Here’s another sci-fi tale that packs a lot of story in a small space. It tells how a moon got its first homesteaders and how society grew. It’s also about a mother teaching her son about death. All in 1,462 words. Published by the speculative fiction magazine All Worlds Wayfarer.
This is a story of two parks in Portland, Oregon. The physical description is that of Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano within walking distance of my house. There is a statue in this park, erected in 1933. The name of the other park escapes me. At the time I was writing this story, local news was reporting about a change to the name of this second park; its previous designation celebrated a person whose past was tainted by racism. Oregon has a history—to be polite—of not being particularly welcoming to minorities. The renaming of this park was an effort to atone.
As I said, there is a statue at the top of Mt. Tabor Park, of a newspaperman pointing west. He is alone. In the story the statue is of a man and a boy. I invented Statue Boy to add an element of surrealism and to have another character to interact with the protagonist. Fleas on the Dog published my story as a PDF download.
This story was prompted by my own neglect and/or stupidity. On my first night vacationing in Scotland, I looked the wrong direction (the right way in America), saw no cars and stepped into the street. Nothing happened, but when I looked the other way, a big double decker was halfway up the block. I stepped back before the driver could honk his horn.
The “what if” became the H__NGS, published in Potato Soup Journal.
This month marks the 5th anniversary of two published stories. Deep Pools of Tepid Remorse was my first ever published story. It tells the tale of a muralist and a journalist and how street art brought them together. g.lentz follows an eccentric-looking woman and a man who she fascinates. Both stories were great motivators as each was accepted for publication after only a couple submissions. They also showed me that while writing is a solo effort, revisions need the feedback of other writers. I had recently joined a writers group and members’ feedback had helped make these stories much better.
After Dinner Conversation is a unique magazine. Not only do they publish excellent short stories, acceptance is predicated on the premise that what you read is worthy of discussion. “The One That Damned Me” is about a man wrongly accused of a crime. The editors then follow up with philosophical or ethical questions for further conversation. All six stories in the July issue are well written as are topics posed afterwards. There are also free downloads for this issue (pdf, ePub, mobi), but I urge you to buy a subscription. It’s well worth it.
In January, 2020, A Story in 100 Words published my Drabble. (That’s a story of exactly one hundred words, folks.) It can be quite challenging to craft a beginning, middle and end into extremely short prose. At the time, I was struggling mightily with another microfiction piece and my frustration inspired me to write this:
by DL Shirey
The crumpled notebook paper can’t be hurt, no matter how hard it’s thrown. An anemic crackle sounds at impact, a lazy, pointless attempt to uncurl is its sole achievement. The lopsided wad sits atop the unburning end of a Duraflame log. Mercifully, black char ashes the paper’s edge, further loosening the ball until gravity pulls it down to hearth. Still misshapened, I see blue ink, evidence of the second worst opening line in the history of writing. The winner is in my fist, ready to toss to the flames. It’s the only way to bring fire to my words today.
If a bright spot can be found in these days of pandemic and seclusion, it’s that many more new journals have come to our attention. Since March, The Short List has featured 112 new inclusions, places where writers of short prose can submit their stuff. If you’re anything like us, these past few months have been a boon to writing. Now, it’s time to start submitting.
Keep checking back for opportunities to publish your short stories and flash fiction. And if you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter for notifications about new journals.
Six words published by Briefly Write.
Of the dozen stories published in 2019, this may have been my favorite. Atmospheric and eerie, it tells quite a complex tale in about three-thousand words. First published by Eternal Haunted Summer in their Winter Solstice issue.
by DL Shirey
Veta barked. As dog breeds went, the bone-thin hound would have been hard to identify. Jorge claimed she was purebred, but as underfed, filthy and beat up as she was, Veta looked more like a stray gone wild.
The dog trotted on the sand and gravel in the shade of a four-foot barranca. The edge of the streambed seemed to defy gravity, standing firm against the wind from the Chihuahuan Desert, each gust kicking off bits from the brittle layers of sediment. Sprouts of sour grass clung magically to the walls, out of the direct rays of the harsh, low sun.
This piece was bare-bones from its inception. It started as a 50-word story for blink-ink as a submission to their “Ghost Bus” issue. Although they published a few of my micro fictions previously, this one was rejected. So, I took a hard look at a revision, added a whopping 14 more words and voila. The good folks at dreams walking published it in issue #2.