Sunday, March 18, 2018

Meet Claire Bobrow, our flash fiction winner last week.

Claire Bobrow won the flash fiction contest last week with this entry:

Publishing intern by day…
Black Panther by night!
Who would ever suspect pitiful milquetoast Clay, always hiding under chairs and slinking about the office, afraid of water and pug dogs?
But when the sun went down and a tsunami of sin struck Gotham City…
No one could stop the Black Panther.

So he’d play along until they fired him.
Pretend to enjoy traipsing on tablets and cluttering keyboards.
Even reading queries, like the one he’d napped on today.
No O’Henry, that author, but still…
The Secret Life of Walter Kitty had distinct possibilities.

I thought it would be fun to hear more from Claire about how she writes her flash fiction.

1. When do you start thinking about your entry? Do you start with writing?
I usually start noodling as soon as I read the post and the prompt words. Often a story idea will pop into my head immediately and I’ll open a Word document and do an idea dump in the form of any sentences that occur to me, stream-of-consciousness style.

2. How many drafts did you write?
For this latest one, I wrote 3 drafts. I’m embarrassed to say that in my 1st draft, I literally forgot to use ANY of the prompt words. That has never happened before! But I was rushing because I was supposed to be packing and driving to the SCBWI conference! I wrote the final draft late Saturday after our evening keynote address (Vanessa Brantley-Newton!!) and socializing.

I usually try to do at least 3-4 drafts.

3. Do you read the other entries before you post?

No. I don’t like to do that as a general rule. I’m so afraid I’ll subconsciously pick up on someone else’s entry, or be intimidated by the awesomeness of the entries before me. Intimidation does bad things to my creativity.

4. How long have you been entering the flash fiction contests here on the blog?
I learned about your blog and QueryShark at my first-ever writing conference (at the Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, CA) Jan 23-24, 2016.
My first FF entry on your blog was February 20, 2016 (results posted Feb 22, 2016) - you gave me a mention :-0

I’m glad I was totally clueless about how amazing all the Reiders are because if I had known, I would never have been brave enough to enter. I didn’t even realize that people commented on the entries or your blog posts, or that the sane ones lurk for a while before plucking up the courage to comment.

Based on my shoddy files, I think I’ve entered about 34 of your contests. Is that possible?

5. What, if anything, have you learned by writing flash fiction?
I have learned so much about:
- being concise
- creating a complete story with the bare minimum
- humor
- word play
- rhythm
- unusual structure/form
- and EMOTION and HEART (at which my fellow Reiders excel). This is something I struggle with.

All of this has been incredibly helpful in learning to craft picture books.

6. What kind of book are you working on?
Primarily picture book manuscripts. Chapter books and middle grade are on the horizon.

7. What are you currently reading?
Do you have a year? Kidding!
I’m reading:
- Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi) for my adult book club.
- The Apothecary (Maile Meloy), MG
- The Magic Words (Cheryl Klein) and Writing Magic (Gail Carson Levine) - craft books
- and stacks and stacks of picture books. Most of the current ones are part of the reading list for this year’s ReFoReMo, happening now. **

** ReFoReMo is Reading For Research Month, 
a challenge designed to help authors & illustrators 
learn the craft of creating picture books through the study of mentor texts. 
The challenge runs each year in March. 


french sojourn said...

What a fun post. I was done working for the day, and so I popped over. Way to go Claire.

Cheers Hank.

Theresa said...

Love this! What a great thing for Janet to do. I'm always interested in how writers write and what they read.

MB Owen said...

What a pleasant way to meet you Claire. And thank you Janet for this entry. I found it so inspirational and informative. Claire, you're delightful! Me? I'm a lurker. I used to comment but I found myself so off-step that I stopped. And now, I am recovering from a massive brain surgery. Thankfully the tumor was benign, but it still left me with partial paralysis and thinking my writing (non-career) is over...but I don't know. Reading this entry and meeting Claire has lifted me just a bit. So...thank you both.

Lennon Faris said...

Hi, Claire!

Cool idea for a post :)

MB - glad to have you back! I hope the tumor did not end your writing (career or not).

Karen McCoy said...

I love this, and it offers tremendous insight. I think I might try the stream-of-consciousness style next time because I tend to limit myself to what the prompt words are initially, and that doesn't always help.

Claire, for MG, I also recommend THE SHADOW WEAVER by MarcyKate Connolly--though I know you already have a lot of books to read! :)

MB Owen said...

Thank you Lennon! So far, the tumor is winning out due to the recovery aspects but we shallsee.

And Congrats to Claire for her win!

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Claire: Lovely to know more about you.

MB: Good to hear that the tumor was only benign. Here's hoping you carry on with the writing.

Janet: Cool new stuff!

Jeannette Leopold said...

Love this post. Thanks, Janet and Claire!

Jen said...

Loved reading this! One of the things I enjoy most about this blog is learning from other writers as well as Janet. :)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Oooh, Claire...! Hi :-) I just love this. What fun. And what a terrific idea, Janet.

Claire Bobrow said...

HI Everybody and Happy Sunday! Sorry to chime in so late - we're hanging out with our college kids, who are home on break.

First off, MB Owen - so nice to see you here. I wish you all the best with your recovery and hope we will see lots of writing from you very soon. I feel sure we will!

Second, I thought this was going to be a survey of past FF winners and had no idea it was going to be all about me. Whoa! But thank you, Janet, for the kind feature. I hope my answers were of interest to others and will be helpful in some way.

Karen: The Shadow Weavers sounds excellent. I will add it to my TBR pile.

One Of Us Has To Go said...

I, too, enjoyed reading this very much. It's really interesting to know more about other writers this way.
You should do this more often, Janet! It was indeed fun.

MB: I wish you all the best - most importantly for your health!!!!! Then the writing :)!

Claire, I so much understand your feelings about entering and commenting. I'm the same :). And didn't enter the last contest anymore after having tried one ;).

Happy Sunday everyone!

(P.S. Janet, the next person you should interview is my boyfriend.
It used to be like this:
He: "What are you reading there on the phone?"
Me: "Janet Reid's blog."
He: "And what are you reading now?"
Me: "Janet Reid's blog."
These days:
Me: "What are YOU reading?" as I see a pink-ish background on the phone.
Him: "Janet's blog."

I can't believe it, he's got nothing to do with writing - he was faster than me today; he's been INFECTED... 😀.)

Julie Weathers said...


What a fun read. Well done. You totally deserved it.


Yikes. I hope your writing isn't over, but it's so good to have you back and good news on the good results.


Anonymous said...

What a fun post! Good job on the questions, Claire.

Can you imagine getting an email from Janet?

Hi, I want to ask something of you.
Of course, anything for you.
I want to interview you for the blog.
Sure, no probl--- you want to what?

Cracks me up every time I think about it.

MB, good grief, how scary that must have been. So relieved to hear it was benign. The human body is capable of some pretty amazing things, so don't give up on the writing just yet. Or anything else. Sending strong healing vibes your way and hoping you'll keep us posted on your recovery.

MB Owen said...

You all are so lovely. Thank you for your kind words. (Also, you can call me Margo.)

Claire--loved the link you gave us.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

What a super cool post.

Amy Johnson said...

Great getting to know you better, Claire!

Margo: Best wishes for your recovery.

I visited the ReFoReMo site. Wowza, good stuff! Oh, how I miss the magic of reading picture books with my children. Picture book authors and illustrators are awesome human beings.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

What a great post.

Claire, glad to get to know more about you!

And I really appreciated Janet's question about how Claire goes about creating a story for the FF contests.

Margo, best wishes for your health.

Steve Stubbs said...


I was so sorry to read that you have been ill. At least the tumor was benign and now you have the surgery behind you.

It is probably small consolation, but it seems as if just everybody has something. Very best wishes to you and get well soon.

AJ Blythe said...

No time so was just going to skim, but our Queen had such a brilliant idea for the post I have spent far too long here!

Claire, a fun and interesting post. Lovely to learn more about you and your process.

Margo, I hope your recovery is speedy!

Must dash...

Alina Sergachov said...

That’s such a terrific idea, Janet. Are you going to interview the next winner, too?

Colin Smith said...

What a cool idea! Great to get to know you a little better, Claire! :)

I hope you do this more often, Janet.

Craig F said...

Damn, Claire is on a roll. Three wins in about a week. Congratulations. That is all awesome.

MB Owen: Margo You need to keep up the fight. Voice to writing programs are improving everyday. Try one and get your imagination back in flight. Things will get better if you force the issue. Please do that.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats again Claire. And nice to see a peak beneath the covers of another reader's process.

John Davis Frain said...

What a fun post. I've had family over all day (birthdays), so I'm getting here late. What a great week for you, Claire.

Thanks to both of you guys for taking us behind the scenes.

Now that celebrations are over here, it's time to tip the sand timer and do a(nother) rewrite on chapter 8.

Have a great writing week, everyone.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Claire, I do the same thing for the same reasons re not reading any of the entries before I post my own. :)

Christine said...

When this post popped up in my email I squealed, "oooh I know her!". Huge congrats Claire—you had an excellent week for winning flash fiction (you know I loved your Asilomar story too). PS I just read Homegoing for my book club too and loved it.

April said...

If you like Gail Carson Levine's "Writing Magic," you should check out her blog. It's basically the book on steroids, having answered many questions from aspiring writers and fans of her books who follow her blog (they're mostly teens who ask, but some grown ups, too).

Panda in Chief said...

Claire, loved your flash fiction entry and your thoughts on doing flash fiction. I can totally see how it relates to writing picture books, especially these days when PB texts above 500 words are getting rarer.

Mike Hays said...

Great work, Claire! Thanks for sharing your story and your interview. I'm bowled over with how good Cheryl Klein's The Magic Words is. I need to go back and rework my way through it when I'm done because I can't seem to stop and focus on the exercises thinking about what comes next.

Have you read Jack Gantos' Writing Radar yet? It's another excellent kidlit craft book, with LOL-funny Gantosian stories to illustrate the points.

Best of luck with your writing!