I was happy to be invited to teach two flash fiction workshops at Wheaton College this past week as part of the Evelyn Danzig Haas Visiting Artists Program. Despite a little interference from Hurricane Jose, it was a peaceful drive to a beautiful campus, and I enjoyed talking and writing with a class of talented young writers.
We worked on a writing prompt with three elements, then talked about revision, and I shared my own revision process, cutting down a much longer first draft of several (messy!) pages into the published 53-word story “An Ordinary Day, With Spin Art.” Not all revision is this radical, of course, but writing with a strict word limit as a goal can be a helpful way to learn the art of compression. Or, as the elder scribe Bob Seger put it: “What to leave in, what to leave out.”
As I write this, I’m waiting for the solar eclipse and thinking about flash fiction.
Because I don’t live in the path of totality, the sun won’t be completely blotted out today, but it will be partially covered. Not fully visible, but still there, underneath the darkness.
In flash fiction, the brevity of the form means that not all of your story will be visible on the surface. You have to trust your characters and story enough to know that all of it is there, to reveal enough to let readers understand what may not be spelled out.
My microfiction “Filament” was just published in Blue Fifth Review, a journal specializing in poetry, very short prose, and forms that walk the line between the two. “Filament,” sparked by an image one of my students suggested during a workshop, has been pared down quite a bit, from flash (around 500 words) to micro (less than 300). I like it in its leaner, tighter form–just enough light shining through to reveal the essentials.
I’ll be exploring the boundaries of flash and microfiction in my writing workshop “Flash Fiction Speed Dating” at Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford on Sunday, August 27 at 2 p.m. I hope to see you and write with you there.
Lots of writing news lately–so much that I’ve been too busy to post it. But now that I can peek my head out from under the pile of work…
First, and most exciting: I’ve been invited to be a visiting writer at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. Deyonne Bryant, an associate professor of English at Wheaton, is teaching a flash fiction workshop in the fall and has assigned my chapbook, Girls on Film, as a text.
That means the signed copies I’ve been selling on my Etsy shop are officially SOLD OUT. But they can still be purchased through the publisher, Paper Nautilus, and we are looking into the possibility of doing a second printing. If you’re looking for a copy of Girls on Film, I encourage you to buy it from Paper Nautilus–you’ll be supporting a small, woman-run press, and that’s always a good thing!
I’m also going to be a presenter at the Hollihock Writers Conference in New Bedford. The conference runs from Friday, August 25 through Sunday, August 27, 2017. I’ll be teaching a workshop called Flash Fiction Speed Dating from 2:00-2:50 p.m. on Sunday. Sign up here for the conference. It’s $29 for a day pass or $69 for all three days, unlimited workshops.
And some summer publishing news: I have two stories in the current issue of KYSO Flash magazine, “The Museum of Curiosities” and “Under the Ceiling.” I seem to be in a rather Gothic vein of late, and it will continue with “How to Find Your Way to Black Bread Lake,” forthcoming in Jellyfish Review this fall.
I’m honored to have been chosen as one of two winners of Bracken Magazine’s flash fiction contest. My story, “Path of Stones,” was the finalist and is published in the current issue of Bracken.
The story is part of the “Black Bread Lake” story cycle, some loosely connected tales I’ve been working on, based on a lost town in rural Rhode Island. “From A Short History of Black Bread Lake” was published in a past issue of Literary Orphans, and “How to Find Your Way to Black Bread Lake” is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review.
As a young teen, I had a series of nightmares in which I found out that I came from some mysterious “folk in the hills”–fairies or goblins–and would be called back to them. I don’t remember a lot of the details of those dreams, but the sense of waiting and listening in the dark inspired this story. Thank you to Gwendolyn Kiste for choosing it!
My flash prose piece “Shelby County Courthouse” is published in the “Shorts on Survival” section of the July issue of R.KV.R.Y. Quarterly Literary Journal.
The story was inspired by a poetry exercise that a friend from my writing group shared with our group. It used a tight structural template that I found inspired more creativity than some open-ended prompts, and I went on to use it successfully in both teen and adult writing workshops I taught through Goat Hill Writers. It’s amazing how many different kinds of poems and stories grew out of the same template, and that’s one reason I love working with writing prompts–they take away the anxiety of a blank page and still give you room to take any path your mind can imagine.
If you don’t have a copy of my award-winning flash fiction chapbook, Girls on Film, summer is the time to get one! The chapbook was a winner of the Vella Chapbook Contest and is published by Paper Nautilus. It is normally $8, but from now until Labor Day, I’m selling signed copies through my Etsy shop, Bookish Girl Goods, for just $5.
Read a micro review
Buy the book
Some updates from my spring of submissions: my story “Path of Stones” was the finalist in the Bracken Flash Fiction Contest! It will be published in the summer 2017 issue.
I also have new work forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, KYSO Flash, and R.KV.R.Y. Quarterly. I’ll post links when they are released.
“Jolene, Jolene” debuted at Jellyfish Review today!
And tomorrow, I’m teaching two flash fiction workshops at the Goat Hill Writers Workshop-Palooza. It should be an exciting weekend.
My story “Potato Eyes” was the winner of the Issue 23 Writing Contest and was featured in 101 Words.
Two new stories, “Orange Crush” and “In the Year of Cabbage Soup,” are featured in Issue 3 of Reservoir.
I’ll be teaching flash fiction at Workshop-Palooza, a day of writing workshops in multiple genres, sponsored by Goat Hill Writers.
Goat Hill Workshop-Palooza!
A Day of Writing Workshops
Take any two workshops – Lunch provided
$75 per person or two tickets for $125
School One, Providence
Saturday, March 18th, 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Flash Fiction Workshop
My micro-fiction “Potato Eyes” is featured in 101 Words this week.
I like challenging myself with writing exercises using a tight word count. This story grew out of a flash fiction workshop I taught at last year’s Goat Hill Workshop-Palooza event. The first sentence had been haunting me for a while, and I knew I had to write a story around it. I chose second person plural narration because I wanted to convey the sense of a whole community living among these kidnapped girls, seeing them and yet not seeing them.