News Flash – Vol.3 #13

August 30, 2011 in Community News, Contests, News Flash by Estrella Azul

Linda Simoni-Wastila’s story, “Poison Pill”, has been featured in Every Day Fiction.

Tim VanSant wrote a guest post last week about being a black sheep and it is up over at Creepy Walker.

Hannah Hatch’s #fridayflash, “Whoosh”, has been featured on Amwriting.Org last week.

Congratulations to all!

~~~

There are only two days left (including today!) to enter the Writer’s Pets contest held here on FFDO by August 31st. Great prizes await you, and we would love to read your flashes and see everyone’s pets photos even after the contest is over!

Did you vote for your favorite flash in the Reader’s Choice Award poll in the sidebar over on the right of the page yet? Go on, I will wait here patiently :-)

~ Estrella Azul

 

Keep the good news coming! You can send in your news items concerning the Friday Flash community to Estrella at estrella.azul@fridayflash.org or by contacting her on Facebook or Twitter.

The #FridayFlash Report – Vol 3 Numbers 12 & 13

August 30, 2011 in Contests, FridayFlash Report, Groups by JM Strother

We put the Report on hold last week so this week we have a double issue chock full of 105 stories. This includes 5 debuts. Please welcome Ray G Paterson, Tanja Gustavsson, Louise Phillips, Emilia Quill, and Harry Tennison to the Friday Flash community. I apologize if my tardiness caused you to miss your natural debut, but I’m sure you will still find the community a warm and welcoming place.

If your story isn’t listed be sure to visit the Collector and add the details. It should then show up in next week’s listing. Remember, the guidelines ask for no explicit erotica or graphic and gratuitous violence. You can post those on your own site but I will not list them in the Collector. We also ask for you not to post them on the Facebook page. I leave it up to each author to make that call, but if I disagree the story may not be listed. Thank you for your cooperation.

Don’t forget to add a picture of your pet, or a pet of someone you know, to the Facebook Pet Gallery. Then tool on over to the Contest Group page and enter your short (250 words or less) tail, err… tale. The full rules can be found here. We’ll vote over the first week of September to determine the winners. Yes, plural: we have prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. But just like the lotto, you can’t win if you don’t play. Read the rest of this entry →

Discussion Forums Still Matter

August 25, 2011 in Community News, Tech by JM Strother

Easily Mused BannerThere was a time when you could not swing a cat without hitting a good writer’s forum. As time progressed and new media began encroaching on our time demands one corner of the Internet seems to have taken a huge hit – the writer’s forum. It is a shame really. Of all the social media I have been involved with the writer’s forum is the one place where I can engage in more substantive conversations on a broad range of topics. Many of the people I interact with on a weekly basis here at FFDO are people I met in now defunct forums. The connections we made years ago have held firm over time. How is that? I believe it is because forums call for a deeper level of interaction from active members in order to succeed. In short, you really get to know someone when you can have an actual conversation with them on a regular basis.

Do not get me wrong. Twitter is great, but it is hard to engage in a true back-and-forth discussion in 140 characters or less. While Facebook allows for longer missives it is really designed for broadcasting information rather ongoing discussion. It is more analogous to the hourly newscast than the hour long talk show. The same seems to be true with Google Plus – great for dissemination, not so much for ongoing conversation. All of these social media play an important part in the online world, but none of them are particularly well suited for carrying on an in depth conversation. There is a reason these things are called “discussion” forums.

Discussion forums also serve another important role for writers, at least for this writer. I have always found them to be terrific hotbeds for ideas, a place where I could always come away with a thought or two worth developing further, either into a story or a blog post. I cannot count the number of times I have begun to write a response on a given topic, only to cut it short so that I could fire up my word processor and expand on the idea until it emerged as a fully formed article or story.

I have recently been active on Easily Mused, a forum run by two members of the Friday Flash community – Kemari Howell and Tomara Armstrong. It is still in its early stages, but Easily Mused holds all the promise of a full-featured, robust gathering place for writers of all ilks. If you find your muse in need of a spark, I suggest you head over there and strike up a conversation. Check out their blog while you’re there too. Tell ‘em FFDO sent you.
~jon

Easily Mused banner art used by permission. Artwork designed by Steven Novak.

 

News Flash – Vol.3 #12

August 23, 2011 in Community News, News Flash by Estrella Azul

Tomara Armstrong did a podcast with Steve Novak (Literary Underground) where she discussed FridayFlash among other things. Also, Kemari Howell and Tomara have officially launched the forum over at Easily Mused. Feel free to drop by to connect and be sure to revisit, as discussion boards are a great boon to writers.

John Wiswell, working together with actor Nat Sylva and computer programmer Max Cantor, have launched Consumed, a podcast where they talk about all the media they have consumed lately. You can listen to episode one, “Don’t sit in the captains chair,” here.

Michael J. Solender’s zombie-liscious tale, “Her Smile,” has been featured in the new dark house of horror, Eaten Alive.

Mari Juniper’s #FridayFlash for last week, “Endure,” has been featured on #Amwriting.Org.

With the top fifty stories of the website’s past year, The New Flesh, Year Two is now out and available as a free download! Authors include Laura Eno, Jodi MacArthur, Erin Cole, Angel Zapata, Lily Childs and many more.

Congrats to all!

 

There is only about a week left, so don’t forget to enter the Writer’s Pets contest held here on FFDO by August 31st. We have great prizes to award would love to read your flashes and want to see everyone’s pets photos!

And while you are at it, how about voting for your favorite flash in the Reader’s Choice Award poll, in the sidebar over on the right of the page.

~ Estrella Azul

Keep the good news coming! You can send in your news items concerning the Friday Flash community to Estrella at estrella.azul@fridayflash.org or by contacting her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Note from the Editor:

Readers may have noticed a lack of a #FridayFlash Report this week. Life has stepped in to disrupt Jon’s usual task. He will do a double Report this weekend, and we all wish him the best with whatever has come up.

Jon also wanted to mention that the BOFF v2 is two-thirds of the way through the first round judging. We ran into some issues with Submishmash altering the number of judges allowed for free accounts, so unless donations come in, judges are being juggled through all the stories to get three readings per. He estimates that finishing this round and the next round of editor selections will take to the end of September, and toward the end of October, the final edits and arrangements should be completed. Look for BOFF v2 to be out in November. Thank you all for your patience.

Assembling an Anthology

August 19, 2011 in Guest post, Thursday Writing, Writers by Guest Post

Today, we have a special treat for you, please welcome Tony Noland as FFDO’s very first guest blogger.
Wonderful writer and long time #FridayFlasher, Tony will be sharing all of his deepest, darkest secrets with us. Okay, maybe not all of them, but I was thrilled to find out the ones regarding the assembling of his anthology, “Blood Picnic and Other Stories.”

Thank you Tony, for your enthusiasm in sharing your thoughts and this valuable information with us!

~ Estrella Azul

 

Arranging Stories in an Anthology

By guest blogger Tony Noland

When you self-publish a book, it means that anything you do not get someone else to do is your responsibility. Content editing, line editing, and cover art are obvious elements. Another aspect of anthologies is pretty basic but nonetheless worth some care and consideration: what order should the stories be in? There are a variety of ways to arrange stories when they’re a collection of pieces written by contributors:

  • alphabetically by the author’s name
  • alphabetically by the story titles
  • in order of the relative prestige of the various authors
  • balanced by length/word count
  • grouped by theme or style

When the anthology is entirely your own work, things are easier in some ways, harder in others.

In my anthology, “Blood Picnic and other stories,” I drew on the mass of stories I have written for Friday Flash and for other online outlets. By the time I cut out the clinkers and narrowed the list to only the really good stories, I started re-editing each of them. When I was done, I had a collection of ~40 stories ranging in length from 522 words to 4100 words. The tricky part here is that I write in multiple genres and styles. Some were light and happy, others funny, others gruesome and profane. Going into the final stages of putting the book together, I had to decide how best to arrange them. Granted, I could have just plunked them down in any order, roughly grouped by genre, but that is not really how I operate. If there is a best practice, I try to find it.

I began with my mission statement: “I will always leave the reader wanting more.” From the first page, through each section of the book, I wanted the reader to be drawn onward, to be pulled from story to story. I never wanted there to be any point at which the reader’s mind would wander. Secondly, I wanted that flow to be maintained even if a reader picked the book up in the middle. Finally, I wanted the reader to get to the last page and wish there were more to read. Call me selfish, but I wanted to have this book sell my next one.

First, I settled on some broad categories: fantasy, horror, magical realism, literary fiction, science fiction. Then, I made a list of all the stories and printed that list out. Then I literally cut that list apart with scissors into slips with the titles. (I tried to do this on the computer with various pieces of software, but I am a terribly tactile person, and I needed to get seriously old school for this part.) With my fistful of slips in hand, I started sorting the stories into their respective bins. Some bins had a lot of stories; others had fewer. To balance them out, I moved around stories which could plausibly go in one of several bins. Finally, I had a good mix and a good balance among the stories.

But what order should they come in? It occurred to me that a reader with an interest in, say, horror, would start with the horror stories, regardless of where they appear in the book. So, within each section, I arranged the stories to put the best story first, the second-best story last and the balance stories in-between. Note: it took a special kind of ruthlessness to look at my stories and pick out the best. This is not because I lack the discernment to decide which ones are better than others, but because one could spend endless weeks second-guessing this kind of decision. Once I had them in order within each genre, I taped those little slips of paper onto pages torn from a spiral note pad, leaving myself room for scribbled notes in between. Each sheet was a section of the book. Having sorted them within their genre bins, I arranged the sections themselves in an order that I thought would be most likely to grab and hold a reader’s attention. By doing all of this, there would be a rhythm and a flow to the narratives as the reader goes through the book.

I use yWriter5 for all my writing, so moving the stories around within sections was easy, as was moving the sections themselves around. I was able to edit each story individually in yWriter5, then export the whole book as a Word file for final Smashwords formatting.

The last step in arrangement was to assign names to the sections. It seemed abrupt and graceless to simply have the sections labeled by their genres. I considered different schemes for naming, but ultimately settled on the Tales of the Heavens, Stars, Earth, Moon and Sun for (respectively) fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, horror and magical realism.

Finally, after the editing and re-editing, the arranging and re-arranging, I went looking for some help. The talented writer Icy Sedgwick graciously agreed to beta-read my anthology. I asked her to read the stories, but to look at the arrangement as well. Did it grab and flow the way I wanted it to? Short answer: no. One of the key insights Icy gave me in her comments was that the science fiction stories were of a notably different style than the others, a difference which became jarring due to the fact that the science fiction section was by far the largest.

This led to a crucial decision about the arrangement of this anthology: I took a big ax (and a deep breath) and split it up. I took out all the science fiction (the entire Tales of the Stars section) and set them aside for a future anthology devoted entirely to that single genre. Having done that, I then added in a couple of more fantasy and horror stories which I had overlooked in the first assembly. This was to reinforce the feel of the book and to give more heft to the collection. I then shifted all the stories around in all the other bins to re-balance things out. All of this was to fine-tune the rhythm I’d wanted in the original sequence. I could have done all this in yWriter5, but since the Word file was already formatted, I did it there. Next time, I will get the beta-reads and final edits in before doing the end formatting.

In the end, the 28 stories (27 flash, one conventional short) comprise about 29,000 words. I guess it would be nice to have readers take a look at the sequence in which they come and think, “Gosh, that Tony Noland can sure arrange his stories in an effective and finely balanced sequence!” However, the story sequence is one of those editorial aspects which are supposed to be invisible. Like the cover art or the typography or the page breaks, you do not notice it unless it is done poorly. A smooth flow from story to story means you did the arranging properly.

While it takes extra time, this kind of detailing it is essential to get the most out of your collection.

Of course, everyone is welcome to buy the book and judge for themselves how well I did. It is $2.99 at Smashwords, Amazon and many other e-book outlets.

 

Tony Noland is a writer, blogger and poet in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

He takes his writing seriously, but has somehow gotten a reputation as a funny guy. His work ranges from science fiction and horror to fantasy and literary fiction.

You can find Tony’s writing advice in his monthly column at Write Anything. Tony is active on Twitter as @TonyNoland and at his blog Landless.

Guest Posts at FFDO

August 18, 2011 in Community News by E. D. Johnson

Why We Love Guest Posts

Last week, in the Writing Resources post, I mentioned that FFDO is an author resource, as well as a resource of resources. The post also says that we want to highlight those other resources in a useful and meaningful manner. On the Internet, information rules over everything, and the best data bits revolve around actual experience. Individual authors search out this data to accumulate vicarious knowledge that they may some times need in writing, and other times, the lesson may be presented on a silver plate for all to absorb.

That sterling platter at FFDO will be represented in the form of guest posts, as the best person to describe such experiences is none other than the person that actually did them. #FridayFlash has a wide variety of authors at all stages of the publishing process, and most will happily share their information with all of us. I have seen at least two authors that I have met through #FF post their sales numbers for self-publishing, which may not seem like a huge deal initially. Consider for a moment how personal that financial information is however, and then think about how that could impact dozens, if not hundreds, of writers’ decision to maintain the traditional publishing course or go it alone.

I am fascinated by the way the right words on the Internet can grow exponentially to reach audiences the writer never dreamed would listen. The key seems to be finding the right sources and collecting them together in a useful, accessible fashion. To that end, we have a new Guest Post category for keeping them all sorted and available.

Guest Posting

Do you have a message that could be valuable to the whole #FridayFlash community? Do you have experiences in publishing that others would value? Do you have a contest or truly amazing new writer resource that you want to broadcast to us all? Please, do not be discouraged if you do not, because most of us do not in all honesty have that sort of earth shattering news on a daily, weekly, or even yearly basis.

If however, you want to do a guest post here that covers at least one of those areas, or to see if you have one outside those fields, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or by email (my name, all lower case, no spaces or periods, at this domain). Please, put in the subject line “FFDO Guest Post” to mark it for my filters.

Tomorrow

While we cannot possibly arrange to have guest posts every week, we have lined up a couple over the next few weeks, starting tomorrow. Everyone knows Estrella Azul as our resident News Flash reporter, but she hunted down an excellent guest post from our own #FridayFlash participant and crowd favorite Tony Noland. That treat will be up tomorrow, so tune in for it and don’t forget about the Pet Contest.

Question of the Week

What have you published (traditional or self)?

News Flash – Vol.3 #11

August 16, 2011 in Community News, News Flash by Estrella Azul

Community News

Jim Bronyaur guest blogged over at #Amwriting.org about his life as an indie author.

In her guest post, P.J. Kaiser shared her experience from Indie Book Event 2011 over at Easily MusedIndie publishing: One size does not fit all.

Originally available on SmashwordsSusan Helene Gottfried’s story, “Make a Wish”, published in Bestseller Bound anthology – Volume 2 is now also available from Amazon.

Deanna Schrayer’s writing space Give me Pen, Paper and a Creek was featured over at Fuel Your Writing.

For the 2nd year in a row, one of Alex Carrick’s stories was an Honorable Mention in the internationally prestigious Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. (There are about 2,000 entries.) This year’s choice was “Caboose Follies” which is about to appear in Alex’s 3rd anthology, “Four Scoops Is Over The Top”.

Pulp Ink, with stories from a few #fridayflashers like Jodi MacArthur, Michael J. Solender and Paul D. Brazill, is now available in Kindle version on Amazon. (My apologies in case I overlooked someone – please let me know in the comment section and I’ll add your name.)

Kemari Howell and Tomara Armstrong are doing a wonderful job running Easily Mused. You should definitely visit the website, they’re accomplishing exactly what they set out to do:  inspire, inform, and support the creative-minded.

Congrats to all!

As for myself, Estrella Azul, I have a guest post up at Fear of Writing where I talk about When to STOP editing.

~~~

FFDO News

We now have the Reader’s Choice Award poll up in the sidebar over on the right of the page. Which story do you choose for the BOFF 2 Reader’s Choice Award? There were so many wonderful stories nominated, go vote on your favorite.

The mention of Alex Carrick’s recent Honorable Mention sparked Jon Strother to add a new field, under Publication Credits, to the FFDO profile. It’s a place where people can list any literary awards they may have won. We know several people have won some major awards and others have made honorable mentions, so go play around editing your profile and let us know about your wonderful achievements.

And last, but not least, don’t forget to enter the Writer’s Pets contest held here on FFDO by August 31st. We have great prizes to award would love to read your flashes and want to see everyone’s pets photos!

 

~ Estrella Azul

Keep the good news coming! You can send in your news items concerning the Friday Flash community to Estrella at estrella.azul@fridayflash.org or by contacting her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

The #FridayFlash Report – Vol3. #11

August 15, 2011 in Contests, FridayFlash Report, Groups by JM Strother

There were 55 stories this week, including 3 debuts. Please welcome Kieran MacIntosh, Kate Boardman, and Mish to the Friday Flash community. If you posted a flash this Friday and it is not included here be sure to add it to the Collector so people can find it next week.

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook pets gallery to see some of your favorite writer’s furry friends. Then be sure to post your pet story to the Writer’s Group Contest Page before August COB 31st. (COB is another one of those crazy acronyms I’m so fond of – Close of Business, i.e., midnight Aug 31/Sept 1). Yes, you have to post it to the Group to win, place or show since the whole point is to get folks used to using Groups here. Aha! The ulterior motives have been revealed. So humor me, and everyone else for that matter. Or scare our pants off, or make us cry. Your choice.

Be sure to check out Estrella’s News Flash tomorrow. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep having fun.
~jon Read the rest of this entry →

Writing Resources

August 12, 2011 in Community News, Tech by E. D. Johnson

Gold Coins

Not This Resource

Today’s writing environment is greatly different from a hundred years ago. Sites exist to help learn how to edit a manuscript; discussion sites for every topic populate every corner of the internet. Blogs give glimpses into individuals or groups with similar interests and styles, and forums for every game, movie, actress, musician, and hobby give virtual homes to those that appreciate them. Twain would have had a field day with the sheer number of resources available to writers, but he might have become discouraged by the amount of time writers spend not writing in our time.

Worse, with so many resources, how is one to know which sites will actually help them without wasting hours of writing time trying to utilize them first? As an example, writers today are expected to spend a considerable amount of time building a platform, marketing their works, and being accessible to fans, but some how manage family, friends, and a day job at the same time. With such precious little time to spare, authors must rely on a method of advertisement as old as spoken language: word of mouth. When a writer finds a good resource, they will happily share; when they find a bad resource, they share more than ever.

FFDO is a writer resource, but it can also be a resource of other resources. Part of becoming that resource is collecting information on potential sites of use to other writers. Everyone has their favorites, and we at FFDO are no different. We even have plans to include some highlights of the more helpful ones here. Look forward to the first one some time in the next couple of weeks.

In the mean time, however…

Question of the Week

What are your favorite and least favorite writer resources on the web?

~ E. D. Johnson

Writer’s Pets Contest and News Flash – Vol.3 #10

August 9, 2011 in Community News, Contests, News Flash, Submission Guidelines by Estrella Azul

Contest News

Pets. They’re big, small, cute, cuddly, funny, daring, shy. They get into closets and drawers, help clean up, bring home (sometimes still alive) winged or furry presents, hide socks, chew on furniture, could very well replace your paper shredder, give it their best to turn your house into a pond one puddle at a time, leave paw print patterns in freshly poured cement (like my kitties decided to)… Ah, the stories we could tell about our furry babies.

So… why not tell those stories? If you enter by August 31st, you even have the chance to win fabulous prizes. First, second, and third places will receive Amazon gift certificates (or equivalent): $15 for first place, $10 for second, and $5 for third. The three winners will also be showcased right here on FFDO after the contest is completed.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Upload a photo of your pet somewhere we can see. The new Writer’s Pets Facebook album would be good, or if you are not on Facebook, you can upload them to Bebo’s group (the animal lover’s group here at FFDO).
  2. Write one 250 words (max.) flash inspired by that photo or simply about said pet/pets
  3. Join the Writer’s Pets – Contest Group here at FFDO (you must be a registered member on FFDO to be able to join any group)
  4. Leave your flash as a new forum topic in the contest group: in the “Title” write the flash title and your name separated with “-by…”.   Into “Content” add your flash and don’t forget to add the link of your photo to the end of the flash. You can leave “Tags” empty.
  5. After posting, “view” it and copy+paste the link over to the description of your photo on Facebook if you are using it, so people will find your entry easier

There will be an entry by me in the group and a photo in the Facebook album, so you can check that to see the above steps implemented.

If you don’t personally own a pet, but would like to participate, see if a photo of your friend’s, parent’s, children’s pets prompt a flash. The important thing is to know the pet, as opposed to simple animal photo prompts.

You can post more than one photo, but link to just one for your one and only story. Or you can also leave off adding more photos for now – as the album will remain open even after the contest ends.

While we don’t mind you posting your entry on your own blogs as well, remember: You have to post it to the Writer’s Pets Contest Group to win, place or show since the whole point is to get folks used to using Groups here.

Break a leg everyone!

~~~

Community News

Susan Helene Gottfried has a story that was originally meant to be a #fridayflash published in the Bestseller Bound anthology – Volume 2. Susan’s story is entitled “Make a Wish” and it features ShapeShifter frontman, Mitchell Voss.  You can download the anthology from Smashwords for no other cost then a few clicks of the mouse. Congrats!

Michael J. Solender’s piece, “The Dare”, has been published in the new issue of Blue Print Review in slow release this month. Congratulations, Michael!

Founded by Johanna Harness, the #amwriting community turned two years old on August 3rd. Visit the anniversary post on Amwriting.org to check out the blog party. Happy birthday #amwriting!

Rebecca Emin has been asked to be a part of BBC Radio Oxford’s Book Club feature on 17th August at approximately 1.30pm. So tune in if you can, she’d love to know what you think after the event! Rebecca has also placed her book  in various Oxfordshire bookshops, running out of copies. Congrats on both accounts!

India Drummond’s book, “Blood Faerie: Caledonia Fae”, aside from the e-version, is now also available in paperback on Amazon. Congratulations, India!

~ Estrella Azul

Keep the good news coming! You can send in your news items concerning the Friday Flash community to Estrella at estrella.azul@fridayflash.org or by contacting her on Facebook or Twitter.