Flash Showcase: Fritter by David Lawrie

1.

The story only ever goes one way.

2.

The fragment reads:

“…and I leave you now as you left me, with nothing but wretched words and bleeding ink. I do not understand your letters anymore, Hombre. They may loop from your pen with indubitable grace but I receive them with a senseless mediocrity. I will not accept the blame of you. I will always be behind you, Hombre. I am all over you. It is senseless imprisonment, and I, who have never wronged you, who saw nothing beyond the kindness in your heart, I am the one serving my sentence in your shadow.

I am watching your progress with the control that I have yearned for.

It is in my pain that I will haunt you so. And it is with lustful violence that I shall one day rise up, a malevolent presence over you. As my ink stains the purity of this parchment now, so shall I stain the fabric of your immortality. You will not be able to shake my ghost. You will not be able to claw the words of my testament from…”

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Flash Showcase: Best Friends Forever by Michelle Ann King

Suelita and I are friends. This is a fact. She tells me so, and I agree with her.

Suelita’s mother is called Ana. ‘That’s nice, dear,’ Ana says, when Suelita tells her we are friends.

‘And I got arrested for murder, and the house is on fire,’ Suelita continues.

Ana carries on tapping at her phone and says, ‘Mm-hmm. That’s nice, dear.’

I am also supposed to agree with Ana, but it is sometimes difficult. Those things, were they to have happened, would not be nice.

Suelita’s father is called Mr Jordan. ‘Don’t be silly,’ he says, when Suelita tells him we are friends. ‘It’s a robot, Sula. A machine. You can’t be friends with a machine.’

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Flash Showcase

I would love to showcase a new flash story, prose poem or piece of creative non-fiction on the website every week. Pieces will be submitted on a voluntary basis at first, with the view to making this a paid opportunity in future if it is successful.

Stories should have fewer than 1,000 words and must be in keeping with our preferred themes and interests:

  • Philosophical, psychological, mystical or scientific concepts explored through fiction
  • Autofiction and Creative Non-Fiction
  • Imagining the future
  • Unusual POVs
  • Subjectivity
  • Consciousness (ordinary and altered)
  • Identity
  • Memory
  • Dreams

Stories may be part of something longer but must also function as self-contained pieces.

Stories may have already been published elsewhere, as long as your submission to us doesn’t violate any terms you have agreed with other publishers.

You can submit again if you have been accepted before, but only one submission at a time please.

Send submissions to Caroline via submissions@orchidslantern.com with ‘Showcase’ in the subject line. Stories should be attached (not linked to) along with a short bio as you would like it to appear on the footer of your story if published. I will also accept links to your own webpages or stores for the footer. Word documents preferred.

If your story is accepted, I will aim to contact you within a week to let you know your showcasing date and any minor proofreading/presentation points.

Reminder: We are also open to submissions for our second anthology until 30th June. Details here.

Writing the Self

One of my major interests is inner worlds: the subjective experience of being human. Perhaps, then, it goes without saying that I love to write the self, and I love to read the personal accounts of others. So I’ve been thinking about the different ways we choose to do this, and in particular the various methods available for presenting it. Here I share some distinctions I’ve made along the way.

Autobiography is the most ‘objective’ method for writing the self, with the aim of presenting events as they really happened. It will usually (but not always) be in chronological order and span most of a lifetime.

Memoir is a collection of memories from a specific aspect or time period of the author’s life. It is usually presented in an entertaining way, with some distance between the narrator and the subject, some hindsight, but also some intimacy of emotional context.

An Autobiographical Novel is the semi-fictionalisation of real events. It puts more distance between the narrator and the subject, and allows the use of plot devices, imagined events or characters, and heightened drama. There is an expectation that the author will do this not in an attempt to mislead, but to make the text more attractive to readers. Like memoir, autobiographical novels will usually cover a specific aspect or time period in the author’s life.

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Submissions are Open!

Following the success of our first anthology, we are pleased to announce our second. Abyss: Stories of Depth, Time and Infinity will feature the very best fiction we can find on these metaphysical themes. We’re looking for high-impact experimental pieces, unique voices, streams of consciousness and fictional accounts of altered states. We’re looking for extrapolations and interpretations of reality as we know it, or visions of drastic changes. We’re looking for boundary-pushing, genre-bending, literary and speculative fiction. The entertaining will be juxtaposed – or combined – with the philosophical in this volume of big unknowns.

If you’d like to be part of it, please visit our submissions page for full details.


Patti Smith, Trains of Creativity, and the Little Things We Notice

I’ve been reading Just Kids by Patti Smith and I don’t want it to end. I’m not sure what it is that I find so spellbinding about her writing, but it was the same with M Train when I read that last year. Like a pair of comfortable boots, I’d live in them I could.

M Train begins with the line: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” And you may be fooled into thinking it is a book about nothing. Patti talks in streams about coffee, cafes, wandering, memories, books, waiting, superstition and coincidence with little linearity or focus. But in showing us what her down time looks like, she shows us the profound. Poetic vision isn’t some gift radioed in from another world; it’s in the everyday, in the gaps between ego events. Our art is in the little things we notice when we think we’re doing nothing. And sometimes there is no point, no single focus of meaning. Sometimes the only thing we need to take away from an experience is our own natural response.

“Life is at the bottom of things and belief is at the top, while the creative impulse, dwelling in the center, informs all.”

For me, M Train was itself on a trajectory of synchronicity. It was exactly a year on from writing Mind in the Gap (which has a main character called M and a string of wacky experiences on trains) that I noticed it, and I was still at a bit of a loss as to what I would do next. I’d been playing about with some ideas, redrafting an old novel, but nothing seemed to gel. Then, somewhere between the lines of Patti Smith’s nothing, I started thinking about my own nothing. And, from a stream of consciousness style notebook I kept on a trip to London, I got a good start on the novella that is to become Endless Circles. Something comes from nothing.

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Writers on Lockdown: Micah Thomas

Micah Thomas is author of the Eudaimonia series – a unique blend of paranormal with literary fiction. In the final interview of our Writers on Lockdown series, he joined me to chat about isolation, spiritual teachers, and layers of meaning.


Hi Micah, welcome to Writers on Lockdown! How are things over there in the US, are you feeling as ‘locked down’ as us?

I have been a shut in for a few years. The isolation certainly has intensified as online friends focus on keeping themselves… I don’t know. Keeping themselves together. 

Do you find isolation a help or a hindrance to your creative process?

My creative stages have an isolation mode, where I’m heads down working. The creation place is very private and I don’t like eyes on me. However, my sharing motion needs witnesses and that is tough right now. I’m releasing so much art and writing and it’s really not a good time for it. 

So you’ve released two novels so far in the Eudaimonia series, when can we expect the third?

The final novel and the final volume of short stories will both be available in April. I’m formatting Evidence of Changes vol 3 as we speak. The novel will be formatted next month. Then I’m practically done with this Eudaimonia world. Kinda. 

For those who aren’t familiar with your work, could you talk a bit about what the Eudaimonia world is?

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Writers on Lockdown: Michael Walters

Michael Walters is author of The Complex, an unsettling novel about the human psyche and its relationship with strangers and virtual reality. I caught up with him to chat about isolation, Carl Jung, and the importance of subtext in creating atmosphere.


Hi Michael, welcome to Writers on Lockdown! So, how are you faring in these strange times? Do you find isolation a help or a hindrance to your writing?

I’m faring well, thank you. I’m very lucky — I have a job that I can do from home, the kids are safe, and our parents are healthy. Being at home all the time with a full-house is challenging sometimes, but some people are going through hell at the moment, so I’m not complaining. 

The lockdown is definitely not isolation for me. I like being alone. Being alone is the only way I can let my mind wander. I’m an introvert, so when I have to turn on the extrovert afterburner, I do need to recover. That’s really hard at the moment.

Are you finding the opportunity to work on anything new?

I wrote a short story in January and February which I hope will get published later this year. After finishing that, I wanted to get into my next novel, then coronavirus hit. I’ve been able to flesh out some ideas — I have a map of the location in my head, some characters, a few possible scenes, a title  — but I haven’t started the first draft. The momentum is building. I hope I can finish a draft by the autumn. That might be hopelessly optimistic!

I wanted to talk a little about your recent novel, The Complex, which explores the psychological effects of unfamiliar spaces, both virtual and real. Can you tell us about the premise and how you came to write on this theme?

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Writers on Lockdown: Jonathan D Clark

Jonathan D Clark is author of philosophical novel Arcadia, and his short story The Video was published in our recent anthology, Vast. As part of our Writers on Lockdown series, he joined me to discuss isolation, paranoia, and the dark side of our relationship with technology.


Hi Jonathan, welcome to Writers on Lockdown!

Thanks for having me as part of this series. It’s a pleasure.

How are you surviving in these crazy times, do you find isolation is a help or a hindrance to your writing process?

I’ve always been a rather reclusive individual (going to and from my day jobs throughout the years without speaking to anyone), so besides the limitations on what there is to do around town—and having to snipe for groceries—not a whole lot has changed for me due to the lockdown. Although, it did give me the chance to tell my more extroverted friends “welcome to my domain.” And as for productivity, it did witness a spike in the first week, but it has since slowed back down to its original pace.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

For the past year I’ve been working on my next novel, along with the occasional short story here and there when I feel I need a break from the grand narrative.

Can you tell us anything about the new novel at this stage, or is it top secret?

Unlike Arcadia, my current WIP (titled False Cathedrals) will have a more contemporary setting; taking place in 2012 in the fictional town of Midtown, Vermont—as well as a few chapters taking place in the mid-to-late 90s. At the heart of the novel is Daniel Bloom, a middle-aged psychotherapist who can’t seem to escape the haunting memory of his first wife, Karen; even after fourteen years have passed since her untimely demise at the hands of a crazed shooter, now dormant. Hoping to distract himself, Daniel puts all his focus into helping a patient find lucidity after well over a decade of uncertainty. But it doesn’t help when he hears that the shooter has started a new, violent rampage.

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Writers on Lockdown: Chris Beckett

Chris Beckett is an Arthur C Clarke award winning science fiction author. He’s published six (soon to be seven) novels and dozens of short stories, often focusing on ‘inner’ as opposed to ‘outer’ space. I caught up with him to chat about isolation, metaphysics, and tribalism in modern society.


Hi Chris, welcome to Writers on Lockdown! So, how are you faring in these strange times? Is isolation a help or a hindrance to your writing process?

I’ve been having difficulty moving my writing forward this last couple of months, but this often happens – I simply dry up and can’t seem to write anything – and it may have nothing to do with the lockdown. However I do think my ability to concentrate (never brilliant to be honest) is worse than usual.  

When the real world is stranger and more engrossing than usual – and I am finding it engrossing – it is perhaps harder to focus on imagined worlds? 

In my life generally, I’d say I am finding the lockdown more interesting than distressing. I’m used to spending a lot of time by myself at home, and in some ways the lockdown is providing a stimulus for me to find ways of keeping more in touch with some people than I usually would, which is nice.  

I have a little granddaughter – she is 13 months old – and I’m very sad not to be able to spend time with her, as the plan had been (until this happened) that I would be looking after her for one day a week.

I’ve heard from several writers that their creativity is at a low point. I wonder if being engrossed in new situations is all part of ‘refilling the well’ of inspiration. Do you think we’ll see a different kind of fiction emerge on the other side of this?

I think that’s exactly right about ‘refilling the well’. We have to stock up on life in order to have anything to write about.  And none of us have had many experiences which are completely comparable to this one. (In fact a lot of writers have had pretty quiet lives generally, I suspect). I’m sure new kinds of fiction will come out of this, but I really don’t know what. This virus has changed life for everyone, but in so many different ways.  

I wanted to talk in particular about your recent novel, Beneath the World, a Sea, which is full of strong, surreal imagery, questions of the unconscious and philosophy of mind. When so many science fiction writers are focused on future technology, what made you turn inwards and address the nature of consciousness?

Continue reading “Writers on Lockdown: Chris Beckett”

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