Tag Archive | Jeffrey Hollar

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 10: WINNERS!

Howdy! Welcome to the results for Vol 2-10; let’s jump right in! 

♦♦♦♦♦

Judge Whitney Healy says: I had a difficult time judging this week: many competitors chose to write with open-ended conclusions that sometimes confused me while others used allusions to mythology or other parts of history with which I was not familiar. Some of the entries took more time to evaluate because I had to do the research to fully understand the allusions–which is always okay, of course: I’m a life-long learner and an English teacher, so I like having to do some “homework” in order to fully appreciate a response.

I’d like to talk a little bit about the prompt. Every week I look at the prompt almost as soon as I get up so I can reflect on it myself before I start reading, often thinking about what I may write myself if I were competing. This week’s prompt really caught my attention: I actually thought it was a Salvador Dali painting, for the colors and angles echoed of the recognizable Melting Clocks. With my knowledge of Dali (way back when in my Art Appreciation class in college he was the artist I chose to research), mentally I painted my own picture of what I’d write–something bizarre or unexpected. Then, when I revisited the picture just before judging, I realized it was a photo and not a painting! Interesting, I thought. Judging this week could be fun.
.
Before I begin, some of you deserve some mentions. Those mentions this week are EmilyKarn1 (your writing echoed of Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”), Allison Garcia (I really liked your piece, but it was over the word limit), HLPauff (I love how you implied the genie was being punished by his master), and SJOHart (It’s rare to see Death portrayed as a powerful temptress: I liked it). I’d additionally like to note Rebecca Allred‘s Gravid–this piece had so many layers, and it is something all mothers could relate to. All of you created tales that made me smile, think, or empathize. Thank you for sharing your work! 

(Ahem!)

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sarah Cain, “Honor Your Mother.”  I appreciated this story because it was circular in style and because it hinted at the personal beliefs you may have underneath your text: it was actually one of the first that “wow”ed me, and, boy, does it make us think. We really should value the little time this planet may have left. 

Charles W. Short, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” In college I minored in psychology, heavily interested in what makes the human mind tick (or fail): PTSD is a disorder that always made my heart pain for those afflicted, and your tale reads exactly like a testimony, confession, or session: excellent work.

Scott Vannatter, “Preparing for the Storm.” Echoing of the imagined post-apocalyptic fight for survival, this tale made me hungry to learn more about what the people were preparing for. Was it really a storm, or was it something much, much more? What exactly are the “night-crawlers”.  A chilling piece that I enjoyed reading.

Maven Alysse, “Sloth.” This piece is an excellent metaphor for the deadly sin of sloth, as our “hero” (though perhaps more tragic) begins to “clean out” his penance. I thought this piece mirrored the very action (or inaction) sloth is: laziness, apathy, and jealousy. An extremely multi-layered response with a lot of symbolism.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Jeffrey Hollar, “Dimensional Difficulties.”  By the end of this somewhat sci-fi story, all I wanted to know was what was underneath the text. What were they researching? How did our hero go so wrong? It was a piece that made me want to hear even more.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Caitlin, “Relenquished.”  In a post-apocalyptic tale unlike most that we’ve seen in recent popular culture (no zombies, no scientific disease–only the power of nature), we see how the strength of family is what counts in times of crises. I particularly liked the line “filled with the trinkets of another lifetime”–there is a LOT of symbolism here. Those “trinkets”, on the surface, may seem only mementos, but I believe they represent what was and what was lost. I also appreciated the use of dialogue used to tell the story. A read I think you should consider extending.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Marie McKay, “The Chosen.” Marie, I am partial to sci-fi, so perhaps you were playing my taste, but regardless, this tale was extremely well-crafted. I appreciated the use of a long opening paragraph describing your setting of Novus. In the opening you also took the time to develop the crew just enough so a reader knew what kind of characters they were: strong, carefully chosen, and capable. Then, you changed to a rapid-paced dialogue between the explore sight and control: and as readers we discovered how “lost” our explorers really were, all while your played on the concept of time (which most of us associate with sand). I appreciated the mystery the ending of your story evoked, and I found myself applauding the tale, as it was one of the few “unexpected ending” pieces that still felt complete enough. A story I could find myself reading over and over again and still be entertained.

And now: presenting first time Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

PHIL COLTRANE!!!

for

“The Sands of Space and Time”

From the opening, this story had me hooked. In fact, my very first note was “This is what I have been looking for!” In so few words, you persuade a reader into believing everything you say about lost civilizations, a reader nodding as you make your points naming the lost. Your structure also lends itself to make a reader think: you mix lengthy, descriptive sentences with short, harsh fragments that read as points in your argument. By the end, unlike the other pieces, this piece taught the lesson of perseverance without actually saying that the subjects had to be patient, dedicated, and so on. I appreciated lines like “They proudly build upon our Sands, yet for all their mighty works, despair: threescore and ten are there years, and then they die…” I mean, look at this line! There is so much underneath the text, so much wisdom and truth: there is pride, ownership, desperation, perseverance, darkness, secrets, and defeat! And so well-written! Those are the kinds of sentences that cause the metaphorical weep for their pristine perfection. A standing ovation have you received.

Great job, Phil! Your winner’s badge greets you eagerly below. Here is your brand new, hot-off-the-presses 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 here is your winning story:

The Sands of Space and Time

We’ve watched their history. The passing of nomadic tribes. The rise and fall of city-states. Carthage. Babylon. Karakorum. Empires and peoples come and gone. San. Bantu. Boers.

They live and die upon the Sands, those fleeting giants of the Earth. For all their towering height, their length of time upon this world is short. Ten thousand of us would not match their height. Ten thousand of their years is but a blink to us. They proudly build upon our Sands, yet for all their mighty works, despair: threescore and ten are their years, and then they die, and are buried in our Sands by their progeny.

The first of us to come to Earth, in countless ages past, was fruitful and multiplied, and (thanks to exponential growth) subdued the earth. Our forty-five-greats-grandparent was progenitor to us all, the Sands who fill the deserts and the beaches.

Mankind, too, will pass; we Sands will carry on.

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 9: WINNERS!

Howdy! Welcome to the results for Vol 2-9; glad you’re here! 

REMINDER: the application deadline to judge for the 2nd quarter (Apr – Jun) is this Saturday, February 15; details here. Join the fun!   

I want to say how much I appreciate all you long-timers coming back and keeping this writing community so vibrant and awesome. Many of you on today’s dais have won and/or placed many times in the past. It’s also a great thrill to see how many new writers we’ve had joining us these past weeks. Thank you! AND as a final note–I didn’t see anyone attempt to translate this week’s challenge word, che’ron. Here’s a major hint: Jeff Hollar, care to take a stab at it in the comments? 

♦♦♦♦♦

Judge M. T. Decker says: Wow, you all definitely made me work for this one!  I looked at the picture and drew a total blank, and yet you all were able to draw so many tales of victory, defeat and everything in between.  You made me laugh, you made me cry and you made me think and for that you ALL deserve acknowledgement. 

Image Ronin, “The Chosen” – Thankfully I had my sushi and sashimi earlier this week – haunting.

Eliza Archer – for the clever use of “dangly bits.”  For the image of Athena loath to say the words, I salute you.

SJ O’Hart  – “The Spirit of the Games.”  Your title was totally misleading, and yet very telling once you got to the end.  Bravo!

Erin McCabe  – The description of Mitch’s victory dance is priceless.  “constipated chicken and anaphylactic octopus…” is easy to imagine even while I was laughing at the wording.

Margaret Locke  –“Endurance” – That knowing smile at the end is precious.

I wish I could comment on all  of your stories, but I’d be here all day and you’re not here to listen to me wax poetic.. and so… the results…

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Catherine Connolly, “Gladiator.”  This story takes the prompt and turns it into a very personal struggle that resonates with very human challenges and obstacles.  Its haunting simplicity kept drawing me back to it even after I’d read it.  That sort of pull is hard to resist and makes it memorable. 

Ben Miller (winner Round 44), “The Symbol of Civilization.” This story talks about rebirth and recreation, but on another level it talks about the fallibility of man, that even when we recreate something… we don’t always get it right.  Like “Gladiator,” it has a very human quality to it that draws the reader in.  The humor in the ending kept me smiling for quite a while.

Jeffrey Hollar (winner Round 21), “Vindication.” This story takes a rather dark twist, where logic and determination meet a broken psyche.  Again, this story was haunting but in a chilling sort of way.  It displays all the attributes required of a competitor: determination, focus, patience and practice and puts them to a less than altruistic plan that left me with chills.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Alissa Leonard (winner Round 25), “How Champions Are Made.”  Through clever use of dialog, the author sets the stage for the Olympics of the future: where man has reached the stars and met other alien races.  We learn that the competition has expanded into zero-and fluctuating gravity games, and that, alas, cheating is indeed universal.  It puts a very human face on the games and tells a much greater story than its 157 words should allow.  Bravo!

FIRST RUNNER UP

Marie McKay (winner Round 26), “Only a Matter of Time.” This story takes an inventive view of cheating, and the title resonates throughout the story.  “The timing had to be right…” when talking about people cheating gives a warning that it really is “Only a Matter of Time,” but the twist at the end brings that point to the forefront and indeed it is a matter of time.  This story has a unique way of explaining the use of… time in cheating, and left me thinking about how timing is everything, in the games and, it would seem… in winning them.

And now: in a Flash! Friday FIRST, we have FOUR TIME 

DRAGON WINNER

BETSY STREETER!!!

for

“Fear of Flying”

Betsy is Flash! Friday’s first ever FOUR TIME WINNER (she also won rounds 18, 23, and 35). The language of this story is one of support, achievement and pride.  Through reflective narrative the author draws the reader in with its lyrical qualities and clever use of imagery: a “bear cub on skates” giving way to a “butterfly made of spider silk” are both poetic and far more telling that simple words should be.  It is this quality that defines the story and then the powerful finale, the humanity and emotion, that even in pride and joy… there is envy.  The full range of emotions and frail humanity are framed in a gorgeous tale. Congratulations, Betsy!

AWESOME job, Betsy! In your honor as our first-ever four-time winner, I’m flinging a physical prize your way: a Flash! Friday commemorative poster (those are finally rolling off the press from the Flashversary, hurrah!). Here is your updated winner’s page–and below is the Flash! Friday Year Two ebadge for you to claim. Please watch your inbox for brand new interview questions for Wednesday’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

Fear of Flying

I picked you up every last time you fell.

Reached under your arms, lifted you to your feet, and gently pressed you to try again.

Sometimes I showed you what to do, how to leave the ice and then land effortlessly, how to make nearly impossible feats look easy. Like dance. Like flying.

You watched, and then you attempted to follow. Your first efforts looked clumsy like you were a bear cub on skates.

But eventually, you got it. And you got the next thing, and the next. After many months you became weightless, a butterfly made of spider silk.

How you flew. Even on the ground you looked like you were flying.

Now, as I watch you enter the stadium, my breath puffing out of me in little clouds, the world gathered to celebrate our work,

My chest contracts into a stabbing, black, hateful desire to see you fail.

It should have been me.

FFwinner-Web

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 6: WINNERS!

Welcome to the winners’ post! I’ve got company visiting, so please forgive me for dispensing with amenities and diving straight into the results (and everybody goes, IT’S ABOUT TIME!): 

Judge Whitney Healy says: Wow, Flashers (tee-hee!), this was not an easy week! If you remember from the last time I judged, I judge as blindly as I can and take notes as I read. I do my best to comment on every entry (this week some of those individualized comments will be late-coming…I had some issues with the site about halfway through my commenting phase).

After the commenting phase, I eliminate some and re-read those that make the cut. This week, Phase 2 of judging involved me re-reading seventeen of the forty-seven or so entries! Do you realize that equals 36% of the entries! Bravo, bravo!

But, before I introduce the winners, I must first mention a few other tales that did not quite make the cut but well-deserve your attention; please take a gander at the following writers’ works this week: Betsy Streeter, Tom O’Connell, Craig Anderson, E. B. Thompson,  John Shirley, Amy Wood, Jacki Donnellan, pmcolt, Beth Voso, and Matt L.  

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Karl A. Russell, “Sacrifice.”  By writing from the point of view of the young girl’s savior, Karl manages to captivate a reader into a story of rescue, leaving readers with a tale that will make anyone dab tears from their eyes. A tale that leaves a reader thinking about how life should never be taken for granted. 

Laura Carroll Butler, “Steps.” Through choosing to write her story in all one paragraph, Laura’s tale makes the allusion to the idea that life is a roller coaster without actually saying it: a true sign she has mastered her craft. Her extended metaphor for life reminds us that life will always finish full-circle.

Grace Black, “Twist.” This writer is an expert of figurative language, using phrases such as “shunning suburbia’s sun” or “had morphed like a block of sharp cheddar left out for too long”. In so few words, she is able to make a reader despise the husband and feel for the mother and son with her expert characterization.

Sarah Cain, “The Awesome Beast.” In a haunting, powerful, and mysterious story, this writer captivates a reader from the beginning with her opening paragraph. Through comparing the tiger to a coiled snake and with phrasing such as “I am not without peril for the careless”, a reader is left knowing that in the event they came across such beast they would most certainly fail.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Jeffrey Hollar, “Project Hermes.”  A somewhat sci-fi piece that echoes of Big Brother and totalitarian control. In so few words, this author shows how one agency uses the machine with the plan to train soldiers—almost all through dialogue, a technique I truly admire. Have you thought about extending this?

FIRST RUNNER UP

Dieter Rogiers, “The Line and the Loop.” This is a very complex, multi-layered piece that makes a reader think. I appreciated you allusion to the artist: it really pulled this piece together.In addition, the choice to begin many sentences with “here” causes the piece to read with rhythm, a manipulation of language I wholly admire. I also liked the somewhat social commentary within the subtext, especially show in lines such as “Here corporate suits forgot their worries for a minute”.

And now: NOISEMAKERS ON!!! it’s first-time

DRAGON WINNER

CINDY VASKOVA!!!

for

“Prometheus”

So much can be said about this piece, though I’ve been asked to keep it simple: your main character in this piece is incredible—a man who both regrets his greatest invention and feeds of the pain he watches it cause. In your spine-chilling tale, we see supreme power, manipulation, and a master of language. I particularly like the sentence “This was the unintended consequence of his frivolous ambition overreaching”—this lets a reader know to expect a dark secret with soon be revealed. I also appreciate your use of alliteration and imagery to paint the picture of a twisted creator admiring his craft. Extremely well-written, and I could see this turning into a much longer piece. 

Congratulations, Cindy! Your winner’s badge greets you eagerly below. Here is your brand new, sparkly 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 here is your winning story:

Prometheus

The hologram screen surrounding the serpent shaped contraption buzzed lightly as it transmitted a landscape view. Footsteps echoed up and down its metal stairs. Men, women and children frantically searched their ways back and forth walking the narrow rails of the machine.

“This is the work of a brute.” whimpered the creator, as exhausted he sat, marveling in tears his creation.

His “Prometheus” wouldn’t stop. This was the unintended consequence of his frivolous ambitious overreaching. These people, at the end they found themselves starting from the beginning, no memory of minutes ago, no concept of hours gone by. He had created the sort of cycle that destroyed their minds, trapping them in a limbo of repetitiveness in which they existed in their normality just for a split second. To fear.

Soon their system would catch on the anomaly, and they would die maddened and starved becoming mere shells of humans. And he would suffer the helpless observation of that process.

FFwinner-Web