Tag Archive | Megan Besing

Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 7: WINNERS

WELCOME to results day!!! So. Much. Fun. Thanks to all of you for your patience, your praise of each other’s stories, and above all, writing stories so marvelously strong that you give our brave dragon captains conniptions. :cough cough: Assuming dragon captains could have conniptions, obv.

We had nearly 80 entries this week; don’t forget to keep track of your own participation, as battling at Flash! Friday three times in a month will earn you the Ring of Fire badge. This week, that’s just about 80 of you dragons already a third of the way there! (The first round of eligibility will include February 6.)

rof2

♦♦♦♦♦

Dragon Captains Carlos Orozco/Eric Martell sayWhat fun it was judging this week. We had a difficult time trying to narrow it down to the final ten, and finding an order to those ten was even more difficult. This week team three only had two similar picks, but after some rereading, re-ranking, and a very intricate point system (it’s actually not that intricate), we managed to siphon out winners.

But before we get to that, we would like to share some thoughts on this week’s stories:

  • Many of the stories were understandably similar. It’s difficult trying to think of something unique when many of the elements have already been chosen for you, but because of that, it is more important than ever to try and stand out. You will all be better writers for it.
  • This week’s required story element was setting. We would recommend focusing on the story element (no matter how you interpret beach). Bonus points were given to stories with strong settings.

♦♦♦♦♦

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best Use of Structure: Mark A. King, “Mirror/Mirror.”  The structure to this was very creative and well executed. Mark used structure to his advantage.

Maximizing Setting: Natalie Bowers, “A Tangled Web.” It took place on a movie set, but (as with all good movies) the lines blurred and we forgot where we were.

Best use of a historical figure who was really a monster as a foil for an old woman who had earth in her poppy seeds: Clive Tern, “Uncle Joe and the Babushka.”

Funny Reads: Reg Wulff, “The Danger Zone.” For some (all) men, a pretty face can always get us to be just a bit stupid, can’t it?; and Rasha Tayaket, “Among Us.” Two aliens and one beach. This one should be read aloud.

♦♦♦♦♦

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Tinman, Strands of Memory.” Another story that masterfully works the required story element. With one line, “The sunrise was a thin pink line of icing on the purple-green sea”, we are immediately thrust into the character’s world. The hints of comedy are genuine, which really helps bring the character to life.*side note: The Hoff vs Godzilla would have been spectacular.

Brian S. Creek, Waiting.” This story shared a similar theme with many of the others, but the open ending really sets it apart. Is Edith going crazy, is her husband really coming back after being gone so long, or is death finally coming to reunite her in the afterlife with her husband? This piece does a great job of storytelling with the negative spaces, letting the reader fill in all the blanks.

Laura Carroll Butler, “Nonna.” A lot of the stories this week were sad, seeing endings in the lines of a face of a weatherbeaten old woman, but this story put us in the shoes (or bare feet) of some young people sharing her beach. College students, expecting one kind of spring break and then finding another, learning lessons that they didn’t know they were seeking. The kind of story that brings an infectious smile to your face, not by being silly, but by warming places deep within

Michael Seese, “The Boy With the Hazel Eyes.” Are monsters born, or are they made? What happens when someone we love changes into someone we recognize, but only on the surface? A well-told story about change and war, love and loss. In another contest, we probably would have ranked it higher, but the beach wasn’t as central to this story as some.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Megan Besing, “Drifting Memories.” Our minds sometimes get cracked as we get older, but cracked isn’t entirely destroyed, and sometimes a glimpse of the person that was sneaks out from the person that is. We can’t always imagine our parents or grandparents as young people, but just like us, they were young once, their lives filled with stories. This tale weaves both of these themes into a powerful tale, and speaks to humanity and love hidden from plain sight.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Annika Keswick, “New Tires.” This one snuck up on us (like good flash fiction does). The first time through we think the old lady is being described, but then we get hit by that Eureka moment. Reading the second time through is just as satisfying (if not slightly more satisfying) because we can now see the obvious. The ending is very uplifting, stating a universal truth without trying to force it on us.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Phil Coltrane, “The Last Pilgrimage.” This is a great example of presenting the required story element in a unique way. We have a beach in this story, but the impending apocalypse really changes the scenery. The tone in this piece also made it stand out. While many of this round’s stories had a character missing or wanting something, Gretchen is accepting of the end. She becomes passive entity whose story comes to an end with a “Close parenthesis”. It is a fitting last line for this type of apocalypse.

DRAGON WINNER

DAVID BORROWDALE!!!

for

“Under the Pier, Where Lives Are Made”

Flash stories don’t come a lot more powerful than this, cramming a ton of story into 201 words. Using the old woman’s visit to the beach as mismatched bookends to the story provided a wonderful intro and outro – at the beginning, she could be reflecting on happy memories, but at the end, we know differently. Set in a time both distant and familiar, we feel her love and her loss, both for her man and for her bairn. You don’t have to have suffered a loss like hers to feel the power of her story, but if you have, it resonates strongly. The last line was haunting. Very well done.

Congratulations, Dave! Below is a haunting, powerful winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is also your brand new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me asap here so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Under the Pier, Where Lives are Made

She returns each day to the place her son was started. She shackles her bondi-blue foldaway to the railing, and lets the salt-wind rustle her memories.

***

Under Saltburn Pier it was, in 1941. Billy Hurles was her man, and he was going off to fight Hitler.

“Give me something so I don’t forget you,” he said.

“A lock of hair?”

“No.”

So they crept under the pier to be alone. But other couples were there, and she saw her own distaste reflected in the eyes of other girls. It was over quickly. She kissed him sweetly, and told herself she’d done her bit for the war.

***

She knew she couldn’t keep the bairn. She’d accept, in time, that he’d be better with a proper family; without the shame. Perhaps one day she’d see him again. But the bairn was born blue; quiet, tiny and unmoving. A priest came into the room that was already crowded with men.

“Shall I bless the child? Help him find his way to the Lord.”

“You shall not,” her father said.

***

She returns each day to the place her son was started and prays he is at peace: some days she looks up, some days down.

FFwinner-Web

Advertisements

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.

FIFTY-ONE!! 

♦♦♦♦♦

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:

   ♦♦♦♦♦

SPECIAL MENTIONS

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”

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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! 

 

THIRD RUNNER UP

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.

SECOND RUNNER UP

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!

FIRST RUNNER UP

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  

DRAGON WINNER

ARIA GLAZKI!!!

for

“Bargain”

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:

Bargain

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.”

 

FFwinner-Web

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. 

  ♦♦♦♦♦

SPECIAL MENTIONS

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.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

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!

SECOND RUNNER UP

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.

FIRST RUNNER UP

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  

DRAGON WINNER

CHARLES W. SHORT!!!

for

“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.

 

FFwinner-Web