Hack Writers

My fondness for searching out new (to me) online magazines and exploring their contents led me this week to http://www.hackwriters.com. This online portfolio includes travel, lifestyle and fiction pieces from new and established writers. According to the website’s About page, their material is archived by the British Library and boasts several awards from the North American Travel Journalists Association. Their homepage banner includes this designation, “The International Writer’s Magazine.”

I perused the travel page (Hacktreks) but found nothing about Ireland, to my dismay.

Hackwriters began in 1999, and there’s something satisfying about a group whose roots went down as the century turned, especially in light of all that Y2K silliness going on at the time. It suggests a willingness to plunge into the void with optimism.

The magazine is free and pays no fees to authors whose work they accept for publication. Submissions are accepted across topics and genres. Their submission page includes these caveats…no sexism, racism or other forms of discrimination in the content. They strive to discover high quality writing that is thought provoking without being offensive.

Word limits for submissions are presented as a guide rather than an absolute; between 1200 and 2200 words are preferred. The editors ask that writers considering submitting to their magazine first read previous work they’ve accepted and published. Seems a reasonable request.

Current fiction pieces can be found at http://www.hackwriters.com/Dreamscapes3.htm
The site offers an enormous selection of short fiction from which to choose. I read a few and, while I’m not even close to having read half of the stories available, I haven’t yet found a stinker in the bunch. Most of their authors have several stories in the 2013 issue. They include Oswaldo Jimenez, Martin Green, Abigail George and Michelle D’Costa. Stories are longer than what I’ve grown accustomed to reading lately in Flash Fiction magazines.

I prefer the flash format, but found reading Hackwriters’ offerings a happy diversion this week.

Every Day Fiction (redux)

Every Day Fiction is a flash fiction magazine that publishes one story daily on their web site, http://www.everydayfiction.com. Founded in 2007, this group of talented Canadians celebrate their 6th anniversary this month. They accept all genres of fiction with a 1,000 word limit for submissions. EDF has a relatively large audience of more than 10,000 subscribers and annually publishes an anthology of the best 100 stories of the year. Every Day Fiction is considered by many as one of the best online literary markets.

This month my story, “Kin” will be published on Friday, September 6. It’s the story of a family reunion and the gathering of the last harvest in the home place’s orchard.

This is the second story I’ve submitted to Every Day Fiction and had accepted for publication. The first was “Tag, You’re It,” published in May of this year.

You can read and comment on my stories on their site. Or become an email subscriber, like me. I’ve discovered several up and coming authors whose stories are published on the Every Day Fiction site and whose blogs I’ve begun to follow here on WordPress.

I appreciate you, my readers, following or just visiting my blog and would love to hear your comments about my story. Thanks for stopping by again!

Smokelong

Smokelong Weekly is an online, weekly short story publication with 10 years of history as a literary vehicle. Newsletter Subscriptions are free via email and accessible from their website, smokelong.com/home.asp The name describes the typical length of pieces they publish, long enough to finish a smoke.
Smokelong Quarterly is their seasonal compilation of stories, interviews and art.
Submissions are limited to 1000 words or less, and they ask contributors to limit submissions to one story at a time. Their submission site resembles most others online.
They recommend submissions be more than stories with a twist or punch line at the end; they ask for honest work written in language that surprises. Weekly Stories are selected by guest editors. Their editorial board selects the Quarterly’s content. To get a feel for the editors, visit their blog page where you’ll find photos and bios for guest editors, many of whom are previously chosen authors.
Their archives page offers links to scores of stories chosen for publication, giving would-be contributors an opportunity to get a sense of what fits.
I read several stories I liked, stories that I found myself thinking about again. The story I liked best was “On Behalf of the Class,” about a group of school kids at a museum. The author exquisitely captured the children’s predictable selfishness as they disappointed their teacher and failed to see the exhibits through any other lens than their own childish concerns. And who can blame them for being more interested in what was happening in the here and now, as their classmates jockeyed for attention and status, over a bunch of dusty old relics?
The author was Elisaa Kahn, an MFA student at Western Michigan University.
I recommend this site for literary fiction writers and readers.

Everyday Fiction

I received notice today from Everyday Fiction, an online publication for flash fiction, that they have accepted another of my short stories. The story, entitled Kin, is scheduled for publication in September. The EF editorial team praised Kin for its blend of description and story, and the way the two compliment each other. The story is under 500 words in length yet provides a complete story arc. Find the story next month at http://www.everydayfiction.com

Everyday Fiction

Today’s the day my story, Tag, You’re It is featured on the online journal, Everyday Fiction.
http://www.everydayfiction.com

This story started as an entry for NPR’s Three Minute Fiction, Round 6 contest. The prompt was for one character to tell a joke and for another character to cry. The story started as a 550 word flash piece when I entered it in the NPR contest. It wasn’t the winner but I liked the story well enough to reimagine it and give the relationships more room to develop, word count-wise. The inspiration for the story lies in both my work with families as a school psychologist and in my personal life. I have a couple of friends with adult siblings who have significant disabilities. As their parents age, my friends are increasingly called upon to take responsibility for their dependent sisters.

In Tag, You’re It the four young adult siblings’ relationships are tested as the result of a sudden tragedy. The narrator is left not only to deal with her own feelings of loss but with the responsibility of explaining what happened to her brother who is Autistic.

At the end of the story, there’s an option to rate it on a scale of 1 to 5. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read my story and give it your rating.

Three Minute Reflection

On Tuesday, I uploaded my entry for Round 11 of NPR’s Three Minute Fiction contest. I spent less time than usual editing my 590 word story. I followed advice that another flash fiction writer recently shared with me, that there’s a fine line between finding just the right word and overworking the prose. Flash fiction is like biscuit dough that way; too much handling results in a less appetizing outcome.
The best flash stories, especially those that come in under a thousand words, are as much poetry as narrative. Often, their brevity conceals the complexity of the writer’s intent. And while I agree with other writers’ advice about attending to all of the words and making them do double and sometimes triple duty, I also see the wisdom in limiting your revisions and edits. Flash stories are often more about the picture than the plot. With many fewer words allotted some of what moves the story can be what’s left out.
I believe that writing in the flash form can be freeing, despite the feeling of constraint that word limits impose. A writer can experiment in the flash form with mood and subtlety and can focus on dramatic elements more keenly. Preambles can be tossed. Fewer characters offer the possibility of a sharper focus on the motives of one or two. The story can purposely leave more to the readers’ imaginations.
The best piece of advice I found about writing flash fiction was to ignore the word count. That’s right – stop looking at the little number in the lower left of your screen.
Write the story that nags you to be written. Avoid sacrificing your ending to meet the word count. Make sure you can deliver the reader a wonderful twist that makes them want to go back and reread. If you can’t meet the word count and still tell your story, chances are it’s not meant to be a flash story. It’s OK to let the story be the length that best suits its message. If it communicates the message you intended, there’ll be a market for the story – just not, perhaps, the contest or the market you first envisioned.

Three Minute Fiction

Round Eleven is up and running and the clock is ticking toward their deadline, next Sunday, May 12. The theme for this round is Finders Keepers. The rules are as always, short stories of 600 words or less that can be read aloud in three minutes. The judge for this round is Karen Russell. He advice for writers is “go dark, go weird, go comic.” Prizes include signed copies of Russell’s three novels and publication in the fall issue of The Paris Review. And, of course, bragging rights.

Here’s the link to the contest info: http://www.npr.org/2013/05/04/180596004/three-minute-fiction-round-11-finders-keepers?utm_source=books&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130504
You’ll also find a link there to the Official Rules.

My story is already in progress. I took the judge’s advice and went dark. C’mon and join me. They’ll feature a few of their favorites in the weeks leading up to announcing the winner – I’ve not been selected yet but hope springs eternal.