It would be years later that he remembered the shift. He had found a murdered woman’s body sprawled on the autumn wildflowers beside a Central Florida river. Having called the police, he admitted to his father at the campsite: “People are not what I thought.”
As a horror and dark fiction writer, I am frequently confronted by the issues discussed here. I thought I would share this excellent article and point you to an interesting blog on this Wednesday. I hope you are doing well! Most sincerely—Margaret
(A late Women-In-Horror Month posting with apologies to regular readers: my computer died and took my originally planned post with it. This is a reconstruct… from the best of my failing memory…)
Here in the climate of #MeToo, female writers of Horror do not have far too look for a sad sisterhood.
How quickly must I apologize to male readers of this blog? How deeply must I sublimate the resentments that still haunt every writing decision I make like so many Leng Hounds?
This is how we know there is a problem: “No offense to male writers of the genre, but…”
Because here we are not talking about a casting couch. (Perhaps those of us who are writers of fiction too often seem unsexy in our sweat pants and pinned up hair, locked for long periods of time like mental patients in our writing rooms, we only “glam up” on…
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Here is something I am following this year and will be participating in as inspired. Perhaps you’d like to join me! Nancy Stohlman is one talented writer who inspires many other writers in the craft. Enjoy your Tuesday—Margaret
Are you excited yet???
Since we got SO MANY amazing guest prompt submissions, I’ve decided we are going to celebrate our 10 Year anniversary with a month ofALL GUEST PROMPTS(credited of course) from you, the people who actually make FlashNano what it is. It’s going to be extra amazing!
Not already on the FlashNano list? Join us here:
If you love myths, legends, history, folklore, I recommend the blog “Under the Influence.” The latest post is about a queen. It’s fantastic.
“The evolution of Queen Semiramis from Queen Sammuramat provided an example for other female rulers to follow. Her legendary and mythical status was achieved possibly because it was unusual in patriarchal societies for females to be allowed to shine or display their intelligence and talents. According to these traditions, she proved herself to be as good or better than males in her governing abilities, civil building works, and military prowess. This was unusual and may be part of the reason why she was elevated to such status. Her mystique and appeal lasted for centuries after her death and was the inspiration for many works in art and literature…
Over the ages her achievements became embellished and exaggerated and new stories emerged about her. In many ways the little that was known about her added to her mystique and after her death the myths and legends grew. In later times was held as a model for good female rulers who exhibited similar characteristic…such as Margret I of Denmark, and Catherine the Great of Russia who were called Semiramis of the North…”
Queen Semiramis was a mythical queen who appears in many myths, legends, works of art and literature through the ages. She was was believed to have evolved from a real, historical QueenSammuramat who ruled the Neo-Assyrian Empire for a brief period. Here we look briefly what is known of the historical Queen Sammuramat and her transformation to the mythical, semi-divine, Queen Semiramis.
Sammuramat ruled the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the ninth century after her husband, King Shamshi-Adad V, died until her young son Adad-nirari III came of age in 806 BC. It is not clear whether she ruled as regent or in some other capacity but it was only believed to have lasted for five years. According to the myths Semiramis ruled for 42 years as queen regnant but it is necessary to separate the historical from the…
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This afternoon, I have had a few minutes to pour over the latest exercise in Kathy Fish’s newsletter. It offers so much gold. I am glad I have decided to post this because it is a discussion of the creation of the beginning of a flash piece. I actually used the guidelines to go back and evaluate a nonfiction flash piece I submitted to a journal yesterday. I did spot ways I could improve my piece, something I often do in the process of receiving rejections and turning revised material into future submissions.
I would say also when someone says “exercise” a connotation of school comes to mind although in a way, this is a “school” without grades! Thankfully! Often, creating does take a little bit of time. I need to think through what I want to write. Sometimes in moving through my day, something will occur to me.
I hope you will consider perusing the newsletter. If you have considered writing fiction, it is a good chance to work on some fundamentals. Even if you go on to write longer forms, or if you are currently engaged in any kind of writing, you will have gained some helpful writing muscles. A good argument for this is made in the newsletter.
Best wishes — Meg
Kathy Fish is an accomplished writer in the flash fiction form. In her newsletter, she generously shares thoughts about writing flash fiction and provides prompts to help get you going. Her posts draw from her craft book The Art of Flash Fiction. I strongly encourage you to sign up for her newsletter. I have! In this week’s installment, she gives a prompt for starting a flash fiction story. I hope to squeeze in some time to follow along! Best wishes – Meg
Lonely Miss Braeburn, town librarian, closes her musty velvet curtains to the night. A dream wakes her: sharp piercing of her neck, wet smacking, sucking, the smell of iron, the warm trickle of blood, pain. The town pitmaster, confirmed bachelor, smelling of fire and smoke, yet sampling, her sole lover.
Today I am watching Andrei Tarkovksky’s The Sacrifice, a beautiful film. Bergman and Tarkovsky equally admired one another.
Here is an interesting article comparing the two of them: https://www.tiff.net/the-review/a-mans-world-bergman-tarkovsky-and-the-sacrifice
OK so a couple of years ago I envisioned a virtual fantastic flash fiction literary event based in Orlando and involving central Florida literary lights as well as other friends and connections I have met online.
At the time of conception, I kept notes on an unpublished blog post. I decided if my ideas materialized I was going to ask guests – central Florida writer friends and admired writers outside of the area – to help present ideas.
This never came to fruition but I thought I would share my notes with the thought that perhaps the ideas may inspire your own fantastical writing and creativity.
The pandemic has been a time to revisit abandoned abandoned projects, old photos, unread books. It has been a time to throw things away, change course, renew my resolve. Maybe this has been a part of your experience as well.
The last time I participated in a literary event in Orlando I did a reading in a bar with other literary writer friends. The task was to do a reading of an original literary piece involving politics. I dramatized an invented dialogue between the then presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt. Afterwards friends of mine who had come out went out to a bar to dance until late into the night, only weeks before the shooting at Pulse.
I thought I would share a glimpse into this older side of me, my thoughts about a virtual fantastical literary conference. Here is a copy and paste of some thoughts I had for possible prompts for participants and a beginning brainstorm for workshop leaders. Some of these prompts have been used by writers in workshops in Orlando and in other workshops and so I have made notes from time to time. Some are based on my own ideas and stories.
- Dream recall using synesthesia Guest prompt Laura Lee Bahr (former writer in residence, Kerouac House)
2. Story told from point of view from object that shouldn’t be conscious – Prompt from Joe Snyder (Milk Bar, flash fiction workshop, Orlando)
3. A character sees his/her doppleganger in public.
4. Unusual funeral practices.
5. Story in which a skeleton is a character.
6. A favorite toy from childhood.
7. A character inexplicably changes in size, getting smaller and/or bigger.
8. A folktale or another kind of story with a talking animal.
9. A character transforms into a creature who can fly.
10. A corpse who is more alive than most “living” people.
13. A defunct asylum.
14. A decrepit building in a deserted city in a dystopian future.
15. A ghost’s day at a theme park.
16. A child with a secret power
17. Animated corpses in a potter’s field –
18. Apex predator who is loving and gentle.
19. An object mysteriously appears in various settings.
20. A character’s emotional reaction causes a weather disturbance in their environment.
21. A tree that dies in spring and repeatedly comes back to full bloom in winter.
22. People as plants.
23. A birthday cake swallows up a kid.
24. A city has a very unusual fuel source.
Some dream guests, local and futher afield; Stacy Barton, Jessie Bradley, John King, Vanessa Blakeslee, Laura Lee Bahr, Dave Housely, Kellie Wells, Matt Bell, Amber Sparks, Ray Fracalossy, Michael Martone, Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, Susan Tepper, Meg Tuite, Robert Vaughn, Tiffany Razzano, David Atkinson, Frances Lefkowitz, Jason Lee Norman.
In central Florida on a morning of the pandemic, a leg of a Pinwheel Jasmine bent down to Ms. Myska’s screened in porch to say hello to friends: a potted four petaled Flaming Katy with a florist’s heart and a brand new succulent, a Donkey Ear.
Somehow this leg of the jasmine had escaped the sharp whirring string of the dark hatted man’s butchery. On this secret side of the otherwise manicured lawn of the complex, Jasmine’s white flowers bloomed in profusion as if in response to the Flaming Katy who, beyond all reasonable expectation of her owner, a neglectful Ms. Myska, was still alive and celebrating her survival.
Ms. Myska’s purchase of the Donkey Ear in the midst of the pandemic had been an act of faith. Jasmine had heard the woman say Donkey may have brothers and sisters. The woman planned to buy potting soil and pots and propogate him from clippings.
Jasmine tried not to laugh. She had seen how the timid Ms. Myska had stayed inside during the city’s contagion, sometimes even closing her blinds during the day, as if this could protect her. But Flaming Katy would get defensive if Jasmine laughed. She was the most loyal potted plant Jasmine had ever known though Jasmine actually knew no other. Jasmine was happy enough to support the old woman who seemed ancient to her though in people years was probably not so old. The woman was lonely.
During the day, Jasmine nodded her free limb to her friends who sat on the floor of Ms. Myska’s garden apartment. They only spoke to each other at night when Ms. Myska was in bed, asleep. They spoke of the birds and the frogs and the insects who had come to life in the wake of the hiding of the humans, in the pall of sickness and destruction. They spoke guiltily but of dreams, their dreams of a time primeval.
And yet Jasmine knew her limits. If it got out she had been talking the night away regarding her gleeful subversive hopes she would be cut down, only to be thrown into the massive iron teeth with the other wayward limbs. In the summer, in the heat of the day, she tucked herself deep within the bush, emerging only for the quenching nourishment of rain when she laughed and opened her mouth. Katy and Donkey would laugh too for Ms. Myska would place them by the screen where they could enjoy a cooling mist. It was a good summer.
I highly recommend this work of a friend. And all of his work.
They left San Antonio at four in the morning. Their mother had given no explanation for waking the boys up, dressing them, and loading them into the back of their station wagon. The younger boy, Paddy, couldn’t wake up. He stumbled around sucking his thumb and clinging to the stuffed rabbit that he slept with. Charley, the big brother, was old enough to know you don’t get up in the middle of the night and drive away.
“Momma, where are we going?”
“Your grandmother’s. If we leave now, we’ll be there by lunch!” She stuffed her clothes into a suitcase. “She’ll be so happy to see us!”
Charley stood in the doorway of her bedroom. He watched her, tried to suss out meaning from her face.
Two hours later, the sun rose behind them as they cruised along the empty interstate. “Mommy.” Paddy was rocking back and forth. “Mommy, I…
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temporalata, witch hut 1, flickr
On Saturdays, Mama set me down in front of the churn. On summer days, she set me on the porch to look out upon the woods, to look for fairies and woodsprite, to keep the woodland green at bay, she said, lest it overtake the house and we be lost. On winter days, I set inside not far from the stove but far enough that a witch’s spell that come down through the flue would not frustrate my efforts. The spell would come on account of Ms. Maybre, Mama would say, the spinster, who casts spells such as that of the butter witch. On account of that happening, we gotta stick the poker from the fire in the butter and break the witch’s back and get the butter going again.
I always wondered if she meant Ms. Maybre would have a broken back. But Ms…
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I have written a retelling of Baba Yaga, set in modern day Florida. My use of Eastern Orthodoxy as the setting for the tale and their traditions and heavy reliance on the natural world for ritual and beliefs made a good backdrop for the entry of the Baba Yaga. A young woman ventures from her home in Florida where her grandmother has shown her the bounty of nature and its healing properties and uses in religious practices and goes out into the wild woods of Florida, a wilderness with which I feel an affinity, being that I am practically native.
When I had finished writing the story, I realized I wouldn’t have been able to write it had I not helped myself as well as the reader become fully immersed in the natural world. We are just not as well versed in so many aspects of the outside world, nor are other readers. Context becomes vital in order to grasp the full meaning of what it means to encounter a witch in a story and not via a movie screen or video game.
I intend to write another draft of my story this fall and hopefully eventually publish it. I have a private online writers’ group I started this summer called Word Warriors. I plan to share my story in a couple of weeks. Let me know if you would be interested in participating in a three to four month intensive in the coming months, fall and winter. I hope what I learn from my feedback with my group is what I can use to improve my project and continue re-envisioning it.
Here is an excerpt from this wonderful blog post….I am so glad I discovered this blog tonight. I hope you will explore it. Peace.
“Recently I read Sara Maitland’s book From The Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of Our Fairy Tales where she writes, ‘Forests to the [early] Northern European peoples were dangerous and generous, domestic and wild, beautiful and terrible. And the forests were the terrain out of which fairy stories, one of our earliest and most vital cultural forms, evolved. The mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils of the forest are both the background to and source of these tales…’”
Fairy tales are filled with the dark forest. One of the very first fairy tales that I can recall having been read to me was that of Hansel and Gretel, whose very father takes them deep into the forest to leave them there to die. Forests run throughout all of the Northern European fairy and folk tales. These forests are places of peril and triumph for the protagonists. Maria Tatar, the German folklore and children’s literature scholar at Harvard University, wrote, “Forests are sublime and dangerous, full of mystery, magic, terror, and monstrosity; an enchanted place where anything can happen. On one hand, [the forest] is a site of threats, the precinct of monsters—the wolf waiting for Red Riding Hood, the witch for Hansel and Gretel, the briars covering Sleeping Beauty’s castle—but it’s also a place where abandoned children can take refuge: Snow White flees to safety in the forest…
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This morning I revised a story I wrote loosely based on the Mouse Woman tradition of the Haida Gawaii native people of the Canadian Pacific Northwest. My Mouse Woman is more of a silently influential citizen whereas the original Mouse Woman was a kind of fairy godmother or even spirit guide between worlds. Here, in a more human manifestation, she shows her village there is a rhythm to life and death that is mysterious, feral, and not to be disrupted. She has her own rhythm, hence “rebel.”
Her plight is similar to mine in terms of unusual sleep patterns that can sometimes find one at odds with the rest of the world. But Ms. Myska teaches us to be ourselves. I wrote this three years ago and wanted to revise it and bring it forth again as I once more find myself in a struggle but am still seeking redemption through a celebration of individuality and acceptance.
It’s that time a year again, folks: FlashNano! And if you’ve never heard of FlashNano before now, it’s the annual challenge to write 30 flash fiction stories in 30 days during the month of November, now in its 7th year!
But FlashNano is the flash fiction lover’s answer to NaNoWriMo—the thrill of generating lots of material and the solidarity and the contagious energy of mad creation: sprinting, crawling, agonizing and celebrating throughout November with our novel-writing friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do we join?
Declare it so.
Go buy some new pens and notebooks.
Join the mailing list (if you haven’t already) if you would like prompts emailed to…
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My inability is a lost container I cannot find in my house.
My love is a plant in a basket I abandoned in the flower bed. Though the basket rots and I do not water it anymore, the plant lives on, fading in the sun, spreading, blooming.
My uncertainty is a walking stick. I do not know for certain if I will live, or, if living, for how long. A stick is more reliable than a person. People fly away when they want to, even when you might die. A stick can defend while people are shutting their windows, going to bed for the night.
My eyes are what are left after I have seen everything. I see lies coming at me now, aiming for the kill. I avert my gaze, in hopes they miss.
A pen is better than a stick or a sword and frees the weave of my heart. At some point, every friend is an enemy, but even if my life is counted for nothing, a pen is more loyal.
I do not mind living for you. You are my note to the world. Foolishly, I have believed, at times, I should write other notes. As it turns out you are the biggest, most important note there is.
If life contained a million lifetimes, I would: hold your hand in each one, run my finger through your hair in every day of each, kiss your forehead whether you are sick or well, take you to a million lifetimes of soccer practices, watch a million lifetimes of your games, drop you off for a million lifetimes of first dates, drive you to a million lifetimes of first days of school, take you to a million lifetimes of movies and buy you buckets and buckets of popcorn.
My role is dwindling now my young one, just in time for me to fully appreciate what I am about, the raison d’etre of my magnum opus to the world. You said you would drive your friends when you get a license, you speak openly of missing the friends who have moved away, you speak appreciatively of the friends you have now. How my tears run silently down my face when I think of what you are.
The majority of my life has passed before me. You are now your own best work. I speak into the air and if you wish to catch a falling leaf of a word of mine, you put your hand out, but you do not need leaves. What usage, leaves, but for the fire?
May God forgive me, but I am proud. May your song never end.
Bless my mother on this, the day of her late son’s birthday.