Gay Degani’s suspense novel What Came Before is available in trade paperback and e-book formats. She is founder and editor-emeritus of EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles, content editor at Smokelong Quarterly, and blogs at Words in Place where a complete list of her published work can be found. She’s had three stories nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize. She has written a suspense novella, The Old Road, as part of Pure Slush’s 2014-A Year in Stories project and is working on the prequel to What Came Before.
Here are three stories by Gay:
- “Appendages” (Nominated for Pushcart consideration by Atticus Review)
- “Oranges” (Nominated for Pushcart consideration by Every Day Fiction)
- “Complicit” (Smokelong Quarterly)
And here are some of Gay’s favorite stories published in SmokeLong:
- “About Things that are Lost and the Places that Things Get Lost” by Andrea Kneeland
- “Running” by R.S. Thomas
- “Lydia Before” by Aliya Whiteley
- “The Bone Orchard” by Randall Brown
- “The Language of Hairzilla” by Chris L. Terry
Deal breaker for Gay’s Week: Stories that are unfinished. The writer gets to the end of the story and in the flush creative euphoria, he/she submits immediately. This is not a good policy. Like bread, stories need to rest to rise. They need to be set aside if only for a couple hours. They need to be questioned: Is my character unique? What does my character want? What stands in his/her way? What does he/she fear? What quality does the character have that will help her win or lose the prize? Is the setting specific? Have I painted a picture in the reader’s mind to anchor the story? Is my first paragraph clear? Does it hint at the story to come in some provocative way? Is everything in the first paragraph do a job: such as set up the “who what when where why and how” of the story in some small way? Will the reader believe it? What emotion do I, the writer, feel about the ending? What impact could the ending have on the reader? Have I looked for patterns and motifs that will strengthen and deepen impact? Is everything that needs to be clear, crystal? Have I searched for excessive words, excised unnecessary prepositional phrases, adverbs? Have I used precise and specific words throughout the story? Have I read the story aloud and made necessary changes? Have I polished? Have I proof-read?
Yes. This is a lot of work. This is a good thing.