Adventures in creating “Flash Fiction”

A regional publisher (Engen Books) along with a local photographer (Kit Sora Photography) have offered a series of  contests entitled; “Flash Fiction Photography Contest”, and I tried my hand at it.

Flash Fiction is something I haven’t tried before, so a little homework was in order. As best as I could tell, anything between six (6) words and 1000 words is “Flash Fiction”, though there seems to be several sub-categories within that limit.

The rules seemed simple enough, write a piece of fiction inspired by the supplied photo in 250 words or less, seemed simple enough right? I should have known…

Draft 1: 458 words

  • I could tell right off that I was way over the limit, but I wrote it to the end. I felt finishing a complete story would give me a firm idea of what was important to the tale and what was unnecessary.

Draft 2: 336 words

  • My first major cutting was easy enough, I tend to “babble-write” so with some simple editing and liberal use of the red pen, I felt good about where it was going.

Draft 3: 269 words

  • This was by far the hardest draft for me to work on. I scrutinized each word to see if there was a way to convey meaning with fewer words, losing none of the impact. I also found that I swapped words (one for one) often in this edit, to find the “perfect” word.

Draft 4: 247 words

  • Three words under the limit, Hooray!!! I’m done right? Well, I thought so. Somewhat pleased with myself, I reached out to a writer friend (thanks Jenn) and asked her opinion. She suggested I cut the first 25% of my story, and to use those “extra” words to expand upon the ending.

Draft 5: 247 words

  • After cutting out the first quarter of my story and expanding upon the ending, I’m feeling good about my first piece of flash fiction. I will sit on it for a day or two, then give it a final “polish” before sending it off to the publisher.

This has been quite the experiment for me, one which took little time to do, but had big payoffs in skills learned. A worthy exercise for authors of all skill and ability, try it!

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Returning Rocker: Peter J. Foote announced as returning for ‘Chillers from the Rock’!

My latest published story has just been announced.

Engen Books

Fantasy from the Rock, coverEngen Books is proud to announce the triumphant return of author Peter J. Foote to this year’s From the Rock collection, Chillers from the Rock.

Foote is the first of our announced authors to have performed a ‘hat trick,’ with his submissions gaining entry into each of the three modern From the Rock volumes. His story ‘The Silence Between Moons’ appeared in 2016’s Sci-Fi from the Rock and ‘A Troll by Any Other Name…’ in 2017’s Fantasy from the Rock. Foote has proven himself to be a renaissance man of genre fiction, capable of rising to the occasion of any challenge thrown his way. As competition over placement in the From the Rock series has improved, so has Foote steadily grown in his authorial abilities. His newest story in titled ‘A Friend in Shadow.’

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My year in review

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Since I call myself a “hobby” author, my world was filled with things other than writing, but I was able to be productive.

In January I created a Facebook group “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”, as a supportive place for genre writers of ANY skill or ability to ask questions, seek feedback, network, and have a friendly place to just connect. We have people that have never been published to USA Today Bestselling Authors and everything in between, go #GWOAC !

In April I was published for the second time with Engen Books in their “Fantasy from the Rock” anthology. They were good enough to include my short story; “A Troll by any other name…” into their collection, along with over a dozen talented regional authors. Many thanks Engen!

My summer was pretty slack in the writing department due to my fiance and I buying a new house and moving, though I was able to set up a tiny writers nook in our den downstairs.

In November I took the plunge and signed myself up for NaNoWriMo. I had no idea if I had a 50K novel in me, or if I could churn one out in 30 days, but with a lot of hard work, an outline, and the support of my friends in “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”, I was able to do it.

So, what does 2018 have in store for my writing?

The big thing that NaNoWriMo taught me was that I work best with a near future deadline, so I’ve decided to set myself monthly writing goals. These not be huge achievements, but rather small measurable steps, building upon a solid foundation. For January   1. Make a start editing my NaNoWriMo novel.
2. Get a draft done of a new short story, not sure which one to focus on though at the moment. I find I have a lot of ideas, but struggle to expand upon them.
3. Hunt for and submit my two previously published short stories to reprint markets.

New Release: The Coldest December by Diane Tibert | What to Read

With the 100th anniversary of this event just a few short weeks ago, this book is timely and sure to be a great read.

The Book Closet

An amazing new release by Quarter Castle Publishing, an absolute steal on eBook right now for $2.99. Check it out here.

The Halifax Explosion was the result of the SS Imo, a Norwegian vessel, colliding with the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship, in the Narrows of the Halifax Harbour on the morning of Thursday December 6, 1917, eleven months before the end of the First World War. The Mont-Blanc was carrying highly explosive picric acid, benzol, TNT and gun cotton.

The exact number of dead and injured people in Dartmouth and Halifax is unknown. The cities bustled with wartime activity, and many people passed through, heading to one destination or another. It is impossible to know if all bodies were recovered or counted. In one interview from 1957, a man who helped make grave markers said more than 3,000 were needed.

The confirmed deaths were 1,950…

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NaNoWriMo 2017

For the first time ever I decided to take the plunge and signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with no idea how I would do. Up to this point I had a hard time finishing a short story in a year, how would I fare with a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days?

I won!

It took until 6:37 pm on Nov 30th for me to do it, but I was able to complete a “zero draft” for a science fiction novel in those thirty days. I say zero draft because it needs a lot of work to be even a true first draft, but all the elements of the story are there and I’m please how it turned out.

Now that I’ve had a couple days to process the experience, there are some things that I would like to share:

  1. I couldn’t have done it without an outline. I went in with 37 pages of scribbled notes that were mostly vague plot elements, backstory,  and snippets of dialogue that I thought sounded good.
  2. I lost 3 days of writing in my first week. As things stand now, my fiance and I live 5.5 hours apart and once a month I travel to be with her until she can move down here. As such, I try very hard to make what little time we have together as meaningful as possible and decided to forgo my writing to spend time with her. Being 4000+ words behind at the end of week one was a big hole to climb out of.
  3. Being part of a writing group was my anchor. My NaNoWriMo region didn’t have a ML (municipal liaison) and none of the efforts to have a write-in worked out, so my online writing group was my support system. Thank you “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”!!!
  4. I “ran out” of story around 35,000 words and almost freaked. I hit the end of the main plot, and my outline, around the 35K mark and froze. I thought for sure it was going to be more in the 60-80K range when I started out and doubt smacked me in the face, maybe I DIDN’T have a novel in me. It was some advice from members of my writing group that convinced me that while I might have finished the main story, there are other things to do. Did all my characters have completed arc’s? Were my minor characters anything more than stand in’s or basic plot devices, or did they have their own wants/needs? These questions gave me enough material hit my goal and make it a better story imho.
  5. I suck at verbally explaining my story…  Either good or bad, few people in my world really seemed interested that I was attempting NaNoWriMo, and the one time someone asked what my novel was about during the month, I stumbled my way through a disjointed layout that probably would have made more sense if I had been drunk. This is something that I hadn’t thought of before, and that I do need to spend some time considering.

In closing, like most people I had some high’s and low’s during the month and while I went in with the attitude that ANY new words would make it a success for me, I really wanted to “win”, to prove to myself that I could do it. Will I do it again? You bet!!!