Tag Archive | Flash! Friday winner

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 50: WINNERS

Welcome to Flash! Friday results day! As ever, there’s LOTS of stuff going on; I’m so eager to share the goodness, I can hardly get the words out (don’t worry; I’ll manage). First up: a reminder of what’s happening these next couple weeks:

* Nov 28 – Special guest judges (announced later today or tomorrow; you’re going to go nuts)

* Dec 5Flashversary!!!!! (No. Words. for how HUGE the prize is.)

* Dec 12 – Year Three starts with its exciting changes and our brand new judge panel. Speaking of which, let me introduce them! Lots more about them in the weeks ahead. Join me in welcoming:

Pratibha Kelapure (@needanidplease) * Mark King (@Making_Fiction) * Eric Martell (@drmagoo

Jodi Murray (Joidianne4eva) * Sinéad O’Hart (@sjohart) * Carlos Orozco (@goldzco21

Image Ronin (@ImageRonin) * Tamara Shoemaker (@TamaraShoemaker)

Once you’ve stopped S C R E A M I N G, please move on with me to today’s results. We were marvelously privileged this round to be joined by the fine crew of the Liverpool-based writers’ group Poised Pen. Thanks specifically to Catherine Connolly & AJ Walker for sharing your time and keen writerly eyes! We love having you as part of our FF family, and it was a true honor to have you take a turn as judge. An honor for us and, I hope, not too torturous for you (though we did our best).    

♦♦♦♦♦

The judges from Poised Pen say: Well, what a weekend, folks. It is the first time Poised Pen have been given the pleasure and privilege of judging at Flash! Fiction Friday. One of the Poised Pen team – I won’t name him – had to drink for two days at a real ale festival to ready himself for the challenge. It was most interesting being on the other side for the week. It was noted how important the title was to the pieces – we will definitely take this on board for our own stories, next week at least. We would like to think that it may improve our entries in the future – here’s hoping anyway!

As the two judges were both Flash Dogs the dragon master turned puppy master for the weekend, together with the striking photo cue references to Nipper and HMV. We’re not sure whether it was the relatively constrained indoor photograph, but it was noticeable that fantasy was a lot less in evidence this week than usual – though it may have been the difficulty of fitting music, puppies and dragons into 150 words. In common with most weeks though the Flash! community inevitably delivered a lot of death – and some intriguing wind-up tech!

The judging was blind of course and when we finally saw the author’s names it transpired we hadn’t delivered a clean sweep of Flash Dogs, but we did crown a new winner – giving us a warm glow. So, without further ado… to the winners, the runners up and the mentions…congratulations all!

♦♦♦♦♦

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Karl Russell, “Spiritual Remix.” The clue to this one’s premise is in the title.  This is a brilliant play structurally on the concept of the record played backwards and a mirror image story which produces a completely different version when set out in reverse.  Very cleverly done!

Sarah Miles, “Slugs and Snails and Puppy Dogs Tails.” Here, imagery and language are put to great use in the “thundering” and “howling”, followed by the “arias of mourning”.  There is a sense of the inevitable in the way in which Sayid ultimately joins the overwhelming “chorus”.  Powerful and well observed.

Mark King“Silver Song of the Lark.” There were nods aplenty to Liverpool – blatant but welcome. This story in particular made one of the judges (okay, Andy) laugh out loud. Loved seeing Hansen’s ‘you won’t win anything with kids’ comment. Thanks for making me laugh Mark – even if it did make me cry a little too at what we’ve lost.

Lastly, thanks to Rebekah the Puppy Master for trusting the Poised Pen team with the judging this week. It has been an absolute pressure. Or did we mean pleasure? Where’s me pint?

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sinéad O’Hart, “The Curtain Call.” This is a great example of a story utilising effective dialogue.  The interplay between the couple draws us effortlessly into a relationship in which communication is somewhat less than it should be.  We get a sense of an older, longstanding couple without any specific reference to age, as well as precisely what the husband’s viewpoint on “Oh, The Talent We’ve Got” may well be!

Betsy Streeter, “Hey, Jude.” Beatles reference in the title aside, this was a poignant example of a story incorporating music and death, something a number of the stories this week considered.  Here, the key is in the mark made “on the world”, which is likened to a “scratch” or “pop” on a record but only fully becomes clear at the conclusion of the final sentence, making it particularly poignant. ** Note ** This song was No.1 when one of the judges was born – coincidence or some scary amount of research (aka cyber stalking?)?

Tinman, “The Food of Love.” We really enjoyed the original premise of this story, with The Frydermaus and its pervasive aromas, likened to both the “Bach Fugue through organ pipes” and a “fart through a bubble bath”!  The wry, tongue-in-cheek tongue continues through Caruso’s signature dish, “O Sole Mio”, to the final inability to wind the oven sufficiently to “cook a whole turkey”.  Really well observed!

Matt Lashley, “Comeuppance.” This is another great example of a story in which the importance of its title becomes clear once we have come to its conclusion.  The hint that we will be privy to a tale of in which justice will be served becomes apparent only as the maid is hurrying away millions of bearer bonds richer from the “strong”, “weak” and “self-absorbed” family members.  With very few words, we gain the impression the “scolded puppy” maid is in the right!  

THIRD RUNNER UP

Craig Anderson, “Bark Box.” This is a brilliant piece in which voice is key.  The sheer magnitude of the task in trying to teach the proverbial pack is emphasised in the way attempts result in them “grinning like idiots” and their propensity to “spin in circles, hypnotized”.  The imagery tied to the “puppy” prompt is consistent throughout, from the inability to “walk on all fours” to the final determination to “discover who’s a good boy”.  Added to which, the humorous tone throughout is spot on – particularly in the closing line. Thanks for this, Craig.

SECOND RUNNER UP

David Borrowdale, “Harmony for the Mind.” Not only is this a great story, which demonstrates a clear sense of the world which we, as reader, inhabit and uses the word prompt for the week of “puppy” to original effect, it also sets its premise up particularly cleverly through its title – something which becomes clear fully once we have finished reading.  It is also a great example of an entry involving apparent research into epistemological theory and attention to detail in very few words.  Added to that, a closing line which hits home in the overall context of the story to finish off!  Very well done, David.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker, “Thief.” Tamara’s story uses language to great effect.  We begin with the accusatory “thief”, with the concluding paragraph aiding to emphasise the original accusation by bringing us as reader full circle.  The sense of a need for justice is something which runs throughout linguistically, with references to “loathsome” and “bitter”, as well as “razor-edged” slaying, adding to the sense of hurt and betrayal.   Here, “life” helps to highlight the importance of what we are dealing with, making the accusation all the more serious.  Additional kudos to the author for effective use of the word “poised” in the very first paragraph too!

And now: for his very first time, we couldn’t be happier for Flash! Friday 

DRAGON WINNER

CHRIS MILAM!!!

for

“The Abyss”

This story sets its premise out from the title in.  Right from the outset, the reader descends into the abyss the characters dwell within whilst they drink memories away.  Original premise aside, the writer’s use of language is accomplished.  Pockets “bulging” with coins bathed in anguish cause the protagonist to “crawl” to the bar, emphasising the sense of psychological weight from the first paragraph.  The sense of despair and hopelessness continues via the “bones” displaying their “masks” only, devoid of real humanity, as we see what the bar occupants have been reduced to.  Seemingly, the distilled memories they imbibe will not be the only things incapable of a return.  Here, “echo” refers cleverly not only to the distilled products being served but the inference in respect of the drinkers themselves.  There is a sense of struggle in the attempt to “stay afloat”, however hopeless it may ultimately prove.  Finally, we reach the haunting conclusion and its “shadows”, with the reference to consumption highlighting the extent to which those who drink at the Abyss are eaten away, slowly but surely, by their singular desire.  Beautifully done, Chris!

Congratulations, Chris! Below is your frothy winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your very own, brand new, super duper marvelous winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

The Abyss

The jukebox desires coins bathed in anguish. My pocket is bulging with those. I feed the nostalgic gal then crawl to the bar.

Intoxicated bones with masks of sorrow lounge on decaying stools, a whimpering pack of discarded puppies pining for their master. Glasses are being fractured by aching hands. Marinated eyes plunge for deserted images floating in amber liquid. We drink memories at The Abyss. We splash our guts with the distilled echo of things that don’t come back.

Words are extinct here. Our mouths are preoccupied with swallowing fraudulent remedies. Our ears tuned solely to the paralyzing songs that tell our story with a folksy twang.

A kid in a pink Oxford is peeling the label off his beer with wounded talons. His first heartbreak, perhaps. I buy his next round. He nods. I want to tell him to stay afloat, but my coins have bartered a deal: A melody that tilts the bottle. Lyrics that consume shadows.

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 49: WINNERS

Welcome back! We’re racing faster and faster to the end of Flash! Friday’s second year. Probably you all are quite cool about this, but I’m a manic WRECK. Guest judges of astonishing caliber joining us! Flashversary (Dec 5) parties to plan! Fun stuff lurking in the wings for Year Three! And just WAIT, y’all, til you see who’s on the next FF judge panel. Let me say I may not be the only one fainting.

Anyway. Thanks to everyone for coming out again this week for another fantastic round of flash fiction. Monkeys and authors? Who could have guessed the hijinks you connived for your longsuffering protagonists.

:hands out boxes of tissues: And now, my darlings, brace yourselves, as today we are forced (FORCED, I tell you) to bid a final farewell to the final judge of this past judge panel. Margaret Locke has long been a respected name here in the lair, a reputation her tenure as judge further confirmed. You’ve done some fine judgery here, Miz Locke. Thank you for bringing your own special brand of spice and flair each round. You’ve been amazing, and your eye will be missed! Thank you so much for giving of your time and heart to the Flash! Friday community.          

♦♦♦♦♦

Judge Margaret Locke says: The first time Our Lady Dragonness asked me to judge, I turned her down. Who was I, lowly newbie romance and flash writer, to dare comment on, much less JUDGE, the numerous stories people craft each week? The second time, I said yes (I was worried she’d flambé me if I refused again). I’m so glad I did — it has been eye-opening to sit on this side of the bench, really having to immerse myself in each and every tale, having to figure out why certain pieces resonated with me more than others, and having to qualify my choices. I’m sure it’s sharpened my eye when it comes to evaluating my own writing.

The truth is, a lot of judging is subjective. Yes, one can look at spelling and grammar and flow and analyze a variety of things quite objectively, but when it comes right down to it, the stories that have grabbed me the most often have done so at an emotional, instinctual level. They resonate with me in ways not easily explained. I mention this as a reminder to everyone (including me, as I ride yet another wave of agent rejections) that just because I or some other judge or an agent or a publisher doesn’t pick a particular work doesn’t mean that work isn’t worthy of being picked! Amazing stories get passed by every day. Keep writing. Keep writing and honing the craft. Keep going. There is so much joy in the process, as well as in the product.

THANK YOU for this opportunity; I remain humbled and in awe of the amazingly talented crop of writers who show up week after week, weaving unique and entertaining short (short!) stories that exemplify the best in wordsmithing.

Moving on to results: You people are smart. Like, scarily so. I had to spend so much time on the good old Internets looking up literary references and educating myself on various famous authors to ensure I was catching the wicked brilliance of so many of these stories. I’m still worried (and sure) I missed something! We had literal monkeys, figurative monkeys, authors as main characters, authors as references, hilarious tales, and tales of woe. Thank you for making my final week of judging such a wonderful (and challenging) one!

And since it was my last week of judging, I decided I didn’t have to limit my mentions quite so much. Right? Right?!

Monkey drum roll, please….

 

♦♦♦♦♦

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Geoff Le Pard, “Between Rock and Hard Place.” Great incorporation of authors and quick references to their works made this fun to read, as I tried to see if I caught all of the references.

Mark Driskill, “The Intruders.” In the same vein of “Between Rock,” and yet so badly punny, it was awesome.

UK_MJ“Wild Kingdom.” I enjoyed the very real-feeling encapsulation of sibling rivalry, and that the concept of “wild kingdom” aptly reflects more on the humans in this story than the animal.

Emily StreetVestigial Tale.” Loved the punny title in a well-written story.

Nancy Chenier, “Rice-Paper Battlefield.” For choosing an eastern female author!

Best Title: joidianne4eva“Love Me Tender, Love Me Sweet.” I’m an Elvis fan, so this title immediately caught my eye; but it also renders what follows that much more horrific.

Best Line: Shane Wilson“Treating Herself.” “He gave her everything she ever wanted—except for space.” Oh, how this line hit me.

Best Last Line: Alissa Leonard, “The Things I Do For You.” “I can get you six feet closer to the center of the earth.” Wonderful play on words with Jules Verne!

Best Clever Conceit: ImageRonin, “Red Rum.” I’m sure for those of you more familiar with Stephen King, this take off of The Shining was instantly recognizable. Not so for me, but after Googling and figuring it out, I appreciated the weaving of a fictional character’s life into a small tale that hints at the larger one.

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

David Borrowdale, “Inspiration is Everywhere.” I was instantly hooked with the play on words between Simian and Simenon (whom I also had to look up; apparently I’ve never read anything). I loved the contrast between what Simenon actually wanted versus what he experienced. I assumed that the Hotel Majestic really IS majestic, and what he will write will be exactly opposite of what he himself at that moment was experiencing. Great contrasts in a well-written, well-executed tale.

Michael Seese, “Falling From Grace.” This story stuck out for its completely different subject matter and approach. I love the irreverent tone, the stark contrast of modern and ancient in exquisite lines such as this: “The psychologists sang hymns of ‘addictive personality.’ The doctors read the scripture of ‘chemical imbalance.’” An ethereal, ageless being subjecting himself to modern drugs/shock treatments? A suicidal angel? The whole premise hooked me exactly because those ideas at first would seem to be opposites.

VB Holmes, “Hotel l’Alsace.” Well-written and moving. I looked up the Hotel l’Alsace to see what author(s) had committed suicide there. Oscar Wilde died there, but of illness, not by his own hand. So I’m left wondering if this piece is referencing a real or fictional author. In any case, the language is beautiful and encapsulates the despairing mood. The simple listing of all the ills that had befallen this man was heart-wrenching.

Marie McKay, “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” Yes, I had to Google Boulle to learn he was the author of Planet of the Apes, and while this story wasn’t the first to reference that book, the repeated pattern in the middle very effectively renders the story that much more terrifying.  

THIRD RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker, “The Story.” I appreciated the unique take of this story, the interweaving of both the famous author and monkey, as required by the prompt, but in less literal ways. The language flows so well, with wonderful, visually evocative phrasings such as “the slender blonde with the army cap tilted at a jaunty angle,” and “his chin wobbl[ing] beneath the years of repressed grief.” My romantic heart broke in the space of a few, short words. The last line in particular frames the whole story and its characters well, capturing the painful dynamic between the central couple.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Michael Simko, “Risk.” I absolutely love the opening paragraph of this story; I was instantly hooked. Hitting upon Passepartout, I had to Google him to learn he was the (fictional) valet to main character Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around The World In Eighty Days, and then I had to read enough (see? you people made me work this week!) to know Phileas, at first, is the exact opposite of a risk taker. But even if one took out the paragraph with Passepartout and the references to Verne, the story stands on its own and resonates with me – perhaps because I am not generally a risk-taker, myself. Well-written with wonderful imagery.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Brian S. Creek, “Infinite Monkey Theorem.” Other stories touched on the infinite monkey theorem, the idea that “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a give text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare” (thanks, Wikipedia!), but this piece, rendered entirely in crisp dialogue, utilized it perfectly. I kept coming back to this one and its hilarious last line: “Well, it turns out it requires only one and it takes about six months.” I’m still giggling.

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

DRAGON WINNER

CARIN MARAIS!!!

for

“Merely This and Nothing More”

Poe is never overtly named in this story, but the language to me invokes his style, even beyond the title and the final word. And yet I had the sneaking suspicion this Story Teller was referencing authors beyond Poe; from Googling “fifteen dead men dancing on a chest,” I learned that phrase hails from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. “Beasts growing listless in ancient temples beneath the waves” made me think of Atlantis. What other references am I missing? The whole tale is rich in imagery. The second paragraph I have read numerous times, basking in its exquisiteness of expression. Thank you, Carin, for this marvelous story! Well done!

Congratulations, Carin! Below is your neon bright winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your very own, brand new, super duper marvelous winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Merely This and Nothing More

If on a summer’s day a Story Teller was to exit Hotel L–, she would find herself on the road leading to the harbour. If she walked, her mind would drift through centuries of memories. If she remembered, she would colour memories to adventures, hovels to palaces, obstacles to giants. If she stood on the shore she would recall all the memories of all the ages. Cities. Armies. Voyages. Adventures. Sorrow. Love. Fear. Beasts growing listless in ancient temples beneath the waves.

If she was to tell all these memories to the ocean, she would slowly sink into a story herself: her voice caught in sea foam, her secrets bound in a chest on the ocean floor where fifteen dead men danced, her stories travelling through countries, years, and centuries before being caught by ink.

She asked if her own words, those grains of sand, would be remembered.

She did not wait for an answer, lest it was “nevermore”.

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 48: WINNERS

Welcome! TODAY’S THE LAST DAY!!!!  Please consider applying as a FF judge for Year Three. Don’t be intimidated by the dragons; you don’t need a grammar degree or published novels under your belt to serve. Seriously. Don’t let our slick, polished contest :coughcough: throw you off. I need you, and we’re all family here (and you’ll have a judging buddy!). What I’m looking for: people to choose stories they love and chat about why they’re so good. Details here

Speaking of judges, it’s time to bid a fond farewell to judge Phil Coltrane. I am so grateful to you for the time and effort you’ve dedicated to Flash! Friday. Thank you for your technical ideas, your insight, and all you’ve contributed. You’ve been simply awesome. And soon we’ll see your name back up on the dais, I’m quite sure!!!! Thank you, THANK YOU.       

♦♦♦♦♦

Judge Phil Coltrane says: For my last week in the judge’s seat, what metaphor could be more apt than being put on a train? It’s with sadness that I realize my time as a judge is ending — and not just because of the rumors that roast judge au jus will be served in the Dragon’s dining car.

I found judging to be intimidating, time-consuming, sometimes even frustrating — but also tremendously rewarding. I had to scrutinize every story more carefully, and think about what I liked about each one. In the end, I learned a lot about what makes a flash story great, and found plenty of real treasures among them.

But you’re not here for teary-eyed farewells. This week, you wrote about all kinds of treasures: treasures of gold, of diamond, metaphorical and metaphysical treasures. Not surprisingly given the train prompt, a lot of the stories dealt with sad departures, happy arrivals, or long journeys. It seems the ones that stood out were the ones that dealt with the human condition: examining how we deal with joy, or frustration, or grief.

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Matt L., “The Path Leading to the Door to Hell is Filled With Happiness.” Matt wonderfully characterizes a couple who have been together for a long time: comfortable with each other despite cramped quarters, able to joke about a bad vacation, together through any extreme, and simply able to treasure each other’s company.

Bart Van Goethem, “The Bearer of Bad News.” The repetition of what seem to be routine announcements builds to catharsis for this main character. Though we know little about this character, and nothing about what finally set him off, the author’s presentation allows us to sympathize, and perhaps even celebrate the character’s new-found freedom.

Clive Newnham, “Cursed Chain.” Thievery, pursuit, and murder feature here, and the uneasy atmosphere is accentuated by the descriptions of the sounds of the train. The author builds suspense, then eases us into a false sense of security just before the dramatic climax, leaving us to wonder what will happen next.  

THIRD RUNNER UP

Image Ronin, “The Return.” Throughout this story, the author emphasizes the isolation and gloomy outlook of the main character. In the beginning, “[t]he compartment was empty apart from Astrid, Grandfather, and the echoes of the others.” Later, she is alone in a crowd of “grey faces” and within “the bustle of tourists and commuters.” 

In a twist, the treasure turns out to be her Grandfather: she is bearing him (presumably in an urn) to the edge of the sea, to fulfill her final promise to him. The author raises questions in our minds as we read the story, neatly explaining Astrid’s glum mindset in the end, as well as her focus on “the echoes of the others”.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Jennifer Rickets, aka Donnie Darko Girl, “Beautiful Potential.” A treasure hunter finds the potential for something more valuable than a “collection of knickknacks.” The main character begins the story driven by wanderlust, with “no regrets and no worries,” seeking only “new adventure.” By the end, we see a hint that he has finally found his “real treasure.”

This is not quite a love story, but is about the titular “beautiful potential” of falling in love. We never learn his name (nor hers), and the author’s straightforward language suggest that they are meant to represent anyone — that like this Everyman (and Everywoman), we too may find our own treasure at any time.

FIRST RUNNER UP

M.T. Decker, “The Treasure of Sierra’s Madre.” Treasures abound in this story of a woman returning home to carry out a sad duty. Reflecting on the childhood tales her mother told of “untold riches in the north country,” she finds a real treasure: relief from her sorrow. Opening and closing with beautiful descriptions of “silver, glowing gold” sunlight, the author also manages to tell a complete tale of treasure within the story itself, as well as reward the main character with an easing of her grief. Overall, the author allows us to witness a silent and very personal discovery.

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

DRAGON WINNER

D. T. NOVA!!!

for

“The Greatest Treasure”

It opens with a legend: “everyone who takes this train finds a great treasure.” 

Surprisingly, treasure-seeker Anna is not looking for the greatest treasure. She has already found — and lost — “the most perfect person in the world.” Now all she has left is to travel the rails, hoping to find someone greater still. The title promises us “the greatest treasure,” and this story hits all the marks. The friendly lunchtime banter between Anna and the chef is believable, and hints at a deeper backstory both for the train and its passenger. Anna’s story is heartbreakingly believable.

In a twist from most stories, the main character is not seeking treasure, nor does she find it in her story. Her treasure is in her past, and now she has only the distant hope of riding the rails, finding someone else to make her happy.

The author gives us all of this, from a simple compliment of the chef’s soup.

Congratulations, D.T.! Below is your totally awesome winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your very own, brand new, mega marvelous winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

The Greatest Treasure

Anna smiled at the chef. “They say that everyone who takes this train finds a great treasure. Are they talking about your soup?”

“I’m flattered, though I know you’re hoping I say no.”

“Your soup is your soup; it is unchanged either way. To find a series of increasingly greater treasures and continue to be told that they are still not the treasure would be a treasure in itself. Don’t you agree?”

“So you don’t want to find the greatest treasure of all?”

“I already have. I wish I hadn’t.”

“I don’t understand.”

No one ever did. How could they, if they hadn’t met the most perfect person in the world for themselves? And then been rejected. “They say ignorance is bliss. That’s not quite true. What I say is this: you have to be ignorant of bliss to settle for mere happiness.” But Anna still looked for the one who could improve on perfection.

FFwinner-Web