Author Profile: Dan Morey

DanMorey2

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

When I was little, I would sit completely still and allow my mother to read to me for hours. Of her five children, I was the only one who would submit to this. At school I was always very good at reading and writing, but I didn’t compose anything “creative” until college. I won some awards at Penn State, then went out to Loyola Marymount to study under one of my favorite writers, Chuck Rosenthal. His novels (The Loop Trilogy) about my hometown, Erie, PA, were a major inspiration to me.

What inspired you to write flash fiction?

Continue reading

Death in Venice

By Dan Morey

I was riding down Venice Boulevard when a black SUV accelerated from a side street and plowed into me. As my bicycle disappeared beneath its tires, I leaped off, clinging to the grill. The driver, occupied with his phone, drove merrily on.

I pounded the hood. He saw me and hit the brakes, bringing the conglomerate mass of bike, SUV, and human hood ornament to a jerking halt.

“Oh, my God,” he said, getting out. “Are you OK?” Continue reading

Player

By Dolores Whitt Becker

He rolled over and panted, short and sharp. Her breath was slower, deep and even, but her heart was racing just as hard. She was so controlled – it was one of the things he admired about her. He watched her magnificent chest rise and fall, basking in the aftershocks of this last round of athletic and imaginative sex. Oh, she was good. And he knew he was. Together, they were… well, unprecedented, even in his considerable experience. This one was a work of art.

He felt the moment coming, but it was hard to judge with precision. That was the most challenging part, timing for maximum effect. This one, especially, merited his best effort – she was head, shoulders and glorious breasts above her predecessors.

She would be his masterpiece.

He whispered her name, and it almost caught in his throat as the sweet, mad tension that preceded the coup-de-grace lit up his nerves. She turned her head slowly toward him. Her eyes were big and dark and moist, and he read in them an immeasurable satisfaction. She looked besotted, almost narcotized. Perfect. There would not be another moment like this.

“I must tell you something,” he whispered. She tilted her chin ever so slightly in response, in anticipation. He stroked her cheek, her throat, her collarbone, her sternum before drawing himself back to the matter at hand. He leaned forward until his cheek was brushing hers and his mouth was an inch from her ear.

“This isn’t real.” He straightened up enough to be able to watch her face as he continued. “I don’t love you, and I never will. This is the last time you will see me, and a month from now I will be with another woman, doing exactly what I have been doing with you.”

She made no visible reaction, and once again he smiled in appreciation of her control. There would be no screaming, no cursing, no hysterics from this one. But there would be tears, nonetheless. There were always tears. That was the point.

She drew in a long, slow breath, and he saw a change in her eyes. Something glittered; her mouth twitched. This was the real payoff – all the rest was prelude.

She raised herself in a smooth, graceful motion, and he saw that the light in her eyes was not, in fact, that of tears about to spill. It was harder and colder than that. The tremor in her mouth became a smile as she leaned towards his ear.

“Of course it wasn’t real,” she purred. “Do you think I’m stupid? You’re awfully, awfully good, though. Thank you.” She nipped his earlobe as his taut expectation gave way to an electric chill. He didn’t trust his voice to reply; he could only watch in stunned silence as she slid back into her clothes. She paused at the door. “Happy hunting, darling.”

“Wait!” But she was gone.

She had been perfect. And there were always tears.


 

Dolores Becker is a wandering Cheesehead currently living in Batavia. She has a considerable collection of unfinished and/or unpublished writings of various shapes and sizes.

It’s a Great Time to Be a Flash Fiction Writer

By Kevin Moriarity
Managing Editor, FewerThan500

This is a wonderful time to be a flash fiction writer!

The period between the 1920s and the 1940s were a golden era for short fiction. Many “pulp” magazines existed for writers of short-form works, paying writers for both short stories and serialized novels.

Michael Ashley, author of “The History of the Science Fiction Magazine,” wrote:

“The Second World War paper shortages had a serious impact on pulp production, starting a steady rise in costs and the decline of the pulps. Beginning with Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1941, pulp magazines began to switch to digest size; smaller, thicker magazines. In 1949, Street & Smith closed most of their pulp magazines in order to move upmarket and produce slicks.

The pulp format declined from rising expenses, but even more due to the heavy competition from comic books, television, and the paperback novel.”

The number of magazines that published fiction (and paid writers) dwindled and only a handful exist now.

kindleThe digital publishing revolution and evolving reading habits, however, have changed everything for flash fiction writers!

Traditional publishers still have a very limited interested  in story collections from new writers, but it’s never been easier for a writer to create and publish their own collection of flash fiction.

There are two major factors favoring a resurgence in short-form writing.

Short Attention Spans

Lifestyle and technology have caused attention spans to decrease drastically. People are busier than ever. Technology has gotten smaller – more and more people read almost exclusively on mobile devices. In an article published in the October 28, 2013 edition of The Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos wrote:

“Our ADHD-ish lives are helping this recognition along too. In addition to TLDR disclaimers, we’re also a people who have developed strategies to avoid watching commercials during hour-long shows, and rely on brief text messages instead of phone calls. Smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices have all equaled the playing field…”

TLDR – that means “Too Long, Didn’t Read.” In the age of Twitter, that acronym pretty much says it all.

E-books

A short attention span, combined with the digital publishing revolution provides an excellent opportunity for flash fiction writers to publish in the Technology Age.

Julian Gough wrote in an article published in The Guardian:

“Writers can seldom express ideas ‘at their natural length’, because in the world of traditional print only a few lengths are commercially viable. Write too long, and you’ll be told to cut it (as Stephen King was when “The Stand” came in too long to be bound in paperback). Worse, write too short, and you won’t get published at all. Your perfect story is 50 pages long – or 70, or 100? Good luck getting that printed anywhere.

Hence the revolution. Because the new length exploits this hole in traditional publishing.

The hole has existed for 500 years; it’s baked into the print model. The high fixed overheads of book production – printing, binding, warehousing and distributing a labour-intensive physical object – have tended to make books of fewer than 100 pages too expensive for the customer.”

E-books to the rescue!

Roberto A. Ferdman wrote in Quartz:

“For evidence, look no further than the rise of digital publishing. The most prominent example is Amazon’s Kindle Singles program, launched in 2011, which has proven popular and lucrative for Amazon and authors alike. The program, which publishes both fiction and nonfiction short enough to be consumed in under two hours, allows authors to pocket up to 70percent of royalties, compared to the 8 percent to 15 percent traditionally paid for novels.

In May (2013), the Times reported that Amazon had sold nearly 5 million Kindle Singles in just over two years since its launch. Roughly 28 percent of Amazon Kind Single had sold more than 10,000 copies as of May; nearly 8 percent had sold over 50,000 copies.”

And since 2013, more and more authors are writing even shorter stories and opting to self-publish their work electronically. According to an article published in the Huffington Post in June of last year, most short stories are typically 5,000–30,000 words (flash fiction is less than 1,500 words, but collections of flash fiction could easily be in this range) and are priced from $0.99 to $4.99. Traditional publishing simply cannot get stories to readers at that price point. Electronic publishing simply makes more sense for the short genre.

It helps that it has never been easier for writers to create an e-book. Amazon provides simple instructions for Microsoft Word users. Other products, like Scrivener and Sigil, make it easy to create e-books without using any coding languages. Writers can very simply create an e-book and upload it to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, where it is immediately available for sale. While  reaching a mass market is still an immense challenge becoming a published author has become fairly effortless.

I’m encouraging all writers, especially those who write flash fiction, to get their work out into the world.  It’s never been easier and the market is ripe for this short genre!

A Late Walk

By Vincent Barry

As you walk west from the bird refuge on Cabrillo Boulevard, you pass the back of the Santa Barbara Zoo. If you’re alert you may see to the north, as you pass, a giraffe. If you’re not, there’s always “Mar Pacifico” and, perhaps, the roar of a lion.

I know this because I’ve traversed this path, to and fro, twice a day since my nerves went wrong. It has a way of holding them at bay, my clamorous nerves.

Today—was it the eightieth, the ninetieth, the hundredth day of my tramp?— a palm gazing pair advanced into a fading sun, their droopy heads swaddled in earphones.

Her free hand clutched to her bosom a wisp of a dog with black-rimmed eyes and stick out ears like butterfly wings. His held on a rope leash a Ridgeback wearing a thick, pebbled collar with shiny metal grommets.

A lion roared like a thunderclap, that’s the thing, and . . .  and, well, the Ridgeback froze, then jerked its head to the right, the grommets spraying tender sun rays on long soft shadows like so many mirror balls on an empty dance floor.

“Ah!” said I to the twosome in passing, I don’t know why, “He remembers,” and pointed to the riveted Ridgeback.

From them no word came—not a peep, . . . not a nod, . . . not a jot of alertness. Only the cadaverous silence of droopy flower heads.

A crow rent the air.

I pushed on, feeling foggy and lumbering, my hands worrying nervously in my pockets, my lips forming words unspoken.

I pushed on, against a brooding view of the vast, inky offing and the white waves beating on the strand, murmuring a bit sadly, I don’t know why,  “‘Our very life depends on everything’s recurring till we answer from within. The thousandth time may prove the charm.’”

Funny, but I hadn’t thought of Frost in— well, at least not since I felt as though my feet were sinking in wet sand, and kept sinking.


 

Vincent Barry’s affection for creative writing is rooted in the theatre. More years ago than he prefers to remember, his one-act plays caught the attention of the late Arthur Ballet at the University of Minnesota’s Office for Advanced Drama Research and Wynn Handman at New York’s The American Place Theatre. Some productions followed, as well as a residency at The Edward Albee Foundation on Long Island. Meanwhile, Barry was teaching philosophy at Bakersfield College in California and authoring philosophy textbooks. Now retired from teaching, Barry has returned to his first love, fiction. For his other stories, see: Writing Tomorrow Magazine (“Dear Fellow Californian,” June 2014), The Write Room (“When It First Came Out,” Fall 2014), Blue Lake Review (“The Girl with the Sunflower Yellow Hot Rod Limo,” December 2014), Crack the Spine (“A Lot Like Limbo,” Spring 2015 print anthology), Pure Slush (“Blind Suspicion,” January-February 2016), The Vignette Review (“Nodding on the A Train,” Winter 2016), The Tower Journal (“The Joiner’s Tale,” January 18, 2016), Apocrypha and Abstractions (“Seduction or Something Else,” March 21, 2016), and Bull (“Reading Hawking but Listening to Grieg,” March 2016).

Collaborative Writing in the Digital Age

An interview with two writers living apart and writing together

Writers Noah Nichols and Brie Beach live in separate states, but are writing a novel together. Their collaborative work on the book led them to embark on a flash fiction project together as well. The project involved them writing a story on a single topic, using the same characters, with Noah writing from the female perspective and Brie writing from the male viewpoint. Noah sent us his story, “The Result,” and it was published last month. Brie also shared her story with us and we are including it here, along with an interview of the two writers concerning co-writing in the digital age. Continue reading

Author Profile: Vince Barry

VinceBarry2

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I am less suggestible than I used to be. When I was a junior in high school, an English teacher who opened me up to literature through the short story stuck it in my head that I could write. So I tried. Later, in college, another one expressed a similar sentiment. So again I tried. In retrospect, though, I really didn’t do any serious creative writing until I was teaching philosophy at a community college in California, when a playwright colleague suggested I write plays. I did for a while, until a textbook publisher suggested I take a flyer at that field. I did for a longer while. Now retired from teaching, I wrote my first short story in 2014. Nobody suggested it.

What inspired you to write flash fiction?

One “inspiration” has been the brute, blunt fact of the market, which is clearly trending flash. At first I resisted this, preferring more space to strut my stuff. Then I realized that flash is prose most like poetry—“language at its most distilled and most powerful” (Rita Dove). That appealed to me—not because I’m a poet but because—well, because I have a poetic pulse, you could say. Then there’s the age factor. You know the old joke about the guy who is so old he doesn’t buy green bananas?  I guess I’m beginning  to see the longer short story as a kind of green banana.

Describe your writing process.

Getting the words right—that sums up my process, not the time, place or any other circumstance of the writing. The writing—the craft, the artistry—is all in the rewriting.(So what else is new?) Fortunately, that’s what I enjoy most about the writing process, the discipline of rewriting, over and over, until it is as clear and compelling as I can make it. If even a single word is changed, then I must re-read the entire work. It’s only when I change nothing that I consider a work “finished.” Then the story goes out; and, honestly, at that point I don’t care whether or not it gets published, because I know that it’s as good as I can make it, and that’s my  payoff. And, oh yes, when I send it off, I always feel wistful, like a parent on the first day of kindergarten.

What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?

It’s a truism that the best (creative) writing takes root in personal experience. This is especially so of the setting, characters, and events of  “A Late Walk.” I knew the instant the couple remained unmoved by the roar of the lion that I would write about them. I didn’t know until I did what I would say about myself.

What are you working on now?

A story about a fender bender that dents a couple’s relationship. I’m not a good driver.