Story Words
Very short fiction, written on the fly, from words submitted by readers.
© 2002, 2003, 2004 Jay Lake

Saturday, May 10, 2003
Important Note

I will be on vacation in Colorado from 5/11 through 5/18 with dubious Internet access, so Storywords will probably go on a brief hiatus as I am too lazy to figure out how to cue blog entries in advance. See you on the 19th of May.


In every box of crayons there are colors you worry about -- flesh, for example -- colors you don't quite understand -- burnt umber -- and colors you can never find because they don't really exist -- ultramontane. A translucent blue-green-gray, it is a distillation of sparkling glaciers hanging high on granite in the summer sky, the deep green cathedrals of fir and pine, and gentle meadows of wildflowers hanging on fearsome slopes. To smell the ultramontane crayon is to be transported to regions of high altitude ecstasy, feel the rock in your bones and the curling bright streams laughing along your flanks.

Friday, May 09, 2003

Pooch pouch kangaroo ouch. Dog time standing in line. Cat's like that, going splat. Bark, bark, look, Ma, I caught the bumper!

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Once upon a time the greatest king of Makedon had a father, who had been great before him. The father was so great that the greatest king was afraid his sire would eclipse his own glory. At the same, he was aware of the gods' views on hubris, as well as their general finagalian perversity, so rather than erase dear old dad from the statue plinths and tablets of the law, Alex made pop into a mere fillip.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Dressing the drawers and covering the legs always pulled at Victorian ambitions, but the furnishing of high office, especially in Chester, kept the veneer thick enough so that those who wood be tall could.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

In the early fifteenth century, an underground order of women known as the "steinfemmes" came to a secret power within the future capitals of Renaissance Europe. These women were leaders in politics, the arts, and medicine, and their chief was always known as "the Doctrine," on account of her medical training. Her primary guardian was always an Irish wolfhound known as "the Dogma."

Monday, May 05, 2003

Miners in Silesia long ago found that the most effective way to extract coal from the shafts was to pour brewer's yeast down there, let it ferment, and watch the coal scuttle out.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

A small suburb of Philadelphia, Philanthropy, PA, is noted for the highest rate of gay marriage in the United States.

  I've been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette, and for the John W. Campbell, Jr. Award for Best New Writer!
Award info | Me

Read the Hugo-nominated story for free at

Q: What is this?
A: A fiction experiment. Every day, people email me words. At some random point in the day, I pick a word, write a quick story about it on the spot, and post it unedited (except for a quick typo patrol).

Q: What did that word mean?
A: Look it up:

Q: Can I send you a word?
A: You bet. Include a definition if the word is deeply obscure -- or not, if you prefer. Send it to

Q: I've got something to say about this.
A: Click over to the Story Words discussion topic.

Q: Who else is silly enough to do this? I think it's kind of neat.
A: David Jones, for one. Surf over there and check him out. Drop him an encouraging word, too. He's a brave man.
A: Jeremy Tolbert, for another, with his Microscopica project. Likewise show him some love.
A: Jason Erik Lundberg with his Mythologism blog.

Q: You're even cooler than KITT the Knight Rider car. Do you have a mailing list to announce your latest hijinks?
A: Of course I do. What kind of self-promoting, narcissistic writer would I be otherwise? Email me. Occasional mailings regarding stories appearing in print and online, weird stuff in general, and appearances of the Greek Chorus.