Flashing My Shorts is a collection of 164 short-short stories that run the gamut from humor to horror and everything in between. Being flash fiction, no story exceeds 1,000 words, which seems to be what many readers on the go today appreciate. It is the type of book I myself enjoy reading!
Tell us something about yourself.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, I’ve lived most of my life in New Jersey. In July 2007, my wife and I moved to West Virginia where we now enjoy living. As John Denver told us over and over again, it’s “almost Heaven”!
I began to write poems and stories when I was nine, having been quite fortunate to have had parents who always encouraged me to write and submit my work for publication. When I was 16, an essay I wrote called “Presidential Timber” won a contest and was published in the New York Sunday News. My first poem, called “Charlatan,” was printed in Bardic Echoes that same year.
Though I concentrated on drama in college, I’ve only written three plays since then, all of which were presented on school stages. As for poetry and stories, I write at least one of each daily. My wife says I will be writing up to my last breath. I tell her I might just be holding my pen.
What inspired you to write this book?
When I was a college professor and a middle-school English teacher, I liked teaching students how to write short stories, explaining each necessary element that went into making it successful and encouraging them to write stories of their own. I harped, I suppose, on the need for revising because many felt the first draft was a gift from the muse and should not be tampered with.
All the years I taught I tried hard to find time to write stories and submit them for publication, but it wasn’t until I retired that time was on my side. I began joining several Internet writing sites and posting some of my shorter fiction. Favorable comments and critiques kept me writing more of them and sharing them with others.
Flashing My Shorts, the title of my book, came first. I thought it had an attractive ring to it, perhaps could be the hook to interest readers. I sent the title and several sample stories to Phil and Deb Harris of All Things That Matters Press. They asked for more. I gave them 164 of them. I am now in the process of editing my follow-up collection called Grab Bag: 200 short-short stories, for ATTMP.
How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?
When I decided not to self-publish Flashing My Shorts, I asked a good friend of mine about the publisher who took on her two haiku collections. My original intention was to promote a book of my own poetry, but ATTMP, whom Nancy Shrader recommended, was more interested in my submitting fiction.
I have never regretted publishing with ATTMP. Here is a publisher truly interested in helping his authors sell copies. I’ve learned much about marketing from Phil Harris, a great writer himself.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I don’t remember. All I know is, from the age of nine, I was finding it so much fun putting poetic lines together or inventing stories about imaginary characters. I don’t think I ever said out loud, “I want to be a writer.” I did say a few times, “I want to be a priest” and “I want to be a pilot” and “I want to be a movie actor,” but never a writer. However, when I was a boy, my father would introduce me to his friends as “my son the writer.”
What I did was take the advice of my teachers who steered me towards learning the English language from handbooks and how-to books. Thanks to them I never fell into the trap of thinking that one is a born writer who simply takes to the pen or the keyboard and knocks out a poem or a story. I got to love English so much I became an English teacher. Once a college student told me that spelling, punctuation, and sentence mechanics were unimportant as long as a writer had a good imagination. But when I asked him if he’d consider a basketball player good at his sport if he could not dribble well or do lay-ups, he laughed. It’s the same thing with writing because all crafts require total proficiency.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
Coming up with the plot. What I do is pretend my story to-be is first a film. Mentally I set up the scene, introduced protagonist and antagonist, let them interract, and the protagonist finally solve his or her problem. Next, I think up a brief hook of a beginning.
The second hardest part of writing for me is finding just the right balance between writing and spending time with my wife. Writing more than that would only serve to alienate Sharon, and that’s something I don’t want to do. She is more important to me than anything in this world, including the joy derived from writing.
How do you do research for your books?
I mostly use the search engines, find several sources, compare them, settle on what seems most factual. Before the computer age, I spent hours and hours at the local library. Writing a story without historical or scientific authenticity bodes poorly for a writer. Researching the subject is a definite must, whether nonfiction or fiction.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
That the demand for flash fiction is greater than I had previously imagined. A search of “Flash fiction” on the Internet will yield a plethora of flash collections and anthologies out there, a much greater number than even a couple of years ago. Since so much fiction is posted and published on so many writer and reader sites, it made sense to keep the stories as short as possible, so readings could be done in a less amount of time and, I suppose, eye strain too. The idea of the flash, though actually many centuries old (the Chinese were writing and reading it as early as the 12th Century), seems to be enjoying a literary rebirth. It’s the new bandwagon in town and I’m happy to be one of the authors on it.
What are you reading now?
Unlike my wife who reads one book at a time, and usually finishes it in a day or two, I have since childhood been the type of reader who has five or six books on my reading shelf at the same time. Everyday I will read about ten to thirty pages from each, and strangely enough, remember where I left off. I say, “strangely enough,” because sometimes I forget what we had for lunch!
I am currently reading the following: Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson; Can America Survive? By John Hagee; The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett; In the Arms of Evil by Carlton Smith; Hold ‘em Wisdom for All Players by Daniel Negreanu; and Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male by Philip Nork. I also read the New American Bible for Catholics.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I read books of all kinds, favoring historical, how-to, poetry, and fiction.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes, I am currently editing the follow-up to Flashing My Shorts. It is tentatively entitled, Grab Bag: 200 short-short stories. I think readers will love this one too.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
(1) Never give up. I’ve known quite a few aspiring writers in my lifetime who were outstanding writers, but they got bored or impatient or, as some claim, ran out of ideas. And then there are those who could never become self-disciplined enough to keep writing.
(2) Learn the mechanics of writing. Editors and publishers have little regard for manuscripts replete with errors. It reflects the author’s lack of language know-how, as well as a lack of understanding the need for revision and proofreading.
(3) Write everyday. This is how one improves his or her moves, no matter what the craft.
(4) Submit your work for possible publication.
(5) Never allow an editor or publisher to kill your love for, and desire to, write.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
Everything I can think of! I review books at Amazon.com that are similar to mine and hope review readers will check out Flashing My Shorts.
Sal’s Place at http://salbuttaci.blogspot.com is where I post blogs and interviews of fellow authors. I also join as many of the reader and writer sites as I can. I do my best to increase the search entries about me and my book at Google and the other search engines.
I lecture at local libraries and social organizations like the Rotary, the Lions Club, our local church. I write articles and submit them to the local daily newspaper.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?