A Guest Post by S.R. Mallery

I’m treading new ground today and asking a friend to stand in for me and write a guest post. Sarah Mallery is a successful novelist who has other strings to her bow I’m sure she’d like to share, including the advent of a new book.

No more from me. Take it away Sarah.

Flash Fiction & The Joy of Counting Words

After I had written my short story collection, Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, I happened on an article for writers that mentioned how by writing flash fiction, it is easier to get your work into a magazine. Longer stories take up more space and create more competition, they claimed. Space equals money. And competition. Now, what is this kind of fiction? I wondered. Well, according to Wikipedia, this is the definition:

Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity.[1] There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.”

I decided to give it a try. Actually, it was much like when I first learned to quilt and knew I was never going to tackle a full quilt right off the bat. I would sew pillow top after pillow top late into the night, sitting on the couch while the rest of my family were well off into Dreamland. So, when I first tried my hand at this thing called ‘Flash Fiction,’ I enjoyed the same kind of creative brevity, but what I couldn’t foresee was how addicting it would be for me! I found myself using all kinds of writer’s prompts to get ideas, once again percolating and composing during the wee hours while my family slept. (Some things never change).

I found several books to be amazingly inspirational for me—(SEE BELOW). They were chock full of quotes, author’s bios, little suggestions, and most importantly for me, being the visual gal that I am, lots of photographs. Soon, little sticky notes were being placed onto many of the pages as my mind exploded with new possibilities.

For example, one of my stories in Tales To Count On, “Traffic Jam,” was based on a long-shot photograph of just that; another one about PTSD fallout was based on a little suggestion to ‘try writing sentences with each opening word in alphabetical order’. From that I began a flash piece with the B word: “Bottoms up!” Eddie chuckled, watching Susan, the girl of his dreams, go skinny-dipping in the glassy night lake…” I took it from there.

Lo and behold, when I sent out my first flash fiction story, “Good Advice,” to a small literary magazine, I was flabbergasted to receive an acceptance within a little over a week. Wow, I thought, maybe there is something to this idea of how writing small can reap large rewards in the magazine world.

As I kept writing and sending out, writing and sending out, I did get some rejections, of course, but I managed to get eight of them published in 2008. Oh, maybe not to the likes of The New Yorker, but it was enough – I was encouraged.

Recently, I decided to put some of my flash fiction into a new collection, but unlike my Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, which had the connection of sewing or crafting, just how could I link these very eclectic stories? Then it hit me. Since the ‘word count’ is so important for writers, why not link them that way? Each story title would have the word count under it and it would go by ascending order of numbers. And…and… I could include a few of my stories that were lengthier, as long as I put the word count under their titles! Eureka!

Thus, the connecting thread of Tales to Count On was born: http://amzn.to/1x8QqyD


Synopsis: Curl up and enter the eclectic world of S. R. Mallery, where sad meets bizarre and deception meets humor; where history meets revenge and magic meets gothic. Whether it’s 500 words or 5,000, these TALES TO COUNT ON, which include a battered women’s shelter, childhood memories, Venetian love, magic photographs, PTSD fallout, sisters’ tricks, WWII spies, the French Revolution, evil vaudevillians, and celebrity woes, will remind you that in the end, nothing is ever what it seems.

Here’s what they are saying about it:

Brilliant… I stand in awe of S.R. Mallery’s ability to cobble something riveting out of so few words. I can’t recommend this book enough!” ––Dianne Harman, The Coyote Series, The Cedar Bay Cozy Murder Mystery Series

“S. R. Mallery takes you on a truly unique, visual journey through time and place, with her imaginative tales and unusual endings, stirring up the reader’s curiosity and compassion.”

––Lasher Lane, Deadlight

Poetic, startling, S. R. Mallery’s TALES TO COUNT ON will stun you into silence by the outcome of these inventive stories and their elegant endings with a twist.”

––D.K. Cassidy, Spilt Milk, Curious Reality

Here are my inspirational books:

1) The Writer’s Block, by Jason Rekulak :


2) The Pocket Muse series, by Monica Woods:


My Information:

Website/Blog: www.srmallery.com

Twitter: @SarahMallery1





Pinterest: (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)


My Author’s Page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Thanks Sarah. It’s been a delight to have you here.

For anyone who’d like to see it, here’s the link to an interview I did with Sarah a while ago now, which includes her picture.



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59 responses to “A Guest Post by S.R. Mallery

  1. Owen

    Hi Sarah, and David,
    That was very inspirational, thanks. I have been writing short stories for years, but doing nothing with them, except putting them in a folder for a ‘book of short stories one day’. I haven’t looked at it for six months, but you have re-awoken my interest.
    Thanks again,

  2. Great encouragement. Thank you!

  3. Enjoy your “day off” David. It’s nice to meet Sarah. Hugs to you both.

  4. Really interesting piece. I’ve reblogged this on Musings On Life & Experience. 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Really interesting piece.

  6. Brilliant way to link the stories and so nice to meet Sarah!! Thanks David for the introduction.

  7. This is a lovely introduction to Sarah Mallery, David. Nice to meet you, Sarah. It’s heartwarming to hear flash fiction is becoming more popular. ❤

  8. I know Sarah and loved her ‘Sewing Can Be Dangerous’ collection. It’s a wonderful. So I’m taking note of this one. Thanks David!

  9. David, have a wonderful day off! Enjoyed learning about flash fiction from Sarah. Never tried that. For years I wrote poetry, and now into novels. I can understand working in brevity. Finding the right words and the best metaphor for a poem. It’s a mind rush! Christine

  10. Terrific post. I am in awe of individuals who can operate “under the gun.” As a sportswriter for a large newspaper, back in the early 70s, I was exposed to that kind of pressure on a daily basis. Believe me, it’s tough to do.

  11. Silver Threading

    I just met Sarah on Twitter this weekend! I was so excited to find a new friend and author. How fabulous to find her here David! Thank you! ❤

  12. Interesting and inspirational! The collection sounds intriguing.

  13. Am intrigued by the idea of ‘magic photographs’. I love an interesting concept that triggers all sorts of possibilities with just a few words.

    • The idea for magic photographs came after a friend of mine showed me her family’s album. Her grandfather had been a professional photographer and the oval shaped pictures of her ancestors were delightful. By the time I got home, I had worked out a vague outline…

  14. Wonderful. I love the backstories of writers and their work 🙂

  15. Another great introduction and details, David. You have a knack of giving us reviews and recommendations!

  16. Thank you, everyone, for leaving such nice comments!

  17. Wonderful inspiration here! Thank you David for providing this platform for Sarah and for us to learn more 🙂

  18. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    As I enjoy my leisurely browse of my favourite blogs today I have found some interesting gems for you.. Earlier in the week David Prosser hosted S. R. Mallery who talks about Flash Fiction.. Whilst I might be tempted to put a match to some of my efforts, this is far more creative.

  19. I love the flash fiction genre and admire folks who have the talent to tell a complete and absorbing tale within a short space. It displays the great skills of knowing what is the heart of any story and requires a deft hand to make it shine. Your tales, Sarah, sound wonderfully inviting. Congratulations on having two bound works under your belt. A true feat in and of itself.
    David, a brilliant choice for this week’s post. Many thanks for highlighting somebody else’s worthy words.
    Cheers to you both!

  20. Great choice for a guest post. I’ve read Sarah’s book and it is excellent. Happy Sunday!

  21. Kev

    Sounds intriguing, Nicely done. 🙂

  22. Who would tell a Chagall that he can only paint oils? Not sketches or woodcuts or watercolors? Or a Mozart that he can only compose string quartets? All of these forms – flash, poetry, short stories,nand exercises down the line for those who have gotten single-tracked. (Some of these ideas sound like the kind of creative things that we used to do while taking family car trips. Now everybody just watches the screen….)

    • I agree, Jane. When my kids were small and we took plane trips, I would play this game with them–I would draw huge squiggle lines across a paper and they each had to add to it, creating anything from monsters to plants to cartoon characters. It was great fun for them and they were actually entertained for long periods of time….what a concept! Fun and no electronics!

  23. I love flash fiction, though I find the shorter pieces easier than the 1000 word ones. So very short, or 1500 – 4500 words – or full length novels. That in between – just can’t do it 🙂

  24. Sarah, you may have inspired me to write a short story….I’ve written 2 in 30+ years as my usual short story is about 90,000 words so I’ll have to figure it out 🙂 Thank you!

    • Book agents often assume that most people don’t want to read short stories, but I don’t know if that’s really true…not everyone has a chance to sit down and read a deep, involved book these days. Anyway, to me, writing shorts forces one to think smaller, tighter, you know? See it as a writing exercise! 90,000 words, eh?

  25. I love short stories and look forward to reading this collection. OH, and I’ll be checking out your History boards on Pinterest, Sarah. 🙂

  26. Ok, Dale! Thanks! I LOVE going through old photographs….so interesting…you never know what you’re going to come across and what facet of history you discover!

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