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Congratulations on your win in the Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Writing Competition! Your 16 word story “Bravest” was the favorite among the HWP staff. In fact, several of your stories were quite impressive. Is this your first time attempting micro-fiction?

  1. No, I've been writing micro-fiction for about 2 years. I love the challenge of condensing a story down to its most important elements. It's a lot of fun.

What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?

  1. I write flash fiction, usually in the 100-200 word range. And then my "day job" is working as a freelance travel writer, so I write travel and lifestyle features, often focusing on the Southwestern U.S. 

Where do you find your ideas and inspiration?

  1. I find inspiration in mundane, everyday things. I like taking normal situations and turning them around in unexpected ways. At least, that's what I try to do. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But that's the great thing about flash fiction. The stories are short, so I think it gives writers the freedom  to experiment more, and if it doesn't work, you can always try again.

How long have you been writing?

  1. I've been a travel writer for about seven years, and I've been writing fiction for almost three years.

What is your writing day like?

  1. I'm a parent, so I try to do most of my writing while my daughter is at school. Once I drop her off at school, I spend the first part of the day on email, social media, and my blog. I tend to do my best writing mid-morning. I think that's when the caffeine kicks in. Then, I take a break for lunch and work in the afternoon until it's time to pick up my daughter. Sometimes, I work a little in the evening, but it's usually brainstorming and jotting notes rather than sitting at the computer and really writing. I try not to work on the weekends, but sometimes a story idea will hit me and I just have to run with it.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

  1. That's a tough question. I try my best to do my own thing. I will say that I think being a freelance nonfiction writer influences my fiction writing. I tend to write in a very straightforward way. I don't use flowery language. I think that's a result of my background writing for magazines and travel websites.

What are you reading right now?

  1. I just finished reading The Best American Short Stories from 2014--I know, I'm a year behind--and I'm about to start reading T.C. Boyle's Talk Talk. Another book I read recently that I really liked was The Hopeful by Tracy O'Neill.

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?

  1. There's a quote from John Burroughs that I really like: "Leap, and the net will appear." I tend to be a cautious person, so that quote is always a good reminder to me to be brave and that things work out for the best.

Where can we find other works from Sarah Vernetti?

  1. You can find my flash fiction in 300 Days of Sun, Eunoia Review, Foliate Oak, Postcard Shorts, Black Denim Lit, and Vending Machine Press, among others. You can also find me online at sarahvernetti.wordpress.com. I have a blog that I update periodically, and my writing portfolio is also available there, which has links to my travel writing.

What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?

  1. My plan right now is to keep writing and keep submitting my work. I have a story forthcoming with Petite Hound Press called "Hydra" that I'm very excited about. A couple of my stories will be included in upcoming anthologies, but I don't know the details on those quite yet. Stay tuned!

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?

  1. My advice would be to really listen to feedback from editors. Rejections are always tough, but just remember not to take it personally. Try to keep an open mind and see things from their point of view. Also, don't get discouraged. Keep going, keep trying to improve your writing, and keep submitting your work.

Finally, any advice for writers who are thinking about entering the Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Competition?

  1. Yes! My advice is that if you are thinking of entering the competition, go for it! You've got nothing to lose. Also, writers are allowed to submit more than one story, so definitely take advantage of that, within reason.

Sarah Vernetti is a Las Vegas-based travel writer who also writes flash fiction. Her work has been published in 300 Days of Sun, Eunoia Review, Foliate Oak, and Vending Machine Press, among others. She is thrilled that her story "Hydra" was recently accepted for publication by Petite Hound Press. Find Sarah online @SarahVernetti.