The Write Place to Be: Casperia in Italy’s Wars by Bryan Jansing

In anticipation of our Italian Flash Fiction retreat in May, we asked native Italian Bryan Jansing to talk a bit about how Casperia and the Sabina Hills feature in Italy’s long history.

Casperia in Italy’s Wars

by Bryan Jansing

The first stop after leaving Rome to reach Casperia is Poggio Mirteto train station. Standing before the hilly slopes and fast rising mountains as you leave the train into Poggio Mirteto is a large billboard dedicated to the partisan fighters of World War II. The 8th of September 1943 is an important date in Italian history; it’s the day Italy joins the allies. Poggio Mirteto, like many of the small towns and villages peppered throughout the ridges of the Apennine in the Lazio region, was nurturing grounds for the Italian resistance. As the armistice with the ally armies goes into effect, German soldiers flee Rome, passing through the hilly and stony slops of Sabina, Caspera and most importantly, through the train station of Poggio Mirteto. Over these tracks passed retreating Nazi soldiers, their equipment, prisoners and trains loaded with captured Jews headed to concentration camps.

Liberated from Mussolini, Italian soldiers and their generals, along with ally soldiers who escaped Nazi prison camps behind enemy lines, Jews who fled their captors and others on the run in these mountains unite to form the Italian resistance, the partisans.

the-campaign-in-italy-the-advance-on-cassino-may-1944Until the end of World War II this ragtag army, whose ranks are filled with a hodgepodge of unlikely heroes unite to sabotage the retreat and occupation of the Nazis. The billboard at Poggio Mirteto reminds us of these heroes who rose during a terrifying and bloody period.

Battles in these hills go back to the Etruscans, the first inhabitants of this region. The Etruscans ruled from 900 BC until a small village called Rome would revolt in 483 BC. Then there were the attacks by barbarians as the Roman Empire disintegrated, the feuding wars of the Middle Ages and the renaissance. Little towns like Casperia were safe in their fortified villages way up on high peaks and allied to like-towns through fiefdoms. It’s not hard to let your imagination run and let the array of time pass through you.

Italy lagged behind as a third world country without trains or paved roads to connect these old, medieval towns left forgotten, until Mussolini brought Italy to the industrial revolution in the late 1930s. For this reason, Casperia remains nearly untouched. Its charm and tranquil setting allow us to slip back to a time where life moved slower, where there was time to think, relax and catch our breath and strengthen our relationship with our often neglected muse.

Bryan Jansing is an international, award-winning author. His Flash Fiction was included in Fast Forward Vol. 3, The Mix Tape (2010), which was the finalist for the Colorado Book Awards. He has also written for Beer Advocate, Celebrator, Primo and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. His book Italy: Beer Country is the first and only book available about the Italian craft beer movement. Find out more about Bryan here

Read Nancy Stohlman’s interview with Bryan here: 


Tour Italy with the authors of
Italy: Beer Country The Story of Italian Craft Beer Book your tour: www.ItalyBeerTours.com

Facebook: @ItalyBeerTours
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Twitter: @ItalyBeerTours
In bocca al luppolo!

UPDATE: Our Springtime in Italy Flash Fiction Retreat is SOLD OUT. We have openings in Grand Lake in August and exciting announcements coming soon!


“Time in Flash Fiction” by Sophie van Llewyn on TSS Publishing

A great craft article on using time in flash fiction with examples by Kathy Fish, Nancy Stohlman, AE Weisgerber, and many others–check it out!


Sophie-van-Llewyn-Resident-Flash-Fiction-Writer-with-TSS-Sophie van Llewyn was born in Romania. She now lives in Germany. Her prose has been published by Ambit, the 2017 & 2018 NFFD Anthologies, New Delta Review, Banshee, New South Journal etc. and has been placed in various competitions – including TSS (you can read her Flash Fiction ‘The Cesarean’ here). Her novella-in-flash, ‘Bottled Goods,’ set against the backdrop of communist Romania was published by Fairlight Books.


Time in Flash Fiction

by Sophie van Llewyn

Flash fiction is an exercise in brevity: this is nothing new. But this doesn’t mean that flash fiction has to limit its temporal reach to a short span of time. Flash fiction can stretch far beyond the few pages (or the fraction of a page) it occupies. It can encompass hours, days, months, a lifetime or even more, as we’ll see in the examples listed below. They illustrate the various techniques that can be employed to make time dilate in flash fiction — or rather contract to a few dozens or hundred words. It is no small feat, and the result of this kind of compression can have a staggering effect on the reader.

There’s also another aspect of time in flash fiction to consider: because of the low word count, there are only so many words than can be used in order to establish a timeline. It’s an art in itself choosing those very words that tell us more about the character’s situation, about his or her personality, while giving us a feel of the atmosphere of the era (this is especially important in the case of historical fiction), or just placing us in time. It’s the ability to choose from all the spectrum of the character’s activities and surroundings: the ones that tell us most about the character’s set of circumstances. Stripping an entire lifetime down to a few details — this is a skill which entire books could be written about.

In this essay, I only aim to showcase some of the ways time can be used in flash fiction, using the accustomed examples that are free to read on the Internet. Think of this like a door, setting your imagination free, allowing you to be creative with the use of time in your own work.

Continue reading:


Grand Lake Retreat Announced: Flash Fiction Summer Camp!



How does communing with your fellow writers in a rustic setting in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains sound? How about a chance to clear your mind at high altitude, open your mind to creativity and expansion and take in the “grand” view?

This year Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish have chosen beautiful Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge in Grand Lake, Colorado for their summer retreat! Grand Lake is just 1.5 hours north of Denver and is in one of the prettiest areas of Colorado, adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park.

We’ll spend four days and nights with mountain air, lakeside views, skies full of stars and lots of flash fiction. We’ll generate stories, we’ll sculpt stories, we’ll rest, we’ll share, we’ll conference and we will be inspired together in the beauty of late summer in Colorado, under the August meteor showers. We may even spot some wildlife!


Join us! Find out more!


Total Lunar Eclipse in Costa Rica During “Writing Wild” Retreat Jan 20, 2019

How cool is that??

During our Breckenridge retreat we were visited by the Elusive Red Fox Totem Writing Spirit–right up to our front door!

Looks like we will be having a lunar visitor during our Costa Rica retreat this time:

Capture 2

Read more about the January 20, 2019 eclipse here.


Timetables for Costa Rica according to here:


Bring your binoculars!

Love, Nancy and Kathy