Tag Archive | Beth Deitchman

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.”

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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.

Spotlight: Flash Dogs

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When I (Rebekah) joined the flash circuit in the spring of 2012, it was already a thriving community, centered on contests as colorful and vibrant as the writers themselves. Among my favorites were Nicole Wolverton‘s “5 Minute Fiction” (you had 15 minutes from when the prompt posted, to submit your story. WHAT A RUSH!) and Jeffrey Hollar‘s “Monday Mixer” (up to 9 difficult vocab words to incorporate in your 150 word count). We writers followed each other throughout these various weekly contests, and we got to know each others’ styles and flavors. It was glorious.

All too soon and to my horror, that circuit began petering out as contest hosts moved on to other projects; so I launched Flash! Friday in December 2012 in a desperate bid to keep the community alive. I needn’t have worried, of course. Two years later, and look at you!!! In 2012 we couldn’t have dreamed of organizing ourselves as flash fiction writers on the circuit. We couldn’t have designed our own badges, issued our own challenges, published our own anthologies like the Flash Dogs do…. but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s hear what David Shakes and Mark King of the Flash Dogs have to say for themselves!

Let’s start with the basics. Who on earth are the Flash Dogs?

The FlashDogs are an international pack of flash fiction writers committed to pushing the envelope of the form. Put simply, we’re a community passionate about flash fiction. We don’t have a mould. Anyone can call themselves a FlashDog and anyone can follow the @FlashDogs twitter profile. There’s no cost, there’s no elitism. Everyone is in if they want to be. Our intentions are:

  • to encourage regular flash fiction writing, inspire folk who may not have considered writing before and connect them with the competitions and each other
  • to promote and support the many regular competitions available online, not least the keystone competition – Flash! Friday
  • to signpost various other flash fiction opportunities such as paid prizes or publishing opportunities
  • to provide ongoing, positive support to the entire flash writing community, celebrating individual successes and the continuing rise of the art form.

 The name itself came about through jokes being exchanged on Twitter one particular  week in which all prompts seemed to involve canines. Across every competition the theme was dogs! Despite doggy fatigue, the determined flash hounds duly submitted entries. Beneath the jokes there was a clear sense of love and loyalty to the competitions and each other. The first FlashDogs were born that week. We haven’t looked back since.

It’s rather a pity you didn’t launch the week everyone wrote about waffles! So: there are loads of online writing communities these days. What sets the flash community (and Flash Dogs specifically) apart?

FlashDogs tapped into something special that already existed in the world of flash. We were a community long before we put a name to it. As we discussed above, the pack is native to the intense competition of the Internet flash arenas. Despite being locked in a battle for the top spots each week, flash folk are the most supportive people you’d hope to meet. We reveal ourselves through our writing. We respect that and treat people’s creativity with care. Sometimes with awe. We take time to analyse and comment on each other’s work.

Twitter is an integral (but not essential) part of the FlashDogs experience. That social element fleshes out the people behind the poetry and prose. We were finding that many of the people writing on a regular basis for one of the competitions also participated in others,  but communication across the field was sporadic and uncoordinated.

FlashDogs formalised that, linking disparate groups and using Twitter as the initial platform.

We’d like to think that there are many more stories written each week as a result of our efforts. Our only interests are in flash fiction and helping the community to achieve success in their writing.

Flash is the distillation of all of the critical elements of longer fiction. We encourage critical feedback, honing skills for people.

We jokingly wrote that ‘…a success for one FlashDog is a success for all FlashDogs’, but as time’s gone on, that’s genuinely how it feels.

What defines FlashDogs now is the opportunity to get your work published via our anthologies and support charitable causes that promote literacy for the next generation. We are taking snapshots of the flash community, making sure stories that would usually disappear into the digital ether are preserved a little longer.

Tell me the truth. Are online writing communities the lesser cousin of IRL communities? What direction do you forecast for writing communities?

Mark A King: Clearly both have a place in the world. Whilst text, e-mail, Skype and Social Media are instant and convenient, they don’t allow you to share a coffee. IRL will always continue.

However, many studies have shown that our true selves often come out on-line and our social media preferences are highly accurate predictors of our personalities – so the power and connections of on-line communities shouldn’t be dismissed. Indeed, sometimes it’s easier to be yourself when online, if you are introverted or find social situations daunting.

David Shakes: I have a busy life. Between work and family, I’d struggle to make regular real-world meetings. Without the online community I’d never have started writing in the first place. That said, I agree with Mark. We’re hoping that the oft mooted FlashDogs UK meet up happens this year. There’s no substitute for honest human contact and the free exchange of views. That doesn’t make FlashDogs a “lesser cousin”, just a different animal.

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Why an anthology? How were the contributors chosen?

Writers generally want to be published. Week after week there were loads of great stories competing for one or two winning places. What happens to those stories not chosen? We initially wanted to gather those stories and promote them to readers who wouldn’t usually read blogs or competition sites.

Our anthology was seen as a reward for those that gave significantly to the flash community. It was a chance to showcase the talents of those individuals, to give excellent writing some longevity.

We issued golden tickets to the usual suspects. If we’re honest, it was a bit hit and miss. Though not fully perfected, we have a better idea of what we’re doing for volume 2.

One thing we were absolutely certain of was the inclusion of the folk that run the competitions for us writers. You guys were first on the list. It’s your hard work that inspires us.

Finally, we knew that being in the book would be reward enough for folk, so we added the charity element. That was really well received by everyone involved and gave the project another dimension.

What surprised you about publishing your own anthology? What did you learn from the process?

Mark A King: We feel it was a vast project and the amount of work involved was significantly underestimated. This is something we have learned from. The biggest surprise for me was just how amazing the anthology was. We are passionate about flash and clearly we were passionate about the project, yet sitting down and reading the book was a magical thing. Each and every story made me think and dream. Each story made me think: ‘it can’t get any better’, then it did!

David Shakes: The kind dedication to me in the print version says “…who dared to dream.” I might still be dreaming were it not for Mark, Emily June Street, Tamara Rogers, Beth Deitchman, Kristen Falso Capaldi and her husband, the list could go on.

What surprised me was the amount of people it took and how labour intensive it was to get to the publishing stage. That was just for starters! Getting it out there was quite the rigmarole. Then, how do you get people to buy it? We’re lucky to have Bart Van Gothem on board who knows a thing or two about sales and marketing.

I was naive at the start. Now we’re all gearing up for volume two – battle hardened but no less enthusiastic.

What surprised me most was people’s willingness to give of their time and expertise and the genuine love people had for the project, Mark’s above all. He’s the linchpin.

I suspect he might say similar things about you; you’ve all proved to be a phenomenal team! And what has the response been to the anthology?

In terms of success, we made the top ten list on Amazon for two out of three categories we were in the UK. We made the top 50 for two categories in the US (which is clearly a much bigger market).

We were fortunate to be gifted Natalie Bowers‘s marketing prize following her fantastic win on EtherBooks. Thanks so much, Natalie!

We had many passionate members of the community promoting and bulk buying the book. These greatly helped our exposure.

We’ve had some great reviews and feedback. We’ve had many new people follow us and ask where they can join in.

Best of all, we’ve sold books to readers who have just been browsing Amazon for their next read. They’ve enjoyed it and recommended it to others. That’s so validating for our writers. Plus, we’ve made a sizeable chunk of cash for our chosen charity.

Speaking of charity, why IBBY?

It was always going to be hard to choose a charity. Everyone has a personal preference for a wide range of causes. We knew we had to narrow down the list somehow.

It had to be global. It had to be something that we all associated with in some way.

IBBY was, in the end, an incredibly popular choice.

They support books for young people. The believe that everyone has a right to read. They sometimes work to help children in crisis areas.

We are all fortunate enough to be voracious readers as well as writers. Not everyone is so lucky. We believe they should be. We felt that IBBY was the perfect charity choice, because it gives future generations the foundations that we may have taken for granted in our youths – a window on the world, a passport to the imagination.

Perfection indeed!!! That just leaves one question, then: what’s next for the Flash Dogs?

We’ve just announced Anthology 2 for the summer. Whilst its exact nature is under wraps, we’re sure people will be as enthusiastic as we are.

The FlashDogs collective is expanding. We’re as keen as ever to ensure that all prospective FlashDogs support the competitions and online outlets that brought us into existence.

The momentum behind flash fiction is growing, and though we’re newer puppies in the park, we hope we’ve something fresh to offer.

We’re adding a style guide and a little more structure to the FlashDogs experience this time around, but the spirit in which we were founded remains our only philosophy. That’s why we’ll be here Friday, and the Friday after that…

Thanks so much, Mark & David, for your faithful and tireless support of Flash! Friday and flash writers everywhere. We can’t wait to see the second anthology. PS. Are you sure it’s too late to rename yourselves the Flash Waffles…??

Readers: since they were too humble to say so themselves, I’m happy to mention that the first anthology is still on sale here. (Full disclosure: many Flash! Friday writers, including myself, have stories in this anthology. We do not receive any profits from the sales of this book.)