Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts

Friday, March 9, 2012

Slice Magazine Issue 10...coming soon!

Photo found at

I've just received word from the editors that Slice Magazine's tenth issue is headed for the printers! The "Growing Up" issue is  my literary magazine debut, featuring my short story In the Wake of Silence. (I hear whispers of symbolism in both titles.)

I've been reading about the authors whose work mine will be printed alongside. Can I just say, wow. I'm not eating at the kids' table anymore!

Accolades for Slice's past issues include:

“Beautiful, compelling, irresistible: Slice will knock you right out. In the best way possible.”
           -- Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Slice is among the golden few of modern literary publications, not only because of its fiction, poetry, interviews, and articles, but because it's simply the one everyone is talking about.”
           -- Simon Van Booy, winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and author of The Secret Lives of People in Love

And, from the website in the above photo caption:

"Where has this literary magazine been all our lives? Slice has both beauty and brains. Not only do they regularly feature a fantastic assortment of illustrators, their mission is to publish  emerging writers alongside the established. Not to mention their coveted interview with Alan Moore. Our hearts are fat and happy after a slice (oho!) of this literary pie."
              -- Regan, Meghan, Jamie, and/or Courtney: Bloggers at Paper Darts(dot)org

Should you wish to pre-order your copy of Issue 10 or subscribe to Slice Magazine, simply follow this link:

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!


Monday, June 20, 2011

On Submission...again

Image snagged from Source

I spent the afternoon revising and spit-shining a short story for submission. It's amazing how much easier the editing process is when you've put the project aside for a couple months.

I hadn't reread this particular story since early spring when I submitted it to a literary magazine called Independent Ink. That market generally takes 120 days to notify authors of acceptance or rejection, although they state on the website that if the story is of interest to them but not right for the issue they're currently preparing, they may take longer to announce the acceptance, to coincide with the issue it will appear in. I've now been waiting to hear a 'yay' or 'nay' for 139 days...A good sign or not, I can't guess.

At any rate, I decided to submit the story to other markets. If it is accepted someplace else, I'll withdraw it from Independent Ink's consideration.

I hadn't forgotten what the story was about, but I had become distant enough from it to enjoy it as a reader would. I wasn't skimming the words like I did when it was well-rehearsed in my writer's brain. I actually read it.

And, naturally, I found places where a tweak was in order. After some minor adjustments that, I think, strengthened the flow and overall emotional impact of the story, I sent it off. I don't think I'll ever get over the nervous, flip-flopping jitters I feel when I push the "Submit" button. It's a gulp from a big glass of exhilarating terror. Makes me sort of drunk, every time.

Now I have to settle in for another 90-day wait, on average. Plenty of time for cramps to take hold of my tightly crossed fingers. Going to try to put it out of my mind and just write.

Just write.




Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guess What This Is a Picture of:

This is the gorgeous cover art for the upcoming anthology Literary Foray that accepted my short story "Homage" for publication!

And, this is not even the best news...

One of my cyber BFFs -- my critique partner who is a wildly talented author and blogger you all know and love -- Jessica Bell @ The Alliterative Allomorph will also be published in the same anthology.  How COOL is that?  I can't wait to read her short "How Long Do the Lights Stay On?"!!

The anthology is still accepting submissions, and will be published through Pill Hill Press.  For more information and submission guidelines, click HERE.

Wishing you a spectacular day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cry For Help, From One Needing Direction

I have read excellent advice from many, many blogging authors about the fine art of query letter writing. I'm working through my first MS and not at that stage of the game, yet. I have entered a couple literary contests, each requiring only that I fill out their questionnaire and attach a file with my story. However, today I submitted a short to a literary magazine.

Paradigm magazine only accepts online submissions, so it occurred to me I should include a cover letter in my email. I wanted to put my best foot forward in introducing myself, but outside a few resources found through a quick Web search, I had no idea what I was doing.

I'm going to be brave and include a copy of my letter here. Please read through it and offer your advice on what I did right and what I should have done/done better. If you have submitted short fiction to literary magazines, I'd be especially interested to hear whether you felt your cover letter helped or hindered your success.

(For some reason, I'm more nervous about this than posting my Tuesday Teasers!)

Okay, enough it goes:


Dear Paradigm Editors,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit my work to your online quarterly. I have attached "Homage," my currently unpublished short story of 1,990 words, for your consideration.

My work is featured in the fourth issue of The Writer's Bump E-Zine, and my short story "Mariposa" was accepted for print publication in the Writer's Bump Anthology Volume One (Copyright 2009 by Richard Lee). In addition, I have won numerous sponsored contests for my short stories and poetry.

I'm a college graduate and former Peace Corps volunteer. I've lived in Africa and Europe, and currently reside in Georgia, USA with my husband and two children.


Nicole Ducleroir



What do you think? Too dry? Not enough personal information? Too much? Ugh...! Help!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Long on Short Fiction

Yesterday at Falen Formulates Fiction, I learned the short story I entered in Sarah Ahiers's 100 Followers Contest won third place! I was thrilled -- thanks, Sarah!

I encourage anyone who has never written a short story to give it a try. Writing shorts is an excellent way to experiment with your craft. We grow as writers when we challenge ourselves, step outside our writing comfort zones. However, embarking on a lengthy project with a complicated plot and large cast of characters may overwhelm an author who's writing out of her box. A short only deals with one significant moment in time, so whether you've never written from the omniscient viewpoint, or you want to attempt speculative fiction, the short story format is the perfect platform to try it out.

In the "short" category, there are a few formats to choose from:

Flash Fiction

This is the shortest of the shorts. There's no definitive definition for flash fiction, but most agree a story under 1,000 words is flash. Despite its brevity, flash fiction still must have a clear beginning, strong middle, and definite end. It should include exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Otherwise it is not flash fiction, but rather a vignette or scene.

Read this excellent article to better understand Flash Fiction.

Short Story

A short story is said to be a story you can read in one sitting. Again, the length of this format is debated and often comes down to the submission guidelines of each contest, magazine, or anthology. The most adhered to definition of a modern short story is one which has no more than 20,000 words and no less than 1,000.

This detailed article explains how to write a short story.

[Update: Thanks to Lindsay Duncan @ Unicorn Ramblings for pointing out that there is another format nestled in here between short story and novella. The Novelette is a category of short fiction said to have a word count between 7,500 and 17,499 words (according to Wikipedia) However, the same article points out that "The terms novelette and novelettish can also be derogatory, suggesting fiction which is 'trite, feeble or sentimental'."

When I checked online dictionaries, I found in Free Online Dictionary that the first definition of a novelette is "an extended narrative or short story," while the second definition is "a novel that is regarded as being slight, trivial, or sentimental." (HERE) And on the single definition for novelette is "a short novel, sometimes, specif., one regarded as inferior in quality, banal, overly commercial, etc." (HERE) Thanks, Lindsay, for your comment that led to this research!]


A novella is a renegade literary form in that it characterizes both a short story and a novel. Like a short story, a novella has a somewhat concise plot. The time frame is generally compact, and the reader often knows little about what happened before or after the time period of the story. A novella also mimics a novel because the story is organized in chapter-like segments and enjoys the freedom to explore its characters and plot in greater depth than does a short story. It typically is said to have between 17,500 words and 40,000.

Examples of famous novellas include John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Have you ever written a short story? What's your favorite platform for experimenting with your craft?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Unreliable Narrator

A literary device that fascinates me is the Unreliable Narrator. The unreliable narrator is one whose credibility has been compromised, so that the story filtering through his or her perception is untrustworthy. At some point, the reader realizes this. The success of the device hinges on whether the reader believes the narrator is incapable of figuring out that which the reader can deduce.

An unreliable narrator can be first person or third person limited POV. (I’m going to call the narrator “he” from here on out, because “s/he” and “his/her” gets annoying for me to type, and you to read!) Something in the narrator's personality or psyche severely hinders his awareness as the story unfolds around him. His prejudice by race, class or gender may skew his observations. His perception could be distorted because his age differs greatly from that of the other characters, as in the case of a child interpreting an adult’s world. He could suffer from drug addiction or dementia. He may be a person of low intelligence or with mental impediments. The unreliable narrator may also be consciously deceiving, as in the case of a pathological liar or a narcissist.

Like all literary devices, the writer must craft an unreliable narrator with authenticity, presenting the narrator’s point of view in a way that convinces the reader to believe and to feel sympathetic. Technical writer, poet and blogger John Hewitt says:

When done badly, a story written from [the unreliable narrator’s] point-of-view can be viewed as manipulative, misleading, confusing and pretentious. When successful, however, the results can be powerful and fascinating.” (Read Hewitt’s article here.)

Here are some celebrated books that use unreliable narrators:

To Kill a Mockingbird
(child narrator)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (child narrator)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (dementia)
The Tell Tale Heart (deranged, paranoid narrator)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (drug-fueled hallucinations)
The Native Son (skewed societal views)
A Clockwork Orange (skewed societal views)
The Catcher in the Rye (narrator personality flaws)
Flowers for Algernon (mental impediments)
Fight Club (multiple personality disorder)

I experimented with the unreliable narrator when competing in a writing contest prompted by a picture. The digital image had obviously been photo-manipulated, because it depicted a man at the wheel of a car that had just missed a hairpin turn in the narrow road along the edge of a cliff. It was as if the photo had been snapped moments after the car had burst through the guard rails, as it hung suspended in the air seconds before plummeting. I’m not a big fan of stories that end with, “…and then the world went black,” so I decided to go with an unreliable narrator. It’s short, under a 1000 words. I’d love to know what you think!

After The Ice

Grady had one goal. Catch that car. It made him fearless, one-tracked, stupid. A mud crusted boot rammed the accelerator impelling his car forward, closing the gap. He could make out the silhouette of the driver ahead, inanimate and lifeless as a mannequin. Unlike Grady, who hunched and shifted his shoulders in a full-body attempt to steer the car with more than just the white knuckled hands gripping the wheel. The cars raced up the winding cliffside road following the precipice that skirted the edge of the world. Far below, unseen waves crashed against the base of the rocky shoreline. Almost gotcha. Grady's crazed grin cracked his face in half. He flicked his head sending a boomerang shaped lock of greasy hair into the air only to have it return and obscure again half of his field of vision.

Brake lights lit up the back end of the lead car. Grady didn't comprehend the car's slight deceleration. All he saw were two fiery eyes glaring at him. Blood red eyes that mocked him; dared him to continue the chase; threatened him with unspeakable agony if he gave it up. Grady punched the gas pedal to the floor at the same instant the car ahead sharply negotiated a hairpin turn. He never had a chance to change direction. Grady's car tore through the guard rails and left the earth, taking flight over the ocean.

He had the sensation of being on a rollercoaster, enduring the excruciating climb toward the track's zenith just before the breathtaking plummet into the abyss. Those last seconds before the fall hung suspended in time; his mind was bombarded with flashing thoughts and images.

... He saw himself as a nine year old boy, smashing the game winning homerun out of the park. His heart swelled with pride as he rounded the bases, soaking in the warm glow of success as the crowd cheered. His future was so full of promise....

... Next, he sat slouched on the back seat of his old man's Pontiac. Clad in high school graduation robes, he watched in humiliation through the front windshield as police handcuffed his father for driving while intoxicated. His father's slurred protests wafted through the open window, "Come on. A coupla drinks never hurt anyone."...

... There was his devoted Laura wearing her mother's oversize, lace wedding gown. Smiling, she floated down the aisle toward a lifetime with him...

... In the delivery room, sweet precious Hannah was born perfect in every way. He promised to try and do right by her; to buckle down at the factory and spend less time with the guys. Laura said she still believed in him...

... On Hannah's fifth birthday, he would have given her the world. Shame pierced his heart as she wrapped her tiny arms around his neck even though he hadn't been able to afford the dolly she really wanted...

... Moving into their first house together, a small clapboard that had suffered years of neglect but still had good ‘bones'. A fixer-upper to be sure, Grady had high hopes for the place. He scoffed when his friends said it'd cost a fortune to bring her up to code. Hell, he would rewire the place himself and save some money...

... Coming home late, (the guys insisted on buying one more round), to flashing lights and emergency vehicles. The house was engulfed in flames. He pushed through the crowd, frantically shouting for Laura and Hannah. A firefighter stopped him from going too close to the conflagration, not realizing he was the homeowner. Grady grabbed the man below the collar, pleading for news of his wife and daughter. His eyes told the truth, no victims were known to have left the house. Fear gave way to dread. Oh my God, oh my God!...

... Relentless rain fell the day of the double funeral, driving cold daggers through his heart forever. Afterward, when the guys drove him home, his buddies tried to help. "Here, take this. It'll ease your pain for a while."...........


Grady's eyes fluttered open. A far-away, resonant voice said, "He's coming around, Doctor."

Another voice, closer. "Sir, can you hear me? What is your name?"

He couldn't move his arms or legs. Even his head seemed locked in place. Grady's dilated eyes darted around. Bright lights. Tile. Unmistakable smell. Hospital.

The doctor's disjointed face floated into view above him. "Sir? What did you take? Can you tell me what you're on?"

"Accident," Grady whispered hoarsely. The doctor's face loomed closer, straining to hear. Grady mumbled, "Car.. off.. cliff.."

"Does anyone know what's he talking about?" The doctor's voice faded and his face got smaller. Without warning, he was back, shined a laser light into Grady's eye and straight into his brain. Grady's head wouldn't obey when he tried to turn away. Clenching his lids shut, he heard the doctor say, "Sir, there was no car accident." Grady's eyes snapped open. "You were found unconscious in a parking lot near the Lower City Bridge. Paramedics transported you here, to the emergency room at E.J. Noble Hospital. We are taking care of you, but I need you to confirm what narcotic you overdosed on. Sir, what did you take?"

The need to catch that car came creeping up from the pit of his belly, consuming his mind. His body trembled with a cold desire that defied control.

A female voice from behind rang out, "BP is up to150 over 90, Doctor. Temperature is still at eighty-seven degrees."

"Doc." The doctor leaned in to hear Grady's weak voice. "Help me. Need. I need. More ice."


Author's Note : Many readers have expressed interest in knowing what "ice" refers to in this story. "Ice" is a common street term for the drug crystal meth.

Have you ever exerimented with writing an unreliable narrator? Have you come across the device and thought the author was successful?