Tag Archive | Nillu Nasser Stelter

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 12: WINNERS!

Happy Sunday! Thank you for spending some time here at Flash! Friday–I’ve loved reading your stories & comments this weekend. You seemed to take to vendettas with great relish. Er, we’re still good friends, though, right…?  

Today we bid a mournful farewell (in her judge’s tiara, anyway) to Her Highness Nillu Nassu Stelter. What a pleasure it’s been having you on the FF team, Nillu! Your sparkly and spirited judgery will be greatly missed–can’t wait to see all those marvelous skillz in your future storification! Thank you so much for your time and dedication.

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Judge Nillu Nasser Stelter says: It’s my final week as a Flash! Friday judge and how the months have flown. Each time it was my turn to step up to the bench with my quill in hand, I learnt a terrific amount from each of you. Your stories have been sizzling feats of imagination, lessons in precision and emotional depth. What other form of fiction allows you to experience so many different voices in such a small space of time? You have spanned multiple genres, and found opposing rhythms, from high intensity piece about a man with murderous intent, or the gentle calm of a story about ladies at tea.

Despite the joy with which I approached this task, there is a mantle of responsibility that comes with judging your entries. I was once told that attention = love. I wanted to give you the gift of 100 per cent focus to mirror the care with which you crafted your stories. Yet, I was conscious that reading is a subjective exercise. I worried that despite judging blind and using marking criteria there may have been writers amongst you whose work, week after week, resonated with me more than others.

I was wrong. As a judge, I have never picked the same winners. In each story submitted, I found something to relate to. You convinced me to appreciate genres that I have neglected in the past. In the best stories, I found that the writer’s vision fused with my imagination as a reader, making the story pulse with energy long after I finished reading it, and firing my synapses to build a world around the one you had committed to paper.

This week Rebekah chose ‘vendetta’ as the Dragon’s Bidding, to accompany a black and white photograph of three welders from the 1940s. Of all the entries submitted, I short-listed a third of these for rereading. You gave me murder and mayhem, sibling rivalry and clones, war and infidelity, immigration, witches and even Vendetta mopeds. You gave me horror, humour and pathos. There was some wonderfully chosen period language and some fantastic final sentences, after which I was compelled to read the stories again.

A special mention this week for Karl A Russell’s story ‘Patience’, for his wonderful setting description, the slow build-up of tension – ‘Women screamed. Alarms rang’ – and his characterisation of the murderer and widower. Well done Eliza Archer for powerful imagery in ‘Patriotic Duty’, in which she writes about witches working to give war planes a helping hand, so that they may be ‘guided by fingers stronger than mortal craft.’ A warm pat on the back to reigning judges Erin McCabe for beautiful phrasing in her story – ‘her bright sparks setting the dark on fire’ /  ‘they burst into redundant, violent cascades of pixels’ – and M T Decker for her fantastic concept delivering a modern twist on Greek mythology.

And finally (*drum roll*), with their names in lights this week are: 

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Anna Van Skike, “Level Up.”  In this story the welders are part of a video game played by a young boy. The welders come to life, and stalk after the boy, who they know as ‘God’ and ‘The Great Controller’ once he has left them to their own devices. Great concept, and I liked the description of the young video gamer – ‘with his vacant eyes and slack smile’ – who nevertheless has the power to play puppet-master here and the use of capitalised pronouns to denote his god-like importance to the women. 

Chris Milam, “Indifference.” In a horrific take on the prompt, the author tells the story of a sadistic step-father – ‘his welder craved human flesh and emotion’ and troubled mother – ‘her frozen stare always darting, fluttering, never quite landing.’ There was some terrific language here, which was deeply vivid and emotive: ‘[I was] fit for burning. A slab of human steel. / His dark mask shaded his eyes but never his intentions.’ The final line packed a punch: ‘[Mom] never even glanced at the garage.’ Fantastic writing.

Caitlin Status, “Up in Ypsilanti.” Being a Brit, and possibly because of a gap in my history knowledge, I had never come across the phrase ‘Rosie the Riveter’, which a few of you used to great effect, including Caitlin, the author of this piece. The writer here expertly set the glamour and pain of war in juxtaposition with each other: ‘I reapplied my lipstick and did one final hair check before closing the compact’ / ‘I’m a widow and only child at twenty because of this war’. There was an impressive use of dialogue and setting in this piece.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Robin Abess, “We Three.”  The repetition and rhythm is this story emphasizes a sense of bleakness: ‘we three do what we three do.’ The first part of the piece is filled with a supreme sense of sadness – ‘we have no names, although we did once’ – as the identities of the three welders merge. Yet, it is individuality here that causes rage and then murder, and finally suicide – ‘I disappeared into the fire.’ Robin has written a wonderful ending where the three welders are doomed to once again continue their task, as penance for their defiance.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Margaret Locke, “Superior Plumbing.” I think this might be my favourite start to a flash fiction piece ever: ‘Penis envy, my ass, Charlotte thought as she bent over the metal tube. Freud was an idiot.’ Ha! This story shines a spotlight on the skill of women in untraditional roles using clever plotting and beautiful phrasing: ‘Charlotte ignored him as the molten metal responded to her commands.’ The writer deals with sexism and uses period language effectively: ‘girly’, ‘boy-o’, ‘bug-eyed’. Best of all, the feisty, competent female protagonist makes me smile: ‘one slip of the welding iron and you’ll be needing replacement pipes yourself.’

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

DRAGON WINNER

MARIE MCKAY!!!

for

“The Factory”

This was a unique take on the prompt, which is about clones in a factory. The themes of power, vengeance and loneliness are amplified by the use of repetition. It’s a cracking piece of experimental flash fiction, in which the author repeats almost every sentence and punctuation mark, thus reducing her word count and meaning that every word had to be chosen with additional precision. The double pain conveyed in the story is haunting – ‘We We see see reflected reflected in in each each other other despair despair’ – and gives a sense of imprisonment. As the reader, the robotic monotony of these sad clone voices filled my head. Even the white space works hard in this story. The lack of repetition when talking about the supervisors – ‘The Singles are armed’ – emphasizes their role as the aggressors. The final sentence is both poetic and terrifying: ‘So So we we sit sit side side by by side side echoing echoing a a desire desire for for revenge revenge.’ Congratulations, Marie!

Hauntingly amazing job, Marie! Your winner’s badge waits for you below. Here is your updated 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 Factory

They They cloned cloned us us.. Doubled Doubled the the workforce workforce in in a a year year.. We We work work two two by by two two,, side side by by side side,,with with our our Doppelgänger Doppelganger.. We we look look into into our our own own strange strange eyes eyes and and see see how how dead dead they they are are.. We We are are the the other’s other’s prison prison..

The Singles supervise.

There There is is no no opportunity opportunity for for us us to to break break free free. We We see see reflected reflected in in each each other other despair despair..

The Singles are armed.

We we think think to to destroy destroy the the supervisors supervisors.. So So we we sit sit side side by by side side echoing echoing a a desire desire for for revenge revenge..

 

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Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 12

This wasn’t supposed to be this week’s photo. Oh, no. Something else entirely. But while flipping, so to speak, through various pages of photos, these three welders leapt off the page and would not leave me alone. You know how it goes. You walk out of the room to do something else, and there they are in front of you again, sparks flying, eyes staring  at you darkly through their goggles.  So ALL RIGHT, Peggy, Ruth, and Supervisor Lee! I yield. Tell me your stories!

In her final turn as a Quarter Two judge is Nillu Nasser Stelter. While I’m certain she’ll be happy to leap back into the regular Flash! Friday fray, her words & encouragement & tough cookieness will be missed on the judge’s bench. Thank you, Nillu, for your gracious and faithful service. (Don’t think this means she’s going to go easy on you today, however…) 

Awards Ceremony: Results post Sunday evenings. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner will post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.” Today’s feast is potluck-style, by the way, so please grab that mystery box out of the fridge and pull up a chair. Here we go!   

Your turn!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the words ‘fillet weld throat‘”):

Vendetta

***Today’s Prompt:

Gary Plant Tubular Steel Corporation.

Gary Plant Tubular Steel Corporation, 1943. Public domain photo.

Flash! Friday Vol 2 – 11: WINNERS!

Good evening! Hope your weekend’s been spectacular in every way. Thanks for coming back to celebrate the winners with us! 

Warmest congratulations to our own dear Craig Anderson, who stopped by post-contest to add a precious tale in honor of his just-born daughter (please be sure to read it & leave joy for him!). CONGRATULATIONS, Craig, to you and Lauren, and a fiery (in the best way) WELCOME TO THE WORLD to sweet Neve. Thank you for sharing this most wonderful story with us!

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Judge Nillu Nasser Stelter says: Oh Flash! Friday community, what a wonderfully talented, wise and supportive group of writers you are. We had forty fabulous entries this week; both old-timers (metaphorically speaking) and the bright new things dazzled me with inventive concepts and skillful prose. As a judge, I found this my most challenging one yet. There are just so many masters of the ink amongst you. I found myself wanting to applaud a fantastic premise here, a wondrous way with words there, an elegant resolution in one story and superbly drawn characters in another. You gave me horror, romance, fantasy, comedy and science fiction. I discovered wonderful contemplative pieces and action-packed thrillers. I read about dragons, lovers, children, soldiers, skydiving octogenarians, planetary explorers, parachuting brides and nature personified. I dove into stories of hope and regret, love and courage, exhilaration and longing. It is little wonder that I short-listed a quarter of you for a second reading.

Before I unveil the podium places, here are some special mentions for writers, whose work leapt off the page for me this week. AJ Walkers concept of an Octogenarian Russian Roulette Club in ‘A Jump into the Unknown’ was equally surreal, terrifying and funny, and held some wonderfully memorable sentences – ‘he plummeted earthwards towards the dark carpet of spruce.’ In her story ‘Body of Truth’, Margaret Locke writes movingly about someone who has finally accepted herself and whose body is its own parachute. Horror isn’t a genre I have come across often during my time as a Flash! Friday judge, so this week I’d like to tip my imaginary hat to Joidianne4eva for her piece ‘With Bloody Feet On Hallowed Ground’ and her alarming concept of menacing trees, whose age has brought ‘wisdom and cunning.’ The final special mention this week goes to current judge Erin McCabe  for ‘Tender Peak’, for a beautifully chosen title that set the tone for her story of a mountain’s consciousness. I was swept along by poetic phrasing – ‘Animals graze under my shadow and drink from pure waters trickling down my ridged body’ – and the simple elegance of the last sentence – ‘I only hope it knew my avalanche was both death and love – was master penmanship at work.

And now, the winners! A rapturous applause please for:

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Robin Abess, “The Chosen.”  Robin’s submission charmed me with its beautiful phrasing – ‘Darcy’s breath hung in the air as she floated downwards’ – and melancholic tones. The world-building here was effective – ‘the hungry ground’ – and included the invention of terms such as ‘Otherlands’, which gave the hint of a story unfolding outside of this one. 

R.F. Marazas, “Bored Reckless.” The tension builds beautifully in this piece, in which traditional roles are turned upside down and you find a dare-devil wife and her exasperated husband. I loved the feisty heroine in this piece, who tackles an armed robber on her honeymoon, and there is a corker of an ending.

SJ O’Hart, “The Long Step.” I liked the concept of rebirth in this piece, and the use of paragraph breaks to emphasize the protagonist’s loneliness – ‘Nobody wanted to say goodbye’ / ‘Pablo had no dependants now.’ There was one simple sentence in this piece, with imagery so perfect within the context of this story and the prompts, that I knew it had to make the podium: ‘Peace enfolded him, like a closing eye.’ What clever plotting to have women waiting to catch the newborn at the bottom of the mountain, like evolved midwives.

SECOND RUNNER UP

Sarah Cain, “Second Jump.”  This story encapsulated the innocence of youth and the wisdom of old age. It got off to a cracking start, with the reader thrown into the memories that haunt the central character – ‘He’d made this jump before. Then the night had lit up with anti-aircraft fire – and beautifully-crafted descriptions – when the door opened they stomped in unison, terrified yet exhilarated’. It was filled with clever contrasts – ‘the blood and horror, Jack’s fast grin and bright blue eyes’, ‘he sees now what he couldn’t then’ – and a resolution that the reader knows has been expertly foreshadowed throughout the story, but still sparkles with truth and beauty.

FIRST RUNNER UP

Image Ronin, “The Romantic.” This was one of the rare submissions in which the central character is watching those sky-diving rather than taking part himself. It centred on a romance between Art and his late wife Lara. I loved the gentle tone and language in this piece – ‘mirroring the hypnotic descent of the parachutists dropping out of the sky.’ The ending of the story, in which Art takes his life, was for me unexpected, given that he is merely a spectator of the action, but utterly convincing. I found his wish to be reunited with his wife comforting and moving, particularly given his rather pragmatic look down memory lane. What a wonderful final sentence: ‘Before long he was free falling back to her’.

And now: presenting first time Flash! Friday  

DRAGON WINNER

TINMAN!!!

for

“Skyfall”

This comic piece by Tinman stood out for its refreshing take and its tongue-in-cheek homage to that wonderfully British hero James Bond. In this story, Bond is wearing thermal underwear when he is sent on his final mission two days before retirement, which ‘made him practically a walking gravestone’. The pop-culture references and comic timing in this piece are impeccable – ‘[he] pinballed from branch to branch, each one slapping his face like some beautiful spy that he had slept once with and then left.’ The imagery in this story was well chosen for the mood of the piece – ‘he swung gently, like a Christmas bauble poked by an enraptured child’. I loved also the thought that hard as nails Bond would choose to wear thermals for this mission (which proved to be his undoing) ‘lest he catch his death.’ Congratulations Tinman for your win!

Spectacular mission completion, Tinman! Your winner’s badge greets you adventurously below. Here is your mysterious yet debonair 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:

Skyfall

Bond had been sent on this mission with just two days to go to retirement which, as any cop in any film could have told him, made him practically a walking gravestone.

So it’s no surprise that as he parachuted in over the Alps he was held up by the thermals, and so overshot Blofeld’s secret base and plummeted instead into a dense forest.

He hit a tree with all the force of Wile E Coyote hitting a canyon floor, then pinballed from branch to branch, each one slapping his face like some beautiful spy that he had slept once with and then left.

Luckily his plunge was halted just five feet from the ground, and he swung gently, like a Christmas bauble poked by an enraptured child.

The elderly Bond had dressed warmly, lest he catch his death, and was being held up by the thermals.

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