Gay Degani's Blog, page 3

January 19, 2014

I want to give away January!!! Participate!! You just might win a free 2014-A Year in Pure Slush's 2014-12 Months of Stories book, vol. 1!!!!

If you add your name in the comments below (it may take a while to appear)  between 12:00 AM PST January 19 and 11:59 AM January 19th, you may win 1 of 5 free print books of 2014-A Year in Stories!! Yep, I'm having a random drawing on January 20th. 

Or if you are on Facebook, you can enter at my regular page: Gay Degani or my Gay Degani-Author Page.

Nineteen days into the 2014 Project - A Year in Stories and it's kind of taken over my life.  Well, not really, but it's kept me busy reading.  So far I've read the following:

The Miracle of Small Things by Guilie Castillo-Oriard
La Ronde: Made and Gina by Townsend Walker
The Meet Cute by Derek Osborne
Ralph Rudinsky here... by Gloria Garfunkel
Carmine by John Wentworth Chapin
first Impression by Lynn Beighley 
Wingy by Andrew Stancek
Isa by Rachel Ambrose
Carpet Muncher by Gill Hoffs
Snakes and Snails by Susan Tepper
Father Eleanor by Jessica McHugh
You Can't Choose Your Friends by Shane Simmons
Cornfield by Michelle Elvy
Storm Lake by Len Kuntz
First Inning by Michael Webb
Making Music byJames ClaffeyThe Suicide Club by Gwendolyn Joyce MintzCompassion by Stephen V. Ramey

These stories are available in print as well as an ebook or Kindle edition.  And they go on for the whole year.  Here's what editor and publisher Matt Potter says on the back of the January edition:

So this is the idea...a year of stories, one story a day for an entire year, all written like they're happening now as you read them...and each writer has a set day each month, where the read can watch /read about/discover again/enjoy characters' lives as they unfold across the year.

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Published on January 19, 2014 08:30 • 10 views

January 12, 2014

Sunday Flash (55 Words)


Juliet Fails

She finishes her 'Juliet' and stumbles through backstage mayhem out into traffic. Horns honk. Lights blind, but she knows how to find the Thames. Her performance belongs on the scrapheap, no awards here. Worse. Only humiliation can follow. On the edge of the river, she doesn’t  hesitate, knowing only too well, she’s a better “Ophelia.”
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Published on January 12, 2014 09:19 • 7 views

January 4, 2014

When we are new at something, sometimes all we can think about is that first goal.  Learning to roller skate (blade!) doesn’t look that hard.  If  we can stay upright, feet on the sidewalk, body vertical, we’ll soon be doing figure eights and sailing backwards. The same goes for writing.  When we sit down at the keyboard to write a story, we figure if  we can get enough words on the screen, we’ll have a tale worth telling. In some ways, we need this attitude to get started.  If we knew we’d fall on our asses for the first twelve times we skated over a twig, a crack, our sister’s Barbie doll, we probably wouldn’t try.  We need that initial belief in ourselves to put the skates on in the first place.  The same is true for writing.  We picture ourselves  clacking away at the computer keys with lines of type building and building.  It is the only way to deal with our initial fear.However, how we handle the results of those first attempts can dictate success or failure.  For many, a bruised butt and bloodied knees spell defeat.  “I don’t want to do this!  This is too hard” and they head inside to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  Others wear their scabs like badges of honor and take a moment to reassess their goals.  They realize they can’t jump from standing upright on skates to skimming down Devil Hill, carving eights in the liquor store parking lot, floating backward to the awe of the younger kids without blood and guts.The same is true with writing.  Although there are those who have a natural talent for the written word can sit down and write it without too much angst.  But these are rare cases.  Most of us may write a story that has many strong elements, but as a whole it doesn’t work.  Not yet.  And we need to reassess and learn the craft.This is the make-or-break moment for most writers, the moment of looking at a piece of writing as it might be read by others, readers who do not live in the head of that writer.  The ability to look at one’s own work with a critical eye does not come easily.  It is a skill that is learned with practice, patience, and awareness of what works and what doesn’t.  An expertise that evolves over time. Just as a young roller skater learns the sidewalk is smoother than asphalt, a writer learns clarity is more important that an obscure turn of phrase, but to do this, both must be willing to see beyond their first goals.  They must accept the reality that becoming good at something requires the understanding that learning is a process, that the large goal must be broken down into smaller goals because everything is more complex than we first perceive. There is a difference in skating and writing.  We teach different muscles to work harmoniously together.  In skating we train our bodies and our brain too, but most it’s about legs and balance and reaction.  In writing we train our brains–and our hearts. How do we train our brains to write?  We set up mini-goals, lots of them, beyond our first goal.  Here are a few I believe in, though sometimes I find it hard to actually do them all!Mini-Goals for Each StoryCreate content by taking notes, brain-storming, writing a “shit” draftWrite a draftDo research to understand the world you’ve created or the personalitiesThink about story structureMake certain everything in a story serves a purpose (especially in flash)Be willing to delete that which doesn’t fit into the structureGo through the story to improve the languageMake certain everything that needs to be clear is clearMake certain that verbs are active, that nouns are specificProof-read carefullySet it aside (this is one of the hardest mini-goals because usually at this stage we are sooooooo excited about what we’ve created, we can’t wait to send it out)Reread and make changes after it’s been set asideAsk a trusted reader to read it (trusted: gentle, supportive, yet honest, honest, honest)Decide what notes you agree with and what you don’t and make editsSet aside again, at least an hour or two so that when you proof-read for the final time, you have enough distance to find now what your eye skipped over beforeSend out and cross fingersMini-Goals for Personal GrowthRead widely and deeplyTalk to others about writingBe open-mindedTry new genresBe a mentor None of this is necessary if a writer is writing only for himself.   Just as skating up and down the block might make one child happy, putting together a story for fun can work for the “Sunday author.”  But if your goal is roller-derby, you’d better to be willing to work.  And if you want to be published?  Guess what…
This article was first published at Flash Fiction Chronicles on November 22, 2009
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Published on January 04, 2014 06:21 • 11 views

January 2, 2014

I'm participating in a writing project with 30 other writers. This is the brainchild of Matt Potter at Pure Slush out of Australia and involves each of us writing a story for one day a month for all the days of 2014.  
I picked the 19th of each month since my birthday is the 19th of March (St. Joseph's Feast Day and the day the swallows return to Capistrano and now "a very special episode" in 2014 Volume 3). The umbrella title for my twelve stories is "The Old Road," but each one is a separate piece about people who live in this particular neighborhood on the edge of a small city.  
Matt's idea is that readers will read each story on the day it is supposed to have occurred as written by the author.  All stories are told in the present tense to enhance the feeling the action is taking place RIGHT NOW.  
Some of the writers are making the experience more interactive.  For example, below you will find a link  to Stephen V. Ramey's blog,   Ramey Writes , where he intends to discuss each story on the day it is published.  Discussions to ensue!!!  For a taste of Guilie Castillo Oriard's work for January 1, "The Miracle of Small Things." 
I have a Pinterest page where you can find my research and inspiration for the stories I'm writing.  You can find this HERE. Other writers will be doing similar things to make this a fun experience.
To participate, you will need to purchase either the print volume for each month or an ebook. Worth the price to go on this reading adventure. 
If you want to challenge yourself to read the stories, the link to buy the ebook is HERE.  For Kindle, go HERE. For print (and these are gorgeous books!), go HERE. For free shipping on print, use this time-limited code: SHIPSHAPE14
I confess I've been holiday-hazed. Exact date for What Came Before is unknown (blame the vagaries of my current life), but coming soon, out in time for AWP in Seattle at the end of February, but hopefully on-line sooner.  Camille Gooderham-Campbell and I are busily doing edits and proof-reading the text. I have a Pinterest Board for this too, HERE .
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Published on January 02, 2014 11:26 • 4 views

December 22, 2013

Here is a  list of those eligible for the 'Tis More Blessed Giveaway organized by Milo James Fowler.

Stephen Ramey
Linda Manning
Milo James Fowler
Cliff Garstang
Kristy Gillespie
Diane Aurit
Sean Bennick
Katherine Lopez
Glenn Landry
Mia Avramut
Gary Hardaway
T.L. Gray
George Wells

Since I had thirteen entries, I'm giving away two copies of Pomegranate Stories!!!

The winners are, selected from a hat, Linda Manning and T.L. Gray!!!

Please send me your address either by Facebook Message or via email:
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Published on December 22, 2013 12:59 • 12 views

December 19, 2013

Just a note that I'm participating in the " 'Tis More Blessed" giveaway sponsored by Milo James Fowler so if you enter you may in a copy of Pomegranate Stories.  I haven't actually figured out how this works!!!  I think it has to do with a helicopter but I don't know how to set it up this late in the game. Sooooooooooo.... If you enter and want my book and can't figure out how to do it through the helicopter thing, just put your name in the comments section and I will have a drawing on the 20th.

My brain is like the rotor of a helicopter at full speed right now and I've got people yakking at me as I type this so please please please put your name down below and I will send the winner a copy of Pomegranate and if over ten people  enter, I will select a second winner, and if over thirty people enter, I will select a third winner.  So enter enter enter.  And as I bonus I will choose one winner (a fourth winner) to receive my new suspense novel, What Came Before, in February.
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Published on December 19, 2013 08:42 • 13 views

December 16, 2013

I've been busy this morning trying to keep up with all that's out there in the Flash Fiction internet world.  Phew!  A lot is going on.

First up is the December Quarterly issue of Smokelong #42!  And it's just like opening a great big holiday present!  Authors and stories this time around include Caren Beilin'sPortrait of a Writer I Remember as a Young Masturbator, Craig Buchner's Masters of Matchsticks, Michael Chaney's As If a Bestiary Had Wings, Michael Czyzniejewski's The Meat Sweats, Matthew Dexter's Preemie, Kate Folk's Summer of Pinbugs, Rosie Forrest's Next Rest Stop, Twenty-Two Miles, Brendan Gauthier's Freckles, Megan Giddings's Twenty-Five Minute Wait, Jason Jackson's Queuing, Photographs, Morning Eyes, Alisha Karabinus's Everything in This House Is Crooked, Rebecca King's Lot's Wife, Adam Peterson's When You Look for Us, I'll Be Here, Heather Rounds's If You Find an Infant Squirrel, Peter Schumacher's Habits, Nicole Simonsen's How to Write a Hardship Letter, Ashley Strosnider's The Low Hum of Vegetation, Jacqueline Vogtman's Whose Voice We Wanted to Hear, and finally Allison Williams's Śūnyatā.  

My interview with Matthew Dexter is HERE.
My interview with Kate Folk is HERE.
My interview with Rose Forrest is HERE.
My interview with Alisha Karabinus is HERE.

Second up: "Why I Write Flash Fiction" essay up at FFC.  Lastly I have an article up at Flash Fiction Chronicles about why I write flash where I once again call up the reportage of Malcolm Gladwell.  Check it out, leave a comment, share with gazillions. Find the article HERE.

Third: Nonnie Augustine's book has been selected by Kirkus Reviews as a BEST BOOK OF 2013!!!!  Nonnie's book isn't flash, but she's a flasher nonetheless or should I say, Nonnietheless? Here's some LINKAGE and here's what Kirkus has to say:

"Like a well-wrought memoir, this medley of free- and fixed-verse poems combines vivid personal narrative with probing self-reflection...Poetry that often transcends its own bounds, spilling over into readers’ lives and forcing them to confront their own narratives."

Here's a sense of her language: “I almost saw Nessie,” “I almost won the jackpot,” and “I almost had a child. / She was there in my womb / until chromosomes killed her. / My God, that would have been something.” Among the losses, though, it “appears gone for good are dramas and bothers, / threats and therapists, drunk, needy lovers. / And…lovely, lovely, lovely is my cat’s furry belly.”

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Published on December 16, 2013 07:57 • 21 views

December 9, 2013

A few years ago, "Beyond the Curve" won a quarterly short story contest on-line.  Sponsored by Women on Writing (WOW!) every quarter, this competition offers a unique option to aspiring writers because submissions are limited to 300 and judged by literary agents, making it doubly cool.  The entire site is a great place to find articles on writing such as Brenda Hill's "Write What You Know: Sage Advice or Hogwash?" as well as links to other writers, classes, and contests.

Here's "Beyond the Curve," the story that gave me the confidence to keep writing when I was just starting to find my voice.  Voiced here by the wonderful Folly Blaine: 

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Published on December 09, 2013 11:00 • 13 views

November 18, 2013

How lucky I am to have come across the wonderful Folly Blaine.  She's the podcast editor over at Every Day Fiction and records stories there.  She's also "for hire" if any one is interested. I commissioned her to produce three of my stories for my blog spot since I've been so busy I have been woefully negligent. Since my suspense novel, What Came Before, will be coming out in various formats in early January, I also figure if I'm going to try and do this right, I need to start stirring up interest so some of you out there will give it a look.  So here's Folly's reading of "Somewhere in LA."  This is the story that won The Glass Woman Prize for 2011.  Thanks you, Beatte Siggriddaughter .

To find out more about Folly, check out her very entertaining blog, Maybe It Was the Moonshine:  HERE.
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Published on November 18, 2013 12:29 • 16 views

September 11, 2013

Our family has gone to the White Mountains of Arizona for almost thirty years, taking our two small children strapped into the saddle in front of us up rocky mountains, into canyons, across meadows strewn with wild flowers such as purple penstemon, yellow Mexican hat, spirals of "cowboy toilet paper." It's been a respite for us from the crazy rest of the world, but in 2001, not long after we returned to the traffic and noise of L.A, the twin towers of the World Trade Center  in New York were hit by two hi-jacked airplanes.  In Washington D.C, the Pentagon took another hit, and somewhere in the green fields of Pennsylvania, passengers overtook the terrorists whose target was most likely the Capitol or the White House and died in the fiery crash that resulted from their bravery.

We have never been the same.  
Yet every summer, we've packed up our truck and headed east across the desert to the ranch and found the monsoons helped to heal, the cool evenings, balm to our souls.  As individuals, we were lucky to have such a sanctuary, as Americans we had thousands to mourn. 
We met dozens of people over the years at the ranch, strangers on Sunday night, boon companions by week's end.  For us, seeing Marty and George Rozelle when we drove up the dusty road and parked our car by the main house, was always a delightful surprise because returning guests didn't always return the same week. When they did, it was sweetness to enjoy each day of the week. These two, George with his booming sense of humor, his intelligence, his kindness, and Marty who matches him point for point, added so much to our annual visits, they became family too.  
George passed away in 2008, but he left so much of himself behind.  Last night, to honor the losses we have all suffered as individuals, as friends and families, and as a nation, Marty sent out a poem George wrote in the aftermath of 9/11. With her permission,  I'm sharing it with you.

They hit us hard and at homeLives were lost and buildings destroyedSmoke, debris, vivid pictures saturated our sensesShock, fear and anger filled our hearts and mindsAnd then,
Public servants and people from all walks of lifePerformed heroic actsRescue and recovery efforts producedBoth miracles and anguishAnd then,
We came together as a nationReflecting on our lives and valuesFamilies grew strongerStrangers became friendsAnd then,
Time passed and old habits returnedCompassion, concern, courtesy, civilitySlowly gave way and once againUs became me, we became I And then,
It is nowAs we stop to remember and seek meaningLet us re-dedicate ourselves to Being a nation of caring, considerate individualsAnd then,
We will truly honor the memory of those lost.

George F. Rozelle  September 11, 2002
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Published on September 11, 2013 10:52 • 36 views