Sixty Seconds with: Michael Seese

Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.

(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)

Matchlight

Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Michael Seese.  Read his winning story here, then take one minute to get to know him better.

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece?  I started with the thunder, then thought of the steps and caves. That led to “hurried, scurried,” which made me think of ants.

2) How long have you been writing flash? I wrote my first flash fiction (by that name) in 2011. But all my life I’ve written a lot of short, short stuff.

3) What do you like about writing flash? I like writing flash because it suits my attention… Oh look! A robin!

4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Veterans know this, but for newbies, remember: even though it’s 100 – 200 words, it needs a beginning, middle, and end.

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why? I don’t follow anyone specific. I just enjoy reading others’ work in these sorts of contests. {Editor’s Note: A great place to start is with Flash! Friday winners.}

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? Indies Unlimited, and super-agent Janet Reid (whenever she posts one among her sterling advice columns).

7) What other forms do you write (novels, poetry, articles, etc)? Everything. I used to write newspaper articles. I write poetry (a lot on Twitter) short stories, and novels. And songs.

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? I don’t have a favorite. I write MG, YA, and adult. Comedy, thrillers, literary fiction, non-fiction.

9) Tell us about a WIP.  Promoting** a recently published long short story, Rebecca’s Fall From… Looking for an agent for my MG piece. And I’m about to start an adult thriller.

** In the spirit of giving, “Rebecca” will be free for Kindle download on Amazon today (Wednesday) and tomorrow.

10) How do you feel about dragons? As long as I have Excalibur with me, I fear no mythical beasts.

 

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 36: WINNERS!

How to thank you, the incredibly talented writers who return faithfully to support and challenge each other here at Flash! Friday each week? No words big or deep enough exist — believe me, I’ve looked. I hope each of you truly understands the profound impact you have on each other’s lives. Thank you.

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Judge Betsy Streeter says: This week’s prompt drew a vast array of responses from the writers – everything from world-building to bugs to gods, kings, queens, a fair number of monks and dragons {Editor’s Note: Dragons?? Yessss!} and everything in between.

The stories that stood out to me conveyed a world or a point of view, along with a story, in the limited space. This is tough – too much action and you haven’t described the situation adequately, too much description and nothing happens or the action seems incomplete. Some were metaphorical, others went all the way into fantasy. But the ones mentioned here committed fully and made each word serve their purpose. That’s not easy to do. Congratulations to all!

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Dody Chapman, “The Taming.” For a terrific range of language, sentences filled with color and texture. Also, a very nice and compelling conflict right from the first sentence. Can I say how much I love that first sentence: “The City of Granite lives to spite the lofty City of Lightning.”

Pam Plumb, “The Visionary.” For far-reaching implications in very few words. It made me want to know the story that comes between the first and second paragraphs. Loved the sentence: “She knew she would revisit the city, make it proud to have sired her.” There’s a relationship to past and future there that intrigues.

Mark A. King, “Acceptance.” Another story that brings its world into focus very quickly with phrases like “bleached bone frameworks jut, jostle and gape at obscene angles within the ceilings.” My other favorite here is “I run my bony fingers over my legs, full of disease” – this conveys a deep sickness that I can really see and feel.

Liz Hedgecock, “Troglodyte.” For use of point of view to tell the story. First from the inside, and then from the outside. The switch is quick, but well-punctuated. This story reminds me of a George Saunders short story I read a while back. Makes me feel for the poor creatures.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Elisa Average Advocate, “Wormwood.” For conjuring a whole world in a few words, introducing us to a series of races, and outlining a conflict as old as time: the rulers versus the oppressed. Great phrases like “non-toxic to society,” and “could be forgotten and eat dust in peace.” It’s not easy to cover this much ground so quickly.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Image Ronin, “Le Chateau do Tromperie.” Many stories made use of the punctuation provided by a storm, but this one did it particularly well. I loved phrases like “polished stones and glistening metal marking our certainty.” Also, “built knowingly upon treacherous sands” is all you have to read to know this relationship was flawed from the beginning. And finally, the ring hitting the table brings it all together.

FIRST RUNNER UP

FCFL Railway, “Memory Garden.” This story, again, is so efficient in how it opens up situations and worlds for the reader. First you are with a child, who is describing a fanciful imagination used to cover over ugly reality. That’s great. But then you read, “And now you ask me for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” and you know exactly where you are – and why. Brilliant.

And now: appearing for his first time at the top (I’m so crazy about first-timers!!), it’s Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

MICHAEL SEESE!!!

for

“The Farm”

This story does a masterful job of moving between two realities while flipping them on their heads. At first, it’s just an anxious band of humans. And, I love the sentence, “False hope is cruelty.” But then, you pull out to see an insect and the whole description shifts to a new language. Clicking mandibles, hatchday. And you realize, the humans are the scurrying, terrified bugs, and the bugs are amusing themselves without a care. The statement, “They are so cool!” conveys just how the bugs see the humans. Which is just the way humans see bugs. This is a great one to look at for examples of how simple word choice draws such a vivid picture – and how vocabulary can also create contrast. Congratulations!

 

Congratulations, Michael! Below is the extremely sparkly winner’s badge for your wall. Here also are your winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here ASAP so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds interview. And here is your winning story:

The Farm

The clap of thunder sent them scrambling for safety. Up, down they hurried, scurried, traversing the steps carved into the unforgiving rock face.

Fear creased their weary eyes as they huddled in the remote recesses of the caves. The parents hugged their children, hushed them, reassured them that everything would be fine.

But would it? Had they made the gods angry? Would the earthquakes return?

Nights, after the children had gone to sleep, the parents would gather and talk quietly.

Of escape.

Of freedom.

Of a life beyond.

They never spoke these words in front of the children. False hope is cruelty.

On the other side of the glass, Worker 1421 clicked his mandibles excitedly.

“They are so cool!” he said to his fellow drone. “I’m going to ask the Queen for a People Farm for my hatchday.”

“They are fun to watch. And so industrious. Still, I think I’ll shake it up and make them start all over again.”

 

FFwinner-Web

 

 

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 36

Soooo glad to see you again! I really miss y’all during the week; we should hang out more. Thank you so very much for making sure to spend part of your Friday here. Here’s hoping it’s an especially good one today!

Following Queen Margaret’s lead of last week is Queen Tamar of Georgia (crowned co-regent at 18 and then sole monarch at 24; how’s that for fast-tracking?!). On this day in 1185, the “king of kings,” as she was known, dedicated the extraordinary cave city of Vardzia. Though an earthquake not too long after made this massive hideout permanently public, it stands today as a testament to ingenuity and utterly magnificent craftsmanship. Wow.   

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Looking all judgy today is FOUR-time Flash! Friday winner Betsy Streeter.  Like Queen Tamar, Betsy adores ingenuity and craftsmanship. Let words be few yet voluminous, she says. She’s simply nuts about rich, hardworking language. Read more here.  

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. And on Mondays, one of your own glorious stories may very well be in the spotlight at #Flashpoints.  

Now grab a chisel and let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word(s) unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the name “Georgia'”):

Include a thunderstorm 

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Vardezia, Georgia. Public domain photo.

Vardezia, Georgia. CC photo by Ben van der Ploeg.