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. 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:
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.