Archive | May 2014

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 25

Welcome back! I have been so excited to introduce you to the creative magic giving rise to today’s prompt, there are hardly words. (Thankfully there are some words, or it’d be pretty clear I’m in the wrong business, eh??) This summer the Atlanta Botanical Garden has crafted a stunning exhibit called “Imaginary Worlds.” Talk about some literal world-buildling! It’s like mythology meets poetry meets a totally rocking irrigation system. And since most of us do not live in or near Atlanta, today I am bringing the imaginary worlds to you. 

Special thanks to the Atlanta Botanical Garden for their permission to use today’s photo (photo credit to C. Joey Ivansco). Y’all are awesome.

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Today’s judge, Jess West, probably considers herself less a world-builder and more a world-devourer. In the name of true environmentalism, however, she builds them before devouring them in order to preserve balance in the universe. If you wish your story to catch her suspicious eye, be sure to check out her judge’s page for tips. 

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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 “just for fun.”   

Now 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 words “botanical miracle'”):

Freedom

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Earth goddess. Imaginary Worlds exhibit, Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by C. Joey Ivansco. Used by permission.

Earth goddess. Imaginary Worlds exhibit, Atlanta Botanical Garden. Photo by C. Joey Ivansco. Used by permission.

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Sixty Seconds III with: Aria Glazki

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 Aria Glazki, who joins a small (but growing!) handful of others who’ve won THREE TIMES since December 2012. Read her winning story here. Read her previous interviews here (May 2013) and here (Oct 2013). I hope you have as much a blast reading this interview as I did. And a little Note: as a third-time winner, she’s not bound by the “twenty words” rule. But ohh, is this worth the extra words. And now: 

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece? The absolute lack of resources for survival caught me. There isn’t even enough shade to hide from the sun! Out there, you’d be genuinely at the mercy of the elements, and if you can’t leave, at the mercy of something or someone else.

2) Tell us about your upcoming book Mending Heartstrings. Mending Heartstrings was actually my NaNoWriMo project in 2012. It was the story that wouldn’t let go and which drew me back into writing. It’s about two people who both know “better” than to believe in love stories, but who just can’t give up on the possibility once they’ve met each other.

3) Tell us about what the publishing process was like for you. The most useful thing I could tell other writers is to remember that traditional publishing works at a snail’s pace, until right before a release when things (I’m told) go crazy. Really, even once the paperwork is signed, and all you want is to see the work published already, things move quite slowly.  I suggest keeping yourself sane by focusing on a new project.

4) What other projects are you currently working on? I’ve written a novel about a secondary character from Mending Heartstrings, and I have another fun book completed about a writer and his muse, so I’m considering next steps with both. Plus, I’m actually just about to start book #4, as soon as I pick which idea to follow.

5) What’s your biggest writerly pet peeve? I cannot stand mistakes in grammar and word choice (misusing words), but besides that what really gets me is characters doing something because the author needs it for the plot. Lack of motivation just kills a story for me. Personally, I tend to focus on the characters and forget to set the scene, which I still struggle with. Flash! Friday has actually helped with that! 

6) What are your writing goals this year? Really just continuing on. I am hoping to have the guts to start (better yet, finish) writing a story whose intensity has held me at bay for a long time now, but don’t hold me to it!

7) Which books were your favorite reads this year? You know, because you asked, I’m sitting here thinking about the books I’ve read lately, and I don’t want to call any of them out, but sadly none have really grabbed me or wowed me. So now I’m looking for suggestions!

8) Would you say your flash writing has changed/grown this past year? Last year you advised writers to “Know your medium – don’t try to write a novel-length plot within the limits of a flash fiction word count.” What advice would you give now? Of course! Flash used to be a barely familiar medium for me, whereas now I feel much more comfortable, and sometimes that much more intimidated. I’ve learned that one inspired line can make the entire story really coalesce, and then force you to raise the bar on the rest of the story supporting it. My advice now would probably be to make each word pull its own weight, so you don’t belabor the same point within your limited word count.

9) Final thoughts?  Well first, thank you so much, Rebekah, for devoting all that time and energy into creating and maintaining Flash! Friday for us!! Of course, I’m also grateful to the volunteer judges. This community as a whole is wonderful in allowing people to explore their writing, and learn from others’ writing, without any demands, and that’s very special. It’s important to remember the strength of writers as a community.

 

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 24: WINNERS!

I was all prepared to give my usual “welcome back, you incredible writers” speech (one of my favorites!), when I had to do a double take. Make that triple. Unless I counted wrong — which, as I was a Lit major in college, is entirely possible — there were 51 entries this week. FIFTY-ONE entries in a week with a prompt of an alien mailbox near a top secret government research facility.

I always knew y’all were good. But this week you took it to a whole other area (get it? AREA). Cue Twilight Zone music.

FIFTY-ONE!! 

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Judge Alissa Leonard says: If we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that combining mailboxes and aliens results in BILLIONS of dollars of debt, human abductions, time travel, conspiracies, UFO chasers, mysterious disappearances, and alien invasions with some desert adventure thrown in for good measure… Perhaps the aliens should use a post office box? Thank you all for your offerings; they were out of this world! Let me tell you about some of my favorites:

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Worldbuilding: Winter Bayne, “Paid in Full”; James Marshall, “Reminder Notice”; and Bart Van Goethem, “The Takeover.”

Beginning: Tinman, “You’ve Got Mail”

EndingLaura Emmons, “Alien Discovery”

MoodChris Milam, “Transference”; Joidianne4eva, “Plant My Roots (On Barren Ground”)

CharacterizationMegan Besing, “Saturday 1:07pm”; John Mark Miller, “Special Delivery”; Clive Newnham, “SPECIAL DELIVERY”; Betsy Streeter, “Steve, Keeper of the Box”; Carlos Orozco, “The Alien”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

A.J. Walker, “Settler.” Your first paragraph set up a life of peace and contentment – painted a picture of hard-earned solitude. You had me hooked there. I loved the line, “That was a matter of life and mum.” Seriously, that is brilliant. Because we all know, if you don’t call mom, you’ll be dead.  🙂 I also really enjoyed your clever take on the name and bill issue. It was unique and unexpected, and it tied into the characterization from the first paragraph perfectly. Very nicely done.

Katrina Ray-Saulis, “Dear Robbie.” The relationship is what caught my heartstrings with this one. A “goodbye” note from Gram to one who teased her and joked with her, but obviously loved her. He drove out to the spot where they found her car every year to write her a letter about his life – so sweet. So sad and hopeful and beautiful. And then the reassurance… Loved it.

Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Bounty.”  This one entertained my world-building brain so much! “Wanted dead, alive, or in stasis” set the scene very well. I enjoyed the deadpan bounty hunter – nothing fazed him. He checks that the cloaking device is working by the fact that no one screams. He considers incinerating the entire place so that no one can get the same info, but decides not to because it’s “probably not worth the fine.” –Probably?! Then he adds petty theft to the guy’s rap sheet. It made me laugh and filled me with so many questions! 

 

THIRD RUNNER UP

Casey Rose Frank, “Not My Boat.” Your characterization is brilliant. The bored, business-like creditor; the paranoid (and wrongly accused) man; and the pranking alien combined to make this a hilarious read! Seriously, when Mr. Smith said, “What would I do with a boat?” I could see him flailing around in the desert. And then the end… the “large blue face wearing groucho glasses” peering through the curtains. I busted out laughing.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “Overdue.” Oh, how I want this to all work out! I love the characterization of the little boy and his fascination with Buzz. He tries to be brave and “set his voice to ‘Hero,’” but it doesn’t work perfectly. I could picture this goodbye scene between so many fathers and sons and it broke my heart. Then the end… “I tucked three dollars in its fold telling Dad to put it towards the bill for his journey home.” So sweet and heart-wrenching!

FIRST RUNNER UP

Mark Morris, “Paid in Full.” Wow. This one knocked my socks off! The idea that the aliens would pay off your overdue bills is an amazingly fascinating concept – completely unique and enjoyable. I am dying to know the consequences for putting more than one bill in there per month… Please? 🙂 And yeah, the catch. It seems like such a reasonable question… That last line floored me. Seriously. Then my mind FILLED with questions: These people seemed like friends: were they? Did he seriously just sell out his friend? Does he find random people and convince them to go with him? And, really, what kind of person values a person’s life as less than one overdue bill for internet??? Mind: Blown. 

And now: for her third time overall, but first for Year Two, it’s Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

ARIA GLAZKI!!!

for

“Bargain”

Brilliant. Perfect. Just… Wow. Your language was so evocative I needed a drink of water: “baked alive” “groan scratched its way out of my throat” “blistering sunlight” “grit scraped my eyes” “taunting me with the waste of water”. I felt sore and parched and I also felt that “blissful instant of relief” when the shadow fell over him. The captor is so very outlaw-esque, and I want to see more of her! I suppose that’s one way to get out of your debts… We start the story being “baked alive” and finish it with the possibility of two more weeks. It’s quite the ultimatum. And it floored me. It was seriously perfect and sucker punched me right in the gut. Beautifully written, wonderfully evocative, and very fun characters. Loved it.

Congratulations, Aria! Your brand new-to-you (isn’t it fancy!) winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me ASAP so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

Bargain

Waking up isn’t easy when you’re being baked alive.

A groan scratched its way out of my throat as I opened my eyes to the blistering sunlight. Soreness in my shoulders and ankles dissuaded me from moving.

One of only two shadows on the sand moved. Grit scraped my eyes as I tried to blink the motion away.

“Oh shut up.” The shadow fell over me for a blissful instant of relief, chased away by her grin. “How ya doin’ down there?”

“What the hell you stupid—”

“Ah, ah. Careful.”

The scorching spotlight found my face again. She spat, taunting me with the waste of water.

“You owe me,” I reminded.

“Well now, that’s why I’m here. You forget that little issue, and I’ll cut you free.”

“Are you off your—”

“Or.” Her shadow moved out of sight. “I could just leave you here, while I come up with the money. Shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks.”

 

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