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

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.

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

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why Fiction Writing and Golf Don't Mix

My advice is to pick one. Don’t do both. Fiction writing and golf don’t go together.

The reason can be stated in one simple word:


Fiction writers thrive on tension. They seek it out in life so they can observe and understand it. Then they exploit it in their story telling. Without tension among characters, fiction would be boring. A writing group I follow is working on creating more tension and twists in their story telling. It’s essential for fiction writers.

Golfers avoid tension like the plague. Tension causes muscles to tighten, thereby ruining the fluid swing needed for good golf. Golfers constantly try to reduce tension. Golf magazines I read contain articles and “how to” tips on eliminating tension in the grip and swing. It’s a killer for golf.

Trust me, you can’t turn this tension thing on and off as you move from your writing desk to the golf course.

Having said all that, I’ll probably ignore my own advice and continue to muddle along doing both.

At least now everyone will understand that my deteriorating golf game is not my fault.

That’s my story, anyway.

Follow me on Facebook and Flash Fiction Magazine.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Short Stories Don't Just Happen

As I’m sure you can understand, security regulations prohibit me from offering in-person tours of my short-story writing and publication facilities. However, I decided to use this month’s blog post to do the next best thing.

What follows is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at my self-publishing empire.

A brief summary is given of each department and its role in the development and publication of a story. As with most things in life, teamwork and communication are critical.

Research Department (Me)
Most story ideas start here after painstaking research into current issues in higher education and college sports.

Writing Group (Me, myself, and I)
This is where the actual story writing takes place. The door is usually closed, and from the outside you can hear periodic sounds of ping . . . ping . . . . ping. These are crumpled sheets of discarded manuscript pages being tossed across the room at a tin trashcan. About one-third actually hits the can.

Art Department (Only me)
Cover designs are created here. I have to admit there is some creative tension between the Art Department and Writing Group. It seems the Writing Group wants more input into cover designs.

Legal Department (Little ole me)
This department must sign-off on all stories before publication to ensure we don’t get sued. (I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get approval from the Legal Department to write this summary for my blog.)

Marketing and Promotions Department (Me and only me)
This department handles all pre- and post-publication marketing. The most mundane dribble is made to sound interesting and exciting.

Accounting Department (Just me)
Bean counting takes place here. This department continually hounds me about the cash flow challenges created by offering free stories.

Quality Assurance (Yours truly)
Everything is checked here before it goes out the door. This department is always saying Quality is everyone’s job. I’ve never understood why we need a separate department for this.

IT Department (No one but me)
All technical issues are addressed here. This department lets everyone know we can’t publish an eBook without them. All my technical support requests seem to be greeted by the same refrain: Are you sure it’s plugged in and turned on?

Unlike most business entities, we don’t have morning staff meetings. Instead, we opt for happy hour around 5 PM. We hash out our differences, mend fences, and get back after it the next day.

That is, unless it’s a bright and sunny day.

Then we all hit the golf course or the lake instead.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Clemson Rat Pact

I found it! 

When I discovered the box with my Rat Hat, I knew it had to be in there somewhere.  I finally found my Rat Pact. It was handed to me (it’s not like I had a choice) when I arrived on the Clemson campus in 1966 as a new student. 

Every male Clemson freshman in those days received these three things upon arrival: a buzz cut haircut (within 1/16th of an inch), a Rat Hat, and a copy of the Rat Pact.  The women wore a ribbon in lieu of the haircut, but otherwise had the same Rat (freshmen) rules. The Rat Hat was to be worn at all times during “Rat Season,” and the contents of the Rat Pact were to be memorized, including all 17 requirements of Rats. The Rat Pact also described all the school traditions, cheers, alma mater, campus landmarks, and Clemson’s “unwritten rules.”  You’d better know everything in it, I was told in no uncertain terms.

And I did. Still do. To this day, you can ask me anything about Clemson traditions, landmarks, etc.

But I have never forgotten my first experience with an upperclassman during Rat Season.  Needing to run an errand in the early evening of the first day of class, I ventured out of my dorm (against the advice of my roommate) and headed across campus.  I didn’t get very far before hearing those dreaded two words. 

“Hey Rat,” someone shouted from behind me.  “Do you know your Rat Pact?”

“Yes sir,” was my confident reply, expecting a question about the alma mater, the statue of Thomas Green Clemson, a campus building, or something along those lines.

The burly fellow came closer and sized me up before he asked his question.  I suspect he was given a hard time when he was a Rat and this was payback.  I still wasn’t too worried because there wasn’t a kid on campus who knew the Rat Pact better than me.

Then I heard the question:

“How many periods are there on page 3 of the Rat Pact?”

I don’t remember how many pushups I had to do or how many shoes I had to shine as a result of not knowing my Rat Pact.  But I do remember celebrating when the 1966 Rat Season ended at midnight on September 24.

I was sure glad when Rat Season was over. 

But I’m even more glad we had it! 

That’s why I saved my Rat Hat and Rat Pact all these years.

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