I’m putting together an illustrated omnibus of all my Flash Fiction Month pieces from 2012 to 2017, and I need your help! This thing will include 186 stories – 31 for each of the first six years I took part in the event – and I’d like at least a significant portion to have an image to go with them. Read on even if you’re not an artist: it matters less than you’d think!
This Google sheet lists the full selection of stories, organised by year (as well as a link to each one to refresh your memory). Produce an illustration for any of them – even if it’s just a doodle on a napkin – and I’ll consider it for inclusion in the book. I don’t promise to add in everything that’s sent, but I don’t rule it out either! Here are some tips to maximise your chances:
- The images will probably be included on their own page, which means it’s preferable for each one to be portrait (taller than it is wide).
- Colour illustrations are absolutely fine (and people reading on phones and tablets will see them in all their glory), but bear in mind the interior of the paperback will be printed in black and white. Most e-readers will show the images in greyscale too.
- Bigger is better. I can always shrink or crop a large image to fit the book, but I can’t do anything to conjure more pixels out of a smaller one!
- Scans are preferable to photographs (if you’re working on paper/canvas/whatever). Each of my #draw365 images is just hastily snapped with my smartphone, and they really suffer because of it. If you don’t have access to a scanner, this blog post offers some handy tips on how to get good photos (even on a phone).
If you’d like to submit an illustration, simply add your name and a hyperlink to the Google sheet. That’s all there is to it, but if you’d like to tell your friends too then that would really help me out a lot!
The goal here is ideally to have one illustration for each of the 186 stories in the book. I’d settle for less, and I might consider more, but that one per story seems like something to aim for. Obviously nobody’s had a chance to ask any questions yet – let alone frequently – but here’s an FAQ anyway.
An FAQ Anyway:
Q: Will I get paid for this?
Q: Will I at least get a copy of the book?
A: If I end up using your artwork, I’ll send you a free ebook! I’ll probably send one even if I don’t.
Q: Why should I send you my work for free?
A: Literally the only reason is “Because you want to.” If you don’t, then don’t. Absolutely do not consider doing this for exposure. That’s a terrible idea in general and in this particular case I can’t even promise it’ll get your work in front of a significant audience.
Q: No, seriously, is there any reason I should get involved with this thing?
A: I think it’ll be fun! If you like any of the stories I’ve produced for Flash Fiction Month, this is a chance to engage with them and create something for future readers to enjoy. If you just like drawing and want to get involved with a big project, that’s great too!
Q: What’ll happen if you get more than one illustration for the same story?
A: I’ll probably just choose my favourite and the other(s) will go unused. However, if it’s a long-ish story then I may be able to fit both in.
Q: How should I add my name and link to the spreadsheet if someone else has already illustrated that story?
A: Just stick them in the next available cells on that row. I don’t anticipate that there’ll be too much competition.
Q: What’s stopping me doing an absolutely rubbish scribble just to get a free book?
A: Nothing. Scribble away! But again, there’s no guarantee I’ll use it and therefore no guarantee of a free book. (This is the internet: I acknowledge the possibility that 5,000 people will send me a hastily scrawled dickbutt, but I’m not emailing out books for the privilege.)
Q: Can I submit more than one illustration?
A: Yes, submit as many as you like!
Q: You’ve emphasised that quality isn’t much of a concern, but I’ve got an idea for something really good! Will that look out of place?
A: I certainly hope not! I hope that people will endeavour to produce work of the highest possible quality, much as I did when producing these six years’ worth of stories. However, I realise that people may find they don’t always quite manage to achieve their own expectations, as I did when producing these six years’ worth of stories.
Q: What exactly am I letting you do with my artwork?
A: By submitting an illustration you are granting me the non-exclusive right to reproduce that image for commercial and non-commercial purposes, which is what I need to make, sell, and promote the omnibus. You maintain all the rights you would have if I weren’t using the image at all (which is actually kind of a grey area when it comes to fan art, but I’m not exactly going to sue people for drawing things I’ve invited them to draw!).
Q: I’ve already drawn fan art of one of these stories! Can I submit that?
A: Yes! I actively encourage it.
Q: I’ve already drawn something that wasn’t specifically based on one of these stories, but might as well have been. Can I submit that?
A: Yes, that’s fine too.
Q: Is there a deadline for this?
A: Not currently, though I’d like to be able to release the omnibus sometime in 2020.
If you’d like to submit an illustration (or a few!) then here’s that link to the spreadsheet again. Even if not, I hope you’ll consider sharing this around. I think it could be a neat project, and I’d like anyone who might be interested to have a chance to get involved.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 31
Challenge #13: Write a story involving a character who is somewhere they shouldn’t be but doesn’t seem to mind. It must also include the following words: satchel, cookie, penguin, tuque, vixen, marbles, sunglasses.
There was a crackle of lightning. A ball of light appeared and slowly grew, vaporising part of a lighting rig and leaving the cut edges glowing molten orange. A figure appeared, kneeling, in the epicentre of the event.
Richard Nixon shielded his eyes, partly because of the fierce light and partly because—as expected—the figure was completely nude. He nodded for his aide to take the next step, and the aide nodded in response, sunglasses flashing in the studio spotlights.
The aide approached the figure and handed over a simple robe, which was gratefully accepted.
“James Cameron,” said the President. “Do you know where you are? And…when you are?”
“Oh, yeah!” The filmmaker looked around the sound stage in awe. “I remember watching this when I was fourteen! I had no idea it was faked, though. That’s some spectacular work! Who did it?”
“If all goes to plan,” said Richard Nixon, significantly, “you.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 30
You are Gallopy Buzzbrain – a unicorn with a chainsaw for a horn – and you have been selected for the most brutal arena deathmatch in the whole southern hemisphere.
An air-horn blares. The Chunder Games are about to begin.
“I can get you out of here,” says the combat wombat in the cell next to yours, “but you have to do exactly what I say.”
Do that: 2
Murder him: 3
“When the gates open, let me ride you.”
The gates open.
You jam your horn through the cage bars and revel in the meat-splatter.
“DISQUALIFIED!!!” bellows the announcer.
Mope in your pen: 4
Arena violence: 5
You sit out the deathmatch and have no fun at all.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 29
There was a rattle of chains as a counterweight dropped from the ceiling. Adonis Orcbane found himself suddenly dangling by both ankles, caught in a fiendish snare. His sword slipped from its scabbard and clattered to the ground. Focusing every ounce of his indomitable will, Adonis stretched his arm out as far as he could, trying to reclaim it. His gauntleted fingers just barely brushed the hilt, and…
…a thigh-high boot kicked it deftly out of reach.
“You were a fool to trespass in my domain,” said the villain who had appeared, “for I am Zhargla the Malicious, and tales of my cruelty are told across the land!”
Zhargla paced about the room a bit, partly because it looked really freakin’ cool and partly because her captive was slowly spinning round and it was really awkward trying to have a conversation with someone while they gradually turned farther and farther away from you.
“Those tales,” said Adonis Orcbane, through gritted teeth, “are precisely why I came.”
“Mmmmmmm… Then I shall be sure not to disappoint.”
Zhargla the Malicious stepped over to the low table that held her many diabolical implements.
“Perhaps the Lash of Ghkharkhak can beat some of that hubris out of you. Or maybe a few days on the Rack of Gzhou.”
“I’ll never bow to you, foul despot!” cried the paladin, the effect only somewhat diminished by the fact that he was now facing away from her again. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 28
Once upon a time there lived a hunter in a wild land. Each morning he set out into the forest to check his traps and seek out game. Each afternoon he returned to his cottage to tend its small garden and to cook a simple meal. And each night, he rested that he would be ready to begin the next day anew.
One day, while treading a path that even he seldom used, the hunter passed an old man who wore a thick cloak and walked with a long staff. The hunter gave him a cordial greeting, yet the man responded by grasping his arm, pulling him backwards along the path.
“I pray you,” said the traveller, “walk no farther this way!”
The hunter began to protest, but his words were drowned out by a widowmaker falling on the path where the traveller had just passed and he had just been approaching. The vast bough rested, still trembling from the impact, as the hunter struggled to put his gratitude into words.
But “Do not thank me,” said the traveller. “I have not saved your life, but rather the trouble of lifting that bough.”
The hunter looked to the traveller and realised with horror that the man’s wrinkled face was but a skull, and his thick cloak a pale shroud. Likewise he carried not a staff, but a vicious dart. The hunter tried to pull away, but the terrible figure’s fleshless hand was still closed over his arm, and he remained fixed upon the path as firmly as a coffin nail. Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 27
Challenge #12*: David Bowie Day. Write a story worth at least 100 Bowie Points based on the following scoring system: 1 point for each non-consecutive letter Z, 5 points for each string of song lyrics, 20 points for meeting a specific word count (69, 270, 369, 599, 700), and 10 points for each reference to Bowie’s movies or personas (a labyrinth, goblins, stolen babies, bogs of stench, a magic dance, moving the stars, childhood obsessions, memory loss, one or more men that fall to earth, aliens in disguise, best intentions, unforeseen complications, dying planets, a character with heterochromia, a character that is an avid painter or art collector, glass spiders, lots of drugs, saying goodbye, dramatic departures, black stars, swansong, an alien god with a guitar, five years, a character that is bisexual or LGBTQ, a character that is struggling with mental illness, dead roses, lightning bolts, panic in Detroit). Optionally, the story must also include a character with a distaste for music.
This story is worth 1258 Bowie Points altogether.
“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!” yelled the wizard, as he crashed through the ceiling of Girth Loinhammer’s subterranean labyrinth.
“Hi Grandalf,” said Girth.
“Hi.” Grandalf the Gay stood up and brushed the dust from his robes.
“Tough day?” asked Sekhmet, once she’d finished her mouthful of black pudding bagel.
He squinted up through the hole he’d just made. “I think the eagles are getting tired of me using them like Uber.”
“Maybe you should…not do that?”
“I try not to take advantage, but I’m old, my knees ache, and I can hitch a ride with an eagle without having to climb downstairs.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 26
Banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana pineapple banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana grapes banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana mango banana banana banana banana banana banana banana.
Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 25
Challenge #11: Write a story featuring a protagonist whose occupation is chosen at random from the following list: teacher, actor, medical professional (nurse, doctor, etc), retail worker, postal worker, management (of any kind), military, engineer/maintenance. They must have a rival, also chosen at random: brother/sister, childhood friend, co-worker, competitor. Optionally, the story must also take place in a random setting: zero gravity, wartime, post-apocalyptic, underwater.
My randomly selected elements were: retail worker, competitor, zero gravity.
The travellers’ lounge of the Uranian Orbital Waystation was not a great place to run a diner. For one thing, it was way out in the sticks so there were hardly any customers. For another, its extreme distance from Earth necessitated the use of hibernation pods, and nausea from the drugs involved tended to exacerbate the already considerable problem of space sickness. Finally (as every single visitor to the station just had to quip), “Nobody wants to eat a meal while staring at Uranus.”
Adding insult to injury, however, everybody wanted to eat while staring at Uranus. A research vessel docked, and its team of scientists immediately flooded into Dave’s Chicken Popper Palace (which had a full-length window looking out onto the planet’s surface), completely shunning Darren’s Premium Chicken Poppers (which was on the opposite side of the station, and therefore had a full-length window looking out only onto the radiator fins of Auxiliary Coolant Pump C). Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 24
Doctor Hewlett checked the next two names on her schedule: Nic Panaso and Mark Lex. She called them in.
“So,” she began. “Tell me a little about your relationship: how did you two meet?”
“Well,” said Nic. “It was at that electronics superstore—the one just outside of town. We were at the same checkout, and we just sort of clicked. It was like we were made for each other, you know? Like we were meant to be together.”
“It’s common to feel that something’s missing once that initial excitement wears off, but you must still see something in each other.”
“Well, yes! We still connect on so many levels: USB, Bluetooth, even over our home network. But—”
Doctor Hewlett put up a hand. “I’m quite conscious that I haven’t heard a word from Mark yet.” She turned to him. “Is there anything you’d like to say?”
Mark leaned forward significantly. “Black ink low.” Continue reading
Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 23
Challenge #10: Write a story involving something that sparkles, and someone who wants to steal it.
“On behalf of Ólafsson and Sons, I’d like to thank you for banking with us and—”
Grundi Gunnarsson and Frig Hjörleifsdóttir turned to stare at the dragon who had just poked his head (and most of his neck) through the window.
“I don’t mean to interrupt,” said the dragon, “but I have a proposition that I think you’ll want to hear.”
“I’m sorry,” said Frig, “but this isn’t a good time.”
“I’m afraid it’s the only time.” The dragon poked its beaky snout towards the cloth pouch on the table. “It pertains to those sparkly jewels of yours, so naturally I must put the idea forward before you entrust them to the care of this establishment.”
“I really don’t think that—”
“Hang on.” Grundi put up a hand. “Let’s at least hear the creature out.”
“Well, Ólafsson and Sons is a fine institution with plenty of satisfied customers who trust them with their treasure, but have you at least considered the dragon-guarding option?” Continue reading