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The Power Of Partnerships When Creating Short Fiction

16 Mar

Flash fiction is short, to the point, captivating since the opening act, and very limited in dimension – not that hard to write, you might say. That, if you are not a writer yourself and you are a simple reader enjoying the fine plots and surprising characters. If you are currently struggling to come up with sufficient material for a long fiction story, you might be confronting with a writer’s block. Spending your days trying to find your muse or inspiration is needless to say mandatory; but there is another type of a solution you could opt for: finding a writing partner for your fiction story.

Why Is It Important To Have A Partner?

Even a simple, but so useful editor to go over your writings and suggest improvements will prove to be extremely helpful for your flow of ideas and final form of your story. But coming across a person willing to exchange ideas and share insights into your own story – a writing partner – will prove to be an even more marvelous thought. Not to mention the need for some fresh ideas when writing a long novel of dozens or hundreds of pages, when getting stuck on the same page can occur over and over again. The power of partnerships has been long studied, explained, and lobbied for. Starting form an early age, children are taught to work in teams and complete kindergarten and school projects, not to mention the more complex high school and college group assignments. The saying “the more, the merrier” doesn’t exist for nothing and the truth is the clash of two brilliant minds trying to create a masterpiece is prone to trigger a storm of good, inspiring thoughts worth turning into well-built sentences on the pages of your next fiction story. Even highly popular casino brands and other gaming and betting companies across the planet have noticed the importance of partnerships and they are struggling to promote their products using a wide array of casino affiliate programs. The fellows at Ladbrokes Partners have also found the recipe for success, as they are constantly creating and improving their affiliate programs promoting their casinos via the best trained affiliate marketers out there. Getting in touch with them is easy, and the huge commissions and top training and marketing tools they offer will make advertising their verticals very easy. But their conjoined work will create the best results for Ladbrokes, and their bewildering billion British Pounds yearly revenues speak for themselves.

Summer Film Club: Steven Millhauser

20 Jul

In this biweekly series, Editorial Assistant Alyssa reviews popular short stories and their film adaptations. We’ll explore what works in each medium and what doesn’t, and how exactly the allure of literature can translate to film. Alyssa (who has no formal training in film) would like to issue one big standing Spoiler Alert now.

A neat poster for THE ILLUSIONISTHoo boy. What can I say? The best thing about The Illusionist is that it’s not too long. Well, it is “too long” in the sense that I checked my watch toward the end. It’s not too long, in the sense that it’s under two hours.

It’s an OK movie. My opinion (that it’s a waste of time) falls in the minority; most critics reviewed it favorably, and some lauded it as a parable for film itself. (I prefer to think of it as a parable of the dangers of tone-deaf adaptation.) This was my second time seeing it, which I don’t recommend. See it once if you’re really into magic or Edward Norton. (What do you see in him? I just think you could do better, is all.) You might want to skip it altogether if you’re into Steven Millhauser.

I have limited patience for didactic, Borgesian magical realism, but I do enjoy Millhauser. This story works for me because of its frank prose and its reluctance to state facts. The narrator tells us the story of Eisenheim, a turn-of-the-century Viennese magician who confounds his audiences by apparently raising the dead. (To those who cringe at period pieces, I say, “Necromancy never goes out of style.”)

“Eisenheim, the Illusionist” has an almost academic tone to it, as its narrator refers to old eyewitness accounts of Eisenheim and his performances (from critics, audience members, neighbors, et al.). The narrator’s acknowledgment of his uncertainty lets us trust him more: aren’t we more inclined to believe a person who appears to present us with the facts, rather than a clod declaiming his own interpretations as fact? But Millhauser’s direct language also lends credence to the most farfetched ideas:

“Some said that Eisenheim had created an illusory Eisenheim from the first day of the new century; others said that the Master had gradually grown illusory from trafficking with illusions.”

Now, we know (or do we?) that Eisenheim’s phantoms are just illusions (right?), because ghosts and the afterlife and the devil don’t exist ([nervous laughter]). But in the end, thanks to the narrator’s unbiased presentation of facts, we can’t say whether Eisenheim was living or dead, an illusionist or a magician. Mystery and subtlety are the crux of the story.

But all mystery and subtlety fly out the window in The Illusionist. I have a lot of issues with the film, so let’s begin at the beginning (unlike writer/director Neil Burger, whose screenplay starts in media res, during an attempt to arrest Eisenheim on stage).

THE ILLUSIONIST

THE ILLUSIONIST (2006), dir. Neil Burger. Starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel.

The film stars Edward Norton as Eisenheim, your titular illusionist; my beloved Paul Giamatti as Inspector Uhl, Eisenheim’s reluctant rival; Jessica Biel as a two-by-four Eisenheim’s star-crossed lover, Sophie; and Rufus Sewell as Sophie’s buzzkill of a fiancé, the Crown Prince Leopold. Sophie and Leopold don’t exist in Millhauser’s story; Uhl’s part, meanwhile, is expanded in the film. (Note to Hollywood: Not every story needs a romance, especially a romance as shallow and predictable as this one. You can’t force love, H-wood.) And it takes place almost entirely within what must have been the most exhausting and dramatic briefing of Inspector Uhl’s career, directly after his aforementioned attempt to arrest Eisenheim (start around 5:52 and watch until you get the idea/bored):

If someone referred to a childhood romance and the time I met a writer as “almost everything about my life,” I’d be annoyed, at least. And Uhl elides about fifteen years with the line, “What happens next remains a mystery.” (He should have added, “The only mystery in the entire film,” but more on that later.)

I’m in danger of nitpicking here, so I would like to say that I support suspension of disbelief. Whenever my scientifically-inclined boyfriend criticizes a film or TV show’s dubious grasp of science, we have to pause it so that I can pick up my eyeballs, which by the end of his sentence have rolled out of my head and across the floor. (One exception: I delight in Law and Order: SVU’s, um, imaginative depictions of technology.)

But one thing I will not abide, sir, is sloppy exposition. Look, The Illusionist, just show me the story. I don’t care who’s telling it. I’m not going to watch Edward Norton Eisenheim make people materialize out of thin air and think, “That’s all good and well, but who am I to assume is narrating this to me?” Uhl’s frame story is a cheap gimmick that tells me the rest of the story probably can’t hold my attention on its own, that its blandness or predictability necessitates a veil of suspense.

And speaking of gimmicks—the ending. It’s like writer/director Neil Burger read “Eisenheim, the Illusionist” and said, “This story is pretty good, but I think it would be better if we left nothing up to the imagination.”

And imagination is a key word here: I am mainly criticizing the film for its straightforwardness, for its refusal to let a mystery be. But do we go to films looking for mystery? A story takes place in our imagination; that is, we see it in our mind and fill in the blank spaces between words ourselves. But a film is placed in front of us, and what we see is what there is, presumably. Films don’t have blank spaces for us to fill in. But maybe, sometimes, they should.

Next time: “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” by Alice Munro and Away From Her (2006). As always, please leave suggestions in the comments below!

Interview with Bess Winter, Winner of Our 2011 American Short(er) Fiction Prize

1 Dec

This month, we’re bringing you a very special edition of our online fiction series. Our December story,  “Signs” by Bess Winter, is the winner of ASF’s 2011 American Short(er) Fiction Prize and is featured in the Fall 2011 issue of ASF.  We’re excited to offer you this special sneak peek inside our print magazine, and even more thrilled to present Bess’s work. Complex, surprising, and provocative, “Signs” is an exemplary piece of flash fiction and a stand-out story of any length. Check it out on the ASF website; we promise you’ve never read anything quite like it. Plus, below, we talk with the author about her prize-winning story, the joys and challenges of writing flash fiction, and the allure of animals wearing clothes (among other important topics).

1. Since “Signs” is the winner of ASF’s Short(er) Fiction Prize, I thought I’d start by asking you a couple of questions about short(er) fiction. What do you enjoy about writing flash fiction? What do you find challenging about the form?

I love its versatility. You can fit the arc of a short story or even a novel into a piece of flash fiction. Or you can focus intensely on a sliver of plot, an object, a turn of phrase. To me, writing flash is very different from writing a short story, because the form of flash, itself, seems to be the question at its heart. That’s also the challenge of it. There are lots of times where you might think a certain topic or idea would make a great short short story, and when you sit down to write it you find out that the form just doesn’t fit the content: that you need a good 20 pages to do this particular idea justice.

2. What makes a very short piece successful, in your opinion? Do you have any advice for other writers?

A successful short piece, to me, is a map to a user experience. The fewer words there are on the page, the more a flash piece asks of a reader—and most successful flash seems to be about the reader in a very direct way. The flash pieces that stick with me, and that I enjoy reading the most, begin with a scenario that’s entirely unique to the story and quickly reach out and go straight to the core of the reader, implicate the reader in some way by touching on a fundamental human truth. I guess my advice for writing flash is to allow that process to happen. Go where your mind wants to go. Also, if you have a really weird idea that embarrasses you and a strong idea that you feel totally confident about, always go for the weird idea.

3. Tell us a little bit about your process for writing “Signs.” Where did the idea for the story come from and what kind of evolution did it go through before it reached us at American Short Fiction?

First I wrote a terrible workshop story that had no redeeming qualities besides the fact that one of its characters was named Koko. One night I was wrestling with revisions on this terrible workshop story, and to avoid dealing with this story I became fixated on researching Koko the gorilla. Turns out Koko’s had a fascinating life. She has actually dated online, with little success (smart women have it so hard). She’s very astute, very sensitive. She was also indirectly involved in a sex scandal, which is what gave me the idea for “Signs.” At the same time I was writing “Signs,” I also developed this new personal rule about how the only writing that was worth anything came from the heart. I hadn’t really been speaking from that place for a while in favor of experimenting with ideas and structures and so on. So, the idea for this story was: a) Koko the gorilla, b) workplace sex scandal and c) listen to my heart. It took about three or four days to write. After that, it went through some trusted readers and some small changes. The last change was made at my good friend Jess’s kitchen table. Then we drank some wine, I submitted the story, and we spent the rest of the evening playing Beatles Rock Band.

4. “Signs” stars a gorilla and is concerned with, among other things, the relationship between humans and animals. Weirdly enough, the story that won second place in our contest is also about animals—ducks—though, of course, in a very different way. The contest results got us thinking about animal stories, and why people love them so darn much. Do you have any thoughts on that? What’s the appeal of animal stories? What was fun or different or difficult about writing about Koko?

Maybe people are just fascinated with the idea of animals acting like humans. Or of humans’ true natures being revealed by their being cast as a particular animal. Personally, I love animal stories like The Jungle Book, where the characters are closely linked to animal archetypes, but The Wind in the Willows is even better, because those animals wear clothes. That sounds funny, but it feels like the only thing people love more than stories about animals is animals mimicking humans. We like to be reminded that we’re animals, too, and all indications to the contrary are just illusions. So, a toad in a jalopy and driving gloves.

In terms of writing Koko, she was easy to write about because, as a character, she had no guile. Dr. Thomas and the researcher’s reactions to Koko were harder to get at. But it kind of felt like Koko was the one calling the shots.

5. “Signs” is ASF’s final web exclusive of 2011, so it feels like a good time to ask about your year in reading. What story or book or journal really blew you away in 2011? What’s on your to-read list for 2012?

The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje, is the best book I read this year. It’s so slim and so beautifully crafted and full of whimsy—the work of a true master. There was a story published in Fence—and featured on their website—that I read many times: “A Film That Will Make the Audience Feel Pure Joy” by Jacob Wren. There’s also a great story in the new issue of the Mid-American Review called “The Evasive Magnolio” that I loved when we read it in our editorial meeting. I’m so glad it made it into the journal.

Hopefully in 2012 I’ll read the new Murakami book, Michael Czyzniejewski’s Chicago Stories, Lydia Davis’s The Cows, and Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time.

6. What’s up next for you, writing-wise? What are you working on now? 

I’m finishing putting together a collection of short fiction, and am in the middle of writing something longer. It appears to be a novel. It’s actually, in an oblique way, an animal story.

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Want to read “Signs” and the rest of the amazing stories in the Fall 2011 issue of ASF? Click right here to get your very own copy.

Want to read more fantastic flash fiction online? Check out our web exclusive archive.

American Short Films Worth Our Attention

17 Nov

Hey there! Today we decided to bring some exciting American short films to your attention – we have already watched them and we enjoyed what we’ve seen, so we thought we should recommend a few titles. These are not exactly brand new releases in the sort film industry, but in case you missed out on them, now you will have the chance to get back on the track.

 

James Mather & Stephen St Leger’s Prey Alone

This sort film is 15 minutes and it was released in 2004 by James Mather and Stephen St Leger.  A single first glance at it is going to make you feel you are about to watch a huge blockbuster, so get ready for a genuine screen delight. These guys have really gone out of their way for this short film and they most definitely invested quite a few money, time, and energy to get the final cuts. These guys are also worth our appreciation because they knew they hadn’t created a movie that was ready for the features category, so they opted for a short film instead.

 

Jamin Winans’s Spin Short Film

Spin is a 2005 production, it is 8 minutes in length and it is a fascinating drama that revolves around Jamin Winans’ appreciation for music. He is responsible for the music that he composed for the short film. The film revolves around a DJ who is sort of angel-like, sent to settle problems and conflicts before they end up tragically. He film features no dialogue and you might consider its humoristic side to be kind of sly – which seem to be the ideal components for a wide series of short films these days. So if you are looking for some extra inspiration, for you next short film idea, you can definitely get a few pointers at the end of the eight minutes.   

 

Po Chan’s “The Last 3 Minutes” Short Film

Produced in 2010 by Po Chan in the U.S. and having 5 minutes in length, the short film sets foot into the life of a dying man, showing us dramatic flashbacks of his existence. Expect to see some amazing sceneries to and landscapes and be amazed by the capabilities of a video DSLR camera.    

 

Scenes From A Marriage – NPR And Chris Ware Collaboration

Scenes From A Marriage is a short film that is part of the This Ameircan Life series which also includes the Cameraman release. Chris Ware animated the audio recording of someone who tells the story – namely, a couple telling the Jackie O story. If you love short, funny films, this one is definitely worth your attention.

If you are just a fan of sort American films and you find out site interesting, we invite you to browse through our collection of short fiction films and indulge yourself in a pleasant journey throughout this fascinating universe. And in case you need a little break from time to time, you can play casino for real money. Just enter the ReviewsCasino site and make your pick – read the detailed, updated reviews, select the biggest bonuses and your preferred type of casino games and try to come up with a budget for your own short film idea.

 

Goodbye, Hello—ASF launches its summer issue

14 Sep

Oh, hey there.

Don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re having a little party here in Austin tomorrow night. We’re celebrating the new issue of ASF (our twentieth!); we’re celebrating poetry; we’re celebrating memoir; we couldn’t be more inclusive!

Seriously, this one’s going to be a really great time. We’ll be at the Highball this Thursday night, September 15, with Wild Child, poet Roger Reeves, memoirist Andrew Tilin, and fiction writer Mary Helen Specht. 7 to 9 pm, but get there early for Happy Hour and to say hi to us.

More details and RSVP on Facebook.

We’d love to see you there.

Summer Film Club: Julio Cortazar

2 Sep

In this weekly series, Intern Alyssa, your fearless reader, will review popular short stories and their film adaptations. We’ll explore what works in each medium and what doesn’t, and how exactly the allure of literature can translate to film. Alyssa has no formal training in film, unless subscribing to Netflix and following Roger Ebert on Twitter count as formal training. She would also like to issue one big standing Spoiler Alert now.

BLOW-UP

Thomas (David Hemmings) examines a print for evidence of a murder in BLOW-UP.

 

Hey, Summer Film Clubbers! September is upon us and autumn is nigh, which means, unfortunately, that my series is drawing to a close. Next week’s entry will be my last. We’ll end, appropriately enough, with Everything Must Go, Dan Rush’s 2010 adaptation of Raymond Carver’s classic “Why Don’t You Dance?” This week, we’re discussing Michaelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 classic Blow-Up, based on Julio Cortázar’s “The Devil’s Drool.” So let’s get into it!

I think I may have purchased a bowdlerized translation of “The Devil’s Drool.” I read it and reread it so carefully, yet found nary a consensually questionable orgy or bevy of interchangeable topless women. Does anyone know where I can find the dirty version?

BLOW-UP

BLOW-UP, dir. Michaelangelo Antonioni. Starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave. 1966.

Little joke. Let me explain: there’s a lot of nudity, models, naked models, and implied sex with uncomfortable power dynamics in Blow-Up. But we’ll get to that later. (Please resist the urge to scroll through this post just to get to the dirty parts.)

For now, suffice it to say that Blow-Up joins Secretary in the club of adaptations that take great liberty with their source material (and their female characters’ integrity, but again—later). If we render the events of each piece in the sparest possible terms—man takes photo of couple in park, subject unsuccessfully demands he hand over photo, man later realizes something sinister’s afoot in said photo—then Blow-Up is a faithful adaptation. Let’s approach this a little differently than we usually do and quickly list the straightforward plot differences in each piece.

Setting: “The Devil’s Drool” takes place in Paris; Blow-Up, in swinging Sixties London.

Characters: In “The Devil’s Drool,” the protagonist (Michel) is a professional translator and amateur photographer. In Blow-Up, the protagonist (Thomas) is a professional fashion photographer (hence the models). While Thomas interacts with a variety of models and artists in Blow-Up, Michel doesn’t interact with any other characters in the present (a problematic term, Cortázar would caution) of the story, which takes place in his head/on the page.

Plot: Michel photographs an older woman and a teenage boy struggling in a park. Initially he assumes the older woman was trying to seduce the boy, but later he becomes convinced that the woman was procuring the boy for an older gentleman waiting in a parked car. He finds himself within the photograph watching the scene unfold. Thomas photographs a younger woman and an older man canoodling in a park and later realizes a gunman was hiding in the bushes—a fact of which the woman seemed aware.

Okay. So, I’ve come to believe, over the course of the summer, that what makes an adaptation faithful to its source material is not a strict adherence to its plot points, but a general observance of its themes. And, well, Blow-Up certainly adheres to Cortázar’s many ambiguous themes that allow for about a million different interpretations. The title “The Devil’s Drool” (“Las Babas Del Diablo,” in Spanish) refers idiomatically to a thin spider thread, and the story itself is as intricately woven as a spider’s web (sorry). It concerns the interplay between imagination and paranoia, the life of a photograph, the existence of truth—I even saw one interpretation that invoked the Heisenberg Principle. If a roomful of monkeys on typewriters could produce a Shakespeare play, they could probably also produce a valid interpretation of “The Devil’s Drool.” But the theme that struck me most was the inaccuracy of language. The protagonist, a translator (like Cortázar himself), grapples daily with the question of truthful, accurate language, and, well—it’s kind of a losing battle, as evidenced by the first paragraph:

It’ll never be known how this has to be told, in the first person or in the second, using the third person plural or continually inventing modes that will serve for nothing. If one might say: I will see the moon rose, or: we hurt me at the back of my eyes, and especially: you the blond woman was the clouds that race before my you’re his our yours their faces. What the hell.

BLOW-UP AND OTHER STORIES

BLOW-UP AND OTHER STORIES. Julio Cortázar. Pantheon Books, 1985.

What the hell, indeed, Señor Cortázar. When I tried reading this story after a fitful night of sleep, I was momentarily concerned that a lifetime of insomnia had taken a permanent, brain damage-y toll on me. Not so. Cortázar’s convoluted, nonsensical prose underlines the absurdity of language, and his alternations between persons imply the unreliability of a narrator. Later in the story, he states the narrator’s unreliability in terms that make Nick Carraway look honest and subtle.

And Blow-Up? Well, ambiguity is certainly a theme. The titular blow-ups refer to enlarged prints of the couple’s dalliance in the woods, the graininess of which prints imply a murder (a barely discernible gun, the shadow of a body). Thomas, sans camera, encounters the body in the park at night, but without photographic evidence, does it exist? Or: if a body falls in the park and no one’s around to photograph it, is it really dead? Apparently not. When he returns the next morning, the body’s gone. His hesitant participation in a mimed tennis game at the film’s conclusion beautifully enhances the film’s themes of ambiguity and perception. If you toss an imaginary tennis ball to a couple of mimes, does it make a sound? Apparently, yes.

But.

I don’t think that ambiguity and perception are the most prominent themes in Blow-Up. I think the most prominent themes in Blow-Up are ennui and jadedness, as evidenced by Thomas’s abhorrent treatment of women as well as his desire to photograph the corpse. I have to editorialize here: I didn’t like this movie. I understand that it’s a “good” movie, or a “great” movie, or a “masterpiece,” from a technical standpoint. But what’s to enjoy? It glorifies misogyny and forces the viewer to watch what may be a rape scene (the aforementioned consensually questionable orgy). And, okay, yes, I get that the aforementioned scene contributes to the themes of ambiguity and perception. But I think that’s a pretty weak argument to make in order to excuse the film’s rampant misogyny. Look: Thomas spends so much more time physically and emotionally manipulating women, and asserting his sexual dominance over them, than he does questioning the truth in perception. I think Blow-Up is an accurate (if chilling) depiction of hipsters in mod London, but a successful adaptation of “The Devil’s Drool”? Not so much.

Stray Observations:

  • The film’s famous montage of still photographs depicting the murder is, I admit, fantastic, and a neat homage to Cortázar’s “photo comes to life” ending.
  • Antonioni pans to the sky in the park a couple of times, recalling Cortázar’s references to clouds passing in the sky.
  • Both “The Devil’s Drool” and Blow-Up eschew typical structure—they’re meandering and plotless and compelling nonetheless.
  • Cortázar liked the remake.
  • This letter from cast member Ronan O’Casey to Roger Ebert really throws a kink into the whole “themes of ambiguity” theory.
  • A brief blog post does not have nearly enough room to do justice to these pieces. I left out so much that I’d love to talk about. Commenters, want to correct my most egregious omissions?

Interview with Iris Moulton, Author of Our September Web Exclusive

1 Sep

 

Howdy, fellow online fiction readers. Gather round. It’s September, and that means it’s time for the latest installment in our web exclusive series. This month we bring you a fantastic piece of flash fiction, Litter by Iris Moulton.  At 445 words, “Litter” flies by, but don’t let its don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it length fool you — it’s an elegant, evocative piece that’ll linger in your mind long after you reach the last line. Read “Litter” on the ASF website and be sure to check out our interview with the author, below.

1. Tell us about the genesis of this story. Where did the idea come from and what kind of evolution did it go through to get to us?

So much of what I read in any genre feels like someone else’s memory. This came from not only asking myself to start remembering, but also giving myself permission to acknowledge a memory as important and formative. And then allowing that memory to be inaccurate, conflated, fictionalized. My memories are not of fleeing a war-torn country or rushing into a burning building—the strongest are of things like the time my little sister dropped a toy out of a moving car. Sure, I would feel comfortable writing about rushing into a burning building, but there is an urgency to small moments I recall and can expand, like in this piece, that is giving them priority right now.

2. One of the things that makes the story successful, I think, is that it’s told from the point of view of a child. The narrator’s voice draws readers in very quickly—which is so important in a piece of this length. Can you talk a little bit about how you imagined your narrator? Did the voice come naturally or did it take some work to channel a young(er) person’s perspective?

The voice felt organic and natural when writing this particular piece because I channeled a lot of the way I viewed the world as a child. The challenge was reconciling the knowledge I have now with whatever knowledge I had then. For example, it wasn’t until I wrote this that I realized it might be fairly unusual that to this day I won’t run over a plastic bag on the road because I assume it is full of kittens. At the same time, I didn’t want to inject too much of my Now into that memory—I didn’t want to make that education feel unnatural. And I remember very well being young and seeing all these singular shoes on the side of the road and being so worried for their owners. The shoes felt like a trail of breadcrumbs that—if I was old enough to drive then—I would have followed and found a family tied up in a cabin that I was meant to free. But now, older, it was a challenge to reconcile that impulse with the practical voice saying that these are not necessarily signs of something sinister—made easier, of course, by the fact that I do still assume these people have all been horribly murdered.

3. Objects have such power in this piece. Everyday items—stuff that’s been lost or forgotten or thrown away on the side of the road—take on an almost talismanic quality that feels really essential to the way the story unfolds. It’s an interesting way to approach a story, and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on the power of objects in fiction. What about in your own writing process? Do you have any lucky writing charms?

Though the story takes place during such a brief stretch of misremembered or perhaps completely imagined road, the setting is, thankfully, still permanent and universal. The roadside from the memory that spurred this story, wherever it was, is likely unchanged, and I’m sure it looks like any other roadside. So I was able to make a study when I ran errands or took a walk. It was a relief to then be able to remember and include all roadsides I’d seen: the thick-webbed bushes in Kentucky, the boots in Utah, the prisoners in California. These specifics from my memory accented the universal objects found along any roadside. Doing this—getting to the universal by way of the specific—is to me the most amazing thing about fiction.

I have tried to not develop many superstitions or specific needs as a writer—it would be a sort of prison to me if I could only write beginning at 8:58 a.m. facing a southeast window while wearing my red sweater and clutching the mug that says I HATE MONDAYS. To write, and to hopefully work at making a life as a writer, means to write constantly and work really hard, and that might mean at any time of day or night, in any city or room that you happen to be placed. And I love to work while I travel. That said, I seem to do better if I can at least see outside, like through a window. Thankfully, that is pretty readily available.

4. I went on a lot of long road trips when I was growing up, so your story held a particular charm for me and brought back some memories. Did you have a specific stretch of road in mind when you wrote this? Any drives that hold special meaning for you?

Though I had a specific action in mind—the action of losing the toy out of the window—where or when it took place is less certain. I sort of see where I think it happened, and it is along a stretch of routine road, which makes me think it may not have even been a road trip at all.

I am a lover of road trips. Perhaps my favorite, thus far, is when my partner and I were a few months away from moving from Utah, and we drove from Salt Lake City into and around Southern Utah. I saw pockets of red rock canyons I’d never seen before—places where pioneers wrote their names in axle grease, where desert hares hopped through these strange, sandy cemeteries. It was a long and good goodbye to Utah, and pretty damn romantic, actually.

5. What are you working on now? Where else can we find your writing?

I am currently working on two projects that are taking up the bulk of my time, but I am thus far enjoying both of them. The first is a novel and the second is a collection of vignettes. Alright, I guess one quirk I have when it comes to process is that I don’t want to say much more than that.

My work has been most recently published in Fugue, Everyday Genius, and elimae.

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Can’t get enough of ASF’s awesome online fiction? You’ll find lots of other great reads in our web exclusive archive.

Help One of Our Writers Reach His Goal

7 Jun

One of the talented writers in our current issue, Michael Fauver, will be attending the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers’ Retreat this August. We are so excited about his career–we published his first fiction–and think he’s a writer with major promise. This is a big honor, going to this retreat.

What does it mean, to go? Here’s a description from LLF:

The Retreat is unlike any other writing program in the world. It’s the only residency established specifically for promising LGBT writers.

It’s one rigorous, immersive week. Students receive personalized, one-on-one instruction, forge connections to publishing industry professionals, and most importantly, build a community of peers on whom they’ll depend for years of encouragement, inspiration, and friendship.

A writer’s life is full of challenges. Lambda’s emerging voices Fellows come from big cities and rural towns all over America. In many of these places the LGBT community is still under a lot of pressure, subtle and not-so-subtle. Your generous donation to a student’s tuition, room, and board will give these shining artists a leg up in their careers, and–not a small side benefit!–it will empower them as agents of social change.

The foundation has been generous, but Michael still needs to raise some money in order to attend. Would you help out? Your tax-deductible gift will make a huge impact on the life and career of an emerging writer.

Instructional Books: Locksmithing

19 Apr

The art of lock picking can be learned and the secrets of this interesting trade can thoroughly studied through books, guides, school training, online classes, apprenticeship, and internships. And since we are all about books and fine lecture here on this website, we decided to share with you some of the best titles in terms of locksmithing.

The “Visual Guide to Lockpicking” Bookauthorized locksmith opens padlocks

This book has reached its third edition and it is a highly inspiring lecture that will introduce the reader to a series of lockpicking practices that will turn any beginner newcomer, or apprentice in a master of the trade. The advantage of the book comes from the fact that the information gathered within its pages is so valuable and relevant that it will allow readers to rapidly learn what it would take others a long time to learn. If you are building a collection of books on locksmithing out of pure passion for locks or security, or you are on your learning curve, this book is a must-have.

The book covers the all of the lock picking, lock repairing, and lock installation practices and tools needed to pick the most common locks, which will give readers a solid base to work with. The step-by-step detailed explanations of every process and necessity to use one tool or the other will help crayon the problem-solving thinking any professional locksmith needs. The illustrations are a fresh breath of air that set the book apart from others in the industry. Another way of learning the practical side of locksmithing is to either get hired by a local locksmithing company in your locality, or search for a position as an apprentice or a volunteer for a large company like the Authorized Locksmith company. These experts only hire trained and experienced licensed technicians who have finished specialized courses, either online or offline; they carefully screen all the people they are about to add to their team, running criminal checks, constantly testing them and teaching them new techniques to keep up with the latest advancements in the industry. While the basics of lock rekeying, lock picking in emergency lockout cases, safe and lock installation, or key cutting are the main types of services locksmiths need to work with on a daily basis, the existence of more and more complex locks and transponder keys for cars are turning locksmiths jobs into a challenge.

The type of high quality residential, commercial, and automotive services the guys at Authorized Locksmiths currently offer to their customers in all states around the U.S. set the high standards in the industry. They do not only reprogram all makes and models of transponder keys, but they also assess, recommend, and install the latest accepted security systems for homes, office spaces and vehicles. They are worth getting in touch with for lock and key maintenance work, or in case of any lock-related issue you might confront with.

The “Secrets of Lockpicking” Book

Yet another highly praised book highly praised for locksmiths as it reveals the tricks and tools for bypassing keyed as well as combo locks from wafer, spool pin or pin tumbler locks, mushroom or warded locks and other types of locks you could think of. Interested in simple door locks, magnetic locks, vehicle locks or padlocks? There's a magical way of opening each and every one of them, and this book will teach you exactly how to do it.

Contest Deadline Extended!

2 Dec

Due to some technical issues, we’re extending the deadline for our Short Story Contest until January 3. We’ll be accepting new submissions until midnight on that date. Guidelines are located here. We look forward to reading your submissions.

Remember: Wells Tower judges. First prize receives $1000 and publication; second prize gets $500.