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!