The Golden Key Flash Fiction Open, Judged by Karin Tidbeck

Back in 2011, when we first launched The Golden Key and got on Twitter, we received a really friendly and encouraging tweet from the editor of Unstuck, just saying that he was looking forward to the launch of TGK.

Unstuck was getting ready to launch their Issue #1 around that time, I think, and they were sharing excerpts on the website. I gulped those down and couldn’t wait to read those stories and poems in their entirety. The excerpt that struck me the most, and the story that I turned to first when I finally got my copy, was “Cloudberry Jam” by Karin Tidbeck.

You grew steadily through the winter months. I sang to you and fed you small drops of milk. By Yule you were big enough that I moved you to a larger container, an old bucket. You started kicking then, I suppose because you finally had room to move around.

– Karin Tidbeck, “Cloudberry Jam,” Unstuck #1

It’s a wonderfully odd and kind of really touching story, and one of my favorites in Unstuck #1. (Unstuck is always great, and gorgeously made, and its print issues always sell out. So happy I have them on my bookshelf!) After that I kept up with Karin Tidbeck’s stories, getting a thrill every time I saw her name pop up.

Anyway, this is all just to tell you that I’m a huge fan of Karin Tidbeck, and I am HUGELY THRILLED that she is judging TGK’s first ever contest: The Golden Key Flash Fiction Open.

The contest is open to flash fiction under 500 words, and the grand prize is $200 and publication in Issue #6. And, because each of TGK’s issues are themed, the winning piece will also set the theme for our sixth issue. Plus, every entry goes towards supporting future contributors to the journal!

Finally, I am in love with the poster created by the insanely talented F. Lee. I love so much that we are PEEKING THROUGH A KEYHOLE.


Bitterzoet is a press that publishes a print magazine twice a year, monthly web issues, and “bonbon” chapbooks throughout the year, all chock-full of bittersweet work.

The first print issue is out, and it’s beautifully made. I’m delighted that my tiny story “Sustenance” appears in it!

Here’s an excerpt:

The border is obscure and very tenuous. Sometimes I find it when I am passing through a black forest with the trees on either side of me lengthening into the sky. Other times I land on it when I have driven into a neighborhood where the houses are divided by tall, impenetrable hedges, and smoke is continuously rising and unspooling on the wind. Once as I rounded an immense lake, its surface bare. Perhaps it is only accessible at five in the morning for people who are driving northeast.

Friday Fiction: “Gargoyle”

This week’s Friday Fiction:

Isabel and I grew up in the village near Tivoli. I brought her oranges I stole from the Cardinal’s trees. She rolled her eyes at my crime but ate the fruit. I’d wanted to be a sculptor since I was a child. When I carved a rose the size of my palm to give to her, a sliver of stone flew into my right eye and carved it out. Well, I still had one eye and the feeling in two hands and heart.

“Gargoyle” by Cezarija Abartis on Burrow Press Review

My flash piece “Security” is up at First Stop Fiction! Here’s the first line: “The soldiers who came for us had their orders in the form of stamped papers out in their hands.”

Liz mailed me a wonderful surprise from New York: a stack of books, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which I’ve never read, updated with JRM on the cover. Thanks, Liz! You made my week!

I’m currently reading Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, a directory of mini-biographies of various princesses—warriors, schemers, usurpers, and so forth. It was listed as one of the “Best Books Coming Out This Week” on NPR Book News, which is how I came by it. Unfortunately, I can’t pass on the recommendation. It’s a coffee table book, fun to flip through, but without real depth (or fine writing)—which is fine, I just wasn’t expecting history-lite. The mini-biographies are really mini. The tone goes for a casual flippancy that feels out of place and erodes my confidence in the writer as a serious researcher/historian. The language strives to be hip and funny but misses the mark. It’s disappointing to read a book that claims it’s trying to add dimension to the idea of “princess” as a fairy tale stereotype while discussing powerful characters in a trite, vapid tone. As a reader, I felt talked down to. The book did introduce me to a number of fascinating women I hadn’t come across before, even if several of them are figures of folklore or myth rather than actual history.