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

Friday, April 16, 2010

How Writers and Artists Work

Here is short but amusing collection of tidbits: a graphical image from Lapham's Quarterly, showing where and how some well-known writers and artists work. There are only a few noted, so I'll mention one:

Edith Wharton wrote in bed until noon, tossing her pages on the floor for a secretary to pick up and transcribe.

For the rest go here to learn how writers and artists work.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Flash Fiction in the Market

Duotrope.com is a great place to research fiction publications of interest to you. You may find many publications of which you were unaware. Duotrope's fiction home/search page has a database of about 2825 publications at present. You can search with various filters, such as genre, theme, length, media, pay scale and others.

I decided to search the database for various genres, with the length set to flash. The result is shown in the table below. Adding up the various genres may not be useful since many publications publish multiple genres. This doesn't guarantee that all publications found have ever or ever will publish flash fiction, but at least they are not officially opposed to it.

Flash Fiction Publications by Genre
All genres 1158
Mainstream 382
Experimental 267
Fantasy 176
Science Fiction 169
Horror 162
Magical Realism/Surrealism 123
Cross Genre/Slipstream 119
Mystery 57
Crime/Suspense 40
Action/Adventure 30
Erotica 23
Romance 16

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

SFWA Weighs In On Amazon-Macmillan Battle

FFO covered the Amazon-Macmillan distribution battle. At issue is the price that Amazon wants to charge for eBook versions of new publications. Amazon wanted to charge $9.99. Macmillan thought that was too low. This precipitated a battle in which a new sales model was invoked by Macmillan and "Buy" buttons for Macmillan volumes on Amazon were yanked.

Here are the issues:

  • Macmillan thought the eBook price was predatory and would hurt their print book business.
  • Amazon sees eBooks as a loss leader to drive traffic.
  • Authors want to sell their books and make a living.
  • Buyers want cheap books.

That's not a simple set of issues to solve to everyone's satisfaction. Now, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA.org) has considered the issues (with their members' best interests in mind, presumably) and weighed in on the Amazon-Macmillan battle, supporting Macmillan's case through appeal and through the replacement of Amazon.com links on SFWA's website for their members' books with links to other vendors.

The issues listed above are represented in the many public comments attending SWFA's article.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Radium Age Fiction

I stumbled upon this flash fiction contest for stories of 250 words or less, with the theme, troubled or troubling supermen, conducted by Hilobrow.com. Their contest is interesting, but I found their explanation of the theme, pre-golden-age supermen, or "Radium Age" fiction, as author Joshua Glenn called it, quite entertaining. Here is the contest theme:

Long before Alan Moore asked “Who will watch the Watchmen?” Radium-Age (1904-33) science fiction writers worried whether supermen would rescue us ordinary mortals — or try to dominate us.

The link in the quote above is to an earlier io9 article, which was the source of some of the Hilobrow article on pre-golden-age science fiction. The author provides ten SF novels published in the 1904-1933 period as examples, including some nicely retro book covers, including Poul Anderson's Brain Wave.

The Radium Age superman was superior in body and intellect, along several evolution-inspired lines of reasoning, including "greater capacity for action and freedom."

Aye, there’s the rub: for, as Nietzsche has Zarathustra predict, “Just as the ape to man is a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment, man shall be just that to [superman].”

Included in the article is a summary of the ten most influential novels of the Radium Age, with a synopsis of each, and the cover art. There is also a bibliography of related fiction from the period 1804 to 1937, under several sub-genre categories.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Orson Scott Card Interview by David Steffen

David Steffen is a Flash Fiction Online staffer. He managed to snag Orson Scott Card's attention for an interview. You can read the interview of Orson Scott Card on David Steffen's blog, Diabolical Plots.

Perhaps one of the more interesting topics of the interview was Mr. Card's description of a work in progress. Pathfinder is a world in which the first Earth time/space-jumping spacecraft divides into 19 copies, including the people. The civilizations are isolated and develop independently.

Says Mr. Card:

Technology is deliberately hidden so it has to be developed anew, and starting with the identical gene pool, every colony has eleven thousand years in which to develop their own civilizations – and their own genetic differences – before they catch up to the “present” of the ship’s original jump through spacetime.

Nice interview, David. Good luck with the blog.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Bruce Holland Rogers Kudos

Flash Fiction Online likes its monthly columnist, Bruce Holland Rogers. See the Short-Short Sighted column in each issue of FFO.

Realms of Fantasy likes Bruce, too. According to SF Scope, the editor of RoF went off their story-purchasing cycle to purchase Bruce's "Fallen" story to accommodate his upcoming travel plans. Nice.

Bruce, could you ask them to reject my stories by saying "it's not horrible," rather than, "it's not right for us at this time?"

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Edge: The Question of 2010

Background, Edge Foundation: "the mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society."

This organization felt that in the early 20th century, literary intellectuals effectively started calling themselves the intellectuals, thereby booting others out of the club, including the likes of John von Neumann, Albert Einstein, and Werner Heinsenberg. Edge wishes to reverse that trend and is taken quite seriously by luminaries. Among other activities, Edge proposes the "question of the year" and invites intellectuals to respond.

The Edge annual question for 2010 is: how is the Internet changing the way you think? Already they have 167 responses (scroll down) from notables, including palenotologists, physicists, evolutionary biologists (yeah, Dawkins), Facebook "platform managers", the president of the Royal Society, various artists, the co-founder of wikipedia...and Alan Alda.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

What to Say to Writer Friends

If your friend is Stephen King, this post is not for you. This post is for friends of a fledgling writer (whose first book was not a best seller), especially those working on their first book. Best sellers add a shield of invulnerability to the writer.

If you made it through that maze of hurdles, get a life. (Just kidding.) Here is a humorous blog post for friends of writers with two or fewer non-fiction or fiction works under their belt. The bloggist, Michael Melcher, offers advice about what to say and what not to say to a fledgling writer friend. He is a lawyer, so I won't copy much of his work here.

Okay, I'll risk a little bit of his advice:

  • It's okay to say: “I just ordered my copy and can’t wait to read it.”
  • It's not okay to say: "You should try to be an Oprah pick!"

I'll add a few things not to say:

  • How much did you make? Truthful answer: if unsold, a net loss of $75.00 for expenses. If sold, $0.15/hour, not including time stalking agents.
  • Is that character me? Truthful answer: you're too boring to be in any book. Or, yes, that's why I haven't sold it, yet.
  • Who did you sleep with to get it published? Truthful answer: Ouch. No dignified comeback possible for that one.
  • When is the movie coming out? Truthful answer: When Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard end their bidding war for it [begin mumbling] which will happen soon after they begin it.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Publishing News and Speculative Knights

SFWA reports that the Internet Review of Science Fiction will cease publication. This was a very active source of speculative fiction reviews and will be missed. It was one source of industry news relied on for this blog.

The editor of another important speculative fiction news source, Ian Randal Strock of SFScope, will become a publishing editor for Fantastic Books. SFScope will continue operating as usual.

SFScope and others report upcoming honorary knighthoods for several actors and writers associated with speculative fiction works, including actor Patrick Steward (OBE, Knight Bachelor), actress Margaret Maud Tyzack (OBE), writer/translator Anthea Bell (OBE), and children's writer Ronald Gordon (Dick) King-Smith (OBE). In addition New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson will receive an honorary knighthood.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jay Lake Recovering from Surgery

We see from Locus Online that Jay Lake is recovering from cancer surgery. According to a blog of a friend of Jay's (link in the Locus article), he'll likely return home this weekend. Flash Fiction Online wishes him a complete and speedy recovery. Jay Lake is a Campbell Award winner and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and Nebula awards. FFO was fortunate to have published one of his flash pieces.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Has Science Fiction Run Out of Steam?

Technology writer Stuart Andrews writes for PC Pro about the relationship of science, technology and science fiction, posing the rhetorical question, has science fiction run out of steam? In other words, has science and technology now ahead of the headlights of science fiction writers?

While the rhetorical question is quite interesting, the article focuses principally on equally interesting examples of scientists and technologists who were influenced by science fiction, and the SF writers and stories that influenced them.

Bruce Hillsberg, director of storage systems at IBM Research said:

“...I don’t think most researchers try to invent what they read about or see in movies. Rather, they try to move science or technology forward, and sci-fi can consciously or unconsciously help them think outside the box.”

Examples of these technologists include: Apple’s Steve Wozniak, Netscape’s Marc Andreessen, Tim Berners-Lee, Google’s Sergey Brin and the GNU Project creator Richard Stallman, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Some of the authors and works cited by Stuart Andrews:

  • Arthur C Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey): computing (with guidance from MIT).
  • John Brunner’s: The Shockwave Rider: "large-scale networks, phreaking, hacking and genetic engineering...."
  • Vernor Vinge’s True Names: immersive worlds and Internet culture
  • Cyberpunk authors William Gibson (Neuromancer), Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) and others; and virtual reality author NealStephenson (Snow Crash): information technology (IT)

See Stuart Andrews' The sci-fi legends who shaped today's tech for more, including some of the innovations influenced by these and other authors. (Note: the article has four pages.)

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Friday, November 20, 2009

AgentInbox Writer-Agent Web Service

WEbook has started its AgentInbox web service to connect writers with agents. The basic process is:

  • A writer submits a query letter, synopsis and book chapters, as required by the agent.
  • AgentInbox editors verify that the submission formally meets the agent's requirements.
  • AgentInbox forwards the submission material to the agent (without comment on its quality), or returns it to the writer for formal correction.
  • If the work is forwarded to the agent, the writer and agent communicate directly, as if they'd connected conventionally.

AgentInbox is a beta service and is currently gratis. They have quite a few noted agents signed up and one landed writer/agent contract as of the time of posting. Some of the agencies represented by the thirty or so participating agents include Jill Grinberg Literary Management, Writers House, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, and others.

Here are two articles that review AgentInbox:

Since I was unfamiliar with WEbook, it took me awhile to realized that WEbook's author community and AgentInbox were completely separate services. WEbook gives authors a place to review each others' manuscripts; completed/polished stories may be voted on and published by WEbook. Most commentators consider WEbook a form of self-publishing.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SF Without Human Main Characters?

There are recent examples of stories and movies with non-human main characters, such as WALL-E and Monster. The author of Monster, A. Lee Martinez, pleads for more stories that are from a non-human perspective. This was covered by IO9 in shorter form, but with a nice Martinez book cover.

Martinez gets why visual media has pretty faces, but doesn't see why this is carried over into print media. (Maybe it is because many movies are based on books?). Says Martinez:

I’ve enjoyed sub-standard entertainment far more than I should because of a pretty face.


A big reason I don’t read much fantasy / sci fi is because I want the weirdness, the monsters, the inhuman, and for the most part, that stuff is shuffled to the side. Almost all fantasy / sci fi is from the human perspective because almost all of it is aimed at a human audience.

I suppose Terminator is the philosophical dividing line, because the robot and humans had about equal interest in the story.

Bonus: the top 85 robot movies. WARNING: some movies may contain humans. Ew.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Day the Internet Died

Yesterday we had a story about YA apocalyptic fiction. Today's post is about another sort of apocalypse, the day the Internet died. How would people react if the whole network of networks collapsed and couldn't be rebuilt for a lifetime? No doubt, many would feel a deep loss or disabling disorientation. Many avid readers and writers would feel like they couldn't function. Many personal relationships that existed only through Internet connections would collapse with the Internet, with the people involved having no way to find out who was behind that screen name or goofy email address.

Cracked.com asked for Photoshopped pictures that would illustrate how we would react if the Internet died. I found this by way of SlashDot.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Paths to Publication

Yesterday, we spoke of the transition of a ten-sentence picture book to a ninety-minute movies, Where the Wild Things Are. (Maurice Sendak's long history in publishing and avid fan base might have a little bit to do with it.) Today, Publishers Weekly has an article about an iPhone app, a popular game called Soul Trapper, netting the game author a book trilogy deal. The article seems to suggest that what the publisher is getting is rights to use the world via third-party writers rather than stories from the game author.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Posthumous Interview with Philip K. Dick

Bloggist Capt. Xerox at IROSF has a short article about the continued interest in Philip K. Dick's writings. Philip K. Dick had SF cult status even after his death in 1982. IROSF's article includes a link to a posthumous interview with the author, published at Media Post. It is based on a surgery job on a 1978 essay by Dick, re-written as an interview. Here are two snippets from the short "interview":

The two basic topics which fascinate me are "What is reality?" and "What constitutes the authentic human being?"

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Are You Smarter When You Write?

Are you smarter when you write than when you speak? Essayist Arthur Krystal thinks so. Writing is a different process than off-the-cuff speaking. He uses an anecdote about seeing a film of Vladimir Nobokov on a sound stage being interviewed. He had made an impressive reply to an question, but Krystal then noticed that Nobokov was using canned answers from index cards. Krystal says:

Hazlitt...remarked that he did not see why an author “is bound to talk, any more than he is bound to dance, or ride, or fence better than other people. Reading, study, silence, thought are a bad introduction to loquacity.”

Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person....I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me.

Krystal also points out that writing is a more deliberate process, which may account for the differences in spoken and written communications. Here is the full New York Times essay on the question: are we smarter when we write?

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

WordPress Bloggers: Update!

This post falls into the public service category. Since many writers and avid readers have WordPress-based blogs, we wanted you to be aware that there is a very nasty worm quickly infecting WordPress blogs with out-of-date WordPress software. The worm is known to destroy the blog. While updates to WordPress used to be difficult, it is now a one-click process.

According to a WordPress.org blog:

...it registers a user, uses a security bug (fixed earlier in the year) to allow evaluated code to be executed through the permalink structure, makes itself an admin, then uses JavaScript to hide itself when you look at users page, attempts to clean up after itself, then goes quiet so you never notice while it inserts hidden spam and malware into your old posts.

WordPress.org is associated with bloggers who put WordPress software on their own or rented hosts, as opposed to the free blogging service hosted by WordPress.com. WordPress.com users might also need to upgrade their blogs; this you need to verify via WordPress.com.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Social Networks/Real-Time Web: Solution Looking for a Problem

Media Bistro has an article about entrepreneurs and the "real-time web," the constant twittering, updating and general busyness on social networks. Since readers and writers are early adopters of these technologies, they might be interested in the attempts to make a buck from them. A graph in a sidebar in the article shows twitter.com traffic rising from about zero in February 2008 to 45 million visitors per month in June 2009.

Ron Conway anticipates making large investments in the real-time web:

He thinks there is at least $5 billion to be made on the real-time Web, from retailers providing instant discounts on Twitter to marketers targeting ads to people based on products or services they mention in tweets.

For the rest of the article, go here.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

This is one of two posts today involving (U.S.) federal law with fiction-writing sidebars. In this article, the (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission is now paying attention to bloggers, particularly the ones who are paid or otherwise compensated for publishing product or service reviews on their blogs. At issue is the assumption by consumers that opinions on blogs are independent and therefore trustworthy. This is far from the truth for many bloggers. I recently read a "search engine optimization" (SEO) book that covered websites and blogs. There are quite a few bloggers or blog networks that write articles for hire and link those articles back to the promoted product or service. For some, this lowers the credibility of the review.

This Yahoo News article on bloggers suggests that the FTC's recent interest in bloggers suggests some future liability for this practice:

The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.

The connection with writers? Most can't help themselves; they gotta blog or die. Some bloggers are thinking about monetizing their blogs with ads, reviews and such. According to the article, there is some worry that the coincidence of a banner ad from an ad service that happens to appear while a related review has been posted constitutes risk.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fahrenheit 452, Don't Burn the Libraries

The legendary Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and much more, wouldn't burn books, but he might burn the Internet, according to this NYT article:

“The Internet is a big distraction,” Mr. Bradbury barked from his perch in his house in Los Angeles....“It’s distracting,” he continued. “It’s meaningless; it’s not real. It’s in the air somewhere.”

Mr. Bradbury had other thoughts about Yahoo's request to publish one of his books on the Internet. (Hint: he was not an advocate.) See the NYT article for the rest.

But Mr. Bradbury is wholly in favor of public libraries, where he got a substantial education for free, since he received no advances for his future books as a young man during the Great Depression. He's putting in his time as an octogenarian raising money for some Ventura County (California) libraries that are facing closure due to reduced property tax income which supports libraries, among other things.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Got Backup? Wake Up Call

Your short fiction, long fiction, photos, illustrations and other digital goodies...what if they were all gone. Here is a case of an organization, AVSIM, that catered to the flight simulation community since 1996. Now, their entire collection of software add-ons, particularly for Microsoft Flight Simulator, are gone. They're out of business. They had a server and a back-up server, but a hacker destroyed them both, apparently beyond recovery. Mirror back up servers are a Good Thing, but they are connected. A separate off-site back up is needed as well. (Also, a disk volume backs up to the mirror whatever is written, so if a mistake is made on the primary volume, it is sent to the mirror volume.)

So, for writers, artists, musicians, photographers and others: back up and back up well.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Digitital Licensing for the Little Guy or Gal

Cory Doctorow, uber speculative fiction writer and blogger has an interesting piece on digital licensing for the little guy or gal (i.e., commercial agreements sans lawyers). His thoughts are tied to the Creative Commons family of licenses, one of which is "free for non-commercial use," such as my contribution to the Thoughtcrime Experiments anthology. With this license, you can remix the anthology and distribute it all you want, non-commercially. If you sell it, you're in violation of the license.

Cory is talking about commercial use, which also is anticipated by the Creative Commons license family. He uses an example of a craft piece he bought, a coke bottle carved in wood by a villager in Africa. Would the Coca Cola company go after that craftsman? Of course not. It makes no commercial sense--or any kind of sense--to do so. If the craftsman felt the obligation to make a deal, the lawyers' fees on both ends would negate the point of it.

Cory states that simple agreements are adequate for the commercial space, particularly on the community scale or lower end of the Internet commercial space, between the African craftsman example and a Sony/Coca Cola merchandising deal...probably closer to the former than the latter. He gives this example of an agreement for "your logos, literature, photos, and artwork":

"You are free to use the visual, textual, and audiovisual elements of this work in commercial projects, provided that you remit 20 percent of the gross income arising from your sales to doctorow@paypal.com. You are required to remit these funds on a quarterly basis, or on an annual basis where the total owing is less than $100."

There is just this agreement, with no lawyers to negotiate the details down to the gnat's behind. Can you be cheated? Of course. Could a small enterprise afford to monitor the practices and finances of their fifteen distributors of their small-volume screen-printed tee shirt business and stay in business? Unlikely. It might as well be simple, so that you can be simply shafted, rather than expensively shafted...or simply rewarded.

Go here to Cory Doctorow's article for the five elements of his thoughts on this subject: how we got here, Creative Commons, questions of commerce, the alternative, the self-serve difference, and a built-in future.

Cory: I only used a little bit of your piece. Please don't come after me.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Battle of the Kids' Book--School Library Journal

Panels for the "School Library Journal" Battle of the Kids' Books selected sixteen books and narrowed the choices to two. Finally, Lois Lowry, an icon in children's publishing, selected the winner. The finalists were:

  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II The Kingdom on the Waves, by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick): Gothic historical fiction set in U.S. revolutionary war period. Here, from the publisher's web site, is an excerpt from the first chapter.

Lois Lowry's comments about her process of choosing the finalist were amusing, involving petulance, reverse nepotism, vengeance and payola.

BONUS! Here are some astounding NASA/Hubble images (requires Adobe Flash).

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Future of Science Fiction--Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling is a science fiction writer of note who helped define cyberpunk. If you visit the Wikipedia article about him you'll see the broad range of his interests. So he is a good choice to look at science fiction past, present and future, both outside and inside the box. Two themes at least emerge from this introspection: the limitations of the media conveying the fiction and the limitations--often self imposed--of the providers and consumers of science fiction.

What science fiction’s user base truly desired was not possible in the 1930s. Believing their own rhetoric, science fiction users supposed that they wanted a jet-propelled, atomic futurity. Whenever offered the chance at such goods and services, they never left science fiction to go get them. They didn’t genuinely want such things-not in real life....What the user base genuinely wanted was immersive fantasies.

Bruce goes further back than that...perhaps to the first known work of fiction, a collection of writings written in a Japanese womens' script for Japanese womens' consumption. From there, he goes to Worlds of Warcraft where consumers of this scripted game spend far more hours than any reader of books would.

In essence, the article is a challenge to writers to push past the limits of the present media. To write out of the box while thinking introspectively about the box. Here is the article, which interestingly appears in a newsletter associated with a renowned professional organization, the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery).

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Monday, April 27, 2009

J. G. Ballard, Novelist, RIP

Via NYT: Uber-dystopian novelist J. G. Ballard has died at the age of 78. He was known for his unapologetically severe stories on technology and society gone wrong and his stretching of the science fiction genre. He was also known for his abrasive/provocative/inflamatory stories often involving public figures. For example, his book that anticipated events like Princess Diana's death, "Crash," received this reaction from reviewer D. Keith Mano:

But at the time it was published, some reviewers, like D. Keith Mano, found it perverse. His review in The Times Book Review began: “ ‘Crash’ is, hands down, the most repulsive book I’ve yet to come across.” He continued: “ ‘Crash’ is well-written; credit given where due. But I could not, in conscience, recommend it.”

This Guardian UK article published Ballard's last story, about a man in a bad marriage who brought down the Tower of Pisa while his wife was atop it.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Claim Your Author Page Now at FiledBy

FiledBy has a new web site service for authors. The name suggests a linkedn sort of service but it seems more Facebook-ish. They've preloaded it with published authors through data-mining, mostly. So if you are an American or Canadian published author, you might already have a page that you can claim somehow and correct/improve. (This seems nightmare-ish to me, verifying that someone claiming the web page is the actual author and not some digital vandal.)

Otherwise, unwashed authors can create a new page. There are free and premium services, of course. Their About page seems to be the only source of information and is useless, but this business-venture article from Nashville where the service began has more information. There is a bit about it on Publishers Weekly, too.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Writing for a living: a joy or a chore?

This Guardian UK article has comments from five authors about the professional writing life. These are not Poe-esque tortured souls, forced by an inner demon to write. If you had to reduce the complaints to a word, it would be drudgery, the struggle to always work when tomorrow might be a better day.

Joyce Carol Oats:
Most writers find first drafts painfully difficult, like climbing a steep stairs, the end of which isn't in sight. Only just persevere! Eventually, you will get where you are gong, or so you hope. And when you get there, you will not ask why?

AL Kennedy
The joy of writing for a living is that you get to do it all the time. The misery is that you have to, whether you're in the mood or not.

And then there are a couple like Julie Myerson:
Writing gives me such enormous pleasure, and I'm a much happier (and therefore nicer) person when I'm doing it.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Gary Westfahl on the Sci-Fi's Pitfalls of Prophesy

Here is a terrific discussion by Gary Westfahl about why SF fails to predict the future. He framed his thoughts with seven fallacies, each with examples and explanations:
  1. The Fallacy of Universal Wealth: all governments and individuals in the future will be wealthy....
  2. The Fallacy of Replacement: once we develop an advanced scientific method to do something, we will immediately abandon all the old methods....
  3. The Fallacy of Inevitable Technology: if there emerges a new, technological way to do something, it will inevitably be adopted....
  4. The Fallacy of Extrapolation: an identified trend will always continue in the same manner, indefinitely into the future....
  5. The Fallacy of Analogy: a new technology will be adopted and employed in the same manner as a related form of previous technology.
  6. The Fallacy of Universal Stupidity: people in the future will be capable of making incredibly stupid mistakes....
  7. The Fallacy of Drama: major changes will occur in a quick and noticeable fashion, as a result of a single major event or of the actions of a single individual....

The fallacies thus outlined, Westfahl goes on to describe "current science fiction predictions about humanity's future and debunk them on the basis of the detectable fallacies that have engendered them." The predictions involve: the conquest of space, human cloning, asteroid impacts, a world controlled by multinational corporations, the depletion of all natural resources, the decline of marriage, and the tuned-in, virtual citizenry.

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Philip José Farmer, 1918-2009 RIP

Triple Hugo winner Philip José Farmer has died at 91. He also claimed the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Grand Master Award and the World Fantasy Award's Lifetime Achievement Award.

On Farmer's web site, you can see through web links a large outpouring of sentiment for the writer.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flash News: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone just $15K

Perhaps one of your story submissions came in positively and you're looking for a way to protect the money from the present market climate. You can bid on a first edition "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." This is the limited first run of 200 soft cover copies, with a signed card within signed by J.K. Rowlings. Wait, I'll check who that is...he's a writer....no, he's a she. Great, so the book is a first edition AND has a signature by some author, apparently of note. Currently, the bidding is at $15,000.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Aphoristic Flash Fiction

Here is a new genre of flash fiction, a piece by writer/bloggist Nancy Jane Moore written as a series of aphorisms. She says:

"I’m always writing down great quotations and aphorisms that I find, so I couldn’t resist the temptation to write a story consisting entirely of aphorisms."

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Nancy Kress on Being a Writer

From Nancy Kress's Blog, six personality traits that one must have, in addition to talent, to be an SF writer. "Talent and desire are not enough. The rest must be there, or must be acquired, in order to become a writer."

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Does Facebook Own Your Stuff?

Since so many writers use Facebook for social networking, I think this is a critical issue: the apparent change in the terms of service that assigns the rights to your Facebook content after you close your account. Here is a NYT article about Facebook's TOS (see Licenses section). I think this is the blog article that began the controversy.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flash Fiction Online: SFWA Professional Market!

Flash Fiction Online reached a major plateau today. Just one year and two months after its first issue in December 2007, FFO is now a qualified professional market for prose fiction for SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.) membership. The SFWA is a professional association for science fiction and fantasy writers. For full membership in the SFWA, writers have to have three paid sales of prose fiction (such as short stories) to qualifying professional markets or one prose fiction book or professionally produced full length dramatic script. The combined sales must total at least $250.

Two other new qualifying markets are Fantasy Magazine and Grantville Gazette.

What does this mean for FFO? Writers looking for qualifying professional sales will have FFO in their sights. Professional writers will be more aware of FFO. We are always a desirable venue from the beginning because we paid professional rates...which is one of the qualifications to become a professional market: professional rates continuously for at least one year with a specified level of readership.

What does this mean for FFO's readership? FFO has been blessed from the start with strong submissions from many professional and aspiring writers. We hope now to have an even stronger selection of stories from which to choose for our readership.

Flash Fiction Online's editor-in-chief, Jake Freivald, will have more to say on this achievement in the next few days on his FlashBlog.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

After One Year: Who's Linked to FFO Now?

Flash Fiction Online has been around for a little more than a year. So...who's linked to it? Here is a partial list. My search certainly didn't find them all. Note that most of the mentioned sites have links to FlashFictionOnline.com, though some notable mentions (without link) are included:


Media links

Various links to FlashFictionOnline.com (including many blogs)

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Friday, February 6, 2009

King vs. Meyers Smackdown

Stephen King minced no words in his USA Weekend interview with Lorrie Lynch about some popular, current writers (and also a bit about Lovecraft). King says:
"Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. ... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good."
He as more to explain her success with young girls. He also weighs in on James Patterson and Erle Stanley Gardner (okay, leave Erle alone).

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Flawed but Great Literature

A BBC Radio program, Today, asked AL Kennedy and William Boyd to nominate some great but flawed works of literature. What prompted this public discussion was the recent, left-hand awarding of the Costa Book of the Year for The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, with the comment that it was flawed.

The article provides an audio link to the radio program and a printed summary of the works considered flawed, including: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway--'Wholly misguided attempt to render Spanish into English. The dialogue is full of "thee" and "thou" and therefore unreadable and unbelievable, not to say laughable.' Other cited authors of works from the body of great literature include: Fitzgerald, Dickens, Joyce, Nobokov, Melville, Heller, Tolstoy and Høeg. See the article for the explanation of the selections. Radio callers made their own nominations as well.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Interview: John Updike, Two Conversations

FFO noted the recent passing of John Updike. Via the NYT, you will find two video interviews: A Conversation with John Updike (the craft of fiction and art of writing) and John Updike: A Life in Letters.

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Interview: Jeff Vandermeer

By way of SF Signal: Joseph Mallozzi interviews writer, editor and anthologist Jeff Vandermeer.

Joseph Mallozzi is noted for his writing and producing on the Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis television series.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Helpful Hint: Online Storage

According to Wired, Google has hinted at but not delivered the Gdrive, a service that provides you online file storage. If you're asking, "why do I care?" then you've not lost a manuscript through human error or machine failure. I'm just sayin'...it could happen to you.

Fine, but Gdrive is vaporware, you say, and you're in a hurry because of the manuscript-loss thing. Lifehacker suggests that if you're a bit of a hacker, then you can use some clever, free software to turn free gmail accounts into a virtual drive (sorry, Windows only). The software transparently stores your data using free gmail accounts while appearing to your computer as a mountable file system (g: drive would be appropriate). As the bloggist points out, Google could break this by changing their e-mail service a bit, until the software was tweaked for the change. Apparently, you would not lose the e-mails containing your data.

Third option (cough): you could just send yourself an email on your gmail account with a manuscript file attached (and refrain from deleting it).

None of those sexy enough? Well, you could use continuous moon-bounce communications to keep your data hovering in space between the earth and moon by making a wireless stringy-floppy. Nah, the moon's surface is an unreliable reflector. Maybe you could use NASA's corner reflectors. No, the moon-landing was a hoax. And there is the minor problem of daily total data loss when the moon is over the horizon. Never mind.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Author Blogs

Author blogs are of interest to writers and readers. Here is a nice list from SF Signal, SF/F writers who blog. This includes group and individual blogs.

Here is an edited list by the Internet Writing Journal. The say: "Our editors have compiled a list of author blogs that they believe are truly outstanding...."

Finally, here is a large list of published and aspiring authors' blogs at, um, Authors' Blogs.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Disneyland for Dudes

Writer/reader dudes, put down your laptops, escape your rolling chairs: "Think of it as a testosterone-soaked sandbox: a German amusement park where, instead of standing in line to ride on roller coasters, you get to play with big, loud machines. For 219 euros (about $280), patrons can spend the day operating 29-ton Liebherr backhoes and 32-ton Komatsu front-end loaders...." Arrr!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Coffee, Health and Writers

There have been a lot of stories lately about coffee and health. This is very confusing. So since coffee is important to writers (to keep them awake when they should be sleeping for their real job), I decided to definitively clear this up: it is both risky to drink and not to drink coffee. THIS IS NOT a medical opinion and is not an endorsement by Flash Fiction Online to drink or not to drink coffee in any amount.

Increases risk: Gallstones 1, miscarriage/stillbirth 1 2, heart risks 1 2 3 4.

Reduces risk: Alzheimer's 1 2 3 4, Type 2 diabetes 1 2 3, Parkinson's 1 2, liver cancer 1 2, brain disorders 1, Gout in men 1, Kidney Cancer 1.

Omnibus articles: 1 2 3.

Bloggist unwilling to classify: reduces breast size in women 1

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Robert J. Sawyer: Writer-in-Residence at Canadian Synchotron

Canadian sci-fi author Robert J. Sawyer will be the first writer-in-residence at Saskatoon's Canadian Light Source synchrotron. According to the Nebula and Hugo Award winner, he'll learn the "day-to-day grind of the work" rather than getting the normal VIP tour. Says the CBC article, "Budding writers will be able to book one-hour consultations with the sci-fi legend."

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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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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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Friday, November 21, 2008

James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton Receive 2009 "Edgars"

From the press release:
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) has announced that the organization will name James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton its 2009 Grand Masters in honor of the Bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe's birth next year. Not since 1978 has the organization presented dual Grand Masters.

MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in the mystery genre and was established to acknowledge important contributions to the genre, as well as significant output of consistently high-quality material. The awards will be presented at the 63rd Annual Edgar(R) Awards banquet on Thursday April 30, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

Congratulations, James and Sue!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

RIP, Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman died on Sunday, October 26, of pulmonary disease at age 83.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Free Fiction From JJA Anthology "Seeds of Change"

John Joseph Adams has a new anthology out:
Gathering stories by nine of today’s most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil, technological advancement, and political revolution. Many serve as a call to action. How will you change with the future?

Three of the stories are available for free download: "Arties Aren't Stupid" by Jeremiah Tolbert, "The Future by Degrees" by Jay Lake, and "Resistance" by Tobias Buckell. Excerpts from others are there as well. The other authors in the collection are Ted Kosmatka, K. D. Wentworth, Blake Charlton, Ken MacLeod, Mark Budz, and Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu.

By the way, there's already a review up by John Ottinger of Grasping For The Wind, who has been kind enough to review us in the past.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Night With a Bite at Borders and Waldenbooks

Sounds like a fun way to launch a book:
More than 900 Borders and Waldenbooks stores across the country will celebrate the highly anticipated release of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyer's bestselling vampire-inspired "Twilight" series, with exciting in-store book release parties beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1 and culminating at midnight when the book officially goes on sale. The Borders and Waldenbooks parties, themed "From Twilight til Dawn: A Night with a Bite," will include costume contests, trivia contests and lively debates on themes from the book series.
More details are in the press release.

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It's Never Too Late: First Novel at 93

93-year-old Lorna Page is having her first novel published. She plans to use the book's proceeds to buy a large house in Devon, England, so she can "give a real home to some of her friends" who are currently in nursing homes. She says, "I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil; fairy stories, poetry, short stories, and now my novel, a who-done-it. Seems I've been writing for a hundred years and that's practically true!"

The press release provides some interesting details of her life before discussing the book itself, A Dangerous Weakness, which will be (self-) published by AuthorHouse in July.

Read the press release.

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