Flash Fiction editor Tommy Dean interviews Nancy Stohlman in CRAFT Literary Magazine

CRAFT’s flash fiction section editor Tommy Dean chats with Nancy Stohlman-Author about MADAM VELVET’S CABARET OF ODDITIES, flash fiction, craft, and more:

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EXCERPT

Tommy Dean: What was your process of crafting this collection together? There’s seems to be a shift from the constant narrator around page twenty-one to twenty-two with the list of circus performers. Was this intentional? What effect were you hoping for?

Nancy Stohlman: Oh yes, very intentional. And even more so in the work I’m doing now—I teach that there are many ways of approaching a collection. One way is to look at it like a “greatest hits” album of work in an order that is rhythmic and pleasing and that is perfectly alright. But I tend to go for the “concept album” approach instead, allowing the juxtapostions of story against story to create another layer of white space and give birth to a second layer of story. It’s my favorite part these days.

Read more:

https://www.craftliterary.com/2019/05/28/interview-nancy-stohlman/

Two summer flash fiction workshops!

Flash fiction workshops from beginner to advanced!

For more info and Earlybird Discounts CLICK HERE

WRITING FLASH FICTION

June 13-July 3

So you want to write flash fiction? Flash adorable_tiny_things_640_23fiction is redefining how we tell stories, and by embracing this compressed form, all writers–from poets to novelists to nonfiction writers–are cultivating a new set of skills and creating an entirely new kind of story.

In this workshop we will generate original flash pieces, examine what makes successful flash fiction, and try to differentiate flash from its cousins, the prose poem and the vignette.

LEARN MORE

 

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SCULPTING FLASH FICTION

July 11-July 31

Editing is the most important part of the writing process. As serious writers, you know it’s through the editing process that we begin to refine and sculpt our messages. But just as writing flash fiction requires a
bonsaidifferent set of skills, so does editing flash fiction.

In this workshop we will use the tools of ambiguity and implication; we will learn the different between chipping and chopping; we will learn how to shrink-wrap text, and most of all learn how to achieve the specific needs of flash fiction as I guide you and other participants to edit your real works in progress.

LEARN MORE

 

Writing Flash Fiction–Online Workshop Begins August 10

What would happen if you could double your publishing opportunities? Double your confidence? Double your writing skills and abilities?

Well, Flash Fiction is the new black and journals are hungry for fresh voices. Learn what makes successful flash–just because it’s small doesn’t make it easy–and get your work into the world in a bigger way!

Flash Fiction is a literary movement—freeing literature and turning it upside down. Flash writers are embracing a new kind of story–and it’s spreading. It’s abstract to pop art, it’s jazz to rock and roll. And it’s about time!

Join us for a 4-week online flash fiction workshop beginning August 10. The format will include weekly online instruction, plenty of editorial feedback, group-led discussions, as well as once-a week conference calls in a virtual classroom–the best of all technology and the chance to work with writers all over the world!

Limited spaces available–discounts and payment plans available for a limited time! See “Summer Writing Program”

Contact me for more information or to register at nancystohlman@gmail.com

FREE preview call Sunday, August 10 at 7 pm MST–contact me to register.

Join Facebook Event
https://www.facebook.
com/events/616231968457460/

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Nancy Stohlman’s books include the forthcoming flash fiction collection The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (forthcoming 2014), the flash novels The Monster Opera (2013) and Searching for Suzi: a flash novel (2009), and three anthologies of flash including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape (2010), which was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is a founding member of Fast Forward Press, the creator of The F-Bomb Flash Fiction Reading Series in Denver, and her work has been included in The Best of the Web.

Two Micro Fictions by Nancy Stohlman

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“How much are you getting paid to do this?” he asks.

“Enough to pay off my student loans,” I answer, as he begins to tattoo the Coca-Cola logo across my face.

Published in Blink Ink

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True Tales From Therapy #5

Though there was absolutely no correlation between seeing a new therapist, and that therapist killing himself with a shotgun the following week, Mr. G couldn’t help wonder, for just a fleeting second, if his wife’s claim that everyone was sick of listening to him whine about his problems had some validity.

Published in Right Hand Pointing

Art Installation: Exhibit #2558

by Nancy Stohlman

You Twisted My Spite Into Sculpture—1997
United States

Mixed media: garbage bags, plaster of Paris, broken jewelry, straws, boyfriend

On permanent loan from the artist

Artist Statement: Mask making has always held a special place in my work. I believe there is an inherent fear of asphyxiation present in the creative relationship. This piece began as a mask but I soon realized a simple mask no longer was able to encompass the plight of current society—today’s citizen wants love but feels trapped. My work explores the implications of falsifying our true nature. The piece is really about transforming everyday negativity into art.

The crowd clustered around the sculpture, the crude plaster, the bits of broken jewelry cemented into the patina. The figure stood almost defiantly, two straws poking from the nostrils and the only movement, a sort of desperate darting of the eyeballs.

Originally published as part of the Exquisite Duet series–the first line “You twisted my spite into sculpture” was provided to the authors. Read original here.

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Guest Blogger David Wagner: On Being a Writer

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On Being a Writer
by David Edward Wagner 

The Reality of Being a WriterThe aim of this blog entry is to give a bit of friendly advice and insight into the mindset and processes of the professional (or honestly, even the non-professional or the trying-to be-professional) writer.

The simple question, what is a writer is simply answered, “A writer is one who writes.” The similar question, what does a writer do, is similarly answered, “A writer writes.” But, alas, as we all know, things are seldom if ever so simple.

So, with this in mind, I will answer the question as thoroughly and straightforward as I can.

In reality, the simple question, what is a writer, is properly answered, “A writer is one who plans and creates through the methods of thought and writing.” And the question, what does a writer do, is accurately answered, “A writer plans, writes and edits.” It is this second question that I will focus on (as the first question is embedded within it).

A Writer needs time

While simply writing is surely the foundation and prime aspect of a writer’s life and career, it is not the only thing he or she must do and it is, in the end, only of shared importance with the tasks of planning and editing one’s work.

In my own life, I have struggled, sacrificed and fought to keep ahold of the one thing most important to the writing process: Time. That is your most valuable asset and tool as a writer.

All of the imagination, all of the great ideas, all of the valuable connections or amazing insights you have do not mean a thing if you cannot carve out and maintain the long hours necessary to bring your thoughts from intangible mind to the actuality of words and paper (or sure, digital document).

This is a simple truth: a writer needs time.

Perhaps the most important question then becomes: how do I use this time I have? Maybe even better, you could ask how do I use this time wisely and efficiently? This is the best question because writers in general (and I am a great example) are known to be some of the world’s most triumphant wasters of time, pissing away the hours with flights of fancy or organizing their bookshelves or cleaning their fingernails or… doing anything but writing.

So, do not despair, this is another thing I have at last learned and become comfortable with. A writer, if truly a writer, never truly wastes a second. They are merely fulfilling one of the three aspects of their writerly labor. Perhaps it is best if I just dive into those three aspects and explain each one as fully as I can.

To begin, let’s talk about planning, as it is the most vague and easily misunderstood.

A Writer Plans At All Times

While writing and editing are rather straightforward in their explanations, the various types and levels of planning a writer needs to do in order to be successful are a bit more complicated.

To begin, writers need to plan their time properly. Loose but self-regulated weekly schedules are used to keep projects properly juggled and moving forward, with flexible (unless otherwise noted) long-term deadlines for the completion of individual works spread out over the coming months.

Even more, basic daily schedules are necessary for carving out the space to give each current project its due and proper focus at specific times.

If you want to support yourself with your writing, the odds are great that you will be working on and needing to finish more than one project at any time until it is necessary to focus on completing one, and you need to remind your artistic self that generally, when people want to support themselves or their family, they have to get a job. It’s the modern world still, and you can’t pay the landlord or bank with good intentions.

That means you have to get comfortable with the fact that your art is a job and you have to treat it with the same mindset you have when working for wages at the great time-sucking company of your choice. You are a business, your mind and your personal effort, and you have to show up at your job regularly and do your work efficiently and with inspiration.

My own example that has truly changed my life and my relationship with my own creative process is as follows: I plan my week day by day, working on one project in the morning until lunch, (sometimes at noon, sometimes at 2pm, sometimes at four pm, depending on my outside responsibilities and level of inspiration). I eat and then switch gears, working on another project for a few hours, always less than the earlier project. Then, I will generally be burned out after four to eight hours of writing, writing, writing. I take a break and spend the final hour or so of my workday on non-creative projects I call ‘busy work:’ updating websites, formatting completed manuscripts, researching online, submitting completed work to magazines, contests, publishers and agents. Then I go to my job or cook dinner for my wife and me, depending on the day.

I want to turn my passion into a suitable career and so I treat it like a full time job, giving 30-50 hours a week towards directly working on my ‘product.’ Part time opportunities are also available.

But beyond that, you have to plan the work itself. Trace story arcs, plot points, major events. You have to develop compelling characters and keep timelines straight and make sure everything is coherent and cohesive.

This takes pages of notes, sometimes charts, as well as research in books and on the Internet.

And between the time to work and the work itself, you have to plan the projects in general, keep a running list of the story and time worthy ideas you come up with at random times, crossing them out with each precious ‘The End.’ The more ideas the merrier and as the movie says, “If you build it they will come.” Keep adding to your work, everything you can, different mediums and styles, different genres and formats, just keep writing and stretch your limits and virtuosity.

For you non-writers reading this blog entry, or even to you writers reading it, in your defense, I can honestly say that a writer is always planning, always working mentally on that one part, that one character flaw or upcoming cool moment when you can’t quite get your story from here to there in a logical way and you know you can if you can just think of that one missing piece, that one crucial decision…

The most intangible parts of planning for a writer are those seemingly blank and lazy times when you are sitting doing nothing to the outside observer, when you feel scattered and lost in your own house or neighborhood while your brain works through some idea. To the outside world it looks like you are idle, spacing out and being weird again, but do not fear, you are working. You are wracking your brain and doing real, honest, roll-up-your-sleeves creative work. Simply because it is abstract does not mean that it is intangible; concrete results come only from such mental endeavors.

Planning is an important part of writing and the writer’s life, and it should be remembered and taken seriously.

Writers write as much as they possibly can

As I mentioned, the idea that writers write and edit their work is a pretty straightforward and logical notion. With this in mind, I will keep the rest of this blog entry mercifully short.

Here I will just say that you have to write, write, write. Just get it out, don’t loose your momentum on a project just because that transition from act one into act two doesn’t quite work and doesn’t really make sense. Just power through, keep moving, make a few notes where it feels choppy or poorly paced and just get to the end. Write it all out and type ‘the end.’ Get it completed in any fashion you can. This is the first draft, it’s not supposed to be perfect, just finished.

This first draft is simply carving the rough shape from the blank white marble of page and mind. You’ll never know where you’re going if you don’t arrive there in some shape. Don’t forget, you have time and you have your third necessary responsibility in your life as a writer: editing.

Writers edit like their lives depend on it.

The title of this section pretty well sums up the truth of editing. You edit like you life depends on it because it does. If you want to support yourself by writing, you have to be willing to tear your work apart, killing your favorite line or paragraph for the sake of the whole, change and retool everything and anything that suddenly makes you realize you are reading something and not experiencing something.

You have to condition yourself to step outside of your own creative ego and wear the separate hat of an objective, non-partial editor. And then when that first draft is more presentable, you need to send it to at least one second pair of eyes, get their feedback and typo findings, and decide what insights you will apply to your further drafts.

Do this at each stage until the final draft, but be aware that everybody you are sending drafts to also have lives and time issues, and may not want to or be able to read four drafts of the same novel. So widen your pool of friendly and interested eyes for your own sake.

I generally begin each daily session by re-reading the previous few pages and editing and note-taking as I go, sliding gently into the flow of the days work as I near the end of what I wrote yesterday. Then it is only forward towards the ever-shortening distance between here and the end.

Editing is vital and the true work of successful writers. It is also the most nerve-wracking and difficult part. But do it. Love it. Know that it is the difference between great writing and plain old everyday schlock. Do it with pride and patience.

Conclusion

Get to work. And have a good day.

15 Flash Fiction Prompts

Flashnano Day 10: Write a story with a theme of escape.

Flashnano Day 11: Write a story while listening to the entire 16 minutes of “Rhapsody In Blue.”

Flashnano Day 12: Write a story around a compulsive behavior.

Flashnano Day 13: Write a story in the form of a fable.

Flashnano Day 14: Write a story that takes place in an abandoned landscape.

Flashnano Day 15: Write a story in exactly 15 words.

Flashnano Day 16: Write a story using the word “vexatious.” (Today’s prompt brought to you by Dictionary.com.)
vexatious \vek-SEY-shuhs\, adjective:
1. causing vexation; troublesome; annoying: a vexatious situation.
2. Law. (of legal actions) instituted without sufficient grounds and serving only to cause annoyance to the defendant.
3. disorderly; confused; troubled.

Flashnano Day 17: Write a story that features one predominant color.

Flashnano Day 18: Write a story where someone is lying.

Flashnano Day 19: Write a story that involves travel.

Flashnano Day 20: Write a story where the ending comes first.

Flashnano Day 21: Write a story that takes place in extreme weather.

Flashnano Day 22: Write a story that involves a miracle.

Flashnano Day 23: Write a story that includes a strong smell.

Flashnano Day 24: Open the book nearest to you. Incorporate the first sentence you read into a story.

Flashnano Day 25: Revisit a piece you’ve written this month (or before, if necessary). Cut it in half.

Check out all our Flashnano prompts (above) and jump on–there is still time!

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