Tag Archive | Jamie Hershberger

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 37: WINNERS

Thanks to all of you for your patience; you will understand, I trust, just how much effort it takes to wrangle knights, treacherous wives, foolish gamblers, and a talking rooster, none of whom will listen or follow instructions. That said: like one of those awesomely weird mirrored worlds, wasn’t it a riot this week to join a contest in which you told stories about a group of folks telling stories for a contest? 

Following hard on the heels of this morning’s winners’ post will be a second post: that’s right, it’s #Spotlight with our own Aria Glazki, who today launches her brand new book, Mortal MusingsPlease be sure to check back a bit later this morning — not only is it a smashingly fun interview, but she’s giving away a free print copy!

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Deepest thanks today to Dragon Team Eight, A.J. Walker & Voima Oy, aka the Valiant Story Wranglers, whose efforts on behalf of this contest are both thoughtful and relentless. Thank you! Here are their opening comments:   

V–It’s a splendid idea for a collection of tales — a colorful group of travelers on their way to a  holy place.  I think the Canterbury  Tales may be one of the finest pieces of  literature in English or any language.  And  you don’t have to be a Chaucer scholar to enjoy them.  They are still full of life and humor — and inspiration. It was a contest then, and now.  What a marvelous bunch of tales you have shared with us — saints and sinners, vengeful wives,  gamblers and knights on quests.  And aren’t we all travelers on this road of life?  Couldn’t ask for better company, or better stories.

AJ- The poetry and prose which came forth from the options available to all the authors this weekend were varied but never less than enthralling. 

Again it was a pleasure to be representing the east side of the Atlantic with Team 8. The broad thrust of the stories begs the age old question… Why did the treacherous woman cross the road? A) I don’t know, but I’d watch my back if I were you!

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best titleBlack Hairy Harry’s Trade-Off by Pattyann McCarthy. I liked this tale  of a rooster and a spider — feasting on fleas in trade for a ride.  Drinks later!

Favorite line: AJ’s favourite line from The Migrant by Bill Engleson… ‘She sought pythonic squeezes of rueful frolic’ – wonderful!

Best writerly tribute: The Scribbler’s Tale by A V Laidlaw. Doesn’t  Chaucer deserve his own tale, too?  It’s so cleverly done–and now we know  where the Wife of Bath came from.  Also a tribute to the writers’ craft we all share. Scribbling, swearing, praying,  tapping…

Best seduction: Pilgrim Adam by Foy S. Iver. I loved this seduction scene  in space. These are   pilgrims heading for the Earth shrine.  Great characters, dialogue  and descriptions –“he fiddled with his tassels.”  Will she win the role of Eve?

Best tweets: #Imawesome by Casey Rose Frank. @Blueknight18 is on a quest–live tweeting his way to Strawberry Fields.  I enjoyed the humor and the hashtags.  Will this language seem as strange in the future as Chaucer’s Middle English?

Best twist: Prank You Lord by Craig Anderson. What a great  twist in this one!   A martyr’s death averted by  practical jokes–or is it divine Justice after all?   “One miracle I could ignore, but not two. Cut him free.”

Most cinematic: The Road to York by Jen Stone. Beautiful descriptions, vivid characters. It reminded me of Rashomon in a way — I would love to read more of this …

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

A V Laidlaw, The Saint of Tyburn.”

V: I love this saint of sinners — what a great character!  Vivid writing set the scene for me.  fantastic lines — “dance the rope fandango.”

AJ: Loved the image of the potpourri-sniffing gentry ridding themselves of the risk of honest sweat permeating into their day.

David Shakes, “A Knight of the Word.” 

V: This is a masterful piece of wordplay — the “Book of Jobs”  is brilliant!  And yes, the  Apple Store is like a shrine. Mac users are  sometimes described as cultish, especially by followers of  the  Word.  

AJ: I’m a member of this cult and found that yet again my funny bone was hit precisely this week. Making the Genius Bar the shrine was, well — genius.

Marie McKay, “The Kiss.”

V: What  a vivid scene — a description of  courtly love — he feels her lips, and he’s too weak to respond.  “Mr. Knight, you collapsed at the bank.”  The kiss of life for sure.

AJ: Loved this. I didn’t see the twist coming at all. Brilliantly built crescendo, ending with a bang rather than a bum bum tish! Well done.

 

SECOND RUNNER UP

Jamie Hershberger, “Straight Flush” 

V: So well-played!  The scene is a  poker game and gamblers, but there’s cheating going on.  The shiny tray is such a clever move.  Who wins?  “We’ll see.”

AJ: A fab story told about a few short minutes in time around a card table which spoke volumes about the protagonists. (I’d only just read a short story about a card game by China Meiville and it fit right in). I could see the scene and the people perfectly – I almost grabbed a sandwich and gave the shaking leg a nudge. Poor sucker.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Eliza Archer, “Untitled.” 

V: Why does this great story not have a title?  This story of a cheating wife setting off on a pilgrimage  deserves a title! Such marvelous characters and descriptions.  The writing  is so crisp — “Sin was fattening.”  “she shouted in his ear  horn”  I can see this!  Marvelous twists of this story — with the swearing rooster and the not-so foolish husband.  It is so sharp and alive.  I loved it!

AJ: Puzzled me why the piece wasn’t given a name, but it shows the strength of the piece that it is comfortably in the top three without one! (I must say a good tytle is well wyrth thinking about as it can put the icing on ye prose built cake.) A great story prefaced by a short scene setting then presented through simple dialogue. Repeatedly hit my funny bone – though I’m worried about the news that sin is fattening (I’ve been blaming the pasties and crisps). Best of all was the killer end. Brilliant!

And now: for her FIRST TIME EVER, it’s beloved writer & Team 5 judge, proving that funny can win: it’s our

DRAGON WINNER

HOLLY GEELY!!!

for

Brave Sir Eggmund

V- This is Chaucer spirit:

” Brave sir Eggmund came a-courtin’,

his feathers shining bright,

Upon his mighty St. Bernard they rode into the night.”

His brave exploits and knightly quest are described in rhyme with great humor and archaic spelling.   Will he win the fair Geneveeve?   “Goodd king,” he said, and stroked his comb, “I cock-a-doodle-do.”   How could you top the last line?   I  really could see this story as a children’s book.  I think it would be  delightful.  Yes, I do. Bravo!

AJ: This got me on the first pass – a story brilliantly constructed (it only went and rhymed too!). Funny and charming. Monsters with large limbs and – importantly –  hairy toes fought by a ‘chicken on a puppy’ is a lovely take on a tall tale /nursery rhyme. Whoever wrote it (for I know not who) I say bravo for taking on the Canterbury Tale with such poetic bravery (if it turns out to have been written by a rooster on a puppy I am going to give up myself). Not sure how often poetry has won at FFF but I’m happy to see it has this time. Do I think it was the best entry this week? I Cock-a-doodle-do!

Congratulations, Holly: your day is here at last! Please find here your brand new winner’s page; I should add that we’ve had it waiting in trust for you for quite some time now, knowing this day would come! Your winning tale can be found there as well as (shortly) over on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for directions regarding your very first Sixty Seconds interview this week! And now here’s your winning story:

Brave Sir Eggmund

Brave sir Eggmund came a-courtin’, his feathers shining bright,
Upon his mighty St. Bernard they rode into the night.
They braved the roads less traveled, and in places no one knows,
Sir Eggmund fought foul monsters who had large limbs and hairy toes.
They did not take hitchhikers, for their deadline did await
(Besides which the St. Bernard could not withstand the extra weight).
The king of their neighbor country had announced upon the spring,
His daughter’d wed a noble night who served a foreign king.
Brave Sir Eggmund was the best of best, among his feathered kind,
And the princess could do no better, or so it was in his own mind.
“What’s this?” the king did ask of them, when they had arrived,
“A rooster upon a puppy? What joke hast thou contrived?”
“I am here to court your daughter,” Sir Eggmund did declare,
“For I hear she is a beauty, with rosy cheeks and golden hair.”
“How now, you simple chicken, dost thou really believe,
That I would let a chicken wed my dearest Geneveeve?”
Brave Sir Eggmund looked him in the eye with his intentions true,
“Good king,” he said, and stroked his comb, “I cock-a-doodle-do.”

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Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 11: WINNERS

HOLY MOLY, PEOPLE! What a joy to see the community burn up the board this round. Brian Creek took the prize for making the 1,000th comment; but truly, this milestone is thanks to the many, many, many of you who took time out of your full schedules to invest in your fellow writers. And when it comes down to it, it’s not the number of comments that matters (as much fun as we had counting!). It’s YOU, and the safe, welcoming community you are. And I’ll stop there today lest I get all maudlin and weepy and accidentally set something on fire.  

(Again.)

Next up! DON’T MISS TOMORROW’S exclusive interview with the founding members of the Flash Dogs. And then comes Warmup Wednesday, followed by Thursday’s Sixty Seconds interview with today’s winner. Then it’s the fun of Flash! Friday all over again! 

Finally: don’t forget to claim eligibility for FEBRUARY on the Wall of Flame. Once March 1 rolls around, the wall will glow ONLY with names of those who’ve earned the #RingofFire badge in February. Meanwhile, I’m toying around with the idea of a prize at year’s end to whoever’s earned the most #RingofFire badges…. 

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Dragon Captains Carlos Orozco/Eric Martell sayWe had another great turnout this week. The flash fiction community refuses to make our job easy, and we’re glad. It really is an honor to be able to read and judge so many great stories. Speaking of judging, we would like to share a little bit of our judging process for this week. We felt like some great stories were unable to make our shortlist because they failed to meet the requirements for the story element portion. This week’s story element was setting, and the setting you were asked to write about was “moon”. Many of the stories were really good but failed to incorporate the moon as a crucial part of the setting. For our shortlist we favored the stories that used “moon” (in any incarnation) as a setting, as opposed to using “moon” as an object. It might seem a bit trivial, but focusing on the story elements will help us all become better writers.

Well, that’s enough of the boring stuff; let’s move on to the results:

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

It will make you double take: Clive Newnham, “…and the moon.” The first time through it seems as if the characters are drifting through space, and then you realize they’re not. You will read this one at least twice.

Most unique setting: Holly Geely, “Poor Things.” This writer really used some out of the box thinking to take us into a completely different landscape (albeit an undesirable one).

Best… um… Something. Mark A. King, “***SPAM***Lunar Realty Inc — Special Offer.” {{Editor’s Note: Which, for some TOTALLY STRANGE REASON, wound up in the lair’s actual spam file.}} A unique story structure (Spam email) in the second person POV which will inspire some grins, lolz, and/or ROFLz.

What Happens When Cute, Funny, and Sad Are Mixed. Rasha Tayaket, “Nursery Rhymes.” This had us smiling at first and holding back tears in the end.

Story That Can Double As a Playlist. Charity Paschall,Just for Fun. This is a unique idea that seems like loads of fun (Warm up Wednesday challenge perhaps?).

Ideas For the Real World. Colin Smith, UntitledWouldn’t it be great if something like this could happen in every town?

Superb Monologue. Deb Foy, “Elegy for the Earth.” We would love to see this performed on stage.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sarah Miles, Guess How Much I Love You.” We each debated how to rank this story because it was so well done, but did not utilize the moon as a setting prompt as fully as others. But how could you not be drawn into Jamie’s story? Too young to know what his father was doing to his mum (although there’s just a hint of what Daddy might be doing to him), and still innocent enough to believe his mum’s promises of an escape beyond his wildest dreams, you want Jamie to escape but know that he’s much more likely to spend the rest of his life being laughed at until he cries than ever walking on the moon. Heart-wrenching tale.

Rasha Tayaket, Stuff.” This was a story that just snuck up on you. It starts like a stereotypical argument between the arrogant husband, too stubborn to ask for help, and the over-packed wife, dragging half of her belongings on vacation while hectoring her husband. But there are hints that there’s more, until we’re smacked across the side of the face with the titular “stuff” that she was so reluctant to leave behind. What an imaginative view of the future, combining an almost magical vision of how new lives will be created with the horror of disposability of the weakest among us.

David Shakes, “The Sky is Falling.” From the first line we can tell the situation is hopeless, but the dad still pretends survival is possible to keep his son hopeful. The difference in mood from father to son is stark, and that juxtaposition makes this piece all the more heartbreaking. In the end, the characters’ roles are reversed and it is the son who has accepted their untimely demise while the father can’t help but weep. The image of the father and son hugging under the light of a giant moon and waiting for the earth to swallow them is very powerful, beautiful, and melancholic.

Mimi N., “Alone, Together.” This piece delivers exactly what the title said it would. The main character isn’t alone yet, but she might as well be. She hears the madness of isolation creeping up through the beat of Stefan’s heart. It’s ironic that hearing that heartbeat does little to soothe her. Instead she goes outside (by herself) and looks at the Earth. For her, the view of Earth and the fantasy of floating home does more for her sanity than the company of someone else.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Jamie Hershberger, “Down on the Corner.” The first thing that pulled us into this piece was the creative use of the moon setting. Rather than giving the characters a moon under their feet or over their heads, the writer gives them a street called Moon. Also, the character descriptions in this are great. Saying the mother “smoked Virginia Slims” does much more for her character than simply saying she was a smoker. Finally, the last bit of bitter news reveals some vital information, answering many questions we didn’t know we had.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Alicia VanNoy Call, Bring an Extra Suitcase.” While the first person to set foot in any given place is an explorer, the day will inevitably come when explorers will be replaced by tourists, surrounded not by the staggering beauty of a world unexplored by the human experience, but by the detritus of a more “civilized” age. And yet, if one cocks an eye at just the right angle, there’s still magic to be found among the wonders of the universe. A wonderful story that finds beauty among the strip malls.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Brian S. Creek, “Oxygen.” This was a chilling story of an astronaut accepting that he or she was on a trip with no way of getting home. Except that there is a way home, through a hypoxic delusion taking us back to the astronaut’s childhood home. A masterful interweaving of the prompt setting and photo – the astronaut was on the moon, but also on Hope Street, where dreams of the future always reside.

DRAGON WINNER

PHIL COLTRANE!!!

for

“Runaways on Hope Street”

This story was one of the few we both had in our top ten (doesn’t happen often).  The piece was only 202 words, but it felt like a novel.  The required story element was also successfully used with the moon playing a crucial role in the story. We could feel the longing in the little sister’s gaze as she looked up at the moon while her brother told fantastic stories to comfort her. The story also did a great job of hitting all the little details. For example, describing the stars as uncaring counters the romanticized idea of the wishing star. Another little detail that makes the story successful is the word choice when the characters gaze “heavenward”. The brother’s story sounds like a heaven of sorts that’s placed in a much more tangible location (the moon). This places a silver lining on a grim ending.

Congratulations, Phil! Please find below the rights to a your fourth winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here are also your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for interview questions for this Thursday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Runaways on Hope Street

“Tell me it again, Rudder. About the Moon.”

Roderick embraced his kid sister, for warmth as much as affection. The wind ripped straight through his ratty coat. “They’s a huge castle up there on the Moon. Bigger even than this factory. But clean, ’cause the Man in the Moon has hundreds of servants to scrub away the grime.”

Blue eyes admired the bright orb. “It looks like ice. Is it cold?”

“No, Winnie. Up there, the sun’s so bright it makes everything glow like a gas lantern.” He leaned against the icy brick wall, gazing heavenward. Uncaring stars twinkled in the winter sky. “And they’s clear lakes, and open grassy fields for miles and miles and miles. Just like when we was young.”

“It must be real warm there, Rudder. I can feel it now.” Her shivering stopped. “And Daddy is up there?”

“Yes. Daddy went to be a servant to the King and Queen of the Moon. They pays him in diamonds, and dresses him in purple silk, and lets him stay in their castle.”

Sleepily, the girl closed her eyes. “When can we see him, Rudder?”

“Real soon, Winnie.” Roderick, too, closed his eyes. “We’ll be with ‘im real soon.”

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