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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, July 26, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Robert Vaughan is co-host of radio show "Flash Fiction Fridays" and a book by the same name.

"Flash Fiction Fridays" goes from radio to book


"Flash Fiction Fridays," the popular monthly segment on WUWM's "Lake Effect" program, is now in book form. Robert Vaughan, who co-hosts the show with Stephanie Lecci, compiled and edited 34 stories for the book that were originally read on the air.

Half of the stories in the anthology, which bears the same name as the radio show, are by Wisconsin writers. Others are from farther afield, including Sarah Lippmann, co-host of the New York City-based "Sunday Salon," Meg Tuite, author of the novel "Domestic Apparition" and Christopher Allen, a writer originally from Memphis who now lives in Germany.

The author make-up of the book is in line with how the show works; each month showcases Wisconsin talent reading their short fiction on the air and another national author's work read by Vaughan.

"The book is a testament to how much talent there is right in our own backyard, so to speak. There are such a variety of styles in the book and, because it is short fiction – we call it 'flash fiction' – one can easily finish a story in between appointments, while waiting to pick up kids at school, in the shower," says Vaughan.

Flash fiction is a complete short story that's usually between just 300 and 1,000 words. Submissions for "Flash Fiction Fridays" cannot be longer than 500 words. Work from local writers has priority over other entries.

Vaughan has such a good definition of flash fiction he reuses it: at least here and at Pam Parker's blog: "Flash fiction is like Disney on acid, it's like a joyride without the joystick. When I riff on a great flash, it's as if the world doesn't exist, it falls away."

In addition to flash fiction, Vaughan also writes poetry, short stories, plays, songs, essays and reviews. He leads two writer's roundtables for the writing community Redbird-Redoak, writes literature reviews for The Lit Pub and is the fiction editor for JMWW and Thunderclap Press.

"I've been called a Renaissance man, but I'm more like a jack-of-all-trades and, as the cliche goes, master of none," says Vaughan.

Vaughan says his writing is from "the street." He learned to write through workshops and, mostly, by living life.

"I travel a lot, road trip, challenge myself to take on at least one new thing every year. Balls to the wall, whenever possible," says Vaughan.

Vaughan put his first serious creative efforts into music, a member of many bands in high school and another at college in New York. While in college, he hitchhiked with a couple friends to Myrtle Beach, S.C., essentially ducking out on second semester at the music school he was attending.

"I lived in the dorm as if it was a hotel room and played gigs many times a week," he says.

His sophomore year, Vaughan attended a different school, one more focused on theater, dance and improvisational performance. It was there that he took up writing as a more serious pursuit.

"I began journaling and crafting ideas for plays. Then, after I moved to Los Angeles in 1985, my first play was produced," Vaughan says.

But Vaughan also remembers his high school English teacher, Margo VanHaneghan, who encouraged his writing early on.

"Flash Fiction Fridays" is the first book Vaughan has published. Having already read numerous stories every month as they were submitted to the radio program, Vaughan had a lot to go on. However, he says there is a huge learning curve to to publishing a book like this.

"Flash Fiction Fridays was inspired by opportunity. As 2011 drew to a close, I traveled to India, where I had lots of time to ponder. It came to me that I might look into developing an anthology of all the material we shared on the air."

"Flash Fiction Fridays," the book, is available locally at Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust St. and at Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave. It can also be ordered online at Lulu.com.

The "Flash Fiction Fridays" radio show segment is usually aired on Lake Effect the third Friday of each month, around 10:40 a.m. All "Flash Fiction Fridays" are archived at the Lake Effect website.

Folks can also keep up with Robert Vaughan at his blog.


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