Tag Archive | Caitlin Status

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 14: WINNERS!

With many thanks for your patience (a power-blasting snowstorm in MARCH in the DRAGON CAVES!? outrage!), please join me in thanking outgoing judge Whitney Healy & congratulating our newest batch of winners. PARTEH IN THE DRAGON CAVES!

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Judge Whitney Healy says: The Ides of March are upon us, as is the imminent end to an intricate journey. This experience with judging has been fun: it allowed me to evaluate short fiction, entertained me, and motivated me at times to write myself. I am happy to be throwing the gauntlet to new blood: I highly recommend the experience. You will learn something about yourself, your writing, others, and others’ writing. I say I am happy to toss the challenge to another because I’m ready to start focusing on my own writing and (hopefully) compete again at this lovely competition. Eleven of the forty entries made my first cut this week, and the stories were widely diverse and (as always, delightfully entertaining. Applause to all!

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Jacki Donnellan, “The Domestic Dancer.”  I loved how we see the innocence of the janitor in this piece and how much he admires the young dancers. We grow to love the janitor and how he has supported this dance school for so long, and then we grow to hate the head mistress for removing him when he meant absolutely no harm. This was an entertaining tale of the sadness that often happens in our culture when someone is not accepted. 

Craig Anderson, “Dancing Days.” In so few words, a dedication to dance is made. We cheer for the dancer, as she has wowed the fans to the point all artists wish to reach: tears. But then, by an astounding turn of both language and events (the first part of the story is detailed and descriptive, while the second part is fragmented dialogue), we see that it is her dance that is helping her deal with the traumatic shock attached to an accident. Definitely worth a read, for those of you who missed it.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Caitlin Status, “Your Little Ballerina.”  I wanted more of this story: there’s a lot underneath the text. Why is the mother leaving her daughter? Who is Heather? What has the mother done that makes her so ashamed of herself? Or, is the mother ashamed of her daughter? Through the uncommon use of second-person point of view, the accusatory nature of the voice of this piece makes a reader feel as if she is the panicked mother who so wants what is best for her daughter (or so it seems). I appreciate the shifts between narration and dialogue as well.

FIRST RUNNER UP

AmyBeth Inverness, Untitled. I could read this story again and again and still laugh. There were many tales of jealousy and revenge this week, but most of those tales did not state such theme so subtly. In this piece, a young girl chooses what appears to be a modest type of dance (as her mother thought ballerinas’ dress was far too scandalous), but we find out otherwise. Instead, we see a young girl capable of manipulating and very in charge of her life–and how I would have loved to see Clementina’s face when the girls’ “grace” was displayed for all of the world to see. A hilarious tale of what, to me, is sweet, sweet victory.

And now: for his FIRST TIME EVER (’bout time!), it’s Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

Gordon B. White!!!

for

“The Our Lady of Thorns ‘Lil Sprigs’ Dancers”

I began my second reading of this tale by looking up the definition of the word “sprig”–and boy am I glad I did. I knew a “sprig” could refer to a small plant just breaking the surface of the soil, or perhaps the “sprig” of rosemary we add to something when cooking, but when I saw the other definitions, I realized a “sprig” is also a small branch or a could refer to offspring. Now pay attention to this story, folks. Thorns and sprigs in title: refer to nature. “Twist(ing) like a dogwood(‘s) branches”: refers again to trees. Collapse to the ground like kindling: kindling=wood. The last dancer’s name is Rosy, a play on the rose. Are you seeing a pattern? This writer knew exactly what he was doing with every phrase: every word on the page, every phrase, every rhetorical device, every image, wove an image of trees and the power of nature. In a dark and somewhat unnerving tale, this author uses his deliberate choices in language to manipulate both a reader and the audience watching the dance: a stylistic decision marked by a master of their craft. Not to mention the pacing was great and you could picture every “sapling” of detail he created. A well-deserved win: I’d like to see more of his writing!

Congratulations, Gordon! Your winner’s badge waits for you below. Here is your winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me asap so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

The Our Lady of Thorns “Lil Sprigs” Dancers

Hours later, the hurdy gurdy still grinds away and the girls still twist like dogwood branches in the spring breeze, trembling with the cold and exertion. The swollen red and white balloons are the only things holding some of them up.

A susurration of whispers stirs through the crowd.

“Will there be no volunteers?” Sister Agatha raps her birch cane against the stage. “None willing to donate? Not even an iron coin or a piece of beef?”

One by one, the balloons pop and the pale girls collapse to the ground like kindling.

“For God’s sake, stop it!” A man finally cries out and pushes forward, rolling up his shirt sleeves. “Just take it already.”

Sister Agatha plunges her needle into the crook of his elbow. The thick redness sluices up the surgical tube. She smiles and looks down at the lone girl still dancing, trembling like a daisy.

“This one is for you, Rosy. The greatest dancer of all.”

 

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Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 12: WINNERS!

Happy Sunday! Thank you for spending some time here at Flash! Friday–I’ve loved reading your stories & comments this weekend. You seemed to take to vendettas with great relish. Er, we’re still good friends, though, right…?  

Today we bid a mournful farewell (in her judge’s tiara, anyway) to Her Highness Nillu Nassu Stelter. What a pleasure it’s been having you on the FF team, Nillu! Your sparkly and spirited judgery will be greatly missed–can’t wait to see all those marvelous skillz in your future storification! Thank you so much for your time and dedication.

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Judge Nillu Nasser Stelter says: It’s my final week as a Flash! Friday judge and how the months have flown. Each time it was my turn to step up to the bench with my quill in hand, I learnt a terrific amount from each of you. Your stories have been sizzling feats of imagination, lessons in precision and emotional depth. What other form of fiction allows you to experience so many different voices in such a small space of time? You have spanned multiple genres, and found opposing rhythms, from high intensity piece about a man with murderous intent, or the gentle calm of a story about ladies at tea.

Despite the joy with which I approached this task, there is a mantle of responsibility that comes with judging your entries. I was once told that attention = love. I wanted to give you the gift of 100 per cent focus to mirror the care with which you crafted your stories. Yet, I was conscious that reading is a subjective exercise. I worried that despite judging blind and using marking criteria there may have been writers amongst you whose work, week after week, resonated with me more than others.

I was wrong. As a judge, I have never picked the same winners. In each story submitted, I found something to relate to. You convinced me to appreciate genres that I have neglected in the past. In the best stories, I found that the writer’s vision fused with my imagination as a reader, making the story pulse with energy long after I finished reading it, and firing my synapses to build a world around the one you had committed to paper.

This week Rebekah chose ‘vendetta’ as the Dragon’s Bidding, to accompany a black and white photograph of three welders from the 1940s. Of all the entries submitted, I short-listed a third of these for rereading. You gave me murder and mayhem, sibling rivalry and clones, war and infidelity, immigration, witches and even Vendetta mopeds. You gave me horror, humour and pathos. There was some wonderfully chosen period language and some fantastic final sentences, after which I was compelled to read the stories again.

A special mention this week for Karl A Russell’s story ‘Patience’, for his wonderful setting description, the slow build-up of tension – ‘Women screamed. Alarms rang’ – and his characterisation of the murderer and widower. Well done Eliza Archer for powerful imagery in ‘Patriotic Duty’, in which she writes about witches working to give war planes a helping hand, so that they may be ‘guided by fingers stronger than mortal craft.’ A warm pat on the back to reigning judges Erin McCabe for beautiful phrasing in her story – ‘her bright sparks setting the dark on fire’ /  ‘they burst into redundant, violent cascades of pixels’ – and M T Decker for her fantastic concept delivering a modern twist on Greek mythology.

And finally (*drum roll*), with their names in lights this week are: 

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Anna Van Skike, “Level Up.”  In this story the welders are part of a video game played by a young boy. The welders come to life, and stalk after the boy, who they know as ‘God’ and ‘The Great Controller’ once he has left them to their own devices. Great concept, and I liked the description of the young video gamer – ‘with his vacant eyes and slack smile’ – who nevertheless has the power to play puppet-master here and the use of capitalised pronouns to denote his god-like importance to the women. 

Chris Milam, “Indifference.” In a horrific take on the prompt, the author tells the story of a sadistic step-father – ‘his welder craved human flesh and emotion’ and troubled mother – ‘her frozen stare always darting, fluttering, never quite landing.’ There was some terrific language here, which was deeply vivid and emotive: ‘[I was] fit for burning. A slab of human steel. / His dark mask shaded his eyes but never his intentions.’ The final line packed a punch: ‘[Mom] never even glanced at the garage.’ Fantastic writing.

Caitlin Status, “Up in Ypsilanti.” Being a Brit, and possibly because of a gap in my history knowledge, I had never come across the phrase ‘Rosie the Riveter’, which a few of you used to great effect, including Caitlin, the author of this piece. The writer here expertly set the glamour and pain of war in juxtaposition with each other: ‘I reapplied my lipstick and did one final hair check before closing the compact’ / ‘I’m a widow and only child at twenty because of this war’. There was an impressive use of dialogue and setting in this piece.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Robin Abess, “We Three.”  The repetition and rhythm is this story emphasizes a sense of bleakness: ‘we three do what we three do.’ The first part of the piece is filled with a supreme sense of sadness – ‘we have no names, although we did once’ – as the identities of the three welders merge. Yet, it is individuality here that causes rage and then murder, and finally suicide – ‘I disappeared into the fire.’ Robin has written a wonderful ending where the three welders are doomed to once again continue their task, as penance for their defiance.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Margaret Locke, “Superior Plumbing.” I think this might be my favourite start to a flash fiction piece ever: ‘Penis envy, my ass, Charlotte thought as she bent over the metal tube. Freud was an idiot.’ Ha! This story shines a spotlight on the skill of women in untraditional roles using clever plotting and beautiful phrasing: ‘Charlotte ignored him as the molten metal responded to her commands.’ The writer deals with sexism and uses period language effectively: ‘girly’, ‘boy-o’, ‘bug-eyed’. Best of all, the feisty, competent female protagonist makes me smile: ‘one slip of the welding iron and you’ll be needing replacement pipes yourself.’

And now: for her second time, it’s Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

MARIE MCKAY!!!

for

“The Factory”

This was a unique take on the prompt, which is about clones in a factory. The themes of power, vengeance and loneliness are amplified by the use of repetition. It’s a cracking piece of experimental flash fiction, in which the author repeats almost every sentence and punctuation mark, thus reducing her word count and meaning that every word had to be chosen with additional precision. The double pain conveyed in the story is haunting – ‘We We see see reflected reflected in in each each other other despair despair’ – and gives a sense of imprisonment. As the reader, the robotic monotony of these sad clone voices filled my head. Even the white space works hard in this story. The lack of repetition when talking about the supervisors – ‘The Singles are armed’ – emphasizes their role as the aggressors. The final sentence is both poetic and terrifying: ‘So So we we sit sit side side by by side side echoing echoing a a desire desire for for revenge revenge.’ Congratulations, Marie!

Hauntingly amazing job, Marie! Your winner’s badge waits for you below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

The Factory

They They cloned cloned us us.. Doubled Doubled the the workforce workforce in in a a year year.. We We work work two two by by two two,, side side by by side side,,with with our our Doppelgänger Doppelganger.. We we look look into into our our own own strange strange eyes eyes and and see see how how dead dead they they are are.. We We are are the the other’s other’s prison prison..

The Singles supervise.

There There is is no no opportunity opportunity for for us us to to break break free free. We We see see reflected reflected in in each each other other despair despair..

The Singles are armed.

We we think think to to destroy destroy the the supervisors supervisors.. So So we we sit sit side side by by side side echoing echoing a a desire desire for for revenge revenge..

 

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Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 10: WINNERS!

Howdy! Welcome to the results for Vol 2-10; let’s jump right in! 

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Judge Whitney Healy says: I had a difficult time judging this week: many competitors chose to write with open-ended conclusions that sometimes confused me while others used allusions to mythology or other parts of history with which I was not familiar. Some of the entries took more time to evaluate because I had to do the research to fully understand the allusions–which is always okay, of course: I’m a life-long learner and an English teacher, so I like having to do some “homework” in order to fully appreciate a response.

I’d like to talk a little bit about the prompt. Every week I look at the prompt almost as soon as I get up so I can reflect on it myself before I start reading, often thinking about what I may write myself if I were competing. This week’s prompt really caught my attention: I actually thought it was a Salvador Dali painting, for the colors and angles echoed of the recognizable Melting Clocks. With my knowledge of Dali (way back when in my Art Appreciation class in college he was the artist I chose to research), mentally I painted my own picture of what I’d write–something bizarre or unexpected. Then, when I revisited the picture just before judging, I realized it was a photo and not a painting! Interesting, I thought. Judging this week could be fun.
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Before I begin, some of you deserve some mentions. Those mentions this week are EmilyKarn1 (your writing echoed of Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”), Allison Garcia (I really liked your piece, but it was over the word limit), HLPauff (I love how you implied the genie was being punished by his master), and SJOHart (It’s rare to see Death portrayed as a powerful temptress: I liked it). I’d additionally like to note Rebecca Allred‘s Gravid–this piece had so many layers, and it is something all mothers could relate to. All of you created tales that made me smile, think, or empathize. Thank you for sharing your work! 

(Ahem!)

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sarah Cain, “Honor Your Mother.”  I appreciated this story because it was circular in style and because it hinted at the personal beliefs you may have underneath your text: it was actually one of the first that “wow”ed me, and, boy, does it make us think. We really should value the little time this planet may have left. 

Charles W. Short, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” In college I minored in psychology, heavily interested in what makes the human mind tick (or fail): PTSD is a disorder that always made my heart pain for those afflicted, and your tale reads exactly like a testimony, confession, or session: excellent work.

Scott Vannatter, “Preparing for the Storm.” Echoing of the imagined post-apocalyptic fight for survival, this tale made me hungry to learn more about what the people were preparing for. Was it really a storm, or was it something much, much more? What exactly are the “night-crawlers”.  A chilling piece that I enjoyed reading.

Maven Alysse, “Sloth.” This piece is an excellent metaphor for the deadly sin of sloth, as our “hero” (though perhaps more tragic) begins to “clean out” his penance. I thought this piece mirrored the very action (or inaction) sloth is: laziness, apathy, and jealousy. An extremely multi-layered response with a lot of symbolism.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Jeffrey Hollar, “Dimensional Difficulties.”  By the end of this somewhat sci-fi story, all I wanted to know was what was underneath the text. What were they researching? How did our hero go so wrong? It was a piece that made me want to hear even more.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Caitlin, “Relenquished.”  In a post-apocalyptic tale unlike most that we’ve seen in recent popular culture (no zombies, no scientific disease–only the power of nature), we see how the strength of family is what counts in times of crises. I particularly liked the line “filled with the trinkets of another lifetime”–there is a LOT of symbolism here. Those “trinkets”, on the surface, may seem only mementos, but I believe they represent what was and what was lost. I also appreciated the use of dialogue used to tell the story. A read I think you should consider extending.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “The Chosen.” Marie, I am partial to sci-fi, so perhaps you were playing my taste, but regardless, this tale was extremely well-crafted. I appreciated the use of a long opening paragraph describing your setting of Novus. In the opening you also took the time to develop the crew just enough so a reader knew what kind of characters they were: strong, carefully chosen, and capable. Then, you changed to a rapid-paced dialogue between the explore sight and control: and as readers we discovered how “lost” our explorers really were, all while your played on the concept of time (which most of us associate with sand). I appreciated the mystery the ending of your story evoked, and I found myself applauding the tale, as it was one of the few “unexpected ending” pieces that still felt complete enough. A story I could find myself reading over and over again and still be entertained.

And now: presenting first time Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

PHIL COLTRANE!!!

for

“The Sands of Space and Time”

From the opening, this story had me hooked. In fact, my very first note was “This is what I have been looking for!” In so few words, you persuade a reader into believing everything you say about lost civilizations, a reader nodding as you make your points naming the lost. Your structure also lends itself to make a reader think: you mix lengthy, descriptive sentences with short, harsh fragments that read as points in your argument. By the end, unlike the other pieces, this piece taught the lesson of perseverance without actually saying that the subjects had to be patient, dedicated, and so on. I appreciated lines like “They proudly build upon our Sands, yet for all their mighty works, despair: threescore and ten are there years, and then they die…” I mean, look at this line! There is so much underneath the text, so much wisdom and truth: there is pride, ownership, desperation, perseverance, darkness, secrets, and defeat! And so well-written! Those are the kinds of sentences that cause the metaphorical weep for their pristine perfection. A standing ovation have you received.

Great job, Phil! Your winner’s badge greets you eagerly below. Here is your brand new, hot-off-the-presses winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

The Sands of Space and Time

We’ve watched their history. The passing of nomadic tribes. The rise and fall of city-states. Carthage. Babylon. Karakorum. Empires and peoples come and gone. San. Bantu. Boers.

They live and die upon the Sands, those fleeting giants of the Earth. For all their towering height, their length of time upon this world is short. Ten thousand of us would not match their height. Ten thousand of their years is but a blink to us. They proudly build upon our Sands, yet for all their mighty works, despair: threescore and ten are their years, and then they die, and are buried in our Sands by their progeny.

The first of us to come to Earth, in countless ages past, was fruitful and multiplied, and (thanks to exponential growth) subdued the earth. Our forty-five-greats-grandparent was progenitor to us all, the Sands who fill the deserts and the beaches.

Mankind, too, will pass; we Sands will carry on.

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