Tag Archive | Katrina Ray-Saulis

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 27: WINNERS!

Welcome to the results show! Where, unlike results shows on TV, you will find a shocking lack of filler. Oh, except for this real quick dragon line dance. Everybody ready? ONE two THREE four five SIX SEVen eight…. Shoot. Well, dragons can’t be good at everything, I guess.

A couple of quick reminders:

  • Flash Points is back! This (non-scary) critique of an excellent story from the latest contest publishes at 7:30am Mondays, Washington DC time. Check back tomorrow to see if it’s yours! Read last week’s here
  • The Q3 judge panel kicks off in July; their names will be announced this Friday.

Last but not least: please join me in raucous praise and adieux for judge Alissa Leonard. Thank you for giving of your time, brain, and heart this past quarter; your service to the FF community is greatly appreciated. THANK YOU!


Judge Alissa Leonard says: WOW! Thanks for making my last round of judging so amazing! I truly loved the stories you wrote. This was the most difficult of my decisions so far – I think that means you all are just getting better and better! 🙂 I wanted to give awards to everyone, but realized that would take me way more time than I was allowed, so I had to choose. I gravitated toward the ones that made me feel something – which is highly subjective, I know – and then those with memorable characters and rounded stories. (There were honestly so many that did very well on all of those that I had to start being nit-picky.) So great job to everyone, and I look forward to joining you on the writing front soon!



Last Line: These were my favorites for completely turning the story on its head, or providing the crucial ‘Aha!’ moment – so much fun! Phil Coltrane, “Summer in the Elysian Blackberry Fields”; Ian Martyn, “Tommy”; Craig Anderson, “My Shadow”; Chris Milam, “Tethered”; Ellen Staley, “Flowers”; and Sarah Cain, “The Berry Picker.”

Theme: Touching stories that really made me think and left me with a feeling – left me changed: Allison K. Garcia, “Small Hands”; Sarah Miles, “Unbroken”; John Mark Miller, “Enough”; and Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Re-grow, Together.”

Revenge: So many of these this week! These were my favorites: MT Decker, “Beware the Rosie Thorn”; Adrienne Myshel, “Berry Pie”; and Tony Dingwell, “Rose’s Berries.”

Evocative Language: These stories were outstanding in using sensory words to make me FEEL and SEE and HEAR what was going on…not soon forgotten: 20/20 Hines Sight, “Deadly Delicious”; Karl A Russell, “Bruised Cherries”; and Katrina Ray-Saulis, “Grateful.”


Karen Oberlaender, “Rose and I.” I loved this story of redemption. It gave me goosebumps and pricked my eyes with tears. I loved the idea of fairy godmothers who do more than give girls dresses and send them to balls – perhaps sending a wind to blow a hat away? I loved Rose’s character depth with just a few lines; her dutifulness, her abuse, yet her kindness to others not even close to beaten out of her (“without thinking” she ran for the hat). And, of course, kindness from a stranger – rescue. Great job.

Joidianne4eva, “There’s A Room (Where The Light Won’t Find You).” Whoa. I loved how you looked at this picture and saw something that wasn’t there and decided to write your story about that. It was brilliantly creative and fascinating. I was seriously freaked by your description “The child’s face collapsed as he moved, jaws sinking into concaves as his skin withered.” – Those are the pictures horror movies are made of! Matthias could be a very useful friend for ‘the girl’ to have in her line of work (as enumerated by many other stories this week) – I loved how she had a protector.

Margaret Locke, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The character development you packed into this very short story is seriously impressive. Her growth from dissatisfaction and ‘forgotten’ and ‘waiting to die’ through desperation and disappointment to hope and determination is a whirlwind that seemed perfectly paced. The three lines that jump out at me are: “Anything sounded better than this” to “I never wanted to be here again” to “I’m never eating a damn strawberry again.” I love the perspective this piece gives to life. Thanks.

Carin Marais, “Rose and the Wind.” I loved your use of imagery – the words you chose helped me feel the wind: drifted, stirring, swaying, whip, billowing, longing, dancing, singing, calling, shimmering. Then you countered that with the earth words: rooted, well-trodden path, dust, clusters of hovels. The juxtaposition really helped to portray the wind as a bridge between the prison of the earth and the freedom of the sky. Then, as if that weren’t enough, you juxtapose the innocence and imagination of the young with those who have grown older, those “time taught that there was no place for imaginings.” The sadness of that line really caught and held me – like an inhale. Then the wind rushed out and through a door… I want to see behind that door! So well done! 


Marie McKay, “A Gentlewoman’s Agreement.” This one gave me chills – I had goosebumps everywhere. The love of a sister is so precious. Your characters jumped off the page: the dad who would sell his daughters for the chance at making a connection, the husband who treats women like livestock, the sister who’s pretty and fragile, and then our main character who’s “big fir twelve” and “stronger.” I loved the line “But it was I who’d sized him up.” Because that’s when you see there’s more to her than meets the eye – she was “smart for twelve.” However she made it happen, she protected her sister from a horrible man and herself as well.


Jacki Donnellan, Untitled. Honestly, I was so caught up in the child’s would-be imaginings that those last lines were a sucker punch right to my gut. There were tears pooling in my eyes, and I just wanted to give the child a hug. I LOVED the vivid imagination of the games they could play. And I especially loved how you tied these wonderfully inventive and happy imaginings back to a fact about the daily life of one who picks these berries: stains on fingers, tummy growling, basket bruises on thighs, too tired to speak – the contrast was striking. And, wow…those last lines… SERIOUSLY amazing. Great job.


Rebecca Allred, “Peter’s Promiscuous Pucker.” BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This was absolutely DELIGHTFUL to read! The alliteration is so much fun, and the tossing about of nursery rhymes willy-nilly is like frolicking in the meadow of childhood… AND THEN THE END!!! WHAT?!?!?! Because seriously, my jaw dropped. To. The. Floor. I’m still in shock from it. This, my dear, is brilliant. I loved it. Well done. 

And now: join me in the ebullient (if arrhythmic) dragon dance for first time Flash! Friday  


MATT L.!!!



Wow. Just wow. I loved this. Your format was perfect: the girl makes a comment, the boy reacts internally then externally. The dichotomy between his thoughts and his actual response is so true and beautiful and difficult. It really encompassed the idea of friendship so well – we bite our tongue rather than say something hurtful, we encourage when they’re down, we teach them, we care for them, and we stay. And sometimes, when the world is overwhelming, we tell them what they need to hear to keep them going – even when we’re overwhelmed ourselves. This had me in tears. Thanks so much.

Congratulations, Matt! Your gloriously fabulous winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your stunning and 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:


“My arms hurt, Joe.”
Opening your mouth ain’t gonna make ‘em feel any better. 
“I know sis. Mine too. Be there soon.”

“The sand is burning my feet.”
Blisters cause callouses. Won’t feel the burning after that.
“Walk faster and try not to think about it.”

“I’m hot, Joe.”
Everybody’s hot. Not everybody’s complainin’.
“It’s July, sis. Gotta pick the crop when the crop’s ready be to be picked.”

“I got a sticker in my finger.”
Life’s full of stickers, sis.

“Joe, it’s bleeding.”
Life’s full of blood and stickers. Just how it is. How’s it’s always gonna be.
“Camp’s close. Soon as Mr. Johnson weighs our haul, we’ll wash your finger over by the well pump.”

“Joe, when’s momma comin’?”
Ain’t sure she’s ever comin’.
“Just a few more days sis. She went to find daddy. Keep walkin’. Almost there.”

“Daddy’s gonna buy us back real soon, ain’t he Joe?”
Been six weeks already.
“Yeah, sis. Real soon.”





Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 24: WINNERS!

I was all prepared to give my usual “welcome back, you incredible writers” speech (one of my favorites!), when I had to do a double take. Make that triple. Unless I counted wrong — which, as I was a Lit major in college, is entirely possible — there were 51 entries this week. FIFTY-ONE entries in a week with a prompt of an alien mailbox near a top secret government research facility.

I always knew y’all were good. But this week you took it to a whole other area (get it? AREA). Cue Twilight Zone music.



Judge Alissa Leonard says: If we’ve learned anything from this, it’s that combining mailboxes and aliens results in BILLIONS of dollars of debt, human abductions, time travel, conspiracies, UFO chasers, mysterious disappearances, and alien invasions with some desert adventure thrown in for good measure… Perhaps the aliens should use a post office box? Thank you all for your offerings; they were out of this world! Let me tell you about some of my favorites:



Worldbuilding: Winter Bayne, “Paid in Full”; James Marshall, “Reminder Notice”; and Bart Van Goethem, “The Takeover.”

Beginning: Tinman, “You’ve Got Mail”

EndingLaura Emmons, “Alien Discovery”

MoodChris Milam, “Transference”; Joidianne4eva, “Plant My Roots (On Barren Ground”)

CharacterizationMegan Besing, “Saturday 1:07pm”; John Mark Miller, “Special Delivery”; Clive Newnham, “SPECIAL DELIVERY”; Betsy Streeter, “Steve, Keeper of the Box”; Carlos Orozco, “The Alien”


A.J. Walker, “Settler.” Your first paragraph set up a life of peace and contentment – painted a picture of hard-earned solitude. You had me hooked there. I loved the line, “That was a matter of life and mum.” Seriously, that is brilliant. Because we all know, if you don’t call mom, you’ll be dead.  🙂 I also really enjoyed your clever take on the name and bill issue. It was unique and unexpected, and it tied into the characterization from the first paragraph perfectly. Very nicely done.

Katrina Ray-Saulis, “Dear Robbie.” The relationship is what caught my heartstrings with this one. A “goodbye” note from Gram to one who teased her and joked with her, but obviously loved her. He drove out to the spot where they found her car every year to write her a letter about his life – so sweet. So sad and hopeful and beautiful. And then the reassurance… Loved it.

Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Bounty.”  This one entertained my world-building brain so much! “Wanted dead, alive, or in stasis” set the scene very well. I enjoyed the deadpan bounty hunter – nothing fazed him. He checks that the cloaking device is working by the fact that no one screams. He considers incinerating the entire place so that no one can get the same info, but decides not to because it’s “probably not worth the fine.” –Probably?! Then he adds petty theft to the guy’s rap sheet. It made me laugh and filled me with so many questions! 



Casey Rose Frank, “Not My Boat.” Your characterization is brilliant. The bored, business-like creditor; the paranoid (and wrongly accused) man; and the pranking alien combined to make this a hilarious read! Seriously, when Mr. Smith said, “What would I do with a boat?” I could see him flailing around in the desert. And then the end… the “large blue face wearing groucho glasses” peering through the curtains. I busted out laughing.


Marie McKay, “Overdue.” Oh, how I want this to all work out! I love the characterization of the little boy and his fascination with Buzz. He tries to be brave and “set his voice to ‘Hero,’” but it doesn’t work perfectly. I could picture this goodbye scene between so many fathers and sons and it broke my heart. Then the end… “I tucked three dollars in its fold telling Dad to put it towards the bill for his journey home.” So sweet and heart-wrenching!


Mark Morris, “Paid in Full.” Wow. This one knocked my socks off! The idea that the aliens would pay off your overdue bills is an amazingly fascinating concept – completely unique and enjoyable. I am dying to know the consequences for putting more than one bill in there per month… Please? 🙂 And yeah, the catch. It seems like such a reasonable question… That last line floored me. Seriously. Then my mind FILLED with questions: These people seemed like friends: were they? Did he seriously just sell out his friend? Does he find random people and convince them to go with him? And, really, what kind of person values a person’s life as less than one overdue bill for internet??? Mind: Blown. 

And now: for her third time overall, but first for Year Two, it’s Flash! Friday  





Brilliant. Perfect. Just… Wow. Your language was so evocative I needed a drink of water: “baked alive” “groan scratched its way out of my throat” “blistering sunlight” “grit scraped my eyes” “taunting me with the waste of water”. I felt sore and parched and I also felt that “blissful instant of relief” when the shadow fell over him. The captor is so very outlaw-esque, and I want to see more of her! I suppose that’s one way to get out of your debts… We start the story being “baked alive” and finish it with the possibility of two more weeks. It’s quite the ultimatum. And it floored me. It was seriously perfect and sucker punched me right in the gut. Beautifully written, wonderfully evocative, and very fun characters. Loved it.

Congratulations, Aria! Your brand new-to-you (isn’t it fancy!) winner’s badge awaits you below. Here is your updated 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:


Waking up isn’t easy when you’re being baked alive.

A groan scratched its way out of my throat as I opened my eyes to the blistering sunlight. Soreness in my shoulders and ankles dissuaded me from moving.

One of only two shadows on the sand moved. Grit scraped my eyes as I tried to blink the motion away.

“Oh shut up.” The shadow fell over me for a blissful instant of relief, chased away by her grin. “How ya doin’ down there?”

“What the hell you stupid—”

“Ah, ah. Careful.”

The scorching spotlight found my face again. She spat, taunting me with the waste of water.

“You owe me,” I reminded.

“Well now, that’s why I’m here. You forget that little issue, and I’ll cut you free.”

“Are you off your—”

“Or.” Her shadow moved out of sight. “I could just leave you here, while I come up with the money. Shouldn’t take more than a couple weeks.”



Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 23: WINNERS!

I hope you’ve had a fantastic weekend filled with all sorts of writerly goodness. It’s always a pleasure seeing you here Fridays, and I love that each week we’re joined by brave new faces. Thank you so much for contributing your amazing stories and for helping push each other onward and upward in our joint pursuit of writing magnificence. And a special thank you to all of you who made contributions toward the running of the Flash! Friday contest; I am deeply touched by your kindness. I’ve said it from the beginning: you are a community like none other. Here’s to another inspiration-filled week! 


Judge Pratibha Kelapure says: Dear Friday Flashers: once again, you have outdone yourselves. I thought I was keeping up with my reading, but the stories kept coming, and I kept adding to the potential winners list. 🙂 So, honestly, if your story did not make it into the final winners circle, don’t fret. It is the nature of any contest. In each story, there is something striking and worth commenting on, and I do keep the list of those great lines, descriptions, or observations for each story.

This week’s nostalgic and happy picture-prompt combined with the ‘comeuppance’ word-prompt, inspired many stories of revenge and murder.  And what imaginative ways of slaying the tormentors, cheaters, stealers, mass murderers, and bad politicians! And what a wide variety of stories! Some people remembered the stock market crash of 1929 and Great Depression that followed. Some people dug up the history of the first Oscar and gave the K9, Rin Tin Tin, his well-earned honor. A brave few even traveled to the future to either solve a ‘cold case,’ or to deliver a comeuppance. The regulars dazzled me with their original takes on the prompt and flawless execution.



Worldbuilding: James Marshall VI, “No Happy Endings”: He has built a dystopian counter-culture. Image Ronin, “Metteur En Scene”: A world of theater; chinchin.unicorn, “Before He Cheats”: A vibrant bar culture.

Humor: Karl A Russell, “It Should Have Been Me”; Tinman, “A Whiff of Cordite”; drmagoo, “Cheese and Onions”; Jacki Donnellan, “The Wardrobe Mistress”;

Ending: Image Ronin, “Metteur En Scene”; Laura Carroll Butler, “The Way of All Flesh”; Aria Glazki, “Hero’s Uprising”; William Goss, “The Last Dragon in the Family”;

Dialogue: Whitney Healy, “THE DECREE”; drmagoo, “Cheese and Onions”;

Language: Katrina Ray-Saulis, Untitled; Taryn Noelle Kloeden, “Lesson Learned”; Aria Glazki, “Hero’s Uprising.”


M.T. Decker, “Shades of Grey.” This is well thought out, witty, and humorous story. The Grey Lady trying to get the colors into the period photographs is a familiar character of an eager intern. A realistic portrayal of office dynamics!

Brett Milam, “Whiteface.” It is a story of a son denying his father’s legacy, but having a difficult time doing so. “He showed me how to become someone else. But I became him.” In a short span of 150 words, Brett manages to show the character transformation. The line, “Laughs subsided, but infamy subsisted forever” is truly memorable.

Craig Anderson, “Twins.” A twin laments his inferiority and compares himself to a movie sequel, “[..] sequel, an inferior attempt to recreate the magic of the original.” If you think this is imaginative, brace yourself for the jaw-dropping, table turning development.  “It’s my turn outside, my time in the spotlight. Time to collect my prize.” 


Joidianne4eva, “In the House of the Rising Sun.” Joidianne conveys the pain of an abused and ignored orphan in a few potent words. “He wore his silence like the dirty clothing that covered the scars on his back and the fragile curl of his ribs.” She used both the prompts in a subtle and original way. The sinister actions of the “no-name” boy are silently implied, never stated explicitly, leaving a lot to reader’s imagination. A perfect ode to silence!


Marie McKay, “Leading Ladies.” The story is told in second person point of view, a tricky proposition; but Marie does it effectively. The striking simile, “She enunciates her taciturn fury while her arms wave like a drowning woman’s” took my breath away.  She draws a believable portrait of the motel clerk, “(L)ipstick has leaked into the tight cracks above her mouth.”  The ending is surprising, but we can recognize the sentiment of the protagonist. Well done! 

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




“Ain’t That Something”

This is another interesting twist on the theme of revenge, funny on the surface, but sad and ironic on the inside. The dialogue sounds authentic. The accidental female bonding between the two female rivals is heartwarming. The image, “The circle of wolfish men,” is vivid and so is the image of Alice, “keeping her eyes on the empty martini glass trembling between her fingers.”  I had to take a double take to see the “wolfish men” in the picture prompt, but I am sold on the concept. The choice of rattlesnake as a weapon against the cheating husband sounds naïve, but is quite plausible for the simple-minded characters like Alice and Scarlett. I like this for the great character portrayal, dialogue, and the double jeopardy for the unsuspecting cheater. Bravo!

Congratulations, Steph! Your brand new (quite sparkly!) winner’s badge awaits you impatiently below. Here is your 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:

Ain’t That Something

Alice had heard you could put rattlesnakes in their beds. Men.

“That’ll shake em up, let me tell ya.”

This from Scarlett, her husband’s mistress, teetering on gold high heels from one too many highballs.

“This girl on the chorus line with me, she said she put a rattler under her boyfriend’s sheets once. Said he never ran around on her again. Ain’t that something?”

The circle of wolfish men, including her husband, had thrown their heads back in raucous laughter, their mouths as wide as manholes, and pressed in even closer.

Alice, sitting three stools down, keeping her eyes on the empty martini glass trembling between her fingers, had wondered where the hell you could find a rattlesnake in Chicago. She had almost dared to ask, when they had found themselves eyeing one another the powder room’s mirror, but Scarlett had winked at her first.

“Corner of Knox and 53rd, honey. Just knock once and ask for Vinny.”