Tag Archive | Sinead O’Hart

Fire&Ice: Sol 7/19

§ Rebekah says: Welcome back! As in so many parts of the world, it’s been another fire-and-brimstone week here in the United States. Flames of all sorts rage unabated through forests and courtrooms, hospitals and hearts. This week many of us especially anguish to grasp how police, in a wild, thunderous assault, could have killed a young woman who’d been asleep in her own apartment—Breonna Taylor—yet escape even the smallest hint of responsibility for her death. In a nation whose glorious, foundational declarations were carved on the backs of the enslaved, what even does “justice” mean? What can it mean? What should it mean? It’s these and many similar questions that have driven us over the years here at Flash! Friday—that haunt and compel me personally—, and that we share for your consideration this week. Thank you for being here. 

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.

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Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire dragon or ice dragon‘s requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice dragon’s element, and word count. That’s it!

Be sure to review the contest rules here.

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JUDGES: Today’s judges are Sinéad O’Hart and Craig Anderson. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.

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AND HERE IS YOUR PROMPT:

Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between the fire dragon or ice dragon’s offering), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must include all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 7/19

Eternal Flame Memorial (Nizhny Novgorod). Creative Commons 4.0 photo by Andrew Shiva.

Fire & Ice Prompt

Required elements:

Fire dragon option: Include an act of justice

OR

Ice dragon option: Include an act of mercy

Today’s word count: Between 190-199

Fire&Ice Sol 1/19: WINNERS

§ Rebekah says: You did it! You battled the fire & ice dragons on Sol 1 and survived! We’re so grateful to the hordes of you who joined Friday’s competition, and who came back over the weekend to support each other by commenting. As writers, whether we’re cobwebby seasoned or brand new, there’s so much we can learn from each other. Thank you! Be sure to drop by this Wednesday for our first Flash! Past feature, where we’ll update you on what’s going on with a favorite (or in this case, favourite) Flash! Friday writer.  

§ Foy says: Well, that was spectacular! Landing in any arena can stiffen the spines but especially one dominated by other battle-scaled beasts. My admiration and affection to you all. The heart of Fire&Ice beats most boldly when we reach out, when we speak up, when we serve, and you all have done that here. We are grateful for each of you.

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Quick note on judging: Six pairs of judges across multiple nationalities and genres are taking turns reading your submissions (meet the judges here). As soon as each contest round closes, your stories are first stripped of all personal info before being sent on for judging. This represents our effort to maximize every story’s chances, whether it’s the first or hundredth story you’ve written. ♥ 


SOL 1’S JUDGES SAY:

Craig Anderson: 2020 finally redeems itself! When I got the email saying that Flash! Friday was back on I whooped and cheered like a little kid. During the hiatus I spoke of FF regularly to anyone that would listen, harking back to the ‘good old days’ when a bunch of awesome writerly folks would have a virtual shin-dig every week. It was so very lovely to see both familiar faces and sparkly new people joining in the fun.

And what fun it has been! Judging with Sinéad was an absolute joy, and I learned a whole lot along the way. We had some really great back and forth where she pointed out the subtleties that made your stories really shine. There were several instances where Sinéad helped me to better appreciate a story at a whole other level, picking up on those words that seemed so innocent at first pass, but so very meaningful upon closer inspection. That is one of the things that I always love about flash fiction, every word has to pull its weight. A 150 word story, that at first appears to be a fun puddle to splash around in, can be as deep as the ocean when you take a moment to break the surface.

A great example of that is the single line from Mark King‘s The Return, ‘like an iceberg, his visible scars were just the edges.’ Such great imagery that both ties in to the prompt and paints an achingly vivid picture. That same story features some beautiful contrast, from the darkness and bleakness at the start, to the cerulean blueskies of hope at the end. Great stuff!

Another special mention goes to Margaret Locke‘s Two Halves Make a Hole, which also played with that mid-point shift. The flip from two people complementing each other to consuming each other was perfectly executed, and from that point on the sentences switch from long and flowing to short and punchy. It is a perfect example of using a shift in tone to emphasize the themes of the story. 

Those were just a couple of examples, but there were so many great stories to pick from. You lot made it extremely hard to choose the winners, but choose we must!


Sinéad O’Hart: What a fantastic start to Fire&Ice! There were so many wonderful tales, each burning with volcanic power or thrumming with frozen majesty, that reading them was a privilege. I’m so pleased to have been first into the judging seat, alongside the marvellous Craig Anderson, and luckily we didn’t differ very much on our choices (it was a small skirmish, I assure you; neither of us lost more than a scale or two from our weathered dragon hides!)

I wanted to begin by thanking everyone. Writing flash is such a skill, and when a piece works – it *really* works. There were stories here which unfolded on a second or third reading, revealing more meaning tucked away in their tightly-controlled prose; there were tales which made me laugh, and others that stopped my breath. We had many stories about portals and awakening beasts, and each of them brought something new and unique to the table. We had fury, we had pain, we had loss and grief and love and more, all of it, in these tiny tales. What great writers you all are.

I want to make special mention of Taryn Noelle Kloeden‘s The Right to Cold, which will stay with me always, both the title and the tale itself. I also loved the glimpse of Jormungand the World-Serpent in Steph EllisUnlikely (my medievalist heart glowed). And, needless to say, the funny tales – particularly the meta-stories – brought a smile to my leathery chops. Thanks to Bart Van Goethem‘s The Awakening, and Esther van den Heuvel‘s untitled tale which gave us all a mention. I loved the final ‘Snap’ in Artie DintersLast One, and the closing image of Brett Milam‘s Crackle; brilliant stories, both. But, sadly, winners must be picked! And so, here we go.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Reflection by Becky Spence

SJO: I loved the feel of this tale; the sorrow and finality, the sense of threat, the separation from family, and the imagery of the petals and the water.

CA: This story put one-word sentences to great use to break up the flow of the story, punctuating it and really emphasizing the word in question. It staggers along, disjointed and bleak, with crying and bodies. Then when the family appears it starts to flow again, and the imagery becomes poetic, with tumbling cherry blossoms and laughter. The way that the petal surfaces does a great job of bringing that happiness into the ‘real’ world, and then just as suddenly it is snatched away again.

Untitled by Betsy Streeter

SJO: We were united in our appreciation for this hilarious depiction of a choir of singing (and burping) caves, and the use of all-dialogue was wonderful.

CA: I loved this one because it does something really well that you could never do in a longer story: it only uses dialogue to tell the story. So much character comes through in the banter between the voices and the playful way they tease each other. I also liked that it took things in a different direction, the prompt was so icy and bleak, and yet this story is light and funny.

RUNNER UP

In the Maw of Gul-Go-Thor by Phil Coltrane

SJO: What begins as just another ‘expedition to the frozen wastes’ story turns completely on its tail with that fantastic last line. This piece of flash shows how powerful the form can be – it’s a fully-developed story in its own right, but one which explodes into a million possibilities by the end.

CA: Wow, what a great example of how a single line can twist a whole story on its head. Its always the sign of a great flash fiction when the first thing i do after reading it is immediately go back and read it again! I loved how all the senses were invoked, the sharpness of the view, the moaning of the ice, the smell of perfume in the air, even the throat and cheeks that burned like whiskey. It’s hard work to convey so much information is such a short piece of flash, but here everything flows together so seamlessly to paint a vivid picture.

And now: for the very first time, we are pleased to announce the very first 

FIRE&ICE WINNER

CASEY ROSE FRANK !!!

for

How Do You Know”

SJO – This story slipped past me on first reading, and it was on a second read that its deeper meaning opened up before my eyes. I loved the play on ‘ice’ (not just the literal ice, but the diamond on Cora’s finger and, possibly, the cold shard in her heart too), and the incredible subtleties of meaning – the ring painfully misplaced, the cold hands inside the glove, the freedom of Cora’s thoughts compared with the stasis of her body and her situation. A wonderful and worthy winner.

CA — I was similar to Sinéad in that I had to read this one a couple of times to truly appreciate it. That subtlety is one of the most powerful things about this story, it creeps up on you. The imagery is quiet and unassuming, the thought about the waves travelling across the ocean to lap upon a warm beach, or the water pulsing in time with her heart beat. Then the layers of meaning start to bob to the surface. The water that can’t stay still is suddenly cemented in place as a glacier, but it never truly stops moving, it is still only ‘semi-permanent.’ Her diamond ring twisted on her finger, awkward and painful, and a final pang of jealousy that the water is free to flow away as it pleases, while she remains trapped. There’s just so much going on, and the whole thing is perfectly encapsulated in only 160 words. 

Congratulations, Casey! Here’s your winning story:

How Do You Know

Cora had grown up amongst the constant current of rivers and lakes, and spent most summers submerged in an ocean that pulsed in the tandem with her heart.
But here she found water made land.
She stared at the ripples below, streaming away from the boat, perhaps going on to become a wave against a warmer shore. Or something as grand as a glacier, like a waterfall.
A sliver of ice broke off into the water and bobbed away.
She wondered how such solid semi-permanence existed right up against something incapable of keeping still.
How did the water choose?
Elliot’s gloved hand found hers and squeezed. She felt the sharp diamond edge of her ring twisted the wrong way against her fingers, awkward and painful under the fabric that still left her hands cold.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
She smiled and agreed it was, but kept watching the water that flowed beyond the horizon, moving farther than she could see.

 

Fire&Ice: Sol 1/19

WELCOME, welcome, dragons and fledglings alike! We’re so glad you’re here. Fire&Ice is, like its mother dragon Flash! Friday, a weekly international flash fiction writing contest. You’ll find the details below (don’t worry; it’s easy & you’ll catch on fast!). Note that this contest will run a scant 19 sols, every Friday from August 14 – December 18. Today is Sol 1/19.

Who Are We??? You are right to be suspicious, especially if you wrote for FF back in the day and the memories are setting you trembling. Or if you’re from #VSS365 and wondering what these dragons and #FlashDogs are all about. I’m Rebekah Postupak, your fire dragon and general rabble-rouser, and my partner-in-mischief is the shimmering ice dragon Deborah Foy. It’s our privilege hosting Fire&Ice, a dragons’ lair of glowing story-embers to reignite the flash community and uplift spirits in this year that has been a year.

What’s New/Different? We’ve a whole dragon weyr at your service: twelve magnificent power-writers of flash (two each week) to judge your stories, and a valiant crew of dragon-minions to prep your stories so the weyr can judge blind. In addition to the weekly contest (Fridays) and results (Mondays), you will also find Flash! Future (Sundays, where we rave about current favorite writers & writerly things) and Flash! Past (Wednesdays, where we update you on some of our favorite Flash! Friday heroes). Come often! Read! Write! Comment!

QUESTIONS? Tweet us at @FlashFridayFic, shoot us a note here, or tap any of the judges.

§ Rebekah says: This contest is for you. Yes, you! Thank you for coming. Your voice, your words, are magic; you are the very lifeblood of this community. Welcome and welcome back, beloveds, from the bottom of my heart. I can’t wait to soar through these few precious sols together.

§ Foy says: Welcome, brave writers! It is my happiness and my honor to serve you in the coming months. Whether you’re new to flash or an old FlashDog with new fire in your belly, you are found family. Let us encourage you, support you, and share your words with the world. We need you now more than ever.

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Fire&Ice Guidelines: 

Time: The Fire&Ice contest is open between exactly 12:01am to 11:59pm on Fridays, Washington DC time (check the current time here). Entries submitted outside of this window are welcome, but will be incinerated ineligible to win.

How to Play: Write and submit (in the comments on this post) an original story 1) based on the photo prompt and 2) including EITHER the fire or ice requirement. Pay attention to the 3) varying word count constraints! Story titles (optional) are not included in the word limit. At the end of your story, add your name or twitter handle, whether you chose the fire or ice element, and word count. That’s it!

Contest Results/Prizes: Results will post Monday morning, Washington DC time. Your prize? A sizzling F&I e-badge, our glacial admiration, and white-fire blazes of social media glory.

Those Pesky Rules: Your entry must consist of your own original work. Stories violating copyright in any way will be deleted. This is a general audience contest (no minimum/maximum/mandatory Earth age to play), so please no gratuitous sex or profanity.

Read & Comment! Making supportive comments on each other’s stories is the very heart of the Flash! Friday/Fire&Ice community. Read something you like? Tell the writer so! Be specific. Be authentic. Be kind. ♥ All writers of all levels are welcome here.

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Judges: Today’s judges are Craig Anderson and Sinéad O’Hart. Check out their bios on the Fire&Ice Judges page.

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AND HERE IS YOUR PROMPT:

Each Fire&Ice prompt includes 1) a photo, 2) a required element (choose between fire OR ice), and 3) a specific word count. Your story must meet all three requirements to be eligible to win.

Photo for Sol 1/19

 

800px-Hope_Bay-2016-Trinity_Peninsula–Arena_Glacier_03

“Arena Glacier” Antarctic Peninsula. CC3.0 photo by Godot13

Fire & Ice Prompt

Required element (choose one):

include something in the air

OR

include something in the water

Today’s word count: between 150-160 (inclusive)