Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction July 27-31, 2020

Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction Workshop

July 27-31, 2020

SOLD OUT–Stay tuned for future workshops!

homunIn celebration of what would have been the release of my new book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (forthcoming from Ad Hoc Fiction, stay tuned!), I’m running the workshop that started it all (beginning in 2013!)

This 5-day generative class will use chapters from Going Short to examine the fundamentals of flash, try a variety of approaches to the compressed narrative, discuss what makes successful flash, and generate your own original flash pieces.

This course is open to writers with all levels of experience in the form, whether you are brand new to flash fiction, a writer coming from other genres, or a veteran flasher looking for a dose of inspiration and some writing camaraderie.

More info or register here

Questions? Feel free to contact me at nancystohlman@gmail.com

“I had so much fun in Nancy Stohlman’s Going Short workshop. She shared new ideas and resources that helped me refocus a floundering story, and inspired a new story that went in a direction I never would have predicted — a great surprise! I appreciated her intuitive understanding of the quirky sort of stories I want to tell. More importantly, I valued her encouragement to keep going, even with the crazy ones. I think everyone in the group felt energized by the positive environment. I was struck by the number of fantastic pieces posted throughout the week. I’ll definitely sign up for another workshop with Nancy soon.” ~Myna Chang

“It is always an honor to take one of Nancy Stohlman’s classes. There is always incredible value and learning whether it is a generative or editing course. Nancy’s teaching is always fresh and the addition of content and videos to this class were especially pleasing. The comments from Nancy are always positive, constructive, and expert level. The way she writes gives me thrill every time. The caliber of writers in the classes is consistently top-notch so those comments are amazing as well. In Nancy’s classes a community built in a short time which is an additional special component to her courses. I will continue to take her classes as long as she offers them.” ~Tammy L. Breitweiser

I had a wonderful time in Nancy’s Going Short class and learned a lot. Walked away with five drafts and the feedback I needed for revision. Best of all was the generous, wise, and talented counself of Nancy Stohlman! Whether you are new to flash or an old hand, do yourself a favor and GET IN THERE.  As a Mother’s Day gift to myself, I turned to Nancy for editorial help with several drafts. She calls her response a “quick edit,” but instead I received a thoughtful, meaningful response that helped me to re-experience the stories and turbo charge the work. A wonderful and affordable way to invest in yourself. ~Patricia Bidar

“I feel very lucky to have taken three of Nancy’s workshops. They have all been fantastic and exceeded my expectations. Not only are they well-organized and in-depth, but Nancy has a knack for making course material accessible in a way that also reaches beyond writing at times, pulling examples from other mediums to bring a point across in a different way. No one else does that, and I love it! The classes have introduced me to some of my new favorite authors and ways of approaching stories that I’ve not encountered anywhere else. These courses have stretched my skills and my writing has only grown stronger as a result. My only wish is that there were more of them on offer.” ~ Sara Hill

“I am always blown away by Nancy’s insights, comments and concrete suggestions and the deep attention given to each piece by the other writers. Of all the real life and online workshops I have participated in, Stohlman Workshops have provided me with the best critique, guidance and greatest sense of connectedness, albeit brief, to other writers. The materials are organized, clear and interesting. Nancy’s expertise as an instructor, editor and writer are greatly appreciated. I am challenged but never intimidated. Nancy embodies what it means to be a great teacher: she remembers what it was like not to know how, breaks the objective down into manageable lessons, gently guides and raucously encourages every success.”~Katherine Beck

So You Wrote a Book? Hillary Leftwich

Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock, the debut collection by Hillary Leftwich, is a sad, funny, broken, hopeful book: a strange coming of age. Leftwich has written a surreal Midwestern Gothic full of hand-me downs and family secrets; just as her characters open other people’s bathroom cupboards to “see the expensive tampons and boutique makeup”, opening the pages of this book allows the reader a compassionate, tragic, and sometimes difficult look into a darker side of innocence lost. We should not avert our eyes.

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Nancy Stohlman: In the spirit of flash fiction, describe this book in six words:

Hillary Leftwich: It hurts to live with ghosts.

NS: Love it! Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock is your first book, congratulations! Has it been everything you imagined?

HL: My expectations were pretty low, so when I began my solo marketing and Denver/Front Range “Book Tour,” I was taken aback by the amount of support I received. It takes a lot of courage to share your words with the world, so no, it was not everything I imagined it would be. It was better.

NS: Is there a favorite story or “germ story” in here—the one piece that really started this book becoming a book?

HL: Germ story! I love that! The one piece that really got me going with continuing writing this hybrid collection would be “I Lost My Orgasm.” And I want to thank my ex for giving me the inspiration to write that piece.

NS: One of the strongest themes in your work for me is the loss of innocence. You are able to be funny about it, as in this line about a first sexual encounter: “You see your stuffed bear, Mr. Noodles, shoved between the wall and the bed frame, gaping at you with a look of abandonment…” but I still feel a lot of sadness–indeed, abandonment–in this loss. Your thoughts?

HL: That piece is based on my first experience of getting sexual with an older boy I had an immense attraction to and who intimidated me with his mohawk and leather. I remember seeing my bedroom through his eyes and feeling both ashamed as well as terrified. A sadness in knowing I was about to cross a threshold with this person that I had never crossed before. I suppose the melancholy of making a decision to leave part of our childhood behind is what comes through.

NS: At other times the transformation feels more manipulated, more sinister, as in this line beginning with unicorns and mermaids and ending with: “Shhh she sang, her hands two sleepy birds cradling me—you don’t want to be a little girl forever.” Does she? Do any of us? Why do we get so lost in these old versions of ourselves?

HL: That’s the first piece I’ve written about my childhood sexual molestations by an older girl who lived across the street from me when I was five. Her manipulation of our friendship and pressuring me to allow her to do what she wanted to my body is my first memory of losing something huge as a part of myself. I often wonder what kind of a woman I would be today if I still had that part of me she stole. Then again, maybe it’s best not to think of it as something missing. We fill our emptiness with all kinds of demons.

NS: Wow. And yes, so true. I was thinking: many of the stories here are told in the second person (you) and are also just surreal enough to make me wonder if they originate in dreams? If not in dreams, where do they originate for you?

HL: I have a need to make everything in my life surreal to understand other people as well as myself.

NS: Yes, agreed. Now the characters in this book exist in what we might call blue-collar Americana—they are factory workers and cleaning ladies and single parents. And yet there is no idealization of another world, no striving to escape circumstances. I was struck by this line: “I don’t trust anyone who’s never had to clean up someone else’s shit.” Do you think these characters are more content than they let on to be?

HL: Many of these pieces are nonfiction, especially the ones involving my days as a maid, and of course, being a solo mother. Christina, the woman who cleans my old office building, actually said that. And I agree with that statement. Being in a situation of barely making it paycheck to paycheck, feeling more comfortable with folks in the same boat as you, broke, struggling, is something I never attempted to escape from. To me, it was both comforting and absolutely a state of content in many ways. I only felt judged and wanting to be in better circumstances by those who looked down on me and the folks I worked or socialized with. I still feel this way. I don’t think that will ever change.

NS: There are a lot of references to ghosts, obviously even in your title. But after reading your work, I felt that the real ghosts are our own departed versions of ourselves, adults haunted by our past versions of ourselves. You say, “There are lots of ways to remain half alive and half dead. Tons.” I feel the ghosts in this book are not outside of us but inside. Talk.

HL: The ghosts inside us are what I believe drives us to destroy ourselves. Hauntings of people and situations passed, and like you said, a “departed versions of ourselves.” It’s easy to be half alive and half dead. It’s harder to educate ourselves and learn to grow, to move beyond our old selves and our ignorance. But we need to, especially now. Especially now.

NS: Yes, especially now. Which brings me to another theme I see in your work: resilience–the many ways that, as we are yearning towards our own fruition, forces from within and without can make us pivot and pervert but not die. Do you think there is redemption for these characters? Should there be?

HL: One of the hardest things about being alive is experiencing suffering, and seeing others suffer and learning the world is never fair. That sometimes, you experience something so horrific it hurts to keep breathing. There should always be redemption, but life doesn’t work that way. Redemption means a happy ending, and there can never be a happy ending without tremendous loss.

NS: What advice do you have for writers who are working on/want to publish a book?

HL: When I was pregnant with my son, everyone came out of the woodwork to share their horror stories and advice about pregnancy and giving birth. Turns out, none of it applied to me. I had my own unique (and scary) experience. You will have your own too, but you don’t have to go it alone. Seek out advice, ask for help, have a friend you trust, or a writing group look at your work. And when you’re ready, find me. I’ll be teaching a class on how to self-promote and create your own book tour for those on a budget.

NS: Yes, I love that comparison. Thanks so much for playing, Hillary! Links to buy the book and other promo links?

Indiebound

Bookshop

Amazon

The Accomplices

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Hillary Leftwich is the author of Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock (CCM Press/The Accomplices 2019), which is featured in Entropy’s Best Fiction list of 2019 and is a finalist for the Big Other Book Award. She is the poetry and prose editor for Heavy Feather Review and runs At the Inkwell Denver, a monthly reading series. Currently, she freelances as a writer, editor, journalist, and teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers. She is a Kenyon Review scholarship recipient for 2021, and her writing can be found in both print and online in The Rumpus, Entropy, The Missouri Review, Denver Quarterly, Hobart, and others. She lives in Colorado with her partner, her son, and their cat, Larry. Find more of her writing at hillaryleftwich.com

 

So You Wrote a Book? Nathan Leslie

Established in 2015, The Best Small Fictions series is an anticipated event, a yearly tribute to the small form and the many writers involved in its continuing transformation. Series editor Nathan Leslie and guest editor Rilla Askew carry the torch in this latest offering: The Best Small Fictions 2019, a weighty who’s who of the year’s flash fiction standouts and a gorgeous exhibition of the power of the miniature. 

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Nancy Stohlman: In the spirit of flash fiction, describe this book in 6 words.

Nathan Leslie: I take it you mean Hurry Up and Relax? Satirical-minded stories mostly about blowhards.

NS: Ha. The Best Small Fictions 2019 is the fifth in the series—started in 2015–and your first time as a series editor. How did you get involved?

NL: Founding editor Tara Masih asked me if I wanted to serve as series editor and I jumped at the chance. I have long admired BSF and, as it happens, I have just enough free time to make it work schedule-wise.

NS: You have such an amazing variety of stories and authors–how do you find the stories? What is the discovery process?  Do you all agree or do you have to fight it out for your favorites?

NL: Thank you for your kind comments. There are several streams–the nominated stories that come in via Submittable, stories that the crack BSF staff culls from their reading, and stories that I find from my own scouring. From there I just pick the best of the bunch with Michelle Elvy and the consulting editors providing much-needed assistance.

NS: Once you have chosen the stories, how do you and the other editors decide the order? Having edited several anthologies of flash fiction I know that the ordering process this process is not easy.

NL: In talking with Sonder Press and Michelle when I started my first BSF last year, we all agreed that alphabetical order would be the way to go–that way it’s completely non-judgmental. The only exception to this rule is that we also spotlight the top ten spotlighted works. These are chosen by the guest editor.

NS: I love that. The ordering is so important, but also so subjective. How important do you think the first story is in an anthology? Do you think readers start at the beginning and go to the end or do you think they skip around?

NL: It’s important and as mentioned, in our case it’s a spotlighted story so presumably it’s one of the strongest in the book. I  think readers most likely skip around quite a bit. I sure do when I read anthologies.

NS: You also have a spotlighted journals section—and as I am looking through the anthology not only is there an enormous range of stories and authors but also originating magazines. How do you choose which journals to spotlight?

NL: It wasn’t too difficult as there were several journals that had multiple pieces in the anthology. From those, I just chose the journals that stood out to me–with considerable help and guidance from Michelle.

NS: Reading your bio I realized you were also the series editor of the Best of the Web anthology in 2008 and 2009 (the same time I was editing the Fast Forward books!). From an editorial standpoint, how have small fictions changed in the last 10 years?

NL: Yes. It’s hard to say–small fictions are much more “mainstream” now than they were in 2008-9 and there are certainly more journals that highlight their importance. I also think that aesthetically there are more writers within the genre taking risks. But for Best of the Web we were not solely looking at small fictions, so I was not quite as attuned to the genre as I hope I am now.

NS: I agree that there are writers taking more risks–which is so exciting for the genre. And you just announced the picks for the next Best Small Fictions 2020—congrats to all the winners! It must feel wonderful to know how much your acceptance means to a writer.

NL: It was nice to be able to give a glimmer of good news to authors this year because we were in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors were very appreciative this year–more so than usual. My favorite part of the BSF process is sending the notes of acceptance.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

NL: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me and for your interest in small fictions.

NS: Thank YOU for all you do, and thanks for including me for the first time in the 2019 anthology–it was such a high point of my year!

Links to buy the book:

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Nathan Leslie won the 2019 Washington Writers’ Publishing House prize for fiction for his collection of short stories, Hurry Up and Relax. Nathan’s nine previous books of fiction include Three Men, Root and Shoot, Sibs, and The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice. He is also the author of a collection of poems, Night Sweat. Nathan is currently the series editor for Best Small Fictions, the founder and organizer of the Reston Reading Series in Reston, Virginia, and the publisher and editor of the new online journal Maryland Literary Review. Previously he was series editor for Best of the Web and fiction editor for Pedestal Magazine. His fiction has been published in hundreds of literary magazines such as Shenandoah, North American Review, Boulevard, Hotel Amerika, and Cimarron Review. Nathan’s nonfiction has been published in The Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and Orlando Sentinel. Nathan lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Julie.

Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction Workshop June 22-26, 2020

Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction Workshop

June 22-26, 2020

This workshop is now SOLD OUT. Stay tuned for future workshops!

homunIn celebration of what would have been the release of my new book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (forthcoming 2021 from Ad Hoc Fiction, stay tuned!), I’m running the workshop that started it all (beginning in 2013!)

This 5-day generative class will use chapters from Going Short to examine the fundamentals of flash, try a variety of approaches to the compressed narrative, discuss what makes successful flash, and generate your own original flash pieces.

This course is open to writers with all levels of experience in the form, whether you are brand new to flash fiction, a writer coming from other genres, or a veteran flasher looking for a dose of inspiration and some writing camaraderie.

**In solidarity with Corona-craziness, I will continue to offer (limited) discounts on all my workshops this summer.  

More info or register here

Questions? Feel free to contact me at nancystohlman@gmail.com

“I feel very lucky to have taken three of Nancy’s workshops. They have all been fantastic and exceeded my expectations. Not only are they well-organized and in-depth, but Nancy has a knack for making course material accessible in a way that also reaches beyond writing at times, pulling examples from other mediums to bring a point across in a different way. No one else does that, and I love it! The classes have introduced me to some of my new favorite authors and ways of approaching stories that I’ve not encountered anywhere else. These courses have stretched my skills and my writing has only grown stronger as a result. My only wish is that there were more of them on offer.” ~ Sara Hill

“I am always blown away by Nancy’s insights, comments and concrete suggestions and the deep attention given to each piece by the other writers. Of all the real life and online workshops I have participated in, Stohlman Workshops have provided me with the best critique, guidance and greatest sense of connectedness, albeit brief, to other writers. The materials are organized, clear and interesting. Nancy’s expertise as an instructor, editor and writer are greatly appreciated. I am challenged but never intimidated. Nancy embodies what it means to be a great teacher: she remembers what it was like not to know how, breaks the objective down into manageable lessons, gently guides and raucously encourages every success.”~Katherine Beck