Editorial - Kailhofer Flash Fiction Editor


Tell us what you thought about the April 2009 issue!

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Post April 07, 2009, 12:49:02 AM

Editorial - Kailhofer Flash Fiction Editor

Congratulations Nate. You've earned it.

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Post April 07, 2009, 08:46:12 AM

Way to go, Nate

I concur with J. Davidson Hero. Congratulations to you, Nate. You do a lot of hard, inspired work.

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Post April 07, 2009, 11:56:28 AM

congrats

Congrats with same feelings as per the others.

Maybe we will see even more participation as this becomes a regular feature. I enjoy the exercises.

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Post April 07, 2009, 01:10:13 PM

Congratulation Nate. Good one. It's a nice exercise and I'm going
to have to try!!
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Post April 08, 2009, 11:17:03 AM

New word count ranges?

Are we adding "Flash" to the button bar and list of sections? If so, should we now add "flash@aphelion-webzine.com" to the Contacts page, and define a new LOWER limit for Short Stories word counts? (Apparently, the current Guidelines indicate that Short Stories submissions should be at least 1,500 words, but I have accepted a couple that are even BELOW 1,000 words.)

On the other hand, if we are just formalizing Nate's role as High Priest of Flash Challenges, Nate will have to come up with a new schedule so results of the previous Challenge and details of each new Challenge fit in with the rest of our (spotty) "publication schedule". This could mean that the window between opening of a Challenge and cutoff for submissions may have to be even shorter than has been the case up to now...

Opinions? Comments? Cash donations? Negotiable bonds?

RM
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Post April 08, 2009, 07:13:48 PM

I think it is approriate that we recognize Nate for all the work that he's doing on the zine. I don't see any reason to change the working forumla, though. The original purpose of the contests was to draw people to the forums. The forums should remain the home for that endevor.

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Post April 09, 2009, 02:11:22 PM

Robert's suggestion

Robert,

Wouldn't just adding a "Flash" button, as you mentioned, to the main page that linked to the forum be enough to cover the challenges? I'm assuming (I know, a bad thing!!) that that would be a relatively simple solution for the Web Maven? I also don't think the challenges should interfere with your regular story entries, lengths, and so on. The challenges and the regular story contributions are distinct animals, I believe.

That's my deflated two cents worth,

J. B.

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Post April 09, 2009, 04:16:50 PM

I agree with JB Hogan!

Nate has worked hard enough to receive some genuine recognition. A Flash button would and should show equal status for Nate's editorial labors equal to the other editors who all have their own sections, along with a seperate e-mail as Robert suggested for the flash submissions.

Without a seperate section, the promotion seems like a lesser editorial position. If you are going to promote him, do it right!

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Post April 09, 2009, 06:52:10 PM

I agree with J.B. and Mark. While Rob's point is a valid one, "if ain't broke, don't fix it," when it comes to the challenges being in the forum, I think it would be an improvement to have the index thread of the older flash be moved out of the forum and into its own folder/section with a link. I have never been able to view Nate's flash index thread in Internet Explorer 7 for some reason. I can see it in Firefox, but there are a lot of IE users out there who won't bother if it doesn't come up right away and it would be a lot easier and consistent with the rest of the zine to direct people to older stories, in my humble opinion, if the same type of link as the other features, stories, and poems could be used. Also, this would avoid problems if/when you decide/need to upgrade the forum software again and it potentially requires Nate to rebuild the index from scratch.

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Post April 09, 2009, 09:38:53 PM

Re: New word count ranges?

Robert_Moriyama wrote:Are we adding "Flash" to the button bar and list of sections? If so, should we now add "flash@aphelion-webzine.com" to the Contacts page, and define a new LOWER limit for Short Stories word counts? (Apparently, the current Guidelines indicate that Short Stories submissions should be at least 1,500 words, but I have accepted a couple that are even BELOW 1,000 words.)

...

RM


We could just hold a contest writing about where the stories that fall between the ranges go.

***

The Textual Black Hole - A parody
Once upon a time, there was the Scylla of the upper limit for flash stories, and the Charybdis of the lower limit of short stories. Little Bobby Fable was a young story yet, not yet past 12 (hundred words, that is.) His family was poor: Father was a ragged copy of a Joseph Conrad novel whose covers were lost in the war (one of them, no one knows) as a patriotic soldier carried it in his bag between missions. Mother was one of the Maeve Binchly stories, but she had run off to take classes with Desmond Morris, and hadn't been actively caring for her son for a couple years now, leaving Bobby Fable's father to raise him alone.

...

***
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Post April 09, 2009, 10:21:18 PM

Thank you

Thank you, Dan, and thank you all.

It's nice to have friends and even nicer to feel so appreciated.


What "Flash Fiction Editor" entails is a little uncertain. At the time, I asked to shepherd the Aphelion Explorer series, and added that I'd love to make the challenges an official part of the zine. I didn't know I'd gotten the job until I read the editorial. It's probably the pixie in Dan, wanting to surprise me. And it did, pleasantly.

If it would be more apt to say "Challenge Editor", then I'll make growing all manner [Edit: Ok, Tao, you caught me on 'manor'.] of writing challenges my goal. If instead I can better serve by receiving & handling flash stories like other editors do in their respective categories and then put them in html pages under a flash section, then I'll do that. If, as Robert said, it's kind of High Priest of the challenges thing, I'm fine with that, too. At this point, I'm for whatever best serves the zine and the Aphelion community.

Point me in a direction, Boss, and I'll set sail, proudly waving the Aphelion banner wherever I go.

Absolutely, I would love a button for Flash. What exactly it should point to is a little less certain. Moving all the existing stories outside the forum, I'm not so sure about. Forum code and html are not the same. That might be a monumental task for 150 stories. I've assumed it was a conflict in the order of nested formatting that was keeping IE7 from working right, and have been straightening that out. I don't have an IE7 PC from which to test it.

Honestly, A Flash Challenges button that points to the Fun and Games folder would be ok by me. The challenges evolved as a forum creation. Part of what makes them work is the back and forth that happens in the threads. And as Rob pointed out, they were supposed to draw people to the forum, and I might add, to keep us all feeling creative & loyal to our favorite zine. That was the point of it. Creating a hell of a lot of great fiction was a byproduct.

The quality of 'byproduct' is a lot of the problem. All your stories deserve to be seen by more people.

Perhaps 'splitting' a flash folder would be better. Since the index is linked by message id number rather than folders, I don't think that splitting the topic would actually mess up the index. I could be wrong, however.

If I have to rebuild the index, regardless of form, I will. I keep copies of the index posts and all the stories that make it up, just in case it needs to be built again. I had to do it once before, if you recall.

How about this: maybe there should be a flash button, but it could point to a separate html page that explains the challenges, then offers links to the F&G or Flash folder and the index messages. It could also be a place to post the names of the winners like Robert has been doing at the bottom of the Shorts page. That would be very much like the rest of the zine. A separate html index should (in theory) be creatable from the forum one... I think. So Maybe we could have more than one version of the index without too much trouble.

The Explorer series page needs to be updated & stories added, so learning how to do one should allow me to do the other each month. That is, if that's how things are done. I don't have my key to the executive washroom yet.

Nate
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Post April 17, 2009, 01:21:23 PM

another plug

I just wanted to add that for anyone who hasn't looked at the challenges in a while, this one has the fewest rules since we started doing them.

It's kinder & more gentle, while still a challenge.
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Post April 17, 2009, 07:19:31 PM

I haven't been around long enough to know you that well, Nate, but I've appreciated your critiques. I add my congratulations.

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Post April 18, 2009, 01:00:27 PM

Bringing Nate into the Editorial Mafia was the easy part. I and the Editors held an e-mail discussion on the matter, decided that Nate had been doing quite well with the Challenges, and I included the announcement in my next editorial to make it official.

Deciding if the flash (and other types of challenges) should have their own page/archive that exists off of the Forums should be more of the same. Discuss, plan, adopt, implement. Ultimately, Rob Wynne has the last word on this. He knows what the zine's new format can and cannot be made to do.

From what I understand about the code for the zine's pages that use the new format, there is a page for each section that basically acts as a template. For instance, my editorials... I supply a text file with my editorial written in HTML, but without the normal header and body HTML tags. Rob then pulls up the template page, changes the line of code that determines what text file the template displays when someone clicks over to read it, then he uploads the revised template file. (Of course, I'm leaving out the steps where Rob changes the issue number and date, and so forth.) The template contains stuff that never, or rarely, changes. The page background, the navigation buttons, stuff like that. Links to new pages can be added inside the text file that the template calls up.

There is a free HTML editing program that the staff uses. It's called Nvu and is basically the Mozilla Composer applet with a few bells and whistles added. Other HTML editing software throws in a lot of junk code that we don't need. Nvu is a WYSIWYG word processor, with a good spellcheck function. I use it for almost everything I write for Aphelion. It has four viewing modes you can use to see what you're doing. It makes adding images and such quite easy, at least for me it does. :)

To make an archive of the flash stories that was separate from the Forums, I would pull up the Forum pages with the stories, highlight the text, copy, and paste that into a blank page in Nvu. After that, I'd go back to the pages on the Forums and see where the italics, underlines, bold, etc. formatting are and use Nvu to make sure that these are the same as the originals. Save it as an HTML file. Do that for each month's flash contests and you'd wind up with a batch of new pages archiving all the monthly contests. Rob would make a template file which called up a text file with links to each of those pages. After that, keeping the flash archive current would be a matter of making a new HTML page of the new contest results each month, adding a link to the text file the flash archive template calls up, and uploading those two pages each month. There is probably an easier way to do that, though.

Making changes to the pages for the Solar System Explorer series would be pretty much the same. HTML pages of the new content, a text file with the links to the new HTML pages, and upload. In that instance, the template already exists. Nate would have to write a series bible, HTML the existing stories, write a text file of links to the stories, and save the existing series proposal page as part of the series bible.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? :)

What needs to be done soon is for Nate to message Rob Wynne with his preferred e-mail address so that it can be added to the staff mailing list. It'll also be used as a submissions address for the Explorer series to insure that those submissions go straight to Nate. Rob will make those changes to the staff list as soon as he has time. After that, the staff will need to discuss the desire/need to archive the flash in the zine proper, or simply make a button to a page of links to the Forums posts that display each month's contest results. The latter would be quickest, the former would insure that the posts aren't lost if the Forums get damaged, somehow.

Ideas, comments, discussion, suggestions? What do the readers want to see?

Dan
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Post April 25, 2009, 01:18:10 PM

presentation question

I'm throwing this question out to the authors who entered in the Aphelion Project challenges, and also to any other authors who may be interesting in writing future stories.

I'm thinking through some ideas on how to present the stories. In the series pages, there's generally an archive page that lists each of the separate stories and the authors. I certainly will want to do that, but what I'm toying with is also presenting the stories a different way, as a continuously updated novel as well. All the authors would be given credit up front of course, then the stories intermingled chronologically to make a complete tale. If another story (or section of a story) is written later that fits in-between, then it would be added in the correct spot.

I've heard a little about this from Hero because it came up during a separate discussion, but I would like to know the opinions of the rest of you. Would that be agreeable to you? Is that something you'd like to see? Conceivably, if someone else wrote something that happened on the same day in the same setting, it could be spliced into the middle of "your" section of the story in the 'novel' version. That is, let's say someone wanted Gode and Doc to have a scene foreshadowing something that would happen later, but it happens at the same time Archana and Curtis are discussing Ophelia's pregnancy. Then the new scene would be spliced in right after Archana was dismissed. *** markers would delineate the scene shifts/splices. I would not allow things like adding dialog to existing conversations or an extra action in someone's scene, etc.

Obviously the stories would be listed separately as well, so you'd always be able to refer to what exactly was your work, but I want to make sure no one has a problem with that. I would add that every later story would not be allowed to alter the events of a previous story.

Myself, I kind of like the idea of trying a Aphelion Explorer/Project novel, especially one that could be different every time you read it, but just because I like it doesn't mean it's a popular notion. Maybe it will get disjointed, but I think it would be an interesting thing to try.

So, what do you all think about that?

Nate
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Post April 25, 2009, 08:25:36 PM

Lots o' flash submissions...

It seems that allowing stories in the flash fiction length range (i.e., 1000 words plus or minus...) has led to quite a few submissions of that length. Nate, once you have all the appropriate access privileges, would you like to see them, or should I continue to handle them? You would be getting odds and ends from new authors, but also from veterans like Joe Vadalma...

(If we do hive off the 1000 +/- x stuff, we'll need a new button and set of folders, of course...)
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Post April 26, 2009, 01:18:43 PM

Re: Lots o' flash submissions...

Robert_Moriyama wrote:It seems that allowing stories in the flash fiction length range (i.e., 1000 words plus or minus...) has led to quite a few submissions of that length. Nate, once you have all the appropriate access privileges, would you like to see them, or should I continue to handle them? You would be getting odds and ends from new authors, but also from veterans like Joe Vadalma...

(If we do hive off the 1000 +/- x stuff, we'll need a new button and set of folders, of course...)

Is this an all of the sudden thing, or has it been building over time?

That last bit, the button, pages, and new folders, will probably be the crucial point. New sections of the zine have to be created by Rob as I understand it, so in the end it would probably be up to him if it will happened or not. I'm certainly available to discuss it, email, PM, or otherwise.

I took Dan's message to mean that I'm more of a high priest of writing challenges, but I'd be happy to handle the flash stories if we had a place to put them. I like flash. I like reading them. (I have no idea how much work that would actually be, but I am eager to help out around here.)

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Post April 26, 2009, 01:39:13 PM

Give 'em an inch...

I think it just "growed", like Topsy. The official guidelines apparently said something about a LOWER limit of about 1,500 words, but I accepted a few that were shorter than that. Once the little devils noticed, the number of sub-1,500 word submissions started to increase. The reason I mentioned it just now is that the December 2008 submissions had several flash-length entries (running only a couple of single-spaced pages)...

As you say, it will take an act of Publisher/Editor-in-Chief and Webmaven to actually implement a new section.

RM
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Post April 26, 2009, 03:39:32 PM

Speaking only for myself, I'd like to see a new button and folders created. Either labeled "Flash" or "Challenges" or something that covers both areas. :) If there is a steady supply of flash submissions, they can be added alongside some sort of archive of the monthly contest submissions from here in the Forums. This would mean that Nate would either be given FTP access to the site, or he'd have to work together with one of the staff who already has FTP access. And that goes double if the Aphelion Explorer series starts getting Nightwatch or Mare Inebrium numbers of submissions.

That said, Rob Wynne *is* the final authority on what gets added to the navigation button list and the folders in the site's directory tree. I don't believe that Nate is the type to go hacking around the site and screwing up Rob's carefully constructed workmanship. So I have no problem with Nate being granted the FTP password for Aphelion. He was [s]silly[/s] :) Um, er... kind enough to ask to become the series editor for Bill Warren's brainchild and has proven to be a capable editor for the flash challenges.

I want Aphelion to keep growing. I'd love for the zine to last longer than my own lifetime, and to always be known for the best place to go to read that the Internet has to offer. We've already outlasted thousands of zines. We'll evolve over time in order to stay online.

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Post April 26, 2009, 04:15:47 PM

Growth Potential

Another way to increase the interest in the flash section is to make periodic recordings, producing them as audio stories. As Nate pointed out to me some time back, flash is the perfect size for recording and I'd have to agree. Whether using a single narrative such as Dan's Steampunk excerpt or multicast production including dialogue, flash is not a drain on time or resources.

Now, having distributed "Cool Edit" and "Audacity" to many of the writers on board to record their own stories, their could be many submissions for audio literature. The submitter would have to host their own works and send links or I could probally find sources online that might be potential free hosting services.

And I'm acquiring dozens of new voice artists over the coming months, which may be interested in volunteering to record as well.

Something to kick up interest in the new flash section.

Mark
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Post April 27, 2009, 09:17:44 PM

ftp

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dan. No, I have no intention of screwing anything up, if for no other reason so I don't have to fix it later.

If there will a flash challenge page, Rob and I will have to work out some procedures & timing, since challenges usually come out a week after the rest of the zine, and I don't want him to have to do more work because of me. Maybe that means the challenges will change when they come out, maybe they won't. I sent him a PM about it earlier, and I'm sure he'll let me know the way he wants it. I'm seeking a harmonious relationship there.

Robert, it sounds like for now, they're still yours to handle as you see fit, unless enough come in it warrants a change to adding a flash story section. That is, unless you don't want to take care of them, in which case I'd be happy to help with them. Those stories are your turf right now, and I'm certainly not looking to step on your toes.

Mark, the Audacity works fine. Though I can't tell if I'm any good at what I'm doing with it or not. I don't have much frame of reference for what makes a good recording. However, I don't have a lot of time to experiment with it at the moment between trying to figure out Nvu, writing the new series bible, and coming up with next month's challenge. I will work on it when I have the time.

But yes, I firmly believe that some of the flash stories that have been submitted for the challenges would make excellent audio offerings, and would encourage their authors to try.

Nate
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Post April 27, 2009, 10:08:04 PM

Audio Production Workshop

One way we might cut through the learning curve in recording and post editing audio literature is for me to conduct an audio workshop for those interested in learning the craft.

Additionally, I may be able to line up music and effects libraries to mix with the audio dialogue to enhance the productions. I could lay out step by step instructions on how to take a written story or poem and bring it to life through creating and audio production of the work.

Using the same forum topic, the writers studying audio production can comment in between the lessons and we can all learn from those as well.

I could also post links to examples of each lesson and I would be on hand to work with those who need specific help by forum post, e-mail or by phone.

Mark
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Post April 29, 2009, 09:33:13 PM

Bill Warren

I just received a message from Bill Warren about this universe, and I'm very, very happy to report that Bill's on board, and is still willing to create art for completed stories. Plus, he said he'd lend a hand with artwork for the series bible.

Authors, Bill really liked your stories. He hadn't known they existed until 2 days ago, and he read them all in one sitting when he found out. He's hooked on what he's read, the characters and situations.

Home run, everybody!

This is going to be such a cool series...

Nate
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Post April 30, 2009, 03:02:34 AM

Yay!

Now I want to see what artwork is going to accompany the flash challenge stories... (or should that be "story"?)

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