By Michael Seese
... writing it, of course.
In a previous post, I recounted my month of "sending stuff" and ended with, "So what should I do next? I have some ideas..." (And yes, I also said I'd talk about the victories. I will. But they're still coming in.)
What I think I'd like to focus on is short fiction. I love short fiction, probably because it suits my attention span. Seriously, though, it really is a rush to read about a contest or anthology, think over ideas for a few days, and then hammer out a story in an evening or two.
A really good source for open calls is Horror Tree. Don't let the name scare you. (Pun intended.) Though a lot of the calls are strictly horror (I found out about the Rogues Gallery here) others are not. For example, I learned of...
The Twelve Nights Of Christmas. Though the picture on the website is a little scary, the stories don't have to be horror. Instead:
This is a challenge for visual and flash fiction. We all know the carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas. …what happens at night? What happens on those dark, cold nights of December?
I had been trying to come up with an idea, without much success. Then, on a drive back from Buffalo, I concocted the premise of (and largely mind-wrote) "As Smooth As A Milk Maid's Skin." Here is a snippet:
A wicked December wind whistled through Whitechapel. The largely deserted streets reflected the harsh reality of the economic principles espoused by Adam Smith. The frigid air kept the customers home by their hearths; lacking demand, the suppliers of the skills of the world’s oldest profession opted for the warmth of their own ramshackle rooms, rather than the cold of the streets.
Amanda saw this solitude as a double-edged blade. She now stood out even more conspicuously, though her quarry would as well. Or so she hoped. Turning a corner near Osborn Street, Amanda spied a girl standing beneath a gas lamp. Her milky skin glowed. She resembled a porcelain doll. This may be one, she thought.
As Amanda drew near, she glimpsed the girl’s hand, wrapped around the lamp-post. Big, meaty, muscular. She had to be one of them.
And guess what? They selected it!
Or, what about Kazka Press / 713 Flash Fiction, which sponsors
a monthly flash fiction call [which] has a theme. We ask you to write an SFF story (SciFi, Fantasy, Horror, or related sub-genres) that fits the theme in some way.
And they're strict: "499 < YOUR STORY < 1,001." This month's theme is "outlaws." Next month is "discoveries."
On the treadmill one night, I came up with the first 150 and the last 50 words. The next day, I cranked out another 700, leaving only a few gaps to fill in. Here is a sample of "You Can't Keep A Good Man Down."
The day they killed me, I became the outlaws’ worst nightmare.
Like folks in many of the dusty towns which dot the territories, I never saw much need to up and leave. I was born here. I was raised here. I grew into a man here. And then...
I don’t remember dying. But that’s because the dogs that did the deed didn’t have the guts to face me man to man. To call me out. Instead, they sent some big-armed, slow-witted farmhand with a club into the saloon. As I threw back my one and only shot of whiskey for the day—strictly for medicinal purposes, of course—I glanced up at the mirror above the bar just as the blow came crashing down on my skull. I awoke at Crystal’s place. Something about me felt not right.
“Am I...?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said in that milky voice of hers that could take the sting out of a rattlesnake’s bite.
She told me they dragged me into the street and pumped five or six rounds into my back. It was five; since that night, I’ve counted the holes. After shooting me, they dragged my body out of town, and tossed me in a ditch somewhere. I suppose it could have been worse.
I have a few more (found on Horror Tree) that's I'm working on. (First one; second one)
So join in the fun, my friends.
BTW, "A New Beginning," which I submitted to the Rogues Gallery, was selected.