By Ritta M. Basu, editor and publisher, FewerThan500
Somewhere nestled along a roadside in the beautiful Ozark National Forest is a makeshift joint with a hand-painted sign nailed to a tree that reads “Triple Napkin Cheeseburgers.” There are a bunch of other signs posted around the little shack where a Polish immigrant who the locals simply knew as Tom served up some of the best catfish, cole slaw and pinto beans imaginable.
There is no other restaurant in a 10-mile radius and many of the neighbors, as well as travelers out for a country drive, have made this place in the hills a regular event over the years.
Of course, Tom used to be the only one running the joint, so it was open whenever Tom felt like keeping it open. He kept it open enough to keep his customers happy and fed on a regular basis. Still, he took time to enjoy life until he died in 2017.
I share this story because, as editor and publisher of FewerThan500, I’ve decided to take a clue from Tom.
For several years, with the tremendous help of a team of gracious and capable writers and editors, especially my friend and fellow writer, Kevin Moriarity, this site published a story a week on Tuesdays, followed by an interview with writers. We were able to generate a lot of submissions from people who were interested in writing short fiction. It was a lot of fun and we generated a healthy stream of submissions over the years.
However, as life goes, eventually changes are inevitable. For a number of reasons, late last year the Fewerthan500 team, which also included assistant editors Frank Rutledge and H. Adam Ruffalo, amicably agreed to disband. This left me, as owner and publisher of the site, with a decision to either close it down or once again take it in a new direction.
After several months of consideration, I have decided that FewerThan500 will continue to bring readers content in less than 500 words. However, rather than only publish fiction stories of less than 500 words, we will occasionally publish creative non-fiction, essays and photographs. And like Tom’s makeshift restaurant in the hills, we will be serving up content on a more sporadic basis.
Part of the reason for the sporadic nature of the publishing is also a shift in focus from simply providing a publishing forum for aspiring writers to focusing on publishing work that causes me to connect and feel the work of the writer. I am a fan of literary fiction and sensory language and that perfect ending to a very short story that blows me away. Sometimes I simply like a story that makes me smile or even cry. Those kind of stories arrive in the inbox, and in my own notebook, far less often than casual scribbles by people like me who love to play with words. When I started this online literary journal in 2009, only a few online sites existed where unpublished writers could see their work accepted. Today there are hundreds, maybe thousands of sites like this. I’d like to now make this site where I share the work of writers who inspire me and also share some of my own work.
So, at last, in this third regeneration of the site, I look forward to working with the writers of flash fiction again and publishing writing and photographs that connect us all to a bigger world. I invite and look forward to receiving new contributions and interacting with writers worldwide who fall in love with their stories and share them with me. Look for new stories soon — including one by me, also set in the Ozark Mountains. By the way, previously published stories and interviews can still be found in our archives.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments, suggestions, or to submit your work for consideration. Take a look at our submissions guidelines for more information before you submit.