Tag Archive | Bill Engleson

Flash! Future: Meet & Greet

WELCOME to a special edition of Flash! Future! For Rebekah and me, Fire&Ice has always been about y’all: giving back to, and uplifting this community, as much as we’re able in the sliver of time that we have. To that end, we’re taking the next two Flash! Future Sundays to spotlight a few brave dragons, some who’ve been with us from The Before Times with Flash! Friday, and some who are new—and oh so welcome!—in the lair. Today, it is our privilege to introduce you to two writers who have caught our fiery Judges’ eyes on more than one occasion with multiple shout-outs and even, in Maggie’s case, a Runner Up! Join us as we sit down with P.A. Duncan (known to her friends as “Maggie”) and Bill Engleson for a quick check in on them, their books, and life in 2020. As always, your comments are most welcome!     

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Name: P.A. Duncan

BIO: P. A. Duncan is a former aviation safety official and ex-bureaucrat with an overactive imagination. She writes about history, politics, and spies in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where she also watches NASCAR, cheers for the New York Yankees, and spoils grandchildren.

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

(P.A. Duncan:) This year has not been easy on any of us. I thought in lockdown I’d find plenty of time to write, and I did. Sort of. I decided to try a flash-publishing experiment: three books in three months. That kept me so busy formatting, getting covers done, reviewing proofs, etc., that I hardly had time to write—until Flash!Friday and NaNoWriMo came along.

Could you share some of your personal hopes and goals for 2021?

(P.A. Duncan:) For 2021, I hope to publish two novels and a collection of short stories—though in 12 months not three—and I hope to join my fellow Fire&Ice writers for even more flash fiction!

Give us the blurb for your next published work! 

A cabal recruits two boys for a mission that could cost one his life. A man trapped in East Berlin will do anything to return to his family. From these lives we learn love is eternal and forgives almost anything.

But love is also sometimes the perfect companion for death.

Description of Love Death: A Cold War Novel, inspired by “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde; publication date: 2/14/21

Looking for more? Check out P.A. Duncan’s links below!

Find P.A. Duncan’s other novels and novelettes, blog and book trailers on her website. She also hosts the must-listen-to podcast “Real Spies, Real Lives” and all her works can be found here


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Name: Bill Engleson

What’s 2020 looked like for you?

(Bill Engleson:) I wish I could say that a lot has changed for me. I am a volunteer…zoom helps with that. I am a writer and I have certainly written oodles during the Pandemic. In fact this winter, my poetry will appear in their anthologies, two of them Pandemic-themed.

What are your hopes & goals for 2021?

(Bill Engleson:) I am seventy-three. For 2021, I hope for a productive writing year and my share of good health.

What words of encouragement would you offer our fellow writers?

My dear fellow writers, keep writing. Flash, whatever you write and share your work at every opportunity.

Have a blurb of your published work to share?

Like a Child to Home is my first published work. It tells the story of Wally Rose, a Provincial Government Child Protection Worker, and the kids in his charge. Yes, it is slightly autobiographical…slightly.

Do check out the links below!

Find Bill Engleson’s novel and essays at his website along with his bio and contact info. You can purchase his works through Amazon or his Publisher.

Fire&Ice Sol 16/19: WINNERS

§ Foy says: Results day! Results day! And the final mad word dash for all our NaNoWriMo participants. Whether you wrote 50k or 50 words (mine was closer to the latter), I hope you’re celebrating what’s been written and energized for what will be written! We’ve only three Sols left and the last Fire&Ice Flash contest promises to be a spectacular one, so bring your best writing tools and most luminous selves, and we’ll be right here waiting for you. ❤ 

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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. ♥ 


SOL 16’S JUDGES SAY:

Voima Oy:  Greetings–  I want to thank the Dragon Queens for doing Flash! Friday again. It’s such a gift! This is a good place, an opportunity to write and comment on other stories, We are creating community and connections.  It’s truly an honor to be part of this as a writer and judging.  I’m thankful for my judge partner AJ Walker, too. It’s been a pleasure! And you, the writers, thank you for all these worlds that were not here before. Thank you for sharing your stories. 

This time, I found I was really paying attention to how people used the photo. For some, the photo was a starting point for the story. For others, it was the story. In Bill Engleson‘s “Mumbai Idyll“, the photo inspired a family history, a bittersweet reverie. In Brett Milam‘s “Sweet Death“, the picture is deceptive–it seems innocent, but it’s horrifying–the sweetness and poison of antifreeze. And in Firdaus Parvez‘s untitled story–“The city was a smudge”–it really could be about that photo. There’s even a photographer in the story! It feels so real–the heat, all the people on the road. The pandemic is part of the story, too. It is happening now, yet there is this moment of sharing and kindness.


A.J. Walker: It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been asked by the dragons to be part of the judging pairs once again with this lovely community. None of the judging has been easy and it’s nice to see the variety of stories that can come from the same prompts. It’s also been lovely to see so many of the old Flash Dogs still out writing very well indeed. But also good to see new people finding the Flash! Friday Fiction thing. All in all the dragons done good again – thank you. 

Nancy Chenier‘s “The Three“—Competition, Generosity and the truth; yes indeed. It always surprises me how the first stories can be so strong after having hardly any time to put together (we judge the stories blind after that are sent to us by the wonderful dragons so I assume it’s first if the dragons have provided the stories to us in the order they were written). Well done. Really enjoyed Laurence D‘s “Player 1. I’m not a gamer and haven’t been since back in the day with Final Fantasy VII and early World of Warcraft, but I totally get this story (made me think of the great Otherland series by Tad Williams). Helen Laycock‘s “Counting Moons– Woah! What an emotional rollercoaster and a fantastic story. I loved it the first time I read it and even more on subsequent reads. To pack a punch in so few words is a wonderful piece of work. I can see that being turned into a great longer story. Do it!

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Afternoon Picnic IV: The Sharing by Matt Krizan

VO: So well-done–the setting, the descriptions, the details–the smell of scorched jackal fur. The sister running through the room with a blaster.  In the game, three  children are sitting quietly, sharing a banana.  I loved the contrast of violent reality and the peaceful moment in the video game.

AW: Loved the idea (lets face it we’ve all had it) that people, the gamers, are missing so much of reality all around them (this year maybe not a bad thing), funny that Arin was so made up to get his characters to get a banana whist all sorts of big things were happening around him with the boring game and exciting real life somehow being swapped. Neat.

No Camera by Betsy Streeter

VO: Here is a parent and child sharing love of video games—and a real connection in the real world.

AW: Neat story of a proud parent passing on the video game gene and the nice old style idea that not everything you do needs to be seen and documented by others as long as you know you’ve done it. You don’t need to run it over to Facebook, TikTok or Instagram. So say we all.

RUNNER UP

Silent Partners by Tinman

VO: Such a sad and powerful story. Told in gestures, the friend sighing next to him on the bus. The friends sharing lunch together. You can feel the weight of things unsaid, The things no words can say. 

AW: Beautiful, well paced story of childhood, of friendship and emotions. I loved Samir watching the football and life just going on before Neva and Renuka come on over with their bananas and silent friendship with their buddy.

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

FIRE&ICE WINNER

ELIZA ARCHER!!!

for

Sharing Gift

VO – This story is pure magic. I loved the how the three friends are introduced–“Shahla played her game and never packed a lunch. Amal ate his food and but was still ravenous. His crow bright eyes watched every bite Malia took from her banana.” The description of the  marvelous banana is so vivid and real. You pause and savor the single line paragraphs. How does a magical banana taste? Oh, the sweetness!  And you wonder, too, if the Malia can bring another one tomorrow.

AWA story of a lunchtime friendship and a magically replenishing banana; ‘… sweet. Almost like honey.’ The story was told through Malia’s eyes and with few words she painted the friendship and differences between them: Shala never having a packed lunch, Amal never having enough. The matter of fact acceptance of the magical fruit and Malia sharing her bounty with her friends is a nice touch. It could have been so easy to make her keep her find to herself. I hope that she gets a magic banana again the next day – everyone could do with a magical banana. The story was sweet’ almost like honey.

Congratulations, Eliza! Here’s your winning story:

SHARING GIFT

Shahla played her game and never packed a lunch. Amal ate his food and but was still ravenous. His crow bright eyes watched every bite Malia took from her banana. Her friends hungry silence made Malia’s jaws stiff.

Then she noticed the banana, which she thought had two bites left, emerging slowly from the peel, growing longer as she watched.

Trembling, she broke off the bitten tip and quickly ate it.

The banana continued growing, normal looking, yellow fruit.

Her friend’s seemed unaware of the miracle. She divided the newly grown banana into three portions.

“Want some?” She asked.
Thin brown fingers blossomed on either side of her.

She gave them the larger two pieces, popping the remaining chunk in her mouth.

How would magic banana taste?

It was sweet. Almost like honey. As she swallowed, sweetness seemed to grow inside her.

The empty peel lingered in her fingers, strangely warm.

She felt as full and happy as when she ate a holiday feast.

“Thanks,” Shahla murmured, smiling.
“Best banana ever!” Amal said. “Can you bring one tomorrow?”
“I’m not sure,” said Malia. “Maybe?”

Fire&Ice Sol 13/19: WINNERS

§ Rebekah says: Happy results day! Deb and I have been looking forward to this all Fire&Ice season: today we’re officially announcing open submissions for the final weeks of Flash! Future! So far we’ve featured global superstar writers like N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Samit Basu, and (just yesterday!) Cherie Dimaline. Now it’s your turn!

See here for submission guidelines. The deadline’s November 20; in the guidelines you’ll find exactly what/where to submit. And then watch for your name in the last couple Flash! Future posts in December before Fire&Ice retires along with 2020. We can’t wait to introduce the community to you & your work!!!

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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. ♥ 


SOL 13’S JUDGES SAY:

Sinéad O’Hart: It’s an honour to have been on the judging panel for the world’s second most important decision this weekend, and I think both the Sol 13 team and the people of America both did a stellar job in choosing their winner. (Congratulations to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris!)

Luckily for Craig and me, there’s a bit more wiggle-room around choosing winners for Flash! Friday than there is about choosing the next occupant of the White House. As a Sol 13 judge, I get a chance to do shout-outs to some personal favourites which didn’t, for one reason or another, quite make the cut. It makes the choosing process a lot more fun – and it’s a wonderful opportunity to show my respect to the talent of the authors I’m asked to judge. I loved the themes this week – whales are a personal favourite of mine – and it made me smile to see stories which echoed themes close to my heart (Carin Marais‘ “Among the Stars Once More,” and Rab‘s “Safe Harbours“) and the poignant real-life story of a whale who sings a song inaudible to any others of his kind (Pippa Phillips‘ “A Language of One“). There were many stories of Hope (both whale and concept, I suspect) coming alive once more, and they each made a little light pop on in my soul.

My first personal mention, however, has to be the very first story, Bill Engleson‘s “Whaling, Wailing, Over the Bounding Main,” for its mention of my home county of Wexford – I can tell you exactly where the hell it is, because I was born and raised there! I’m sorry for the fate of the fictional whale, but at least it chose the finest corner of Ireland to die in. I also feel I must salute Rebecca Kinnarney‘s, “The Stranger and the Fork,” and Catherine Connolly‘s, “A Simple Truth,” for their use of the Irish language – it was a treat to see my own mother tongue in this week’s entries. Mo cheol sibh! I also really enjoyed TK‘s “The Quest.” It was sweet, and a good, fresh idea, but mostly I loved its clever use of language. The skittering pace matches that of the mouse across the floor, and something about its rhythm reminded me of an epic Old English/Germanic poem, which I thought was so clever when paired with the subject matter of the story. Brett Milam‘s “Pink Dreams” was so arresting that I read it over and over; it stopped me in my tracks with its unique beauty. And for me, Susan Stevenson‘s “Travel Log” was memorable. I really appreciated the aching realisation, or perhaps quiet declaration, in its last line, along with its characterisation and dialogue.


Craig Anderson: What an interesting weekend to be judging! While the world waited patiently for one announcement, Sinéad and I were busy devouring your delicious morsels of flash fiction to make the (most definitely just as) important decision as to who would be crowned flash champion.

The Natural History Museum was one of my favorite haunts back when I lived in London; I spent many a Saturday afternoon perusing the various exhibits. I remember how in awe I was the first time I saw the huge skeletons, they really have such an imposing presence. Hope was such a perfect theme, and I had a whale of a time reading all your takes on her antics.

My first shoutout has to go to Geoff LePard‘s “The Machine Starts.” I loved the vibe throughout this one, very Pratchett-esque, and the use of French phrases helped to mask the intent of the devious Pomeroy. Ooks all round! My second shoutout is quite the tonal shift from the first, the delightfully spooky “Bone Riders” by Phil Coltrane. I loved the atmosphere created in so few words, the clever use of Latin to sell the sheer age of the creatures and the occasional poetic flourish. Lines like ‘We do not bring death, we await it‘ do a wonderful job of creating empathy for these poor trapped souls.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Maggie Duncan‘s “Revenge of the Space Porpoises,” which was just the right amount of silly. This one reminded me of Douglas Adams (another one of my fav authors!) The interaction between Stine and Click-Click-Click-Screech was fun and playful, and the quick thinking at the end was hilarious.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

“A Grand Idea With a Pungent Lesson” by A.J. Walker

SO: Sidney from Accrington captured my heart, and Craig’s. Such a character, created in a tiny space, and with such skill! I loved his attempt to set up his own museum, and the fragrant lesson he learns (and the final line and image made me grin a wide grin. Go, Sidney!).

CA: Sidney! I could almost feel the childhood enthusiasm in this one. My kids share that same sense of wonder every time they bring me a new bug or stick they found in the garden. I loved how lighthearted this one was, and there were several laughs along the way. Poor roadkill!

High Hopes by Helen Laycock

SO: In a week when many stories centred on the idea of the whale’s skeleton reanimating, this one stood out. Its powerful, beautiful, and controlled use of language, and its holographic twist, meant it was deserving of a special mention.

CA: This one did a great job of mixing the old with the new, the beautiful language (the ribs as silent harp strings, the door closing like a crashing wave) contrasts with the technology of the hologram and the great escape through the skylight. The last line is great too, revealing the cleverness of the title.

RUNNER UP

DRAGON NOTE: Due to a mixup, we happily have two runners up this week!

Untitled”  by Michael Seese

SO: This one made me laugh out loud! I was completely gripped by its characterisation, dialogue, and setting – and very much appreciating the nod to Jonah, which this story (along with Matt Krizan‘s “Untitled“) made clever use of – when the author completely turned everything on its tail in one simple image in the final line. Absolutely masterful control, and excellent characterisation, meant this one had to have a podium place.

Untitled” by Matt Krizan

CA: I love a story with a twist, but sticking the landing with so few words requires a real mastery. This story starts out so ominous, with a young boy terrified of the huge whale skeleton. The description of his fear is so good it is positively palpable, his heart racing, his hands sweating as the bones loom overhead. This pulled me in to the story and made me wonder just why this poor boy was so afraid. Then the final line twists the whole thing on its head, turning fear into laughter. That contrast makes it all the funnier, and made me want to read it all over again. Fantastic stuff! 

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

FIRE&ICE WINNER

NICOLA LIU!!!

for

Untitled

SO – This story made me stop, and blink, and re-read, and re-read once more. It was so well executed that it played like a short movie in my mind as I read; I could see the image of JieJie beneath the mouth of Hope, and I could see her grieving cousin looking at her photo from afar, and I could hear the characters’ voices in my head. Such an achievement, from a piece of flash fiction. This was my winner because not only is it an emotionally impactful story, it’s also a completely fresh concept, and its use of the prompts was unparalleled, particularly the language component. This story really made the language prompt a central prop to its action, characterisation, and conflict, and its use was so clever that it left me open-mouthed with admiration. A wonderful piece, and a more than worthy winner. 

CA — A great story should leave you wanting to know more, about the characters, the setting and the circumstances that led to the events depicted. This flash does all of that in spades. It demands multiple readings to fully appreciate the layers on display. With my first read I was as lost as the MC, pulled along by the story, but only faintly grasping what was happening. I was reliant on the MC for the translation of the Hanzi symbols, which left me as confused as our narrator, until the reveal of clever wordplay. We learn what has happened right at the same time, and are left with the same feeling of helplessness. I found myself thinking ‘I feel like I am missing something. If only I could understand these symbols…’ which then turned out to be the exact theme of the story. It is such an interesting inversion of the usual rule of ‘show don’t tell’, where the narrator tells us they are not as bright, or smart as their cousin, only to show us the consequences of this with the missed opportunity to save her. To do all of that in 159 words is pure 厨师吻.

Congratulations, NICOLA! Here’s your winning story:

UNTITLED

Two days ago, Jiejie’s last message: “大吃一鲸!” She’s under a suspended whale skeleton, mouth open, the perspective forced so she looks like she is, as she says, eating a whale.

She looks so happy.

Jiejie and I: cousins, opposites. She studied abroad; I stayed home. She was BSci, MSci, nearing PhD. I failed Gaokao. (Twice.) Our family called her 好孩子, a good kid; I was 还好, with a painful grin, if anyone dared ask.

But we were close.

Were.

Ma told me. “她跳楼.” — “She jumped out a window.”

I should grieve. Can’t. Too angry.

Why didn’t you talk to me, Jiejie? Weren’t we close? Why didn’t you say something?

Now I look again. “大吃一鲸!” A pun, the characters sounding like “I’ve had a shock”. She’s captioned the photo “自然” – Nature.

And I see.

It’s another pun. 孜然 – Call me.

I search for that dead whale. It’s called Hope.

Oh, Jiejie, Jiejie. You always thought far too much of me.