AFOW Interview #10 – JM Ames

Today, I am featuring, well, myself! My story “The Californian” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside 48 other wonderful tales! Here are the answers I provided for this blog tour:

What was the inspiration for your story?
The Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles was the main inspiration. The Eagles’ song ‘Hotel California’ helped shape it.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
Yes, twice. My first published short story ‘The Last Ride’ is a creative nonfiction about my boyhood best friend. I had no intention of writing it, but I sat down and it just poured out of me – the entire story in about 90 minutes time. It went through a couple edits after but the story itself didn’t change at all. The second time was with a still unfinished work called ‘The Cleansing.’ I had just a basic story in mind involving the atrocities committed in war, and how the people involved have to somehow come back to society and pretend they are the same. What came out was much, much darker, and is the goriest, most violent thing I’ve ever written. Made myself physically ill with that one.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
You can’t be a lazy river, meandering through the plains. You must be a roaring rapid, and get straight to the point quickly, and with a lot of action.

Do you write every day?
I try to , but I’ve been working so much that hasn’t been possible lately. New position is weaning my hours down though, so more writing time for me! 

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
Nope. Flashes and shorts seem to be my bread and butter, but only because of my work hours. Once that dies down, time to get back to my planned longer works.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Not work. Spend time with my kids, read, go hiking or to the beach.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
Stephen King, HG Wells, JRR Tolkein, GRR Martin, William Shakespeare.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Only in that I know the frustration of flight delay layovers, and the difficulty of LAX.

What is your writing space like?
It is also the home office from which I work my main job at. An L-Shaped desk with 4 monitors (2 each for work and home), a nice chair, multiple fans, and a door I can close to keep children and pets from disturbing my work.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
Overall as planned, but as usual minor details flesh out or develop as I write.

How long did it take to write your story?
Tough one. First version was different and quite sparse, probably a couple hours total then, but then I picked it back up and heavily revised for this anthology.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
It was at first, but at this point it is usually not a problem for me. I think I will have a problem when I go back to longer works.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
Lamb chops with lemon pepper, roasted brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, with a nice dark stout and three fingers of a good strong bourbon.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

AFOW Interview #9 – Jason Pere

Today, I am featuring author Jason Pere whose story “Ugly Girl” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
If I had to change something? I suppose it would be unfair to the question if I simply opted to change some nonessential detail like character gender or age. I think that perhaps the most meaningful change that I could have made to “Ugly Girl” would have been to push the narrator’s self-loathing past the point of self-harm and have the story end with her suicide.

What was the inspiration for your story?
I was a teenager once upon a time and I remember that oh so very scary place known as adolescence. Teens face many monsters during the years when they are making the final approach towards adulthood. Of all the monsters that an adolescent will battle, their own sense of worth is often the beast that will dig its claws in the deepest of all. I vividly remember how I hated myself as a teenager and had my own “Ugly Girl” experiences during those years. I would say that some nostalgic angst was the biggest inspiration for this piece. And yes, I still have my moments when I’m not too fond of my own company these days, though not nearly as badly as the days of yore.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
There have been a few times that I’ve brought myself to tears because of what I’ve written. And no I’m not saying my material is so poorly written that it transforms me into a sobbing mess. Most often the stunned moment that I can count on is when I finish a story. The rush that comes with completion is like no other and the only thing I can really do once I’ve waded through the telling of a tale is to sit and endure a sort of creative postpartum depression.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
One image or thought. I think that the province of flash fiction is to convey a single focused sense experience.

Do you write every day?
I take the weekends off but Monday through Friday I like to aim for 1,000 words a day as a soft goal. I tend to take it easy if I’m working on multiple projects at once and I do have some “one sentence” kind of days on occasion but I’m not happy with my day unless I spend at least some quantity of time writing during the week.

Does your sexual orientation play a roll in the development of your character?
For “Ugly Girl, no it did not. I do let my orientation and personal perspective on sexuality, intimacy and relationships color a lot of my characters in strange and unusual ways.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
I started going to a monthly writing group at my local library and that is when I met another writer who introduced me to the idea of short fiction. He constantly shared incredibly rich pieces that were five hundred words or so and that really inspired me to try my hand at it. So I wrote “Bit”, it was a neat five hundred word piece of good ol’ zombie apocalypse sci-fi. I actually had so much fun with that little piece of fiction that it ended up turning into a full length collaborative novel that I wrote with five other authors from all around the world.

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own?
Can I be honest, I have not read “A Flash of Words” yet. I know, shame on me. I am pretty terrible about my reading/writing balance. In fact there are a large number of anthologies and collaborative novels that I have participated in that I have yet to read. I guess “A Flash of Words” will just have to take a number but I am egger to dig into the book and see how other authors put their spin on short fiction work.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
I am a professional swashbuckler. Ok, no I’m not but I like to say that and see what kind of reactions I get. However, if you have an honor duel that needs fighting, an enemy’s love interest that need wooing or a chandelier that needs swinging from, I’m at your service.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a major dork. I like movies, video games, board game and pretty much all sorts of things that allow me to spend as much time immersed in fantasy words as possible. When entertaining imagination is not at the forefront, I have two sweet little dogs that require my attention and a darling wife who allows me to be her very best adventure buddy for things domestic and exotic.
Also baked goods, specifically consuming them.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
David Gemmell is my biggest influence. I mean I named one of my characters in “Calling the Reaper”, in his honor and as a sort of tribute to one of his most iconic creations. He’s an author who has made me cry with the power of his work. I think the thing I enjoy most about David Gemmell is his ability to introduce you to a group of characters in one chapter and then subsequently frustrate you by switching to a new set of characters in the second chapter after you’ve fallen in love with the previous batch of imagination offspring and then have you so swiftly enamored with the new cast that you are enraged when he goes back to the original bunch in the third chapter.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
I certainly felt like an “Ugly Girl” more than my fair share. I’ve known what it’s like to be so unhappy in my own skin that I want to cut my way free. I can clearly recall the sense of being trapped in a prison that has no walls or locks and all I had to do was ask to be freed but somehow I had no words to express myself so I turned masochistic and bitter.

What is your writing space like?
Only those of pure heart and the bravest spirit have the fortitude needed to navigate the cluttered mess that is my office desk. Apart from the stacks of papers and knickknacks that surround my laptop, I enjoy a rather comfy office chair that has a nice knit seat cover that my wife so thoughtfully crafted for me. My side of our home office is adorned with copies of my novels and canvas/poster board prints of my book covers as well as a collection of meaningful family photos.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
Start to finish “Ugly Girl” went as planned. It was only one hundred words in total length so it never really had much opportunity to grow into something that was able to surprise me before I was done writing it.

How long did it take to write your story?
I think it only took a matter of minutes to write the story. I asked for some feedback from some of my writing buddies and they gave me some notes. I probably spent more time editing and polishing it than I did initially writing it but still the total amount of time spent on this story was no great investment.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
Yes it is but oh is it a fun challenge. After you’ve written a good deal of short fiction you really don’t feel cramped by word count limits. You start to get a sense for what ideas will end up being a specific word count. I will tell you this I would rather write short fiction all day than I would spend an equal measure of time working on an epic novel.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be? 
I would want breakfast. I love the mornings and all the promise of postnatal that they bring. Dinner has such a heavy and final quality about it and those are concepts I would prefer not to think about when facing my imminent demise. Specifically I would want coffee, apple juice and water to drink then a plate of eggs benedict with asparagus to satisfy classy savory element, thick cut crispy bacon, some silver dollar pancakes drenched in butter and lightly syruped and a huge cinnamon roll that was underbanked to subtlety gooey perfection. To chase it all down I think a couple of cyanide pills would be my mint of choice as it would let me go on my own terms and escape whatever spectacle my jailors intended of making of me.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
“I will know who I am. I will keep my mouth shut. I will learn from everything. I will train every day.” That is a quote that I learned from an actor/director friend of mine during a post-production party for a small film trailer that I had worked on. The words stuck with me as sort of a survival mantra and serve as some sound life advice for my day to day activities.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

AFOW Interview #8 – William Thatch

Today, I am slightly late in featuring the usually unusual pirate author William Thatch whose story “Barely a Story” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be? 
Well, Johnny–may I call you Johnny? Great! I don’t think I’d do anything differently. It came out as I wanted. Maybe I would make sure it was exactly 1500 words like the first draft was.

What was the inspiration for your story? 
“Maybe It’s Because” by Trevor Moore. It is the first story I’ve written that, from the word ‘go,’ I meant for it to be an interpretation of the song. I always loved the twist.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it? 
The whole thing, really, Johnny. I wrote the entire thing in two sittings, and, aside from one joke that got cut, it is exactly as I wrote it in the first draft. Sometimes things just click the first time when you’re as good as I am.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story? 
It’s difficult to say. This is the only flash fiction story I’ve ever written. For me, it was diving into the scene as soon as possible, but not leaving it too isolated and in a vacuum. There has to be context, but you can’t get too pinned down trying to get the whole context across.

Do you write every day? 
I don’t. I should. I want to, but Johnny, it’s just so hard. There are a lot of things to be done in a day, and some days it’s not a day to write. Sometimes, it’s just a day to daydream and write down whatever you bring in from the aether.

Does your sexual orientation play a role in the development of your character? 
What? No. Johnny, no. Basil is a bear. How does my sexuality play a role in Basil’s development? You’re just being weird, Johnny. I’m seriously considering walking away from this interview if you get weird again.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story? 
I already answered this, Johnny! Jesus, are you not even listening to me? Put your phone down, that is completely unprofessional!

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own? 
Why are you trying to make this interview about someone else, Johnny? I’m the one here. I haven’t even had a chance to read the other stories, I’m none-too-thrilled about your conduct here, mister. Make this about me, the greatest writer in the history of ever, or we are done, Johnny, done!

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun? 
I watch an inordinate amount of pornography. Just, like, an unhealthy amount. Priests come by once a week to bless the property. And I find it really rude you ask, Johnny. That dirty laundry shouldn’t be aired publicly but look what you made me do!

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most? 
Probably J.K. Rowling, but again, you’re making it about other people. What’s your game, Johnny?

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story? 
Oh, definitely Basil. I’m always breaking into people’s house looking for honey, and then eating people’s heads. It’s the best way to spend a Saturday, I feel. A little sweet honey and then a little sweet blood of the innocent.

What is your writing space like? 
A big corner desk that is organized chaos. Cluttered, but in a way that I understand it. I have a two-monitor set-up for my computer so that I can write on one screen and watch all of the porn on the other. Like all the greats. I’m, like, 93% sure that’s how Rowling wrote all of Harry Potter.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way? 
The only surprise was that I was pleased with it, given that it was my first flash fiction. I was expecting to go over the word count. So, the only true surprise, Johnny, was just how amazing I was on the first try. I’m pretty great.

How long did it take to write your story? 
A couple of hours over a couple of days. The story came quick. I hear you have that problem, Johnny. Hey-o!

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction? 
I was expecting it to be, and I still expect it to be. I might have just gotten lucky with this one.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be? 
The blood of my executioner. If the executioner is dead from exsanguination, then he can’t execute me. It’s an ingenious ploy to avoid ever being executed. You see, Johnny, you gotta think. If you don’t think, that executioner will get you.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write? 
“I’m the greatest ever.” You know who said that, Johnny? Me. I said that. That’s why I’m saying it. So, I can quote me. It’s my interview, Johnny, stop making it about someone else. It’s really a dick move on your part, and I’m tired of your shit. I’m leaving this interview, and you have no one to blame but yourself!

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

AFOW Interview #7 – Jacob Maichel

Today, I am featuring author Jacob Maichel whose story “The Case” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.”

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
I would have given him a partner. Originally, I wanted some dialogue moving up to the ending with the worm however it never played out how I wanted it. If I rewrote it I would attempt that angle again.

What was the inspiration for your story?
My inspiration is the reality that we judge other people and their lives without understanding. In this case we start thinking that we are following a normal detective fallen from grace to see it end up a whole different world.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
My writing is organic, the outline only giving minimal direction. In The Case it started out as a crime story so yeah when I felt or decided to go with …. Well fish I was a little stunned.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash?
Characters, characters, characters. A story is only interesting to me if I can relate or care about the character or characters. And of coarse more cow bell.

Do you write every day?
I try to. Unfortunately, I do fall short on some days.

Does your sexual orientation play a roll in the development of your character?
No, I envisioned a black and white detective movie. You know a Humphrey Bogart, here’s looking at you kid kind of story.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
No, first time published though.

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own?
I enjoyed all of them, pressed though and I would have to say that The Chrome Dream was one that would be a top pick.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Wood working and bread making. I enjoy things that involve creating and using my hands. There is something centering when your writing, working in wood or making bread that allows your mind to wander into areas that broaden ideas and experience.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
Neil Gaiman, there is in my opinion no one better at marrying the story to the character and bringing them to life.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Yes, some days I feel like the worm wriggling to stay alive and other days I feel like Jim old tired and just moving through the days. Thankfully those days are not everyday and at least up to the point of this I have not been eaten or caught by the hooks.

What is your writing space like?
Full of objects that remind me of likes, life and trains of thought. Mementos from the military, guitars and most important the ol guard cat Daisy who always seems to know when it is break time.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
With flash I only had a brief outline so I would say some surprises.

How long did it take to write your story? 
Initially I only took an hour or two however the fine tuning took a little longer.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
Yes, but a fun one. And if the story can’t be told in that space then it is probably worthy of more.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
Okay… well let’s hope that never happens however I would say either burritos, or Totinos pizza you know the cheap dollar ones from my childhood. Don’t judge they’re still a favorite.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss. Embrace the experience and use life to tell your story.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

Destiny Reborn and Pacific Dunes – the future of my writing

Hello, folks,
While I haven’t been doing much writing per se lately, I have been submitting older stories to publishers and continuing to improve the website. I’ve also been working on the direction that future net-new stories will go (not including ones already in flight).
A good chunk of them will be part of the Destiny Reborn series I have in the works. This is an epic, global Fantasy\SciFi novel series that is several years out, but the universe of it will cover many other stories. ‘Endless Skies‘ is the only story out now which is related to it.

A large set of stories – both Destiny Reborn-related and not – will be local to Orange County, California, where I’ve lived since I was a toddler. Fact and fiction will be blended together here, with most locales being true to real life but with an additional town called Pacific Dunes being added. This will be a somewhat seedy city, complete with corrupt officials and a long history of unusual happenings. To be located north of Huntington Beach and south of Seal Beach. Some fictitious individuals in this area will be in multiple stories.

Not all stories will be in Orange County \ Southern California, nor all related to Destiny Reborn, but after I finish up the stories in flight this will be the trend. The upcoming short stories ‘Ally’s Dog’ and ‘Blackstar,’ as well as the standalone novel-in-progress ‘Ursa Major’ are all related to both – being at least partially located locally, and having some kind of tie-in with Destiny Reborn.
More to come!
~JM Ames

AFOW Interview #6 – Eldred Bird

Today, I am featuring author Eldred Bird whose story “A Family Thing” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian.”

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change a thing. At some point you have to stop editing and embrace what you’ve created.

What was the inspiration for your story?
Imagination in children today feels like it’s being replaced by technology. We need to learn to look for that spark in them and then fan it into a flame.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
That moment came when I finished my first novel. I’d been writing non-fiction shorts and personal essays. I never thought I could write an entire novel, let alone one I could be proud of, but the first time I held that book in my hands…

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
Fitting all of the elements of a complete story into such a limited space is a challenge. The key is word choice. Every word has to carry weight matter.

Do you write every day?
I try to, but sometimes the rest of life gets in the way.

Does your sexual orientation play a roll in the development of your character?
Not on a conscious level, but I write from my own experience so I’m sure that has an effect on the final character.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
No, I use flash fiction and short stories to try out new genres and POVs.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Cycling and photography are my two.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
I grew up on E.A. Poe and John Steinbeck, as well as Earl Stanley Gardner and a whole host of pulp authors. I never tried to write like they did, but some of their influences do come out in my work.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Absolutely. As a kid, I was Owen. I often escaped into my own imagination. Now instead of just playing out the adventures in my mind, I write them down.

What is your writing space like?
Cluttered, just like my brain.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
There are always surprises when I write. I never outline, so I’m never quite sure where I will end up.

How long did it take to write your story?
The first draft took about an hour—then came the rewrites, presenting it to my critique group, more rewrites and finally, one last proof read. All in all, I’d say there was better than ten hours in the story.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
Word restriction is extremely challenging. Think about drawing a picture with the 64 crayon box. Now try to draw the same picture with only ten crayons. What colors you choose becomes paramount. It’s the same with writing. Words are our crayons. When you can only use a few, you need to choose each one very carefully.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
The comforting meal from my childhood—a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. – William Faulkner

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW

Significant content updates to the website

Hello folks,

I’ve spent the day updating the website. Among other changes:

Stay warm, my friends! Cozy up to a fire with your favorite beverage and book.

~JM Ames

AFOW Interview #5 – R. Roy Lutz

Today, I am featuring author R. Roy Lutz whose story “The Abortion” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian

If you had to do one thing differently with your story, what would it be?
Use even fewer words than the 100 words I used.

What was the inspiration for your story?
The pain and conflicting emotions I saw when I heard a girl tell her story of an abortion she had had.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
The day I realized my characters tell their own stories.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
Using the imagination of the reader to fill in blanks with the unwritten words the author has chosen.

Do you write every day?
Well, I think about writing every day. I do some of my best writing in the shower.

Does your sexual orientation play a role in the development of your character?
No, not on a conscience level at least.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
Yes, this was my first flash fiction. I have since written several others. I enjoy writing stories that require the reader to take an active (if unwitting) role in telling the story.

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own?
Everyone’s life is a compelling story. All my character have compelling stories, even the bad guys. It’s my job to document their compelling stories.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
Read ― mostly fiction. Social media.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
Frank Herbert. I fell in love with his ability to develop strong 4-dimensional characters.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Only in my imagination. All readers have their own imagination and will relate (or not) in their own ways.

What is your writing space like?
Eclectic. I modeled my office space after that of Ray Bradbury’s office, filled with unusual, imagination-inspiring objects.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
Yes, it turned out how I planned, but how it got there was unexpected.

How long did it take to write your story?
A couple days total including a lot of tweaking.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
The challenge is figuring out how to trick the reader into filling in the blanks.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
A hacksaw pie.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
“Beginnings are fragile things.” – Frank Herbert, Dune.
Every great story starts with a great beginning.

Pick up a copy of “A Flash of Words” in paperback or eBook at any book retailer worldwide, including Amazon. If purchased directly from Scout Media, you will receive a FREE companion soundtrack CD!! #ScoutMedia#AFOW
http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/a-flash-of-words

Release Day! ‘Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019’ is available NOW.

Folks,

Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019, featuring my WWII drama ‘Waves,‘ is available NOW – and the best part is that is FREE! You can get the entire ebook by either downloading it from here, or by messaging any of the 41 authors in it for a copy – myself included.

WCUnne4The blurb for the book is below. I encourage each of you to come learn more about all 41 of us in the Facebook Group The Charmed Connection.

Welcome to the Charmed Writers 2019 Flash Fiction Anthology! Charmed Writers is a special group of authors who support each other, learn together, share their knowledge and write together. We write in various genres and are at different places in our careers. In these pages, you’ll find stories from USA Today, NY Times and Amazon best-selling authors, from authors well on their way to achieving those goals, and new voices being read for the first time. There are science fiction and fantasy stories, historical flashes, romances and so much more.
We hope you enjoy our stories, find some new favorite authors and that you’ll join us in our Facebook reader group The Charmed Connection.

Expect updates to the website in the coming days to reflect the availability of both Flash Fiction 2019 and A Flash of Words. Most of all, Expect the Unexpected…

JM Ames