1. ”Map Reading” by Helen Rossiter, winner of Alice Munro Prize 2013, suggested by Rose Gardener. http://alicemunrofestival.ca/?p=840
2. “Drinking in the Loons” by Stephen MacKinnon in Carve Magazine suggested by David James. http://carvezine.com/2007-spring-mackinnon/
3. “Water Liars” by Barry Hannah in Garden and Gun Magazine suggested by David James. http://gardenandgun.com/article/water-liars-barry-hannah
4. “Pounds across America” by Meg Pokrass in Wigleaf Magazine suggested by David James. http://wigleaf.com/200811pounds.htm
5. “Turkey” by Andrew F. Sullivan in Hobart suggested by Neil Serven. http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/turkey
6. “The Visitation” by Brad Watson in The New Yorker suggested by David James. http://www.newyorker.com/…/06/090406fi_fiction_watson…
7. “The Sentence is Always Death” by Ken Gerber and Brian Hirt in Daily Science Fiction suggested by Von Rupert. http://dailysciencefiction.com/…/the-sentence-is-always…
8. “He Pulled Me From the Sea” by Frank Haberle in Smokelong Quarterly suggested by Jim Harrington. http://www.smokelong.com/flash/1816.asp
9. “Grackles” by Barry Basden posted on Fictionaut suggested by David James. http://fictionaut.com/stories/barry-basden/grackles.
10. “The Prune Eaters”by Alex Pruteanu in Brick Rhetoric suggested by Susan Tepper. http://brickrhetoric.org/2012/02/25/the-prune-eaters-by-alex-pruteanu/
11. “Remembering Awe” by Mira Desai in Pure Slush suggested by Susan Tepper. http://pureslush.webs.com/rememberingawe.htm
12. “Mother in the Trenches” by Robert Olen Butler in Narrative suggested by Susan Tepper. http://www.narrativemagazine.com/issues/stories-week-2009%E2%80%932010/mother-trenches
13. “Blackened Catfish” by Christian Bell in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2010/12/christian-bell.html
14. “Making it Right” by Jane Hammons in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2010/11/jane-hammons.html
15. “Why Aren’t There Fireflies” by Doug Bond in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2009/11/doug-bond.html
16. “Husk of Hare” by Christopher Allen at Referential Magazine suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://referentialmagazine.com/archive/fiction-2011/husk-of-hare/
17. “Speed Date” by Meg Tuite at Wigleaf suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://wigleaf.com/201404speed.htm
18. “Dead Letters” by Gary Moshimer in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/search/label/Gary%20Moshimer
19. “Heading West” by Martha Williams in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2010/08/martha-williams.html
20. “maybe” by DsD in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden.http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2009/11/dsd_21.html
21. “Losers” by Megan Lent at Shabby Doll House suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://shabbydollhouse.com/loser
22. “Dressing Room Fashion Show From An Ex-Fiancee in Iowa” by Mike Joyce at The Molotov Cocktail suggested by Robert Vaughan http://themolotovcocktail.com/volume-4/vol-4-issue-1/dressingroom/
23. “Tuesday Afternoon” by xTx in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2009/09/xtx_27.html
24. “Messes of Men” by Michael J Seidlinger’s (an excerpt) at Atticus Review suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://atticusreview.org/messes-of-men-an-excerpt/
25. “Forging” by Jane Hammons in kill author suggested by Carol Reid. http://killauthor.com/issuesixteen/jane-hammons/
26. “Triplets” by Len Kuntz at JMWW, Spring 2013 issue suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://jmww.150m.com/Kuntz.html
27. “Leaving Lena” Jeanann Verlee’ at JMWW Journal suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://jmww.150m.com/Verlee.html
28. “Last Night in Big Sur” by Sara Lippmann at Flycatcher Magazine suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://www.flycatcherjournal.org/2-lippmann-big-sur.php
29. “Healthy Start” by Etgar Keret in Tin House suggested by Alex Pruteanu. http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/13255/from-the-vault-etgar-keret.html
30. “Funky Little Blaze Orange Pork Pie Hats” by Michael Gillan Maxwell at Metazen suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://www.metazen.ca/?p=13207
31. “They Will Tear You Apart” by Bud Smith at Zygote in my Coffee suggested by Robert Vaughan. http://zygoteinmycoffee.com/100s/issue141theywilltearyou.html
32. “The Embassy of Cambodia” by Zadie Smith in The New Yorker suggested by Christopher James. http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2013/02/11/130211fi_fiction_smith?currentPage=all
33. “The Naturals”by Sam Lipsyte in The New Yorker suggested by Michael Dwayne Smith. http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2014/05/05/140505fi_fiction_lipsyte
34. “Safety” Mary Miller in Tin House suggested by Michael Dwayne Smith. http://www.tinhouse.com/blog/13018/flash-fridays-safety-by-mary-miller.html
35. “Is That Rain” by Leesa Cross-Smith in Spartan suggested by Michael Dwayne Smith. http://spartanlit.com/is-that-rain/
36. “Collision Course” by Stephen V. Ramey in Nib Magazine suggested by Susan Tepper. http://www.nibmagazine.com/2012/10/05/collision-course-stephen-ramey/
37. “The Abridged Biography of an American Sniper” by Linda Simoni-Wastila in Smokelog Quarterly suggested by Susan Tepper. http://www.smokelong.com/flash/lindasimoniwastila38q.asp
38. “I Named the Stars for You” by James Claffey in Blue Fifth Review suggested by Nate Tower. http://bluefifthreview.wordpress.com/
39. “Annette and Florian” by Beate Sigriddaughter in Eclectica suggested by Susan Tepper. http://www.eclectica.org/v17n4/sigriddaughter.html
40. “Piglets” by Rae Bryant published at Matter Press suggested by Christopher Allen. http://matterpress.com/journal/2013/02/25/piglets/
41. “What Rachel Didn’t Know” by Denise Howard Long in Burrow Press Review suggested by Liz Wallace. http://www.burrowpressreview.com/what-rachel-didnt-know-denise-h-long/
42. “The Cartoonist” by Kathy Fish (originally at elimae) suggested by Christopher Allen. http://kathy-fish.com/2014/05/06/microfiction-the-cartoonist/
43. “Heart” by Ethel Rohan at Connotation Press suggested by Christopher Allen. (scroll) http://www.connotationpress.com/fiction/1632-ethel-rohan-fiction
44. “Skirt” by Ethel Rohan at Connotation Press suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.connotationpress.com/fiction/1632-ethel-rohan-fiction
45. “Dying Juices” by Ethel Rohan at Connotation Press suggested by Christopher Allen. (scroll) http://www.connotationpress.com/fiction/1632-ethel-rohan-fiction
46. “Salvador Dali Eyes” by Douglas Campbell, winner of the Press 53 Flash Fiction Contest, published at SmokeLong Quarterly suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.smokelong.com/flash/douglascampbell43q.asp
47. “Swim” by Owen Vince, winner of the Press 53 Flash Fiction Contest, published at Prime Number Magazine suggested by Christopher Allen.http://www.primenumbermagazine.com/Issue47_PrimeDecimals3.html#anchor_700
48. “Lithopedion” by Randall Brown, winner of the Press 53 Flash Fiction Contest, published at Metazen suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.metazen.ca/?p=15302
49. “Puppy Wonderland” by Nadine Darling at Eclectica suggested by Timothy Gager. http://www.eclectica.org/v10n2/darling.html
50. “Written in the Bones” by Christopher M. Jones and illustrated by Cary Pietsch at Carey Draws suggested by Jane Hammons. http://careydraws.tumblr.com/post/74224444875/written-in-the-bones-new-comic-written-by
51. “Her Hair” by Erica Stern at Metazen suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.metazen.ca/?p=15813
52. “The Girls” by Rachel Sherman at n+1 suggested by Sara Lippmann. https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/the-girls/
53. “Shadow Play” by Stephen V Ramey at Every Day Fiction suggested by J. Chris Lawrence. http://www.everydayfiction.com/shadow-play-by-stephen-v-ramey/
54. “A Glimpse” by Jen Knox at Fiction Southeast suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://fictionsoutheast.com/fs/?p=5931
55. “A Woman on her Way to Work” by Chris Okum at Fictionaut suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://fictionaut.com/stories/chris-okum/a-woman-on-her-way-to-work
56. “Houseboy” by Sara Lippmann in Bull suggested by Jane Hammons. http://bullmensfiction.com/fiction/houseboy/
57. “Luring” by Jane Hammons at Tupelo Quarterly suggested by Sara Lippman. http://www.tupeloquarterly.com/luring-by-jane-hammons/
58. “We Three” by Frankie McMillan at Truck suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://halvard-johnson.blogspot.com/2013/08/frankie-mcmillan.html (scroll down, mid-page)
59. “Heartworm” by Zoe Meager in Penduline suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://www.pendulinepress.com/author-article-archives/heartworm-2/
60. “The Light Eater” by Kirsty Logan at the Scottish Book Trust suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/myfavouriteplace/womans-hour-on-bbc-radio-4/kirsty-logan
61. “The Hard Years” by Emma Lincoln Pattee in Carve Magazine suggested by Leesa Cross-Smith. http://carvezine.com/2013-winter-pattee/
62. “Steaks” by Guy Anthony de Marco at Every Day Fiction suggested by Kathy Kingston. http://www.everydayfiction.com/steaks-by-guy-anthony-de-marco/
63. “Birthday Cake” by Rayne Gasper in Word Riot suggested by Leesa Cross-Smith. http://www.wordriot.org/archives/6775
64. “The Siege Of Eristavis” by Tara Isabella Burton in the Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review suggested by Virgie Townsend. http://thedoctortjeckleburgreview.com/2013/03/25/fiction-the-siege-of-eristavis/
65. “See Jane” by Kathy Fish in Together We Can Bury It suggested by Virgie Townsend. http://kathy-fish.com/2014/04/06/flash-fiction-see-jane/
66. “Mornings with Teenage Genius” by Jacob Drud, at Every Day Fiction suggested by Sarah Crysl Akhtar. http://www.everydayfiction.com/mornings-with-teenage-genius-by-jakob-drud/
67. “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” by A. Merc Rustad in Scigentasy suggested by Alexis A. Hunter. http://www.scigentasy.com/how-to-become-a-robot/…
68. “The Art of Memory” by Annam Manthiram in Camroc Press Review suggested by Barry Basden. http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2010/07/annam-manthiram.html
69. “Tenderoni” by Kathy Fish at Smokelong Quarterly suggested by Ellen Parker. http://www.smokelong.com/flash/kathyfish22.asp
70. “The Meat Sweats” by Michael Czyzniejewski in SmokeLong Quarterly suggested by Matthew Dexter. http://www.smokelong.com/flash/michaelczyzniejewski42q.asp
71. “Treading Water” by Amanda Miska in Storychord suggested by Leesa Cross-Smith. http://www.storychord.com/2014/04/issue-81-amanda-miska-georgia-ponirakou.html
72. “Birdman” by Gary Moshimer at Necessary Fiction suggested by Matthew Dexter. http://necessaryfiction.com/stories/GaryMoshimerBirdman
73. “Year of the Queerling” by Joseph Dante at Metazen suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.metazen.ca/?p=15641
74. “A Haunt of Memory” by Tara Masih at Awkword Paper Cut in video-story form suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://www.awkwordpapercut.com/tara-l-masih-2013-07.html
75. “Providence” by Christopher Allen at Pure Slush suggested by Michelle Elvy. http://pureslush.webs.com/providence.htm
76. “Dancing with the One-Armed Gal” by Tim Gautreaux in Zoetrope All-Story suggested by David James. http://www.all-story.com/issues.cgi?action=show_story&story_id=42&part=all
77.”Natural History” by Daniel Enjay Wong at Metazen suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.metazen.ca/?p=15132
78. “Like a Family” by Meg Pokrass in Juked suggested by Christopher Allen. http://www.juked.com/2009/03/likeafamily.asp
79. “Summer of Pinbugs” by Kate Folk at Smokelong Quarterly suggested by Gay Degani. http://smokelong.com/flash/katefolk42.asp
80. “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl. http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/lamb.html
81. “Mama Maggie’s Pies” by Leanne Gregg in Contraposition Magazine suggested by Mike Joyce. http://contrapositionmagazine.com/2014/05/27/mama-maggies-pies-by-leanne-gregg/
82 “The Belt” by Julie Innis in Underground Voices suggested by Jane Hammons. http://www.undergroundvoices.com/UVInnisJulie.htm
83. “Projection” by Lisa Mecham from Cheap Pop suggested by Amanda Miska. http://www.cheappoplit.com/home/2014/3/7/projection-lisa-mecham
84. “Sport” by Carol Reid in Stymie suggested by Jane Hammons. http://www.stymiemag.com/2013/03/carol-reid-sport-fiction.html
85. “Desilu, Three Cameras” by Alicia Gifford in FRiGG Magazine suggested by Dave Clapper. http://friggmagazine.com/issueseventeen/poemsstories/fiction/Gifford/Desilu.htm
86. “The Woods Behind” by Marek Jones in Literary Orphans suggested by Jane Hammons. http://www.literaryorphans.org/playdb/the-woods-behind-by-marek-jones/
87. “Every Time a Fairy Gets Laid” by Ryan W. Bradley originally in Space Squid suggested by DaveClapper. http://fictionaut.com/stories/ryan-w-bradley/every-time-a-fairy-gets-laid
88. “Mobility” by Ellen Parker in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts suggested by Dave Clapper. http://matterpress.com/journal/2011/08/26/mobility/
89. “The Vegetarian Eats the Vegan: Five Scenarios” by Michael Czyzniejewski in PANK suggested by Dave Clapper. http://pankmagazine.com/piece/the-vegetarian-eats-the-vegan-five-scenarios/
90. “Aquarium” by Nadine Darling in SmokeLong Quarterly suggested by Dave Clapper. So many lines in it are eminently quotable. http://smokelong.com/flash/4047.asp
91. “Stray Dogs” by Steven Gullion in Night Train suggested by Dave Clapper. http://www.nighttrainmagazine.com/pdfs/gullion3.pdf
92 “Waiting for the Grassy Drop” by James Claffey in The Manifest Station suggested by Mike Joyce. http://themanifeststation.net/2014/04/21/waiting-for-the-grassy-drop-by-james-claffey/
93. “The Sun Eaters” by Alex Pruteanu published in The Monarch Review suggested by Carol Reid. http://www.themonarchreview.org/the-sun-eaters/
94.”Storm in a Teacup” by Dan Powell published at Carve Magazine suggested by Christopher Allen. http://carvezine.com/2013-spring-powell/
95. “A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf in public domain suggested by Christopher Allen. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91h/chapter1.html
96. “This Program Contains Actual Surgical Procedures” by Roxane Gay at Twelve Stories suggested by Matthew Dexter. http://www.readtwelvestories.com/gay2/
97. “Ditch” by Eric Beetner at Thug Lit suggested by Matthew Dexter. http://www.thuglit.com/zine/thug30/docs/ditch.pdf
98. . “One Trip Abroad” by F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested by Matthew Dexter. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzgerald/f_scott/short/chapter33.html
99. “Show-and-Tell” by George Singleton in Atlantic Monthly suggested by David James. http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2001/07/singleton.htm
100. “The Guy” by Isaac Boone Davis at Two Hawks Quarterly suggested by Virgie Townsend. http://twohawksquarterly.com/2013/12/04/the-guy-by-isaac-davis/
101. “The Good Book” by Cynthia Larsen at Hobart Pulp suggested by Meg Pokrass. http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/the-good-book
102. “While You Were Away” by Tara Laskowski in matchbook suggested by Gay Degani. http://www.matchbooklitmag.com/laskowski.html
103. “A Few Bedbugs” by Susan Tepper in Cape Fear Review suggested by Bonnie ZoBell. http://capefearreview.com/?p=236
by Kathy Fish
Suppose you’re a shy person in a big family and everyone’s a talker but you. And you’re happy to sit on the periphery, listening, but you also know that you have something to say. In your own head, your stories don’t sound like theirs, and hearing your voice out loud makes you nervous and you don’t like it when everyone turns their heads and looks at you like what, what, speak up! So you keep your stories inside yourself.
You are told you are too forgetful. You are told you are absent-minded. You are told you spend too much time daydreaming. Your teachers wish you could just finish what you start.
Your brother can tell the story of the long family road trip as if it happened last week. But you hardly remember where you were going or the towns you stopped in or the relatives you saw. What you do remember is the tone of your father’s voice the third time he said your mother’s name and the exact expression on her face when she finally looked up at him. How the wind from the open car window boxed your face and what your brother, sitting next to you, smelled like. (He smelled like turnips.)
But you don’t know the why of any of it and you want to, desperately. You only know how that moment made you feel. And the only thing that matters is getting it down. Making it breathe again. You could write a long story around that moment. You could add a bunch of dialogue and characters and incidences, but you fear that what you most want to say will get lost in all that.
So you give yourself a few hundred words, tops. And you have to work a very long time to get it right. You hone and you fuss and you search for exactly the right words, but you don’t mind because it’s important. You have found the closest approximation to the way your mind works and a way to say what you most want to talk about: The moments. The stillness and what shatters the stillness. The unguarded way people look at each other sometimes. The filled-to-bursting seconds before everything changes. The small, ugly, beautiful flashes of life.
Kathy Fish‘s stories have been published in Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Guernica, New World Writing, and elsewhere. Her work is forthcoming in The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers, (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). She is the author of three short fiction collections, Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012), Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011), and a chapbook in A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (Rose Metal Press, 2008).
by Kathy Fish
Linda Simoni-Wastila was the first-place winner in FFC’s 2013 String of 10 Contest, with her story “After the Tsunami”. The challenge was to use four of the ten prompt words in a 250 or fewer word story. The word choices were: EVENING – QUARRY – ACCENT – ROSE – TEAR – MINUTE –GRAVE – CLOSE – ENTRANCE – BOW. An aphorism was provided for inspiration, but not necessarily to be used in the story. This contest offered, “I want to put a ding in the universe” – Steve Job.
To find out more about the contest, go to the String-of-10 FIVE Guidelines. (http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/string-of-10-five-starts-feb-3/)
Linda Simoni-Wastila writes from Baltimore, where she also professes, mothers, and gives a damn. You can find her stuff at Smokelong Quarterly, Monkeybicycle, Scissors and Spackle, MiCrow, The Sun, Blue Five Notebook, The Poet’s Market 2013, Hoot, Connotation Press, Baker’s Dozen, Camroc Press Review, Right Hand Pointing, Every Day Fiction, and Nanoism, among others. Senior Fiction Editor at JMWW, she slogs one word at a time towards her MA in Creative Writing at Johns Hopkins and two novels-in-progress. In between sentences, when she can’t sleep, she blogs at http://linda-leftbrainwrite.blogspot.
Linda’s first-place story will be published in early May at Every Day Fiction. Following is her interview with String-of-10 guest judge, Kathy Fish.
Kathy Fish: Linda, first I’d like to say again how much I admire this story. You have written a resonant and beautiful story within a very tight word limit. I came away feeling so much emotion. Please share how you came to write this story. I’m particularly interested in knowing whether you had any direct or indirect experience with Japan, its culture, the tsunami, Japanese fighter pilots, etc. to draw upon in writing it.
Linda Wastila: Thank you Kathy. Your words mean a lot to me, coming from the Reigning Queen of Small Fictions!
The idea for this story originated in April 2011, a few days after the earthquake and its evil spawn the tsunami hit Japan. Like the rest of the world, I felt stunned, helpless, and hopeless watching the news stream on the television. A particular image of one of the nuclear reactors, which correspondents were concerned was about to blow, horrified me: black sooty smoke churning from the bottom of reactor and at the top, a man in fire gear holding a hose. I remember thinking, how futile, how brave. I wondered what kind of person could find the courage needed to try to cool down such a massive mess. I keep a lot of notebooks, including one filled with remnants of sentences, thoughts, images—it is my go-to book for ideas. So I wrote that day: “The smoky cloud obscures the setting sun. Two days ago, when the authorities called for all men to report to the reactor, I wanted to run away.” These lines jumpstarted the story.
I have never traveled to Japan, though I have always wanted to. The island and its people fascinate me, especially history involving World War II. I drew on my long-standing interest in that war to help flesh out the story. The research for this story probably took as long as the actual writing and revision.
KF: In your opening sentence you compare the coiled hose to a “fat serpent.” Please share your intent, as writer, opening with such a powerful image in connection with the narrator’s efforts to “be a savior for Japan.”
LW: I think I got lucky on that first sentence—it did not change during revision. This was how I imagined this character in my mind, based largely on that photographic image: standing on the precipice on the reactor, swallowed in smoke, holding a hose fat with life-saving water.
That said, I am fascinated with the symbolism of serpents, the good-evil paradox of this animal. And that sort of plays into the ethical dilemma of the character having to define his own personal honor, and the flip side of his choice. So I guess there is something to be said about stuff from the subconscious bubbling up during the writing.
KF: The final paragraph is stunning. I appreciate the simplicity and power of the last sentence. The reader is left reflecting on the meaning of honor for the narrator, how he must feel a need to restore honor to his family after his grandfather’s failure to hurl himself to his death in the war by hurling himself to his own eventual death. You handle this very delicately. Can you talk a little about how it was writing that final paragraph. Did you have to grapple with conveying the emotion? The restraint there feels so natural and effortless.
LW: Wow, thank you. In writing such small pieces, I often find summing up the story through image and detail lends it more emotional impact. The simple act of repetition—the hose, the wife’s hands cradling the tea cup, the withered flowers—helps heighten emotional tension, gives the story resonance. That said, I spent more time writing and rewriting the last two sentences than the entire rest of the story. With the ending, I was aiming for a small punch in the gut, aiming for the reader to feel the character’s horrific dilemma.
KF: Absolutely agree, regarding powerful images. And you really delivered on that punch in the gut, Linda. I felt it. Okay, lastly, could you share any advice or tips or new writers?
LW: Keep a notebook of ideas, thoughts, snippets of dialogue, images. When reviewing, they can spark all sorts of stories, a sort of portable prompt book. There are some who subscribe to the idea that in flash fiction, there is not a lot of room to develop character, so many flash stories are more plot-based. I believe finding a way to form a character in short stories through characteristics and traits (rather than description of hair, body type, etc) provides emotional resonance to small fictions. The devil is in the telling details. And titles are so important. They carry a lot of weight in small works. The title has to do double, even triple duty, in setting time, place, tone.
KF: Terrific advice! Thanks so much for your time and for writing such an amazing story, Linda.
Flash fiction pioneer, Kathy Fish, was guest judge this year for the String-of-10 Contest. Kathy’s short fiction has appeared in Indiana Review, The Denver Quarterly, New South, Quick Fiction, Guernica, Slice
and elsewhere. She was the guest editor of Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2010
. She is the author of three collections of short fiction: a chapbook of flash fiction in the chapbook collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women
(Rose Metal Press, 2008
), Wild Life
(Matter Press, 2011
) and Together We Can Bury It
, the 2nd printing of which is forthcoming from The Lit Pub
by Karen Nelson
Spring came in like a lion – at least at FFC – with lots of changes and exciting news!
We bid “bon voyage” to Editor Emeritus, Gay Degani, as she cruises on to spend more time with her writing (don’t worry, we’ll be seeing her in special cameo appearances to come), and we welcomed two new staff members: Yours Truly as Technical Editor, and Andree Robinson-Neal as staff writer.
The big news for flash fiction fans was the announcement of the String-of-10 Contest winners! Congratulations go out to Linda Simoni-Wastila, Robert Vaughan, Folly Blaine, Stephen Ramey, and the other finalists – with a huge thanks to Kathy Fish for guest judging! The fifth installment of the competition saw more participants than ever, and the coming year promises to be an inspiring one.
Flash Fiction Chronicles has a way of getting people to talk, and we enjoyed getting to know the talents of industry writers, editors, and publishers. Rohini Gupta advised us on The Best Way to Get Ideas (hint: do nothing), while Matt Potter of Pure Slush shared his quirky themed anthologies.
Susan Tepper gave us insight on how her many jobs prior to studying writing have culminated in four novels.
In the 80’s I was singing with any band who’d have me. I did rock, country, folk, pop, you name it. Well, not blues. I couldn’t get a handle on blues music though I love it intensely. I think all the arts intertwine and are feeders for each other. I loved singing with the bands. I loved the smoky rooms, purply-blue lights, stage, audience, musicians. The intensity of it all. It’s a sexy thing, being the girl singer in a band. Sometimes it got a bit dangerous, a fight would break out in the audience or some other weirdness. I remember ducking behind a bar in Keansburg,New Jersey, to wait out a bar brawl. Many of those experiences appeared years later on the page when I turned to writing. I suppose it was a way of re-living those wild times.
Adam Robinson of Chapbook Genius reminded us that “Chapbooks are supposed to be FUN” and gave us some great examples of this medium.
Our own Jim Harrington brought us Back to Basics by attempting (once again) to Define the Undefinable. What is flash fiction? He shared an apt description from Randall Brown, that it is “a very tiny thing that doesn’t want to be anything else”.
Looking for a press that fits your particular style? J.A. Tyler of Mud Luscious Press shared their “Nephews” style of chapbooks that, well, you’d better click HERE to see for yourself…
Michael Salesses is all about Writing with Restraint. His latest book I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying utilizes the best of flash fiction craft, which he relates to everything being important because the form is so concise.
Reading has everything to do with writing, and Creative Writing Mentor Abha Iyengar has lots of practical tips for jumping in (and a few for sending yourself long messages while traveling. Check it out. It’s worth it.)
Finally, everybody likes the idea of a book trailer, but only Mark Budman can show how it’s done. Don’t miss his Key Points in this interactive article that will have you crafting your own commercials in no time!
I hope you enjoyed the month of March as much as I did, and found a little inspiration on the pages of Flash Fiction Chronicles. Visit these authors and learn from fellow artists to continually hone your craft.
Karen Nelson is the Technical Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles, and also works as Curriculum Coordinator for Goldminds Publishing. Her writing can be found in numerous niche magazines and educational curriculum, as well as via her blog (kbnelson.wordpress.com). She homeschools her two children at their Ozarks hobby farm, where they look forward to every day bringing fresh eggs and fresh ideas!
CONGRATULATIONS go out to LINDA SIMONI-WASTILA whose story, “After the Tsunami”
has been selected by Guest Judge Kathy Fish as the FIRST PLACE WINNER of the String-of-10 Five Flash Fiction Contest.
“After the Tsunami” will be published in April at Every Day Fiction. “A Gauze, A Medical Dressing, A Scrim” by Robert Vaughan and “Before the Fireworks” by Folly Blaine have placed Second and Third respectively and will be published in April at Flash Fiction Chronicles. (Exact publications dates to be arranged.) The Honorable Mentions and Finalists will not be published by Every Day Fiction nor by Flash Fiction Chronicles, but we are positive they will find a home for their wonderful work in short order.
You’ll find a complete list of Winners and Finalists (in alphabetical order) plus an interview with Kathy Fish below.
Top Three Winners
1st Place “After The Tsunami” by Linda Simoni-Wastila
2nd Place “A Gauze, A Medical Dressing, A Scrim” by Robert Vaughan
3rd Place “Before the Fireworks” by Folly Blaine
Patricia McFarland Memorial Prize
Most effective incorporation of the theme of freedom
“Jump” by Stephen Ramey
“Crow Party” by Susan Gabrielle
“Invincible” by Victoria Bond
“Jump” by Stephen Ramey
“Quantum Kiss” by Kieran Marsh
“Beautiful Stranger” by Tamara Walsh
“Can’t Be Sad with Geese” by Michelle Donahue
“Cast Away” by Jillian Schmidt
“How We Became Friends” by Preston Randall
“In the Evening, a Star Reflects” by Isabella Grabski
“Infinite” by Nu Yang
“Phantom Springs Cave” by John C. Mannone
“Quarry Boys” by Lee Sang
“Remembered One” by Alexis Hunter
“The Connoisseur” by Erik Goranson
“The Quarry” by Annie Noblin
“The Quarry” by Elizabeth Coleman
“The Wall” by Jennifer Ruth Jackson
“They Were Not a Birthday Present” by Alexandra Mendelsohn
Congratulations to all who entered the String-of-10 FIVE Flash Fiction Contest.
We received over 200 entries this year!
Interview with Guest Judge Kathy Fish
by Gay Degani
We at Flash Fiction Chronicles are honored to have flash fiction pioneer, Kathy Fish, as our guest judge this year. Kathy’s short fiction has appeared in Indiana Review, The Denver Quarterly, New South, Quick Fiction, Guernica, Slice and elsewhere. She was the guest editor of Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2010. She is the author of three collections of short fiction: a chapbook of flash fiction in the chapbook collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (Rose Metal Press, 2008), Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011) and Together We Can Bury It, the 2nd printing of which is forthcoming from The Lit Pub.
Gay Degani: What do you look for when you are judging a contest?
Kathy Fish: On first read, it’s just smooth prose and a lack of anything cliched or hackneyed or pat. Those stories make it to the second pass. Then I get a little pickier. What I’m looking for is something that stands out in terms of beautiful writing, a great story, originality, etc.
GD: How aware were you as you read that the entries came from a specific prompt? How did working from the same prompt affect the originality of the pieces? Or did they?
KF: I knew ahead of time there were prompt words. I didn’t pay much attention to what the prompt words were, but it becomes clear, especially in such short pieces, the words that are repeated. I know that “grave” as a prompt word resulted in graveyard stories, ghost stories and so forth. Anytime there is a grouping of prompt words it forms something subconscious in the writer’s brain I think. “Grave”, “rose” and “evening” –those words lend themselves so easily to the dark and the gothic sort of tales. There was some similarity in tone through the stories.
GD: What was it about the winning story that made you decide, “This is it?”
KF: First of all, it’s gorgeously written. And I admired the scope of it, how it took on this huge event, and made it so deeply personal. In the space of a mere 250 words the writer took on cataclysm, culture, and personal tragedy, weaving these all together seamlessly and gracefully. The story made me feel and think. It stayed with me. I pretty much knew on first read this one would be in the top 3.
GD: Do you have any lines or segments or characters that stood out for you in the top three stories? And why?
KF: “After The Tsunami” by Linda Simoni-Wastila was such a standout for me in all ways. The prose was precise and beautiful and I felt great care was taken in conveying the character. Past and present are intricately woven. As a flash it felt cinematic, epic, full of story and emotional depth. I could go on and on.
The playfulness of approach and language and weirdness of Robert Vaughan’s “A Gauze, A Medical Dressing, A Scrim” just thrilled me. I loved the sound of this piece. Things like: “pulley-pails through the laundry drop”. I love that! This one just got progressively weirder. Like a collaboration between Wes Anderson and David Lynch.
What I admired about Folly Blaine’s “Before the Fireworks” was how simply she allowed the scene to unfold. The prose is clear and uncluttered. Blaine gives us a gentle exchange between two characters, co-workers and friends, and the small kindnesses they show each other, in a quiet moment on the cusp of big change for one of them. This story could so easily have been overplayed but it wasn’t.
GD: What should writers consider when entering a contest similar to this? What strategies would you suggest?
KF: I’m not sure about strategies. I think it’s all about submitting the best story you can write. I would say though in a case where all the entrants are working with the same set of words it might be an advantage to go against your first inclination, which may also be everyone else’s first inclination. So maybe consider using the word “grave” as an adjective, or the word “quarry” as a verb and so forth. Going against expectation.
GD: What are you currently working on?
KF: I’m writing short stories (not flash) these days and really loving it. I’m just this week sending out my first full-length short story in a very long time. Feels good.
Gay Degani has published on-line and in print including each of The Best of Every Day Fiction editions (fourth forthcoming) and her own collection, Pomegranate Stories. She is the retiring founder-editor of EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles, a staff editor at Smokelong Quarterly, and blogs at Words in Place where a list of her online and print fiction can be found. Nominated twice for a Pushcart, her story, “Something about L.A,” won the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize and placed 23rd out of 7000 entries with “Mischief” in 13th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. It will be published in a special competition collection.