Archive | December 2020

Fire&Ice Sol 18/19: WINNERS

§ Foy says: Welcome, welcome, dear dragons, to the penultimate results celebration! Yesterday, it was our pleasure to host two more of our fellow community members, Jethro Weyman & Tad Kelson, a.k.a. Tadk/GamerWriter, for the final Flash! Future. Please do click here and check it out! They fill us in on what they write, and offer some words of encouragement for all of us going forward. And speaking of going forward, as we launch into Fire&Ice‘s last Sol this week, this Friday promises to be a fire-drenched, ice-splintered battle like no other! We hope you’ll bring Rebekah and me your most piercing words!


Quick note on judging: Six pairs of judges across multiple nationalities and genres are taking turns reading your submissions (meet the judges here). As soon as each contest round closes, your stories are first stripped of all personal info before being sent on for judging. This represents our effort to maximize every story’s chances, whether it’s the first or hundredth story you’ve written. ♥ 


Betsy Streeter:  I felt like this week’s batch was just filled with endless gifts of details, both in terms of phrasing/word choices and in little things like names and places. I absolutely loved all the wonder and uniqueness contained within these stories. And I’m grateful I got to read them all! What a privilege. And of course many thanks to Karl for being my judging partner, our exchanges have been so much fun!

I have to mention these: Becky Spence‘s “Like Lucy,” for its clever references to both Peanuts and Star Trek (“I tend bar, and I listen.”), Laurence D.’s Untitled story for the lovely phrase, “danced to the melody of a city,” Voima Oy‘s “The Visitor,” with a nod to Arecibo and looking for life far and near, Tinman‘s “Over the Top” for zooming in on such a wonderful detail – hair! – and how fabulous can make even an alien feel, Nancy Chenier‘s Relativity for stretching family conversations across time in a unique way, Rab‘s Untitled story for digging into a whole other type of detail and ingenuity, Matt Krizan‘s “Mars and Venus on Vacation” with a wonderful nod to Hitchhiker’s Guide and a bit of grossness, and the pure sweetness of Susan Stevenson‘s “Adieu.” 

Karl A. Russell: As we hurtle towards our final Sol, I want to take a moment or two to thank our wonderful hosts for opening the lair one more time, my judging partner Betsy for making it look like I know what I’m doing here, all the people who comment, like and share their favourites on Twitter, and most of all, I want to thank you all for writing. You make us laugh and gasp and tear up, you take us right out of our strange days or push us to recognise that they will pass. You find the perfect phrase, the exact word, the single piece of punctuation that will reach deep into your reader and make out hearts sing. And most of you manage it every single week. So thank you, one and all.

This week’s spread of stories is a perfect example of this, and like Betsy said, there were so many wonderful details that are deserving of a shout out. I loved the final lines of Pippa Phillips‘s ‘Opening Bid‘ and Voima Oy‘s ‘The Visitor‘ for the hints of otherworldly strangeness they contained. Nancy Chenier‘s ‘Relativity‘ gave us the emotional heart of interstellar travel while Tad Kelson‘s ‘Silence‘ showed us what it actually feels like.



Cardboard Empires by Arcane Edison

BS: This could be read in two ways, both epic and delusional. That’s a lot to accomplish in 81 words. I loved reading this both ways, multiple times. Amazing.

KR: It’s all about to kick off! This one was the most action-packed story in a week of mostly wistful takes and is a great opener for something epic.

Consumed by Helen Laycock

BS: This one contains such detail, especially “Franco raised his right hand, covering the tear in his trousers with the left.” That says so, so much. Well done.

KR: That ‘flip’ moment seals this story for me. Franco’s life has turned upside down, and even if his only patrons now are the pigeons, he’s still trying to recapture what was. The lovely little detail with the torn trousers says that no matter how far he’s fallen, he still has his pride.

Commander of Cheer by K. Hartless

BS: Oh, the frustration of cheer muffled by lockdown. Plus interstellar travel, to boot. Really great.

KR: The most seasonal story and the most dystopic! I’d love to see a sequel where the jolly fat man takes on the curfew-enforcing security forced to finish his sacred deliveries!


Untitled by Michael Seese

BS: I love when extremely different things come together to tell a story, and this one is so unexpected and hilarious. And once you see “Cleveland” and “brown and orange,” you know where this fellow has landed. And then, partying as a bringer of peace. Just so great!

KR: The humour in this was wonderful; the matter-of-fact description of vomiting, the whooping drunk and the contrast between the alien’s intentions and their innocent imbibing…


Home by Eliza Archer

BS: Again, those details! The setting, the language, and then the simple practicality of the old coins. And, having been everywhere, just wanting a latte. Who of us hasn’t felt the pull of simplicity and wanting “normal” things this year? This taps into that sentiment so, so well.

KR: The details in this transported me right to a busy city street. The sights, sounds and smells of coming home. Yes, it’s about space travel, but it captures something more universal – who wouldn’t want to be free to wander crowded streets, watch beautiful people pass by and get a good cup of coffee right now?

And now: it is our pleasure to present to you our




The Letter

BS – This story jumped into a world and I felt like I could see Vo-Tan right off. Part of it is the use of words like “cosmodazzle” which immediately give a sense of other-ness, but also this story has a strong voice, and point of view, that is unique and shall I say, sparkly. And the idea that someone is out there building a cosmic Bridge of Emotions, and discovering how the good and bad travel together, warmed my heart in a very needed way. It evokes the idea that “negative” emotions are as necessary as “positive” ones to build a complete universe. And that is a big truth in a little story. Well done!

KR — Consider me cosmodazzled. With very little space to move, this gave us glimpses of a cosmos-spanning endeavour, an intriguing concept in the Bridge Of Emotions (I’m picturing something like Bifrost, daisy-chain-linking planets across the gulfs of space) and a wonderful inversion in the way that tears are more powerful than laughter. Vo-Tan’s obvious excitement at their discovery carries right through to the reader. So well done!

Congratulations, ARVIND! Here’s your winning story:


Dear Iuri,

I write to you from the wondrous planet of Terra, and what we have been looking for– the missing piece to build our Bridge of Emotions spanning a thousand stars– is right here!

We’ve found cosmodazzle in varying levels across planets…why, the mildest form of it– laughter– was from here.

But the people here also do something else, Iuri. They cry.

I’m bringing it with me. When you taste the tears, you’ll know what I mean.


Flash! Future: Meet & Greet II

WELCOME to another special edition of Flash! Future! Rounding out our Sunday tradition of featuring writers from around the world, this is our second of two posts specifically highlighting Fire&Ice writers. (Note that once we close up shop, all Flash! Future posts and interviews, like your stories, will remain accessible in our archives: just look for the corresponding link in the sidebar after December 21.)

It’s a privilege today to (officially) introduce to you two writers whose names you doubtless already know from their consistent & memorable tales, as well as their set of Honorable Mentions: TadK and Jethro Weyman.  Welcome to the mic, O Ye Writers! Take it away. 


 Name: Tad Kelson (TadK/Gamerwriter)

Tell us something about yourself!  

I’m a longtime gamer, sometime writer in his mid 50s, married, Vet, administrative and paperwork sort of fellow. I’ve been writing on and off for a good 30-some years.

Tell us, what’s 2020 been like for you?

2020 has been interesting. Have spent most of it working from home, dealing with some household and family challenges, and of course, the pandemic.

Could you share some of your personal hopes and goals for 2021? Anything to share with the F&I community?

Planning to finish up two WIP, get my Patreon back up and running, and work on personal stuff like weight and debt. About it for 2021 for goals—that is enough to start with right? To the others in Fire&Ice: What a great array of writing and talent. As of Sol 13 I have one mention, which is way more than I anticipated. So keep on writing all ya all.

Tell us about your published life! 

I have one self-published novella on Amazon titled Red Hollows. It is a spin on Little Red Riding Hood, from the perspective of her son and the now-undead wolf of the original tale. Portal Fiction in nature and a couple of sequels planned, never written.

Where can we find you and your work?

Follow me on Twitter here. Find my novella on Amazon here

Name: Jethro Weyman

Tell us something about yourself!

I’m a neuro-specialist physiotherapist managing a small five-person team in the NHS in Birmingham (UK). I try to make the most of the outdoors, either on foot or on my bike but… lockdown. I do a bit of bouldering and very occasional yoga. Oh yeah, and I write books!

How has 2020 been for you?

2020 has been very busy… I went to Brazil just before lockdown, started the new job (extra challenging with COVID!), bought and moved into my new house and tried my hand at being a film extra… so basically, not enough writing!

What are your hopes & goals for the coming year? Any comments for the Fire&Ice community?

I would love to have one of my full-length novels out in 2021 (come on, agents!) as well as get my screenwriting projects in front of the right people.

Joining in with Flash!Friday has been a great experience too… I hope it returns! There’s so much talent in this group and it’s amazing to see such variety in interpretation.

Tell us a little something about your published work!

Bang to Begin is a series of interconnected short stories of a number of different genres, from sci-fi-horror to fantasy-suspense. It has been described as ‘a bit like Black Mirror,’ but mostly, it’s a dark and twisty look at the human perception of fate – hence the tagline “Reality is Relative.”

Please check out the links below!

Find a copy of Jethro’s work on AmazonUK or AmazonUSA. Of course be sure to follow him on Twitter.

Fire&Ice: Sol 18/19

§ Foy says: Just yesterday was Sol 1; we were soaring into clear skies, the wind beneath us, fire in our throats, and all the demons of 2020 to devour. In the blink of a dragon’s third eyelid, we find ourselves here, Sol 18, demons dispelled, flames preserved to a low glow in the belly, and the final descent with our beloved dragon judges Betsy StreeterKarl A. Russell begun. Over the past 17 weeks, y’all have written (more than!) 112,000 shimmery new words, explored unfamiliar genres, and introduced us to characters both freshly-birthed and long-ago hatched. We’ve found joy in all of it! Thank you. ♥

Next week is the Fire&Ice FINALE spectacular. Special judges. Special challenges. Special prizes. We can’t wait to see you!           

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.


Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire dragon or ice dragon‘s requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice dragon’s element, and word count. That’s it!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.


JUDGES: Today’s judges are Karl Russell and Betsy Streeter. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.



Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between the fire dragon or ice dragon’s offering), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 18/19

Joy. Pompidou Centre, Paris. CC3.0 photo by Rupert Menneer.

Fire & Ice PromptRequired elements:

Fire dragon option: Include a chef


Ice dragon option: Include an interstellar voyager

Today’s word count: 81 exactly