AFOW Interview #4 – Elizabeth Montague

Today, I am featuring author Elizabeth Montague whose story “Albatross” is included in the anthology “A Flash of Words,” alongside my own brand-new story, “The Californian

What was the inspiration for your story?
Inspiration for my story came from two sources. The first was a prompt given to me by a colleague at work. I asked him to give me three words and he provided me with banana, melon, albatross. That seemed to lend itself straight away to comedy so I decided to challenge myself by writing a story that was tragic rather than funny. I always look for music to inspire my work and when thinking of songs that made me sad the song Another Man’s Cause by The Levellers came to mind. Combining the spirit of the song with the words slowly became Albatross as it is today.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
You have to grab the reader in the first sentence. With such a story if the reader is not invested early on then it will be an unsatisfying conclusion if they reach the end without having truly been gripped by the story.

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
I’ve written a lot of flash fiction before Albatross. I started very much in the world of fan fiction where 100 word drabble challenges were common. As I became serious about writing my own material I found them to be a great form of writing practice, helping me make my writing tight and as a way to get the annoying little stories that were in my head down on paper.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
I’m an avid reader and enjoy reading the works produced by the authors I meet through my work as well as challenging myself to read a wide range of available fiction. I’m love theatre and am lucky enough to work in one so I get to experience all different styles without having to travel far.

What is your writing space like?
I’m a really messy writer and my work space is situated on my sofa in my living room. My ideal writing session involves no one else being home, cushions piled up behind me, local radio station on and a nice candle burning. I have my laptop on a stand on my lap and notebooks, sheets of paper and anything else I’ve scribbled ideas on spread out on the seat beside me. I’ve tried having a more formal space but it didn’t work so it’s back to me on my couch with a candle.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
It originally started out being set in the First World War but, bleak as that scenario was, I wanted it to be bleaker so I set it in a future where humankind is still fighting only this time they don’t know how or why, they’ve just been fighting for so long that it is what they do.

How long did it take to write your story?
It took several weeks to get the story right. The bare bones of it I wrote in one sitting but it took several rewrites and trips to my lovely supportive writers’ group to get it ready to send in. I think I worked harder on Albatross than I have done on much longer pieces.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
It’s definitely a challenge but a great one that I think every writer should undertake. You have such a small amount of space but you still have to fill it with plot, character and emotion. I could easily spend the length of a flash fiction piece just setting up a scene so to write an entire story really focusses your mind and skills.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
I’d definitely have to start with my Nan’s salmon mousse, so brilliantly 1970s but I have so many fond memories of it. For the main section, definitely my Mum’s roast dinner with Beef with French mustard, garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, peas and proper thick beef gravy. Dessert would be a chocolate brownie sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles. Preferably all would be provided with some form of getaway gear, possibly stashed inside the Yorkshire pudding.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
The quote I have always carried with me since the first day I heard it comes from the musical Rent, ‘the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.’ Whilst I know the world will never be a perfect place I hope that in my little corner I can create works that make people try to find a common ground with their neighbour so we can all be a bit kinder to one another.

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

AFOW Interview #3 – Sarah Kaminski

Today, I am featuring author Sarah Kaminski whose story “First Thanksgiving” 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?
• The opening could have been stronger, and I probably shouldn’t have bashed Brian’s favorite football team. But in my defense… they are the Patriots.

What was the inspiration for your story?
• I wrote this story based on a prompt. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of, “an unappetizing Thanksgiving meal.” I initially thought of my mother-in-law’s excessively salty food, and, well, I expanded on that idea.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
• In writing this story, no. In other works, occasionally, most often when I find myself making a particularly amusing metaphor.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
• I have no idea. I suppose to limit yourself to one scene, but use a scene that illustrates a much larger dynamic at play. Many of the writers in AFOW did this brilliantly, but I especially think of Laurie Gardener’s story and the way my feelings of pity and sympathy toward the narrator were quickly turned to disgust.

Do you write every day?
• Well, I have small children. So, sadly no. But I think about writing every day.

Does your sexual orientation play a roll in the development of your character?
• It’s easiest to write the stories we know, right?

Was this the first time you wrote a flash fiction story?
• Yes

What was your favorite story in the book besides your own?
• That’s a difficult question to answer. There were so many excellent stories. I’ve already mentioned Laurie’s story. Pyra Kane’s was as beautiful metaphor for mental illness as I’ve ever read. Eldred Bird’s story made me snort with laughter, which is a little embarrassing to admit, Marlon S. Haye’s made me nostalgic for an experience I’ve never even had, and I loved the surprise ending of Mika Spruill’s.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
• Repeatedly tell my children not to jump on me, various yarn crafts, and sleep. Sometimes I think about painting, but that rarely comes to fruition. I live an exciting life.

Which author(s) influenced your writing the most?
• Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, John Green, Stephen King, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, it’s really difficult to narrow this list down. I love practically everything I read, and you can learn style or character development or plot development from anything you read if you’re observant enough.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
• Yes.

What is your writing space like?
• Nonexistent.

Did your story turn out the way you planned, or were there some surprises along the way?
• I didn’t plan it, so, yes.

How long did it take to write your story? 
• Not long to write it, four or five weeks to edit it.

Do you think writing flash fiction is a challenge with the word restriction?
• Yes

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
• Macaroni and cheese, and brownies, and I suppose I should throw something healthy in there – strawberries.

What is a quote that you find inspirational/motivates you to write?
• I don’t have a specific quote that keeps me going, but I do keep a document of various kind things that people have said about my writing over the past year, and when the feelings of inadequacy start creeping in, I open it up and read through them.

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

AFOW Interview #2 – Lozzi Counsell

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

What was the inspiration for your story?
When I was studying creative writing at uni, a fellow author (can’t remember who unfortunately) came to give a talk. We practised an exercise where we shut our eyes and Imagined ourselves led down. Where are you led? What’s the weather like? Take notice of your surroundings. I imagined myself in a dark field at night.
After taking notice of your surroundings (eyes still shut), turn your head to the left, there is a shadow approaching. Wait for it to get closer. What or whom is it? When they reach you, what do they want? I imagined my cat who had died years back approaching me.
From this I came up with an idea about going to a field to visit my dead cat every night because I couldn’t let her go. The cat soon became a child and ended up as the basis behind my story.

Was there a time when writing where you had to sit back stunned at what just happened? If so, what was it?
The ending. It wasn’t what I was originally going to go with, but I thought it would give the most emotional impact.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
For me it would be not too many characters. I sometimes get a bit lost when someone has a lot of characters, but especially in flash fiction there’s just not enough time to learn who each and every character is if there’s too many of them.

Apart from writing, what do you do for fun?
I’m very crafty and am always making things. Painting is an especially big hobby of mine — mostly watercolour animals.

Can you relate to any of the characters in your flash fiction story?
Yes, I really relate to the MC. I am not a parent myself, but I still know what it’s like to grieve.

If you were on death row, what would you want your last meal to be?
Easy. A chicken chaat from my local Indian restaurant as a starter. Afterwards, an Oreo crunch waffle from Kaspa’s and also Kinder Bueno cookie dough. For drinks, a Coke Zero, Oreo milkshake and Snickers milkshake.

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

 

AFOW Interview #1 – Dawn Taylor

Folks,

Starting today, I will be doing a biweekly series of interviews with other Authors whose stories appear alongside mine in the anthology A Flash of Words.

Today, I am featuring author Dawn Taylor whose story “For the Want of a Name” is included in the anthology A Flash of Words, alongside my own brand-new Speculative Fiction story, “The Californian.”

What was the inspiration for your story?
My friend shared his childhood memory of coveting a radio, but being too poor to buy it. As he told me the story, I imagined him as a young boy going into the store to look at the radio and wishing he could buy it. I originally wrote the story as a birthday gift to him, but when my editor told me it was such a powerful story told in few words, I submitted it for publication.

What do you think is the key to writing a compelling flash story?
My best advice is to convey one scene or emotion. Your word limit doesn’t allow you to offer much more.

How long did it take you to write your story?
About one hour, I already had the inspiration.

Do I write everyday?
No. Do I think about writing everyday? Yes.

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

‘The Californian’ is out now, ‘Waves’ due out February 15th!

Folks,

It may be some time next month before I can update the website fully, but here are some updates for you in the meantime.


‘The Californian’ has officially been published now in Scout Media’s ‘A Flash of Words’ anthology. You can pick it up now on Amazon or the Scout Media website AFOW2


‘Waves’ will be published on February 15th in the ‘Charmed Writers Present Flash Fiction 2019’ anthology. Stay tuned for more details!


While a release date has yet to be announced, ‘Thankful’ has been accepted into Zombie Pirate Publishing’s ‘Flash Fiction Addiction’ anthology. Will provide more detail as I get it.


Both ‘Not Yet Dark’ and ‘Karma’ are out to publishers now.


Stay well-read my friends, and always Expect the Unexpected!

~JM Ames

‘Beneath the Blue Irises’ submitted

A renewed, old story from 2.5 years ago has been resurrected, revitalized, and submitted to an anthology last Friday, 11/30. ‘Beneath the Blue Irises’ is about relationships, and what one would do to protect their children.

BlueIrises

I’ve written you more times than I can count, every letter crumpled and tossed in the general direction of the wastebasket in the corner. There’s no point in sending them when they all boil down to ‘I’m sorry, I miss you.’ If reading those words gouges holes in your heart anywhere near as deep as the wounds writing them ripped into mine, sending these letters would be just another selfish act on my part. I think you’ve had enough of those.

More details to come….

JM Ames
Expect the Unexpected

 

All ‘… of Words’ anthologies on sale through 11/30/2018!

Folks,

All four ‘… of Words’ are on sale for $5 off their regular price – now through 11/30/2018. Only available through Scout Media’s website.

2015’s installment, A Matter of Words, includes 21 authors who were allowed to write about any topic or theme. I am not included in this anthology, but I do own it, have read it, and love it!

2016’s installment, A Journey of Words, includes 35 authors who wrote short stories centered around a journey or traveling.  This includes my first publication, ‘The Last Ride.’

2017’s installment, A Haunting of Words, includes 30 authors who wrote short stories centered around a haunting or interactions with ghosts. This includes my horror rock fiction short ‘Only the Dead Go Free.’

2018’s installment, A Contract of Words, includes 27 authors who wrote short stories centered around a broken or fulfilled contracts. This includes my rock science fiction short ‘Endless Skies.’

~JM Ames
Expect the Unexpected

Spooky reads for your Halloween!

Looking to set an eerie tone this October before the Trick-or-Treaters grace your porch? Any of these three haunted anthologies are sure to frighten you …


The 13:  Tales of the Macabre
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Pre-order only.
Release Date:  October 26th

Can you survive all 12?
Killer watermelons, murderous jewelry boxes, centenarian sea whisperers, creatures of myth/legend, and more…
This supernatural story collection will make you reconsider everything you thought you knew. At night you’ll hover under your covers while looking over your shoulder in the day. Down, down in the depths they fell; bodies in the dark of a liquid hell. Can you survive all 12?
This is the second collection in The 13 series. Will you survive all 13?

All stories by Stephanie Ayers
Poetry by Stacy Overby
Foreword by JM Ames


A Haunting of Words AHOW
Featuring ‘Only the Dead Go Free‘ by JM Ames, and 29 other ghostly tales.
On sale via the publisher Scout Media only throughout October – paperback for $12.99 (reg $19.99) and eBook $2.99 for (reg $5.99)

From Scout Media comes A Haunting of Words—the third volume in an ongoing short story anthology series featuring authors from all over the world.
In this installation, the reader will experience a multi-genre journey beyond traditional haunts; from comedy, to drama, fantasy, romance, and horror, these stories put eclectic spins on the every-day ghost tale. Whether you are running from the ghost of a vengeful mother, falling in love with an apparition, touring with a deceased famous musician, saving a newborn from a possessed crib, or having a specter cat as a sidekick, these stories of hauntings and apparitions will warm your heart, send shivers down your spine, and tickle your funny bone.
Whether to be enlightened, entertained, or momentarily caught up in another world, these selections convey the true spirit of the short story.

The shower’s hiss behind me competes with the roaring inferno raging down the hallway. Breathless and without thought, I gaze with lifeless eyes into the bathroom mirror. This gore-drenched nightmare of a witch is no longer recognizable. What have I done? What was the lesson here? I never wanted this.

AHOW Book Trailer by Kari Holloway:


Mirrors & Thorns: An OWS Ink Dark Fairy Tales Anthology 21768049_962982633843036_4316917078508812273_n
Featuring ‘The Snow Bride‘ by JM Ames, and 13 other dark fairy tales

Where the fairy tales ends and the reflection begins….
A dark fairy tale collection from the twisted pens of:
JM Ames, Kerry E.B. Black, J.K. Allen, C.L. Bledsoe, Lucy Palmer, Stacy Overby, T.S. Dickerson, Edward Ahern, Melanie Noell Bernard, S.L. Scott, Sarah Nour, Paul Stansbury, Cassidy Taylor, and J. Lee Strickland.

The icy wind outside screeched and wailed like a banshee seeking to devour children’s souls. Frosted windows rattled in their frames so hard the glass threatened to shatter. The camels and horses tied to the posts in front of the Tsas Ber Tavern whickered and spat their displeasure at being left exposed in such inhospitable weather.


Have a wonderfully dark October!

~JM Ames
Expect the Unexpected

JM Ames Foreword for Stephanie Ayer’s ‘The 13: Tales of the Macabre’ is official.

Folks, it is now official. I have written the foreword to Stephanie Ayers‘ upcoming horror collection, The 13:  Tales of the Macabre, and it has been accepted. This is a unique honor for me, one which I am quite humbled by.

The book comes out October 26th, but you can preorder it via the following links:
Amazon Kindle 
Smashwords
BookstoRead
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes
Goodreads

Stay wary, my friends, and remember to always Expect the Unexpected!
~JM Ames