Tag Archive | Maven Alysse

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 18: WINNERS!

Oh my goodness, dear dragonlings, do I EVER have plottings and machinations going on! Forgive the excessive giddiness (though I suppose you must be used to it by now?). It may come to nothing, of course. Or it could be THE GREATEST THING EVER!!!! Stay tuned.

First up: a special thanks to those of you exploring FF’s own missed deadline last week. Craig Anderson… “Flasher Girl”?? BRILLIANT. Unfortunate, obviously. But BRILLIANT. Right up there with Eric Martell‘s perception-altering magic and clock mis-switch. And Scott Vannatter‘s hilariously rain-soaked entries (and tower!!!!). You were all ohhhh, so close…. and yet…. 😀 😀


Judge Alissa Leonard says: I had so much fun judging this round! Thanks to everyone for their take on the prompt. I’m not sure if it was the ‘missed deadline’ prompt that drove so many of you to write of betrayals, but the race for survival after the missed deadline led many to look out for number one, so to speak. It was amazing how many things the snow and the fog could become – from mundane to spiritual. You ran me ragged, up hills and mountains and down into ravines, waiting or running or searching or simply experiencing the moment. And moments there were! Let me tell you about some of my favorites:



Endings: There were some doozies this week (some I’ll mention later). “Dead Line” by MT Decker, “Art Supplies” by Betsy Streeter, “Butter Fingers” by Stella Kate, “Rendezvous” by SJ O’Hart, “There” by Marie McKay, and “I Always Get My Man” by Michael Seese.

World-building: “The Rift Between Worlds” by Phil Coltrane, and “Hidden In Plain Sight” by joidianne4eva.

Use of Language: “Fog” by Sarah Cain, and “Tracking a Nomad” by Chris Milam


Marie McKay“Out of Time.” I love the feeling of striving in this piece. You conveyed the idea of ‘so close, yet so far away’ so very well. The line “They’re a breath away. A blink. I feel like I can almost hear them.” was so powerful I wanted to reach out and grab hold of them myself. And really, Time Chasing? I want to know more!

Clive Newnham, “The Whisperings.” You paint a clear picture. Even without the photo prompt I could see the mountains and feel the cold. I could hear them spurring one another to move faster and I found myself caught up in the need to hurry. I particularly loved the line “struggling for balance across the shifting scree”. Then you bring in the awesomeness that “sucks at the quarry’s plumes of breath”. That freaked me out – even more so than the frozen, flaking flesh later on. These treasure hunters picked the wrong relic… Very nicely done!

Maven Alysse, “Cold Miscalculations.” Oh my word! That is some serious betrayal. The “Oops” at the end clinched it for me. I just wasn’t expecting it at all. It certainly made me want to know more about these triplets and why one is murdering another and admitting it to the other. The characterization in such a short space on all three of the brothers is just impressive.


Eric Martell (aka drmagoo), Untitled. I loved the dichotomy of the two characters – one was bored and trusting, the other anxious and skeptical. I especially loved it when faced with “a ravine filled with hundreds of things – some animate, some not – that could kill them in an instant.” They seemed like they had done this before…and I’d like to know about that. But, really, the last line is what pulled the story out of the myriad HMs vying for this position – I laughed so hard at accidentally changing the alarm to PM! (…not that I’ve ever done that before…*shifty eyes*) Well played. 


Karl A Russell, “Holding On.” Their love story is so beautiful and deep and rich and you did it with one stinkin’ line! “wondering if they would waste their final moments deep in the arguments of the past” and her response “you sly, charming old fool…” This spoke VOLUMES of their history and familiarity. I also love his gentleness in “[he] stroked her shoulder” and “tears streaking his frosted cheeks”.  THEN (as if that weren’t enough!) you turn this ‘dead line’ into something like the Nothing (What?!?!?!) and you give their love action – even at the last – jumping into the next thing, together. Beautiful. Tears. Seriously. Thank you.

And now: for her second time (the first was Round 46 in Year One), it’s Flash! Friday  





Oh. My. Tears. I don’t know if this resonated so much because my mom is always late to everything, but I know couples like this. You gave their entire history such depth and specificity in large, sweeping brushstrokes. I especially loved how Lila accepted this sometimes annoying character trait and learned to roll with it: giving her ten extra minutes to primp, ‘serenely’ waiting on his arrival – expecting his tardiness and not getting flustered by it, keeping dinner warming in the oven, and greeting him when he finally came to bed. She accepted all of him, and that is beautiful. But the thing that put this one over the top is the way you rounded it out. Your first line “Lila had always been the one to wait” and your last “Finally he understood the longing she must have felt all those years she waited for him” have a beautiful symmetry. I can picture him now “waiting with the other[s], peering into the mist” and my heart breaks – for him, for her, for loss, for love. So special. Thank you.

Congratulations on your second win, Laura! Your (new! sparkly!) winner’s badge waits for you below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Watch your inbox for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature interview questions. And here is your winning story:


Lila had always been the one to wait. Ben was five minutes late for their first date, misjudging the amount of time it would take to walk across campus. By their third date, Lila knew she had at least ten minutes more to primp before Ben arrived.

On his way to their wedding, Ben’s cab broke down and he was late to the chapel. He was flustered and apologetic when he showed up, but Lila smiled serenely. “I knew you would be here,” she whispered.

Dinner was always warming in the oven when Ben came home late from the office. She woke when he came to bed, long enough to kiss him good night.

Now it was Ben’s turn to wait for Lila. Everyday, he waited with the other husbands, peering into the mist, waiting for his wife. Finally he understood the longing she must have felt all those years she waited for him.



Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 17: WINNERS!

Apologies to the FF community for the seriously belated results; adventures prevented my ability to be timely. BUT I am very excited to be here at last, along with excellent comments from brand new second quarter judge Pratibha Kelapure, who applied her fabulous insight, skill, and judginess to Vol 2-17. So let’s get to it!


Judge Pratibha Kelapure says: Hello everyone! This is my first time being a judge here, and it is a little unnerving. First of all, I want to thank Rebekah for making Flash! Friday contest so much fun. I knew judging wasn’t going to be easy, but boy, it was really challenging.  I was wonderfully surprised to see so many interesting takes on the prompt this week, and how all of you paid attention to what I asked of you. I liked so many of your stories, choosing one winner was next to impossible. I agonized over my choices for hours, and put off making a decision for as long as I could. I learned so much about writing in the process. Thank you for this opportunity. If I had my way, I would comment on each and every story. I enjoyed reading and rereading all the stories several times. Thank you all for sharing them.

 On with the results:

As expected, the fire breathing pair prompt this week inspired many dragon stories 🙂  but it is amazing how many different themes it inspired. You people are awesome. 



TitlesSome of the titles caught my attention this week. Here are the ones that deserve a special mention. “The Blazing Row” by Craig Anderson“A Burning Desire” by Margaret Locke. 

DialogueIt is difficult to write effective dialogue, so the stories with good dialogue deserve a special mention.

* “The Universe Roared” by Clive Newnham is entirely written as the verbal exchanges between the Universe and an unnamed man, and it is quite impressive.

* “Wedding Bell Reds” by Michael Seese is also written as dialogue. I liked the play on words with the theme of fire. Get well soon, Michael.

* “Retribution” by Chris Milam gave me a chuckle with his clever dialogue.

FunnyIt is also not easy to write a truly comic tale. Megan Besing does this beautifully in her story, “A Betting Friendship.”

CharacterizationI thought that the character of the best friend in “Purge” by Kristen Falso-Capaldi is well drawn in very few words.


K. Brown“I Need to Stop Thinking.” Until I read the last line, I thought the author completely missed the prompt. I like this story because of its philosophical tone and “supernatural” rambling monologue. It was quite ingenious.

Anna Van Skike, “The Downtrodden.” The heartbreaking description of the neon city makes one worry. The description of the dance of Willow and Dane is a dance of words, smooth and graceful. The penultimate sentence, “They say a revolution is coming to bring back the sun,” cinched it for me.

Maven Alysse“Transcendence.” The idea of travelling together through different words for eternity is seducing. Author paints the vivid scene, I could almost see the wildflowers in the moonlit field. The pair vanished into the next world, “Amidst the wildflowers, arms akimbo, they tilted their heads back.”  Wonderful description!


Brett Milam, “A Match.”  It was easy to picture the schoolyard with the students surrounding the spectacle of a sad, fire-eater. The ease with which the two boys bonded is touching. The understated expression of pain is what captured my attention.


Sinead O’Hart, “Swallow.” This story gripped me from the first potent sentence, “Swallow. Even though it’s a thornbush, a crow, a handful of sand.” The coarse, hurtful unpleasantness comes alive in just a few words. The characters are revealed through the dialogue, a powerful technique.

And now: for his second time (the first was Round 38 in Year One), it’s Flash! Friday  




“The Life of the Party”

I completely agree with the brave philosophy of life, “If you are destined to burn out fast, do it with a flourish.” He was the first to post, and what he saw in the images is amazing, the lion and the humble chrysanthemum. The story is completely aligned with the prompt in the most creative fashion, and that deserves acknowledgement. What an amazing blend of the philosophy, prompt, and passion. The story of short-lived but meaningful life lifted this tale above all.

Congratulations on your second win, Charles! Your (new!) winner’s badge waits for you below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Watch your inbox for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature interview questions. And here is your winning story:

The Life of the Party

Life is meant to be a show, so burn bright, and hot. Choose your shape, and expect nothing more than to frighten some and entertain others. If you are destined to burn out fast, do it with a flourish. After all what are we other than just a flashing of heat and light. Life is meant to short, hot and lonely. So I made a show of it; took on the face of a lion.

Rising up into the air, I found I was not alone. Beside me was another of like kind, but she was so much more fair. Not garish or extravagant, as I had chosen to be. She simply took the shape of a flower, a humble chrysanthemum.

We lived our short lives, together. We loved without speaking. We publicly exhibited our passion in brilliant flames. And when we died, we died happy to have been friends.



Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 13: WINNERS!

It’s time to say thanks & farewell Her Extreme Judginess M. T. Decker. If I were more awake I would wax eloquent for several paragraphs on the depths and sparkliness of our gratitude. But rest easy, dear ones–I am not awake, which means you will only be compelled to read a few short lines: THANK YOU, Mary, for your time and dedication. What a blast it’s been having you aboard the FF judgeship. Thank you, thank you!


Judge M. T. Decker says: Wow!  What a long strange trip it’s been. When I signed on as a judge, I had no idea how much work I would need to put in, and no idea how much I would learn in the process.  I am, as always, amazed and humbled by the work, the art you all have created here, and if I have one regret it’s that I can’t just say “Everybody wins.”

There were some amazing stories this week, and you all took me on an incredible journey. I am both sad to be finishing up my phase as a judge and happy that I will once again be able to write with you all.

Some friends asked me “What does it take to write a winning story?” “Why does one story win when another doesn’t?”

When I started as a judge I knew that some of the answers were subjective, and as I’ve judged I’ve realized that the rules that apply to longer stories are the same for flash: you have to make the story count.  Even with something you can “read in a flash” you want to walk away satisfied: and that is something very hard to do in 150 words.

Writing, as you all know, is part mechanics, part art.  The mechanics are a constant: spelling, grammar wording.  These form the framework from which you hang your art, they are the pigments with which you paint, and the sounds from which you compose, and if they are not solid, the story cannot stand.

There are times when proper grammar and standard ‘rules’ are forsaken for the sake of the story, that is artistic license, but it still has to flow and resonate with your readers.  That’s why there are rules:  to have some common ground in how we transmit our thoughts.

The more I judge, the more I realize that writing is part alchemy.  You have these elements that you combine and work until you strike gold.  The only problem is: everyone else writing in a given challenge is also experimenting with their words, tweaking the sounds and meanings until they produce their ‘secret sauce.’

In the end – it is the construction and flavor that make the story, and in any given competition there can only be one winner, and so we focus on saying why a story won, rather than why a different story didn’t win.




Amy Wood, “A Student’s Tale of Woe.”  This story touches on the theme of interpretation in a very intriguing way.  It gives us a tantalizing glimpse into the mind of a student as they are forced to push the boundaries of their understanding, and the image of “committing ritual suicide with my fountain pen,” is an imaginative look into not only the dislike, but the personality of the student in question.  I have to admit, that on more than one occasion, I have contemplated the same action. 

Karl A. Russell, “Betty’s War.” Here we are taken into a war unlike any we have seen before.  The descriptive narrative helps us to understand that she is not dealing with your standard ‘infestation.’ She expresses some small amount of sympathy for the small, uniformed creatures she’s been dealing with, but in the end she still treats them more like bugs in the garden.  The twist at the end and her reaction are priceless.

Chris Milam (Wisp of Smoke), “Beholder.” This story, like “A Student’s Tale of Woe” deals with interpretation, and yet manages to keep the theme unique and relevant.  It speaks to the heart of art: mechanics and artistic merit while comparing and contrasting two different points of view on the subject.  This story is both insightful and entertaining, leaving us to contemplate which path is the best.


Jon, “Farewell Opportunities.”  This story draws the reader in with enthralling imagery, comparing the battle to a Renoir, and a Renoir when viewed from the distance, you see one thing, but up close what you thought was clear is actually something else entirely.  Throughout the story, we are given subtle hints and poetic images that fill the canvas and a picture unfolds before us.  We see the newly fallen join the ranks of those watching.  From the touching beginning to the bittersweet ending we are given a glimpse at the hereafter.  This story is both touching and sentimental and it made me glad I read it.


Maven Alysse, “Putting on Your War Face.” With a judicious combination of dialog and description this story provides the image of tired tavern wenches, working in the environment one would expect when dealing with soldiers fresh off the line.   This image is supported throughout the story until the final line when the writer elegantly turns the story on its ear, revealing that sometimes—no matter what the circumstances:  boys will be boys.

And now: for his second time (in recent weeks, too!), it’s Flash! Friday  




“L’Enfer, C’est La Guerre”

This story provides a beautiful metaphor for that moment between – between life and death, between mortality and eternity.  Like “Farewell Opportunities” it shows a world that isn’t quite what we think, but in this story the reader is taken inside the life and thoughts of one man.  We see the change that comes with understanding and the regret that comes with knowing there is nothing you can do now to change what you have done, and in that moment there is the stirring pain of regret.   In the end, as the final bugle call is sounded, we are left to wonder what seeds the protagonist has sown, and where they will lead him.  This story left me wondering exactly what Colonel  Boniface would find when he answered the call.  Truly chilling and touching.

Very nice work, Phil! Another winner’s badge waits for you below. Here is your updated winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please watch your inbox for another round of interview questions for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And here is your winning story:

L’Enfer, C’est La Guerre

“War is Hell,” the barmaid reminded him, placing a mug of pale lager before him.

Until now, Colonel Boniface had never understood the sentiment. He lived for battle! Primping for the mirror in his dress blues. Saluting his men as they charged bravely past him, into the fray. And how the ladies loved an officer! (War widows needed comfort, too.)

And his Angelique, ever faithful, waiting at home.

Boniface regretted nothing, until that bullet found his brain.

“Vive la mort,” was the motto painted across this tavern’s wall. Time had no meaning here. Golden Horde, Napoleonic infantrymen, soldiers from conflicts past and future, all passed through. Some were heading home. Others…

“Angelique… I’m sorry,” he whispered.

The barmaid’s dress twirled as she turned away, head held high, cradling a dozen empty beer steins. Outside the tavern, a bugler played his muster call.

Boniface drank his beer — a final comfort — and looked to the door with dread.