Thursday, June 13, 2013

What's "The Binnacle"?

"What is a Binnacle?"

If you're a sailor you'd know that a binnacle is a waist-high case or stand on the deck of a ship, generally mounted in front of the helmsman, in which navigational instruments are placed for easy and quick reference as well as to protect the delicate instruments. Its traditional purpose was to hold the ship's magnetic compass, mounted in gimbals to keep it level while the ship pitched and rolled. (thanks Wikipedia)

"Okay, that's pretty cool ," you say, "but really why should I care?"

It is also The Literary and Arts Journal of Coastal Maine at The University of Maine at Machias.

"Okay, cool again, but... where's Machais?"

Machais is on the northern coast of Maine. Go a step farther and you're in Canada. Now will you stop a minute and let me tell you my news?

"Oh, sorry. Go right ahead."

Thank you.

Every year UMM holds a writing contest for the Fall edition. 150 words, any theme, any topic. I seem to be pretty good at flash fiction (see the Best of 2011 and 2012 anthologies at NECON ebooks) so I entered a story. It is called "What Scares Him" and you'll have to wait to read it because out of 925 entries it was selected as an Honorable Mention. So I didn't hit the money, but my little story will be published in their anthology as a print edition and ebook.

It will also be made into an audio file available on the website. That happened with my short story "Charlie Decker and the Last Zombie" as part of the zombie humor anthology "Zombies Ain't Funny". It's pretty fun to hear your words being read aloud by someone else, someone you've never met.

"I remember reading that. Very funny. And I see that I could just click on the picture of the zombie jester on the right if I needed a copy."

True, and thanks for the plug.

But that's not it. They will also enter my story along with the others selected into an awesome literary lottery. They are sending them all to Garrison Keillor for possible inclusion in his daily radio feature The Writer's Almanac. Now that would be too exciting to even consider as being real. But I am, at least for a few days.

It's a good little story, sad, but moving. It turned out to be a bit too prophetic, but that then is a story for another day.

To view the list of finalists and winners in the UMM 2013 Ultra-Short Competition, visit the UMM website at or their Facebook page at on July 1 and follow the Update or Ultra-Short links. Or just watch for it here. I'll keep you posted.

As always, thanks for reading me.