Tag Archive | Evan Montegarde

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 42: WINNERS

Welcome to the results party!! It’s always such a fun adventure, picking out favorites from the glittering heap. And speaking of glittering: WHAT A FABULOUS kickoff to #Pyro!! (Go read the story & critiques, if you haven’t already!) I couldn’t be more thrilled by the good-humoured, constructive, kind feedback on our very first offering (and thanks to you, Writer, for your courage in going first!). Can’t wait for our next round this Saturday. I loved seeing myriad perspectives on a single piece — so insightful. Thanks, y’all.

Coming up TOMORROW: a #Spotlight interview with writing phenom Lisa Crayton. Y’all may not know her yet, but you’re going to love her. She’s a freelance writer, mentor, editor, and respected conference speaker (of particular interest to me is that her book on Toni Morrison (with whom I have a slight obsession) is being republished in 2016) — she has so many interesting things to say on writing and connecting with agents/editors/publishers. You won’t want to miss this.  

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Ever grateful for the powerhouse judges of Dragon Team Five, Foy Iver & Holly Geely, for their combined efforts. I have it on good authority that tears were shed (on less good authority regarding what sort of tears, however). Here’s what they have to say:   

HG: Dear friends…Once more I am floored by your talent, and yet I must wonder – why was the depressed robot the most popular character? Who out there needs a hug? C’mon, bring it in. My arms will enfold you.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let us delve into the goodness that is the Adams prompt. For the record, my favourite part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series is the oblivious whale falling to its death (closely followed by the bowl of petunias) which should give you a feel for my sense of humour. When I saw the prompt this week I knew you wouldn’t let me down.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

FI:  Do I have to turn in my writer/reader card if I haven’t read Hitchhiker’s Guide? Hopefully not… I cried tears of laughter over the movie and have meant to enjoy the book ever since (no worries – my fellow judge is a fine connoisseur of all things Adams).

Your stories reawakened that sleeping intention! So many of you captured that tone, that voice, that hilarity (genius!), while others took the prompt a whole new direction (a boldness I’m quite pleased with), and all with wonderful results. Hopefully, our judging does them justice.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

For Revenge that Tastes of Strawberry: Nancy Chenier, “Dining at Starpost.” HG: I love it when the cocky customer gets what’s coming to him. You want to be a stubborn jerk? You pay for it, son.

A Beverage that Does the Trick: Evan Montegarde, “Galactic Jack: When a Good Whiskey Just Won’t Do.” HG: Anything that begins with a guy in underpants and a purple robe is bound to end well. Where can I get some of this drink?

For the Most Dizzying Use of Bureaucratic Drivel: Clive Tern, In Response.” FI: For both the laugh and the headache, I thank you.

For Working in a Few of the Best Sci-Fi’s on Bookshelves: @dazmb, “Tyrell High School.” FI: A clever alphabet soup of several of the best sci-fi’s on bookshelves. Miss Voight-Kampff’s empathetic head tilt especially tickled my brain.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Evan Montegarde, SAD2434 and His Box of Crayons.

HG: As a huge fan of crayons, I approve of their use in this story. SAD2434 (fantastic acronym, well done) tugged at my heartstrings. His heroic efforts to amuse himself made me cheer. That ship needed a real dressing down. I hope your crayons last too, SAD2434. I love you. Good luck. 

FI: Haven’t we all wanted to crayon someone’s face now and then? No? Just me? Never mind… SAD2434’s irritability is amusingly human.

Geoff Holme, “Bad Day at the Office.” 

HG: Dear writer… you win at life. “I’m afraid Elvis has left the building.” If you know me at all, you know how I love a punny ending. (I bet you did, didn’t you? I bet you were trying to trick me into choosing you, weren’t you? It worked, writer. It worked.) This is fantastic, a marvelous use of the depressed robot. 

FI: I wonder if a spoonful of peanut butter might make our irascible Elvis feel better. Great job telling through dialogue – not easily done! –  An amusing end makes this a fun read.

Craig Anderson, “Dozing Off.”

HG: This is a spectacular use of the depressed robot, the age-old question of what would happen if the machines took over (and had a dark sense of humour), and it includes sound advice: “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” Well done, writer; this is hilarious. 

FI:  A machine with an existential dilemma, Doze-master 3000 is exactly the type of antihero I adore! He thoroughly stole my heart. In fact, I’d take him to Paris in an instant. Charming voice, no excess word fat, and character progression in 160 words. A fine piece of flash.

David Parkland, “The Infinity Machine.”

HG: Even when one does not know one’s own purpose, how can one resist pressing the big red button? (One, or six, or nine…) This story has a clever, shivery feeling and I like it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and press a big red button.

FI: Such a fascinating concept! A machine adrift in that dark void, creating something from the nothing, maybe even all the numbers in existence. What sealed it for me is that familiar curiosity – even a robot can’t resist pressing the red button.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Brett Milam, “Hollow.”

HG: “There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t fight another machine.” The title fits the story in so many ways. Hollowness, literal emptiness, loneliness… It makes me sad in a helpless way, and somehow I understand the robot’s pain even though I don’t have a similar experience to draw upon. Beautifully done. 

FI: Another story that won me over for the trim, simplicity of it. The voice in “Hollow” is perfect, cold, distant, matter-of-fact and ties everything together from John’s death to the slow wait. It, too, raised questions of the relationship (dependence?) between humans and their technology. Anything that makes me think gets high marks in my book.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Sydney Scrogham, “Without You for the Last Time” 

HG: She died choosing him.” What is this in my eye? It can’t be a tear, I don’t cry. DON’T LOOK AT ME. (In all seriousness, though, this is truly beautiful and thought-provoking in such a unique way.)

FI: I adored this one for the questions it provoked: what lengths would we go to to keep our loved ones alive? If we could extract human consciousness, the soul, and upload it into an immortal body, have we really saved the original being?

The prose is clean, clear, and minimalist – William Strunk Jr would’ve been proud- and all the other elements of good flash are there, from the first line to the last. Who could stop reading after an opening like “He knew he’d outlive her”? The rest follows suit until that final paragraph brings this original twist on love and lose to a reverberating close. Well done.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker, “Demolition.” 

HG: I am Victory, and you are Defeat” is, for me, the best closing line in the bunch. Something about this story makes me feel small; not insignificant, only small. It touched something in me I can’t usually reach; A+, writer. Well done. 

FI: I asked that your story sear itself to my memory, and this one has.

Gorgeous prose, meaning woven throughout, and distinctly unique tone kept bringing me back for “just one more read.”

It’s a clever wordsmith that can bring me from laughing at the oddities of depressed robots and horrendous poets, to hushed awe over a reflection on a single yet universal victory some 2000 years old.

It’s no small thing to take a prompt as concrete as a house about to be bulldozed and give us an abstract view.

You know your craft well, dear writer.

And now: for her second time, fabulous creature!! — join me in congratulating our 

DRAGON WINNER

Steph Ellis!!!

for

“Byron’s Last Stand, by Lord Algernon Postlethwaite”

HG: This is a heart-wrenching tale of woe, tearfully sculpted from the broken dreams of a broken man.

I’m totally kidding. This is a hilarious romp in which the enemy threatens to “haiku on your face.” I don’t know what that means, but I desperately want to see it. This was a clear choice for winner; a bad poem about bad poets. It’s just like the movie Inception. Okay, not really, but it’s magnificent. My new favourite line from a poem ever: Byron swallowed, sensed the threat; From this man of beef.”

FI:

Two things you’ve done especially well,
Mysterious writer friend.
You’ve captured Adams’ cheeky flavor,
And did so to an end.

For while we laugh and cringe at him,
Lord Byron could be us.
At first so proud of his creation,
Cruel jeers send him running to the dust.

Was he bad or simply cowed,
By common negativity?
So oft, as writers, we heed the harsh,
Believing truth must lack civility.

Silly us, t’isn’t so! Truth is bold,
But also kind – we want critique not criticism,
Let’s hope Lord Byron learns this fact,
Before his passion fails him.

Congratulations, Steph! Please find here your smartly updated winner’s page (let me know if you’d like to rewrite your bio in verse? cuz that would be totally COOL). Your winning tale can be found there as well as over on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for details regarding your second Sixty Seconds interview! And now here’s your winning story:

Byron’s Last Stand, by Lord Algernon Postlethwaite

Byron Grimshaw eyed the crowd
Gathered at his door
Better than at Open Mic
The chance he’d waited for

He inhaled the dusty air
Puffed out his pigeon chest
“Hark my fellow countrymen,
Beneath my bosom’s breast …”

“Lurks a Primark padded bra
And poncey pink silk vest”

Determined not to yield his spot
To hecklers, he declaimed
Words that he intended
Would endure, spreading his fame

“Down Durham’s dreadful dreary roads
Yellow monsters chewed up brick,
As the bard orated ….”

“You really are a p…”

The words were lost amid a stir
As the foreman pushed towards him
Bulldozed his way up to the front
Clear threat behind his warning

“I’ve tickets for the match tonight
Son, you’re a right disgrace
If you don’t come out here pretty quick
I’ll haiku on your face”

Byron swallowed, sensed the threat
From this man of beef
Meekly slunk out of the house
And ran off down the street.

FFwinner-Web

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Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 37: WINNERS!

Happy Results Day! Y’all went utterly nuts this week in commenting on each other’s tales. Thank you so much to the many, many of you who took the time to do so. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say your stories are changing lives, as you encourage each other and drive us all to write better. There is certainly no obligation to comment, but know how grateful the entire FF team & community are to you for making such a precious investment. What’s a silly old dragon badge by comparison?? 

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Judge Aria Glazki says: Well, unsurprisingly, you all have done it again — made my job, which seems so simple, incredibly difficult. So many stories offered something special, whether that was the message, the unique form,  the masterful imagery, the emotion conveyed, or the inventive take on the prompt. My “narrowed-down” list was still far too long. I have faith, however, that those stories which unfortunately had to be cut away from my list will have received the praise they deserve in the comments, because that’s how awesome this community is.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Margaret Locke, “Oh Captain, My Captain.” Death caused by a careless caress, what a poignant image and core to this story, that throws new light on the arrogance we think we understand at first and leaves us with heartbreak in its place. (And congratulations to Margaret on the Flash! Friday anniversary!)

Abraham Wolfgang, “The Pirate’s Lament.” Containing a story in a limiting form is always bold, and in this case it also works. The form here leaves so few words to tell the story, and yet neither the form nor the story is sacrificed.

Evan Montegarde, “Failure on Nexius 7 Prime.” What a lesson on the cost of arrogance, and on treating people well, in this inventive take on the prompt. The added arrogance of Blake provides extra depth, as I can’t help thinking  he’ll have his comeuppance for torching an entire planet.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Ife Oluwa, “Why Captain Show Teeth Like Shark.” The voice here! That unseen observer’s role, coupled with the voice, gives us such a good sense of the narrator as a character. The bewilderment of the title suddenly makes perfect sense when drenched in this voice (and what an image there, too!).

Sarah Cain, “A Reversal of Fortune.” This story turns the expected on its head, with the help of its great central line: “They expect me to die. I do not plan to oblige them.” Not only does the marooned sailor escape his fate, but he also gets revenge by inflicting the same punishment the others tried to achieve. “They will hallucinate.” Not our narrator. “They will writhe in agony.” Not our narrator. “They will perish.” Not our narrator. With the amount of intelligence and foresight his plan required, you can’t help but think this narrator’s own arrogance is well deserved.

Chris Milam, “Isle of the Condemned.” Fantastic imagery from the very first line here paints this story with paradoxes. The sun’s greeting is a “searing kiss.” The “tranquil morning” is closely followed by the “waves heaving and groaning.”  The captain’s breath is “sweet with rum,” while his actions are anything but. And the arrogance of our narrator’s attackers juxtaposes her own, in anticipating her revenge. Well crafted.

M. T. Decker, “Alone.” At first glance, this story stands on the strength of its surprise ending. We get the drama of the experience of being marooned, the introspection that goes along with it, only to have it both undermined and strengthened by learning Nox is actually looking at a painting. The use of the palindrome is quite interesting as well, both tying this story to exile (in Elba) and warning us that everything’s about to be flipped.

Rachael Dunlop, “I Am Therefore I Own.” The internal journey of this narrator was captivating. We go from a soul-crushing solitude that brings him to tears when finally touched by another living being, to the destruction of that being, for the narrator’s physical sake. What a commentary on human nature, well supported by the imagery and underscored by the title.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “A God in Ruins.” There’s so much story in this piece. We’re taken from the build-up of a hero, an upstanding character who follows divine rules, to the seduction of arrogance, through to the inevitable end. The use of “I rose / I rose / I rise / I fall” lends structure and rhythm to the story, and to the beats of an entirely human life. All in all, this is an effective and evocative representation of hubris, from the seeds that sprout it to the realization of mortality and self that wipes it away.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Karl A. Russell, “The Sailor’s Lament.” So, I have to admit, I have a weakness for Faustian deals (I even wrote multiple papers on them in University!). While that helped this story catch my eye, however, the piece also stands on its own. The “devil” character’s demeanor is achieved so well with the mention of his “too-wide smile” paired with his lines of dialogue. The wisher’s constantly cut off dialogue works wonderfully. The danger of the arrogance involved in striking such a deal is excellently portrayed, as is the bewilderment of getting precisely what you wished for, versus what you wanted. I also loved the subtle bitterness of the line “nothing to do but enjoy it” that ties the story together oh so well.

And now: as only the second-ever BACK-TO-BACK WINNER (after Cindy Vaskova), it’s Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

MICHAEL SEESE!!!

for

“Alone”

Where do I even start with this story? It stayed with me as I read the others, which may say it all. “Lucre has a way of muting morality” is a very strong center for this piece — that awareness of man’s fallibility, while also a distance from understanding that draw of riches, highlighting the difference between man and God, in a story that on the surface only likens the two. 

The initial misdirect of the Captain’s involvement that makes such perfect sense in retrospect; the repetition of the line “against the laws of man. And God,” coming first from the doubt of those involved in a heinous choice, and second from the weary resignation of the one charged with being the “Captain of all men”; the chilling and poignant message of the burden inherent in being God; the pain and the solitude of being the one responsible… Overall, there’s just so much in these few words. 

Was the Captain arrogant in creating man? Were the men arrogant in praying to the Captain while knowing they broke those aforementioned laws? Is the very expectation of them being good, and the vengeance that follows when they’re not, also arrogant? An answer isn’t simple in this incredibly complex, thought-provoking story.

Congratulations AGAIN, Michael! Below is the still-gorgeous winner’s badge for your wall. Here again are your (updated) winner’s page and your (latest) winning tale on the (updated) winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for the new questions for this week’s #SixtySeconds II interview. And here is your winning story:

Alone

They’re all dead. And it’s my responsibility. Mine alone. I am the Captain, after all.

The scalding sands — and the memory — may well have been the fires of Hell. With no clouds above, the sun is a relentless, yet honest, adversary. I wondered if I had erred. Should I have done otherwise?

When setting sail, some of the more superstitious men voiced concerns.

“Trafficking is wrong.”

“They’re just children.”

“Using them like that is against the laws of man. And God.”

But lucre has a way of muting morality.

As the storm turned their ship into kindling and their bodies into chum, the crew looked to me for guidance. They prayed I would help. I turned a blind eye. Indeed, not only did I ignore their pleas, I doubled my vengeance. Because they were right. Their actions were against the laws of man.

And God.

Such is the burden I bear as the Captain of all men.

 

FFwinner-Web

 

 

Sixty Seconds with: Taryn Noelle Kloeden

Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.

(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)

Matchlight

Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Taryn Noelle Kloeden.  Read her winning story here, then take one minute to get to know her better.

1) What about the prompt inspired you to write your winning piece? I saw the woman and knew I wanted her to cause the wreck somehow. Siren was my next thought!

2) How long have you been writing flash? I’ve been knowingly writing FF for a few months, but have been writing very short works for years.

3) What do you like about flash? It’s a great way to sharpen skills like characterization, pacing. Plus it keeps me writing even when I’m “too busy”.

4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Don’t overthink it. I have found my best stories come when I write sans judgement. Judging is for editing!

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why? Evan Montegarde‘s a Flash! Friday regular who takes the prompts in unexpected but inspired directions. He’s also my dad!

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? Can’t say that I do, but I love Flash! Friday so might search out some more! {Editor’s Note: find a list of more contests here!}

7) What other forms do you write (novels, poetry, articles, etc)? My main project’s a fantasy series called The Fenearen Chronicles, but I also write short fiction and creative non-fiction.

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? Fantasy is my go-to “home genre”. It’s what I grew up reading and I love the freedom it affords!  

9) Tell us about a WIP. The Fenearen Chronicles is a YA epic fantasy series. I’ve written the first book and am halfway through the second!

10) How do you feel about dragons? Alas, I’ve never met one. {Editor’s Note: WHAT!?} Although I have a pet snake who is kind of a mini-dragon (minus the fire-breathing).