Tag Archive | Deb Foy

Fire&Ice: What’s Next?

WELCOME to our final edition of Flash! Future! From the beginning—way back in August, believe it or not!—we launched Fire&Ice hoping to build and spread courage in the sharing of stories among friends. The world has seen hard times before and will again. But there’s always hope to be found, as you have shown us so powerfully week after week. Your story-words and faithful encouragement of each other proved just the therapy we needed, and we hope it’s proved the same for you. Thank you!

Where can writers go after Fire&Ice? Sooo many wonderful places to stay connected with the flash writing community. We’re slightly biased of course, but #VSS365 is the Twitter venture closest to our hearts. Read more about it in our Flash!Future post here from September. Be sure to read up on its exciting changes here. In the #VSS365 community you will find daily engagement and encouragement, as well as heaps of hashtags to join all sorts of other related writing challenges.

OK, but what about the actual Fire and Ice dragons? Who are you, anyway, and are you disappearing back into the Void after Sol 19? Very sweet of y’all to ask! Here’s a quick take.


Fire Dragon: Rebekah Postupak, aka Kitten Minion

What do you write? My home is dragons, always and forever (I’ve even the tattoo to prove it!) in the wide world of YA

What’s your favorite mythological tradition? Despite growing up in the story-rich jungles of Southeast Asia, my reading roots germinated in Tolkien and Lewis. It was Robin McKinley who first showed me women could wield magic too, and that the pale fairytales of the West could be fractured and re-spun. These days I’m mostly, gloriously, lost in un-mything myself; I’m elbows-deep in histories and biographies and other works of non-fiction, alongside a towering stack of non-Tolkien-esque fantasies. I’m forever grateful to and for Middle Earth; I’m also grateful for an industry that’s finally, if reluctantly, recognizing there are worlds beyond it.

What’s the best book you read in 2020? Nonfiction: a very belated but lifechanging read, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. Fiction: also very belated, but ohhhh the thrill of making up for lost time! the Middle-Earth-shaking The Fifth Season, by NK Jemisin, and brain-bursting, heart-rending Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor. And then for pure candy: The Ten Thousand Doors of Januaryby Alix Harrow. Maybe next year I will finally finish Chernow’s Grant.

What’s up for 2021? Where can we find you? Oh my goodness, it’s been ages since I’ve felt this excited about a new year. Thanks to my heart-and-writing-sister Deb, I’ve a heap of new stories just about ready to go out. Funnest of all, though, is the Middle Grade speculative fiction project we’re building together. Without risking spoilers, I’ll whisper in your ear alone that you can expect to meet a young dragon, Manhu, who might be an utterly amazing dragonglass-spinner if he could go five minutes without breaking something. -Follow me on Twitter here (I’ll follow back), so I can, like the busybody I am, stalk your personal affairs without having to ask first.


Robot DreamsIce dragon: Deb Foy, pictured here as a space-bewitched robot

Your turn! Tell us what you write. I write Middle Grade worlds populated by capricious spirits, alien-made mech, & apocalyptic scavenger kids.   

A portal into fiction’s multiverse just opened up. Where are you off to? So many places! I’d wander the cities reseeded by nature in the action-adventure game The Last of Us; there’s a peacefulness, a comfort, in such a quiet, moss-and-vine triumph. Or I’d sneak through the decks of the HSS Matilda from Rivers Solomon‘s novel An Unkindness of Ghosts, or walk the B-Mor settlement in Chang-rae Lee‘s On Such a Full Sea to better understand how communities move in solidarity or function despite emotional isolation. Or perhaps, more indulgently, I’d drop by a certain Hobbit-hole in time for all the soups and pies and cakes and ale one serves at an unexpected party.       

Any books you read in 2020 you won’t soon forget? Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi; their novel is raw and weighty, with imagery that will carve itself into your soul. Also, Katherine Arden‘s The Bear and the Nightingale. She weaves Russian folklore into the narrative seamlessly, and the chill of her wilderness winter seeps into the bones.

Tell us about your half of our 2021 middle grade mischief! And where can we find you? I still can’t believe we’re doing this! I already adore the fearless Manhu. ♥ Of course what every impetuous dragon needs is an overly-practical robot companion, no? Enter Oki! Together, the two of them *might* be able to save their world from certain annihilation despite themselves. To track our progress, and encourage us when the chocolate runs out, stalk our social media! I’m on Twitter and Instagram—find me here & here

Sixty Seconds IV with: Foy S. Iver

Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.

(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)

Matchlight

Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Deb Foy (again, again, again, again!!)Read her winning story here. Note that this is her FOURTH win!!! Head on over to her winner’s page to read her previous winning stories & then come back to get to know her better.

1) What about the prompts inspired your winning piece?   

The picture was gripping but “Lawyer” did nothing for me. (Is there anything more boring than the legal system? No. The answer is no.) I scratched out two different drafts: one involved a time-traveling demon-attorney (already taken), and the other centered on a suicidal lawyer with feelings of insecurity thanks to the manly men in his lineage (lovely, right?). Those ideas died before the ink dried.

When I visited the prompt a third time, I reconsidered the character requirement. What else is a lawyer? An advocate. Someone who intercedes for another. And the picture? Images of being in the cockpit, careening toward the iron-hard face of the carrier, took over. How would the body respond? What chemical reactions would ignite? Everyone is their truest self in the face of death so who was this guy? What memories were rushing at him?

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are enthralling, and whether you believe in an afterlife or not, the testimony of “life flashing before your eyes” is well known. My faith is the crux of who I am. If I were the pilot in those moments, the idea of Christ as our advocate, our “lawyer” not only for things already achieved and regretted but also for that fearful separation of body and spirit, would be what held me through impact. And the hymn just fit too perfectly to not include it. (BTW: My history buff brother informed me later that the pilot DID survive – does it get better than that? Nope.)

2) Your four wins have all been within the past four months, which is just crazy; you’ve also won over at Flash Frenzy and MicroBookends. Aside from being a flash fiction rockstar, what are your writing goals–where would you like to see your writing go this next year? Five years? What would be a real “win” for you in that sense?

A “real win,” and the ultimate goal, is to know others enjoy and find inspiration in what I write. (And millions of $$.) Whether they’re reading on pixels or paper, I want my readers wrestling with questions they hadn’t before, discussing issues they’d avoided, and arriving at a better understanding of why they believe what they believe. I want everything I write to have meaning, to have purpose.

Goals for the next year? Now that’s a fine question! Let’s see… in the next year I’d like to get a 2nd draft down on any of my four WIPs (maybe even finish it). For the next five years, I will (note the pretend confidence) completely transition from a worker bee to an artistic bee. Writing might not be the most profitable profession but, for me, I think it’ll be the most rewarding.

3) Still plugging away at your NaNo novel? how’s that going? can you tell us anything about it? and what’s it like forging through a longer work as opposed to flash? 

Yes and no. After recently losing my USB (clever me!) with the most up-to-date version of my 2014 NaNo book, the gears ground to a halt. Grmbgrmbgrmrm. For a month, I putzed around in other WIPs, moped, pouted, grumbled, and cursed my negligence. Then one day – voila! – I found it safely tucked in a pair of infrequently worn pants. *Cue Hallelujah chorus* With my confidence and the USB restored, my goal for May is to hammer away at that rough stone and see if there’s a diamond hiding inside.

Now if I told you what the story’s about–well, okay! I guess you can have the blurb:

“Diversity is the enemy of peace.” This is the philosophy that’s kept 24th century America from falling into factions. When Di’Angelo discovers Nohemi, a 12-year-old Infiltrator, he must decide whether to harbor her as a political refugee or report her to the State. In a society devoid of dissimilarity, their friendship will threaten universal concordance, proving that nothing is more divisive than our differences.

Like I said, it’s a work in progress. Novel-length is so much harder than flash; a book won’t write itself in 24 hours and get feedback within 72. I need patience.

4) You’ve talked in the past about taking risks in writing. Could you expound on that? What does “risk” look like in a contest such as FF? in a novel? 

What’s the point of writing if you can’t take risks? It’d be boring, right? Actually, if you know your audience (or in this case your FF judge), taking risks isn’t that risky. This past week is a perfect example. My writing can be vague; I leave a lot unsaid.  My thought is, people are smart. You don’t have to lay everything out there for them to “get it.”

I was comfortable letting the lawyer piece be mostly subtext because I’ve gotten familiar with Mark and Tamara’s styles. Both of them are incredible writers and say far more than most with fewer words. When reading their stories, you ALWAYS know there’s a deeper meaning. With We Rest on Thee, I trusted them to understand what wasn’t explicitly stated: that Christ is the ultimate lawyer. It might seem risky but it all goes back to knowing your audience; I wouldn’t have submitted the same to a more literal judge.

In my novels, I try to incorporate at least one controversial element. Not to be bellicose. But to keep people thinking, and, hopefully, interested. You know the saying; “Well behaved women seldom make history, and pleasantly bland books never make classics.” Okay, I added that last part.    

5) What’s your take on publishing today? do you see yourself going the traditional agent/big house route, small press, indie?  

These days I’m leaning more toward Indie, thanks to the brave women who’ve gone before (looking at you, Margaret Locke and Tamara Shoemaker). Also, if working for a non-profit with grants has taught me anything, it’s that I want freedom in creativity. Restrictions and regulations are water to flame. That and I doubt I’d have the patience to wait 6 months for a response from a big house pub.

6) Favorite book so far this year? Favorite new or new-to-you author? What upcoming book(s) are you excited about? 

This question panicked me (I haven’t been reading as much as I should). But I’m going to have to give favorite book of 2015 to Margaret Locke’s “A Man of Character.” I don’t do romance, but hers had enough paranormal happenings to feed the fantasy beast. Plus, Eliza! (Shameless plug: tune in May 27th for the Insider Interview.)

Books I’m excited for: the second FlashDogs Anthology, baby! It’s been such a thrill working with my FlashDog partner on stories for this next book, and hers are brilliant. It makes me excited for the rest. I’ve convinced my entire family (and we are legion) to buy it.   

7) Talk about writing as a craft: do you make a conscious effort to grow as a writer, or do you feel it happens organically? You’ve been writing a long time–what are some ways you’ve already grown? what would you like to grow better at?  

Both. Organically, through participating in weekly contests and occasionally judging for Finish That Thought or Micro Bookends. Consciously, through the Shenandoah Valley Writers Critique Group. It’s hard to find encouraging feedback that’s also honest, but we’ve got a good team and I learn something every time I’m in the hot seat. The group recently critiqued a story I’d written in my teens/early twenties. It’s a speech-tags-poor-punctuation-to-be-verbs colossus. They were kind.

There’s so much I want to improve! Punctuation and grammar are Mount Everest. I’ve reached base camp with the rest of that snowy face waiting to be conquered. Then there are genres-jungles I need to explore, comfort zones I need to venture out of, grooves trying to bog me down. It’s a process.

8) Have any writerly pet peeves–what drives you crazy in novels/stories/flash?

I don’t enjoy stories that fall back on sexualized violence for cheap attention. You know the ones. Guy pissed at uninterested girl, kidnaps her, chains her in basement, and takes out his sexual frustrations on her. Same with child abuse stories. It’s lazy shock value. That’s not to say we shouldn’t write about evil. If we’re true to the human experience, we must. Evil exists. But while the stories that expose it are raw and terrifying, they have a purpose. They’re not looking to hook readers then dump them feeling dirty. Sexualized violence is prevalent in all forms, flash to novel. A good writer shouldn’t have to rely on it.

9) Shout out time: who in the FF community inspires you? 

Oh, good! We get to end on a happier note. J I could mention so many brilliant writers but I’ll narrow it down to two:

Clive Tern – I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of Clive’s longer works, and I envy his ease of blending science and fiction. I had to ask him his background because his imagery and terminology feel seamless. (He could’ve had me believing he was a Cosmonaut.) One day I hope to be able to write Sci-Fi just as well.

Holly Geely – Holly is one of those writers who can take your heart, warm it with a tender story, then rip it into bloody halves at the final line. Her writing has the same emotional remnants as “Cliché,” a flash piece in the first FlashDog Anthology written by our own Rebekah Postupak — though, thankfully, she doesn’t usually go that far and instead keeps me laughing. Humor is not my strong suit (what? you’d noticed?) so I’m hoping one day she’ll teach me her art.

Sixty Seconds III with: Deb Foy

Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.

(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)

Matchlight

Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Deb Foy (again)Read her winning story here. Note that this is her THIRD win (knock our socks off, Deb!!!) — read her first #SixtySeconds interview (from Jan 21) here and second one (from last week) here. Then take another bit of time (no word count limits for three-timers!) to get to know her better yet below.

1) What about the prompts inspired your winning piece? You definitely went outside the box.  This was one of those prompts where I didn’t connect at all with the picture. When that happens, I check the corners. There’s a house. Okay, what could be going on inside the house? For several weeks, I’ve had a story slow-cooking for The Molotov CocktailFlash Fools” contest. The story was highly seasoned with images from the Mirel Wagner’s “No Death.” I decided to give Flash! Friday my story rather than MC, which meant a lot of chopping! Eventually, two women formed inside those log and mortar walls, two women with a history and a shared aspiration.

2) What do you like about flash as opposed to working on longer projects? Has writing flash helped you with other aspects of your writing? if so, in what ways? Absolutely! Flash fiction has taught me it is okay to wax eloquent, to use odd images. My chica Lauren Akers and I bemoan the fear of sounding pretentious or like John Milton wannabes. Flash has given me permission to relax and realize the way I write is not a gimmick. It’s my voice.

3) Has your flash fiction or approach to flash changed since you started in October? It’s done a 180. I want to disown my first flash pieces (sorry, Loves!) because they couldn’t have found their way out of a wall-less box if dark chocolate waited, wrappers open, within reach. Now, I let my mind jump to other places or run to forgotten memories, and once the story is built, I weave webs back into the prompts.

4) What advice would you give writers who are new to or considering flash? What encouragement might you give to seasoned flash writers who have a hard time nabbing a win? Oh goodness, I don’t feel qualified to answer this question (which means I’ll answer it with way more words than necessary)!

I guess for new flash fictioneers, I would say jump in! The water’s fine. 🙂 Even if you don’t win a single category, ever, for the rest of your writing days amen, you’ve given yourself ideas and tales to expand on in the future. And more importantly, you’ve joined one of the most supportive online communities you’ll find. Friends outweigh wins.

For those faithful flashers still chasing that capricious dragon, know that it is just that. Capricious. Sometimes your words will push the souls out of one judging team and leave the next team puzzling. That’s what I comfort myself with anyway. It’s better than falling into the despair that this writing dream is actually a delusion.   

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why? Sydney Scrogham. She has the determination and the skill to go far. I expect to see her name (or pen name) on Best Sellers lists in the coming years.

6) What are your favorite books of this past year? What’s your desert island book? Die Empty for starters. It made me realize what a weight of loss I would feel if I found myself on my deathbed with no fresh ink to speak of.

Second, the FlashDogs Anthology. While reading it, I keep thinking, “Oh! I need to message this person and tell them how much I love their story,” and then life blusters in and the thought slips away. I’ve told Tamara Shoemaker I’d love to mail a copy of the Anthology across time zones, collecting signatures from each brilliant contributor. That book would be more traveled than I am.

Desert island life sounds lonely. I’d want the Gospels for daily strength and comfort.

7) What are you working on now? Still working on my NaNoWriMo story and every day more grateful that I’m not sick of it yet.

8) Tell us something about your writing life. How do you balance writing and responsibilities? This is sumamente difficult for me. I work full-time, weekdays and sometimes weekends so before SVW I didn’t make writing a priority (which is why I’m eternally grateful to Allison Garcia!!). Carving time out of rump roast-round minutes is something I’m getting better at. It means mornings might start at 5:30am. A Flash! Friday baby could be conceived on lunch break and born by clock-out. You make time for what you love. Thankfully, I have an understanding husband who’s happy to let me create beside him while he fights Ozma, Nemesis, or Yiazmat.

9) What’s your writing process like? Do ideas just float into your head from the Great Muse Factory in the sky? I think they come in fragments, elements of beauty and meaning demanding to be included. That’s why it takes me a good while to get a cohesive story on paper. When you find that Great Muse Factory in the sky let me know!

10) Any hobbies? Other than writing and eating? Long distances races. I don’t consider myself athletic, so obstacle courses (looking at you, Tough Mudder) or sprints are not my forte. But I can run 20+ miles with a friend beside me and tell myself I want to sign up for another while dragging myself over the finish line. 🙂