Review of “The Truth about Rebecca,” a short story by E.M. Youman

Summary:

She’s a banshee screaming, sugar-starved monster, and her zookeeper has left you all alone with her.

That’s what’s running through twenty-nine-year-old Henry Dalton’s mind, when his five-year-old stepdaughter, Rebecca, enters the room and utters these fatal words. “Where’s Mommy?”

Review:

This is a touching story about two people in need of love and forming an unlikely family.  Henry Dalton, the protagonist, is your very typical bachelor that has absolutely no interest in having a family.  He’s just “a guy” that wants to date Rebecca’s mom.

The circumstances of Dalton taking on Rebecca as his charge border on unrealistic by how fast everything occurs.  I felt like more time could have been spent exploring Rebecca’s mother.  It wouldn’t necessarily change the result of the story but perhaps add more emotional depth to the events that follow.

Still, the story has a good pace to it.  I enjoyed seeing Dalton’s progression as a character.  He really sees Rebecca for her all her faults and, initially, doesn’t like her at all.  I thought this was a nice, very human touch.  It explores the idea that you don’t always get to choose your family.

Definitely worth picking up a copy.

3.5/5 stars

Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.

Review of “Room for Rent,” a short story by David Toth

 

Summary:

With a marriage and business gone bust, Allen is left with one option––rent out the basement of his isolated house in the Adirondacks to help pay the bills. At first, Greg Shaw is the ideal tenant: quiet, respectful and always pays his rent in cash. His paranoid insistence that dangerous people are after him seems like a harmless quirk. But when a household accident leaves Greg with a broken neck, Allen finds more than just old music records among Greg’s belongings. A large sum of money sits in a local bank and Allen, (a former child-actor) is faced with a decision: report the accident, or impersonate Greg to retrieve the money.

Review:

A classic tale of betrayal and greed. I really enjoyed this story. Despite the length the cast of characters were very fleshed out and memorable. The former child-actor going rogue was absolutely perfect.

The twists and turns were interesting but done concisely, which kept the pace of the story moving forward in a way that was fitting for a novelette. If you love a good crime story then Room for Rent is definitely worth picking up a copy.

4.5/5 stars

Reviewed by Alain Gomez

Buy this story on Amazon.

The Fourth Sense – A Review

You could say Vetiver Quinn has a nose for crime. Born with an enhanced sense of smell, Ms. Quinn can glean a person’s past in just one sniff. This talent is perfect in her small shop, creating unique scents for her devoted customers. Add in a side job with the military, a hidden nuke and a handsome man in uniform, and you have The Fourth Sense, a great start to Delia Fontana’s new series.

When Peter Eliades (a hunky military dude) shows up in Quinn’s shop one afternoon, he knows time is running out to find and disarm a bomb hidden somewhere in the metro area, but he needs her unique gifts to find it. He also quickly learns that her sense of smell will help Quinn understand him in a way no one else can too.

The first episode of Vetiver Quinn introduces likable characters and promises a fast-paced and exciting new series. Will Peter and Vetiver be able to solve this new mystery, and how long before their working relationship gets personal?

“The Fourth Sense” was the first place story in SFWG’s 2015 Series Debut Contest.

2015 Series Debut Contest RESULTS

At long last the results are in!  We would like to thank everyone for taking the time to submit to this contest.  We sincerely apologize for the delay in announcing the results.  We unexpectedly received nearly double the number of contest submissions we had planned on and felt it was more important to get through all the submissions than it was to stay on schedule.

And now for the results!

First Prize goes to Delia Fontana for the story “The Fourth Sense.”

Second Prize goes to Wicked Red for the story “Rapturous Dawn.”

Third Prize goes to Tristan J. Tarwater for the story, “Hen and Chick.”

Always be on the lookout for future contest announcements!

2015 Series Debut Contest

We are looking for series debuts that leave us hankering for more!

Submission Guidelines:

-Entries have a limit of 20,000 words. Stories beyond that will not be considered.
-Submissions should be the first episode in a series, NO prequels
-Stories may be previously published.
-Does not need to have additional episodes in series already published.
-Entries will be accepted beginning on July 6, 2015.
-Entry Deadline: August 1, 2015.
-All submissions should be sent as a PDF attachment to shortfictionwriters@gmail.com with “SFWG Contest” as the subject.
-We will announce the winners by September 1, 2015.

First Place:  Will receive an in-depth public review posted on SFWG. If winning story is up for sale, review may be published on ebook retailer of author’s choice. Winner will also be interviewed and featured here on SFWG as well as various forums and websites.

Second Place: Will be featured on the SFWG Blog and announced on various forums and websites.

Third Place: Will be featured on the SFWG Blog and announced on various forums and websites.

Share Your Web Fiction on Reddit!

This post is addressed to those of you that write/read web fiction.  And who are interested in Reddit.  The rest of you can just bugger off.

Ok, now that I’ve scared everyone away, I can continue this conversation with myself in peace.

I’ve been writing a serialized scifi blog as a for fun project side project.  Lately though I’ve been looking into different ways to tap the very niche audience that actually follows web fiction.  It’s been kind of cool!  For example, there’s a whole web serial branch of NaNoWriMo called WebSeWriMo (Web Serial Writing Month).  Whodathunk?!

Seeing as there was no Reddit category for web fiction, I decided to start my own: http://www.reddit.com/r/webfiction/

For those of you unfamiliar with Reddit, it’s basically a place to share links.  So you post a link, people can vote it up or down and then comment on it.  Think of it as a fast-paced hub for sharing the latest funny cat video.

If you’re an author it’s really not the best place to self-promote.  Any attempts to sell your own work are immediately voted down.  But blog posts that are fun/interesting are generally well-received.  For awhile I had been posting under the science fiction category but I thought it might be fun to try and start this little web fiction community.

So if you’re interested, you should definitely check this out and subscribe to the group.

Pacing and Consistency

At the beginning of this year my life got busier.  It’s all good things, nothing bad.  And the extra busyness is temporary (I hope).  But, needless to say, it has put a cramp in my writing output.

This cramp led to some frustrations.  When I got back from my Christmas break I just couldn’t get back in my groove.  It seemed like something was always getting in the way of cranking out my 850 words (daily goal in 2014).

I was forced to take a step back.  I love writing but it’s not my primary source of income.  And I realized that the frustration I felt was sucking all the enjoyment I gleaned from the process.

It wasn’t worth it!

So I dropped the rigorous schedule I had built up for myself last year.  That schedule worked for 2014, not 2015.  I contented myself with just writing every day, word count be damned.  I’m still making steady progress just maybe not as much as I used to.  And I’m ok with that for right now.  The joy returned when I sit down to write so I believe the decision was a good one.

Consistency is key when it comes to writing.  I realized that this will probably not be the last readjustment I’ll have to make.  Life gets in the way but that doesn’t mean the writing has to stop.  Writing is a lifestyle.  You make it work.

Interview with 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner, Jennifer Vandenberg

Jennifer Vendenberg won first place in SFWG’s 2014 Flash Fiction Contest with her story, “Advice from Siblings.”  The theme of the contest was “Evil Christmas” but it was entirely up to the contestants how they wanted to interrupt that theme in 1,000 words or less.

For those that didn’t get the opportunity to read your story, tell us the gist of your tale and the source of your inspiration. 

“Advice from Siblings” is a story about two people who want to break up with each other and their siblings who are giving advice that may or may not be helpful. It explores the idea of what makes a person do evil things and are evil deeds that are done on Christmas too evil to consider.

I had started a dozen stories that were about evil Christmas but I couldn’t finish any of them. They were all heavily Christmas themed, with Santa and elves, and I just couldn’t make Santa evil. With the deadline pressing I started complaining on the page. This is something I often do when I feel I have nothing to write about. I just type all my fears and desires on the page. I am a discovery writer (a pantser) and I find that when I type about what is bothering me a story often emerges. This time my complaining turned into two guys talking over lunch and I realized I could finish this story.

We really liked how “Advice from Siblings” explored a different side to evil than the obvious slasher horror.  Could you maybe go into why you chose that approach?

I rarely read horror and I only watch light horror movies. When I heard the theme was evil Christmas I never thought it would be a slasher story. I always knew I would write about the evil that is more devious and emotionally destructive. This was one reason why none of my Santa stories worked. I could not convince myself or the reader that Santa had any evil in him.

Is flash fiction something you write regularly?  Why or why not?

I love writing short fiction but I find flash fiction to be much harder. The only time I write flash fiction is when I am entering a writing contest. “Advice from Siblings” feels like one scene out of a larger story. Most of the time I would write out the entire story. However, I really liked the challenge of writing flash fiction and I want to do it more often.

Any advice for those interested in experimenting with flash fiction for the first time? 

Keep the number of characters small and focus on one setting. If you do that then you can put a lot of detail in your story even though you don’t have many words to work with. Most of my stories that didn’t work were too complicated and would have been very shallow had I actually squeezed them into a thousand words.

Also, write many versions of the story. I think I was able to finish “Advice from Siblings” because I had written a variety of evil Christmas stories and I learned from those stories what worked and didn’t work for me.

Lastly, never give up. When I didn’t have a finished story two days before the deadline I could have decided it wasn’t important and stopped trying to find the right words. Instead I kept working on it and won. You only lose if you stop writing.

Thank you, Jennifer!  Be sure to check out her other work on Amazon.