Archive | September 2014

Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 41

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to another rip-roaring, fresh-outta-the-box Flash! Friday! And speaking of out of the box, it’s my sincere hope that y’all will gnash your teeth at me over today’s totally cliched prompt. And then write about something else altogether. More than one judge has commented in recent weeks on their attention being consistently drawn by the stories that “stand out” from the pack. So I dare you to look past the surface, past the obvious, and write the story lurking offstage.

It’s a real pleasure to introduce you to the magnificent castle in Syria known as the Krak de Chevaliers (Qalat al-Hosn). This place is something else. Built into its present form around 1200AD it’s, yes, a Crusader castle, and invaders simply could not bust their way into this place (take a look at its walls!). And now, you are saying, please explain how you arrived at this glorious castle On This Day In History. –Well, I’m so glad you asked! On this day precisely 80 years ago, Bruno Hauptman was arrested in New York for the murder of Charles Lindbergh’s little boy. And that put me in mind of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (have you read that? love it), and suddenly I found myself in Aleppo at the Baron Hotel, where she wrote part of that disturbing tale (I’ll have thirteen orders of justice for takeaway, please). And now you have arrived with me at the Krak, where I will watch safely hidden in the curtains as you wend your mysterious way onward.

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Wending her way onward on a daily (offbeat) basis, because that’s how she rolls, is returning judge Betsy Streeter. Excellent flash, she says, is all about economy and detail. Read the translation of that curious phrase 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 a battering ram 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 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 instructed to do so, e.g. “include the name “Lawrence of Arabia'”):

Include a marriage proposal

***Today’s Prompt:

Krak de Chevaliers/Qalat al-Hosn, Syria. CC photo by Jon Martin.

Krak des Chevaliers/Qalat al-Hosn, Syria. CC photo by Jon Martin.

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Sixty Seconds with: Tamara Shoemaker

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 Tamara Shoemaker.  Read her winning story here, then take one minute to get to know her better.

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece?  Everyone has a story. It’s rare that anyone has the same one. These guys, while running side-by-side, lived worlds apart. At least in my head.

2) How long have you been writing flash? A few months. Now I’m an addict, whiling away Friday mornings, gripping fistfuls of hair and ripping them out by their uninspired roots.

3) What do you like about writing flash? Brevity! As the author of 100,000+ word books, what a challenge to pack a wallop into only 150 words.

4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Advice? From me? *snort* “Never laugh at live dragons.” Er, I mean, jes keep on writin’ that there good stuff.

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why? Gotta go with my girl, Jane Austen. Rapier wit! Social commentary! (Plus, I secretly long to lounge about Pemberley in a Regency-style dress while awaiting visits from ‘every Bennet in the country.’) 

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? Nope. I mean, really, what other flash fiction group can compete with one birthed in the fires of Dragons?

7) What other forms do you write (novels, poetry, articles, etc)? Poetry, short stories, magazine articles, blogs, novels . . . to-do lists, dear-diary entries, Facebook statuses, grocery lists . . . I digress. I simply write.

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? YA fantasy! I’m a teenager in a thirty-something body. The angst, the passion for life is what I love to spread on the pages of these books.

9) Tell us about a WIP.  A kick-bootie girl who wields the four elements: air, fire, earth, and water. Who wouldn’t want what she’s got? Apparently, nobody. Bwahaha!

10) How do you feel about dragons? “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” As your southern neighbor, Dragoness, I keep a weather eye northward for fiery bursts of dragon flame.

 

Just for Fun: THE DATE

Formica da pic-nic. CC photo by Pietro Bellini.

Formica da pic-nic. CC photo by Pietro Bellini.

 

The Date 

by Rebekah Postupak

 

“Little did we realize that the peace and quiet of our country afternoon picnic was soon to be rudely shattered. We had no idea whatsoever that our painstaking, thoughtful plans of the past weeks would, in a single moment, plummet to the ground in a terrifying display of—”

“Shut up,” I said. “It’s just an ant.”

“JUST an ant, she says. JUST death and mayhem. JUST tragedy and despair.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m fairly certain the integrity of your sandwich is still intact.”

“We must read different medical journals. Do you have NO idea what sorts of diseases those things tromp around with their tiny little buggy feet?”

“There’s disease, then there’s disease. Ant germs are not a threat I find concerning.”

“Remind me to forward you the article. You’ll change your mind fast.”

“I don’t consider blog posts from Paranoia Panoply ‘articles.’”

 “Daily Disease Digest.”

“Whatever. Same thing. Alarmist. Hyperemotionalism, not facts. Show me a peer-reviewed journal, vetted by scientists with degrees in actual science, or published by the Higher Learning Commission, and then we can talk.”

“You say ‘whatever’; I say the picnic’s spoiled.”

Something’s spoiled, all right.”

“Heeeey now. That wasn’t nice.”

“Sorry,” I said, not sorry.

He stared unhappily at his sandwich. “I just can’t eat it now.”

“Sorry,” I said, even more not sorry.

“You shouldn’t eat yours either. It’s too great a risk.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ve lost my appetite anyway.”

“This isn’t how this was supposed to go. I’ve been planning for ages. I mean, look at this place.” He made a sweeping gesture. “Perfect vista. Perfect time of day. Perfect menu. And you couldn’t be more perfect. Your eyes! Your–”

“—You’re spot on with the view and day. I’m glad to be introduced to this place. What’s the name of the mountain?”

“Firetop.”

“Well, it’s nice and I’m grateful.”

“See? Here I am, destroying blind date clichés left and right.”

I looked across the bonfire at him, paunch bellied, whisker-chinned, vinegar breath, pale, wrinkled wings, misshapen spine, grey smoke limping fearfully in circles around his head. His sandwich lay miserably at his feet; the knight or maiden or whatever it had been didn’t even look thoroughly cooked.  Nausea curled in my belly.

“Yeah,” I said, mentally packing my lair and applying for a new one leagues away from Firetop the first chance I could. “Destroying clichés left and right.”

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402 words, written for the weekly flash fiction contest Finish That Thought, which posts Mondays at 10pm ET and runs through midnight Tuesday. The story begins with the required opening sentence.