Sixty Seconds IV with: Phil Coltrane

The normal routine’s ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer, which is (in theory) less time than it takes to burn a match.

However, winning four times isn’t normal.

Consider yourselves warned.

Matchlight

Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Phil Coltrane for the FOURTH time (his first three wins were within an astonishing few weeks of each other in Year Two).  Read his winning story here. Note that this is his FOURTH win, which only three others at Flash! Friday have done (Maggie Duncan, Betsy Streeter, and Karl Russell). Mega congrats, Phil! Read his first #SixtySeconds interview heresecond one here, and third one hereThen take another couple of minutes to know him better below.

Phil says, Since this week marks my fourth win, the Dragon General has kindly loosened the shackles that typically bind each week’s winners to keep their answers brief. Therefore, the next sixty seconds may stretch slightly longer than usual as I indulge in some immodest grandstanding. {Editor’s Note: FYI: grandstanding is one of a dragon’s favorite pastimes. Proceed with abandon.}

1) What about the prompts inspired your winning piece? 

The Moon naturally suggests sci-fi to me, so to be contrary, I went in another direction. For some reason, I associate black-and-white photographs with winter, and the story followed from there. 

2) Tell us about this past year in your writing life.  

Last year was busy for writing: I set a broad goal to “write more.”

I started my writing blog, FTL Pizza. I found “Flash! Friday,” made it a personal goal to participate for a whole year, and ended up judging over the summer. I wrote for Alissa Leonard’s “Finish That Thought” and Chuck Wendig‘s weekly challenges a couple times each.

Overall I’m pleased with my progress on that “write more” goal. (But that novel is still unfinished.)

3) How was this latest NaNoWriMo for you? Planning to join again this year?

It’s a cheat, but I used NaNoWriMo to rewrite an existing project. November was so hectic that I never finished. My novel still waits on my hard drive, stuck in the limbo between first and second draft. I will definitely give NaNoWriMo another shot this year.

4) How has your flash fiction writing changed since you started? 

Being a judge changed my approach more than anything else. My writing process still starts with sitting on the couch, brainstorming and wondering if I’ll meet the deadline; but now I try harder to think of a unique take on the prompt. Writing a good story isn’t enough for this contest: you also have to make it different enough that it stands apart from all the other good stories.

Killing all humans seems to be a winner, too. {Editor’s Note: The Dragon Captains assure me that’s just a coincidence. (As coincidental as their recent sprouting of scales, I’m thinking.)}

5) Read anything good recently?

In a recent Warmup Wednesday I mentioned that I’ve been reading a lot of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos stories. Other than that, my reading consists of whatever short stories I can squeeze into my snippets of spare time.

6) Any favorite writers?

This may be strange, but the writing I’ve really come to appreciate is the comments on the FF stories each week. Back when I was judging, I often fumbled for words to explain why I liked a particular story. I continue to be astounded by the few folks who give constructive feedback on nearly every story, week after week. I don’t always remember to thank people who leave comments, but to the people who do so, thank you.

7) What are your writerly hopes for this next year?

To write more and better content for FTL Pizza. To branch into other writing contests. Dare I entertain the notion that I could write something for publication? Maybe someday.

8) You’re a four time winner. Any advice/encouragement for writers waiting their turn to wear the crown?

Winning isn’t a science or a black art: there’s no simple formula, and very little conjuring of ancient Sumerian demons. Keep writing the best stories you can, try to learn new lessons each week, and don’t try to chase the win. 

9) Your turn. Anything you’d like to add, anything you’ve got going on that you’d like to discuss, anything the FF community just NEEDS to know??

If I may step up onto my soapbox for a moment, I’d like to use my sixty seconds of fame to call attention to a rather serious matter. Each week as Friday rolls around, we gather as a community of writers and create stories. Stories of love, of laughter, of life, stories that inspire and uplift. 

But has anyone considered the dark side of Flash! Friday? All of the wars, murders, assassinations, revenge killings, humorous accidental deaths, and dragon-related charbroilings that take place in our stories, week after deadly week? Have we stopped to calculate the FF community’s story body count? Does no one fret over all of these literal character assassinations? 

Why, I myself have killed off all of humankind on at least three separate Fridays. I know that some of you are just as guilty. Can we not do better? I dream of a kinder, gentler FF, where dragons and humans are not lethal adversaries, but instead live side-by-side in peace, and invite each other to their barbecues, where they eat unicorn burgers and Cadbury chocolate sundaes around a circular picnic table while all the kids and squids play tiddlywinks and make paper lanterns together beneath the light of Earth’s yellow sun, and…

Um… I think it’s time for me to hand the mic back over to our host. {Editor’s Note: I trust my spontaneous bonfire demonstration didn’t overly alarm you.}

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3 thoughts on “Sixty Seconds IV with: Phil Coltrane

  1. Kinder and gentler! Peace and barbecues! …But what of the Unicorn rights??? I don’t know if I can get on board with just barbecuing unicorns willy-nilly! It’s barbaric! INJUSTICE! …ahem. Have a nice day. 😉

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