This morning I submitted a piece to the Merry Little Apex Christmas Flash Fiction Contest. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a couple of weeks, but between the end of NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, and the early December chaos of wrapping up the semester and adding additional professional responsibilities, I just hadn’t gotten around to it until now. Mind you, I harbor no illusions that the thing will make it much further than Apex’s inbox, but it was a fun little thing to write, anyway. It’s a darker twist on a somewhat more traditional holiday theme, as befitting Apex’s style. If I’d had time, I would have written a couple of more submissions, since entrants are allowed up to three separate stories. If you’ve got the time and you’re interested, there’s still a few hours left in the day today to contribute, and since the max length is only 250 words, it should be well within reach. The winner gets their story published on the Apex blog on the 23rd, and I’m kind of hoping that some of the other entries will surface here and there afterward.
“Flashes of Speculation”:http://fs.shamuswrites.com has been awake again for less than 24 hours, and already I’m very happy with things. I’ve had a handful of past contributors declare their excitement at its revival, and I’ve had three new stories posted already, accomplished through new registrations and stories submitted for review. That system already seems to work more smoothly than the previous one. I’ve also had three stories submitted in the last week or so, which spurred, in part, my own expediency at getting the site back in motion. I can only hope that things continue to progress so well a week from now and even a month from now.
I love the new theme – “Trevilian Way”:http://thedesigncanopy.com/downloads/trevilian-way/. I had originally planned to design a new theme for the site myself, but then I saw this one and decided there was no need to re-invent the wheel, so to speak. Trevilian Way already does just about everything I’d wanted, anyway, and I have this thing about designers and coders who keep re-inventing the wheel. Sure, there’s something extremely satisfying about displaying your own work, but I also have no problem using someone else’s theme when it meets my needs. And I must say – Trevilian Way _is_ pretty.
I changed some of the more subtle elements of FoS’s archiving system. For starters, I dropped all the author categories and merged them into a single Stories category. My intention is to mirror the same type of archive system I use here – use categories as the Table of Contents and tags as the index. That said, I set up Trevilian Way’s wide left sidebar with a tag cloud by going through each story and tagging it with, at minimum, the story author’s name and the genre or genres into which the story fits. Select stories were also tagged with additional terms, such as vampires, demons, etc., for common elements that readers might be interested in. Many of the stories were more difficult to classify and index and so did not receive any additional tags beyond author and genre.
Category and Archive lists have also been pushed into a drop-down dialogue in one of the sidebars. This will hopefully help prevent the sidebar area from expanding into a 3-headed hydra, about which you may have heard. I expect it will still fluff out a bit as we add more tags, so that tag cloud will likely be limited in number and an actual Site Index built from a tag cloud will be added as a Page.
I’ve had a request for a small banner graphic for FoS, as well, that contributors and fans can use on their own blogs to advertise. I’d meant to play around in Photoshop a little last night and just never quite made it that far. I hope to produce something on that front in the next day or two.
There are some as-yet ephemeral ideas in my brain about ways to make FoS more community-friendly – contests, giveaways, etc. – but nothing I’ve given much thought to yet. I also want to make more of an effort to solicit flash fiction from writers, which is going to mean my finding good speculative flash fiction writers. I’ve got a few flash fiction sites on my radar that I want to browse through again – it’s been quite some time since I gave much thought at all to such sites – so it’s just a matter of tracking those down again and catching up on what’s new.
I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed working with FoS, so it’s good to have it up and running again. I’m curious to see if I can make a better go at it than on its first tour. It will, of course, demand a fair bit of pro-action from myself, but it will also rely heavily on the excitement of the contributors, since FoS is in place largely for them as a venue to display some samples of their writing.
This is all very exciting.
With the “Flashes of Speculation redesign”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/03/08/fos-redesigned/ complete, I’m putting the callout again for “submissions”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs/submissions/. If you write science fiction, fantasy, or horror and are looking for an outlet for your writing, then please consider “Flashes of Speculation”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs. Stories need to be 1000 words or less.
FoS could use a little promotion, as well. If you’re a contributing author or a reader of the site (or simply a speculative fiction fan), I would be most appreciative if you could promote FoS on your blogs, websites, etc. Also, if someone has a little Photoshop mojo and time to spare, I wouldn’t say ‘no’ to banner and button graphics that people can put on their websites to link back to FoS. If anyone’s interesting in doing something like this, you can use my “Contact”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/contact/ page to let me know.
I really _would_ like to get “Flashes of Speculation”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs into a much more active status – more submissions coming in, more interaction from readers (both on the site itself and on the “discussion board”:http://open-dialogue.com/bbpress/forum/3 I’ve created for it), more of everything that will launch it more into the public eye. Unfortunately, though, marketing has never been a skill of mine, and I’m just plain out of ideas of things to do to advance its visibility.
So, here’s where I’d like some help and suggestions from my readers. What could I do to advertise FS a bit more broadly and make it more well-known? Where are places I could go and sites that might be interested in doing link exchanges? And are there any graphicly-minded folks out there who might be willing to donate a couple of banners and buttons that FS could put into circulation for folks to post on their sites? Any other ideas that I’m sure I missed?
In case folks missed it, “Flashes of Speculation”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs got another update yesterday. Four new stories got posted up, so go give ’em a read and leave some comments and feedback for the authors.
FS is always taking submissions, as well, so if anyone has any speculative fiction stories under 1000 words, feel free to send them my way. I haven’t done such a good job promoting FS lately, but I’d be curious to see if interest in the site – both from contributors and readers – can be revived.
A “entry on another blog”:http://serotoninrain.wordpress.com/2007/01/24/news-thats-only-a-day-old/ yesterday led me on a “merry trail”:http://mis_nomer.blogspot.com/2007/01/news-on-far-side.html to this “Newspaper Clipping Generator”:http://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp. That, in turn, served as the inspiration for a 387-word piece of flash fiction that I intend to use for the “100 Voices in the Night”:http://100voicesinthenight.com project. It’s kind of funny how it worked out because when the story was all written, I realized that it’s actually part of another story that’s been in my head for a couple of years now, just from a different perspective.
I still haven’t decided if the longer story is even going to get written. It’s a science fiction/horror piece, and some of the events that transpire make me a little nervous. It’s a nightmare descended on Earth, or at least one part of it, and as such is from the perspective of at least one person trapped inside it. The one I wrote yesterday is written in newspaper-style format, and details some of the events of those who were lucky enough to be outside the phenomenon.
I didn’t plan the relationship between these two stories – it just sort of happened. But it’s pretty cool that it worked out that way because it actually provides a little more focus and a few more details to the longer story that may never get written. Maybe I’ll write this little universe into existence – I don’t think there’s actually going to be that much to tell, but once I step into it, I may find it’s bigger than I first thought. We’ll just have to wait and see.
For any who haven’t checked it in a while, “Flashes of Speculation”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs _is_ still in business, and we’ve actually had a _small_ influx of new content recently. So please feel free to stop by – read, comment, subscribe, whatever suits your fancy. And if speculative fiction is your particular cuppa tea, check out the submissions page and send in a few stories.
Well, what was planned to be a productive writing day turned out to be not so much. My niece was born this morning, and so I had charge of my nephew for the day while his parents were at the hospital bringing his little sister into the world. My plans had been to put him down for a nap and then set to with the writing. But plans have a way of changing, and I spent a good part of the afternoon at the hospital, visiting with my brother and sister-in-law and meeting my niece. So, the best laid plans of this writer fell apart rather quickly. And I’m ok with that.
I’m going to make the most out of my weekend, though. I still have a minimum of five flash fiction pieces to write for the “100 Voices”:http://100voicesinthenight.com project, and I’ve been terribly remiss in that responsibility. I also need to update the promotional site for the project, something else I hope to accomplish this weekend. We’ll see how things go. I find it’s incredibly difficult to plot out time to write and then be able to keep that time. Real life always seems to get in the way.
Here’s to a more productive tomorrow.
It’s sad, really – “Flashing in the Gutters”:http://tribe.textdriven.com/flash has decided to close its doors. I can understand, though, why Tribe might not find it fun anymore. It requires quite a lot of work to maintain a flash fiction site, especially when you get a lot of submissions all at once. Plus promoting such a site and soliciting new contributors also takes a lot of time and effort. It was fun while it lasted, though.
Now, if I could just find a way to turn all those authors over to the speculative fiction genre.
I’ve been considering the idea of recording some of the flash fiction stories I’ve written and podcasting them – y’know, just a little something to further exercise my inner geek. It would require, of course, that I purchase a suitable microphone, but I already have the necessary software. ((Open source is a beautiful thing.))
Is this something anyone might be interested in?