So You Wrote a Book? author series

So You Wrote a Book?  Season Two!

Many years ago, before I was a “real writer”, I envisioned a day when I would have a bookshelf filled with only books by my friends. Today, that bookshelf is about to collapse under its own weight! The So You Wrote a Book? series is my way to shine the spotlight on some of the amazing work being written and to applaud our collective mission to create art that moves us and those around us. Read interviews with:

And check out Season One archives here

__________________________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Michelle Elvy

Sitting at the crossroads between flash fiction, poetry, and the novel, Michelle’s Elvy’s debut book in short form, the everrumble, is an allegory, a fable, a love affair with the world, and, considering what is happening to our planet right now: it’s a warning. In Elvy’s hands the everrumble is alive, the beating heart of the world. Only one small child can hear it. But sometimes one is enough. 

M ELVY

Nancy Stohlman: This is your first book, congratulations! Talk about your path to publication with Ad Hoc fiction.

Michelle Elvy: For me, things usually happen serendipitously. I had two collections that were completed and ready for publication, mid-2018, and after thinking over the ideas behind both I decided I’d like to see the everrumble as my first book, because it holds something meaningful for me personally, and because the timing felt right. Jude Higgins at Ad Hoc agreed, and we worked towards publication for the UK Flash Fiction Festival, where the book’s launch seemed fitting, as it’s a small novel in small forms.

NS: I see this story almost as an allegory, similar to a book like, say, The Alchemist. Did you set out to write that kind of book or did it happen organically? Talk about the evolution of this project.

ME: It was an organic process – I had not planned to write the book it turned out to be. The idea of this young girl who would not talk came to me back in 2017, and I started writing down some of her stories. I did not have a biographical time line in mind; I just found moments from her life that seemed intriguing and followed them. Some came from her childhood, when she first starts to speak, then I wandered into her teen and adult years. It was an exploration from the beginning, moving step by step, tuning into Zettie in each situation – much like she listens to the world. First, there was Zettie’s immediate world. Then, I looked a bit further out – down the street, across town, in a different county. And soon I realised that Zettie (and I) did not need to be confined to the immediate physical surroundings – she could tune in beyond what felt like her ‘real’ physical space. As Zettie encountered new sounds, I’d have to tune in as well; I found myself thinking about how she’d respond, how she’d navigate through the different worlds she encountered, where she’d go next.  It was an adventure.

NS: You have personally traveled the world many times over (for much of that on your boat), so your view, like Zettie’s, must have a sense of the world as a larger community. How are you like Zettie? How are you different?

ME: It’s true that my travels influence my world view, and therefore certainly the way I write. But as to how I’m like Zettie? Very hard for me to say. I find it liberating to think of this as fiction.

A bit taken from life: the books from Zettie’s Book Notes are all from our family travels and experiences – these are books that hold personal meaning. So in that way, there is a piece of me in Zettie’s story.

NS: Have you ever met a Zettie in your travels?

ME: No.

NS: One of the important moments in this story is Shamu’s capture. Without giving anything away, can you speak to the importance of this story within a story?

ME: I grew up with the idea of zoos and live aquarium shows. Seeing wild animals up close is exhilarating for a young child. Then we moved onto our sailboat and set out across the sea – we left North America, with no idea of where we’d end up. That was nearly twenty years ago. We have spent these years moving slowly, meandering across oceans and observing life at the edges of continents. We are often alone with no one around – no people other than our little community on board Momo (me, my husband and our two daughters) for weeks at a time. My appreciation for quiet and solitude has grown over these years – not something I planned, but something I now need, this space for reflection and energetic examination of my own relationship to the world.

An accumulation of experiences over the last twenty years has deepened my awe of the natural world – and also my sense of loss. Shamu’s capture is a dark moment in our human story. And it’s symbolic of so much more; our entire relationship to the wild animal kingdom is out of balance. From overfishing to contaminating our waterways with plastic to hunting rhinos to near-extinction to the massively corrupt and inhumane ivory trade.  You know where I stand on elephants. That’s in Zettie’s story, too.

Am I an activist? Not really. But I feel the pull to saying something – and fiction is perhaps the best place to examine hard truths. I’m not someone who aims to write with a message. I really just wanted to see how Zettie might engage creatures whose voices may be lost.

My husband and I set out to live a small, quiet existence. But as it turns out, our personal encounters have changed the way we move through the world. We’ve seen diminishing  fish populations firsthand, and we’ve seen far too many dying coral reefs. But we see the sea thriving, too – and that is inspiring. We’ve seen orca, humpbacks, dolphins, manta rays and so much more – vibrant and wild. Sharks and penguins, seahorses and octopuses, turtles and humpbacks. Also an inexplicable and powerful encounter with bioluminescence.

Our personal desire to simply disengage from the noisy world – Let’s go sailing! we said, back in 2000 – has given us experiences that I can’t quite measure. I guess it’s inevitable that they find their way into my writing. And so: Shamu and Zettie. Zettie and the African elephant. Connecting across thousands of miles.

NS: Zettie stops speaking at age 7 so she can start really listening. Do you think too much talking/not enough listening is the main crisis of modern humanity?

ME: I do not know if that is the main crisis – but it’s certainly a characteristic of the world we live in. I think we are in a moment in our human trajectory where the noise is very loud indeed: social media, television programming, news that may or may not be news. We seem to be putting out more than we are taking in – or than we ever could take in. I’m not alone in feeling the world is a bit out of balance.

So yes, sure – and I am not the first one to say this: we ought to try to listen more. To each other, to other creatures, to the sounds of the earth.

NS: If Zettie could speak and she could say only one thing what would it be?

ME: SSSShhhhhhhhhhh……

NS: The Everrumble is what I would call a flash novel—coming right at the intersection between flash fiction and a novel.  Yet this story could surely be a novel with all the nuances of a novel. What do you think are the advantages and/or limitations of using the short form to tell a big story?

ME: Oh I love the way a small story can convey so much – all that is between the lines, all that is left unsaid. Perhaps this goes hand in hand with listening: we can quiet down, read thoughtfully, and see what emerges with all that space.

In the case of these connected stories, yes: Zettie’s life unfolds over these pages in a way that feels like a novel to me. It’s more – I hope – than the words on the page. It’s what is there, and not there.

NS: What is your best advice to someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

ME: Sit down and start writing. And keep reading all the things – and listening to all the voices – that inspire you.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

ME: Thank you, Nancy, for talking with me. It’s exciting to see the book out in the world, and I appreciate you taking an interest!

(Links to buy the book/other promo links)

everrumble-cover

BUY: the everrumble at Ad Hoc Fiction

Goodreads

Kindle

NZ distribution: Nationwide

Review at SmokeLong Quarterly

Review at New Zealand’s Scoop

Review at Sabotage Reviews

Michelle Elvy is a writer and editor originally from the Chesapeake Bay, now based in Dunedin, New Zealand. Her book, the everrumble (Ad Hoc Fiction 2019) – a small novel in small forms – was published in 2019. She is Assistant Editor for the international Best Small Fictions series and founder of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and National Flash Fiction Day NZ.  Her poetry, fiction, travel writing, creative nonfiction and reviews have been widely published and anthologised.

As an editor, Michelle works with novelists, short story writers, memoirists, essayists and poets to help them find their voice and hone their words. This year, in addition to her regular manuscript assessments and editing work, she is teaching an online writing course, 52|250 A Year of Writing, and co-editing the anthology Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand, with Paula Morris and James Norcliffe (August 2020).

More about Michelle’s editing, teaching and writing at michelleelvy.com.

____________________________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Kim Chinquee

The stories in Kim’s Chinquee’s new collection, Wetsuit, are the barest of wisps, impressionistic in their minimalism and yet dense with implied meaning. Each one is a gem, deceptively simple but hiding entire, barely concealed worlds in the silences. With each revisiting you discover the truth: that the stories are shadowboxes that continue into infinity, a magician’s hat with no bottom.

1236200_10151809185751506_1144637039_n
Photo by Diane Sardes

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

Kim Chinquee: Water. Swimming. Food. Animals. Motherhood. Men.

NS: I’m super intrigued by your titles, which are very often a seemingly random phrase pulled from the story that becomes the title and then suddenly isn’t random at all. Talk about your process with titles. Does it change the story for you?

KC: Absolutely! Titles are so much fun. A title can inform a piece, and can also turn it on its head. I’m always experimenting with titles, whether removing the first sentence of a story, and using it as a title. Or sometimes I’ll choose the last sentence, or one from the middle. Or perhaps the title is a word in the story that repeats itself. When I studied with Mary Robison, she recommended (to me and other students) closing our eyes and randomly pointing to places (on the physical copies of) our stories and opening our eyes and imagining the words and phrases (where our fingers landed) as potential titles. That’s a fun exercise I share with my students a lot. Sometimes a title can have nothing to do with the text of the story and can give that entire piece a different meaning. I think I have a few stories with titles like that.

NS: Your stories are very sculpted—sometimes down to almost an impressionistic wisp. I often find myself rereading them several times, as they are slight but extremely dense, sometimes deceptively so.  How do you know when to stop? Do you think flash writers ever go too far?

KC: It’s possible to go too far, of course. But one can always save the latest drafts and rearrange the words, add them back, etc. I struggle with writing longer work because I’m always cutting.

NS: Water is a theme connecting these stories, from puddles to steam to oceans to ice. Talk about your connection to water and why it ripples through this book? (By the way I love your picture of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon on the cover!)

KC: Thank you! Pier Rodelon designed Wetsuit (and my books Oh Baby, Veer, and Shot Girls). And (in speaking of titles): I had several other titles of the book before deciding on Wetsuit (I think maybe MILK was one.)–and when I saw the cover, I realized Wetsuit was the one that best “suited,” and included mostly pieces pertaining to liquid and/or water of some form. And I added some words and lines to some of the pieces so they would better fit the overall theme. So, the theme of water was kind of accidental, I suppose. Or something that I didn’t see until later. I had been swimming a lot and doing triathlons when I was writing these pieces, so it makes sense to me now that I was writing a lot about water.

unnamed

NS: The narrator seems consistent through many of the stories, and we get reoccurring images tagging back to other stories.  Was this an intentional weave or a happy discovery? And if intentional, how you would distinguish this collection from, say, a flash novel? Or is it?

KC: It probably was a bit of both intentional weave and happy discovery. Some of these pieces were written long ago, and some were written during the same timeframe and in consecutive order. When compiling the collection, I ordered them to have some sort of arc, and/or storylines that connect and speak to each other.

NS: On that note, your beginning and your ending are also circular, with one image from the end hooking up with the initial one. It gives a certain sense of spiraling around and around a life. Can you about your circular concept? 

KC: Thanks for noticing that! My editor and publisher Kathryn Rantala suggested ending on that last piece “My New Skin,” which I thought was kind of brilliant. I suppose, when looking at it now, I like to think it’s a metaphor for the front crawl or the breast stroke, the circular motion and the constant movement that keeps one not only moving forward, but afloat.

NS: About 2/3 of the way through the book your stories start to get super short and extremely dark. It feels like both a shift, a deepening, a quickening, and also, consequently, like the climax of the book. Can you talk about your design and intention with this purposeful pondering?

KC: As I was compiling the collection, it seemed natural to me to put these pieces closer to the end of the book, I suppose like a climax. I was afraid that if I included them near the front of the collection, they might discourage the reader, and that some content before might give them more context. I suppose it’s a lot like writing a novel. Wetsuit feels, content-like, or at least the way I compiled it, much like how I put together my first collection, Oh Baby.

NS: You have been an important voice in the flash fiction movement for a long time, and you’ve authored many books, including Shot Girls, Pretty, Veer, and Oh Baby. How is this book different than your others?

KC: Ah! Good question. I was about to talk more about this in the previous answer. I like to think Wetsuit holds a bit more hope for its main protagonist, and that there is maybe more maturity and depth. The son of Wetsuit is older, an adult, and there is a longing, I think. Artistically and aesthetically, Wetsuit is much like Oh Baby, imo. Veer was compiled as a collection to celebrate the venues where the pieces appeared (and where I’ve published most regularly): NOON, Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, Willow Springs, Story Quarterly. Pretty was published (as a prose poetry collection) with White Pine Press, under different editorship and is told in three parts. Whereas Shot Girls (also with Ravenna Press) includes mostly longer stories, of women working in “service,” including the military, and it includes a few flashes.

My next collection will also be published with Ravenna Press in 2020! It’s tentatively titled Snowdog. (And involves a lot of snow. And dogs.) Though I tend to change my titles a lot!

My novel-in-flashes, Battle Dress, will be published with Widow + Orphan House in 2021. I wrote the pieces in Battle Dress in consecutive order, while I was running a lot of local 5K, 10K races. So, there’s a lot of running and repetition in that book. Kind of like running the same kind of races (with different results) over and over.

I’ve also written a couple of “non flash” novels, and am currently revising Pirouette, which takes place in Boston, with alternating points-of-view of three protagonists and their experiences during the Boston Bombings. I’ve also started a new book called Stray Voltage, which is mostly about cows.

I probably write flash fictions with the most consistency and frequency, especially when I’m in the midst of teaching and doing administrative work. So, when compiling Wetsuit, I drew upon the flash fictions in my inventory, and put them together in a kind of collage.

NS: Congratulations! I’m looking forward to all of these! Wetsuit is published by Ravenna Press. Talk about your path to publication?

KC: Ravenna Press published my first book Oh Baby in 2008; I had such a great experience with Ravenna, and continue to publish with them. Kathryn Rantala is a great advocate and supporter of my work. I believe we have a mutual respect for each other and I love working with her.

NS: What advice would you give someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

KC: Read a lot. Write your story. Collect advice and keep what’s useful. Pay attention to what’s happening around you.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

KC: Thank you!

NS: Thank YOU!

Links to buy the book and other promo links:

You can buy copies of my books at www.kimchinquee.com, at Ravenna Press, and they’re also available at Amazon.

There’s a new review of Wetsuit available at Rain Taxi:

Kim Chinquee is the author of six books, most recently WETSUIT. She’s the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, and serves as AWP Northeast Regional Chair. Her website is www.kimchinquee.com

________________________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Robin Stratton

In Some Have Gone and Some Remain, Robin Stratton takes us on a retrospective, a slideshow of love, loss, nostalgia and hope. Simmering within these poems and essays is a sweet, simple and honest invitation to witness the many interludes that make up one human life.

Version 2

Nancy Stohlman: Describe this book in six words

Robin Stratton: Sad, funny, honest, bittersweet, raw, hopeful

NS: I really love the way you take the flash fiction form and weave it with poetry to create this flash/poetic autobiography. Where did you get the idea to do this?

RS: Most of the flash form pieces began as poems, but were such involved narratives (“And Then There Was the Time”, “A Tumor Not a Cyst”) that they just looked better structured as paragraphs, not stanzas. The two long pieces, “Moms” and “The Summer of Lizzie Borden” were written years ago, and were waiting for a home.

NS: Unlike memoir, that generally focuses on just one aspect of a person’s life, this feels like a true autobiography—a retrospective beginning in childhood and taking us on the up and down journey through many moments of a life. I imagine this could make you feel somewhat “exposed”, especially compared to fiction writing. Can you speak to this idea?

RS: “Exposed” is just the right word for how I felt. When I was writing the ones I feel were most revealing, like “It’s 4:30 in the Morning” and “Results”, I kept thinking, Just write, but don’t show anyone. I kept thinking how my brothers would feel, knowing some of these things that happened to me, or how much damage I did to myself, emotionally.

NS: I love the reoccurring You Men (Vol 1-5): it reminds the reader that romantic relationships are so often the highest and lowest points. You even dedicate a note of gratitude to all the former boyfriends in your acknowledgements. Talk about this.

RS: Wasn’t it grand of me to acknowledge how their criticism and bullshit helped me grow? All those years of trying out different men introduced me to different aspects of myself; what I was willing to put up with when I was in my 20s, versus my 40s and 50s. Looking back on my evolution was fascinating to me. I hope other people found it interesting, too, and could relate. By the way, thank you for blurbing the book! I have admired you for years, and that meant SO much to me!!

NS: Oh, you are so welcome, thank YOU! Now you publish both poetry and prose, and you utilize both in this book. Can you talk about your own crossover? Where are you most comfortable?

RS: I am not a poet, even though I would love to say I am. I love the visual of stanzas that lead to a kind of unconventional performance of the sentences, but getting it just the way I want it doesn’t come easily to me the way it does to real poets. My mind thinks in terms of indent-paragraph-carriage return. I so admire poets who can break up a sentence right in the middle; especially when it goes against a natural way of speaking and changes the whole presentation. I was happy with the way “Teen” came out… but you can see that most of my poem lines end where you would normally pause in a sentence.

NS: Speaking of crossover, you have published multiple books in several genres, including the novels Blue or Blue Skies and In His Genes, several collections including Dealing With Men and Interference from an Unwitting Species, and even a writing guide! How is Some Have Gone and SomeRemain similar and different from your other books?

RS: Some Have Gone is completely autobiographical, from start to finish, there isn’t a single bit of fiction in it. My novels, of course, have a lot of “me” in them, but I never ever write them that way; it just happens. I always laugh when someone tells me they just read Blue or Blue Skies and they “see” me in the main character – I had gone way out of my way to create a character who was the exact opposite of me: successful, rich, beautiful famous author. I never saw even the slightest bit of me in her until people started pointing it out, and I realized that all my vulnerabilities – about men, and about my loneliness after my friends got married and ditched me – came through in her.

NS: Some Have Gone and Some Remain is published by Big Table Publishing—I happen to have a sweet spot for BTP, who also published my own Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities—and you are the founder and the brains behind the whole shebang. Can you talk a bit about the genesis and evolution of BTP?

RS: Believe it or not, I started Big Table with the sole purpose of being able to include “publisher” in my bio when I submitted my novels to agents, because I thought it would make me sound impressive, and that was all I cared about. I thought I’d publish a few books, create a website, and so on. I never thought Big Table would be so big. It’s why I started Boston Literary Magazine, too – I never wanted to have a magazine, I just figured agents would say WOW, lookit her!

NS: BTP just put out several “Best of” volumes. Talk about these. What do you learn about your own writing from publishing others?

RS: Any writer who is in a group knows you can learn a lot from observing how other writers do it, either badly or well. When your ear tells you that something they’ve written is wrong, it leaves a trace in your memory (hopefully) that alerts you when you find yourself doing it too. So seeing raw manuscripts submitted to Big Table often demonstrates to me how a character or story line can be ruined by writing that’s sloppy or inconsistent. A lot of Big Table novelists are surprised when I tell them I love their book but they have to re-write the whole thing before we’ll take it. Sometimes I’ll suggest taking a character out, or completely changing the ending. Some resist, but most appreciate it. It’s why our slogan has always been “Work hard. Get published.”

NS: What advice would you give someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

RS: This advice has changed over the years. If you’d asked me this ten years ago I would have (and often did!) said, Keep going! Don’t give up! Now I say, Accept that you will probably not be on Oprah, make any money, or sell more than 200 copies of your book; you have to write with the single purpose of creating the best book you’re capable of.

It’s easy advice to give, and I often have trouble accepting it myself. But I lived it this past summer when I posted my novel In Love With Spring on my blog. I started writing it in the mid 90s, and it was a “current” version of Little Women – the four girls are sitting around talking about how John Lennon was just assassinated and Dad has walked out on them. I had a lot of trouble avoiding a Young Adult tone, and wrote it over and over and over. Suddenly a few decades went by and it was no longer current, it was nostalgic, and I knew I’d never find a home for it. I didn’t even bother to send it out, I just decided to put it on line and hope that people read it. I’m working on Volume Two, and there’s a real freedom to writing for the sake of writing, not submitting for publication. When all is said and done, that has to be why we write. If anyone wants to check it out, it’s here: https://www.robinstratton.com/blog

All of my books are available at www.robinstratton.com along with opening paragraphs of each novel and fun little promo vids. Parking is free, and on the weekends we have coffee and donuts! I’d love for people to stop by!

SOME HAVE GONE FRONT COVER

Robin Stratton is also the author of four novels, including one which was a National Indie Excellence Book Award finalist (On Air, Mustang Press, 2011), two collections of poetry and short fiction, and a writing guide. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she’s been published in Word Riot, 63 Channels, Antithesis Common, Poor Richard’s Almanac(k), Blink-Ink, Pig in a Poke, Chick Flicks, Up the Staircase, Shoots and Vines, and many others. Since 2004 she’s been Acquisitions Editor for Big Table Publishing Company, Senior Editor of Boston Literary Magazine since 2009, and she was Director of the Newton Writing and Publishing Center until she moved from Boston to San Francisco in 2018. Now she leads the popular “Six Feet of Poetry” and “Fiction by the Foot” series.  

____________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Len Kuntz

Looking into the darkest parts of humanity with compassion and honesty, the nuggets in Len Kuntz’s This is Why I Need You are keyholes into the quiet desperation of your neighbor, the painful tragedy of your lover, and the exquisite experience of being human: both pain and wonder, horror and redemption. Kuntz overturns the dark stones and pokes at the wiggling decay with a loving, careful, but unflinching bedside manner. He faces the wound of humanity, pulls out the poisoned arrows, and lets us see the rupture. And in seeing it, somehow, we are healed.

432090_402218516462366_1073124870_n

 

Nancy Stohlman: Describe this book in six words.

Len Kuntz: Stories for broken and imperfect people

NS: I’ve read several of your books, including Dark Sunshine and I’m Not Supposed to Be Here and Neither are You, and they all have that searing “Len” quality: you love to break our hearts, and we love you for it. How is This Is Why I Need You different from your other books?

LK: Honestly, I think the only thing that is different are the stories.  The voice is pretty much the same.  People still struggle with their problems.  Characters get hurt.  The only slight difference is the last linked twelve stories are a little bawdier than I usually write.

NS: You have a character, Jess, that continues to show up in multiple stories but isn’t (I don’t think) the same exact character. Can you speak to Jess as a literary device? Is Jess more of an archetype or an everyman/everywoman?

LK: Names are important, and maybe even more so in stories.  But they can trip things up, claim too much attention or even mislead the reader.  I like Jess when you need a name for reader convenience, yet the name itself isn’t crucial to the story.  I also like the quasi asexual quality of the name, how Jess/Jesse could be female or male.

NS: Many of these stories have a little thematic or imagery “hook” into the story before or after like literary chain mail. Were the hooks intentional in the writing or in the arranging process? Did you have to manipulate them or were they already apparent?

LK: I almost never know what the story is going to be about.  I just start with the first sentence, and if I like the sound of it, or the weight or potential of it, then I move to the next sentence, then the next, and so on.

NS: The last 12 stories in fact are linked more overtly, like self-contained flash sequence connected by the 14th of each month. Any significance with the 14th?

LK: Yes, it’s a linked flash-novella.  That was born out of a really cool project Matt Potter (PURE SLUSH) created where he took 30 writers and assigned us a date.  Mine was January 14th.  Then from there we had to continue through an entire year—Feb. 14th, March 14th all the way to Dec 14th.  Matt is a terrific editor and all-around great guy.  He published all of our pieces in an anthology through PURE SLUSH then separately printed each of our novellas into our own private book.  He titled mine My Uncertain Search For Myself, which I thought was brilliant.

NS: Have you thought about writing a book that was more intentionally threaded, a flash novel or novella?

LK: I have briefly, but now that you’re bringing it up I’m thinking about it more.  My best friend, Robert Vaughan and I spent a couple of months where we each challenged ourselves to write a poem a day, so we ended up with something like 120 combined.  We’re going to paginate them into a manuscript and hopefully find a publisher.

NS: Your characters are often hiding secrets, summed up perfectly in this thought: “All your life you think you know someone and then you discover you don’t. That must be how it is when neighbors learn the insurance salesman in the rambler ends up being a serial killer.” Can you talk about this impulse in your work? Should all writing aim to expose?

LK: Secrets are fascinating, don’t you think?  We all have them, and we all have secrets that are kept from us as well.  As material for writing, secrets are brimming with possibilities.  I don’t necessarily know if all writing should aim to expose, but it should jolt you in some way.  When I worked in the corporate world, I used to say that, as a leader, when you’re through talking to someone you should leave that person feeling as if a warm mitt had been imprinted on both their head and heart.  You should leave them stimulated, their mind buzzing, and their emotions stirred.  I think that’s what any type of writing should do.

NS: This metaphor seems to describe your work perfectly: “…like those wicked weeds that look plain until you touch them and invisible needles sink into your skin.” Would you say your writing is like those invisible needles?

LK: Hopefully, and that’s nice of you to ask.  I tend to write about the tough stuff in life because we’ve all been through our share of it, and if I’m able to portray things authentically, yet hopefully, I think the reader can identify with the writing, even when it hurts.

NS: You publish both poetry and prose, although this book is prose. Can you talk about your own crossover? Where are you most comfortable?

LK: I love writing anything short, sometimes very short. Novels, especially tomes, bogle my mind.  I’m in awe of how an author can write about tedium without making it tedious.

Poetry is probably my favorite form.  You can do so many things with it.

But mostly I just enjoy starting small fires, pieces that (hopefully) pop and spark and bring out some sort of emotional depth, then get out of the room.

NS: This is Why I Need You is published by Ravenna Press. Talk about your path to publication with this book and/or your experience with Ravenna.

LK: Kathryn Rantala runs Ravenna.  I’ve still never met her yet I feel as if I have.  She put out three books by Kim Chinquee, one of my idols and virtual mentors.  On a lark, I sent Kathryn a note asking when their submission window would open because the site said Closed.  She wrote back that they’re always open for writers they like and to send something, so I did that very night—a poetry manuscript and This Is Why I Need You.  Kathryn was a delight to work with.  She’s just a lovely person through and through.  If I could, I’d put out all my books with her. 

NS: Anyone who follows you or your work knows that you are incredibly prolific. What is your secret?

LK: Truthfully, I’m just incredibly lucky.  I get to write full-time, every day.  So many writers have jobs and have to squeeze in 20 minutes of writing here or there.  But I do write really fast.  Usually a story will take no more than 15 minutes.  The other thing that helps so much is finding great authors who use language in surprising ways i.e, Sabrina Orah Mark, Steven Dunn, Heather Christle.  I’ll be reading their book, and a phrase or certain word will spark an idea, and I’ll put the book down every other page, vomiting out piece after piece.  Lastly, a bath with bubbles and wine works wonders.  Really.  I’ve written some of my favorite things in the tub.   

NS: What advice would you give someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

LK: Of course, it depends where they’re at in their writing journey.  For a novice, I would say, study the craft as if you’re studying to get a Master’s degree.  Ultimately, write what moves you, what brings you joy after you’ve written it.  Then get extra sets of eyes on your work before submitting.  Plead for honest feedback and don’t be offended or hurt if some of what they say isn’t what you wanted to hear.  Write you best book.  It’s going to out-live you. 

NS: Anything else you want to add?

LK: I love writing and I love writers of all kinds.  I try to be a good literary citizen to my tribe.  It all feels like such a gift. 

NS: Links to buy the book or other promo links:

I have a blog where I post new writing, or something of that ilk, every M, W, Friday without fail.  It’s at lenkuntz.blogspot.com. My last two books are on Amazon.

NS: Thank you for playing, Len!

71pxldy8hdl

 Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, and the author of four books, most recently the story collection, THIS IS WHY I NEED YOU, out now from Ravenna Press.  You can find more of his writing at lenkuntz.blogspot.com

 ____________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Cath Barton

Cath Barton’s award-winning novella, The Plankton Collector, is a modern-day parable, an allegory for a defeated world. The Plankton Collector is that archetype from dreams and fairytales: a hero in disguise who arrives just as one family is on the ledge of their grief. This slim book gives you hope for humanity and lets you remember that angels are among us, watching, and, every so often–stepping in.

13902725_962440213868669_2171340267707743095_n

Nancy Stohlman: Describe this book in 6 words:

Cath Barton: Mysterious stranger helps grieving family recover

NS: This is your first published book! Has the process been what you thought it would be?

CB: I really had no idea what the process would be! I entered the book for the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella in 2017, with absolutely no expectation of success as the competition was open to writers throughout the UK and in the whole of North America. So I was amazed and delighted to win, and that the prize included publication.

It was a whole year before the book came out and that seemed an awfully long wait. I understand more about timescales in the publishing industry now!

NS: You say in your Acknowledgements that you weren’t planning to write a novella until challenged. Where did the idea for this story come from? Had this idea always been there or did it come after the challenge?

CB: The family in my book started life in a flash fiction piece I had written as an exercise some time before the challenge, about a boy looking out of his window at his mother visiting the grave of his brother. The graveyard is just beyond their garden. The house, the garden and the graveyard became key locations in the novella, which grew around the death of the brother. As for the Plankton Collector who helps the family, where is came from is as mysterious as everything else about him!

NS: Have you ever met the Plankton Collector?

CB: Not yet, as far as I know, though I could of course have been sitting at the next table to him in a cafe without realising it. As could you!

NS: How did your experience writing flash fiction help you write a novella (or not)?

CB: Yes, I think the discipline of working on flash, making every word is essential, is good training for the novella form, where not only is there no room for excursions from the story, but also, I feel, the emotional content is very concentrated. I like that – I’m not by nature a discursive writer, and I appreciate the challenge of making a story as taut as possible. 

NS: The Plankton Collector won the 2017 New Welsh Writing award—congratulations! Do you consider yourself a Welsh Writer? If so, what does that mean to you?

CB: Thank you! The answer to that is yes – and no! I wasn’t born in Wales, so I’m not Welsh.  I have lived here since 2005, and I do have an affinity with the country, but so I do with England, where I was born, and Scotland, where my parents were from. I identify as a British writer and also, I might add, as a European one.

Of course, as a writer living in Wales I have access to some specific writing opportunities, for which I’m very grateful. I was given mentoring support through Literature Wales last year, which helped me complete a collection of short stories.

NS: You have another book coming out later this year, I believe? What can we expect from that book? How is it similar/different from The Plankton Collector?

CB: I’ve got a second novella coming out in September 2020. It’s called In the Sweep of the Bay, which refers to Morecambe Bay, in north west England, where it’s set. It’s about a family as The Plankton Collector is, but focussing on the joys and sorrows of a long marriage, so the emphasis is different. And there’s no magical realism is this one.

NS: What is your best advice to someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

CB: Concentrate on the writing – tell your story the way you want to. Don’t think about publication until you’ve got the book done.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

CB: Thanks so much for inviting me along, Nancy!

The Plankton Collector is available in the US through Amazon as an e-book and also in paperback.

Also through Barnes and Noble as a paperback or NOOK book.

UK readers can order on-line through Amazon, Gwales or any branch of Waterstones.

dn8i6rgwkaalpcq

Cath Barton’s prize-winning novella The Plankton Collector is published by New Welsh Rarebyte. Her second novella, In the Sweep of the Bay, will be published by Louise Walters Books in September 2020, and her short story collection, The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Retreat West Books in early 2021. Cath is also active in the on-line flash fiction community and is a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review.https://cathbarton.com/  @CathBarton1

___________________________________________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Charmaine Wilkerson

Charmaine Wilkerson’s prize winning novella-in-flash, How to Make a Window Snake, is a spinning constellation that orbits one family’s grief, circling around and around what cannot be said…or forgotten. Her narrative is crisp, dense and deep–the entire iceberg under the water. Paired with the two runners-up for the Bath Novella-in-Flash award, A Safer Way to Fall by Joanna Campbell, and Things I Dream About When I’m Not Sleeping by Ingrid Jendrzejewski, How to Make a Window Snake is a trifeca of a book and an incredible showcase of the form.

Photo_Charmaine Wilkerson

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

Charmaine Wilkerson: Loving family. Menacing lake. Fake snake.

NS: Talk about the novella in flash form. How do you see it as different than, say a flash novel? Or not?

CW: The magical thing about the novella-in-flash is that each chapter can be read like a stand-alone piece of flash fiction, even though the parts add up to a larger story. By contrast, I tend to think that a flash novel can be more loosely structured, especially if it runs two or three hundred pages, as long as the chapters are short and pack the same sensory or emotional punch that I expect from a piece of flash fiction. Your own Monster Opera does that. And, in my mind, the term flash novel could be applied to books like George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo or Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

NS: I absolutely agree (and thank you!) Was this story being written already or did it happen as a result of the form? Chicken or Egg? Have you tried to tell this story in other ways?

CW: Chicken, definitely. Actually, this story was more like a bunch of baby chicks, fuzzy little mini stories, dashing back and forth across the same dirt yard, pecking at different themes here and there, until one day, a mother hen waddled over and said, Hey, you chicks, you’re all part of my brood, so get on over here! I didn’t try to tell this story in any other way, though I did write other flashes in this series that were not included in the novella.

NS: My very favorite thing about this story is your use of repetition—each story stands alone but echoes the previous stories—circular rather than linear. But the repetition feels necessary, not superfluous. Talk about that choice.

CW: Thank you. Finally, someone who doesn’t complain when I repeat myself! Seriously, I do tend to come back to certain words or phrases or rhythms when I write, though not always. In this novella, the repetition emerged naturally but I took time to sharpen the pattern during the final editing stages. I saw this as a way to strengthen the connections between the chapters, since the narrative goes back and forth in time and skips from one character’s point of view to the next.

NS: I find it interesting that the family in this story is circling around their own griefs—what do you think the story/form says about grief?

CW: One aspect of the human experience that continues to intrigue me is how, despite the power which grief has to alter us, we may still be able to love and play and have meaningful and satsifying lives. I found that writing about these different characters in short passages made it easier to mix these dimensions and, also, introduce other issues which they were facing.

NS: Are there other books whose form inspired you as you were creating this?

CW: One book I can recall going back to while writing this story was My Very End of the Universe, an anthology put out by Rose Metal Press with stories by five masters of the form. The authors’ accompanying essays held great resonance for me, especially Meg Pokrass’s discussion of creating a narrative from “scraps” and Aaron Teel’s discussion of “mimicking memory” through flash fiction. It felt as though these two essays were speaking to what I was writing that year.

NS: How to Make a Window Snake won the first Bath Novella-in-Flash award and was published in one book with the runners up, A Safer Way to Fall by Joanna Campbell and Things I Dream About When I’m Not Sleeping by Ingrid Jendrzejewski. How do you see these novellas playing off of each other?

CW: I am immensely grateful to the Bath Flash Fiction group and Ad Hoc Fiction for embracing this form of expression. It was very exciting to see such different stories selected by one judge, Meg Pokrass, and published together. The language used from cover to cover ranges from chatty to poetic to surreal. What I think these novellas-in-flash have in common is an intense gaze, heightened by details that leave a trail of emotion in their wake.

NS: I found it extremely unusual that none of your stories were published before the manuscript was submitted. How wonderfully risky! Your thoughts around publishing excerpts vs saving it all?

CW: The decision to share excerpts beforehand should be determined by the individual writer, based on their objectives and how those aims fit with the requirements of the magazines and book publishers on their wish list. In my case, not publishing individual flashes wasn’t really a risky move because they were all such new stories, anyway. I did submit a couple of the flashes to other outlets but soon received word that I had won the Bath competition, so that was that.

NS: What is your best advice to someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

CW: When I write fiction, I don’t think of it as a book. I think of it, first and always, as a story, or just an idea that needs to be captured. And I don’t always write what I’m thinking. I might take a snapshot or record natural sound on my mobile phone. I have a lot of recordings of water—the sea, a lake, a brook. The sound helps me to see things. Someone else might prefer to sit down and plot out everything ahead of time. What’s important is that you allow yourself to do whatever works for you in the drafting stages of a story, whatever helps you slip into that creative stream.

NS: Thank you for playing, Charmaine!

To buy How to Make a Window Snakehttps://bookshop.adhocfiction.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=182

Window Snake book

Charmaine Wilkerson lives in Rome, Italy. Her stories and essays have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Best Microfiction 2019, 100 Word Story, The Common,  New Flash Fiction Review, FlashBack Fiction, Fiction Southeast, Bending Genres, Reflex Fiction and Spelk. Her novella How to Make a Window Snake won the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award in 2017 and the UK’s Saboteur Award for Best Novella in 2018.

Shadow Selfie Italian Adriatic

__________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Vanessa Gebbie

In Vanessa Gebbie’s new chapbook, Nothing to Worry About, the body really is a wonderland! Gebbie’s brand of surrealism hinges on bizarre manifestations of the physical body—a wife turns to metal; a wife is dropping “pieces” of herself all around the house; a wife’s body becomes a flock of birds with her heart at the center. It’s deceptively light-hearted but hints at deeper metaphors around identity—are we our bodies? Or are they just fleshy appendages with their own agendas? Gebbie manages to get at the heart of this paradox with a wry little smirk on her face.

unnamed.jpg

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

Vanessa Gebbie: Fun, off the wall, slightly worrying…

NS: I love your weird sensibility. Did you always write weird or was this an evolution?

VG: Not an evolution but just a way of seeing things. I always see life sideways, I’m lucky like that. However, I’d not let myself collect together the stories that came out sideways, believing that maybe a ‘serious’ writer wasn’t meant to be funny. Now, I’m a bit wiser. Funny is often a stage on the road to understanding sadness.

NS: Humor is touchy. Is British humor different than American humor?

VG: Well, I don’t know… I used to watch Friends with my son and wonder what the hell was funny when he and the audience were falling about. Quite often comic situations either side of the pond are at someone’s expense, aren’t they? Example: The clown trips over her shoes, treads on one end of a plank and gets hit on the nose by the other end. I never understood why that was funny, either. But ordinary life… its twists and turns, misunderstandings and non sequiturs … can be unintentionally hilarious. I think it’s when people try too hard to be funny that it isn’t.  Or they aren’t. 🙄(eyes to heaven intentional!)

NS: What makes weird work and when does it not work?

VG: I don’t know the answer to that. All I know is, if a weird situation makes sense for that character, within that story, then that’s fine. It’s the joy of flash, or one of them, for this writer. Flash can sustain irreality neatly, whereas a longer story might labour the point too much. Is that it?

NS: Who is your favorite weird writer?

VG: Golly, loads of fantastic writers write marvellously strange worlds, don’t they. Adam Marek comes to mind… but also, I’ve just read a marvellous flash by Tania Hershman on Smokelong. Her portrayal of human interactions, with their marvellous fractured patterns and frequent blind alleys, are a kaleidoscope of images and half-sense meanings. The effect is that the reader gets what’s happening without ever having anything spelled out. Which makes me ask what is ‘weird’ anyway? Isn’t it just ‘normal’ seen through a prism?

NS: “The Door” is one of my favorite pieces in this book, and I read that it was written for and performed at Stand Up Tragedy at the Leicester Square Theater in London. Performed by you or others? How do you see the intersection of writing and performance?

VG: “The Door” was a commission, and just for one performer: me. I’d never thought of myself as a performer, and still don’t – the word conjures up performing sea-lions rewarded with fish. But I guess, when I write anything, , I ‘hear’ a piece in my head, and always always listen to it read out loud when I think it’s finished. It never is. Reading out loud to myself is an integral part of the editing process, so maybe reading it out loud for an audience isn’t that far removed? Is that the intersection? If it sounds OK to me, maybe it will sound OK to others.

NS: Speaking of performance, I’ve seen you read your work before, and you are quite hilarious. I especially remember hearing you read “Selected Advice for Strangers.” Does reading your work to an audience come naturally? Where did you get so funny?

VG: It is nice to make people happy. No idea where being funny came from, unless it’s a necessary balance to being serious? Mind you, I used to read stories to my school friends a long while back, and make them either squirm with my horror stories, or giggle… I prefer the laughter.

NS: This is not your first book—you also have several books of fiction including the collections A Short History of Synchronised Breathing, Ed’s Wife and Other Creatures, Words from a Glass Bubble, and the highly praised novel, The Coward’s Tale. How does Nothing to Worry About build on your previous works?

VG: It’s my 9th or 10th depending if you count different editions as two. I’ve just finished the first messy draft of 11 (or 10), another novel. Nothing to Worry About collects together strange, irreal, often funny pieces. It came out at the same time, or nearly, as a collection of longer short stories, all equally weird. Funny but with more than a grain of truth behind the laughs.

NS: Nothing to Worry About is published by Flash: The International Short Story Press. Can you talk about your road to publication?

VG: Sure… my road to publication began back in 2002 when I decided to write. I always had, as a young person at school and college, then stopped. So it was time to kick start creativity again. I wasn’t young.

I concentrated on short form fiction, despite teachers at university telling me that I was better off writing a novel. I didn’t feel I had all that time to waste… and short forms were so much more satisfying, doable, yet challenging.

My first book was a collection of prizewinning short stories. Words from a Glass Bubble (Salt) came out in 2008. It was followed by a text book on the art of the short story , for which I was commissioning and contributing editor. Since then it’s been a book a year. I’m lucky, I write across boundaries- so have three short story collections, two flash collections, two poetry collections, two editions of that text book, and a novel. I’ve just completed a first draft of novel number two, the first work that is not based on shorter fiction forms. It will take a lot of editing, but it’s been fun. A great mix of humour and violence. 🙃

NS: In addition to your many books of fiction, you’ve also written several editions of a book on the craft of writing, Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story. The first edition of that book came out 10 years ago, in 2009. How has the form changed since you first started writing and teaching it?

VG: Interesting things have been happening… I think boundaries are breaking down, definitions are loosening. Hybrid works, fascinating works of art comprising prose, poem, dramatised scenes, non fiction, anything… exciting times. The rise of performance opportunities too… short forms are perfect for that.

NS: What is your best advice to someone who is writing/wants to write a book?

VG: You want to write a book? First ask yourself why. Be honest. There is a difference between ‘I want to be a writer’ and ‘I want to write’.  We’ve all met the ‘want to be a writer’ types. They dress the part, usually in black, always look ill, and talk endlessly about writing, but what else?? Do they actually do it? Probably not. Avoid! The writers I know don’t look like “writers”.

So you really want to write? Good for you. Then read. Read more. And more. And write. Write more. Learn as much as you can, try everything, let yourself make mistakes. Seek the company of, and feedback from others who understand what you’re trying to do. Offer them your honest feedback too.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

VG: Enjoy the ride. Keep reading.

Never think you’ve learned it all. You never will.

And if you want to buy my book, please support publishers or independent bookshops.

To buy Nothing to Worry About from the publisher:

Thank you, Nancy!
NS: Thanks for playing, Vanessa!
Vanessa Gebbie is a Welsh writer living in England. She has won awards for her short stories, flash fiction and poetry, including a Bridport Prize and The Troubadour Prize. Her novel, The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was a Financial Times Novel of the Year. Visit Vanessa’s website to learn more.
___________________________________________________________

So You Wrote a Book? Jayne Martin

Kicking off Season 2 of So You Wrote a Book? is the one and only Jayne Martin and her debut flash fiction collection, Tender Cuts!

From my blurb: “Tender Cuts is about seeing and not seeing, what we are blind to and what’s right in front of us. In this debut flash fiction collection Jayne Martin’s writing is compact, dense, often heartbreaking, always illuminating, and woven with a strange nostalgia; she has a way of reconciling the child with the adult, the pain with the beauty of tragedy, the tragedy still seeded with hope.”

I’m so excited to welcome Jayne Martin!

perf8.000x8.000.indd

Nancy Stohlman: Describe this book in 6 words:

Jayne Martin: Tiny tales for the time challenged.

NS: This is your first book of flash fiction but not your first book—you also have a book of humor essays, “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with A Side of Wry.” Talk about how you have changed as a writer from that first book to Tender Cuts.

JM: All that’s changed really is my focus. I still enjoy writing humor, though little of it finds its way into my flash. In the humor essays, I reveal much more of myself, while the stories in “Tender Cuts” are 100% fiction. I’m probably a much better writer, but you do this stuff long enough you can’t help but get better and I’m into my fourth decade now. In “Suitable for Giving,” I could be self-indulgent. Flash has got to be tight. Get in, get out, and keep it moving. I have a keener eye for edits now and much less resistance to “killing my darlings.”

NS: Your stories are accompanied by illustrations by Janice Whitby and Indigo Roth. The style of the illustrations almost seem like doodles, the kind you would find carved into desks or doodled onto notebook paper. What was your vision for including images with your stories?

JM: There are so many collections out there. It’s hard to make yours stand out. I wanted to give the readers another way to experience the story. The drawing for the title story is a heart with a crack and a bandage over it. The heart motif continues throughout to reinforce the theme of cuts or wounds that the characters experience. The “doodle” style was chosen to add a bit of whimsy because many of the stories are quite dark.

NS: Julie Sue is a reoccurring character in this book. She first shows up as a young “pageant princess” and by the end of the book she is a mother with her own daughter. Where did the character of Julie Sue come from?

JM: Julie-Sue originated in your November 2016 Flash Nano from the prompt “winning a prize.” It went on to be published in MoonPark Review’s first issue. When I was assembling the collection, I knew I needed a spine to hold it together, so I wrote the three additional Julie-Sue stories, which have not been seen until now. Once I had those, I had a structure for the book. And I owe it all to you.  😊

NS: Awww, you are too kind, Jayne! I’m thrilled to be part of your process. Now your stories tend to be really short. Always or is short a continuing evolution?

JM: Miniatures appeal to me. Micro has a lot in common with bonsai. Having said that, unless I’m writing for a particular word-count guideline, it’s rarely my intention to write so short. Most of the time the story just ends and I’m as surprised as anyone else. Occasionally, the Cosmos will bless me with a sentence that blows me away. At that point, I say, “Well, it ain’t gonna get better than that.” But mostly, when it’s done it’s done.

NS: You used to write for television (your credits include “Big Spender” for Animal Planet and “A Child Too Many,” “Cradle of Conspiracy” and “Deceived By Trust” for Lifetime.) How has television writing helped you as a flash writer (or not)?

JM: It’s helped enormously. Movies for network television, even more so than big-screen, are regimentally structured to fit a 93-minute time slot. Each has seven acts to accommodate six commercial breaks, and each act has a defined number of scenes. As in flash, the writer must enter the scene late, move the story along and leave before it’s resolved. This is especially true of act breaks where the audience has the power of the remote so you better leave them wanting more.

NS: Love the absurdity in your story “Lobster in a Laundromat”—it’s simple but brings up a deeper truth of how we all want to be desired and “seen”, even by a lobster and even in my blurb I say your book is about the many ways we are seen. Talk about this theme in your writing? Is in intentional or unconscious?

JM: Thank you. “Lobster” came out of a Meg Pokrass workshop on writing the surreal. Most of my stories sway heavily toward realism and I wanted to stretch. As soon as I had the first line, I had the story. It was a fun write. I’d say the theme you mention is more unconscious than intentional, but then I never know what a story is going to be until it’s written. I try not to overthink the process, because my best works have always been happy accidents.

NS: You won the Vera Prize for “When the Bough Breaks,” which appears in Tender Cuts, and you have also won or been nominated for various other prizes. How important do you think contests are for a flash writing career?

JM: Receiving an award or a nomination is a lovely thing. In an industry that most often rejects us, it’s a wonderful validation, a boost of encouragement. As to importance in terms of a career, I don’t really know. It looks nice on my bio, but I don’t think any journal has ever published me just because I won a Vera. Every day is a new blank page. Every day you’re Sisyphus at the bottom of the damn hill and you have to prove yourself all over again. Maybe it matters more when one is looking back over their accomplishments at the end of a career.

NS: Tender Cuts is published by Vine Leaves Press. Can you talk about your pathway to publication?

JM: I’m a big believer in the power of intent and its ability to bring about the means to achieve a goal once that goal is clearly defined and infused with energy. You can’t just say you want something and then sit on your ass and do nothing. The Universe rewards action. With that in mind, my clear intent was to find a publisher and failing to find one was never a consideration. I’m a Taurus. What can I say?

I started by approaching publishers who had published other collections by writers I admire.  I also utilized Poets & Writers database, combing through site after site. I’d gotten several of my blurbs already and I included those with my query letters. I think all together I submitted to six publishers. Vine Leaves Press used to publish Vine Leaves Journal, which solicited what they called “vignettes” and I call micro-fiction. I got an offer from them in three weeks and I could not have found a more perfect fit for the book. They’re a dream to work with.

NS: Your best advice to someone writing a book?

JM: I didn’t set out to write a book. The 38 stories in “Tender Cuts” were gleaned from a folder of stories going back to 2010. In 2017, I finally saw a through line in terms of a theme and the collection began to take form. In terms of setting out to write a book, I can only draw on my experience writing screenplays. You need a story compelling enough to drag you along because the time commitment is huge. Something you have to write because you can’t shake the damn thing any other way. I can only imagine it’s that way for a book, as well.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

I often hear the flash community express frustration about the lack of attention from the larger publishing world: “When are they going to notice us?”

We flash writers tend to be an insular bunch.  Sometimes it seems like we’re writing more for each other than to entertain an audience. We all submit to and read the same journals and buy each other’s books, but few “civilians,” those non-writing folks who just want to escape into a good story, have heard of any of those journals or any of us.

That brings us back to the aforementioned description of my book in six words: Tiny tales for the time challenged. I’ve heard it said that it’s insulting to the genre to describe it that way. I disagree. Having put the sweat into writing the book, now I’d actually like to sell a few copies, and recognizing that people experience a constant demand for their finite amount of time is part of that effort. So is writing stories that don’t require an MFA to understand.

Getting the attention of the larger publishing world may just be a matter of inviting them into ours.

Jayne Martin lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time. She is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her flash fiction collection, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press, is available now by visiting her website: www.jaynemartin-writer.com.

Preorders are available now from Amazon U.S. & U.K, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s. Links on Jayne’s spiffy new website!

AS4A6066 - Copy

Jayne Martin lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time. She is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her flash fiction collection, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press, is available now by visiting her website:

www.jaynemartin-writer.com.