Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

THE BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2015 Launches!

The Best Small Fictions 2015 is now available through Amazon, Amazon UK, and other online retailers such as Barnes & Noble for the general release date of October 6, 2015; the ebook (Nook and Kindle) will be released early for international readers and downloadable on the 6th.

As we approach the official launch, we feel this is a good time to share some exciting anthology news.

A wonderful new review is in from BookTrib in which Rebecca Foster says, “Super-short stories . . . have exploded in popularity. Where should newbies start? With Best Small Fictions 2015 . . . [r]eaders will be introduced to a wealth of fresh and existing talent…. Discover some haunting voices for yourself this fall.”

BookCourt, located in Brooklyn, was first to carry BSF copies, displaying the book prominently in its window:

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Many thanks to BookCourt for their support. We are also grateful to the following bookstores for recent orders: Prairie Lights (Iowa City, IA), Well Read Books (Plaistow, NH), and The Brewster Bookstore (Brewster, MA). The press also appreciates when readers request that their local bookstore carry a Queen’s Ferry title.

We’re also pleased to announce that as of this date the anthology will be taught at Baldwin Wallace University, CW Post College, Georgia State University, Hendrix College, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and Regis University.

Events and readings for 2015-16 are scheduled on the East and West Coast:

*25 October, 2015KGB Bar Reading Series, KGB Bar, New York, NY
Lisa Marie Basile, Randall Brown, Jesse Kohn (finalist), Jane Liddle, and Julia Strayer (with Amina Gautier)
*28 October, 2015NYU Bookstore, New York, NY
Rusty Barnes, Lisa Marie Basile, Randall Brown, George Choundas, Jesse Kohn (finalist), Jane Liddle, Dawn Raffel, Kathryn Savage, and Julia Strayer
*7 January, 2016Book Soup, West Hollywood, CA
Lauren Becker, Yennie Cheung, James Claffey, Blake Kimzey, and Chris L. Terry
*4 February, 2016Flash Fiction Collective, Alley Cat Books, San Francisco
Stefanie Freele and Dan Moreau (with Jane Ciabattari and Grant Faulkner)
*3 June, 2016Dire Reading Series, Out of the Blue Gallery, Cambridge, MA
Allison Adair (finalist), Rusty Barnes, Randall Brown, Tara L. Masih, and Brent Rydin
*30 April, 2016 – Best Small Fictions: The Art of Compression, Newburyport Literary Festival, Newburyport, MA
Tara L. Masih, Dawn Raffel, and Brent Rydin

Please watch this blog for updates, visit and like The Best Small Fictions 2015 Facebook page, and/or follow @QFPress on Twitter.

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A year in the making, it is with great pleasure that Queen’s Ferry acknowledges everyone who has helped make this debut “something significant, something worthwhile, and something necessary.”

Without the editors who nominated stories, there could be no book; we appreciate your faith. To the BSF finalists and winners: your writing made this anthology a vibrant, compelling volume we are proud to publish. To the 2015 consulting editors Kathy Fish, Christopher Merkner, Robert Shapard, and Claudia Smith, and roving editors Michelle Elvy and Clare MacQueen: we are in debt to you. We’re also appreciative for the general assistance of Heather L. Nelson. Gratitude to Steven Seighman for his interior design, and to Brian Mihok for so strikingly covering the book.

We are immensely grateful to Robert Olen Butler, who lent this project his prominence and wisdom and helped give the anthology its best start. Tara L. Masih is the reason this book exists at all and to thank her for her experience, expertise, and dedication feels flimsy but is offered most sincerely; I’m sure the authors agree that Tara gave her all to make The Best Small Fictions 2015 the very best representation of short short fiction.

And finally, we are immensely thankful to those who have bought a book or otherwise supported this title or the press.

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The 2016 nomination period will open November 1; be sure to check out the updated guidelines and read the 2016 editor bios.

Announced at AWP: The Best Small Fictions 2016, Guest Edited by Stuart Dybek

The Best Small Fictions 2016 Announcement

The flier above was distributed at AWP in Minneapolis. We are proud to announce the second volume of The Best Small Fictions will release in October of next year. Series Editor Tara L. Masih will be joined by Guest Editor Stuart Dybek, as well as Consulting Editors Motoyuj Shibata, Michael Martone, James Thomas, and Dawn Raffel.  View the flier above as a PDF.

The Best Small Fictions 2015, Guest Edited by Robert Olen Butler, is due to release in October. It has been a pleasure to work on this amazing volume.

Berit Ellingsen: After BENEATH THE LIQUID SKIN

firthFORTH author of Beneath The Liquid Skin, Berit Ellingsen, updates us on her most recent activity: from essays on gaming to the empty, frigid arctic, Ellingsen has continued to show both the range and precision displayed in her 2012 collection.

After Beneath the Liquid Skin came out, French author François Bon translated my novel The Empty City to French. The novel came out in French as Une ville vide in the summer of 2013, published by Publiemonde and Publienet.

In 2013 I wrote a novel with the working title Landscapes, Fragments (an excerpt, “Grains of Sand” is here). It’s a story about climate change and personal agency, and has been picked up by an American publisher. But I can’t say more about it before they make it official. I am, however, over the moon to see the novel come out, because it’s about issues that are very dear to me.

I completed the revisions of Landscapes Fragments, then began on a follow-up in early 2014, because there seemed to be more to the story. That novel is not fully revised yet, but close.

Last year I also wrote two essays for British lit mag Litro’s blog, one about a visit to the world’s northernmost abandoned town, and one about computer games and architecture. Both pieces were really fun to write and a nice change of pace after two novels in a row.

Those essays inspired a series of memoiristic fiction/hybrid genre-linked essays about gaming, games, people, and memory, one of which was published in Entropy Magazine. The essay series is currently in slush and may be expanded.

In 2014 I also completed some short stories, but fewer than the years before. One is scheduled to come out in Black Candies’ anthology Surveillance, edited by Ryan Bradford. The TOC for the anthology hasn’t been published yet, but previous Black Candies have included stories by Aaron Burch, Sarah Rose Etter, Zack Wentz etc.

Another of my more science-fiction’y stories, “Dancing on the Red Planet”, which was first published in the anthology Rocket Science, edited by Ian Sales, and nominated for the British Science Fiction Award in 2012, was reprinted in the anthology World SF 3, edited by Lavie Tidhar. This anthology was chosen as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014, which was fantastic!

This coming spring my flash story about Cold War spies, “Sovetskoye Shampanskoye”, will be reprinted in W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, which has an amazing line-up that includes Nobel laureate Czeslav Milosz, Kim Young-ha, and Ethel Rohan.

Another short story, “Boyfriend and Shark”, first published in Paul Jessup’s Coffinmouth, will be reprinted in The Humanity of Monsters, edited by Michael Matheson. This anthology features stories by well-known SFF writers such as Peter Watts, Yoon Ha Lee, Indrapramit Das, etc.

I also have in slush a long essay about last summer’s trip to the Arctic and am also working on a few short stories. My short stories since Beneath the Liquid Skin have had an apocalyptic theme to them, so that may be the foundation for a future collection. I would also like to explore the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, and memoir and ekphrasis further.

But first and foremost, my new novel is out this year, and release details will be public as soon as they’re ready.

Berit EllingsenBerit Ellingsen is a Korean-Norwegian writer whose stories have appeared or will appear in SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, Metazen, decomP, Unstuck, and other literary journals. Her novel, The Empty City, is a story about silence. Berit’s short story collection, Beneath the Liquid Skin, was published by firthFORTH Books in November 2012. That year one of her stories was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and another for the British Science Fiction Award. Find out more at beritellingsen.com.

The Best Small Fictions: Update

This Friday marks the international nominations deadline for The Best Small Fictions of 2015.

The Best Small Fictions NominationsOver 100 nominations have been received to date, though we expect a great deal more before the final, US deadline, January 23rd.

International nominations have come in from Japan, Australia, Cyprus, The Netherlands, India, Canada and the UK.

We’re very pleased with the response from editors so far, but please submit your nominations and–if you haven’t yet–announce them to your readers! Show your support for this long overdue compilation the best of the smallest fiction available!

 

A Conversation with Tara Masih — Flash Fiction Chronicles on the QFP Blog

by Jim Harrington

Queen’s Ferry Press is in the process of collecting stories for an annual anthology to be titled The Best Small Fictions. Fiction and prose poetry from 6 to 1,000 words published during the current year are eligible for inclusion. For the first edition, nominations will be accepted from October 1, 2014 through January 24, 2015. Journal editors and book publishers may submit up to five nominations (print or online) from their journals, chapbooks, broadsides, or story collections.

I interviewed Tara L. Masih, Series Editor, about this project.

TARAMASIHPICTara L. Masih has won multiple book awards as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays.Where the Dog Star Never Glows: Stories was a National Best Books Award finalist. Her flash has been anthologized inWord of Mouth, Brevity & Echo, BITE, andFlash Fiction Funny; was featured in Fiction Writer’s Review for National Short Story Month; and was a finalist for the Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction. Awards for her work include first place in The Ledge Magazine’s fiction contest and Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best of the Web nominations.www.taramasih.com

Jim Harrington: Hi, Tara, and thank you for agreeing to be a part of The Best Small Fictions. What is the purpose/goal of this effort?

Tara Masih: The purpose is to provide a forum for writers who are producing extremely well-wrought small fictions, a forum that recognizes their work at the end of the year. Most of the other genres have this formal recognition, but the short-short story does not. There is of course the venerable Wigleaf Top 50 list, and your own list that appears during short story month, but these lists appear online. We wanted to resuscitate the print series Robert Oberfirst published in 1952–1960, his Anthology of Best Short Short Stories. Enough small fictions were produced at that time to command a yearly volume. Our word count limit is a bit smaller than his, and we have a new title, but Queen’s Ferry Press and I believe enough quality work is being published again to merit an annual anthology. Consider this a contemporary nod to an old era when the short-short thrived.

JH: There have been flash fiction anthologies published before this—the Sudden Fiction series comes to mind. How will this anthology be different?

TM: And the Flash Fiction series. Both groundbreaking anthology series that are highly respected. Each series has its own criteria for inclusion and covers a broader spectrum over a number of years. Ours will be different in that it will be briefer, more inclusive of experimentation and different word lengths, and have the barometer of being the best work within a certain year. I think the confines of the calendar year will lead to a different feel. I’ll be curious to see if any specific topics keep coming up that reflect world headlines. We’re also opening it up internationally, so readers in the States will get a taste of what is being published outside its borders, and vice versa.

JH: The guidelines mention “hybrid fiction” and “experimental form.” Editors and publishers may have different definitions for these terms. Can you tell us a little more about what you’re looking for, as regards hybrid and experimental stories?

TM: I welcome the different definitions of hybrid and experimentation. I’d rather leave it up to the editors to decide what they want to send in. Basically, if it’s small and contains elements of a fictional story, I don’t care what form it comes in. Graphic stories can be submitted, too, as long as there is text.

JH: Do you have an idea of how many stories will be in the final version?

TM: Since this is the first year, I hesitate to give a firm number. We have a goal, and we’ll see if we can reach it. But it will depend on submissions and the quality we receive. We won’t be making compromises to “fill” the book. We’ll only publish what the guest editor feels is the best of the year. We anticipate that it will be a slim, affordable book, densely packed with excellent, eclectic stories.

JH: Robert Olen Butler is selecting the winners from the finalists. How exciting is that?

TM: More than exciting. I can’t tell you what this means to both me and the press. It shows his character, that he’s willing to take time off from writing his latest novel to do this for a small press because he believes in the project and the idea of it. He and I work well together, too, so he was our first choice for guest editor, and we’re honored he accepted. He has a great feel for story and it will be fun for me to see what he eventually chooses as “The Best.”

JH: What else would you like our readers to know about this project?

TM: That this project is for the writers who voluntarily spill their thoughts and feelings on paper, in a small space, then send it out and hope it gets accepted, into a world that doesn’t completely value its worth yet. It’s a tough process and takes its toll. This project I hope will give the writers who are commended the recognition they deserve and a small boost to keep writing, and the editors who publish them the satisfaction that they chose well. Editors often go unnoticed. This gives them some accolades, too. We’ll make sure the publishers of the stories are acknowledged in some way.

JM: Thank you, Tara. This sounds like an exciting project, and I look forward to reading the finished product. You can learn more about The Best Small Fictions on the Queen’s Ferry Press website.

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jimharrington2

Jim Harrington began writing fiction in 2007 and has agonized over the form ever since. His stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction, Liquid Imagination, Ink Sweat and Tears, Near to the Knuckle, Flashes in the Dark, and others. He serves as the Managing Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles. Jim’s Six Questions For . . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” You can read more of his stories at http://jpharrington.blogspot.com.

The Best Small Fictions of 2015, Edited by Tara L. Masih and Guest Edited by Robert Olen Butler

Queen’s Ferry Press set to release a new anthology of the best short hybrid fiction in October, 2015.

Plano, TX, November 17, 2014—Queen’s Ferry Press is pleased to announce the debut of the first contemporary anthology to compile the best short hybrid fiction in a calendar year. To date, there is no annual print recognition of the best examples of this exciting new work appearing in literary journals and story collections from throughout the world. With this new annual, we seek to promote the seasoned writer as well as the new writer in a compilation that will reveal the depth of literary fiction and highlight historical trends as they occur due to world events and human considerations. The Best Small Fictions is a brief, affordable, yet powerful reader that will supplement instructors’ current classroom anthologies and texts and will offer writers and readers examples of what their contemporaries are achieving worldwide.

Notifications will be made in late spring, ahead of an October 2015 release date.

The press is proud to announce award-winning editor Tara L. Masih as Series Editor and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert Olen Butler as this year’s Guest Editor.

Interested editors should download the full nomination guidelines.

About the Editors:

Tara L. Masih
Tara L. Masih, Photo Credit: Michael Gilligan

Tara L. Masih has won multiple book awards as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays. Where the Dog Star Never Glows: Stories was a National Best Books Award finalist. Her flash has been anthologized in Word of Mouth, Brevity & Echo, BITE, and Flash Fiction Funny; was featured in Fiction Writer’s Review for National Short Story Month; and was a finalist for the Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction. Awards for her work include first place in The Ledge Magazine’s fiction contest and Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best of the Web nominations. www.taramasih.com

Robert Olen Butler
Robert Olen Butler, Photo Credit: Kelly Lee Butler

Robert Olen Butler has published sixteen novels and six volumes of short stories, one of which, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and three of which—Severence,Intercourse, and Weegee Stories—are comprised entirely of small fictions (225 in all). He has also published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He was the 2013 recipient of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Kevin Wehmueller, Marketing & Publicity

kwehmueller@queensferrypress.com

‘Monstirs’ and Flash: Helen McClory writes this week’s QFP blog

‘What is a monster?’ asks Helen McClory. Her forthcoming collection, On The Edges Of Vision, may help you answer that question for yourself.

On the Edges of Vision began life as Monstirs, a tidal wave of a collection started in the beginning of April and finished, for the most part, by the beginning of June. Two stories were older: “Boy Cyclops” and “Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break.” These I wrote years apart, when I was still at work on a short novel. It took me a while to realise that I’d found in them a theme I could explore further. I’ve always been drawn to narratives of the supernatural, the intersection of humanity and monstrousness. ‘All monsters are human’ says Sister Jude in American Horror Story: Asylum, repeating a truism that’s nevertheless a repellent little koan of a thought we generally jam to the back of our minds like a wad of gum.

I had just finished watching a TV show, Hannibal, all gloriously gruesome, psychologically rich and full of vignettes in the form of moments of instability, and of course the fantastical death tableaux. Hannibal poses the question, what is a monster? and answers it with transformations, film history, churned-up Catholicism. I realised with “Boy Cyclops”(published in Smokelong Quarterly), a story about a friendship with a fantastical creature who may be nothing more than an ordinary man, that I was asking the same thing. What is a monster? In what ways are others read as monstrous? Given that we cannot know who a stranger is, or even who we are, all we have is external or legend. How we tell ourselves into what we see. Or the ways we don’t, which is where “Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break” steps in. The corpse of a beautiful woman proliferates to the point where we expect one in every crime drama. A horribly normalised visual trope, a monstrous assumption forged by misogyny.

All monsters represent some fear, some disgust, bafflement: we are worried by our bodies, by the possibilities of other bodies. We worry about the fluidity of our identities and our flesh. We’re all sliding around trying to find our balance, and at the same time watching what the other dancers on the floor are doing.  That’s why I chose the title Monstirs, at first. My way of pronouncing the word monsters, to put the word as-I-say-it in your head. To leap across that membrane. But On the Edges of Vision, suggested by the publisher and a portion of a line from ‘Boy Cyclops’ and performs the same trick—sidling up to you, turning your head, asking you to look at the periphery, where two eyes become cycloptic, where they split apart. It’s asking you to see both the fuzzy and shadowed, and the sharp and sunlight—to see that the quotidian and the monstrous are at once in the same place.

Once I had the desire to write a collection set in this uncanny Venn, the momentum pushed me ahead. In about a month and a half, I wrote about forty-three pieces, one after the other, each hovering around the thousand word or under mark, with a few stragglers going long. I took out four or five fairly quickly, and the rest I ran by my husband, D, who suggested I throw another two. Unlike most of my other projects, I wasn’t thrown into agonies of choice. Cutting down seemed like the natural thing to be doing, given each word in each story has to be carefully weighed and each at any moment is susceptible to ditching. The arrangement of the whole was based on trying to compliment the themes and styles. If a story was in third person, I wanted it to be next to one in first, or second. If it was about a dead person in some way brought back into animation, I wanted it to be near a story that was full of life. The pared-down collection I sent out to a small number of likely looking places, and it was this version that Queen’s Ferry Press kindly took up. When submitting the full manuscript to them I added an extra two flash, written a few weeks before, and inspired by a trip in June to the holy isle of Iona and the strange black cave-dominated island of Staffa. Thin places both.

I approached QFP initially because I knew they’d published Aaron Burch, the editor of one of my favourite literary journals, Hobart, and another of my favourite presses, Short Flight, Long Drive. His Backswing looked great, though I wondered if my style, miles away from Hobart’s house style of impossible American coolness, would appeal to QFP. Then I saw that QFP was inspired by a bit of the world that was less than a handful of miles from where I was living. The Firth of Forth—the estuary of the River Forth—has been a place of crossings and re-crossings for over a thousand years. I myself had crossed the firth countless times travelling between university in Fife and the city of Edinburgh, over the iron-red bridge that links the twin settlements of North Queensferry and South.

The fact that QFP took its name from this iconic point of connection eased my fears of the work being misunderstood. Place is important to my writing, and though I’ve lived in and write stories set in America and in Australia, I’m a writer with a Scottish accent. There are Scotland-based stories throughout this collection and a smattering of Scottish words and turns of phrase. The collection was rejected by only one other publisher, also America-based, who shall go unnamed. In their critique they cited poor spelling and general ‘sloppiness’ of the manuscript. When I went back to check, there were perhaps three misspelled words, so I can only conclude either they were very rigorous, or that pinch of Scots dialect had really thrown them. But language is a bridge, and I think readers enjoy walking out to catch the view. So far, QFP has proved to be everything I could hope for from a publisher—understanding, open, and direct. Living up to their name.

Why write flash fiction, low-count short story, veering into prose poetry? Well, because I love reading flash, love the sharpness, the unsettling power of the fragment. The excellence of Anne Carson, Casey Hannan, Kathy Fish, Tania Hershman—and there are more writers I’m finding. A boon of them, writing in a form that’s perfectly suited to the constraints and eye strain of the internet. That attempts to charge the language up and then folds it small, handing it to the reader where it will discharge like an opened missive of tiny lightening.

To date, stories from the collection have appeared in nine literary journals, with one of the very shortest pieces, “Lope,” shortlisted for the Bristol Flash Fiction Prize this year. I took part in FlashFlood, the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day deluge of flash with an appropriately waterlogged story, “The Drowned Sailors,” about longing and its twin, loss. I hope that for the reader of On the Edges of Vision, the flash form calls to mind island territories, the pockets of night that lurk in old houses and the bottom of the sea, the changing look in the eye of a stranger, the charged stage sets of the motel, the diner, the car, the family home. I hope that they read this collection, then take to the book shops looking for more, and that we meet there among the stacks, there to exchange To-Be-Read Lists as long as our shadows dancing behind us.

by Helen McClory