Category Archives: Every Day Fiction


by John Towler

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, there was no greater thrill for my brothers and I than getting the latest issues of MAD, Cracked, Spiderman and Superman. We each started our own handwritten satire publications to entertain each other, and spun off from those were our own series of superhero comics. I was about ten years old.

I used creative writing in a variety of ways, including school projects, homemade birthday cards and my first forays into short stories. Creative energy was never lacking, but proper training to use that energy did not come along until I took college level coursework. Reading over one’s early work is a trip down Dreary Lane. As a novice you unwittingly violate all the rules of writing a thousand times over. Only in retrospect do you appreciate the reason writing, with all its diversity and originality, has some universal structures that should be honored.

One of the most developmentally important college courses I took was was playwriting. It was a year-long program (one semester of beginner/intermediate, one of advanced) which taught me valuable writing principles. The most enduring lesson was learning to trust dialog. Writers sometimes struggle with trust issues with their audience. Will the reader picture the character’s expression? Will the reader understand the emotion? Will the reader imagine the correct action, be it a whimsical flourish of the hand or a fist pounding a table top? Some of these things we must describe, but some are implicit in the character’s dialog. Circumstance may frequently be relied upon to dictate tone. Allowing your reader to understand through inference rather than blatant explanation involves them in your story to a much greater degree.

After my formal education, the three most significant influences on my growth as a writer came from participation in an active writer’s forum, a terrific writing group and my role as an editor at Every Day Fiction.

Back in the mid-2000’s I joined the Writer’s Digest online forum. We had a mix of novice and experienced writers in the WD Forum and writers were welcome to post their work for critique. There were some brutal, sometimes cruel assessments, of the work offered for review, but after sorting through the snide and sadistic remarks, you could find plenty of helpful commentary to improve your piece. Growing a thick skin was a side benefit of throwing your fiction into the mix and the clever participant could learn from other writer’s mistakes, improving their own craft at other’s expense.

The “Nudge Nudge Collective” was the name of our writing group. There were six of us and everyone had experienced some publishing success. We lasted through about seven or eight  of each other’s novels, picking them apart chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, line by line, word by word. It was intense, emotional at time, but unlike the forum experience, it was utterly devoid of snark or nastiness. Tough love? Yes. But when everyone is operating from a place of honesty, it makes the toughest critique easier to handle.

Finally as an editor with Every Day Fiction I worked with a core group of insightful people who could ferret out the strengths and weaknesses of a story with remarkable accuracy. EDF editors provide some of the best feedback in the business, and so from my colleagues’ comments I came to learn not only the finer points of fiction writing, but also that intangible quality of what “works” in a story and what does not.

I’ll close by noting I’ve read a number of how-to books, from Stephen King’s On Writing to Jordan Rosenfeld’s Make a Scene. They are helpful for tips, learning useful habits, and developing your own critical eye, but there is nothing more useful than finding beta readers who will give you honest, detailed feedback about your work.


John Towler lives on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with his wife and children. He is a career law enforcement officer, a videographer, writer and is now running for public office. 

Read John Towler:  “Company” and “Punch Buggy

Outer Banks Hummingbird Rescue video.

Flash Fiction Blog Launched

The last couple weeks have been loaded with things to do, launching the new Flash Fiction Blog for Every Day Fiction, finishing up a long short story , and turning…one more year young. But the new blog has had most of my attention.

I’m such a fan of Jordan Lapp, Camille Gooderham Campbell, and Steven Smethurst who are the brains, beauty, and brawn behind the innovative e-zine Every Day Fiction. Not only do they supply a new story every single day without fail to their readers, they offer a community for writers and readers alike and constantly stay relevant.

Their mission is to maintain “a magazine that specializes in bringing you fine fiction in bite-size doses. Every day, we publish a new short story of 1000 words or fewer that can be read during your lunch hour, on transit, or even over breakfast” and this is exactly what they do.

Additionally EDF sponsors a forum at their website that gives writers and readers opportunities to exchange ideas, learn more about writing itself, and form friendships and support groups. The forum is home to a writing group that is private so writers can post drafts of their work for imput from other writers. Anyone can join, but the posts are not public so they can be then submitted to various venues.

Recently they launched Every Day Poets to give writers and readers of verse the same opportunities to produce and enjoy verse.

And now there is EDF’s Flash Fiction Blog where writers can post their thoughts about the art and craft of writing flash fiction. This exciting new venue lets fans of EDF writers read about the trials and tribulations of their favorite authors as well as giving fellow writers the opportunity read and share with their peers. Check it out soon and click on “Submit a Post” if you have something to say, whether you are published or not, whether you are a writer or reader, all ideas are welcome as long as they involve the writing and reading of FLASH.

If you have any questions for the editor, that’s me, and you can contact me at .

September Calendar-Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction is publishing “Stranger on the Porch” on September 12. Check out the EVERY DAY FICTION site here and subscribe. One new story published every day for 365 days a year, and now one year complete. Happy Anniversary EDF!

Sept 1 K.C. Ball I Must to the Barber’s Chair
Sept 2 Abby “Merc” Rustad Bench Trial
Sept 3 Brian Dolton How the Rainbow Came To Be
Sept 4 Greta Igl Free
Sept 5 Frank O’Connor, freelance thinker The Holy Fool
Sept 6 Oonah V Joslin Closer to the Truth
Sept 7 Tels Merrick Are We There Yet
Sept 8 E.K. Entrada A Certain Patch of Grass
Sept 9 Robin Vandenberg Herrnfeld Three Wishes–A Fairytale
Sept 10 Avis Hickman-Gibb All the Continents of the Sun
Sept 11 Deven D Atkinson Becoming Cottontail
Sept 12 GAY DEGANI Stranger on the Porch
Sept 13 Tommy B. Smith The Eric Jones Show
Sept 14 Erin M. Kinch A Castle in the Clouds
Sept 15 Anna Schwind Another Boot
Sept 16 Celeste Goschen A Beautiful Lie
Sept 17 M.Sherlock Crossing the Bridge
Sept 18 Kevin Shamel Double Virginity
Sept 19 Sylvia Spruck Wrigley The Banshee
Sept 20 Selena Thomason The Cat Won’t Stop Playing
Sept 21 Bill Ward The Unbelievable Non-Adventures of Gasbert and Zephyr
Sept 22 Frank Roger Complete Understanding
Sept 23 Megan Arkenberg Ghouls
Sept 24 Lenora Rain-Lee Good A Pitiful Face
Sept 25 Sarah Hilary Tuesdays and Thursdays
Sept 26 Jens Rushing Blankenship & Dawes in: Chrono-Conundrum!
Sept 27 Anne Marie Gomez Lester’s Lucky Day
Sept 28 BD Wilson Zalophus Philosophy
Sept 29 R. L. Copple The Carpool
Sept 30 Mari Ness The Shoes

Do you know what time it is?

I can’t believe it. It’s August 25 and this is the year I promised myself I would finish my book. I know. If you read my blog, you must be sick of hearing about it, but I can’t help myself. Public admonitions seem to be the only way I can shame myself into doing anything. And since it is that LAST week of August, and the fall will be–if history repeats itself–INSANE, I have to gather myself, think about goals, and how to keep them.

I taped a sign on my fridge about a month ago. It says, “Nothing is more important than the book,” and yet today at 8:15 I’m heading out to South Pas to do my Monday morning exercise for two hours. That means by the time I get back it will be 10:30 and I will be whipped. But today, instead of making a face plant in the middle of the couch after I down three 8 ounce glasses of water, I will sit down at the computer.

However, what will grab my attention? Novel or short story? It is, after all, SUBMISSION SEASON! The recognition of submission season a couple of years ago is what finally got me published. I realized that I had to change my slovenly ways and begin to market in an organized way. The first thing I did was set a goal: 100 rejections. This is not an original idea. I’d read about it somewhere and liked the logic. Instead of worrying about how many acceptances I might get–a goal that feels self-defeating from the get-go–I decided to go for the 100 “your piece has no place in our immediate plans” target.

And it worked. Everything I had ready to go since then has found a home except for “Wanting Steven” and at least I got a personal letter from Ellery Queen saying they almost published it. It think Janet Hutchins was on vacation at the time, but I’m still taking it as a triumph!

So of course my consciousness is heightened toward short pieces this time of year, but unfortunately I have nothing really ready except for “Wanting Steven” which I probably need to look at again and figure out why it hasn’t found its place before I submit again. So the dilemma: write short stories to submit or finish the book.

My good friend Kev says he spoke to a famous author recently and that author encouraged him to abandon the shorts for the novel and he had lots of legitimate reasons. The market for shorts is steeped in honor and tradition, but only a few of these journals actually reach many people and those people are more likely than not, college students, other writers, academics, and perhaps an small elite of avid readers. To be published in any of these can be good and if you get into say The Georgia Review you are golden, but since most pay in copies of their magazine, it isn’t a good way to put a Lean Cuisine on the TV tray.

Kev’s author suggested that the “where it’s at” in writing is the novel. That’s where the money is, where the mass audience is, that’s where self-satisfaction can be gained.

This logic makes perfect sense to me, but the novel is sooooo long, soooo indefinite, that it’s a struggle to actually dive in day after day with out being tempted to take a writing break with a 1000 word flash for Every Day Fiction, or maybe a 4000 word short. I’ve got enough starts and if they don’t work, there’s more cooking up in my brain pan than those.

I suppose I’m rambling this morning because I’ve just realized I have the months of September, October, November, and December to meet my goal: a little over 120 days. That means I’ll have to edit around 3 pages a day to have a somewhat edited manuscript by the new year. It’s certainly do-able, but can I do it?

Final note: I did hear from McSweeney’s and yes they did reject “Monsoon,” but some one jotted me a personal note and I have to say, that got me flying….

Secret: “Monsoon” will be published soon (I hope) by Quality Women’s Fiction.