Saturday, October 3, 2015

My story up at Flash Jab Fiction

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned two story challenges you might want to try. I ended up coming up with something for both of them. Today the second of these is up at Flash Jab Fiction,which is author Jack Bates blog. by sheer coincidence the two stories posted today are posted by Santa Cruzans. I haven't met Morgan Boyd, but glad he took up the gauntlet! Have a LOOK at "Enology (The Study of Wine)" and "Black and White and Red All Over".

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Answering a challenge

A Barman Considers the Past 

A sharp blast of air from the door made the night manager of the pub look up, and right away he recognized the spy, who came in from the cold night to this overheated room. Christ, they were all here tonight: Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy. It was like some kind of bloody children’s game, he thought. No, he corrected himself: No child’s game. Our game. The game we used to be in on.

The spy sat down at the bar and ordered a whiskey. He watched the others through the large mirror behind the bar, who watched him back in turn—the looking glass war, as the barkeep liked to call it. For it was a delicate truth, but they were not all absolute friends these days. The spy had been a traitor to them all once, though give him his due, the bartender thought, he had been our kind of traitor. He’d done the thing that any of them would have. He had not exactly been a perfect spy, though, and had ended up a most wanted man. The barman wondered what had finally brought him here, like some kind of secret pilgrim. Maybe he was seeking absolution.

Ah, what poor sods they all were when it came down to it, himself included. There had been a murder of quality since the old days, a real decline in standards.  These days everyone called him John the Square—behind his back, of course, but he knew anyway, because bartenders, like writers, do end up digging out everything. But these pups now hadn’t known him back in the day. Pity he’d never married, but then none of them had. No, they’d all remained single, hadn’t they, single & single again. There had been that girl, the little drummer girl, what was her name, Karla maybe, who had gone the rounds of a small town in Germany they’d all been stationed in at the time. Right, she sold time shares—it was all coming back to him. He remembered there was some place near the eastern border, the Russia House she’d called it, always trying to get people to buy in. He couldn’t remember, maybe some of them even had. They’d all fought over her, anyway: Tinker the naïve and sentimental lover, while our spy here had been a sort of chaste knight, acting in the guise of the honourable school boy he had probably even been once.  The bar manager himself had been  more the constant gardener type, tending the soil of their relationship and biding his time. But that hadn’t worked with her either. 

Tonight “the Tailor”, perhaps reacting to the presence of the spy at the bar, seemed to be on some sort of sad, nostalgic mission. Song burst from him, a warrior’s dirge, a lament. The barman wondered if it wasn’t some kind of call for the dead, a summoning. He shivered, half wondering if Smiley’s people would answer it, gone to Hades as they all by now surely had. The Tailor was drunk, but he really had been a tailor, a good one—it wasn’t just a code name. He had been the tailor of Panama once, if reputation was anything to go on. Of the nine tailors in town—but the night manager caught himself up short. 

The nine tailors. He shook his head ruefully as he wiped down the bar. Now that was another story altogether.  

                                                   by Seana Graham (with apologies to John le Carré)

This story was written for a challenge Brian Lindemuth conceived and posted over at Do Some Damage. The contest has been extended till 9/28/15, so you still have time to come up with an idea. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dear Lucky Agent Contest 2015

Sorry to post this at the last minute, but in order to enter a contest, I have to mention the Dear Lucky Agent contest in a couple of social media places. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, so lucky you, I'm mentioning it here. I am not intentionally doing it late in order to give you less of a chance, I'm doing it late because I'm a procrastinator. And didn't know today was the day. Not great excuses, but real ones.

Anyway. If you have a completed mystery, suspense or thriller novel, you can submit the first 150-250
words for a chance at a critique of your first ten pages, a subscription to Writer's Market for a year, and a book, How to Get a Literary Agent. And, you never know--the agent might like your book. It happens.

Get going because you only have till midnight Pacific Standard Time. And good luck. Here's the link.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Two flash fiction challenges you might want to try

Jack Bates over at Flash Jab Fiction has a challenge up right now to take a look at the photo he's posted and then come with a story of 750 words or less. Read all about it HERE. But hurry because you've only got till the end of the month to do so. 

And word came out from Do Some Damage that Brian Lindenmuth is hosting a challenge there. The basic idea is that you write a story using as many book titles as you can in a thousand word or less piece. Details HERE. This one only runs till 9/21, so get going!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The New York Times on the connection of fiction and crossword puzzles

I really liked this Opinionator piece by Ben Dolnick on the connection he sees between solving crossword puzzles and writing fiction. I hadn't thought about it before, but as I had been just thinking about the "puzzling" aspect of short story writing yesterday, I found this very apt.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Sixfold publishes under an interesting premise. You send in  a story with a minimal fee. Then you're sent back stories in rounds which you critique and rate and by this method, better or best stories rise to the top. I was game a round or two ago, but not under the illusion that the story I sent in was great or would win. I just wanted some feedback.

My story came out somewhere in the middle of the range. Some people liked it, some people did not. I thought that was pretty fair. My yardstick was based on another story altogether. Here's the link to that one:

Yeah, you have to scroll down to near the end of the list and look for the entry Marian Chase. The author has chosen to be anonymous, but luckily their story is still available. Do me a favor, make an extra effort and go read it.

And after you do, go enter the Sixfold contest. Find out all about it HERE.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

And the winner is...

I'm re-posting this from Confessions of Ignorance, as it actually is more appropriate here.

I was talking to a friend last night and the conversation suddenly led me to remember that the winning M.O. story was up at Criminal Element and I said I would post a  link here. So I got over there and read it this morning and liked it. It's a very different sort of story than the one I wrote, and, I suspect, than the other candidates. Here, forthwith, is "The Cocoon", by Louis Racovich. Congratulations, Louis.

I assume it's purely coincidence, but I got something of a consolation prize from Criminal Element the other day, in that I won a copy of Charlie Martz and Other Stories, which is a collection of the unpublished short stories of Elmore Leonard. When you consider that the entire television series of Justified came out of one Elmore Leonard story, you may agree that a Leonard story is no slight thing. So I'm looking forward to the book's arrival.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Flash Flood Fiction--some links

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm taking part in Flash Flood Fiction Day which is now live. Every ten minutes or so a new story pops up. I've been dabbling mainly at random and have been enjoying the stories very much. But in case you don't feel like wading through the so far 128 stories, here are couple I've run across which knocked my socks off:

"Grizzly" by Angela Readman

"The Devil's Blessing" by Johnny Heriz-Smith

A funny one:

"Two Clones Walk Into a Pub" by Lance Cross

Or of course you could always read mine:

"The Rival" by Seana Graham

Or just head on over and choose something at random. There's pretty much every kind of story there, they're short, and it's fun.

No, really--DON'T try this at home.

Friday, June 26, 2015

M.O. "Wishful Thinking" results and Flash Flood Fiction Day

(Reposted from Confessions of Ignorance)

Sorry to be straying so far off track here these days, but I thought I'd mention a couple of things that I actually know something about. The first is that the results of the M.O. Wishful Thinking contest have come in, and though I didn't win I still enjoyed the process and am glad I took part. I'll post a link to the winning story here I think on the 10th, but if I get sidetracked you can always check in over there.

Meanwhile, though, a friend happened to mention the Flash Flood Fiction Day coming up on Saturday (tomorrow) at Flash Flood Journal, and I somehow managed to write something up quick and get it in in time to be published there. They tell me it ought to be up at about 2 PM British Summer Time (BST) or 6AM California time, as near as I can reckon. So look for "The Rival", or just check out the website and see what everyone's come up with. I know that's what I'll be doing. The maximum word count is 500 words, so these will be short pieces for your delectation.

Kids, don't try this at home.

Friday, June 12, 2015

made the M.O. shortlist

I have a story that's made the short list over at The M.O. , which is the contest section of Criminal Element. I was pretty excited about just getting to be a contender, as I'd tried once before and didn't get that close. I sent in the bio and photo for the Rogues Gallery yesterday, but hadn't heard that the shortlist story beginnings had gone up on the website. So the first news I had of it was when someone I don't know found my email, presumably through my blog, and took the trouble to tell me that someone else was doing a good job of promoting their story, and then went on to tell me that I didn't stand a chance of winning.

Well, I never thought I had a great chance of winning. But if the whole contest is really about how large a pool of people you draw in to vote for you through social media, then what's the point of winning? It doesn't mean anything about your story, it just means that you're a good marketer.

So my request to you is to head on over to read the opening paragraphs of the stories in the contest and do what the contest asks of you: vote for the story that you most want to read the rest of. Seriously, it doesn't have to be mine. After all, I  won't be voting for it. I already know the ending.

Oh, and here is the winning story from the last round: "Fix Me" by S.W. Lauden. However it rose to the top, it's a pretty great story.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chance of Showers

“In the Event of Rain”, the sign on the locked iron gate read, "All Ceremonies Will be Postponed." Ann looked first at her rain soaked wedding gown and then at her waterlogged bridegroom, wondering if she'd ever meant to marry at all. "We can still get a refund," she said.

"Let's elope instead," Joe said.

Ann smiled, remembering what it was about him.