Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sir Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is known for his Discworld fantasy series and supporting research for a cure for dementia has received a knighthood. His support for research came on the heels of his diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Well done, Knight Commander.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kindle Economics

The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader with downloading over a built-in wireless connection. It costs US$359. Is it economical? One personal gripe is the inability to get free stuff (like blogs) and read it for free. I think the quickly expanding netbook market may provide a platform for similar applications.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Writing-Mill Grist

Maybe something here will inspire a story:
Top ten technology breakthroughs and new organisms of 2008

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Fine Art of Literary Rejection Letters

Says Jean Hannah Edelstein: "One thousand is a conservative estimate of the number of books and book proposals that I rejected during my two-year publishing career. I have rejected books that have ended up selling for lots of money, and I have rejected books that were plagiarised wholesale from...."

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Automatic Research Papers

A scary story. A group a MIT has a program, SciGEN that automatically creates random computer science research papers with citations. They've had some papers accepted for lower-level technical conferences. One paper was accepted at an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) conference. If you understand what the IEEE is, you will be alarmed. This has the potential of driving conference editors insane with bogus research papers that sound very convincing. The MIT group reckons this a holy mission to expose bogus conferences, but their tool is now in the wild. You can create a research paper online simply by providing up to five authors' names. (See a snippet of "my" paper below, with three silly names.). The MIT group reports some fascinating correspondence related to one paper acceptance.

Writers have to worry about fiction editors' workloads if auto-writing is applied to fiction. Fortunately (and unfortunately) editors legendarily reject most stories before the 14th line. (And let's not forget our poor educators.)

The bloggist's recent research paper (snippet) with 34th citation; the bloggist has an MS CS and can assure you that this is utter nonsense:

A Methodology for the Emulation of Local-Area Networks
Flash Rider, Short Fictive and Too Fu Wurds

Abstract: Recent advances in “smart” symmetries and relational models collude in order to realize consistent hashing. Given the current status of client-server models, biologists dubiously desire the understanding of voice-over-IP. In this work we propose an analysis of evolutionary programming (Soar), which we use to argue that the famous event-driven algorithm for the deployment of object-oriented languages by Bhabha et al. follows a Zipf-like distribution.
...
[34] Zheng, D. Deconstructing 4 bit architectures. In
Proceedings of the Workshop on Cooperative, Self-
Learning Modalities (Mar. 2000).

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Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008

Eartha Kitt: singer, dancer, actress, played Batwoman and Helen of Troy, "the most exciting woman in the world" (according to Orson Welles), died at the age of 81 on Christmas day.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Rejected!

Did you get coal in your stocking this year? Blame it on
our Editor-in-Chief, Jake Grinchvald. On Christmas Eve,
he rejected all of Santa's submissions to Flash Fiction
Online:

Thriller: Dark and Stormy Christmas Night
Arctic frontier story: The Reindeersleigher
Horror story: Santa Claws
Kiss-and-tell: Sleigh Belles
Polar thriller of mistaken identity: North by Northnorth

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Newspaper Swan Song?

The Tribune Company's bankruptcy filing makes this New Yorker story more poignant. The author points out that newspapers have fewer subscribers but more readers, due to online readership. Consequently, print advertising revenue is drying up. Interesting also is the author's comments about the relationship of the blogosphere to newspapers.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Year-End Giving

There are many worthwhile web sites of great value to writers and readers. A few that stand out are Ralan's Webstravaganza, Duotrope's Digest, Critters Workshop, and Liberty Hall Writers.

Ralan Webstravaganza offers up-to-date marketing information, particularly for periodical and annual publications, categorized in several ways, including anthologies, pro/semi-pro, paying, 4theLuv, humor and others. It seems that many magazines depend on Ralan to announce their submission/reading periods. Both readers and writers can search out periodicals of which they weren't aware. (I didn't know there was a magazine for me...a left-handed goth.)

Duotrope has a similar mission to Ralan--providing detailed marketing information to writers. They add a powerful search facility, which gives readers and writers a great tool for finding publications meeting a variety of criteria.

Critters Workshop and Liberty Hall Writers both offer peer critiquing of which writers at any level of experience can take advantage. Since these are private, password-protected sites, writers can safely post their entire story without losing publication rights. Liberty Hall emphasizes writing challenges as a learning tool; Flash Fiction Online is currently sponsoring a contest now at LH, which may lead to publication in FFO. Critters Workshop has their Submitting to the Black Hole feature, which is a godsend to research the response times of many publications. (So I can sub these three pubs in the same time this one takes to respond....) Their data comes from the actual experience of writers.

If you'd like to donate to these sites, this is a good time: Ralan, Duotrope, Critters, and Liberty Hall (Mike doesn't have a donations page, but accepts bottles of 12-year-old Bunnahabhain single-malt).

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top 10 literary hoaxes

This story is a bit little long in the tooth, but this subject matter does not change often: Top ten literary hoaxes.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review of December's Short Fiction

There was an earlier blog post listing the short fiction titles and authors for December's spec-fiction magazines and ezines. Here is a short review of many of those titles. This should inform your purchasing of spec-fiction publications.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

SAG Awards Genre Nominations

SFScope says that genre nominations faired slightly better than last year in the Screen Actors Guild's 15th annual SAG Awards. SAG's press release with a full list of nominees is here.

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Klingon Opera

Floris Schönfeld is a Dutch artist who has been developing a Klingon-language opera called “ ’u’. " The apostrophes are part of the opera's name; the author is 26, you see. For those of you younger than the author, the opera is inspired by the "fierce warrior race" of the “Star Trek" TV series. Apparently, fans have expanded the Klingon language over time from the series' and movies' hints and the author has furthered that research.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Your Facebook, Pal

Some of us older guys feel too exposed by social networking. We prefer distant, non-instant, anti-social networking, like e-mail. Here's an example of our nightmares. A loan server in Australia got permission to serve legal papers on a couple via their Facebook account, unable to contact them any other way.

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Nano-Flash: Twitter Fiction

"Tell us a Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror story in under 140 characters. Other than that, we’re just looking for good stories," explains the submissions page for Thaumatrope, presumably the first spec-fic twitterzine. A twitterzine specializes in fiction that will fit in one twitter message: 140 characters, including spaces, about 24 words or so. They pay pro rates, 5-cents per word, so you'll earn $1.20 per accepted submission. Unfortunately, they only accept submissions via Federal Express...no, that was a joke. This should generate some good fun. I suggest they develop an online thesaurus of short words.

Category of this article: not anticipated by Nostradamus

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sci-Fi Writers and Technology's Future

"Science fiction isn't (as a rule) about predicting the future, and science fiction writers aren't trying to predict it," according to Frederick Pohl, Larry Niven, Nancy Kress, Robert J. Sawyer and Charles Stross in an interview by CIO. So, what is it about?

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Storytelling and Reading

What does Grand Theft Auto, Twitter and Beowulf have in common? Storytelling is changing but still vital, says Sam Leith. One of the players in this change is MIT Media Lab's Center for Storytelling. But this slightly long-in-the-tooth story asks if we are still reading?

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's New in Spec Fic Magazines this Month

What's in new issues of Analog, Asimov's, Black Static, Flytrap, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Premonitions, Star*Line, Talebones, and Vector. Larry Niven, Nancy Kress, our own Bruce Holland Rogers in Black Static, and many others.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Collaborative Writing on the Web

Trying to find a better way to collaborate with your co-author on a novel, business proposal or career-ending angry letter to your boss? MAC users have had the unfortunately named SubEthaEdit for some time. But a web-based application, Etherpad, is now available. This allows open-platform collaboration. All you need is one of the several supported web browsers. Here is a comparison of the two applications, thanks to TidBITS.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 Golden Globe Award Nominees

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association published their 2008 Golden Globe Award nominees for the year ending this month. The folks at SFScope wonder about the snubbing that SF/fantasy/horror received. Here's their list of the SF/F/H nominees. Note that SFScope reckons this to be the 2009 list, perhaps because the award ceremony is in January, 2009; the HFPA trumps them in this matter.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Meta-List of 2007 Best SF/Fantasy/Horror

Here is a meta-list of the year's best science fiction, fantasy and horror, compiled from various sources of best-of-year lists, ordered by number of citations in the lists. The sources include many well-known newspapers, magazines and journals as well as some genre publications. Locus Magazine has their own list, but did not include it in the compilation. Yes, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was first.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alexander McCall Smith--New Novel Online

Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) is posting a new novel online at The Telegraph, five chapters per week. He's posted about 63 chapters and will continue through Feb. 13. You can read the chapters online, listen to them (mp3) or receive e-mails.

To add a bit of spice, the reader for the mp3s is Andrew Sachs who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

21 Blogs for Writers (and Readers)

John Joseph Adams is the assistant editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and editor of various anthologies. He offers this list of 21 blogs writers should be reading. I think many blogs of interest to writers will be of interest to avid readers as well. The bloggists include authors, groups of authors, editors, literary agents, and some anonymous professionals.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Writing Flash Fiction

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cory Doctorow on Internet Rights/Policing

Says Cory Doctoral: "Frankly, the only way to police the net for infringement is to throttle it. And that's exactly what the proactive policing that many artists are calling for would do." More on this omnibus look at the Internet and writers and artists here.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Books for the Holidays

John Scalzi over at his Whatever blog has an open thread for recommending books for the holidays.

Given his status as a science fiction writer, I'd guess that many of the people contributing to the thread will lean towards genre fiction, but I can see already that there are young adult, literary, and other categories there as well. Worth checking out. I know I'm looking for myself and for people I'll buy gifts for.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Flash Fiction Online story wins First Annual Micro Award!

Congratulations to Bruce Holland Rogers for winning the First Annual Micro Award with his story, "Reconstruction Work"!

We published this story in our very first issue, barely making the Micro Award deadline. It has also been noted on cnn.com -- which is, I think, only the second reference to Bruce on CNN (the other being a book review).

Robert Laughlin is the brainpower and administrator behind the Micro Awards. George Keithley and Clark Brown were judges for the first award; the second award will be judged by Stefanie Freele, Benjamin J. Biesek, and Len Fulton. (Remember Stefanie? She wrote the (now Pushcart-nominated) "James Brown is Alive and Doing Laundry in South Lake Tahoe" in our January issue -- the month after Bruce published his award-winning story.)

Congratulations to Bruce, and many thanks to Robert Laughlin and the rest of the Micro Award judges!

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Robot Actors--A Small Step

Here is a BBC report of a university stage play with human and robot actors. The play's storyline seems a bit self-referential, but it is a small step for robotkind...but to where? The off-the-shelf Mitsubishi robots have no acting ambitions; this was added by university students.

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