Archive | August 2014

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 38

UPDATE Sunday: Due to the overwhelming number of entries this week (y’all are alien-CRAZY!), I’ve given the judge til Monday. Results hopefully by mid-morning Washington, DC time. Thank you!

Welcome to Friday! As always, it’s such a pleasure seeing y’all here, rarin’ to go. We’re heading sub-orbital with today’s prompt in honor of our judge, scifi lover Phil Coltrane, who may or may not still be speaking to me since I made him endure Shakespeare in his last round. Perhaps he’ll forgive me if I ask super sweetly?? With rocketships on top?

Even if I hadn’t tortured him that way, though, and determined to make up for it today, our prompt would still be quite cool. Today in 1965 the American spacecraft Gemini V touched down. The re-entry was conducted by computer in utter darkness, and somehow, incredibly, Captain Gordon Cooper realized the system had been misprogrammed. He manually corrected the error and saved their landing. Who needs a movie, when real life is so suspenseful?! Read more about this event here and here.  

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Heading up the Flash! Friday celestial adventure today as judge is three-time dragon champ Phil Coltrane. He loves to be astonished by tales shot off in unexpected directions, crafted with bold, vivid language and hinting of richly complex worlds beyond what’s shown. Read more about his ideals 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 unearthly writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays. And on Mondays, one of your own glorious stories may be featured at the very fun #Flashpoints.  

Now, grab a joystick 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 E.T”):

Include an alien 

***Today’s Prompt:

Gemini 5

Gemini V, August 29, 1965. Public domain photo courtesy of NASA.

 

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Sixty Seconds II 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 back-to-back champ Michael Seese.  Read his winning story here. Read his first #SixtySeconds interview (all the way from last week) here. Then take another minute to get to know him better below.

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece? I’m reading Under The Dome. A character reflects on using a magnifying glass to burn ants. But I did ants last week. So I went “bigger.”

2) Do you outline, or are you more of a discovery writer? Generally I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. But I’m about to start a complicated thriller. So I’m writing down… more of a road map than a true outline, plus character bios.

3) How would you describe your writing style? I’m not sure anyone has ever used the word “style” that close to my writing.

4) When did you begin writing fiction? The first fiction piece that I can recall writing started shortly after college. It’s a YA thriller. And I’m STILL trying to find an agent for it.

5) Introduce us to a favorite character in one of your stories. I really like the completely creepy titular character from Jerald’s Joke, which is the second story in the No Strings Attached series. Speaking of which (AHEM) the first story, Rebecca’s Fall From will be free AGAIN today on Amazon.

6) What books have influenced your life the most? The Encyclopedia. When I was a kid, I would read it for fun. I guess that’s why I kick butt at Trivial Pursuit, and throwing weird factoids into my writing.

7) What are you currently reading? As mentioned above, Under The Dome. One word: WOW! Though if pressed for a second word: LONG.

8) How do you combat writer’s block? What’s that? Seriously.

9) What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? The great advice would have to be “show, don’t tell.” But it was reading an example of it that I would cite as the “best” part. It’s not automatic for me yet. But when I do… DAMN, I’m proud!

10) What do you admire most about dragons?  The fact that they’ve managed to stay out of zoos this long.

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 37: WINNERS!

Happy Results Day! Y’all went utterly nuts this week in commenting on each other’s tales. Thank you so much to the many, many of you who took the time to do so. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say your stories are changing lives, as you encourage each other and drive us all to write better. There is certainly no obligation to comment, but know how grateful the entire FF team & community are to you for making such a precious investment. What’s a silly old dragon badge by comparison?? 

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Judge Aria Glazki says: Well, unsurprisingly, you all have done it again — made my job, which seems so simple, incredibly difficult. So many stories offered something special, whether that was the message, the unique form,  the masterful imagery, the emotion conveyed, or the inventive take on the prompt. My “narrowed-down” list was still far too long. I have faith, however, that those stories which unfortunately had to be cut away from my list will have received the praise they deserve in the comments, because that’s how awesome this community is.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Margaret Locke, “Oh Captain, My Captain.” Death caused by a careless caress, what a poignant image and core to this story, that throws new light on the arrogance we think we understand at first and leaves us with heartbreak in its place. (And congratulations to Margaret on the Flash! Friday anniversary!)

Abraham Wolfgang, “The Pirate’s Lament.” Containing a story in a limiting form is always bold, and in this case it also works. The form here leaves so few words to tell the story, and yet neither the form nor the story is sacrificed.

Evan Montegarde, “Failure on Nexius 7 Prime.” What a lesson on the cost of arrogance, and on treating people well, in this inventive take on the prompt. The added arrogance of Blake provides extra depth, as I can’t help thinking  he’ll have his comeuppance for torching an entire planet.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Ife Oluwa, “Why Captain Show Teeth Like Shark.” The voice here! That unseen observer’s role, coupled with the voice, gives us such a good sense of the narrator as a character. The bewilderment of the title suddenly makes perfect sense when drenched in this voice (and what an image there, too!).

Sarah Cain, “A Reversal of Fortune.” This story turns the expected on its head, with the help of its great central line: “They expect me to die. I do not plan to oblige them.” Not only does the marooned sailor escape his fate, but he also gets revenge by inflicting the same punishment the others tried to achieve. “They will hallucinate.” Not our narrator. “They will writhe in agony.” Not our narrator. “They will perish.” Not our narrator. With the amount of intelligence and foresight his plan required, you can’t help but think this narrator’s own arrogance is well deserved.

Chris Milam, “Isle of the Condemned.” Fantastic imagery from the very first line here paints this story with paradoxes. The sun’s greeting is a “searing kiss.” The “tranquil morning” is closely followed by the “waves heaving and groaning.”  The captain’s breath is “sweet with rum,” while his actions are anything but. And the arrogance of our narrator’s attackers juxtaposes her own, in anticipating her revenge. Well crafted.

M. T. Decker, “Alone.” At first glance, this story stands on the strength of its surprise ending. We get the drama of the experience of being marooned, the introspection that goes along with it, only to have it both undermined and strengthened by learning Nox is actually looking at a painting. The use of the palindrome is quite interesting as well, both tying this story to exile (in Elba) and warning us that everything’s about to be flipped.

Rachael Dunlop, “I Am Therefore I Own.” The internal journey of this narrator was captivating. We go from a soul-crushing solitude that brings him to tears when finally touched by another living being, to the destruction of that being, for the narrator’s physical sake. What a commentary on human nature, well supported by the imagery and underscored by the title.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “A God in Ruins.” There’s so much story in this piece. We’re taken from the build-up of a hero, an upstanding character who follows divine rules, to the seduction of arrogance, through to the inevitable end. The use of “I rose / I rose / I rise / I fall” lends structure and rhythm to the story, and to the beats of an entirely human life. All in all, this is an effective and evocative representation of hubris, from the seeds that sprout it to the realization of mortality and self that wipes it away.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Karl A. Russell, “The Sailor’s Lament.” So, I have to admit, I have a weakness for Faustian deals (I even wrote multiple papers on them in University!). While that helped this story catch my eye, however, the piece also stands on its own. The “devil” character’s demeanor is achieved so well with the mention of his “too-wide smile” paired with his lines of dialogue. The wisher’s constantly cut off dialogue works wonderfully. The danger of the arrogance involved in striking such a deal is excellently portrayed, as is the bewilderment of getting precisely what you wished for, versus what you wanted. I also loved the subtle bitterness of the line “nothing to do but enjoy it” that ties the story together oh so well.

And now: as only the second-ever BACK-TO-BACK WINNER (after Cindy Vaskova), it’s Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

MICHAEL SEESE!!!

for

“Alone”

Where do I even start with this story? It stayed with me as I read the others, which may say it all. “Lucre has a way of muting morality” is a very strong center for this piece — that awareness of man’s fallibility, while also a distance from understanding that draw of riches, highlighting the difference between man and God, in a story that on the surface only likens the two. 

The initial misdirect of the Captain’s involvement that makes such perfect sense in retrospect; the repetition of the line “against the laws of man. And God,” coming first from the doubt of those involved in a heinous choice, and second from the weary resignation of the one charged with being the “Captain of all men”; the chilling and poignant message of the burden inherent in being God; the pain and the solitude of being the one responsible… Overall, there’s just so much in these few words. 

Was the Captain arrogant in creating man? Were the men arrogant in praying to the Captain while knowing they broke those aforementioned laws? Is the very expectation of them being good, and the vengeance that follows when they’re not, also arrogant? An answer isn’t simple in this incredibly complex, thought-provoking story.

Congratulations AGAIN, Michael! Below is the still-gorgeous winner’s badge for your wall. Here again are your (updated) winner’s page and your (latest) winning tale on the (updated) winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for the new questions for this week’s #SixtySeconds II interview. And here is your winning story:

Alone

They’re all dead. And it’s my responsibility. Mine alone. I am the Captain, after all.

The scalding sands — and the memory — may well have been the fires of Hell. With no clouds above, the sun is a relentless, yet honest, adversary. I wondered if I had erred. Should I have done otherwise?

When setting sail, some of the more superstitious men voiced concerns.

“Trafficking is wrong.”

“They’re just children.”

“Using them like that is against the laws of man. And God.”

But lucre has a way of muting morality.

As the storm turned their ship into kindling and their bodies into chum, the crew looked to me for guidance. They prayed I would help. I turned a blind eye. Indeed, not only did I ignore their pleas, I doubled my vengeance. Because they were right. Their actions were against the laws of man.

And God.

Such is the burden I bear as the Captain of all men.

 

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