Sunday, August 3, 2014

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Dino Laserbeam of Freeze Frame Fiction Discusses Publishing and the Art of Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction - if you don't know what that is, I'll tell you: to the reader, flash fiction is a short-short story that can be read in under five minutes. Not just a scene, but an entire self-contained story, complete with beginning, middle, and end. The brevity forces authors to be so economical that the result is often something close to poetry.

But writers, or at least this writer, see flash a bit differently: to us, it's a unique form of storytelling that writers invented to torture themselves. Apparently we thought writing a good story at length was too easy, so we decided to find ways to cram it all into 1,000 words or less. It can be . . . trying. I recently posted my own attempt.

With that said, I enjoy writing flash. It's a game. How can I manipulate words to make them say more? And reading it is even better. Which is why I asked Dino Laserbeam, editor-in-chief of Freeze Frame Fiction, to answer a few questions.

Freeze Frame is a semi-pro publisher specializing in "any genre, no content restriction - just good flash fiction."

I like these guys because they put out quality fiction. And they do it for free. Their first issue can be read online here, or, for those on the go, an ebook will soon be available through Amazon. I was personally pleased to see some names I'm familiar with - Alex Shvartsman and Stewart C. Baker - both terrific writers - alongside some new talent to discover.

The second issue is in the works, so if you're feeling inspired, they're accepting submissions for it until September 15th.


Writing a good story of any length is difficult, yet flash fiction challenges writers to do just that . . . in under a thousand words. Why do writers torture themselves by trying to pack so much into so little?

Because writers are naturally masochists! More seriously, it’s because of the challenge. Writing a novel is hard because it involves a lot of words, a lot of time, and a lot of planning (or re-structuring); a writer has to maintain a certain story and pace for tens of thousands of words or more. Flash fiction is difficult for the opposite reason: the writer still has to give us story elements, defined characters, and enough to keep us reading, but he only has 1,000 words to make his point. Could you do that? Don’t you want to find out?

Are there any particular qualities you search for in a manuscript?
First and foremost, we want stories. We’re looking for unique, well-written stories about developed characters. Open-ended stories, or stories up for interpretation, are perfectly fine, so long as there’s a complete story in there somewhere: some sort of conflict and some sort of resolution---even if that resolution isn’t neat and tidy. We’re not looking for scenes or character sketches, and we’re not looking for things we’ve seen over and over. Tell us a story we’ve never heard before, and keep us interested. That’s all we want.

What sets Freeze Frame Fiction apart from other publishers?

A lot of publications accept flash fiction, but there aren’t many where it’s their sole focus. We want short, powerful pieces that stay with you. Also, we don’t focus on any specific genre or narrative structure, and we don’t restrict content in any way: we want to publish everything from science fiction to literary drama, and everything in between. And two of the pieces appearing in volume ii (so far) are told in more of an experimental form: one as three linked micro-flashes, and one as an expanded listicle. Our hope is to continue being able to offer a strong variety.

Every new business, no matter how well planned, hits unexpected speed bumps along the way. What unseen challenges did you face when starting Freeze Frame Fiction?

To be honest, I’ve gotten nothing but support so far---from friends willing to volunteer as staff readers, to general support before and after the first volume’s release. We could do with a little more money and a little more publicity, but hey: who couldn’t?

In a quickly changing industry where self-publishing is so popular, and communication is done almost exclusively from afar through e-mail, how important is the publisher/writer relationship today?

I’d argue it’s even more important than ever, though the relationship is being somewhat redefined. Yes, anyone can self-publish right now, but what are they publishing? There is some very strong quality self-published fiction available online right now, but there’s also a lot of unedited, unproofread, uneverythinged fiction, as well. We hope our writing will speak for itself in showing why editors are important. We also make it a point to have ongoing interactions with our contributors, keeping them up-to-date on our work, and encouraging them to submit to us again in the future.

What's in store for 2014 and beyond?

Our first volume just went live online a month ago; the next step is the ebook. It’s pretty much all set to go out; I’m just running it through a few proofreaders before releasing it to the public. My hope is that it will help a, promote publicity; and b, give people something they can take with them. We try to pick stories our readers will want to revisit.

Volume ii selection is already underway, with three acceptances so far. There are long-term plans in the works for contests, and possibly an annual print anthology. We’re excited to just keep making our way through the submissions, and can’t wait to see what happens next.

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