Write what you love

Let me tell you a secret. I want to be Stephen King.

[Warning: This post is animated GIF-free.]

Okay, I don’t actually want to be Stephen King. I don’t want coke-bottle glasses and I don’t want to live in Maine, nice as it is in July. I’m also happy being a few decades younger than King is.

But I’d still like to write like the man writes.

Here’s the thing. I’m not Stephen King. (apologies for the rhyme — it’s not my fault his surname rhymes with ‘thing’)

I’m just me. Christina, Tine, that chick from Somewhere in the American South, or whatever I happen to call myself on Friday evenings.

Take-home message? Sure, I have one. It tastes like “write what you love,” not what you want to/pretend to/hope to love. Read more

Good News and Bad News

Sniff.

The good news first: I and some of my favourite flash fiction writers are now for sale on Amazon.com. Check out The Molotov Cocktail: Prize Winners Anthology for details. There’s some fantastic work in here by fellow writers Sylvia Heike, Aeryn Rudel, Fred Senese, and others.

Shiny-new dead-tree format!
Shiny-new dead-tree format!

The bad news second:

Saturday Night Reader, the magazine that published my humourous piece “Debt,” is closing its doors. It’s going to be a SAD-urday Night.

Sniff.
Sniff.

A Reader’s Rubric

I’m not much for rubrics, those pesky little university-endorsed things that supposedly make grading papers objective so that when Suzie the Freshman visits the Dean to complain about her under-inflated grade, you’ve got something to back you up.

[As always, those looking to be stimulated by seizure-inducing animated GIFs of random celebrities are encouraged to try a different website. I hear Sesame Street’s is quite colourful.]

I’ve never been much for grading writing, either. My favourite grad-school professor limited our syntax papers to two double-spaced pages because he said, and I quote, “Most people can’t get from the first to the last word in a sentence without losing their minds.” He didn’t want to read twenty pages of shit, and when I started teaching, I understood what he was talking about.

But I digress.

It turns out I do have a sort of rubric, even if it lives in my head. It’s a simple one, and starts with a single question:

Is this good?

Now we have talk about what “good” means.

When I’m reading flash fiction slush (which, by the way, I like a lot more than reading frosh comp five-paragraph essays on sleep-inducing topics like ‘The Dangers of Cell Phone Usage’ or ‘Why Carbonated Drinks are Bad for You’), I have a list of questions running in my head. Here are a few:

  1. Does this resonate with me?
  2. Is this memorable?
  3. Do I ‘get it?’
  4. Has this concept been played out before?
  5. How original is the form?

I’d like to expand on each of these. Ready? Let’s go. Read more

Previously published (or, don’t be as stupid as I was)

No entry

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the Letter S for Stupid and the Number 1 for All it takes is one website to lock you out.

Confused? I’ll explain.

[Warning: No animated GIFs in this post, either. Although if I could find one of me smacking my head against my keyboard, I admit it would be appropriate. You’ll just have to imagine that one. Instead, I offer you this photograph by Ondrej Supitar via Unsplash.]

No entry
No entry

 

You already know I write flash fiction. Some of it’s decent; some of it gets picked up by nice editors. I pen stuff, I submit it, and the nice editors look it over as long as I follow their submission guidelines.

And, in most cases, as long as whatever I’m submitting hasn’t been previously published. Read more

The gift of flash

Great things from tiny sparks

I had a few alternate titles in mind for this post:

  • How I got the flash bug and why I’m in no hurry to get over it (gag)
  • I write flash, and you should, too (even worse)
  • A flash a day keeps insanity at bay (true, but way too rhyme-y)

[Attention: This post contains no animated GIFs of celebrities freaking out. It does, however, include an awesome photograph by Morgan Sessions via Unsplash for those who appreciate the beauty of stillness.]

So I went with something shorter, sweeter, and all multiple-entendre-ish. Consider it my gift to you.

Great things from tiny sparks

I got all nostalgic the other day last month here on Le Blog and put up a few links and pics of the short stories I grew up with. You won’t find them on your ten-year-old’s school reading list, which is too bad. If more kids read Shirley Jackson and Stephen King, I think we’d live in a better world. Especially if all of Jackson’s and King’s work was in cursive.

But I digress.

Flash fiction is a gift. Read more

Why I Won’t Give my Flash Away

I’ve been having a good run so far, averaging about one publication a month in the world of flash fiction. As expected, a few people have asked if they can read it. When they do (and it doesn’t happen often), I point them to my list of publications.

[Warning: all animated GIFs in this post have been replaced with sarcasm.]

Sometimes I get reactions like this:

My web browser is having problems. Email me that piece and I’ll read it.

Sincerely,
The Dipshit

Or this:

But I don’t want to create a free account on Platform for Prose. Can’t you just send your story to me?

Cheers,
Your Lazy-ass Pal

Or even this:

What? I have to buy a subscription to Saturday Night Reader to read your stuff? No way. Send me the PDF.

Later,
The Cheapskate

My response?

Dear Dipshit, Lazy-ass Pal, and Cheapskate,

I regret to inform you I will not be sending along my writing for your reading pleasure. Please find my reasons below.

A) Since you can’t figure out how to navigate a website, you probably won’t figure out how to navigate my story.

B) If it’s too much trouble for you to set up a free account, I fear that reading a two-page bit of flash might do you serious damage.

C) When the nice folks at Publication X pay me cold, hard cash for my writing, what makes you think I’m going to cheat them out of their well-deserved income?

That is all,
Moi

Bottom line? I work hard to put my writing out there, and the people who accept it work hard reading, editing, formatting, and publishing. They deserve their web traffic and, when applicable, their subscription income.

Thanks for understanding.

777 Challenge

Since my word-count is usually something more like 666 when I check it, finding a non-demonic number on my Twitter feed was rather refreshing. Author E.G. Moore began the Triple Seven Challenge, and fellow writer Jennifer Todhunter nominated me in turn:

In a rather unfortunate turn of events, page seven of LUCKY THIRTEEN (soon to be retitled, revised, and generally juiced-up) has a mere seven lines on it. I suppose that makes my job easier. Here are those lines:

“But miss,” Number Two said, “how do you know we are from Florence?”

“You’re from Florence. Your friend here,” she said, nodding towards the other man, “is from Siena.”

Danny left them shaking their heads in confoundment. She didn’t get many chances to perform the trick, but when she did, the experience was satisfying. She’d have to tell Giorgio about it later on. He always got a kick out of Danny’s knack for discerning the dialects of his homeland, and he’d know about the famous — or infamous — Gorgia Toscana. The habit of turning a ‘k’ into an ‘h’ marked many a Florentine like the sign of Cain. Giorgio would have a good laugh at tonight’s story.

Okay, okay. It looks like more than seven lines, but you do want the context, don’t you?

And now it’s my turn to nominate seven authors:

Charlotte Gruber (AKA World’s Bestest CP)

Elizabeth Davies (Word-weaving Welshwoman Extraordinaire)

Bud Jillett (Guitar Player and All-around Nice Guy)

Sylvia Heike (Fellow Flash Fiction Freak)

Tegan Wren (Whose awesome novel INCONCEIVABLE is coming soon)

James Stryker (Who I hope will post seven lines from his dark CCBB backstory)

Sharon Bennett (Because she hints she’s got a novel in the works)

That is all.

From Dissertation to Novel

Standard Disclaimer: This post contains no mind-numbing, seizure-inducing animated GIFs. It does, however, include profanity worthy of Stephen King.

Alternate titles:

Why Academics Make Great Novelists

If You Can Write 400 Pages About Consonant Weakening Processes in Florentine Italian, You Can Write Anything

What to Do when your Academic Reputation Goes South because You Took that Career-Smashing, (but Lucrative) Job in the Mid-East When You Should Have Stayed on Your Butt in Jolly Old England and Become the Queen of Phonetics

I particularly like that last one. It’s just too damned long.

Fellow academic-and-writer Fred Senese (who I “met” when his ultra-violent flash piece got picked over my wishy-washy flash piece in The Molotov Cocktail’s July Flash Fury Contest – note to self: be more furious) and I had a bit o’ Twitter banter the other day on the topic of how our doctoral studies helped us out on the road to becoming writers of fiction. Read more

The Waiting Game and Staying Sane

Ah, slush piles. They seem to be everywhere.

[WARNING: No animated GIFs appear in this post. There is, however, a sprinkling of profanity.]

You’ll find them in literary agents’ inboxes, acquisition editors’ inboxes, lit magazine editors’ inboxes, contest coordinators’ inboxes. Made it through one slush pile? Fantastic. There’ll be another one waiting around the corner. Made it through all the slush piles? Even better. Now hold your breath and count to eleventy-million while the contractual wrinkles get ironed out. Read more