Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September Flash Fiction Carnival

Hello again!

I'm sorry for the delay in starting this month's flash fiction carnival. Things got a little busy and I did not have time to put this together.

If you're new to the Flash Fiction Carnivals, please see the FAQ and read Virginia's introductory post and the sidebar.

The theme for this month's carnival is:


You have from Wed, Sep 10th, through the end of Sat, Sep 27th, to finish your stories.

All genres and all writers are welcome.
To participate in the September FFC:

  • Write a 500-1000 word flash story based on the theme: Memories.

  • Post it on your blog.

  • Put a comment here, with a link to your story. Add a short bio or note.Leave your email address.(See the March FFC announcement for why an email address is needed).

  • If you do not have a blog, send me your story and I will post it here.

  • Read and comment on the stories after they have been posted, which should be in the order that they are received.

That's it really. Sharpen your pencils and start writing.
And thanks for playing!

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Flash Fiction Carnival

Hello again!

This is Glenn D'mello, your host for the August Flash Fiction Carnival.

If you're new to the Flash Fiction Carnivals, please see the FAQ and read Virginia's introductory post and the sidebar.

The theme for this month's carnival is:

You have from Fri, Aug 1st, through the end of Sat, Aug 23rd, to finish your stories.

All genres and all writers are welcome.
To participate in the August FFC:

  • Write a 500-1000 word flash story based on the theme: Cheap.

  • Post it on your blog.

  • Put a comment here, with a link to your story. Add a short bio or note.Leave your email address.(See the March FFC announcement for why an email address is needed).

  • If you do not have a blog, send me your story and I will post it here.

  • Read and comment on the stories after they have been posted, which should be in the order that they are received.

That's it really. Sharpen your pencils and start writing.
And thanks for playing!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July FFC: Thanks for participating

And here are the stories:

The Day After Independence Day by L.J. Janik.

L. J. gives us a glimpse of the lengths some people go to make the holidays a success.

In Dependence Day by Bunnygirl.

Bunnygirl asks: isn't it time to start celebrating our dependence on each other? in a piece set in the world of Steal Tomorrow.

Stay tuned for next month's FFC right here on this blog.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July Flash Fiction Carnival

Hello again!

This is Glenn D'mello, your host for the July Flash Fiction Carnival.

If you're new to the Flash Fiction Carnivals, please see the FAQ and read Virginia's introductory post and the sidebar.

The theme for this month's carnival is:

You have from Wed, Jul 2nd, through the end of Sat, Jul 19th, to finish your stories.

All genres and all writers are welcome.
To participate in the July FFC:

  • Write a 500-1000 word flash story based on the theme: Holiday.

  • Post it on your blog.

  • Put a comment here, with a link to your story. Add a short bio or note.Leave your email address.(See the March FFC announcement for why an email address is needed).

  • If you do not have a blog, send me your story and I will post it here.

  • Read and comment on the stories after they have been posted, which should be in the order that they are received.

That's it really. Sharpen your pencils and start writing.
And thanks for playing!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June FFC: Thanks for participating!

And here are the stories:

Breakfast by Susan Helene Gottfried.
Susan shows us why the no shirt, no service rule was instituted at a free breakfast buffet in this story from Trevor's Song Era.

Oatmeal by Glenn D'mello.
Glenn tells the tale of an unnamed character's introduction to a breakfast staple.

Stay tuned for next month's FFC right here on this blog.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

June Flash Fiction Carnival


This is Glenn D'mello, your host for the June Flash Fiction Carnival.

If you're new to the Flash Fiction Carnivals, please see the FAQ and read Virginia's introductory post and the sidebar.

The theme for this month's carnival is:


You have from Sun, Jun 1st, through the end of Sat, June 21st, to finish your stories.

All genres and all writers are welcome.

To participate in the June FFC:

  • Write a 500-1000 word flash story based on the theme: Breakfast.

  • Post it on your blog.

  • Put a comment here, with a link to your story. Add a short bio or note.Leave your email address.(See the March FFC announcement for why an email address is needed).

  • If you do not have a blog, send me your story and I will post it here.

  • Read and comment on the stories after they have been posted, which should be in the order that they are received.

That's it really. Sharpen your pencils and start writing.

Thanks for playing!

Note: the story does not have to deal with breakfast. You can choose to write about anything around breakfast. For instance, you may choose to write about the hour before breakfast, or the view from a kitchen window or a 24 hour diner. Write about anything that moves your pen when you hear (and think of) breakfast.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Moderators / Admins Still Needed!

The wonderful and talented Susan Helene Gottfried of West of Mars has agreed to help with some of our future flash fiction carnivals. I've been told that the lovely Gwen Mitchell will also assist, but we could use a few more volunteers to rotate duties.

This isn't a very onerous gig-- just think of a theme, post the theme and deadline, then post the links to the stories. Think of it as a good deed and easy karma!

Leave a comment if you want to help, especially if you can organize a carnival in the May-through-August period, which promises to be a little hectic for me and Susan.


Friday, April 18, 2008

April FFC: Elements: Earth, Sky, Fire, Water

Thanks for your patience, everyone. I also want to thank our writers for participating this month. It's a crazy one for both me and BunnyGirl, so we're just glad that you folks are still coming around and writing with us.

The beautiful and talented Ms Gwen Mitchell will be hosting the May FFC in her Writer's Retreat blog as BG and I will be really feeling the craziness of our work lives then. I aim to be back on board fully by the middle of May and BG hopes to be back in time for a Father's Day holiday FFC. If anyone wants to volunteer to run/host June's main FFC, please send me an email ASAP.

The theme, of course, for this month was the Elements: Fire, Water, Sky, and Earth.

Now then, in the order in which I received them:

God Has Given Me This Beautiful Thing by Mr Alex Watson (Please read and comment on this one first as I won't be able to moderate comments reliably for a few days after Monday morning due to circumstances beyond my control. VLee)

Reacquaintance by Kathleen Oxley

Turbulence by Susan Helene Gottfried

The Day After by Susan Helene Gottfried

Rain (a flashlet) by Susan Helene Gottfried

Chapeau by Susan Helene Gottfried

The Planter Box by Evilynne

In a Dry Land by Ann Pino

Muse by Andrea King

Elementary by A. Catherine Noon

The Element of Fire by Eaton Bennett

The Power of the Eclipse by ElizabethAnne

Please read everyone's flash and comment on those open to it. Feedback is our friend, after all.

Thanks again for joining us!

April FFC: Mr Alex Watson: God Has Given Me This Beautiful Thing

Mr Watson included an author's note which I feel should be read prior to reading his flash: This piece takes place during the Rhodesian Bush War (1964-1979), also known as the Second Chimurenga, in which various guerilla organizations sought to overthrow the white minority government of Rhodesia in southern Africa and replace it with a majority government. ZANLA was one such guerilla group, and the Rhodesian African Rifles they faced in battle were mostly comprised of black soldiers loyal to the government. The fighting ended with the negotiated Lancaster House Agreement in 1979, which led to the creation of the state now known as Zimbabwe.

Edward Matesi was changing into his uniform when the knock came. His wife had answered it, their one-year-old in tow; a quick whispered conversation later, Edward found himself face to face with Joseph Nkama.

"Have you heard, Comrade Matesi, about our great victory?" Nkama said, flashing his winning smile. "The department store in Salisbury smoldering from our firebombs, many too afraid to leave their houses!"

"I have heard," Matesi said, "of the women and children who were there, wounded and killed. Many were burned alive."

"ZANLA regrets that such is necessary," said Nkama, "but that does not change the fact that it is necessary. The Rhodesians will not submit unless such things become a fixture of their daily lives."

Matesi donned his cap, emblazoned with the emblem of the Rhodesia African Rifles. "If you say so, Comrade Nkama."

"Do you know who carried out that attack?" Nkama continued. "It was Ndabaningi. He was also placed in the RAR to aid the Second Chimurenga. And aid us he has."

"This is all very well and good," said Matesi. "I too aid you. I pass information along to the ZANLA. I sell weapons to the ZANLA. In this Ndabaningi and I are brothers. So I do not understand why you have come here speaking of things I already know and things I already do."

"The time has come to move beyond such things, Comrade Matesi," Nkama said. "All are to aid the struggle now, not only through information or weapons, but through direct action. The time has come for you to renounce your membership in the RAR, and to do so with a forceful attack, a trial by fire."

"I have to man a checkpoint in the bush," Matesi said. "Nothing but two privates with me who would run like sheep at the first sign of any gunfire. What do you expect me to do?"

Nkama opened the parcel that he was carrying, and removed a Soviet-made hand grenade. "One car," he said. "Incinerate one Rhodesian car, and you will have done ZANLA an inestimable service. Cleanse the enemy with righteous fire."

Matesi hesitated for a moment, then accepted the weapon and thrust it into his pack.

"Good," Nkama said. "I look forward to reading of your victory in tomorrow's papers."

Once he arrived at his post, Matesi had made up his mind: he would do as he was asked, if only to stop Nkama's badgering. He knew that, for all the man's smiles, he was dangerous.

For some time, it seemed as if there would be no opportunities at all that day. Matesi and his men were relegated to guarding a wooden pole set across a dusty and deserted dirt road. The only cars that passed were local busses, laden with villagers who were already sympathetic to ZANLA.

Turning the grenade over in his hands—it was small enough to be concealed in one palm—Matesi ruminated on his attack. A wealthy farmer's car, perhaps, or a Rhodesian Army officer on an inspection tour. The privates were like dry sticks; they'd burn with whatever blaze was put to them. Matesi fully expected them to open fire when and if he did, and to follow him into ZANLA service.

When a personal car finally did appear, Matesi was relieved to see that it did in fact carry Rhodesians. He motioned for it to halt and walked up, grenade in hand.

"Where are you going today, sir?" he asked.

The driver stuck his head out; the man was freckled and flaxen-blond. "Bulawayo, eventually," he said. "Taking the family in to pick up some things at the druggist."

The word "family" gave Matesi momentary pause. But no, the beaming wife in the passenger seat made no difference. She too was Rhodesian, and as Ndabaningi had drawn no distinctions, neither should he.

"We're getting some asthma medicine!" a voice said from the back seat. Matesi looked over and saw a young girl there, hair in pigtails. She was clutching a black knit doll with spindly strings for arms and legs, and Matesi had a brief, stabbing thought of his young ones at home.

"That's a fine doll you have there," Matesi said. One quick pull, a toss, and then three seconds.

"Thank you," the girl said. "Her name is Fabunni Zene. Mummy says that means ' God has given me this beautiful thing' in Swahili."

"But we do not speak Swahili in Rhodesia," Matesi said. His hand trembled as he regarded Fabunni. So much like his daughter's…

"Mummy says that more people in Africa speak it than anything else!" the girl said. "That's why Fabunni chose it, to be a part of Africa."

Matesi pulled the pin; there was nothing save the dead-man's switch between that moment and an inferno. The car, and all its occupants, would be purged from Zimbabwean soil with primal fire.

The girl leaned closer to Matesi, as if to deliver a secret. "She has a pet llama," she said. "And one day she's going to grow up and make everybody get along."

"Don't bother the guard with your doll," the woman said. "He's busy."

"No, madam, it's fine." It was now or never; the man was becoming impatient. Matesi looked into the doll's wide, dark button eyes.

"Ncube!" he cried. "Raise the gate and let this man through." One of the privates moved toward the mechanism.

"But don't you need to see my identification?" the man asked.

"No. Go now," Matesi grunted. The car was lost is a cloud of dust a few moments later.

Returning to the guard shack, Matesi re-inserted the grenade's pin and dropped in the weapons locker. It would not burn today.

"Everything all right, boss?" Ncube asked. "You spent more time talking to that girl than the driver!"

Matesi sighed. "God has given me this beautiful thing," he said. "I don't know what is right any more."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

April FFC Theme Announcement: Earth, Fire, Water, Air - The Elements

Sorry for the delay. Big changes are occurring in my life and as I could not find a host for April, I got behind.

At any rate, the rules for the April FFC are as follows:

1. There is a shorter writing span of TEN DAYS rather than two weeks. I apologize for this, but that is how it needs to be for this month. Hopefully May will be more normal. At any rate, your flash to be hosted here in the FFC blog or the link to your flash must be sent to me via the FFC email address by midnight on April 15th. Yes, I know that's Tax Day in the US, but my schedule is such that I have no choice. I will have the links and stories posted no later than noon on the 18th. I will try to post them earlier, but barring disaster, it shouldn't be any later.

2. Word limit is 1000 words. Please proofread for spelling and grammar. We are not your Mama or your English teacher. Thanks.

3. Your entry must be verifiable as belonging to YOU. Please submit via your main ISP email address if you are a new participant. The only Gmail entrants we'll accept will be those coming from previous participants or those with credible referrals. Yahoo email is acceptable, but only just. We are sorry if this inconveniences you, but for legal reasons it is necessary. I, as admin, must be able to verify who you are. And yes, the information will remain confidential.

4. I guess you're wondering what the theme is, huh?

THE ELEMENTS: Earth, Water, Fire, Air

Use them all or only use one. You can even do one flash per element and submit each one on its own. However you are inspired is what you need to do.

I chose this theme because of all the weird weather that comes with Spring.

What are you waiting for? Go WRITE!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Flash Fiction Carnival

Ah, Spring! When a writer’s thoughts turn to…Flash Fiction!

Okay, so it’s not Spring yet in everyone’s corner of the world, but if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s definitely around the corner, and here are a few new stories to get you in the mood:

Redemption by Eaton Bennett

Approach of Spring by Susan Helene Gottfried

Easter Eggs by Susan Helene Gottfried

Saying Goodbye by Heather Heinzer

First Sign of Spring by ~Liz~

Illuminated by Gwen Mitchell

Spring by Catherine Noon

Easter Eve by Kathleen Oxley

Paid in Full by Ann Pino

This is a short list, so do try to leave comments as you go visiting! And if you have a story that didn't make today's 10 pm cutoff, don't worry! I'll post stragglers throughout the weekend, as time permits.

Happy Springtime Wishes to All!

Friday, March 14, 2008

March FFC: Letters and/or Numbers

When I chose the theme Letters and/or Numbers, I wasn't sure if I'd get much response. I couldn't have been more wrong. We ended up with a baker's dozen and at least a third of those I credit to Gwen Mitchell's influence. So THANKS, GWEN! You helped make this month's FFC a success.

Four stories are being hosted here at the FFC 2008 blog. Comments are open, so please share your thoughts. The authors of the remaining pieces have opted to host their works at their respective blogs. Please visit as many as you can and respond to those with open comments. Please be constructive not destructive, but do be honest.

Now then, Ladies and Gentlemen, in alphabetical order by title, I present the March Flash Fiction Carnival: Letters and/or Numbers --

Carve Me, Carve You by Virginia Lee

Conversation With a Friend Over Coffee, Part 2: Snuffed Out by DT Kelly

Flight 1580 by Kathleen Oxley

Keeping Score by Gwen Mitchell

The Knockoff by Richard Badalamente

Letter G (the early days) by Susan Helene Gottfried

Numbers and Letters by Benjamin Solah

Numerology by orion_mk3

Regret by Eaton Bennett

Sacrificing Her Child by Padma Narayanaswamy

Untitled by A. Catherine Noon

Untitled by ElizabethAnne

The Written Word by Ann Pino (aka: BunnyGirl)

March FFC: orion_mk3: Numerology

by orion_mk3

The man was seated on the concrete lip of a planter, as he often was, paying no attention to the passing students and merrily belting out a tune with harmonica and washboard. The board at his feet often contained a message—Carrie could recall it saying "time well wasted" a few weeks ago, and the other day it had read "the devil always leaves the porch light on."

Today, though, there was nothing but a large inkjet-bright "2."

"I've been meaning to ask," Carrie said to her friend Amy as they neared the player. "Who's that?"

Amy shrugged. "One of the weirdoes big colleges invariably attract. Whenever the weather's good, he's out here banging and blowing like a trumpet in a trash compactor."

"Yeah, I've seen him a few times. But where's he from?" She noted his ill-fitting thrift store clothing. "Is he homeless?"

"I dunno."

"I'll ask him," Carrie said, veering toward the player.

"Carrie, don't!" Amy hissed. "He's probably crazy or diseased or both."

"Now, now, what's the first thing Dr. Himmel said in SCWK 102? Every encounter is an opportunity to help the invisible."

"Whatever you say," Amy sighed. "Just don't go getting yourself on 'America's Most Wanted' as the tragic victim." She kept walking.

Carrie politely waited until the one-man band had stopped playing, and sat down next to him.

"Hello," he said. "Lovely afternoon, isn't it?"

"It is!" Carrie said, beaming her best smile. "What brings you out here today, Mr…?"

"I'm just a humble instrumentalist," he replied. "And today I'm playing in honor of the number 2."

"Why 2?" Carrie asked. She thought she detected a fixation; maybe the man was schizophrenic.

"Because it's truly wonderful," the instrumantalist replied. "2's prime, so just about anything can be reduced to it that isn't prime itself. Go on, give me a number."

"88," Carrie answered, thinking of piano keys.

"2 times 44 is 88, 2 times 22 is 44, 2 times 11 is 22, and then you're down to primes! Just 2 and 11 left.”

"I see." Revising her initial estimate, Carrie settled on delusion with a hint of autism thrown in for flavor—that was the instrumentalist's problem, no question.

"2's the razor that separates every number in existence into evens and odds, even though it's a very odd prime number in and of itself!” he continued. “Every number in the world's got to be pounded against 2 to see which way it breaks!"

Delusions of grandeur, too; the inflating of everyday events to hyperbolic proportions. Carrie nodded, mentally refining her diagnosis.

"At the same time, 2 is the smallest base you can use to display a meaningful number. Binary—1's and 0's, you know—is base 2, but 2 isn't even present! In fact, it's the surest sign you're out of binary country, where there's no such thing as 2."

"Hm," Carrie murmured. Definitely some kind of delusion, compounded by strange and impossible claims. No such thing as 2? Maybe it had been stolen by the one world government or the black helicopters.

"And how's this for a trick? What's 2+2?"

"4." Maybe there was some sort of childhood trauma, a root cause.

"2 x 2?"

"4 again." Add obsessive compulsion to the mix.


"Still 4." Perhaps a trauma on a day with a prominent 2?

The instrumentalist laughed. "Only number in the world that's true for. But what's the square root of two?"

Carrie only remembered a smattering of roots from high school. "I don't know."

"Exactly! No one does for sure. The square root of two is an irrational number, a decimal that goes on forever without repeating."

The instrumentalist spread his hands, smiling; Carrie saw her chance. "So why do you know so much about 2? Did something bad happen when you were 2, or on the 2nd of some month? I'm here to talk if you need it."

"No, no, nothing of the sort," the instrumentalist laughed. "I did my thesis on the divisibility of irrational numbers by 2, especially Pythagorian and Erd├Ás-Borwein constants."

Carrie blinked. "Thesis?" It was more serious than she thought; the man was a former academic fallen to insanity, like Kaczynski but hopefully without explosives.

"Yes, I did it at this very university in 1977; they offered me a research position as a result."

"Ah," Carrie said, hoping to probe deeper into the man's psyche. "Why'd you leave?"

"I didn't," the instrumentalist grinned.

"Y-you mean…?"

The man handed Carrie a piece of paper; unfolded, she saw it was a mathematics PhD. "Doesn't do me much good on the wall, does it?" he said. "I like to keep it on my person."

"But…but why the harmonica, the washboard, and the signs?"

"Great conversation starters," the instrumentalist replied. "And before you know it, you've learned something. Just look at how much you now know about the number 2. Every meeting is an opportunity to enlighten the ignorant, after all."

He leaned in closer. "And, just between you and me, I enjoy messing with people's perceptions a little; you learn a lot about what people are really like. And I love to play before an audience, too, even though I'm not terribly good even with years of practice."

Carrie couldn't think of a response.

"Don't say much, do you young lady?"

"I…I have to go now. I have class," Carrie said, standing. Every now and then, of course, there were people that just couldn't be helped. Yes, that was it—the instrumentalist's psychoses were so deeply rooted that there was nothing she could do. Best to write him off as a lost cause and move on, of course. She'd tried, after all, and couldn't very well be expected to make much of a difference in ten minutes.

"Of course!" The instrumentalist waved. "Come back next week. I think the sign'll say 'time's an allusion' then, or maybe 'space is infinitely spaced.' You'll get a kick out of those, you bet!"


In orion_mk3's own words: I'm a former student and teacher of literature who's driven by some inner madness to pen things at irregular intervals. I work it in between classes and during long stretches in the campus library.

March FFC: Richard Badalamente: The Knockoff


by Richard Badalamente

Molly hung her purse over the ear on the back of her chair rail, making sure the Gucci logo was on the outside where everyone could see it.

Janice stared at the purse. Hmm, nine hundred bucks.

The bus boy came to the table with water. Molly kept talking while she checked him out. As he was walking away she turned to Janice and said in a stage whisper, “Nice butt.”

Janice raised a manicured eyebrow and smiled with just half her mouth.

Molly rose from her chair. “I have to pee so bad my crowns are rusting.”She took her purse from the back of the chair.

“I’ll watch your purse, if you’d like,” said Janice.

“Are you kidding? I’ve got my face in there,” Molly said, striking a dramatic pose, before turning and heading towards the Ladies.

Janice watched momentarily, then rose quickly and said to Molly’s retreating back, “I’ll go with you.”

Molly didn’t even turn around. Just raised her hand in acknowledgement. Janice made a show about checking her make up once in the Ladies, while Molly set her purse on the tile counter and headed for a stall.

As soon as Janice heard the tinkle of Molly’s stream, she grabbed Molly’s purse and holding the clasp so it wouldn’t make a snapping noise, she opened it. She checked the printing on the label, ran her thumb across it. She heard Molly’s stream stop and heard toilet paper being pulled from the roll. She hurriedly checked the label. The printing was clean. No misspellings as far as she could tell. She started to pull at it and that’s when the side pocket flipped open and she saw the gun.

The next sequence of events seemed to happen in slow motion for Janice. The purse fell from her fingers, hit the edge of the counter, turned over and spilled its contents to the floor; compact, lipstick, eye shadow pencil, wallet, and then the gun. Janice watched as the gun fell to the floor, hitting on its handle and going off with an ear shattering report that reverberated off the bathroom walls.

“Uh, oh,” was all Janice could manage.

She stared dumbstruck at the ugly, matte-black pistol lying on the tile floor next to a spinning lipstick -- Bubblegum pink. Then she heard a moan and a thud and looked at the door to the stall directly across from her. There was a neat, round hole in the door and beneath it Janice could see Molly’s elbow and the back of her head.

She picked up the purse. The label had pulled loose.

“Hah!” she said, “It is a knockoff!”


Richard Badalamente writes fiction and non-fiction, sometimes confusing the two, especially when writing about politics. He completed a 120,000-word novel last year only to realize he’d have a better chance getting two 60,000-word novels published. He’s also written a novella, a novelette, numerous short stories, and many poems, some of which have actually been published. “The Knockoff” is his first foray into flash fiction. Per Richard, "It was fun."

March FFC: Padma Narayanaswamy: Sacrificing Her Child

Sacrificing Her Child

by Padma Narayanaswamy

Sita has no other alternative but to kill her son. The child who has suckled her breast drinking the very blood of her life has to be put away. She looked the last time at him.

He has taken after her, and looked pretty handsome for his age. He was just a toddler and looked at her with a confidence that a child has for his mother that she will protect him from evil and bad things in this cruel world. The child 's look at her, is what it hurt the most.

Her child was born to her after visiting so many temples and after so many prayers. He was the apple of her eye. He used to follow her holding the end of her sari, whenever she visited the nearby forest to pluck the leaves of the medicine trees, which grew there and watch her grind and give to the sickly poor persons who visited her in search of any cure for their ailments. She used to tell the future of some of her clients.

How happy she was with her husband? It looked just as if it was yesterday when her husband Ram brought to his village. He was quite handsome and hard working. They owned a small plot of land, not much just about three acres. He used to grow vegetables and wheat on their land. He also planted some of the herbal trees for her.

After two summers of marriage people began to talk her as barren. She than went with her husband and performed many pujas (rites performed by the Hindus ) .One of the elders suggested to her to tie a cradle on the banyan tree and circumvent the tree every Friday. To her joy she conceived and her joy knew no bounds.

However destiny started playing in her life. Her healthy husband suddenly took ill. She gave him her medicines. Finding that he became more ill, she took him to hospitals. There they diagnosed him with TB.

She became aware that he was finally dying. One night she dreamt that her husband was dragged away from her by Yama (a black figure riding a buffalo). She has to do something to save her sindoor. (Vermillion applied by Indian women in the parting of their hair to show their married status)

Being a widow is the most tragic part for any Indian woman. Being a witch she found that she could stop her husband dying if she could sacrifice the blood of a child to Goddess Kali (Indian Goddess). She has to somehow retain her sindoor as she cannot treat the sick, as she would lose the respect of the villagers and they would not come to her if she is a widow.

She than decided that she had no option, but to sacrifice her child to please the Goddess. She grinded some sleeping herbs and gave it to the child. She took the sleeping child to the Kali Temple at night. While it lay she cut the head and fell into a swoon.

The next day the villagers found a torso of a child, the head some distances away and a woman’s body near the temple and handed it over to the police.

From the author: I am Padma Narayanaswamy an Indian Freelance writer and Journalist. I am Passionate in all genres of writing and I have written a lot of short stories, poems, plays and a film script . I am a middle age lady with two grown up sons. My husband is working in a Bank. I aim to be a successful writer with the help of forums like (FFC 2008) and CC and I am sure I will succeed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring Theme Carnival!

Is it Spring yet where you are? If not, it will be soon and what better time than now to start thinking about March holidays and the start of a bright new season?

Here are a few Spring Holiday Themes to get you thinking:

* Vernal (Spring) Equinox
* Spring Break
* St Patrick's Day
* Easter

Of course, you may have other holidays you're celebrating this month or the changing of the season might be inspiring you to write some other springtime tale. Any seasonally appropriate story is fine for this carnival. And don't forget it's also Women's History Month, so bring on your strong female characters!

Submit your flash fiction piece of 1,000 words or less no later than 10:00pm Friday, March 21 and it'll be posted sometime before the next morning. I'll post stragglers through the weekend of March 22-23 on an ad hoc basis.

If you are posting your story on your own website or blog, send the permalink via EMAIL. If you prefer your story be hosted here, send it as text in the body of an EMAIL and we'll get it posted. Do NOT post links to stories in the comments. If we do not have an email from your email address, we will not post a link to your story. This is a new rule necessitated by our need to confirm that we have full permission of the author to link to and/or post the author's work. This is non-negotiable. No link or story will be posted if the FFC admins cannot confirm its origin. No IP address, no participation. Thanks in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

Now get writing!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

March FFC Theme Announcement: Letters & Numbers

First off, please excuse my not getting this posted sooner. I went to bed early last evening and actually managed to sleep through the night for once.

Now then, the theme for March is LETTERS and/or NUMBERS.

By letters, I mean alphabet letters. This can take you anywhere you can imagine and follow any genre. The numbers can be numerals of any flavor. Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, Mayan ones. Or even some system you create yourself.

The only limits to this topic are the ones you impose on yourself, so BE FREE!

Now for the nitty gritty:

1. You have two weeks to write and submit. I must receive a link to your story in your blog or elsewhere or en email containing the text for your story to be hosted here at the FFC blog by
12 pm US Eastern Standard Time on March 12th. Email your links and stories to me.

2. All genres and all writers are welcome.

3. Word count should NOT exceed 1000 words.

4. Please PROOFREAD before you send us a story to be hosted. I'm usually pretty nice about hollering at folks, but sometimes (like now) I have other things I'm doing and cannot be your mama or your English teacher.

That's about it. Please ask any questions in the comments. You are likely NOT the only one who has your question.

Ah, one more thing. Do NOT post links to stories in the comments. If I do not have an email from your email address, I will not post a link to your story. This is a new rule necessitated by our need to confirm that we have full permission of the author to link to and/or post the author's work. This is non-negotiable. No link or story will be posted if the FFC admins cannot confirm its origin. No IP address, no participation. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

Now then, GO WRITE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FFC Hosts Needed!


Are you interested in having a group of writers follow your lead? Do you feel up to the challenge of creating a theme for the next Flash Fiction Carnival? Finally, are you willing to put forth the time and effort to promote the FFC you host and gather the permalinks and stories to be hosted here at the FFC 2008 blog and then post them on the expected day? Shoot me an email and volunteer!

Seriously, we need hosts for the coming months. Also, if you are interested in hosting special FFCs, send me a proposal and I'll discuss it with my advisors (yes, I do have advisors) and if it flies we'll give it a go. As of now, I'm thinking that after a while I'd like to offer up themes for micro-flashes to be delivered in 24 hours. Traffic to our little FFC 2008 blog is increasing daily and as interest grows, hopefully the number of writers will as well.

Meanwhile, I have a theme in mind for March if no one else wants to do one. I do not know, as yet, if BunnyGirl is planning a St. Patrick's themed flash, but she'll let us know before long I'm sure. At any rate, I'll be posting the theme for March one week from tomorrow on the 27th and there will be a full two weeks to write this time. Cowardice did way better than I was afraid it might with only a week, but I do wonder how many more folks would have participated if they'd had the full fourteen days.

So holler if you want to host. Or, if you like, you can just send me some theme ideas. I'm open to suggestions.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Flash Fiction

Welcome to the Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Carnival!

As humorist Will Cuppy pointed out, " very peculiar and could well do with more study."

So here's your chance! Whether you're a romantic, a cynic or just a wee bit strange, we have goodies for you!

Today's tales include stories of love lost...

Moonlight's Gift by Thomma Lyn

A Standing Appointment by Gwen Mitchell

Love Everlasting by jerzegurl affirmed...

A Valentine's Short by Kathleen Oxley

Hands by Susan Helene Gottfried

Lovesong by Genevieve K. Waller not quite found...

This Rugged Road by Lee Ann S. Murphy

Love Not Wisely by Bunnygirl

...a light-hearted fling...

The Afternoon Boyfriend by Bunnygirl

...and stranger things... some love, some a bit more sinister...

Shademoss Asks the Ancient Oak by L.J. Janik

Dangerous Type by AlannahJoy

Valentine’s at Castle Dracuul by William Skye

Do you have a Valentine-themed story? Post your link in the comments before 5 pm Central Time today, February 14, or email to uhamp "at" yahoo "dot" com, and I'll try to sneak you into the posting lineup!

Please comment on the linked stories, where comments are allowed. It's understood that not all themes appeal to all folks, so contributors are asked to comment on at least six out of the twelve stories posted here. (Don't worry-- your previous comments on older posts do count toward your quota!) Those of you who are just visiting, we'd appreciate your comment love, too. It is Valentine's Day, after all!

Have a happy one, and keep your mitts out of the chocolate!

Valentine’s at Castle Dracuul

by William Skye

In a cloud-shrouded sky, the sliver of a winter moon hid from the dark below. On an icy ridge an ancient castle stood hard by, shouldering the weight of time and snow.

Within, cold gray dust lay. Earth dust, moon dust, grave dust. Dust that was old when Carthage fell. Nothing moved in the cold still air save a gentle rippling in the mirrored hall.

A faint glow brightened; the castle’s mistress entered the great hall carrying a candelabra and a gold box. Before her, terrified creatures fled, and following padded her retinue of cats. She strode on long, thin legs, barely touching the carpet which rose to gentle each step. Her black hair streamed behind and her pale features were marked by malice and passion.

As sharp waves of moonlight pierced the aged windows the candelabra appeared to float from mirror to mirror. She paused at the hall table where a note stood folded. She set down the candelabra and read.

“Karyan, my darling, my sweet,” the note read, “I will hurry to you tonight as soon as I am able. Please wait upon my return. All my devotions, VCD.

“P.S. I have you a little present in the study.”

She pressed the gold box to her chest and felt her heart beat against it. She thought of him, so strong, so handsome, so, so thrilling. She sighed, her heart skipping. Her chest burned, thinking of his dark eyes.

The study! She took up the candelabra and continued down the hall, clutching the carved gold box. Cockroaches and mice ran frantically ahead, cats languidly followed.

Three mice darted left toward a cat, then with mousy shrieks ran right. A second cat leapt to block them and they stopped, frozen, in Karyan’s path. She halted. The crouching cats eyed the mice, and their mistress. She laughed, pointing at the mice.

“Dance,” she said.

The mice, two grays and a fat piebald, ran in a little circle, first one way, then the other. Then each chased its tail, demented cogs in a living wheel. Like circus tumblers they then bowled each other over, over, over. The cats hissed and howled their disapproval.

“Dance!” she commanded.

The mice leapt over one another’s backs, and bounded in the air. Rising on their hind legs they held forepaws. They spun, they kicked the air, they rolled. The cats wailed.

“We are not amused,” she said, with a voice like wasps wings. The trio huddled, trembling. She pointed at the fat one, freezing it, and to the others whispered, “Run!”

Run the two grays did, one left, one right. Each to the claws of a waiting cat and was torn apart. She felt her heart race. She addressed the fat piebald.

“You were the worst. What, you want mercy? You carry life inside you? Warm, bleeding life? Am I to be moved by this?” Thoughts of torture and pain filled her, but she tired of the game.

With a slight motion of her finger the litter grew, and grew, and devoured the piebald from within. Clawing their way out they furiously attacked one another. Rippling, the blood red carpet pulled the remains into itself.

Gliding up the stairs her thoughts returned to him. A candle set a cobweb alight. The study doors opened, stirring the must of moldering books, decay, of things old and forgotten.

There on the center table was as small blue vial and a crystal bud vase holding a three stem rose. She swept to it, set down her burdens, gently grasped the vase.

One bloom was fully open, one beginning to unfold, the third a bud. A petal drooped. This she touched, and it dissolved into a drop of blood on her finger. Green eyes wide she stared at the red black globe. She closed her eyes and placed her finger in her mouth.

Ecstasy! Oh blood, oh blood, how she hungered. The flavor of life filled her mouth. Panting, her heart racing, she could not contain herself. She placed the open blossom in her mouth and bit. She was overwhelmed by the rich, perfumed, viscous fluid. She held it in her mouth, rolled it with her black tongue, and finally, slowly swallowed. Her chest burned.

Recovering from her swoon she heard the faint rustle of wings in the air. Turning, she stared into the deep, black eyes of her lover, her Count.

He looked at the rose and smiled a faint, cruel smile. “You have pollen on your lips, my dear.”

“Oh Vlad, Vlad, it is lovely. A blood rose for Valentine’s. So thoughtful. Thank you, my darling.”

“I am pleased you are pleased. And this?” he said, handing her the vial. “Open it my pet.”

She unstopped the bottle and puff of vapor emerged. A child’s scream echoed in the study.

“Vlad, my love. A blood rose and baby’s breath. How you spoil me!,” she said, kissing his cheek. She picked up the ornately carved box. “My darling, this is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

He grasped the box but she did not let go. She stared into his eyes. Deep, deep within she saw the eternity of stars and the depths of the grave. Overawed, she looked at her feet, then slowly lifted her gaze again to his.

“I have never loved before. I have never given my heart to any man. I want you to know how faithful I am to you, how much, how much you mean to me. This was very difficult for me to acquire, but it was the only thing I could give you to show you my love, my total devotion. I want you to have this.”

He touched her hair, she playfully bit at his hand. Vlad, Count Dracuul, lifted the lid and turned the box to the light. Within, resting on consecrated earth, beat Karyan’s heart.

He closed the box. “Thank you, my precious. Happy Valentine’s Day.”


by Genevieve K. Waller

It was cold, snowy, wet. Again. Stella and Luke didn't have big plans, each having spent the past 12 hours working downtown at their respective offices, and via cell phone they decided to get Thai for dinner at the BYOB place close to home. They agreed to drop their stuff off at the condo, grab beers from the fridge, and walk the three blocks to the restaurant. Never mind that it was Valentine's Day. For Stella, the greasy noodles and spicy curry were comfort food to ward of the bitterness of a Chicago winter. And they needed the walk after being stuck inside at their desks all day.

The place was as dingy as ever. Grease clung to the fake woodwork, and the dim room smelled like overcooked broccoli and spices. A draft blew in every time someone opened the door and threatened to blow out the single, weakly flickering tea light on each table. A thin layer of frost lined the bottom of the wide front windows that faced the busy sidewalk. Textiles with hand sewn motifs – trees, birds, fields – sat between layers of heavy square glass, decorating each tabletop. The chairs were something out of a keynote speech at a national convention held in a nondescript assembly hall – black cushions, gold metal frames. The drinking glasses didn't match, and were scratched and chipped at their bottoms.

But tonight, Stella and Luke didn't complain. Tonight the waitress had actually brought them glasses and a bottle opener on their first request.

"I didn't realize this place actually had a waitress," Luke joked, raising an eyebrow in mock surprise.

"You do realize, however, that tonight -- Valentine's night, my beloved -- I'm going for comfort over romance, right?" Stella asked him. "Look around. This is most definitely not a romantic place. It's a place for lonely people to eat inconspicuously by themselves, a place that does a great takeout business. In fact, if we're really honest with ourselves, I think we'd agreed that it's the kind of place you don't want much brighter than this for fear of how it'd really look."

Luke nodded. "But it's still our place," he said.

It was true. In their quickly gentrifying neighborhood, the Thai restaurant was a relic of their early love. As decrepit as the place was, it had been a key location of their dates, during which conversations eventually turned serious, and which now found them in this newly married life. Given the significance of the place, they didn't mind too much if, on occasion, something was floating among the ice in their water glasses.

"Here's to us…there's no one better," she said, raising her glass as another couple entered the restaurant. Stella looked over her arm and could see a woman helping a man through the heavy door. Both of them were at the tail end of middle age, bundled against the weather in heavy wool coats, hats, gloves, scarves.

The woman returned Stella's gaze directly. She had a gray-white mane of hair that made Stella think of Susan Sontag on her old book jacket photos, before the ones of her while she was suffering a nearly insufferable death from cancer. The woman nodded at Stella, and then turned into the restaurant where she and the man slid into a booth to sit across from each other.

Then, without even taking her coat off, the woman gently took the man's hand. She leaned closer to him. Took a breath and smiled, then began to sing. And Stella immediately thought the voice that came from her should have been singing to a crowd in a smoky cabaret downtown, crooning to a crowd of Valentine's Day revelers.

"My funny Valentine…

Sweet, funny, Valentine...

You make me smile when skies are gray…."

She sang the whole song. The waitress held back, unsure of what to do. Another couple entering the restaurant stopped stamping the snow off their feet and stood still in the doorway. The woman never took her eyes off her companion, even when her voice gave a Katharine Hepburn warble, although that happened only once.

And then she was finished. She let go of his hand, and smiled again at him. There was no obvious reaction from him, and Stella couldn't see the man's face. She knew it would be obnoxious to get up and take a look at him, or to tell the woman that she had an amazing voice.

The restaurant's action picked up: customers entered, the cook called out orders, silverware clinked against plates, the phone kept ringing.

Stella looked at Luke. He was taking a sip of beer but she could tell her was smiling at her. She realized her mouth was wide open.

"Happy Valentine's Day," he said, as she closed her mouth and picked up her glass for a sip of beer.

Stella looked at Luke then, and hoped that someday, after many years filled with both the more and the less of life and love, that she could sing that song to him and mean it the way the woman meant it. And she wanted Luke to hear it the way she wanted him to hear it, the way she hoped the man she could not see had heard it tonight. Dingy place or not. She wanted to sing "My Funny Valentine" with the same expression of joy and passion. Like there was no one else in the room, no one else anywhere on a cold, snowy Chicago night but the two of them.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

February FFC: Cowardice

Welcome to the February Flash Fiction Carnival. I want to thank the writers who ran with the theme and sent in stories after just a week of writing time. I had no idea if this theme would work or not, but I'm very gratified that you all gave it a go.


Now then, to business. Two stories are being hosted here at the FFC 2008 blog and the others are posted in the respective author's blog. Please read all of the flashes and make comments where they are open. As we have fewer than ten writers for this theme, commenting should not be an overwhelming task. I know I don't need to remind you, but it's my job so to do, please be constructive with your comments NOT destructive. Comments in this blog are now being moderated and will likely remain so indefinitely. I apologize for this inconvenience, but I promise that I will post comments with as much alacrity as I can muster.

In order of receipt, I present to you the flashers bold enough to address COWARDICE:

Cowardice by Unfocused Me in The Unfocused Life

A Tough Decision by Kathleen Oxley in Kathleen Oxley Erotica

Five Simple Words by Gwen Mitchell in Gwen Mitchell Fiction

15-and-4 by Arachne Jericho in Spontaneous Derivation

A Wee Bit Afeared by BenBradley at Absolute Write's blogging forum.

Good Enough, Close Enough by Genevieve Waller in FFC 2008

Going Home by Alannah Joy in AlannahJoy's Medazzaland

The Artifice of Sisterhood by Virginia Lee in FFC 2008

February FFC: Genevieve Waller: Good Enough, Close Enough

Good Enough, Close Enough
by Genevieve Waller

"Robert, we have to leave as soon as possible. Tonight. They know you're here and they're going to be coming for us soon."

"I know, but I just can't decide which ones to take."

"You can't take any of them. Don't you realize that by now? Most of those images are too incriminating to survive. At the very least, they'll confiscate the negatives as we try to get out of here. At the most, they'll destroy them in front of your eyes. Probably burn them to ashes. And then throw you in prison. You can't take them with us."

"But I've worked so hard to get these. Don't you remember how it was? The Republicans wouldn't take me seriously when I first got to Spain. They thought I wanted to photograph their sunlight, their women. They placed bets on whether I'd keep up with their soldiering, whether I'd handle all the running and fighting and death. But I proved them wrong and won them over. And I've shown the world their story, as sad and violent as it's been."

"That's all true, Robert. But we're going to be on a ship for something like seven hours. The water, the salt. They'll be destroyed. You've got to leave them here."

"But who could I possibly trust with them?"

"What about Ricardo? He's not suspect. He's not Jewish. He's been a diplomat long enough to know how situations like these develop into chaos. With the war coming, I doubt he'll stay here in France much longer. He can take the negatives with him when he leaves."

"You're right, although if we waited until tomorrow night to leave, I could get them all together safely. Plus, I've only met the man once or twice. Would he remember me? Would he even agree to take them? How do I get them to him? And how would I get them back?"

"You're already asking too many questions. I'll contact his girlfriend. She's with him almost every night and if they're not together now she'll at least know where to find him. Quickly. I'm sure he'll do it. I saw him last week at the bar and he went on for almost an hour about how much he loves your photos, your philosophy."

"You're sure about this man?"

"I can't really think of anyone else on such short notice. Robert, look at all of this. There are so many here. Can't you leave some behind?"

"I don't think so."

"But…. But, I can't wait."


"I want to leave tonight. I was hoping you'd decide quickly about the negatives and go with me. I've already got tickets for the two of us on the last ship out. I have to be on it, with or without you. I can't stay here. I can't do this any longer. Soon they aren't going to let me leave unless I start helping them."

"But you've just said you'd help me save these negatives. They're all I've got to show for the last three years of my life."

"I will help you, Robert. By contacting Ricardo's girlfriend. But I've got to go. They're after me as well, you know, for the photos I took in the cities while you were out in the countryside."

"Please. Stay. Just one more night. We'll leave together then."

"It's not a chance I can take. I'll make the call. That's good enough, isn't it? Then I've got to pack."

"I don't think I'll ever see you again, then."

"I don't think you will. That's something I realized when I started this conversation. But it's all the help I can give you."

"Then just make that call. And go."

Friday, February 1, 2008

February FFC Theme Announcement

The February FFC is LIVE ! ! !


I'm changing things up a bit for this FFC because of BunnyGirl's Valentine's FFC. Here we go:

1. You have SEVEN DAYS to write. The deadline is MIDNIGHT, February 7th, Eastern Standard Time.

2. The word count should NOT exceed 750 words, but 500 would be better.

3. Any genre is acceptable. Use this opportunity to stretch a bit if you wish. Get out of your comfort zone or try something new. It's entirely up to you.

4. EDIT your story before hitting send if you expect us to host it here at the FFC 2008 blog. We are not your mama nor your English teacher. What you send us is what we will post. I can assure you, however, if something is horribly wrong and it's not too late for you to fix it, I will send you an email to see if you want to edit your piece. I'm nice that way. I will not, however, fix it for you.

5. Comments are optional. We STRONGLY recommend that you open your story up to comments because constructive feedback is always a good thing, however, if you're new to this sort of thing and uncomfortable with that, it's okay to not have comments.

6. You ARE expected, however, to comment on the stories that are open for them. The rule of thumb is that you comment on at least 1/2 of the stories unless we have more than a dozen. Then you have to do at least eight, being careful to select stories with the fewest comments first. We want everyone who wants it to have feedback. NOTE: We can close comments on your story that is hosted here if you wish. We'd prefer to leave our comments open, but understand if you would prefer them closed.

7. Send your permalinks or flashes to me. If you want your story hosted here in the FFC 2008 blog, please include a brief biography.

That's it. Please ask any questions you have in the comments below. The odds are you aren't the only person with that question.

Thanks for playing!

NOTE: The FFC 2008 blog reserves the right to refuse to host or post any stories from certain parties. This is not a democracy. Thanks.

Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Carnival

It's almost Valentine's Day, and you know what that means!

Another holiday-themed Flash Fiction Carnival!

Anyone who wants to join is welcome. Requirements are as follows:

  • Must be 1200 words or less, 1000 or less strongly preferred.
  • Must have a Valentine's/Love theme of some sort. It can be love gone bad, but the theme has to be in there somewhere.
  • Must be fiction (duh).
  • Can be old or new, posted on your blog or someone else's, or even published in a zine somewhere, as long as it's linkable.

Any other questions? Just ask!

Send your permalinks (urls) to me between now and the 13th via the comments section below or via email to uhamp "at" yahoo "dot" com. If you don't have a blog or would just prefer to have your story posted here, email it to me and I'll be happy to take care of it for you!

Happy Writing!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

February Host Needed

Now it's true that BunnyGirl is going to do our special holiday themed FFCs, but we still need a host for February's regular FFC. If no one steps up, I can do it, but since the point is to get folks involved, I'd prefer to have someone else host.

Holler at me via my email link over to the right or leave a comment below with an email addy so I can get in touch with you if you're interested.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Support A Writer Day: Patry Francis - Liar's Diary

I blogged about Patry Francis a while back. She's a writer whose book, Liar's Diary, is coming out this week in paperback. She also has cancer, as I did not so long ago.

Patry is, I believe, an Everywoman. She worked and took care of her family, all the while, toiling away at her book. Everything I read about her by people who've met her and known her for some time is positive. That's rare, that is.

So why blog about this lady? Well, she's dealing with her cancer as I type and I feel for her. She's an amazing woman all the way around. And, she's a writer who could use a hand promoting her book, Liar's Diary, while she's focusing on her health. I daresay you'll run across her name all over the place too in blogs and articles and websites for a time as @ three hundred folks have signed on to give Ms. Francis a boost for her book, Liar's Diary.

Here's the press release:

A Novel
By Patry Francis

“The new questions and revelations just keep coming…Readers will be heartily rewarded.”—Ladies’ Home Journal

When new music teacher Ali Mather enters Jeanne Cross’s quiet suburban life, she brings a jolt of energy that Jeanne never expected. Ali has a magnetic personality and looks to match, drawing attention from all quarters. Nonetheless, Jeanne and Ali develop a friendship based on their mutual vulnerabilities THE LIAR’S DIARY (Plume / February 2008 / ISBN 978-0-452-28915-4 / $14.00) is the story of Ali and Jeanne’s friendship, and the secrets they both keep.Jeanne’s secrets are kept to herself; like her son’s poor report card and husband’s lack of interest in their marriage. Ali’s secrets are kept in her diary, which holds the key to something dark: her fear that someone has been entering her house when she is not at home. While their secrets bring Jeanne and Ali together, it is this secret that will drive them apart. Jeanne finds herself torn between her family and her dear friend in order to protect the people she loves.

A chilling tour of troubled minds, THE LIAR’S DIARY questions just how far you’ll go for your family and what dark truths you’d be willing to admit—even to yourself.


Patry Francis is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize whose work has appeared in the Tampa Review, Colorado Review, Ontario Review, and the American Poetry Review. She is also the author of the popular blogs, and This is her first novel. Please visit her website at

Praise for THE LIAR’S DIARY:

“Twists and turns but never lets go.”—Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“A quirky, well-written and well-constructed mystery with an edge.”—Publishers Weekly
“Outright chilling.”—New York Daily News
“Genuinely creepy…The unlikely friendship between a small-town school secretary and a flamboyant teacher proves deadly in this psychological murder mystery.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A twisting ride full of dangerous curves and jaw-dropping surprises. This is one of my favorite reads of the year!”—Tess Gerristen, bestselling author of The Mephisto Club

“Francis draws and tense and moody picture of the perfect home and family being peeled back secret by secret…Four Stars.”—Romantic Times


By Patry Francis
Plume Paperbacks / February 2008 / $14.00ISBN: 978-0-452-28915-4

Readers Guide available at

For more information or to schedule an interview with Patry Francis, please contact Laurie Connors, Plume Publicity212-366-2222 /

I don't know about you, but I'll be picking up a copy right quick.
Thanks for your kind attention. Go give someone you know who's been affected by cancer a real good hug and give them a copy of Patry's book. And HEY! Don't forget to get one for yourself too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

January Flash Fiction Carnival: NEW

Thank you, one and all, for submitting your stories!

Now here's the deal:

  1. Read the lovely stories that everyone has written!

  2. Comment on every participating story as there are only eleven flashes in this FFC. Our policy:

    Participants are expected to comment on their fellow writers' stories and to be constructive in their criticism. A pat on one's figurative headbone is swell, but an honest critique is better and helps everyone. Non-participants are welcome and encouraged to comment on stories as well.

  3. Here are the stories --

    The Getaway, by William Edwards.

    Tall Tales of Q, by Kate Boddie.

    Something Old, Something New, a Will and Diana Adventure, by Ann Pino.

    Beginnings, by Serena Casey.

    Memorable, by Gwen Mitchell.

    New Blood, by R. Jill Fink.

    The New Jacket, by Dante Persechino.

    New, by Ray M. Solberg.

    Forceps, by Caleb Mark.

    Spirit Twins, by Gayle Hedrington.

    Shelf of Dolls, by Alannah Joy.

    Go read! Write your comments. Try to have them completed by the end of January.

    Enjoy---and thanks for joining in January's Flash Fiction Carnival!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

January FFC: Forceps by Caleb Mark

© Caleb Mark

The developments that had occurred to his anatomy were unexplainable. Each cell seemed to have a mind of its own, knitting together a form that would last for decades.

Some recent changes were evident on his exterior. Lanugo, once present all over his body, now only grew on his upper arms and shoulders. In the past few weeks he had added a considerable amount of body fat. The extra fat would help him in the colder climate. His small frame would also need the stored energy for the activity that lay ahead.

A short time ago his world had begun to close in on him. At certain intervals he would be held tightly. As the pressure was released he would then float freely, suspended in the liquid that was his home. The forces were becoming larger and closer together, pushing his head into a tiny tubular hole below. He hung upside down. As he pressed into the opening, it widened, and like the neck of a balloon disappears as it becomes inflated, the hole slowly became a part of the wall of his home.

At one point, a thin membrane that surrounded him broke and the liquid emptied itself out into the passage below. Without the fluid to fill the sac he was in, his space became even tighter, making movement more difficult.

The opening he was being pressed into expanded with little effort and his body inched through with each push. Before he had fully passed through the first opening, he found himself at the second one. It was not visible from his position but it was there nonetheless. Navigating it would be much more complicated. Unlike the first opening, the rim of this second crevice was bony and would not stretch. His head needed to turn in order to fit. In the accent, his body rotated right, making it easier to maneuver, but something was holding him back.

The tube that grew out of his stomach had slipped in between his head and the walls of the tight passage. He became stuck. The pushes from above weren’t taking him anywhere now.

From below, two objects worked there way toward him. The outside world wanted him. The way it would reach him was by two prongs, placed firmly on each side of his head. Up to this point he had been pushed from behind. Now he was being pulled forward.

His body faced downward as he reached the third opening. A few moments later the top of his head was visible to the outside world. Shoulders, torso, arms, legs and feet slipped out. He was leaving behind the protection of his old home; however, he was also leaving behind its restrictions. His arms and legs now squirmed freely in the grasp of two large hands.

A device was placed over his mouth in order to suck out some of the fluid. His bluish color gave away the strain he felt within. He alone held the power to change from blue to pink. It was the first thing he would ever be asked to do for himself.

With his first breath, the ductus arteriosus in his heart began to close. Blood flowed to and from his lungs. He had experienced breathing like movements before. Now it was the real thing.

There had not been much to look at inside the womb . Now there was a reason to gaze at his surroundings. Two dark pupils could be seen through the squint he held.


BIO: I am pretty new to writing. I have had story ideas floating around in my head for years but never the nerve to do something about it until recently. I teach upper elementary students and would probably be more likely to write to that audience. I recently started browsing the Absolute Write Water Cooler and saw a post about this site. Thanks for the opportunity to post on the FFC.

January FFC: Spirit Twins by Gayle Hedrington

Spirit Twins
© Gayle Hedrington

Joyce jumped out of the water giving a shriek. "Did a fish bit you?" The handsome Beach Man asked.

"Something did." She hoped he did not notice her blushing. Whatever bit her did so, right on her crotch. She wondered if the creature sensed her sexual excitement, brought on by Mr. Beach Man. He had that affect on her.

"Where did he bite you?" His voice echoing genuine concern. However, Joyce's hesitation caused him to say "Never mind, I don't need to know."

Joyce was about to ask his name, when the fish returned for another nibble. Again she vaulted out of the water with a shout.

"Did he bite you again?"

"Yes" She gave out a slight laugh.

"Let me see... if I can see him" as he moved towards her.

At that moment, the fish tasted her crotch again. "I saw him that time. It's a small perch, come over here and I'll show you." He held out his hand.

Joyce wadded towards him and stood aside him. "See that fish there? He is the one that's biting you. He remained still and they watched as the fish neared their feet. When it maneuvered to nibble his toes , he kick his foot to disturb the fish and it swam away.

They both giggled.

"What's your name?"

"Doug" He replied and held out his hand. She took his hand and as they made their first physical contact.

"I'm Joyce."

Finally a name! Joyce had always referred to him as Mr. Beach Man to her friends. All her friends knew of him from her constant chatter. They wanted to meet the man who had locked Joyce's heart without a word being exchanged. Her friends had never seen Joyce so taken. She fell in love with Doug the instant he passed her eyes. What was not to love? Bronze skin, broad shoulders, and full bodied, sun streaked, brown hair. It was the type of hair that could never be out of place even when tossed or ruffled. Joyce possessed the ability to see beyond the physical frame of a person. She knew that he was her spirit twin, she felt it in her soul.

The second and last time she saw Doug was at the beach. It was a week or so after their first meeting and Doug joined her on the blanket. The two engaged in conversation until the inevitable came up. Doug confessed, he was married but separated. Joyce explained to Doug. about the past year in marriage counseling and that even the marriage counselor had said there was nothing more she could do. Doug told her to make her husband pay attention to her. He encouraged her to scream, cry to do whatever it was she had to do. She explained to him that she did and it didn't work. Doug confessed it didn't work for him either.

"You'll end up going back to your wife." Joyce told him.

"No, I don't think so. He said with a firm positive tone.

Doug was starting a new job on Monday and it he wouldn't be at the beach during the week. Joyce was leaving the next day for a wedding in Atlantic City. If she only knew it was the last time that she was going to see him, she would have left her number under the truck's windshield wiper. Both of them were assured they would see one another, the following weekend at the beach. Joyce mentioned the shortness of swimming days left, but Doug assured her there were still several swimming days ahead. Each of them loved the lake and swimming.

Joyce couldn't wait to get to the beach the next Saturday. She hurried there so she wouldn't be late and miss Doug again. As she pulled into the beach parking lot, her heart sunk. Signs were everywhere "Beach Closed - Until Future Notice - due to blue/green algae". Joyce stopped and asked the attendants when the beach would open again, and they said they didn't know. Joyce drove off and cursed herself under her breath, that she never asked Doug his last name.

Preparing for her new life in San Diego, Joyce wipes the last tear that she will ever shed for her defunct marriage to Frank. Although she is glad to be getting far away from Frank and the heartache, she doesn't want to leave Doug. She still believes, he is her spirit twin and they belong together. It wasn't as if she didn't try to find him. She spent two days riding around his work place looking for his truck, but never found it. He must have bought a new vehicle. Trying to reach him by calling work was impossible, she didn't know his last name. It is now up to fate, what will be will be.

Joyce droped off the rental car at the return center, her pace is fast as she walks toward the terminal. "Joyce! Is that you?"

As she turns she see Doug. "What are you doing here?" She can't believe her eyes. The site of Doug makes her feel as giddy as a teenager.

"My mom is sick. I came home to see her."

"You came home?"

"Yes, you were right I went back with my wife."

Joyce's heart sunk, and she felt sick. All she could say was "Oh."

"However I filed for divorce. I thought about you everyday."

"What are you doing?"

"Moving to San Diego."

"Really? What about Frank?"

"We're divorced."

"Give me you phone number, and address. I will see you when I get back to California. I know this sounds strange, but I feel like I belong with you."

"Really? I feel that too."

With that, the spirit twins embraced, kissed and of course exchanged phone numbers.


BIO: Gayle Hedrington lives in New Hampshire. She writes a weekly news column,and writes fiction and non fiction. In addition to writing she loves,animals, and cooking.

January FFC: The New Jacket by Dante Persechino

The New Jacket
© Dante Persechino

Picture if you can. Not, shopping for ‘dress” clothes for about six years. Try to fathom what a nightmare it would be. To load up the kids and head on down to the “Mall” area, to shop. Well, that is the situation that my wife and I were in, when one of my relatives died.

I know it sounds selfish. But one of my greatest fears had come true, the moment one of my cousins died. And I would have to go through the first circle of hell, known as shopping for “dress” clothes. I know,….. I know, it sounds totally selfish and self absorbing. My poor cousin had just passed away. And all I could think of, was that I would have to try to find something to wrap around my giant body.

You see; the last time I wore “dress” clothes, I was about 40 pounds lighter. Yikes, I thought. I am going to have to go to the Chubby Hubby section to fit into anything.

Since 1987 I’ve followed a vigorous workout routine. I started off, back then, doing an intense five day routine of weights, aerobics and running. I was in great shape. Not to mention the fact that; I ate next to nothing. I drank beer and snacked from time to time on jelly beans (and similar foods) to keep from passing out. I was a single guy. So when did I have the time to really eat a good meal. I was going to school, working a part time job, creating visual art and selling; said artwork. I was dating anywhere from three to twenty girls (Really, I am not bragging or anything, I used to always date at least three. It kept me from taking any one girl, to seriously).

After getting married, I didn’t just let myself go. I didn’t stop working out or anything. But, because of a car accident. I could no longer run or do aerobics. Yet, I still kept up my vigorous weight routine. I started walking, golfing and found a new passion. Kung Fu, to keep myself in shape. So, it was not my workout that had really changed my body. It was my diet.

Since the inception, of my obsession, with fitness. I was on a strict “Low fat” diet routine. Eating egg white sandwiches with hot sauce (To boast my body metabolism). Munching on fruit or raw veggies was my normal way to eat. And then all those “High Protein” diet books came out. I decided to try them,……all of them! Then after gaining 15 or so pounds, I thought, “what a great book this would make“. I’d sample every “Worthy” diet book on the market (And some not so worthy) and write a book about my experience! This lead me, to where I am now. Forty pounds heavier and in search of a new jacket. Maybe some pants to go along with it. Since my dress pants felt a little snug also.

The plan was a simple one. My wife and I were not, going to drag the kids through the mall; kicking and screaming, while Daddy tried to find a “New Fat Jacket”. So we dumped the kids off at my mothers and “stealthfully” raced away. My mother peering out the window like Godzilla looking for his next victim.

As we drove away in the “car of tranquility“, we decided on another mile stone of our journey. We were not, going to “Hit” some mall based store like JC Penny, to find my mammoth clothes; But a Gentlemen’s Warehouse. It may be a bit more expensive. But it would save us hours of running around looking for just the right jacket and pants, for the sorrowful event.

Boy, did we make the right decision!!

We walked into Gentlemen’s Warehouse. And were immediately greeted with a smile from a man, who’s attitude about selling clothes was, to say the very least, positive! As I came to know Paul, Our Sales Consultant (and my soon to be, new best friend). I had visions of being in a haberdashers, in the late 1800’s. Paul was a man who knew his business. He asked politely (Everything Paul said was polite): “What it was that I was looking for?” I told him my situation (My whole situation!!). And Paul whisked us off through the process of getting me fitted. He never said a word as he measured me. My waist, neck, inseam etc, were all processed and tallied. I, of course, was wearing sneakers. So Paul estimated my foot size (Very accurately, I might add), snapped his fingers and another sales associate appeared with my size 10 and a half wide dress shoes in his hands, along with a pair of new dress socks. To be mine throughout the fitting experience.

He virtually floated effortlessly throughout the store, grabbing pants, shirts and of course jackets on his way. With several pounds of clothes in his hands, he ended his journey on a huge black slate table in the middle of the store. In what seemed like a matter of a split second, Paul had six pair of pants. A couple of shirts. And, of course, a jacket all neatly folded and laid out for my inspection.
As I came out of the changing stall. I felt as thought the clothes looked good. But my “Spider Senses” were tingling. Which meant that something was amiss. I climbed up on the platform in front of my wife, Paul and, the rest of the store. Again,…. Imagine if you can, after six years of testing diets and gaining forty pounds standing in front of three huge mirrors mounted in such a way, as to see every angle of your body. In a very well lit show room. Add on to that, that now everyone in the showroom is peering at you, in your new dress clothes.

I stated to Paul that everything felt great. But that the jacket seemed snug around the shoulders, arms and chest. He looked with great care at my shoulders, and said: “Yes, well that should fit. But if it feels snug to you, then it won’t due to have you unhappy with the jacket. Lets try a 48 instead.” (I thought: “Oh my God, A forty eight. What the heck does that mean.? I am jumping up in size here like Rosie O’ Donnell at an all you can eat buffet contest“). Paul found a jacket that would now fit my immense body. He threw it on me and stepped back. (Now I am thinking: Any minute midgets dressed as “tiny clowns” are going to jump out of a small car and mistake me for a circus tent) “What do you think of that one?” Paul questioned. My wife piped in with: “I like that jacket, it makes you look so handsome”. (Yeah right, I thought. You could plaster me with butter and ask a half starved Sumo wrestler if I was handsome. And he would shy away as if I was Quasimodo. )“Good then”, my wife said, “Well take all of this”; As I oozed down off the foot and a half high “Biggest Loser” platform. But not before noticing how old my grey hair made me look, in the searing beams that they called a “lights“.

I sulkily walked over to the table that Paul had had my new wardrobe on. And as Paul and my wife were discussing further matters of my new clothes. I flipped one of the pants over and almost had a heart attack. It wasn’t the price that hit me. It was the size!! The pants that I had had on, were a size 40! I never wore a 40 in my whole life. EVER!!!

I wanted to run. But where to. Should I just “chuck” my credit card at my wife and hide in the car? I cannot face Paul again I thought. With him knowing that, ..(Sigh).I, “Pizza the Hut“, wear a size 40 waist. So I did what any proud man would do. I confidently, and with all the composure that I could muster, asked Paul: “Hey, Paul. I noticed that these pants are a size 40.” I went on to say: “Now I feel real bad Paul, I never wore this size before in my life, I feel real huge!”

“ Not at all sir” Paul exclaimed! “The 46 jacket that you first tried on comes proportionally with a size 41 pant”. “This means that your waist is a size smaller than the normal man”. I thought: (Yeah,…right, a normal fat man). “In fact sir, you had to jump up in jacket size to a 48”. I am now thinking: (Yup, that’s Me alright,… fat all around). Paul went on: “And a man with a 48 jacket should wear a 44 waist,…proportionally that is”. “In fact” Paul continued: “Your wife and I were just discussing the fact that: we MUST take in your new jacket around your waist area.” “So sir,…this means that you shoulders, chest, arms, neck and back are much larger than your waist” “Your upper body is huge compared to your hips and waist”. “Do you work out Sir, because we usually only have this problem with football players and professional athletes”?

(Silence),….I must have looked dumbfounded beyond belief! With those few sentences from Paul, all my dreams had come true! I never wanted to kiss another man in my life. But at that moment, I was so “Freakin” happy that I wanted to plant one right on him (Paul and I are both happy I didn’t). In an instant, I went from feeling like Marlon Brando’s backside to Conan the Barbarian’s biceps.

Of course my wife didn’t hear the end of it for weeks. And all she would do is smile. As if she knew a secret that I didn’t. Did they conspire to tell me a lie? Or was she just smiling because I was happy. I will probably never know. But one thing is for sure. I don’t ever want to find out!!!


BIO: Dante Persechino. (The Big Kahoona)

A visual artist, writer, martial artist and Mr. Mom.

As a visual artist:
I've had several one man shows. Open juried shows and won some prizes. My work has been on several television stations including one out of Boston. My artwork has also been in a movie called "Say You'll Be Mine", formerly known as "Strangers in Transit" by Michael Corrente (It was never released as far as I can tell).

As a writer: I wrote for, under the pen name of The Big Kahoona. I am working on three books right now. And around seven or so on the back burner.

As a martial artist: I enjoy the greatest of luck, since I study under a great man (A nice onetoo) and martial artist. Mr. Wen-Ching Wu. Mr. Wu's top instructors are Ryan May and Frank W-Lynch (Who I am proud to call my brother in law).

As a Mr. Mom: It is the toughest job in the world. But, it is also the most rewarding one.I wouldn't trade it for anything.