NewsFlash – Vol. 6 #8

July 22, 2014 in Community News, News Flash by Angie Capozello

NewsFlashEmma Newman has a story in a new anthology coming out from Abaddon Books. “Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Street” is set for release in the US on October 7th, and in the UK on October 9th. It can be pre-ordered now from Amazon. Her novel Between Two Thorns has also been shortlisted in two categories in the British Fantasy Awards: Best Fantasy Novel and Best Newcomer as well as making the Locus top 25 Best Fantasy novels of 2013.

Maria Kelly announced that there is a contest for the Shinigami Stories issue of The Were Traveler. The deadline is December 20th, 2014. Start reaping! And… you are not too late to make the deadline for the Elves & Spacerockets: General Sci-Fi & Fantasy Issue, which has a deadline of September 15, 2014. Whatever would Legolas think?

Justin N. Davies has two stories, including “Sackcloth and Ashes” published in the “An Earthless Melting Pot” anthology, published by Words with Jam.

Angie Capozello will be stepping down as the NewsFlash Editor soon in order to spend more time writing. We want to thank Angie for all her excellent work, and hope to see her around here in the future with the occasional article and artwork. She has been a tremendous help. If you are interested in the position please drop me, Jon Strother, a line at jmstro@gmail.com.

Teaser Tuesday — Drop by FFDO on Thursday to read about the secret to writing success. 

Congratulations to everyone!  I’m sorry to be leaving, it’s been a lot of fun seeing what amazing things you have all been up to every week. It came down to me simply not being able to juggle this, my hectic day job and writing.  I’ll still be around though, and I’ll still look forward to hearing about all your writing successes. Good luck to you all, and keep writing those awesome flashfics! :)

- Angie

The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 7

July 19, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 22 stories in the Collector this week with 1 debut. Please welcome Rose Sarro to the community.

FFDO contributor Helen A. Howell shares a few words about dialogue in So, To Speak for our Thursday Writing series this week. Click on over and give it a read and then talk it up in the comments.

FridayFlash Wants You! We are looking for writers to submit articles for the website, and any writing-related topic is welcome. Feel free to browse through our Thursday articles for inspiration – Reader’s Review, Book Tour Blog Hop and Interviews are just a few of our goodies. For more info on guidelines and to contact our editor, Jon Strother, click here.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →

So, To Speak by Helen A. Howell

July 17, 2014 in Thursday Writing, Tips and Suggestions, Writers by Helen A. Howell

FFDO so, to speak

Dialogue: I’ve often heard other writers say they have trouble writing dialogue. This is something I’ve never suffered from. I guess I’m lucky. Good dialogue in my opinion, is what can bring your characters to life. This aids the reader in forming a picture in their head of what the characters are like through the words they speak.

I try when writing dialogue to imagine myself as the character and I ask, is this how this person/creature/object would say this? Even when writing from an inanimate object’s point of view, I would still apply this. I once wrote a story about a wedding bouquet, and in my head I could see and hear her. She was very hoity toity and so the words she spoke reflected this element of her character. I try to write it just so, even if it is something I would never say myself. Staying true to that character, and using words, phrases, etc., that are not necessarily comfortable in my own vocabulary, is I feel, what makes their dialogue real and then the character becomes believable. Some words are offensive, but if that’s what your characters would say in the real world, then they are the words you should put into their mouths.

Writing dialogue does take practice and one of the things I’ve learnt over time is to use dialogue tags sparingly, especially those types of tags that include he/she grumbled, snorted, laughed, bellowed, shouted and so on. Sometimes these are useful but not always necessary. More often than not, when we write what our character is saying, that should be enough to give the indication of how they are saying it, without the need to add verbs like shouted or yelled. I try not to over use these tags and if I do need a tag, I use more often than not, said or asked, especially if I want to add some other description like for example: she said as she waved goodbye.

The trickys part of writing dialogue can be, I have found, in keeping the characters speech individual. Giving them a voice that will stand apart from the other characters in your story, does take a bit of practice. But it is also the essential part of making those personas convincing. One of the things I’ve found that helped me to learn to do this was a writing exercise, whereby you write a complete story using dialogue only. This certainly aided me in getting into my various characters’ heads and was a good lesson that I carried on into future work.

As an example of what I mean, here is a short excerpt from a story I wrote called Coffee for Three using dialogue only.

“What you going to have Linda?”
“Oh, I feel like a treat today, Marge. I wonder where Doris has got to?”
“She’s never on time, you should know that.”
“Yes I do, but I do feel sorry for her. She’s had such a hard time with him.”
“Well, more fool her for marrying him. That’s what I say!”
“How can you be so hard Marge? You’ve got your Bert who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.
“Humph, well I look after him proper don’t I. I see to all his needs. He has everything he wants at home with me.”
“I’m sure we all do our own bit in our own homes.”

When I wrote this story, I saw Marge as a lady who had allowed middle age to spread all over her, and who was a bit judgemental and bossy. Linda was a far more tolerant personality and I hoped through their dialogue, that the reader would get a clear picture of what these two characters were like.

So to speak in your stories, I would say, let your characters say it for real!

~Helen Howell

*Image created by Helen A. Howell

NewsFlash – Vol. 6 #7

July 14, 2014 in Community News, News Flash by Angie Capozello

NewsFlashPaul Brazill was interviewed by Chris Rhatigan of All Due Respect blog about his novel, “A Case Of Noir”.

Marc Nash will be reading four of his flash stories along with other poets and fiction writers at the Crown, Southwark, London, on July 16th.

Michelle Evans will be having a book launch party to celebrate the paperback release of “Spiralling Out of Control and Spiralling Out of the Shadow”, at Upper Coomera Library, Gold Coast, Australia

FridayFlash Wants You!  We are looking for writers to submit articles for the website, and any writing-related topic is welcome. Feel free to browse through our Thursday articles for inspiration – Reader’s Review, Book Tour Blog Hop and Interviews are just a few of our goodies. For more info on guidelines and to contact our editor, Jon Strotherclick here.

 

Teaser Tuesday — Drop by FFDO on Thursday to read about the ins and outs of dialog, by Helen A. Howell.

Congratulations to everyone!

- Angie

The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 6

July 12, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 29 stories in the Collector this week with 0 debuts.

FFDO Contributing Correspondent Catherine Russell combs a classic fairy tale with Rapunzel: Not for the Faint of Heart in our Thursday Writing series this week. Click on over and give it a read and then let your hair down in the comments.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →

Rapunzel: Not for the Faint of Heart

July 10, 2014 in Not for the Faint of Heart, Thursday Writing by Catherine Russell

campanile-venezia

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down thy hair to me.”

Most Westerners are familiar, at least in passing, with this quote from the beloved Grimm’s* fairytale. A lovely girl with absurdly long hair is imprisoned in a tower by an evil enchantress. Her captor comes and leaves the poor girl’s prison by the only means available, by getting her to lower her hair out of the tower when she calls out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down thy hair to me.” Eventually a prince happens by, does a little eavesdropping, says the famous phrase, and the poor girl let’s down her hair. But that’s far from the entire story.

First of all, Rapunzel hails from the grand fairytale tradition of terrible parents. Now, to be fair, they were a childless couple who wanted children. However, Rapunzel’s mother noticed some rampion, also known as rapunzel, growing in her neighbor’s garden. She wanted it so badly, she told her husband to steal her some for a salad or she would die. Not wanting to be a widower, hubs complied, but she enjoyed her salad so much she bugged him to go steal more. Unfortunately, this time he got caught by their neighbor, the enchantress. She agreed that if they gave her their child, she’d let him go and treat the child kindly like a mother. Obviously, they agreed. So far, the enchantress seems like a better parent. Well, except for the part where she names the kid after a salad.

But then, when her adopted daughter turns out to be an absolutely stunning twelve-year old,  she locks the girl in a tower! You know the drill: No doors, no windows, except for the window in the top of the tower. Every day the enchantress visits her and leaves via Rapunzel’s golden locks, which she wraps around a hook and uses to bring the enchantress up and down the tower.

If she was wrapping her hair around a hook, why couldn’t she cut her own hair and lower herself down? She’s twelve when she’s first put in solitary, so it’s understandable that she would be afraid to leave the only mother she’s ever known. But later, why not?  Is it fear? Is it vanity?  Can’t she find a pair of scissors?

Eventually, the prince does hear Rapunzel singing to herself. Unable to figure out how to get in, he leaves, but he can’t stop thinking about her. He returns, lured by her beautiful song – like Odysseus lured by the sirens. By spying on the exchange between mother and daughter, he learns how to reach his dream girl. When mom – aka Mother Gothel – leaves her darling daughter, the prince calls out,  “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down thy hair to me.”

Now, by this time she spent quite a bit of time by herself with only her adopted mother to visit her. She’s not tone-deaf, otherwise the prince wouldn’t have been attracted by her song. Somehow though, she doesn’t recognize that it’s not Mother Gothel calling to her. She lets down her hair, the prince climbs up, and she’s frightened. She’s never seen anyone like him, but he talks nicely to her, asks her to marry him, and – noticing how easy on the eyes the prince is – she accepts. But does he rescue her? Ah, nope. They do make plans to escape though. Every night he’s to bring her a skein of silk, so she can weave a ladder for her escape.

Every day Mother Gothel visits, and every night the prince visits. They never meet. Then one day, Rapunzel asks her adopted mother – obviously before the ladder is done (according to Grimm’s), “Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young King’s son–he is with me in a moment.”

Whoops.

Her mother calls her a “wicked child” and rants about how she had separated her from the world but Rapunzel still deceived her. She cuts off her beautiful hair and takes the girl – it’s not specified how – to a desert “to live in great grief and misery.”  Yet that same day, Mother Gothel sets a trap for the prince by fastening the hair to the hook and letting him ascend the tower. She tells him that Rapunzel is lost to him, and he leaps from the tower in his grief. It seems that he must have really cared for the girl.

He lives, but lands with thorns in his eyes and is blinded. He wanders around the forest, crying over the loss of his “dearest wife.” Given Rapunzel’s history, you can’t help but wonder how they got married; it’s hard to visualize a vicar climbing her braids to perform the ceremony.

The blind prince roams around for years “in misery”, but eventually he finds Rapunzel once again when he hears her voice. She is living miserably as well – in the desert with her twin children. When she recognizes him, her tears fall into his eyes and cure his blindness. He takes her back to his kingdom where they live for “a long time afterwards, happy and contented.”

However, there other versions of Rapunzel that read a bit differently.

Though the origin of Rapunzel is unknown, the Grimm’s version is remarkably absent of the sexual overtones of the other similar, older tales such as “Petrosinella (yr. 1634)” and “Persinette (yr. 1697).”. Other than the fact that she mysteriously had twins, there are no references to the prince and her having sex. Yet in Petrosinella, the craving of the girl’s mother is due to pregnancy, and after the girl meets the prince, she drugs the “ogress”, and she and the prince make “a little meal out of the parsley sauce of love.”

Persinette’s author, Charlotte-Rose de La Force, was a member of a group that brought adult fairytales into vogue, writing tales of marriages based on love and compassion in a time when daughters were property and marriage was a business arrangement between the parents of the bride and groom. La Force herself fell in love with a man she was forbidden to wed. He was locked away, but she snuck in and they eloped. Her own love story did not have a happy ending though; eventually they were caught and their marriage annulled.

Sigmund Freud isn’t the only psychoanalyst to have something to say about Rapunzel and her ‘tower’. There’s even an psychological illness named Rapunzel syndrome, gastric distress as a result of a hairball in the stomach from eating hair. However, there are less unattractive ways to look at this classic story.

Rapunzel’s birth parents, the prince and Rapunzel herself are punished for indulging in forbidden fruit. Rapunzel’s parents lose their daughter for stealing and indulging in the forbidden salad, while Rapunzel and the prince are punished for premarital sex.** The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales, by Sheldon Cashdan, notes that in earlier versions, the witch is tipped off by Rapunzel’s growing belly – not necessarily by her loose lips. However, in the Grimm’s version, Mother Gothel isn’t all bad. She’s overprotective, sure, by locking the girl up just as she’s hitting puberty, but her motivations are good. It’s worth pointing out that the prince and Rapunzel are punished in the extreme, but they still get their happy ending.

I still wouldn’t recommend Mother Gothel for Mother of the Year though.

Contemporary versions of the tale tend to downplay the grisly bits and attempt to empower Rapunzel herself. In Disney’s Tangled, Rapunzel is a lost princess whose hair has magical powers, and the prince isn’t a prince at all but a rogue who falls in love with her. Cress by Marissa Meyer, book three of the Lunar Chronicles, features a Lunar girl who lives in a satellite and hacks Earth’s surveillance systems. Her prince is a similar rogue character, and despite her extreme isolation, her character grows as she interacts with other people. Even books aimed specifically at young audiences toy with the story. Really, Rapunzel Needed a Haircut! is a picture book telling the fairy tale from Dame Gothel’s point of view, namely her wish to protect Rapunzel. In the script for Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, there isn’t even a tower, just Rapunzel as a modern princess, annoyed by her long hair, who rebels against tradition.

Like so many other fairtytales, once you read between the lines, the subtext is usually more tangled*** than what you would get from an initial reading.

 

*This links to the translation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (published 1812) I read and will refer to throughout the post.

**This idea was based largely on reading this article.

***See what I did there? Sorry, but the temptation was just too great.

****image courtesy of BigFoto.com

NewsFlash – Vol. 6 #6

July 8, 2014 in Community News, News Flash by Angie Capozello

NewsFlash Jon Jefferson’s short story, “Edge of the Knife“, is now available on Smashwords. You can pick it up for free with the code ZT24T until July 10th.Edge-for-ad

Jodi Cleghorn’s microfic, Nothing New to Begin”, is now available for free on the Tincture website.

Alan Baxter’s short story called “Upon a Distant Shore”, is available for free in Dimension6 magazine, issue 2.

Kevlin Henney’s story, “Kraken Event”, has been published with The Fabulist. This story won second place in the Bristol Festival of Literature’s writing challenge, The Kraken Rises!, and appeared in the anthology for the event.

~~~

FridayFlash Wants You! We are looking for writers to submit articles for the website, and any writing-related topic is welcome. Feel free to browse through our Thursday articles for inspiration – Reader’s Review, Book Tour Blog Hop and Interviews are just a few of our goodies. For more info on guidelines and to contact our editor, Jon Strother, click here.

 

Teaser Tuesday — Drop by FFDO on Thursday to read about the next fairy tale we deem not for the faint of heart: Rapunzel.

Congratulations to everyone!

- Angie

Keep the good news coming! You can send in your news items concerning the Friday Flash community through the News Hound form or by contacting me on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter. Or feel free to share your news by posting on the #fridayflash Facebook Group Page.

The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 6 Number 5

July 5, 2014 in FridayFlash Report by Tim VanSant

We had 28 stories in the Collector this week with no debuts.

Dan Powell returns as guest author in our Thursday Writing series this week with Writing Weird and Wonderful Short Fiction. Click on over and give it a read and then why not write a weird and wonderful comment to keep the conversation going.

FridayFlash Wants You! We are looking for writers to submit articles for the website, and any writing-related topic is welcome. Feel free to browse through our Thursday articles for inspiration – Reader’s Review, Book Tour Blog Hop and Interviews are just a few of our goodies. For more info on guidelines and to contact our editor, Estrella Azul, click here.

It’s easier than ever to share your writing good news in our weekly News Flash with the form on our News Hound page.

As always, if your story is not in the listing below please go to the Collector and add the details. It will be in next week’s report. ~Tim

The Stories: Read the rest of this entry →

Writing Weird and Wonderful Short Fiction

July 3, 2014 in Guest post, Thursday Writing, Writers by Dan Powell

Just over a week ago I appeared at the London Short Story Festival 2014 alongside Adam Marek and Robert Shearman, at a panel titled The Weird and Wonderful World of Short Stories, chaired by Tania Hershman. Adam, Robert and I read from our work and answered Tania’s thoughtful and thought-provoking questions, before the floor was opened for audience questions. Over the course of the hour I learnt a great deal about the subject of weird short stories as well as sharing my thoughts on the subject which I thought I might share here.

LSSF Chalkboard

The first thing I noticed, during the readings, was how different our stories were despite the fact that they all fall under the umbrella of weird or surreal fiction. Hearing them read aloud clearly highlighted the differences in subject matter, tone and style. That said, underpinning all the excerpts read there was a clear emotional landscape that I think is absolutely necessary for the reader; it is the emotional landscape of the story that allows them to believe in the more surreal aspects of the narrative.

Following my reading, Tania posed the question of whether, when weird events take place within stories (such as actual storms brewing in a teacup or a tamagotchi contracting AIDS), is the reader meant to interpret them as actually happening or as metaphor. For me, I prefer to believe the strange event being described is actually happening, I want to be carried along by the events of the story instead of second-guessing them, and that goes for stories I write as well as those I read.

When I am writing or reading a piece of weird fiction, I don’t so much suspend disbelief as chose to fully believe in the world presenting itself to me. As a writer, it’s the only way to ensure you carry the reader fully into your weird and wonderful story, you cannot expect a reader to commit to an idea if you yourself do not. As a reader, I hope that the author of a weird fiction piece has shown me the same courtesy. That said, I am happy for readers to read the weird elements of my stories as metaphors. Once the story is out in the world it belongs to the reader, it is theirs to interpret rather than mine to explain.

Robert Shearman talked about the freedom he feels when writing short fiction. The only budget you need to worry about when writing a short story is the time you have available, which makes the blank page the perfect place to explore strange and odd stories on as small or as grand a scale as you like. The story Robert read from, ‘The Dark Space in the House in the House in the Garden at the Centre of the World’, is a great example of the results of this freedom, with its narration by God, it’s elaborate setting and its extended time scale.

When asked how he makes weird stories work, Adam Marek talked about the importance of having only one single weird element in the otherwise realistic world of the story. He explained how the stories which his editor rejected in the past were all cluttered with multiple weird elements or events which only serve to clutter the story itself. This is something I have done in my weird stories, either by instinct or subconsciously following the good example set in the weird fiction of Adam Marek, Amy Bender, Etgar Keret et al. Having only one weird element in a story helps the reader buy in to whatever it is.

From left to right: Tania Hershman, Dan Powell, Adam Marek and Robert Shearman (standing reading at mic).

From left to right: Tania Hershman, Dan Powell, Adam Marek and Robert Shearman (standing reading at mic).

We were also asked by a member of the audience about how we remain open to working with the playful elements of our fiction. Adam talked about how he writes every idea he has in his notebooks and does not dismiss any idea out of hand. The best ideas end up as stories, the others fade away, but he remains open to their possibilities when they first arrive. Robert spoke about the need to accept your own silliness, the need to allow yourself to be silly. Silly is good.

When I reflect on my writing process when working on weirder short fiction, for me writing weird stories is a way of exploring and celebrating the world we live in. The images and oddities that my creative brain seems to latch onto are those that somehow show the expansive and radiant inner lives that we all carry about inside the meaty frames of our body.

‘Storm in a Teacup’ is perhaps the best example of this in my own work. It’s a story in which the storm, which, for me at least, is an event that in the context of the story is actually taking place rather than something to be read as a metaphor. The storm becomes the catalyst for each of the witnesses own connection or reconnection to their emotional life. Hopefully, in the reading of it, the reader reconnects with their own emotional landscape, which would make the storm a metaphor for the process of story itself, if it absolutely had to be a metaphor for anything. Which would be weird and wonderful to me in equal measure.

~ Dan Powell

*Photo copyright Dan Powell

Guest Post (6 Posts)

We would love to have more guest posts! Will you write one? If you have any ideas or proposals that you think would improve the public presence of FFDO please don’t hesitate to send them to either editor Estrella Azul or founder Jon Strother. You can contact Estrella at estrella.azul@fridayflash.org, and Jon at jmstro@fridayflash.org with your questions, comments, or suggestions.


NewsFlash – Vol. 6 #5

July 1, 2014 in Community News, News Flash by Angie Capozello

NewsFlash Paul Brazill was interviewed at Ravello Magazine about his novel, “A Case Of Noir.”

Donna Carrick is accepting submissions for Carrick Publishing’s second Crime Fiction anthology.  The Deadline is July 31st, and you must join the Excerpt Flight Deck  Facebook group to take part. Visit the website for full details.

Marc Nash invites you to watch the  trailer for his new collection of short stories, “28 Far Cries”, published by Gumbo Press in both print and e-book formats. 

~~~

FridayFlash Wants You!  We are looking for writers to submit articles for the website, and any writing-related topic is welcome. Feel free to browse through our Thursday articles for inspiration – Reader’s Review, Book Tour Blog Hop and Interviews are just a few of our goodies. For more info on guidelines and to contact our editor, Jon Strotherclick here.

 

Teaser Tuesday — Drop by FFDO on Thursday to read about Dan Powell’s experience after appearing at the London Short Story Festival under the banner of The Weird and Wonderful World of Short Stories.

Congratulations to everyone!

- Angie

Keep the good news coming! You can send in your news items concerning the Friday Flash community through the News Hound form or by contacting me on FacebookGoogle Plus or Twitter. Or feel free to share your news by posting on the #fridayflash Facebook Group Page.