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A microfiction blast from the past: “August at the Fair” was named a Top 3 in Micro Fiction by Paul McVeigh for his Hawthorne Citation…back in 2012.

I just realized this is the second time I have been listed alongside one of my favorite writers, Bruce Holland Rogers. The first time? We were finalists for the The Micro Award with “Aglaglagl” and “Revisions.”

Thanks for the mention, Mr. P. McVeigh! You may never happen upon my name again, but once upon a time you did and you just might again.

~ N

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sideways chocolate fountainNot that I want more competition, but this is too sweet to hog all to myself!

Jonathan Cape Ltd. (associated with Random House) is open to prose fiction submissions by new writers this month. Yes, OPEN to NEW writers. You don’t believe me. Here’s proof: Cape Open Submissions. See. Told you.

Send your first 50 pages of prose fiction from a novel, novella, short story collection, or graphic novel. But, here’s the sweetest little nugget: The pages can be a finished work or a work in progress. Yes, a work IN PROGRESS.

Really now, people. What do you have to lose? It’s always a ‘no’ unless you try.

Sweet submissions!

~ N

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ty for smoking cigars only
Read Kathy Fish’s “Why I Write Flash.” You may understand me, and many other writers, better.

Here’s another tidbit about me: I like cigars, on occasion. As “a shy[ish] person in a big family” where “everyone’s a talker but” me, a cigar occupies me while I sit on the back deck, “on the periphery, [half-]listening” to my brother-in-law “tell the story of the long family road trip as if it happened last week,” all the relatives visited and towns passed. My mind will drift from the conversation though, like the curling smoke from my lips. I won’t be far. Don’t worry. I’ll have drifted just a little way off to contemplate what Kathy Fish calls “moments,” the “stillness and what shatters the stillness. The unguarded way people look at each other sometimes. The filled-to-bursting seconds before everything changes. The small, ugly, beautiful flashes of life.” So, now you know something else about me: On occasion, you won’t have my full attention. Sorry about that.  No insult intended.

Thank you, Kathy, for a well-written read.

~ N

P.S. I snapped the THANK YOU FOR SMOKING CIGARS ONLY pic at Hemingway’s Cigar & Tequila Lounge in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was just across from the Cabo Wabo rear entrance, but–sadly–I hear the great little spot has closed.

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Discovering something late is better than never discovering it at all, I suppose, as long as it’s kudos stashed away on the internet and not a rotting pastel egg a niece or nephew never found—or didn’t find on purpose—when you packed 43 bodies into your home for the family Easter brunch.

My discovery, thankfully, is of the kudos variety: “August at the Fair” was named as a Top 3 Micro Fiction finalist by Paul McVeigh for his Hawthorne Citation…back in 2012. This is the second time I appear alongside a favorite author, Bruce Holland Rogers. The first time was for the The Micro Award with “Revisions.”

Thanks for the mention, Mr. P. McVeigh! You may never happen upon my name again, but once upon a time you did and you just might again. So, I will keep writing in a way that would make you proud of mentioning a little-known writer back in 2012, in the event you do happen upon me again. ~ N

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Fiction can’t touch this one.

Sometimes the truth really is that much better.

Read Chad Cottle’s story, and you’ll understand.

Visit Chicago Now to read my long-time friend and fellow writer’s adoption reunification story, “I Had My Mother’s Name!”

Carrie Goldman chose to use Chad’s piece as her grand finale for “30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days,” a November series in honor of National Adoption Month. The Huffington Post will re-run the series in January, so watch for the story there too.

If you like Chad’s writing, you can find more of it on his Amazon Author Page.

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So, you say, you want to write short stories? Novels?

The first mystery, where novels [and short stories] are concerned, is how anyone manages, ever, to write a book that’s any good at all.

Sure, go ahead, simulate life, using only ink and paper. Take the words offered by the dictionary, the same words that are available to everybody who can read, and arrange them so strategically that they simultaneously illuminate and deepen the mystery of human existence.

Do so in a way that’s cogent and compelling, that grabs readers with the opening line and doesn’t let them go until the final one. Don’t make it too neat and tidy—that will come off as trivial. But don’t make it too messy and sprawling, either—that won’t feel like much of anything at all…

~ Michael Cunningham on The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott, a Recommended Reading from Electric Literature

Still want to write after that?

If your answer is ‘YES!’: you’re crazy, but I understand. You must read-read-read and write-write-write though. So, start now:  subscribe to Electric Literature’s Recommended Readings, read Wescott’s The Pilgrim Hawk, or check out these suggested shorts (bottom of the page). You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, yeah, and then write. You have to because–remember?–you’re crazy. But, people like me understand.

~ N

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When I finally admitted that a paragraph did not belong in my novella, I cut it and sent it to the word cemetery for burial. Writers always kill their darlings though. We are accustomed to letting go and moving on, and our words learn to live with it.

The night of the cutting though, beneath moon-shimmer, my left-for-dead words arose, crept off together into the world and, in their innocence, stepped beyond the pale. But there, in that wilderness, the words gathered experience and cultivated their own ideas about what they should become. In time, they grew into a poem. At last they danced, but with a rhythm and an emotion true to their origin.

“Adventures of an Alaskan Barfly” would not be if I had left those words where they were, because nothing dances where it does not belong. So I continue, in what may be perceived as cruelty, to cut. So sorry, my darlings. You will thank me later.

(“WTF?!” artwork for the cover of Gargoyle #58 is by digital illustrator, Cintia Gonzalvez. If you are wondering, Papa, “WTF?!” means “Why the frown?!”)

Adventures of an Alaskan Barfly

Step out. Light up.

Beyond, the pale

January snow bank and moon-shimmer

melts

this darkness…

<<read more>>

~ Gargoyle #58, Paycock Press – get it at Amazon.com

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