Play Genre Slip-n-Slide: My Interview with Sarah Potter, Author of “Quirky” Novels

sarah-potter-interview_noah-padgett-cover

Sarah’s newest novel, on special Dec. 25 through Jan. 1, 2017! Check out her Kindle Count-down deal and the Audio book version.

If you’re like me, you love to pick the brains of all the book-lovers and writers you know.

To that end, I’m very nearly ecstatic to host my very first author interview here on the ol’ Wordsmithery blog. So, without further ado, please join me in welcoming speculative fiction author and blogger Sarah Potter, who recently published a new novel.

*Please note that green typefaces are for emphasis and were supplied by me (that is, Leigh).

sarah-potter-interview_sarah

Author walking in the wilds of the U.K.

1. Sarah, for those who might be visiting my blog and/or getting to know you for the first time, could you please introduce your own writing and other literary history, such as your own blog (and how long you’ve been doing that, etc.)?

Before answering this question, I’d just like to say a big thank you to you, Leigh, for inviting me to your blog for this interview. I can’t remember exactly when we stumbled upon each other in Blogland, but probably about two years ago. As fellow eccentrics, who enjoy exercising literary freedom writing speculative fiction, we gelled with each other from the start. And for those who don’t know, Leigh was beta-reader-in-chief for both of my published books, and a grand job of it she did, too.

In reviews of my work, people have used the word “quirky” so often that I’ve decided to make it my brand. Hence the recent birth of my Facebook fan page, “Sarah Potter’s Quirky Novels”. In other words, I slip and slide between genres, not to rebel against the pigeonholing of books into neat categories, but because that’s the way I write. The chunks of genre in my mixing pot include science fiction, fantasy, thriller, humour (both light and dark), snippets of romance, and the occasional eroticism.

I’ve written five novels, two of which I’ve indie published. The three unpublished ones are waiting for me to knock them into shape, armed with some invaluable, positive, and constructive feedback from publishers and literary agents over the years. I haven’t given up on the idea of traditional publishing, but just wanted a break from submitting material, in order to contemplate whether I could write a straight genre novel and, if so, what genre?

I started my blog Sarah Potter Writes in the last week of December 2011. It began mostly with haiku, which I’d been experimenting with on Twitter, and then moved on to include occasional flash fiction, or music-related stuff, as I’m a singer. Also, I got involved with various inter-blog weekly or monthly challenges. Then I took up photography and began posting my own pictures, mostly nature ones. In January 2014, I started a monthly guest storyteller flash fiction feature and my weekly Monday morning haiku feature, both of which have proved extremely popular and are still going strong.

2. Noah Padgett and the Dog-People is your second published novel, correct? For those not familiar with Desiccation (your first), what made you turn toward juvenile literature for your latest work?

Although these two novels were the first I published, they were my third and fourth ones written.

With Desiccation, I’ve never been able to decide if it’s a teenage or an adult novel. On Amazon, I have it under the browsing categories of science fiction (young adult) and urban fantasy (adult), with its readership age set at 15-18+. But with Noah Padgett and the Dog-People, I have it under animal stories/dogs (children) and action and adventure (children), with the age set at 10-18+. In other words, both of these works come under the umbrella of juvenile fiction but they are also crossover novels that will appeal to adults, too.

I never made a conscious decision to write for one age group or another, and suspect that my readers in main are aged forty-plus. With each of my five novels, I wrote the story that inspired me at the time, two of which happened to have juveniles as the main characters. As to whether this makes them primarily juvenile fiction, I’m still undecided. Certainly their Flesch reading-ease scores would indicate that this is the case, but some of the humour and references may go above some young people’s heads.

My three unpublished novels are definitely for adults, especially the last one, which is very controversial!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sarah’s own dog (shown here as a puppy) inspired her latest novel.

a. Following on this question: was your own Labrador inspiration for any character(s) in Noah Padgett (such as Bluebell!) and, if so, how?

Yes, indeed, my chocolate Labrador was the main inspiration behind writing this story. At the time when I started on the novel, she was a puppy just like Bluebell and, whilst we housetrained her, my son and I took it in turns to stay with her in the kitchen and stay on hand to let her outside into the garden at a moment’s notice. Each of us would use the time to work on our laptop computers at the kitchen table, which had the additional positive result of teaching a puppy with needle-sharp teeth some important lessons, such as the fact that wires are not for swinging on, playing tug-of-war with, or chewing.

What triggered the story was a dream I had about my puppy disappearing and not being able to find her anywhere. I awoke from this dream in a terrible state of anxiety, imagining how terrible such a thing would be, which then gave birth to the main premise behind my novel: that a boy has his precious puppy stolen from him and he has to rescue her from an arch-baddie in another dimension.

3. Could you describe what your writing process is like? This is something that I, as a writer, am always curious to know. Or, alternatively, what is a typical day like for you, in which you do some writing?

I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, so I start with an idea and do any research on the trot. With my first book, a science fiction romance, I set it in a psychiatric hospital similar to the one where I used to work. Thus, I fictionalised a familiar setting and had as one of my main characters a student psychiatric nurse who falls into an inappropriate relationship with a weirder than weird patient. People say, “Write what you know”. Well, I know about psychiatry back in the late 70s and early 80s, and about those huge institutions, now mostly closed down; although I never had an affair with a patient!

sarah-potter-interview_alternate-desiccation-cover

Quick-link to this soon-to-be SF/F classic: http://myBook.to/QuirkyLit

Again, with Desiccation, I used both a setting and a time period with which I was familiar, having been at a boarding school for girls in the late 60s. Then I asked myself the question, what would have happened if my old school had come under attack by body-snatching aliens?

With my most recent novel, it started out as a 400-word piece of flash fiction with two characters, which grew into a 65,000-word novel because the setting and characters would not let go of me. The writing is very experimental, the plot complex, and, if I’d been of a weaker mental disposition, the writing of it could have given me a nervous breakdown. It involved such complex family trees and timelines that at one point I had to press the pause button on my writing and start plotting, or literally lose the plot. Such were my love-hate feelings towards it, that I drew my only consolation from the fact that George Orwell felt like this about his novel Nineteen Eight-Four, although unlike my book, nobody would have classed his one as a dystopian soap opera.

My typical writing day, when working on a novel, involves sitting at my desk and occasionally gazing out of the window to contemplate, or rummaging through research notes. This happens from Monday to Friday, give or take other family commitments, from 11am to 1 pm and then again from 2 to 3.30pm. These days differ from the times when I’m not writing a novel, which are much more fragmented and less inspired.


4. As you call him in your Amazon synopsis, there is a central villain in this book dubbed “mad entrepreneur Monsieur Percival Poodle.” My question is: why do you hate poodles? (Only kidding!) What in your background led you to describe (in spot-on ways, I must say) the Canis sapiens characters with the personalities, temperaments, habits, strengths, and foibles that you do?

I was raised in kennels — well, not literally, but my mother bred and showed dogs, so I was around them for most of my childhood. Then for about three years after leaving school, I worked in her kennels.

As for poodles, I don’t hate them; in fact, I know a wonderful white standard poodle who gets on just fine with my Labrador and isn’t villainous at all.

5. Backing up for a moment, Sarah, what would be (or is) your 30-second elevator pitch for Noah Padgett and the Dog-People?

You know, this question almost brought on an instant headache, until I realised that my book description on Amazon takes 30 seconds to read (if you’re a fast reader). So here it is…

The tale of a boy who fell into the paw-hands of a villain crazier than the Mad Hatter and more puffed up than Mr Toad…

Noah Padgett’s new stepmother treats him as the worst inconvenience in the world. She wants him to disappear out of her life, along with Bluebell, the nuisance puppy his father bought him for his birthday. Her wish comes true, although too fast for her to notice, after Noah clicks the wrong link on his computer at midnight.

Mad entrepreneur Monsieur Percival Poodle is the self-appointed ruler of Zyx, a dimension where Canis sapiens is the predominant species. Percival likes to collect alien specimens, and two of them have just arrived in his dimension from Earth. One is a primitive four-legged chocolate Labrador and the other a human boy.

Mercenary Lurcher Sergeant Salt works for the highest bidder and makes it his policy to extract maximum profit from jobs. This means selling his alien captives separately, however much distress it causes them.

Fate has already stolen Noah’s beloved mum from him, to replace her with a stepmother from hell. Now it seems that fate has struck again, by stealing Bluebell and leaving Noah to languish in a high-security hospital for criminally insane Canis sapiens, with no apparent means of escape and terrified for his precious puppy’s safety.

6. Merely a matter of curiosity for me, but something I’m wondering is did you ever consider making Noah Padgett a Naomi Padgett? In your novel Desiccation, the plot is centered on a girls’ school in the UK, so the main protagonist, Janet, is a teen girl–and the setting is some years earlier, whereas for Noah, it’s decidedly modern-day (ie, 2000 or later). Was it a conscious move on your part to make the next novel center on a boy exiting the pre-teen or “tween” years and entering teenage-dom full-fledged?

I always wanted a “Noah” and not a “Naomi”, except for one brief spell. This was after I’d finished the earliest draft and wondered, as a female author, whether my use of the first-person point of view for Noah might confuse children. In the end, I decided to rewrite the novel in the third-person. I also made Noah three years’ older than in the first draft.

7. Let’s dig into your writing process a little more. Yet another thing I am curious about, as both a reader and writer, is how authors arrive at titles, character names, settings, and so on. Could you briefly describe how it works for you?

I have a working title for each novel, but usually end up calling it something else. It’s quite fun deciding what to call my characters, but I usually google a name to check that it doesn’t belong to a famous axe-murderer or war criminal or somebody undesirable. As far as fantasy names go, I like to check that they don’t mean something horrendous in another language other than English. Recently, I watched the Shannara Chronicles [based on the best-selling fantasy series by author Terry Brooks] on TV and thought “drat”, now I must find another name for Shanastra, the fantasy kingdom in my sword and sorcery fantasy novel, as it’s too similar.

I think I’ve already answered the rest of the things in this question.

8. From whom and/or what (e.g., hobbies, past-times, work) do you draw inspiration, for writing, life, or anything else?

I’ve already answered this question, too, but you might find a few additional snippets on my blog at https://sarahpotterwrites.com/about/

9. Can you give us a sneak peek into what you might be working on next? A novel? A novella? Short story?

I’m not sure whether to give my sword and sorcery fantasy novel an edit and final polish, then indie-publish it. For me, this would be an experiment into whether a novel that fits into a definite genre is easier to market, or that marketing for an indie author is always a pain.

Alternatively, I could work on something new. I have several ideas, including a crime novel, a ghost story, and a literary classic/paranormal mash-up.

On the other hand, I might compile an anthology of flash fiction and poetry, using Japanese poetic forms.

But before any of the above, I’m going to submit my dystopian soap opera to a new publisher who’s interested in speculative fiction that’s controversial and diverse.

10. Anything really important that I’ve missed? Such as, do you plan any specials on your book or have any other things in the works related to Noah Padgett?

In November [2016], the audio version of Noah Padgett became available to buy through Amazon or direct from Audible. A fabulous actor, Mil Nicholson, narrates the story with style, even managing to do different voices for all the characters. When I heard her recording for the first time, it was almost as exciting as having had a movie made of my book. At some point in the next few weeks, I will be interviewing her on my blog, so make sure not to miss that treat.

My Kindle Countdown Deal is to run from December 25 – January 1 on Amazon (US & UK only), throughout which time Noah Padgett and the Dog-People will be $0.99 (£0.99). Added to this, if you download the Kindle copy of my book you can get this offer for my Audiobook …
Add Audible narration for an extra £2.99 Save 81% (List Price: £16.00)

~~~~~

MORE FROM SARAH:

You can find all the info appertaining to Sarah’s published novels on her blog page https://sarahpotterwrites.com/publication-updates/, including links to previews, an audiobook sample, plus links to her product pages on Amazon and on Audible.

A full list of Sarah’s author links:

Blog: https://sarahpotterwrites.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SarahPotterWrites/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sarahcpotter

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/sarah-potter-9590aa3a

Amazon author pages: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Potter/e/B019A7QHO6/

https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Potter/e/B019A7QHO6/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14775807.Sarah_Potter

Independent Author Network (IAN): http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/sarah-potter.html

Quick-links to both Sarah’s indie-published books:

Desiccation: http://myBook.to/QuirkyLit

Noah Padgett and the Dog-People (Kindle edition): http://getBook.at/Zyx

Flash Fiction: The Girl Who Floated

Welcome to another wonderful week! If you read that aloud, curiously (or not), you might find that you insert a letter w even before you say another. I think that’s some phonological process—perhaps elision and combination—rather than the power of visual suggestion impinging on auditory response.

But anyway, it’s October. One of my favorite times of the entire year in this (supposedly) temperate climate’d place.

Lately it hit me that, even though I’ve submitted to plenty of hidden markets (so to speak), I haven’t shared any original fiction with y’all in quite awhile. *But I do hope to bring you an interview with a guest author and more ethereal fiction in the next two weeks.*

Here’s a short piece directly inspired by last week’s Friday Fictioneers. If you have never participated in or even heard of Friday Fictioneers, you are tasked with crafting a true, complete story (fiction or nonfiction; I think I’ve seen the occasional prose poem, too) in 100 words or less that is inspired by the photographic prompt.

Because I think I technically missed the previous FF, I will post my take-off story with a different photo that hews a little more closely to my theme, but be sure to visit Rochelle at FF as often as you can.

spacey-junk

This enthralling still-life photo was created by Ahborson and placed on MorgueFile for download. I urge you to support this self-described “Chaotic Neutral Hippy fairy goth pirate thinger with a pronounced artistic complex” and the other artists there, and if you read this, Ahborson, please do let me know if I’ve misunderstood MorgueFile’s terms of use.

The Girl Who Floated

My assistant scuttles after me in the archive. She calls herself Hera, but truly she’s a standard L7 model drone. They’ve given themselves names to assimilate better.

It’s been ages since we salvaged any so-called Earth junk, maritime or otherwise, so I’m pleased to find an appropriate display cube in the Musk Museum’s Detritus collection. With any luck, one of our resident cosmic-folk artists will ask to use some of the specimens we’ve archived.

A curator can hope.

But then, on one scheduled sweep, we found the girl. Just floating out there.

Sans oxy-suit. Sans memory.

And alive, very alive.

Will the Board of Directors vote to process the artifact and put her in a containment cube? Can I comply with such a directive?

The suspense gnaws through my bowels even now.

### THE END ###

For more, you can also follow/tweet me at @1WomanWordsmith

Day 5 of Thrilling Fiction: Of Dystopian Futures and Missing Pieces

Greetings, fellow Fridaylings! On my part, another week survived (I think), although I did have a fascinating chat-visit from a couple ladies with the Jehovah’s Witnesses this week. They were polite, but I didn’t realize that “the kingdom” was that nigh. Yeesh; I better start writing that book as I’ll be getting burned off the face of the Earth here shortly.

Anyway, to get on task, these five days have been like clearing a 50-inch hurdle for a 65-inch woman with the raw vertical jumping ability of, say, a Spanish slug. I am in utter awe and stupefaction how some bloggers are so prolific. For instance, poet Bob Okaji, with his 30/30 Project (from August) to benefit poetry publisher Tupelo Press (here). Then again, I follow several of you big-time bloggers who could nearly put Scheherazade to shame with your dedication.

In any case, back at the Frightful Fiction Ranch, today’s sacrificial offering: it’s a bit longish (sorry, I did, er, chop it down some, but it could use more now that I re-re-re-read it). Comments, critiques, patronage, Indulgences, loving hates, helloes, hems, haws, hollers, and haw-haws always taken into consideration. 🙂


Disarmed and Dangerously Perturbed

GENRE(S): Futuristic science fiction/dystopian, cli-fi

What can I say in my defense? I’m wired for sloppy, stupid humor. In fact, my therapist and I can’t help but giggle about my propensity toward the scatological—as in, “I should do this” and “I never should have done that.” Pretty soon, and I’m shoulding all over the place.

Anyway, there was this one extraordinary day at work. It started off a good day. I am a worker drone at . . . well, let’s just say an extraordinarily wealthy global prosthetics factory on the coast of Atlanta. We’ve been in the Fortune 50,000 ten months’ running. We’d just received a rush order from Guinea-Bissau for 22,500 specialized hybrid noses to assist with breathing in a drastically changed climate.

Prosthetic foot, circa 2015

Even here in the ‘dark ages’ of 2015, prosthetics are ultra-realistic and, to be serious, they provide a good service to human beings who need them. Wow, the detail by this company!

Now, before you picture lathes and fine-grit sandpaper and rabbets’ edges humping one another on work benches, I should explain. For the most part it was take your one productivity tablet in the morning, set the program running, and call me in the mid-afternoon. Sometimes I could even sneak off to the break room with the VR glove if I thought the bot was patrolling a different section of the building. Her routines were semi-predictable that way. You only had to have hands and arms—fingers especially if you boiled it right down to it—and a little training—to sustain in this line of work.

So, there I was. I swirled my index finger in the correct ZX pattern to unlock the tablet. The proprietary software, Hands-On, which I (and probably others) nicknamed Hans, kicked in, greeting me with an affected accent of some kind, “Hell-o, Mai-ster Bhandgaresheek,” bonking only on the Mister part. It didn’t give two damns whether I identified as a male or not. That is to say, its workforce diversity protocols were dusty. At best.

I began my day running a program to assist in nose-making. For all the silliness you could make of my profession, it was secure: there was no shortage of work, especially for countries affected by what the old-timers had called climate change or those afflicted with the persistent twin gonorrheas of war and hatred.

Mijj was looking over my shoulder a lot, which was to be expected. I was teaching her how to use the software so she could become a limb designer sometime in the next decade or two. Then I could retire at 92 like everybody else in the global economy. Yet I’d put enough away . . . hell, maybe even at 84 or so I could tell this place to sod off.

Continue reading

Day 4 of Thrilling Fiction: The Tilted Trope

A little bit of slipstream, I guess you’d say, here on Day 4 of Thrilling Fiction. Perhaps a touch cosmic and Lovecraftian here, a bit “bad women” trope-y there, and yet eine kleine science fiction-y over there. But you be the judge. I put most of this story together today from a cutting room-floor scrap, on the fly as it were (ha!), so do let me know if you think this skirts too close to any of the boring old tropes.

The Wrong Half-Halictid

Julian was ecstatic.

Katie, his hot, honey-pot of a study-group partner for Women’s Studies class, had finally shared her number with him. Specifically, it was a “well, I suppose so” when he’d asked, but he would take that for an affirmative.

As far as the class, he’d only admit he was in it if forced to—such as, for a strategic advantage. It’s a bae-magnet class, he’d gladly brag to the bros he knew if he thought it would elevate him in their opinions.

They’d exchanged a few texts before he’d formally asked her to hang out, mostly of the “hi, watcha up to today?” variety. She texted she enjoyed reading mysteries and thrillers, volleyball, Sudoku, chemistry, and Romantic poetry by Keats and Shelley. She said she might pursue a degree in microbiology. Never having heard of the Romantics, Julian fibbed: “Luv me sum rmntk poems! Roses r rd, IM blue, I think ur sugar and I need u.” She thought that perhaps he was being satirical in a side-wink, in-the-know kind of way. Being curious about human nature, she said yes to the first date.

He was meeting her Tuesday afternoon outside the university garden entrance, where a stone worthy of Sisyphus’ struggles was tattooed by seventy-odd years of frat-fiti exhorting a pledge to this group or that. Then he figured they’d stroll over to the Eagle Grille and let the evening swell from there.

The die was cast.

****

Continue reading

Friday Fictioneers: Good Woolf

PHOTO PROMPT © Lauren Moscato

Photograph © Lauren Moscato

Good Woolf

GENRE: Fan Fiction, Science Fiction

Word Count: 161

Meg Jansen rented the flat primarily because it met her basic requirements: not so much location, location, location as cheap, cheap, cheap. Besides, it made for a tidy little writing room of her very own.

One night as she burned the mid-write oil on a fourth draft, moonlight shot a shaft of light in through the window, moving her to the weird door that connected her room to the column of air above the street.

She opened the padlocks, cultivating a fervent hope of glimpsing the dragon’s orb surveying her. Yet she didn’t expect to step out into an expansive space of machinery—pulsing wires, cable trails, a console, and a man in a brown trenchcoat bent over it as if in study.

Where's that sonic screwdriver, now?

Now where’s that sonic screwdriver?

Stranger still: When he turned and introduced himself only as “the Doctor,” all she could think of was Virginia Woolf and weeping angels. Either way, it was going to be an interesting night.

****

This science fiction flash fiction piece, created expressly for Rochelle’s weekly Friday Fictioneers, was edited down from 204 words to the more manageable 156. Of course, I had to butcher one or two darlings in the process and should have done more trimming to get it to fit the 100-word parameter better. I seldom get the chance to write any fan fiction. That said, I loved writing and editing this. And by the way, thank you for reading. Do check out the other fictioneers for some fine weekend reading.

Voyager, Voyeur

Qu’eethi pressed a naso-orbital bone to the substandard instrument. The outer-planetary object would be making its descent soon, and Qu’eethi was watching. Dorsal salivary ridges, as phantasmagoricized as Qu’eethi, underwent piloerection as the nimbus came into view. Had Qu’eethi been on ancient Earth, the object’s make-up would’ve been clear: discarded spacesuit, minus occupant.

Qu’eethi hoped they didn’t have another sticky collide-o-scope event on their hands’ hands.


The kaleidoscope pun (and attendant image of an alien peering through a telescope of some kind) arrived almost instantly when I read the Chimera 66 #11 challenge word. It then became a matter of how to spackle a decent microflash around the word. I’m not sure I succeeded—if only I had about five more words!—but it’s a fantastic exercise to work those sprint-fiction muscles . . . AND, besides, I love supporting in my own minute way what Suzanne and the ghouls have gotten tumbling with their endeavor.

In researching medical and astronomy terminology, some that I’d forgotten once upon a time (oh, for a 20-year-old’s memory capabilities!), I stumbled across this fascinating fact. Did you know that a “retired” spacesuit was rigged with a radio device and set adrift from the International Space Station in February 2006? I didn’t remember that. Specifically, it was an Orlan spacesuit. And Wikipedia said so, so you know it’s gotta be true. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed pondering the squidgy sci-fi microfiction this week, including Qu’eethi’s possible motives had the “Earth being” made a live touchdown. Do peruse the other Sixty-Sixers this week for a decadent treat, comrades (hey, I’m channeling the Russian spacesuit)!

The Lone Egg: Flash Fiction

Photo from Lee's Birdwatching Adventures Plus. Check out her informative blog.

Archival photo of eaglet and parent, before the extinction (from approximately 2014), by Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus.

Levant Davis gently rearranged the simulated nest but wasn’t having much luck with the lone egg. As lead researcher for the Lorax Project, even he could do only so much prodding of natural processes. The recovered eagle DNA from which he’d helped create Phoenix, first of her kind in 22 generations, was rebelling in her parthenogenetic offspring.

“The sim-nest isn’t adequately insulating.” The bio-console picked up his pique. “We must maintain a core temperature of 99.67 degrees from now until pipping.”

He blew out a long breath, then muttered. “One time when cool is not cool.”

“Bio-con, erase previous statement.”

He hid his hopes. Emotions aren’t data.


Flash fiction written for the Light and Shade Challenge of 19 September 2014. My gratitude to the Raptor Resource Project Blog and the American bald eagle resource unit from The Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University, which provided invaluable data in which to “ground” this flash.

“Cool is not cool.”
– Matt Smith in Doctor Who, written by Steven Moffat

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers: Arthropods’ Last Stand

One morning, when Samantha Gregson woke from what she could only hope were mangled dreams, she remembered it.

It was a whatchamacalit. She followed the ant trail of taffy-like memories. It was at my bedroom window, backlighted, silhouetted by the street lamps. In profile, it looked like all pincers. Snapping at what?

Copyright Janet Webb

Copyright Janet Webb

She shook off a shudder as she rose from the bed to begin the day, pausing only to mute a stridulating alarm clock.

A heated bath to steam up the room will make my sinuses chirp hallelujah!

As her gaze flitted around appraising the newly remodeled bathroom, a quick shimmer near the window drew her eye.

The thick window sections resembled segments of a skeleton. A living insect exoskeleton. And it seemed to be steadily extracting itself from the lacy cocoon of wall, curtain, and window casing.

By the time of the first citizen sightings of window-sized lobsters and transparent bugs as large as compact cars, a towel was all that remained of Samantha in the flooded bathroom.

 

432px-Haeckel_Decapoda

Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 86: “Decapoda” by Ernst Haeckel. Decapods are an order of crustacean, and Crustacea is a subphylum of Arthropoda. Via Wikimedia Commons.


A speculative flash fiction piece that’s a little bit long, at 170ish words, for the latest Friday Fictioneers. Stop by and read the stories, show some appreciation to Janet Webb for contributing her photo (and story), or create your own.

 

The Power to Shut Heaven: A 100-Word Story

The tattered body resembled a rag-and-bone heap of red gingham.

Stax had caught a bum pouring something flammable on it.

“I doan know nuthin’,” the man snarled, then genuflected. Dingy yellow strips of sleeves fluttered like a 20-foot air-Gumby announcing a Wacky waving inflatable arm flaling tube man 017used-car lot.

“Unh-hunh.” Stax mumbled and shuffled off.

While sweeping the area, he caught a glint and bent to bring the bracelet in range.

“Sentinel, don’t be a hero.” The raggedy man glowered as the identifier’s alert clanged: “This child is wanted for questioning, under suspicion of pestilence warfare.”

Damn, Stax thought, that’s the third mangled kid this week.


This flash fiction story was submitted a few years back to an agent’s blog contest (it didn’t win, place, or show, possibly mostly attributable to the “cliffhanger” nature of the ending). I was re-inspired to dig up this microflash, strategically edit it, and dump it out here on the blog to see what you all think as well. Of course, that I am walking the WordPress realms with 300-word maestro Dieter Rogiers is a thrill and a challenge. Do sink your teeth into a helping of his stories if you haven’t yet, either on his blog or in his new book, You’re Getting Sleepy, the Hypnotist’s Apprentice Yawned: Flash Fiction in 300 Words (or Less).

 

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Gnawing Worries on a Ribbon of Time

Gu-en’s ship was uffed. Threading their way to Calabi-Yau Base of 3.5 months ago wasn’t easy. And today was about to get exponentially worse, but at least they’d trap their shadowers: star rats.

Physics-Theories-from WiredCosmos

A computer-generated illustration of string theory from Wired Cosmos.

This 33-word flash-fiction sci-fi story was written for the weekly Trifecta challenge, Trifextra 104. Writers are to craft a 33-word piece using a palindrome (as “star rats” above). Sadly, the Trifecta challenges are coming to an end this month. At last I fully understand the meaning of T.S. Eliot’s line, “April is the cruellest month.”