I attended Archon38 this past weekend. Archon is the annual Science Fiction convention for the greater St. Louis area. The St. Louis metropolitan area is one of those oddball border communities where half the population lives on one side of the state line and the other half on the other. This explains why while Archon is actually held in Collinsville, Illinois, it is still considered a St. Louis convention and is hosted by St. Louis Science Fiction, Ltd. Unfortunately, the state line in this instance happens to be the Mississippi River, one of the biggest rivers in the world, which means if you live on the Missouri side one has to traverse a major bridge, and thus a major bottleneck.

I worried as I approached the Polar Street Bridge that I’d end up in a major backup, but I zipped right across, and was quickly on my way to Collinsville. I took this as a good omen. Boy was I right.

One of the prime motivating factors for me to go to Archon this year was that I learned late in the game that one of my favorite people was going to be a guest/panelist – none other that Genevieve Ching, who writes under the names G. P. Ching for young adult and Genevieve Jack for more mature readers.

A line at the registration table.

Waiting to register

The only snag in the day was registration. The process was unduly long, but it gave me a chance to chat with a few folks in the line about conventions past, Archons in particular. The registration desk was using those cube things for credit cards, and the wireless signal kept dropping out on them. Finally, to the applause of many, they strung two big Ethernet cables across the hallway and hardwired their connection to get things moving along. Hopefully they’ll do that from the start next year as signals are always bad in convention halls.

Once registered I set out to find Genevieve. Genevieve was one of the early participants in #FridayFlash, and I’ve been following her online for years. I simply could not pass up the opportunity to meet her in person. I found her display right off, but alas, she was not there – probably doing a panel.

So I ducked into the dealer’s room to visit my friend and potter extraordinaire, Christine Collins of Mud Cat Studio. She does wonderful work in clay and has also branched out into jewelry. Don’t tell my girls, but I picked up these lovelies from Chris. Santa may just leave them under the tree.

Two ceramic cups, one with a fairy, one with a winged cat.

Cups by Christine Collins

After my visit with Chris I went out and found Genevieve at her booth along with her husband, Aaron. I introduced myself and generally swooned in her awesomeness. She really is as wonderful in person as online, and Aaron is every bit as nice.

Genevieve Ching at her table.

The best pro table at the Con.

I found out that she had a panel coming up in an hour or so on Publishing In the Digital Age, so I made a point of finding the room before woofing down a quick lunch. ($8 for a pretzel and a soda – ouch!)

I only attended two panels this year: Publishing In the Digital Age, and Medical Nano Technology: Were are My Nanobots? As I get older I find I don’t have the stamina to work a convention like I used to. I’ve decided that next year I’m going to preregister and get a hotel room for Friday and Saturday night so I can do more but still rest up on demand.

Publishing In the Digital Age was a terrific panel discussion moderated by Dan Koboldt with Trudy Myers and Genevieve as his other panelists. It’s always nice when the full panel shows up. This panel discussion was worth the entire price of admission all by itself. The authors were very forthcoming on how to handle the business end (as to the production end) of being a self-published author. Important things I learned included:

  • hire a good cover artist – without a good book cover you’re dead
    - you can get a high quality book cover design for as little as $100
  • hire a good (emphasis on good) line editor
    - a good line editor might run you around $1200 for a manuscript of 60-80K words
  • hire a good developmental editor
    - a good developmental editor might run you around $800, for similar sized manuscripts
  • if piracy becomes a problem, hire a firm to hunt them down and issue C&D orders
    - that can run you around $45/month
  • free helps sell
    - if you have a series, consider giving the first title away once the second title is available
  • with the advent of ereaders and cell phone apps novella’s are back
    - be sure readers are fully aware it is a short work or you may antagonize them
  • put out a newsletter
    - shoot for around 1,000 subscribers, realizing of course that it will take some time to achieve that
  • churn is good – strive to have several new releases a year
    - it maintains reader interest in you as a writer
  • write (see churn, above)
The three member panel for publishing in the digital age.

Panel – Publishing in the Digital Age

I cannot emphasis those last two enough. Genevieve told us that she tries to write 2,000 words a day. 2000 words a day! When editing she shoots for three chapters a day. She has produced nine novels since starting in 2011. She is incredibly productive.

I have always wondered how much financial investment it takes to get a manuscript into shape for publication. From my notes above one can expect to put out something in the neighborhood of $2100 just to get a book in print. Of course some of those costs might get skipped for the first book (at the cost of quality), but once it starts generating revenue use that money to a) fix the first book, and b) get the successive books in better shape before they go out the door.

Henry Stratman seated on stage discussing nanobots in medicine.

Panel – Where Are My Nanobots?

The other panel I attended was Medical Nano Technology: Where are My Nanobots, with a panel of one – Henry Stratman. I always try to catch Stratman as he is a very dynamic speaker and exudes enthusiasm for his topic, which is usually real science in nature. While he did not disappoint me this year I can’t share any of my notes with you since I lost my pen between panels. But if you enjoy panel discussions that are of the science fact variety, I heartily recommend you try to catch H. G. Stratman at every opportunity.

After Henry’s panel I debated the pros and cons of staying or going. There were still things worth doing but I’d have to work dinner in there somewhere. At 8 bucks for a pretzel and soda I shuddered at the thought of what real food would cost me at the convention center, and going out to eat alone does not appeal to me in the least. I decided to chuck it in. My mission was accomplished, I had met Genevieve Ching in person. Life is good.

Me and Gen in front of her table.

Me and Gen in front of her table.

There is a new bridge across the Mississippi River, complete with new highway ramps. I had not been to Illinois since it opened. So, of course, I got lost on my way home.


I heard him coming down the hall and glanced at my clock. Yep, 7:30. Hefty was out for his evening constitutional. The first floor of my dorm, McClain Hall, was designated for handicapped students. It was on ground level, so no renovation was needed in order to accommodate wheelchairs. Elevator retrofits were still decades away.

I’m AB – able bodied. More than half of us on the first floor were. School demographics at the time did not include a large segment of handicapped students, so we easily made up the majority, even on a “handicap floor.”

Hefty was a big fellow – thus his nickname – and suffered from a neuromuscular disease which would likely kill him some day. Normally he used a motorized wheelchair to get about, but once a day, out of sheer determination, he donned arm crutches and took a stroll down the corridor of the residence hall.

Swish, thump, clack. Swish, thump, clack.

The familiar rhythm was somehow reassuring. If Hefty could get out and walk in his condition, then my simple challenge in the form of Trigonometry was certainly insignificant.

Swish, thump, clack. Swish, thump, clack.

Still, I listened with some apprehension. Despite his determination, which was an inspiration to us all, we all worried slightly about Hefty.

Swish, thump, clack.

He was top heavy, and his sense of balance was not exactly keen.

Swish, thump, clack. Swish, thump, clack. Thud!

The call went up, “Hefty fell!”

A half a dozen of us rushed into the hall.

“I’m all right,” came the reassuring response.

This was not an uncommon scenario, Hefty falling like a post, the call of “Hefty fell!” always followed by, “I’m all right.” We dreaded the day that reply may not come.

“Why do you do this?” I asked him as three of us got him into an upright, if somewhat unsteady, position. Vic Smith handed him back his crutches.

Hefty slid his arms into the cuffs of the crutches and looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. “Because,” he said, “It makes me feel alive.” We stepped aside as he squared, then threw his weight forward.

Swish, thump, clack.

Who says Beagles are dumb?

Who says Beagles are dumb?


Anna waited for the mailman, as she had every day for the last three weeks.

“Staring down the street won’t make him come any sooner,” Jerry, her older brother, taunted. “And it’s just a stupid letter.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, then returned her attention to the street. Mia’s letter would come today. She just knew it.

She and Mia were pen pals since second grade. Mrs. Wenstrom organized the first letter writing event, coordinating with a primary school teacher in Grenoble, France. Luckily Mia knew English, at least well enough to get the point across, for Anna knew absolutely no French at the time. Now she actually could write a few phrases—in three years time she had gotten “merci beaucoup!” and “Tu es ma meilleure amie” down pat, as well as a few others.

Since that first note in second grade the two girls exchanged letters once a month, Anna posting on the 1st, Mia on the 15th. Sometimes their letters crossed in the mail, but that was okay. It just gave them more to catch up on in the next one. In three years of correspondence Mia had never missed a post—until now.

Joyce Frye, Anna’s best friend at school, told her that pen pals eventually quit writing. Of all the kids in Mrs. Wenstrom’s class Anna was the only one still regularly corresponding. Mia was probably losing interest, Joyce told her.

No. Not Mia. Anna had every faith in their friendship. When they were old enough Anna planned to go to Grenoble to meet her friend, and then have her come back here to Cincinnati. They had it all planned out.

Neighborhood dogs began to bark, one after the other. Anna leaned forward on the stoop to peer down the block. Her stomach gave a little flutter when she spotted the blue uniform working its way from house to house. She leapt up and dashed halfway down the block to intercept him.

“Morning, Anna.” The mailman dumped a handful of postage into the Johnson’s mail slot.

“Hi, Mister Schulz. Do you have a letter for me?”

The mailman shook his head, no. “I have a letter from France, but it’s not to you.” He continued on to the Phillips house.

“What do you mean, not for me?”

“It’s addressed to your mother.”

Anna pushed out her lower lip in a pout. “Is it from Mia?”

They continued on to her house. “Here, you go. Now don’t open other people’s mail. Give it to your mom.”

Anna grabbed the small collection of mail and dashed for the front door. She examined the envelope as she ran. It was oddly addressed to ‘The Mother of Anna Simmons.’ In the lower left hand corner were the words ‘Re: Mia Dubois.’ The return address was not Mia’s.

“Mo-om!” She let the screen door slam as she went in.


Jerry found her out under the mulberry tree, still weeping. He let his bike drop to the ground and then approached tentatively, standing off to the side, at a loss for words. Finally she looked up at him, rubbed her running nose on her forearm, and told him to go away.

Instead he sat down, drawing his legs beneath himself, leaned forward, and touched her arm. “I’m really sorry, Sis.” Mom had told him what happened, then sent him out to find her. “I know she was your best friend.”

This only succeeded in producing a full throated wail from his little sister. Flummoxed, he scooted closer, put an arm around her shoulder. To his dismay she leaned into him, wrapped her arms around him, and sobbed freely on his chest. He gave her awkward pats on the back until he saw rescue coming in the form of his mom.

“She’s here!” He felt stupid as soon as he said it.

Their mom paused briefly, then came and knelt on the grass before her daughter. She still had the letter from Mia’s teacher in her hand.

“Oh, sweetheart, I am so sorry.”

Anna looked up through tear swollen eyes. “I never even got to meet her.”

“But honey, you did. You have all those letters, and each one of them contains a little bit of Mia. Keep them. Cherish them. Mia will always be with you.”

Anna shifted, then threw her weight from Jerry to her mother. She lay there, cradled in her mother’s arms for a very long time.

In memory of Tia L. Brink.
I never even got to meet her.


Today I present the winning essay in the first #fridayflash writing contest – What #fridayflash Means to Me. We had seven lovely entries. The following entry, by the esteemed John Wiswell, won and gets honored here on Mad Utopia. I think John captured the essential nature of #fridayflash quite well, a true writing community and a network of friends who give of themselves weekly to help each other grow. My sincere thanks to John, and all the members of #fridayflash, for helping make this a wonderful community. ~jon

Exposure by Community

by John Wiswell

There is a certain kind of Submissions page that bothers me. It rants about what the zine doesn’t want to see and strikes a deliberate attitude at the writers who want to work with it. It also lacks something: it has no Payment section. It might even claim it’ll pay you in exposure.

It’s great to get some readers, but how conceited can an editor be? You’ll reward me with the honor of it being known that I did work for you?

We all wrote for free at some point. Once I actually paid to write; that was college. After graduation I wrote for free to build my confidence and make connections. Even after my prose started selling, I’d write for a friend’s site without charge. I have no problem helping people and causes I like. But there is a business somewhere around here and saying you’ll pay me in exposure is an insult. You’re not exactly McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and you know, paying sites grant exposure. Being profitable enough to pay your writers is an indicator of having a big audience – the kind a writer would want to be exposed to. If you’re going to write for free, there needs to be warmth.

#fridayflash is attractive because it subverts the exposure-based system. Dozens of readers willingly buzz around the hashtag, leaving compliments and feedback, starting conversations and sharing what they like. It’s a community that exposes you out of personal engagement. The “networking” here is reading and working with your peers; you get more attention for spreading goodwill. Communities like this make bitchiness obsolete in the free scene. Social networking can turn Blogspots and WordPress blogs into viable webzines (heck, those two sites provide templates for most of webzines anyway).

Twitter scenes like this one encourage a community that isn’t tied to a magazine or web brand, but a brand that fluctuates based on what everyone feels like contributing. I write a lot of humor for Fridays; Anthony Venutolo writes in homage for Kerouac and Carver; Barry Northern records audio fables; Carrie Clevenger writes her dark materials; Jeff Posey writes tales of Native Americans. Intrepid writers like Marisa Birns and Tony Noland try to write different genres at least every few weeks, if not weekly. Some people do it for the love or the hope of a little attention; others are sharpening their skills for careers in letters.

I strive for and admire improvement. It’s why I post daily. I can’t catch all my own typos (few writers can), which is why I leave notes about typos in my comments. It’s a public service when somebody (usually @mcantor) catches my flubs before too many others see them. You may have seen my rarer gigantic critiques in Comments, which come when I’ve got the mental energy. If writers are trying to improve then, in addition to the praise that keeps us from hanging ourselves, we need feedback. I try to isolate what was hilarious, or felt awkward, or needed better explanation. If I think it can sell somewhere, I try to notify the author. This, too, is what the community can do for each other.

I’m hardly the only maven for fiction sales. Every couple of weeks somebody shares a new contest or zine opening with me. And if you befriend the community, #fridayflash readers will follow you to wherever your fiction goes. Your weekly entry doesn’t have to be tied to your blog; it can be a guest post elsewhere or a professional sale. I saved the announcement of my first pro-rate sale, “Alligators by Twitter” at Flash Fiction Online, for #fridayflash. The result was wonderful; Twitter users left more compliments than any other FFO story for April and it was retweeted by a dozen kindly souls. Members of the community make exposure for each other. So in a way, it pays in exposure.

For the cynics who think everyone is only out for themselves, I provide the one time this networking actually paid. In November 2009, I was diagnosed with severe gallstones. Surgery was necessary. I’m uninsured because of medical conditions and the procedure cost over ten thousand dollars. After friends urged me into making a PayPal donation account, I put up just one post explaining my circumstance.

Friends promoted for me; I couldn’t, largely out of embarrassment and the inability to sit up. Friends like Jodi MacArthur. Linda Simoni-Wastila. Michael Solender. Laura Eno. They tweeted it, put it on Facebook and added the Pledgie badge to their blogs. They cared. Half the donations I got were from people related in some way to this community.

I even got a personal check from J.M. Strother, the founder of #fridayflash.

#fridayflash is not an island of weekend writers. It is one of the labels under which the community shares work. #fridayflash writers crossover with #amwriting, #weblit, #pennydreadful, #writechat, #scribechat, #writerslife. Regular #fridayflash writers edit and promote magazines like Pow Flash Fiction and Full of Crow. Last week one of G.U.D.’s editors dropped a story into the network. I met Jodi and Michael through Six Sentences; Peggy McFarland through Harbinger*33; Strother at Editor Unleashed. The writing community keeps getting bigger and more useful the more places you click. It’s a far cry from a snarky Submissions page.


John lives in New York state and can be found posting daily on his blog, The Bathroom Monologues. He is a regular participant of #fridayflash, and podcaster extraordinaire. John is currently running the Fleming-Mayer Aid Drive for two ailing friends. You can read more about it here:


We Were All Young Once

I just spent some time looking over the old #FridayFlash archives. Hard to believe we’ve had 248 participants share their stories with us over the course of the past year. It is fascinating to see who started flashing when, and what their debut story was. I’ve enjoyed rediscovering some old friends who have, for one reason or another, moved on.

Below I have attempted to list everyone’s debut story, in chronological order. I am sure there are some errors in it (it was a manual hunt, copy, and paste operation sure to be prone to human error). The early listings may be a bit of a jumble as I did not keep good records for the first few weeks. If your debut story is listed incorrectly please drop me a line via email or a DM on Twitter, and I’ll correct it. Also, if for some reason you don’t want to be listed just let me know and I’ll delete that entry.

Some of the stories do not have live links. Either the story is no longer available, or the author provided a link to their blog rather than a link to the actual post. Again, I’ll be happy to patch those up if you provide me a direct link.

So, pull up a chair and spend a little time with me strolling down memory lane. Thank you all for participating in #FridayFlash. It would be nothing without you.

The Beginings, May and June, 2009
J. M. Strother - Plus Tax 05/22/09
Kevin J. Mckey - Untitled 05/22/09
Tomara Armstrong – The Cave 06/12/09
Laura Eno - They Feed 06/19/09
Frances Wookey -  All That Glitters 06/19/09
Jennifer Jones (Jen Tropy) - Recycled 06/19/09
R. J. Keller - Utopia 06/19/09 Story no longer available
Dan Powell - Reverse 06/19/09
Jeff Posey - Unrequited Kopavi 06/19/09
E. D. Johnson Terror Road 06/19/09
Declan Stanley - New Man at the Lesbos Palace 06/19/09 Link not posted
Jeni Burns - The Hallway 06/26/09 Story no longer available
Pippa Hennessy - Ghosts (again) 06/26/09

judy b. - Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off 07/03/09
Stephen Book - Life Happens 07/03/09
anniegirl1138 The Renter 07/03/09
Ryan Bradford Desert Island Records 07/17/09
Craig Daniels Infused Purple 07/17/09
Chris Chartrand - The Crazy Mixed Up Day Of Bob and Tony 07/17/09
skrblr The Eaters 07/17/09
Violet Hilton Go Fish 07/31/09
Ryan Harron In Flames 07/31/09
Greta Igl To The Lake 07/31/09

Daine Salmon Best Friend 08/07/09
Victoria Anisman-Reiner It Was a Dead Zombie Werewolf Baby, Of Course 08/07/09
Kate Sherrod Bartender and the Babe 08/07/09
Dana Larose The Academy Bijou 08/07/09
Selina Jane Eckersall A Certain Destiny 08/14/09
Jodi Cleghorn A Lover’s Tryst 08/14/09
Jenny Lemberg Two Stamps to Mars 08/14/09
Jim Wisneski A Moment At the Pirate Wheel 08/21/09
Lauren Cude A Normal Life 08/21/09
Christine Love Tyr’s Last Stand 08/21/09
Shannon Esposito A Basement Story 08/28/09
Anthony Deaver Cyber Mummies 08/28/09
Matthew Bacon Eggs Over Easy 08/28/09
Alan Baxter Forgivness 08/28/09
Tanya L. Schofield Hostage 08/28/09
Susan Sonnen - I Only Ate Half 08/28/09 Story no longer available
Susan J. Cross - Just Words 08/28/09
netta50 Old Habits 08/28/09
ganymeder Of Penguins and Men 08/28/09
PJ Kaiser Samantha’s Dress 08/28/09
Michelle D. Evans The Best Of Times 08/28/09
Leigh Barlow The Last Pirate 08/28/09
Rosa Say The Vision 08/28/09
Marisa Birns - The Yin and the Yan of It 08/28/09 Link not posted
Anton Gully Viking Blood 08/28/09
Kay Anna Kirby 8 Minutes 08/28/09
Eric J. Krause Jaime’s Home 08/28/09

dragonwrites Untitled 09/04/10
Gloria Oliver Achievement 09/04/10
Jennifer Duncan Change Of Season 09/04/10
Karen Schindler Do Unto Others 09/04/10
Hazel Gaynor Eliza Plum: Credit Crunch Mum 09/04/10
Maegan Denton Bacon Pancakes 09/04/10
Michael Solender Respiratory Arrest 09/04/10
Lily Mulholland Snowgate 09/04/10
CJ Stuck 09/04/10
Trevor Mcpherson (3S_stories) Switcheroo 09/04/10
Benjamin Solah The Boat 09/04/10
Kylie Szymesko 28 Gears 09/04/10
Tony Noland Nearer Comes The Moon 09/04/10
Xan Marcelles - One More Night 09/11/09 Story no longer available
kaolin fire Ouroboros 09/11/09
Carrie Clevenger Rain 09/11/09
randilin - Rescue Dog 09/11/09 Story no longer available
Avery Tingle September 11, 2001 09/11/09
Deirdre Murphy The Perfect Gift 09/11/09
Nick Name The Third Attempt To Take the Teddy 09/11/09
T.J. McIntyre - Untitled 09/11/09 Story no longer available
Clifford Fryman Wolf And Twilight 09/11/09
Christina Vincent Heading Toward the Border 09/11/09
Laurita Miller Look Here 09/11/09
Say Hello, Beanty Folsom Prison Blues 09/11/09
Chris Lynch Hitler’s Wonderland 09/11/09
John Wiswell Possible Origins For Him 09/11/09

The week of September 18 saw eighteen writers debut, the most ever in one week!
Paul D. Brazill 6 Word Story 09/18/09
Shannon Reinbold-Gee 13 To Life 09/18/09
Elizabeth Ditty A Love Story 09/18/09
Maria Protopapadaki-Smith Anti-Social Networking 09/18/09
TheBusyMystic Forgetting the Horse 09/18/09
Linda Simoni-Wastila Lifeguard Off Duty 09/18/09
Stephen Parolini Meant To Fade 09/18/09
Inez Kelley Myla By Moonlight 09/18/09
Jodi MacArthur -  Oh Hell, It’s Shail 09/18/09 Link not posted
Al Bruno III Oozing My Religion 09/18/09
Amanda Scotney Pay Day 09/18/09
Ann Aguirre Razorland 09/18/09
Matt Marko Reflect 09/18/09
Mark Kerstetter The Mechanics of Seeing 09/18/09
Rosalind Stone -  The Top Ten Reasons 09/18/09 Story no longer available
Clive Martyn Time Will Heal All 09/18/09
Stefanie Howerton Untitled 09/18/09
Gary Harmon The Vicious Cycle 09/18/09
David Masters A Room-full Of Discarded Dreams 09/25/09
Alex Carrick Death Of a Mattress 09/25/09
Barry J. Northern The Fable of the Spider 09/25/09
Sarah Joyce Bryant Reclaiming of the Soul 09/25/09
Paige Bruce Sophie’s Day 09/25/09
Chad Beninati The Italian Soda Man 09/25/09
Cecilia Dominic Three Beers and a Monster 09/25/09

Cliff Stornel B Is For Blank 10/02/09
Monica Millard Dignity 10/02/09
techtigger Enter The Grim 10/02/09
Sumit Dam I/O Error 10/02/09
Joseph Paul Haines Malingering 10/02/09
Donna Carrick North On The Yellowhead 10/02/09
Rachel Blackbirdsong Stumbling 10/02/09
Matthew Glenn Ward Sudden Standards 10/02/09
Tim VanSant The Mystery Writer 10/02/09
C. A. Beninati A Child and The Musician 10/09/09
Barb Relyea A Word Of Advice 10/09/09
Emma Newman Burnt 10/09/09
Laura Packer Crazy Jane’s Dream 10/09/09
Dan Faust Eviction Notice 10/09/09
April L. Hamilton Justice For Cody 10/09/09
Patty Jansen Mass Extinction 10/09/09
Daniel Warskow Milking 101 10/09/09
Chance The Backstreet Berlin Brawl 10/09/09
Jennifer Derfoldy The Dreamer 10/09/09
Lionel Braud The Tragic Fate of Armani Claudius 10/09/09
Jeremy C. Shipp Parasite 10/16/09
Taliana Silent Treatment 10/16/09
Deanna Schrayer Snow Quiet 10/16/09
Donald Conrad - Take A Hit 10/16/09 Link not posted
Llanor Alleyne The Cannon 10/16/09
Elsa Pozu Untitled 10/16/09
Jon Gilbert When A Man Goes Bad 10/16/09
Amy J Taylor Accidental Death 10/23/09
Olivia Tejeda Cupcake 10/23/09
Ari Collins Rocks 10/23/09
Alan W. Davidson - Targeting Hunger and Blue Balloons 10/23/09
David G Shrock Young Secret 10/23/09
Pia Veleno Ashes To Ashes 10/30/09
Estrella Azul Carving Terrific Jack-o’-lanterns 10/30/09
Jim Dempsey Skin Stripper 10/30/09
Melissa D. Johnston Toward The Light 10/30/09

Christian Bell The Thirst 11/06/09
Deborah Szajngarten Tommy And The Train 11/06/09
Peggy McFarland Turn Around, Tadpole! 11/06/09
Skycycler Skycycler 11/13/09
Andrew Rosenberg RIP Subaru Outback 11/13/09
Prats - Night 11/13/09 Story no longer available
J. Dane Tyler Morning Commute 11/13/09
Lesley Wood Meeting the Tenbull 11/13/09
Lou Freshwater Lucille 11/13/09
Shawn Main A Burnt Original 11/13/09
Sam Mr Fluffles and the Art of Feline Psychiatry 11/20/09
Kat Del Rio The Berserker 11/20/09
Louise Dragon Remedy 11/27/09
Kim Batchelor - My Life in Publishing: A Fictional Autobiography 11/27/09

Chad Redden - Building A Sparrow 12/04/09 Story no longer available
Mike Procter Item 27 12/04/09
Sarah Snell-Pym Melvin Is A Coconut 12/04/09
Tim Remp Perfect, After Death 12/11/09
Anne Tyler Lord - Frostbite: A Mafia Family Christmas 12/11/09
Jake Freivald Enigma 12/11/09
The week of December 18 was one of only two weeks where we did not have any debuts.
Richard Gardner Under Grey Skies 12/25/09
J.C. Towler EF 5 12/25/09

January, 2010
Peter Etherington Almost Omniscient 01/02/10
G.P. Ching iSurgeon 01/02/10
Hannah Bisson Touched 01/02/10
Lindsay Oberst Word Smells 01/10/10
Gregory VanWagenen - The Next Best Thing 01/10/10 Story no longer available
Jesse Groppi Post-Invasion Christmas 01/10/10
Virginia Moffatt Happy New Year 01/10/10
ThomG Drain 01/10/10
Deborah Bundy - A Puppy In Need 01/10/10 Link not posted
Chrys Constant Eclipse 01/15/10
R Canepa Narcoleptic Princess 01/15/10
David B Dale Proof’s Hammer 01/15/10
Jessica Rosen The Bubble 01/15/10
Cheshire Scribe The Great Escape 01/15/10
Katirra Thomas & the Good Folk’s War 01/15/10
D. Paul Angel The Light Around the Doorframe 01/22/10
brookelyn -  Well Done 01/22/10 Link not posted
Aaron Polson Unchecked Expansion 01/22/10
Yaara Naor-Elman Red Scarf 01/22/10
EllenO Plastic Flowers 01/22/10
AJ Campos Mother’s Little Luchador 01/22/10
Anke Wehner Stretching Limits 01/29/10
Mel Morton Drop-Dead Date 01/29/10
Annie Evett Forgytan 01/29/10
Anthony Venutolo She Needed A Job 01/29/10
Cathy Olliffe The Bus Driver 01/29/10
Jen Brubacher The Crab 01/29/10
Calvin Seen The Impala 01/29/10

Heather Lloyd -  The Last Meal 02/05/10 Link not posted
Jack Roth Itch 02/05/10
Tom B. Reeves Dude Goes What 02/05/10
Maria Kelly Bad Day At Bull Funk’s 02/12/10
Mark Champion - Edward 02/12/10 Story no longer available
Jared Branch Untitled 02/12/10
Joyce Sojourner 02/12/10
Bill Dowis Snow Day 02/12/10
Kelly Lynn Thomas Ruby and the Moon: The Dog Who Didn’t Yet Have a Tail 02/19/10
A. M. Harte A Simple Prayer 02/19/10
Leah Saylor-Abney Hindsight 02/26/10
Julie Jordan Scott Nothing 02/26/10
Jason Henry McCormick Shots of Hell At the End Of a Lonely Street 02/26/10
Lyn Thorne-Alder Storm 02/26/10

Derrick Espadas Where’s Ivan 03/05/10
John McDonnell Deaf Jam 03/05/10
Cyn Crayons For Algernon 03/05/10
Neil Shurley Burrito 03/05/10
EJ James Apples In the Air 03/12/10
Phlegyas Assassin Excellence 03/12/10
Paul Servini Bequest 03/12/10
Icy Sedgwick Beyond The Door 03/12/10
Paula Ray Deconstruction of a Body, Resurrection of a Marriage 03/12/10
G L Drummond Top Of the Food Chain 03/12/10
Meg Wingo Finally, She Smiled 03/19/10
Christopher Rivan Awakening 03/19/10
Valerie Valdes Airy Nothings 03/19/10
Johanna Harness Another Weird-Ass Parade 03/26/10

Gracie Motely The Faces 04/09/10
Orjan Westin There Is No Coke 04/09/10
Sike Ward Patient The Here and Now 04/09/10
Aislinn O’Connor The Dark Assassin 04/09/10
Monsterbat - Story 04/09/10 Story no longer available
AidanFritz Magic Envelope 04/09/10
Lynda Sinclair The Letter 04/16/10
Morbus Iff The Guardian of Aloons – 1 04/16/10
M.S. Fenster, MD - My Decade in the Ninth Circle 04/16/10 Link not posted
V.R. Leavitt Dandelions 04/16/10
Josie Lyon Conversations From the Sea 04/16/10
Anna Tan Another Scar 04/16/10
Holly West A Piece Of Cake 04/16/10
Aaron Weed You’ll Never Do So Good 04/16/10
d8uv Awaken 04/23/10
Jay Nakamura - 04/23/10 Title and link not posted. Sorry.
Isaac Liljedahl The Newscast 04/23/10
Mike Robertson Who Breathes 04/30/10
Sarah Ann Juckes The Mummy Tree 04/30/10
Julian Slater Apartment Block – Part 1 04/30/10
Michelle Frank Chemistry 04/30/10

The week of May 5th was the second week we had no debuts.

Mari Juniper Zombie Walk 05/14/10
kennwhite What you don’t know can help you 05/14/10
Patience Ray Pest Control 05/14/10
Nancy Brauer Holiday 05/14/10
Absolutely*Kate “36-26-38? ~ A Pretty Ziegfeld Girl Is A Melody 05/14/10
Joanie Rich The Last Flight 05/14/10
Monica Marier Daddy’s Little Yog-Sothoth 05/21/10
Wulfie Same Shit Different Day 05/21/10
Danielle La Paglia The Return 05/21/10
MCM Yaktastic 05/21/10

And there you have it — 248 debut stories and authors in our first year of #FridayFlash. Many wonderful stories here, and many new friends. Spend some time visiting. Above all, keep reading, keep writing, and keep honing those skills. I hope someday to read a NY Times Bestseller, look back at this list, and say to myself, “I knew them when…”



Last week I wrote about the Writing Adventure Group, India Drummond’s online writing exercise. Each week she posts a prompt and asks each participate to write to it following their own muse. I suggested that people doing #fridayflash and at a loss of what to write could check out the weekly WAG and use it to get started. Last week I followed my own advice.

I really struggled last week with my #fridayflash. I started two separate stories, one a police procedural, the other a science fiction piece. Neither was going anywhere. This was frustrating as I’ve been trying to do the police piece for quite some time. But I can tell when an idea has yet to reach full fermentation and abandoned it once again. Friday was coming and I still had zilch.

As I was walking my dog I crossed paths with an elderly gentleman I’ve seen walking the neighborhood for thirty or more years. (Of course nowadays I need to watch who I call elderly—that nut’s not falling too far from my tree.) Then I thought of India’s WAG prompt:

The writing prompt for this weeks WAG was: “WAG #19: Pick a Pocket” Let’s do some stalking people-watching for this one! Pick someone out of a crowd and describe what (you imagine) is in their pockets.

As I watched the man walk off down the street I wondered what might be in his pocket. The gears started turning. I went home and wrote, Twelve Bucks, and posted it as my #fridayflash.

Thanks, India.


Woot! Woot!

Just a short post of little woots.

First woot

I was interviewed by ErgoFiction Magazine about #fridayflash. The editors were very patient with my slow response time and very gracious, so I’d like to give them a big public thank you. THANK YOU! If you’ve been wondering what the heck #fridayflash is, and why it’s more addictive than chocolate head on over to Ergo’s Café Wednesday and read all about it.

Second woot

I received an Honest Scrap award from fellow blogger Stephen Book a while back and I have let acknowledgment of same slip until now. Bad Jon. The simple fact of the matter is I have always been, and will always be, a terrible procrastinator and bad at follow through. But Stephen is a great guy and really should not be ignored. So don’t you ignore him. Go visit his blog, Powder Burns & Bullets, and get to know him. You’ll be glad you did.

Now of course, part of the Honest Scrap Award is that I am supposed to bestow it on three other bloggers and then tell you ten things about myself. So I’d like to pass it on to Maria Protopapadaki-Smith who writes terrific flash fiction, Karen Schindler for her wickedly funny sense of humor, and Laura Eno for being the unofficial #fridayflash goodwill ambassador. Go visit their blogs and tell them what wonderful people they are. They really are.

Oh, yeah, those ten things:
1. I’m a real procrastinator.
2. I’m terrible at follow through…


Woots three and four

Three: It’s sunny today and will be sunny all week! Four: No snow! Sorry all you east-coasters. I know you just got hammered again. But out here in Missouri we have finally gotten a little relief. Woot! Woot!


You may or may not have noticed changes on Mad Utopia over the past couple of days. Some subtle things have changed, making for a much more pleasing experience for visitors. Once again I have to thank my personal guru, Susan Chambless, for doing the hard work that makes Mad Utopia my personal utopia. She has completely redone the CSS, fixing a multitude of little problems in the process.

    Mad Utopia now performs properly on Firefox, Internet Exploder, and Safari. No mean feat, that.
    The logo now has a transparent background, making it look much more professional.
    The drop down menus now actually work. Still no content there, but that’s my job, not Susan’s.
    The #fridayflash collector now has a “Debut” flag so that new contributors are more easily noticed.

I cannot thank her enough.


What modicum of success I have here at Mad Utopia I owe in large part to the kindness of others. My original site was built on TikiWiki, an open source package that integrates an array of useful content management tools under one roof. Without the volunteer team of developers I may not have gotten off the ground.

Once I decided on using TikiWiki I found I needed help in getting it set up and configured properly. I also wanted to do things with it that are not typically done. A very good friend of mine, Susan Chambless (@mathsinger on Twitter), took me under her wing, and either showed me how to do things, or went ahead and did them for me when I gave her a particularly blank look. She in effect became my personal tech guru. Without her help that website would have withered and died.

When I started #fridayflash we had a few people get involved, but it did not grow very fast. Then I asked Maria Schneider (@mariaschneider), at Editor Unleashed, if I could do a guest post on her blog. She very graciously agreed. After my post ran participation in #fridayflash shot way up. She gave me the visibility I needed to make a go of it. Now we have a vibrant community of around sixty regulars participating, if not weekly, as often as they can. I attribute the success the meme enjoys largely to the good graces of Maria and that guest post. She is one of the brightest lights on the Internet.

As much as I love it, I decided that the TikiWiki blog just didn’t cut it. The commenting system is too antiquated. So I decided to switch to WordPress as my blogging platform. Again, an open source project, made available to me through the kindness of others.

However, I did not want to lose the look and feel of my old site. I was using the Eatlon Theme (another freebie provided by the kind hands of strangers) which was TikiWiki specific. So once again I tuned to my personal guru, Susan, and once again she worked magic. She not only did the hard work of converting the Eatlon theme to WordPress, she at the same time devised a method for people to enter their #fridayflash stories into a report generator (still run via TikiWiki), saving me hours of time each weekend. I cannot thank her enough.

So thank you TikiWiki developers. Thank you team WordPress.  And thanks to Maria, Susan, and the dozens of others who have contributed in one way or another to this blog. I hope to start paying back some of that karma in the near future.

OK, end of schmaltz. Now, back to writing.

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