Friday, 11 February 2011


I've been writing a lot of flash fiction lately. Flash stories tend to be less than 1000 words, although the definition varies. I've been keeping to a 750 word limit because I've been taking part in a comp organised by my online writers group. The challenge is to write five flash fiction stories in five consecutive weekends, then spend the intervening weekdays scoring and critiquing the other entries. The tough part is writing to prompts, and the prompts are not revealed until Saturday morning – and that means Saturday morning in the US. Here in the UK Saturday morning happens to be 2-30 in the afternoon, so really I only get a day and half to think of an idea, write the story and post it. It's great practice for working to deadlines.

The whole thing has been a lot of fun and I've had the chance of reading some cracking good stories, and it's a safe place to experiment with things I wouldn't want to try in an open market. By and large I've done okay. We are now four stories in and I'm holding position mid-table. That was until last weekend. The results are in for last weekend, story four, and I got creamed. Crashed and burned. I won't say where I came because I want to retain my anonymity. (It is a good thing the comp is anonymous. Nobody knows who was responsible for the horror of last weekend. Not yet, anyway.) I think I'll ease up on the experimentation, now. It kind of dents your self-belief. But I dont reely care. Im imune. I have a tuff skin. I know I can stil rite good.

So now is the eve of the fifth and last weekend. I'm scored on the best out of three, so story four has to be forgotten, put aside, cast from memory. This is it, the last chance to climb up the table. But here's the rub. I have a busy weekend coming up, with an anniversary party on Sunday followed by a late night train journey down to London. Chances are the two hours I get on the train are going to be the only two hours I'll get all weekend. So there. That's my excuse. My fallback position.

I will let you know what happens, unless, of course, I come last. In that case I won't mention flash fiction ever again.

Why Mike with a J?

I've covered this before, but now it might be about to become topical again.

I started using the Mjke spelling once it became obvious that I was never going to have a "Mike Wood" presence online because of the plethora of politicians, historians and sports stars who all managed to lay claim to the conventional spelling first. I took the decision to use Mjke for my by-line but then a bunch of stories were published under the Mike spelling, and suddenly it didn't seem such a good idea any more.

Well, I've gone through something of a publishing drought, lately, so maybe now is a good time to re-brand. Also I found I'd written a lot and then had become lazy about sending the stuff out, so I've had a bit of an admin splurge of late. It seemed a good idea to look at everything before it goes off, and change the by-line.

So there we have it. I'll stick with Mjke on all the new stories. I rather like it. It has a Scandinavian feel. Kind of exotic.