Archive for October 22nd, 2011

Flashathon Hour 12 Prompt: From Day Al-Mohamed

We’re here at the end, so if you’ll indulge me a few moments, I’d like to explain just how the hell this came about.  Flashathon was an idea with many parents.  It was inspired by the weekly flash fiction contests run at several sites online.  It was also inspired by those who do blogathons, especially the 24 hour, 48 post Blogathon done annually on Blag Hag.  And there was just a little bit of the 8 in 8 project undertaken by Neil Gaiman and his collaborators.

One day I made an idle tweet wondering if anyone would think about doing a flash fiction marathon.  It probably would have ended there except that Day Al-Mohamed, who runs my blog-away-from-blog Unleaded.  She took the idea and started running with it.  Got me to run with it.  And here we are, a few months later, crossing the finish line that felt so impossibly far off when we first had the idea.

So since I started it off, I’ve decided to let her close it.  So this hour of the Flashathon will be inspired by her and her upcoming anthology Trust & Treachery.  Trust & Treachery is all about power struggles, politics, and posturing.   In fact, all group interactions, whether they are governmental, corporate, professional, academic, religious, or social are influenced by power dynamics. The origin of the state is found in the art of interpersonal conflict – love, hate, passion, greed, fear…  As such, we wanted to find a prompt that really got to the heart of the meaning behind the words “Trust” and “Treachery” and find something that encompassed all the emotion and conflict behind them –

So join us as we cross the finish line, hopefully together.  Tomorrow we’ll sleep in, deal with flashathon hangover, then work out who earned which levels of participation badges.  Be patient with us.  We’ll be very very tired.

And before you forget, Trust & Treachery is still looking for genre fiction submissions between 1000- 5000 words in length and will pay $20 per story for those accepted.  The deadline is December 15th, 2011.  You can check out our website at for more details. Who knows, perhaps your Flashathon fiction may be just the piece for us!



Flashathon Hour 11 Prompt: From Jean Marie Ward

From Wikipedia:

In endurance sports such as cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glycogen levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity.

We’re not running, we’re not biking, but we are writing.  And don’t pretend it’s not hard at times.  Anyone who has hit the wall at this point I can’t blame.  Perhaps I’m there myself.  But we’ve just got to push through, because we’ve come this far and we’ve only got two hours to go.

This hour the prompt comes courtesy of Jean Marie Ward writer of anything and everything.  This prompt didn’t come with the picture, but I felt like we would be well served by seeing this rather beautiful flower at this, our moment of need.  So let’s go:

Japanese spider lilies

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.  Will your story qualify?  And was that absolutely way too much pressure to put on you this late at night?

Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between. Her first novel, With Nine You Get Vanyr (written with the late Teri Smith), finaled in two categories of the 2008 Indie Book Awards. Her short stories appear in numerous anthologies, including The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, coming from DAW Tekno Books in March 2012. She is also known for her art books, such as the popular Fantasy Art Templates. She edited the web magazine Crescent Blues for eight years and now writes for other online venues, including Buzzy Multimedia. Her web site is



Flashathon Hour 10 Prompt: From Nancy Jane Moore

Hard to know what to even say at this point.  I suspect this will be when I hit the moment of just sheer bloody minded determination.  The finish line is in sight, bu there’s still three more hours of writing between us and it.  All I can say is: be strong.  Keep calm.  Carry on.  And DON’T BLINK!

Wait, that’s something else entirely.

This hour we’ve got unannounced surprise inspiration from Nancy Jane Moore, who has recently published an e-book collection of short stories and flash fiction.  So, ya know, no pressure or anything.  Here’s the prompt:

Risk all for a little sun.

That’s a hell of a six words right there, and I must say while setting these up the night before this has me the closest to cheating and working on my story ahead of time.  But I’ll be good and join everyone else when this goes live.  I promise.  So join us in the comments.

Flashes of Illumination by Nancy Jane MooreNancy Jane Moore’s most recent book is Flashes of Illumination, an e-book collection of short-short stories released in August by Book View Café. Her other books include the collection Conscientious Inconsistencies, published by PS Publishing, and the novella Changeling from Aqueduct Press.  Her short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, including  most recently “Gambit” in the military SF anthology No Man’s Land, and stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies: The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II.  Nancy Jane holds a fourth degree black belt in Aikido. After living for many years in Washington, D.C., she returned to her native Texas in 2008, and now lives in Austin.

Book View Cafe author page:
Book View Cafe ebook page:



Flashathon Hour 9 Prompt: From Scott H Andrews

We’re 2/3 of the way through Flashathon.  It’s 8pm here on the east coast, dinner time in the middle of the country, and 5pm out west.  I can’t blame anyone if their spirit or wills are waning.  Here in Casa Del Thurston, we’ve got cookies.  A little sugar is going to go a long way at this point.

This hour’s inspiration comes courtesy of Scott H Andrews, editor of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Since we’re getting late in the evening, let’s go with something nice an easy.  Just a single word, but certainly a fun one.


There you have it.  Actually, while I’m at it, this is probably the right time to break out a tankard of DL’s New Peculiar, hanging out in the fridge and ready for some tasting.

Scott H Andrews’s literary short fiction has won a $1000 prize from the Briar Cliff Review, and his genre short fiction has appeared in venues including Weird Tales, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and Space and Time and is forthcoming in On Spec. He is a college chemistry lecturer and Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the pro-rate fantasy e-zine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which Rich Horton calls “a really important source of fantasy.” Scott lives in Virginia with his wife, two cats, nine guitars, a dozen overflowing bookcases, and hundreds of beer bottles from all over the world.



Flashathon Hour 8 Prompt: From Bud Sparhawk

The sun has gone down here on the east coast.  Dinner time has come and gone.  Here at the Casa Del Thurston we’re eating pizza.  Or Chinese.  Hard to tell, really, since I’m writing these posts last night so I have one less thing to coordinate tomorrow.

This hour is being inspired by Bud Sparhawk, which has me rather awed as he’s been publishing since before I was born.  Interesting concept we’re going to launch into here:

It’s not that complicated to conceive of robots that people love and have sex with.  What is really going to teach us about human nature is when we begin to think about what it takes to build a robot that can fall in love with people.

Alright, I’m going to try not to just sit and ponder that in a zen-like state and get to writing.  Join in with us in the comments as we ask ourselves just what is love.

Bud Sparhawk is a hard science fiction short story writer who started writing in 1975 with three sales to ANALOG. Since returning to writing his works have appeared in ANALOG, Asimovs, several anthologies as well as in other print media and on-line magazines both in the United States and Europe. He has two short story collections and one novel. He has been a three-time Nebula finalist. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland and is a frequent sailor on the Chesapeake Bay. A complete biography, lists of stories, copies of articles, and other material can be found at his web site.



Flashathon Hour 7 Prompt: From Jennifer Brinn

Six hours down.  Six hours to go.  We’ve reached the midway point.  If you’re following along at home, you’ve likely written more words already than you will the rest of the evening.  Crazy, huh?

I’m giving this hour over to someone who has made the Flashathon as awesome as it is.  See these guest inspiration posts?  Most of them were the doing of Jennifer Brinn, going around Capclave like a woman possessed and having no qualms about asking anyone and everyone who would help us out.  So here we go:

A Blessing and a Woe:  The same event may be considered a blessing or a woe depending on the character’s circumstances, desires, and goals.  Think of something that is both.

So journey with us into the second half of Flashathon.  Comments are open for your flash pieces and progress reports.

Jennifer Brinn is the founder and facilitator of the Cat Vacuuming Society Writers Group of Northern Virginia (CVS). A graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, she has published three short stories and is currently finishing her first novel.  She is also a Networking Ninja.  You can find her online at Writing Out Loud and on Twitter as @JenBrinn.



Flashathon Hour 6 Prompt: From A.C. Crispin

If you’d believe it, when we get to the end of this hour we’ll already be halfway through the inaugural Flashathon.  To pull back the curtain, I wrote and scheduled all these posts yesterday, so by now I might be thinking “inaugural? More like only!”  Hopefully everyone is still going strong, keep in there!

This hour’s prompt comes from A. C. Crispin.  It’s the single longest prompt of the event, I promise, so I figured setting it right in the middle would create a nice hump and let us all go downhill from here.  So let’s go!

If we’d gotten here two hours ago, this child would still be alive, Maceo thought, staring down at the small, too-still body.  Red desert clay had sifted down, filming the wide-open eyes.  They had been blue.  Maceo sighed.

Wow.  That’s dark.  But then, I love dark.  As always, use it, enjoy it, don’t use it, just create!  I’ll see you in the comments.

A. C. Crispin is the author of bestselling Star Wars novels and Star Trek novels, but her most famous genre work was the 1984 novelization of the television miniseries V. Crispin and noted fantasy author Andre Norton wrote two Witch World novels together. A.C. Crispin has been active in SFWA since soon after joining the organization in 1983. She and Victoria Strauss created SFWA’s “scam watchdog” committee, Writer Beware, in 1998. Crispin still serves as the Chair. Writer Beware warns aspiring writers about the numerous scam agents and publishers that infest the Internet these days. Crispin and Strauss have assisted law enforcement in bringing several infamous con artists to justice. Before submitting your work, visit Writer Beware. A.C. Crispin’s new book is the prequel to the mega-popular Pirates of the Caribbean films. Pirates of the Caribbean: Price of Freedom, and chronicles how Disney’s infamous film pirate first became a pirate captain. Her major science fiction undertaking is the StarBridge series, which will be reissued in omnibus editions from Meisha Merlin in 2007. Crispin’s newest work is an original fantasy trilogy for Harper/Eos, The Exiles of Boq’urain. Book one, Storms of Destiny, was released August 2005, and she is hard at work on Book 2, Winds of Vengeance. Book 3, Flames of Chaos, will be her next project. She currently teaches writing workshops at Anne Arundel Community College and Dragon*Con in Atlanta.



Flashathon Hour 5 Prompt: from Leah Petersen

This hour we’ve got guest inspiration from Leah Petersen, the mind behind 5 Minute Fiction, a flash fiction writing challenge that directly inspired me to create Flashathon.  She has graciously provided not only a prompt, but a few words of inspiration.

She quotes physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988), “Physics is like sex: sure it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”  To which she adds, “I love that not just for how applicable it is to my main character (a physicist) but how well it works if you replace ‘physics’ with ‘writing.’  Why are you doing it, anyway?”

I’m sure at this point in the flashathon some of you may be asking “why am I doing this, anyway?” but I don’t think quite in the way Leah meant.  So let’s press on with our next hour in this crazy mixed-up event with a new prompt:

“Take your pick: a cloudless blue sky or the last three seconds on the bomb timer; either way, there’s not much difference.”

Leah Petersen lives and writes in North Carolina somewhere between the day job and the wife-and-mother gig. Rather than waste her time getting fresh air and sunshine, hanging out with friends, or pursuing an actual career, she reads books, writes, knits, and games. Sometimes all at the same time.  Her first novel, Fighting Gravity, is coming in 2012 from Dragon Moon Press.  Every Tuesday at 12:30pm Eastern time, Leah Petersen runs a 5MinuteFiction contest. It’s fast and it’s furious and there’s a slight chance of injury. But it’s fun. Join us!



Flashathon Hour 4 Prompt: From James Morrow

How’s everyone holding up?  Right about now I’m sure the reality of the situation is sinking in.  We’ve got 3 hours behind us, we’ve still got 9 ahead.  But instead on focusing on that, let’s focus on fractions.  That means we’re 1/4 of the way through.  In sixty short minutes we’ll be 1/3 of the way.

This hour is inspired by James Morrow, who really went above and beyond providing so many fantastic prompts that I refuse to choose just one of them.  In fact, he gave me five, so I’ll throw them all out and let people pick.

  1. The first time he died, Edward Truffington vowed that he would arrange things differently next time.
  2. Have I entered upon this experiment out of curiosity, or am I in thrall to some malign force for which natural philosophy does not yet have a name?
  3. Not long after I’d learned to cope with my doppelgänger, I was given to understand that my doppelgänger had a doppelgänger.
  4. It was a snarky and do-re-mi night.
  5. Midway through his seminal investigation of pea-plant genetics, Gregor Mendel found a triffid growing in his monastery garden, whereupon his work went in a new direction.

So you’ve got your choices.  Not sure if that makes things lower or higher pressure, but there we go.  Have at it!  Also, because he provided so many prompts, I’m going to spontaneously invent the James Morrow Rule!  If, during the rest of the day, you just can’t get a story going for the prompt that hour, come back here and take another one of James Morrow’s prompts and run with it instead.

Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James MorrowJames Morrow has been writing fiction ever since, as a seven-year-old living in the Philadelphia suburbs, he dictated “The Story of the Dog Family” to his mother, who dutifully typed it up and bound the pages with yarn. Morrow’s passion for storytelling continued into adulthood, enabling him to win the World Fantasy Award (twice), the Nebula Award (twice), the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, the Prix Utopia, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. So far the author’s best known effort is the postmodern historical epic The Last Witchfinder, praised by Janet Maslin of the New York Times for fusing “storytelling, showmanship and provocative book-club bait … into one inventive feat.” He followed it with a thematic sequel, The Philosopher’s Apprentice, which NPR called “an ingenious riff on Frankenstein.” Morrow’s most recent book is a novella, Shambling Towards Hiroshima, set in 1945 and dramatizing the U.S. Navy’s attempts to leverage a Japanese surrender via a biological weapon that strangely anticipates Godzilla.



Flashathon Hour 3 Prompt: From Danielle Ackley-McPhail

It’s 2pm here on the east coast, 11am on the west coast, and somewhere  in between in the rest of America.  If you’re here in the Eastern Time Zone, I’m hoping you’ve had a good lunch to keep you going through the day.  If you’re west of here…eat lunch!  Keep the brain fueled, and it’ll keep churning out the creativity.

This hour’s inspiration comes from writer and anthology editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail.  It’s a little more abstract of a concept, something that might get your mind churning.  And perhaps your stomach rumbling a little.

“Dessert first” might be great once in a while, but it’s no way to live.

Life is uncertain, so get your story written!  As usual the comments are wide open for your stories, your progress reports, or anything else.

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over a decade. Her works include the urban fantasy, Yesterday’s Dreams, and its upcoming sequel, Tomorrow’s Memories. She also has co-edited and contributed to numerous anthologies and collections, including Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, and the upcoming science fiction anthologies Barbarians at the Jumpgate and Space Pirates. Her non-fiction works include a chapter on writer’s groups in The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: The Author’s Grimoire, a chapter on the vehicles of magic in the upcoming Elements of Fantasy: Magic, and a chapter on self-promotions for the upcoming Profitable Publishing. Danielle is a member of the electronic publishing organization EPIC, as well as Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres. Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats.



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