Tag Archive | Dieter Rogiers

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 35: WINNERS!

So glad to see you! Thank you for another round of colorful tales–and what fun to have a ton of newbies jump in this week. O brave, brave newbies! (though now that you’ve competed once, you’re no longer newbies but family. Which will bring either deep comfort or soul-rending terror.)

A special serving of thanks for first-time judge Margaret Locke who, despite being charged with the herculean task of choosing a winner, pooh-poohed the impossibility and did it anyway (with flair!). Since I suspect she has a lot to say (your own fault, for writing so brilliantly), I shall now hand the mic over to dear ML:

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Judge Margaret Locke says: May I confess how nervous I was to serve as judge this week? It’s one thing to read your marvelous stories week after week from the comfort of my little writing cave, but quite another to be responsible for picking a winner. I live in awe of Our Lady Dragoness and all of the other judges, who’ve made this look so easy. Because, well, it ain’t.

You delighted, astounded, and moved me this week with your varied takes on the admittedly fabulous prompt. We had numerous tales of less-than-loving brides wreaking murderous havoc on their grooms, if not also the people around them. At some points I felt as if I had stumbled into a Game of Thrones-esque Red Wedding. There were stories focusing on the cute little white dog (which I admit I overlooked upon first glance), on the enormous book at the center of the image, on the people surrounding the central figures. Some chose to take a more literal gander at the prompt, writing of queens and kings and royal marriages; others opted for modern interpretations.

What pulled me in most, I’ve discovered, were well-written, well-constructed stories with exquisite turns of phrase, often subtle (or not so subtle) double meanings, and clever plays on words. I’m a sucker for beautiful language and simple sentences that pack an emotional punch. So many times I read something and thought, “Dang, I wish I’d written that!”

You are good, people. You make this job hard. But that’s what keeps me coming back, whether as participant, comment-maker (is that a word?), or now judge; because I know that in your hands, 150 words have the power to knock me to my knees, and make me plead with you for more, more, more!

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

13-year-old Ian Phillips, “A Job to Do.” This story lent a fun James Bond feel (although with a suitably medieval-sounding Geoffrey as our spy hero) to this week’s prompt. Well done!

Judge Phil Coltrane, “King Me.” From its hilarious apt title and punny word play with the checkers game later referenced in the story, Phil’s story had me giggling from the get-go. Canis Latina, Texas Hold ‘Em, eleven husbands (I’m assuming perhaps all those dudes over on the left of the picture?)…I really didn’t want this comical gem to end.

Title/wordplay: Eliza Archer, “Cave Canem.” This piece had several comedic elements that caught my eye, from the opening line, to Monsieur T (“I pity the fool!” is all I could think of, over and over), but I particularly enjoyed the use of the common expression, “Every dog will have his day,” employed in a more literal sense

Title: Maggie Duncan, “Thorn Among the Roses.” A wonderful title, a play-on-words with a historically accurate twist.

Title/Unexpected take on prompt: Brett Milam, “Cold Feet.” People gave me violent weddings, but nothing so much as this. The play on words in the title is excellent.

Great line: SJ O’Hart, “The Secret Keeper.” This story tugged at my heart, the very believable image of an unwilling queen-to-be begging for release, for rescue from her obligations and fate. But it was the utterance of the line, “Too late,” with its layered meanings, that took my breath away.

Beautiful phrase: Mark King, “Plastic.” “This cathedral of apprehension.” Oh, the feeling this phrase invoked. All of us have been there, filled with fear, but the image of that fear, that apprehension as a cathedral, both majestic and terrifying, really hooked me. 

Twist: Image Ronin, “The Bride to Be.” This wasn’t the only same-sex marriage entry this week, all of which were a fun surprise, but I loved the lines, “At the ceremony she had stood beside her true love, heart fluttering,” which of course we assume to mean her bridegroom. Then we get, “She had never looked so beautiful, her dress accentuating every curve,” because at first we think it’s describing Isabella, only to, at the end, learn Isabella was describing Beatrix.

Closing line: Marie McKay, “Vows.” The whole story was poignant and sad, but the contrast in the final line, “I might have been made a mother in this marriage, but, I vow, I won’t be a bride,” made for an excellent closing.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Dieter Rogiers, “What is Wedlock Forced But Hell.” I suspected the title was Shakespearean, so I googled it, and to my delight, indeed it is from Henry VI – so appropriate for the picture. I simply love the use of the book here – it’s such a centerpiece in the image, clearly something important enough to document its exchange, that it’s natural to wonder what was in it. To see it as not a religious text such as the Bible, as might have been expected, but as a sex manual, a Kama Sutra, perhaps, made me giggle. The description of the king, a royal personage here rendered simply as “flabby and filthy and naked,” further flips expectations on their head, and the contrast of the “fairy tale wedding” with its “inevitable aftermath” is wonderful. As is that last line, which made me truly laugh out loud.

FCFL Railway, “Unexpected Toolhead Contact.” The power in this piece lays in its taking one set of lingo – that referring to weddings – and applying it in a completely unexpected way, to that of creating machinery. The line “Tomorrow, the piece was to be married to the right half in a ceremony attended by corporate groomsmen, their dark suits accessorized by hard hats and safety glasses,” as well as the accompanying phrase “The metal bride lay like a stabbed corpse” painted such rich visual images, so striking in their contrasts. Who thinks to described hard-hat wearing metal manufacturers as groomsmen? And yet it works. The final line completes the wedding theme in a satisfyingly comical way.

James Whitman, “Queen of the Castle.” This story deserves mentioning for the powerful emotions it evokes. The opening paragraph so perfectly encapsulates a happy childhood moment, an innocent blending of toys and fun, that evolves into something so much darker by the second paragraph. The matter-of-fact manner in which the dad’s response is described heightens, for me, the horror of it.

Tamara Shoemaker, “Promise Me.” I really enjoyed the language in this one – the familiar wedding vows contrast nicely with the story elements that follow. Particular phrases of note included “printing my flesh,” “blacken my hearth,” (which I first read as heart – so nice echo there in the use of hearth), and “stone-white hands,” which to me was a great embodiment of her innermost feelings reflected in a small physical detail.

SECOND RUNNER UP

David Shakes, “Dieu et Mon Droit.” The title immediately caught my attention, and using the motto of the British monarchy fits so well. The medieval imagery enriches this piece – the illuminated manuscript, the parchment, the ‘princesse tres excellente,’ the folio, the chansons de geste – all wonderful descriptors of this specific period in time. The visual image of a teardrop ruining such a wondrous book was quite arresting, as was the symbolism of the tear – fabulously referred to as a “droplet of reality” – blurring all that had been so clear on the page. The line “there’s no romance to come” echoes poignantly the reality of political marriages, and its allusion to the form of story of the time, the “romance”, again builds nicely upon the other medieval descriptors laced through the story.

FIRST RUNNER UP

John Mark Miller, “Hidden Warning.” What a great first line – it immediately makes us want to know more. Who’s speaking? To whom are they speaking? Within that one sentence of dialogue are suggestions of deception right from the start, making us want to know the whats and the whys, as well as the who.

The series of questions Margaret asks herself quickly and succinctly lays out an impressive tapestry of backstory in just three sentences. Although many stories played on the idea of the Queen as deceptor, this version with its time-travel component stood out for its originality.

The language throughout feels crisp and clean – almost effortless (although I know it’s not). It flows in pleasing rhythm, not encumbered by too many adjectives or adverbs, or awkward phrasings. I particularly enjoyed the character-revealing contrasts of the priest: “stooped in a reverent bow,” but “his eyes had narrowed into hateful little slits,” as well as his spitting “Long live the queen,” normally a respectful phrase, but here rendered the opposite.

The title reflects both his warning to her, and hers to him, and ties the story together well. The ending is strong, her threatening phrase echoing the priest’s opening one. I love the inference that she will execute him –  expertly communicated without spelling it out.

And now: appearing for her first time at the top, it’s Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

RACHAEL DUNLOP!!!

for

“Little Peg Tudor”

The title of this piece caught me at once, with its modernizing of a royal name in a way that feels at once familiar and forbidden. Then to have laced that nickname throughout the story, with its now double-meaning, was spectacular.

The author made use of a number of great phrases: the wonderfully descriptive “sparrow-sharp shoulders,” the emotive “won by the mothers of sons,” the starkly contrasting “she brings power, he brings blood.” 

The line “She knows, though, there will be blood of her own to shed – in the bed, in the birthing chair, in the generations of her progeny,” along with the phrase “they are won by the mothers of sons,” underscored for me the power and trials of women in this period (and others). 

The construction of the piece, moving from smallest and most immediate (“wedding robe,” “in the bed,”) to middle and personal (“marriage,” “the birthing chair”), to largest and most influential (“crown,” “generations of her progeny”) works so well, emphasizing each point while connecting them. Even the opening and closing sentences blend expertly with each other. At first the cloth is heavy – by the end, as she realizes all of her responsibilities, the cloth seems the lightest of her burdens.

Congratulations, Rachael, on your well-deserved win. I so enjoyed every bit of your spectacular story.

 

Congratulations, Rachael! We’re so glad you’ve started sharing your talents here with the FF community–what fun having you! Below is the winner’s badge for your wall. Here also are your winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here ASAP so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds interview. And here is your winning story:

Little Peg Tudor

A Peg to hang a wedding robe upon, so heavy on her sparrow-sharp shoulders she thinks her knees might buckle. She runs a finger across the brocade, stroking the slippery silk thread where it stands proud of the nubbled backing cloth.

A Peg to hang a marriage on. She brings power, he brings blood. She knows, though, there will be blood of her own to shed – in the bed, in the birthing chair, in the generations of her progeny. Only she will not think of them as progeny, they will be her children, soft in her arms, bound to her heart, her own.

A Peg to hang a crown on, to keep it from the Pretender’s head. Her priest tells her crowns are in the gift of God. She knows they are won by the mothers of sons. She drops her shoulders, stretches her neck and finds comfort, now, in the weight of the cloth on her back.

 

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Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 21: WINNERS!

Once again I’d like to thank Jeffro Uitto, whose carving talents boggle the mind, for lending us his photo for our prompt this week. As ever, it was a pleasure and privilege reading the stories you all carved out of the white space. Thank you so much!  (And happy May the Fourth to our dear #nerd dragons.)

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Judge Alissa Leonard says: Wow. What a beautiful prompt picture this week! It was mesmerizing, intoxicating, and powerful while on a different level being restful, peaceful, and serene. It’s like potential energy – at any moment it could become kinetic energy and move, but right now it’s resting with possibility. And OH! The possibilities! From dreams to lunatics, memories to time travel, sculptures to prisons, living wood to tattoos… Here are some of my favorites:

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

World building: Alana Guy Dill, “Driftwood”; Image Ronin, “The Joust”; Dody Chapman, “Luz.”

Endings: Steph Post, “Dreaming”; Tinman, “Gift Horse”; Charles W. Short, “Mina Ibrahim: Seeking the World Between Extremes”; Jon, “The Foreigner”; and John Mark Miller, “Jubilee.”

Language: Chris Milam, “Embers in the Dirt”; Miss Meow, “The Inspiration of Chocolate Mousse.”

Title: 20/20 Hines Sight, “Powerful”; Bart van Goethem, “The Guinevere Complex”; and AJ Walker, “In the Name of A King.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Craig Anderson“Reflections of Battle.” You set this scene so beautifully, a bellow and a polishing. I’ve been that squire, frantically working at a task that could save people and having no one understand, but doing it anyway. I loved the curse and how it worked.  I loved how you tied the title into the whole thing. And I absolutely adored the last line – it’s so rare to be recognized for the tiny things you do. Very fun.

Margaret Locke, “Kindred Spirits.” I appreciated how you took the seeming isolation of the picture and drew from that mood – the battle between the stillness of the statue and the movement of the waves. Your use of language was beautiful. I could almost see the visions she had of riding as a knight or a cowboy. I especially liked the line, “Every day she climbed onto his back, closed her eyes, and willed him to break free, to run, to carry her away. Every night she returned home, broken, bridled, chomping at the bit.” Using horse terminology to describe her prison (whatever it was) was brilliant. 

Yanying, “Memory.” Whether the memory was a previous life or just his imaginations while creating the sculpture, this story evoked that feeling of connection between an artist and the art. I could almost see his wistful gaze. His pretense as he said, “I’ll miss him.” His wife’s understanding of how difficult parting with it was for him. …And then the last line. To think that our work, somehow, knows us back… That’s beautiful.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Karen Oberlaender, “Call of Duty.” I loved the progression from nonchalance to action in this story. I could almost see her turn over in her bed and put the pillow over her head! She peeks an eye open and that’s when the adrenaline hits. The world-building had me curious all throughout the story. What’s going on? Why 500 years? And you don’t answer those questions, but we’re given a glimpse at the end. She sets off into the past, fully restored to their true forms. And life goes on. Without that last line, I would’ve been extremely frustrated, but the ordinary-ness juxtaposed with the fantastic really worked well for me.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Dieter Rogiers, “Fire ‘neath the Bark.” I could FEEL this horse transforming! Your imagery was perfect. “Weathered bark broke his velvety black skin. Living, breathing pores clotted into wooden knots. And the sound of snapping twigs reverberated throughout his body.” I could feel the poor animal fighting back as he “fought the curse with vigour, striking at his invisible enemy with his front legs…” Your use of language let me see and feel and therefore empathize, especially when the princess starts crying for him. I wanted to cry with her. I suppose he got her close enough to survive? But I love the glimmer of hope you gave us at the end: a beating heart. 

And now: another first! for her very first time, it’s Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

ELLEN STALEY!!!

for

“Petrified”

The world-building on this is fantastic! The little hints you gave were perfectly portioned to provide me with just enough to fill in all the details of the epic battle, the curse, the sacrifice… I can see it now: The girl “forced him from his chargers back, and…bravely smiled.” I love the feeling of how much time has passed when he “saluted with gnarled hands, battle aged.” His kingdom now “forever secure” he comes to offer her the thanks she’s due. And then the tears… And the switch… And…wow. It felt so full-circle, and I’m dying to know who she is and what she does next! Thanks.

Congratulations on your first win,  Ellen! Your winner’s badge waits all nice and shiny 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:

Petrified

She looked as vibrant as the day he’d yielded his mount to her.

The knight studied her cheek with its single petrified tear. Drops of gratitude rolled down his face. He did not rub them away, but saluted with gnarled hands, battle aged.

Oh, to take her in his arms again, thank her for his chance at life and more, victory! The kingdom now existed forever secure. He returned to his steed, gathered a queen’s finery, the value of her sacrifice, and lovingly arranged them, an offering. He remembered the moment she’d forced him from his charger’s back, and cursed to sculpture, she’d bravely smiled.

He climbed up the petrified stallion, wrapped one arm around her waist. His tears flowed. He wiped them with his fingers, impulsively touched her lone tear.

She stood on the sand, startled by the statue and knight that rode it. Was it…? Richly appointed raiment caught her eye. And she knew.

 

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Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 20: WINNERS!

This week’s prompt was the essence of contrast: clothing representing a firm and changeless tradition, and a very modern piece of technology. What does one do with that sort of tension? And that was the dilemma put into your hands, O Valiant Ones, to make of what you would. And did you ever. Thank you for coming out (especially all you brave new ones!) and daring to imagine the worlds hidden within those laughing eyes. You did awesome. 

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Judge Pratibha Kelapure says: Once again, the community has generated an overwhelming and brilliant response to the prompt this week. It evoked many emotions and ideas, and it even “pissed off” past three-time winner and judge Maggie Duncan. As rattled as she was, she nonetheless produced a hilarious tale, “Seek and Ye Shall Find.” 🙂 Everyone tried to uncover the knowledge hidden behind the burqa, and once again, I struggled to designate just one winner.  Many of you produce amazing stories week after week on some obscure image prompts, and it inspires me to be a regular contributor from here on.  You are all winners in my eyes, and I truly mean it.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Craig Anderson, “Undercover.” A tender love story, at least the beginning of one, and a hilarious take on the prompt.

Maggie Duncan, “Seek and Ye Shall Find.” I could not stop laughing at the ending. 

Margaret Locke, “The Naked Truth.” This piece captures the suspicion and chaos in the modern world. The ending, “Because her eyes are smiling,” left me breathless. 

Chris Milam, “Warring in Kabul.” This piece subtly sheds light on the patriarchy in the society.

Dieter Rogiers, “The Eye of the Beholder.” I liked this take on what lies inside the frame vs the outside world. Pictures capture one moment in time for eternity, but not the truth or the reality of the world.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Marie McKay“The Witness.” An intelligent and informed take on the media frenzy. It makes one wonder about the veracity of the stories we see and hear in media. “The world’s perception narrowed by its storytellers.” What a brilliant construct.

Sinéad O’Hart, “Buried.” A tragic tale told from a position of strength and compassion under a dark cloud of greed and patriarchy. Sinead dazzles us with her incisive language.  Just take a look at this understated sentence: ‘But I could not find a place large enough inside me…’. 

Bart Van Goethem, “A New Beginning.” This is a revenge tale, but it took a second for me to realize it. The subtle and surprising end is cleverly hinted at. The two women are looking at two different changes in their lives, “Things are changing. And we have to be ready, ready for that one moment, that shift in balance.”

SECOND RUNNER UP

Paul Gledhill, “The Window.” This piece is a monologue that still manages to tell a complete story. The saga of the dichotomy between abuse and free will ends up in self-hate. This is a rare insight into the mind of the abused. I was captivated by the ending. “And then I look. And I don’t like what I see!”

FIRST RUNNER UP

Laura Carroll Butler, “The Flame.” She had me transfixed by the sentence “The stench outside of goat pee and stale cigarettes was the smell of despair and occupation, the smell of her life.” The ending is chilling. It captures the emotional chaos in the modern global world: I have a point to prove, and even though I have nothing personal against you, you are going to be blown to pieces. 

And now: for THE VERY FIRST TIME!!!!!, it’s Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

A J WALKER!!!

for

“Race”

I was floored by the unexpected twist at the end. The imagery, the word choice, and the tone led one to expect the worst before the clever twist. I liked how the duality of the expression of the protagonist and the audience was created seamlessly. The words such as ‘crept,’ ‘explosion,’ and ‘electricity’ conjure images of the heartless sabotage. The image of “excited atoms before an explosion” prepares readers to expect the worst. Just when the author has readers gasping for breath, he breaks the tension by the image of little girl in an egg and spoon race. Brilliant!

Congratulations on your FIRST EVER win,  AJ! Your winner’s badge (yours!! all yours!!) waits for you below. Here is your brand new 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:

Race

   invisible

She could feel everyone looking.

        they couldn’t really see her

She crept into the area with the knowledge that this was where it was all going to happen. The best speck in town.

        no one knew who she was. for certain

She felt her eyes jumping with electricity, like excited atoms before an explosion.

        her handbag behind her

An explosion.

        her heart raced; she smiled. no one could see

She took her phone up, pressed record. She was going to catch it all for posterity. The magpie cocked his head to one side, seeming to look at her suspiciously.

       she in a portable hide. no one could see her. she was there;

        someone was

Hidden in plain sight. Cocksure and happy as goosebumps plumed over her, hairs standing to attention as the moment approached – the phone was going to catch it all.

As her daughter passed with the egg and spoon intact she blushed; this video would be priceless.

 

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