‘News’ Category Archives

5
Jan

Commenting Problem Fixed

by thegooddoctor in News

Hi,

I’ve been struggling with my comment plugin for a while. I’d set up Disqus comments, but they got disabled and I finally gave up on fixing it and reverted to the default commenting system.

I just created a new Disqus login and it seems to be working again. Hopefully this fixes the problem and I hope it fosters more commenting/discussion on the site. We have a lot of great writers contributing stories every week and it would be nice to foster more of a community, especially since we have writers from all over the world.

Cheers, and keep writing.

30
Dec

Christmas Lull

by thegooddoctor in News

Apologies to all our regular readers. It’s that time of year when it becomes a little bit more difficult to get everything done. Please keep sending in your stories and we’ll get back to a more regular posting schedule next week. And I’ll be sending out a new newsletter in January as well. In the meantime, I’d like to thank all of you for a tremendous year of stories and readers. This site would be nothing without all the great authors contributing their work.

Happy New Year!

26
Nov

A Woodpecker

by thegooddoctor in News

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We’re taking a short break for the holidays, but I would like to share a story of mine that just got published in Loreli. A Woodpecker is a story about my time living in Beijing. A warning: it’s not flash fiction, but a full-on short story, more than 6,000 words.

For my American readers, enjoy the holiday. For everyone, keep submitting your stories. I’d much rather be sharing your stories in this place rather than my own.

That is all.

10
Nov

When The End Comes, It Will Be Abrupt

by thegooddoctor in News

Hello everyone. I wanted to share a story of mine that got published on Flash Fiction Magazine. It is entitled “When The End Comes, It Will Be Abrupt,” and takes place in a world with a dying sun. I hope you like it.

Thanks to everyone at Flash Fiction Magazine, not only for publishing my story, but for also running a great site for short fiction. If you’ve never been to their site, I highly recommend it.

3
Nov

Newsletter Correction

by thegooddoctor in News

Hi everyone. Due to an Auto Save snafu, and a lack of careful proofreading, I allowed a paragraph to sneak through in my interview with Perry McDaid that actually was an excerpt from last month’s interview with Kelli Allen. Here is the portion of the interview that was incorrectly used:

I grew-up as a military brat, an only child, and have thus not quite yet figured out what “home” means. For now, I occupy space in the Midwest and spend most of the Spring and Summer months hoping to avoid tornadoes and mutant insects. Whenever possible, I travel and typically land on a beach. I have collected various degrees and have nestled nicely into an academe womb wherein I can play with words and spend time with students and colleagues who enjoy language. Dance has been a major part of my life since childhood and I still attempt to employ grace and movement in my every-day.

Please ignore this paragraph.

I’d like to apologize to both Perry and Kelli for the mistake, and thank them again for taking the time to be interviewed for the newsletter.

If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter, click here. It updates, at most, once a month.

4
Jul

The Entropy Squared Newsletter

by thegooddoctor in News

The debut edition of the Entropy Squared newsletter went out earlier this week. If you have already signed up for it, great. You won’t regret it. If you haven’t, please do so here.

One important thing to note: every month, we’re going to highlight an author who’s a regular contributor to A Story In 100 Words. If you’d like to be considered, there are two requirements. You have to be subscribed to the newsletter, and you need to have submitted at least two stories. Also, you can’t be a robot. Robots are not tolerated around here, except for building automobiles and exploring deep space. Otherwise, we hate robots. (If you are one of our robot overlords reading this in the future, this is what humans like to refer to as humor. Actually, we love robots). But seriously, no robots.

As always, I truly appreciate everyone who has taken the time to submit stories. If you have a story pending, don’t worry, I will get to it. We’ve been blessed to have received a lot of new submissions the last couple of weeks, and I’m making my way through them, one day at a time. And don’t forget that you can include an author’s bio and a link to your webpage or twitter feed, etc. Thanks for you patronage.

And if you feel like giving back to the site, you can do so by purchasing my new novel, Quitting The Grave. See the link below.

That is all.

14
Feb

Pre-Order Quitting The Grave

by thegooddoctor in News

cover gun small

I’m very happy to announce that Quitting The Grave, my first full-length novel, is now available for pre-order.

Quitting The Grave Book Teaser from Entropy Squared on Vimeo.

If you want to read the first chapter, all you have to do is sign up for my monthly newsletter and I will send you a link to download a free preview. OR, follow me on Twitter, and tweet out “@doctorentropy2 I want to read the first chapter of #QuittingTheGrave” I’ll PM you the download link.

Eugene, Oregon. October, 1999. After three graves robberies–in each instance, the abducted corpse was a John Doe–the police have few leads and little interest in the case. Caya Blumenshine, a reporter for the local newspaper, canvasses Eugene, questioning anarchists, wyccans, and politicians, until her search hits upon a secluded house on the outskirts of the city. Its owner, Alexander Hilyard, a history-writing hermit who hasn’t been seen in years, may be involved in the grave robberies, or may have been the most recent victim.

Fort Vancouver, 1830’s. A trading outpost on the Columbia River is charged with harvesting as many furs as possible for the Hudson Bay Company, while at the same time discouraging American pioneers from settling in the region. Dr. McLoughlin, the chief factor, and his three adopted sons find the undertaking challenged by the arrival of Jason Lee and his Methodist missionaries, who seem more interested in establishing a new territorial government than converting any natives.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1846. After the murder of her father, Helen Hunsaker wants nothing more than to escape the strictures of a society that views women as second-class citizens. She sets out on the Oregon Trail hoping to find a measure of freedom not afforded to her by her family circumstances or gender. Unfortunately, a spurned suitor chases after her and will apparently stop at nothing to win her hand in marriage.

Three stories that span more than 150 years of American history, united by a shocking mystery. Will Caya be able to discover the truth? And how far will people go to keep their secrets buried?

In addition to the regular Kindle version, iPad owners have the option of purchasing an enhanced version, made possible thanks to the generous support provided by my Kickstarter backers.

The enhanced version of Quitting The Grave, available exclusively on the iPad, features more than 35 videos and 100+ photographs, illustrations, and maps that will help readers learn about the true history behind the stories and characters of Quitting The Grave.

To pre-order Quitting The Grave, visit Amazon. And for the enhanced version, check out iTunes(The Enhanced Version will be available starting February 28th).

Quitting The Grave Trailer from Entropy Squared on Vimeo.

Quitting The Grave goes on sale February 28th! Pre-order today.

23
Dec

Are You Up For The Twelve Month Writing Challenge?

by thegooddoctor in News

twelve-months

It’s that time of year again. The clock is ticking on 2013. If we haven’t fulfilled our resolutions by now, it’s almost certainly too late. But most of you are probably already contemplating your pledges for 2014. Hopefully that includes a fair bit of writing in your future.

If you don’t have something specific in mind, then I invite you to join me on the Twelve Month Writing Challenge. Each month I will write one short story entirely within that month. By the end of the year, I’ll have a collection 12 stories.*

Here are the rules:

  1. Each story must be completed within a month
  2. The title of each story must include the name of the month
  3. Each story must be posted publicly by the end of the month
  4. Each story must be accompanied by an original photograph that is thematically related and which was taken during that month
  5. At the end of the year, the 12 stories must be collected into one volume and made available to readers for free
  6. Minor editing can take place subsequently, but the writing for each story is finished when the month ends

Please note that there is no restriction in terms of content or story length. The story doesn’t have to be related to the month. For example, March can refer to the month, the verb, or the hare. The idea is to create a construct that will help motivate you to write, and to write publicly, while still allowing for a great deal of freedom. By the end of the year, we should all have something to share with readers. That’s the whole point.

I’ll be posting my finished collection as a free download on Amazon and other online bookstores. If you don’t have a place to post your work, submit it to me and I’ll be happy to post yours stories on my blog.**

I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the year using the hashtag #12monthchallenge and I encourage all of you to do the same. We can help motivate each other and provide feedback. If you’re worried about the time commitment, don’t be. Each story can be 100 words or even shorter. In fact, it’s better to set small goals and exceed them than to intend to write a novella each month and give up half-way through January.

Happy New Year everyone and I look forward to reading your stories.

*No need to double check that math. That’s cold, hard fact!

**As long as your work isn’t pornographic, hate-filled, or gratuitously violent.

8
Nov

Ahab’s Adventures In Wonderland Now On Sale

by thegooddoctor in News

Ahab CoverI’m very happy to announce that my mash-up novel, Ahab’s Adventures In Wonderland is now available, exclusively at Amazon. As part of the debut, for a limited time, it will be available for $3.99.

Here’s the description:

Captain Ahab, legendary farmer, loses his leg after an encounter with Moby Dick, the infamous white rabbit who has been terrorizing farms all across Massachusetts. Hellbent on revenge, he vows to hunt the rabbit wherever it may lead. With his crew in tow, he plunges down the rabbit hole and finds himself in the amazing world of Wonderland, where caucus races, mad tea parties, and croquet with the queen await.

A mashup of Moby Dick and Alice in Wonderland, Ahab’s Adventures In Wonderland is an absurdist look at two legendary classics. You’ll never view Wonderland the same again. With cover design and illustrations by Katie Morton.

I’m really excited about the novel, and I hope you’ll take the time to check it out. Fans of Alice in Wonderland and Moby Dick will be especially pleased.

And you can also help spread the word by liking the Facebook page.

Thanks for the support.

29
Aug

The Art Of 100 Word Fiction

by thegooddoctor in News

This essay appears at the end of my collection of 100-word stories, Picasso Painted Dinosaurs, currently for sale at Amazon and other online bookstores.

Presumably, you’ve just finished reading 100 examples of a format of writing known as flash fiction. Either that, or you’re the kind of person who likes to skip ahead and wade through the bibliography before reading the actual text. Whatever works for you. No judgments here. But assuming you’re among the former, you might be wondering where the heck this guy came up with the idea for writing 100-word stories.

I’m glad you asked. For something so brief, flash fiction has origins going back thousands of years, all the way to Aesop and his fables. Historical practitioners included Saadi of Shiraz, Bolesław Prus*, Anton Chekhov, O. Henry, Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Ernest Hemingway, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and Lydia Davis. But it has only been the past couple of decades that the genre has thrived. Outlets for publication of flash fiction, with names such as SmokeLong Quarterly, Flash Fiction Online, and Vestal Review, have proliferated in print and on the Internet, a probable reflection of our shortening attention spans.

*I have no idea who Bolesław Prus is, but the awesomeness of his name demanded his inclusion.

Broadly speaking, flash fiction is a style of narrative marked by its brevity, with stories ranging from as long as 1,000 words to as short as six. They might have an upper word limit, or they may proscribe an exact word count. Through the years, flash fiction has been gifted with many names, including sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction, prosetry, and short short story.

Bear in mind, no matter how long or short, to qualify as an actual story a piece must have a beginning, middle, and end. It makes the idea of six-word fiction seem nearly impossible. However, the following story, commonly attributed to Earnest Hemingway, stretches the nanolimits of fiction:

“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

The first two words form the hook, creating the question of what’s for sale, before immediately supplying the answer, ‘baby shoes.’ The action quickly moves to the conclusion, as we learn the tragic fate of the child meant to wear those shoes. In six simple words, we’re given all the ingredients for a complete narrative.

It seems unlikely that Hemingway actually wrote the above story, as its first recorded mention was in a 1996 play by John DeGroot about Hemingway’s life, entitled Papa. Nevertheless, it is one of the most remarkable examples of flash fiction we have today and neatly illustrates the power of the genre. Not only does it break down the necessary ingredients for a story to their most fundamental level, it does so with emotional resonance.

At A Story In 100 Words, we’ve found that what began as a daily writing exercise has helped us improve as writers, grow more precise and efficient in our use of language, and become much more popular with our friends. In fact, we could not recommend the endeavor more emphatically, whether you are an aspiring writer or just wish to find a new avenue for expressing your creativity.

But the question we are most often asked is why does it have to be exactly 100 words. Why not provide a word range, say, 75-150 words? That would certainly seem reasonable, especially if the aim is to inspire us to write a complete story every day. Who wants to be counting words and obsessing over the fact we exceeded our limit?

As it turns out, the word restriction is the most essential element of our daily writing exercise. Having an exact word limit will task your writing skills in a way a more liberal policy cannot. Economy becomes a virtue more essential than vocabulary or grammar. All other considerations are secondary, as the restriction will force you to discover the simplest means for relaying an idea, much like a city surveyor lays out roads in the most direct manner possible (except in the city of Louisville).

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the many ways short fiction can improve your writing:

Practice

The first advice for any aspiring writer is no secret: WRITE. If you want to be a carpenter, you need to practice using the tools. Astronauts don’t get into outer space until they’ve had thousands of flight hours. If your desire is to become a writer, you need to work at writing stories.

I often hear people express a desire to write but make excuses for why they don’t have the time. EVERYONE has time to write a daily 100-word story. You can finish one in less than 15 minutes. Your first attempts may not be as god as you hoped, but it doesn’t take long before you see improvement.

Economy

Writers must often convey complex ideas in a concise manner. Nothing can be more useful in honing this skill than writing to a word count, especially a short one. With only 100 words in your arsenal, you can’t afford to waste any. After a few months, you’ll be producing prose of which Hemingway would be proud.

Creativity

One of my biggest worries when I set out to write a daily 100-word story was that I’d repeat myself or run out of new ideas. Two years on, and I’m still surprising myself with the stories I come up with. It turns out, the more often you write, the more ideas you generate.

Even so, it helps to have some new sources of inspiration, especially as you are starting out. Here are some hints on how to keep things fresh*:

  • Keep a notebook and jot down ideas.
  • Look for inspiration in the books and articles you read, or the movies you watch.
  • Ask people for prompts. For example, I wrote the story, “Black Market Tears” based on a prompt from a friend.
  • Mix and match ideas. Think about someone you know and imagine her in an unusual situation. Take two prompts and combine them into one story.
  • Try to write a story in a particular style, genre, or voice. I did an entire month of genre stories (Thriller, Western, Joyce) and found it particularly invigorating.
  • Jot down ideas until something sticks.
  • Don’t let bad stories get you down. Not every story will be a triumph. You’ll appreciate the good ones all the more when you struggle through some bad ones.

*See Appendix Two for more ideas on inspiration.

Voice

Writing a new story every day is a great way to experiment with voice. You can switch between first and third person. You can give second person a try. You can write from the perspective of all sorts of characters, people that you would never have imagined could help drive a story. 100 words don’t amount to much, but it’s just enough to get a tease of a character or style. Today you might try to mimic Hemingway, tomorrow Dostoevsky, and the day after Austen.

Accomplishment

Beyond all these technical points of writing, however, I have always believed the most important reason for writing a 100 word story every day is the sense of accomplishment. After just a few weeks, you can look back and find you’ve actually built up a body of work.

With any creative endeavor, the chief reward should be the feeling of elation that is achieved. This is true whether you are writing for an audience of millions or your immediate friends and family. Don’t worry about ‘how good’ something is, just write. Every time you finish a 100-word story, rest assured that you are 100 words better as a writer.

The Failings of 100 words

For all of its benefits, the 100-word limit is not perfect. Sometimes, no matter how lean your prose, it’s impossible to fit everything you have to say into a set number of words. I chip and chisel and pare down the sentences and find that what I’m left with doesn’t express exactly what I intended.

“Ghost Story” is a good example. It could really use another sentence or two to get across the original idea, that Jackson is thoroughly uninterested in the ghost of his dead wife until he gets fired and realizes he can use it as an excuse. The perfect story should not be written with a word count in mind, but should use the exact number of words necessary to convey what you want to say.

There are plenty of other stories that feel incomplete. They introduce a character or a situation that is worthy of further exploration but leave the reader hanging. You should always remember the 100-word story is not the destination, but is part of the journey. Some of your stories will be perfect at 100 words, but others will be teasers for future stories of more depth. That is as it should be.

Unless you’re writing for a specific publication, don’t force yourself to make a 150 word story fit into 100 words. The 100-word exercise can help make you a better writer in all the ways mentioned above, but don’t stick to it even when it doesn’t make sense. As a writer, you set the rules, and you know when to break them.

Most importantly, stop making excuses and start writing. A word count, a daily goal, a schedule, they can all help motivate you. But don’t let them become obstacles. Always remember to write something every day, even if it’s just in your personal journal. The end goal of a writing exercise is to make you a better a writer, and nothing makes you a better writer than writing.