Tara L. Masih

August 15, 2015

Tara L. Masih contributed a work of flash fiction, “How To Fight Dragons In The Modern World,” to the Autumn 2015 edition.

Masih has won multiple book awards in her role as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays. She is also author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows: Stories and Series Editor for The Best Small Fictions annual anthology. Awards for her work include The Ledge Magazine’s Fiction Award, finalist standing for both the Glimmer Train and the Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, Wigleaf Top 50 recognition, and Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best of the Web nominations. www.taramasih.com.

I want to share a piece of flash fiction that recently won “Challenge 80” at The Iron Writer, an online writing community centered around friendly competition.

The criteria for “challenges” include a flash-fiction writing prompt of 4 elements, exactly 500 words without the title, and 5 days to complete the work. Four writers compete.

The 4 elements for “Challenge 80” were: Furby, Peel Trident (car), a lost emperor, and Dr. Pepper.

Here’s my flash fiction for the challenge:


Booze Cream

By Colin Burch

Monkey always had these gifts coming in from the endorsements, so sometimes our parties were based upon whatever we could do with a garage full of whatever product.

At the end of last summer, Monkey had an entire slot of his four-car garage full of Dr. Pepper in 12-packs.

I was responsible for figuring out what to do with the Dr. Pepper. A website suggested the “Flamin Fro” – a quarter ounce of Southern Comfort, a quarter ounce of Bacardi 151, and a half ounce of Dr. Pepper. Pour it all into a shot glass. Light it up for 7 seconds and shoot it.


So Monkey invited 80 girls to his house for this party, plus me and Spidey and Strongarm.

“If I’d really wanted you three to get lucky at this shindig,” Monkey said, “I’d have invited three hundred girls. Because you all are 1-percenters.”

I ordered a dozen cases of Southern Comfort and a dozen cases of Bacardi 151. Spidey arranged for the buffet and finger food.

At party time, not one girl showed up.

We started shooting Flamin Fro concoctions in Monkey’s big, open kitchen.

“Hey, guess what showed up today?” Monkey asked. “A case of Emperor’s Irish Cream Liqueur. And it’s heaven on ice cream.”

He ran the circuit from the garage freezer back to the kitchen before we realized the next shot of Flamin Fro had quit flaming.

The Emperor’s Irish Cream on Breyers Vanilla ice cream pushed all the booze and sugar deeper into us. We got thickened up with a gorgeous feeling.

“You know who you are man?” Spidey said. “You’re the Emperor of Booze Cream!”

We laughed until Strongarm spilled a Flamin Fro across the countertop, blue fire spreading for a moment, and then it burned out so we laughed some more.

Monkey went through a guest room to relieve himself in the adjoining bathroom. When he hadn’t come back in a while, I stuck my head in the darkened guest room.

I heard snoring. I went back, sat in the kitchen.

“The Emperor of Booze Cream has already passed out?” Strongarm asked. “Not happening.”

Strongarm got up and lurched to guest bedroom and flicked the light switch.

“It’s a Furby,” he said.

Spidey and I had no clue.

“One of his Furbys is snoring,” Strongarm said.

The room had a bookshelf full of Furbys. In the guest room.

Monkey wasn’t in the garage, either, but the doors were open. A collectable car was missing, too.

“The Peel Trident,” Strongarm said.

We looked up the long driveway. Before a turn, we could see the Peel Trident in front of a tree.

We got there and saw the Peel Trident had not been parked but had smashed into the dogwood.

No Monkey. No blood. No crack on the bubble-like windshield. Nothing like tracks in the night’s dewy grass.

Monkey just vanished. Spidey, Strongarm and I have been here for three days. The cops have crawled everywhere. The Emperor of Booze Cream is gone.


LiturgicalCredo.com has a new editorial mission: contemporary mythopoeia, parables, fables, and fairy tales of 300-500 words in the forms of flash fiction, poems, and brief nonfiction.

New myths, parables, fables, and fairy tales allow storytellers to work with archetypal characters as well as fantastical settings. As enduring genres, they give writers economical modes of re-imagining contemporary conflicts, relationships, habits, assumptions, and beliefs.

In these modes, perceptive storytellers force us to find new grips on reality by showing us situations more true to our lifelong inner experiences than our moment-to-moment workaday lives. The best handle on life, we realize, is not quite where we thought it was.

Please see our About and Submit pages for more information about our mission and guidelines.


Ginosko Flash Fiction Contest

$250 Award, $5 entry fee, deadline March 1, 2014.

Submit up to 2 pieces, 800 words maximum each piece.

Final Judges:

Maggie Heaps, Michael Hettich, Gary Lundy, E M Schorb, Larissa Shmailo, Andrena Zawinski, Andrei Guruianu, Robert Paul Cesaretti.

Awarded work will be published in Ginosko Literary Journal, http://GinoskoLiteraryJournal.com/ .

Guidelines and Eligibility:

The Ginosko Flash Fiction Award is for an unpublished work of flash fiction. Awarded piece is selected through a submission process open to all writers with the following exception:  Relatives or individuals having a personal or professional relationship with any of the final judges where they have taken any part whatsoever in shaping the submitted manuscript.

Procedures and Considerations:

Please submit work, along with a brief bio, and cover letter if desired, to GinoskoContest@gmail.com. Attachments must be in .wps, .doc, .rtf, or .pdf form, otherwise they will not be considered (please include last name on every page submitted). Send print submissions to:

Ginosko Literary Journal
PO Box 246
Fairfax, CA 94978

Payment Procedures:

Online submissions will receive emailed invoices via PayPal, though you do not need a PayPal account. Print submissions may send $5 in cash or check (made payable to Ginosko Literary Journal) to the above address.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I mean those moments when human beings experience an epiphany,
a transfiguration (that’s the word) are the moments that most excite me.
I’ve seen it in supreme artists who sang or danced or acted,
in people who’ve told me they loved me,
in those whose souls have suddenly been reborn before my eyes.
These are moments and people I most care about writing about,
no matter how small the moment, how humble the person.
– William Goyen

Anton Chekhov's Short StoriesAnton Chekhov’s Short Stories by Anton Chekhov
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book.

Chekhov compassionately renders prostitutes, impoverished peasants, and overworked youngsters. As he advised in one of his letters (available in this edition), he strives for an objective presentation of characters and their situations. But his intentions cannot be dodged: he wants you to have compassion on his characters. After any sensitive reading, the reader will have compassion.

His shortest stories offer a stern retort to those who would malign today’s “flash fiction.” The earliest story here is also one of the shortest: “The Chameleon,” which provides a sort of slapstick by way of dialogue. It’s only an early work by someone who would become a great artist — slapstick probably isn’t considered the goal of capital-a Art. Yet the story’s structure and quick, effective characterization show Chekhov knew the craft well enough to take it somewhere interesting, as he did.

The letters and the critical articles in the back are not oriented toward the usual lit-crit of Norton Critical Editions. Rather, they seem almost exclusively focused on the craft of writing. At least that’s how I took them.

I wish I could read Chekhov in Russian!

View all my reviews

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