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Grateful Steps Expands Interfaith Dialogue, One Conversation at a Time

Many of the world’s great religious traditions urge us to be mindful, to focus on the present moment, and to fill our hearts with gratitude. It is this charge, to take things “one step at a time,” that drives the mission of the Grateful Steps Foundation.

Based in Asheville, Grateful Steps is a non-profit publisher of all voices, all faiths, all cultures:

We have a Christian philosophy but we are not a religious publisher. We are here to help others tell their stories, rather than get other people to live ours.

Authors include the poet T.A. Price (31 Bent Poems); novelist Barbara Willis Kimbrell (Drunks, Monks, and Mental Illness); and equine expert Catherine Hunter (Sacred Connections: Horsemanship).

Grateful Steps not only wants to publish great books, they want to publish books that further the causes of other worthy non-profit organizations; expand the interfaith conversation in western North Carolina; and support economic development and social enterprise.

As part of that mission, each month they feature a different visual artist’s collection in their space. Their on-site store emphasizes local authors and niche genres.

Donations of $5 or more are welcome here.

Printing costs are often off-set by donations. While a book’s saleability is not their primary concern, according to a 2014 write-up in Mountain Xpress, Grateful Steps does have the occasional runaway hit.

“If we were a business that picks books that made money, we wouldn’t have picked Tonda and TK: Friends,” owner Micki Cabaniss Eutsler says of the children’s book by Mary Byrd and Stephanie Willard. It’s about a friendship between a cat and an orangutan. “But National Geographic picked it up, and it won’t stop selling.”

Over the past nearly fourteen years, they’ve been written up in Publisher’s Weekly, Mountain Xpress, the Asheville Citizen-Times, and elsewhere.

There’s no real information on the website in terms of how to submit to Grateful Steps, but if you sign up for their newsletter you’ll be the first to know when their short story contest opens and be able to keep up to date with all their goings on.

You can also visit their website,, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

John Ehle, RIP

John Ehle, 1925-2018

John Ehle, author of seventeen books including the classic Land Breakers series, has died at the age of ninety-two.

Ehle was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1997. He received the North Carolina Award for Literature, the Thomas Wolfe Prize, and the Lillian Smith Award for Southern Fiction, and he is a five-time winner of the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction. He has also received the Mayflower Award, the Governor’s Award for Meritorious Service and the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, and he holds honorary doctorates from UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Asheville, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and Berea College.

In addition to his many literary merits, Ehle was a champion and innovator for education. He spearheaded “the development of what is now the UNC School of the Arts” in 1963, after serving eighteen months as special assistant to then-governor Terry Sanford.

“If I were to write a guidebook for new governors,” Sanford said, “one of my main suggestions would be to find a novelist and put him on his staff.”

Ehle also helped found the NC School of Science and Math in Durham, which opened in 1980, and The Governor’s School.

An excellent obit in the Winston-Salem Journal offers this quote: “In state government, [Ehle] said, experts approach a problem armed with facts but often without intuition. Writers move first with intuition, hopefully with the facts.”

In a 1996 write-up in Raleigh’s The News & Observer, Ehle was lauded for his pioneering social work.

Worried about the state’s poor, Ehle was instrumental in creating the NC Fund, a pioneering anti-poverty effort that experimented with different approaches to helping people improve their lives. The program, unlike many government efforts, expired after five years, as it was designed to do.

The program later served as the model for the War on Poverty, VISTA, and the Peace Corps. Lyndon Johnson invited both Sanford and Ehle to the White House to witness the signing of the Great Society programs.

Ehle also one of the founders of the Awards Committee for Education that provides educational enrichment experiences for gifted young African Americans, Native Americans, and white Appalachians.

The Asheville Citizen-Times has described him as “the grandfather of Appalachian literature.”

Two of his novels, The Winter People and The Journey of August King, were made into films.

Press 53, based in Winston-Salem, has re-released some of Ehle’s work in their Carolina Classics series.

Summer Writing Camps for Utes

Is it just us, or does it seem like you have to register your kids for summer camp earlier and earlier every year? Still, it’s nothing to wait on: you need time for yourself this summer just as much as your kids need time to explore the world on their own.

Luckily, in North Caorlina, there are no shortages of summer writing opportunities for youths inclined toward literary endeavors. Here’s a sampling:

Young Writers Camp
Ages: Grades 6-11
Dates: June 17 – July 27 (three sessions)
Location: Duke University, Durham
While campers use the term “fun,” we prefer the term “engaging.” Camp engages its participants intellectually, emotionally, physically:
A casual observer dropping into one of our classes might see young people acting out the lives and situations of student-generated characters, rapping and performing poetry and song, walking down Ninth Street in Durham and “listening in on” and recording conversations to develop an ear for dialogue, participating in a round-table discussion of their classmates’ work, taste-testing desserts as a review of the fare at the Mad Hatter Bakeshop and Café. Field trips to local businesses, art museums, gardens, and dance festivals are a regular feature of our classes. While campers are given class time for quiet writing, they also draft, revise, and edit collaboratively. After an academic day of writing classes, many of our extended day and residential campers choose physical afternoon activities such as sports and drama.

Summer Writing Programs
Ages: Grades 6-12
Dates: June 18-22, July 16-20
Location: University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville
UNC-Asheville’s summer writing program returns this year with week-long sessions in June and July for rising 6th-8th graders (“All Things Writing”) and rising 9th-12th graders (“Write Now”). The programs offer each participating student experience in different aspects of writing under the tutelage of Asheville’s finest writing instructors. Students will also participate in workshops featuring guest speakers who will address special writing-related topics. For grades 6-12: “All Things Poetry” (Eric Steineger); “All Things Writing” (Delana Parker); Embody Your Artistry (Melody Henry); Writing from Memories (June only)(Peg Downes); Legends and Lore (July only) (NCWN regional rep Alli Marshall). For 9-12 grades: Poetry Exploration (Eric Steineger); Minding Our Own: A Deep Dive into Personal Writing (NCWN member Jennifer McGaha); Worldbuilding, (Jamie Ridenhour).

The Great American Writers’ Camp
Ages: Grades 4-6
Dates: July 9-14
Location: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem
1,500 blank pages. 359 days of planning. 36 new activities. 15 writers. 6 days. 3 field trips. 2 guest speakers. 1 mission to become Great American Writers! Young writers will hone their skills and styles as they learn to take ideas and develop them into coherent stories, poems, arguments, speeches, and more. Young writers will enjoy camp and gain new strategies for creating and communicating. Working in groups, individually, and one-on-one with an instructor, students will begin to see how their ideas and words have a place in the world around them. Follow the GAWC on Facebook for the latest updates.

Young and Teen Writers Workshops
Ages: 9-19
Dates: July 9-20
Location: North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Poetry, prose, dramatic writing, graphic novels. The NC State Young Writers Workshop is one of the oldest workshops for young writers in the nation and remains one of the most affordable options for academic programs. They offer generous financial aid packages as well. ​The Young Writers Workshop offers genre specific small-group workshop environments for children interested in developing their creative writing skills. Our teachers are especially good at working with young writers–nurturing and guiding their enthusiasm and talent by building on skills and craft. Student-to-teacher ratio is low — no more than 12 students per class — so that participants can receive the benefit of the instructor’s expertise and individual attention. Students are encouraged and invited to explore their own styles of writing in the workshops and beyond. During the two-week program, they read from their own writings, work in small groups and workshops, and receive one-on-one craft-based instruction in plot, character, action, dialogue, conflict, and more. YWW students are grouped by interests and age (older students together with older students, younger students with their age group, as well). Students will be enrolled in two classes. Classes are 60 minutes long with a 30 minute (bring-your-own) snack break in between. Young writers are supervised at all times.

Young and Teen Writers Workshops

Young Writers’ Camp
Ages: K-12
Dates: July 9-20
Location: University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Campers will create 21st century texts using digital tools such as storyboarding, blogging, and movie-making during this two-week camp experience. In daily writing workshops, students will work with UNCG faculty, graduate students, NC teachers, and local authors. The camp introduces young writers to the writing process, unlocks strategies of professional writers, and supports development of variety of writing styles. All work will be published on our website. Advanced courses are offered during the afternoon sessions in specific kinds of writing, such as podcasting, spoken word, and/or screenwriting.


Young Writers Workshop
Ages: Grades 9-12
Dates: July 10-14
Location: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington
The Young Writers Workshop (YWW) is an annual five-day camp that brings together up to 45 high school students to study the craft of writing on the UNC Wilmington campus. The workshop is organized and operated by UNCW’s Department of Creative Writing, and camp participants have the opportunity to study with published, working writers-faculty members and graduate students in the department’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. The Young Writers Workshop provides a place for aspiring writers to experiment, meet other writers, and follow their creative interests in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. YWW participants take part in daily creative writing exercises, craft lectures, writing workshops, and readings. The week offers a valuable and exciting experience for young writers interested in learning more about their craft. Although YWW students are asked to submit a work of creative writing in one genre (poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction), they receive instruction in all genres. Participants spend approximately six hours every day in writing exercises, peer workshops, and craft presentations. Students also have time to explore the UNCW campus, visit the bookstore and library, and get to know other young writers.

Young Writers’ Camp
Ages: Grades 6-12
Dates: July 16-22
Location: Meredith College, Raleigh
This year’s Meredith College Young Writers’ Camp will take place from July 16-20, 2018. Our camp, taught by Meredith College English Department faculty, offers rising 6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls a chance to sharpen their creative writing skills, read and discuss exciting works of literature, and write their own fiction, drama, poetry, and essays. The Meredith College High School Writing Workshop open to boys and girls aged 14-18 (July 18-22) offers aspiring writers a chance to work with the Meredith College creative writing faculty, all of whom are published writers, in a small-group workshop setting. Instruction will focus on several genres, including fiction, personal essay, and poetry, and will include one-on-one feedback from instructors and peer workshop.

Community School for the Arts
Ages: 12-19
Dates: August 13-17
Location: Community School of the Arts, Spirit Square Art Studio, Uptown Charlotte
Calling all writers, journal junkies, and graffiti enthusiasts! This Teen Camp experience combines creative writing and poetry performance with wild-style painting and collage. Join slam poets and mixed media painters on this journey through the power and possibilities of the spoken and visual word. Whether your teen has a blooming interest in poetry, rap lyrics, or bold fonts and graphics, this experimental five-day workshop will help them hone their skills in creative writing and design. Throughout the week, campers will work on a series of writing, journaling, and sketchbook exercises; practice speaking and presenting in front of small groups, and work collaboratively on one large mixed media painting. The group will also explore the wall poems and murals of Uptown Charlotte’s many parks and cultural spaces. The week will culminate in a group show and poetry slam performance at our studio space at Spirit Square.

BLF Press Showcases Women of Color

Sometimes, when the mission is clear and the heart is aligned with that mission, recognition and success come quick.

BLF Press, based in Clayton, published their first collection in 2016. Dedicated to “amplifying the work of women of color” and providing a a space for “forward thinking, creative women of exceptional talent,” their titles have been widely reviewed and praised.

Authors include Krystal A. Smith, whose short-story collection, Two Moons: Stories, was published this month.

Solace, a collection of poetry and prose (January, 2017), was a 2017 Foreword Review INDIES Book of the Year finalist (LGBT: Adult Nonfiction). The anthology Lez Talk, a collection of short fiction by black lesbian writers, has garnered glowing reviews in Library Journal and Atticus Review, and was named a 2017 Goldie Finalist by the Golden Crown Literary Society.

BLF Press is currently seeking submissions for the anthology Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing. They also are open year-round to “various types of literary work,” especially work that centers around “women of color and same gender loving women.” They publish prose manuscripts that are between 40 and 80K words and poetry manuscripts that are at least 50 pages.

Click here to submit.

Like many small presses, BLF is deeply involved with the community they serve. Founding editor Stephanie Andrea Allen is available to speak to classrooms by video chat, as part of the Higher Learning Diverse Books program, which seeks to increase black lesbian and queer writers of color representation in the classroom.

NEA Receives Funding Increase!

From our friends at Americans for the Arts:

We have breaking news out of Washington, D.C. today. Congress has released their final funding plan for FY 2018, and it is great news!

Congress is proposing to fund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) each at $152.8 million. This is a funding increase of $3 million to support more direct grants and expand access to creative arts therapies for the military.

This final budget is in stark contrast to a year ago, when the Endowments were facing a proposed termination by the President — the first ever! Since then, our #SAVEtheNEA campaign has together resulted in hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, local op-eds, expanded research, newspaper ads, and office visits.

Your advocacy, your persistence, and your time has made a difference. Congress has now decided to invest more funding into the arts.

This support from members of Congress in both parties is a testament that the arts are bipartisan.

NEA grant money is distributed to all 50 states and U.S. territories, and 65 percent of NEA grants goes to small and medium-sized organizations. More, over 40 percent of NEA-supported efforts are in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Communicating this important work has led to the third consecutive year of funding increases for the NEA. It is also the second time in a row that a Republican-led Congress has reversed a request from President Trump to cut our cultural agencies’ funding.

In fact, in the budget plan released today, none of our nation’s arts and cultural agencies incurred a budget cut. All of them received funding increases for this year.

What’s Next
Today and tomorrow, the House and Senate are expected to vote on this agreement, and the President is expected to sign it into law. This will bring a final close to FY 2018—a long and bumpy roller coaster ride, and delivered 5 months late.

Going forward, both Endowments received that same termination proposal in the new budget request for FY 2019. However, the year is already off to a great start. Last week, the co-chairs of the Congressional Arts Caucus, Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), led a bipartisan letter calling for “at least $155 million” in FY 2019.

For the fifth consecutive year, that annual “Dear Colleague” letter has once again set a new record for the number of signatures—166 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed this letter!

We are humbled and grateful, and also mindful that we will sorely miss the leadership over many decades of Rep. Louise Slaughter, who passed away on Friday, March 16. Rep. Slaughter set an example for us all about how to work hard for causes you believe in. We are all so grateful for her tremendous work on behalf of the arts and arts education. You can read Americans for the Arts’ full statement here.

We are also thankful to the more than 650 arts advocates who were just in Washington, D.C. for the 31st annual Arts Advocacy Day on March 12-13 and made more than 300 office visits. Our strategy was to keep asking for $155 million. That has been the consensus ask of the arts and arts education field represented each year at Arts Advocacy Day—every year now for the past 6 years. Your work is not in vain. Advocacy works!

Keep the pressure on. Measured by just emails, advocates sent more than 194,300 #SAVEtheNEA campaign emails to Congress. Your work will be needed to ensure that the latest proposal from the Trump Administration in FY 2019 is again defeated this year. Thank you for being an arts advocate.

Help us continue this important work by also becoming an official member of the Arts Action Fund. If you are not already a member, play your part by joining the Arts Action Fund today – it’s free and easy to join.

33% Discount for NCWN Members

Who doesn’t like to save money?

NCWN members get 33 percent off the 8th annual Nonfiction Writers Conference, May 2-4, 2018. This is a virtual event featuring fifteen speakers over three days, all conducted by teleseminar (no travel required!).

Register here, and use the discount code:


FWC 2018 features New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies. Other speakers include Sandra Beckwith leading “Promote Your Book with Articles and Guest Posts that Resonate”; Tina Dietz with “Marketing with Podcasts and Audio Books”; Sara Wigal with “Create Your Own Book Tour”; and many more.

Please note, the FWC is not a pitch session. However, their popular Ask-a-Pro sessions allow Gold, Platinum, and VIP attendees the opportunity to participate in free fifteen-minute phone consults with industry pros where you can ask questions and get valuable advice. Plus, all attendees are invited to participate in our private attendees-only Facebook group, where you can network with each other, meet our speakers and other publishing industry pros, and share your experiences.

Register here.

The Nonfiction Writers Conference is presented by the Nonfiction Authors Association. Our members receive all kinds of benefits including:

  • Weekly educational teleseminars and past event recordings *POPULAR*
  • Exclusive content added weekly (Templates, Checklists, Worksheets)
  • Access to our active members-only forum on LinkedIn
  • Marketing “Homework” (quick tips) sent weekly via email
  • Complimentary admission to any NFAA local chapter meeting across the US and Canada
  • Members randomly chosen for feature interview on the NFAA blog
  • Discounts with NFAA partners: Office Depot, PR Newswire, ProfNet and Gebbie Press
  • Discounted registration for the Nonfiction Book Awards, Nonfiction Writers Conference, online courses and our exclusive Author Toolkits

For more information, visit

Nominations Open for 2018 North Carolina Awards

From our friends at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources:

Dr. Margaret D. Bauer accepts NC Award for Literature

RALEIGH – Nominations are being accepted for the 2018 North Carolina Award, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the state, now through April 15.

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, and administered by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the award recognizes “notable accomplishments by North Carolina citizens” in the fields of literature, science, fine arts, and public service.

Award nominations may be submitted by anyone and must include a completed nomination form, cover letter, three letters of support, and the nominee’s biography or resume. Additional letters of support and examples of the nominee’s work will also be accepted.

Applications may be submitted online or materials can be sent to the North Carolina Awards Committee, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, 4601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4600.

The North Carolina Awards Committee will review the nominations and make its selections this summer. The recipients will be honored during ceremonies in Raleigh later this year. Past award recipients have included some of the country’s most distinguished artists, poets, writers, performers, journalists, scientists, and public servants.

Among award recipients are Anthony S. Abbott, Dr. Margaret D. Bauer, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees John Hope Franklin and Penelope Niven, Dr. Lenard D. Moore, and other noteworthy North Carolinians.

Information on the award and the online nomination process are available here.

To receive forms by mail or by e-mail contact or call (919) 807-7256.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes twenty-seven historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums, and Jennette’s Pier, thirty-nine state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit

The Future’s So Bright: Prospective Press

The second volume in the Draigon Weather series by Paige L. Christie (April, 2018)

The “upstart” publisher Prospective Press was founded in 2015 out of a passion for rich storytelling. They wanted to establish a small, genre press that treated its authors fairly and, because they didn’t aspire to churn out several dozen titles a year, always kept an eye on quality.

Based in the Triad, Prospective Press is an indie publisher that focuses on quality genre fiction and select nonfiction.

If you’ve been to a Network Conference in the past few years, you’ve likely seen Prospective Press in the exhibit hall. Jason T. Graves, the publisher and chief editor, led the online class “Whither Small Press?” for NCWN in January, and he’ll sit on the Slush Pile Live! panel at the upcoming NCWN 2018 Spring Conference.

It was after just such a Slush Pile Live! panel that author Paige L. Christie approached Jason and pitched him what would become her debut novel, Draigon Weather (2017). “Christie’s skillful evocation of a disintegrating landscape and the dysfunctional society grappling with that disaster is worth being patient for,” says Publisher’s Weekly, “as is Cleod’s gritty, desolate perseverance.”

Other authors include Chip Putnam, Meri Elena, Susan Surman, and the chef and T.V. personality Curtis Aikens. Prospective Press also published two “tales of the paranormal” anthologies, with additional anthologies in the pipeline focusing on paranormal, horror, and urban fantasy.

Prospective Press looks for full-length manuscripts between 65 and 100K words (adult fiction); 65 and 85K words (YA); 45-70K (MG); and no more than 40K for elementary-age children. Short fiction submitted to the upcoming anthologies should be between 2 and 15K words.

For more information, and to submit, click here.

Learn more about Prospective Press at their website,, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Books: What a Way to Make a Livin’

This came across the newswire over the weekend, and we thought it was certainly worth sharing….

Dolly Parton, one of the most-honored female country performers of all time, founded Imagination Library in 1995. Last week, the Imagination Library donated its 100 millionth book.

The Library of Congress celebrated by inviting Ms. Parton, a longtime literacy advocate, to host a special guest storytime.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.

What began as a mission to deliver books to children in her home county in Tennessee has grown into a global mission that has garnered The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, the Best Practices Award from the Library of Congress Literacy Awards, and recognition in Reading Psychology.

“We never thought it would be this big,” she recently told NPR. “I just wanted to do something great for my dad and for my home county and, at the most, maybe a couple of counties over. But then it just took wings of its own, and I guess it was meant to be.”

According to the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance, books create warm emotional bonds between adults and kids when they read books together; help kids develop basic language skills and profoundly expand their vocabularies; develop critical thinking skills; develop and nourish kids’ imaginations, expanding their worlds; and much more. In short, books are very important for a child’s growth and development.

Born the fourth of a dozen children, Ms. Parton grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. She is one of only a handful of individuals to receive nominations from the four major American entertainment awards: EMMY, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. It’s rare to come across an individual whose achievements are too numerous to list, but such is the case with Dolly Parton.

While we’re usually loathe to use Wikipedia as an official source, if you want to learn more about Dolly Parton, you may just want to wander over to her Wikipedia page and poke around for a few hours.

Interested in starting your own Imagination Library program? Reach out to one of Imagination Library’s regional directors here.

Books are chosen by a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee of early childhood literacy experts. All books chosen are published by Random House, so, if you’re a Random House author, your book is already under review! If not, Imagination Library does not, unfortunately, take unsolicited submissions.

Still reading? Then you’ve earned the perk of watching the official video of Dolly Parton’s hit song, “9 to 5”. Click here. (Is it us, or is this video somehow more timely than ever?)

The 5 Ss that Will Help Get You Published

by Katey Schultz

Katey Schultz

Flash fiction and flash nonfiction stories are often called “Stories of the Moment” or “Postcard Stories.” Think small, but fun, significant, and engaging.

The challenge with flash form writing is how to write a compelling story that feels complete when you only have about 750 words to get the job done. One thing I like to use when I’m trying to figure out how to do that is what I call “The Five Ss.”

You can watch the video instructions here.

The first S is Setting. Pretty simple—your story needs to happen somewhere. It can be as simple as a sidewalk or a bedroom or a park, but events have to take place somewhere.

The second S is a Situation. Something needs to happen to your character (or you, in the case of memoir). Usually, the way that manifests is that there’s some sort of desire that gets thwarted. Whatever situation you come up with or are remembering, make it short, sweet, and try and get it into the first or second paragraph.

The third S is Sensory Detail. You have three pages to make the world feel absolutely vivid to your reader. The fastest way to do that is to evoke the five senses. Have fun with it, get a little weird and creative with your descriptions, and see how much you can pack in. (And there’s a follow-up lesson to this point, which I teach in my online classes, and it has to do with how writers can determine which details to leave in, which details to leave out, and WHY.)

The fourth S is a Simile. This could also be a metaphor of course, but the point here is that you make a comparison using like or as. This will enliven your sentences and it will also make the world appear more three-dimensional. It will reveal things about you or your character that maybe you didn’t even know until you wrote them down.

The fifth and final S is the Shift. It’s the most challenging, but it also has the highest payoff. Your character needs to shift or change by the end of the flash. Usually, that’s an internal change; it has to do with whatever desire that character has that’s been thwarted or that’s been rewarded. You want to make sure that you’ve got that shift in there to bring your story to some sense of a conclusion and allow it to speak to the larger human predicament. This is often also called the “so what factor” or, in some circles, writers say this is how we take the specific and make it universal.

When you’re all done, first—celebrate! That’s the best part; you’ve written a complete flash piece, you’ve got a nice first draft on your hands.

Exhale and then go back to the beginning. Try reading it out loud to yourself. I always recommend that. Once you’ve done that, read it again to yourself. Go ahead and mark in the margins with your favorite pen, too. See if you have The Five Ss, and if you don’t, ask yourself where you can fit them in. Conversely, if you’ve got tons of sensory detail but your setting isn’t very clear, consider the balance of The Five Ss in your story and make adjustments accordingly.

After you’ve gone through that, share it with a friend, teacher, or writing group. Read some great examples in online magazines like SmokeLong Quarterly or Brevity and see what you learn. Take a deep breath. Let time pass. Return again. Work with your story until it feels complete, then send it out for publication!

Katey Schultz’s story collection, Flashes of War, was awarded IndieFab Book of the Year from Foreword Reviews and received a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. She has won more than half a dozen flash fiction contests, been awarded writing fellowships in eight states, and is currently working on a novel. Ten years ago, Katey founded Maximum Impact, a mentoring service that provides transformative online curricula for the creative writing process, helping writers articulate precise language and authentic meaning in their work. Explore her resource guides, ecourses, and writing at