Time flies, and it's already February. Last month, just like clockwork, the Flash Fiction contest held by Canolli Capalini came to its conclusion, and while it's too late to compete, you're still in plenty of time to take part - by reading the stories, and perhaps thinking about joining in next time. At the R.F.Burton Public Library, three residents, Jedburgh30 Dagger, Fire Broono, and Serafina Puchkina, told me a little about the event.
not-ning, a great resource for learning about Babbage.
Jedburgh30 Dagger explained that the stories can be no more than 600 words, and she should know, her offering 'The Key to all our Futures Past' won a prize, and is my favourite, along with The Keys to the Kingdom by Bookworm Hienrichs.
Most of the entrants are local (though possibly not 4th placed Crap Mariner, in many ways the ketchup at the buffet that is SL writing) and bring to their stories a sense of the place they live in, which makes it all the better that one can sit down within that world and read the stories here. The Flash Fiction collections for this and past years are on a little table just inside the door of the Library, and easy to overlook, but once you have them, you can snuggle down by the fireside, or try the great outdoors, Caledon Style, perhaps choosing the Vannevar Bush Reading Garden, where I recently ran into Librarianissimo JJ Drinkwater.
JJ Drinkwater: The garden is named after a RL scientist. His article "As we may think" prefigured not only networked computation, but even the web.
The Key to Success by MacKnight Culdesac, maker of music boxes, came in second; here he stands before the books containing his, and all the other stories, at the R.F.B. P. L. Emerson Lighthouse took the third spot.
MacKnight Culdesac: It was more of a challenge than I had expected. The theme was simply 'Windup Keys'. A simple concept; still, I had to go through several times, reducing the word count on what I thought was already a very short story. This prize will pay my rent for many weeks. I moved here in June, and have been very happy. In the month of December, we had 4 community competitions, including this Flash Fiction contest. I hadn't entered any competitions before, and this contest is actually the 5th prize I've won here since Christmas, most for building, which I consider my primary effort. Here, it seems, entering a competition greatly increases you chances of winning.
Canolli Capalini: I've been enamoured for years of Flash Fiction, and thought it might be a good thing to bring here. A shorter format - notecards and thInc books - gives people a chance to show a moment in time, which can be part of a larger story, in this case, Steamlands. I always panic the first 2 weeks of the contest because I keep thinking no one is going to submit anything, but then in the last week, they flood in! In previous years the response was limited, but last year, I was completely blown away by the response. This year has been wonderful too. I read on average 3 or 4 stories a day, with my morning coffee. It should also be noted, there is a cash prize to the winners. Occasionally anonymous people match what I offer. The hardest part is waiting for entries! Making textures for the thInc books can be demanding, I'd love to say choosing the story is the hardest part, but usually I know it when I read it. Many stick with me, either because they're poignant and strike a chord, or for a turn of phrase, or because they're just plain entertaining. These people in the steamlands are a uniquely creative bunch!