Music beats through Dori Ann Dupre's flash fiction, See You in September, vividly setting the scene in a small-town diner where the heart of a shy teenage girl skips a beat or two while watching the new boy in town sweep the floor. Dori chose music as the thread for her story knowing that adults who struggle with short-term memory more easily recall the songs of days gone by. Music connects them to memories, and the familiar song, See You in September, both timely and timeless, blankets the scene and her characters in the comfort of simpler days. She submitted her story for inclusion in the anthology knowing “how a simple story could ignite good feelings and memories in a dementia or memory-impaired person...” and hoping to be part of helping “someone re-experience happiness through feelings and memories.
Her desire to better the world through her art is standard practice. She’s been involved with other projects where her writing supports change. In one article, she writes about The Help A Brother Out Foundation profiling a local non-profit organization which each day offers “a hand up, not a hand out.” Her published short stories and her novel support a range of initiatives. Proceeds from the Pen Name Publishing charity anthology From Words to Water, for example, went directly to the Wine to Water organization to deliver clean water to vulnerable communities worldwide. Others like On Life and Living, and her debut novel, Scout’s Honor, donated to the Linerberger Center for Cancer Research at the University of North Carolina in the memory of her husband, Eric DeJong.
Her novel was the 2016 Bronze Medal winner for Southern Fiction with the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards and it was named a Finalist in the 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. Dori takes pride in these achievements, but when she hears back from readers of Scout’s Honor that her compelling story changed and saved lives, well, that means far more.
Dori recently completed her second novel, Good Buddy, which is currently represented and seeking a publisher. She describes her novel as “the book of my heart,” and shares a peek at its plot: “Jonathan 'Buddy' Cordova is a small time criminal defense lawyer living paycheck to paycheck and practicing law out of his house in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He likes to think of himself as a modern day Atticus Finch, the kind of attorney who represents the poor, the indigent, the ‘probably guilty,’ the kinds of clients who usually end up in jail. Shy, painfully awkward around pretty women, and carrying his own dark secret, Buddy falls for the daily jogger—Julie Saint, a part-time Kindergarten teacher and Army widow with a little girl named Molly.”
If you’d like to read more her flash fiction, check out the anthology: bit.ly/READFLASH.
If you’d like to follow Dori’s writing, visit her website: www.DoriAnnDupre.com.
She’s always available to visit with book clubs and speak about writing. Follow her on her social media channels: Facebook @DoriAnnDupre, Twitter @DoriAnnDupre, and Instagram @dori_dejong
Charlotte Byrne drew inspiration for her flash fiction, Monday Morning, from a childhood memory. Begun when she was a girl, her mum and she “uphold a somewhat bizarre family tradition of singing ‘dustbin man, dustbin man’ to the dog when the bin men drive past.” She has no memory of the origin of her “somewhat bizarre family tradition,” but reflecting on this unconventional practice got her wondering about the dustbin man (N.B. garbage men to anyone outside the United Kingdom) and “if they did sometimes find treasures amongst other people’s rubbish.”
Her story is about human relationships, and the excitement and hope people feel in an otherwise mundane day – those moments are “all around us, but sometimes we need to look for them.”
When Charlotte’s not thinking about dustbin men and the treasures they recover, she’s figuring out how to overcome her greatest challenge — “turning up at the page, even when not in the mood, or when work or life gets in the way— there’s nothing like overtime or a family crisis to rip the motivation out of you.”
She shares her strategy to move her writing projects forward: 1) set reasonable deadlines, 2) break the project down into manageable parts — for example, a goal to complete a daily word count and 3) chocolate rewards -- “a good way of overcoming writing obstacles!”
Her advice comes honestly, she works hard and has several writing credits to her name. Her publications include a short story, Soldiers All, in Tales of the World, and several flash pieces— Sardines and Not Tonight in Purple Lights published by Fincham Press which she credits with providing her “publishing, editing, and life experience, they really helped me realise what a powerful form flash fiction can be.” One short story, Conjuring the Man, will be included in the upcoming horror anthology, First Came Fear, by New Lit Salon Press.
Charlotte recently completed a YA comic folk fantasy novel entitled, Folked Up. She describes the ideal reader of this works as someone who likes “dimension-hopping musicians, witches, cross-dressing swordswomen, spirits of nature, or power-crazed sorcerers…”
She enjoys working on a variety of projects simultaneously. She has two short stories in the works one about an Egyptian mummy and another about a quilt of human skin. She’s also working on a novel about a Catalan woman searching for her fiancé in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Looking further into the future, she plans to write a novel about a travelling fair in 1950s England, and a children’s book with the working title, Rocket Nan!
Her love of writing goes beyond the finished story and keeps her motivated to write more. In her own words (and likely in the hearts of many writers) she says, “Every time my work is published I get a wonderful feeling – that somebody enjoys my work enough to share it with other readers is the greatest accomplishment I could ever hope to achieve!”
If you’d like to read more of Charlotte’s flash fiction, Monday Morning, check out the anthology here: bit.ly/READFLASH.
Follow Charlotte on Twitter at @charladybyrne to stay in touch.
As part of promoting the Anthology’s Call for Submission, co-editor, Anne Anthony posted black and white photos as photo prompts. One photo she posted of a tree in the snow felt disorienting to contributor, Angela Kubinec, as if the snow were falling up. The photo inspired her flash fiction, Snow Swept, which she wrote as “a magical thinking kind of thing that describes everything in the world coming undone and drifting upward.” Her intention in writing this story is to deliver a message: “…avoid assuming one knows how a thing works, and how little control we have over outcomes. Involuntary detachment.” The photograph faces the first page of her story in the anthology.
On most days, Angela prefers a very low profile, for her it’s more “important for me to know that serious critical readers are moved by something I have written.” She’s her own worst critic, acting as “a very harsh self-editor” which slows her down. But that’s okay, she’s not driven by a desire to reach large audiences. She writes because she doesn’t know how to stop writing.
There’s certainly downsides to having this compulsion to keep writing. Angela says that sometimes she “ignores important people and things when engaged in any writing. They all disappear to me.”
Angela’s been busy in recent months. She’s assisting in judging the 2017 Lascaux Prize Poetry Competition, a much-desired contest which received well over 500 entries for the 2017 competition. She also keeps busy with writing short stories which keep “percolating in my head.”
One story, 23 Items in Your Gallery of Absent Things, was named a finalist in the 2017 Fiction competition at Black Warrior and later received an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train Fall Fiction Open competition. Her advice to writers submitting to literary journals is to know the journal. It’s critical to get to the right market. For other informative advice, check out Angela’s posts in the Dear Editor column on Easy Street.
If you want to read the rest of Snow Swept, check out the anthology available on Amazon. bit.ly/READFLASH.
An ironic mishap led to the final draft and submission of Norm Titterington’s flash fiction, One Night Only. As he tells it, “A lost flash drive (fittingly enough) meant that all I had left of this piece [I began years ago for a writing contest] was my handwritten first draft, which was somehow missing a page—the original ending.” When Norm read the anthology’s call for submission, he wrote a new ending to revive his story, certain it was the right piece to submit.
Inspiration for the original story stemmed from him picking up his guitar after years of not playing. He struggled badly with finger placement, his fingers felt stiff and non-cooperative, as if arthritic. The image of an elderly bluesman, trying desperately to reclaim his former glory, popped in his head, and his new ending practically wrote itself. He hopes the story will encourage his readers to overcome “obstacles with perseverance, confidence and positive energy.”
Positive energy runs throughout Norm’s life. He describes himself as “a pretty simple, ordinary guy,” but when asked about his greatest achievement, his response is anything but simple or ordinary. He’s a husband, a father, a valued full-time (and more) employee, a dedicated coach and organizer for a number of youth sports, and a community volunteer.
Over the last seven years, Norm’s been working on a novel, tentatively titled, "Call Me River," about a mysterious woman who turns a man's life completely inside out. Working on the project “comes in fits and starts.” Unfortunately for his readers, and as is often the case for many writers, the rest of his life takes precedent over his writing. Still, he acknowledges that despite years of sporadic rejections of his writing and these major challenges, he’s continued to pursue the craft that he loves.
More recently, he’s been working on a flash piece that’s morphed into a longer work of fiction. The story, Scars, Lies and Underwear, is about two women sharing their first video chat "date," but their conversation deepens beyond a simple chat. He has no idea where his story will end, but “it's a fun journey so far.”
Norm’s final comments about himself are actually about an organization in which he’s heavily involved. He asks everyone to consider supporting their local Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a wonderful organization that had (and continues to have) a huge impact on his soon-to-be college bound son. He’s a firm believer that the organization gives young children a better path forward than what they might encounter on their own.
And maybe his commitment to this organization ties in with his final remarks. He feels strongly that love and kindness are “missing from our world today,” and encourages us all to “share a smile or a friendly word.”
To read more of Norm’s story, check out the anthology: bit.ly/READFLASH
Stay in touch with Norm and his writing on his blog: A Writer In Progress.
A writer’s first draft often pours out as a “jumble of thoughts and emotions” from the heart and mind. Contributor, Linda Wisniewski gives excellent advice to writers. After writing the first draft of anything, on the top of the first page, she writes in red, “What is this About?” She then gets up from her desk, leaves the draft to stew on its own, and takes a walk outdoors. The answer to her question typically comes during her walk and the jumble becomes crystal clear.
Her story, Dinner for Five, was inspired by a memory of waiting for her son in the parking lot of his elementary school. She recalls seeing an older couple in a car looking sad, and imagined them as estranged grandparents hoping for a glimpse of their grandchildren. Their heartache kick started a story in which she hopes to highlight these difficult situations and encourage parents and grandparents to preserve relationships for the sake of the child. She’s a strong believer in hope and forgiveness. It's never too late to say “I'm sorry” or to change your mind, to let go of a grudge, and make peace. People don't have to give up themselves to show compassion.
Both Linda’s mother and mother-in-law suffered from memory loss. Both were great readers. She submitted her story because she “liked to imagine someone reading to them when they were no longer able. This book makes it possible for others to have that experience.”
Ten years ago, Linda had the good fortune to publish her memoir, Off Kilter, after a career as a librarian. She’s currently looking to publish her first novel, Where the Stork Flies, loosely based on the life of her ancestor who was born in Eastern Europe in 1778. The plot involves a confused Pennsylvania librarian, a 19th century Polish peasant, and a wisecracking medieval queen who join forces to fulfill a mission from the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.
When she’s not traveling with her sculptor husband, she’s volunteering as a docent at the Pearl S. Buck Historic House and teaching memoir workshops in the Philadelphia area.
To read more of her story, check out the anthology on Amazon: bit.ly/READFLASH
Stay in touch with Linda’s writing and workshop events on her website: https://lindawis.com/
photo credit: Pearl S. Buck Museum Library ©Donna Beckley Galanti
Like her character in her flash fiction, Okay, Okay, resilience underscores Bernadine Lortis’ life and her writing. Her story expresses “how love can lift the deepest sorrow and provide safety to those in need.”
She’s spent recent years “turning snippets and scraps of writing” into poetry and stories which have found homes where they may be read by others. She accumulated her thoughts and reflections while caring for her daughter. And sometimes, like many writers, she could only push forward by ignoring friends and relatives who saw little purpose in “spending so much time writing.”
Her own life has been touched by friends and relatives diagnosed with dementia. Only one is in a Memory Care Unit; while others remain in a loved one’s home at the detriment of their caretakers. Bernadine would make “good homes with well-paid, well-trained staff that care for our aged—a growing % of the population—a national priority.”
More recently, Bernadine has been involved with San Miguel PEN in San Miguel de Allende, in the middle of Mexico on the high plateau. The center was created in 1979 as a place for English-speaking writers in Latin America with the hope of unifying the English and Spanish linguistic communities within PEN. She recently read her poetry at the San Miguel Literary Sala which had the theme of “Sing Out, Speak Up—Poems for a New Way, A New World.” The Literary Sala introduced Pen's Women Manifesto, writing on Women's Rights, Resistance, Climate Change, Peace and Hope as well as “Every Silence Broken Buys Another Woman Her Voice.”
Bernadine believes that “Art is a civilizing force in most cultures throughout history and that is a quality in short supply in our times and greatly needed now more than ever.” Her advice to other writers? Stay true to your writing if it is true to you, no matter how the world might howl against it, and you'll find your unique voice. Share your insights with the world.
Check out the rest of her story, Okay, Okay, here: bit.ly/READFLASH
During his interview, Eric remarked that “We are changed (refined) by the events and people we encounter in our lives,” a statement which sits in both his heart and his writing. He approached this anthology because he has known many friends and some family with memory loss. The anthology’s vision to provide stories “where the story ended while the reader could still remember how it began,” appealed to him.
His story, Refining Fire follows a man assigned to assassinate a target, but when he finally sees the target’s eyes through his riflescope, his character feels conflicted. The story came about through a series of 'firsts'—first assignment, first week, first class in an MA program at California State Los Angeles. “Write two pages,” he was told, “in which your character encountered evil for the first time.”
Eric’s been busy completing his MFA thesis at the University of Texas El Paso. He’s written a novel, Black Works, about a used-up bull rider who befriends a young girl and teaches her about horses, riding, roping, a rodeo and all the while seeking to reclaim a part of his life that was lost.
In his ‘spare time,’ Eric serves as a principal at an alternative high school and also teaches at a community college in the evenings. He states that “procrastination and fear” are his greatest challenges as a writer, but perhaps his full plate might be greater.
Stay in touch with Eric and his writing by way of his blog: ericluthi.com
If you'd like to read the rest of Refining Fire, check out the book: bit.ly/READFLASH
Jessica Jones deftly weaves threads of reality with fantasy in her flash fiction, The Williams Sisters and the Curios Incident. Drawn from the real life of her grandma and aunt when they were children living in Wales, she imagined a fantastical adventure the two girls might have had down to the detail of her great-grandma taking in lodgers. Mixing the real with the imagined comes as no surprise since Jessica loves “science fiction, adventure, magic and those sorts of books,” although she admits the short word count was challenging.
Jessica has faced countless challenges in her young life. She and her mum have been coping with her grandma’s Alzheimer’s for six years and to have her first story in a print publication caught her interest — “I wanted to be a part of it, for her, for who she used to be.”
Though the anthology is her first print publication, she’s had several essays published online, most notably in The Huffington Post UK including one about her grandma — “How Alzhiemer’s Affected Three Generations,” and another somber piece about her younger brother who had been tragically killed in a car crash, “Please Don’t Tell Me Its Time to Move On From the Death of My Brother.”
Jessica invests much of her energy writing her blog, Infertility and Life, where she hopes to raise awareness about infertility and offer support to others. She volunteers for Fertility Network UK and runs an online support group for people challenged by infertility who live in the Leicestershire area in the United Kingdom where she resides.
As you can imagine finding time to write sometimes proves difficult, but Jessica perseveres. Her current project includes a memoir that begins the night of her brother’s car crash, the court case to convict the other driver, and her and her husband’s battle to conceive a child.
Want to read the rest of Jessica’s story? Check out the book: bit.ly/READFLASH.html
If you’d like stay in touch with Jessica, read her blog here: https://infertilityandlife.wordpress.com/
Gita Smith’s friends call a region of her brain “The Mound,” a place where her stories rise and take shape. She’s a longtime writer and reader of flash fiction, as anyone reading her two pieces, Roadside Attraction, and You Only Get One Question can clearly tell. Her two stories couldn’t be more different from each other in voice and plot, yet both explore how the men in women’s lives are less than perfect.
A former reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gita is a founding member of House of Writers, an international flash fiction group. She urges other writers to “create or join a writing group and nourish each other.”
When she isn’t writing, she reads submissions for Easy Street and hosts readings of new work by Alabama writers.
In 2013, her story, The Tractor Thief’s Jacket, was named Best Short Story on the Web. When she read it aloud to friends their reaction was pure horror – “perfect for a truly dark crime story.”
Despite her achievements, Gita finds writing third drafts her greatest challenge. She writes, “I wish I could hand my second drafts to a bot and say, ‘Fix everything that needs improving, okay?’”
She’s recently completed a long story, Dining with the Homeless, so please nudge her to submit so the rest of us can read it.
If you’d like to finish reading her story, Roadside Attraction, check out the anthology on Amazon: bit.ly/READFLASH.
Karen Thrower read the anthology’s Call for Submissions on Facebook and recalls thinking — What a nice thing to do for people who think they can’t read anymore! Everyone should be able to experience the joy of reading and bringing that back for those who gave up on reading due to their memory issues, was something I wanted to do.
A life-long writer, Karen only recently began submitting stories for publication. She typically writes horror and fantasy so she challenged herself with writing something that was “family friendly, short and something that could evoke emotion in the reader.”
In Bingo!, she spins a story about a young man who discovers an old airplane model kit that he and his father started when he was a boy. He remembers thinking they’ll finish it later, but they never do. After his dad passes, he’s going through his things in his garage and finds this box and decides to finish the plane. Though the story itself isn’t fantasy, her writing process seems to be. She describes writing her piece as if she “was standing behind this young man and watching him build this old plane and smelling the glue he was using.”
Karen, a native Oklahoman, wife, and mother to a rambunctious four-year old, currently serves as the president of the Oklahoma Science Fiction, a writing group in which she’s been a member for four years. Early this morning, News Anchor, LeAnne Taylor, interviewed Karen on the News On 6. Click here to watch her interview!
Karen’s been busy since she first started submitting stories. In recent weeks, the Siren’s Call Ezine, Issue #37, published her story, New Pet, an accomplishment she’s especially proud of achieving since the issue is an all-women horror issue. “It’s awesome to be included in such a group of outstanding women writers,” Karen says. She also has a new short story, The Lost Ones, coming out in the anthology, Secret Stairs. The editors received more submissions for this anthology than all their other anthologies combined.
If you’d like to read the rest of her story, here’s the link to the anthology: bit.ly/READFLASH
And if you want to read more of Karen’s writing, check out her Amazon Author’s page.
Thank you, Karen, for taping into your fantasy and sending us Bingo!
Anchala Studios, LLC is a micro press based in Chapel Hill, NC which selects projects appealing to broad audiences and which enrich the community. The Collection: Flash Fiction for Flash Memory is its first publication.