Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’


Day 4 of the September Flash Blast

And what have I learned? Mostly that writing this way isn’t for me. Or more accurately, writing this way and then showing it to someone isn’t for me.

I can write a first draft very quickly. That’s how I normally do it. But then I don’t show it to people in the state it’s in 75 minutes after I started it. I put it aside for a bit and then I revise it. The last 4 days have not changed my mind away from that being a great idea.

My better stories are written quickly, but they’re not called done in an hour and fifteen. Considering the first two stories I sent were called, by the same person, incomprehensible (both stories after three reads, no less), and the third I sent with one character named James who later became Lawrence, I should not send anything out that quickly. Bad mistake the name thing, yes, but he’s referred to as James once in the first paragraph and then Lawrence/Larry the rest of the time. Confusing, sure, but not impossibly so. Calling him Larry added extra confusion because apparently it comes as a shock to some that Larry is short for Lawrence? I have no idea. Given these things, clearly the rush of it and I don’t mix. Good on those that do well with it; that’s just apparently not me.

Still, it’s been fun, and I got some new stories out of the mix, for what they’re worth (which I think isn’t much). I haven’t decided if I’ll continue next week, but I do hate to stop something once I’ve started.


Rooftop Cage up at Seven by Twenty (7×20)

My cinquain Rooftop Cage (and wee bio) went up at Seven by Twenty (7×20) today. Long before I submitted it, several poems and micro-fictions were selected for the anthology 140 and Counting. A few writers never returned their contracts, so I was asked if the cinquain could be included in the anthology. I sent the contract this morning. That was a fun little bonus! I have another tiny thing going up at 7×20 next week, as well. It appeared in Nanoism a couple of months ago.

In other news, the story I got a tiny start on this month, The Listeners, is shelved for the moment. Instead, I wrote a short story in about an hour as practice for the previously mentioned September Flash Blast. And my, I’m out of practice. I love writing to prompts and I love timed writing, but I’ve done it all of once in the last few years or so. I think the story I produced has a lot of potential, though, so I’m editing it now and hoping to submit soon. I don’t want to tinker too long. I did get my one story written for August, at least, but I doubt I manage anymore.

I also have some notes on the next story I definitely want to write, which won’t be the rest of The Listeners. I think that one will have to wait a short while, since my aim is to “flash write” at least 20 times in September, though I’m really hoping for at least once a day.


September Flash Blast at Boot Camp Keegan

Alex Keegan runs Boot Camp, a no-nonsense place where writers write, crit, analyze and learn. Anyone who knows me and has discussed much writing with me knows that Alex wrote one of my favorite short stories of all time, Ballistics, which is now available in his collection of the same title. I won’t do a whole bio here–he’s a novelist who’s written scads of short fiction and won many awards doing so. You’d also be hard-pressed to find someone more enthusiastic about fiction.

Boot Camp is a paid program, but Alex is running a September Flash Blast that doesn’t cost anything–no strings, nothing like that–for those who want to commit to writing short fiction throughout the month of  September. Here’s how it works:

  1. You commit to writing a minimum of 20 short pieces of serious, general fiction during the month (it’s not the place for pure genre), though preferably you should aim for at least 1 per day, so 30+.  These are usually flashes less than 1,000 words or so, just based on time constraints.
  2. A couple times a day, Alex will post a list of prompts. These are often obscure words, bizarre phrases, unusual things designed to poke your subconscious.
  3. When you read the prompts, you have a maximum of 75 minutes to write and edit your story. Read anytime you like, but don’t read until you have the 75 minute window. If you read the prompts, think about them all day and write something that night, you’re missing the point and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
  4. Email your finished stories to Alex, who will then post them all anonymously in a protected part of the Boot Camp board.
  5. Comment on posted stories. No one expects an in-depth critique, but you are expected to read and comment. Comments will probably be blunt, so you have to be able to handle that reasonably well.
  6. Discuss. There’s a forum reserved for discussions and disagreements about craft that arise from the posted stories. Discussion is highly encouraged.


The concept is fast writing, “drunk writing” as Alex calls it, writing from the gut. I’ll let Alex explain it in his own words.

I think there are 8 or 9 people signed up for the challenge as of right now, but the more, the better. If you’re interested, you’ll need to sign up for a Yuku account (it’s free).

Boot Camp Keegan

Most of the board is locked because it’s full of forums where the paid Boot Campers work, but the Flash Blast forums are public, aside from the one where the stories will be posted.

Here are some stories produced during these types of blasts:

Paper Bird, Bomber, Words & Silence, several stories from the 2004 session

If you’re interested in the actual Boot Camp, you can let Alex know on the board. I know at various times he’s offered the first month free of charge, but I’m not sure if that’s ongoing. It can’t hurt to ask, if you’re interested. Boot Campers write a minimum of one short story every two weeks–again, general fiction, not pure genre. Those are posted anonymously and critiqued by every other Boot Camper according to Alex’s grid scoring system.

I will say that Boot Camp is a busy, steamy kitchen so if you wilt easily in heat, you’ll have to toughen up. I was a member for about 6 months in 2004, and saw more than a couple people throw tantrums and quit after their first critiques. Thick skin is necessary, but you’ll need that anyway if you intend to keep writing, right? I quit because a sort of double-tragedy struck at home and I couldn’t commit myself to it anymore, but even then I did not want to go. It was a great experience for me, so if serious fiction is your focus and you want an intense writing and learning experience, you should think seriously about trying it.

But even if not, consider the September Flash Blast! At the very least you’ll have some new material to work with come October 1st, but I’m sure you’ll get far more out of it than that.




She Wanted a Romance… up at Defenestration

Defenestration is a fun publication. If you like humor that ranges from clever to side-splitting, you should read it regularly. I do. 

My short “She Wanted a Romance on Classics Night, but it was His Turn” is up to day in Defenestration’s April issue. I wrote this several years ago and didn’t do anything with it like revising or submitting until recently. I’m pleased it found a home. 1984 is one of my favorite novels, and John Hurt, who was my favorite actor for years (and whom I still adore), played Winston Smith in the film. That all means nothing to you right now unless you’ve read the story, but that’s okay.

It’s not the first time I’ve been in Defenestration. I had a longer, wilder story called “The Art of Truth,” a hardboiled parody that was huge fun to write and that won me a prize in the writing group where the parody challenge originated, in their June, 2004 issue. It’s a .pdf download, if you’re interested. Two haiku by Andrew Duncan in the beginning are worth downloading it for, in my opinion, so it won’t be a waste of your time. I’ve remembered those poems since the issue came out because I got such a kick out of them. I actually recite them from time to time, during what I feel like are appropriate moments. I just read them again in my head; I needed that chuckle.