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.


Cover of SpillworthyOne of the things I’ve always been terrible about is cross promotion. Chances are if I have a guest post up somewhere else I’ll forget to cross promote it over here. For example, I just did a wonderful interview with Johanna Harness (of #amwriting fame) last week over on Friday Flash Dot Org. I’m not sure that qualifies as a guest post, but nonetheless I failed to mention it over here. My bad.

It is not too late for you to go read it and have a chance to win a nice comment prize from Johanna. She says the offer is good through May 10th. That gives you a whole four more days to make good (and a wee bit of today as well). So go read and comment. Johanna has some wonderful wisdom to share concerning many things including reading, writing, the road to the publication of her first novel “Spillworthy“, teaching, and life in general. There should be something for everyone.



I was recently invited to contribute to a popular online writing community. You may know of it, many in the #FridayFlash community have guest posted on Johanna Harness’ wonderful site, #AmWriting. It has been on hiatus for a bit while she has been redesigning it, and I am quite pleased to hear of its imminent reemergence. I wish Johanna all the success in the world with her new and improved site.

But I am not writing about #AmWriting here, though I’ve probably successfully tricked you into thinking I am. No, I’m writing about terms of service, Wolfram Alpha, 2 plus 2, and assignment of rights.


Stay with me now, all this stuff ties in, I promise.

When Johanna sent out her invite she mentioned how she thought long and hard as to which web-based service to go with and how fleeting such services can be. In fact she included this link, Timeline of Popular Internet Services, from Wikipedia. She eventually settled on one and said if I was interested in accepting her invite I should follow the link to sign up for a account on it.

Well sure, I was interested. I love #AmWriting and was thrilled that she invited me to be part of it. So I clicked on the link and started filling out the registration form. Part of the process, as with almost every online registration sign up, was the advice to read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. So I did.

Don’t worry, nothing untoward or painful here. The TOS and PP (that doesn’t sound good, does it?) were pretty straight forward and innocuous, though I did send her a couple of questions for clarification. She sent me a message complimenting me for actually reading these oft-ignored missives. I replied that I usually check the TOS for two things: is it going to cost me anything, and do I give away all my rights by posting on the site? In this case, no and no.

Well, with all that settled to my satisfaction I got curious and went ahead and checked out the Wikipedia article. (Remember that? I told you this all ties together.) I was scrolling through it and saw a mention of Wolfram Alpha, the “answer engine” launched in 2009 by physicist Stephen Wolfram. It brought back fond memories of giddy times at work when I and a few of my coworkers threw all sorts of questions at it to see what sorts of answers it came up with. It was pretty amazing, easy to use, and very geeky. But the odd thing about WA, if I may be so familiar, was its terms of service. It seems Woflram Alpha not only claimed ownership of their own internal code and design, as is expected, they also claimed ownership of the answers it generated. I was a bit stunned.

So, being the smart ass that I am, I asked WA to solve the following mathematical equation: 2+2 = ?

Thus, according to their TOS, Woflram Alpha now owns the number 4. Please don’t use it without their express written permission.

Of course this was probably just some boilerplate TOS they threw up without really thinking it all the way through and I’m sure they would never try to enforce the unauthorized use of the number 4. I hope not anyway, I’ve already used it three times in this post, and I don’t have deep pockets.

I have seen other Terms of Service and rights assignments that were every bit at outrageous as those at Wofram Alpha, but on websites and publications more specifically of interest to writers. The submission guidelines of one highly regarded national magazine contained a clause assigning them all publication rights in any form or medium in perpetuity. Simply for submitting. Was it an oversight? I don’t know, but when asked they did not bother to clarify.

I encountered similar terms on another popular site a few months later. I pointed out how draconian their terms were in an email. I don’t know if my email can be attributed to the change, but they have since modified their terms to give them the exclusive rights to publish and use the story for one year if the story is accepted, after which time all rights revert back to the author. If the story is not accepted you are free to do with it as you may. Now those are terms I can live with.

So, be careful when your shop a story around. Take the time to read and understand the guidelines or terms of service. Your future as an author, and the number 4, will thank you for it.


Marines in Saddams palaceI caught a fascinating conversation yesterday on NPR during my drive home. Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan was speaking to Mark Bowden, the author of Blackhawk Down, about a writing project being sponsored by the Missouri Humanities Council. Being from Missouri I naturally perked up my ears.

The project is called Missouri Warrior Writers Project, which consists of a series of writers workshops and educational resources for active duty service members and veterans of the Afgan and Iraq conflicts, as well as for their families. Some, if not all, of the workshops are already over. However, there is also a three-part writing contest with a deadline of December 30, 2011. The three categories are poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Bowden will judge the nonfiction. All entries will be considered for inclusion in an anthology – Holding Each Elephant’s Tail: Voices from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Winners will be announced by April 1, 2012.

Both Bowden and many of the callers on the show pointed out the benefits of writing about their wartime experiences. Many found it therapeutic, a way to come to grips with their emotions. Some said they were not yet ready to confront their emotions this way, but might do so some day. At least one caller believed doing so saved his life. The show was quite moving. You can read a short synopsis of it at The Talk of the Nation website or listen to the show in it’s entirety. I highly recommend it.

When I got home I immediately tried to run down some details to share with the #FridayFlash community, specifically the link to the project page. I after reading the page I was still a little  confused as to who could participate. It started out with “Missouri’s professional writing community is reaching out to our state’s veterans to give them an opportunity to reflect on their service,” making it sound like it may be for Missouri veterans only. But later there is a  “call for submissions for its national anthology of writing by veterans and active military service personnel of Afghanistan and Iraq about their wartime experience.” I suspected my confusion was that the workshops were held in Missouri, and therefore Missouri centric, but the contest was for everyone in the US Armed Forces and its veterans.

So I wrote to the contact address for clarification. Kelli Allen, Director of Development for the Missouri Warrior Writers Project, replied very quickly with the clarification I was hoping for – the contest is open nation wide.

She said in part, “Yes, the anthology is open to all veterans and active duty involved with Iraq and Afghanistan. … The call for submissions is national and we would be thrilled if you would pass along the information about submission to your organization.”

I know Friday Flash writers are  broad based and far reaching. There may be some participants who qualify for this contest. If not, you surely know of someone who does and you can pass the information on to them.


Photo from Wikipedia, originally from the USMC.


Dogwood FlowerTrees are in the bud. Grass is greening. The change of seasons is in the air. Changes are also coming to Mad Utopia. As I mentioned in today’s newsletter, I will no longer be doing the Friday Flash Report on Mad Utopia. I never intended Mad Utopia to become Friday Flash centric, but over time that is exactly what has happened. With my stories posted on Fridays and the Report posted anywhere from Saturday to as late as Wednesdays I sometimes feel I’ve painted myself into a box.

I enjoy Friday Flash too much to quit doing it. I still intend to post a story every Friday. I’d like to make it the full two years without missing a week. After that, I’ll still do them, but won’t feel the need to do one each and every week. I really need to start editing some of my completed novels and get busy on finding a publisher.

Don’t worry, I still intend to produce the Friday Flash Report, but it needs a new home. More on that tomorrow. (Yes, I’m a tease.)

So what can you expect on Mad Utopia from here on out? Well, a little bit of everything.

I really miss writing essays, something I used to do quite a bit of on my old site. And poems. I’d like to post some of my poems. You can also expect some articles on new technology, for when it comes right down to it I’m a science and technology geek. I also intend to do author interviews. Look for one soon.

In order to grow one needs to change, and this change is a little overdue. I hope you enjoy the new focus of Mad Utopia. I think I will.


We were down a bit this week with just eighty stories. We were up against some pretty stiff competition for time, what with WorldCon in Melbourne, Australia and the Labor Day Holiday in the States. If it came to attending WorldCon, or that last trip to the lake with the boat, I might have skipped writing a story too. Still, 80 stories is nothing to sneeze at (unless you happen to be allergic to the number 80) so there is still plenty of material for your reading pleasure, including four debuts. Throw another brat on the Bar-B for Bernard S. Jansen, Oli Wilkinson, Mandy K James, and Galen Sanford, drop by to say hi, and give them a warm #FridayFlash welcome.

If your story is not in the listing, please go to the Collector and add the details. Then DM me on Twitter or shoot me an email and I’ll update the list. If you missed this week, but had a really great time on your three day weekend, or brushed elbows with the pros at WorldCon, leave a comment and tell us all about it. ~jon

The Stories

You’ve Got Mail by VL Sheridan @NA ~ Slice of Life ~

You Might Still by Dan Powell @danpowfiction ~ Slice of Life ~

Why Don’t You do Right? by Kat DelRio @katdelrio ~ Cross Genre ~

What Happened to Albert by Laura Rachel Fox @lostlibrarygirl ~ Slice of Life ~

Two Sisters – Part 2 by T.S. Bazelli @tsbazelli ~ Cross Genre ~

Triptych by Tim VanSant @TimVanSant ~ Slice of Life ~

Time Tripping by Vandamir Windrider @Vandamir ~ Cross Genre ~

Thoki & Lor 5 (Greeks Wearing Versace) by Monica Marier @lil_monmon ~ Fantasy ~

The Witch in the Cave by Gracie Motley @gracecrone ~ Fantasy ~

The Shadows of the Night by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Fantasy ~

The Raven by James Tallett @thefourpartland ~ Unspecified ~

The Railway Crossing by Adam Byatt @revhappiness ~ Slice of Life ~

The Photograph by Cathy Olliffe @Matthiasville ~ ~

The Perfect Gift by W. A. Lander @RunicCanvas ~ Unspecified ~

The Nosy Neighbor by Deanna Schrayer @deannaschrayer ~ Unspecified ~

The Nick Of Time (and other abrasions) Bachelorette by Al Bruno III @albruno3 ~ Fantasy ~

The Next World by Timothy P. Remp @TIm_Remp_Writer ~ Science Fiction ~

The Muse by Denise Covey @pichetsinparis ~ Literary ~

The Legend of Larry by Bernard S. Jansen @bernardsjansen ~ Humor ~ Debut

The Knack by Leigh Barlow @LeighBarlow ~ Fantasy ~

The Great Chocolate Conspiracy – Episode 1 by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Crime ~

THE FIRST WRIST by Anthony Venutolo @bukowskisbaseme ~ Literary ~

The days that never were by Anthony @anthonydeaver ~ Experimental ~

The Day Bringer by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Horror ~

The Color of Life by Laura Eno @LauraEno ~ Fantasy ~

The Chosen One by Tony Noland @TonyNoland ~ Science Fiction ~

The Blank by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Science Fiction ~

The Birthday Party by Rebecca Brown @rebeccaebrown ~ Slice of Life ~

Tangled Webs by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Fantasy ~

Syndication by Neil Shurley @thatneilguy ~ Science Fiction ~

Stay The Night by G. P. Ching @gpching ~ Magical Realism ~

Spoiler by Carrie Clevenger @carrieclevenger ~ Experimental ~

Split Decision by Angie C. @techtigger ~ Fantasy ~

Sanctuary by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Horror ~

Releasing Cora – Part 2 of 4 by P.J. Kaiser @pj_kaiser ~ Fantasy ~

Pimento Fantasy by Peggy McFarland @peggywriter ~ Romance ~

Paris Diaries III: Le Centre Pompidou by Kim Batchelor @Kim_Batchelor ~ Humor ~

Outside In by Valerie Valdes @valerievaldes ~ Horror ~

Old Man Carver Opens A Can Of Whoop Ass by Maria Kelly @mkelly317 ~ Cross Genre ~

NYC Vines by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ ~

Not For Sale by Icy Sedgwick @icypop ~ Adventure ~

My True Profession by Mike Robertson @miker_lazlo ~ Humor ~

Mr. Howell by Katherine Nabity @katen ~ Thriller ~

Moving Day by Thom Gabrukiewicz @tgabrukiewicz ~ Unspecified ~

Monsters by Kari Fay @morganafiolett ~ Fantasy ~

Memo From Hell by Louise Dragon @WeezelWords ~ Unspecified ~

Man is the Master of His Own Home by John Wiswell @Wiswell ~ Humor ~

Lyra by Oli Wilkinson @evolutionalgd ~ Science Fiction ~ Debut

Lost Boy by Everett Maroon @EverettMaroon ~ Historical ~

Looby’s World by Rachel Carter @rachcarter ~ Humor ~

Lines by Laurita Miller @lauritamiller ~ Unspecified ~

LeftOvers by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Horror ~

Leaving Home by Mari Juniper @marirandomities ~ Fantasy ~

Jellyfish by Rachel Blackbirdsong @RBlackbirdsong ~ Literary ~

Incantation by Diandra Linnemann @LaCaffeinata ~ Magical Realism ~

Ignorance is Bliss by Mandy K James @akjames61 ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

I died once by Pamela Jo @TheresJustLife ~ Fantasy ~

Human Resources by adamjkeeper @adamkeeper ~ Science Fiction ~

Hope by Laura @jacsmom ~ Slice of Life ~

Highway Hypnosis by Rol Hirst @rolhirst ~ Horror ~

Greed by Danielle La Paglia @Danngrrl5 ~ Slice of Life ~

Gavin II: The Search for Gavin by Isabel Joely Black @TheCharmQuark ~ Humor ~

For What? by David Barber @NA ~ Fantasy ~

Entropy Held by Alison Wells @alisonwells ~ Slice of Life ~

Dressing for a party by Galen Sanford @galensanford ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

Culling In The Name Of by Jason Coggins @thehedgemonkey ~ Horror ~

Could have been us, could it? by Denis Vaughan @inshin ~ Mystery ~

Corpse Wars: The Fandom Menaced Part Four by Al Bruno III @albruno3 ~ Horror ~

Confessions of a Toddler by Emma Kerry @emma_kerry ~ ~

COCHINOS by Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy ~ Literary ~

Close Encounter by Lena S. @DarthFormal ~ Horror ~

Burning Love II by Nomar Knight @Nomar_Knight ~ Cross Genre ~

Black Glass Eyes by Elijah Toten @authoreit ~ Unspecified ~

Albert est Mortuus by Annie Evett @annieEvett ~ Science Fiction ~

Abandonment Issues by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Unspecified ~

A Sampling of Complaints by Christian Bell @christianbell37 ~ Unspecified ~

A Night with a Fright by Brainhaze @Brainhazewp ~ Slice of Life ~

A Is For Apple by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Literary ~

A Dog Eat Dog World by Harry B. Sanderford @Harry B. Sanderford ~ Humor ~

“Vigil” by Jen Brubacher @jen_b ~ Horror ~

In The News

Speaking of WorldCon, Alan Baxter participated as an author and sat on several panels. I’ve been to many a con, but have never had the pleasure to be on the other side of the table and rub elbows with the stars of the Science Fiction world. Some other Friday Flashers were also in attendance as fans, and I’d love to hear their stories. You can read about Alan’s experience on his blog. Nice job on the costume, Alan.

Sam Adamson (@FutureNostalgic) and Monica Marier (@lil_monmon) are pleased to announce the beginning of The Great Chocolate Conspiracy Blog Tour which started on Friday, 3rd Sept at Sam’s blog Future; Nostalgic.

The tour features the antics of Detective Chief Inspector Sam Adamson of the Metropolitan Police’s Confectionery Crimes Unit (CCU) and his international team of investigators as they attempt to unravel the mysterious shortage of chocolate digestive biscuits, first reported on the eastern seaboard of the USA, which has now spread to the UK.

We’ve a great crew of talented writers signed up for the blog tour.  Each author will write a standard length flash with future installments being posted weekly on the relevant author’s blog as part of #fridayflash.  For more details of the story, and to see who is taking part, please visit The Great Chocolate Conspiracy page at Future; Nostalgic, and don’t forget to follow the #GtChocCo hashtag on Twitter for project updates.

You may remember a little thing called The Dog Days of Summer writing contest, offered by Michael J. Solender over at the Not. Well the winner has been announced and you can read all about it here. The winner is Sam Adamson, with his hot 101 word entry, The Pit of Hades. Sam’s been busy lately (see above).  The announcement, the story, and a nice interview with Sam can be found at the link, along with the link to the free chapbook, called appropriately enough, The Dog Days of Summer. Many of the Friday Flash regulars are included in the book, too many for me to list here. Congratulations to Michael for running such a neat contest, to Sam for winning, and to all the others who made the cut and were selected for inclusion.

More news you can use, also from Michael J. Solender. The publication, Microw, is looking for flash fiction and illustrations on the theme of Void. See the announcement for full details. Submissions are open until November 15, 2010.

If you have news for or about the Friday Flash community please pass it on to me. I’ll happily blow your horn.

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.


I hope you all did not give up on me — here is the very tardy #FridayFlash Report for last week. We had another great week, with eighty-two stories over all, including four debuts. Please be sure to visit and comment on the stories of all our wonderful new writers. Welcome Susanna Khoo, Susan Helene Gottfried, Tiffany Saxton, and Laura Rachel Fox. We hope you enjoy sharing future stories with us.

As always, if your story is not listed below be sure to visit the Collector, add the details, and I’ll add it to the list. Be sure to read In Other News at the bottom of the listing for some really exciting news. Yours in lateness, ~jon

The Stories

Wired by Denise Covey @pichetsinparis ~ Cross Genre ~

Who Is It? by Michelle Dennis Evans @michelledevans ~ Unspecified ~

White Horses Flow by Peggy McFarland @peggywriter ~ Unspecified ~

Weekend Access by Dan Powell @danpowfiction ~ Slice of Life ~

Unknown to Me by Michael J. Solender @mjsolender ~ Literary ~

Universal Warrior: Atherean Defenders Ep. 1: Red Morning by Avery K. Tingle @Ironman1176 ~ Fantasy ~

Transition Village Columbia by Mike Robertson @miker_lazlo ~ Fantasy ~

Three Elements by Angie C. @techtigger ~ Fantasy ~

They Left Her In An Alley by Pamila Payne @mspamila ~ Horror ~

The Ties That Bind by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Thriller ~

The Scoop by Susanna Khoo @susk ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

The Rope Swing by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Slice of Life ~

The Rattle by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Unspecified ~

The Problem with Gavin by Isabel Joely Black @TheCharmQuark ~ Humor ~

The Pen by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Horror ~

The old Woman and the Dragon by T.S. Bazelli @tsbazelli ~ Fantasy ~

The Hunter by Linda Simoni-Wastila @drwasy ~ Literary ~

The Essence by Louise Dragon @WeezelWords ~ Slice of Life ~

The Downside of 24-Hour Stores by Carrie Clevenger @carrieclevenger ~ Thriller ~

The Discovery by Elijah Toten @authoreit ~ Unspecified ~

The Death of the Party by Travis King @travisking ~ Fantasy ~

THE CHOCOLATE PEARL by Absolutely*Kate @AbsolutelyKate ~ Suspense ~

The Apprentice by Clive Martyn @clivem ~ Fantasy ~

Thanks, you too by Orjan Westin @Cunobaros ~ Science Fiction ~

Tavernier’s Dimensions by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ Science Fiction ~

Sunday by Rachel Blackbirdsong @RBlackbirdsong ~ Literary ~

Some Dance to Remember by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Unspecified ~

Snare by Thom Gabrukiewicz @tgabrukiewicz ~ Unspecified ~

Seasons will pass you by by Jason Coggins @thehedgemonkey ~ Fantasy ~

Rope by Ali @alisonwells ~ Humor ~

Red by Laurita Miller @lauritamiller ~ Horror ~

Playing with Lightning by Anke Wehner @Anke ~ Fantasy ~

Photo Album by Susan Cross @SusanJCross ~ Slice of Life ~

Papillon by Rachel Carter @rachcarter ~ Literary ~

Octopus by Christian Bell @christianbell37 ~ Unspecified ~

New Arrivals by Leigh Barlow @LeighBarlow ~ Science Fiction ~

Nevergirl by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith @mazzz_in_Leeds ~ Fantasy ~

Near Death by Michelle Frank @wickedmoxie ~ Unspecified ~

Mr. Luck to the Rescue by Katherine Nabity @katen ~ Fantasy ~

Monsterbat by Monsterbat @n/a ~ Experimental ~

Memento Mori by Marisa Birns @marisabirns ~ Unspecified ~

Measuring by Stephen Parolini @noveldoctor ~ Literary ~

Maya by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Magical Realism ~

Mask of smiles by Estrella Azul @EstrellaAzul ~ Slice of Life ~

Management Skills by Susanna David @sad19 ~ Slice of Life ~

Magnolia Blue by Kemari Howell @Kemari ~ Literary ~

Live Bait by Matt Merritt @1block ~ Slice of Life ~

Leap by Neil Shurley @thatneilguy ~ Unspecified ~

Last Hope (for Hope Hill) by David G Shrock @dracotorre ~ Experimental ~

Kathryn’s Child by Stephen A. Watkins, Jr. @swatkinsjr ~ Science Fiction ~

Just Drive by Lily Mulholland @LilyMulholland ~ Unspecified ~

Idle Chatter by Alan Baxter @AlanBaxter ~ Horror ~

Hunger by Neil Shurley @thatneilguy ~ Unspecified ~

How They Met by Icy Sedgwick @icypop ~ Thriller ~

Home Late by Tomara Armstrong @2maraA ~ Cross Genre ~

His Left Foot by Cathy Olliffe @Matthiasville ~ Unspecified ~

HER FIRST NIGHT by Anthony Venutolo @bukowskisbaseme ~ Literary ~

He Said Nobody’s Perfect by Joanie Rich @nightcrafter ~ Slice of Life ~

Great Gams 4 by J. Dane Tyler @DarcKnyt ~ Suspense ~

Frozen Treat by John McDonnell @McDonnellWrite ~ Horror ~

For Daisy, Life is a Stretch by Alex Carrick @Alex_Carrick ~ Humor ~

Fates of the Stepdaughter by John Wiswell @Wiswell ~ Experimental ~

Fairy-be-gone by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Cross Genre ~

Don’t Mess with Inspiration by Wulfie @wulfshado ~ Humor ~

DMH Fiction: Ysabella by Susan Helene Gottfried @WestofMars ~ Unspecified ~ Debut

Coup d’cash II by Benjamin Solah @benjaminsolah ~ Horror ~

Come with me by Denis Vaughan @inshin ~ Suspense ~

Coffee Break by Tony Noland @TonyNoland ~ Science Fiction ~

Clandestine Tilak by Annie Evett @AnnieEvett ~ Slice of Life ~

Brother Lost by Vandamir Windrider @Vandamir ~ Magical Realism ~

Broommates: Widening Gyre by Valerie Valdes @valerievaldes ~ Cross Genre ~

Broken by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Fantasy ~

Book of the Damned by Nomar Knight @Nomar_Knight ~ Horror ~

Baby Dearest by Hazel Katherine Larkin @HazelKLarkin ~ Slice of Life ~

Alexandra by Danielle La Paglia @Dannigrrl5 ~ Slice of Life ~

According To Plan by Aislinn O’Connor @Aislinnye24 ~ Slice of Life ~

A squat to remember by Brainhazewp @Brainhazewp ~ Slice of Life ~

A Pixie Ghost Story by Tiffany Saxton @Abrigella ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

A Meeting by Laura Rachel Fox @lostlibrarygirl ~ Experimental ~ Debut

A Lost Weekend (or Something Like) by Dave Bartlett @DaveBartlett1 ~ Unspecified ~

A Last Hurrah by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Slice of Life ~

A good, strong name by KjM @kevinjmackey ~ Slice of Life ~

In Other News

We have some really exciting stuff this week, folks.

Alex Carrick got an Honorable Mention in the very prestigious Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, currently in it’s 30th year. Impressive. He got the HM for his story, “The Size of the Skip.” You can read all about the contest, it’s winners, and see Alex’s name up in lights at the competition’s Results Page. Congratulations, Alex!

More contest results news:

Sam Adamson, perhaps better known to some of you as FutureNostalgic, received an Honorable Mention and won of the popular vote in the Zombie Luv competion at Mari’s Randomities. He received the HM for his story, “For the Love of Mike!” Congratulations, Sam!

And congratulations to the winner of the contest, Nishida C, for her story “Tell-tale Bit” which took first place, and Angel Zapata who took second with his story, “Dead Flames.” And thnaks to Mari for running such a fun contest. Many #fridayflash regulars participated in it. You can read the full wrap here.

This just in:

Long time #fridayflasher and editor extraordinaire, Michael J. Solender is looking for nonfiction writers to participate in On the Wing. On the Wing is Full of Crow’s home for nonfiction writes, essays, rants, screeds, opinion and more. Non-conforming, non-timid, non-mainstream, maybe even nonsensical, OTW is looking for writers with true stories to tell that evoke feelings, question the status quo, get deep below the surface of issues, and make our readers think, rethink and even act.

OTW says, “Take us by surprise, shed new light using a voice and perspective that we can’t find from mainstream media. Culture, Politics, Media, Economics, Hyper-local Issues, Religion, Sex, War, Prison, Drugs – all are fair game for On the Wing. Your writing and work will define what we look like and who we are. Essays, Interviews, Opinions are all welcome for publication. We are looking for top quality, well researched, documented, and highly polished work. Queries are not necessary for work under 5000 words. OTW cannot offer compensation other than the knowledge that your published work will be showcased on a unique platform and read by millions. Well, maybe not millions – yet.”

Submit cover letter and original, unpublished manuscripts for review to: mjsolender@fullofcrow.com.

If you have news the #fridayflash community can use, please send it to me via email or Twitter DM. I love the help spread the word.

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.


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: http://pledgie.com/campaigns/11015.


There were seventy-nine stories this week, including five debuts. Please give a warm #FridayFlash welcome to Jan Oda, Tina Lynn Sandoval, Melissa L. Webb, Essie Spencer, and Kate Davis-Holmes. We’re glad you all decided to join us and hope you will make #FridayFlash part of your weekly routine.

Congratulations to John Wiswell for winning the first ever #FridayFlash writing contest with his essay, Exposure by Community. John garnered 48% of the votes in a field of seven excellent essays. My thanks to all the contributing authors. You’re all winners in my book. I’ll be contacting John soon to arrange for delivery of his prize.

Now please:

The Stories

12 items or less by Matt Merritt @1block ~ Slice of Life ~

21st Century Writer by Barry J. Northern @BarryNorthern ~ Humor ~

311 by Danielle La Paglia @Dannigrrl5 ~ Horror ~

A Curious Scrap of Paper by Elijah Toten @authoreit ~ Unspecified ~

A Forest Full Of Lies by Leila Vandiver @CallMeJalopy ~ Romance ~

and where do you see yourself in five years time? by adamjkeeper @adamkeeper ~ Magical Realism ~

Bad Weather Warning by Virginia Moffatt @Virginia.Moffatt ~ Unspecified ~

Bedtime Story by Tim VanSant @TimVanSant ~ Cross Genre ~

Being Right by The Socks @leftsocks ~ Experimental ~

Broommates: Rue the Day by Valerie Valdes @valerievaldes ~ Cross Genre ~

Building a Man by Mark Kerstetter @markerstetter ~ Historical ~

Burial by Thom Gabrukiewicz @tgabrukiewicz ~ Unspecified ~

Context by T.J. McIntyre @southernweirdo ~ Magical Realism ~

Danëh by Jan Oda @Janoda ~ Fantasy ~ Debut

Death Before Dishonour by Maria Protopapadaki-Smith @mazzz_in_Leeds ~ Unspecified ~

Dolly’s Day Off by Pamila Payne @mspamila ~ Horror ~

Down the end of lonely street by chance @Chance4321 ~ Unspecified ~

Dragonfire, pt1 by Angie C. @techtigger ~ Fantasy ~

Everybody Needs a Hobby by Anke Wehner @Anke ~ Unspecified ~

EVOLVE by Absolutely*Kate @AbsolutelyKate ~ Experimental ~

Fallen Angels by David Masters @davidmasters ~ Unspecified ~

Family Reunion by Louise Dragon @WeezelWords ~ Science Fiction ~

Final Exit by Eric J. Krause @ericjkrause ~ Horror ~

Fish out of water by Lauren Cude @NA ~ Magical Realism ~

Flash by Alison Wells @alisonwells ~ Slice of Life ~

Friday Flash, Flash, Flash by Tony Noland @TonyNoland ~ Slice of Life ~

Full Circle by V.R. Leavitt @vrleavitt ~ Slice of Life ~

Get Rid of #1 by John Wiswell @Wiswell ~ Crime ~

Happily Ever After by Trisha L Castillo @trishalcastillo ~ Unspecified ~

Homecoming by Joanie Rich @nightcrafter ~ Cross Genre ~

How To Save A Life…or not by Tina Lynn Sandoval @TinaLynn_ ~ Science Fiction ~ Debut

Idle Life by Laurita Miller @LauritaMiller ~ Slice of Life ~

Junket by Karen Schindler @karenfrommentor ~ Science Fiction ~

Just A Bite of Coffee and Ice Cream by J. Timothy King @JTimothyKing ~ Literary ~

Leaving Behind the Home and the Pain by Stefanie Howerton @SteferstheGreat ~ Unspecified ~

Like a Weird Dream by Mari Juniper @marirandomities ~ Cross Genre ~

Lyric by Donald Conrad @NoddlaNocdar ~ Fantasy ~

Max by J. Dane Tyler @DarcKnyt ~ Suspense ~

Midnight Train by Laura Eno @LauraEno ~ Magical Realism ~

Mirror Mirror by T.S. Bazelli @tsbazelli ~ Horror ~

Mixed Messages by Jodi Cleghorn @jodicleghorn ~ Slice of Life ~

Naughty but Nice by Kate Davis-Holmes @crystalsinabox ~ Slice of Life ~ Debut

Office Politics by Neil Shurley @thatneilguy ~ Slice of Life ~

Opportunity by Katherine Nabity @katen ~ Fantasy ~

Pant and Slobber by Deanna Schrayer @deannaschrayer ~ Humor ~

Pant and Slobber by Deanna Schrayer @deannaschrayer ~ Humor ~

Partners by J. M. Strother @jmstro ~ Crime ~

Party Time by Catherine Russell @ganymeder ~ Horror ~

PEEPING TOM’S PARADISE by Anthony Venutolo @bukowskisbaseme ~ Literary ~

Plato’s Cave by Marc Nash @ExisleMoll ~ Literary ~

Possessed by Michael J. Solender @mjsolender ~ Literary ~

Remembrance and Retribution by Jason Warden @ShadowCastAudio ~ Literary ~

Roses are Red–and White–and Yellow by Susan Cross @SusanJCross ~ Slice of Life ~

Salvation’s Curse: Retribution by J.C. Montgomery @BiblioBrat ~ Science Fiction ~

Sampaati’s Last Flight by Aidan Fritz @AidanFritz ~ Science Fiction ~

Score a Point for Dear Old Dad by Walt @waltw ~ Thriller ~

Sound And Fury by Aislinn O’Connor @Aislinnye24 ~ Fantasy ~

The ‘ghost’ writer by JB Slater @magicradio ~ Literary ~

The Best Pie in the World by Emma Newman @EmApocalyptic ~ Unspecified ~

The Casket Crew: Folds by Carrie Clevenger @carrieclevenger ~ Science Fiction ~

The Cutting Edge by LindaSW @drwasy ~ Literary ~

The Dark Inside You by Simon Larter @WritingAgain ~ Fantasy ~

The Eater of Worlds by Melissa L. Webb @melissalwebb ~ Horror ~ Debut

The Excitable Whipping Boy by Alan W. Davidson @AW_Davidson ~ Humor ~

The Gift by Rebecca Emin @RebeccaEmin ~ Cross Genre ~

The Interview by Essie Spencer @essiespencer ~ Slice of Life ~ Debut

The Key by Icy Sedgwick @icypop ~ Romance ~

The Painting on the Wall by Tomara Armstrong @2maraA ~ Science Fiction ~

The Pianist – Part 3 by P.J. Kaiser @doublelattemama ~ Unspecified ~

The Rights Of Octopi by John McDonnell @McDonnellWrite ~ Humor ~

THE SCRAPYARD DIARIES: Midnight Lullaby by Al Bruno III @albruno3 ~ Horror ~

Thoki and Lor by Monica Marier @lil_monmon ~ Humor ~

To Trick A Mockingbird by Peggy McFarland @peggywriter ~ Magical Realism ~

UCF Stories #13: Wyrm Hunting by Sam Adamson @FutureNostalgic ~ Fantasy ~

Unresolved by G.P. Ching @gpching ~ Unspecified ~

When Boys Play Battles by Annie Evett @AnnieEvett ~ Humor ~

Where were you? by Denis Vaughan @inshin ~ Slice of Life ~

Why Mr. Duka Smiled by Cathy Olliffe @Matthiasville ~ Slice of Life ~

Zeno’s Agony by Mike Robertson @miker_lazlo ~ Experimental ~

In Other News

Long time FridayFlasher, Shannon Esposito, has released her new novel Strange New Feet, a Science Fiction thriller seemingly ripped from today’s science headlines. It is available in multiple ebook formats from SmashWords for just $1.99. Congratulations, Shannon.

Fellow FridayFlasher, Stephen Book, won the latest round of Your Story, a bimonthly writing contest hosted by Writer’s Digest. For winning, Stephen’s story, Yellowed Kodachrome, will appear in the November/December issue of Writer’s Digest later this year. Drop by his blog, Powder Burns and Bullets, and offer him your congratulations.

If you have some publishing news you’d like to share with your fellow FridayFlash authors and fans, or know of someone worthy of a mention,  just drop me a line at jstro AT swbell DOT com, or DM me on Twitter.

The wrap

Thanks to all our readers. We love you. And please, if you enjoy a story leave comments when you visit. Writers love feedback almost as much as chocolate. Maybe more! Then go tell your friends to read it too. Help these writers grow.

You can subscribe to the #fridayflash hashtag (external link) on Twitter every week for more great flash fiction.

We’re on Facebook (external link) too.


Min Lee sat on the hard wooden bench, head bowed in shame. He did not look up as people approached, tried to ignore the whispers after they passed. Every sound in the Great Hall, even the most remote and inconsequential, sounded loud to his ears. He could hear his very pulse pounding behind his ears. Then he heard the sound he dreaded most—the click of the latch on the Master’s door.

After a moment of silence he felt compelled to look up. Master Mo Shuh stood there, just inside his office doorway. He looked older than usual, drawn and worn. His eyes were sad.

“Enter, please.” Mo Shuh turned away and stepped back into the room.

Min Lee rose and followed. He stopped a good three feet from the desk, as if afraid to come closer, and kept his eyes firmly affixed to the floor. This time, he knew, he had gone too far. The punishment would be severe. He listened to the wood creak as Mo Shuh took his seat. The old master did not suggest Min Lee sit too.

Again there was only silence.

Again, he felt compelled to look up.

Mo Shuh took his gaze and did not let it go.

“Min Lee.” It was a simple statement—an acknowledgment that a problem stood before him. Min Lee opened his mouth to speak, but Mo Shuh put up a hand to stop him. He remained silent, hardly daring to breathe.

“You have tried me sorely, Min Lee.” Again, the urge to speak, to beg forgiveness, mercy. Fear kept his tongue tied.

“Stolen pastries by a young imp I could overlook, all those years ago. Perhaps I should not have. Your pranks and antics these past several years, I tolerated. I know Shun Tzu put you up to most of them. Be wary of such friends.”

Min Lee wanted to look away, but could not.

“But this, Min Lee, this—cannot be forgiven.”

“Master, I…”

Mo Shuh’s knit brow was enough to silence him.

“Cheating is not tolerated here, Min Lee. You know that.”

He nodded. Swallowed hard.

“There is a caravan leaving tomorrow for Mauhn…”

Min Lee nearly swooned. “No! Please, Master!” He felt his chest tighten up and his stomach drop. “I won’t do it again. I promise. Please. Give me another chance.”

“Cheating is not tolerated here. You well knew that, Min Lee. The caravan…”

“You can’t expel me! This is my home!”

“It is unwise to carry a serpent in one’s pocket.” There was no mercy in Mo Shuh’s eye. Sorrow, but no pity. “There is no place for you here.”

Now anger welled up in his heart. He began trembling. So too did the various small objects sitting on Mo Shuh’s desk. Mo Shuh leaned forward, swept his hand out and across in a slashing motion. The items on the desk fell still. Min Lee gasped, fought to catch his breath, and could not.

“I only wish you had not advanced so far in your studies,” Mo Shuh said. “But that cannot be helped now.” He dropped his hand and Min Lee sucked in deep, desperate breaths.

“Gather your things. You have one hour. Master Quan will then escort you through the Dragon Gates. You can stay in the village tonight. The caravan leaves at dawn.”

Mo Shuh picked up a scroll from his desk and began to read. He did not give Min Lee another glance.
©2010 by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.

I used India Drummon’s WAG Topic #25: Crimes and Misdemeanours, as inspiration for this week’s story. “We all break rules from time to time (just look at past WAG posts to see evidence of that!) and our characters usually have to do that in order to experience change and growth and to add a little spice and drama to our plots. So this week write about someone (a character or someone you observe) who is breaking a rule. It can be anything from a major crime to a breach of etiquette.”

Inida just sold her first novel, Ordinary Angels. Pop on over to her blog and read all about her Big News.  Congratulations, India.

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