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!


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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.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

To Pic or Not to Pic: That is the Question

The wacky world of fiction writing is wide open. You can do whatever you want. Its great!

But I have a question for one small corner of the fiction-writing world. It deals with the phenomenon known as flash fictiontelling a story within the confines of a tight word limit. It could be 1,000 words or 10 words. Whatever it is, you must tell your story in that very small space.

Should a fiction writer include a picture with his/her flash fiction story?

A pic may provide a useful visual for the reader, allowing the writer to fill in the blanks with prose. This may provide context and make the story more meaningful and enjoyable for the reader. If its good for the reader, it must be good for the writer. Right?

But wait a minute.

If the objective of flash fiction is to challenge the writer to present a coherent story with extreme brevity, the pic may be sidestepping the challenge. If Im writing a 250-word story and attach a pic, some might say I actually submitted 1,250 words. Everyone knows a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, heres my take on it.

Pic whenever you want unless youre participating in a challenge, whether self-imposed or part of a competition of some sort. When the primary objective is to promote creativity and develop or test story-telling skills under very small word limits, I say no to the pic.

Thats my opinion. Whats yours?


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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.

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