New Ad Concept: The Scent

I decided to toy with marketing by creating posters for my short stories. The basic idea is just to quickly create something that will grab people’s attention and get my name in front of them. If they read the story, which can be found online, then maybe they will like my writing style and look up my other stories and buy my books. This particular story can be found in my collection The Scent and Other Stories. Note the link goes directly to where you can purchase a copy.

I can create a poster like this in only a few minutes. So I can create one while on the phone with someone or while killing time while waiting for my wife to finish dressing, etc. Then I put them on this website with the appropriate tags and then on Pinterest where people go to find beautiful posters and art.

The original photo is by Ashley from I photoshopped it in a few minutes to give it a haunting, dreamlike feel, which is appropriate for the story.

Note also that I used the poster to create a header for another little bit of advertising.


Update: November 19, 2019, 4:42 a.m. “Warehouses and All”

Phil Slattery portrait
Phil Slattery
March, 2015

As I often do, I am having trouble sleeping tonight. So I have been surfing the net and going through my electronic files looking for some flash fiction that I recently wrote and that I would like to submit somewhere. However, in the process of doing that, I ran across some early works, one of which I thought I would share here. I have not published it in any of my collections. It was originally published in the online magazine “Six Sentences” over ten, maybe fifteen years ago. The main requirement for stories to be published in “Six Sentences” was that they had to be six sentences or less in length.

The story is entitled “Warehouses and All”. It is based on a true story told to me in 1989 by a woman who had been an assistant agricultural attache to the US embassy in Somalia. At the time, I was working in the Defense Attache Office in Cairo. One weekend, I decided to take a trip to Luxor to see the temple and Valley of the Kings. The lady and I shared a horse-drawn carriage for several minutes. I forget our destinations.  In the story, I changed the narrator to an American ex-pat working in the Somali oilfields for various reasons. Otherwise, the story is very close to the story she related to me. As you can see, it was quite a challenge to reduce her story to only six sentences, but I believe I pulled it off well. If Six Sentences is still up and running, you may be able to find the original story. I received several compliments on it.

By the way, while I was in Luxor, I stayed at the Jolie Ville Hotel. Apparently, it is still doing well. I recommend staying there if you are ever in Luxor.


Warehouses and All

I met the world-weary expatriate American at a garden party in Egypt in ’89, several months after he had left the Somali oilfields. He remembered that outside his barracks near Mogadishu there had been warehouses full of rice donated by foreign charities to combat the perpetual famine. The impoverished, inept government had no trucks to distribute the rice and fighting among factions within the government insured none could be arranged while their arcane laws kept them from simply opening the doors. So the rice sat as starving women tried to glean the few grains they could from what had fallen off trucks hauling it in or from what had leaked out through cracks in the walls. One night he awoke to commotion and found that the warehouses were in flames. “The rice had sat so long that it had rotted, so the government burned it―warehouses and all,” he said with a look that spoke volumes about his exasperation with the world.

Hasta luego.

New Flash Fiction by Alyson Faye: “Mother Love”

Edward suspects his Mama is mad. Every afternoon they withdraw to the parlour overlooking the garden—Edward shoulder to shoulder with the pianoforte—as they jostle next to chairs arrayed for guests. No one presents calling cards at our door anymore. Papa has left for the City ‘on business.’ The servants, departed.

Mama sits, gazing at my baby brother, Ernest. “Do you think he looks a little pallid today?”

I nod sagely, “Yes, Mama. A little.”

Mama reaches over with her rouge to rub more colour into Ernest’s flaccid cheeks.

The vicar is still striving to give him a Christian burial.

The Bewildering Subcategories of Flash Fiction

Working on a play in Hasting's Hardback Café, late evening, October 16, 2015.
Working on a play in Hasting’s Hardback Café, late evening, October 16, 2015.

Since I decided to publish submitted flash fiction on this website, I have had to explore its various subtypes, of which there seem to be an increasing number with definitions that often vary from editor to editor.   Here is what I have discovered so far:

Flash fiction:  generally accepted to be any prose work of 1,000 words or less.  Some alternate terms include micro fiction, micro narrative, micro-story, postcard fiction, short short, short short story, and sudden fiction, although some editors define specific limits for these as well.  In China, the genre is sometimes called a “smoke long”, because it should be finished before the reader can finish smoking a cigarette.  The Wikipedia article on flash fiction notes that:

“Unlike a vignette, flash fiction often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten – that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. Different readers thus may have different interpretations.”

Micro fiction: Can refer to works of 1,000 words or less or even of works 300 words or less or somewhere in between.

Nano fiction:  300 words or less.   See (which takes submissions of 300 words or less)  for excellent examples and discussions of the genre.  Some put it at 55 words or less.

Drabbles:  100 words or less.  See The Drabble on WordPress for a discussion and examples.

Twitterature:  Sized to fit in a Twitter “tweet” of 140 characters or less.  Some equate this to about 23 words.

Now here is an interesting bit of trivia from the Wikipedia article on flash fiction that seems written for horror aficionados:

“Also notable are the 62 “short-shorts” which comprise Severance, the thematic collection by Robert Olen Butler in which each story describes the remaining 90 seconds of conscious awareness within human heads which have been decapitated.[12]

I will probably add these and any others I find to my lexicon of horror.

I would be interested in knowing if you encounter other subcategories not listed here.

Thoughts?  Comments?


TXTLIT Contest at Flash Fiction World

The blogger on Padre Island, January, 2011.
The blogger on Padre Island, January, 2011.

I was looking for a place to submit a flash fiction story today, when I ran across an interesting contest I thought I would share with you just because it would be a true challenge of one’s writing skills.  “Flash Fiction World” has several contests, one of which (on the right side of the page to which the link leads) is to text a story to them of 160 characters or less.  Here are the details:

Wordcount:up to 160 characters
Mobile phone entry
Prize: At least £50
Closing date: Monthly

I feel confident that the editors will not mind if I encourage any many of you as possible to partake of the challenge.

Near the bottom of the page, they also provide some interesting comments on writing flash fiction for those who are used to writing other literary forms:

Experienced writers

If you have been writing short stories or novels then switching to  flash fiction for a change can be a steep but rewarding learning curve.  Make no mistake, flash fiction is unique in style and technique. An FF  story is not a mini novella or any other traditional style of  literature.

At the same time, your skills in dialogue, character,  exposition etc. will stand you in good stead. Knowing how to set mood,  pace and other elements needed to sell a story to the reader will, of  course. give you a head start.

If you are suffering from the  dreaded writer’s block, then attempting a 300 word story based around a  single idea can be just the thing to unblock your creative flow.  Sometimes the enormity of starting a novel or even a short story of  traditional size can bring you to a halt. A small FF piece focussed on  the look someone gave you at the busstop, a flat tyre on the motorway,  or the letter to someone you don’t know that you found in the street,  may well seem far more doable.

Thoughts?  Comments?