Archive | January 2015

Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 8

HELLOOOOOOO! A pleasure to see your sparkly faces back here at the lair; it’s just not the same without you. And in case you thought the Year Three updates were done…. well, we’ve still a couple more shenanigans up our dragonsleeves for you. ❤ Our weekly interview with the latest champ, #SixtySeconds, has been shifted to Thursday. The move will give winners a few more hours’ breathing room to answer the questions, AND it will free up Wednesday for our newest feature:

Warmup Wednesday!!!

Starting this week, each Wednesday at 12:01am Washington, DC, time, a photo prompt will post. No judges. No pressure. Just a muse-nudging photo and a place to write and comment on stories. Consider this a chance to explore scenes with a character or setting from a WIP, an opportunity to introduce the FF community to other sides of your writing, and/or, best of all, a venue for flexing those microfiction skillz and igniting our imaginations as the week hurtles toward Friday.  (*Note* We will send out Twitter reminders only this first week; going forward, make sure you’re following this blog to receive updates.) 

REMINDER: a reminder that ALL dragons (that means you! anyone who submits a story here) are eligible to earn the Ring of Fire badge (and your name on the Wall of Flame) by submitting at least three times in one month. For many of you today will mark your second entry toward this badge, and February 6 will seal the deal. If you missed last week, today’s entry will count toward the first round of eligibility. Questions? Me too.

Here’s a peek at the badge: 

rof2RING OF FIRE!!!!!!

 

REMINDER # 2: New format: Remember the former “Dragon’s Bidding” (an element required in addition to the photo) now focuses on the primary elements of story: character, setting, conflict, and theme. The new word count window is 190 – 210 (exclusive of title/byline). Please be sure to follow these new guidelines carefully!

Tweet any questions to the Flash! Friday team at @flashfridayfic. Now, sheesh. Enough babbling. LET’S WRITE!

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Judging today is Dragon Team Four, made up of fierce dragon captains Sinéad O’Hart and Pratibha Kelapure. Today’s story element is perfect for this team, as they both adore fleshed-out characters. Pratibha especially loves stories exploring the human psyche, and Sinéad loves well-crafted dialogue and humor tinged with bittersweet.         

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  I (Rebekah) occasionally post my own unbalanced writings on other days under “Dragon Munchies” (see the drop-down menu in the sidebar).

Now, grab your boxing gloves and leap into the ring!

* Word count: Write a 200-word story (10-word leeway on either side) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (min 190 – max 210 words, excluding title/byline) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm 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 Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.

AND HERE IS YOUR TWO-PART PROMPT:

(1) Required story element (this week: conflict. The below conflict must play a central role in your story. See a description of this week’s conflict hereClarification: “man” signifies “human,” not gender):

 

manvman

(2) Photo prompt to inspire (required to incorporate; does not need to be literal):

 

Kinderspiel. CC2.0 photo by Hartwig HKD.

Kinderspiel. CC2.0 photo by Hartwig HKD.

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Sixty Seconds with: David Borrowdale

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 David Borrowdale. Be sure to check out his bio at his winner’s page! Read his winning story here, then take one minute to get to know him better.

1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece?  I wanted to explore the old lady’s past and find a moment that defined the rest of her life.

2) How long have you been writing flash? A few years in private. About four months in public. 

3) What do you like about writing flash? ? I love the leanness of it: removing excess verbiage and letting the reader do some of the work.

4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Good dialogue is a real workhorse: make room for it.

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and whyFollowing on from the last question, Holly Geely writes great dialogue.

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? Three Line Thursday regularly. Finish that Thought occasionally. My weekends fill up quickly so I don’t make it to Flash Frenzy as often as I’d like.

7) What other forms do you write (novels, poetry, articles, etc)? I have a few unfinished novels which are destined to stay that way. I write the occasional short story when an idea can’t be contained in flash.

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? I love horror, but it’s probably the genre I write least. I should really do something about that.

9) Tell us about a WIP.  I’m adapting my FF-winning story into a short story. I think it deserves a little more room to breathe.

10) How do you feel about dragons? As an Englishman I must apologise for our choice of patron saint.

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 7: WINNERS

WELCOME to results day!!! So. Much. Fun. Thanks to all of you for your patience, your praise of each other’s stories, and above all, writing stories so marvelously strong that you give our brave dragon captains conniptions. :cough cough: Assuming dragon captains could have conniptions, obv.

We had nearly 80 entries this week; don’t forget to keep track of your own participation, as battling at Flash! Friday three times in a month will earn you the Ring of Fire badge. This week, that’s just about 80 of you dragons already a third of the way there! (The first round of eligibility will include February 6.)

rof2

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Dragon Captains Carlos Orozco/Eric Martell sayWhat fun it was judging this week. We had a difficult time trying to narrow it down to the final ten, and finding an order to those ten was even more difficult. This week team three only had two similar picks, but after some rereading, re-ranking, and a very intricate point system (it’s actually not that intricate), we managed to siphon out winners.

But before we get to that, we would like to share some thoughts on this week’s stories:

  • Many of the stories were understandably similar. It’s difficult trying to think of something unique when many of the elements have already been chosen for you, but because of that, it is more important than ever to try and stand out. You will all be better writers for it.
  • This week’s required story element was setting. We would recommend focusing on the story element (no matter how you interpret beach). Bonus points were given to stories with strong settings.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best Use of Structure: Mark A. King, “Mirror/Mirror.”  The structure to this was very creative and well executed. Mark used structure to his advantage.

Maximizing Setting: Natalie Bowers, “A Tangled Web.” It took place on a movie set, but (as with all good movies) the lines blurred and we forgot where we were.

Best use of a historical figure who was really a monster as a foil for an old woman who had earth in her poppy seeds: Clive Tern, “Uncle Joe and the Babushka.”

Funny Reads: Reg Wulff, “The Danger Zone.” For some (all) men, a pretty face can always get us to be just a bit stupid, can’t it?; and Rasha Tayaket, “Among Us.” Two aliens and one beach. This one should be read aloud.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Tinman, Strands of Memory.” Another story that masterfully works the required story element. With one line, “The sunrise was a thin pink line of icing on the purple-green sea”, we are immediately thrust into the character’s world. The hints of comedy are genuine, which really helps bring the character to life.*side note: The Hoff vs Godzilla would have been spectacular.

Brian S. Creek, Waiting.” This story shared a similar theme with many of the others, but the open ending really sets it apart. Is Edith going crazy, is her husband really coming back after being gone so long, or is death finally coming to reunite her in the afterlife with her husband? This piece does a great job of storytelling with the negative spaces, letting the reader fill in all the blanks.

Laura Carroll Butler, “Nonna.” A lot of the stories this week were sad, seeing endings in the lines of a face of a weatherbeaten old woman, but this story put us in the shoes (or bare feet) of some young people sharing her beach. College students, expecting one kind of spring break and then finding another, learning lessons that they didn’t know they were seeking. The kind of story that brings an infectious smile to your face, not by being silly, but by warming places deep within

Michael Seese, “The Boy With the Hazel Eyes.” Are monsters born, or are they made? What happens when someone we love changes into someone we recognize, but only on the surface? A well-told story about change and war, love and loss. In another contest, we probably would have ranked it higher, but the beach wasn’t as central to this story as some.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Megan Besing, “Drifting Memories.” Our minds sometimes get cracked as we get older, but cracked isn’t entirely destroyed, and sometimes a glimpse of the person that was sneaks out from the person that is. We can’t always imagine our parents or grandparents as young people, but just like us, they were young once, their lives filled with stories. This tale weaves both of these themes into a powerful tale, and speaks to humanity and love hidden from plain sight.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Annika Keswick, “New Tires.” This one snuck up on us (like good flash fiction does). The first time through we think the old lady is being described, but then we get hit by that Eureka moment. Reading the second time through is just as satisfying (if not slightly more satisfying) because we can now see the obvious. The ending is very uplifting, stating a universal truth without trying to force it on us.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Phil Coltrane, “The Last Pilgrimage.” This is a great example of presenting the required story element in a unique way. We have a beach in this story, but the impending apocalypse really changes the scenery. The tone in this piece also made it stand out. While many of this round’s stories had a character missing or wanting something, Gretchen is accepting of the end. She becomes passive entity whose story comes to an end with a “Close parenthesis”. It is a fitting last line for this type of apocalypse.

DRAGON WINNER

DAVID BORROWDALE!!!

for

“Under the Pier, Where Lives Are Made”

Flash stories don’t come a lot more powerful than this, cramming a ton of story into 201 words. Using the old woman’s visit to the beach as mismatched bookends to the story provided a wonderful intro and outro – at the beginning, she could be reflecting on happy memories, but at the end, we know differently. Set in a time both distant and familiar, we feel her love and her loss, both for her man and for her bairn. You don’t have to have suffered a loss like hers to feel the power of her story, but if you have, it resonates strongly. The last line was haunting. Very well done.

Congratulations, Dave! Below is a haunting, powerful winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is also your brand new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me asap here so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Under the Pier, Where Lives are Made

She returns each day to the place her son was started. She shackles her bondi-blue foldaway to the railing, and lets the salt-wind rustle her memories.

***

Under Saltburn Pier it was, in 1941. Billy Hurles was her man, and he was going off to fight Hitler.

“Give me something so I don’t forget you,” he said.

“A lock of hair?”

“No.”

So they crept under the pier to be alone. But other couples were there, and she saw her own distaste reflected in the eyes of other girls. It was over quickly. She kissed him sweetly, and told herself she’d done her bit for the war.

***

She knew she couldn’t keep the bairn. She’d accept, in time, that he’d be better with a proper family; without the shame. Perhaps one day she’d see him again. But the bairn was born blue; quiet, tiny and unmoving. A priest came into the room that was already crowded with men.

“Shall I bless the child? Help him find his way to the Lord.”

“You shall not,” her father said.

***

She returns each day to the place her son was started and prays he is at peace: some days she looks up, some days down.

FFwinner-Web