Top 25-Glimmer Train Short Stories for New Writer’s Competition-August, 2010

“Family Conference” was included in the top 25 stories in Glimmer Train Short Stories for New Writer’s Competition-August, 2010

Dear Writer,

Thank you so much for participating in our August 2010 Short Story Award for New Writers—we really enjoyed your story! Although it did not win this time, I am happy to inform you that it did make the Top-25* list—congratulations. (That’s the top 2 – 3% of over a thousand submissions!) Be sure to mention this achievement as you send the piece back out into the world. Here’s a link to a pdf of the list that you can post on your blog, etc., as you like. (And you can log in and click on My Submissions to see your finalist status there.)

You can go to and click on the “Top-25” on that page. The announcement will also be made in the emailed September bulletin. If you don’t already get our bulletins, ask your email server to put on your safe-senders list, or you can check the bulletin archives after the 10th of the month.


Thank you again for letting us read your work–it is a pleasure!


Best regards,


Linda Swanson-Davies



Short Fiction-UK

“Couple” was in the top 15 stories in the New Writers Competition, so far.

I am delighted to inform you that your story has made the longlist of 15 in our New Writers Competition, as listed below:

Sara Crowley – ‘The Art of Pain’
Bill McCormick – ‘The Race’
Lucy Dennison – ‘It Wasn’t Stockhausen’s’
Megan Tuite – ‘Couple’
Jenny Holden – ‘The Roman Forum’
Val Reardon – ‘The Existentialists’
Anne Elliot – ‘Light Streaming from a Horse’s Ass’
Angela Sherlock – ‘The Diffraction of Light on the Fibres’
Jo Cannon – ‘Salt Man’
Louis Malloy – ‘The Pilgrims and the Half Good’
Kevin Hyde – ‘The Djinn of the Burj’
Robert Peett – The Feast of Stephen’
Frank Rizzuto – ‘Adriana’s Overcoat’
Jill Widner – ‘The Underwater Room’
R F Marazas – ‘Kayla March’

Congratulations and good luck for the shortlist, which we will announce next week, and the winner shortly after.


She thought she would disturb his plan to seduce her by jumping off the roof. They sat side by side on the edge, feet dangling, moonless night. A floodlight from above bleached the two figures colorless against a flat, black sky. A bottle of red wine was passed slowly between them.

Like a composer who knew more intimately than the musicians themselves every lingering note of the clarinet, every vibration of the cello, each movement of his had been strained over, subtracted and defined seamlessly, until what finally quivered and transpired before the public was no more than a calculated execution of all that went before it. What remained was what must remain. The rest had been carefully discarded. His overture demanded a subtle maneuvering of lighter conversation into deeper themes of soul exposure, coupling vulnerability with unmistakable strength. There would be the necessary troubled outbursts and whispered confidences, a delicate sprinkling of bleak childhood memories that he interspersed with heavy silences and bowed heads. If he mouthed the words weakness, fear, and hatred, then the score included potency, imprudence, and love. There was no place in his world for impulsive words that formed like spittle. He believed explicitly that life was transitory and with each moment there was an obligation to reap. Continue reading

Garbage Picker of Memory

I, too, am a murderer. And not by violence or bloody means did I kill, but as most murders are committed where the corpse will never betray me. My daughter, Beth, was twenty. Yes, it was true, that no one saw me cry, not even at the funeral, but why would tears travel in public streams when what we are given to see of the world’s bodies of water are nothing more than flat blue blots on paper or shorelines that whisper a mere spittle spray of the vast rivers, lakes, oceans and seas? The doctors found malignant tumors under Beth’s right arm that they cut out and viciously attacked with radiation and chemotherapy over and over again, but I knew those lumps would never disappear, taking up residence in other parts of her body instead, until they destroyed, because they were lumps in my throat that I’d swallowed and kept down my entire life, contracted from my mother who’d carried them like a totem pole in her spine, until one day she’d sat down in a chair, never to rise again. One long continuous wailing NO that unleashed its deadly poison from out of me into the silent chambers of my daughter’s blood. Continue reading

Family Conference

I stare out the picture window at a sky. It spreads up there ordinary as buttered bread on a table. Underneath it one block in the neighborhood stares back. The Connollys get into their blue station wagon. No pushing, no fighting, the doors slam shut–they move off down the street. Mr. Hampton mows his lawn and next-door Mrs. Sullivan pulls weeds.

One black fly (Diptera; Muscidae) buzzes up and down the window frame looking for escape, or maybe not. I have a microscope in my room, a pile of dead insects in a cigar box: moths, spiders, flies, bees, a few beetles, two butterflies and one glorious preying mantis.

Fact: One fly strip a week every summer guarantees over a hundred slaughtered. I pull a few live ones off with forceps, place them under the scope, and watch them die. Continue reading

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Alien Art

He was the tallest building she’d ever lived in–six-foot-seven, with hands stretched across him like a canvas. He had long, dirty hair and panicked eyes. Ruby seized whatever words she could on those rare occasions when he talked. The horror of speech was that when he spoke, he painted. Blazing canvases howled around the inside of their two-room apartment. Ruby would stare at his washed-out teeth and not see what it was that closed in on them. Two rooms were riddled with garish abstracts. Poster size Easter egg splashes of paint saturated the walls. Ruby’s teeth hurt whenever the crawling neon pinks, purples, yellows and greens stared back. She stopped looking anywhere, but at him.

Ruby used to imagine a larger apartment would save them, but he’d just paint more paintings with more wall space to condemn her–room after room like the circles of hell. Two rooms already plastered her in.

His eerie stories kept them running like a slow moving train on a track. He’d been homeless for years wandering the plains of Wyoming, sleeping on the ground or in caves, face to face with mountain lions and bears. A rattlesnake had even slept in his sleeping bag once, but the story Ruby worked to get out of him was the one that disturbed him the most. His strange face would dissociate. His paintbrush would hang limp in his hand. Small, gray creatures with simian arms and elongated eyes had taken him up on their spaceship. He had flashes of anal probes and massive needles in his ribs that found him immobilized on the ground the next day with brutal chest pains that never let up. He hadn’t stopped coughing since. Ruby considered the cigarettes he dangled from his lip, one after another that crucified his lungs.

Ruby could only ask a few questions to keep him clipping along or suddenly his bloodless lips would curl back over his cigarette and retire. Paintings would take over again and he’d silently start slathering away at another asphyxiating bee bonnet until it hung with the rest on a wall.

The shrill rooms drew in on themselves and on Ruby. She looked up into his faraway eyes. Aliens weren’t gray. They were saccharine perversions that caked maudlin colors over canvas. She looked down at her shoes. She started to cough. She was sick of hiding her eyes.


“Alien Art” will soon be published in Fractured West out of the UK.