Last few hours to submit to 2019 !Short Story Contest!

June 15th, 2019

Well, Lovers of Literature,

Submission period for the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
is almost over.
We know what it’s like to want your submission to be perfect, so,
we’ll give you till, oh, let’s say,

6:08 am EST, June 16th

before we close the submission period.

Equally exciting, at that same time,
Submissions will open for the

2020 FLASH SUITE Contest ONLY on .

Submissions for this contest will remain open until
October 19th, 2019.
Our Winter Contest publishes across November and December,
and winners will be announced MLK Day (US) which is
January 20th.

Guidelines for the !Short Story Contest!
!What’s New!
home/ bonafides

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Seeking a New Co-editor for

June 9th, 2019

Most sadly, our long time monitor and co-editor, our own Wild-Wild-West Gunslinger and policy maker in general

— who calls herself simply eatstuf

is hanging up her ePistols and retiring from her duties at — effective immediately after selecting the Finalists for this Summer’s contest.

!So let us make Lemonaide! Turn this into an opportunity for some sweet new voices on the site.

We are seeking a new co-editor to read submissions and co-select the Finalists for our two annual fiction contests on . As we seek balance in the two voices making aesthetic decisions on our editing staff, we hope to maintain a diverse gender dynamic. Since owner, remaining co-editor Paul-Newell Reaves self-identifies as a Male voice, we are only seeking Female or Trans-Gender voices for this position.  Fiction does not happen in an Identity vacuum. Sorry guys.

This will henceforth be a paid position. See below.


Reading, as soon as received, all qualifying submissions to both annual fiction contests on : the !Short Story Contest! reads from April- June, and FLASH SUITE Contest from June- October.

Along with co-editor Paul-Newell Reaves, coming to an agreement on the selection of three to eight Finalists for each of the two annual contests. This must be reached within two weeks of close of each reading period.

Workload does vary from reading period to reading period, and also fluctuates year to year. For this reason, compensation will be based on number of qualifying submissions per reading period. Contact us for prior submission statistics and our budget for site staff. Selected co-editor will also receive a small bonus for each contest at the time that Finalists are agreed upon.

No long term commitment necessary. may choose to ask selected co-editor to return. Selected co-editor may choose to leave after any contest, only after all duties are fulfilled.

We are a small– though still quite popular— operation: we require no reading fees, ask for no donations, refuse to run ads, and are not approved as Non-Profit. Basically, what I’m saying, this position won’t pay your rent; but, maybe, a decent dinner for two?– if you don’t drink too much?– twice a year?– (since we host two contests every year).

If interested, please send resume or CV– along with any and all questions, comments, complaints or anecdotes– to:
— that’s,
PNRenterpriZes [at] gmail [dot] com

Most importantly, carefully prepare a few links to or files of your favorite writings– published or not, either written by your favorite authors or by yourself.

And please do surf our site some–
especially our very specific guidelines for each contest (see burgundy links above),
and, perhaps, these finalists from 2016 and 2013.
Also, check this recent post for our traffic numbers the last week of May, 2019.

Go home
includes some longer-term traffic statistic averages

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Summer Updates, 2019: Returning Judges Confirmed + High Traffic for May 26th-June 1st

June 2nd, 2019

or, welcome back,
to .

Our returning Judges have all confirmed for the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
Read their bios, here.

We are also very pleased to announce some
high-traffic figures heading into our
2019 !Short Story Contest!

This last week,
145 unique IPs
surfed through ,
hitting us some 588 times–
for an average of 84 visits each day.
That translates to:
either 145 people stopped by at least once–
each IP address might visit any number of times and be counted only
once, hence the uniqueness of said IP addresses– or,
fewer people moving between 145 different places (with unique IPs) did so.
And if, over the course of this week, let’s say that
half of them only visited once,
then the remainder hit over seven pages in one week– or,
the same page at least seven times– or
some combination of.

On May 31st, alone:
152 hits
from 67 unique IP addresses.

And on June 1st,
the root address, —
our publication scroll, also known as
!What’s New!— received 95 hits by itself,
while the page for
!Short Story Contest! Guidelines
was visited 92 times.
Although our Masthead and Bonafides/home pages
combined for only 11 hits, the individual address for
Importance in Editing— the post from yesterday,
with tips from us co-editors and one of our
contest Judges Glenn A. Bruce–
got more than twice that many. However, as many as 95 more
IPs were exposed to this most recent post in this one day, as the post is also
visible in totality on the !What’s New! scroll.
Such will be the case for each publication of the
Finalists in
the 2019 !Short Story Contest!– namely,
an individual publication address,
and entire visibility on the !What’s New! scroll–
found at plain, ol’ .

So, we’d like to thank you for continuing to support us,
Lovers of Literature.
Keep surfing through, as Finalists for
the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
publish weekly throughout
July and August.
And don’t miss your chance for
Fan Voting
— beginning August 19th at 12:01 AM
on .

Finalists will be announced
in three or four weeks.
Winners will be announced
Labor Day Monday– which is September 2nd.

Importance in Editing
Contest Guidelines
!What’s New!
Bonafides/ home

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Importance in Editing

June 1st, 2019

Have you edited enough?– probably not.

So, here are some tips:

Substantive Content Editing

Substantive Content Editing:
Major changes– often deletions– that make a piece of writing better.
-Is this scene necessary?– would the piece flow better without it?
-How realistic is this bit of dialogue, or that character’s decision?
-If this entire character were deleted, would that strengthen the piece?
-Is the ending as impactful as it can be?
Break-out the black Sharpie marker, because these types of edits make contest winners.

Toying with language to maximize your desired voice.
-Reorder words in a sentence. In a sentence, reorder the words.
-Exchange words– usually the verbs.
-Delete words.
-Prepositions: substituting a different preposition can be endlessly generative in prose– not recommended for dialogue, as it can sound unnatural (importance of editing becomes, importance in editing).
-Save old drafts and compare the effects.

WARNING: this part becomes obsessive.
It has been said that writing is never finished, merely abandoned. I am inclined to disagree. There is a point when writing becomes as good as it can be. At that point, any changes do not improve. Identifying that point is the trick.

Identifying and eliminating errors. 
-The process should be as such: Read through your manuscript, entirely, marking any errors you find. After you have read through entirely, correct them, then read entirely through, again. Hopefully, every time you read through, you will find something new to change. Repeat this process until you do not find anything to change. Then read through once more. Then, print it, and read again. If you change anything in the printed version, re-print, re-read (don’t worry, printer paper is recyclable). Only once you have read the printed version twice without changing anything, should this process be complete.

And, straight from the pen of Glenn A. Bruce
— one of our esteemed !Short Story Contest! Judges

“Cut every damn thing you can cut before submitting. Make it as clean and sparse as possible without taking away from the story, characters, flow, or (minimal) descriptions. Some disagree with this ultra-clean kind of writing, but it is what I strive for and what – I believe – most of today’s readers seek. I.e., they don’t want to spend a lot of time reading extra “stuff.” Tell me the tale, do it efficiently, and give me a solid ending. It’s not easy! But it can be done.

“Also, I strongly recommend using the red/blue/green underlines in Word. They aren’t always correct – i.e., they adhere to grammar norms which might be broken in, say, dialogue – but they catch a LOT. I have never used Grammerly, but I know people like it for that reason as well. Basically, use anything available to make sure you have caught everything that can be caught. Typos are inevitable, but lazy editing is a sin.”

more of his thoughts on:
Working with an Editor

Even– or especially– if you have already submitted, you have until the end of each reading period to submit new drafts.

Finalists will have an additional week or two to revise before the contest begins.

Is it as ready as can be?– then Submit:
!Short Story Contest!
Weekly Posts

!What’s New! at
Bonafides/ home
(and, in case you doubt our own editing, we do know that “bona fides” is usually two words)

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New Publication from 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest winner, Salvatore Difalco

May 26th, 2019

We our immensely proud to announce that Salvatore Difalco
— two time contest finalist at
and winner of the 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest–
has published both the works
originally appearing on ,
in a new collection of Short Stories, out now
from Truth Serum Press:

The Minotaur and Other Stories

So, hearty congratulations to Salvatore, and
to Truth Serum Press for their excellent choice in publishing.

READ NOW: the 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest Winner

READ NOW: a finalist for the 2018 !Short Story Contest!

Although originally published as “Squid Soup” on ,
Embark Literary Journal has published the finalized story as it appears in the new book, under the title “Enter the Night”.

BUY NOW: support the artist–
and by extension, the entire family
— available as ebook or in paperback

!What’s New! on
Bonafides/ home

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Just Maddy pt. 7

May 19th, 2019

by Martha Hubbard

‘So, that was that. Am I really doing this?’ she wondered, watching the wind-devils carousing around her porch while forcing herself to eat some of the soup she’d made for herself. ‘I need to do something or I’ll go nuts.’ 

She got up, rechecked her back pack and added a collection of Robert Frost poems. The shouting, laughing and yowling that passed for singing gradually quieted as the combination of much cheap alcohol and Maddy’s little helper defeated even the loudest and most determined reveller. 

‘Boy, oh boy,’ Maddy thought. ‘Are they ever going to have sore heads in the morning. And am I glad I won’t have to deal with them.’ That thought suddenly made it all real. She was leaving. Nothing and no one was going to stop her. 

At four in the morning she slopped gingerly back to the lodge. The lounge looked like a bomb had gone off in it. Bodies were sprawled everywhere. Chair legs were snapped, couches were damp with vomit and urine and the floor was awash in a mix of trash and something stinky. Maddy extinguished the last of the candles and banked the fire carefully. There was no way she was going to allow an accident to call attention to her absence. A fire in the lodge would bring in the police, and they would want to know where she was They wouldn’t lift a finger over a runaway 15 year old, but a fire might make them feel they had to look for her.. Most of the local cops thought she should have run away ages ago, anyway. At the sound of her moving about, Da opened one eye, saw it was her, grunted and rolled over, back to sleep.

Turning off the lights, she went into the kitchen. There, she boiled eggs, made up more platters of meat and cheese, covering them with cling-film, sliced bread, put out butter and jam. Then she thoroughly washed out the coffee canister and put fresh grounds in to the top. They could boil their own damn water. 

After making sure that all the doors and window were properly shut and locked, she picked up the sandwiches she had made for herself and slipped silently back up to her cabin. At five-thirty, she walked onto her porch, looked up to the stars which had come out, and set off down the road for the main gate to the camp. There was no way she was going to be late this morning. 

At twenty-five minutes past six, Maddy saw the lights of her escape chariot approaching. She signalled and it glided to a stop right beside her. 

“Morning Maddy. You’re off early?”

“Yea, Harold. One of Da’s guests got some kind of stomach bug. I’ve got to track down the pharmacist and get something to stop the vomiting.”

“They have to send a wee thing like you? None of those big guys could have gone for it?”

“They’re mostly too drunk to stand up. Let alone drive a car.” Maddy held out a fiver for her ticket. 

“I suppose you’re right.” Harold shook his head. No one in the area much liked what went on in the lodge in the winter. “Bah! Put that away. I don’t want your money. Just sit up front and keep me company.”

Maddy looked around. She was the only passenger. “Sure Harold. Thanks.” As the bus moved down the coast, weaving in and out of the small villages that depended on it, the sky lightened as dawn slowly condescended to make an appearance. By the time they got to Bangor, the canopy overhead was a brilliant lavender, while the snow carpet was spattered with silver and gold glitter from the rising sun. It was going to be a beautiful day.

“You take care now, Maddy,” said Harold as she got off in the bus parking lot.

“I will Harold, I promise.” Maddy went straight inside to the ticket window. 

“One single ticket to Boston, please,” she asked politely, looking directly into the cashier’s face with her startling, clear blue eyes.

“Boston! That’s a long way for a little thing like you.”

“I know and I’m so excited. It’s the first time I’ve ever been outside of Maine.”

“Wow! Are you sure you’ll be all right so far from home?”

“Of course. I’m going to see my Gran. She’s gonna meet me there.” 



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Just Maddy pt. 6

May 12th, 2019

by Martha Hubbard

The next morning, the sky was the sullen grey that tells you a storm is on the way. Late March in those parts often brought one last blow out, and this looked like a real stinker on the way. In the kitchen, Maddy got the coffee ready first. There would be a lot of sore heads desperate for caffeine. She was making toast and had started frying eggs when her father slouched in, grunted and took the mug she’d prepared for him. 

“Weather’s looking evil-like,” he said. 

“Yah, I saw that. Don’t guess your guests are gonna go out shooting animals in this.”

“You guess right. Keep the coffee coming and don’t put any beer or whiskey out until after lunch.”

“Right,” she called to Da’s back as he lumbered into the dining room. 

‘Great!’ she thought. ‘This lot’ll start drinking as soon as Da turns the faucet. They’ll drink him dry, if he lets them. By evening, they’ll be legless and dangerous. Don’t forget the dangerous.’ 

Maddy put a chaffing dish of fried eggs and bacon, and a pile of buttered toast covered with a tea-towel, onto the sideboard. Then she dug the large party size coffee canister  from the store cupboard, cleaned and filled it with water, putting a large filter into the top section where she measured out the cheapest coffee they had – not her Da’s special roast, he only used when he was romancing a new victim. Then she went back to her cabin and started to pack.

“Once that lot pass out, you should be clear to go,” said Gran. 

“That could take a long time, given the way this bunch can hold their poison.” Outside, a sleazy southern wind, threw hailstones like confetti at her windows. 

“Thank you gods. At least none of them are likely to be out wandering around in this.”

“Wonder if we couldn’t speed that passing out process up a bit…”

“You’ve got a plan, right Gran?” Maddy giggled in spite of her rising panic. Was she really brave enough to run off in this weather? Bah! She wasn’t afraid of any storm. With Gran’s help and training, she’d become a creature of the forest, safe no matter where she was or what the weather. The trees and the animals all knew her and would protect her. Her only fear, and this was a biggy, was that Bill would somehow wake and catch her.

Maddy decided to count the money in her bank box, while Gran cogitated. She had dug up and brought the box inside just after the start of Mud-month. ‘Was there really $500 in there? Would it be enough? Enough for what,’ she wondered.

“Don’t you go wasting time thinking about things that’s going to happen tomorrow. We have to concentrate on getting you out of here safe and sound tonight,” Gran’s voice skewered her terror. “You can think yourself sick, if you’re not careful.” 

“I need something to do. Give me something to do,” she pleaded.

“Did you save and dry the valerian, like I told you last June?”

“Of course, Gran.”

“Let me see it. How much have you got?”

“Quite a lot. Like you told me.”

“And is it all dry and crumbly – like I told you?”

“Gran!” Maddy didn’t know whether to shout, cry or giggle. Valerian was a very effective, nice smelling herb. It’s main use was in relieving sleeplessness. “You think I should stick some of his into their evening coffee?”

“And anywhere else you can think of that wouldn’t be easily detected. What time does the bus to Bangor come through here.”

“Lemme see. First morning bus is at 06:20.” Maddy kept bus schedules in her head the way other people kept gossip and useless news reports.

“Do you think the snow will affect that? Maybe it’ll be cancelled.”

“Gran! This is Maine. Busses don’t get cancelled and schools don’t close over a little snow. Takes a real Northeaster to do that.”

“Just checkin’”

“Anyway it’s Sunday, so that driver will be Harold, Harold Perkins. Might be a little late ‘cause of the snow but he’s the best. Nothing stops Harold from getting his bus into Bangor. Personally I think he’s got a lady-friend down there.”    

With one thing and another, it was soon 6 o’clock. Maddy was just opening her door when she heard her Da shouting. “Maddy! God damnit” Where are you. This bunch of gorillas gonna be wanting their dinners – like half an hour ago.”

“On my way, Da.”

“Good and make it quick.”

‘Right, make it quick, slip on the ice, break an arm or a leg… whose gonna feed your gorillas then?’

The storm was taking a break; the winds had slowed and it was slightly warmer. Making her way very carefully across the little bridge, holding tight to the guard rail, she noticed the snow on the boards was melting slightly. ‘Later when the temps drop again, that’s gonna turn to ice. A pot of water on there as I’m leaving would help the process along nicely. Between the weakened struts and black ice, anyone trying to get across there in the dark is going to get a very nasty surprise.’ 

In the lodge, Maddy put out platters of cold cuts and cheese, fried up a giant bowl of frozen French fries which she sprinkled liberally with salt, pepper and valerian. She thought about making a salad, but this lot never ate ‘rabbit food.’ Finally she re-filled the coffee canister adding a handful of the sleep inducing herb. She was just about to start bringing the food into the dining room when Da came into the kitchen. 

“Let me do that. I don’t want those jerks seeing you and getting any ideas. You get back to your cabin and lock the door.”

“Thanks Da.”

“Come back late after they’ve all passed out to clean up.”

more Just Maddy? The story finishes it publication run next Sunday, May 19th

May 19th


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Just Maddy pt. 5

May 5th, 2019

by Martha Hubbard

Three years slogged away. Maddy’s menses started and her chest sprouted little buds. She took to wearing three layers of her baggiest sweaters and hoodies. Even with these she could sense the change in the way these winter guests looked at her. One night, she was in the kitchen finishing the dishes. Just as she was about to go see if Da wanted anything else, she heard one particularly odious old fart commenting to Bill. 

“That girl of yours is starting to look mighty ripe,” he said, laughing. “I wouldn’t mind having a crack at her one of these nights.”

“Keep your hands and your cracks to yourself. She’s mine,” her father spit. 

“But she’s your daughter, ain’t she?”

“Don’t matter. If I says she’s mine, she’s mine. S’long as I want ‘er. Later, we’ll see.”  

“I’ll wait then.”

It was like being kicked in the chest. Part of her wanted to grab a skillet and hit the bastard, both bastards, on their heads. A few seconds of deep breathing told her that would only get her in more trouble. Turning the kitchen lights off, she scrunched into a corner until she heard Bill and his buddies move into the lounge by the fireplace. This group’s week was almost over. They would stay up drinking until they passed out. Fuck them! They could get their own booze. When she was sure they wouldn’t notice, Maddy tip-toed quietly out the front door, down the steps to her path. Once she was in the shadow, she ran like a baby deer to her cabin.

Safely there, she closed all the shutters tight, double locked the door and pushed a chest in front. Any asshole wanting to get in here tonight was gonna have to work at it.
Did her father… really intend to, to do that to her? Somehow she wasn’t really surprised. In the last year or so, Bill’s supply of live-in bed warmers had thinned to almost nothing. Well, look at him… mostly bald, just a few greasy grey strands wavering across his shiny dome, red faced from shouting so much, beer belly dripping over his belt. What kind of woman would want to come here, spread her legs when he wasn’t too drunk to get it up, and work like a dog, for that? Maddy tried to picture a man that her mother could have loved enough to marry. He must have been attractive once. He sure wasn’t anymore.

Sure that she wouldn’t sleep a wink, she got into bed in all her clothes and called Granny Maggie’s image to mind. It didn’t take long, as if she’d been waiting for her call. 

“Is he for real,” Maddy cried. 

“Sadly, yes,” Maggie said. “And there are far too many men like that in the world. This is a good lesson for you to have learned – before you get out into the world outside of the Maine woods.”

“That’s disgusting. They are all disgusting. I hate men!”

“That’s a bit extreme, I think.”

“Damn! What do I do now?”

“I think you know.”

“It’s time to leave, isn’t it?”

“Well passed time. Make sure you have your plans in order, then do it.” 

As Maddy began to organise a check list for the next night, she fell into the healing sleep she needed but hadn’t expected to get.


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Just Maddy pt. 4

April 28th, 2019

by Martha Hubbard

read from the beginning, here

Winter brought hunters, and they were a whole different story: red hats, red jowly faces and red jackets; some even brought Day-Glo safety vests. That wasn’t a bad idea, as after two nights of sitting up drinking with Bill, most were so hungover and befuddled, they’d shoot at anything that moved. The extra bright colour might slow them down long enough to wonder if that was a deer or a mate. Sometimes watching this motley band of winter warriors stagger into their SUVs on Monday morning, Maddy thought it was a wonder they ever shot anything but each other. Somehow they did bag enough deer, wild pigs and rabbits to bring them back year after year.


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Just Maddy pt. 3

April 21st, 2019

by Martha Hubbard

read the story from the beginning, here

As spring, such as it was, trundled on into summer, Maddy’s life settled into a predictable routine. The work was hard but no worse than at Aunt Mary’s. At least she didn’t have to corral a herd of screaming kids from dawn to dusk. Summers could be almost fun. She even got to swim in the river that ran beside their property. And the campers and hikers who used Sunset Lodge were generally polite and friendly – some even tipped her. Tips she got to keep if Bill didn’t see it.  

“Hey, Maddy,” said Tom, daddy to three screaming hellions, whom Maddy had tamed by showing them how to hunt for deer tracks and getting them to silently watch beavers building their damn. “Thank you so much for making our stay here so special and peaceful,” he said handing her a folded up dollar bill.

“You’re very welcome. Come back and see us next year,” she said. “Drive safe, get home safe.”

After waving them goodbye, she unfolded the paper to find a whole fiver.

“I’ll have that, Missy,” Bill sneered.

“Da! He gave that to me. I earned it.”

Slap! His hand was fast and hard. “Don’t you ever talk back to me, girl. Everything earned here belongs to me.” He waddled off humming.

“No wonder you can’t keep a woman here longer ‘n a month or two,” she said to his back.

That night as she was rubbing cream into her cheek which was still red, Granny Maggie appeared. “Let me have a look at that.” Something soft and gentle seemed to stroke her cheek, easing the pain – just a little. “So the bastard hit you. If I had the power, I’d kill that son-of-a bitch!”

“Gawd, Gran, I wish you could.”

“Sadly, that’s beyond my powers, little one. But…”


“I think it’s time you started to develop an emergency fund.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?”

“Back to asking dumb questions, are we? Seriously. Think about it when is he most likely to not notice where things are going?”

“When he’s boozing it up with his buddies.”

“Exactly. And when one of them comes to pay you for a round, what do you do?

“Put the money into his cashbox. And if a tinsy- tiny bit goes into my pocket, he’s unlikely to notice.”

“Don’t get greedy. No more ‘n a dollar or two at a time. Remember what they say about acorns.”

Yea, and think about how long that takes.”

“Patience grasshopper. Neither Rome nor an escape route were built in a day.”

“I don’t want to go to Rome, I want to go to Boston.”

“You’ll get to both places, I promise. Now we need to think about where to hide your bank.”


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