Monday, May 4, 2015

So, What's the Fuss about Ed and Edna?

Ed and Edna are central characters in my new flash fiction series The Adventures of Ed and Edna. I didnt start out with a plan to create them. They just butted in on one of my stories, and never left.

Ed and Edna are just regular folks who happen to be getting up there in age. Theyre not climbing the social ladder or jockeying for position in the corporate jungle. Theyre just doing their thing in a changing world. They face new technologies and evolving social norms, sometimes trying to adapt and sometimes shaking their heads in bewilderment. On occasion Ed is a little off, and Edna brings him back to reality. Other times Edna is the one who needs to be reeled in. But theyre always there for each other.

Their grandchildren appear in some stories, providing a contrasting perspective on life and issues of the day. At different times and in different situations, Ed and/or Edna can be brilliant, naïve, stubborn, contentious, tender, or just plain stupid. As Ed might say, It is what it is.

I sense that folks have taken a liking to Ed and Edna.

So have I.

Youre invited to join me for The Adventures of Ed and Edna. Its always free and always worth it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Path to THE 100 WORD DASH

Its funny sometimes where things take you.

I started to dabble in something called flash fiction about two years ago. I was recently retired and looking for ways to expand my interest in creative writing, but didnt want to create a whole new job or career. I was just looking for meaningful ways to express myselflike many writers, I suppose.

I began experimenting with 100-word stories. Almost all of them related to things I observed about college and sports during my career as a professor. I posted these short masterpieces on my Facebook Page every now and then, and was perfectly content.

Shortly thereafter, Flash Fiction Magazine graciously offered me a page on their site. I felt I needed to write more frequently to justify their hospitality, so I did (and still do). Every three days or so, I post a new story there. My focus initially remained on college and sports. After all, thats what I knew.

Months later I stumbled across a very welcoming and talented group of writers and bloggers participating in the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. The leader, +Charli Mills, offers a thoughtful writing prompt each week and invites all writers to join. As you might expect, the prompts are all over the place. This expanded my horizons and challenged me to be more creative. I began writing more about life in general, sometimes even giving a voice to inanimate objects.

The management professor in me required some organization of these emerging stories. I decided to write more and maintain them as files in a Scrivener project as though they were chapters in a book. Now they aresort of.

THE 100 WORD DASH is a simple collection of one hundred 100-word stories resulting from the activities described above. (Also included is a bonus short story that has special meaning to me.) 

Theres plenty about college and sports in the collection, but also a heavy dose of stories about life as well. 

The way I got here is a story about life too.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Presenting a Story in Epistolary Form

I’m not known as a riverboat gambler, but I did take a calculated risk with one of my works of short fiction. I decided to present Swimming for Pride in epistolary form. Instead of describing physical features of the characters and describing their interactions through dialogue, I simply provided a chronology of letters, emails, texts, and journal entries. As the story tells itself, the reader creates his/her own image of the characters. At least that was the plan.

I think this is easier to pull off with a short story than a novel. Swimming for Pride (5410 words) seemed a good candidate for this approach. It is an emotional story about coping with change, and is about something much bigger than swimming.

Swimming for Pride is currently free at Amazon, Apple, and Smashwords.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions about the epistolary format used for this story. Thanks!


You're invited to connect with me on Facebook and Flash Fiction Magazine.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why Athlete Graduation Rates are Irrelevant

Graduation rates of athletes reported and published by individual institutions and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) don’t tell us what we need to know. Neither do academic progress rates (APR) published annually by the NCAA. These metrics are intended to shed light on the academic integrity of college sports programs. Unfortunately, they don’t.

To be sure, many college sports programs do in fact have academic integrity. My point is simply this: You can’t tell which schools have academic integrity by their published graduation rates and APR data.

That’s because academic integrity is a process, not a single outcome measure.

Academic integrity is not the percent of student-athletes achieving graduation. It’s how those students did it. Did they graduate under legitimate college curricula with appropriate academic support? Or was it through bogus courses and majors created not only to keep athletes eligible but also to advance them toward graduation?

We don’t know the answers to these important questions from looking at graduation rates and APR numbers.

The only way to know if academic integrity exists is to monitor the academic process. This is the responsibility of each individual institution. Sadly, some schools have dropped the ball on this important issue. 

As a former NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative, I’m interested in all aspects of college sports. But I take high graduation rates and APR numbers with a grain of salt unless I’m confident the school has done its due diligence in monitoring the academic integrity of its sports programs.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Beware: THE 100-WORD DASH is coming

My next project has been in the works for several months and will involve a compilation of my 100-word stories.

Tentatively titled THE 100-WORD DASH, I plan to compile 100 of my best 100-word stories in a single volume for distribution in eBook format. Some have been published in various places, such as Flash Fiction Magazine, and some have yet to see the light of day.

The stories will be fairly evenly split among the broad topics of college, sports, and life in general. Im using only my very best stories for this compilation, and currently have about 75 that I think will make the cut. 

Many thanks to all who have commented or liked my 100-word stories on Facebook and Flash Fiction Magazine!

#flashfiction #100wordstories

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Ultimate Flash Fiction: The Zero-Word Story

Not satisfied simply to keep up with trends in flash fiction, I aim to get ahead of the curve.

Most folks agree that stories of 1000 words or less meet the definition of flash fiction. As more writers get onboard and push the envelope further and further, we are regularly seeing stories of 500, 250, 100, 99, 50, 25, 10, and even 6 words.

Simple extrapolation tells me what the next wave will be: the zero-word story!

I am already working on my first zero-word story. It’s coming along nicely, if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to share it with you because, well, it has zero words. Trust me, it’s in my head.

And it’s pretty good.


If you insist on stories with words, please join me on Flash Fiction Magazine and Facebook.