Tag Archive | Dylyce Clarke

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 33: WINNERS

Welcome to results!!!! Short ‘n’ sweet today, gang, as even dragons are forced to be on the wing at times. Sigh of relief all round, I’m quite sure… Though if you check back later, I intend to add a pic explaining things. Yes, I taunt, I know, and if I were better behaved, I would feel badly about that. Or at least apologize. (My mother always said, “Apologize first; the feelings will follow.” Me, aghast: “You want me to LIE?!”) 

rof2More Ring of Fire badges awaiting announcement — thanks to those of you who’ve been patient. To newcomers: if you’ve written stories at least three Fridays in July, your name can go up on the Wall of Flame. Each badge you earn equals a chance at the jackpot of prizes at year’s end. Read all about it here!

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Speaking of ill behaved, judging Vol 3 – 33 was Dragon Team Eight, A.J. Walker & Voima Oy. They describe their adventure better than I would, so I’ll leave it to their silver tongues to share that with you.  

AJ: The story began many moons ago – well probably just one – when A.J. Walker was patiently rubbing each of his real ale bottles with a sad care and love waiting for something to happen. Then suddenly, puff! indeed more like PUFF!! a genie appeared in the form of a dragoness. It was not what he expected from a bottle of Jaipur IPA, but hey AJ takes what he gets.

‘Eh up love!’ Said Rebekah the Yorkshire dragon, for Rebekah was her name. ‘You’ve got yourself three wishes lad and no mistake. Be quick though – time is money and apparently I’m from Yorkshire – who knew!?’

Predictably AJ wished first for a bottle opener.

Second he wished for a grand selection of stories to be put before him.

And thirdly he asked for a boss partner to review the magical tales with him.

So it was that the genie delivered in spades, before disappearing she said “Good luck” and “I’ll see you next week” – as dragons do.

AJ found another bottle opener later and realised he could have instead asked for another Jaipur – though that would have been greedy.

Voima and AJ were separated by an ocean but connected by words and the – gotta be a folkstory- interweb and laid into the tales of magic, treasure, death, caves, palaces, hovels, the desert and the sea with great gusto- and not a little trepidation. There were beautiful poems and fabulous prose of morality and immorality. In short the 1001 Nights led the FFF community to a myriad possibilities – and it was wonderful.

The task was difficult with so many wonderfully successful slices of fiction. On another day some of the other stories not mentioned could get a merit but today is the day and it is what it is. That said the top stories were the top stories on any given day and no mistake. We don’t even know who we’ve chosen, but 1001 congratulations to all of you. And we’ll done to everyone you all done good.

VOThank you, AJ. I, too, am honoured to serve as judge, here. Thank you to all you marvelous writers who make your magic. Thank you, Catherine Connolly, who sent us the stories so we could read them truly blind. And thank you Dragon Queen, who makes this magic possible.

Now, on to the results–

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Powerful writing: Emily June StreetAzita’s Stories.” VO— Stories that must be told. Very powerful writing–and thought-provoking piece.  AJ  –a powerful contemporary tale with some lovely sad prose – ‘lashes instead of kisses’. Indeed.

Funniest If Slightly Off the Mark: Craig Anderson, “Genie-Us.” VO— So clever–the genies discussing working condition–great dialogue and characters.  Really funny! AJ— loved the idea of the meeting discussing their masters – particularly the guy with ultimate wishes requesting an omelette (it would have been bacon every time for me though).

Most Original Point of View: Stella T, “Friends for Life.” A Camel’s Tale–wonderful writing and a great character!   

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Dylyce P. Clarke, “This Night Is All We Have.” VO –Lush and sensual descriptions, a beautiful love story.   AJ —  Great use of colour and the other senses to evoke the place and a fabulous poignant ending. Lovely.

Marie McKay, “The Dance.” Beautiful prose poem. fluid and graceful language–evocative as all the nights of Arabia.  This one is haunting and lovely.

Image Ronin, “Tales From the Wasteland.” In this post-apocalyptic world, one man holds the key–the description is so vivid, and the use of GENIE is genius!

Holly Geely, “Planet HH.” Love this tale of  a space-sailor.  Wonderful characters and names.  E-Z Youth is  a brilliant idea.  And the ending is laugh out loud funny!

THIRD RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “Violets.”

VO — Vivid descriptions of a harsh world of very poor, and rich and privilege, in which water is a precious commodity.  The violets are a luxury in this world, such fragile beauty.  I love the language,  the voice of the rich man describing this world, and his encounter with the boy.  It is poignant and atmospheric.  A beautiful story. 

AJ — The poignant story of a rich man assuaging his guilt some little way by buying bottled water from an urchin has great atmosphere. He doesn’t trust the urchin enough to drink the water (but hopes his plants can benefit from it) but wants to do something for the young man — and his ancient eyes.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Emily June Street,Three Hours to Laramie” 

VO — There are three hours to Laramie. It could be a good trip, telling stories,  but  that’s not the story. There’s a bad guy, with a gun.  The suspense rises. There are three hours to Laramie.  Could you tell a story to save your life?  This is  a real thriller with a great twist ending.  What a ride!

AJ — The story of a powerful independent woman all alone in the desert being picked up by a baddie with a gun – it was never going to end well. Some lovely description and simple dialogue in this Arabian Nights with a twist. The story was solid and we all love a surprise ending.

FIRST RUNNER UP

David “Seriously Ill Behaved and HOW’S ABOUT SOME IRONY #HOURGLASS ” Shakes, “Je Souhaite.” 

VO — This is epic!  Meta fiction, references to the X-files in the title, David Bowie, genies, street urchins, ,magic lamps, wishes, stories within stories–and then there is The Great Writer of all the stories, and the characters who wish to be in another story…wonderful work!

AJ — We go to all the trouble of getting the authors name’s taken out of the pages (thanks @fallintofiction) and what do they do? They start putting them in the prose. If such behaviour continues we’ll have to get the stories redacted!

Notwithstanding the name dropping, both of us thought that it had to be in the top two. A story with multiple layers for us. Writing about this writing lark and the lovely petulance of the genie who just wants to grant a wish- any wish! Go on make a wish. Well, nearly… but second is good too.

 

And now: put on your dragon clogs and DANCE WITH ME!!!! IT’S first-time

DRAGON WINNER

BRIAN CREEK!!!

for

Behrouz and the Fortune Fish

VO — This is masterful storytelling.  It’s a story within a story–“Tell me a story.” “Okay, my son. I know a good one.”  The story unfolds  through dialogue,  back and forth, growing bigger and bigger.  “How big was the fish, papa?”  “Bigger than a castle.”   We can see  the city within the fish, the bazaar in the city, the people,  the beautiful clothes.  I, too, wanted more of the story, but “it’s time for bed, now, and these clothes won’t sell themselves.”  It’s a  marvelous tale in the Arabian Nights spirit, and  a wonderful story of love between father and child. Pure magic!  

AJ — Great imagery and story told as dialogue in true Arabian Nights spirit. The story is tight and the dialogue between the child and his father work brilliantly. A fish as big as a castle now that’s a fisherman’s tale if ever we’ve heard one.

Congratulations, Brian! Practically leaping out of my dragonskin for joy here. Please stand by for your very own totally gorgeous and cool winner’s page — I’ll tweet like mad once it’s up — and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap with your email address so I can interview you for Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature! And now, here’s your winning story:

Behrouz and the Fortune Fish

“Tell me a story.”

“Okay, my son. I know a good one.

“Once upon a time there was a young boy called Behrouz. His parents were mean, treating him more like a slave than a son.

“Behrouz’s mother made beautiful clothes which his father sold at a market across the sea. But, when his father fell ill, Behrouz was forced to cross the sea himself.

“That night, halfway across the sea, the water began to churn, rocking the boat violently. Before Behrouz knew what was happening, a Great Fish rose up and swallowed the boat whole.”

“How big was the fish, papa?”

“Bigger than a castle.”

“Wow.”

“But Behrouz was okay. He lit a lamp and sailed his little boat further into the fish. He wondered if he would ever find a way out when he washed up on the shore of a strange city.”

“A city?”

“Indeed. Now the people of the city had never seen such beautiful clothes before and they began to bid for the garments. In no time at all Behrouz had sold everything, making more than enough coin to show for it.

“The people of the city wanted more and so Behrouz was released from the Great Fish on the promise that he’d return with more from the Outside.”

“Did he go back, papa?”

“Perhaps I will tell you tomorrow. For now you need to go to sleep. And I need to load up the boat. Those clothes won’t sell themselves. Good night, little one.”

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Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 30: WINNERS

AWESOME AWESOME work, y’all. Despite the huge number of draggins traveling this past weekend (or who conked out early, not naming any names, A.J.), y’all still managed nearly five dozen spectacularly convicting (heh heh) tales of justice and/or vengeance and/or Napoleon. And what a riot those tales were. Beautiful, tragic, funny, terrifiying — a little like us, maybe, eh??

And speaking of beautiful, a special mention here for our own Voima Oy, who found inspiration in Phil Coltrane‘s flash fiction-style interview for his 5th win this past week, and wrote her own secret, gorgeous rendition just because. LOVE.    

rof2RING OF FIRE!!!! Since we ran late flinging out the #RingofFire badges for May & June, I’m just now about to update the Wall of Flame. Did you write for FF at least three times in May and/or June? Let me know asap to keep (or put!) your name on this stunning list. Details here!       

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Judging for us this round was Dragon Team Five, Holly Geely & Foy Iver. SO FUN having this new panel sifting through your glorious tales; can’t wait to get to know each team better as the next rounds unfold. 

Before handing out tiaras, Holly & Foy say:

HG: Good morrow, fellow writers; you have moved me with your display of talent, creativity, and pun-mastery. I was hoping for a bit of silliness and was not disappointed. I am honoured to have this opportunity to present winners, and look forward to the next adventure.

FI:  The inaugural Friday of a new format and look you all, dragony wings unruffled, laying gems at our feet! And is there something in the air? Death, annihilation, and mayhem must be on vacation with optimism and humor filling in; the body count was pleasantly low. While reading, I was swept along in swashbuckling tales of swapped identities, hilariously antithetical ghosts doomed to haunt the same grounds, brooding revenge fantasies–and some not so brooding! And each one laudable for its own traits. The stories standing here are those that demanded to be recognized, succulent, singular, and not soon forgotten.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best Use of Random French: Emily ClaytonBrothers to the End.” While it might sound like I’m being silly, the French throughout is important, and a clever device.

Best Use of Puns: Voima OyRSVP.” My funny bone was thoroughly tickled. The hologram, the eerie way the prisoners sat down, the meal before them… heehee… gastronomical.

Best Twist: Brian Creek, “Penniless and Wanting.” Thoroughly convinced this was a revenge epic until this magnificent turn: “Come on, Charlie, you’re ruining my book launch.”

Best Ballad Remix-Mashup: Dylyce P. Clarke, “Not With My Body You Don’t.” Reads like a remix-mash-up of Loreena McKennitt’s “Annachie Gordon” and “The Highwayman.”  

 

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Digestible Ink, “The Wedding Night.” 

HG: Clair’s letter reads like something out of its time period, a great use of language. You can feel her sorrow, and later, her anger. Her threat to her lover at the end is heartbreaking, at the same time that it’s cruel.

FI: Such a voice in this! Like a bulwark against the breakers, those first two lines clash (“It is my wedding night. My husband lies drunk on the bed.”), drowning us in Clair’s plight, prescribed by “parents and duty.” So far she’s sunk, that she sees her lover’s gift as an instrument of escape (“This silk can free me from…life”), and, in her jealous anguish, threatens the very man she longs for (“If you are silent then my death will unleash your downfall.”). Heavy at the close, we’re left despairing that they’ll be returned to that indigo night under the low moon.

Steph Ellis, “‘Til Death Do Us Part.”

HG: The chilling last line “Let me get you another drink…” ties together a story that started off with an “act of charity” and finishes with a murder. The title is appropriate, and sinister after you’ve read the rest.

FI: From the opening, we know not to trust that “expected humility” on William’s part, and the frustration with his success in sending his Lucy off to “Prison and the madhouse” mounts with every web spun.  Each read-through presented new information and unanswered questions. What must he have done to provoke Lucy’s first attempt? In a delicious twist, it’s his own false charity that brings him down, thanks to the clever scheming of his wife and the weakness of a certain vicar. Lucy’s final words to former love are gripping, “Poor William, you look so thirsty. Let me get you another drink…”

Ian Martyn, “The Tale of the Master Baker.”

HG: Not only did this story make me hungry for fresh-baked bread, it wowed me with the consistency of the metaphor.  My favourite line: “And jealousy is the yeast to the fermentation of rumour.”

FI: Like Holly, I am in awe of this tale’s uniformity! Phrases like, “My baguettes the toast of France.” and “I was accused of using performance enhancing substances, as if my bread ever needed the addition of baking powder for the perfect rise.” kept me rolling (please, if you haven’t enjoyed this story yet, do so!). Behind all the impressive bread metaphors and tantalizing descriptions of croissants, the author gives us a well-rounded revenge tale, complete with the threat that “like a sourdough starter I bubble away out of sight and I promise you, I will rise again.”

Josh Bertetta, “Resolution.”

HG: The three main characters are intriguing. The conflict of Man vs. Man applies because even the snail and butterfly are “people.” The snail has a valid argument at the end and I think he may have won the battle.

FI: A fantastic story should be more than it seems. “Resolution” is just that. What begins as the set up for an unusual “Three so-and-so’s walked into a bar” joke, builds into a worlds-deep philosophical study. The odd companions, man, butterfly, and snail, argue what gives purpose, worth, and meaning to life. Is it power “I could crush you…and I could end your life with simple salt”? Is it freedom “I am then the freest… for I, being created of fire, change from one state of being to another?” Or is it ordained by a higher being “I, like water, can take the shape of my container—the spiral—the very shape of creation itself. I am the potential for becoming, the very stuff over which God breathed in Genesis”? (Love the appearance of Fibonacci spiral!) At the end, we understand that God is part of His creation, the snail proclaiming, “You see, I AM.”

THIRD RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker,The Making of a Man.” 

HG: This story takes the escaped convict character and gives it a charming twist. “My shackles are secure in her hands, my puppet’s strings taut and ready to leap with the first tug.” You might feel sorry for the man, if he hadn’t just been called “Mrs. McMuffins” (which is a spectacular name, by the way). “The outdoors beckons with manliness,” indeed. A creative tale that made me smile.

FI: With as much tension as launched its opening, “The Making of a Man” could’ve been set in an interrogation room. We sit and trembled as this mysterious jailor “narrows her eyes across the space,” and “recognize [our] sentence in their jade depths.” And then suddenly we’re sipping from “miniature teacups” and Mrs. McMuffins is not a Mrs. at all. The protagonist’s situation (and gender!) is cleverly disguised til the last. Though poor Mr. Johnson would’ve preferred to be out in the “manliness” of the outdoors, mowing and chopping, it takes a true man to sit and have “tepid water” tea with his imaginative daughter.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “The Gentle Sway of the Forest.” 

HG: This story is compelling as well as eerie. The most powerful line of the story, “That made her want him more,” sets the tone and drives the ending home.

FI: “The Gentle Sway” is a beautiful example of the power of flash fiction. Stunning imagery throughout – “the studs in the denim blue sky,” “her brown curls splitting the yellow,” “claw fingers of the trees picking at the sutures of her patched up heart”), carried me through each heart-rending paragraph. So much is told in quiet, “cigarette-stained words.” He tells her tales, true or not that she believes: “Innocent. Locked up. Too long. Lost faith.” She stays because she “could change him,” ignoring every “cherry red warning” nature whispers. It’s a sign of true talent that such a dark fiction could leave you feeling comforted, wrapped in warm arms as the forest “casts its fresh, green blanket over her final resting place.”

FIRST RUNNER UP 

Eric Martell/DrMagoo, “Jacopo’s Place.” 

HG: This story had a fine twist on the “escaped convict” character. I could feel the poor man’s fear as he sipped on his drink. When his jailor was revealed, I agonized with him; thankfully the bartender was there to save him. The voice was superb and the bartender was a noble hero. (I also couldn’t help but have a small chuckle at the man’s expense.)

FI: As Holly said, “Jacopo’s Place” centered on a refreshingly original “convict”: a man trapped in an unhappy marriage and seeking refuge. Our observant narrator picks out all the signs of a fellow “guest of the state,” darting eyes and uneasy posture, and decides to let him tell his tale in his own time. Rather than ridicule the man as a “whipped dog” when his oppressor is revealed, Jacopo offers him an escape, reassuring him that “No one gets found in my place unless they want to be found.” The line instantly adds texture, leaving us to wonder how many others have sought safety in Jacopo’s Place.

And now: forgive the blubbering mess, but ohh darling draggins, please let the celebrations reverberate across the galaxies: it’s our long overdue, first-time

DRAGON WINNER

MARK A. KING!!!

for

The Dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy

HG: “Her dreams were crayon-colours.” What a gorgeous mental image that is, for someone as fond of crayons as I’ve always been. The implication of those colours is significant and unique. The two characters who are so different from one another, and yet who dream together…amazing. There is such depth here in so few words, such tender feelings and heartbreak. The final line is perfect and leaves you with hope as well as an underlying feeling of despair.

FI: From its unforgettable title to the prose-masked poetry dancing through its lines, “Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy” stole my heart on first reading. Its approach to both character and theme are brilliantly original. Rather than follow the trials of a traditional convict, it shows us two trapped souls from vastly different worlds: a boy living “his life in the smothering love of his parents,” and a girl surviving “in the folds of oppression.” And while many of the stories chose to paint portraits of revenge, this one chased after a “dream of impossible justice.” In their secret selves they crave a world where their “origami-porcelain children would be strong and independent, and loved,” escaping from that metaphorical prison the boy and girl have known from birth. For soul-searing prose and ingenuity, a worthy winner.

Congratulations, Mark! We’re all so jubilant and overwhelmed and giddy, we can barely contain ourselves. What a gorgeous story from a powerful and beloved writer. Please find here your brand new winner’s page (which has been waiting in the wings for some time now, knowing your day would come) 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:

The Dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy

She lived her life in the folds of oppression.

He lived his life in the smothering love of his parents.

She once twirled in the sunlight. Once smiled. Her dreams were crayon-colours. Roughly sketched blueprints of respect, dignity, self-worth and a mythical thing called love.

He only left the house when they went with him. Mind that step, son. Have you taken your tablets? Button your coat. Don’t forget the emergency procedures.

She pursued her dreams and saw that glimmer of love in broken men; men that she would come to realise were beyond redemption.

He watched his parents die from the genetic disease that coursed through his veins and was left ill prepared to face the world alone.

She folded into the roles and shapes demanded of her. She was the beautiful dove, the delicate orchid, the fearsome dragon. Between roles, she could not turn back to herself—such a person did not exist.

He hid in the musty shadows of his house. Breathed the mould-spore mists. He didn’t clean the dust, for the dust was them. It was all he had left.

They dreamed. They dreamed of impossible justice.

In their dreams, they danced in the mirror-ball light of the moon. They touched with tenderness. Kissed with compassion. Their origami-porcelain children would be strong and independent, and feel loved.

Perhaps she would leave these men?

Perhaps he would leave this house?

And perhaps justice would be found in the dance of the Origami Girl and Porcelain Boy.

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