Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 27: WINNERS!

Welcome to the results show! Where, unlike results shows on TV, you will find a shocking lack of filler. Oh, except for this real quick dragon line dance. Everybody ready? ONE two THREE four five SIX SEVen eight…. Shoot. Well, dragons can’t be good at everything, I guess.

A couple of quick reminders:

  • Flash Points is back! This (non-scary) critique of an excellent story from the latest contest publishes at 7:30am Mondays, Washington DC time. Check back tomorrow to see if it’s yours! Read last week’s here
  • The Q3 judge panel kicks off in July; their names will be announced this Friday.

Last but not least: please join me in raucous praise and adieux for judge Alissa Leonard. Thank you for giving of your time, brain, and heart this past quarter; your service to the FF community is greatly appreciated. THANK YOU!


Judge Alissa Leonard says: WOW! Thanks for making my last round of judging so amazing! I truly loved the stories you wrote. This was the most difficult of my decisions so far – I think that means you all are just getting better and better! 🙂 I wanted to give awards to everyone, but realized that would take me way more time than I was allowed, so I had to choose. I gravitated toward the ones that made me feel something – which is highly subjective, I know – and then those with memorable characters and rounded stories. (There were honestly so many that did very well on all of those that I had to start being nit-picky.) So great job to everyone, and I look forward to joining you on the writing front soon!



Last Line: These were my favorites for completely turning the story on its head, or providing the crucial ‘Aha!’ moment – so much fun! Phil Coltrane, “Summer in the Elysian Blackberry Fields”; Ian Martyn, “Tommy”; Craig Anderson, “My Shadow”; Chris Milam, “Tethered”; Ellen Staley, “Flowers”; and Sarah Cain, “The Berry Picker.”

Theme: Touching stories that really made me think and left me with a feeling – left me changed: Allison K. Garcia, “Small Hands”; Sarah Miles, “Unbroken”; John Mark Miller, “Enough”; and Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Re-grow, Together.”

Revenge: So many of these this week! These were my favorites: MT Decker, “Beware the Rosie Thorn”; Adrienne Myshel, “Berry Pie”; and Tony Dingwell, “Rose’s Berries.”

Evocative Language: These stories were outstanding in using sensory words to make me FEEL and SEE and HEAR what was going on…not soon forgotten: 20/20 Hines Sight, “Deadly Delicious”; Karl A Russell, “Bruised Cherries”; and Katrina Ray-Saulis, “Grateful.”


Karen Oberlaender, “Rose and I.” I loved this story of redemption. It gave me goosebumps and pricked my eyes with tears. I loved the idea of fairy godmothers who do more than give girls dresses and send them to balls – perhaps sending a wind to blow a hat away? I loved Rose’s character depth with just a few lines; her dutifulness, her abuse, yet her kindness to others not even close to beaten out of her (“without thinking” she ran for the hat). And, of course, kindness from a stranger – rescue. Great job.

Joidianne4eva, “There’s A Room (Where The Light Won’t Find You).” Whoa. I loved how you looked at this picture and saw something that wasn’t there and decided to write your story about that. It was brilliantly creative and fascinating. I was seriously freaked by your description “The child’s face collapsed as he moved, jaws sinking into concaves as his skin withered.” – Those are the pictures horror movies are made of! Matthias could be a very useful friend for ‘the girl’ to have in her line of work (as enumerated by many other stories this week) – I loved how she had a protector.

Margaret Locke, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The character development you packed into this very short story is seriously impressive. Her growth from dissatisfaction and ‘forgotten’ and ‘waiting to die’ through desperation and disappointment to hope and determination is a whirlwind that seemed perfectly paced. The three lines that jump out at me are: “Anything sounded better than this” to “I never wanted to be here again” to “I’m never eating a damn strawberry again.” I love the perspective this piece gives to life. Thanks.

Carin Marais, “Rose and the Wind.” I loved your use of imagery – the words you chose helped me feel the wind: drifted, stirring, swaying, whip, billowing, longing, dancing, singing, calling, shimmering. Then you countered that with the earth words: rooted, well-trodden path, dust, clusters of hovels. The juxtaposition really helped to portray the wind as a bridge between the prison of the earth and the freedom of the sky. Then, as if that weren’t enough, you juxtapose the innocence and imagination of the young with those who have grown older, those “time taught that there was no place for imaginings.” The sadness of that line really caught and held me – like an inhale. Then the wind rushed out and through a door… I want to see behind that door! So well done! 


Marie McKay, “A Gentlewoman’s Agreement.” This one gave me chills – I had goosebumps everywhere. The love of a sister is so precious. Your characters jumped off the page: the dad who would sell his daughters for the chance at making a connection, the husband who treats women like livestock, the sister who’s pretty and fragile, and then our main character who’s “big fir twelve” and “stronger.” I loved the line “But it was I who’d sized him up.” Because that’s when you see there’s more to her than meets the eye – she was “smart for twelve.” However she made it happen, she protected her sister from a horrible man and herself as well.


Jacki Donnellan, Untitled. Honestly, I was so caught up in the child’s would-be imaginings that those last lines were a sucker punch right to my gut. There were tears pooling in my eyes, and I just wanted to give the child a hug. I LOVED the vivid imagination of the games they could play. And I especially loved how you tied these wonderfully inventive and happy imaginings back to a fact about the daily life of one who picks these berries: stains on fingers, tummy growling, basket bruises on thighs, too tired to speak – the contrast was striking. And, wow…those last lines… SERIOUSLY amazing. Great job.


Rebecca Allred, “Peter’s Promiscuous Pucker.” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This was absolutely DELIGHTFUL to read! The alliteration is so much fun, and the tossing about of nursery rhymes willy-nilly is like frolicking in the meadow of childhood… AND THEN THE END!!! WHAT?!?!?! Because seriously, my jaw dropped. To. The. Floor. I’m still in shock from it. This, my dear, is brilliant. I loved it. Well done. 

And now: join me in the ebullient (if arrhythmic) dragon dance for first time Flash! Friday  


MATT L.!!!



Wow. Just wow. I loved this. Your format was perfect: the girl makes a comment, the boy reacts internally then externally. The dichotomy between his thoughts and his actual response is so true and beautiful and difficult. It really encompassed the idea of friendship so well – we bite our tongue rather than say something hurtful, we encourage when they’re down, we teach them, we care for them, and we stay. And sometimes, when the world is overwhelming, we tell them what they need to hear to keep them going – even when we’re overwhelmed ourselves. This had me in tears. Thanks so much.

Congratulations, Matt! Your gloriously fabulous winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your stunning and new 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:


“My arms hurt, Joe.”
Opening your mouth ain’t gonna make ‘em feel any better. 
“I know sis. Mine too. Be there soon.”

“The sand is burning my feet.”
Blisters cause callouses. Won’t feel the burning after that.
“Walk faster and try not to think about it.”

“I’m hot, Joe.”
Everybody’s hot. Not everybody’s complainin’.
“It’s July, sis. Gotta pick the crop when the crop’s ready be to be picked.”

“I got a sticker in my finger.”
Life’s full of stickers, sis.

“Joe, it’s bleeding.”
Life’s full of blood and stickers. Just how it is. How’s it’s always gonna be.
“Camp’s close. Soon as Mr. Johnson weighs our haul, we’ll wash your finger over by the well pump.”

“Joe, when’s momma comin’?”
Ain’t sure she’s ever comin’.
“Just a few more days sis. She went to find daddy. Keep walkin’. Almost there.”

“Daddy’s gonna buy us back real soon, ain’t he Joe?”
Been six weeks already.
“Yeah, sis. Real soon.”





3 thoughts on “Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 27: WINNERS!

  1. I am so proud of my dear and amazing friend, Matt L.. I love his work, his passion for writing and his humility which exists despite his incredible and overwhelming talent. Yes, I thank you Matt for your dedication to your art and I thank the judge who recognized and acknowledged it.


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