2013 was my first year publishing stories. Prior to that I had written things and thrown them up on my BlogSpot blog without much revision. I had started sharing them with Facebook friends as that took off. I had entered a few contests from a site called Absolute Write, but I didn’t take it too seriously. I had done NanoWrimo around 2008. When I met Kristy in 2012, she reminded me of the value of it all. That it is worth taking time on. That it is something to be proud of. That revision is a major part of it. We started with a goal to submit at least once per month. I soon found out if I wanted to, I could do 2 or 3 per month. I got a lot of rejections and it was starting to sting, but then a string of acceptances came in June that make up this first year, still some of my favorite publishing experiences.
Here was the first. I introduce you to Johnny Demon:
It was two hours before the gig and I was letting this brunette blow me when I remembered something my manager said to me right before my album Fighting Demons went platinum. Tex said, “Cliches still sell as long as they aren’t boring.”
This one came to me from a dream and also from playing with the expression of someone fighting demons. Somehow it’s used to soften and harden the way we feel about a person. I pictured someone turning that around and refusing to fight them, playing with them instead.
Gravel was a new magazine. I was in their first issue. Happy to see that it is still a thriving journal in the flash world. Here is the link: Fighting Demons
This is one of the early blog stories that I went back to once Kristy taught me the art of revision and I needed some material to work on. It was a fun story that came from a weekend of fishing and drinking and thinking way too much about a special fish.
Here is the opener:
Fish was making his way through the cold murky waters of Clear Lake when he saw an innocent minnow easier to take than forbidden fruit. When the hook set into his cheek, things meant to be began flowing. It would be easy to think nothing special could happen on an off season night in a small Iowa lake town, but that kind of assumption invites exception. After a fight, mostly for show, The Messenger took Fish off the hook, and The Witnesses, who to this point of the night had nothing worthy to say, began to speak.
It was my first in Red Savina Review, and I will always treasure them while disliking their disappearing archive. Here it is reprinted on my site: Clear Lake Miracle
This was my first time being a part of the Flash Flood. I think it was inspired by George Saunders.
Here is the opener:
One of the most dangerous places to be, when I was a teenager, was inside a place called Mother’s Imagination. I always found trouble there, always came home late, but it does take a long time to get a car out of a ditch, change flat tires, or outrun the police. It wasn’t just me, around every corner were strangers trying to give me free drugs or lure me into their cars to do things far too horrible to be said out loud in that place. Unchecked, I would’ve stayed “her little boy” there forever, but all places have some rules and it was forced to face that I was becoming a man. Oh shit, the places I’d go!
They formatted it kind of funny, but they run a lot of stories! Here is the link: Hazard Lights
This one was up at the now defunct 1000 Words. They had a cool thing where you could download pictures from their site and use them as prompts. I don’t have the original jar but it led me to remember something that happened to a keepsake of mine, a memory of a influential friend of mine.
Here is the opener:
Don’t use Harold’s candy jar for your loose change. Don’t forget why you keep things. Don’t forget your father preaching about the resurrection and the different ways we live it. Don’t forget how your memories can keep Harold alive forever.
Here is the link: Past Change
The biggest thing that happened to me in 2013 came at a funny time. I had worked really hard to put together an application for the Fish Fellowship at Smokelong. I laugh about it now because I was so green. We had to put together four flash pieces, and the four I put together were pretty much my only four. But I was really proud of it, and I found out about the rejection on a drive home from Iowa City and it was really depressing. I yelled at myself out of it, knew the feeling should only be a motivation, and that night I randomly saw a thing about a horror and fantasy flash contest, so I sent in one of the pieces of my four that I felt fit the genre too. A month or two later, I found out I was on the long list. I didn’t even know what that meant until I was also named to the shortlist. A couple days later, I found out at four in the morning that I had won the English contest. I soon learned that my emotion over that was called being chuffed.
This originally was a poem on my Blogspot and when I was putting together the Fish application, I took it to a flash story. Here was the opener:
The man in the white coat asked, “Was it a rabbit or was it a boy?”
“It was a rabbit,” I said.
At first, everyone thought the rabbit was fun to have around. He’d make an occasional guest appearance, run through the room, fueled by the uniqueness of his appearance, flaunt his rabbithood before he disappeared and left the crowd hungry for more. Silly rabbit.
It was also my first print publication. Here is the reprint link: rabbit