Category Archives: flash fiction

Follow us at Witts Inn Writers Retreat: Summer 2010

On foggy Monkfish Island somewhere off the Maine

Coast Near Portland (sometimes adrift it’s thought) is

Witts Inn Writers Summer Retreat (2010):

follow the fun goings on of a scribe tribe on a spooky island

 & listen to the gossip as they learn how to battle their uncertain

writing & social skills.


Go to:

Begins May 27/Memorial Day weekend & ends after Labor Day

******More to come here on blog after Labor Day

a spontaneous Twitter novel by Jim Stallings



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At Witt’s Inn: Twitter novel-in-progress

So just by accident I happened to start a narrative on Twitter from the phrase overhead “at wit’s end”. But I heard it also as “at Witt’s Inn.” And so, for a while at least, I’m having some fun improvising installments or dispatches from this island writer & artist retreat on mysteriously foggy Monkfish Island. It’s exact location off the coast of the U.S. is in question as it seems to move about along the various coastlines. The important thing is that we seem to overhear the meditations and concerns of resident writers & artists in Twitter’s 140 character frames.

The experimental dispatch novel is now only a week or two old but we’re hopeful our link to the island will remain viable and that we may learn a few things about the introvertive universe of writers in residence. Below are a sampling of recent communiques into the cyberspace void. Drop in at

and read the latest.

Here on the Weblog we’ll continue to post other works-in-progress & literary commentary.




At Witt’s Inn Island Retreat, literary writers clean communal bathrm; news fr NYC: vampire novel earns 6-fig advance. Gnashing of eye teeth.

Male residents of Witt’s Inn artist retreat think Al Gore’s breakup aftr 40 yrs of marriage is only way to reclaim unsown oats. Go Al!

At Witt’s Inn female residents argue Peace Prize went to Al Gore’s head & drained his tiny bit of Jack Daniel charm & thus estranging Tipper

At Witt’s Inn Island Retreat when the fog lifted & the sun emerged, writers knew the island was all too real w/ absurd real estate prices.

At Witt’s Inn on foggy Monkfish Island, rumors started w/ resident writers that the “island” was really a boat & they were being shanghaied.

On Monkfish Island at Witt’s Inn for Writers & Artists, guests sit in small rooms & listen to rain tapping a hideous message fr the Gulf.

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So it came to pass, lo, a mountain of electronic “books” were published worldwide each year. Hardbacks, paperbacks, all that former sentimental physical press history shrank into a tiny drivel of archival preservation. The blunt new truth was the so-called “book” was now an electronic text read on an electronic instrument. Everyone in the world could publish text. Almost everyone did.

The challenge for writers of electronic texts was to find an audience and build on it. Especially for writers of text who wanted to be paid in electronic credits deposited to their electronic bank accounts. After all, that was the definition of a ‘professional writer’…getting those currency credits. Herein are the tortured guts of the market consumption of texts: those who want to be paid social money credits (and a few intellectual credits tacked on for good show). But keep the chow train going. A scribe has to eat and so far, electronic food, well, it’s a mean lean meal.

E-Sluch Pile.

The electronic web at this soon to be reached point of publishing…well, you can imagine: it’s going to be a nasty war out there to make a paid living for writing and transmitting e-texts around the globe (maybe into colonies on the Moon and Mars).

For the radicals and anarchists and hermits, it probably won’t matter much who succeeds financially. They will reject such crass concerns. Writing into the ever expanding E-Slush Pile is a moral right and privilege, not to be denied by anyone.

Once denied by publishers, editors and critics, the slush pile publications, the great unwashed, the geniuses, freaks, schizos, world conquerors, puppets, psychotics and undiscovered talents, all in fact, the whole sum of the e-publishing networld, this will be the undifferentiated Mass. And who, may we gently ask, who will play gatekeeper and rater of quality of these billions of text issued worldwide each solar day/night? Who will step up and play critic? Who will find the so-called sweet two percent that justifies news about publication? Who will accept a corps of critical texts that serve to rate and rank the writers and texts in terms of worthiness?

These islands of recommended quality, more e-text themselves, will be those critical surfaces where favored texts are modeled for all to read. Cliques. Favored status. Elites. Tribes of good taste.

But these will come and go and meanwhile the tsunami of e-text publication will wash away at the limited exposure of one group’s favored, fair-haired. Literary class warfare.

And it will lead to self-erosion and a greater drift toward anonymity and freedom to write when and how you want.

So to all those writers out there struggling with the old trade book dilemmas, hung up on “making it’ in the paid, commercial fashion, take a deep breath and get ready to enjoy the freedom of nonattachment. Step back and watch the fishes play!

a crass commercial from this author still caught in a marketing age : see my latest BOOK: “Difficult People: Flash Fictions”: 172 short short stories for adult storybook reader. Stop on by and climb Slush Mountain!

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Poem: “Island Pond Has Frozen”, solstice poem, Jim Stallings

Recently published on Monhegans Common on their poetry site in celebration of the island at winter solstice. (


Island pond has frozen
But not enough for skaters.
Weather says:
Three to five inches
Of white stuff,
Rain and sleet.

Hunker down, Hearth Huggers,
Bolster forth, Brave Hearts.

Yes, we are dreamers
of winter full,
Still shy the solstice
When time hangs still
Twixt shorter nights
And longer days to come–

And Lo! Our bonfires
Beckon the sun
From the dark ocean,
As our faces turn
East in faith.

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Poem: “Palpable, She Said,” notebooks, Jim Stallings

For Peter Tietjen, friend & patriot true

Palpable, she said,

Evidenced by this curtain

Torn in its center

Lo, sir, an eye

And indeed the orb

Did appear in crystal blue

A wintry stare

Beyond the frosty pane

Yet even in haste

The footsteps lead

In footprints of snow

To a cliff’s edge

And there into air

As thin as ethereal

Stuff floating skyward

A cloudy blemish

That painted our despair.

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“Frontier Buzz”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Frontier Buzz



          –Let’s see what you got? Big Ed said.

          Tommy put the gold nugget on the table. The metal lump looked like a miniature naked woman.

          –Damn, Big Ed said and stared closer. She looks like a mermaid.

          –That’s what we been calling her, the golden mermaid.

          Big Ed’s thick fingers trembled over her.

          –Appreciate if you wouldn’t touch her, Big Ed. I do this—and Tommy turned her over gently with a pencil tip. I use a number 3 hard lead so it don’t leave no mark on her body.

          Big Ed made a rumbling sound deep in his chest almost like a cat’s purr.

          –Yeah, okay, he said. So what can I do you for?

          –Well, I’m wondering should I sell her for the pure gold…or you think I could do better putting her up at auction?

          Big Ed drew back and stared through Tommy like maybe he was figuring out the national debt or something. He was damn good at numbers and some said he didn’t strain counting cards neither at the Silver Moon on Friday nights. But he’d sure give you a fair idea when his massive brain stopped whirring.

          –You gotta get behind this…publicize, see. Get all the players on to it. That costs money up front…photos, drawings, flyers, telegraphs, stories in the papers. Lotta work…not to mention security issues.

          –Oh lord, I dunno. That’s awful hard, Tommy said with a nasal whine.

          –Well it is, Big Ed said and let out a slow deep breath smelling of something like kerosene. Course you can take fair market for it…probably a couple of thousand.

          –Or I could keep her for myself, Tommy said and narrowed his eyes.

          Big Ed smiled.

          –Smart, he said, fingers trembling near her voluptuous curves. The Golden Mermaid you’re thinking…word o’ mouth promotion. Smart, Tommy, real smart.



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“Home Now”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Home Now



          Moses had loved Zoë for so long he didn’t think of time.

          He kissed the apple blossoms in her cheeks, he pleasured in the cranberries of her full lips, the chocolate nipples, the seafood of her private parts. He reveled in her Venusian rhythms, the dark lunar surges, ebbs and returns, this gorgeous image of nature’s fecundity, the juices, odors, textures of skin, belly, neck, thighs. He held her tight and kissed away her tears, stroked her hair, sucked her lovely fingers, nibbled her ear lobes, gently sucked her tongue and joyously entered her and filled her with the essence of himself, while all the while dreaming through her dark eyes the soul’s turn in her earnest Karma.


          Moses cried out in his sleep, flailing he awoke and found from her wet, warm lips soft reassuring words, a song of creature comfort. Joined in every conceivable posture, their bodies rocked into a higher plane of unity and pleasure.

          I need you, Zoë moans, redoubling Moses’ efforts.

          Even in dreams he made love to her, as if drinking at an oasis after a long journey. You are my Fountain of Youth, Moses whispered, my Immortality, my Heaven, my reward in Paradise.

          Let it be so, she prayed. Let me capture this joy in my heart and fly free of fear and death and all things sad and remorseful.

          I am not afraid, Moses said and lay down beside her bed of eternal pleasures, her ripe belly of prairie grass, I am home now.



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