Tag Archive | A J Walker

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 43: WINNERS

Happy Monday (or what’s left of it), and welcome to a brand new week! Macbeth, curse him, carved us out a tough prompt; thanks to those of you who steeled your noble hearts to write a story or two. I also loved seeing an enthusiastic bunch show up for Saturday’s second episode of #Pyro: a fun story offered up for reading, and y’all came up with a hearty round of suggestions for the writer. Thank you!

Looks to be a fairly quiet week this week, but — as I often say — don’t get comfy: we’ve got #Spotlight interviews (including one with a well-known YA book blogger!) coming up in the weeks ahead that will leave you breathless. We’re also just a couple of months out from #Flashversary (December 11). We need your help with the prizes: (1) your financial support of Flash! Friday is how we pay for many of the prizes (you can donate here; thanks so much to those who are able!), and (2) this year our grand prize will include copies of books written by the Flash! Friday community. Would you be willing to donate a copy of your book to our massive grand prize basket? If so, please email me here.  

Speaking of #Flashversary, remember there’ll also be a prize for one of our Wall of Flame members. Did you write for three or more Flash! Fridays in September? Only two more chances (Oct & Nov) to earn Ring of Fire badges before the drawing. Details here.

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Thank you also to the marvelous judges of Dragon Team Six, Josh Bertetta & Steph Ellis, for their hard work sorting through your nefarious plots to find winners. On behalf of Team Six, Steph says:   

There were many different takes on the play that dare not speak its name this week.  I enjoyed reading them on one of the last days of an Indian Summer in sunny Southampton – unfortunately rain is forecast this week. 

Tragedy, whisky and broad accents abounded although no one included a deep-fried Mars bar (now that would be a tale to tell).  As always a thank you to Bethan for sending the stories all the way downstairs to myself and thence to the USA.  So without further ado, here – in good old Eurovision fashion – are our results:

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best Tribute: AJ Walker, “Our King in the North.” SE: Not quite sure of the author of this particular story.  A tribute(?!) to our very own FlashDog Mark King, currently rolling in the gutter, ready to meet his maker or is this something darker, a sneaky way to get rid of the competition?  Great fun but steer clear of the North and the Cavern, the Pois(on)ed Pen may get you! JB: A humorous ode to Mark of FlashDogs perhaps? Have done something similar too myself (eh hem Rebekah P) and can’t help but enjoy such a humorous tribute to one of our community’s finest and most dedicated.

Best (Superstitious) Revenge: Becky Spence, “That Scottish One.” SE: Oh as someone who works in a school (and with yr 11s!) I loved this.  That little sip of brandy, the shout out of the dread name of Macbeth, the crack and the scream.  Definitely the caretaker’s revenge! JB: Some things change, some things remain the same. Our porter here (one of the latter) is not the only constant though, for what transpires is unfortunately all too familiar.

Best Poetic End: Bill Engleson, The Fog and Filthy Air.” SE: I love a narrative poem and this had terrific rhythm and flow.  And that last line “And I,” I gasp, “for all I’ve been/a King; a Cuckold, I am died’, hilarious end. JB: Typically I shy away from narrative poetry in flash fiction, but I found myself attracted to this one particularly with its use of language, and then there was that great line at the end, which got me in my own “mortal zone.”

Best Speech: Jenn, “I’d Like to Thank the Academy.” SE:  Deliciously devious wife.  Manipulative and oh, so clever. To deliberately use an acceptance speech and leave herself out of it to get her own way, she must really know her man. JB: Great ending! Again, the theme of ambition here in the realm of celebrity where desire for fame and prestige legitimize cunning, manipulation, and guilt.  

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Richard Edenfield, Citizen King.

SE: Gorgeous use of language in this story about a faded film star right from the start, ‘The hillside in leaning light wore a castle like a crown on a head’, a ‘golden pulse of dreams’, ‘the pleasant aroma of an insatiable abracadabra’.  Solitary in his later years, he yearns to return to a more innocent state reflected in a poignant last line where he wants a ‘sled that could fly like a snow angel around the cold contours of his blackened heart’.

JB: Really enjoyed the take on the prompt — one of America’s most famous films, loosely based on one of the country’s wealthiest men, William Randolph Hearst. I’ve been to Hearst Castle and remember it quite well. I think of the audaciousness, the pomposity, the grandiosity. Here the author takes the very same notions, suggesting that all that “Citizen King” build and achieved is, on retrospect, a façade — built to cover up that which was lost, that that which was lost was lost in the very process of building the façade itself.

SECOND HM!!! Richard Edenfield, “The Love Ballad of Carbon 14.” 

SE: A modern day crucifixion only this time on a metal cross with their ‘Jesus’ wearing a crown of an ‘electromagnetic field’.  Televised worldwide, crowds controlled by guns under nonexistent gun laws, still the cult was one of ‘love and peace’.  This martyr was a machine who cried tears that ‘dripped from the strict manicure of his eyes’.  And that last line ‘Then they went to commercial’, condemns us all for the materialists that we are.

JB: Gosh darn, what a future world the author has created here where human and robot live as one because they all made up of the same stuff. A world where an apparent Savior’s castigation is viewed by the masses who are there not to experience the event they’ve come to see, but to immortalize it on their phones. Is this a future world? No, it’s a mirror world—reflecting our own where image (the photo) is more important than experience (the actual witnessing)—a fundamental absence in presence, marking experience as essentially shallow and meaningless, the ability for experience to encourage change incapacitated. Why? Because money trumps all. Money is Lord.

Betsy Streeter, “Lady M.”

SE: Dark, as dark as Macbeth itself.  I would urge the author of this piece to discard the self-doubt.  The image created, of the ‘queen’ with her ‘matted wet and bloody hair covering her face, strands of it pulsing in and out’ was extremely powerful.  She is facing the annihilation of a fiction, there is no pretend murder here.  Terrific phrasing as the ‘person and a drama’ collapse in on themselves.  An excellent example of the macabre.

JB:  What is fiction? What is non-fiction? Is there really such thing as non-fiction? The “Stage” is a cliff, an edge—it is a boundary—it is a fiction. It is a story. What was only a “prop” is now “real.” The pretend, that is, the fiction, is made real—that is, non-fiction. So we might think. But the boundary has collapsed. What is fiction? What is non-fiction? They are one and the same, and neither is what we make them out to be. Non-fiction is a fiction, just another story.

AV Laidlaw, “The General and the Sea.”

SE: A general inspecting the tragic aftermath of a battle in which he lead ‘bonnie boys’ to war and to their deaths.  He has blood on his hands, broken ships are ‘flotsam’ and he in one man he sees the ‘ivory visage’ as one of ‘ten thousand masks left discarded on the shingle’.  Filled with regret and remorse he continues to hunt uselessly, hoping to see ‘anything other than death’.  Wonderful use of language describing the general almost as a father who has lost his sons.

JB: Overwhelmed by wind, overwhelmed by water, overwhelmed by death. So goes the character. I, on the other hand, am overwhelmed by the absolutely gorgeous use of language. Basically rendering me wordless. Damn, I don’t know what else to say. Maybe that’s enough.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Mark A. King, “Joint Accounts.”

SE: An aspect of twindom I’d never considered before.  The womb, usually regarded as a place of untainted innocence carries the ‘sour taste of embryonic liquid confinement’ – right from the start all is not right.  A life of permanent competition has just begun.  To everyone else, they are a ‘joyous wonder’, ‘beloved and blessed’ yet their reality is completely different.  They yearn for freedom from each other but even when they achieve it, they cannot sustain it, ‘for to be too different for too long is painful.  It is the rusty amputation of healthy limbs’.  Forever destined to be together even as they desire to be apart, a terrible paradox. 

JB: The theme of twinness has had strong mythological connotation throughout time and across culture. For some, it was a symbol of a fundamental dualism; others saw it as an expression of the fundamental ambivalence of the universe. Two is often a number of conflict and confrontation. Such themes are present here as well: there is the ambivalence of what each child wants and what is destined to be. There is the conflict of the wish versus the reality—what hope of what could and the reality of what could not be. It was a conflict destined to be from the moment of conception—an inborn conflict engendered in the desire to be free. We want to be individuals, yet we yearn for community.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Michael Seese, “Collections” 

SE: Beelzebub comes a’calling.  I loved those first few lines … well actually I loved all of them.  Great monologue by someone, apparently homeless pushing his ‘luck down the street in a rickety shopping cart’, his pretend insanity acts as a buffer and keeps others away from him.  He sees those that pass by as ‘empty human casings’, all carrying their own demons, the devil they know.  They have lost their souls, lost their faith, like ‘spare change in the couch cushions’.   They do not realise that the devil is amongst them and ‘walking down the street in their midst’.  He is watching, he is the man pushing the cart, picking up the good intentions on a road that desperately needs paving’.  City folk are soulless and already follow the path to Hell. Excellent interweaving of devilish references.

JB: A poignant snapshot of a modernity awash in constant flux, constant movement, where people “scurrying through life circumnavigates” that which they, in their self-absorption (preferring “their lives, their demons over mine”) miss what is in their midst. As much as this piece is full of wonderful lines and images, it is precisely that word “circumnavigates” which, quite appropriately, keeps the whole thing together in a coherent, unified whole. “Circumnavigate” implies a center — it is the center that holds the space — allowing for the possibility of circumnavigation in the first place. The people in all their scurrying and their circumnavigating seek what they’ve lost only when they’ve lost it, suggesting they took for granted what they lost. The road to hell is paved with good intentions goes the old saying, masterfully reworked here — but the devil is already present. The devil is at the center and the heedless people don’t even see it — modernity and all its preoccupations a living hell.

FIRST RUNNER UP

C. Centner, “Observations and Wishes.” 

SE: Powerful diatribe against war and the form it is taking that resonates so strongly against the backdrop of the world’s troubles today.  Battles are fought by other people’s children, not those of the people in power and if not by people on the ground then by others from a distance.  Targets can be hit at a ‘2000 meter slant range’, ‘you’ll win’, language reminiscent of a video game mentality especially as weapons are fired by youths.  This removes the closeness of death and war becomes impersonal, almost virtual.  Death from a distance means nothing.

And those who give the orders, the ‘great generals, fearless before the danger of eyestrain or paper cut’ get medals, promotions and money, glossing over dirty details in stark contrast to the veterans who are left to wander ‘from hospital, to street, and back again’.  When the man who has lost his child says ‘I hope he hears the screams of my child when he’s alone at night’, he is asking if the man responsible for the orders that killed his child has a conscience.   Something I think we all wonder about  today when we see such scenes on the news with all too increasing frequency.

JB: A pointed criticism of a war in a war-soaked time where war is no longer confined to the singularity of “place” (i.e. no battlefields) and instead is relegated to an ubiquitous “space.” And in that space, those who direct the war, those who “lead” are comfortably separate from the war they command from a place removed. The nameless versus the named, the grunts no one will ever know versus those whom the world will know. Those who will continue to suffer in wandering from hospital to street to hospital; those who fight over words. What I particularly appreciated about this story was the staccato pace, which reminded me of Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun.” The phrasing and the structure of the piece recalls the chaos and war, amidst all the “noise” that are the words themselves.

And now: for his FIFTH time — no surprise — join me in congratulating the massively talented 

DRAGON WINNER

Karl Russell!!!

for

“Camelot Falls”

SE: Oh, the fickle hand of fate reverberates down the centuries; terrific idea translating Macbeth into JFK, the whole story fits the themes perfectly.  The first paragraph introduces us to someone of importance, who travels round in limos and jets, ‘kissing babies’, ‘kissing ass’.  No need to state this is a powerful politician and a jaded one at that fuelled by scotch and pep pills, he is weary of the performance he must put on. 

He is waiting, alert to an assassin on ‘This day’; the one line paragraph being a pivotal moment in the story being as it was the day that shook the world.  Further clues are given to JFK’s identity, still without mentioning anything explicit – saving the world, the beautiful women, the moon.  We have all guessed by now who it is and only then are we given names and places.  I particularly liked the way that a slightly tarnished image of JFK was given rather than the golden boy usually portrayed.  It adds a realism to a time that is often portrayed as a fairytale; something matched by the title of the piece.  Naming this story Camelot, the castle of another doomed king as well as one that is part of the JFK legend was another little perfect touch.

JB: Taking a story most of us probably know and gives us a haunting “insider’s” view in a piece that not only works with stark juxtapositions—the tall still towers/movement, the energy provided by the pep pills/dead-eyed handshakes, the most powerful man in the world reduced to a drunk in his underwear—but plays with image versus reality. I enjoy what I call “iceberg stories,” where what we read is the tip of the iceberg, the “real” story remaining unsaid and behind the scenes, in the spaces between the words as it were. This is an iceberg story of another sort, as it illuminates (with the author’s poetic license) that which is hidden (the reality) underneath the tip of the iceberg (the image).  Here is a story about (in part) wealth, power, prestige and while some may see in that ideal life, the author explores that “Camelot” is not it is all cracked up to be.

Congratulations, Karl! SO GOOD having you back, and back atop the dais, no less. Please find here your exceedingly chic, updated winner’s page. Your winning tale can be found there as well as over on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here so I can conduct your FIFTH Sixty Seconds interview! And now here’s your winning story:

Camelot Falls

He didn’t sleep much anymore; an hour on the jet, another in the limo, then another scotch and a handful of pep pills to keep him on his feet for another round of dead-eyed handshakes and kissing babies. 

Kissing ass. 

He stood at the window, watching the sun rise over the city, scanning the windows of the towers opposite, looking for some sign of movement. They were out there somewhere, counting down to the day and the hour and the minute, just as it had been foretold. 

This day.

He drained his glass, crunched an ice cube between his teeth, thought again and again and again of how he might get out, but to no avail. He was no more the master of this ship than the faceless assassin. He’d had a good run, saved the world and slept with the most beautiful woman in it, given his people something to believe in. Hell, he’d promised them the moon. 

And it all came down to this; The most powerful man in the world, standing in his underwear, getting drunk and watching the Dallas dawn. 

The Secret Service man knocked softly on the hotel room door. 

“The car’s ready, Mister President.” 

He smiled.

Poured another drink. 

FFwinner-Web

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Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 40: WINNERS

It’s Monday!!!! (“Not for me!” some of you are saying — Stella, I see that scowl! –but alas, work kept me out late today. Thank you for your patience. [Yes, even if that patience masquerades as a scowl. You don’t fool me one bit, you cute, fluffy bighearts.])

As it’s so late, I’ll keep announcements brief: join us TOMORROW!!! (Tuesday, in case tomorrow for you happens to be today already) for a super fun #Spotlight interview with our own Holly Geely, who’s dishing on her brand new book, The Dragon’s Toenail. And yes, of course she’s giving away a free copy! Because PAAAARTY!!!!!

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Many thanks to Dragon Team Eight, Voima Oy & A.J. Walker, for judging so magnificently. Your time and effort are so deeply appreciated! Here’s what they had to say:   

V– Some stories just never grow old, and I hope we never grow too old for fairy tales. They are more than magic. They are alive. These stories are timeless, changing, ever new. They are tales of  love and betrayal, losses, hopes, memories and dreams. They are as old as life, young as the sense of wonder. This time, they sure inspired you! Thank you for sharing your contemporary takes on these tales. I so enjoyed these spirited characters and lively, compelling stories. There were so many wonderful stories, I wish I could  mention them all!  

AJW– Well, Rebekah once again left Team8 with an unenviable task (and the sad loss of not entering for such a week of possibilities – we’ve had the Arabian Nights and now the Brothers Grimm flip!). There was a strange lack of dragons considering there was an entire 300 words to play with – as most of the authors seemed to want to take Rapunzel’s locks to task (and not a single shampoo and blow dry in any of them). There were some nice comedic pieces and punning for me to get my canines into. There seemed to be a fair bit of moralising and ‘justice’ and not much schmaltzy love stuff at all – so much cynicism you guys! 

Anyway, what big eyes you lot have! All the better for reading the results I guess…

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

For Brevity: A.V. Laidlaw‘s “Reduced Brothers Grimm” (11 words), Geoff Holme‘s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” — (0 words) the title is the story — and Geoff’s other story (although late) “Small Ad” (17 words), an inspired take on Hemingway’s classic of the baby shoes. 

For Romance: Margaret Locke, “If Only All it Took.” This is such a charming story of the fairy tale and Prince Charming ideal. Cinderella or Belle — Beauty and the Beast?  This is a story within a story. The romance is delightful–“Yes, she really liked  Deveric Mattersley.'”

For Reality: Josh Bertetta, “Reign and More Rain.” In this world of struggle and suffering and refugees, “Where is God and justice? Life ain’t no fairy tale.”

For One Mean Girl with a Gun and a Only Just Cleaned Cape. Craig Anderson, “Basket Case.” AJW- The cocky girl with the put downs (and the ultimate put down) is just brilliant. Though I’ve now vowed never to approach a young lady with a basket – just in case.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Colin Smith, Lifeline” & Eric Martell, “Aloft on Wings of Fire.”

There were many fine tributes to 9-11 this week, and these two are at the top: Rapunzel in her tower was powerfully evocative. These stories in particular stood out to me for their vividness. The feel of the braid, the voice repeating “let down your hair to me”; and Rapunzel as savior — beautiful and haunting, both. 

Phil Coltrane, “The Night Princess.” 

Love the fantasy elements of this story — The Enchanted Forest, where “snow whirled through the summer air.” and the Castle of Ice. Minuella becomes the Princess. Sareel the Siamese cat turns into a lynx. 1000 nights pass in one night. At the first touch of sunlight, everything is gone. Time to get back for breakfast.”  To me, this story is pure magic.

Holly Geely, “So Much for Tradition.”

Starting with “Twice upon a time,” this story is fearless and funny. Princess Snapdragon’s outspoken character and her choice of true love are a refreshing twist on the traditional type of fairy tale. The ending is great — “The king and queen were miserable, but they were jerks, so who cares?”

Eliza Archer, “Change of Heart.”

The viewpoint from the letter writer was perfect. The help yourself book, a basket with the returned baby. Made me laugh – which is never a bad thing – and perfect pathos too.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Dave Park, “Expensive Lesson.”

V – A tailor is charmed by a lovely lady who promises to bring in more business to his shop. Instead, she takes advantage of him and nearly drives him out of business. This is like a classic tale. And there is a moral, too. “But she’s so nice!”  “Nice is different from good,” his mother says.  

AJW – I have to say that this was brilliantly written and sexy – even if it was written as the polar opposite of a bodice ripper. I feel complete and utter sympathy for the poor sap and his cynical – if quite correct – mother. His forlorn hope that the work would flood in whilst he still got to look after his favourite (none paying) customer is all too believable. I hope she gets her comeuppance in some other fairytale and that life improves for poor Konrad. But I too am now living in cuckooland if I expect that to happen.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Mark A. King, “The First Requisite for Immortality” 

V – “If only her death had been final”  –Is there is such a thing as death online?  “They knew her better than we did.” The grieving parents find their daughter’s life on social media–“the touch of flesh replaced with the touch of screen.”   It is  a  timeless tale  of love and loss, made even more heartbreaking by contemporary technology.   Beautiful writing, thought-provoking piece. 

AJW – This seems to hit many a nail squarely on the head. As everyone grapples with technology which only seems to grip us further around our everything our lives are lived, replicated and saved to the cloud (and GCHQ). And yet we do see stories in RL of families living almost vicariously through FB and the like. Trying to hold on to something they never truly had. It can seem so sad. The story truly got the sadness, loss and the forlorn hope and belief across. Well done.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Karl A. Russell, “Becoming Grandma.” 

V – This subject matter of this story is grim indeed—“Once her hide is clean and dry, I stand in front of the dressing table mirror to try it on…”  careful not to rip the “liver-spotted skin.”  It is the Wolf becoming Grandma — “tucking my tail into the spare folds around her belly. …her scalp flicked nonchalantly across my shoulder like a stole… If not for the handsome lupine head, I could almost pass as human.”  The voice  keeps the description from becoming gratuitously brutal.  It is a macabre story of transformation. The red lipstick hiding the red thread mending the torn lips is the perfect touch.  I thought of Silence of the Lambs, the music Buffalo Bill danced to…

AJW – Leaving the contents in the tub for later. Gruesome indeed. And a nightmare to get the rings out of later. But if the wolf can handle a lipstick I’m sure a cleaning cloth will be simple. Honestly though, a thoroughly engrossing read told with fabulous detail and seemingly effortless. A deserved runner up.

And now: for her second time — but first since November 2014 — it’s this week’s sparkly

DRAGON WINNER

CARIN MARAIS!!!

for

“Bones Beneath the Juniper Tree”

V – I admit I was not familiar with this story, but I found out more on Wikipedia. It is a famous tale from the brothers Grimm and it has been made into an opera and a film.  In the original, there is a bird and a millstone, and justice prevails.  The story here takes a more tragic turn. It starts out as a fairy tale, a happy ever after that no one at the Twilight House believes.  The reality of the present situation is sad. The true story is heartbreaking. As Marleen unwraps her brother’s bones — “What was she supposed to have told the young woman who came to see her every week, she thought. No-one really wanted to know the truth. Hear the details of how your stepmother killed and cooked your brother. How your father shot her when he found out. How he drank himself to death. How you still saw the blood and the bodies each night in your nightmares.”  The writing here is so spare and clear — bare bones and beautiful. 

AJW – Simply presented story told across just two paragraphs and as creepy as it gets. I could almost smell an old people’s home. How many of these are full of people with pasts too scary to contemplate? It seems that she is too wily to tell the truth whilst probably thinking that they couldn’t handle the truth anyway – whilst those asking the questions of the old girl know there’s something else there somewhere – and equally don’t really want to find out. Perfectly balanced story, paced well – no rushed beginning or end. Just a scary old lady with a past and a handkerchief of small bones. Well done. Sleep well.

Congratulations, Carin! Such a joy to see you in the dragon crown again at last. Please find here your freshly updated, gold-and-emerald glowing winner’s page. Your winning tale can be found there as well as (shortly) over on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for this week’s Sixty Seconds feature. And now here’s your winning story:

Bones Beneath the Juniper Tree

“And then suddenly my brother was standing there again and he was alive. And the body of my stepmother had disappeared into thin air. And we danced and sang and were glad to have each other once more,” Marleen said as she knitted.

No-one in the common room of the Twilight House looked up. They’d heard too many variations of the story.

“And you believed this really happened?” the social worker asked, making a note of getting Marleen to a psychiatrist.

“Of course,” Marleen said. “We lived happily ever after and father married for the third time and was happy until the end of his days.” She knitted faster, not caring that she’d dropped nearly half of the stitches in the short time the woman had spoken to her.

At last the woman left and Marleen returned to her room. She took out the bundled handkerchief from its hiding place in the corner of the locked trunk at the foot of the bed. Making sure no-one could see her, she unfolded it and stared at the small bones hidden inside the cloth. What was she supposed to have told the young woman who came to see her every week, she thought. No-one really wanted to know the truth. Hear the details of how your stepmother killed and cooked your brother. How your father shot her when he found out. How he drank himself to death. How you still saw the blood and the bodies each night in your nightmares. No, she thought as she hid her brother’s bones again. Better to tell of beautiful birds and millstones crushing her head. Better to say we lived happily ever after. Better to forget all of the bones buried beneath the juniper tree.

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 40

It’s another banner week here at Flash! Friday! What a blast spending time with Pratibha; we’re still chuckling in delight over the timing of her Spotlight interview and her latest contest win (her first win in over a year! but then, she was busy volunteering two terms as a judge and launching a literary magazine, brave writer that she is). Coming up this next Tuesday is a Spotlight interview with another stellar dragon captain, Holly Geely, who’s just published her Magnum Opus The First, The Dragon’s Toenail. The title alone merits an interview, clearly. So, that’ll be Tuesday.

Coming up in the next month or two we’ll also see Spotlight interviews from outside the FF community: a writing conference speaker and Writer’s Digest featured professional whose thoughts on writing and publishing you won’t want to miss; AND for the first time at Flash! Friday, a popular book blogger (YA), who will share her take on what makes books sell.  I’m so excited!

(I’d like to remind you the mic is always open for FF writers with new projects. Just drop me a note!)

Also have to add, seeing today’s Vol 3 – 40: oh my word, we’re just 12 weeks from Flashversary. :gulp: And the start of our FOURTH YEAR…. :plucks grey hair from head: :faints: 

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DC2We’re dragon team swapping this week, which means today we’re privileged to have Dragon Team Eight at the helm: that’s A.J. Walker and Voima Oy. Give me Quirk McQuirkines, says A.J., and make me laugh. Or, he supposes, not, if your story needs to go some other direction, which he’s perfectly fine with. Voima urges daring experimentation, and if those experiments tend toward scifi or fantasy, well, she won’t complain, though of course you know best and she’s just along for the glorious, vivid ride.      

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

* Today’s required word count: (don’t faint!) anything up to 300 words (not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (this week it’s 0 – 300 words, excluding title/byline), the two story elements you based your story on, and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new or forgetful, be sure 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 NOVEL PROMPT:

This week’s novel inspiration demanded much: today is the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, but we’ve just spent the past couple of weeks in tragedy. In the end, I’ve made a choice that allows you to follow your own heart: Grimms’ Fairy Tales, brothers Jacob and Willhelm’s collection of German folktales. You are welcome today to draw your inspiration from any of these, whether tragic, or funny, or tragically funny, as your Muse leads; note this is one of those lovely rare times, copyright-wise, when derivative tales are quite welcome!

Story elements (base your story on any TWO of these elements; be sure to tell us which two you chose. Reminder: please remember the Flash! Friday guidelines with regard to content). 

* Conflict: open
Character (choose at least one): specify any character(s) from Grimms’ Fairy Tales (listed here; examples Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin)
Theme (choose one): cunning, loyalty, transformation, justice, morality
Setting (choose one): enchanted forest, humble village, castle, isolated cottage 

OPTIONAL PHOTO PROMPT (for inspiration only; it is NOT REQUIRED for your story):

Three Sisters (Die drei Schwester). Public domain in the U.S.; artwork by Andrew Zick.

Three Sisters (Die drei Schwester). Public domain in the U.S.; artwork by Alexander Zick (1845-1907).