Jack Sheldon Anderson is a husband, father and author.  He writes poetry and short stories and is working on a novel.

If you know the breadth of what's possible and aren't tentative about what's under the hood then there's very little beyond your reach. Jack Sheldon Anderson

Leodegraunce: What can you tell us about your background, Jack?

Jack Sheldon Anderson: I was six when I wrote my first short story ("Terror in the Darkness", available in my parents garage, second cardboard box on the left). Hungry to tell stories I studied English at Grove City College and upon graduation promptly put my knowledge of literature and criticism to work investigating insurance claims among the pit bulls and pipe breaks of Philadelphia. I am married to a gifted artist. I have three astonishing and precocious children and work as a civil servant by day. This keeps me busy enough that, however essential and rewarding, it's very difficult to hew out time in which to write from the hardwood of the workaday. Thankfully I have long train rides and manage to get a good bit done while others are huddled around the glow of their eReaders.

Leodegraunce: Why do you enjoy writing flash fiction?

Jack Sheldon Anderson: I've worked at this unusual evocative form for several years now, and I'm still surprised by its ability to be elusive. Constraints can be liberating, and I always find myself wanting to rise to the challenge of foreshortened mechanics and narrative. Flash fiction claims common blood with both poetry and fiction and opens one up to negative space and metonymy as much as it emphasizes the importance of finding the exact right word, phrase, meter and voice. Watching other writers do it well never ceases to amaze me or, if I'm honest, make me jealous.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your recent works?

Jack Sheldon Anderson: Dozens of my short stories have appeared briefly, like damselflies, in the slush piles of literary magazines on three continents. One such story, and I'm sure you'll agree it's a scandal that it hasn't been eagerly snatched up and put in print, was about a man fantasizing about fighting a tiger at the zoo. I'm grateful and pleased to be published for the first time in Leodegraunce.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your writing plans for 2011?

Jack Sheldon Anderson: My wife and I have emerged from a year of creative hibernation following the birth of twins and vowed to regain a deliberate life. I write a good deal of poetry; I expect to complete a novel within the year and will continue sending off short stories like bottle rockets.

Leodegraunce: What is your top writing tip for aspiring authors?

Jack Sheldon Anderson: Read great literature and study grammar. If you know the breadth of what's possible and aren't tentative about what's under the hood then  there's very little beyond your reach. Anyway I'm still thoroughly "aspiring" and can only march along with everyone else by the lamplight of that advice.


 
 
Farida Samerkhanova is a Canadian poet, short story and non-fiction writer who speaks Tatarian, Russian and English.  She is a graduate of Bashkir State University and is participating in a documentary film titled Her Choice – Hijab and Beyond the Dress Code, which is currently in production.

Never get discouraged. Keep writing if you cannot help writing, no matter how many rejections you get. Let life’s happiest moments, its challenging turns and its hardships become the source of your imagination and inspiration. Farida Samerkhanova

Leodegraunce: How long have you written flash fiction and what drew you to the genre?

Farida Samerkhanova: I discovered the flash fiction as a genre last year when Pilot announced its Short Story Contest. Flash rules keep you in narrow frames and make you express the essence laconically, which is not always easy. I love this genre. I rewrote some of my longer stories so that they do not exceed two hundred or two hundred and fifty words and I like rewritten pieces more than their longer version.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your recent works?

Farida Samerkhanova: Pilot Project named me a Grand Prize Winner. Unfortunately, I could not be present at the event when the winners got together and received their prizes because last fall on the very day when I received the envelope with the great news my Mom passed away. It was a shock to me. Emotionally I am still not normal, so big is the loss. I wrote a short poem about my Mom, which is a tribute to the memory of our Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother. I have hardly written anything else lately. My muse died. I am not sure how long my silence will last. They say that time cures…

Leodegraunce: Farida, we're sorry for your loss.  

Farida Samerkhanova: I am having a tough time now, but life goes on...

I plan to publish my first collection of poetry, which is close to its completion.

I have another project, a very vague one, but I keep thinking of it. Night Wolf Publications issued a very nice collection of Christmas stories, named A Yuletide Wish. It has a very uplifting spirit and I like it very much. However, life is not just joy and happiness. My idea is to make a collection of Christmas stories that are not necessarily upbeat. I have five pieces of poetry and prose that describe different people and situations on Christmas Eve. I have more in my mind.

Leodgraunce: What is your top writing tip for aspiring authors?

Farida Samerkhanova: Read classics. Classic English and American literature educated and inspired me all through my childhood and youth (I was raised in the Soviet Union behind the Iron Curtain). The best writing by the best authors helped me to master the English language, which is my third. No matter how experienced and established you are as a writer, you will definitely find many big and tiny treasures in the literary masterpieces of the past.

Proofread your work. Every time, before you submit, read the piece again and again. Pretend you are the Editor: change, improve, rewrite and make it better.

Never get discouraged. Keep writing if you cannot help writing, no matter how many rejections you get. Let life’s happiest moments, its challenging turns and its hardships become the source of your imagination and inspiration.
 
 

(UPDATED 9/5/2011)
Angela Sargenti is one of my favorite flash fiction authors.  This month she makes her third appearance at Leodegraunce with her flash fiction "Paradox."  Revisit her interview HERE.
 
 
Juniper Russo is a freelance writer native to the Southern U.S.

Your imagination and writing skills will atrophy if you don't exercise them. Juniper Russo

Leodegraunce: Juniper, you're from a unique background.

Juniper Russo: I come from a very complex and diverse family, and I've spent most of my life living in the Deep South. My family history, childhood and innate personality have always created an odd collision of paradoxical lifestyles and philosophies. I believe that my combination of unusual experiences have enabled me to become successfully creative.

Leodegraunce: Why do you enjoy flash fiction?

Juniper Russo: I started writing flash fiction when I was in high school, although I didn't write it seriously until about two years ago. I find it intriguing that talented authors can express a complete plot in just a few simple words. Because of the fast-pace of modern American culture, our minds are now engineered to expect instant summary and resolution in a plot. I'd like to be one of the writers who can use flash fiction to favorably advance the art of writing, instead of simply feeding the culture of distraction.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your recent works?

Juniper Russo: I've only recently allowed myself to publish fiction stories, because, until recently, I struggled with the feeling that I was making myself naked and transparent to anyone who read my fiction works. I don't like the feeling of a reader looking inside my mind, and that's precisely what fiction facilitates. For this reason, "Bumblebee" is my first "officially" published work of fiction. I am currently seeking a publisher for my first children's book, which is about diversity in animal families.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your writing plans for 2011?

Juniper Russo: I am in the process of writing "Eye of Jove," a science fiction novel set on a terraformed version of Europa. I'd  like to finish the novel by the end of the year and find a publisher for my children's book. I'd also like to expand my nonfiction market to include more print-based publishers and small business clients.

Leodegraunce: What is your top writing tip for aspiring authors?

Juniper Russo: Write as much as you can, as often as you can. Don't let a day pass without writing something-- a blog, an email, an article, a flash fiction. Your imagination and writing skills will atrophy if you don't exercise them. I lost nearly a year of experience in my late teens because I was afraid of my career as a writer. In that time, I lost most of the skills I had learned. Had I kept going despite my anxiety, I believe I would be far more successful now. No matter how you feel or how busy you are, write something every day.



 
 
I'm pleased with the progress of Leodegraunce.  The deadline for our issue 3 is February 28.