Reflections on a decade-long journey to getting a flash fiction story published.

A revised and updated version of this post was published in The Ascent. Please read it there (especially if you are a paying member of Medium) because I get paid a little when my piece is read and clapped for. Thank you. 

Raw Art Review Publishes "Expire"

Read Expire for free in Raw Art Review’s Spring 2019 Collection or buy a hard copy on the publisher’s website.

This story took a long time to place. I don’t think it took so long because it was poorly written. In fact, I’ve had some compliments on it over the years. The editor at 34thParallel (one of the first magazines I ever submitted to) had this to say about it:

Dear R.E.
Let me say I’m impressed by your story; dialect in any form is difficult–damn difficult–for a whole lot of reasons of which I’m sure you’re aware. So I’ll repeat, I’m impressed–damn impressed (if you’ll excuse my language).

Only this April, the editor over at Barren Magazine had this to say about the two dialogue flash fiction stories I had submitted for consideration:

Thank you for sending “Expire” and “Attributes of a Girl” for our review. I really loved the experimentation but (especially “Expire“) we literally couldn’t tell what was happening. I know these responses are annoying but hope it helps a little!

Tahoma Literary Review also found the piece hard to understand. While they apparently made their way through the dialect, they ultimately decided that it didn’t work:

[I]n “Expire,” I found myself working really hard to parse the patois/dialect.

In other words, the form/gimmick outstripped the narrative.

I don’t blame any of these publications for rejecting Expire. It is a short piece and it is purposefully difficult. In fact, that’s the whole point. The form/gimmick is another layer of the theme. In fact, the way the story is presented makes the reading experience mirror the central issue of the story.

If you do figure out what is going on then you realize that the story is about how difficult it is to get a point across when trying to tell a story. The piece is constructed in a way to make it difficult to read. While the narrative revolves around a guy who doesn’t understand a specific word in a story being told about the Titanic, the form of the story itself challenges you, the reader, to understand the story on the page. Expire is printed as a block of text, using only dialogue without any dialogue tags, and one of the speakers in the story uses a black American vernacular. It’s not easy to read.

Expire is hard, and it’s meant to be hard. So I’m not surprised that I’ve received both positive feedback and criticism. Yes, I’m a little surprised it took me a whole decade with at least 33 submission attempts to get Expire published, but published it is at long last by Raw Art Review.

One of the differences with Raw Art Review is their commitment to trying to get a work. And that’s why I think they published this story where others didn’t. Bullet ten of their current submissions guidelines says this:

“Editors assume you are smarter than we are. We will strive to understand your intention ; stay open-minded and try to avoid imposing our presumptions on your work.”

Trace Sheridan, the editor with 34thParallel who was “damn impressed” with the use of dialect in the story, asked to see some more pieces alongside it. She ended up publishing the story Bad Weather instead of Expire. I don’t know exactly why she or her team didn’t publish it, although I think they would have had I had more stories like it—dialogical and dialectical—since she asked to see some more pieces while also asking, “Is this part of a larger set/collection of pieces?” And, at the time, no, it wasn’t a part of anything larger than itself.

Expire did eventually inspire me to spend a year writing dialogues. It was a good year. And I came out of that year with a good collection. Truly, I owe a whole book to Expire that I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Expire not only set the tone and implicit theme of the entire collection, but as a story that took a decade to get published, it reminds me that storytelling is a difficult art, even when you accomplish perfectly what you intended to do, like I did with Expire. It is one of my best pieces. And like many great pieces of storytelling, it says something that not everyone can hear and not everyone will like, but it says what it has to say boldly from the first word to the last little piece of punctuation.

Rusting Sunken Ship

 

 

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BIG – New Publication

BIG - New Publication

My thirteenth dialogue to be released is BIG. Okay, it’s actually a rather short story, but it’s subject is big and is fittingly appearing in the Gypsum Sound Tales anthology COLP: Big. All the stories in this collection are themed big: Big is home to a collection of stories that feature large, enormous or gigantic characters and concepts and, in this situation, it is most definitely a case of bigger is better.

My story is called The WaveIf you’re so inclined to read some short stories about big things, you can purchase a paper copy or you’re free to grab a Kindle copy on Amazon.

COLP: Big

 

How To Piss On Your Therapist

How to Piss On Your Therapist

 

Public House Magazine has republished a story of mine, this time it’s available to read online for free. The original story appeared as Pissing Therapy in their print magazine, themed and designed as a tabloid. The reprint is now titled How To Piss On Your Therapist, cataloged online under their “How To” section.

Click here to read the story.

Art by Agni Dasein, Austria. Via Saatchiart

Art by Agni Dasein, Austria. Via Saatchiart

 

Defenestration (weird humor)

Defenestration (weird humor)

Another one of my dialogues is out this month. @ChefNipsNips has appeared in the humor magazine Defenestration. It’s free to read online. This piece is a throwback to my earlier days of bizarro fiction + some saucy satire of YouTube baking shows. Check it out if you want a laugh while you learn how to make murumples!

@ChefNipsNips

Flash Fiction Addiction

Flash Fiction Addiction

I’m pleased to announce to that my short story in dialogue, A Lover’s Dwelling, has been published in Flash Fiction Addiction: 101 Short Short Stories. It’s available as an ebook and in paperback. If you love flash fiction, this collection from Zombie Pirate Publishing is going to be one you’ll want to add to your shelves.

Find it on Amazon in

Paperback or Kindle

Flash Fiction Addiction cover

13 Days of Dark Lore

13 Days of Dark Lore

Thanks to Midnight Mosaic for publishing my dialog-only story Demon Zone for their 13 Days of Dark Lore contest. I’m so happy to see one of my darkest and experimental writings find a home online. Midnight Mosaic publishes on Medium, so click this link to go give it a read.

Three DemonsAlchetron © 2019

Some of you might remember this story when I listed it as complete for my 2018 weekly writing challenge. It’s one of my dialogue-only stories, though it’s less of a conversation than a cramped room where three voices are vying for authority. Whether you think this is a story or poem in dialogue, I hope you find it an enjoyable, albeit disturbing, read.

New Publication – “Therapy” in Public House Magazine

Public House Magazine "Therapy" by Randal Eldon Greene

 

Thanks so much to Public House Magazine for publishing “Therapy” in Issue number 9 of their amazingly transgressive print publication. This is a super special issue because the magazine turns into a full 2019 calendar. Yep, read it, fill in the crossword puzzles, and then hang it up as useful wall art.

“Therapy” is a piece of fiction from my dialogue-only collection, Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. Public House has published it under the title “Pissing Therapy.”

It’s pretty cheap, so order yourself a copy if you dare!
Public House Magazine - Issue #9

The Serial Killer Epidemic: Interview Transcripts

The Serial Killer Epidemic: Interview Transcripts

The Serial Killer Epidemic: Interview Transcripts is my FINAL DIALOGUE for the series. This means that I’ve written my whole short story collection! Yesterday’s post was actually my 52nd dialogue . . . I just didn’t realize my count was off. So this 53rd dialogue is the last piece I’m adding to my 2018 writing challenge. Now that doesn’t mean as I’m finalizing my short story collection that I won’t write another dialogue or two (or dredge up some old piece of writing and convert it into a dialogue). I do have dialogue ideas I just never got around to writing.

Out of all the stories I’ve written over the years, The Serial Killer Epidemic: Interview Transcripts is one of my favorites. Like Expire and The Defining Attribute of a Girl, I actually wrote this piece years and years ago. In fact, I wrote this story even before marijuana was legalized anywhere in America. I guess I felt it coming, since legalized marijuana features so prominently, though my fictional trajectory toward legalization is rather different than it is historically happening.

America Marijuana flag

It surprises me really that this story hasn’t been picked up anywhere yet. Maybe it’s too sci-fi for most literary publishers? Possibly it’s too experimentally literary for most hard sci-fi publishers? Or maybe it has a flaw that 25 drafts hasn’t smoothed out (if there is a flaw, I’m not seeing it)? But I’ll keep sending it out because I really want this dialogue, this short story to appear in print somewhere. And I’m pretty much set on only publishing it in a paying market, which is likely the real reason it hasn’t yet found a home, since places that actually pay writers for the work they do are extremely competitive.

Serial Killer child
image credit: © Ostill www.fotosearch.com

 

The Serial Killer Epidemic: Interview Transcripts is a story in Q&A format. The interviewer, is trying to get to the bottom of a wave of child serial killers. Drugs to video games are blamed. But the truth may be more complex and conspiratorial or—worse—simple and endemic to the nature of modern society. This is just an interview; you’ll have to decide for yourself is the answer lies in between or outside these questions and answers.


FINAL THOUGHTS: I just want to thank everybody who has given so much as one like to any of my posts about this 2018 writing challenge. I’ll be working hard to polish up my 52+ dialogues so I can get some more of them published here and also have a book ready to send out to publishers or agents at the end of 2019.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear of my dialogues, but it is the last official post of my writing challenge. So thank you again for reading, liking, subscribing, and commenting. It’s been an awesome writing journey.

Dialogue_Series_Headline

Ho Ho Ho, Mother-Fucker

Ho Ho Ho, Mother-Fucker

Dialogue #50 for my year-long writing challenge is Ho Ho Ho, Mother-Fucker. When two friends run into an evil Santa, hell-bent on mayhem and murder, they cut him down to size with a critique of the transgression Santa Claus trope.


This was a fun one to write. Here’s some entertaining resources and inspirations for this dialogue:

Evil Santa Claus pictures on The Church of Halloween’s website.

When trying to figure out whether to hyphenate mother+fucker or not,  I found this cool little article on Language Log.

Lastly, a short Loose Canon episode from Lindsay Ellis on the history of Santa Claus.


As I was writing this blog (on Christmas Eve here) I got an interesting phone call, which I made a post about on Facebook and captured an image of it for you.

Christmas Miracle 2018


Don’t forget to check out some of my Christmas stories before you go!

 

Happy Holidays, Bookworms
Evil Santa