Monday, August 31, 2009

EDF's September Calendar

Sep 1 Jonathan Pinnock Hidden Shallows
Sep 2 Sarah Hilary Burial of the Bells
Sep 3 Clinton Lawrence The Old City
Sep 4 Joel Willans A Friggin’ Star
Sep 5 Margaret Karmazin Diamonds in the Rough
Sep 6 Ellie Tupper Mandala: A Dish of Lime-Vanilla Ice
Sep 7 KM Rockwood Shredded
Sep 8 James Hartley Breakfast
Sep 9 Gargi Mehra The Beauty
Sep 10 Ben Loory The Wall
Sep 11 Melody Beacham Under My Skin
Sep 12 John Jasper Owens Mute Point
Sep 13 Fred Warren Weightless
Sep 14 Sheila R. Pierson Steak and Potatoes
Sep 15 Krystyna Smallman Consuming
Sep 16 Martin Turton Minding Matthew
Sep 17 Lori Simeunovic In the Cards
Sep 18 Anna Sykora Your Guarantee of a Human Bean
Sep 19 Aaron Polson How to Burn a House
Sep 20 A. S. Andrews Alien Life
Sep 21 Garry Grierson The Bull and Bucket UFO
Sep 22 Eric Del Carlo Frankly
Sep 23 Lossie Reeves Addie and Boog
Sep 24 Ann Wilkes Grey Drive
Sep 25 Cathryn Grant So Lucky
Sep 26 John Wiswell Frankenstein’s Monsters
Sep 27 Cate Gardner Strange Tooth
Sep 28 Debra Easterling Annapolis Eyes
Sep 29 Lee Hughes The Backtrack
Sep 30 Oonah V Joslin The Devil’s Within


It's August 31 and all hint submissions need to be sent to Robert Swartwood, editor of the H.H. Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction by midnight EDT tonight. The link to the guidelines is here. Check it out and get to work.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dog Party Amidst the Smoke and Ash

Rodeo and the Tongue
Can you spot the racing dogs?
Rodeo wet and thirsty!
Rodeo and Harley
Rodeo, Ian, Will, Lucy, and Sky
Lucy and Sky
Rodeo says, Thanks for coming.  BYE NOW.
Rodeo had a Dog Party yesterday. The guests included Harley and Ian, two wild and wacky Weimaraners; Lucy, whose provenence is cloaked in shady secrets despite her grand dame manners, and Sky of the azure blue eyes who conjures up summer ranch adventures since that's where she came from. These aren't great pictures since the dogs were roiling all over the yard, in and out of the pool, dashing in circles as if there was a rabbit on a stick somewhere about 10 feet in front of them. But I have to share because, well, it was hilarious and Hillary (Rodeo's MOM) wasn't here.

Yes, Danielle, I'm getting back to work.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

La Canada Fire through Will's Eyes

Will's photos of the La Canada fire, his house in the path. Will and Lynne spent much of their night up on their roof. Here's what Will had to say on FACEBOOK this morning.

Lots of activity during the night in our little neighborhood. The fire burning its way down the hill toward us. Neighbors evacuating. As we watched from our roof we saw others silently standing or sitting on their roofs...watching, waiting. A flare-up here, a pop, a crackle...heat. As light comes so does hope that today's aerial assault will be victorious.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Bulletins

The hills of La Canada are going up in flames. The Moffitts are packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice. This is serious stuff. Pray for everyone in the SoCal fires.

Second, hmmmm. Over at Robert Swartwood's he's giving away a free copy of the "an old issue of Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, issue 33, published in 2004, which contains my [Rob's] story “Persistence” …"If you comment on his post about something you are persistent about, he will enter your name in a drawing to win a copy of the magazine. SIGNED.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rim Shot at 3 A.M. + String of 10 INFO!! + Hint, Hint! It's almost over!


I feel so lucky to have a story at 3 A.M. Check it out when you have time. Rim Shot at 3 A.M, click here to read: RIM SHOT.

And I've been reading contest entries for the FFC String of 10 contest--our first ever!!! This weekend I sent the top eleven out to six other judges to rank them from thebest to least-best and make comments. Hopefully, I will receive these back by the end of this week and be able to notify everyone as to the results sometime next week.

These observations are more about me and my reading experience than about any one entry. However, I am sharing them with you so that if and when we sponsor a fresh new contest, those who read this and enter will be at a distinct advantage.

All fiction stories benefit from a well-thought out title. A title should reflect the overall story if possible. One classic rule says that a title should be the character's name (Antony and Cleopatra, Ethan Frome, Moby Dick) or the setting (Howard's End, Mill on the Floss, Our Town), both character and setting (The Old Man and the Sea, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), or they reveal theme, in abstraction (Sound and the Fury, War and Peace, From Here to Eternity) or suggest theme in a specific object or event (The Golden Bowl, Light in August, The Sheltering Sky), or character or setting that reflect theme (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Paradise Lost, The Grapes of Wrath).

Titles should enhance the story, add to it in some way, yet not telegraph so much that there is no surprise left at the end. Specific ambiguity? Is that possible? I think so. This is even more important when writing short fiction. Whenever there is a word limit as in this 250-word contest, every word MUST count. The title gives the writer another way to set up, entice, and pay-off the reader, and title words are FREE, above and beyond the word count of the work itself. So use a title. Writing isn't just random thoughts. It's thinking carefully about all the ways you can help the reader have an emotional response to your story.

2. Surprise
Many stories lack surprise and surprise is what jolts a reader into having an emotional response. I don't mean just a twist ending either. Surprise is more than that.

First, surprise comes to the reader when a setting is specific and interesting. When there is no setting established at all, the reader is left in a blank empty space, and readers, like Mother Nature, abhor a void. A writer can engage a reader with a few small details that create a unique place in which the story can exist.

Second, surprise comes to the reader when a character is unique. When there is something different than we expect about the person, his attitude, his way of speaking, even his appearance. A wise teacher once told me (and our class) to always do something unique to a character, give him a headache, a limp, a funny haircut that reflects in some way who that person is. Actually he used "a toothache" as an example, and I watched a movie in which the character had a toothache throughout and that toothache paid off in the end in his own behaviour. I thought aha, Gordon's toothache! Dang. I can't remember what it was, something by Russell Banks I think.

Third, surprise --and delight--happen when the language is full of vivid specific detail, images that pop off the page, clear and precise and visual.

Fourth, surprise happens when an ending provides both the unexpected and a sense of the inevitable. The reader might guess from the title, the specific character traits of the hero, the dangerous setting, that the story may end badly, but the reader should not know the exact details of that ending (I am thinking here of The Old Man and the Sea here or Of Mice and Men).

It is in the details that the reader will be surprised and satisfied because though the writer may have promised an unhappy ending, he ends it with epiphany or an unthought-of-sadness. The twist must NOT be the pulling out of a gun that the reader didn't know a villain had, but rather the pulling out of the gun the reader knew he had, and then decides not to fire.

So yes, twist the ending, but don't create surprise with a non-sequiter. Classic rule from Master Chekov: If there is a gun on the mantle in the beginning, use it by the end. And the reverse is also true, if you are going to use a gun in the end, put it on the mantle in the beginning, but do it all subtly because...

The real surprise should come with the revelation of the human spirit. We need to know the person, the character a little before we can appreciate the surprise. Can it be done in 250 words? Yes.

3) Cliched story plots
Third and last observation for today. It's hard for a new writerto know what a cliched plot is. Everything feels new to him because he hasn't written before. But what's new to the writer isn't necessarily new to the reader, especially an editor. Therefore if you are going to write about illness, revenge, execution, suicide, dead mothers, boy meets girl, Martians landing on the earth, and football quarterbacks, etc, then it is important to pay attention to the details of your story and create unique characters, unusual settings, screwy attitudes, a strong identifiable voice, anything that lifts the cliched plot above the mundane. Most of the time this means a lot of writing practice and thoughtful revision. Reading every line, every word, and doing the revision without overworking it. Not easy, but it comes with working at it every day, just like playing the basoon.

The classic belief in storytelling is that there are only 5-12-24 actual plots in the world, and that's true on some levels. It's what the writer brings to a cliched story that makes it good. This has been proven over and over by Will S, Charlie D, John S, Edith W, Charlotte B, Tommy Hardy, Margaret A, Carole S, Willie F, and even Stephen K.


August 31 is rapidly approaching and all hint submissions will need to be sent to Robert Swartwood, editor of the H.H. Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction soon. the link to the guidelines is above. Check it out and get to work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

String of 10 Over except for the rest of it

I'm back from vacation and pleased to announce the Flash Fiction Chronicles String-of-10 contest received 50 entries. In the internet world, that's not all that many, but FFC is relatively new and we are not HIT champions yet, so I'm pleased.

I've copied and pasted all the entries into MSWord, stripped off names, done word-count checks, (three of the entries were over the 250 word-count limit. Sorry you guys, but you can't win), printed them, shuffled them up, and set them aside.

I'll read them this week-end after I forget all the stray words and titles that caught my eye during the strip-it-of-ID process. Thank goodness, at my age, forgetfulness is without choice!

After I select the top 10, I will forward them to judges to help pick the top three. Each judge will rank the stories I send them from #1 to #10, making their absolute favorite #1, second favorite #2, 3rd #3, down the line. Adding up the "rankings" from each judge will give us the top three winners. The most #1 votes will yield the lowest score and that will be our 1st Place winner, second lowest score will yield 2nd Place, and third lowest 3rd Place. All our decisions are final!

My goal is to comment on all of the pieces (50!!) briefly, so this exercise can be fruitful for everyone, I hope. Remember my comments will be my opinion and if you disagree with anything I might tell you, that's cool. Everyone has a different aesthetic and what doesn't work for me may very well work fabulously for someone else.

With that in mind, please don't email me back with angry protestations. If I receive nasty notes re comments, I will not comment in the future. And I'm hoping that we will be able to do the String of 10 again in the future.

What most writers want and need is feedback so they can become better at the keyboard. A kind word about what works and a clue as to why it doesn't is like Kool-aide to a hummingbird.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009



Don't forget the String-of-10 Contest is extended until Tuesday, August 18, Midnight, PDT! 250-words or less using the contest prompt. Click here for guides: GUIDELINES

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Deadline for String of 10 has been extended to Midnight 8/18/09

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, AT 12 AM PDT. This extension is due to a server malfunction that occurred during the first two or three days of the contest. We apologize to those who may have had their emailed submissions returned.

Flash Fiction Chronicles is having its very first contest for the best 250-word story written from the String of 10* ( words and phrases) posted below.


1st Place Winner will have his or her story published at Every Day Fiction in October and be paid the standard payment of $3.00 per story. A copy of The Best of Every Day Fiction, 2008 will also be awarded to the winner as well as an "I Write Every Day" t-shirt (see post before this one).

2nd and 3rd Place Winners will have their stories published at Flash Fiction Chronicles in October. There is no payment for publication at Flash Fiction Chronicles. A copy of The Best of Every Day Fiction, 2008 will also be awarded to both 2nd and 3rd place winners.


  1. Read the contest's String of 10 Writing Prompt posted below*, on the FFC Daily Prompt Page, or at Gay Degani's Author Thread at Every Day Fiction.

  2. The contest is open to stories of up to 250 words. Entries over the word limitation will be disregarded. There is no entry fee.

  3. Submit via email addressed to All entries must be copy and pasted into the body of the email. No attachments will be opened.

  4. You may enter as many 3 separate and different stories up to 250-words each. All three must contain at least four words from the String of 10. Any stories without at least four words from the string of 10 will be disregarded.

  5. All entries must be in English, original, unpublished, and not submitted or accepted elsewhere at the time of submission. Flash Fiction Chronicles/Every Day Fiction/Every Day Publishing reserves one-time publication rights to the 1st- through-3rd winning entries to be published at Every Day Fiction and Flash Fiction Chronicles.

  6. Entries must be received via email by Midnight PDT Tuesday, August 18, 2009. Winners will be notified by September 20. Publication will follow in October.

Keep in mind: What matters most is your story, not the prompt words or quotation. However at least four words from the prompt must be used.




And when is there time to remember, to sift, to weigh, to estimate, to total? --Tillie Olsen

Saturday, August 08, 2009

FFChronicles First String-of-10 Contest

For the week of August 8 through August 16, instead of a new prompt each day from Daily Prompts,we are having our very first contest for the best 250-word story written from the String of 10* ( words and phrases) posted at Flash Fiction Chronicles.


1st Place Winner will have his or her story published at Every Day Fiction in October and be paid the standard payment of $3.00 per story. A copy of The Best of Every Day Fiction, 2008 will also be awarded to the winner as well as an “I Write Every Day” t-shirt.
2nd and 3rd Place Winners will have their stories published at Flash Fiction Chronicles in October. There is no payment for publication at Flash Fiction Chronicles. A copy of The Best of Every Day Fiction, 2008 will also be awarded to both 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Hints for Success in Submissions to Hint Antho

THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY Hint Fiction Submission period has officially begun.

1) Don't post your entries here at Flash Fiction Chronicles.

2) Email entries to

3) Read Robert Swartwood's guidelines. As with all submissions in the writing world, failure to follow the guidelines will lead you down the hopelessly dark road to not being read and appreciated. Guidelines are here: HINT FICTION GUIDELINES

4) Send your best work: It's August 2, only the second day after the editor began accepting submissions, and Rob has received over 150+.

5) Attention: South Dakota residents. Gleaned from Robert Swartwood's TWITTERAGE:

What does hurt my feelings is that STILL nobody from South Dakota has visited my
site. I'm going to start a campaign to fix the situation.