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Nancy Cavanaugh p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect some good reading tips. An author once said that a poem says too much in too short a space and a short story doesn't say enough. Maybe the answer lies in micro fiction (100-250 words), twitterfic (140 characters) and flash fiction (200-1000 words). Author Nancy Cavanaugh has applied a variety of short story styles to these mediums. Her fiction can be found at myflashywords.com. See her website nancyacavanaugh.com.

READERSVOICE.COM: What are some of your favorite books of all time?

NANCY CAVANAUGH: I tend not to have favorite books as much as I do favorite authors, but I do have a few favorites. Anything Nancy Drew, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, and, of course, Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. For authors, I love Judy Blume, John Jakes, Nelson DeMille, and Judith Krantz.

RV: What’s the difference between what makes a good story in newspaper journalism and a good story in fiction, in your experience?

NC: In journalism, there is a formula that starts with packing most of the important parts of the story in the first few paragraphs then filling in the details afterwards and brevity is preferred for most stories. I have always loved the constraints of newspaper writing, especially hard news. Typically a good story in fiction, while still following a formula, is the exact opposite. In the beginning you start with a hint of what the story is about then you build on that until the end when all is revealed. It is much more free and there are far fewer constraints.

RV: Do you still live in Keene, New Hampshire, and what do you like about the area?

NC: Yes, I still live in Keene. We, my daughter and I, moved here from northern New Jersey in 2005. I bought a deluxe double wide and we settled in. There are several things I like about Keene — there’s so much nature around with mountains, lakes, rivers and parks; it is a cultural center for the area with a lot of theater, music, comedy and art; almost all your shopping needs can be met in town; the downtown area is quaint and has been named one of the top ten downtowns in the country; there are a ton of social services and a hospital in town; and the people are super friendly.

RV: How did you come across flash fiction and micro fiction in 2006-7?

NC: I belonged to the MuseItUp Club, a place for writers to get together and chat on Yahoo Groups. They also offered critique groups. It was there I met and started reading the works of Michael Kechula, who specialized in micro and flash fiction. I joined his group of merry writers who were focused on learning more about writing these types of stories and quickly discovered that I had a knack for it. Suddenly I had a place where I could apply many rules of journalism to fictional writing. It gave my imagination a new way to soar. This is also when I started writing speculative fiction ­— ghosts, aliens, vampires, zombies, cannibals, etc. I started submitting to online publications and finding homes for many of my stories.

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-copyright Simon Sandall.