Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 47

WELCOME to Flash! Friday! If this is your first visit, let me warn you: you’re in for one crazy ride. Thank you so much for spending some of your precious time & words here. We can’t wait to read your story(ies) – you can write up to two! –  and get to know you!  

REMINDER: Only a few days left to apply to the Flash! Friday team as judge. This is a fantastic way to give back to the community and improve your own writing at the same time. Join the party! Deadline’s Nov 10; learn more here.

For today’s prompt: I’ve been harping quite a bit of late about thinking outside the box, teasing stories out of the photo that discard the obvious. In keeping with that theme, you should know that while the obvious prompt is Halloween, we’re going in another direction altogether. Today in 1517 — almost exactly 500 years ago — Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. Talk about a nuclear move… Where your story will go?? Take it to radioactive levels this round. We’re suited up and ready for you.

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Today we bid a deeply grateful farewell to faithful judge Aria Glazki. (Hasn’t time flown??) In addition to loving a well-placed comma: realistic characters, vivid descriptions, and a fascinating premise really get Aria grooving to the beats of your story. Read more about what she looks for here.     

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays.   

Now, grab your hazmat gear and rip the door off its hinges!

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 Monday

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 specifically instructed to do so, e.g. “include a town named “Worms”):

monk2

***Today’s Prompt:

Caution. CC photo by Oleg.

Caution: Radiation Controlled Area. Creative Commons 2.0 photo by Oleg.

Sixty Seconds with: Grace Black

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 Grace Black. Be sure to check out her bio at her winner’s page! Read her winning story here, then take one minute to get to know her better.

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece?  The blurb on the depression era photographer and the photo with the horse, mingled with the crazy in my head.

2) How long have you been writing flash? Since 2013.

3) What do you like about writing flash? Less is more! As a wordy gal, it forces me to reevaluate what is necessary.

4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Write what moves you, how it feels, the way it tastes, then slash and edit to bare bones.

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why@theinnerzone has a deft and descriptive hand when it comes to penning fiction. Her emotive writing evokes the senses. Read more here.

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? Many, I jump around seeking inspiration but always wander back here to write. MicroBookends is another, new and fab! {Editor’s Note: David Borrowdale’s MicroBookends runs Thursdays; he provides the first and last words of your story. Check it out!}

7) What other forms do you write (novels, poetry, articles, etc)? Confessional poetry is my true love and I’m currently compiling a chapbook. I’ve also written three unpublished novels (they’re crap).

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? Poetry and literary fiction with a romance slant, but I’m not a happily-ever-after gal. I enjoy my novels nostalgic, my poetry melancholic, and my food spicy (but you didn’t ask that, and I borrowed words from answers #2-4. Wordy, remember? Flash conundrum).

9) Tell us about a WIP.  Gearing up for NaNoWriMo with an idea I’ve had for over a year.

10) How do you feel about dragons? According to the Chinese Zodiac, I’m a Tiger and my best compatibility is with a dragon. Therefore they’re awesome!

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 46: WINNERS

Welcome to results day!!!! So glad you’re here. Thanks for taking the time to write & comment, and thank you for coming back to see whose names are inscribed in gold on the trophies this round. MWAH!

Quick VERY COOL note: judge apps are already coming in for the first panel of Year Three. You’ve still got some time, but not a whole lot, to apply too and join the AWESOMEST dragon team anywhere; check out the details here

Final note: today it’s deep thanks and (sniff sniff!!!) goodbye to outgoing judge Betsy Streeter. Betsy, it’s been a privilege having you on the FF team this last quarter. Thank you for all your hard work and general wacky awesomeness. Can’t wait to read Silverwood for myself. Is it March yet???    

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Judge Betsy Streeter says:  Thank you so much, Dragonness, for asking me to be a judge. There is nothing that improves your writing like doing a lot of reading, and Flash! Friday is like receiving a great learning experience on fast-forward each week. I’ve loved having the chance to share thoughts on the pieces, and to be really thoughtful about them out loud, and I hope it’s been helpful to get feedback in that way – everybody please keep writing!

Now for comments on this round: Something about this particular photo, and its vintage, and the notion of bankruptcy took many writers to similar places this week – both in terms of story and in terms of tone and dialogue/dialect. I haven’t seen a set of stories that were this convergent before!

Having said that, there seemed to be two forks in that road: Pushing the idea around until it became something new (a twist, a reference to a TV show, perhaps even aliens), or sticking with it as a pure expression of a time and place that really seems to resonate with people.

The stories that struck me grabbed onto a detail, or a moment, or a conversation, and held it until it yielded something that implied a larger story or situation – opening up a new world in the process.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

David Borrowdale, “The Art of Keeping the Horse Between You and the Ground.”  David took that idea of failure/falling and applied it to the sometimes precarious act of riding a horse, and beautifully conveyed how our efforts not to let our world fall apart can take the form of both literally and figuratively climbing into a different place.

Stuart Turnbull, “The Gift Horse.” This is a great example of a small exchange implying a large story. Like in many Westerns, family bonds hold even in difficult circumstances. But choices must be made, and families must try to look out for one another even when they are just offering a least-worst alternative. This is classic Western, and the writing carries it out: “This ol’ nag looks in worse state than the one that left you to flit back to her folks in Mobile.”  

Matt L, “Untitled.” Many stories jumped into a particular tone and dialect, and this one did it particularly well. It reminded me of the speech at the beginning of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in which a small-time criminal’s many transgressions are listed out at length. The writer here really committed to the voice, and the content of the story supports it. Westerns have a certain craftiness and intelligence to them even when the characters seem to be just simple folk. I loved the use of squash.

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THIRD RUNNER UP

Eric Martell, “Untitled.” This story is so authentic in the dialog, the tone, and the delivery. I love: “unless you squinted, you couldn’t see that horse anymore.” Also wonderful: “nowadays luck trumped breeding every day of the week and twice on Sunday.” This is a great meditation on the fact that social standing falls apart right along with the economy, and how that can tear apart a person’s dignity and sense of who they are.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Karl A. Russell, “Too Big to Fall.” This is a great example of taking a premise and pushing it farther and farther, drawing on known fairy tales and blending it with another narrative. Karl here tells a huge story in very little space, containing it all in one expression of the rage you know is just under the surface in hard times. And this phrase: “returned home to the shotgun and the pot.” It’s almost a poem.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Holly Geely, “Christmas Dinner.” I kept coming back to this one, such a small moment between two characters but conveying so much. The contrast between the invented and outlandish story and the real circumstances lets the reader feel a creeping desperation. No action takes place, but it is implied and that’s what creates the tension. I found myself really wanting that horse to still be outside come spring.

And now: for her very first time EVER, it’s Flash! Friday 

DRAGON WINNER

GRACE BLACK!!!

for

“Depression Glass”

This is another I kept coming back to. It beautifully conveys how grief and loneliness are made worse by the loss of the small but meaningful parts of one’s life, and how those parts are encapsulated in shared everyday objects. It took me right to my grandmother’s house. A life built over time, torn asunder, and uprooted into another home. Somehow it’s just not enough, and the narrator knows it never will be. The glass is unmoored.

Congratulations, Grace! Below is your super cool/hot stunning winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your very own, brand new, mega sparkly winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Depression Glass

I watch birds now, their various wingspans, as I sip my coffee. Overpriced coffee from oversized mugs, brewed in coffeemakers costing more than my monthly wages when I was still a productive member of society.

That sounds ungrateful though, which I’m not or at least I shouldn’t be. My granddaughter has kindly taken me into her home. A home I never could have provided for Vera, but then times were different.

Her petite, gloved-white hands flapping around as she’d prattle on about some sale at the nursery. “Lilacs,” she’d said. She fancied gardening, and hated horses, but her hands remained petal soft even in the end as I held them between my own calloused monsters.

Milk-glass cups—we used to drink our coffee from—are kept on the top shelf of the hutch I built, collectibles now. We don’t drink out of them.

“Lilacs are in bloom.”

“Ah, yes! How are the birds today, Grandpa?”

“They don’t change.”

 

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