Month: May 2008

Our Editorial Practices

I recently put some information about our editorial practices in the Flash Forum. I put it there instead of on a separate page to encourage people to ask questions, complain, make suggestions, offer to be a part of the team, and so on.

Generally speaking, I like transparency in the editorial process. When things aren’t transparent, it’s generally because of logistical or other constraints, not because I prefer to keep things under wraps.

Five Star Literary Stories

I just found a great site called Five Star Literary Stories, run by three-time Pushcart nominee T.J. Forrester. I don’t suppose it’s shocking, with a name like that and an editor with those credentials, that it focuses on literary fiction (as opposed to science fiction, thrillers, etc.).

It might be especially beneficial if you don’t always like literary fiction, or if you’re not sure what people see in some of those fancy-schmancy stories. The reviews I’ve seen so far have been intelligent without being pretentious, so you’ll read a very short story plus a good review — and nothing, in my experience, enriches a reading experience more than seeing what other intelligent readers see in a given story.

Naturally, when I saw what TJ was doing, I wanted to be a part of it, so I spoke to TJ and I’ll be nominating Stefanie Freele’s “James Brown is Alive and Doing Laundry in South Lake Tahoe“.

I’ll be adding this to my links page, too.

For Writers: The Turkey City Lexicon

I’ve just created a nicely formatted version of the Turkey City Lexicon and made it available from my Goodies page.

The Turkey City Lexicon is a copyright-free collection of gaffes, stylistic problems, and other issues that face writers every day. I’m not talking about misplaced modifiers or point-of-view inconsistencies, but higher-level issues. Here are a few samples:

Brenda Starr dialogue
Long sections of talk with no physical background or description of the characters. Such dialogue, detached from the story’s setting, tends to echo hollowly, as if suspended in mid-air. Named for the American comic-strip in which dialogue balloons were often seen emerging from the Manhattan skyline.

“Call a Rabbit a Smeerp”
A cheap technique for false exoticism, in which common elements of the real world are re-named for a fantastic milieu without any real alteration in their basic nature or behavior. “Smeerps” are especially common in fantasy worlds, where people often ride exotic steeds that look and act just like horses. (Attributed to James Blish.)

Dischism
The unwitting intrusion of the author’s physical surroundings, or the author’s own mental state, into the text of the story. Authors who smoke or drink while writing often drown or choke their characters with an endless supply of booze and cigs. In subtler forms of the Dischism, the characters complain of their confusion and indecision — when this is actually the author’s condition at the moment of writing, not theirs within the story. “Dischism” is named after the critic who diagnosed this syndrome. (Attr. Thomas M. Disch)

You get the idea. Although it targets science fiction writers, there are plenty of items in it worth reading about for all genres.

And yes, that means that I’ve let everyone else do the real work of making all of this meaningful content, and all I’ve done is reformat it and republish it. But then, that’s what I do with all of the stories, too, so I’m okay with that… :)

If anyone thinks that an HTML version of this would be worth creating, let me know and I’ll add it to the list of things I really oughta do someday.

For Webmasters: "My IP Neighbors"

Okay, this has nothing to do with writing, but it has something to do with hosting an online ‘zine (or online anything else, for that matter).

A while back I had to write to AT&T to get them to allow my email to go through to att.com (or was it .net?) email addresses. I assume that part of the problem was my shared hosting services — if you don’t have a dedicated server, a dedicated IP address, who knows who else might be sending spam out using your IP address?

I just found myipneighbors.com, which shows me all of the sites (159 of them!) that share Flash Fiction Online’s IP address: 67.212.165.26. At least one is an adult site, and who knows who else is spamming whom from there? Use Firefox or Safari to view it or the scrolling is a total pain in the neck.

Announcing: New Column by Bruce Holland Rogers

I’m thrilled to announce that, starting with our June issue, Bruce Holland Rogers will contribute a monthly column called “Short-Short Sighted: Writing the Short-Short Story”.

Bruce is an award-winning writer and a teacher, and may be best known as a writer of extremely short stories. (If you doubt it, visit his web site, “shortshortshort.com”. :) ) There’s no one more qualified to write this sort of column than he is.

Watch this spot — only a few more weeks to go!