Tag Archives: Flash Fiction February

Flash Fiction February: Day 29

Happy Leap Day everybody, and welcome to the end of having to read about my struggle to write twenty-nine stories in twenty-nine days. I’d like to tell you that all of those twenty-nine days were amazing, but the truth is that some of them sucked, and some of them were just kinda “meh”. Since we’re wrapping things up today, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned this month:

1. Writing is a Roller Coaster

I feel like a broken record saying this, but it still amazes me how variable this writing thing can be. Some days you write and it lifts your spirits and gives you strength to power on through even the darkest of times. And other days it seems as if it sucks you dry, leaving you hollow and soulless, exacting a terrible price for the words you have written. And the funny thing is, the quality of the writing rarely lines up with how you feel about it. Days when writing feels like chore sometimes produce great stories. Why? No, really, why? If you know, please let me know.

2. Flash Fiction is a Lot of Work

Comparatively at least. I mean, I’d far rather be sitting around thinking up stories than shoveling concrete under the hot Florida sun (this was my first job, and everything else I’ve ever done seems like cake in comparison. Moral: the secret to happiness is understanding how bad things actually could be.) But even though my wordcount for the month was far from prodigious it feels like coming up with a new story every day is more taxing than writing longer fiction where you at least have an idea of where you’re going. Or perhaps it is taxing in a different way. The same, but different.

3. People Like Reading Short Stories

In the past I’ve always shied away from putting too much short fiction up on this blog, opting instead to make it a relatively small proportion of the posts I made. But in Flash Fiction February, because I was spending time writing stories instead of blog posts the balance of that output changed to about 50/50. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that people responded. Views are up, comments are up, sales of my ebooks are up (though most of that is probably due to the Kindle Select promotion I ran this month). Which means you can expect to see more of that kind of thing from now on. Don’t worry I’m itching to get back to posting regular blog posts too, but from now on I’m not going to be so afraid of “story overload”.

4. In 1920 Italian Anarchists Blew Up a Wagon Full of Dynamite and Sash Weights in Front of the New York Stock Exchange, Killing Forty People and Injuring Hundreds.

That’s not related to Flash Fiction February, it’s just something I learned this month. How did I not know about this before? Did you know about this? And you didn’t tell me? Not cool man.

5. C. M. Stewart is a Fantastic Human Being and a Wonderful Writer.

So I had this crazy idea about writing twenty-nine stories in twenty-nine days, and fellow blogger C. M. Stewart got on board. I mean, some people said, “Oh yeah, I’ll give that a shot,” but she took it to the next level. You know the one; the level has the zombie dragon on it? Yeah, that next level. She not only participated in the challenge, but she took on the role of unofficial cheerleader, and, perhaps most impressively, she’s posted every story she wrote this month on her blog. Let me tell you my friends, that takes major cojones. She’s a good friend and a writing force to be reckoned with. Go and check out her work.


Looking forward, I’ve got a lot of idea for what I want to do next, and most of them involve editing. I want to take a look at the very first book I ever wrote, Ella Eris and the Pirates of Redemption, and hopefully take another stab at making it viable for the market. After that I’m going to be working on my NaNoWriMo novel from two years ago The Dark Mile. In between, there are a few stories I wrote this month that I’m considering expanding into longer short stories and releasing as ebooks, including one called “How to Be a Serial Killer” that may make it up into novella-length range. That one…that one’s going to be interesting.

Stay tuned my friends. Same Bat Time, same Bat Station.

They Say

People always lie.

They say, “There is a purpose to everything.”

They say, “It’s going to be alright.”

They say, “I love you.”

They say, “I know you’ll do the right thing.”

They say, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

They say, “Let me go and I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

They say, “Just kill me now and get it over with.”

But they don’t really mean it.

Flash Fiction February: Day 22

The rains have passed and the sun is out. All the doors of the house are open, and the breeze is perfect.

Which, if it wasn’t true, is a pretty good metaphor for how Flash Fiction February has been going this last week. Things have just been…clicking. Finally I’m feeling like I’m getting something good here.

I think it started when I switched to writing with pencil and paper instead of typing on the computer. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the medium of composition has some invisible effect on the outcome. Then again, maybe that’s just the Romantic in me getting all mystical about stuff.

Whatever the cause, things are looking good. I’ve had that feeling like the form of the stories is bubbling up from somewhere inside. There are verses in the bible that refer to the seat of the emotions being in the stomach, the phrase “our bowels did yearn” used to describe that deep aching longing feeling that you get when you’re about to see someone you’ve desperately missed. That’s what this feels like. It’s not writing from the heart, but writing from the gut.

And if one or several of the pieces I’ve written on these last few days have not turned out to be actual stories, then that’s okay. There are no judges, no rules, not even an audience to please. Just me and my notebook, and a hand that really starting to cramp up because I can’t remember the last time I wrote down more than a few words on paper.

Actually, that’s not true, I can. It was the Krampus story. And I felt the same way about that one as I do about these: they may not be right for everyone, but they’re surely right for me.

She Said No

She said no.

She said no, and I wasn’t ready for it. I just sat there in the middle of that crowded restaurant with my food cooling on my plate and my mouth open like an idiot.

It hadn’t entered my mind that there could be a negative response to my question. The “no” only existed as a hypothetical, nothing more than a diversion to toy with in the mind. It should have been yes. It had to be yes.

She looked at me with concern in her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” The words tumbled out of my mouth like marbles falling from my numb lips.

“Its not…I shouldn’t have said it like that.”

This was all wrong. My mind was still reeling. She was apologizing. She was apologizing.

“I guess…I should have told you sooner. But I just…well to be honest I was afraid this would happen.”

“Is there anything I can do?” The words sounded stupid even as I was saying them, but I had to say something.

“No. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry? You’re sorry?” The words came out louder than I had intended and I noticed several of the patrons looking at us strangely.

She reached across and put her arm on my shoulder. “It’s going to be okay,” she said. “You’ll get through this.”

But my eyes filled up with tears, and I shook my head. “This…this can’t be happening.”

“It is.”

“But it shouldn’t.”

“Maybe it should. Maybe it was meant to be.” And she put her arms around me and held me as I cried.

It’s been a long time since the day she said no. I was wrong, and she was right. I did get through it. But it wasn’t easy. Inside I fought it every step of the way. But it didn’t matter.

Because by the time that she took me to dinner than night and told me that she had cancer; by the time I asked her if she was going to make it; by the time she said no…it was already too late.

[I wrote this story because a coworker I haven’t seen in a while stopped by work today. She told me she hadn’t been at work recently because she had been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy. I asked her if she would be okay, and she said yes. But afterwords I thought to myself, What would I have done if she had said no? That question was the seed that grew this story.]

The Monster Named Cray

All of the children fear the monster named Cray.
It feasts on their bones when they go out to play.

But once, in a while on a bright shiny day
A hero goes up to the monster named Cray.

Our story concerns such a hero so bold,
Who trembled and shook at the tales the kids told,

Till he shouted, “No more! This ends today!”
And went up the mountain to meet the monster named Cray.

The cave where Cray lived was all dark and drear,
And stepping inside, our hero’s heart filled with fear.

But he went on in the dark in spite of his fright,
For our hero believed in the way that is right.

“Come out foul dragon!” our hero did call,
But the monster named Cray did not answer at all.

The floor of the cave was all covered in bones,
And blood stains half-covered the cave’s walls of stone.

“This place is evil,” our hero proclaimed,
And as his fierce anger grew, his fear slowly waned.

He drew out his sword with a swish and a ring,
And readied himself to face the cursed thing.

But he heard a sweet voice coming out of the gloom
Calling him forward to a dimly lit room,

And our hero stepped forward with sword in his hand,
Ready to vanquish the Cray from the land.

But inside the room instead of a beast,
He found a young woman and a sumptuous feast.

There were meats and sweet pastries, and veggies galore,
And foods that our hero had ne’er seen before.

“Come forward brave traveler and taste of my meats,”
Called the young woman in a voice pure and sweet.

Her face was an angel’s, so long was her hair
That it spread out behind her to the walls of her lair.

“I’m seeking a monster,” our hero did say.
“He feeds on young children when they go out to play.”

“I know of no monster,” the lady replied,
“But here, have a bit of this tart apple pie.”

Our hero stepped forward, not more than an inch,
But then he was trapped before he could flinch.

For the hair that stretched out to the walls of the room,
Snapped suddenly forward like the tendrils of doom.

They snared our poor hero and held him aloft,
And the young woman spake in a voice that was soft.

“The monsters that lived in this cave long ago,
Have all vanished now like the melting of snow.”

“But I still remain, though long lonely years,
And feast on the children to capture their fears.”

“But truly, it isn’t their flesh that I crave,
But the soul of the right and the heart of the brave.”

And with that she ripped out his limbs from their joints
And her mouth opened wide showing needle-like points.

She devoured his flesh with satisfied smile
And the screams of our hero could be heard for a mile.

And down in the village all the children ran out,
Jumping and cheering when they heard that great shout,

And went to the fields and started to play,
Safe, for the moment, from the monster named Cray.`

The Mirror Man

And now, as they say on Monty Python’s flying circus, for something completely different. Well, slightly different anyway.

But first, maybe a little background. I’ve told you kids that I grew up without a television, right? Only about eight thousand times? Okay, good. So what did little Albert do for fun back in those days? Well, for one thing I read a lot. But when I wasn’t reading, I was listening. In our house radio dramas were hot stuff. I mean we had audio books and those were okay, but if you could get sound effects you could almost imagine you were living in the 20th century.

TLDR; I’m a sucker for radio dramas.

But I’ve never done one. Until today.

This week I wrote a story for Flash Fiction February, based on a real experience I had recently. I wrote it in the first person as if I was narrating the account to someone as it happened. And when I was done I thought to myself, Albert, written words ain’t enough for this story. You gots to break outa yo shell and get all audio with this business.

So I did. Did it work? Well I’m no professional actor, but in the context of the story I think the execution went over pretty well. If you’ve heard the excellent audio production of Stephen King’s “N.” you may note that I borrowed a little tonally from the titular characters performance, but as Scott Adams had said, no originality + no talent = creativity. No, really, he said that. He also said that he thinks he might be a spontaneously occurring consciousness floating around somewhere in empty space, and that “reality” is simply his disembodied mind’s attempt to keep him from going insane. He’s basically my hero is what I’m saying.

But seriously, check it out here and tell me what you think. Unless you hate it. Then you can lie.

Flash Fiction February – Day Seven

A while back some of you may remember that I got a little burned out on the whole writing “thing”. I went through some things that made me reevaluate what I wanted out of my life as a writer and for the space of about a month I did almost no writing at all.

I’ve been slowly coming back from that, but here at the end of the first week of Flash Fiction February I’m finally starting to remember that there really can be joy in sitting down to write every day.

Not that every day has produced some spectacularly brilliant work of fiction, but the beauty of Flash Fiction February is that if today’s work stinks, that stench doesn’t necessarily have to carry over to tomorrow. When I was a kid my mom basically forced me to sit down and watch Anne of Green Gables and in that movie there’s a line that’s stuck with me: “Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it.” For me that’s basically the spirit of Flash Fiction February summed up in a single sentence.

So far I’ve only missed one day of writing, but that was because I was engrossed in the big game (not the Super Bowl mind you; me and the kids had a wicked round of Uno going on Sunday night.) As to the writing I have done, I have to say that overall I’m pleased, not only with the general quality of my output, but also in the fact that writing a different story every day is forcing me to try new things, exercise different narrative techniques, try out variations in my writing voice.

There’s still a lot of writing left to do, but I’m feeling good about the rest of the month. Here’s wishing the rest of you a happy February of writing too.

Shark Season

[This Friday in his weekly flash fiction challenge Chuck Wendig asked for a story under a thousand words in seven acts, and after a certain amount of thought, I wrote one. This is not that story. This is the story I wrote the next day; which also had seven distinct movements of plot that matched up exactly with what Mr. Wendig had prescribed. I hadn’t intended to write another story in seven acts, it just sorta came out that way. And since this story sucks less than the first one I wrote, I humbly present it for your consideration.]

It was an early spring that year, or perhaps it might be better said the winter had never truly come. There had been days when the wind blew a chill from the north, nights when heaters had been turned on, but they had been sparse even for a region well-used to mild winters.

And so it was that one David Gabriel found himself looking into the murky, algae-infested waters of his pool one day late in February and thinking that it was about time to get the pump running again.

The pool sat above the ground, and it had not been cheap. David Gabriel knew this because his wife had purchased it two summers past, and charged it to her credit card. Like many of her other credit card purchases, she hadn’t consulted him about it, and like with many of her other credit card purchases they had gotten into quite an row over the expense. He would have made her take it back to the store, but by the time he’d found out about it she’d had the pool set up and half full of water, and at that time the minimum payments had only just been getting difficult to meet.

But all that was water under the bridge, or (he joked to himself) at least passed through the pool filter a goodly number of times. And if even if they were still paying for that pool and a hundred other things his wife hadn’t quite been able to resist charging on that ever-so-handy credit card, what was it to him?

It wasn’t until the next day, when he went out to check the pump, certain that the filter would already be clogged full of algae, that he discovered the strange and wonderful thing that the newly filtered water had uncovered.

At first he was sure it had not been filtered. Quite to the contrary in fact. Because when he looked into the pool the water that had been pea-green yesterday, now held the hue of midnight darkness, as if a gallon of ink had been emptied into it. He wondered if it could be some kind of prank and then dismissed the idea out of hand. There was no one he knew who cared enough about his existence one way or another to play such a prank on him. And it was only then that he looked again and fully understood what he was seeing. The water was dark, yes, but it was far from cloudy. It was clear, and clean and…deep.

Of course it was impossible (or so he told himself). A pool simply did not get deeper over the winter. A little settling might occur perhaps, but this? This was completely unbelievable.

It was still unbelievable when he tossed a smooth white pebble into the pool and watched it sink far deeper than it had any right to sink, so deep in fact that it vanished out of sight. He knew he should have been astounded by this discovery or at the very least a little frightened, but in truth he found himself fascinated by the whole thing. He went into the house and found a spool of cotton string and tied a spoon to the end for ballast  The spoon he dropped into the pool and let the string unravel. For nearly five minutes he stood there feeding out more and more string until the spool was almost completely empty. And then he felt the string jerk and the spool jumped in his hands. He almost lost his grip, but his hands reflexively tightened around the spool, and a moment later the tension relaxed. When he tried to let out more string, he found the pull of the spoon was gone, so he carefully wound the string back onto the spool. When he finished he found to his amazement that in the place where the spoon had been there was a ragged end; almost (he thought to himself) as if it had been bitten off.

He went inside to contemplate this odd turn of events, and while he was sitting and thinking the phone rang. He saw it was an unlisted number and let it ring.

Collection agencies. They were relentless, calling at all hours of the day, and only last week they had somehow managed to track him down at his work. They were soul sucking relentless predators (he thought) no better than legalized loan sharks.

Sharks. The word stuck in his mind, and grew, into a plan.

When Carol got home from her shopping, the plan had hardened into a purpose. The days were getting warmer (he told Carol.) There was no reason on this night in late February that they should not go for a swim in the pool.

Carol seemed suspicious of his pleasant manner at first but shortly she agreed that it was unseasonably warm, and that a swim in the pool might be just the thing. But when she stepped off wooden deck that surrounded the pool she sank into the dark water with a bubbling shriek and then came thrashing back up to the surface, sputtering for air.

It was deep (she told him.) How could it be so deep?

But David didn’t answer. Instead he picked up the pole that usually held the leaf rake and used it to push her out toward the center of the pool.

She screamed and asked him what he was doing, but he only smiled and brought the heavy pole down hard over her head. She cried out softly and then sank down into the dark water.

David looked over into the pool, and for a just moment he thought he saw something sleek and white and impossibly large flash past below the surface of the water.

For a long time he sat there on the deck looking up at the endless ocean of stars. But after a while the wind began to blow colder, and so he went back inside, alone.

Flash Fiction February: A Pile of Prompts

February is nearly upon us my friends. Can you feel it? Can you sense that electric hum of anticipation in the air? That’s not the feeling that comes with knowing that you have nothing special planned for your sweety this Valentines Day. That’s the realization that Flash Fiction February is right around the corner!

Yeah, that’s right. Exclamation point, ya’ll. I’m not taking it back neither. ‘Cause I am pumped.

But maybe you’re worried. Maybe your thinking, Albert, I want to do this Flash Fiction February thing, but what am I going to write about for twenty-nine whole days?

Never fear my friends. I mean unless you’re being attacked by the Slender Man or something, in which case, yeah. FEAR. But we has got you covered on this writing thing. And by “we” I mean, blogger and writer C. M. Stewart.

Ms. Stewart is a flash fiction aficionado, a connoisseur of writing prompts from around the web, and she has compile a fantastic list of twenty nine prompts, one for each of the days in February, which you should totally check out here.

Now maybe you don’t feel like you need any prompts. Maybe you think you’ve got a handle on this thing. Let me tell you, you owe it to yourself to at least go and check these out. Why? Two words: ghost rockets.

Remember these prompts are just suggestions. You can use all or none of them as you see fit. The main thing is to write. To form a new story every day for twenty-nine days.

And whether you wing it or use the prompts, always remember, the most important part of any story comes from something that you and only you can bring to it.

Happy writing!

Flash Fiction February FAQ

1. So what’s this all about then, eh?

Exactly what is says on the tin. February is coming up and I’ve thought for a while it would be interesting to write a new flash fiction story every day for an entire month. But then I figured, why should I have all the fun? (Well, besides the obvious fact that I’m completely awesome I mean.) So I’m inviting you along for the ride.

2. Okay, but what exactly is flash fiction?

Flash fiction is a form of short story with the specific limitation that the story must be told in less than one thousand words.

3. Sounds like fun! So what are the rules?

Well, rules sounds a bit harsh. Lets call them guidelines. The general idea is that you write one story for every day of the month.

You don’t have to write a story on every day of the month. You can skip a day and write two stories the next day. You can hammer out twenty-nine stories in a row on one glorious unhampered day of writing if that’s your style.

4. What happens if I fail?

Nothing. Well, maybe not nothing. I mean it’s possible you won’t be able to live with yourself as a human being, forever haunted by the knowledge you couldn’t do it, and that with your dying breath you will be filled with one singular burning regret: that you didn’t finish Flash Fiction February. But probably…nothing.

This is about challenging yourself. If you fail the challenge you have only yourself to answer to.

5. Why February?

Because I’m fundamentally lazy and February has fewer days than the rest of the months in the year.

6. Come on, admit it, you’re just into the alliteration aren’t you?

Okay fine, you caught me. But can you blame me? Does Flash Fiction October really have the same ring to it? No. No it does not.

7. Is there a minimum story length?

Nope. If you want to tell a story in a hundred words or in three sentences or by painting pictograms of your own design that is totally okay. I reiterate, this is a personal challenge. No prizes for completion, no penalties for failure. You set your own standards. No one is going to hunt you down and scream at you for doing it wrong. Probably.

8. What do I do with my stories when I’ve written them?

Again, this is all up to you. If you want you can post them to your blog as you write you can do that. Or you can them or keep them all to yourself. Personally I plan to post maybe one per week (assuming I have at least one per week that’s any good), because much more than that would overload my blog feed and I don’t want to turn away readers. But that’s just me.

9. This sounds like fun! How can I help?

By spreading the joy. If you blog, a short post explaining the concept of Flash Fiction February would spread the word far beyond the limited reach I can achieve as a single voice. Also, if you post updates on your progress or want to talk about the project on twitter use the #flashfictionfebruary hashtag.

Beyond that, just have fun: expand your horizons, fiddle with genre, push the limits of fiction without fear. Because if it doesn’t work out today, you can start all over again tommorow.

Good luck. And happy writing.