Tag Archive | Erin McCabe

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 16: WINNERS!

No….. waaaaah!! it’s the final farewell to the final judge for the first quarter of Year Two: Erin McCabeThank you for everything!

But YESSSSS, hurray!!!! It is a tremendous privilege to introduce you to our BRAND NEW FABULOUS DRAGON JUDGES for the next quarter! You’ll get to know them over the next few weeks, but for now I will give you their names: Pratibha Kelapure, Alissa Leonard, and Jess West. Join me in giving them a fiery Flash! Friday welcome!


Judge Erin McCabe says: Well folks, this is it, my last week of judging and boy has it arrived sooner than I thought! I guess that is merely a reflection of how much I have enjoyed the whole experience, so I must thank you all for that, especially Rebekah. We have a very unique and active community here and I absolutely love being a part of it.

This opportunity has really given me an insight into how subjective the judging process really is; in the past when I submitted something I was really proud of and it did not receive any comments from the judges or readers, I used to think I was doing something wrong. Although on some occasions this was true, I realise now that quite often it is really a matter of nothing more than the personal taste of the reader. This week has particularly proved this through the difficulties I had determining my short list; there were so many stories I liked equally and trying to tease out the differences in approach in order to put one against the other was challenging. I don’t have distinct criteria for judging, for me, it always comes down to how a story makes me feel, so when many stories create different but similarly intense feelings within me, the whole process of judging takes on an extra shade of complexity.

So in an attempt to be concise – well done to all of you, there were some excellent stories this week and I actually short listed over half of them, which has never happened before, so thank you all for such great reading!




I would like to start with the special mentions; firstly, Margaret Locke for “Make it So.” This story was really effective in taking the reader back to the days of their childhood and described really well that sensation of imminent flight, if only we could just peddle hard enough. Secondly, I really enjoyed “Pinball” by Rachel Delane, I think this interpretation of the photo prompt was very clever and the feeling of motion within the piece was captured really well. Finally, I adored Tinman’s “The Cycles of the Moon.” Frankly, this was hilarious. I loved the tone and the imagery. “The bicycle got a flat tyre, and the whole universe heard the giant fart as it zig-zagged past the moon like a dying balloon” was a line I particularly enjoyed.


Joidianne4eva, “A Million Miles From Home.”  This piece expertly captured the uncomfortable feeling that the photo prompt created this week, surrounding the idea of the dark void. I really liked the way in which the creature was described: “Around it the darkness swelled, twisting and writhing in reaction to its distress.” These internal descriptions keep the creature shapeless and this ambiguity regarding its form, coupled with the stark clarity of its “hungry” intentions, make it even more sinister as it snatches at us in the dark, like we’re fleshy sandwiches. 

Eliza Archer, “As Easy As Riding a Bicycle.” This story is just so wonderfully visceral. Anyone who has ever been taught how to ride a bike will recognise the tone of these instructions. But this is not about riding for the first time without your stabilisers; this is about travelling through space. Lines such as “The darkness that you see isn’t perceived with your eyes” really help to guide the reader and imagine these sensations within themselves, such a journey being exciting and terrifying all at once. Just like riding without your stabilisers

Marie McKay, “Recycling.” This was one of those stories that following the last line (“Save it for tomorrow, Greg. Come home with me. My mom won’t mind.”) I had to re-read in order to fully appreciate what had been done here. Within this last line lies the key to the story: what at first appears like childhood caper is really a desperate attempt at escape from circumstances which clearly Greg cannot control and which we can immediately empathise with. This is a subtle story with great emotive edges which I really enjoyed.


Clive Newnham, “Tunnels.”  Aliens have travelled through space and time to conquer the Earth, but rather than sneaking into our bedrooms and taking us by tentacle they have opted for something far craftier: we will find ourselves subsumed by our underpasses! I adored the premise of this story and found it quite chilling, especially as I walk through an underpass in Glasgow quite often on dark nights. I especially loved the last line: “He continued his journey on foot along the tongue of the cycle path, without thought, into the maw.” The choice of words “tongue” and “maw” really make it explicit that our unwitting human is stumbling into the belly of the beast. A great story and wonderful use of the photo prompt which in itself was already strangely disturbing, admittedly even more so after reading this story!


Image Ronin, “Interstellar Trip.” An entirely different take on the theme of “Space Travel,” this story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It has everything, effective imagery, humour, sadness and anticipation which result in flights of fanciful space fantasy wrapped in bleak stark drug addiction reality; it was very clever. There are so many critical lines in this piece which weave the two realities together. I particularly loved: “a stranger hurrying past, arms folded, head down. Classic flight pattern, fearful that the vagrant slumped within his cardboard boudoir is going to attack, or worse, talk.” Ultimately despite the excitement and furry of colour and adventure that grows throughout the story, the overall feeling the reader is left with is sadness because we know this man is not a space traveller, he’s a homeless heroin addict and clearly reality simply cannot compete with the sad joy of his drug induced escapism. Wonderful story, well done!

And now: another marvelous first-time champ! it’s Flash! Friday  





I always adore a bit of world-building, which can be difficult to do when facing a restrictive word count. For me, this story was a winner because of the world-building done almost exclusively through quite fantastic characterisation. In only 159 words Kate manages to bring the characters of “Dawson” and “Marian” to life. Sci-fi references such as “reality raft” are peppered through the piece, emphasising the notion of space travel. But the most impressive thing is that very simple lines such as “Marian smirked, they wouldn’t trust you with anything this large” tell us instantly of the perceived recklessness of Dawson, the sharp humour of Marian, the good relationship between the two and Dawson’s difficult relationship with “System Control.” The reveal at the end is hilarious and although obvious, it is not made explicit through the text, which makes it even better. The last line: “Marian ran for the red one” tells us all we need to know and is the perfect ending to this piece. For such a small word count, to me this story seems spectacularly fully formed. Congratulations, Kate, well deserved!

Congratulations, Kate! 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:


Dawson thumped his scanner. ‘What’s our time datum?’

‘1930s, judging by the state of those.’ Marian pointed to two bikes leaning at the tunnel’s entrance. ‘It’s the right kind of place to hide a Relativity Raft.’

Dawson put his ear to the tunnel wall. ‘Maybe the tunnel is the ship.’

Marian smirked. ‘They wouldn’t trust you with anything this large.’

‘I didn’t break the ASM-9!’

‘So you say.’

A distant whirring silenced further objection from Dawson.

Marian stepped back against the tunnel wall as the sound grew into a man on a bike. He whizzed past them and out into the daylight.

‘System Control hates us,’ Marian muttered.

Dawson resumed his scan and the instrument beeped.

He redirected it and it beeped again. He looked to Marian. ‘They wouldn’t..?’

Marian looked down the scanner’s line of sight and back to the tunnel’s entrance.

Dawson raised it again to triple check the data.

Marian ran for the red one.



Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 16

***Posting results momentarily, minus the hiccup. ***

Well, I knew it was bound to happen: my first quarter judges have all signed off–the last one’s doing so today. They’ve all dutifully turned in their keys to the lair, and though I’m a soggy mess seeing them go, it’s hard to be too sorry since of course they’re returning to the ranks of eligible writers. WATCH OUT!!!! They’ve been watching you closely these past months, and they’re eager as can be to leap back in.    

Next week, by the by, is going to be HUGE. So big, actually, it may well be ‘UGE. We will be welcoming our brand new Quarter 2 judge panel, AND we will be featuring a tribute to the marvelous flash contest Trifecta, which is ending this week. Be sure to come back!

And so: bidding us farewell, sort of, is Last But Not Least judge Erin McCabe. Erin, you’ve been fabulous. Thank you for your service–I hope you’ve had as much fun judging as we’ve had having you judge. Oh dear, that’s some awkward grammar. New judges: kindly disregard. We still have Standards, after all.

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

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 Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the brand ‘Schwinn'”):

Space Travel


***Today’s Prompt:

Bicycle Tunnel, double exposure. CC photo by r. nial bradshaw.

Bicycle Tunnel, double exposure. CC photo by r. nial bradshaw.


Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 15: WINNERS!

Am setting aside social amenities (much as I hope you all have had a lovely weekend, and as grateful as I am for your valiant participation in this week’s shoe-fest) to hand the mic as promptly as possible to dear judge Erin McCabe


Judge Erin McCabe says: As a judge, I am always desperate to see what prompt I’m going to get and I have to admit when I logged on at some point on Friday morning, I let out a little shriek of excitement when I saw this one. It’s exactly the type of thing which gets my grey matter going and I suspected we were going to get some excellent stories from it. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I was amazed this week by the many different interpretations this community presented and how skilfully each story embedded the “Dragon’s Bidding” i.e. to include a Detective.

I want to include a note of Congratulations to PMColtrane, whose wife gave birth to their second born daughter on Thursday and who still managed to submit a story this week; which stands as clear testimony to what a committed and vibrant writing community we have here!

Deciding on my favourites this week was hard and involved going over the case facts again and again to identify my prime suspect for winner. I’m happy to say, case closed! So let us begin.



I felt the calibre of stories this week was really high and so I have four Special Mentions: Firstly, “In Her Footsteps” by Sinead O’Hart; this was a really touching story about a boy on the hunt for this Mother, and I particularly liked the deliberate spelling errors which brought the character of the young boy to life. Secondly, “Broken Open” by Betsy Streeter; I loved the feel and flow of this piece, which captured the excitement of finally cracking a case and then stirred this within the reader. Thirdly, “First Case” by Tinman; I adored the dialogue in this piece; sassy and smart, the last line: “It’s not quite the car chase from Bullitt” was a particularly good choice for the ending and for this character. Finally, “Skin Deep” by Sarah Miles; Through great use of structure and style Sarah was able to convey so much in such a short word count, it read like a TV crime drama which had me engaged from the get go and left me eager to read the next episode. 


Image Ronin, “Bus Stop Slasher.”  This story read like a piece of authentic film noir set in NYC, delivered through lines such as “the shoes I bought from a perv shop down on 128th.” and “I’ll call up a black and white for a lift.” Each line adds to the Noir visual and transports the reader to a different time. The phrasing puts the reader straight into the mind of the detective and through a chilling ending (death by little old lady) allows the story to come full circle. 

Margaret Locke, “Sole Sisters.” A completely different take on the prompt; Margaret creates her central character entirely through judgement of another. Each judgement ultimately tells us more about the judger than the subject of their scrutiny, giving them a clear voice, perspective and even a hint of back story. There is no mistaking that the character is a detective, but not of murderers of philanderers; she spies fakes; “I know my Manolos from my Miu Mius, my Jimmy Choos from my Christian Louboutins.” The last line: “As they say, takes one to know one.” Is the perfect ending for this piece. 

Rebecca Allred (@LadyHazmat), “Fancy Footwork.” This was a really interesting and unique take on the prompt and rather gruesome, which I adore. I’ve been playing “The Wolf Among Us” on Xbox; a detective story which intertwines murder and fairy tales and have just discovered Snow White’s severed head. So clearly this story really spoke to me, as here Cinderella is identified via severed foot and frankly I just love that. The idea of someone who finds people through wearing their shoes I also thought was a brilliant concept for a fable detective.


Joidianne4eva, “Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall (Who’s the Best Monster of Them All?).”  Once I had read the reveal, which conveyed that the detective was also the killer I went back over this piece and it was then that I realised just how devious this writer had been. For instance, the line: “When she’d taken the job to find Mrs Stevenson’s missing husband Marlene knew that the woman had expected her to find a mistress or even a secret family not this…carnage.” On first reading, to me Marlene had unexpectedly found this “carnage” but on a second reading as I knew Marlene was the cause of said “carnage” I then took it to mean that it was to Mrs Stevenson’s surprise. These double meaning are scattered throughout the piece, for example within the line; “at least that’s what the cops told her” Again on first reading I took “her” to be Marlene and on second reading “her” had to be Mrs Stevenson. I really liked the way in which this was done, extremely clever and well imagined.


Charles W. Short, “The Time Travelling Detectives and the Self-sacrifice of Grace Evangelista.” When I think about time travel it is often in the context of solving a grand mystery, meeting someone long dead or stopping an atrocity. The idea that this central character would use it to gain better understanding about the events of her own life really captured me. It was the interconnectedness of it all, thread through lines such as: “She learned why her favourite teacher left in the middle of the term.” To have the time to solve all of these tiny mysteries in order to create one giant enlightenment, I thought was really novel and introspectively thought stimulating for the reader. Then the end premise knocked me for six; “Today she would find out if her sacrifice mattered. She chose to die for her friends. Had they chosen to live?” This took me from the concerns of a very ordinary sounding character to one whose life had clearly had huge significance in the grand scheme of things and I wanted to know more; wonderful.

And now: for the FIRST TIME EVER (toldja it was coming), it’s Flash! Friday  





I loved so many things about this piece: the imagery is so beautiful and true, this line particularly, “Commuters blink at each other, slightly bashful; like afternoon cinemagoers, the sudden sunshine drying up our black and white daydreams of detectives, lovers, motels, eggs easy over.” It really captured my attention and with it had me seated right beside our main character, blinking in the sunlit tube carriage, “too British to move apart.” I love the world building conveyed through panic induced deliberations; “After the surgery, I thought I’d be safe.” It hints at a quite epic underlying story and as it ends one character follows another and we can’t help but feel something climatic is about to happen, but to me it still feels like a natural ending as I’m still in the tube carriage and it is about to depart from the station.

This story is all about disguises. We don’t know if our character is male or female, we don’t know if they were the victim or the aggressor, and through these carefully constructed gaps we find ourselves unwittingly turning into the detective and it is exactly for that reason that this story is a winner for me. Congratulations!

Congratulations, AB! Your winner’s badge waits for you below, with an extra dragon sparkle for the Jane Austen reference (always a clever move in my book!). 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:


After Finchley Central, the tube comes up above ground. Commuters blink at each other, slightly bashful; like afternoon cinemagoers, the sudden sunshine drying up our black and white daydreams of detectives, lovers, motels, eggs easy over.

There aren’t many left, now. The girl next to me is still reading. “I have been walking in the grove some time in the hope of meeting you.” We’re too British to move apart.

This is when I always get scared.

If I tip my head slightly, I can see you under the brim of my hat. You’re greyer, since the court case. After the surgery, I thought I’d be safe. You’d never recognise me again; never put me through it all again. But now, my palms are damp.

Totteridge. You get up, wait for the doors to open. As they close, I take a breath, then walk after you.