Here’s a fun way to practice the Wordle skills needed to make that all-important sixth and final guess. Use these five words to start: TWANG SQUIB FROCK VEXED LYMPH
24 different letters make up these words. One additional vowel has been inserted to ensure that these words exist on the Wordle list. The letters left out, J and Z, are least used in American English. According to Cornell University, J had a 0.10 usage frequency in a sample of 40,000 words. Z bottomed out at 0.07.
My latest flash fiction piece is out. In print, on paper no less. No. 17 is about a man’s search for something in an Iowa cornfield. Strangely enough, it was a UK publisher that picked it up. When I received my contributor’s copy of Hungry Ghost Magazine, I was blown away by the production value. Not only were the stories top notch, but the graphics were astounding. Do yourself a favor and buy Issue Two. So worth the money and the support you give a small publisher doing quality work.
I once attended a wedding that had a ring warming ceremony as part of the service. This was new to me. The wedding bands were circulated among those attending and the guests were supposed to say a little prayer or extend good thoughts for the lucky couple. Ultimately, the rings made it up to the altar, warmed by all the happy wishes. In my version of the ceremony, this didn’t go smoothly. Published in December 2020 by 96th of October.
by DL Shirey
The groom’s mother fawned over her 25-year-old son. Rita McKay was dressed in a pale pink skirt suit, looking like Jackie Kennedy without the pillbox hat. She set down her enormous, matching purse and stood in the spot reserved for the best man. Rita straightened and restraightened her boy’s boutonnière and licked her fingers to paste down his stray poke of cowlick. She even gave his rump a pat before taking a pew, slinging the rose-trimmed leather satchel to the seat beside her.
Rita McKay approved of Miriam, for the most part. The bride-to-be was a few years older than her son, neat, attractive and always attentive to Lawrence. Miriam was slim and tall and fit nicely into Rita’s old wedding dress. The only tailoring needed was to let out the bust.
Thanks to everyone who visited this site in 2021, but a special tip of the hat must go to the pandemic. More people hunkered down and turned to writing, which translated to a 25% increase in visitors this year. More writing is always good.
You came from far and wide, according to the WordPress statistics. The top five countries viewing the blog were: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India and, for reasons which escape me, Palestinian Territories. Australia was a close sixth.
Speaking of sixth, 2021 wraps up year number six for this website. The content is still free, with no paywalls, subscriptions or tip jars. Everything is done for the love of writing, and referrals come from those who appreciate it. Other than Facebook, Twitter and WordPress Reader, the top five referrers were Samjoko Magazine, Sandra Seamans, Christopher Fielden, 805 Lit and Reddit PubTips. Many, many others contributed to the increased amount of views this year. Thank you.
My writer’s ego wanted to believe everyone came to read about the stories I got published, but most traffic came primarily to view The Short List, which now features nearly 1,800 entries. There were 258 additions to the list this year, an average of 21 new publications per month.
For all the publications added to The Short List, many also fall off. A record is kept of defunct journals as a memorial to their efforts to publish writers’ words. And I also get a kick from some of their names—“Malevolent Soap,” how great a name is that?
Here’s to a Happy New Year and for more words in print in 2022. Please be safe.
That I found the call for this anthology was fortunate, let alone having my story selected. Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine was the perfect anthology for “Saints & Angels.” The publication is unique, hidden on the outskirts of mainstream publishing; it is an aggregation of poetry, prose and visual art, compiled by the medical students at The University of Oklahoma.
“Saints & Angels” is on the outskirts of my usual genres. A melancholy character study about a man visiting his wife in the hospital. The usual sci-fi, horror and fantasy journals that published my other tales were out of the question. I was at a loss where to send it. Then I happened on Blood and Thunder.
By November 2016, my backlog of unpublished stories was growing. Those rejected were scrutinized, revised and sent out again to another potential journal. By the end of that year and a total of 150 submission, I had 16 acceptances. Those published were mostly microfiction (100 words or less) or flash fiction (under 1,000 words). Two of them were fictionalized scenes from everyday life: Perfect Square of Sky appeared in The Flash Fiction Press and was based on a trip to the dentist; Forget-Me-Pops, in ZeroFlash, harkened back to my days as a copywriter. I used to write radio commercials, so I called on that experience to produce ad copy for a fake breakfast cereal. Sadly, at this writing, both those journals no longer publish new issues.
This is a character study of a dark relationship between a photographer and his former muse. They meet again years after their collaboration brought them both fame. Originally published in October 2020 in Siren’s Call eZine, Issue #51.
by DL Shirey
Syren met my glance, then didn’t. One blink was all, as if the very sight of me reminded her of the person she no longer wanted to be. But for one instant it was Amy behind her eyes.
I concentrated on the irony instead of my feelings. Syren still looked like my Amy: thin, disheveled and sad. Syren’s makeup was perfectly applied to look trashy. Who knows how long it took a stylist to create Syren’s quintessential mess of smudged shadows and eyeliner mistakes? When I knew her as Amy, she would glop on makeup by feel, smearing the hollows of her eyes aimlessly. It only took two minutes before the mirror, but she’d reflect on the results for an hour. Few were allowed to see Amy’s naked eyes. Sometimes I did, briefly, before the bedside lamp snapped off.
Only once did my camera catch Amy plain. One morning while she slept, sheets whitened by sunlight, I released the shutter. Even in dreams she frowned. Minutes later she woke and rushed to put on her face.
Five years ago, pre-Covid, my story Tasting Apples at the Edge of Epidemic was published. Aside from it’s prophetic nature, this may have been the first story where I started with a twist already in mind. To this point, my storytelling style was to go wherever the writing took me. This one was calculated from the get-go: the story’s narrator laments about his wife, but her fate is not what the reader is lead to believe. The story sprung from an annual apple tasting at our local garden supply store. My speculative brain engaged and projected the event into a future where… well, where we are in ’20-21 with the pandemic. Goes without saying that those apple tastings have been cancelled in recent years, just as my story foretold.
The other published story, Barbarism, was the first of many 50-word microfictions to come. I enjoy the challenge of creating a complete, satisfying scene in an exact word count. Thankfully, there are a number of publications out there that look for these tiny tales.
This story had an interesting affect on a member of my writer’s group. She walked out halfway through my reading. Granted, the main character is objectified solely on appearance. But that’s the whole point of the story. I urged the woman to wait for the big reveal at the end, to see if she felt the same disgust. I guess I’ll never know. I never saw her again. And I doubt she’ll click over and read it in The Chamber Magazine.
Stealing Valium is quite short and 9/10ths nonfiction. If it were a movie, a based-on-a-true-story disclaimer would be needed. The ending has been overdramatized, but the chain of events took place when I was about fifteen years old. Published by (mac)ro(mic).