Flashversary 2015: WINNERS

IT’S HERE! The final Flash! Friday post, the final winners, the final comments. But ohhhhh the glorious beginning awaiting beyond these doors! Let’s take our stories and flood magazines and contests and publishing houses with them. Let’s fling our pages to the four winds, win awards, flabbergast agents, storm bestseller lists, enrapture the world; let’s make friends and family and complete strangers smile, or cry, or shudder, or dream, or swoon — but let’s make them notice us.

Let’s make them remember us.

And in the dark days when loneliness and doubt threaten, please return here and let this family of writers fold you in its arms again. Bury yourself in these glowing thousands of stories by these hundreds of extraordinary writers and let your own words remind you that you are one of them: an extraordinary writer, and a crucial part of the magical story you wrote that was known for a time as Flash! Friday.

Special thanks to:

  • Susan Warren Utley, for being a dear friend and helping make my Flash! Friday dreams come true
  • Shenandoah Valley Writers, for being the dearest group of friends an ill-behaved dragon could ask for: for unswerving belief in me as a writer (Margaret Locke), for our shared vision (Tamara Shoemaker), for faithfully providing chocolate (MT Decker), for sitting with me at Beth’s side (Maggie Duncan), for teaching me to fly (#HMN Foy Iver), for chasing Quinby with me (Annika Keswick), for baring your poet’s soul (Sarah Kohrs), for dreaming with me over veggie quesadillas (Josette Keelor), for letting me eat your baby (Allison Garcia), and all of you, including those I didn’t name, for understanding what it means to take Time Hoff. I love you dearly.
  • Dragon Captains, all of you, including those who would have served had we continued. Your love for writing & writers are the heartbeat of Flash! Friday
  • Contest hosts, both former and present, for creating such meaningful forges for writers to sharpen and share their work 
  • My hero and best friend, the greatest writer of all, who loves the members of this community even more than I do: so powerful and beautiful in thought and execution, one of his names is The Word. Without this Word, all of my words are gibberish. 

I’m closing this contest not empty, but heart full; not sad, but inspired. You generously shared your stories here, each one a gem in this expansive hoard that’s been my home these past three years. Thanks to you, I leave this place the richest person in the world. 

I will be grateful to you for the rest of my life. My prayers and love go with you. Thank you.

See you out there!

♦♦♦

HOUSEKEEPING:

  1. This site will officially close on Friday, Dec 18; once it’s closed, the front page will show a static howdy screen. However, your stories & winners’ pages (etc) will remain accessible through the menu & sidebar.
  2. The Dragon Emporium (a little store where you can buy FF logo stuff), as promised, will remain open through Dec 31.
  3. This isn’t goodbye! We’re just moving the conversation from the kitchen to the sitting room, is all. I’d love to stay connected with you; please follow me on Twitter & friend me at Facebook. And be sure to follow the #Flashdogs to stay abreast of even more flash fiction shenanigans. What, you thought you’d be forced to wander off alone?? Not a chance.

♦♦♦

And now for WINNERS!!! which, who are we kidding, is where you scrolled straight to anyway. 😀  One hundred twenty-three tales you brought me, a fabulous feast of worlds and characters, poetry and musings, murder and life. How does one winnow the wind?! In the end I chose stories that stood out for their originality, perhaps for their beauty, or perhaps for their humor; words that drew me back for a second, third, and fourth read, that followed me to work and the grocery store and the library, then leapt on me, licking my face (DOWN, Flash, DOWN!) when I came back home and reopened the door. Let’s begin!

NOTE: Winners, please contact me here so I can get your prizes to you. Thanks!

♦♦♦

rof2

>RING OF FIRE WINNER<
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & mug, a copy of Calum Kerr’s The 2014 Flash365 Anthology, and a one-year subscription to all three Splickety imprints

Ashley Gardana

Thank you for sharing so many of your stories with us, Ashley!

♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster

Crystal Alden, “Rhyming Ever After.” This funny little rhyming story is clever and unique; like my favorite sort of story, however, depths and layers lurk just beneath the surface. Solely through dialogue, we’re introduced to a colorful and memorable cast of characters: a drunk witch whose tipsy wand cast a rhyming spell on our hapless passerby, and an authority who listens to the sad tale but in the end refuses to help. This isn’t a normal sort of poem, because only the cursed characters speaks in rhyme, and so we’ve got a wonderfully (and humorously) complex counterpoint of rhyme with straight speech. It’s a sophisticated and original approach to the prompt, and that double entendred just in the final line put it over the top.

Sal Page, “Number One Me.” Speaking of double entendres!!! This piece gave us a Shel Silverstein-style train wreck of a cloning tale (think again before you farm out daily responsibilities to your clone, people). The story is funny, yes; but the tone and clipped pacing is sheer magic, in the end reading like a desperate SOS note scrawled on a note and slipped under the door. What kicked this story up to a higher level for me was its layered title (reference to the arrogant “looking out for Number One” attitude) and its less-funny implied warning of what might happen should technology outrun ethics. (In the words of the esteemed Douglas Adams: there are some who argue this has already happened…)

Holly Geely, “Sentience.” This. Is. Hilarious. I’d love to go on about it, you know, lauding its (junior high-level jokes) wordplay, its satisfying framework, its original plot (sentient underpants convincing a regular Joe to rob a bank!), but in the end… Eat your heart out, Pilkey. This. Is. Simply. Hilarious. And of course you wrote it, Holly.

Nancy Chenier, “Vestigial Attachment.” The gorgeous, nuanced, precise word choices set this story apart first, verbs like starfished, adjectives like moony and atavistic, and imagery like “sand peel(ing) apart my unwebbed toes.” But it’s the worldbuilding and rich character development that slayed me most, the star(fish?)-crossed ex-lovers sharing custody across boundaries of magic, the pain of loss overlaid by the pain of wishing for a thing impossible to have. The story is tragically complex and gorgeous. It reads slow, like the low, haunting notes blown from a conch shell: the s-sh-s-sh of the sea against the d-l-l-d of the land. Wonderful vocabulary and beautiful work all-round.

Mark A. King, “#FlashFridayFiction.” After that amount of work, how could I not award it an HM?? While its James Joyce-esque meandering through hashtags is inventive and funny, it’s the shadow of its writer that compelled me most: someone who thought he’d be clever by playing with format, only to discover he got more than he’d bargained for. The bravado of the writer — which may or may not be autobiographical — overwhelmed by his story (shades of Pirandello?); his attempts to uplift the reader (in which he succeeds quite beautifully) are knitted tightly with self-deprecation and naked honesty. “Monday evenings,” he says, referring to when contest results post, “pretending it doesn’t matter when it does.” Yes, it matters! We know, and we understand. Also, I’m sending you a mug. #YouveEarnedIt #AlphaDog

♦♦♦

3rd Runner Up
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & cool FF thing

Karl A. Russell, “One Week, Suspended.” Gruesome and terrifying, this story plays with time in a way no one else dared: backward, forward, and even bound between the minutes. While in my own writing I veer toward the fractured fairytale side, I couldn’t let this grim and cinematic piece go. In his reverse-moving scripting, unpooling blood, unstabbing, unbreaking, unshattering, with a horrifying, powerful twist the undoing doubles the story’s violent intensity by forcing the reader to imagine the doing. Structurally the story moves swiftly, sparsely down the page, each staccato line as sharp as a knife. The form echoes the story’s violence, and OH, what an end, with words doing so much work all at once! “His unending sentence/Jailed behind her eyes.” This kind of sophisticated wordsmithing makes me giddy. Powerful writing.      

2nd Runner Up
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & cool FF thing

Bill Engleson, “After a Few Too Many Beers Whilst Bellying Up to the Flash Friday Bar.” Many of you tried (and succeeded) overwhelming my heart with your tender tributes, and I thank you for them. I’ve chosen this one as my favorite because it encapsulates so many elements that make flash fiction a genre to be reckoned with: a killer title, lyrical language, gorgeous imagery, creative word choices, onomatopoetic plotting, humor and heartstrings, a strong frame. All of that within a haunting, colorful, 100-word distillation of what a writing community is. “The words will still be there,” he says. Wonderful. 

1st Runner Up
Prize: A Flashversary poster with your story; a Flash! Friday poster; a FF mug; a copy of one of the soon-to-be-released Flashdogs anthology

Marie McKay, “Incremental.” This story first captured my eye with its increasing frenzy: stroll, speed, crank it up, hurry, rush. Like Karl & Crystal’s final lines, the double meaning of that last word — rush — lends a power to the story outside of the obvious. This piece absolutely blew me away, because the real story isn’t the one we see at all, in which a man pops out for a walk. In a single word, the final word, the entire story is reframed and set on its head, and we are given an entirely new understanding of what’s going on. That’s skill on some kind of stratosphere we haven’t yet invented a name for. In place of an ordinary stroll, we now have a man desperate to find what’s missing in his life. And look at that marvelously repeated word at the end, like a mountaintop echo: “…I found it/I found my rush.” What was missing: now found. Love. ♥   

♦♦♦

GRAND DRAGON CHAMPION
Prize: A Flashversary poster with your story; a Flash! Friday poster; a FF mug; a bazillion books (listed here); notecards, original artwork, for pete’s sake, just keep your mailbox open for the next couple months, k?

Flashversary 2015

ERIC MARTELL

FOR

“FREAKY FRIDAY”

On Friday, everything changed. I’d been dreaming of my days as a dragonling, soaring too high over the western seas, when my alarm went off.

Kids’ll be up soon, gotta get breakfast ready.

Swinging my legs out of bed, I shuffled to the kitchen.

Wait – when did I have kids?

I scratched my too-soft belly and started a kettle on the stove.

Soft belly?

The next hour was chaos, but at last, we were all out the door, headed for school and work.

High above the western seas, a great roar split the dawn. When did I become a dragon?

♣♣♣

This story has it all: the dragon-tinged frame of the dragonling dream and the roaring dragon; a story that’s telling more than it seems; a compelling protagonist; strong writing (look at all that varied sentence structure! fantastic!); tension. (And no, I didn’t choose it because it’s got a dragon; the dragon’s the fiery frosting on the cake.) This story beats out the rhythm of a common human theme: the dreams of youth vs the often shattered reality of adulthood. Our protagonist isn’t particularly unhappy, but the dreams of “soaring too high over the western seas” play out in sharp contrast to a disappointed (shuffle, too-soft belly, chaos) prosaic reality. Here is a parent consumed by the chores of daily life, who believes dreams have been relegated to the past. This, we find out in the glorious end, is incorrect.

When did I become a dragon? 

Eric has encapsulated in a single line everything I ever hoped Flash! Friday would be. Our dreams don’t have to be left behind: they follow us, roaring. We don’t have to hide our writing, hesitate to post, shy from sending to publications or agents or CreateSpace. No. The theme hammered home in a magnificent, victorious battle cry isn’t that someday we might have value, or that someday, someone might appreciate our writing: it’s that we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We have been dragons all along.

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12 thoughts on “Flashversary 2015: WINNERS

  1. Ah… but where’s the list? The list of guesses as to who wrote what?

    Love ya lady, and I’m going to miss what you started here- all the friends, all the connections and the sheer joy you brought.

    You have indeed given me confidence in my writing (even when I can’t help myself and have to go for the humor and wordplay) (you’ve indulged me then) and you have given me family.

    So… who’s blog to we invade now?

  2. You couldn’t have picked a better final story to win! I will really miss all the Dragons, and I am very grateful to all the valiant Dragon Captains who spent so many hours judging the contests. I appreciate just how much time and effort that requires.

    Somewhere, the dragons will continue to darken the skies of their own special island kingdom. . .happy writing to you all!

  3. Your opening note made me choke up. You created something wonderful here and it will me missed!

    Thank you for helping me believe in my own writing and fostering my flash fiction discipline!

    Great final story. You made us all dragons!

  4. What a fantastic piece to send off this ginormous and epic anthology that so many people contributed to week after week!

    Thank you so much for reaching out to me and welcoming me into the fold. Thank you for doing that each Friday. I have nothing but respect for everyone on this blog.

    Take care all! x

  5. From the far reaches of my Canadian west coast Island hinterland, I so enjoyed the journey Flash Friday chaperoned. I wish I had hitched a ride sooner.All my regards, Rebekah.

  6. Nothing but ❤ ❤ ❤ for this contest, and all the people here. Rebekah, you will likely never know how much this space, these writers, all the words, have impacted me and my confidence in my own writing. Just know if it weren't for FF, I'm pretty sure I would not be a published author at this point.

  7. I am bit sad that you are closing this contest. I never won it. Who am I kidding? I dont think I was even close at any time. But I have learnt a lot from the master story tellers here. It has definitely improved my writing in a lot of aspects. I hope to see you back in a different avtaar. Best Wishes to all.

  8. Been trying to decide what to say here… I know my stint was short, but this helped me get through a during a very difficult time and I am so very grateful for that. Ya’ll are great and I’m so blessed for having encountered this!

    AND, I’m really excited that we’ll be able to access the past materials- maybe now I can actually read all those stories I’ve missed!

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