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In May 2009, Editor Unleashed and Smashwords partnered to sponsor The Flash Fiction 40 Contest. Any writer could post a story of 1,000 words or fewer on the Editor Unleashed forum, and the members would get a chance to read and rank all of the stories.

More than 280 writers took up the challenge and posted a story. It was a dynamic experiment in what is quickly becoming the new wave of publishing: crowd sourcing and open review.

Both the forum members and editors who made the final cut chose the same story as the Grand Prize winner—a dark, astonishing piece of magical realism titled “Fairy Tales” by Laurel Wilczek. You can read about Laurel and her inspiration for her flash fiction in profiles on both Editor Unleashed and at the Smashwords Blog.

In this anthology, you’ll find “Fairy Tales” as well as 39 other winning stories from the Flash Fiction 40 Contest. These stories encompass every genre—from literary to horror and beyond—and are 40 outstanding examples of the rapidly evolving flash fiction form. Savor the stories one at a time or spend a few leisurely hours reading the collection in whole. I know you’ll enjoy reading these 40 great flash fiction pieces as much as I did.

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