A flash fiction story prompt….because.

So, this picture showed up in my Facebook feed, today:

Continue reading “A flash fiction story prompt….because.”


My #GISHWHES 2014 fun.

Earlier this week, I was approached by a Facebook friend about helping out her team for this year’s GISHWHES event. For those not dialed in to these sorts of things, “GISHWHES” stands for “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.” Held each year, it was created and is overseen each year by actor Misha Collins, who I remember as Victor Drazen’s son, Alexis, from several episodes of 24‘s first season, but who currently has a recurring role on the series Supernatural.

Anyway, Mr. Collins has channeled his celebrity toward the doing of good things, and it’s in this spirit that many of the tasks on the scavenger hunt list entail doing nice things for strangers. Examples:

Item #79 – Visit an orphanage, a children’s hospital or a juvenile detention center dressed as Cookie Monster and distribute cookies to the children living there, and capture that visit on video.

Item #84 – Send a military care package. This requires two photos submitted as proof: One image is the box with all the items in it; the other image is you deliver it to the post office.

Item #85 – Ask a senior citizen for their “bucket list.” Help them achieve one of the items on their bucket list. Capture the event on video.

So, how was I pulled into this slice of epic craziness? Simple – one of the tasks, Item #78, reads as follows: Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus. 

What’s an elopus? Well, I’m glad you asked:


Basically, if Dumbo and the Kraken had a one-night stand, you might get something like this. I’m thinking the lines to ride it at Disney World would be insane.


With the request made to me by the aforementioned Facebook friend (who, incidentally, also was the one responsible for gracing me with this little bit of awesome), I set to work attempting to concoct a story. Things were a bit hectic at the time, as I was with Kevin and we were in the midst of returning from the Shore Leave convention. I’d seen some jokes about the story from various people on Twitter, and noted a recurring theme…one I’d pondered myself. Realizing I couldn’t just go with the basic premise that this setup seemed to scream, I sat in my too-narrow airplane seat and pondered, and realized in a moment of clarity that I’d been going about it All. Wrong.

I started tapping keys, and this popped out:


Misha Collins, the Queen of England, and me, standing in line to get into a bar.

We should’ve walked in there by now, but you dragged your ass and now the place is too damned crowded. Did you think you were blazing a trail with this lame idea? You figured you’d find some new, clever take on such an obvious setup, and then slip in a twist ending playing off the fact that I’m an elopus. Wow. That’s original.

Hey. Quit staring at my trunk. My eyes are up here.

Not really working out, huh? Tough shit. Also? I’m tired of being the punchline for these things. I’ve been standing here all day, watching you fumble about for an idea, and what’ve I got to show for it? Eight blisters.

Wait. I see what you did there.


Once I Tweeted (or Facebook’d…I don’t recall which), another friend (yes, I have more than one), contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to write another story for her team. By this time I was home and back to work, so my head wasn’t in that game. Still, I managed to accommodate her request with this bit of scribbling, apparently while maintaining my heretofore unacknowledged fantasy of being reincarnated as an elopus:


Misha Collins? Yeah, I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

What’s this bullshit about sticking me in a story with you and the Queen of England? You understand I’ve got important elopus stuff to be doing, right?

Plus, everybody’s going with the “walk into a bar” bit for this scavenger hunt things of yours. Yawn. Sure, it’s a thrill and honor to share a few pints with you guys, though I was a little bothered when the Queen insisted on us going to that male strip joint.

But, after the zillionth time we went through it thanks to some other writer, and after all the drinking and chatting and occasional awkward glances at the strippers, I couldn’t help but notice how neither one of you pulled any muscles reaching for the check.

What the hell is up with that?

And there you go. I had a bit of fun with the stories, made some people smile along the way, and (hopefully) contributed just a little bit toward a good cause. If I’d had more time, I might well have agreed to write a few more stories, as I ended up getting about a dozen such requests, all told. It’s worth noting that every request I received–every single one–was polite and thoughtful, and even when I had to decline someone they remained gracious and good-spirited, in keeping with the tenets of “the hunt.” For me? I was flattered to be asked for help in the first place.


You can read more about writers far and wide who also assisted various GISHWHES teams (including my pals Kevin Dilmore and David Mack) with this great little roundup post by Twitter user “@GreenSamaa“:

Storify.com: #GISHWHES & Amazing Authors!

To everyone participating in this year’s GISHWHES, I hope you had fun, made some friends, and did something nice for fellow humans and not-humans. Good luck to everyone participating and competing for the grand prize. Maybe I’ll see some of you again next year.



Almost time for the “Counter-Protest.”

A week or so ago, I announced that I’d be doing another “Halloween Twitter Story” again this year, following the postive feedback I got from last year’s story in this vein, “Last Stand.” Now that we’re getting closer to Halloween, I figure it’s about the right time to offer up some info. Besides, I’m having fun creating “cover art” which aids in selling the story’s premise of spoofing a certain group of hateful douchebags. Example:

Like last year, the story will be presented as a series of tweets, and each tweet will be appended with a Twitter hashtag. In this case, I’ll be using “#wardfic,” so by searching on that, you’ll have access to the story tweets, albeit in reverse order.

I’ll probably start the Twitterfest around 6:30pm (Central Time) on Halloween evening, right about the time the neighborhood kids are beginning their trick-or-treat rounds. So, if you’re reading this and you’re on Twitter and you *don’t* want to be subjected to my Twitterhea, I won’t take it personally if you put me on ignore or simply unfollow me for the hour or so it should take to get through the whole thing.

(Though I might take it a bit personally if you don’t un-ignore or re-follow me once it’s all said and done. Don’t make a grown man cry, all right?)

For the rest of you die-hard faithful and even just the ones who will be caught unaware once I start, see you Sunday!

This year’s Halloween Twitter story.

Some of you might remember that last year, I “live tweeted” (what other kind of tweeting is there?) a piece of flash fiction to Twitter on Halloween night, switching between firing off a few tweets and handing out candy to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. You can read about my crazy notion here.

If you want to read a “de-Twitterfied” version of the story, go here.

“So, Dayton,” I can hear some folks saying (though it could just be wishful thinking), “are you gonna do that again this year?”

Yeah, why not?

The original seed for this year’s story came from trekkieturtle, suggesting I spin a yarn about zombies having their way with a certain group of religious fanatics. No, I’m not naming names, but I think we all know who I’m talking about. The group in question gets their rocks off by staging protests at (among other things) the funerals for fallen service members, where they hold up signs that convey notions of God punishing said soldiers as vengeance for our society’s embracing of homosexuality. “Thank God for IEDs” and “Pray for More Dead Soldiers” and other assorted vile bullshit are common slogans on display at such events.

(Yes, I know that the 1st Amendment protects this bunch and their antics, just as it protects my right to offer my humble opinion that every single one of those nutbags will eventually end up in the fiery pits of Hell, impaled through the ass on their own personalized hot pokers fashioned to resemble the flame-spewing cock of Mephistopheles himself. And, if there is a God, every single one of their deaths and subsequent banishments to Satan’s rec room will be aired on PBS.)

Anyway, my story….

I decided that while I liked the notion of taking a poke at such a gang of unrepentant bigots and taint pimples, I’d already done zombies last year. With that in mind, I gave it some more thought and took things in a different direction, and it was that something different that actually helped me find the story’s ending. So, what did I come up with?

Like last year, this story’s in the 1,000-or so word range. What’s gonna happen? Well, you’ll just have to wait ’til Sunday, October 31st. I’ll have more info, like what Twitter hashtag(s) to follow and all that, as we get closer. Hope to see you there!

#laststand, de-Twitterfied.

Back on Halloween, I presented my flash-fiction story “Last Stand” as a series of tweets on Twitter. Each tweet was appended with the hashtag #laststand so folks could keep track of the feed I was conjuring.

Since then, I’ve had a few requests to make the story available so that it could be read by normal people, without the hashtags and the need to read the feed in reverse chronological order. I’ve also asked about some kind of follow-up for Twitter, either a sequel to this story or something else entirely. I haven’t had time to give that much thought, but I do have an idea or two percolating in the back of my brain. If I have time over the coming holidays, I may put some juice to that and see what happens.

In the meantime, here you go: “Last Stand

#laststand, by @daytonward

So, I decided to try an experiment this Halloween.

Tomorrow night, starting sometime after 6pm Central time (about the time I assume my post as CandyGuy at our front door), I’m going to start “live tweeting” over on Twitter. One tweet at a time, I’ll present a flash fiction story I wrote back in 2007 called “Last Stand.” It was a story I originally wrote as a favor to friend and fellow writer Christopher Pimental (chrispimental) for his e-Zine Thug Works and its Halloween-themed issue.

I’d been thinking of posting a “Twitter-fied” story of some sort for a while, and a month or so ago, as Halloween 2009 began looming on the horizon, I decided that was a good time to try something. Thug Works unfortunately has passed on into the aether, taking with it “Last Stand” and all the other, better fiction that once called the zine home. With the story appearing nowhere else — at least, not so far as I’ve been able to determine — I figured it might be the right vehicle for test-driving this sort of thing. It’s short (850 words originally, but I pumped it up to just over 1,000 while reformatting it and tweaking it for Twitter), is told in first person (perfect for Tweeting), and it’s got foul language, violence, and zombies.

Trick or treat, yo.

Anyway, tomorrow night, you can follow me (@daytonward) on Twitter, and/or the “#laststand” hashtag, to watch “Last Stand” unfold in all its Twitterific glory. For those of you with lives and/or better things to do, I’ll likely post a transcript at some point in the coming days.

Hope to see you there!

Happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

Thanks to reading tapestry01‘s LJ, I’m reminded that today marks the 3rd annual International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day. According to author Jo Walton, who founded this festive occasion in 2007, the purpose of IPSTD is “to encourage writers to post “professional quality” works for free on the internet.” The reasons for this are made clear in the Wiki article.

I haven’t seen much in the way of folks celebrating this occasion again this year, but I’ll go ahead and post links to stuff of mine that you can read for free. For last year, I was able to direct folks to the first three chapters of my ongoing flash fiction serial, “Stayin’ In Vegas,” which no reside in the warm confines of writer Christopher Pimental, online noir zine, Bad Things:

“Stayin’ in Vegas”
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

New since last year’s festivities are Parts 4-6:

Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Chris has Part 7 waiting in the wings, and I’ve finished Part 8. I may finish Part 9 later this month, depending on my schedule.

So, get on with your techopeasant self!

More Vegas, baby.

Just this evening, I sent friend and writer Chris Pimental the seventh installment of "Stayin’ In Vegas," the serial I’m writing 700 words at a crack, flashfic style, for his Bad Things "pulpazine." The site is chock-full of hard-boiled/noir/hard crime stories, which went live back on January 15th. He’s prepping the second issue as I write this, and shouted at me to get off my ass.

The first six installments are currently available for perusing right here.

I’ve actually had Part 7 for a while now, but I’ve purposely held off on taking the story any further. My self-imposed rules for this exercise are that I wouldn’t outline, and that I would write each installment based on where I left things with the previous piece. No going back and changing stuff in earlier installments, nothing. Whatever card(s) I deal myself, that’s what I have to live with. It’s fun sitting down cold each time, and figuring out where to take things next.

Thanks as always to Chris for giving me a venue. Most of the stuff you’ll read at the site is pretty hard core with respect to language and subject matter. So, if you don’t think it’ll be your thing…you’re probably right :D.

Bad Things, they are upon us.

Friend and writer Chris Pimental has launched Bad Things, an online “pulpazine” dedicated to stories of the hard-boiled/noir/hard crime persuasion, which went live just today. He’s collected a nice assortment of short stories and flash fiction from both veteran and rookie writers.

In addition to porting over the first five installments of my flash fiction serial “Stayin’ In Vegas” from DZ Allen’s late and very much lamented Muzzle Flash site, Chris invited me to keep the serial going there, so Bad Things is now home to the all-new sixth installment. How ’bout them apples? Part 7 is waiting in the wings as we speak. After that…hell, I still have no idea how it’s gonna end. All I know is I’m having fun writing it and trying to figure out what happens next. As for the site: I love the pulp page layout; it makes me want to pull that old Royal manual typewriter out of the closet and rock the rest of this story old-school.

Thanks to Chris for putting it all together. Most of the stuff you’ll read there is pretty hard core, so far as language and descriptions, and subject matter is concerned. So, go check it all out, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Muzzle Flash, R.I.P.

Received an e-Mail from editor D.Z. Allen that his Muzzle Flash fiction site is closing up shop after a little more than three years in operation.

For those who don’t know, MF was a home for hard-boiled flash fiction, with all stories written to a strict limit of 700 words or less. From January 2007 onward, I had seven stories posted to the site, one of which was later selected for inclusion in the site’s sister publication, the print mag Out of the Gutter. I also co-authored another piece with defcons_treklit. Compared to some of the stuff DZ posted, the stories I sent for consideration were pretty damned tame. Still, it was a shitload of fun to do something that had absolutely no connection to the stories I usually write.

In addition to no longer being able to read the fiendish stylings of the numerous writers who submitted material to the site, one downside for me is that I was in the midst of writing a flash fiction serial. I’d made it to the fifth installment being accepted to the site, with parts Six and Seven waiting in the wings, and Eight waiting for me to get back to it. Not sure what I’m going to do with that stuff now, though. I may continue writing the installments in their original flash format as I get bored or have free time (HAH!) to play with it, then try to do something with the completed story. Or not. I’ll have to give it some thought.

Anyway, many thanks to DZ for letting me play in his sandbox, and for introducing me to a whole new cadre of kick-ass writers!