Tag Archive | Evan Montegarde

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 30: WINNERS!

WHAT a huge week this is, so huge I can hardly stand it. In prep for Tuesday, I’m not running a Flash Points tomorrow. But then…. hang on to your hats, because it’s the DOG DAYS OF SUMMER contest, hurtling into a fist-fighting, trouble-making, rabble-rousing existence Tuesday, July 8, at 7:30am Washington, DC time. Did I mention there’s prize money?? And bragging rights. Oh yes. Bragging to high heaven, and a chorus of cheering draggins all along the way. Don’t miss it!

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Judge Craig Anderson says: So I promise I will never again sit at my computer on a Sunday and excitedly proclaim, “Where are the results?” From the outside I always imagined the judges’ task to be a quick and simple one, something to be undertaken with a cup of coffee and a big smile on your face. One quick read through, maybe a second just to be sure, and then Bob’s your uncle, knock up a quick email with the winners and you’re done in time for breakfast. How very wrong I was!

Fast forward to my first stint as a judge and my deeply furrowed brow and ever growing stack of empty coffee mugs as I re-read all your entries for the umpteenth time while the deadline rapidly approached. I could honestly find things to love about every story: there was darkness, comedy, spaceships and time travel. You all did a fantastic job of making my task rather more difficult than I had imagined it. I’m not complaining, though; it was a very enlightening experience and has taught me a great deal about the subtleties of flash and just how much difference a few words can make. I also want to take a moment to thank all the previous judges for vanquishing a similarly challenging list of awesome stories.

So please find below my list of SM’s, HM’s, Runner ups and the Winner, and rest assured that I came up with them as fast as was Dragonly possible! 

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

JUDGE Phil Coltrane, “Conceived in Liberty.” Very clever personification of the countries, with America as the rebellious teen and England as the frustrated but ultimately powerless parent.

Evan Montegarde, “Her Majesty’s Independence Day.” I enjoyed the concept that the entire revolution was just a cunning ploy by the Queen to avoid the Kings amorous advances. Fifteen babies!

Charles W. Short, “Life Development Reports from the Gamma Zeta 12 Sector.” A fun and zany twist on the prompt, with a couple of ‘small’ oversights leading to hilarious consequences.

Ian Martyn, “It’s a Man’s World.” America could have been a very different place due to some second rate quills, although Bob would have been pleased. Thank goodness for Mildred!

William Goss, “She Served Wisdom.” I really liked the use of various smells to paint a picture of these powerful men. Also loved the title!

Charity Paschall, “Martha’s Declaration.” I loved Martha’s more direct approach and how she gets right to the heart of the issue in far less time than the men.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Allison Garcia, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Incorporating dialect into the dialogue was a great way to quickly establish the characters. This is always a tricky thing to do well, but here the balance is spot on. There were some really nice touches, comparing the ‘hardship’ of Thomas sleeping in his chair for a few days with the slaves’ straw beds really helped to provide some context to how difficult the slaves’ lives were in comparison. “You get underfoot and the missus gonna send you to another family” reinforced that same theme and reminds us that these people are not free or equal. This story deals with some dark and difficult themes, but then flips the tone with that last line, which was still funny after multiple read throughs.

Brian Creek, “America Can Wait.” The tone of this piece was great, playing with the reader by making them think it was going one way only to change directions at the end and turn into something much lighter. This contrast really worked and made the punchline that much stronger. There were lots of little touches throughout that gave each person character, with Benjamin pushing his glasses back up his nose or Thomas gazing out the window at the city with his part already done. To me it also helped to humanize these great men, they may have been working on one of the most important documents in history, but they still have to eat!

SECOND RUNNER UP

Pratibha Kelapure, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Big City.” I love how Pratibha effortlessly worked several of the themes from the declaration throughout this story. The first line set the scene and established the struggles this couple were going through and gave context to the wife’s frustrations. I also thought that, “When did the pursuit of happiness become the pursuit of money?” really spoke to how much times have changed since those men in the painting outlined a path to a better life. I could really picture this couple, working all kinds of hours to make ends meet and get a fresh start, thinking of the future and a better life for themselves, only for that ending to take it all away! I still get shivers thinking about it. I’m never working late again! {Editor’s Note: Not 5 minutes off the judges’ panel, and 2nd runner up?? WAY TO GO, Pratibha!}

FIRST RUNNER UP

Bart Van Goethem, “The Declaration of Independence.” This story really jumped out at me as a highly relatable scenario. We’ve all had those decisions that we’ve agonized over for days only to find out that the resolution is nowhere near the herculean endeavour we imagine it to be. The voice of the narrator stood out, those short sharp sentences perfectly capture the protagonists agitated mood and the build up to the big confrontation. I could feel her preparing herself for a fight, only to blurt out her demand to be met with an anti-climactic victory. I love that to her it is a major statement, the start of a new chapter, but to him it’s just dinner. The title was also a great fit for this piece and a nice way to tie it all back to the prompt.

And now: for his second time, it’s beloved & highly talented Flash! Friday

DRAGON WINNER

KARL RUSSELL!!!

for

“A Declaration”

This one really jumped out at me on my first read through with some powerful imagery. “An archaeological stratum of family life” painted a vivid picture of the basement in very few words, and naming the ship the Independent was a nice tie-back to the prompt. “She pinched hold of the mast and snapped it with a shocked giggle,” was a subtle way to show that destroying the boat wasn’t necessarily her original reason for venturing into the basement, but I could feel her surprise at the joy associated with that first piece breaking off. 

The more times I read it, the more I filled in the backstory. I found myself imagining a neglected wife upstairs, increasingly jealous of the object of her husband’s attention, until she’d had enough. The destruction of this fragile object perfectly represented the end of their marriage, and the celebration of the birth of the country was a nice parallel to her own personal celebration of her new beginnings. All in all, the various pieces worked really well together to create a very compelling story with a lot of depth for so few words. 

Congratulations and welcome back to the dais, Karl! Your rebellion-crushing winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your freedom-ringing, updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Stand by so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

A Declaration

The basement was cool and dark, the music and fireworks a distant rumble. Cath pulled the light cord, blinking as the strips stuttered into life, revealing shelves of retired toys and forgotten hobbies, an archaeological stratum of family life. She was feeling tipsy and rarely came down here, and her eyes misted as she saw racquets and bicycles and happier days.

At the workbench where Mike spent his evenings, she peered intently at his handiwork. The ship was minutely detailed, a masterpiece of care and attention, down to the tiny name painted on the hull: The Independent.

With thoughtless ease, she pinched hold of the mast and snapped it with a shocked giggle. She thought of all they were celebrating upstairs, the new world born from so much destruction, and she swept the ship to the floor, stomping the balsa wood to shards.

Then she placed the divorce papers in the virgin space and went back upstairs for the fireworks.

 

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Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 25: WINNERS!

Last week you clever writers coordinated your entries (how did you do that?!) so we’d have a perfect 51 to match our Roswell prompt. This week you went for broke and blew the top off the previous Flash! Friday record*. I’m sitting here, mouth AGAPE (yes, yes, I brushed my teeth), wondering what heights your madness will achieve next week. Your talent is tremendous. And special thanks to those of you who took the time to comment on stories. What a difference in the life of a writer that effort makes! Thank you, thank you, dear ones. And now: 

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Judge Jess West says: All righty then! This week’s prompt brought many tales of a vengeful Earth Goddess struggling to break free of her captors, the very humans to which she gave life. The stories were all great, but those that reached deeper than the surface came back to rise far above. The thing I was most impressed with this week was the level of character development. So many of you helped me get to know people instead of telling me stories about characters. (Looks like I’m not the only one who reads the judge’s page!) Thank you for putting in that extra effort to really bring these stories to life, and for all these great entries- there were nearly sixty this week! You folks never fail to amaze me, week after week going one further, raising the bar ever higher. I can’t wait to get back into the fray alongside such talented writers.  {{Editor’s Note: Soon enough, little dragon. Soon enough.}} In the meantime, I’ll happily enjoy the fruits of your labors from my perch in the corner.

Thanks again for going the extra mile with outstanding character development, and for those stories that reached way beyond the first, second, third, fourth or even fifth idea that springs to mind with the given prompts. I was greatly impressed, and I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with next.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

M. T. Decker, “With Apologies to the Bard.” I enjoyed the flow of this one, the first poem I’ve seen at Flash! Friday, and what I read as wry humor. Specifically,

Will we live in a garden of possibilities
Or realize that freedom comes with
12-12-12 fertilizer.

Is there a deeper meaning here- one that mocks those who take freedom for granted? Either way, I liked this Flash Poem, I even got a chuckle out of the title after reading the story.

Evan Montegarde, “The Gardeners.” The language is great, I can get a good feel for the characters right out of the gate. Through these colorful characters, I see the Earth Goddess as a disapproving school-marm type.

Scott L. Vannatter, “Modest Earth Goddess.” I love the humor and personality in this piece. She reminds me of a wife who is only able to tolerate so much, and won’t hold back when her man needs a good swat upside the head.

Karl A. Russell, “M + J 4Eva,”  for fantastic use of the title as a visual aid. Also, I was able to empathize with both the antagonist and protagonist because the author gave me a feel of where each of them were at emotionally in this moment. 

THIRD RUNNER UP

Tinman, “Elixir of Life.” The Earth Goddess is so well-drawn here that I can see her shaking her head in dismay at the end. It’s hard to get that much depth of character into such a short piece, but this author does an outstanding job. After reading “Elixir of Life,” I’ll think twice about every sip I take that isn’t water, and I’ll look over my shoulder and wonder if she’s watching me, if the breeze is her dispirited sigh.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Joidianne4eva, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” I do love a good horrific twist on a familiar tale. Using the familiar tale lent this story a depth of character and setting that otherwise would not have been present, a clever tactic which I can certainly appreciate. The first two prophetic lines are my favorite, almost poetic. “Once upon a time, there lived a little girl named Mary…or so the story goes. She was neither fair of face nor full of grace…” From the start I knew I’d like this one, and I wasn’t disappointed.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “The Unforgiven.” The last paragraph, where the heart of the story is revealed, was like a sucker punch to the gut on first reading. The second and third times through, I noticed a few subtle hints, but woven in so well as to not give anything away. When Marianne speaks her first line of dialogue but doesn’t go to comfort her child, I got chills. I knew something was seriously off, but the author still knocked the wind out of my sails with the big reveal. I especially like how this author took the dragon’s bidding one step further, reminding us that freedom, more often than not, comes at a great price. 

And now: for his first time, it’s Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

JOHN MARK MILLER!!!

for

“The Sorcerer’s Daughter”

There are stories that make a good first impression, and there are those that stick with you; “The Sorcerer’s Daughter” does both. Kass displays proud defiance and cunning against her loving but immovable father. These two strong characters grabbed my attention and held it. The level of character development in this piece especially is amazing, considering how short these flash fictions are. Kass goes from stubbornly standing her ground to quietly accepting her fate. The shift does not detract from my respect for this character. In fact, the opposite is true. Her courage in facing her father and her bravery in accepting his punishment stuck with me, even after a few hours away from the story. Of all the things she could have done to save her own life, instead she accepted what she knew was coming and countered immediately with her revenge. I can just hear the whisper deep within the gnarled tree, “I will go wherever you send me, but I will not go alone.” If Kass couldn’t be free to love whomever she chose, she wouldn’t be free at all – and neither would her captor. Bravo!

Congratulations, John Mark! Your brand new, super fabulous winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your equally 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:

The Sorcerer’s Daughter

The royal guards shriveled back as they entered the throne room. The dark magic of this place was known to scorch all who lingered.

Kass squared her shoulders, unafraid. “Hello, Father.”

The torchlight set his simmering face ablaze. But even in his anger, he offered his daughter a cursory kiss. “You are not to marry this peasant, Kass. He is beneath you.”

“He has stolen my heart, Father. It cannot be undone.”

His obsidian eyes were sorrowful, but determined. After a long moment, he broke her stubborn gaze. “Never underestimate the power of a sorcerer’s kiss, my darling,” he whispered.

Already her ivory skin was darkening, crumbling away into common sod. “Wise words, Father. Remember them… always.”

They later found the gnarled tree fashioned in her likeness. Now her beauty shone eternal, eyes forever closed in quiet submission. And in her palm lay an obsidian pebble, frozen in a silent scream.

 

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* From 52 to 58.