By Carole Cummings
So, if Scott and/or Angel ever come to you and say, "Hey, why don't you be a judge in our annual flash fiction contest?" you should probably... okay, I was going to say, "Run! Run far away. So far." Or maybe I was going to say, "Hide!" because Angel and Scott? Will catch you. No matter how fast you think you can run, they're somehow faster.
Angel's feisty for such a little thing, and Scott is just.. well, Scott! And hiding won't work either, since they're both deviously clever and they have puppy eyes--*puppy eyes*, like, Puppy Eyes of Doom--and they will hunt you down, omg, guys, they never sleep, they never give up, they're like the freaking Terminator. With puppy eyes. Of doom.
And okay, I was *going* to say those things, because they're all kind of true, in a lovable "how are you guys even real?" kind of way, but the *real* truth is this:
If Scott and/or Angel ever come to you and ask you to be a judge for this flash fiction contest--you should say yes.
I won't lie--judging a contest like this is at least as hard as writing a story for one. (And I know because I've done both.) There were *so many* awesome, creative, beautifully written stories to choose from, and it was really hard to narrow them down, and then narrow them down some more, and then narrow them down yet again.
And yet doing all that, as impossible as it was, was also the best time I've had while doing something adulty and responsible(ish) in a long time. Not only did I get to read all the amazing things everyone wrote, I got to read them before anyone else did, and I got to talk about them with Scott and Angel and Ben and Aidee and Jenn, and you know, who *doesn't* love to talk about amazing stories and characters and themes with other people who *get it*? (Also, I made friends with Scott's spreadsheet, which I wasn't sure was actually possible, but Angel's unshakable faith in me made the difference.)
It was like spontaneous IM parties just kind of sprouted up at random, and though it was always for the purpose of discussing serious points, or addressing a point of procedure, that little *ping* noise never made me cringe or cry, because I knew someone on the other end was going to make me smile.
So, say yes. It's hard, it takes time you didn't think you had, you'll be faced with impossible choices and handed goals you won't think you can meet. But your fellow judges will make you laugh, and you'll get random IMs in the middle of the day full of stickers and hearts, and Scott will not-so-gently poke you about that deadline you're trying so hard not to be late for, and every bit of it will be *fun*. So much *fun*, guys.
And all the while--and this is the most important part--you're doing something good, something worthwhile, something that will add to the growing world of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction, and maybe even kickstart someone who's never before tried to set down the stories in their head into thinking "Well, maybe I can try to do 300 words." And then maybe they'll do those 300 words, and then go on to do 1,000, and then 10,000, and just keep going. And it will all have started with 300 words.
Or maybe an old pro will think "The idea of telling a complete story with so few words is... daunting/intriguing/scary" and it is, but they'll give it a try anyway, and find out they *can*, and it'll be *good*, and they'll learn something valuable they can carry into their writing from then on. And they'll be better.
Being a part of this contest is being a part of something bigger than I suspected when I got the first IM asking me if I'd do it. Being a part of this contest is witnessing beginnings and accomplishments and victories, even if they might seem small to those who don't get it, and doing something that matters for two people who started all this and continue to do it for the simple reason that they like to see others push and try and do.
Because Scott and Angel are doing so much more here than an annual contest. They're doing something amazing, something fun, something that's important and something that will *stay*. And maybe one day they'll ask you to be a part of it.
You should say yes.
Cover & Illustrations Artist: Mila May
Length: 33.6 K
Format: ebook, print
Release Date: General release 9/21/16
Price: $4.99 eBook, $12.99 print b/w*, TBD print color*
*Book contains 5 illustrations inside.
A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.
Queer Sci Fi's Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. "Flight" leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.
Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.
Smoke, by Zev de Valera
He rubbed his temples and squinted at the soft light of his surroundings through the fans of his thick eyelashes. The last drink had been a mistake.
Was that a shaker he'd felt, or the onset of a hangover?
He clutched a silken pillow and waited.
Suddenly, he felt his home tremble; a few pieces of glass
and ceramic ware teetered and then fell to their demise.
Shit. This is the real thing.
With an effort, he hauled himself from his bed.
How many years had it been since the last one?
The shaking ceased, and he looked around his small dwelling. A model unit when he'd purchased it. Now filled with the result of years of collecting: a gramophone, a first generation television set, a water clock. And much more. All of it all had sentimental value—as did the photos of the various men that sat atop or alongside the items in his collection. Some of these men had loved him. All of them had once owned him. Now he owned their memories. That was the bargain.
Another shake. Followed by several unnerving tilts. He willed his cherished possessions to remain in place and willed himself into sobriety and a more becoming appearance as he prepared himself for work.
What to wear?
He selected a red brocade tunic and pants. A classic look always worked best for the initial consultation.
A resounding thud.
He peered up into the small shaftway at the center of the ceiling.
Then a small circle of light at the end of the shaft.
He sighed, folded his arms, and transformed into a cloud of red smoke.
Up and away to meet his new master.
Judge's Choice — J. Scott Coatsworth
Publisher (info only, no buy link yet): https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/the-pill-bugs-of-time
Apple: Coming soon
Barnes & Noble: Coming soon
Smashwords: Coming soon
Goodreads Series Page: https://www.goodreads.com/series/187509-qsf-flash-fiction
In the first year of the Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction contest, we received about 15 entries for the theme “Endings”. In the second year, it was 115 for “Discovery”.
This year, we had more than 170 entries from people around the world, and from all parts of the LGBTIQA rainbow. “Flight” represents 110 of those people and their stories.