There are 50 reindeer on the loose in Webster this Christmas season courtesy of Park Manager Shawnell Faber and the staff of the Webster Groves Parks Department. The whimsical wooden sculptures are made from the remains of shingle oaks which would have otherwise gone through the wood chipper. Back in the day (too many years ago to admit) I used to run the Webster wood chipper while working my way through college. It pleases me no end to see the remains of what were once magnificent trees given a new life, one filled with the magic of the holiday season.

This herd of reindeer is scattered about Webster; in the business districts, City Hall, our main highway interchange, and the Recreation Center; and invariably bring a smile to the faces of those they encounter. There are three red-nosed reindeer included in the mix. If you happen through Webster see if you can find them.

I think this one's Blitzen

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a goodnight.

Photos by J. M. Strother which I hereby release into the Public Domain.


Do you ever write in dark, or more specifically, by the glow of your monitor? I’m doing that right now, and for someone who is not a touch typist it certainly is a challenge. But there is not a lot of ambient light around sunrise on a stormy day (yea, rain at last) and Cyndi is still sleeping. Thank God for laptops – I can bend the monitor down toward the keyboard like a flashlight when I just can’t seem to find that certain key. :p A small price to pay for marital harmony.

I have a post up today at #AmWriting, the excellent writing site of Johanna Harness. I talk about why I started Friday Flash Dot Org. Do drop in, hang up your hat, and set a spell. I have cookies in the oven.


Hopper cars on the railroad tracksMy Friday Flash this week is Riding Iron, and it can be found over at #amwriting. #amwriting is a wonderful organization created by very talented Johanna Harness.  Like #FridayFalsh, it is a Twitter hashtag connecting diverse writers around the world in an ongoing conversation. But it is much more than a Twitter conversation. Like FridayFlash, #amwriting is a full-fledged participatory community where readers and writers connect, interact, and grow. Finally, #amwriting is a terrific online resource for writers, chock full of interesting articles each and every week. It received the 2010 Christopher Al-Aswad Prize, and Johanna was a finalist for the 2010 Shorty Awards.

Normally #amwriting posts nonfiction. But Johanna has set aside Fridays for fiction. This week she is graciously hosting my story, Riding Iron, another tale based on my misbegotten youth. I’ll leave it to you to separate fact from fiction. Please drop by to read it, and if you like it, please comment.

When you’re done with my story and have left effusive praise, take some time to tool around the #amwriting website. I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of names from the Friday Flash community. If you don’t already use the #amwriting hashtag you should consider doing so. And you certainly should be following Johanna – @johannaharness.

Thank you, Johanna, for letting me hop a ride on your train this week.



Friday Flash Dot OrgThe other day I mentioned that the Friday Flash Report needs a new home. It now has one – Friday Flash Dot Org. I’ve had that domain name seems like forever, but never had a clear vision on what to do with it. I think the time has finally come to dust off the empty shelves and put some useful tools in the display windows. Friday Flash Dot Org is now officially open.

Now that it’s open what are we going to do with it?

Well for starters, it will host the Friday Flash Report. Other ideas kicking around in my head:

  • Host a Friday Flash Bookstore with links to participant’s points of sale. Many in the Friday Flash community are published authors, either as independents or with small presses. We can have a page set up exclusively to promote your books, on an opt-in basis of course.
  • Author spotlights, also as an opt-in, to showcase participants own favorites. I’m thinking a sidebar box generated via a collector. It would feature the author’s picture or avatar, a tweet length message, and then links to the author’s own three favorite stories. Like precious children, you want to boast on them.
  • A Debut Collector – you may or may not remember my post, We Were All Young Once. It highlighted everyone’s debut story up through May 24th, 2010. It was well received, but is way out of date. We could implement a Debut Collector and then people could register their debut Friday Flash for posterity’s sake.

These are just a few ideas I have for the website, the low hanging fruit if you will, which can largely be generated via collectors. I hope Friday Falsh Dot Org can evolve over time to become the true focal point for all concerns Friday Flash and help support and grow the community.

To that end it will need a volunteer staff to keep it running smoothly. If you are interested in helping contact me via your favorite method (email, Twitter, Facebook, Pony Express) and let me know which of the following positions you’d like to help fill (listed in urgency of need):

  • Newsletter editing (the ever popular Friday Flash Report – this consumes a lot of my time)
  • PHP programming (to automate some things, such as the afore mentioned newsletter, so it consumes less time)
  • Facebook coordination (cross posting the Friday Flash report and other announcements to the Friday Flash group page)
  • Guest posts (to help keep it interesting)
  • Web design (page layout, bookstore design, widget implementation, etc)
  • Artwork (occasional banners for major events or just plain old variety)

More than one person can jump in on any of these things.

We’re also open to other ideas on how we, as a community, can best use the website. If you have any suggestions feel free to share them. My email address is, my Twitter ID is @jmstro, and you can find me on Facebook.


A Roman FourmI am sorry to see the Writer’s Chatroom forum has closed. The Writer’s Chat Room is still around, but the portion I sometimes used, the forum, is no more. I’m just not one for chat. I have to admit I was not very active, but still I will miss it. Many of the writer’s forums I’ve used in the past have closed down, or have become so inactive that they are in effect closed. I miss them. One comes to know fellow forum contributors over time and real friendships can form.

I still remember the screen names of many of the writes who used to frequent the Renderosity writer’s forum. It’s still there, but the members pretty well are not. I cut my teeth on poetry at Renderosity, prompted to take the plunge by tjames in his periodic poetry challenges. Until then it was a form I pretty well tried to avoid.

After much prodding by their users Renderosity eventually opened a Writer’s Gallery. As soon as they did I knew the forum was in trouble. Members still post in the gallery, but they no longer visit the forum. They post their stories, and get comments in the gallery, but there is no banter, no real back and forth discussion on diverse topics. That is not the function of a gallery. Over time the former became a ghost town.

Then the Writer’s Write forum closed down. I was pointed to the WW forum by the self same tjames. I liked it because some of the same folks I had come to know at Renderosity were also members there, so it felt comfortable when I joined. I could also count on some active criticism when I posted something for critique. Gone.

When the Editor Unleashed forum closed it was like a stab to the heart. It was easily the most simpatico forum I’ve ever belonged to and quite a valuable resource. I made some real friends there and did some early promotion of Friday Flash, both through the forum and the blog. Thankfully many of the friends I made there started doing Friday Flash and have stuck with it, so I have not lost touch with them as I have in other cases. Some of them now frequent the Writer’s Digest forum, which thankfully is still kicking.

Do you still go to writer’s forums? Have they become passé?

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