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Time to round ’em up and head ’em in

Call for submissions for the April 2011 issue of 10Flash are now closed.  We have selected nine of the ten stories for the issue and are reviewing the stories in the reserve list to select the tenth.

Thanks to all of you who submitted.  We read a ton of great stories this go-around.  And we’re excited to announce that the selected stories include flash fiction from established pros Jay Lake and Cat Rambo, as well as up-and-coming pro Keffy Kehrli.  Jay and Cat have published speculative fiction everywhere and Keffy’s stuff is popping up at such publications as Fantasy Magazine, InterGalactic Medicine Show and Apex.

Call for submissions for the July 1, 2011, issue will open April 1.  The story thread for July is Two Years and Still Counting. I can’t wait to read what you folks come up with for that.

That’s all for now.  Come by April 1 and read the good stuff at 10Flash!

K.C.

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March 2011 One-Off

Welcome to 10Flash.

This month, we have the second half of Sandra Odell’s review of speculative fiction podcasts — Do You Hear What I’ve Heard – Again? These aural presentations are becoming more and more common, the internet version of books on tape, as web publishers and authors explore new ways to tell stories.

And while Sandra explores the wonders of the internet, author Jim Young spins a cautionary tale of the web’s nasty flip side in Spamhead.   This one gave me bad dreams, the night after I read it.

Next month is another full issue, our eighth quarterly outing. Until then, sit back and enjoy.

Do You Hear What I’ve Heard — Again?

review by Sandra Odell

Welcome back!

When last we left our intrepid band, they were caught fast in the nefarious clutches –

Wait.  Sorry, wrong exciting conclusion.

Here we are for part two of our look at genre podcasts and some of the best fiction you’ll ever hear on the web.  In the first installment I introduced  StarShipSofa’s Aural DelightsClarkesworld Magazine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Hopefully you’ve listened to some of the fine narrations these podcasts have to offer. If not, download and listen to a few stories now.  You can catch up to the rest of the column when you get back.

[To read the entire review, click the title]

Spamhead

science fiction by Jim Young

“Can you hear me, Mister Johnson?” the doctor asks.

I stare at the ceiling. I can hear fine, but can’t answer because my mouth isn’t working.

“We’re monitoring you. Don’t worry.” And the crew leaves, two nurses and a doctor. The door closes and all I can see is white, anechoic baffling.

Even though my eyes are wide open and I’m not wearing netlenses, the images appear again. I know I’m not wearing any lenses because there’s no grid, no guide, nothing. Just this beautiful, dark-haired woman, with a languorous smile, popping contacts into her eyes.

[To read the entire story, click the title]

February 2011 One-Off: A Jay Lake Story

Welcome to the February 2011 issue of 10Flash Quarterly.

We’re pleased to present a special One-Off story this month from Jay Lake, the first established professional author to present his flash fiction at 10Flash Quarterly.

Jay gives us a story rife with a commanding melange of metaphor and lush imagery.  What do scavenger beetles and corporate executives have in common? To find out, visit Jay In the Green Jungles of Envy, a place that promises so much but offers no way out.

Gay Degani, Editor of Flash Fiction Chronicles, elucidates the reasons why a writer should enter writing contests at Six Reasons Why Entering Contests Pays OffSandra Odell is with us, too, with the first of a two-part review of SF podcasts — Do You Hear What I Hear? And Jude-Marie examines the power of names in By Any Other Name.

Thanks for dropping by.

K.C. and Jude-Marie

#

In the Green Jungles of Envy

slipstream fantasy by Jay Lake

In the green jungles of envy the tiger stalks his prey.  Stripes flicker through shadows, the casual eye seeing nothing more than the flicker of sunlight on the trees.  Monkeys scream from their high perches, throwing mud and sticks and worse down like a solid rain, as if the earth had mistakenly risen to beat against the uncaring tropical sky.  There is always too much water or not enough.  The word “sufficiency” is not in nature’s vocabulary, not here.

#

“I don’t give a flying god-damn what the FAA says.”  The CEO, whose name was on the building, screamed into the telephone, pounding his teakwood desk with the butt of his letter opener — an antique Turkish dagger worth more than most of his employees’ homes.  “You’re the broker, straighten it out.  I’ve been waiting too god-damned long for this jet.  I’ll get it somewhere else if I have to.  Do you hear me?”  He shook the phone in his fist.  “Well?”

[To read the entire story, click on the title]

Six Reasons Why Entering Contests Pays off

commentary by Gay Degani, Editor of Flash Fiction Chronicles

Most writers hanging out on the internet know about flash fiction, that pesky stepchild that’s dug in its heels and demanded equal consideration as a viable genre of literature.

Most writers are also aware of the multitude of contests springing up at flash fiction sites, but these writers just might wonder why bother?

As the editor of Flash Fiction Chronicles, sponsor of the String-of-10 Micro-fiction Contest from February 6 through February 12, 2011, let me count the whys.

[To read the entire commentary, click on the title]

Do You Hear What I’ve Heard?

a review by Sandra Odell

To those of you caught in the seemingly endless loop of too much to do/too little time to read, I say:  “Podcasts!”

“You can’t read podcasts,” you say.  True, but you can read on, dear friends, for with the next two columns we shall tour the internet in search of quality genre short fiction in the form of free audio and mp3 files available directly from the websites or through services such as iTunes.

Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes these days:  mainstream; alternative; music; literary; political; interview; DIY; butchering; baking; candlestick making.  You name it.

[To read the entire review, click the title]

By Any Other Name

commentary by Jude-Marie Green, Co-Editor of 10Flash Quarterly

Paul Atreides.

How does one even pronounce that? Or “Maud’dib”?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet — but how would we pronounce it? Once we name it, we own it, and its story joins the collective. We know who Paul Atreides is, even if we debate on how to say the Latinized Greek of his name (or the Latinized Arabic of his Fremen name.)

Elton John (singer/entertainer, big glasses!) wrote A Candle In The Wind orginally for Marilyn, then rewrote it for Diana. Those are all very well-known names; we know who they are, their public personas, and a bit of their tragedies just from their names.

[To read the entire commentary, click the title]

Issue 7: January 2011

Welcome to the seventh issue of 10Flash and to a brand new year.

10Flash is a quarterly on-line magazine dedicated to genre flash fiction — science fiction, fantasy, horror, suspense, crime capers and slipstream.

Each issue  offers up ten flash fiction stories written around a common theme. Each story in this issue is a response to this directive — Santa Claus Ain’t Coming to Town.

The stories were written by established and emerging authors in the flash fiction market and they were free to interpret the theme in any manner — and in any of the genres — they choose.

Thank you all for stopping by.  There is an interesting selection of genre stories for you to peruse this issue, some by authors whose names you’ll know and other by newcomers.  I think they’re all great reads.

Robin Graves offers his very first published story in this issue of 10FlashUnlimited Delta is a sweet little tale that illustrates the notion that people are people, wherever we may go and how our technology may change.  We should all hope to have neighbors like the Fernandez family.

Gerri Leen returns once again with a poignant story of love and friendship — The Night Before NeverC. L. Holland is back, too,  with And a Cup of Good Cheer, a piece of dark fantasy that may make you shiver the next time you’re offered a cup of eggnog.  Mike Alexander joins us for the first time with It’s the Real Thing, another dark fantasy tale about a face-to-face encounter with the jolly old elf himself. You’ll get a bang out of Mike’s tale.

And talk about wicked fun.  Cooper’s Cut, from Lee Hammerschmidt, crawls inside the head of a compulsive loser who learns that you should take all of those familiar family stories with a grain of salt.   Cheryl Losch gives us Girls’ Night OutJennifer Campbell-Hicks introduces us to Man of the Stars and Shauna Roberts takes a gentle look at Global WarmingLael Salaets lets us ride the way-back machine to the sixties and sneak into John Kennedy’s oval office to watch The Nicholas Incident unfold.

Finally, Jodi MacArthur stops by once again to tell us about The Girl Who Was Chased by an Abominable Snowman with a Machete, a loopy story filled with valley-girl dialog and magic flying carpets and Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman.  Somehow, she manages to work in Santa Claus and nasty, edged weapons, too.  It’s bizarro fiction, something of a recent thing.  We hope you like it.  Hell, we hope you giggle out loud most of the way through.  We did.

All ten are swell stories. So have at them.

K.C. and Jude-Marie

Cooper’s Cut

crime caper by Lee Hammerschmidt

“You’re almost there, don’t get greedy,” Cooper said to himself, as he pulled a mittful of fifties from the purse.

He had gone through two-thirds of the purses and coats piled on the bed in the upstairs bedroom, their owners boisterously slugging down the holiday cheer downstairs. The party was in full swing, but it wouldn’t be long before the bird was on the table, so he had to work fast.

It was slow going, searching through each belonging and skimming accordingly.  Clean somebody out, they would notice and cause a ruckus.  So just take a percentage.  With all the hooch these clowns were downing they’d never know how much, if anything, was missing until much later.

He wasn’t quite there, but getting close. About seven grand in cash and a dozen credit cards. Then he would start on the jewelry in the dresser.

“Santa Claus ain’t coming to town, this year,” he chuckled.

[click the title to read the complete story]

The Night Before Never

fantasy by Gerri Leen

Kris Kringle moved silently through the workshop, making sure nothing had been forgotten by the elves.  Normally, they’d be starting their post-toy-making-frenzy party, but this year, the group was more subdued, the carols on low, and no one making merry or wearing lampshades.

Kris sighed and lifted his hand in a wave as he passed the break room but didn’t go in.

Inventory.  Yes, inventory would take his mind in the direction it needed to go.

Toys?  Check.

Lumps of coal?  Check.

e peeked out the window.  Elves hooking up the reindeer?  Check.

Reindeer fat–but not too fat, they did have to fly–and happy?  Check.

Rudolph’s nose at full power?  Check.

As Kris moved from the workshop to the adjoining kitchen, he sniffed.  Apple pie baking, ready to eat when he got home?

No.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Girls’ Night Out

fantasy by Cheryl Losch

“So here’s the thing,” she said, tension building with each sentence. “Every year I work my butt off to make sure you’re fat. I clean your suit, I polish your boots, and I make sure the elves build you a new pipe that won’t make you cough and wake up all the children.

I help you with the letters and the emails.  For crying out loud I’ve set up a naughty and nice sort on the desktop so you don’t even have to spend endless hours writing lists yourself any longer.  We’ve been able to eliminate those millions of rolls of paper that keep spilling around the den and down the stairs.

I keep the sack in good repair so the toys don’t land where they don’t belong and I even make the annual appointment for the sled tune-up. I can’t count the number of years I’ve kept this operation running smoothly and the one night, the one night we could possibly go out and I don’t even get to enjoy it.

[click the title to read the complete story]

It’s the Real Thing

dark fantasy by Michael Alexander

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

A plate of cookies and a glass of cola sat on the coffee table. Over on the old Bang & Olufsen, Burl Ives was singing Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.  The television, volume down low, was playing a tape of It’s a Wonderful Life.

The taser was on my side table next to a glass of scotch and soda. I picked up the glass and took a sip, all iodine and peat, then idly played with the big black button sewn to my shirt. All in all, I was ready for the appearance of that Haddon Sundblom fat red jolly freak.

[click the title to read the complete story]

And a Cup of Good Cheer

dark fantasy by C. L. Holland

The magic was all in the hat, of course.  It had to come from somewhere and it certainly wasn’t him.

He hated it.

Made of festive red velvet with trim as white as fresh snow, it perched on a hat stand that bore a blank mannequin’s face.  It was an accurate representation of what it made of him.  Sometimes he woke from nightmares where he knocked the thing to the floor and, devoid of even an imitation head to sit on, it slithered across the room seeking him.

“Eggnog, sir?”

He turned to the green-clad elf who’d spoken, who was half his height and holding a steaming mug of creamy liquid.  He hated eggnog, but he’d learned over the years that the elves were literal creatures so he nodded.

“A large one.  Without eggs, milk, cream, sugar, or spices.”

[click the title to read the complete story]

The Girl Who Was Chased by an Abominable Snowman with a Machete

bizarro fantasy by Jodi MacArthur

So, I was camping.

At the north pole.

On a Sunday.

In winter.

And this giant ball of snow came rolling up to me. I thought it weird, but I was like, in freakin’ Antarctica. Or Artica. Which eva one’s on top, like who cares? The point is weird things happen there. Santa and shit. Anyway, I poked at it with my rattlesnake boot and it grew teeth and coal eyes and started chomping at me.

Of course, I ran.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Man of the Stars

science fiction by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks

First came the hiss, like water on hot metal and the windows rattled. I lifted my brush from a half-painted toy train.

Outside my workshop, light flashed across the sky. Impossible. The sun would not peek over the horizon for another four months. I wiped my spectacles on my apron and looked again; the light now emanated from the ice close by.

I whipped off the apron and peeled out the workshop door, clearing the steps with a leap to land with a soft crunch. Snow soaked my pants. Mary would scold me for that later.

The light had gone out, but the impact point was easy to spot. The snow had melted in a funnel shape, and at the bottom was a rock. I poked it — cool now — and picked it up.

Fist-sized, pockmarked, metallic sheen.

A meteor.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Global Warming

science fiction by Shauna Roberts

The first hint of the disaster appeared as filler on the evening news, another novelty item like the earlier “Big Alligators Found In Ohio’s Little Beaver Creek” and “Ice Floe Carries Polar Bears Into San Francisco Bay.”

When the perky news anchor leaned toward the camera, I stared at her exposed cleavage and paid little attention to her words. “This fall we’ve seen seals on ice, caribou on ice, even a frozen mammoth on ice. But this is a first. A bicycle on ice.” The film clip showed a bobbing ice floe with a partially constructed bicycle on top.

“Huh.” I went to grab a Pabst and adjust the A/C unit. I grimaced as I turned the knob to a cooler setting, thinking of the electric bill. But this November was even hotter and more humid than last year’s. The doctor had warned me that such weather could trigger Joey’s asthma.

When I returned to the living room, Joey was watching a toy store commercial. “Uncle Dave, I want a bike.”

[click the title to read the complete story]

The Nicholas Incident

science fiction by Lael Salaets

On October 30th, 1961, the Soviet Union detonated the “Tsar Bomba” over the Mityushikha Bay nuclear testing range, north of the Arctic Circle on Novaya Zemlya Island in the Arctic Sea.

The hydrogen bomb was the largest and most powerful nuclear device ever detonated with a yield of fifty megatons, equivalent to one thousand four hundred times the combined power of the nuclear explosives that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII.

U2 missions were deployed from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to collect fallout data for the U.S. Defense Atomic Support Agency. One particular mission of this deployment, code name Toy Soldier, was to take aerial reconnaissance photographs of the North Polar Region.

President John F. Kennedy feared the worst.

[click the title to read the complete story]

Unlimited Delta

science fiction by Robin Graves

“We have a distress signal coming in.” 16-year-old Jenny Alvarez called to her family over the ship-wide com system.

Her father, Fernando, stopped his lunch preparations and stepped to the intercom.  “You’re the captain. Make the call.”

“Already have. They’re a little over four days from here,” Jenny said.

“Hmmm. Do we have the delta to get there and then home?”

“Still checking,” she said, in a tone of voice that meant leave me alone, I’m working.

“Fuel, velocity, momentum, gravity wells, mass,” Fernando prompted.

“Dad, I’ve been a pilot five years and a captain for three. Don’t you think I know how to calculate delta?”

[click the title to read the complete story]

December 2010 One-Off and a Review from Sandra

Welcome to the December  2010 Issue of 10Flash Quarterly.

More good stuff this month.  First, a new One-Off story by Charles Thiesen.  Charles is author of the very funny Artie “The Angel” DeAngelo crime caper stories that have appeared  in the 2010 issues of 10FlashJoke Shop isn’t an Artie story, but it offers more of Charles’ wonderfully off-kilter humor, as he takes a look at how jokes get spread around.

And Sandra Odell explores the goodness of geekdom and reality television, as she reviews  Hollywood Treasures from the Sy’Fy Channel.

K.C. and Jude Marie

Joke Shop

crime caper by Charles Thiesen

My office is in Boston, on the corner of Boylston and Berkley. The building is home to a lot of private dicks — gigolos and detectives both. The halls smell of gun oil, shoe leather, and used latex. I never breathe between the elevator and my desk.

The answering machine was blinking like it had  come out of a tunnel. It was a job, thank god. Since I read about hungry arctic explorers who ate their boots, I’d been eying my shoulder holster.

The message summoned me to the home of Llewellyn Lowell Lawrence XI in Brookline. A butler led me to the solarium. It was hot and green enough to be a jungle, but too pretty.

A voice came from behind a clump of pink and orange flowers — if you saw them on a shirt, you’d ralph. “You fancy orchids, sir?”

[click the title for the whole story]

Geekish Treasures

a review by Sandra Odell, Feature Editor

Midweek, late night.  What’s on TV?

*click*  No . . . *click*  No . . . *click*  No . . . *click*, *click*, *click* . . . 7,000 channels and nothing good . . . *click* . . . hmmm . . . HOLLYWOOD TREASURES on the SyFy Channel.  Looks promising.

I am a self-professed geek, hard to believe, I know.  I married a geek who prides himself on a certain level of geek cred, that elusive combination of OCD, and pipe dreams that fuels the fire of behind the scenes genre aficionados around the world.  HOLLYWOOD TREASURES is the SyFy Channel’s bid to capture the market share of such geekish attention with a look at the high-end collector scene.

[click the title for the whole story]

November 2010 One-Off and Other Good Stuff

Welcome to the November 2010 Issue of 10Flash.

Lots of good stuff this month.  A new One-Off story by Dale Ivan Smith, commentary from Co-Editor Jude-Marie Green, and a brand-new feature — a book review by Feature Editor Sandra Odell.

Dale’s story, Last Hex Sacrifice is the third story of a trilogy.  Dead Wife Waiting, appeared in the January 2010 issue of 10Flash and Skinning the Sorcerer appeared in the October 2010 issue.  Jude-Marie examines the balance between what readers think of written work and the authors of the work.  And speaking of bodies of work, Sandra offers us a peek at Rigor Amortis, a collection of erotic flash fiction about zombie love.

Last Hex Sacrifice

fantasy by Dale Ivan Smith

They say high noon is the one time you can defeat a sorcerer. The sun’s magic weakens and reveals hexes, which draw strength from darkness. I didn’t make it by noon. By the time I reached the crossroads it was late afternoon.

I crawled through the sage brush until I could see her, sword in hand, standing inside the circle of glyph stones where I’d left Mira, still guarding this desolate pass. Huge chasms tore the earth a stone’s throw to either side of the circle.

A dusty breeze whipped her long black hair out like banner. White sand streaked her leather duster. My eyes narrowed and her face loomed close in my hexed vision, two hundred yards separation seeming only feet away. Despite the beating sun and the scouring wind, her skin was smooth, her eyes clear. I wanted to shout her name.

Rigor Amortis: even a zombie needs love

book review by Sandra Odell

What do you get when you mix a touch of Twitter whimsy, a sprinkling of flash fiction, and a smidge of rotting flesh?  No, not zombie cheesecake (well, maybe. . .), but a whole heaping helping of Rigor Amortis, edited by Jaym Gates and Erica Holt, from Absolute XPress.

The idea for a collection of zombie erotica (zom/rom) began as a throw-away joke on Twitter, and before anyone could say putrefied-hot-and-tasty it decomposed into a delightfully grizzly flash fiction collection offering morsels by established favorites such as Renée Bennett, Kay T. Holt, and Sarah Goslee, and new talents like Andrew Penn Romine, John Nakamura Remy, and Lucia Starkey.

The rotting schoolgirl/prostitute of Robert Nixon’s cover promises a bloody romp while the teacher isn’t looking, and the interior art of Galen Dara and Miranda Jean encourage any number of appetites.

What to Read

commentary by Jude-Marie Green

This editorial is written on the cutting edge of deadline so I’ll keep it short.  Who should you read?

Everyone.

***

Are you still there?

A long time ago, Robert A. Heinlein wrote a novel titled Starship Troopers. Some readers took issue with the simplistic, militaristic future that he posited.  That is to say, the politics he wrote about caused some controversy.

Still, writers read him.  Some were inspired to write responses to his political view.  One of those novels was The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison.

We the reader cannot let rumored controversy or someone else’s opinion stop us from reading a work.  If we do, we cheat ourselves out of forming our own opinion on the work.  More importantly we cheat ourselves out of the spark of response, the outrage or acceptance that might jiggle the muse into action or might just deepen our understanding.

Great News!

I’m pleased to announce that Jude-Marie Green has joined the 10Flash team as my Co-Editor.

Jude-Marie writes top-notch fantasy fiction and has just finished a five-year stint as Associate Editor at Abyss & Apex.

She and I have begun to talk about the new features and style changes we hope to introduce over the coming issues.  Watch for a new story format and reviews of genre books, movies and games.

Welcome to 10Flash, Jude Marie!

K.C.