Posts Categorized: Flash Fiction

Published: First Issue of Scintilla

As some of you are aware, this year I started work on Scintilla/Scintilla Press. It’s been a work in progress. How do you start a literary magazine? How do assemble an editorial board? How do you collect and manage submissions? There’s a lot to plan. Another consideration was how to effectively deliver an online literary magazine?

To tackle that problem I re-familiarized myself with php and learned how to use WordPress as a CMS. This website ( was my first test. When I felt confident in my abilities, I started designing Scintilla.

Now, the first issue is published. There’s wonderful work from writers I respect. It’s a joy to make something, but it’s a greater joy to make something that showcases other people’s work. That’s what Scintilla is: a magazine full of rich voices and unique perspectives. If you’d like to submit work to Scintilla, you may do so here. Otherwise, keep checking in and enjoy the magazine.

Resonance (First Draft)

He wasn’t a religious man; but, still, the sound of the bells from the monastery on the hill held special meaning for Daniel.  There was beauty.  There was ritual.  While he didn’t necessarily believe in God, Daniel believed in the need for beauty, the need for ritual, the attention to moments, the notion of grace.

It was an afternoon, and Daniel walked up the hill to his flat.  Pine trees rowed the red brick of the monastery.  The green needles shading the fired clay and mortar.  A breeze pushed up from the main street below, the main street that intersected the one on which Daniel lived, and the monastery resided.  Daniel felt his hair against his neck and the change of temperature along his shirt cuffs.  He listened as the bells began to chime.  The sound was peace.  The sound was a calling to God and to worship.  Daniel’s thoughts turned to God, and unbidden, prayer murmured into Daniel’s thoughts.  He chided himself, his steps scuffing along the sidewalk, upset.  The bells echoed, and Daniel pushed them out of his mind, looked through the shop windows: flowers arranged in cellophane, the boy-like angles of mannequins, words, painted in block letters arching over their bargains.  It was then the bells stopped.  Abruptly, with a dull, dampening noise, like a hand placed over piano strings, the clanging chimes ceased.

Daniel stopped.  He tilted his head, as if the breeze might blow something his way, and strained to hear more.  Cars motored at the base of the hill.  Birds filled the silence.  There was a chime; but, it was the ding from a door opening in a store.  The sudden silence, the awful silence filled Daniel with despair.  His vision of ritual, and of men with more faith than he, tore, as if hands ripped the image in his mind.  A different anger filled him, and Daniel shook his head, muttered, and as he now saw the bells, he saw a mechanical hinge, a timer, some second-hand computer filling the roles that belonged to men far more than a spot on an assembly line stamping steel.  No wonder God’s left us, he thought, we’ve given this away.  Let it go.  And, he felt there was something wrong, something no one else could see.  It was as though Daniel were cheated, and the smallness of this offense left him uncertain.

He wondered what it meant, and quickly, as if smoothing the wrinkles out on a newly made bed, pulled his thoughts taut, and arranged them in neat, logical order, then continued up the street, past the pines, outside the red brick walls.

*               *               *

The following morning, while drinking coffee diluted with milk, Daniel sat on his balcony and scanned the day’s newspaper.  The usual stories filled the pages, as economies of scale scaled back, budgets were cut, and people bled.  Tucked near the classifieds, close to the obituaries, but a story in its own right, was a modest headline.  Daniel read; his fingers were damp, ink stained his skin.  The priest, the monk, the man, Daniel wasn’t sure what to call him, had a stroke.  He was recovering in St. Stephens.  For forty years the monk had rung the daytime bells.  Another betrayal, Daniel thought, the coffee tasting cold in his mouth.  His thoughts turned to moments of disappointment, not for the first time, but, perhaps with the most clarity.  The morning was still cool, and Daniel watched from above as people left their doorways, their keys turning in locks.  He was embarrassed, even though no one knew of his betrayal save himself.  Daniel traced his fingertip around the gray tone photo of the monk.  He could visit the hospital.  He could sit with the man.  There could be silence.  There could be sound.  In the morning, in the sun, the reflections from windows around him, Daniel could picture the possibilities and hear the subtle tremble, as if a bell resonated, and the curved waves entered his body, unseen.

NPR Three Minute Fiction: Round Six

On your mark, get ready, write!  NPR’s Three Minute Fiction is back and I encourage you all to write and submit.  The rules: your story must be less than 600 words, a character must tell a joke, and a character must cry.  The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on January 23rd.  I’ll write one to submit, and if it’s not accepted, will share it on Digital Dunes.

Donnie and Sam: Short Story

My goal this week is to write a Donnie and Sam short story.  It’ll be interesting, as I have some flash fiction pieces centered on these two characters, and tried or imagined (is there a difference?) writing a novel about them.

What it comes down to is: where to start?  I have the middle and the ending.  Now, I need a way to get to those parts.

NPR Three Minute Fiction – Round Five

For all of you looking for a reason to write, NPR has opened up their three-minute fiction contest again.

Your story must begin with the following line:
“Some people swore that the house was haunted.”
Plus, your story must end with this line:
“Nothing was ever the same again after that.”
Including these lines, your story must be 600 words or less. One entry per person. Your deadline is 11:59 p.m., EDT, on Sept. 26.