Archive | June 2015

Memento

A Monster Galaxy in Perseus Cluster. CC2.0 photo by NASA'S Marshall Space Flight Center.

A Monster Galaxy in Perseus Cluster. CC2.0 photo by NASA’S Marshall Space Flight Center.

Memento
by Rebekah Postupak

“Big Brother, how long have I been here?”

“Sixty-five years, Little One.”

“It’s dark now.”

“Yes.”

“Because the batteries ran out?”

“Yes.”

“Big Brother, are you afraid?”

“No, Little One. What is there to fear?”

“Nothing, I guess. Still, I wish—”

“What, Little One?”

“I wish I could see another human one last time.”

“It cannot be, Little One.”

“Was the Earth so very, very bad, Big Brother?”

“Yes; that’s why they built this place for you.”

“I’m the last.”

“Yes.”

“So what’s left for me, then, since rescuers never came and the batteries are all used up?”

“Only sleep, Little One”—SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE INITIATED—said Big Brother.

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109 words, written for the weekly Microbookends contest, within the 90-110 word count limit, drawing inspiration from the provided photo and beginning/ending with the words Big/Brother as required. Microbookends runs on Thursdays and is hosted by FF’s David Borrowdale. Great fun: join us this week?

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Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 29: WINNERS

HURRAY!!!!! I love, love results day: a (small) way to honor some really fine storytelling. This week’s round — the last round of that sort of contest prompt here — how do you feel? are you ready? eager? skeptical? annoyed? READY FOR A MAGICAL ADVENTURE?? — struck especially close to home for us. Lots of really funny stories, and lots that… weren’t.  The writing life ain’t easy: no matter how many blogs you’ve read or how supportive your writing groups, at the end of the day it’s just you and the white space… alone…. (As my mother says, It’s only you and Jesus in the dentist’s chair…)  If you haven’t read through the stories yet, please take a few minutes to skim through. Writing about writing is where we’re at our most vulnerable, like a whole glorious parade of nekked Emperors. Thank you so much for sharing your skills and hearts with us.

rof2RING OF FIRE!!!! You poor, patient draggins. I’m shockingly behind on updating the Wall of Flame, and here we are, nearly finished with June! Scandalous! IF YOU HAVE WRITTEN FOR FLASH! FRIDAY at least three times in May and/or June, please let me know here (note: check the Wall first; I think we are current on all requests so far), and I’ll catch that list right up today. Details here!       

 

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Judging for us this round were the fab Beth Deitchman & Emily June Street of Luminous Creatures Press. Many thanks to this valiant team who read and wept and laughed and battled over your writerly adventures, even while, in some cases, hanging upside-down. Such a privilege having you join us in this capacity; thank you so much! Now, here’s what they have to say before gracefully flinging trophies every which way:

Judging such diverse stories is always difficult. We Luminous Creatures tend to focus on certain recognizable literary elements to help make our job easier and provide a structure by which to order our judging. There were, as always, so many worthy stories put before us, but we had to narrow it down to these few. We focused on choosing stories with strong narrative arcs, conflict, resolution, layers of meaning, and solid writing craft.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Eliza ArcherLet Me Sleep, He Pleaded.” For engaging humor and excellent character names

Nancy ChenierThe White Flag.” For strong writing and memorable images

Caitlin Gramley, “Lively Imagination.” For use of dialogue to tell an amusing story

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Reg Wulff, “Never Ending.” We enjoyed the great opening line and satisfying ending of this piece, as well as the layered commentary on the nature of writers not finishing stories. Haven’t we all been there?

C.A. Crawford, “Symbiosis.” This story hinged on the clever and diverting twist of prizing a writer’s words above an actor’s physical beauty. How could we not love it? 

 

THIRD RUNNER UP

Michael Seese,A Work of Fiction.” This was a creepy meditation on what writers do. Careful word choice created a deft slide from the metaphorical to the literal in lines such as “capturing realistic characters” and characters who “positively leapt into her life.” Well-written and strongly structured, this sinister tale had a satisfying and complete story arc. We were greatly entertained by the choice of Chastity as the name for the evil romance writer.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Steph Ellis, “Writer’s Block.” We love it when a writer takes risks, and this one did, by using puns throughout the story. This could have gone badly wrong, but the author applied the phrases with a deft and judicious hand, slipping in references to “sentences” and “rejection” that worked on multiple levels. We appreciated this unique approach to the prompts. The author’s cleverness permeates the entire story and the puns never overshadowed that fact that a story was being told. Subtle world building and multiple layers of meaning rounded out this stellar tale.

FIRST RUNNER UP 

Foy S. Iver, “Conflicted Flesh.” This strongly written story had layers and layers. The bold language fit the subject matter, offering us such lines as “two heads bound by the same flesh” and “It raked his soul to form the words.” The world building was impressive given the constraints of two hundred words. The juxtaposition of the backstory with the italicized text that the author/narrator struggles against writing developed engaging narrative tension. This story gave us just enough information to incite the imagination, and the fact that the author managed to mention some “luminous sisters” tickled us, too. We wanted to learn more about this world, and yet with each reread, we saw more, too. A truly solid submission, only a hair’s breadth from being the winner.

And now: shattering all records, it’s our very first FIVE-TIME:

DRAGON WINNER

PHIL COLTRANE!!!

for

Dashiell vs the Dragon Invaders, Chapter 3

We have the ultimate respect for this story that shows confidence, restraint, and panache on the part of the writer. Never overwrought or overwritten, it directly and relentlessly focused on the purest endeavor of writing: to tell the story. Whether by natural skill or by ruthless editing, this writer knows how to slay darlings and focus on action. With a satisfying story arc, narrative tension, vivid imagery (“mottled orange sun,” “razor claws”), engaging humor, dragon references (!), cinematic action, and solid writing, this story scored high on all our favorite elements. Like the best genre fiction, it hooked us and reeled us in with fast pacing and perfect delivery, exemplifying that timeless writing rule: show, don’t tell.

Congratulations, Phil! You are the FIRST five-time winner of Flash! Friday in its over 2.5 years of life. What are we gonna do with you, hmmm??? I’m thinking at the very least a magical mug from the Dragon Emporium is in order. Here’s your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please stand by for questions for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story:

Dashiell vs. the Dragon Invaders, Chapter 3

The mottled orange face of the alien sun loomed large in the viewscreen. Sweating bullets and gasping for breath, Dashiell pressed his browline glasses back up his nose. Blood dripped from the clawmark across his chest. “Just a scratch.”

Leaning against the cryogenic conduit to cool himself, Dashiell checked his .38 revolver. “One bullet left.”

With a crash, the hatch deformed visibly, struck by some awesome force. “I may be a washed-up pulp writer,” he shouted, “but I’m a fighter.” Razor claws forced the hatch open. Dash took aim as the reptilian entered. “Somehow I’ll get back to Earth. Then I’ll let everyone know aliens are real.”

The quadrupedal alien approached deliberately, licking its lips. He backed away. “They say write what you know. Want to hear the title of Dashiell Pendragon’s next bestseller?”

The creature lunged at him, seeming to soar through the air. Leaping aside, Dash took aim and squeezed the trigger. The bullet whizzed past the reptilian’s crested head, striking the cryogenic conduit. As liquid oxygen gushed onto the scaly beast, it writhed in pain. Dashiell covered his ears to muffle its death shriek.

When it fell silent, Dashiell prodded the lifeless alien’s face with the muzzle of his revolver. “Slaying the Dragon.”

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 29

WELCOME!!!!! Well, we’ve arrived: the first half of Year Three’s over; today we’ve got uber sparkly guest judges (can you stand it??); and next week we kick the contest itself into high gear AND do so under the clever (if moderately ill-behaved) auspices of our newest dragon captain judges. So far this year we’ve seen the launch of the Dragon Emporium, two maniacal rounds of Flash Dash (watch for another sizzling race in July!), loads of Spotlight interviews with publishers, editors, and writers of all shapes and sizes (including brand new and seasoned novelists from our own community). We’ve given away money, magical FF mugs, a professional edit, and a ton of free books. WHAT A YEAR SO FAR!!!! 

Last week the flash fiction community also saw the publication of the #FlashDogs’ dual-volume Solstice: Light / Solstice: Dark anthologies featuring a whole horde of you; tomorrow, I’m pleased as dragonpunch to remind you, features the publication of Emily June Street’s The Gantean.

Too much excitement; may we take a nap now, please? you ask.

HECK NO! We’re just getting started. It’s been a fabulous Year Three so far, thanks to you fabulous writers spilling your dreams here every week; I can’t wait to see where y’all take us next.   

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Luminous Creatures_logo_blue_smallAND NOW PLEASE WELCOME TO THE JUDGES’ DAIS the exquisite and fantastically talented team behind Luminous Creatures Press: Beth Deitchman and Emily June Street. LCP’s own very exciting Summer of Super Short Stories is starting up July 2: be sure to join them for that. Read more about Beth, Emily, and LCP here. And how to win their judgy hearts? Here they are in their own words: 

We like stories that follow an arc, that have characters, settings, conflicts, and resolutions. We want to be shown, not told. We like imagery, but with word economy, a tight rather than an embellished writing style, and we need narrative tension. We especially like stories that have depth. Give us some layers to think about and we’ll reward you.

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.   Now let’s write!

* 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: character. If you want your story to be eligible for an award, a writer must be a central to your story — not required to be the protagonist): 

 

writer

(2) Photo prompt to incorporate:

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon. Studio promotional still photo 1936, public domain.

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon. Studio promotional still photo 1936, public domain.