Can you believe April’s nearly finished?? I thought it was a nasty rumor (oops, sorry, Stella; rumour), but I’ve checked it out and APPARENTLY our very next round of FF will be May 1. Oh the humanity!
Love, love, LOVE, by the way, the new judge apps that have roared their way in. What a phenomenal season this next one’s going to be! I’m dancing giddy! If you’re interested in joining the ranks of dragon captains this next round (starts in mid-June) but have questions/fears, please email me here, or DM me on Twitter, or message me on Facebook, and let’s chat about it! More details here.
Coming up TOMORROW: I’m so excited, somebody STOP ME — no, forget that. Everybody JOIN ME!!!! Our own four-time FF dragon champ Betsy Streeter has a REAL, OFFICIAL, AWESOME YA NOVEL OUT! It’s called Silverwood, and guess who got to interview her about it, huh?? And guess who’s giving away a SIGNED COPY to a commenter????
Lots of Ring of Fire badges to hand out too; look for those in the next day or two. But first up, RESULTS, PEOPLE!
Sinéad: This week’s tales conjured up visions of outer space and interplanetary travel, memories of war, deeply-buried secrets and betrayals, fractured marriages and unrequited love. What a feast! Just what I’d expect from the Flash! Friday crew. The choices this time around, as always, involved lots of thought and consideration, debate and compromise, but I hope they reward not only the best stories, but also showcase the breadth of imagination which went into their creation. Thanks, everyone!
Pratibha: Amazing work everyone! Finding a winning story from among so many well-crafted stories is an arduous task. I look forward to reading the stories, but picking a winner is something I dread. But rules call for a winner, and so it goes. I hope the winning stories reflect a good cross section of the diverse talent on display here. I can’t emphasize the importance of re-reading the stories over and over. Many stories come close, but in the end the judges have to do some fine hair-splitting to settle on the final results. I want to congratulate every one of you on your creativity and storytelling talent. Bravo!
Sinéad: Tongue-in-cheek humour, an excellent set-up, a wonderfully described story, and a great idea, this one had me giggling for a long time after I read it. Fantastic work, and excellent use of the prompts.
Pratibha: I laughed out loud at the end. The naughty tone was obvious from the beginning, but still the ending delivers the strong punch. Well done!
Sinéad: I thought this tale was memorable for its SF tones and its imaginative take on the prompt. I loved all the places – and times – this tiny tale brings us to, and the father-daughter conflict which is at once so exotic, and so true.
Pratibha: I loved this creative take on the prompt, a father searching for his daughter through different ages and places. The language is crisp and moves the narrative smoothly without distractions.
Sinéad: I liked this one for its funny, punning title – and for its description of the sound of Hungarian! To me, it sounds like the distant galloping of horses, but mice drowning in champagne made me giggle. I also liked the Sheldon Cooper detail and the overall snarky tone of the story.
Pratibha: I loved the strong character descriptions. The conflict between an adolescent boy and a man as rivals vying for the attention of the young girl is interesting. I also loved the interesting way the prompt was weaved into the story.
Sinéad: I loved this story’s perspective, and its whole setup, and the cleverness of the author who can create a story out of prompts like these which involves aliens in human disguise and the imminent destruction of the human race. My hat is off to you!
Pratibha: They say fiction writers hold a mirror to the society. The writer of this story has accomplished this skillfully by showing the bitter truth about humanity in just a few words. The surprise at the end will shock you.
Sinéad: A story which skilfully reflects, in its title, the effects it creates through its words. Layered, delicate, gentle, beautiful – on the surface, at least – this story has depths of pain and betrayal which make wonderful use of the prompts. As accomplished as any watercolour painting.
Pratibha: I liked the way the conflict between the two men is portrayed using the metaphors of colored paintings, oil and watercolor. The relationship between the unfaithful wife and the husband is cleverly conveyed through the short bursts of phrases.
THIRD RUNNER UP
Sinéad: Two types of heroism, held up in contrast to one another, make this a powerful piece. I was struck by the contrast between the six-year-old’s wide, innocent eyes and the older woman’s quiet suffering and the burden of her secret, as well as the painful recounting of the horrors of war. This story takes the simplest interpretation of the prompt image, but makes something exceptional out of it.
Pratibha: I loved this for its vivid portrayal of a compassionate human story. The ending delivers a gentle surprise, and it is believable. The story unfolds through crisp and clear dialogue. I loved the strong characterization and the straightforward way the complexity of human choices is presented.
SECOND RUNNER UP
Sinéad: There were lots of stories about thwarted love, and love rivals, this week, but I thought this one was different, touching, and very well written. I loved the use of dialogue and the mention of ‘first grade’, which was poignant, but I particularly loved the closing line – ‘Sam looks after her, then glances at Bobby, who looks down’ – which says everything in very few words.
Pratibha: The original take on the prompt intrigued me. I also loved how cleverly the dialogue moves the story forward. I simply loved clever and ever so subtle ending.
FIRST RUNNER UP
Sinéad: Another story with an incredible perspective, we experience the shattering effect of a long-hidden pain on a marriage struggling to survive. I loved the fact that a story like this could take shape in the author’s mind from the prompts given, and I thought the details of the husband’s hands recalling the strangling hands of ‘the much younger man’ and the closing line about replacing the mask were particularly effective.
Pratibha: The author deals with a sensitive subject and creates an incredible portrait of the struggle of a woman who is scarred by a traumatic event from her younger days. The caring husband must face the ghost of ‘the much younger man.’ This was an interesting conflict. The portrayal of the strong and believable characters who deal with a complex issue put this story high up on my list.
And now: for her 3rd time, it’s the fabulously talented Flash! Friday
“Keeping It All Together”
Sinéad: As well as being a moving story, this entry had a unique perspective on the picture prompt which struck both Pratibha and I as being memorable. The tale is well constructed and immersive, dropping the reader straight into the heart of the conflict at the story’s core – that between a son and his father – through using powerful, sensory images like the mouthwash-tinged breath of a drunkard, and the sugary taste of cereal for dinner. I loved the detail of the children’s mother’s ordered life being ‘cultivated like an orchid garden’, and of her tears ‘soddening’ the table cloth. The pain at the story’s end is clear, and the stage is set for further upheaval. A great piece of flash.
Pratibha: Instead of dwelling on the obvious, the writer honed on the small detail of the image, the embrace, and weaved a moving and compelling story. The jaded voice of a man, who was neglected and perhaps emotionally abused, comes through clearly. The story is told as a series of memories and with the convincing details. Strong characterization of all four characters weaves the narrative as a cohesive piece. I love this piece for its vivid portrayal of too common a story.
Congratulations, Nancy! Here’s your uber-fancy dragon winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox with interview questions for this Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature, your THIRD! And now, here is your winning story:
Keeping It All Together
Of course I remember you. Like wind blasting my face. I death-gripped the handlebars, danger crawling up my knees into my stomach. Maddy’s shrieking laughter from the crossbar. Don’t fall! Don’t fall! The funny mouthwash smell that rolled off your panting breaths.
Of course I remember you. Like sugar dissolving in my mouth. The cereals you doled out for dinner. The kind Mother never let us eat. The cotton-candy carnival hours for Maddy and I while you disappeared into the raucous laughter of the pub. The delirious slyness of shared secrets—a relief from the order that mother cultivated like her orchid garden.
Of course Maddy forgives you, flings herself into your arms as if she’s still that ten-year-old you left behind. She thrust all the pain on Mother. I did too, until I stumbled upon Mother soddening the lace tablecloth with a sorrow she’d never let us see, a secret more terrifying than wobbling on a drunk’s handlebars. Five-year-old hands can’t salvage a wrecked heart.
So forgive me if I don’t fling myself into your arms. Who’s Maddy going to blame when it’s down to her and you? Even at fifty, I don’t think I can pick up after another of your wreckages.