Fictionaut has always offered the invaluable opportunity to share, learn, and connect with other writers.  It is my belief that the fruit produced can only be spoiled by the assumption that any one person has more potential, more talent, or greater gifts than any other contributing member. What sums each of us up uniquely is our particular process of filtering input and forming output.  We must gather our tools one by one, work with them until they are available to use and apply them with a grip that has formed to fit only our own hand.

Whichever platform of language we choose to communicate with must be mastered, thereby allowing the knowledge of just how far the rules can be bent, or when they should be broken.  More so, we must always feed on new input and master the ability to interpret the sounds that resonate from the gut.  The greatest story that any one writer can craft is one based on his or her own experience, perspective, and voice. To temper the tone of your voice in order to please the ears of your reader is a terrible mistake. With all of that, I tell you humbly that I am master of nothing other than the ability to be completely consumed by a well-wrought story, considered thus solely by my own opinion, for what it’s worth.

Whenever I begin reading a piece, I am aware of the fact that there are words arranged on a page.  I am aware of my senses, which have nothing directly to do with what I am reading, but affect the purity of the attention being paid to the words.  I am also thinking about the fact that I am thinking about the fact that I am reading, and truth be told, saying to myself, “I hope this doesn’t suck. Dear God, please let this be brilliant.”  As a reader, I am either lazy or persnickety.  Never fussy, but I gotta be grabbed in the first few lines. I want to have my heart broken, my face smashed in, my pulse changed.  I want to be inspired, destroyed, or both.

The titles I selected were only a few that I enjoyed and with little time to read as much as I would have liked to.  Mind your business. Live bravely.  Fuck the rules. Write it down.

The Laughing Prophet by James Loyd Davis

Here, the narrative finds you wherever you’re at, takes a seat on your shoulder, and tells you a story —  rather, points out a story unfolding.  The voice in this piece is simple and easy, which is key to making the story accessible so that the reader is taken directly into the middle of the scene, without the scant awareness that there are words being read.  Quite simply, this is the mark of a great storyteller.

Yolks by Lucinda Kemp

I like this piece because of its quirk.  There is an odd slant, slight enough to be noticed, but not to the extent that I could not connect.  I was drawn by curiosity to know these characters. That last paragraph caused me to consider myself in her situation.  Nicely done.

Baling Twine by James Claffey

Consider these two lines:

“These days I’m sore afflicted with gout and the weight. She had them put the bed on bricks to stop the frame from collapse.”

There is a poetry to Claffey’s style. This can be dangerous. With the application of  rhythm, alliteration, triplets, and the like, the writer runs the risk of losing the reader by spinning them off into fantasy or fancy.  When well applied, these mechanisms become tools by which a deeper connection is attained.   In the excerpt, Claffey presents two simple observations written with creative word choices.  Granted, I find a certain beauty in the tone and accent of his native Irish tongue, but the point remains that when I read this piece aloud in my own voice, it flows effortlessly.  An unknown nerve is struck. The story sticks.  Fewer words are needed when words are well chosen.

Bassinet by Chris Okum

There is simply no fucking around with this wonderful little piece.  I want to write like that four-year-old boy. I want to slap his parents.  They are the majority.

Omaha by Denisova Hominins

Again, I am rewarded with a perfect measure of quirk and an accessible level of brilliance.

Instinct by Kelli Tranpnell

A unique approach to telling a common story.  Capped and personalized with the last sentence.  A fine read!


Michael Dickes is a writer, composer, and filmmaker. His stories have been published in Southpaw JournalThrice FictionMetazenKerouac’s Dog MagazineThunderclap PressApocrypha & AbstractionsConnotation PressThumbnailTHIS Literary MagazineBlue Five NotebookRiff RaffDualityThe Istanbul Literary Review, and others. His songs have been featured in film, TV, and radio. He is founding editor of Awkword Paper Cut. More information about Michael can be found at

Editor’s Eye is curated by Michelle Elvy (Fictionaut profile here). She writes and edits every day at, and readers can also find her editing Blue Five Notebook (with Sam Rasnake) and Flash Frontier.



  1. Sally Houtman

    I miss you, mr mike. Ain’t been a decent hootenanny since you left.

    Great picks.

  2. Philly Joe Remarkable

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    ickingpay omesay ighteousray iecespay, Mray. Ikemay.

    Ainway’tay eenbay away ecentday ootenannyhay incesay ouyay

  3. Sam Rasnake

    Thanks for these selections, Michael. Each one an important read.

  4. Chris Okum


    Nice to have you back for a moment. Thanks for the honk.

  5. Robert Vaughan

    Michael, I enjoyed this, and you being here, somehow makes Fictionaut seem “right” again. Well, at least, for me. So grateful I had the chance to meet you and Cherise in NYC last fall. Really enjoyed our paths crossing and look forward to more of your great creative outpourings.

  6. Jen Knox

    Beautiful, balanced outlook. Thank you for it. Thanks for the recommendations as well. Fictionaut is always a place I can come and be lifted up by reading a little here and there as my insane schedule allows. I haven’t posted anything in a while, but you inspired me to do so soon. “Mind your business. Live bravely. Fuck the rules. Write it down.” Yepyep.

  7. James Lloyd Davis

    Michael, Michael, Michael, where you been, bubba? Come on down and set a while. Post something. Want some Jack? You’re doing something good with Awkword. I really love the mix you’re putting out. Keep it up.

  8. Michael Dickes

    Nice to see all of you! Forget where I heard it, but there’s a cool contest you should submit for at APC. I also heard there’s free beer down the hall and a sniff to the left. Enjoy.

  9. James Claffey

    Just saw this. Humbled. Too kind. Deeply appreciated after a most difficult day in the classroom, homesickness, hiraeth, weltschmirtz. Onward!

  10. Michelle Elvy

    Ah Michael — so lovely to have your selections here! Ed Eye is a series worth keeping, and I am so happy to see the variety and the genuine interest that readers and writers show.

    Thanks again for playing. I love your heartfelt groove.

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