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Jake Freivald

February 2009

My Not-So-Funny Valentine

Jake Freivald, Editor
Jake Freivald, Editor

Sometimes things just work out.

Harry, from the month’s third story, might disagree, but this month that’s the way it looks. We stumbled across new love stories for February, our Classic Flash just became available in January, and suddenly Flash Fiction Online developed one of the more interesting blogs on the Web. Between those things and the Preditors & Editors results, it’s been a very good month.

Let’s talk about stories first.

I recently asked Jay Lake for a story. You may have heard of him already: he has appeared in literary and genre fiction magazines worldwide, he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is a multiple Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee. The next day, I received a sumptuous fantasy called “Golden Pepper”. There’s a lot to like in the story: a devout and loving husband, a vivid and enigmatic Death, and a wager, all floating on the surface of a world into which one could clearly go deeper.

At around that time, Robert Borski sent us “The Scarecrow’s Inamorata”. The characters are not ordinary. It’s a love story, too, and I fell in love with it from the first moment I read it.

Both of these are rather dark; however, we also received a literary story from Tony Rogers called “The Universe Has It In For Harry”, which is heartening and bright without being sappy: the antidote to the preceding two, the chaser to those bitter drafts. (Yes, the over-Americanized spelling is deliberate. It makes the pun better.) I literally had a staff member threaten to set up a conga line in front of my house — she promised me once that she wouldn’t picket, so this is her alternative — if I didn’t publish the story. Fortunately, I fully agreed with her about its merits, and my neighborhood remains relatively placid.

With those three love stories in place for February, I had to find a Classic Flash to suit. Fortunately, Project Gutenberg had just published an issue of Punch, the British humour magazine, from May of 1919. I found in it a Cyrano-inspired ditty called “A Spring Idyll” that chimed in at almost the right length. Rather than cut fourteen words from the original, I have published it verbatim: our anonymous writer had no idea that I would want him to meet my criteria eighty-nine years later. And don’t worry, it’s not because our Classic Flashes are drying up — we have enough for years to come. This story just seemed perfect for this issue.

Bruce Holland Rogers continued his column this month with a story on — I’m not making this up — flash fiction biographies. His sample story, “Dinosaur”, isn’t about love or valentines, but it’s one of the most poignant of his stories that I’ve seen.

Now, while all of this story-collecting and editing and artwork creation (special thanks again to R.W. Ware — and his daughter, Caitlyn, who helped him this month!) was going on, staffer Bill Highsmith was posting tons of really interesting posts to our News and Headlines section.

Here are a few items that give you a flavor for his recent posts: Top 10 Humorous (Grammar) Blogs, interviews with John Updike and Jeff Vandermeer, Rejectomancy from Abyss & Apex, single-element compounds.... You get the idea. Lots of great stuff, well worth following.

It’s purely his initiative, and I didn’t give him any particular direction, but the result is that one of my favorite blogs is right here on our own site. Subscribe to the feed.

While I’m talking about goodies around the site, I should mention that we’ve started to put up audio versions of the stories from last year. You can subscribe to that feed here or by searching for Flash Fiction Online in iTunes. If you listen to them, please drop me a line.

Finally, I thought I’d give a few thank-you’s to those of you who have supported Flash Fiction Online over the past month.

A special thanks to those of you who hit the Tip Jar: Edna Sheedy, Katarina Hjärpe, Abigail Rustad (and this isn’t her first time contributing), Andrew Steiner, Esther Cotton, Emily Leverett, Cheryl W Ruggiero, and Geoffrey Kidd. 60% of the tip goes directly to the author, and 40% stays with Flash Fiction Online to keep us... well, less deep in the red. Even if it’s only a few dollars, every bit helps.

I’d like to follow up on the Preditors & Editors poll that started in January. First, thanks to everyone who voted for us in any category. The poll provides good publicity and a certain amount of credibility, so it’s great to be reasonably high in the rankings (tied for twelfth place); but I have to admit some misgivings about being above Jim Baen’s Universe and Interzone, both SF staples, and I must note that Asimov’s (SF) and Glimmer Train (literary), to name two professional markets, aren’t even represented. It’s nice to be high in the list, and thanks again to everyone who voted for us, but I think that’s enough to say. Make sure to check out the complete results; they contain a lot of interesting magazines, anthologies, and stories to look into.

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About the Author

Jake Freivald

The eyes of Jake Freivald

Jake Freivald lives in New Jersey in a house that teems with life: a wife, eight kids, two dogs, two cats, and ten fish. They’re all being neglected right now, so he’s going to stop writing this.

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