The International Flash Fiction Day Competition


Let the mob begin!

Flash Mob CloudFLASH MOB 2013 showcases more than 100 stories from more than 100 participating writers from all over the globe. CLICK ON THE PHOTOS below to find out more about the flash enthusiasts who wrote from or about those places. To read their stories CLICK ON THEIR PHOTOS. 

And see the WINNERS page plus the Top 25 page for the winning stories of the FLASH MOB 2013 Flash Fiction Day Competition. 

ASIA:  Nicolette Wong, Village House on Water

ASIA: Nicolette Wong, Village House on Water

AFRICA:  Shannon Marsh, Addis Ababa, Outside St George's Church

AFRICA: Shannon Marsh, Addis Ababa, Outside St George’s Church


Europe: Cecelia Wyatt, Outing in Bergen

Europe: Cecelia Wyatt, Outing in Bergen

The Americas: Robin Grotke, Okracoke Morning

The Americas: Robin Grotke, Ocracoke Morning


Oceania: Jana Heise, Fiji Sky


Antarctica: web image


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You don’t have to go far to find fine flash


chroniclebutton2FLASH MOB will happen in a week, so to get you in the mood, here is a fabulous list of short stories compiled by the editors of FLASH FICTION CHRONICLES every year in May, in honor of Short Story Month.

This year’s list includes 161 stories, suggested by fellow writers. If you’re looking for inspiration and for examples of fine short story writing, check out this list. It includes the beautiful and the absurd, the satirical and the lyrical, the ordinary and extraordinary, the funny and the tragic. And much, much more.

It’s a huge task to compile this list every year. It’s a huge gift to those of us who love short stories.

And in this list you’ll find some 2013 mobsters, including:

FLASH MOB judges Marcus Speh at Fatboy Review and Robert Vaughan at Metazen

plus FLASH MOB organisers Christopher Allen at Smokelong Quarterly and Linda Simoni-Wastila at Blue Five Notebook.

Enjoy! And see you in the MOB in a week!

-Michelle Elvy


All about flash…

So you want to join the mob…

If you are new to flash fiction, these links will help. If you’re experienced at flash fiction, these links will inspire you further…

FLASH MOB 2013 welcomes all writers — new to flash and old hands.

So here we bring you writers from all over the globe talking about flash fiction in fun and creative ways.

6361655First, check out Awkword Paper Cut, where Flash Mob organiser Michelle Elvy talks with a handful of experienced flash writers about what’s important in flash. Clever and inspiring, these writers find new ways of expressing why they write flash, and why they read it, too.  Check it out here


cropped-groups-of-three-plus-oneAnd if you want more, see National Flash Fiction Day New Zealand, where you can see another group of internationally recognised writers of short short prose talk about flash. Examples include Susan Tepper:

“Flash fiction is a tray of frosted petite-fours, so tiny and delectably edible, far less caloric than its bigger siblings: the cake slice, the tarte, the piece of pie. So you can take a flash fiction delicately between your fingers and slip it inside you, and savour its sugary warmth, or its sticky jelly center, or its biting lemon curd, and you will hardly put on a pound.  Flash fiction is approved by Weight Watchers International.”

More great insights into flash at NZ’s NFFD page here


NFFDlogo13And then there’s National Flash Fiction Day in Britain, where organiser Calum Kerr (who also can be seen at New Zealand’s site) and team have put together probably the biggest national flash celebration happening this year — including workshops, competitions, anthologies and other challenges. Go here for more inspiration.


And, finally, for those of you still figuring out what’s so flash about flash, check out these fine flash journals, associated loosely or directly with organisers, judges and participants of FLASH MOB 2013. In the pages below, you’ll find plenty to inspire.

Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction



Smokelong Quarterly

Blue Five Notebook

Open Road Review


Meet the Judges — Leah McMenamin

photoLeah McMenamin is a writer of poetry and prose from New Zealand by way of Australia, Southeast Asia and, most recently, Ethiopia. She is the poetry editor at The Open Road Review. A 2012 Pushcart nominee, her poems and short stories have been published in Takahē Magazine, Poetry NZ, The Avalon Review, The Typewriter, and numerous other locations. As winter draws near in her hemisphere, she can generally be found with an overly large cup of coffee and a book trying to find the warmest spot in her Wellington house.


ME: Thank you so much for agreeing to be one of the judges for FLASH MOB 2013, Leah McMenamin. We’re pleased to see you on this panel, and we look forward to hearing a little more about you. Let’s start with something you said a while back…

You’ve mentioned before that you like ‘bare-bones’ writing. Tell us what that means, in terms of the kind of reader and writer you are.

LM: Thanks for inviting me to take part in this experience! I’m really excited about the judges I get to work with, and getting to jump into all the submissions coming through.

When I say “bare-bones”, I think of writing that invites the reader to draw their own conclusions, writing that doesn’t rely on wordy sentences but on the pace of its narrative and the complexity of its characters. I like simple, pared-back writing because I feel the author has acknowledged my intelligence and my ability to follow the storyline without having to add too many descriptive or overbearing elements.

ME: Oh, I know what you mean. I’ve come across some great examples of this in recent years – James Claffey and Susan Tepper come to mind, for example. Can you name some current writers who do this, in NZ or internationally?

LM: I guess this really reminds me of Janet Frame’s writing (you can visit her Literary Trust website here) and Elizabeth Welsh, who I have got to know through the Tuesday Poem collective. Elizabeth won the Auckland University Press Emerging Poet Award in 2012, and her poems have inspired me greatly. You can visit her website here.

I try to remember, when I write, that most people out there are creative, intelligent, and curious, and I would want my writing to encourage those characteristics further in readers.

ME: I like the way you think about your readers. Tell us about one of your own stories that you feel works in this way – honouring and encouraging your readers.

LM: I hope that I continue to improve in doing this as my journey in writing continues. My most recent publication, ‘Jack, Now Gone’, explores a mother’s relationship with a child who is now absent. I try to keep the writing stark and invite the readers to draw their own conclusions throughout it. Something that has worked very well for me in practicing this, and which I would encourage other writers to do, is to engage with the ‘Modern Lettuce’ website, which is an extension of the Victoria University School of Modern Letters, and has so many useful activities to help extend you as a writer, and as a reader, too.

ME: Who are your writing heroes, and why? And have those heroes changed as you have evolved as a writer yourself? Do some of your childhood writing heroes still capture your imagination as they once did?

LM: When I read a short story by Alice Munro, I still get a surge of creativity that is very close to an electric shock. She makes me want to be a better writer, and a more voracious reader, every time I read something by her. I also adore Margaret Atwood, Witi Ihimaera, Zadie Smith and E. Annie Proulx – an eclectic mix, admittedly!

ME: Electric shock – I like that! I feel the same way about Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy. I find an honesty in the starkness of both of these writers – in the form and characters.  And, as an aside, they both read aloud very well, too.

LM: As a child, I found books a source of sustenance for me, both creatively and intellectually, and I have very strong memories of reading two books over and over again – ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘The Secret Garden’. They have both continued to grip my imagination, and the other writers I loved as a child – Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Brian Jacques – still offer the same security and inspiration they did to me as a child.

ME: Classics – agreed! The Butter Battle Book remains a favourite in my family…

LM: Wonderful! Doesn’t it just make you feel all warm inside? I love the cartoons they’ve turned it into – you can still watch them on YouTube.

ME: You work as Poetry Editor at Open Road Review. Tell us about that, and what about reading and reviewing poetry that thrills you.

LM: The Open Road Review (ORR) is an amazing publication that is still relatively new. The editor, Kulpreet Yadav, is a growing force in the Indian literary scene and his work has really brought the ORR to greater attention. The ORR was established by Kulpreet as a journal that would strive to give a voice to new, talented writers (it publishes both poems and short stories, which are edited by Shanti Perez) as well as honoring the diverse backgrounds and traditions our writers come from.

Reading and reviewing poetry gives me a sense of connectedness – it helps me to remember there are great forces of creativity out there from many, many different backgrounds. I love the thought that a poem published in the ORR might spur the author onto greater writing heights, or that it might inspire a reader to have a go at writing themselves, or might speak to someone in a way they never thought possible.

ME: That sounds really interesting. Can you point us to some current Indian writers you admire? We are an international Flash Mob, after all!

LM: An outstanding young Indian poet I really admire is Sudeep Sen. His work is really challenging the landscape of Indian literature, in my opinion, the same way that Arundhati Roy really experimented with her work ‘The God of Small Things’. Sudeep’s writing was featured in Volume 5 of the Open Road Review.

Kulpreet Yadav, the founder of the Open Road Review, is also a source of great admiration to me. You can catch him at his main website here, or read some of his posts on the Open Road Review blog.

ME: Some say there’s a real connection between flash and poetry. Care to discuss that, too?

LM: I think there is a real interconnectedness between flash and poetry. Both require a precise handling of words in a (generally) limited space. Both require the communication of an idea in a swiftly changing format. So in that sense I see a connection between the two.

ME: Yes I agree. I sometimes think some poetry reads like story-telling (like these three poems by Sam Rasnake, especially ‘Lines Torn from a July Morning’ and ‘Little by Little, the Beautiful World’, and ‘8am’ by JP Reese), and some flash reads like poetry (like Bill Lantry’s ‘Somnambulist’ or Nicolette Wong’s ‘Pastoral Hide and Seek’). I really like how the short form allows for such genre-bending.

And now back to you…

What was the first piece you ever published? And what was the most recent piece you’ve had published?

LM: The first piece I ever had published was a poem in Poetry NZ called ‘I Will Know’. I look back at it now and just think about how much I’ve learned over the past couple of years, and I feel so grateful.

Most recently I’ve had a couple of short stories published by Takahe, the most recent of those being ‘Jack, Now Gone’.

ME: Yes, I recall reading this in Takahe 77 earlier this year (my copy’s sitting on my shelf beside me). I especially like the opening of this story, the way you create a salty dark mood:

He left the day the tide receded, three years ago today. Kate remembered it well, the way the seaweed was left on the bare shores, writhing strands of green mermaid heir shed across the rocks. It had begun to rot in the sun, releasing  stench that permeated every area of the house.

I also like the other vivid descriptions in this piece, like this:

Kate could see the toetoe nodding their fair heads in the breeze, and a tui was calling. She sat on the front porch steps and watched as the early sun stained the clouds all shades of apricot and violet and curdled milk.

There’s something very New Zealand about this setting. Is specific geography often important in your work?

LM: Absolutely. I think the idea of ‘bare bones’ writing, if you like, naturally lends itself to specific descriptions, and I try to be careful with the way I describe settings.

ME: And speaking of geography, you live in the windy city of Wellington. Tell us a little about how your environment impacts your approach to writing.

LM: To me, Wellington is the ultimate city for creativity – and I know that’s a big call to make. It sits by the sea, and it might be the open salty air, or the constant wind to wake you up (though all the coffee served in the city will do that too), but I feel my most alive when I’m writing in Wellington.

The environment is physically stunning – lots of beautiful rolling hills, very accessible art work, and a thriving artistic community. I feel like the city and its inhabitants prompt me to be more creative and more productive.

ME: What are you most looking forward to with FLASH MOB 2013?

LM: Hopefully getting to read some experimental flash fiction that broadens my horizons, and working with all those wonderful flash authors out there!

ME: We love experimentation, too. Tell us something you’ve read recently that inspires you for its experimental nature.

LM: I follow The Altered Scale religiously. It is associated with the Altered Scale Press which is dedicated to experimental writing. I particularly loved the poem ‘Death’ by Dan Ryan which featured in May on the website. I love the structure of the poem, the way you seem to physically follow the words like a trail of ants, the humor and creeping sadness all swelling into one fantastic poem.

ME: Fascinating! Thanks for all you’ve shared with us today, Leah. We appreciate the time you’ve given for this interview and for judging the 2013 FLASH MOB competition.


JOIN THE MOB — Submissions deadline: June 10!

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Meet the Judges — Robert Vaughan

n1188721262_310786_9161Robert Vaughan leads writing roundtables at Redbird- Redoak Writing. His writing has appeared in over 400 print and online journals. His short prose, “10,000 Dollar Pyramid” was a finalist in the Micro-Fiction Awards 2012. Also, “Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu” was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award 2013. He is senior flash fiction editor at JMWW, and Lost in Thought magazines. His book, Flash Fiction Fridays, is at Amazon. His poetry chapbook, Microtones, is from Cervena Barva Press. He has a chapbook forthcoming from Deadly Chaps this summer, and his first full length collection, Addicts and Basements from Civil Coping Mechanisms in February, 2014.


Simoni-Wastila: You have written many flash stories and quite a few poems. What is it that draws you to these concise forms of writing?

Vaughan: The consistent thing that keeps me molding and sculpting shorter pieces would be the difficulty it presents. One tends to read a short piece and often marvels at how easy, on the surface, it appears: the brevity, the complexities, vocabulary, syntax, form. And yet, I find the exact opposite to be true. All of these factors are much more heightened when there is a word limit, or shorter content. Also, I hit a groove a few years ago with this pattern, and my writing has really charted its own course. I try not to let “what genre” comes out of my pen be the determined pre-set. In re-writes or editing, I might let that play into the mix a little more. Often my work is a combination of prose and poetry; prose poetry, or flash fiction. Better yet, it might be indefinable, in a similar context toward Lydia Davis, Tomas Transtromer, James Tate, or Anais Nin. I like playing on the edges of genre definitions, and bending the gray area. I feel as if my writing is becoming more experimental, more surreal, and dare I say, playful as a result.

Simoni-Wastila: I agree that writing short is more difficult than a reader might appreciate. In writing, every word should count, even in longer forms, but this is especially important in short fictions. How much do you struggle with finding the ‘right’ word?

Vaughan: I struggle on certain days more than others. My technique: get the first draft out, with the least amount of censoring possible. Next, I read it aloud. Then if possible, read it to others. Then I look for certain words I know are MINE (over-used!!! We all have them!). Then I usually wait a few days, or week(s), to let the story germinate (this is the most important step). Give yourself some distance from your work before you return to CHOP IT UP! When you are ready, you can apply those ‘final’ touches – the master strokes: what is essential to the story? What words are superfluous? What word(s) did you read recently that you thought you might want to sneak into a piece? Avoid all clichés. Surprise us with the audacity of your language.

Simoni-Wastila: You write provocative stuff, stories which often take a bit of chutzpah or even courage to address. What inspires the content of your stories? And what is your secret to evoking such grace to dark situations?

Vaughan: Thanks for this interpretation of my writing! I like to take on some of the heaviness or darkness of the human condition: our frailties, prejudices, burdens, weaknesses, or avoidances. Ironic that my first full- length book is titled Addicts and Basements, an obvious play on words (I also love this feature of language, the dualities of words and rich, diversified meanings). But also, the obvious assumptions a reader might make from the word “addicts,” and then the implications of the word “basements.”

I’m unsure if I have any secrets to reveal about the attempt to strike some balance between darkness and achieving grace. I think some of it might be the use of “white space,” and really trusting the reader to interpret the material, especially what is left unsaid. The gaps, the holes, the shadows. Sometimes it can be way more powerful to imply, or to suggest. Often, lately, I find much writing to be too heavy- handed. Predictable. I like surprises (infinitely more in writing than in life!)

Also, I am the kind of writer who benefits from, and has come to rely on, feedback and writing groups, and trusting whole-heartedly the editing process. I’m a member of more than one writing group, and this constant exposure, assessing others’ work, and having the scrutiny applied to my own is essential. I also feel like a piece is never truly “finished.” Put to bed? Sure.

Simoni-Wastila: You are an editor as well. When you read another writer’s story, one you might be considering for publication, what makes you go ‘ah-ha’? This one I must publish?

Vaughan: I like a writer who uses a unique style (voice?), and enjoys exploring topics that rarely get focus. Writing allows us to explore themes that most people might never discuss in “real life,” so immediately I am turned off by first boyfriend heartbreaks, mothers’ dying (we can blame Disney films!), make-outs in cars at sunset. I’m being trite, but clearly risk is inherent. Imaginative, bold, unusual writing grabs me. A writer must be willing to “fail” on the page. Of course, this is so highly subjective.

Simoni-Wastila: Your greatest writing weakness?

Vaughan: I am over-scrupulous, and at times can be too critical of my own writing.

Simoni-Wastila: What do you consider your greatest writing strength?

Vaughan: I feel as if I will never stop learning something new about the craft, about the art form of writing. I will always be searching for what it is, experimenting with new forms, words, structures, mentors. In addition, I really love when other artists are successful. Your success=my success.

Simoni-Wastila: You have a book of prose on the bookshelves, and soon a book of poetry. Tells us a little about how these volumes came into being.

Microtones157Vaughan: Let me start by offering that it’s possible you’ll never know where offers for books might come from! My first book, Microtones, originated from a reading I did in Boston in April 2012. Timothy Gager runs a monthly reading series called Dire Literary Series. We’d been trying to make it happen and had to cancel for various reasons a couple of times. When I went, another online writer friend, Gloria Mindock, planned to attend, and read in the open mic section of Timothy’s event. She was nervous, adorably so, because she’s a poet, and planned to read her first flash fiction piece (She was amazing, and the piece was eventually published at Thrice Fiction). Timothy, Gloria, and I went for a bite after the reading. We got to chatting about writing, process, and submitting. I’d just started shopping around a manuscript and had a couple of rejections. Gloria, in her sweet and quiet manner, leaned over and said, “I would publish you, Robert!” I was stunned, to the point where I thought I’d misheard her. But no, Gloria is the publisher at Cervena Barva Press, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My next book is forthcoming from Deadly Chaps, publisher Joseph A.W. Quintela. When I first started submitting to online and print magazines, Joseph was an early champion of my work. He loves experimental pieces (as do I), and one aspect of my work in which he’s always encouraged me is form. How can it appear in an unusual, more unique way? This has also helped me to blur the lines between fiction and poetry, which my work reaches toward. So, Diptychs, Triptychs, Lipsticks & Dipshits will be out this summer, 2013. It’s about 30 pieces, many are previously published.

Simoni-Wastila: What’s up next on your writing horizon?

Vaughan: Recently I was solicited with a new offer: my first full-length poetry book- Addicts and Basements is forthcoming from Civil Coping Mechanisms, in February 2014. I am completely blown away by this, and so am working at these pieces, generating them as they come. Most of the basement portion is constructed, and now the addict pieces are forming. I also have a chapbook length project, working title is “Female Icons.” This was really fun! Joseph Quintela created a project called “Working Definitions” in which a group of writers re-defined words. Assigned them any poetic re-definition. Then, I selected a lyric from some songstress, say Aretha Franklin’s ‘for five long years I thought you were the man.’ I’d post the lyrics into “The Poeticizer” and it would pop out the new poem:

so supportive that even your underwear shrinks in comparison


of billowing tongue


the edge of what you call home


as a room filled with screens

to have walked trembling with desire

a drawbridge, span down


In addition, I have a first/second draft of a novel, Goodwives River, and it begs to be dusted off and brought back out.

Simoni-Wastila: Robert, thank you for a fascinating chat and a peek into your writing life. And thank you for serving as the North American judge for FLASHMOB 2013. Best of luck with your endeavors! Peace, Linda


JOIN THE MOB — The International Flash Fiction Day Blog Carnival and Competition

Submissions Deadline: June 10!