flashquake is a paying online journal, dedicated to publishing the best of flash literature. "What is 'flash literature?'" I hear you asking. It's a term we coined — if it existed prior to us, we were unaware of it — to describe the material we were interested in showcasing.
Here's how we define it: Prose of under one thousand words; poetry of less than thirty-five lines. That's the physical definition — but regardless of the form, the best flash literature is much more than a word or line count. It tells a story, tells it with depth, with clarity, with an emotional and intellectual impact that leaves the reader changed in some way. In a masterful piece of flash, every word is essential.
We want work that respects the reader's intelligence. We seek work that opens the reader's mind to new experiences, to new ways of looking at situations we'd long ago dismissed as mundane.
If our definition of flash literature still leaves you wondering what it means, we suggest that you look through our archives. For the past four years, we have chosen six works from the hundred and twenty published in the previous year to nominate for the Pushcart Prize. Whether the oversight is due to the fact that the other work nominated was just that much better, or to the fact that there is still some resistance to flash in the marketplace, we can't say for sure. But we will continue to nominate, and we fully expect that one day flash literature will be recognized and celebrated for the unique art form that it is.
We will be working on some ideas this year to freshen our content between new issues. If you'd like to be kept abreast of all the changes, be sure to sign up for our e-mail newsletter. We control the list and can guarantee that you won't receive more than an announcement a month from us, unless something special comes up.
About the People of flashquake
flashquake began as a suggestion to the Empress of the Flash Fiction Workshop, Pamelyn Casto. Debi Orton was a member of the workshop, and asked Pam if she'd ever considered posting some of the members' stories to an Internet site.
For various reasons, Pam declined, but encouraged Debi Orton to begin an online journal to focus on flash literature. Debi accepted the challenge and immediately recruited help from some of the people she'd met in Pam's workshop. Debi lives in upstate New York, and in addition to her nearly full-time job as flashquake's publisher, has another full-time job as the IT manager for a small government agency, works as a W3C volunteer to develop the next version of HTML, and has a part-time practice as a freelance web designer and web accessibility consultant.
Roger Paris, one of the founding members, became flashquake's art director as well as a founding editor. Later, Roger resigned as an editor, but still continues to shine as our art director. Praise for Roger's design sense, intuitive illustration, and the work he chooses for flashquake's gallery has been copious, and we are sure he will continue to elevate our journal a step above our peers. Roger lives in the midwestern U. S.
Vanitha Sankaran is another founding member of flashquake's editorial team. In addition to her editorial duties, Vanitha also manages most of flashquake's occasional contests. Her most recent work in this capacity was coordinating our "Welcome to Our Worlds" contest, which marked our maiden foray into posting audio versions of content. In fact, if you listen to the three winning stories, Vanitha read and recorded those (Debi read and recorded the honorable mentions). Vanitha also managed our Voices from the Storm project.
Every publication, virtual or otherwise, needs a good PR person. Ours is first rate: Didi Wood is our public relations and marketing guru. When not editing for flashquake, Didi Wood can be found reading, singing, reading, watching baseball (go, Mariners!), reading, and playing with dolls. And reading. Oh, and she writes: her stories have appeared in Vestal Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Night Train, and other print and online journals. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, sons, and an assortment of felines and rodents.
Another of our regulars is editor Michael S. McKlusky, Behind the scenes at flashquake, McKlusky's primary role is comic relief. In real life he works in rehab and helps people overcome disabilities and obstacles. As an editor he is open-minded and quick to embrace the quirky, bizarre and abstract provided it's not all form without substance. He requires some form of sophistication in thought and seeks writing that strives to connect with the reader rather than entertain the author. When considering submissions he looks for theme, symbolism and transformation of character; believes "less is more" when it comes to metaphor and adjectives and prefers work written in Saxon rather than Latin. Non-fiction flash is best served as creative non-fiction. With rhyming poetry, meter and rhyme are checked, lines and stanzas counted. Rhythm, inflection, line breaks, and punctuation are considered in free verse. Second person narratives or works written in present tense need tread carefully. Writing in a passive voice, soliloquies, lectures, and self-indulgent pieces featuring the life of an artist usually put him to sleep. Over-stylized, flash fiction works masquerading as prose poetry (of for that matter any "words too beautiful to suffer an edit") are rejected without ceremony.
Editor and development advisor David Shapiro hails from Hawaii and has a column in a local paper, Volcanic Ash. Dave was also the master of our recent "Less is More" contest.
Our newest addition is editor Mary Estrada.
Although we've listed the primary functions that each member of flashquake's staff performs, the organization is a true collective, where each person brings his or her talents and ideas and pools them with the talents and ideas of colleagues with just one goal in mind: to produce the best publication we can.
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, are the people who write the stories, essays, and poems you read here, as well as the talented artists who permit us to show you their incredible work. We feel fortunate to have access to such a wealth of terrific art, and privileged that so many wonderful writers have trusted us — and continue to trust us — with their work.
How flashquake Operates
As you peruse this and our previous issues of flashquake, you'll realize that we do not accept advertising. Our only sources of income are our affiliate links, as in those books we recommend from Amazon, and a percentage from hosting online classes, such as Pamelyn Casto's Flash Fiction and Haibun classes. All other funding for paying the writers, producing the CDs, mailing, domain fees, Internet service provision and web site hosting, etc., come out of the publisher's pocket.
If you enjoy the flash literature and artwork we provide, and would like to support flashquake, we suggest that you do so by using our affiliate links to Amazon to purchase something that you were going to purchase anyway. The price you pay remains the same, and Amazon forwards a portion of their profits to us, so that we can keep paying writers.
So take a look at our May We Suggest ... page. You'll find a list of our current favorite books, CDs, and DVDs and a plain old link to Amazon. If you'd like to help us in elevating flash literature to the status we feel it deserves, use one of those links the next time you're in the market for a book, a CD, or a film. We'll thank you for it by continuing to bring you the best of flash — without commercial interruptions!