It is hardly surprising that in the retirement community where I live, median age 85, there are occasional conversations about planning for our demise. One of those prompted a short-short story that’s just been published by Flora Fiction. I’d send you there to read it, but it’s one of the literary magazines that wants you to buy a copy to read any of the contents, so it’s easiest for you to read it ==>here at my blog
I’ve never been much of a humor writer. But when Cosmic Daffodil Journal, an online literary magazine, invited under-500-word essays hinged on one or more of the “seven deadly sins”, my funny bone was tickled: Why not write about them all from the perspective of old age?
The editors liked it. You can read it at their website, but you’ll have to pick the little Seven Deadly Sins box and then scroll down to page 122. To start, go => here:
Or it may be easier to read it =>right here
A neighbor put out word earlier this year that he had lost or misplaced a key, asking that anyone who found it get it to him. A skeleton key.
By happy coincidence, a literary magazine that had published me before put out a call for short stories that might be illustrated with a simple image. Perfect! I began toying with the idea of a teen-ager finding such a key that would open his father’s liquor cabinet.
As it turned out, the prompting magazine held The Golden Key until the last minute and then said no-thanks. The next one I tried said my story had “come close”. A few months later an online magazine I hadn’t tried before, Backchannels, took it; it’s available now ==>>here
I don’t think I’ve written a story that I really liked that proved so hard to get published.
I offered “Rattlesnakes” to a dozen magazines that focus on nature or the cowboy West, all of which have published some of my work. Most declined with their usual tactful language, but one was more candid — and appalled. “Well told,” the editor wrote, “but contrary to everything we espouse.”
Finally The Museum of Americana accepted it. You’ll understand why it was a hard sell when you read it ==>>there:
Early this month I was speaker at the monthly Seabury Men’s Breakfast, and offered my pessimistic view of the decline if not demise of local journalism, and the impact on local government and democracy.
It drew a record attendance among my contemporaries here, and a video of the talk has been unusually well-received. It may be of some interest to the younger of those who follow me, so I’ve posted the text ==>here, and the video (22 minutes plus another 20 minutes of Q&A) is available at YouTube, ==>here.
Every time I have a story published that touches on loneliness in old age, I hear appreciative murmurs from neighbors in the retirement community I call home ( which is the model for my Harmony Acres stories). Occasional loneliness, I think, is a given among single folks of advanced age.
So I expect to hear approval of my A Bench with a View, published this week in Halcyon Days — perhaps the handsomest literary magazines that’s carried my work. I’m glad to have made it into their final edition.
You’ll only need to scroll down a couple of pages to read it online, on pages 3-4; look for the deer in shafts of forest sunlight here. (If I float my cursor around it turns into a plus sign that obligingly makes the text big enough to reae comfortably.)
(Or, although you’ll miss the art, you can read it right here)
Some stories are pure invention, ideas that just pop into my head. The Other Woman is such a confection: Would someone contemplating a senior complex like the one I live in be deterred when it seemed that the woman who ruined her marriage also lived there?
The editors of Change Seven, an online literary magazine based in West Virginia, who are partial to stories the involve change, liked it. You can read it at their website
We had a lot of rain in Connecticut this summer, some of it unusually heavy. Sitting at my computer desk, which overlooks a handsome courtyard, I watched one of them approach, darkening the sky, whipping the treetops, then unloosing a deluge.
I turned to the keyboard and tried to capture in words what was happening outside my window. Next day I went back to do a bit of polishing, and invented a story to entice readers into my description.
A New York City online magazine with the improbable title Hearth & Coffin was looking for stories under 500 words, for what it would call its ‘Micro’ edition. I thought they might like my quickie storm, and they did; you can read it now at their website
In its first draft, my short story “Opportunities” ended with a cop lamenting that no one had reported a man collapsed by a brook. One of the editors who turned the story down suggested it needed a stronger finish.
I invented a better ending, sent it off, and bingo! It was accepted by MacQueen’s Quinterly.
In the same breath, MacQueen’s accepted my ultra-short “Man with a Riata”, a memory of a Paiute cowboy I rode with.
The two are back-to-back in the new edition: This link takes you to the shortie, and “Opportunities” is on the next page. Click ==> here
“We are aiming for an issue that joins written word and images in a tight, dramatic, concise form.”
That was the theme of the latest contest by American Writer’s Review, one of the literary magazines published by a group of professional writers. And by “concise,” they meant at max 500 words.
I took my trusty Model A Ford back to Death Valley to imagine an encounter with the driver of a disabled convertible. They liked it; you can buy the 2023 edition at Amazon and flip through to page 75,
OR you can read it ==>right here