Tag Archive | Rebekah Postupak

Flashversary 2015: WINNERS

IT’S HERE! The final Flash! Friday post, the final winners, the final comments. But ohhhhh the glorious beginning awaiting beyond these doors! Let’s take our stories and flood magazines and contests and publishing houses with them. Let’s fling our pages to the four winds, win awards, flabbergast agents, storm bestseller lists, enrapture the world; let’s make friends and family and complete strangers smile, or cry, or shudder, or dream, or swoon — but let’s make them notice us.

Let’s make them remember us.

And in the dark days when loneliness and doubt threaten, please return here and let this family of writers fold you in its arms again. Bury yourself in these glowing thousands of stories by these hundreds of extraordinary writers and let your own words remind you that you are one of them: an extraordinary writer, and a crucial part of the magical story you wrote that was known for a time as Flash! Friday.

Special thanks to:

  • Susan Warren Utley, for being a dear friend and helping make my Flash! Friday dreams come true
  • Shenandoah Valley Writers, for being the dearest group of friends an ill-behaved dragon could ask for: for unswerving belief in me as a writer (Margaret Locke), for our shared vision (Tamara Shoemaker), for faithfully providing chocolate (MT Decker), for sitting with me at Beth’s side (Maggie Duncan), for teaching me to fly (#HMN Foy Iver), for chasing Quinby with me (Annika Keswick), for baring your poet’s soul (Sarah Kohrs), for dreaming with me over veggie quesadillas (Josette Keelor), for letting me eat your baby (Allison Garcia), and all of you, including those I didn’t name, for understanding what it means to take Time Hoff. I love you dearly.
  • Dragon Captains, all of you, including those who would have served had we continued. Your love for writing & writers are the heartbeat of Flash! Friday
  • Contest hosts, both former and present, for creating such meaningful forges for writers to sharpen and share their work 
  • My hero and best friend, the greatest writer of all, who loves the members of this community even more than I do: so powerful and beautiful in thought and execution, one of his names is The Word. Without this Word, all of my words are gibberish. 

I’m closing this contest not empty, but heart full; not sad, but inspired. You generously shared your stories here, each one a gem in this expansive hoard that’s been my home these past three years. Thanks to you, I leave this place the richest person in the world. 

I will be grateful to you for the rest of my life. My prayers and love go with you. Thank you.

See you out there!

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HOUSEKEEPING:

  1. This site will officially close on Friday, Dec 18; once it’s closed, the front page will show a static howdy screen. However, your stories & winners’ pages (etc) will remain accessible through the menu & sidebar.
  2. The Dragon Emporium (a little store where you can buy FF logo stuff), as promised, will remain open through Dec 31.
  3. This isn’t goodbye! We’re just moving the conversation from the kitchen to the sitting room, is all. I’d love to stay connected with you; please follow me on Twitter & friend me at Facebook. And be sure to follow the #Flashdogs to stay abreast of even more flash fiction shenanigans. What, you thought you’d be forced to wander off alone?? Not a chance.

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And now for WINNERS!!! which, who are we kidding, is where you scrolled straight to anyway. 😀  One hundred twenty-three tales you brought me, a fabulous feast of worlds and characters, poetry and musings, murder and life. How does one winnow the wind?! In the end I chose stories that stood out for their originality, perhaps for their beauty, or perhaps for their humor; words that drew me back for a second, third, and fourth read, that followed me to work and the grocery store and the library, then leapt on me, licking my face (DOWN, Flash, DOWN!) when I came back home and reopened the door. Let’s begin!

NOTE: Winners, please contact me here so I can get your prizes to you. Thanks!

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rof2

>RING OF FIRE WINNER<
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & mug, a copy of Calum Kerr’s The 2014 Flash365 Anthology, and a one-year subscription to all three Splickety imprints

Ashley Gardana

Thank you for sharing so many of your stories with us, Ashley!

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HONORABLE MENTIONS
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster

Crystal Alden, “Rhyming Ever After.” This funny little rhyming story is clever and unique; like my favorite sort of story, however, depths and layers lurk just beneath the surface. Solely through dialogue, we’re introduced to a colorful and memorable cast of characters: a drunk witch whose tipsy wand cast a rhyming spell on our hapless passerby, and an authority who listens to the sad tale but in the end refuses to help. This isn’t a normal sort of poem, because only the cursed characters speaks in rhyme, and so we’ve got a wonderfully (and humorously) complex counterpoint of rhyme with straight speech. It’s a sophisticated and original approach to the prompt, and that double entendred just in the final line put it over the top.

Sal Page, “Number One Me.” Speaking of double entendres!!! This piece gave us a Shel Silverstein-style train wreck of a cloning tale (think again before you farm out daily responsibilities to your clone, people). The story is funny, yes; but the tone and clipped pacing is sheer magic, in the end reading like a desperate SOS note scrawled on a note and slipped under the door. What kicked this story up to a higher level for me was its layered title (reference to the arrogant “looking out for Number One” attitude) and its less-funny implied warning of what might happen should technology outrun ethics. (In the words of the esteemed Douglas Adams: there are some who argue this has already happened…)

Holly Geely, “Sentience.” This. Is. Hilarious. I’d love to go on about it, you know, lauding its (junior high-level jokes) wordplay, its satisfying framework, its original plot (sentient underpants convincing a regular Joe to rob a bank!), but in the end… Eat your heart out, Pilkey. This. Is. Simply. Hilarious. And of course you wrote it, Holly.

Nancy Chenier, “Vestigial Attachment.” The gorgeous, nuanced, precise word choices set this story apart first, verbs like starfished, adjectives like moony and atavistic, and imagery like “sand peel(ing) apart my unwebbed toes.” But it’s the worldbuilding and rich character development that slayed me most, the star(fish?)-crossed ex-lovers sharing custody across boundaries of magic, the pain of loss overlaid by the pain of wishing for a thing impossible to have. The story is tragically complex and gorgeous. It reads slow, like the low, haunting notes blown from a conch shell: the s-sh-s-sh of the sea against the d-l-l-d of the land. Wonderful vocabulary and beautiful work all-round.

Mark A. King, “#FlashFridayFiction.” After that amount of work, how could I not award it an HM?? While its James Joyce-esque meandering through hashtags is inventive and funny, it’s the shadow of its writer that compelled me most: someone who thought he’d be clever by playing with format, only to discover he got more than he’d bargained for. The bravado of the writer — which may or may not be autobiographical — overwhelmed by his story (shades of Pirandello?); his attempts to uplift the reader (in which he succeeds quite beautifully) are knitted tightly with self-deprecation and naked honesty. “Monday evenings,” he says, referring to when contest results post, “pretending it doesn’t matter when it does.” Yes, it matters! We know, and we understand. Also, I’m sending you a mug. #YouveEarnedIt #AlphaDog

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3rd Runner Up
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & cool FF thing

Karl A. Russell, “One Week, Suspended.” Gruesome and terrifying, this story plays with time in a way no one else dared: backward, forward, and even bound between the minutes. While in my own writing I veer toward the fractured fairytale side, I couldn’t let this grim and cinematic piece go. In his reverse-moving scripting, unpooling blood, unstabbing, unbreaking, unshattering, with a horrifying, powerful twist the undoing doubles the story’s violent intensity by forcing the reader to imagine the doing. Structurally the story moves swiftly, sparsely down the page, each staccato line as sharp as a knife. The form echoes the story’s violence, and OH, what an end, with words doing so much work all at once! “His unending sentence/Jailed behind her eyes.” This kind of sophisticated wordsmithing makes me giddy. Powerful writing.      

2nd Runner Up
Prize: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & cool FF thing

Bill Engleson, “After a Few Too Many Beers Whilst Bellying Up to the Flash Friday Bar.” Many of you tried (and succeeded) overwhelming my heart with your tender tributes, and I thank you for them. I’ve chosen this one as my favorite because it encapsulates so many elements that make flash fiction a genre to be reckoned with: a killer title, lyrical language, gorgeous imagery, creative word choices, onomatopoetic plotting, humor and heartstrings, a strong frame. All of that within a haunting, colorful, 100-word distillation of what a writing community is. “The words will still be there,” he says. Wonderful. 

1st Runner Up
Prize: A Flashversary poster with your story; a Flash! Friday poster; a FF mug; a copy of one of the soon-to-be-released Flashdogs anthology

Marie McKay, “Incremental.” This story first captured my eye with its increasing frenzy: stroll, speed, crank it up, hurry, rush. Like Karl & Crystal’s final lines, the double meaning of that last word — rush — lends a power to the story outside of the obvious. This piece absolutely blew me away, because the real story isn’t the one we see at all, in which a man pops out for a walk. In a single word, the final word, the entire story is reframed and set on its head, and we are given an entirely new understanding of what’s going on. That’s skill on some kind of stratosphere we haven’t yet invented a name for. In place of an ordinary stroll, we now have a man desperate to find what’s missing in his life. And look at that marvelously repeated word at the end, like a mountaintop echo: “…I found it/I found my rush.” What was missing: now found. Love. ♥   

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GRAND DRAGON CHAMPION
Prize: A Flashversary poster with your story; a Flash! Friday poster; a FF mug; a bazillion books (listed here); notecards, original artwork, for pete’s sake, just keep your mailbox open for the next couple months, k?

Flashversary 2015

ERIC MARTELL

FOR

“FREAKY FRIDAY”

On Friday, everything changed. I’d been dreaming of my days as a dragonling, soaring too high over the western seas, when my alarm went off.

Kids’ll be up soon, gotta get breakfast ready.

Swinging my legs out of bed, I shuffled to the kitchen.

Wait – when did I have kids?

I scratched my too-soft belly and started a kettle on the stove.

Soft belly?

The next hour was chaos, but at last, we were all out the door, headed for school and work.

High above the western seas, a great roar split the dawn. When did I become a dragon?

♣♣♣

This story has it all: the dragon-tinged frame of the dragonling dream and the roaring dragon; a story that’s telling more than it seems; a compelling protagonist; strong writing (look at all that varied sentence structure! fantastic!); tension. (And no, I didn’t choose it because it’s got a dragon; the dragon’s the fiery frosting on the cake.) This story beats out the rhythm of a common human theme: the dreams of youth vs the often shattered reality of adulthood. Our protagonist isn’t particularly unhappy, but the dreams of “soaring too high over the western seas” play out in sharp contrast to a disappointed (shuffle, too-soft belly, chaos) prosaic reality. Here is a parent consumed by the chores of daily life, who believes dreams have been relegated to the past. This, we find out in the glorious end, is incorrect.

When did I become a dragon? 

Eric has encapsulated in a single line everything I ever hoped Flash! Friday would be. Our dreams don’t have to be left behind: they follow us, roaring. We don’t have to hide our writing, hesitate to post, shy from sending to publications or agents or CreateSpace. No. The theme hammered home in a magnificent, victorious battle cry isn’t that someday we might have value, or that someday, someone might appreciate our writing: it’s that we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We have been dragons all along.

FLASHVERSARY Bash!

WELCOME TO FLASHVERSARY and the final contest here at Flash! Friday before we close our doors. I’m going to save my mushiest stuff for the winners’ post on Tuesday (to sum up: I looooooove you!), but let me just say up front that this contest is always my favorite each year, because it’s when I get to thank and honor you for your amazing writing and all-round gorgeousness. Three years! Who’d have thought it?!

In the meantime, if you’re in the mood and feeling brave/ornery, please feel welcome to follow me on Twitter & friend me on Facebook. I’d love to stay nosy connected.

Here’s a quick look at how Flashversary will work this year: you will have 24 hours, as always, to submit your story on a single prompt. That’s it! No second round this time; we’re keeping it short ‘n’ sweet. As thanks and so everyone can participate, I will be judging alone (however, the stories will be stripped so I can judge blind). Write your most fabulous, write in your favorite genre, play with form if you wish, have a blast. This is the last Flash! Friday contest ever: make it count. ♥ 

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Before we move on to Flashversary itself (and all the yummy PRIZES!), I need to hand the mic to my darlings at Dragon Team Five for a moment — that’s Foy Iver & Holly Geely, of course! — to share some final thoughts with you, as they’d been cruelly denied the opportunity:

Foy: The only thing worse than saying goodbye, is not having the chance to. But I want to be careful not to write a eulogy. 

Thank you, thank you, Rebekah, for your hard work, attention, insights, and time. You push forward the better writer — the better self! — in me, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. 

A thousand thank you’s and imaginary roses (I hope you’re not allergic) to the wonderful, fun, and timely Holly Geely. Folks, she made Team Five tick! 

And thanks to every one of you who made Flash! Friday the supportive womb that it is. As long as the dragon flame burns, fearful yet overcoming, in our ribs than this gathering’s purpose is alive. I’m excited for this community bursting with talent, I’m hopeful that we’ll pursue excellence in bigger and brighter spheres, and I’m certain that the ashes of this phoenix will send us off on bolder wings.

Holly: Without Flash! Friday I would never have had the guts to publish my book or submit my short stories anywhere; I would have remained lost in the void. I’ve met so many lovely people and read so many wonderful stories. I’ve learned how to combat the writers block that I now know was a lack of confidence. I’ve discovered my style. 

Enough about me, though… I want to thank my partner in crime for being so much fun! She has been nothing but encouraging and she laughs at my lame jokes so I hope we are friends forever. 

It’s sad to say goodbye so I won’t; I know I’ll see you all around and I hope we can continue to make flash fiction like champions.

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FLASH! FRIDAY PRIZE BOX

Grand Dragon Champion

-a Flashversary poster printed with your winning story,
-a Flash! Friday commemorative poster,
-a Flash! Friday commemorative mug
-a FF community book & art prize basket including:
FlashDogs Anthologies (following February publication, paper version), from Flashdogs HQ
Mortal MusingsLife Under Examination, by Aria Glazki (ebooks)
Silverwood, by Betsy Streeter (paper version)
The Gantean + The Cedna, by Emily June Street (paper or digital, winner’s choice)
A Man of Character A Matter of Time, by Margaret Locke (paper versions)
Kindle the Flame Mark of Four, by Tamara Shoemaker (paper versions)
Haunting ValleyScrappy Information Security, by Michael Seese (paper versions)
The Dragon’s Toenail, by Holly Geely (paper version)
* The Better SpyThe Yellow Scarf, by Maggie Duncan (paper versions)
On Writing (Stephen King) & Lost Ocean (Johanna Basford coloring book), from Casey Rose Frank
Drawn By a Star (Meg Robinson) & personally crafted notecards, from F.E. Clark
Blood for Blood, by Ben Wolf (ebook)
* Take the Reins, by Siobhan Muir (ebook)
* Wisdom & Folly, Part I & Wisdom & Folly, Part II, by Michele Israel Harper (Kindle/Nook) 
* Original artwork, by M.T. Decker

1st Runner Up:  One Flashversary poster printed with your winning story, a Flash! Friday commemorative poster, a FF commemorative mug, and your choice of an anthology from the upcoming (February) Flashdogs collection   

2nd Runner Up: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster and a FF commemorative item 

3rd Runner Up: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster and a FF commemorative item

Honorable Mentions: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster

Wall of Flame lottery: A Flash! Friday commemorative poster & mug; a copy of Calum Kerr’s The 2014 Flash365 Anthology; a year’s subscription to all three Splickety imprints

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FLASHVERSARY TIME!

(Questions? Tweet @FlashFridayFic or email Flash! Friday here.)

RULESOpen to ALL WRITERS. 

* As always, limit TWO ENTRIES per person, submitted as a comment to this post. Note: Proofread carefully: as I’m judging, no corrections or changes will be made to your entry once you submit it. Usual content restrictions apply.
* Submission window: As always, open from 12:01am until 11:59pm, Friday, Dec 11 Washington, DC time (24 hours)
* What happens next: I (Rebekah) will judge your stories; they will be stripped of ID so I can judge blind. Results will post a day later than normal, on Tuesday.  

WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 at 7:30am Washington, DC time. This will include the winner of the #WallofFlame drawing. 

Note: The Flash! Friday site will officially close on Friday, Dec 18. You will see a static hello screen; but your stories, all the Spotlight & Sixty Seconds interviews, Flash Points, and winners’ pages will remain accessible.  

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Round One Word Count: 100 words exactly, no more, no less. 

How to Enter: Post your entry (maximum of two per writer) here in the comments. Include your word count (100 words exactly, exclusive of title/byline) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one (if not, be sure to link your email address or some way for us to contact you). Be sure to proofread; once your entry is submitted, no changes or corrections are able to be made.

**And now for your final Flashversary prompt!** 

The very first Flash! Friday prompt posted on December 7, 2012. Some of those original writers (there were fewer than 15 that day!) are still writing with us: Maggie Duncan, Anthony Marchese, & Susan Warren Utley are names you might recognize, along with my darling Beth Peterson, who left our world in September.  

And since the end of a story so often echoes its beginning, it’s only right that our final prompt mirrors our first one.

  • Write a 100 word story (100 words exactly, exclusive of title/byline) that begins with the following sentence:

On Friday everything changed.

OPTIONAL PHOTO PROMPT (not required; for inspiration only):

"Balancing on the Brink." Eagle Peak Summit, Chugach Mountains, Alaska. CC2.0 photo by Paxson Woelber.

“Balancing on the Brink.” Eagle Peak Summit, Chugach Mountains, Alaska. CC2.0 photo by Paxson Woelber.

Sixty Seconds with: Catherine Connolly

Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.

(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)

Matchlight

Our newest and final Flash! Friday winner is Catherine Connolly.  A longtime Flash! Friday writer, Poised Pen writing group member, and even a one-time guest judge here!, she’s undoubtedly familiar to all of you. Her win this week, especially as her first and our last, couldn’t be more perfect. Please take a moment to read her winning story on her winner’s page here or at the bottom of today’s interview, then take another couple of minutes to get to know her better below. Since it’s our final Sixty Seconds interview, I’ve lifted the word count restriction. Dearest Catherine, take it away!

1) What about the prompts inspired your winning piece?  Dragons – given the timing of this week’s nostalgic bidding! I couldn’t resist working backwards from the last line, given it seemed so appropriate.  I’ve also been fascinated by the concept of word worlds and the interaction between words and the reader since studying Stylistics a couple of years back, so put a slight spin on that in light of the photo prompt.  Having combined the two in terms of concept, the piece wrote itself very easily after that.

2) How long have you been writing flash? For a couple of years, after @zevonesque brought several pieces of his flash to Poised Pen meetings and Flash! Friday was mentioned.  I’ve been writing flash fiction consistently ever since.

3) What do you like about writing flash?  Many things!  Initially, I began writing flash as a variation on the ‘little and often’ method of writing to produced finished pieces within reasonable timeframes and to make them manageable, as my previous writing had been sporadic and I hadn’t written consistently, save for essays whilst studying, for a number of years.  The brevity of flash still appeals to me and encourages me to think carefully about word choice – and how many I really need!  I do think, however, the changing prompts challenge me to write stories outside of my norm, which stretches me as a writer.   There are certainly a number I would never have attempted had it not been for a specific prompt which encouraged me to think at a slant in terms of genre or style.  Flash is also great for experimenting with form to great effect – I’ve seen great examples of this from both Josh Bertetta and Karl A. Russell previously.

4) What flash advice would you give other writers?  Write many and often. Read many and often. Repeat.

5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why?  Too many FlashDogs to mention, so each and every member of the Pack. Talented writers, all and thoroughly lovely people – a number of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person now on more than one occasion.  A special shout out to FDHQ too – both past and present – for all of their work to date and for producing a number of fabulous anthologies to highlight the work of the Pack.  They work incredibly hard and it is always appreciated.  The Poised Pen people – my writing group – are also a great and friendly bunch.  Some of the FlashDogs have met a number of them too now!  @zevonesque was actually the first person to introduce me to the concept of flash fiction, Flash! Friday as a community (and Twitter too!) and is a great advocate for flash as a form, as well as a thoroughly seasoned judge for a number of the well-known competitions.  None of my flash fiction would be here, save for all of their original encouragement, for providing a supportive community of writers and, sometimes, prompting me to read or share at meetings!

6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which?  As many as possible, time allowing. Flash! Friday aside, currently mainly Angry HourglassLuminous Creatures (which I understand is coming back for another round in January-February). Previously, Three Line Thursday and Microbookends (not nearly as often as I would have liked), plus others now sadly missed (Mid-Week-Blues-Buster, Race the Date, Trifecta, anyone?).

7) What other forms do you write? Poetry on occasion and short stories.  I’ve also got the beginnings of what I think is likely to be a novelette sitting in a Word file on my computer for expansion.   I’d actually love to try writing a script or play at some point, subject to the right idea presenting itself to me!

8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? Dark, speculative fiction or mythologically based stories.  It’s great fun to write your own rules as you’re going along!

9) Tell us about a WIP. I’ve been working on contributions for pending FlashDogs and Poised Pen anthologies.  Flash and poetry – with a drabble to complete!  A couple of flash pieces are calling for expansion too.  Currently, however, an idea for a world made up of of nightmares and a child protagonist is whispering itself to me…

10) How do you feel about dragons? Their Mother has created an incredible community and nurtured numerous fledgling writers with her time, energy and generosity.  Thank you, Rebekah.  Now it’s for all of us to fan the flames, to continue to support one another and carry on sending our stories out into the world.

♥♥♥

Catherine’s winning story:

Through Lettered Lands

There’s a world of words, they told me.
Mythic in size and proportion.
The magic admits those
who write a sentence on entering,
leaving chocolate drops behind
to mark their route through lettered lands.

Some territories are unknown, they told me.
You must map them yourself,
with other explorers.
They seek you out, supportive,
once you know where to find them.
They run together in packs.

Take care, little wanderer, they told me –
once hunted, few care to return from
the beauty of script scribbled in spaces,
blank, ‘til creation begins.

It expands on arrival, they told me,
so few know how large it’s become,
save for those who’ve travelled since beginning
their journey some long-score prompts passed.

It inhabits hearts and minds, they tell me –
take it wherever you go,
its end starting whole new beginnings,
cartographic creators’ creations,
living inside ever after, full grown.

Explorers seek it, perpetual.

All write on entering –
Here be dragons.