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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flash Fiction For Sale

Out of curiosity, I did a search for "flash fiction" at a certain Humongous Online Bookstore and was surprised to find 116 titles, many with "Flash Fiction," "Very Short Fiction" or some such in the title. Some were alternate editions--older or e-Book editions--but a substantial number were unique. These included fiction collections and non-fiction (how to write flash fiction) books.

Only towards the very end of the list did I suspect that Humongous Online Bookstore was messing with me and would never declare the search at an end until I bought something. (No, War and Peace is not an extremely long flash story.)

Below are some of the titles. This isn't an endorsement. These appeared in the first page of the search. The first on the list is one of Flash Fiction Online editor Jake Freivald's favorites. (Okay, that sounded a little bit like an endorsement.)

  • The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field by Tara L Masih
  • Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories by Robert Shapard and James Thomas
  • Fifty-One Flash Fiction Stories by Louise Michelle
  • Thieves and Scoundrels: Absolute XPress Flash Fiction Challenge #3 by Pete 'Patch' Alberti, Krista D. Ball, James Beamon, and Jodi Cleghorn
  • Nano-Flash Fiction for (Humongous Online Bookstore's famous e-Book reader) by James Dillingham
  • A Brief History of Fables: From Aesop to Flash Fiction (Brief Histories) by Lee Rourke
  • Oh Baby: Flash Fictions and Prose Poetry by Kim Chinquee
  • Six Sentences by Robert McEvily
  • The Pearl Jacket and Other Stories: Flash Fiction from Contemporary China by Shouhua Qi
  • ....

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tweeting Stories a Mixed Blessing--Rick Moody

Novelist Rick Moody, known especially for his novel The Ice Storm, experimented by tweeting a short story, "Some Contemporary Characters," in 153 tweets over three days, according to this Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy article: Rick Moody’s Twitter Short Story Draws Long List of Complaints.

The experiment was complicated by at least three factors: two publishers were simultaneously publishing the story, some of the followers followed both publishers, and the publishers mixed the story tweets with ordinary tweets. Some followers therefore received duplicate tweets, and may also have received unrelated tweets interspersed with the story tweets. The immediacy of the tweets was one attractive aspect of the experiment for the author, but one can imagine other issues, too, such as time zone differences (killing the immediacy).

It seems like these are not insurmountable obstacles, the solution being, don't do that: don't simultaneously publish and don't mix tweets (by creating a special tweet address for the occasion). The complaint about the mixing of tweets seems specious; avid Twitterers may get tweets from many unrelated sources.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Significant Objects Project: Stories for Found Objects

Flash Fiction Online's columnist, Bruce Holland Rogers, is participating as a writer in the Significant Objects Project. The premise of the project is:

A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!

Curators for the project purchase thrift store objects, for a few dollars. Writers in the project write a fictional story about their selected object. The object is then placed for auction on eBay, with the story serving as the object's description on the auction page. The winner receives the object, a printed copy of the story, and the author's thanks.

Bruce's auction object is an umbrella trinket. The object and story can now be viewed in an eBay auction. As with all objects that generate stories for the project, the auctioned object goes to the highest bidder and the proceeds go to the author of the story. Here are links to the object (Umbrella Trinket) and its auction.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

YA: Vampires Out, Post-Apocalypse In

According to a short Publishers Weekly article, publishers of young adult fiction are sick to death of vampires. What's next for the little darlings? Yes, Virginia, there is post-apocalyptic fiction for you, and, according to one author, you may then tie a chainsaw to the bumper of your car if you wish, sweetie. Whoo hoo!

This article, first appearing in PW's Children's Bookshelf blog, gives some brief thoughts from authors Michael Grant, Scott Westerfeld, Carrie Ryan, and James Dashner who had gathered with fans at a bookstore. One issue is the "parent problem," mainly, how to get rid of them in the stories. Says the article writer, Sara Antill, “the bleaker the vision, the better:”

In fact, that mantra is an integral part of Carrie Ryan’s writing process. “I go with the philosophy of ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ ” she said, “and then I write that.”

The article doesn't mention the present publishing frenzy related to the Mayan predications for the year 2012, but that likely is fueling this interest. Here is PW's article on YA post-apocalyptic fiction.

What about a novel featuring post-apocalyptic vampires...no...zombies? Never mind.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The Age Book of the Year Award: Debut Novel

The Age, an 150-year-old Australian newspaper has awarded the 2009 The Age Book of the Year award to a debut novel by Steven Amsterdam for his post-apocalyptic Things We Did Not See Coming. He won the fiction award as well.

Guy Rundle won the non-fiction prize for his account of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Down to the Crossroads.

Here is a nice bit for writers:

Amsterdam's novel evolved from a couple of short stories that Sleepers published in its annual Almanac. While the first one was rejected 17 times before it found a home in The Sleepers Almanac, he didn't have the same difficulty with the novel, which is a suite of linked stories narrated by the same character as he negotiates life in a dramatically altered but unidentified landscape and society.

Here is a full account of The Age Book awards.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2009 World Fantasy Awards Nominees

The World Fantasy Convention 2009 has announced the ballot for the 2009 World Fantasy Awards:

Best Novel

  • The House of the Stag, Kage Baker (Tor)
  • The Shadow Year, Jeffrey Ford (Morrow)
  • The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury)
  • Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory (Del Rey)
  • Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin; Knopf)

Best Short Story

  • “Caverns of Mystery”, Kage Baker (Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy)
  • “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 7/08)
  • “Pride and Prometheus”, John Kessel (F&SF 1/08)
  • “Our Man in the Sudan”, Sarah Pinborough (The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories)
  • “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 5/08)

Additional award categories include Best Novella, Best Anthology, Best Collection, Best Artist, Special Award--Professional, Special Award--Non-Professional.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Onion Now a Chinese Newspaper?

Oh dear, America has lost another of its great newspapers. The Onion is now a Chinese-run newspaper. You'll notice subtle changes, such as this article: "Internet Adds 12th Website." Here is the opening of that story:

BEIJING—The World Wide Web, a device used solely for the enrichment of the nation and the advancement of lasting social stability, gained another website for the convenience of its users Monday, bringing the current number of existing Internet destinations to 12. SeedStore.com, the latest site to burst into cyberspace after taking the Public Pledge On Self-Discipline, offers users a variety of quality flower....

Oh, dear.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fiction News: Good, Not So Good, Bad

News from Ralan:

The Good:
--Emerald Tales: new bimonthly PDF publication (all genres and poetry).

The Not So Good:
--Polluto (SF/F/H counter-cultural) is going from quarterly to bi-annual publication.

The Bad:
--Talebones (SF/dark fantasy) is ceasing publication as a periodical (but will complete the presently planned issues) and may continue as an annual anthology in a year.

--Lone Star Stories (SpecFic/Interstitial): shuttered.

All of the above happen to be in the "Paying" category at Ralan.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Million Writers Award Finalists

The Million Writers Award for online fiction, sponsored by storySouth magazine now has its ten finalists here where you may vote. FFO reported the long list of stories earlier, and the amusing side issue of some flash fiction sneaking into the contest. This contest is has both speculative and literary stories.

In the current issue of Flash Fiction Online is Descent, a story by Bryan S. Wang. Bryan has an honorable mention in the award this year (in the long list) with another of his stories, Flyaway Dreams.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Million Writers Award (Flash Stories Sneaked In)

Here is an interesting and longish list of the best online short stories and magazines published in 2008. (Scroll down below what looks like the end of the article to see the nominees.)

This award is administered by storySouth, a respected literary magazine. The ten story finalists will be named in May.


The Status of Flash Fiction in the Award: The rules stated that the stories must be more than 1000 word long--which the editor knew would and had caused grumbling--so Flash Fiction Online had little chance of placing a story. However, a few flash stories from other publications sneaked in under the editor's nose, but he took the news philosophically:

...My first instinct was to kick out these stories. However, the simply [sic] truth is they are good stories, so what the hell, let's list them....

Here is his whole statement on this matter.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doctorow among Man Booker International Prize

Cory Doctorow is among the nominees for the Man Booker International Prize for fiction. Speculative fiction writers might take heart at this inclusion, regardless of the final outcome, which occurs around May. According to the prize's web site:

The Man Booker International Prize is significantly different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlights one writer's overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In seeking out literary excellence the judges consider a writer's body of work rather than a single novel.

The selections for this prize are made by a small, international group of panelists. Publishers do not make recommendations. The nominees are:


The judges are quite interesting, too: Jane Smiley (chair), Amit Chaudhuri and Andrey Kurkov. Their bios are here.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

The Big Read

The National Endowment for the Arts, a U.S. Government-sponsored program, encourages communities, through grants for the Big Read program, to select one of twenty-seven books for the whole community to read, followed by related community events. According to this NY times article, participation is wide-spread, although some communities find the program limiting and design their own programs.

More than 200 communities participate in the Big Read or similar programs, modeled after “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book,” a project launched in Washington in 1998.

On the Big Read website, there is a search facility to find nearby participating communities.

In a related (though not necessarily causative) January story, American fiction-reading is up after a long decline

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pen/Faulkner Award 2009

Joseph O'Neill has won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction for his post 9/11 novel "Netherland," which has been compared (here and here for example) with "The Great Gatsby." Strangely, the Post, NYT (and this blog...cough) scooped the PEN/Faulkner Foundation on this story, which was still reporting 2008 news at the time of posting.

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