Tag Archive | Katie Morford

Sixty Seconds with: Katie Morford

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 first timer Katie Morford.  She may be a first-time winner, but she’s no stranger here at FF: she’s won other mentions (including an HM at Flashversary); and she was part of the team from Crosshair Press featured on a Spotlight interviewRead more about her here; read her winning story herethen take one minute to get to know her better below!

1) What about the prompt inspired you to write your winning piece? The first line and voice dropped into my head, bold as brass, and I had to discover who she was!

2) How long have you been writing flash? Confession time: this was only my fourth flash fiction piece! Beginner’s luck? I’m a reluctant convert thanks to Rebekah’s prodding. {Editor’s Note: Just looking out for you, sweet Katie!}

3) What do you like about flash? I love concise, visual prose that uses atmosphere to create rich themes and characters. So, flash dovetails with my style.

4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Your most valuable asset is your authentic voice. Every writer has fears, but great writers push through it to success.

5) Who is a flash writer we should follow, and why? As a newbie, I hardly feel qualified to answer this question! I’d say Tamara Shoemaker’s work for its emotional depth.

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? I haven’t yet, but I want to. I dipped my toes in with Flash!Friday and am overwhelmed by my welcome!

7) What other forms do you write (novels, poetry, articles, etc)? I just released my novel, Kenan, under pen name Karis Waters, and I blog regularly about my life and travels.

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? I usually gravitate toward spec or historical fiction. More “scope for the imagination” and the setting/culture are characters in themselves.

9) Tell us about a WIP. I’m juggling a space opera with an Arabic gypsy and the Kenan sequel—featuring an Appalachian ex-hooker and Turkish assassins.

10) How do you feel about dragons? Love them—provided they heat my house in cold, wet England and forego eating me (unwelcome visitors are free game). 

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 28: WINNERS

This is a BIG HUGE WEEK in the writing world; what a privilege getting a dragon’s eye view. In case you were temporarily off-planet, yesterday saw the official publication of the #FlashDogs‘ latest venture, the two-book flash anthology, Solstice: Light and Solstice: Dark.  Many of the writers in the Flash! Friday community (including me!) have stories in one or both of these; all proceeds go to The Book Bus

Next up: I’m THRILLED TO DEATH to reveal the names of our guest judges for this coming Friday: Emily June Street and Beth Deitchman of Luminous Creatures Press! Read all about LCP (and you will want to) at their guest judge page here

And in case THAT wasn’t enough excitement….?!?! Writing/editing/trapeze superstar Emily June Street‘s latest novel, The Gantean, is being published this Saturday, June 27. To celebrate The Gantean as well as LCP’s stint as guest judges, tomorrow’s #Spotlight feature belongs entirely to Emily. Be sure to come back: not only is it a super fun interview, but she’s giving away a FREE COPY of The Gantean! 

And now.

Sigh. I suppose I can’t put off this unpleasantness any longer, hard as I’ve tried: it’s our final farewell to our final judging team of Year Three’s first term: Pratibha (who judged TWO TERMS!), and Sinéad O’Hart. They have read and battled over your stories with grace, courage, and a keen eye. They turned the spread of cultures and time zones — California by way of India (Pratibha) and Ireland (Sinéad) — into a strong advantage as they sifted through your mountains of flash fiction jewels, ferreting out the most powerful tales and themes. Pratibha and Sinéad: working with you has been a joy and privilege. Thank you for sharing your myriad talents with us here at Flash! Friday (and please keep doing so!). I am forever grateful.     

♦♦♦♦♦

Dragon Captains Sinéad O’Hart/Pratibha say: 

Pratibha: It’s time to hang up the judge’s robe and drop that gavel. I simultaneously feel relief and sadness. This is my second stint as the FF judge: madness, I tell you. Even though, I won’t be officially judging, I will turn up to write Flash! Friday tales and actually post them here from time to time. Flash! Friday may be based in Shenandoah Valley, but to me it’s Hotel California –

“You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”

As usual, excellent work this week, people. Keep on flashing!

Sinéad: Well, what a way to round out my stint as a Flash! Friday judge. Every time I’ve had the privilege of judging, I’ve been amazed by the depth and variety of stories, all based around the same prompts, and the level of accomplishment that goes into each one – and this week was no different. From malfunctioning androids to lives held in loops, from grieving parents to trains themselves being vehicles between worlds or realities, these tales truly raised the bar. I think I enjoyed every one, and choosing winners and Runners Up was a real challenge – there was a lot of back-and-forth between the judges! It’s never easy to pick winners, but when there’s such an embarrassment of riches to choose from, it really does make the challenge all the harder. Thank you, one and all, for your efforts this week, and we hope the choices we’ve made reflect the quality of the stories we were presented with. Thanks also for being so great during our tenure as judges! We hope we did y’all proud.

♦♦♦♦♦

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best dialogue: Reg Wulff, “Excuses.” 

Pratibha: This captivated me because the dialogue flowed smoothly. The characters are believable and strong. Well done.

Sinéad: Stories told through dialogue are always an eye-catcher for me, and this one made particularly great use of the conversation between Frank and Billy, using the trope to create brilliant characterisation and a clever story (which makes excellent use of the prompts!).

Best Rhythm: Colin D. Smith, “Always the Same.” 

Pratibha: The story is told in a poem that skillfully captures the rhythm of the train. I wish we had a special category of poems.

Sinéad: Of course, in a week where one of the prompts is a train, we hope for stories which make use of the wonderful ‘clickety-clack’ rhythm of the wheels, and this one did just that. I enjoyed its use of the sounds of the train itself and its effective ‘Until it isn’t’ at the end, signalling destruction.

Best Use of Humour & Topicality:  Mark A. King, “The Original Mr. Grey.” 

Pratibha: I always love a humorous tale; this one is it this week, and if the story addresses a current news story, even better.

Sinéad: As well as this one being funny and relevant to this week’s big literary news story, I thought it was charming and funny, particularly the image of Death doing a dad-dance once a year, and the very idea of there being a Mr Grey (a god of the banal?) was intriguing.

 

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Clive Tern, “Wishing for Eternity in a World Lost to Love.” 

Pratibha: I loved this one for the subtle use of the prompt and overall sense of mystery. The sad predicament is only revealed towards the end. I loved the dialogue, and how it wraps around at the end back to the beginning of the story. A clever use of the flash technique.

Sinéad: Well, what a tearjerker. Such a tender tale until the giveaway line ‘All those times now gone forever…’, when we realise things aren’t as they appear; and then the sad, looping and deeply touching denouement finishes things off perfectly. This was a little story-gem, which I really enjoyed.

Eliza Archer, “Temps Perdu.” 

Pratibha: This was a treat to read. I enjoyed the experimental technique. A story told through a list poem with a twist at the end. What a great title. Well done indeed!

Sinéad: Structurally, I liked this story; I enjoyed the way it was put together and laid out on the page, and I enjoyed the way it was told through a series of ‘If onlys’. It was clever, and well titled, and a really well put together piece, and I admired the way the author allowed the story to unfold gradually, and without being obvious.

Brian S. Creek, “1979.” 

Pratibha: I loved this for the way the main character uses modern technology to get to the bottom of the recurring dream.

Sinéad: A lot of stories this week attempted the same, or very similar, themes, including (as here) the idea of having lived through a disaster in the past; but this one stood out for me. I liked the idea of the repeating dream, and the dreamer’s determination to get to the bottom of it. I also thought how it ended was just perfect, leaving the reader hanging.

Steph Ellis, “Family Outing.” 

Pratibha:  The writer builds an alternate world with a cast of characters from mythology, and sends them on an ordinary family outing. Nothing ordinary about that. This was a fun read.

Sinéad: I just loved this one for its use of mythological figures and its depiction of them as a family – it reminded me in some ways of the Endless in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ graphic novels. I enjoyed the last line, wondering how often Nyx has filled Morpheus’ flagon with Lethe water, and what else she has made him forget – and what effects this might have had on frail humanity!

THIRD RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker,Like Daughter.” 

Pratibha: I liked the exquisite descriptions of the setting to indicate the characters were trying to avoid the unpleasant truth facing them. The strained relationship between mother-daughter is shown through the body language. I liked the expert use of the language and story-telling technique.

Sinéad: I loved the voice and perspective in this one, and the use of the prompts, which are subtle but intrinsically woven into the story’s plot. I particularly loved the use of ‘deja vu’, as the mother looks back over her life and sees her child repeating the same mistakes she made as a younger woman, and I was particularly taken by the image of the ‘wadded papers and candy wrappers’ on the coverlet, which shows how young the girl is despite her efforts to be grown up. I just loved this; I thought it was so beautifully written.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Casey Rose Frank, “I Love You/I Love You Not.” 

Pratibha: I usually don’t care for the stories that deal with supernatural, unless they are done expertly and bring home some truth about human emotions. This story does that. The train-wreck of emotions is portrayed by soft strokes that gradually turn into hard ones until the point is driven home. The end is chilling, but the words remain calm. I love how the ending sentence returns to the beginning.

Sinéad: Out of the many stories this week which dealt with rebirth, or people reliving events, I thought this one was interesting because it had a different perspective than the others – and it was also truly chilling! The idea that a spirit would wait until someone’s dying day just to get revenge on them for an imagined slight was memorable and clever, and really well expressed. One is more used to stories about people who meet their deceased loved ones at death in order for a peaceful and beautiful reunion to take place, so this subverted that trope very nicely.

FIRST RUNNER UP 

Michael Seese, “Don’t Worry, Little One.” 

Pratibha: This story caught my interest right away. The vignettes of the series of firsts in a child’s life are portrayed tenderly. The refrain, “’Don’t worry, little one. Everything will be fine” is soothing yet ominous. We wait for a train-wreck to happen, and when it does, it’s nothing like we expected. I love how the story unfolds layer by layer. I loved the gentle tone and understated horror at the end.

Sinéad: This one brought a tear to my eye. I thought the emotion in it was true and touching, and beautifully expressed, and the repeated refrain of ‘Don’t worry, little one. Everything will be fine’ was particularly affecting, because of course sometimes things aren’t going to be fine, no matter how much we want them to be. Nobody, not even a mother, can guarantee this, and that hit me powerfully. From a writing point of view, I enjoyed how the author employed the prompts – the life of the daughter told and retold, and the unexpected use of the image of the train – and to combine skill like this with such deep emotion was a true accomplishment.

And now: for her very first time, it’s Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

KATIE MORFORD!!!

for

“Iron Mistress”

Pratibha: I like strong characters, so this story and voice of this woman who is toughened by her life caught my attention. The story basically a monologue, but the entire life unfolds in front of our eyes. The slow realization that “Even freedom isn’t free,” is unsettling. I loved this woman in “peacock-feathered” hat, who is defiant and non-apologetic for her life-choices.  The imagery in the story is evocative, and the voice in memorable. I loved her “deja-vu” life that is still a runaway train, but with the shifted control. Powerful story.

Sinéad:  This story featured a great, snappy voice, one which caught my attention and held it. I loved the character’s determination and self-assurance, even if it may be masking a deep well of fear and insecurity, and I thought the ending – which is powerful, but also slightly disturbing, as we wonder what exactly she’s going to do when she gets ‘West’ – was excellent and memorable. I thought the lines ‘I may be cheap but nothing is free. I sold my soul to buy my freedom’ was particularly evocative, and I liked the idea of a life twice-lived, reinvention, and new beginnings, which took the idea of ‘deja vu’ to a new level.

Congratulations, Katie! You’ve earned other nods before, including winning an HM at the most recent Flashversary–what a pleasure to see you grab the dragon crown! Here’s your brand new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:

Iron Mistress

They say I’m a runaway train, with lots of flash and smoke and steam. They say I’m nothing but an Iron Mistress, plowing through everything and everyone and leaving rubble in my wake.

Maybe I am. Maybe I ain’t. I’ll leave that for biddies to decide when I’m mouldering in my grave in my peacock-feather hat. Money don’t grow on trees and milksops only get the cash cow after she’s drained dry. Nothing is free — except maybe me.

If I’m a runaway train, it’s because this land pounded the weakness out of me with every clack of the wheels. A girl leaving a sooty New York orphanage for a hot, harsh land in the grip of the Dust Bowl, who had yet to learn that nothing is free.

Not even me.

Now I’m back on that train heading West and if my dress is a tad fancier and my legs lad-fumblers instead of dried sticks, those iron wheels are still pounding this truth home.

I may be cheap but nothing is free. I sold my soul to buy my freedom. Even freedom isn’t free. Say what you might. This train is a’coming. Ain’t nothing gonna stand in her way.

FFwinner-Web

Spotlight: Crosshair Press

It’s with great delight we welcome the team at Crosshair Press to the mic. I (Rebekah) had the privilege of meeting two of their team members, Katie Morford and Amy Williams, at the Realm Makers’ writers conference in 2014. I’m also pleased to point out that Katie is part of the Flash! Friday family (she posts as K.L. Morford). In fact this very week she came away with the first runner up prize (woot!); her story “Hope Rising” won an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Flashversary contest.

I’ve grown to respect this team a great deal. After reading this interview, you’ll doubtless understand why. 

Welcome, CP!

Crosshair press large logo

 

Let’s start with the basics. Who/what is Crosshair Press? Why does the world need another publisher? And what’s up with the A-Team obsession? 

Crosshair Press is a small indie press dedicated to developing authors and publishing books where adventure and biblical truths intersect. After years of seeking a publisher that embraced books that could include speculative elements, action/adventure, and biblical truths (though NOT necessarily a “Christian” book), we finally decided we’d have to start our own press!

L-R. Amy, Katie, Amy, Carrie.

L-R. Carrie Lemke, Katie Morford, Amy Davis, Amy Williams

The four founding ladies of Crosshair Press had been in a writing critique group together for several years, so it was a natural step to embark on this new adventure together. As for the A-Team references, we truly have a fun, united team spirit amongst the four of us. We noticed early-on that we each fit one of the roles of the A-Team characters (Amy Williams, planner and idea person; Katie Morford, the “face” of the operation; Amy Davis, the fun and quirky one who finds the unexpected solution; Carrie Lemke, the quiet one with the most BA characters of any of us).

We believe in quality and professionalism, but there’s also no reason why we can’t have fun doing it!

L-R Amy Williams & Katie Morford

L-R Amy Williams & Katie Morford

You’re two months into your second year (congratulations!) and already have two books under your belt. What’s the experience been like so far? What’s surprised you the most? What about publishing might surprise other writers? 

As you say, so far we’ve released two books. One, entitled Nameless, is a space opera adventure novel with elements of humor and romance. The other is a romantic comedy, Finding Fireflies, telling the story of a 30-something single church secretary who befriends a prostitute and has to team up with her childhood crush to save her new friend. 

We’ve been blown away by the tremendous response and support from people from many different walks, from little old ladies at church to high-level executives and publishing industry professionals.

We love the opportunity to be involved in every step of the creative process, from writing, content editing and working with beta readers, to staging book cover photo shoots, cover design, production, and promotion. It definitely requires a lot of time, hard work, and Starbursts (brain food), but seeing the books come together and people being entertained and touched by the stories is worth it. 

You’re novelists and short story writers yourselves. What’s it like sitting on the other side of the desk? How has donning publisher hats changed you as novelists and the way you approach your own writing? 

Well, we’re not fancy gentlemen in very fine hats, but I think participating in the publishing process has helped us tremendously as authors, because now we’re always thinking big picture when we’re writing. Who is my audience? How would I describe the theme or plot of this story to someone? How do I want people to respond? Has this story been told before? How can I make the setting/plot/characters unique? Previously, these are questions we wouldn’t have considered until the book was complete.

Plus, doing content edits for others helps us identify problems in our own work sooner because we’ve trained ourselves to look for them. 

We’re pleased to note that the first contest you held was a flash fiction contest. What’s your take on flash—is it here to stay?—and how do you think a writer’s flash skills might help when it’s time to write a novel? 

With seemingly greater demands our time than ever before, many readers are turning to flash fiction for bite-sized portions of their fiction addiction. We also think learning to convey emotion and story in very concise fashion, as required by flash fiction, is invaluable when it comes time to write a novel. A novel, after all, is nothing more than a connected collection of “flash fiction” scenes designed to tell a larger story.

We love how you also offer critiques and mentoring for writers. What inspired you to add that service? In these days of so many writers going indie and small house, what other traditionally IRL writing services/relationships do you foresee going the online route? 

We’ve had so many talented, experienced authors come alongside us in our own journey, it was natural to want to help other writers learn to tell their stories more effectively. In our discussions with up-and-coming authors, the most common problem we noticed is many writers are submitting manuscripts with intriguing concepts but flawed execution.

To be ready for publication, these stories need improvements to plot, story, character, setting, etc. visible only to another trained eye. We want to empower these writers to tell great stories, without being discouraged by repeated rejection from publishers simply for lack of an experienced editor to journey with them. 

Futurecast for us: in 2025, paper books: yes or no? And will the world have lost or gained by this? 

One of the biggest surprises for us has been the enduring demand for hard copies of our titles. While ebooks are definitely a convenient avenue for distribution, there’s nothing like the smell of a new book in your hands. We predict that hard copies of books, though they may become more of luxury item or double as display pieces, will still hold their place on our shelves for many years to come. And we certainly hope they do. 

What’s 2015 look like for Crosshair Press? Are the rumors correct in saying you’re opening your doors to submissions this year? 

We’re off and running in 2015 and it’s shaping up to be an exciting year! Our romantic comedy released in February, our political thriller with a hearty dose of humor comes out Memorial Day (that’s 25 May for our international readers), and Namesake, the sequel to our sci-fi release, Nameless, will be coming out at the end of the year. We’re also looking at a YA epic urban fantasy option for late this year or early next.

Combined with our day jobs as full-time nurse, mommy, freelancer and globe-trotting missionary, we have our plates full. But we’re still hoping to be able to open up to submissions this year. So keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page for any announcements!

When you do open your doors, what sort of novels will you be looking for? What advice would you give writers who’d like to submit to you? Will the writers need to be agented?

Agents aren’t required, but make sure to read our writer’s guidelines as our process is a bit different than conventional publishing. We also suggest reading our blog and previous titles to get a feel for what kind of stories we like!

Generally, we love character-based adventure stories with strong themes and funny dialogue. Extra points for creative and unique concepts or storytelling methods.

What advice/encouragement or special messages would you like to leave with the Flash! Friday community? And just how much do you adore dragons?

It’s great to see such an encouraging and engaged community of writers! I (Katie) have recently wet my feet in flash fiction and y’all were so welcoming and affirming. Thank you! We’d love to talk, so stop by our social media pages or website and say hi. We might even introduce you to our resident dragon mascot, who is so incredible that we can’t tell you about him for fear Rebekah will steal him away. {Editor’s note: What if he wants to go, hmmm?}

THANK YOU SO MUCH, CP, for taking the time to chat with us today. Best wishes for a successful 2015 and beyond!

Crosshair press small logo