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Tag: short story (Page 2 of 2)

91-year-old Literary Magazine Reinvent the (very) Short Story


Photo Courtesy of @vqreview

The Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), a 91-year-old Literary Magazine published by the University of Virginia, is creating a new kind of short story. One that I, for one, am excited to watch develop.

The goal: Bring readers compelling, non-fiction stories and images.

The medium: Instagram.

Dubbed as #VQRtruestory, VQR is taking a unique approach to photo-journalism, social media, and literature. They have decided each week to select a new writer to take over their Instagram feed and post original pictures and stories behind the pictures. The next week the stories and pictures will appear as essays on their website.

Shan Wang had an insightful article for NiemanLab last week about VQR’s idea. Mr. Wang’s article is what originally tipped me off on #VQRtruestory. From the article, VQR’s deputy editor Paul Reyes tells Shan Wang that this is an experiment they’re trying.

“We’re improvising as we go along. The potential lies in how Instagram, as a platform, shapes content. Part of this is determined by what people want to write about, what they’re sick of reading about, and how they might be motivated to push the limits of what can be done on this platform.”



Photo Courtesy of @vqreview


Although both VQR and Mr. Wang claim this is different than Humans of New York, I am not quite sure how. The Humans of New York Facebook page took social media by storm the last few years. Featuring photographs of people and quotes from the featured individuals–quotes that capture the embodiment of the joy, or the happiness, or the pain, or the confusion of the people in the photographs–Humans of New York’s Facebook page has spawned a blog, print books, and much more. It has been wildly successful.

It’s no surprise that its success has created more and more copycats, and #VQRtruestory appears to be in that mold, but it has the backing of talented and creative individuals to differentiate itself. Maybe it will be more directed at journalism. Or maybe it will be a medium utilized to propel social change. Regardless, I am looking forward to following @VQReview and seeing what they come up with in #VQRtruestory.


Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

An Empty Sky by Marjorie Owen

Self PublishI am excited to be able to utilize Nothing Any Good as a platform, not only for assisting writers throughout the writing process and promoting their works, but also as a platform to explore new works and first takes. Despite what some might think, I don’t believe writing should always be done in a vacuum. Having a community with whom to share essay, short stories, and musings–not only my own, but other authors as well–is a valuable commodity for writers. Here is our first short story.


An Empty Sky

by Marjorie Owen

It’s just as well I was never one of that curious band of women known as ‘window shoppers,’ because in all the years of my first unhappy marriage I was so hard pressed for cash that ‘window shopping’ would have been just an exercise in futility and frustration. Clothing, jewellery, and their allied fripperies never interested me, and they still don’t, although my second, wonderfully happy marriage is to a man who can afford to indulge me in every whim. He, poor darling, is the one who feels the frustration–he would like nothing better than to see me spending his money much more freely than I do. His sole aim in life is to try and make up to me for all the deprivations of the foregoing years and he nearly submerges me under a constant shower of gifts. Of course I accept them most gratefully because I know they are chosen with much loving care, but I would be just as blissfully happy without them.

Which brings me to this very odd story–the story that began when he refused to buy me something I had set my heart on?

Through all the dreary years, the two things which helped to relieve the monotony and cheerlessness were music and reading; tastes, which, thank God, my dead man shares with me. So now that I have the time and the means, I love browsing amongst books and in record shops, buying all my favourites to keep forever. Our house is full of books and music, not to be used anymore as an escape from life, but as things we can enjoy together.

Apart from these joyful pursuits, I also like, from time to time, wandering around picture galleries. Not that I know anything about art or the finer points of painting–I belong to the “I-know-what-I-like” school so derided by true aficionados–but I love beauty in all its forms and if my ideas of what constitutes beauty don’t coincide with other people’s, well I can’t help that! So there I was one day, pottering about in a smallish art gallery, more to fill in some time than anything, when I saw the painting.

It was in oils, signed by a name I’d never heard of before. In the foreground was a strip of deserted beach, the tide running out to a calm grey sea, where one small boat appeared to be at anchor. The remainder of the canvas, a good half of it, was just an empty sky. The only touch of bright colour was at the top, red reflection shading into pink, of the sun hidden behind clouds. Whether it was sunrise of sunset, I couldn’t guess. And that was all. Why it fascinated me so much I’ve no idea. I only know I loved it and I stood gazing at it for about ten minutes…


Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

This delightful excerpt was shared with me by Jesse Dee, who found this story (and over fifty others) in a box after her mother had passed away. Jesse Dee chose a select few to share with the world.  You can find the short story on Smashwords and follow Jesse Dee  at her blog.

Here’s the tale of her mother and how Jesse Dee happened upon the stories.



WritingMarjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen was born on September 11th 1911 in England and endured the bombardment of World War II. She was born out-of-wedlock with an Irish Lord for a father and a Russian princess as her mother. Although her life before working is somewhat sketchy, her career, as a major London department store clothing buyer, was long and interesting. Members of the Royal family were amongst some of her more famous clients. Marjorie found time to write many short stories and four novels ranging from romance to mystery. She did not attempt to publish any of her writings. We can only surmise that she wrote for the joy and did not wish to seek out any recognition or fame.

Marjorie passed away on March 28th 2004, after a very full life, at the age of ninety-three.

Mum had told Mike that she had written a couple of stories and let him read them some years ago. She expressed no interest in having them published at that time. He was never aware of the amount that she had written until she passed away. Mike, being an only child and having no Aunts or Uncles, is the sole heir to Marjorie’s estate. He discovered the box full of Mum’s writings on clearing her flat in England and took them back to the USA.  

As an avid reader Dee (daughter-in-law) became fascinated with Mum’s stories and books. All her writings were hand written on legal size paper or note books and on both sides of the paper. Dee began reading some of the short stories (there are fifty plus).   After reading a few, she was hooked and decided to attempt, the monumental task of transcribing them to computer.   Mum’s writing was not the easiest to read, however, Dee had set herself the challenge and was going to follow through. At first, her husband, Mike assisted her with the ‘translation’ of Mum’s hand writing. At times they became frustrated with each other and Mum. After a couple of stories, Dee became the expert, reading Mum’s writing and even improving her own typing skills and speed. As yet, Dee has not completed the task, with a few more stories to go and two novels, after several years of work.

Crazyhorse Prizes–Writing Contest

Writing Contest

Image Courtesy of Crazyhorse

The College of Charleston literary magazine is hosting a writing contest with $2,000 and publication for the winners. For all my readers interested in having a credible publication to list in your byline, you should take a look. If you don’t know about Crazyhorse or their history, here’s more from their website:

Crazyhorse has been publishing the best established and emerging writers for over 50 years.

Recent contributors include fiction from Rebecca Makkai, Melanie Rae Thon, Christine Sneed, Anthony Tognazzini, and Michael Kardos and Nonfiction from Lia Purpura, Robin Hemley, Dinty Moore, Sue Allison, and Tom Lynch. The goal with our poetry pages is to publish work that reflects the multiple poetries of the twenty-first century. Recent poets include: Monica Berlin, Marianne Boruch, Kevin Ducey, Carolina Ebeid, Sarah Gridley, Bob Hicok, Cynthia Hogue, Edward Mayes, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Wayne Miller, Donald Platt, Mary Ann Samyn, Joshua Ware, Kerri Webster, and Martha Zweig.

In their standard publication, Crazyhorse welcomes submissions from a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. However, Crazyhorse Prizes is a writing contest for short stories, essays, and poems. They entry fee is $20, but it includes a one-year subscription to Crazyhorse. In addition, winners will receive $2,000 and publication. Not a bad haul for us struggling writers.

The deadline for submissions is January 31. Take a look at the full rules at the link above or you can submit your entry here. Good luck and let us know how you do!



Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Creative Writing Contest

Self Publish

Photo Courtesy of LifeofWriters

LifeofWriters is hosting a creative writing contest. All my readers that enjoy creative writing, or all of you that for so long have wanted to try your hand at writing a short story, you should go for it!

The theme of the contest is “Rainy Wednesday Morning”, but there is not much guidance beyond that. Although the lack of direction as to length or word count is concerning, the freedom otherwise will really allow your creativity to flow.

Have you always wanted to try to write a short story? Take a stab at putting a short 500 word piece together. What’s the harm?

You could even put a time limit on it. Sit down with an alarm ready to sound after 90 minutes. That’s all you get. Spend 90 minutes writing whatever “Rainy Wednesday Morning” story comes to mind. Then step away from your story for a week. Let it sit. Don’t touch it. Come back to it after a week and edit the parts that need editing. Then submit it.

I say take a shot! You could enjoy it.

Here’s the full information:

Writing Contest



Go for it. Let me know if you submit to the contest. And good luck!



Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

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