No Extra Words

the flash fiction podcast



Episode 88: Seeing the Divine

Copy of FLASH

What do you see when you look into the eye of humanity?

A chance encounter with a stranger on a train makes a woman wonder who is friend and who is stranger in “The Good Samaritan.” By Mary J. Breen, copyright 2011, used with permission. Read Mary’s bio.

First round of a new segment! “I’m a Meme Writer” features “After I Finished my Salad…” by Kris Baker Dersch, copyright 2017.

Rental of a place sight unseen leads to “The Lonely Key.” By Joan MacIntosh, copyright 2016, used with permission. Read Joan’s bio.

Happy listening,


Meet Episode 88 Contributor Joan MacIntosh

Joan MacIntosh was previously with us back on Episode 57 and shared with us her writing space on Episode 77. We are pleased to welcome Joan back to the show.

Joan MacIntosh lives in St. John’s, NL, and writes poetry and prose. Her work has been previously published on No Extra Words as well as in Leafpress, TickleAce and others.

Happy listening,


Special Episode #15: An Important Call for Submissions

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Click on the photo for an audio version of this call.

No Extra Words is looking for women writers to create pieces about women’s health and choice for an upcoming special episode.

This is a topic that has been extensively covered in all sorts of media, but one of the things literature does very well is get at those in between places. While we are happy to ready any and all fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on this topic, we would love to hear stories where things aren’t so straightforward, stories that explore all the nuances, stories that reflect how having and making choices impacts women at all phases in their lives and how the changing culture and political scene impacts how these personal stories play out in the real world. Truth is a hard thing to get at and sometimes gets crowded out of political debate, so we’re going to look for it through the lens of art.

You are welcome to be anonymous, use a pseuenym, or use your own name, whatever you prefer. We absolutely will not edit your story in any way without your consent.

Abortion stories are welcome, but this topic is larger than it is sometimes made out to be. Choice and women’s health includes the choices women make at all phases in their lives, around birth control, feminine care, fertility issues, aging, etc. We will use the broadest definition of a women’s right to choose in considering submissions.

I want to speak for just a moment about why I am opening this call for women writers only. We appreciate all of the guys out there and I’m sure many of you could write or maybe even have written, marvelous literature on this issue. But there is a tendency in this culture, for people who have been marginalized to not be able to tell their own truth or speak their own words. I sincerely hope you’ll understand, and I encourage male writers and listeners and any writer to whom this call doesn’t appeal to respond to our general call for submissions on our website or our Instagram Drabble Challenge, which is currently ongoing.

All our general submission rules are going to apply to this call. Please paste your entire piece into the body of an email, no attachments, send to and put Choice in your subject line. As I said, we are happy to read fiction, nonfiction, or poetry and we are going to have to adhere to a 1500 word maximum word count for this. We will also accept audio submissions, so if you prefer you can send your piece as a 7 minute or less .mp3 file. Writers who submit written pieces that are accepted will also be given the opportunity to record their own audio if they choose. Submissions deadline for this call is Friday, October 20. We will respond to all submissions and anticipate making selections by the end of November and releasing the episode in January.

I need to note that we are a non-paying market. I wish I had the ability to compensate all our writers for use of their material, but we do not. If accepted, we will credit and publicize you and you will maintain ownership of your own work.

If you have any questions or feedback, please email and I would love to chat with you.

Happy writing,


Featured post

Meet Episode 88 Contributor Mary J. Breen

Mary is making her second appearance on the show, having been with us on Episode 83 back in June.


Mary J. Breen is the author of two books about women’s health. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in national newspapers, essay collections, travel magazines, health journals, and literary magazines including Brick, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Post, and The New Quarterly. She was a regular contributor to The Toast. She lives in Peterborough Ontario Canada where, among other things, she teaches writing.

Happy listening,



Episode 87: Crack the World Open

Copy of FLASH

The world is always on the verge of exploding and reinventing itself.

“A Town Built on Salt” is on a shaky foundation indeed. By Windy Lynn Harris, copyright 2014, used with permission. This piece was originally published in Crack the Spine in April 2015, issue 147. Visit Windy’s website.

Hanako’s world is very small and carefully observed, but observers miss things in “Hanako Learns to Count.” By Sean Patrick Whiteley, copyright 2016, used with permission. Read Sean’s bio.

Today’s Writing Spaces features longtime friend of the show and repeat contributor Dr. Jeffrey Toney. He was originally featured on Episode 49 and was part of Episode 82‘s drabble spectacular. Click here to see his writing space.

There are the things you see about a person, and things you don’t, especially when that person is “Watermelon.” By Lisa Ko, copyright 2015, used with permission. Read Lisa’s bio.

Happy listening,


Meet Episode 87 Contributor Lisa Ko


Lisa Ko resides in California. She holds a BA in English and BA in French at the University of California, Irvine. She is currently obtaining her MA and MFA at Chapman University. Lisa is the communications manager of Anastamos, an interdisciplinary journal. More can be found at

Happy listening,


Writing Spaces for Episode 87 featuring Jeffrey H. Toney

Jeffrey first appeared with us back on Episode 49 and was back in Episode 82 as one of a dozen drabbles. He will share with you the backstory of this space:


Happy listening,


You’re Worth More than I Can Pay You

I still have the email, so I can give you the direct quote:

“As a writer, I did my work, and I anticipate being paid.”

I try to be very transparent about what we do here, so this conversation usually doesn’t get that far. But it happens. These conversations haunt me because I know. I get it.

The other one that hurts is when I see writers in forums talking about how excited they are for an upcoming publication even though it doesn’t “count” because they didn’t get paid for it.

I’ve talked about this before, and I don’t want to spend a ton of time here rehashing what I’d like to do if I had the ability to do it. Jim Szabo of Secondhand Stories and I chatted about it back on Special Episode 14, have a listen there if you are curious. But here it is in a nutshell: if I made money doing this, I would pass that on to the contributors. And if I expected to make money doing it I would not have started it in the first place.

My message to writers is simple: if you expect to be paid, expect fewer options to submit to. Ninety-two percent of literary markets don’t pay their writers, not because we don’t want to but because we can’t afford it.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there are terrible people out there. There are for sure big websites that are making plenty of money and not paying their writers enough or anything. There’s plenty of that going around and it is not pretty. But that’s not the real world of short story publication.

Which is why I’m going to tell you my actual story, with numbers. I really hate the business side of all of this and I’m one that usually likes to focus on craft. But to run the numbers is the only way to explain why I expect you to work for free. Which I don’t. But I’m grateful that you do.

Producing No Extra Words costs me about $30 a month. The reason it is that cheap is because I put a lot of time into it. I don’t have the financial ability to outsource anything, so it’s $30 a month plus hours and hours of time. I do not expect compensation for my time.

For the first 2 years of existence, I covered 100% of the costs myself. In June I launched our first ever fundraising campaign. We now receive $8 per month in donations, which I am extraordinarily grateful for. It helps offset those costs, but it doesn’t cover them, nor does it reimburse me for 2 years of costs.

And that’s okay. I didn’t start this as a moneymaking endeavor. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for everyone who has submitted work and everyone who has pressed play. You all mean more to me than you can imagine. I’m telling you this not to complain, but to explain. To explain that if I have to pay you out of the -$22 a month I make doing this, I will quickly go under.

We work with around 6 contributors per month, sometimes more. If I gave them each $20, my costs would go from $30 per month to $150 per month and we would close down. I can’t sustain that. And that doesn’t even begin to address the problem of wanting to compensate the 194 writers who have shared pieces with us to date, many of them several pieces, for no compensation. Also, $20 per story would be an average of less than 3 cents a word for most people, hardly a living wage for writers.

I’m certainly not the first person to point this out, and writers often point out, well, that’s the cost of doing business. You wouldn’t say to your hairdresser or web hosting service or auto detailer that you don’t have the money to pay them, would you?

Well, no, but if I couldn’t afford to pay them I would stop having them do work for me. If I can’t afford to keep No Extra Words running, it goes away, it’s as simple as that. Numbers don’t lie.

Having explained the output side, let’s talk input for a minute, because your next question might be how can I increase revenue to cover this cost? The answer is, it’s rough. I can’t charge listeners. Even if I could get consumers to pay me in a world where most web content is free, iTunes and the other apps that distribute this content don’t allow me to charge for it, so I’d have to completely change how we distribute, likely losing me more than I’d make. Not to mention losing an existing audience that I care deeply about. Or I could charge writers a submission fee, but I choose not to do that. I feel that the you don’t pay me I don’t pay you arrangement is more fair than the you pay me maybe I’ll pay you if you’re good enough one. Maybe it’s not, but that’s a choice. So we either exist as a non-paying market or we cease to exist, simple as that. And I like existing.

Most markets that do pay are able to because they make money on advertising. This is why literary markets struggle so much. It’s a small audience that consumes short fiction, and they are far from lucrative to advertisers.

So there you have it. The making of a non-paying market. All I can pay you in is exposure, promotion, experience, and previous credentials. For which non-paying markets regularly get made fun of in social media. Yes, I understand that that isn’t pay. Although I think your work is valuable, the market does not.

Before I close, I want to very quickly address the other accusation that is often levied at non-paying markets: that we are fine doing what we do as long as we make it very clear that we feature the work of amateur writers, not professionals. To that, I will simply say this: you are not the gatekeeper. I showcase good work here, and I don’t care if it’s the first story by that writer or the 1000th. One of the reasons I started this endeavor was that I found more literary markets than I care to mention to be snobby, elitist, and unappreciative of work that didn’t meet a certain self-imposed “literary” standard. Everyone who contributes here is a writer, and I value all their voices.

If you’re a past contributor of mine you’d better believe that I’m going to promote your book on my Twitter feed or be there for you on launch day. I’m thrilled to be included in your resume. I want you to outgrow us, to build beyond us, to get to the point where people pay you and pay you well for your work. You are worth that, even if I can’t give it to you. And maybe when you have reached that point you’ll occasionally get in touch with a piece of writing that was well-received elsewhere and you think might suit our show. Or maybe you won’t. There’s no expectation.

So to the 194 people who have to date agreed to share their work, and the more that will in the future, thank you. I can’t give you a check, but you have to know that without you I am nothing at all. And together…together we are something. Together we are art. We are priceless.

Happy writing,


Meet Episode 87 Contributor Sean Patrick Whiteley


Sean Patrick Whiteley is a 29-year-old writer, living in Revere, Massachusetts, with his wife, Michelle. When he isn’t doodling or reading Disney World guidebooks, his wife is forcing him to go for walks and experience sunlight. His work has been published in The Furious Gazelle‘s 2016 Halloween feature and Obra/Artifact. Find him online at

Happy listening,


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