It wasn’t a very active Iron Writer competition this month. We can blame it on my trying to step in and do more of the website work, and not being great at it. Considering the wildfires on the west coast, the hurricane damage in the south and east on top of the usual pandemic panic… I’m happy we got the entries we did.

This was our Autumn quarterly competition as well as our regular monthly. For our quarterly, one champion had to postpone until the next one in August, and one I haven’t heard from in a week but he has until midnight tomorrow night. As far as the regular monthly competition, we have two entries. That means… voting should be a snap!

You can read our Quarterly entry here: Vibrancy by Briant Laslo.

You can read our September entries here:
A Job Offer by Briant Laslo
Things Left Undone by Dave Woolston

After you’ve read those, go vote for your favorites here.

What is Iron Writers?

A flash fiction competition where every month writers will compete against each other, writing a story of 1,000 words or less that uses four elements to be revealed at the beginning of the month. Writers will have seven days to complete their masterpiece, and then readers will be invited to vote on their favorite. The story with the most votes wins. In the event of a tie, the winners will face off in a Flash Battle to determine the winner. Monthly winners will compete quarterly, and quarterly winners will compete next year for the title of Iron Writer 2021.

And here were the prompts:

September Photo Prompts
Autumn Quarterly Prompts

Good luck Iron Writers!

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It’s been a busy day with an unexpected editing project that lasted all day but it was awesome. I wish I could say what I was doing, but I signed a non-disclosure. Instead, I’ll share the experiment I’ve been doing over on TikTok.

I’ve been writing a haiku a day and then folding it into a crane since 9/11. Why? Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Also, why not? Lots of exciting stuff to share this Saturday for the Lunchbreak and this Sunday is the Poetry Live on Instagram I always do with Amy Zoellers. Anyway, I will share almost all things on Saturday and for now, I tiredly leave you with this haiku crane for entertainment.

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I don’t know what I was expecting when I cracked open Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina this morning, but it wasn’t this. I just spent the entire day unable to put this book down, weeping and raging. I only paused long enough to send a Kindle copy to my mother and order a copy to keep as mine is from the library. I will be sending copies to my adult children as well, so they can understand who they are.

Where to begin? First, with a thank you. Elizabeth Miki Brina has explained the mystery of my life back to me through the lens of her own. I saw the relationship with my mother, and her relationship with her mother reflected on these pages. I found answers to my own questions—why am I different? Why is my mother so different? What does it mean to be Uchinanchu?

In this book is a secret history of the US involvement in Okinawa alongside the narrative of a half Asian daughter. Whenever I’ve told people my mother’s family comes from Okinawa I am usually told how much “the local people” love Americans and appreciate the military.

They maybe don’t know about the nearly 9,000 murders, rapes and robberies committed by US service members against “the local people.” Maybe they don’t realize the cases for sexual assault against “the locals” are higher in Okinawa military bases than anywhere else in the world. One of the youngest victims of rape was nine months old.

They fail to mention the Koza Uprising on December 20, 1970. They want to believe this impoverished indigenous people are grateful to be used as service animals for greater purposes. Maybe they don’t know that Okinawa was claimed by the US after World War II because it was such a strategic location for military bases—20% of the islands sacrificed for a foreign military.

They don’t see any unfairness when the US sold Okinawa to Japan for six hundred eighty-five million dollars despite the protests of the people they were selling. Perhaps they forget that it was imperialism and war, other countries’ war, that created the extreme poverty in the first place.

Combined with this historical but often overlooked narrative is the intimate story of what became of them. It is an explanation for all the Uchinaa children to explain to us why we are as we are, even as generations four times removed. On a personal note, it showed me an unfamiliar world that contributed to who I am. Brina showed me other points of view from my family. She’s closed the distances between my own generations.

A memoir, Brita writes with cutting honesty that reflects ourselves back to us. Whatever ethnicity we come from, we can find ourselves on these pages. This isn’t a book of accusation but of understanding. Atrocities happen. It is time to unmake them. The first step is opening a conversation—a dialogue.

Since I’ve started researching what it really means to be Uchinanchu I’ve shared many conversations and the response is usually: Okinawans aren’t Japanese? The answer is no, they are a separate indigenous people with their own customs and language. Japanese can’t speak and read the native tongue, called Uchinaaguchi. Despite this, an internet search assures me it “is the Japanese language as spoken by the people of Okinawa Islands.” This is incorrect. It is the language of the Okinawa Islands.

This book is one of the most valuable and intense books I’ve ever had the traumatic pleasure of reading. If I thought writing a poetry collection about my blended Asian experience was wrenching, this book has ripped my heart wide open again. I’ve wept all day for a people that couldn’t. There wasn’t enough water and energy to waste on tears. There was only survival. I’ve cried buckets for them.

There’s a line in the book that resonates deeply with me. It sums up what I think my grandmother never had and what I suspect my mother craves. It’s a good phrase for all sorts of underrepresented people regardless of ethnicity, gender, age and physical abilities. Brita writes of moving to a town where the ethnicities are mixed more evenly through a population, and how comforting that was, and strange. She described it as “where I feel seen, rather than exposed.”

This is a book that needs to be seen. Speak, Okinawa does indeed speak, loud and clear. It is from a particular voice, but it speaks to and for all of us. We all have the same human desire to matter, to be heard—to be seen rather than exposed.

The best and most important book I’ve read for many years. You can find Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina on Amazon here.

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Calling all SFPA: Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association members to submit up to 5 audio recorded poems for the 2021 Halloween Poetry Page. Deadline Oct. 26. For more details follow this link.

The page is open for everyone to enjoy, but only SFPA members may submit. There are a lot of great benefits to joining. Find out how to be a member here.

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The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but creators have been one of the hardest groups hit. Since early 2020 book signings, conventions, art shows and performance venues have been shut down, and with it opportunities. Already a largely isolated population, the loss of opportunity has also been a loss of community.

To alleviate both the loss of income opportunities and community, we have put together SPECFAIRe, a monthly mini convention open to artists and creators of all things speculative from music and books to art and film. Entertainment, dealer room booths and networking forums are available online and accessible to anyone with internet.

Beginning October 8th, everyone is invited to gather for this free event. Meet industry professionals, network with like minded people and find new favorites all day long with opportunities to gather in the open Pragli lounges or Writer’s Block Cafe in our vast Writer University venue in Second Life which includes escape rooms, museums and the virtual offices of Space and Time magazine. 

Don’t worry if you can’t make it that day. All live events will be recorded and remain available for viewing and the Dealer Room stays open for three weeks following the FAIRe.

Virtual booths in our dealer room run from $10-20 and remain active for three weeks. To reserve a booth, visit this page.

For more information on this monthly mini-convention visit

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You can also view it on my Facebook profile and join the conversation there.

What was covered today:


Read Books All Day and Get Paid for It by Jennie Nash

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

The Eye of Tony Hicks: Poems from a Beatnik Housewife by Amy Zoellers



Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina


Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos by Lee A. Tonouchi


Giving the Devil His Due: Special Edition released 9-1

Iron Writers open until 9-15

SPECFAIRe now open at

…and a poetry reading video submitted from Pete Kelly

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My book mail was a little more manageable this week with a poetry book, two nonfictions and a magazine. The two writing books I have set to be reviews in November for NANOWRIMO.

Whether you participate in the annual write-a-thon insanity or not, it’s a good month to brush up on literary skills. Some of the links below are affiliate links and if you purchase, I earn a commission.

Tomorrow I’m going to try something new. There is far too much literary news for me to cram into once-a-month Cake & Hyperbull show so I’m going to experiment with doing a short show every Saturday. I’ll be covering books I got in the mail, a poetry reading video Pete Kelly sent in, Tim Waggoner’s awesome recent post and news about Giving the Devil His Due, Iron Writers and SPECFAIRe. But for now, here is my book mail for the week:

Read Books All Day and Get Paid For It: The Business of Book Coaching by Jennie Nash I’ve been thinking about getting trained and certified as a Book Coach, since that’s what I seem to do all day anyways. So I first bought this on Amazon Kindle, but it’s one of the books I want to keep as a reference. The information outlined here is good for anyone working in the literary services field. I look forward to reading the paperback so I can make notes. There’s a new player in the gig economy that’s perfect for people who love books. It’s called book coaching, and you really do get to read books all day and get paid for it. A book coach is a strategic professional who guides a writer through the creative process of developing a book — helping them define the project, design the best narrative structure to tell their tale, and build both their confidence and their editorial skills as they write forward.Get your own copy on Amazon here.

The other book I purchased this week was The Eye of Tony Hicks: Poems from the Beatnik Housewife by Beatnik Housewife. This is authored by none other than my own Cake & Hyperbull co-hostess Amy Zoellers. I love her sparkly, joyful wording. Both Amy and her work are full of life and zanity (zany sanity, can I use that as a word?). You will be hearing more on this very soon. From the description: “Laundry meets Beat Club and a Missouri winter takes poetry form! It’s all here inside The Eye of Tony Hicks—through the eyes of one frantic housewife: crucial woodfires–exciting shampoo–Hollies obsession–general beat-group preoccupation–street rumbles with inner devils–offspring episodes. Unholy heaps of cake and cigarettes and beat music! All of the pleasures of the world!! Or most of them, anyway. Far too sensual. Hide under mattress on Bible study nights… Fifty years of the Hollies! Join the celebration!Get your own copy on Amazon here.

From my local library, Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron. How to use science to tell a more compelling story? Yes, please! “…The vast majority of writing advice focuses on “writing well”… losing sight of the one thing that every engaging story must do: ignite the brain’s hardwired desire to learn what happens next. When writers tap into the evolutionary purpose of story and electrify our curiosity, it triggers a delicious dopamine rush that tells us to pay attention. Without it, even the most perfect prose won’t hold anyone’s interest. Backed by recent breakthroughs in neuroscience as well as examples from novels, screenplays, and short stories, Wired for Story offers a revolutionary look at story as the brain experiences it. Each chapter zeroes in on an aspect of the brain, its corresponding revelation about story, and the way to apply it to your storytelling right now.” Get your own copy on Amazon here.

And finally, Locus magazine. Anyone in the literary business can benefit from staying on top of things with Locus. Since 1968 they have been publishing industry news. A nonprofit, you can subscribe PDF only or have the full glossy mailed to you. I tried to be eco and do the PDF only but the print magazine is lovely and a worthwhile indulgence. You can subscribe to Locus here.

And that’s it for this week. Thanks for all the responses! I have multiple messages asking if a book can be sent to me or if I purchase them all. While most of what I share I’ve purchased or contributed to, I am happy to share things that are sent to me in a group post like this, but I can’t guarantee I’ll review anything specific. There are just too many books. I do pass on books to Space & Time reviewers and interested others whenever possible.

Any mail can be sent to:

Angela Yuriko Smith
P.O. Box 214
Independence, MO 64050

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First, a big congratulations to Tim Waggoner for finishing his fifty-third novel! I love Tim Waggoner. He is one of those helpful professionals that are happy to help out other writers. Need proof? Go check out his blog Writing in the Dark where in a recent post he shares what has helped him to be such a prolific writer and the pros and cons of being a prolific writer.

Three favorite takeaways:

  1. Tim and I were both nearly drowned about the same age. Having a near death experience before puberty is an effective way to learn life and time appreciation. Don’t try this at home.
  2. We have supportive spouses. As you may have experienced, not everyone will condone their partner sitting at a desk for long hours everyday to make stuff up.
  3. This is good, because some people have no choice about being writers. We have to do it. I’ve wondered if years from now it may be classified as a nervous disorder with treatments… but I’ve learned to handle it—by writing. It’s self prescribed therapy.

There is a lot of value to unpack in Tim’s post, so I recommend you read it yourself. You can find Tim Waggoner’s “How I Write A Lot (and How Maybe You Can Too)” posted on his blog here.

From Monday, September 6, 2021
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We had to do a little rearranging of responsibilities, but Iron Writer challenges are back on track. This month’s prompts are posted and the deadline to submit is September 15—that’s a full week to write a flash fiction (1k words or less) incorporating 4 prompts.

Winner is declared September 2021 Iron Writer Champion and will move on to compete in the quarterly competition in November. Our August winner is David Clear with his story “The Headless Don’t Need Masks.” Visit to see the new prompts and drop your take on them by September 15.

Our Iron Writer Champions so far…

K.R. Segriff June 2021
Briant Laslo July 2021
David Clear August 2021

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Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos by Lee A. Tonouchi is almost impossible to find and somehow I was lucky enough to get my hands on four copies. I hope it will become available again soon. Written for children in three languages, it tells the story of the almost forgotten hajichi tattoos all Okinawan women used to wear proudly.

Three generations ago an Okinawan woman would have symbols tattooed on the back of her hands. From a young age a woman would ask for these marks made by a special dye created from balsam flowers and an Okinawan rice liquor. Rich girls were tattooed with sumi ink from China. All her life she would add special symbols to remember events in her life… coming of age, marriage, children and grandchildren. My great-grandmother had hajichi.

The Japanese decided the art of hand tattoos were unbecoming and tribal. They were outlawed in 1879 when the Japanese claimed the Ryukyuan islands as their own. Women with hajichi were humiliated and the practice today has been almost forgotten. To this day, the Okinawan people still live under Japanese rule in spite of being a separate culture and there is a movement to return their homeland.

This book is written in Hawaiian Creole, Japanese and Uchinaaguchi—the languages spoken on Okinawa. The story begins with a young girl telling her grandmother how she wants to be beautiful like the models she sees on the television. Her grandmother explains that beauty comes in many forms, and proceeds to tell her the origin story for hajichi tattoos—a tale of a clever princess and a pirate king.

A great story for anyone who wishes to know about an under represented indigenous people, I loved everything about this book. The art is colorful and reminds me of Bingata, a traditional stenciled resist dyeing technique that originated in Okinawa. The story is fun, educational and I enjoyed reading the Hawaiian Creole, known more commonly as Pidgin. I recognize it as what my grandmother spoke.

Because this book isn’t easily available, I’ve embedded a story hour reading below. Maybe we can get a reading from Lee A. Tonouchi, the author. It would be great to hear the story read in Pidgin from “Da Pidgin Guerilla” himself, as he is known. For now, here are two videos I found that share the story and how it came to be.

First, hear from the illustrator Laura Kina about the illustrations and how this project was brought to life.

And now a reading of the story itself…

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