Tag Archive | Mimi N.

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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Flash! Friday Vol 3 – 4: WINNERS

I knew it, knew it, KNEW IT. Give you crazy writers a spying kid, and there’s NO END to the mayhem you’d uncover. One photo: nearly 75 stories. Reading them, I marveled over your skill for the millionth time. And then I got to thinking how much time we spend stressing over everyone else’s novels out there. People have already written dragon novels, spy novels, horror novels, desperately sad child novels. But just look at you. From the very same prompt, you created over six dozen completely unique worlds. You astound me. (You also astound the poor, brave judges, who requested space blankets and emergency chocolate for their recovery period.) Anyway, it made me think that who cares how many other dragons, spies, horror, or sad kids already fill the shelves. The world still needs our dragons (etc), you know?

It’s a new writerly year, and perhaps you, like me, have set lofty goals for the months ahead. I’ve just added a new one to my list. Worry less, I’m thinking. Write more! –Let’s do so together, shall we?

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The Team Three Dragon Captains of Carlos Orozco/Eric Martell say

This week the FF community came out in full force (70+ stories), and Team Three has one thing to say before we get to the judging: you never know how difficult something is until you get a chance to do it. We have a new appreciation for all judges past, present, and future. Good thing the Dragoness has such wonderful powers of persuasion, and for that, we should all be thankful.

This week we received some wonderful entries and trying to narrow it down was no easy task, but winners needed to be crowned.  The goal was to get down to ten stories each and hope there would be similar picks, but overlap would make things too easy and the world hates easy. The beauty of team judging in matters as subjective as judging stories is that your pieces were picked apart and viewed from two different perspectives. We pooled together our top ten lists and read anew. Sure enough, there were stories from each other’s lists that we enjoyed, and in the end a consensus was reached.

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SPECIAL MENTIONS

Best Facial Description: Jacki Donnellan, “Invisible.” “Since she left us his face looks sort of plastic and hard whenever I talk about her.” Can you feel the scorn? Imagining that face makes our skin crawl.

Blink and You’ll Miss It: Michael Seese, “Kid Spies.” “I wait, and write down in my super-secret journal everything I learned about tracking girls. I should share this intell with Dad. Maybe he can use it to find Mom.” This story is very light and humorous employing the use of Booger Guns and Cootie Rays, but hidden in the comedic folds is a hint at a larger, darker story.

Best Opening Dialogue: Tinman, “For Your Ears Only.” “If I could offer a hint about hiding,” said the voice behind him. Louis spun, startled. “It would be ‘never rest your drink on top of the thing you’re hiding behind’,” These lines of dialogue help create and cement the characters clever, suave manner right off the bat.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Phil Coltrane, A Shaky Town Knight and the Fiefdom of the Bell-Bottoms.” Phil used the title to great effect here, transporting us to the 1970’s, with more than a touch of whimsy. The young boy at the heart of the story was trapped in a world where everyone was exposed to myths, but not everyone had access to their magic – a familiar feeling to many. William’s heartbreak was vividly rendered, and it was easy to share in his pain.

Voima Oy, Howard Street.” This piece does an excellent job of stringing us along while dropping hints of what’s happening. We are unaware of what has transpired, but the mention of dodging surveillance cameras and rival gangs tips us off to the idea that the main character is in a bad way. Things start to get perplexing when buildings start to appear and disappear. We feel disoriented, which helps us relate to the character who is also confused. The last clue we get as to what has happened are the names of his dead friends. The last word, “home”, implies he has crossed over and joined them.

Sandra Hessels, Candy Jars.” The candy store that grandmother described in this story was brought to life, and while reading it, you could see the brightly colored candy and smell the sugar wafting through the air as you walked the aisles. We also felt the challenge that she and her sisters faced – living in a world where there was just never enough unless they were willing to take what belonged to others. But even in darkness, there are still the glimpses of light from the candy store, and you could feel what that meant to three little girls so long ago. 

David Shakes, Cure.” The heartbeat rhythm in the opening sequence and its use in the middle cements the idea of the city’s “electric heart”.  The word choice throughout the piece really attacks the senses. We cringed at the thought of the exhaust fume and urine stench.  The final resolve: a sacrifice for a mother’s happiness.  Nicely executed. 

Mimi N., “Acceptance.” Even in a world of magic, everything has a price. Danny was about to lose his dad, and was out of options, save one. His meeting with the Fae woman was wonderfully described, and you could feel his anguish being transformed by her wisdom not into happiness, but into the titular acceptance. A father might well pay that price to save his son, but when their situations were reversed? Ah, now that’s a price too high to collect. Although, you’re left wondering if things would have been different if Danny had met a different magical creature.

THIRD RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker, “The Meeting.” A twist from many of the stories this week, where the protagonist wasn’t hiding from someone, he was waiting for someone. The author painted with a vivid palette, using colors to great effect, and it was easy to see exactly the scene they described. Both characters might be flawed, but they need each other, and we got to see the beginning of their journey.

SECOND RUNNER UP

James Marshall VI, “Discretion.” We learned a lot about the unnamed narrator and his companion, Dominique, in so few words, and were left with enough hints to want to know more. Whatever group they’re part of – be they human or otherwise – is not hidden, but they are secret. They’re not overburdened with morality, but don’t kill without a purpose. Just a glimpse into their world was enough to leave us wanting more.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Tamara Shoemaker, “Siren Call.” This piece pulls on the parental heartstrings from the start. Relating the mom’s excuse to a bowl of soggy Cheerios is stellar. It’s as if we can feel the bland, soft, mushy texture of the words sitting distastefully in our minds; but the cheerios also provide insight as to what type of breakfast this child has every morning (two birds one stone). We finally learn the reason why the mother doesn’t have time for her son and it is summed up in a bombshell of a last line “The wild draw of the city held too much attraction, and its siren call drowned the whimper of the boy who hid in the corner”.

And now: for her very first time AT LONG, LONG LAST!, raise your glasses: it’s Flash! Friday 

DRAGON WINNER

CASEY ROSE FRANK!!!

for

“Find Me”

At first glance it seems like this story is simply about a game of hide-and-seek, but after rereading we can tell there is something more sinister hiding under the surface. Subtle hints such as a drooping face when asked if the characters will switch roles or the mother’s voice getting fainter implies the hider will not be found. This piece also uses more than just sight descriptions. The smell of Ivory soap on skin and the butterflies in the stomach when looking for hiding spots helps incorporate all the senses in a completely satisfying way. The narrator’s complete obliviousness when he/she says, “Now I wait” is heartbreaking and haunting. The inconspicuous nature of the conflict also forces the reader to seek it, therefore, looping the reader into a real game of hide-and-seek. Very clever writing.

Congratulations, Casey! Below is your wonderful and not-so-subtle winner’s badge for the wall(s) of your choosing. Here is your very own, brand new winner’s page and your winning tale on the winners’ wall. Please contact me here asap so I can interview you for this week’s #SixtySeconds feature. And now, here is your winning story!

Find Me

“Hide, Baby, hide real good so I’ll have to search real hard to find you.”

“And then it’ll be my turn to find you, right, Mama?”

Her face droops a little. I think that she likes being the seeker best too when she says, “I expect that’s about right.”

She pats the top of my head and I smell Ivory soap on her skin.

She places her hands over her eyes and begins to count.

I grin and run down the alley, out into the bigger world, her numbers growing larger and fainter.

This is the biggest game of hide and seek I’ve ever played and I can feel my stomach dance as I run through all my choices of hiding spots.

I find a spot that hides my body but lets me peek out so I can watch Mama’s face when she’s stumped over where I am. I’ll giggle to see her searching so hard.

Now I wait.

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