Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

The Deal

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Fiction
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They took away my hands and gave me gloves.
Then they said: “Make something of yourself.”

–George Such

George Such is an English graduate student at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.  In a previous incarnation he was a chiropractor for 27 years in eastern Washington.  Besides reading and writing, he enjoys hiking, cooking, and traveling, especially to India and Southeast Asia. His poetry has been published in Arroyo Literary Review, Blue Earth Review, Cold Mountain Review, Dislocate, and many other journals.


The Devil’s Toybox

Posted: Monday, June 11, 2012 in Fiction
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Stephanie knew she was alone. Everyone else was dead—her parents, her brother, and even her cat. The matryoshka dolls that looked like each member of the family showed how they had died. All except for one.

Stephanie examined every surface of the unblemished doll. The dim light that spilled into the hallway caught a new shine on the painted surface. A trickle of red flowed from the doll’s left temple. Light glinted off her father’s handgun at the foot of the steps. She was certain it hadn’t been there when she had come downstairs.

Stephanie turned and fled.

— Dawn Vogel

Dawn Vogel has been published as a non-fiction editor and as a short fiction writer. She has been published recently in Cobalt City Timeslip and Cobalt City Dark Carnival, both available from Timid Pirate Publishing ( She works as a historical researcher, traveling and seeing the sights all over the country with her nose buried in dusty old records. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, helps officiate roller derby, and tries to find time for writing. She lives in Seattle with her awesome husband (and fellow author), Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats.

…you owe it to your readers to set yourself the most difficult challenge that you have some hope of being equal to. With every book, you have to dig as deep as possible and reach as far as possible. And if you do this, and you succeed in producing a reasonably good book, it means that the next time you try to write a book, you’re going to have to dig even deeper and reach even farther, or else, again, it won’t be worth writing.

Jonathan Franzen, from Farther Away

(and see James Santel’s excellent review of Farther Away)

Brian Joseph Davis has a great idea: Use law-enforcement composite sketch software and literary descriptions to create portraits of fictional characters. Want to know what Emma Bovary looked like? She looked like this:

Check out Davis’ site, The Composites, for portraits of Humbert Humbert, Tom Ripley, Edward Rochester, and others. Davis’ idea is seriously cool. I hope he posts more portraits. What did Mrs. Dalloway look like? Or Anna Karenina?

About Her Marriage

Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 in Fiction

Thanksgiving.  She wants the wings.  I could fight her for them, but it’s fun watching the pleasure she gets from tearing into them.  A woman with royal molars.  Tree can’t join us this year.  He’s got the mumps—at 62.

Mom pours her usual bitter coffee and brings out a cake that looks some somebody put icing on a Honda.

Aunt Gwen takes a sizeable hunk, says that her life with Tree has been taking the small pieces and oh, the fury when he leaves half of it on his plate.

—  Kenneth Pobo

Kenneth Pobo won the 2011 chapbook contest from Qarrtsiluni for Ice And Gaywings.  They published it in November 2011.  A collection of his microfiction, Tiny Torn Maps, also came out in 2011 from Deadly Chaps

Space Issue

Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2011 in Fiction

Two tables away, sitting hunchback over a plastic cup filled with finger-friendly cantaloupe, she yells, “I said no,” into a pink cell phone ringing vigorously.

An icky gray sweatshirt clings to her breasts like a throaty cough. Fuzzy boots cover her feet. Tight corn rows line the top of her head. A cherry red scarf, wrapped around her neck, ties it all together.

“Heading out or just getting back?” I ask, watching her zip and tip a brown suitcase wheel-up.

She sighs. “Honestly, I have absolutely no idea.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Worse.” The suitcase wobbles like a drum roll.

–Samuel Cole

Samuel Cole lives in Woodbury, MN. He loves to run, STEP, photograph bookmarks, hang with friends, boo bad movies, and of course, write. Check out his website:

Best Zombie Book

Dead Sea, Brian Keene. Even the sharks are zombies. Word.

Saddest Murder Mystery

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for His Assassin, Hampton Sides. A document on the system of Hell.

Best Book of Stories

Everything That Rises Must Coverge, Flannery O’Connor. No surprise. O’Connor is indispensable.

Most Thought-Provoking Book of Poetry

The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan. Serious experiment in style and technique becomes play. You don’t read this book, you live in it.

Most Savage Biography

Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, James Gavin. Chet Baker was a monster. Gavin tells his story as carefully and neutrally as he can. Result: You love the book, you despise the subject.

Best Anthology of Poetry

Poets of the English Language (5 vols.), edited by W. H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson. Wonderfully intelligent selection of poems from Langland to Yeats. The prefaces to each volume alone are worth the cost of the books. If you want to know the English tradition of poetry, this is where to dig in.

Most Reassuring Book

Practical Outdoor Survival, Len McDougall. Turns out you can survive with a knife, a .22, some matches and a few other necessaries. Now you know what to hang on to when we are all reduced to serfdom by our corporate masters.

Baz Luhrmann is directing a new film version of Scott Fitzgerald‘s “perfect” novel, The Great Gatsby. The film will be released next summer and stars Leonardo Di Caprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carroway. Click here to see a Daily Mail article on the filming that contains some terrific pictures of the actors in period dress. Fitzgerald’s writing in Gatsby, of course, is so beautiful that Hunter Thompson typed the text word-for-word just to get closer to the language. As have many others, including the Bat Terrier. You should certainly celebrate news of the film by reading Gatsby again. Click here for a free e-book.

Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project has worked through Flannery O’Connor‘s letters and found eight wonderful little gems of advice on writing fiction.Click here.  My favorite:

I know that the writer does call up the general and maybe the essential through the particular, but this general and essential is still deeply embedded in mystery. It is not answerable to any of our formulas.

Literary analysis is a wonderful thing, but if the story is a great story it will always ultimately evade analysis. And it will not be replicable by formula.

Excellent comments, too, after the post. Recommended.

Andrew Miller has a good article on how to create fictional characters in today’s Guardian. Click here. Very smart; well worth reading.


“No one writes for long without understanding that they are entering mystery and will never leave it.”

“At its simplest, its barest, characterisation is about a writer’s grasp of what a human being is. When we set out to write, we do not do so out of a sense of certainty but out of a kind of radical uncertainty. We do not set out saying: ‘The world is like this.’ But asking: ‘How is the world?'”