Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Friday flash fiction and prize draw!

By Emma on May 28, 2010

Something a bit different this week: a flash of less than 200 words and a prize draw for the #fridayflash community.

The Bean

“How many weeks is it?” he asked, flicking through the book like an eager child.

She fingered the leaves of the broad beans. “I don’t know, six or seven?”

“Closer to six or to seven?”

“I don’t know. It’s not like the test gives you an exact number is it?”

“I think it happened at the end of the holiday,” he muttered, oblivious to her tetchiness. “That makes it seven weeks.”

She sighed, wishing she could go back to bed.

“Oh wow!” he exclaimed and jumped to his feet. “‘At seven weeks, the foetus is the size of a small grape or broad bean!’”

He leapt off the steps and hurried across the vegetable patch, holding out the book open at the page. She took it from him as he squeezed the nearest pod and removed a broad bean, placing it in his palm.

“The baby is this tiny!” he grinned and cradled it to his chest.

She smiled. No money, no work, but he was still excited. Maybe she could be too. “I love you,” she said, and pressed his hand and the bean against her stomach. They’d find a way through.

That flash was written in five minutes – at least the first draft was – for a competition run on a blog this week with the prompt of ‘beans’. I can’t find the site for the life of me, sorry. Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever written a story in five minutes – or rather a slice of life. After editing I brought it below 200 words, so now it’s the shortest flash I’ve ever written.

It’s given me time to write something other than a story today, and I’m glad because over the last few weeks I’ve only been putting fiction here. That’s fine, and it seems you guys are enjoying it, but I’m missing the feeling of connection.

I’ve been madly busy, catching up work-wise following the bereavement and also working on lots of other projects. One of these was teaching myself how to make videos using Camtasia which was great fun. The other is something that I am so excited about, I’ve decided to do something a little crazy. I’d better tell you what it is first:

Audio book narration

As some of you know, I podcasted the whole of Twenty Years Later, a chapter a week, for several months. I loved doing it, and the people who listened seemed to love listening. So I invested in a professional microphone and found that it was so good, it made me sound like I was recording in a dustbin.

Urgh.

Then my wonderfully clever step-dad made me a recording booth which was delivered this week and wow, it’s made such a difference! I’ve got my first part in an audio drama, and am working on another project which is even more exciting, but something I can’t tell you guys about yet. I also plan to re-record and produce a professional quality audio book of Twenty Years Later, but that’s a few months off yet!

So what’s the crazy thing for the Friday Flash community?

I’ve been involved with the #fridayflash community since October 2009, and I love it. I only wish I had more time to read more stories, but as there are around 70 a week now it’s nigh on impossible with my schedule. I read and comment as much as I can, but between writing 2 flashes a week, writing the sequel to TYL, writing for the Short Story Club, recording, running my own business and having a family to spend time with too, time is tight. This bothers me, as I get so much out of it; people take the time to stop by every week, read and comment and it means a huge amount to me.

So I want to give something back, and at the same time, practise my new craft of audio book narration.

So, at the end of every month, I am going to record a Friday Flash written by someone in the community (for free), publish it here to showcase their writing and of course, send it to the flash author to do with it what they will. I get a chance to practice producing other people’s work, and the winner gets a professionally produced audio version of their story. The only thing I ask is that at the end I get to say that I recorded it and give out my URL in case someone who listens would like me to record something for them.

How does that sound? Here’s how it will work this month – next month I may have a more clever way to do it involving link capture.

• You look at the Friday Flashes you’ve written this month and pick your favourite one
• Leave a comment below, telling me that you’d like it to go into the draw, and include a link to that flash so I know where to find it if it wins, and your Twitter name too
• I’ll pick one at random using the random.org number generator (I’m not going to judge or pick a favourite as I don’t want to get tangled up in that)
• Over the following month I’ll record it and produce an MP3 which will get posted here with a link to the original flash and send you the file.
• Then you can put it on your own site, and if you link back to me to spread the word, that would be great.

Sound good? I hope so. I’ve never done anything like this before so I reserve the right to totally mess it up at least once (but not the recording bit, I know I can do that!) until I find the right way to manage the entries. If you don’t follow the instructions above be warned that I won’t have a chance to chase you for details.

So if you want a chance to have me record one of your stories, you’ve got a week to submit – starting now. Please spread the word!

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{ 34 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Such a sweet story. And a very nifty idea for a contest. :) Thanks, Emma.

  2. Tony Noland says:

    I like the optimism of the story. If we all waited for a good time to have kids, no one ever would.

    I like the contest idea, too! I’d love for you to take a look at Mother’s Day.

  3. Gracie says:

    Sweet little story. And what a brilliant idea, Em! It sounds like you’ll have a lot of fun doing that. And a great prize for some lucky author.

    Way to mix it up! :)

  4. Katherine says:

    Awww! Well done!

  5. That’s a sweet story, Em. Very well done in so few words. Nice.

    And that’s a very nice offer with the contest. Very generous of you. Thanks.
    ~jon

  6. Short and sweet. I enjoyed it.

  7. [...] Newman’s “The Bean”, plus a [...]

  8. Thank goodness for optimism and the power of beans :-)

  9. Lovely sweet story, Emma, and thanks. And yay! go you! about the sound recording. I know you couldn’t reveal the details earlier this week when you mentioned it on Twitter, so it’s great to read some of what you’re up to now – spilling the beans, so to speak *groan* ;-) Excellent idea for a contest.

  10. PJ Kaiser says:

    I love your story… I enjoyed reading about all of the size comparisons during my first pregnancy (I had much less time during my second since I was chasing after a toddler). I hope it all works out for them :-)

    I love the idea for the audio – I’m hoping to start doing some of this myself! Such a cool way for you to give back :-) I’ll drop u a line w/ my story

  11. Sam says:

    I really love this story Em. To be able to write it in only 5 minutes just goes to prove what an amzing talent you have. Congrats on the audio drama part and on taking delivery of your recording booth – there will be pics of it at some point, right? ;)

    Your contest is absolutely fabulous, what a wonderfully generous idea. Thank you Em. :D

  12. Laura Eno says:

    Sweet story, Em! Your contest is a great idea and very generous of you!

  13. ganymeder says:

    It’s true. If we all waited for the perfect time, no one would ever have kids!

    Nice contest idea too. My entry for the contest is Red Riding Hood Revised. http://www.ganymeder.com/?p=1239

    I’m glad you participate in #fridayflash!

  14. Sam says:

    Yes Em, I’d love to be considered for the contest. The flash I’d like you to read is:

    http://future-nostalgic.blogspot.com/2010/05/fridayflash-constructive-criticism.html

    Presuming of course, you don’t mind voicing a tea-drinking serial killer? ;)

    Sam aka @FutureNostalgic

  15. Emma says:

    Thanks for the lovely comments everyone. I’ve edited the instructions to make it easier to enter: all you need to do is leave your chosen flash in the comments, then everyone else can find them too.

  16. Katherine says:

    I’d like to enter my debut piece: Wicked Witch for Hire.
    http://katen.livejournal.com/857045.html

    Thanks, Em!

  17. Great little story about the bean. :)

    That’s very cool of you to run a contest and I would love to be considered. My debut story “The Return” can be found here: http://wp.me/pQ90n-2M

    Thanks! :)

  18. That was a nice little story.

    And I’m not shy. My favorite this month is “Aunt Agnes,” found at kimbatchelor.blogspot.com

    Thanks, Emma.

  19. Great story Em, and wow – in only 5 minutes? You’re amazing!

    And what a fun contest idea, and so generous of you. I’d like to enter The Lonely: http://theothersideofdeanna.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/the-lonely/

    Can’t wait to hear the results, and I’ll be tweeting the contest. You’re so sweet to do this. Thanks!

  20. I’m back like a bad penny. I’ll toss my last story, Who Ya Gonna Call, into the hat. It’s a wee bit long, so if that disqualifies it that’s fine by me. Here’s the link: http://jmstrother.com/MadUtopia/?p=1012

    Thanks again, Emma. I think this is very generous of you and is a terrific way to help promote #fridayflash.
    ~jon

  21. Hi Emma. I admire your writing and think your audio offer is a cool and generous idea. Please throw The Black Cat into the hat:

    http://markerstetter.blogspot.com/2010/01/black-cat.html

    I’m markerstetter on twitter.

  22. techtigger says:

    What a lovely little story – you do such a good job of capturing their emotions in words, well done!

    And what a neat idea for a contest, I love it! Here is my entry:

    http://techtigger.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/flash-fiction-jail-break/

  23. Kenn White says:

    I love the bean story!!

    I’m in for the constest and want to have my debute story, what you don’t know can help you.

    http://bit.ly/b3rvw2

  24. Bitter sweet – the sense of optimism shadowed by the fact you can’t raise a baby on smiles and love alone.

    Wonderful idea Em – you are such a generous soul.

    I’d like to nominate my story Mrs Simpson. http://jodicleghorn.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/friday-flash-mrs-simpson/

  25. Hi Emma, You wrote a sweet, touching flash. Very impressive for five minutes! I also have a heck of a time balancing writing, reading online, family time, etc.

    The contest is a great idea! I don’t have any fiction this month, due to other writing demands, but you have an excellent offer for the FridayFlash community – very cool!

  26. Love the little bean. I knew there was a reason for getting bad gas whilst pregnant!
    And cool idea for the recordings! Thanks! You can toss this baby in the randomizer if you like – Size Matters. (I’d love to see you get your tongue around Ambrose Pamplemousse!)
    Link: http://muskokariver.blogspot.com/2010/05/fridayflash-size-matters.html

  27. KjM says:

    Beautifully drawn moment between two people – really well done.

    And a lovely idea for a contest. Should my number come up (hmmmm, that sounds ominous), I would like http://kjmackey.blogspot.com/2010/05/out-into-dark.html read.

    Many thanks.

  28. ThomG says:

    Wonderful story. And in 5 minutes? Wow.
    I really appreciate the offer to read #fridayflash. Very much behind that.

    And, here’s a link to my May favorite:

    Anniversary

  29. [...] Apocalyptic Publishing. If you are part of #FridayFlash you will want to check out Emma Newman’s contest. She will professionally podcast someones FridayFlash each [...]

  30. pegjet says:

    The bean story was touching. Loved his exuberance and her attempt at optimism. Impressive characterization in 200.

    I’d like to add my story into the drawing. I’m @peggywriter on twitter.
    http://pegjet.blogspot.com/2010/05/pirate-glass.html

  31. Hello! I’ve heard of your generous contest on Anne Tyler Lord’s Coffee Klatch. What a great idea!

    Here’s my entry :)

    http://marisrandomities.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-it-like-fridayflash.html

    Also, I found your flash very touching. Nice! My own record is 200 words, and it’s also a dialogue. I think this says something about the importance of dialogue, no? ;)

  32. Caroline says:

    I have a friend whose first child was always known as Rice Grain, because that’s the size he was when they first found out about him.

    ‘The Bean’ has the ring of being ever-so-slightly autobiographical…

  33. Emma says:

    @Caroline – It is slightly auto-biographical in that we do indeed call our boy “The Bean” for the very same reason, but everything else is entirely made up. I haven’t got a clue how to grow broad beans and we were both ecstatic at the news, I’m happy to say!

  34. Shoot! forgot my twitter handle…

    @karenfrommentor

    *goes to rummage in fridge for lunch*

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