Tag Archive | Emily June Street

Sixty Seconds III with: Mark A. King

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 His Majesty Mark A. King.  Read his winning story here. Note that this is his THIRD!!!! yes, THIRD!!!!! win (we did predict this; and did you notice this week how he loftily swept off with the champ trophy and first runner up!? breathtaking!) — read his previous #SixtySeconds interviews here and hereThen take another minute (or two; third-time winners aren’t bound by word count) to get to know him better below.

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece?

I am rather obsessed by Flash! Friday and I am always looking for possible stories, settings or characters that I might use if the right prompt comes up. This one happened the day before. I have a picture calendar on my desk, when I scrunched the old picture and threw it in the bin, like I do every day, I was presented with Thursday’s picture of an amazing sculpture called the Singing Ringing Tree (although I changed the order of the words in my story). It just called to me, and I knew then that I would have to write a story about it. The story elements fitted perfectly, so I went with it.

2) How has your approach to flash changed since you started writing flash fiction?

I think it’s about 14 (ish) months since my first FF story. I’d like to think I’ve got better at focusing on the characters and less on my previous obsession with world building. I love the world building, but it’s pointless without an emotional attachment to the character. I try to do both, if I can. But it’s sooo hard with about 100 words to play with.

3) How has writing flash affected your other writing?

Up until recently flash fiction has been my only writing. I’m finding longer forms very, very frustrating. I want to take a chainsaw to my current/first novel. However, I know if I do that then I’ll just keep revisiting the beginning forever. Which is what has happened to date. So, I am writing in a continually forward direction, but my flash fiction brain can’t wait to go back and fire up the chainsaw.

4) What advice would you give to writers who are new to flash? What might you say to seasoned writers who haven’t won yet?

New writers should be true to themselves. Don’t try to copy another writer, no matter how good they are — it will only fail, as you’re not them and they’ve had longer at being themselves than you have 🙂 Experiment. Be brave and try unique ideas or structures. As a previous judge, I know that a story that is well-written but whose plot is the same as twenty other stories will not stand out. 

For those folk that are great and haven’t won yet, your time will come. A change of rules really helped me. It’s likely that a change of judges or rules might help you. It’s all subjective; don’t take it to heart. There are no bad writers at FF. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

5) Besides FF :), what are your favorite writing sites/online resources?

FF is my favourite and it is a fantastic resource for any writer. It’s an incredible place and it has changed lives (it’s so much more than being wonderful fun).

6) Any new publications/accolades we should know about?

FlashDogs Vol 3 is in the planning stages and we’re keen to find the next generation of flash fiction writers, and send them here and to the other wonderful comps.

It’ll be themed on ‘time’, with Past, Present and Future prompts, and will be launched Chinese New Year 2016. #FlashFicTime

7) Speaking of publication, what are you currently working on? Back in July you told us you were 5k into a novel. How’s that coming along?

Thanks to some prompting and advice from the Best Mentor in the Universe™ (I’m looking at you, Tamara Shoemaker), I’ve made great progress recently. I’m about 25K in now, and that’s about 10K more than I’ve managed before. It’s scary as I know how much work I have yet to do. Then when I’ve finished, that’s just the beginning of another stage. It’s a bit pathetic, but I have a lot on and I’m super proud that I got this far. I’m kinda excited by the project.

8) What are you reading? Favorite book of this past year? Which author would you love to write like, and why?

Eek. This is really an awkward question. One probably best answered in a blog. I’ll write about this sometime, but it was very personal and life-changing in many respects, so it will look really odd answering it here.

9) Let’s talk writing communities. Belong to any? How about writers’ conferences or workshops this past year? Which conference/workshop is your favorite, and why?

FlashDogs, obviously 🙂

I had a rather interesting experience of a writing group last night — actually, it was the first time I’ve ever tried one. Lovely people, incredibly talented, but I don’t think this is for me. I’ll have to find other ways to fill this valuable method of writing development.

10) Let’s say you won a grant to use in any writerly way you’d like. Where would the money go, and why?

I’d buy you some sparkly things for the dragon cave, some fire-proof Cadbury, and maybe a trusted helper (like Dobby, but real – and better). {Editor’s Note: I GRATEFULLY ACCEPT!}

Bonus 11) Any shouts out/thoughts/comments/messages?

Quick shout-outs to Shakes who is on sabbatical from FDHQ. Emily June Street and Tam Rogers for just being themselves (incredible). Karl and Voima for FDHQ service to come. Tamara S for reasons mentioned above.

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Sixty Seconds IV with: Nancy Chenier

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 freshest Flash! Friday winner is Nancy Chenier.  Read her winning story here. This is her FOURTH stunning win at Flash! Friday since her start; her third this year. Read her previous #SixtySeconds interviews as well as her bio here. Then take a minute or two to get to know her better below. (Note: word count restraints on responses for four-time winners! I wouldn’t dare.)

1) Which part of your Hound of the Baskervilles prompt –inspired story came first: character, plot, or that fabulous superstitious structure? The structure along with the first section: the accident tied to the broken mirror.

2) You’ve said repeatedly that your passion’s spec-fic, but “Causality” doesn’t have a hint of magic. Are you SURE you’re not veering over to the dark side of straight fiction? Do you ever return to any of your flash pieces to develop them? I think my exposure to the flash-fiction circuit has given me an appreciation for what can be done with straight fiction. And I do return (and intend to return) to some of the flash—especially the ones I really had to gut. I intend to submit a few to markets that don’t have such stringent word counts.

3) In your last interview you said you weren’t planning to pick your MG draft back up until school starts in September. That still true?  Any other publications? No other pubs. I do intend to start on my MG piece in earnest when I have guaranteed writing time (something I haven’t had in the last few months).

4) You’re a 4x FF winner AND are serving as a FF judge (and have often judged at other flash contests). What’s your takeaway when it comes to winning? is it really all subjective? 

It’s really hard to make an absolute statement. I might say, “Okay, I’m really sick of kids dying of cancer,” but then someone will write one that will leave me a blubbery mess. In judging there is a big element of subjectivity (Ife and I had about 40% overlap in our shortlists last time). From being a judge, I notice how an excellent piece might not make it to the winner’s circle because a story that was only slightly more excellent covered the same ground.

5) You free write for flash; how do you approach novels? Outline? or jump in and see where it goes? I started with a few years of seat-of-the-pants NaNo-ing (and absolutely adored it). Then I realized how much work I had left to do after a month of wild abandon. I started employing Dramatica Story Expert to flesh out beforehand and Scrivener to keep scenes organized.

6) Let’s talk publishing. You’re not done with your novel yet, but you WILL BE SOON…. what are your plans after that? agent/big house? small press? indie? What’s your take? I’ll shop around for an agent, but if that doesn’t pan out, I might go indie. I have an ace in the hole there: my partner is a fabulous artist and is willing to do the cover and a few illustrations for the work.

7) Shouts out/thanks/accolades to anybody in particular?

Oh, man, there is so much talent, I’m going to leave too many folk out, but here goes. Voima Oy continues to churn out incredible work; I want to just hunker down at a campfire with her and let her spin yarns. Tamara Shoemaker and Emily June Street consistently blow me away. Mark King has been on FIRE lately. I’ve always loved Foy Iver, and I’m so happy to see Karl Russell back in the circuit. My eternal admiration goes out to Steph Ellis, Holly Greely and you, Dragon Mistress for cranking out hilarity (“admiration” as in envy) with such seeming effortlessness.

 

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 33: WINNERS

Welcome to results!!!! Short ‘n’ sweet today, gang, as even dragons are forced to be on the wing at times. Sigh of relief all round, I’m quite sure… Though if you check back later, I intend to add a pic explaining things. Yes, I taunt, I know, and if I were better behaved, I would feel badly about that. Or at least apologize. (My mother always said, “Apologize first; the feelings will follow.” Me, aghast: “You want me to LIE?!”) 

rof2More Ring of Fire badges awaiting announcement — thanks to those of you who’ve been patient. To newcomers: if you’ve written stories at least three Fridays in July, your name can go up on the Wall of Flame. Each badge you earn equals a chance at the jackpot of prizes at year’s end. Read all about it here!

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Speaking of ill behaved, judging Vol 3 – 33 was Dragon Team Eight, A.J. Walker & Voima Oy. They describe their adventure better than I would, so I’ll leave it to their silver tongues to share that with you.  

AJ: The story began many moons ago – well probably just one – when A.J. Walker was patiently rubbing each of his real ale bottles with a sad care and love waiting for something to happen. Then suddenly, puff! indeed more like PUFF!! a genie appeared in the form of a dragoness. It was not what he expected from a bottle of Jaipur IPA, but hey AJ takes what he gets.

‘Eh up love!’ Said Rebekah the Yorkshire dragon, for Rebekah was her name. ‘You’ve got yourself three wishes lad and no mistake. Be quick though – time is money and apparently I’m from Yorkshire – who knew!?’

Predictably AJ wished first for a bottle opener.

Second he wished for a grand selection of stories to be put before him.

And thirdly he asked for a boss partner to review the magical tales with him.

So it was that the genie delivered in spades, before disappearing she said “Good luck” and “I’ll see you next week” – as dragons do.

AJ found another bottle opener later and realised he could have instead asked for another Jaipur – though that would have been greedy.

Voima and AJ were separated by an ocean but connected by words and the – gotta be a folkstory- interweb and laid into the tales of magic, treasure, death, caves, palaces, hovels, the desert and the sea with great gusto- and not a little trepidation. There were beautiful poems and fabulous prose of morality and immorality. In short the 1001 Nights led the FFF community to a myriad possibilities – and it was wonderful.

The task was difficult with so many wonderfully successful slices of fiction. On another day some of the other stories not mentioned could get a merit but today is the day and it is what it is. That said the top stories were the top stories on any given day and no mistake. We don’t even know who we’ve chosen, but 1001 congratulations to all of you. And we’ll done to everyone you all done good.

VOThank you, AJ. I, too, am honoured to serve as judge, here. Thank you to all you marvelous writers who make your magic. Thank you, Catherine Connolly, who sent us the stories so we could read them truly blind. And thank you Dragon Queen, who makes this magic possible.

Now, on to the results–

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Powerful writing: Emily June StreetAzita’s Stories.” VO— Stories that must be told. Very powerful writing–and thought-provoking piece.  AJ  –a powerful contemporary tale with some lovely sad prose – ‘lashes instead of kisses’. Indeed.

Funniest If Slightly Off the Mark: Craig Anderson, “Genie-Us.” VO— So clever–the genies discussing working condition–great dialogue and characters.  Really funny! AJ— loved the idea of the meeting discussing their masters – particularly the guy with ultimate wishes requesting an omelette (it would have been bacon every time for me though).

Most Original Point of View: Stella T, “Friends for Life.” A Camel’s Tale–wonderful writing and a great character!   

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Dylyce P. Clarke, “This Night Is All We Have.” VO –Lush and sensual descriptions, a beautiful love story.   AJ —  Great use of colour and the other senses to evoke the place and a fabulous poignant ending. Lovely.

Marie McKay, “The Dance.” Beautiful prose poem. fluid and graceful language–evocative as all the nights of Arabia.  This one is haunting and lovely.

Image Ronin, “Tales From the Wasteland.” In this post-apocalyptic world, one man holds the key–the description is so vivid, and the use of GENIE is genius!

Holly Geely, “Planet HH.” Love this tale of  a space-sailor.  Wonderful characters and names.  E-Z Youth is  a brilliant idea.  And the ending is laugh out loud funny!

THIRD RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “Violets.”

VO — Vivid descriptions of a harsh world of very poor, and rich and privilege, in which water is a precious commodity.  The violets are a luxury in this world, such fragile beauty.  I love the language,  the voice of the rich man describing this world, and his encounter with the boy.  It is poignant and atmospheric.  A beautiful story. 

AJ — The poignant story of a rich man assuaging his guilt some little way by buying bottled water from an urchin has great atmosphere. He doesn’t trust the urchin enough to drink the water (but hopes his plants can benefit from it) but wants to do something for the young man — and his ancient eyes.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Emily June Street,Three Hours to Laramie” 

VO — There are three hours to Laramie. It could be a good trip, telling stories,  but  that’s not the story. There’s a bad guy, with a gun.  The suspense rises. There are three hours to Laramie.  Could you tell a story to save your life?  This is  a real thriller with a great twist ending.  What a ride!

AJ — The story of a powerful independent woman all alone in the desert being picked up by a baddie with a gun – it was never going to end well. Some lovely description and simple dialogue in this Arabian Nights with a twist. The story was solid and we all love a surprise ending.

FIRST RUNNER UP

David “Seriously Ill Behaved and HOW’S ABOUT SOME IRONY #HOURGLASS ” Shakes, “Je Souhaite.” 

VO — This is epic!  Meta fiction, references to the X-files in the title, David Bowie, genies, street urchins, ,magic lamps, wishes, stories within stories–and then there is The Great Writer of all the stories, and the characters who wish to be in another story…wonderful work!

AJ — We go to all the trouble of getting the authors name’s taken out of the pages (thanks @fallintofiction) and what do they do? They start putting them in the prose. If such behaviour continues we’ll have to get the stories redacted!

Notwithstanding the name dropping, both of us thought that it had to be in the top two. A story with multiple layers for us. Writing about this writing lark and the lovely petulance of the genie who just wants to grant a wish- any wish! Go on make a wish. Well, nearly… but second is good too.

 

And now: put on your dragon clogs and DANCE WITH ME!!!! IT’S first-time

DRAGON WINNER

BRIAN CREEK!!!

for

Behrouz and the Fortune Fish

VO — This is masterful storytelling.  It’s a story within a story–“Tell me a story.” “Okay, my son. I know a good one.”  The story unfolds  through dialogue,  back and forth, growing bigger and bigger.  “How big was the fish, papa?”  “Bigger than a castle.”   We can see  the city within the fish, the bazaar in the city, the people,  the beautiful clothes.  I, too, wanted more of the story, but “it’s time for bed, now, and these clothes won’t sell themselves.”  It’s a  marvelous tale in the Arabian Nights spirit, and  a wonderful story of love between father and child. Pure magic!  

AJ — Great imagery and story told as dialogue in true Arabian Nights spirit. The story is tight and the dialogue between the child and his father work brilliantly. A fish as big as a castle now that’s a fisherman’s tale if ever we’ve heard one.

Congratulations, Brian! Practically leaping out of my dragonskin for joy here. Please stand by for your very own totally gorgeous and cool winner’s page — I’ll tweet like mad once it’s up — and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap with your email address so I can interview you for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature! And now, here’s your winning story:

Behrouz and the Fortune Fish

“Tell me a story.”

“Okay, my son. I know a good one.

“Once upon a time there was a young boy called Behrouz. His parents were mean, treating him more like a slave than a son.

“Behrouz’s mother made beautiful clothes which his father sold at a market across the sea. But, when his father fell ill, Behrouz was forced to cross the sea himself.

“That night, halfway across the sea, the water began to churn, rocking the boat violently. Before Behrouz knew what was happening, a Great Fish rose up and swallowed the boat whole.”

“How big was the fish, papa?”

“Bigger than a castle.”

“Wow.”

“But Behrouz was okay. He lit a lamp and sailed his little boat further into the fish. He wondered if he would ever find a way out when he washed up on the shore of a strange city.”

“A city?”

“Indeed. Now the people of the city had never seen such beautiful clothes before and they began to bid for the garments. In no time at all Behrouz had sold everything, making more than enough coin to show for it.

“The people of the city wanted more and so Behrouz was released from the Great Fish on the promise that he’d return with more from the Outside.”

“Did he go back, papa?”

“Perhaps I will tell you tomorrow. For now you need to go to sleep. And I need to load up the boat. Those clothes won’t sell themselves. Good night, little one.”

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