A chunk of ash-blonde hair, not yet white like the rest, is matted to Willa’s perspiring forehead. Her body is pasted to the damp sheet that’s pulled off the bottom corners of the sofa-sleeper, eliminating the soft barrier between her bare calves and the rough mattress—she must have been thrashing in her sleep again. She does that when she travels. Her husband, Riley, is standing over her. “There’s a diner down the road. I’m going for fresh coffee,” he says, banging his elbow as he turns in the narrow walkway of the motorhome. “Don’t feed the goat,” he yells, slamming the door behind him. It sticks.
Literally Stories – Week 62 – A Plea
Hello there, it is me again. Mr West is having computer problems. I sympathise, I really do as I always have computer problems. Adam’s is equipment breakdown whereas mine is mainly ability breakdown, although I do truly believe that they hate me. I take it all very personal and I wish I had a shotgun licence and the funds to be able to change my blown to pieces equipment any-time that it annoyed me. (Mr Presley and TVs comes to mind! As does a fried bacon, peanut butter and banana sandwich…And a few unmentionable situations that we shouldn’t dwell on. Maybe it is a good job Mr Presley didn’t have a computer for so many reasons!)
Anyway, I will continue. We have themed these posts in the past but this one will be a wee bit different. You may have noticed that both myself and Nik have been active with our stories. It has been an honour for both of us. But what we want to explain is that this is no incestuous, stories for the boys, type situation from our ivory towers. This has been out of necessity. We are struggling for submissions. The numbers over the past few weeks have been rather low. Both myself and Nik have had to go through the same selection process as everyone else and LUCKILY we have made the grade, if we hadn’t, well I think the tone of this article would be a little different. We need more stories. But, and this is a biggie, we still insist on the quality. If the quality isn’t there then we would rather close than accept anything that we think is below par.
So to an appeal. To all our writers, whether they be one story guys or multiple contributors, please look under your bed and finally tune those scribbles that we know that you have there. If you have any doubt with them, then put them back, they will hide the dust. But if you are happy, if when reading, you get that twitch in the pit of your stomach that says that you have something good, then please send them in. We cannot sustain the site without quality fiction. You have all shown us that you have exceptional work and we need to see more.
Are you ready for a tie-in!
That was an emotional plea and we could say that all our stories this week deal with emotions. (How was that for a rubbish link? I am good at rubbish links, just ask my fellow editors!)
I was up on Monday and wrote about very strong emotions that shouldn’t matter or even be there with my story Blood And Bigotry.
David Jordan touched on the much more recognisable love and humanity with Tuesdays heartfelt story The Other Woman.
Wednesday’s story was based on the true events of a horrific time in Welsh history with Nik’s beautifully structured and traumatic telling of The Generation We Lost.
My take on family secrets was up on Thursday with Passed On.
And to round off the week we had Nina Loard with more emotion as her characters came to terms with rekindled feelings in her story A History.
One tie-in done, one to go. I was going to look and see what I could find for the number 62 but decided against it. So to round off this post I will simply say, we have been here for 62 weeks and we want to be around for the next 62 weeks, so please have a look under those beds!!!!!
A Lost Cause Part 2 by Adam Kluger
“Hey Rudy-toot-tootie–How’s your kazootie?
It’s your ol’ pal Alfred Klumpner from across the pond just checking in again to see if you had any time to read over that short piece of fiction I sent you, “The Rain Washed His Underwear Clean.” I know that Pushing Down The Daisies only publishes poetry but I thought I should explain that the story is really what I would call a “poetic parable” and that the stain in his underwear represents his shame at being a loser and the shark that wants to eat him is really society wanting to kill him…pretty deep, poetic stuff, y’know, mate?
i think you and i are on different poetic wavelengths, im sorry.
i want the language to be something other than your content and stories. Too far afield for my taste.
sorry to disappoint.
“No worries, Rudolfo –with your nose so bright– one door closes– and another window opens… I’ve sent “Underwear” to a couple other lit-mags and I’ve got a good feeling on this one–will keep you in the loop as always. Later, pal. Alf!
Dear Alfred Klupner,
Thank you for submitting to Olive Garden Explosion. We have decided not to publish your piece, “The Rain Washed His Underwear Clean.” Some Editorial Board comments:
“I wanted to like this but was confused throughout… the dirty underwear description was pretty gross and completely unnecessary in my opinion”
“I wasn’t drawn in by the overly-hypenated first paragraph, and the setup didn’t really spark my interest- This feels derivative but not of anything good… ”
“I found the writing stiff and awkward.”
” The overuse of hyphenation also makes that paragraph weighty. If I’d been glancing over this, I probably wouldn’t have read on. Also, what was the deal with the underwear?”
“I had trouble with specifics. I gather Azure De Columbus is a fictitious island, but if Madagascar refers to the city in Honduras, there aren’t going to be any islands just south of it, fictitious or not. (Also, my understanding of Columbus is that he never made it south of Madagascar, if it matters.) Roboskowitz also isn’t believably a Spanish name to me (Roboskowitz is Jewish and Tulli sounds Italian?). All that aside, this story was too sentimental for my taste, though it does seem to have sweet aspirations. I felt the characterizations were rather flat, and the wife seemed like a strawman. I’m definitely not a fan of showing non-Caucasian people as simple-minded and superstitious. Overall, this comes across to me as a pretty straightforward religious parable (not my personal cup of tea, and not really what Olive Garden Explosion publishes). Also, lose the paragraph on the underwear. Burn it- like I would like to burn it permanently from my memory if I could.”
“Slight confusion at the beginning, thinking that Tulli and Roboskowitz were 2 different people. The ending, where Tulli is enlightened was confusing as well–it was too abrupt and I didn’t really get the narrative point of it. This piece has a fable-like quality, with an emphasis on the stupid poor man (why must he be stupid?) and God. The man’s character could be better developed. I do like how he throws his dirty underwear into the shark’s mouth.”
“Dear Editors of Olive Garden Explosion:
Thanks so much for your terrific feedback on The Rain Washed his Underwear Clean as Ernest Hemingway once said, the key to being a great writer is having a fail-safe bullshit detector. You guys can be my copy-editors whenever I sell this puppy to Hollywood as a feature film script.
Alfred Klumpner –spelled with an “M” by the way
Dear Mr. Alfred Klumpner:
Thank you for providing the opportunity to read “The Rain Washes His Underwear Clean” After careful consideration I have decided that it is not quite right for The Eyesocket Express Weeps Over Beethoven.
I am also declining the three submissions you sent minutes after this one, because as the guidelines clearly state, “Please send only one submission at a time. Please wait a week before submitting something else after you get a response.” You obviously knew this and decided to ignore it, so I will kindly ask that you do not submit anything here again in the future as they will be rejected without reading.
What an appropriate name you have— I feel I should probably bow down at the ground you walk on and thank you profusely for first, taking the time to actually read my short story and then to reject it so carelessly, (which, incidentally, another literary outlet much more well regarded than yours, Olive Garden Explosion, just raved about–as in specific regards to the dramatic, climactic scene between the protagonist and antagonist. In fact, we are in current discussions and correspondence about adapting “Underwear” into a screenplay for the big-screen) —- and then you banish me completely from your literary kingdom forever –right after I unknowingly broke one of your silly submission rules. Booooo… boooo on you… Sultan. You are not a fair and wise king you are a petty tyrant –a paper tiger who has been corrupted absolutely. I hope that The Eyesocket Express Weeps Over Beethoven folds in ignominy under your incompetent stewardship. So glad you are able to read other people’s minds and intentions—-you must be a psychic as well as a sultan. In fact, I think I will write a story about you one day–if I ever get really bored.
Alfred Klumpner, published author of works too numerous to list
Actually, Mr. Klumpner– thanks for the kind reminder. You were already told less than four weeks ago that any further submissions you make would be rejected without reading. Consider this your final rejection and our final correspondence.
Thanks for the “kind” explanation of your arbitrary and capricious submission and acceptance guidelines– I know that one day “The Rain Washed His Underwear Clean” will be a story title on everybody’s lips–but until then– enjoy your lofty position atop the literary universe.
“When people are no good at anything else they become writers.” -W. Somerset Maugham
That’s my excuse, pal.
A message to you….
Just thought up a whizz-banger of a new poem for Pushing Down the Daisies–It’s called The Sultan Banished Me From His Kingdom… Here it is:
the Sultan Banished me from his Kingdom
The Sultan Banished me from his kingdom
He took away my pens and paper
The Sultan banished me from his kingdom
I broke his rules and he could not abide
He reached for my words and he grabbed for my tongue
but all he got was spit.
The Sultan cried, “off with his head” but it was way too late
for any of that.
Cause Ruprecht the Rat had chewed through my hat
So that Sultan can just go roll around in Leaves of Grass
… and I cordially invite him to kiss my ass.
Ruper-Duper: I really like the end of this poem it has a lot of flow and power, if you know what I mean. I also subtly referenced American poet Walt Whitman to class things up a little. A little trick of mine. Anyhoo-hope you like this new one. Lemmeno Geronimo!
hi alfred, ‘fraid we dont publish individual poems.
hope yre well
Header photograph: By Jcbutler at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
2015 in review
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Literally Stories – Week 53 – ‘The Penultimate Week’
The Penultimate Truth is a novel by one of my favourite authors, Philip Kindred Dick (b. 1928 — d.1982).
Pee-Kay-Dee — as fellow D***heads call him — story, is set in a Post WW111 earth ravaged by nuclear weapons and based upon one of his countless short stories, namely, The Defenders (1953).
The novel was published in 1964 in what many regard as Dick’s Golden Era, which included The Man in the High Castle (1962) that won the Hugo Award for best novel in 1963.
Whilst The Penultimate Truth won’t feature too highly in devotees top ten lists, as it lacks the many-layered aspects of his best work, it is still a good book.
The World Jones Made (1956), Time Out of Joint (1959), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ubik (both 1969), Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (1974) and A Scanner Darkly (1977) illustrate that throughout his life PKD continued to grow as a writer of original, philosophical fiction, albeit his latter years being increasingly devoted to an exploration of theological matters — most famously with Valis (1981).
Week 54 will herald the last round-up of stories published on LS in 2015.
We return 4 January 2016.
In honour of Phil I have dubbed Week 53 ‘The Penultimate Week.’
Continue reading “Literally Stories – Week 53 – ‘The Penultimate Week’”
Literally Stories Week 12
I seldom get invited to poker games as I never carry cards but always sad short stories. Read ’em and weep. Now that we got that awkward first sentence out of the way I can begin summarising the past week.
Sweet Surrender by our Diane focuses on a poor woman with an addiction.
Last Tuesday featured a dystopian story about something which kills off most of humanity. Speaking of a thing which kills, Kill Switch is the name of Nik Eveleigh’s story. It’s bold. Not just because I wrote in bold but the story is also bold.
Following those two stories was a comedy called A Captivating Meeting by crazily Swedish tough guy Tobias. One of those three is not true.
The Thursday story came from Vic Smith. Its speculative theme resonates in modern technology and it’s called The Conscious Coward.
Finishing the week is usually Sunday, but not here at LS. It’s the Friday story (Well technically it’s this news update, but no one reads this). Des Kelly, who will become our most prominent external author, gave us Snow On The Ground. About the complexity of love between two even complexier persons.
The Story of the Week from 9th to 13th February 2015 has been decided. It was close. How close? Like a near-sighted dyslectic would spell clothes. Because he would write very close and also spell it close. The very definition of exciting couldn’t even begin to describe how inspiring and exhilarating this Story of the Week competition was. I guess that is the definition of exciting, so yes the very definition could describe it. It was very dramatic. It started from the stomach and ran all the way up to the throat. It’s a tie. But enough about my attire. The competition was a draw.
The winners are Talk To Me by June Griffin and Thinking In Nature by Tobias Haglund
Vote for your favourites and stop voting for Tobias. It’s the equivalent of voting for the Beer Party in elections. Go ahead and click on your favourite story.
Happy New Year
Literally Stories would like to wish our Readers and Writers all the very best for 2015.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year
When Adam West first came up with the idea for the site and drew together our little band we thought it would be fun. All five editors are passionate about Short Fiction, the reading and writing of it. I don’t think any of us realised just how much fun it would be – and how much work. We have spent many, many hours putting together a site that we are now very proud of.
Continue reading “Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year”
Literally Stories – Update
On Friday next week (21st November) we will publish a story by another author we hope keeps on patronising Literally Stories, Jane Dougherty.
Coincidentally, the story is called Friday.
We found it in our Gmail Inbox. Last Friday I think it was. It was a joy reading it.
You see, we love reading and are having a great time sifting through all the stories you are sending in.
So please keep sending them in and we’ll keep on reading them, and some – the very best, we’ll publish.
Literally Stories – Countdown
Monday, 17th November, 2014, Literally Stories will publish its first short story. Tuesday, 18th, our second story will appear here.
A new story each weekday and then the Editor’s favourite from the week, featured on Saturday.
On Sunday we aim to put our feet up. Read the paper. Take the dog on a long walk. Play Scrabble. Swim the Channel.
Okay – you’ve seen our bios and none of us – you’re thinking – look anything like long-distance swimmers?
True. We just like making things up. Telling stories.
We hope you will enjoy reading those stories, that they will enthral and entertain you. Scare you. Shock you. Make you think – brilliant protagonist – wonderful plot – original idea – slick narrative – didn’t see that coming – awesome (or whatever superlative you usually use) or just make you think. In fact, you might enjoy reading our stories so much you are inspired to write one yourself – not forgetting of course, when it is completed, edited to perfection, buffed up and ready to go, to make Literally Stories your first stop for submissions.
Conversely, you might read one of Literally Stories short stories and think; I can do better. Great. We’d love to see the result.
First though, we hope to see you all here next Monday. The 17th. Until then, we extend our very best wishes to all our followers (that was eight at the last count) and future authors (who knows how many that will be?)
The Literally Stories Editors – Adam, Diane, Hugh, Nik and Tobias.