ll give them a chance if you haven’t experienced them already.

1. Cog Work Cat by Joyce Chng, published May 2010

The story blends poetry, fantasy, and love in a way that I don’t think has ever been eclipsed at EDF. Joyce has given us a couple of other very good stories, but this one was her best work.

2. Strikethrough by Matt Daly, published June 2012

A powerful piece about healing achieved in an unexpected manner. This is the only story Matt ever submitted to us, but he gave us a gem.

3. Saving Darth Vader by Kip, published May 2010

This story is one of the quirkiest roller-coaster rides you’ve ever been on. At one moment you are laughing out loud and the next nearly in tears for the feline protagonist. Kip gave us a number of great stories, but this one stands above them all.

4. The Destiny of Archer Deft by Douglas Campbell, published February 2010

Douglas is a regular contributor with an enviable near-perfect publication track record. It seemed everything he gave us was gold. But he went out on a limb with this piece and it is a laugh riot. Long live the Snooty Bird!

5. To Catch a Wolf by Warren Easley, published May 2012

Somebody brought up that May 16 was National Flash Fiction day and it just so happened we had the perfect story to celebrate the occasion. (We actually made it into a Flash Fiction Week at EDF and all the stories we published around that time were exceptional.)

6. Fire and Light by Sarah Crysl Akhtar, published July 2013

Sarah is EDF’s  Scheherazade. I don’t think there are many months that go by that do not feature one of her stories. She has a gift with words and a bottomless imagination and picking a favorite of hers was tough. This was not her highest-rated story from the readership, but it is the one that has stuck with me.

7. Speed Demon and Clockwork Dancer by J.R. Hume, published October 2013

The prose in this story is part of what makes it special, but one of the best anthropomorphic flash pieces I’ve read. J.R. is a long-time contributor to EDF. His Tears of an Android is another great read, but we picked that one before I started with the magazine, so it didn’t make this list.

8. Three Wishes by Cat Rambo, published August 2013

​We do not publish a lot of micro fiction at EDF. (Of the ​over 2,000 stories we’ve published, only around 30 have been 250 words or less.) I think Cat’s Three Wishes is the best of the bunch and it accomplishes the unusual feat of finding a twist on the well-worn three wishes theme that’ll moisten your eye.

9. The Widow’s Tale by J. Chris Lawrence, published October 2011

Chris has joined the EDF team as a slush reader for the time being, but I will look forward to the day he returns to the writing world so he can crank out more terrific pieces like this for us. (Well, hopefully for us.)

10. Idiot Robot by Shane Rhinewald, published July 2013

Comedy and science fiction seem to work well together on the big and little screen (Mork and Mindy, 3rd Rock, Futurama, etc.) but we have a tough time finding flash that pulls it off. Shane’s genre-blending piece finds the right balance and, like all good science fiction, speaks to issues beyond the words on the page.

If you are looking to have your story published by Every Day Fiction, you should first read our guidelines. It is embarrassingly apparent when people have not.

The key to publishing a story with us is to find that ideal mix of good writing, fresh ideas, and some sort of character development. We’ve had to say “no” to stories with knockout prose but which follow the “boy meets girl” trajectory with predictable outcomes. We’ve read pieces that are brilliant conceptually, but are delivered with a clumsy prose style that make them unsuitable. We love working with authors who don’t mind taking a bit of editorial direction and shaping their flash into something our magazine can publish.

____________

J.C. Towler is in the market for a gently-used Time Turner or Transmogrifier. He has been an editor at Every Day Fiction since 2010, but wears more hats than you could possibly be interested in knowing about.

 

by Aliza Greenblatt

Mark_Noce

A Technical Writer by day and a novelist by night, Mark Noce also finds time to write flash fiction. While his short pieces tend to be contemporary fiction, his novels consist of historical thrillers set in eras ranging from Medieval Wales to Caribbean piracy to the American Civil War, just to name a few. He loves reading, writing, traveling, gardening, sailing, and spending time with his family at home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Aliza Greenblatt: According to your blog, you write historical novels and contemporary short stories. How do you pick which time period to base your novels in? When you first started writing, did you begin with novels or short stories? What drew you to flash fiction?

Mark Noce: I love writing novels! Needless to say, I have so many ideas for books that I really wonder whether I can get them all written in one lifetime. When it comes to picking a time period or setting for a book, I actually prefer to try and write a single opening line first, and then let that tell me what kind of story I should write. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg conundrum, but it works for me. However, novels take a long time to write. In contrast, flash fiction gives me a wonderful release, because I can complete a single story within a day or two. It’s really satisfying to see a 1,000-word piece of fiction come to fruition while the inspiration is still fresh in my mind.

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

MN: It’s funny. There’s what I want to write, and what I actually write. I often think I’ll write a story about a subject I just read in a book or in a movie I saw, and then all of the sudden I’ll come up with an opening line for an entirely different story. I’ve learned not to fight it, and simply go with the flow. The story that comes out effortlessly in that first draft is the one I stick with to the end.

AG: This piece, to me, was a retelling of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight legend. It was also a lot more interesting because instead of being themed around chivalry, it was about facing your fears. Was that your intention? Why did you decide to make the two main protagonists kids?

MN: Meet Me at the Waterfront is definitely inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which in turn is inspired by the Celtic Irish legends of Cu Chulainn (which predate it by at least a thousand years). So when approaching such an old and revered tale, I had to put my own modern twist on it. I’m fascinated by myth, and I think childhood stories show myth in a revealing way. As children, our schoolyard encounters seem like epic events that we often forget or dismiss as we get older, but I believe such moments in our lives hold a power and a wisdom about who we really are underneath. The protagonists in this story needed to be children, because as kids we’re much more willing to accept the inexplicable elements of life that we often try to rationalize or ignore as we turn into adults.

AG: The main conflict of the story was about the appearance of bravery versus being afraid, but accepting the consequences anyway. Why did the narrator decide to stand his ground even though he was certain he was going to die?

MN: That’s hard to answer in a few words. I could write an entire essay on the hero’s motivations, but that’s why I like stories. In fewer words, I can give you the whole gist even though it may not be as direct as a series of longwinded statements. Why do we do anything? It’s simply in our natures, it’s who we are, and what we want. I don’t think the protagonist himself knew he would stand his ground until he actually did it. As the saying goes, it’s in the abyss that we find ourselves.

AG: What were some of the challenges of writing this story? What, if anything, did the flash format simplify? Do you have any favorite parts?

MN: Writing flash fiction has definitely sharpened all of my writing in general. In order to get under the 1,000-word limit, I have to slash anything unnecessary and still maintain the core of the story. As a novelist, it’s a truly invigorating experience, testing my abilities and helping me to get to the heart of the story with an immediacy that all good stories should have.

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?

MN: Oh, yes! My next flash fiction piece, Chronicles of the SFPD, comes out on June 21st at Every Day Fiction. In addition, I’m revising my next historical thriller entitled Between Two Fires, which you can learn more about here. If you like what you’ve seen of my work so far, please check them out. Thanks!

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

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!

____________

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

 

Next Page »