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
From time to time some literary magazine will suggest a new approach to writing a short story. One such note proposed beginning with an extended description of place, and then slowly developing why the protagonist is in that place and what he’s up to.
For reasons I can’t explain, I imagined a man parking outside a youth baseball stadium where he’d been coach until a tragic accident took his son and wife. Hardly the kind of topic I usually find, but I like the way it turned out, with a double-entendre title that suggested itself as I wrote the final paragraphs.
A young literary magazine called Atlantic Northeast liked it, and it’s out now. You can open it (free) ==>online and scroll to page 23
Or read it ==>right here.
WayWords, a literary magazine run by professional writers, invited stories dealing with seasons. I’d just finished a piece whose protagonist, a grandfather, wonders if a gathering snowstorm will deter his being picked up for a family Christmas dinner. I wondered if the editors would like snow for their July edition; they did. You can read it in print or Kindle at ==>>Amazon
Or can more easily read it at my blog, ==>>right here
I don’t often write to a magazine’s prompt, but when Flora Fiction Literary (which had already published several of my pieces) announced a theme of “festivals,” maximum 1,000 words, I was fairly confident they’d like my recollection of picnicking at Tanglewood.
They did; it’s out now. You can buy the whole paperback (!!) ==>>here or at Amazon
or you can read my story ==>>right here.
My short story “Buyout” was probably prompted by the steady atrophying of The Hartford Courant. It is a shadow of its former self, produced by a staff that is a fraction of the number who once put out the state’s dominant newspaper. It is not my story, although I borrowed a lot of my early experience at the competitor Hartford Times.
It’s out now in a small literary magazine called Portrait of New England.
You can download this issue at ==>>the magazine’s website and scroll down to page 57
Or you can (more easily) read it ==>>right here
The idea struck me as ripe for humor: Suppose a handsome, personable, younger-than-most man moved into a senior retirement community like mine, and suddenly began escorting a young blonde bombshell to his quarters? When asked, he might claim her as a granddaughter, but who would believe that?
OpenDoor Magazine found it a good fit for its Summer ’23 issue on the theme of “envy”.
It’s out now. You can download the entire virtual issue ==>here, and scroll down to page 89,
Or read it ==>right here at my blog
I began what became “A Purpose of Words” when a friend mentioned having considered suicide in her childhood. I’d recently read several articles about loneliness and depression in communities of the elderly, and one older person I knew had taken his life.
It turned out to be hard writing; I re-worked it (and re-titled it!) more than once. I finally got it where I liked it – as did the editors of a Pennsylvania college literary magazine. You can read it there, at ===>River & South Review
or of course ===>here at my blog
Occasionally memory goes back to 1966-67, when the Alicia Patterson Foundation sent me with the family to study the governance of two great rivers that traversed both Communist and non-Communist nations — the Danube and the Mekong. Although my reports dealt with government action, there was time to marvel at how people lived — and in Cambodia, one unique way they fished.
Wanderlust Journal liked the account; you can read it ==>there