Racing a Deadline: QSF’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest

innovation-logo

For the last two years I have entered Queer Sci Fi’s annual flash fiction contest without any success in making it into the anthology. I am still determined, however, to give it another go. Third times the charm, as they say, even if each year QSF is getting an influx in entries which lessens the odds of making it in the published book. This year’s contest is coming up on its deadline — which was even extended an extra week due to the troubles of this current time. When I say the deadline is coming up, too, I really mean that the deadline is tomorrow (April 17th). Eek!

I am nothing but predictable when it comes to deadlines. As per normal for me I have procrastinated until the end and now I have about twenty-four hours to churn out a cohesive 300 word flash fiction piece centering around the theme of “innovation” that features some queer content.

Nevertheless! I am pushing forward to get something ready to submit by midnight tomorrow. At the very least I have had a few ideas in the works for weeks now. There are half started story lines of dialogue in my phone notes and half asleep scribbled notes of potential plot next to them. As well as a work conversation from weeks ago that turned into a scarily appropriate topic and potential plot for the current world pandemic.  So I have about three ideas I will toss around to see what works and what comes out best to use in submitting.

Of course, waiting till the last minute pretty much means I won’t be getting any critiquing on my work before I submit my flash piece. Many of you writers probably just cringed and cried at that statement. The last two years I have looked for feedback before submitting, which is normally a must for any writer before hitting that send button. I half wonder if not having time for it this year is a good thing for me. I do enough of weekly flash fiction challenges that never see fresh eyes before I hit submit on a blog comment, so perhaps I just need to trust my own gut this year. However, I do realize the disadvantage I am at when I don’t normally write queer stories. Like I said though: this year I am trusting my gut. Potentially daring and risky but I’m going for it. What do I really have to lose? There’s no admission fee, no risk to the rights of my story if I’m not chosen for the anthology. The only thing I risk is another blow to the heart if I get a rejection email weeks from now.

All in all, if you’re looking for a last minute thing to do like me, and you feel inspired by the theme of this year, you’ve still got a little bit of time to try to submit. All details to the contest can be found by clicking the hyperlink in the first paragraph above.

Now I must go off and try to wrestle out a 300 word story. Perhaps I will actually have a Snippet Sunday post for a week or two if I manage to get a story submitted in time! Imagine that. I’ve done that the last two years also so it’s been a year since I shared any snippets of anything. We shall see. This coming Sunday will tell.

When Tragedy Strikes

Hi, everyone. I know, I dropped off on a long hiatus again. I didn’t keep up with writing as I had wanted to. I have, however, started to keep up with weekly flash fiction challenges. (Namely #ThursThreads hosted by the lovely Siobhan Muir and #MenageMonday hosted by the amazing Cara Michaels.) I need to get myself back into Wednesday Words from the awesome P.T. Wyant, too.

Today is not about a recap of what’s going on with this sporadic blogger author though. It is not about my own announcements or my own experiences. Today’s post is a memorial to a beautiful young soul who’s life was tragically cut short late Tuesday night.

Yesterday I wrote a tribute to her life and memory on Facebook.

We all live to believe this world is big and what happens to it and others are not our own problems and won’t affect us. But we are wrong. This world is small and fragile and more often than not right on our front steps.

I learned that today. This afternoon I got a group text. A text that brought shock, grief, anger, and pain.

Last night there was a shooting in the Hill District at a graduation/birthday party full of teenagers and young adults. A potentially senseless shooting that destroyed what should have been one of the best days of a young girl’s life. That young girl was my employee and now her life is gone. She had literally just turned seventeen. Just graduated high school. Full of potential. Hard-working. Willing to learn. Upbeat. Happy. A beautiful soul. She was planning for college. She was going to be a nurse. She had her whole life ahead of her, and now it is all gone. And because of what? For what?

This world is not as big as we think it is. The problems of this world are always closer than they appear to be. Today I learned that as I still sit here in shock. She may have only worked with my company for a short period, but it was enough to make a connection. A simple passing “hello” is enough to make a connection. It is enough to leave an ache in my chest, to make the weight of this messed up world press down on my shoulders. This life and world we live in is precious and it only takes one second, one pop of a gun to take it all away. Senseless. Greedy. Worthless violence. And it needs to end before another beautiful soul is taken from this earth for useless reasons. #RIPbeautifulsoul #stoptheviolence #whereisourgunreform #whereisthejustice

Today I turned the #ThursThreads prompt into a lesson to honor her in my flash piece.

~*~*~*~*~

The erratic beep, beep of the checkout scanners around me reminded me of the beep, beep of a heart monitor. I watched the cashier scan each of my items. A bag of Doritos. Carrots. Gallon of milk. Tissues.

My expression fell, following that item all the way to the end of the belt. Hazel eyes drifted up to the young woman. She was African American. Her name tag read “Faith” in bold, black letters. Tight braided hair that fell past her chest. Warm brown eyes. She couldn’tve been more than seventeen. She looked bored.

“First job?” I asked softly, randomly.

Faith gave me a weird glance. I knew that look in retail. “Um, yeah… Why?”

“Just curious.” The beep, beep of the scanners overtook the awkward silence. I sucked in a breath. “Cherish this job, hun. I know it feels demeaning and customers can be royal asshats. But cherish it while you have it. This world is cruel. It only takes one second, one pop of a gun for tragedy to strike and life to be stripped away.”

She gave me a haughty look, understandably. “Why are you telling me this? Because I’m black?”

I couldn’t blame her. I was white. To her I was privileged. I held my calm, looked into her eyes with grief in mine. “No,” I whispered. “Because violence is everywhere. It doesn’t discriminate and even when we think the world’s problems won’t affect us they have a funny way of showing up on our doorstep.”

~*~*~*~*~

When tragedy strikes I am only able to write and feel what is tumbling through me. I am only able to light candles and honor the one who passed through the veil however I can. So write for her memory I will, and light candles to guide her soul I will. For I will not just do nothing.

May you find peace wherever you are now, Alexus. Fly high, beautiful soul.