Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Monday, August 03, 2015

Amy's Agent Flash Fiction contest results

Ok, this is getting REALLY difficult youse guyz. The entries were amazing.  There were so many outstanding candidates I had a hard time deciding how to judge. Was this your collective Revenge On the Agent? I can hear you cackling with glee as we speak.

Herewith the results:

Special recognition for a great descriptive phrase
Marc P 7:08am
"office pampered and buttered with compliments from a veritable armada of sycophants."

Alice Reads 5:38am
"his bullet silent as light"

I started out making a list of all the innovative uses of the prompt words. 
I had to stop after 20.
There were just too many.



I love these two sentences
Eve Messenger 9:43am
"At the center of the magenta tablecloth, an armada of words spreads out before us like fine cheese. We rearrange the words and dab at our mouths with literary napkins."

This sentence just cracked me up
the drolled 10:44am
"When Amy Paradise returned home from work she was frustrated to find that someone had left dried toast out on the counter and a dead biker on the floor"


This phrase totally cracked me up
kdjames 7:16pm 
"charm-ada of gifts!"

Not really a story, but perfect in a very lovely way!
Elissa M 12:40am

Not quite a story but scary as hell
SiSi 10:10am
Nikola Vukoja 7:53pm

Not quite a story, but what a start to a novel!
Janice Grinyer 9:45am
Marie Wallace 10:38 am

Not quite a story, but oh, so lovely and subtle
allierat 9:10pm


Not quite a story but beautiful writing
Marc P 7:08am
Just Al 9:30am



Special recognition for using every prompt from the last FOUR (or is it more?) contests
French sojourn 8:20am

Within ten hours, our Armada was toast.

The Alien fleet watched our Flagship Indiana, its flimsy shields flamed, just disintegrate. Tragically; our new-fangled plasma drives waffled between firing and syncing with the Combat-Nav. We couldn’t tear through their defenses; and they easily tattooed our Dreadnoughts with torpedoes.

Our earthly paradise didn’t fare better. In this night of infamy, our defenses were exposed as a house of cards. The agent for our loss was Professor Donglelieb, who wrote the book on Neuro-cannons, but managed to totally bangle our defensive batteries.

We capitulated, but they just swarmed and cocooned us for later.


And Lance is at it again, prompts from last four contests as well. We may need to create a subcategory for these guys!

Dongle missed his cereal, and an amygdala hijack – a paradisease with tears and magenta auras – upset his day. And Dingle was making it worse.

Fangle it all to hell. Buy the bangle, and let's go.”

A tattooed charmadater waited at the house for some Indiana Jones role play. When she dangled her whip, his glands shifted to tenth gear.

Man, let's book!”

“Watch.”

“Don't waffle on me now.”

“She'll like this.”

“Miss flimflam? She's totally paid.”

“I'll buy some cereal.”

“No store brand!”

“Post Toasties.”

“Grand moogli googli!”

These are the semi-finalists:
CynthiaMc 9:01am
QuirkyElf 11:20am
Matthew Wuertz 12:48pm
W.R. Gingel 11:58pm
Lynn Person 12:20am


Here are the nine finalists
(1) Kitty 7:07am
WARDEN: Boon, I know you're wounded and agents have the cabin surrounded.

BOON: They won't hafta wait long, what with Luther's arm a'danglin' like it is and my gamy leg.

You're surrendering?

Surrender? Don'cha know, we're headed for paradise! Anyway, s'not why I called.

Then why did you?

We figure we oughta do one decent thing before we go tits-up. Thought you'd wanna know it was that hack Palmer who helped us escape. Adiós, Warden.



LUTHER: Why'd you toast Palmer? What'd he do?

BOON: He's screwin' my wife. Let's get this over with.

Got enough lead?

Two slugs.

Make'em count.

This is a terrific little revenge story, tightly written and very visual. 



(2) Linda Strader 8:49am

Rosita pouted. “You’ve joined the Armada Española. How could you?”

Mario knelt before her. “But querida, you encouraged me! And just think, I’ll be stationed in the dreamy Canary Islands!”

Rosita dabbed a lace hanky at the corners of her dark eyes. “I’ll never get to see you.”

“It’s paradise! I’ll send for you. Let’s toast my great fortune.” He poured a flute of champagne.

Rosita smoothed the folds of her magenta dress, accepted the glass, and sipped. At last, she thought, she could be with Francesco.

Mario smiled. At last, he thought, he could be with Isabella.

I love twists, and this is a double twist! Even better.


(3) Christinadalcher 9:45am

Amy. noun
a female given name, from the French 'aimée' (see Wife; see Indochina, specifically, Viet Nam)

Agent.
noun
a person or thing that produces a specified effect (see Orange)

Armada.
noun
a fleet of warships (see Huey Helicopter)

Toast.
verb
cook or turn brown by exposure to heat (see Deforestation)

Paradise.
noun
an ideal or idyllic place or state (see History Books)

Amy.
noun
a female given name, from the French 'aimée' (see Widow)




Holyfuckamoli.  The form is brilliant, the style so lean and elegant it could cut glass.  Talk about minimalist! I love this.



(4) Colin Smith 11:22am
"Paradise in Your Hand": to astute patrons, the sign was clearly for a gambling club. Troy entered, winding around a myriad of tables and tuxes to find the bar.

A scotch with a smile. Troy smiled back and downed the drink with shaking hand.

"Another, sir?"

Sir. He looked a gentleman, but didn't feel like one. Wouldn't harm a daisy. But just ask Daisy and her broken neck. He would live with regret the rest of his life.

Which right now was about thirty minutes.

Troy knew of a game out back. Roulette. Invitation only.

Tonight he accepted the invitation.


For an exile subsisting on kale on Carkoon, Colin is sure turning out some good stuff. This has a lovely subtle ending that requires the reader to think "wait, what?" an then "ahhh" as you realize what's going on. And props for knowing when to quit. It's so easy to do the "hey, see this!!" kind of thing in short pieces, to make sure your reader gets it. Colin trusted his readers here. Masterful.




(5) Laura Mary 5:20pm
Our night in paradise was ruined, thanks to a sentient toaster.

Within minutes of the attack the hotel had descended into bedlam; an armada of kitchen implements skewering and slicing their bloody way through the foyer.

‘I’m sorry this happened on our honeymoon, darling’
‘I’m sorry it happened at all, I wonder if- ’

I’ll never know what Amy was wondering before her life, and our marriage was cut short. Her unlikely agent of death; a spork.

We were all so busy worrying about Skynet, no one ever suspected the toasters.

How can you resist anything that starts with a sentient toaster?  This is hilarious.  "No one ever suspected the toasters" should be a T-shirt.  This made me laugh out loud, and humor is really hard to pull off with prompts and a tight word count. Very nice job.



(6) Ashes 5:54pm
Amy was born today.
A nurse said I was lucky.
'Boys are rough,
girls are easy.'

I wondered if she'd sat with a group of girls,
crawled into their inner circle,
where secrets are used as weapons,
and manipulation reigns supreme.

Stings from backhanded compliments.
Pangs from knives in her back.
Solitary confinement from exclusion.

Ever been insulted with a smile,
in a fool's paradise of lies?
A veritable armada of psychological torture
by those agents of deception;
perfectly lipsticked snakes in the grass.

I left Amy at the hospital.
My arms, once toasty from her warmth,
ice cold.


 Incredibly evocative. And such great phrases. This is beautiful and ice-cold simultaneously.
Gorgeous writing.





(7) Tell Baily 6:43pm
The toast did not practice monogamy. It coupled equally well with butter or jam, or the chemical reagent I had spread over it. Now it passed like a ship through the armada of breakfast dishes on the table. Past frigates of bacon, and a galleon of milk. Finding safe harbor in the mouths of my masters.
It would mix with the poison I had blended into the tea, sending each diner to whatever paradise their gods promised. Then I would be free of my servitude, and required to cook only for myself.

"The toast did not practice monogamy" might be one of the best opening lines EVER. With a great opening line it can be a real challenge to maintain the quality in the rest of the story. We've all seen stories that go splat. This one doesn't splat at all.


(8) Just Jan 10:57pm
"Who's the new kid?" asked Mouser.

Reilly shrugged. "Name's Magenta. Raised on organic catnip farm. Adamant that he doesn't eat meat."

Mouser shook his head. "Why live in Paradise if you're a vegetarian?"

"Here he comes," said Reilly. "Ask him yourself."

"Hey, kid," Mouser called. "Ever eat mice?"

"Ewww, no!" Magenta wrinkled his nose. "Do you?"

Mouser winked at Reilly. "Nah. Too gamy for me. We like to keep them as pets, though. In fact, there goes one of our favorites."

"What's his name?" Magenta asked, as the plump rodent scurried in front of them.

Mouser pounced. "Toast!"

"Organic cat nip farm" and vegetarian cats. What's not to love. And that is a hilarious final line. 





(9) John Frain 1:57am

Spring
A toast. I lift my glass. No one – her included – hears me say, To Amy!
My secret desires scream louder than cries from a steamy jungle. She’s my paradise.

Summer
Two dancing roses, Amy and I, practicing xenog
amy together.
Open my
amygdala and every emotion centers on her. She doesn’t notice me?

Autumn
She’s in every waking thought – every sunbe
amy sentence.
Her daydre
amy, magenta lips call to mine – but get my name wrong!
(I’d live with polyg
amy.)

Winter
An armada of se
amy cops at the door. Handcuffs. Miranda.
Stalker? I thought the cockam
amy bitch didn’t even know I existed.


 oh man oh man oh man.  I knew this was a finalist the instant I read it. Copied and pasted, then noticed not all the prompt words were bolded.

Then noticed the structure of the story supports the story itself. Oh my god, it's brilliant.

I had to look up xenogamy, and it took me a minute to figure out why it was the perfect word there.

This is masterful. A complete story, innovative structure, subtle word choices and a twist at the end. 




It wasn't a slam dunk; in fact it was a very tough choice between two breathtaking entries.  In the end I gave it to the entry that had more story.

The winner is John Frain 1:57am
John, drop me a line and let me know what kind of book you'd like to get as your prize.

 Congratulations to all the finalists for amazing work, thanks to all of you who entered. It's a lot of fun to read your entries and see your amazing minds at work. You are a talented bunch!

111 comments:

Donnaeve said...

Congratulations to all! These really were superb entries. Outstanding.

Kitty said...

CONGRATS to John for his winning entry! And thanks again to Janet for holding these flash fiction contests. I can't tell you how valuable they are to me.

AJ Blythe said...

Well done everyone, especially John for his winning entry. I'm so glad I don't have to pick a winner. Think I'd move to Carkoon to avoid choosing!

Laura Mary said...

I missed Ashes entry at the time, but having survived 7 years at an all girls school, that one definitely resonated with me!

I was so impressed with all the entries managing to use up to 20(?) prompts words from prior contests - where does it end though?!? I sense a bizarre challenge in the making here...

Lisa Bodenheim said...

So MANY fab entries. And really enjoy watching the contest between sojourner French and Lance. And love the comments Janet shares about the mentioneds and the winners.

Congrats to the top 9 and especially to John Frain.

Colin Smith said...

I have to say, this was hard. Not just the prompt words, but after the last few contests, knowing how EXTREMELY tough the competition was going to be, and knowing how much I was going to have to up my game. Seriously, I'm honored I made the top nine. And John's entry? Oh yes--clear winner. Looks like I'll have to add another helping of kale if I'm going to keep up. As for winning? If you guys maintain this level of competition, I'm going to have to BUY a copy of THE BREACH...! :)

Just Jan said...

Wow! I am honored to be a finalist, but was blown away by John Frain's entry. And so many mentions, semi-finalists and finalists--the competition here is really getting fierce!

S.D.King said...

Congrats to everyone. So many good entries!

The dead biker on the floor - who does that? I laughed outloud.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

There were so many great stories. Congratulations to all who entered. The ones who were mentioned and finalists. John, what a great story.
well, done, everyone.

CynthiaMc said...

Congrats, John! And woo hoo to everyone! So much fun!

Colin Smith said...

And lest anyone thinks I was just being nice to the other finalists, semi-finalists, mentions, and everyone else in my last comment, I have a confession:

I nearly opted out of this one.

Yup. I looked at those words and for a moment I thought, "There's no way I'm going to come up with something that will be good enough based on the entries for the last contest!" I mean, I thought I had a clever idea with the tattoo thing. I posted my entry and then started reading the others (FYI, I write my entries the day before and then post them before reading anyone else's). Wow. There's such an incredible range and depth of imagination out there. The innovative ways you all make use of the words, and the creative forms you come up with. I did not in any way take my finalist placing for granted. And I admit to being a bit--a lot--intimidated this week.

I want to confess this to you, because I know there are still a lot of lurkers out there who DON'T enter for this very reason. So, why did I enter this week?

I realized: DUHH!!! Isn't that why I enter these contests? The competition forces me to try harder. To push harder. Maybe take a risk that might pay off or might not. Because winning the contest, or even placing in the finalists or semi-finalists--as wonderful and rewarding as that is--is not the biggest win here. The biggest win is for MY WRITING. These contests, and that cursed gauntlet you guys throw down at my feet every time, push me to be a better writer. I can't be satisfied with "that'll do." You make me strive for awesome. And if I'm going to write ANYTHING worth publishing, that HAS to be my standard.

So, I didn't win this week. But I did. In fact, we all did. And while John should feel proud of winning the prize, he should feel especially proud of the fact that entries like his are what push us all to be better at our craft.

So don't be afraid to enter. You might not place the first few times--or ever. Doesn't matter. If each contest jabs your imagination and kicks your creativity to greater and greater heights, the long-run win will be yours.

OK... back to the kale...

french sojourn said...


Colin:
Great comment as usual. I agree wholeheartedly, I try each contest to write in a different style. This contest I packed in four sets of prompt words to see how far I could stretch my writing. Was it a silly exercise? sure, but having Lance join in made it a real challenge. The end result should always be ones writing. I don't do it for the glory, I selfishly do it for hopefully honing the craft of writing. I learned that cramming twenty words into a hundred words makes for awkward blocky writing. We'll see if Lance is up for a full house.

And to any people that read and are timid to jump into shark infested waters....know this. It is fun, addictive, and you get to have other people rewarded by seeing a bit of someone new.

Jump in, the waters fine....pay no attention to that dorsal over there.

Cheers Hank.

Theresa said...

Congratulations to John, to all of the top 9, and to everyone inspired by Amy's great accomplishment. Colin's comment is a great encouragement to all who hesitate to submit an entry.

french sojourn said...


RATS!

Pardon my manners;
John, I gave up competing against you after your first ever entry. Love your take on the prompts.

Congrats to the finalists, seems as though I'll never squeeze into that starting line-up. Very well done all.

And as always Cheers to that presence behind the electronic curtain, for her time and effort that she puts into the contests.

I don't think there is anyone that enters these word conundrums that doesn't emerge on the other side of each contest a slightly better writer.

Debra Giuffrida said...

Oh wow, oh wow! Congrats John Frain!
All these entries were awesome.
Love the brilliance of them all! Can't wait for the next one!

SiSi said...

Congratulations to John and the other finalists, semi-finalists, honorable mentions, and everyone who entered. I agree wholeheartedly with Colin of Carkoon's comment--the competition is fierce, but friendly, and entering these contests has definitely made me a better writer.

Laura Mary said...

Colin - I nearly skipped this one too, I had no inspiration for it and kept looking at previous winners entries feeling inadequate! By the time Saturday evening came around I decided to stop trying to clever and just be daft instead. Honestly I was half expecting a telling off for not taking the competition seriously, so was *very* shocked to see my name in the list of finalists!

French sojourn - I am going to try and join you in trying a different style in each contest. I don't think I'll be packing in any extra prompt words though! *tips hat*

Craig said...

Congratulations all around. Simply awesome, even more so if Amy could handle it all with equanimity. It was all in fun, Amy. Hope they didn't drive you to drink, at least not more than normally.

On the weather front:

The Nullschool map shows Guillermo heading toward Hawaii.

The Weather Channel is doing live broadcasts from down the street. I don't know how much rain at the house because the eight inch rain gauge is overflowing.

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats to some great entries, and great finalists. I don't know how you could possibly get all 20 words in a 100 word story. I tried something different, to break up all the prompt words into one or more words. I must admit the story suffered as a result.

Maybe I'll try first person next time. Haven't used first person in a long time.

Colin - I knew yours was a finalist as I read it. You too broke most of the prompt words into more than one word but were able to do it fluidly and much more skillfully. Yours was one of my favorites. As was the one about the kid named 'Infamy', (very clever) except that with one I didn't quite get the ending. I can be a bit dense about some of these subleties, though.

Dena Pawling said...


To add to Colin's motivational speech --

When I was in high school, my Sophomore English class was the typical “read and analyze the classics”. The first book we were assigned was Animal Farm. I read it. Twice. It was about a bunch of farm animals, and the pigs were not very nice. That's all I got out of it, even after the class discussion. My English teacher didn't want me to fail the class because I was otherwise a good student, so he sent me to speak with my counselor, who told me the book was “about communism”. He also had to walk me thru it, step by step, before I was able to understand it.

The second book was Pearl of Great Price. Even after discussion with my counselor, I didn't understand it, beyond the basic story line.

I tutored in the ESL class for the remainder of the year. My Junior and Senior years were similar. I read 1-2 books, discussed them with my counselor, then tutored ESL. By the time I graduated, I was an ace in grammar, spelling, etc, and “marginally competent” in the rest. Plus, I was fluent in Spanish =)

When I typed that high school story into an email and sent it to my CP who was always commenting how on-the-nose my writing was, his reply basically said he laughed so hard he ended up sitting on the floor. “The pigs weren't very nice!!!!”

Then he helped me craft my on-the-nose style of writing to improve my ms, give me my "voice". All my CPs have been awesome. Each one helps me with a different weak area.

So the point is, more than half of the stories Janet comments with “so subtle” or “trust the reader”, when I read it I had no idea what it meant. I go back over those stories again. Sometimes I can figure them out. Sometimes not. But I still learn something.

Janet will NEVER use those comments on any of my stories.

But I will never voluntarily read a book that makes me work that hard either. I'm old and tired and I read for enjoyment. I spend 8+ working hours per day trying to make my legal arguments clear and convincing. I can now use that style in my writing.

I know I can't be the only person who reads some of the finalists, in EVERY contest, and wonders what-the-heck that story was about. So if you're lurking because you're clueless, just know that I'm out here too, equally clueless, and still writing.

Not because I might win a prize [altho, being human, that would be nice], but because I learn something and it's fun. Occasionally, I get a mention. Once I got a mention from another blog reader in the comments. That was awesome. And so far anyway, NO ONE has ever said my stories were stupid. Now honestly, maybe some were thinking that. But that's gonna happen WHEN I'm published, so I need to get past the learning curve at some point. Why not here?

Join in. It's fun.

And congrats to everyone, mentioned or not. Just showing up is worth points.

Colin Smith said...

Timothy: Wow, thanks for that. I was sure yours would at least make it to the finals.

I think this is the first time I tried splitting the words over more than one word. I wasn't sure that was permitted, so I checked last week's finalists and saw that someone did it and Janet didn't slap them for it. And I chide myself for feeling like I needed to ask permission. That's why some of you do so well. You don't look to see if it's okay to be funny, or okay to find some crazy use of the words--you just DO IT. Kudos to you! :)

bjmuntain said...

Congrats to John, the finalists and mentions, and to all who entered. A terrific effort, all!

And once again: Congrats to Amy!

Craig: Keep dry - or at least, keep safe.

John Frain said...

I'm likely more thrilled than I'm supposed to be, but every time I read the entries I'm overwhelmed by the talent here. ("InDiana." C'mon, who can top that ending?!) So to be mentioned with all this talent is exhilarating.

Colin already said it best, so I'll just add one thing: You're a winner the moment you hit "Publish your comment" because your effort improves your writing. I literally feel it every time I'm working on one of these.

This entry was difficult. I wanted to pay homage to Amy for achieving what so many of us are after, so I first thought of Amazing Amy in Gone Girl. I tied in my background in officiating basketball (working title "You're Gone, Girl") but at 250 words without an ending yet I realized that wasn't working.

Stalking Amy seemed like the next logical thing. Right? Amy? Where'd you go?

Colin Smith said...

Dena: Since you mentioned the "trust the reader" thing, and that was one of the things Janet complimented me for, may I address your comment?

I think "trust the reader" goes along with "know your audience." It's very possible that with a different judge, or writing for a different genre, my story's end would fall flat. In other words, when I wrote that, I assumed knowledge that someone who reads/write crime, suspense, or other similar genres would have that would give context and meaning to what was unsaid in my story. And while that means, unfortunately, some (perhaps a lot) of the many blog readers might not get it, I was fairly certain Janet would since she reads and reps that kind of thing. And since she's judging the contest, she is my primary audience, and I'm primarily writing for her. If the meaning and/or "punch-line" of my story hung on a Doctor Who reference, she might have passed over it.

Anyway, that's my take on "trust the reader." :)

christinadalcher said...

Congrats to John and all other mentioned or in the finalist group! I knew John's piece set the bar high!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

The bar keeps being set higher and higher. We must reach or wither. Great entries, Congrats to all. And the rest, jump in next time. It's fun.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Colin,

I agree these contests are great exercises for the little gray cells. I've always enjoyed writing short stories and flash fiction.

Unfortunately or fortunately, my brain is wrapped around the new WIP and I hesitate to throw up detours when it's flowing.

Just Al said...


Thanks to Janet for running this contest, for getting the results out so quickly, and for the mention.

Congratulations to John Frain. The obsession with Amy, as set into each line of the story, was brilliant.

Finally, if you're on the fence on entering one of these contests, consider this a little push to the "What the hell? May as well enter" side. This was my first crack at a 100-word story, and I have to say, it was fun and helpful. Being aware of the word limit, but not focused on it, my "first draft" was 143 words. The chopping was a great exercise, especially as I start the second edit of my ms.

Colin Smith said...

Julie W: I think we can assume my comments were no way directed to you. After all, you're hardly shy about sharing stories! And I believe you have entered in the past.

All the best with the WiP! :)

Amanda Capper said...

Congrats, John, excellent entry. And to all the finalists (I always enjoy Colin's 100 words).

bjmuntain said...

Dena, I never liked the 'read and analyze' classes, and I took them in university, too. Funny, but I could understand everything about E. E. Cummings' poems, but most subtle symbolism just flew right over my head. Unless the symbolism was inherent in the work - for example, the theme of 'big brother' in 1984 - I didn't get it. Water as a symbol of sensuality? Nope. Water as a symbol of death? Only if someone dies in it.

When asked to analyze something, to look for symbolism, I would find things to talk about. But they were invariably the wrong things. I might think that it's obvious that this object means that, symbolically, but no, that's not what the standard literary teaching is. And so, because my symbols were not the 'literary' symbols, I gave up on symbolism and 'literary' works.

Give me E. E. Cummings. That man could make you see and feel anything in a bunch of what might look like nonsense. The Charge of the Light Brigade was very real, very solid. I was *there*. The French Lieutenant's Woman? I barely remember it, except that it was sad.

I have to admit, I didn't get Colin's ending, until Janet pointed it out. Sometimes subtlety is lost on me, I'm afraid. Once I saw it, I thought 'oh yeah', even though Janet didn't say what it was.

I did think the spork was well-played.

Colin Smith said...

Amanda: These contests are my way of demonstrating two things: 1) I can limit myself to 100 words. It's hard, but I can do it! 2) I can also limit myself to only one comment if I try. Again, it's hard, but it can be done. ;) Thank you! :D

Theresa said...

Oh, Dena: "I'm old and tired and I read for enjoyment." ! I second that emotion.

And I always struggled with the "meaning" in novels. I once asked my 8th grade English teacher if she was sure that every story had a particular meaning. What if the author had simply wanted to tell a story? That teacher didn't like me very much.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Colin,

I know the comments weren't directed at me, but I have slacked off a lot lately. I feel guilty and it's showing. I enjoy the flash fiction.

JW

Colin Smith said...

Re: Symbolism in novels...

I'm sure I've shared this before and possibly ad nauseam, but here goes anyway...

I've read that C.S. Lewis was annoyed by people who referred to the Narnia stories as "Christian Allegory." Now, it would be absurd to deny that the series is based in a Christian worldview, and leans heavily on Christian themes and biblical allusions. However, C.S. Lewis wanted the Narnia books to be regarded FIRST and FOREMOST as "good stories." And I agree with this perspective. It's cool if you can pack some deep and significant symbolism and allegory into a novel. But if the story sucks and I can't connect with the characters , then what's the point? I'm probably going to give up reading it, and all your cleverness will be lost on me.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

B.J.

I have to agree with you. Someone years ago on the forum pointed out how much they appreciated the symbolism of whatever in my story. That never occurred to me whatsoever. I was describing something on the family farm exactly as I remember it. It didn't represent anything except a typical Montana farm.

Gads, don't ever accuse me of being literary or deep.

It's like an intellectual having a discussion with a cowboy who's staring at something on the ground.

"I see you're pondering life. How that fragile flower can break through that rock to find it's way, reaching upwards to the sun. Triumphant against all odds!"

"Hmmm? Oh, no. I was just looking at that dry cow pie and wondering where my fence was down. Not supposed to be any cows in this section."

Yep, that would be pondering the cow pie of Julie Weathers literature. We all have our place in the sun. Some of us just have a kind of flat green place.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Geeze you guys, you just knock my socks off!

(Or....take my breath away? (I've had music from Top Gun in my head all week. No idea why. Watched it a few MONTHS ago, not lately.)

(Though we did watch Road House last night, and I was perplexed by the abrupt change in character and "voice" [if a movie could be said to have voice] in the second half. It wasn't bad overall, but the whole movie wasn't as good as the first half.)

Why do I enter these? Because writing a full story in 100 words is hard. Harder, if you want to incorporate the same 5 words everybody else has to, and not in a way that makes eyes roll. I've been mentioned in the Awards Ceremony Roundup™ two or three total times, awhile ago. So I need to sharpen my word knives. I...don't worry much about the competition. Not because I think I'm so much better, but because it doesn't matter. I'm not trying to "beat" anybody but myself, and am happy to lift those up who are doing well.

So far as symbolism and allusions go, I do it all the time. Whether anybody "gets it" but me doesn't really matter (though it is always cool when somebody does); I enjoy the mental exercise, the weaving together of literary threads. It's why the novel I'm querying is hung on the framework of Greek mythology, though referential throughout to a breadth of things from "The Rocking Horse Winner" to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. My current work in progress is hung on the framework of Hamlet, with Shakespeare's motifs of threes layered in there with some more Greek mythology.

(my stories are not always "rewrites", but it is an interesting exercise which catches my fancy periodically)


(also, my current WIP sprang from one of these contests, when Ms. Reid did mention my entry and said if a novel started that way, she'd absolutely keep reading. As she herself says, we'll just have to wait and see if the rest of the novel falls flat after the good opener.)

Did anybody pay attention to #MSWL on Twitter the other day, and query based on what they found there? I sent one query based on an agent's tweet.

Timothy Lowe said...

"Water as a symbol for death" is only something people who read something again and again and try to squeegee the meaning out of it (ie English teachers - I must admit I am one of these funny ducks).

I'm sure that kind of stuff (the subtext) is not what y'all mean by leaving something 'unsaid'- there's a beauty in letting the reader wonder what a character meant, or what a part of your narration meant, or how it fits. Yes, the end of Colin's story does that - how does the imminent death of the character fit into his murder of Daisy? In the end, it doesn't really matter if he explains it. Who was it that said that horror is wonderful until the author attempts to explain the unexplainable'? That's what Janet meant when she claimed that one story I remember about a talking horse would be better left with the child in question saying, simply, 'See'?

As far as symbolism, save that for the people who overanalyze (the English teachers). What was it that Twain said? 'Classic - a book that everyone praises and nobody reads.'

Ashes said...

Laura May, I'm glad my entry resonated with you. An all girls school? I can't even imagine. I'm the middle child of three sister, and I wrote the lines 'secrets are used as weapons...manipulation reigns...' back when I was pregnant and terrified of having a daughter. Of course a daughter is exactly what I ended up with because that's how these things work. As an aside I found the sentient toaster to be the most memorable entry when I scanned the competition.

Anyway, I just completed a move from one end of Canada to the other and with a laptop damaged in the move and a new cell I'm still not used to, entering and commenting is slow work.

But I want to say a huge congrats to John and Amy! Great entry, John! And Amy's entries always blow me away so her news comes as no surprise. Cheers!

Colin Smith said...

Ashes: Janet said "in fact it was a very tough choice between two breathtaking entries"--I assume yours was the runner-up. If not, it should have been. Not only was this an original take on the words, but your use of poetic form and language in such a chilling way was very creative. And like Janet said, there are some great phrases:

Stings from backhanded compliments.
Pangs from knives in her back.
Solitary confinement from exclusion.

John's was a worthy winner. Yours a worthy close-second. :)

Beth said...

I loved reading through all of these! I'll never cease to be amazed by the level of talent among blog readers. It's always amazing to me how a 100 word story can resonate with me and continue to haunt me, sometimes days after I read it. Congratulations to the finalists and semi-finalists, and of course especially to John Frain.

Darling Kitty said...

Congrats, John! Wonderfully written and chilling. Another amazing contest with similarly-amazing entries.

french sojourn said...


Jennifer R.D. ; Thank you again for posting the #MSWL. I reactivated my twitter account and kept updating the feed. It was very useful. And very informative.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Superb everyone, just superb. Congrats to all the shout-outs, finalists and John's elegant word-play.

I was under tight deadline during this one and just had nothing. Except, this contests get in your head and while I was writing layman legal guides, the words kept arranging themselves into increasingly bad song lyrics and haiku. Yeah, that's how my head works.

So, I entered in one of my fav hobby forms, "Bad-ku," the worst use of 5-7-5 I can come up with.

The bar is definitely being continually raised every week. Well done one and all.

Hmmm, the way word patterns register in my head . . . *stops* . . . OMG, maybe I am a robot after all! *ethical dilemma*

Terri

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I have new eyes on Far Rider. He doesn't read much fantasy, but he did some research. Based on preliminary findings, he suggests I change my name to J.R.R. Weathers. The R.R. seems to be the secret of successful fantasies. I agree.

I laughed.

gypsyharper said...

Congrats to all the finalists! Dena, I definitely miss a lot of subtlety, too. I did get Colin's entry, but I confess I'm still not a hundred percent sure I understand why "xenogamy" was the perfect word in John's (though I still really liked the story and the twist at the end!).

Colin, thanks for your encouraging comments to us lurkers. Now that I'm actually caught up on Janet's post, I definitely want to jump into the fray at some point in the near future. I need to go back and read the entries Janet labels "great writing but not quite a story" and see if I can figure out why. I haven't written much flash fiction, but I suspect I may have an issue with that "not quite a story" thing. :)

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Congratulations to Amy for landing an agent.

Fantastic entries this contest. It's great to see what catches the Shark's eye.

Congratulations John and all the mentioned.

I hope the Writer's Digest conference was great for all who attended. I couldn't comment yesterday.

debradorris said...

Congrats John Frain for the win, and all you mentions and finalists. Fun reads and clever ideas! Great job everyone.

Colin Smith said...

gypsy: I'm sure Janet has explained the "not quite a story" comment before. My understanding is that the story should either a) have an explicit beginning-middle-end, or b) have an implicit beginning-middle-end. a) is fairly self-explanatory. b) could be that the full story is hinted at in the few words given ("For Sale: Baby shoes. Unused."), or that the scene presented betrays the full story, which is something I tried to do with my entry.

Probably, the best thing to do is ask Janet, since she's the judge. And she's also QOTKU, so however she defines it is how it is. Period. ;) So:

Janet: What do you mean by "not quite a story"?

Julia said...

WOW! Holy Lima Beans, John and everyone! I loved them all; it was an armada of amazing stories, differnt from one another but each brilliant in every way! A toast! I personally love anyone who can throw an amygdala into casual conversation, either literally or figuratvely, though I might be the only one bellowing with laughter - others don't see the "Cafe Paradiso" in that - but meh, their loss.

Well, great job everyone, and to our "Super-Agent-Woman" for pulling it off yet again!

Cheers!

Peggy Rothschild said...

I add my congratulations to John and all the finalists and honorable mentions! I'm glad I finally put a toe into the fin-infested waters and have now entered a few of these contests. They have helped hone my writing, focusing me in on each word I choose. AND it's a lot of fun :D

REJourneys said...

Congrats to all the mentions and finalists, and of course, to Amy! The entries were fantastic! The talent here is truly inspiring! Thank you, Janet, for hosting another superb contest.


Like a few others mentioned, I had trouble thinking of a story. I think I have two or three entries I wrote before because the prompt words spoke to me, but never entered...(I usually forget).

Speaking of not seeing symbolism in literature, I suffer from a lot of what everyone has been saying. My English teachers couldn't stand me. They'd pull out symbolism from the capitals and the periods and I'd say "it's a duck. They quack." That's probably why I stopped reading the assigned reading.

I still don't dive deep into stories. I read for fun and for the ride - anything I get out of a story is pure bonus.

Marc P said...

Well done to another worthy winner indeed! And well done all round.. as someone once said who didn't win 'it's not the winning that counts it's the entering; - she said it twice but then she was a bookkeeper. Very nice to have my writing described as beautiful and my narrative anacarchism recognised! ;) I did have the 'she's toast' expression in mine and took it out as I thought it was an english expression and wouldnt suffer the journey across the channel. Likewise butterflied and butterflying lamb... but I kept it in because I both like to do it and cook it! Well just cook it really if I am honest. I would have asked my new Qausi brit and Whovian friend Colin who is bislangual I notice - but the only way forward is to dip your toe in and see if it gets nibbled. Hurrah to the week ahead!

Julia said...

@French and all - is there a "HEY, WAKE UP, JANET HAS A FF CONTEST!!!" Hashtag, esp for the winter, when they's ain't so regular? Cuz there otta be.

I'd suggest: #HEYTHERESAJANETFFCONTEST, but that's too long, so maybe, JANETFF, with the understanding that we don't talk about entries, only when contests are happening?

Just. A. Thought.

Just like the "I think we need our own FB page to talk about our writing with each other" idea is just an idea, but I'm going to go make that one happen.

Marc P said...

@Julis... FB is too passe you need to organise a conference somewhere like NY or better yet Norwich!

Colin Smith said...

Marc: One thing to bear in mind about the judge of these contests--she is quite conversant with a lot of English slang. Part of this I suspect is because one of her colleagues is, in fact, a (former?) native of our beloved homeland. Also, I suspect she is an Anglophile of the first order. That's the only explanation I have for why she tolerates my inanity. :)

In any case, the phrase "x is toast" is well-known and used on this side of the pond.

Colin Smith said...

To Julie H.'s point.

Janet: Do you have any objection to the contests being announced and discussed on Twitter? I know you've said we are not to Tweet you directly and say "Hey, Shark-for-Brains, look at my awesome story!" What are the parameters for Twitter discussion of contests? Are there any? Or, like Chum Bucket, would you prefer to keep the contests for regular blog readers?

Marc P said...

Cheers Colin.. I am told off and accused often of putting americanisms in my writing over here lol.. which for me is no bad thing :) Off now to butterfly a leg of lamb and put it on the grill. :) Over a here a grill is something in the oven you slide pieces of bread under to toast coincidentally enough :) Not a bbq!

Colin Smith said...

Marc: My mum had a gas oven with an overhead grill. Made some wonderful cheese-on-toast with that. :)

Colin Smith said...

Mmm... "gas oven"--I should probably say "gas cooker." The cooker being the entire appliance, as opposed to the oven which is the part with the door into which you stick your tofurkey and potatoes to roast. Oh, I suppose you could put meat in it too... ;)

french sojourn said...


Julia; I like the Shark Survivors Facebook page idea. (Or whatever name someone comes up from the deep with) Carkoon Beach and Saltmine Club?

I have on different occasions, mentioned to facebook friends (from here) regarding a rogue Flash Fiction contest in the past. My contact info is on Colins Carkoon list. Cheers.

Colin Smith said...

Hank: I have mentioned contests on Twitter and on my blog before. That doesn't mean Janet approves. It would be good to know how to stay on the right side of those chompers... :)

Kate Larkindale said...

What fantastic entries! Congratualtions all finalists, but especially John Frain for that elegant little story.

Marc P said...

@Colin... to make matters worse I am genuinely looking to buy a dutch oven to throw on a campfire!

Julia said...

To Wit:

1) I won't do a darn thing until I know it's OK with the proprietor of this premises.

2) I propose to create a) ...a FB page or similar spot for JANET'S BLOG MEMBERS (either here or QS) to gather and "Coffee Shop," as Jonathan Maberry put it this weekend - to get together and discuss and constructively support and critique one another's work... and, let's look at this honestly, simply hang out and discuss whatever we feel like discussing. b) ...a Twitter Hashtag, ideally known only to us, only mentioned here, discussing when the most recent Flash Fiction (& Maybe Chum Bucket?) contests were.

3) I also think it would be a holy hoot of a thing for all of us to get together, slap the label "Conference" on it, go someplace awesome (Say, Disney World, because all of us flying around on Space Mountain or occupying Pirates of the Caribbean strikes me as nothing short of heaven on earth), and simply Make It So, learning EVERYTHING - WE - CAN along the way. Naturally, we divvy up Janet's ticket. And stay onsite. *Nods.*

And then maybe the next year, depending on how it went, either we go somewhere else and promote it and invite other movers and shakers and such - or keep it as is. I dunno. I just think there's an awful lot of talent here and we are all over the place and getting together REALLY has its merits. For all of us.

Okey doke.

Again, those stories - well. Maybe I should look back into admin instead of writing. I dunno. You guys rock.

Later. :)
J

Amy Schaefer said...

Sorry for the late comment; I died several gruesome deaths in those stories, and it took a while to regenerate. A girl does have to be ready to get killed around here.

The stories were great, the finalists were awesome, and John Frain, your super-creepy entry deserved to win.

Thank you all again for your kind words and dark contest entries in my honor. You guys are the best. I look forward to participating when we honor the next deserving commenter!

Colin Smith said...

Amy: And I look forward to when Janet is offering your PUBLISHED NOVEL as a prize. :)

Steph said...

Congrats John Frain!

Once again there were so many great stories. After trying my hand three or four times now, I can only agree with everyone that these contests are so worth entering. Even if you don't love your own story at the end, it's a good writing work-out.

Julia said...

Amy, I was going for comedy - I knew you'd be dying in the collective morbidium, LOL....

And on a different note,

My own personal reflective flavor on writing - as Pink (can't do the upside down !) - says,

Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame...
Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns, doesn't mean you're gonna die
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try
...You gotta try and try and try.... ;)

Ta. Off to try.
J

Karen McCoy said...

Enjoy your kale, Sir Colin!

Beautifully written entries, and mucho congrats to John. Your story was so enjoyable I had to read it over again many times.

I already have idea for the next contest. *awaits prompt words with glee*

Marie Wallace said...

Thank you, Ms. Reid, for the mention!! Great writing, everyone, and congrats Amy!! :)

bjmuntain said...

I didn't see #MSWL on Twitter... but at MS Wishlist.com, you can find all posts with that hashtag.

I believe that all books have a message. I also believe that the best message is subtle, sub-conscious, sliding sideways into the reader's brain without the reader being conscious of it. Those are the messages that stick.

"Squeegee the meaning out of it" <-- love that! There was one poem in one class that spoke to me of meanings - but that's because it was a) a parody of another poem, which I was completely unable to find at the time, despite all the library research I did and b) a commentary on the current times. I was able to take the lines and find the historical beliefs/arguments/politics in it, possibly even teasing out some of the meanings from the original poem. I love that sort of thing.

Hank: am I following you on Twitter? If not, what's your Twitter name?

Regarding 'not quite a story' - if I remember right, Janet as responded to this as 'a story has a beginning, middle, and end' and 'she knows it when she sees it'.

Julia - great idea about a hashtag. Maybe #JetReidFF?

I believe Janet also said in the past (because I read everything in the contest posts and I have a weird memory for things I've read): announcing a contest on Twitter is fine. Asking questions is fine. Just don't mention any specific entries in any way.

Marc P said...

@COlin... yes not quite a story is a tough one. TO answer it yourself you would have to explain why your piece was a story and that should kinda do it of itself. If it does;t there is either a breakdown in understanding on your part in how you wish to convey the story - or a breakdown in understanding in how someone reads your story - which is your fault too. I guess it's like explaining a joke - you should never do it. Cough and quickly tell another one :)

Timothy Lowe said...

bjmuntain - what was the poem? was it cummings? I know some poetry and it might stir some kind of an echo.

The best stuff is chock full of meaning, but that's because people are chock full of meaning. When people interpret that stuff and then tell other people they're wrong it's annoying to me (even though that's what people commonly think of 'The English teacher').

So Dena's story resonates with me - the 'poor kid' who 'doesn't get it' - as if there's something magical to 'get' and it's reserved for a select few with the magic keys to unlock it. Pure BS. She's a success story because she survived the chagrin of the disapproving English teacher and discovered the wonderful truth of the story.

BTW my favorite cummings is the one about Olaf, as well as the one about "maggie and millie and molly and mae" - much better than the cheesy grasshopper and puddle-wonderful variety.

bjmuntain said...

Timothy: This was a 19th century poet, I believe. I studied it nearly as long ago - 30 years, at least. I may have a good memory for things I read, but that memory can be short. Much shorter than three decades. I can tell you that it had rhythm and rhyme (my favourite type of poetry), and that it became far more famous than the original. I can't even remember the poet, but I believe the original was written by the then-poet laureate in Britain.

In my high school English, we were required to memorize two poems of our choosing - but they had to be at least a certain length. We had to memorize everything about them, including punctuation.

I chose, of course, E. E. Cummings: Buffalo Bill's Defunct and ... I think it was Next to of course God America. We had limited choice in the books we had, but I knew what I like. I tend to have strange taste when it comes to memorizing poetry.

Eve Messenger said...

Congratulations, John Frain. Your well-crafted story absolutely deserved the win. All of that in 100 words? Amazing.

Julia said...

OMIGOSH, and can I just say, because I was in a dither yesterday about this and that, that I was all aflutter (like, really, I nearly needed medication) over MY FIRST EVER MENTION in JANET'S BLOG?

AND a pic?

I stepped off the plane, hugged my family, and said, "Wait, WAIT! You HAVE to see this!" And I whipped out my phone.

So.

I was wondering what I'd do with the syrup and chocolate if she didn't *anxious frown* accept them, but, YAY!

I had the BEST time, y'all.

The. Best. Time.

I hate crowds. I am shy as anything. I didn't introduce myself to anyone who didn't introduce themselves first because I'm social phobia to the utmost.

I don't seem that way, and I think I might be outgrowing it. But whatever, I came away with tons of cards and gave some away as well and it was awesome. But all of that notwithstanding, next time, I'm gonna have a sponge shark hat made and put it on before Janet's session along with a big grey No. 1! finger to wave in the air at her jokes, and I'm gonna sit right in the front row with my fellow Sharkbites, and I'm just gonna have one heck of a time.

Again.

:D

Julia said...

Oo! AND, I got her autograph.

I did. I really did. :D

kdjames.com said...

I agree, I'm so glad I don't have to pick a winner. So much brilliant and complex storytelling over here. Impressive. And hey, terrific idea to promote the contest on twitter, guys. I'm sure Janet would LOVE to judge double or triple the number of entries. /sarcasm

Congrats to all who were mentioned, but especially to John Frain. Well done, sir.

I almost didn't enter this one either, mostly because of other obligations, but also because the words were tough for me this time. (Amy, I was happy to make you an agent instead of a corpse!) But then I thought if I didn't enter, Janet might think I was truly upset about last week's yet another "not a story" comment when I honestly wasn't. Yeah, I had a B,M,E last time, but I sacrificed narrative flow in favour of squeezing in just one more song reference. I knew that and did it anyway. :)

Janet, I'm glad you enjoyed "charm-ada of gifts." I almost didn't use it because I was certain it would get me disqualified for making up words, but decided I didn't care. *I* liked it.

It's usually the case for me with these short pieces that I'm more interested in playing with words than in making sure it's a story. It doesn't bother me in the least. Now, if someone (anyone) said I couldn't successfully tell a story in novella or novel form--- well, I'd be horribly and genuinely upset. With the FF entries, it's a chance to play and to work on being concise. Not that I have a problem. I mean, why use two words when twenty will work just as well? *ahem* Lean sentences are stronger.

Julia, I truly dislike FB. Heat of a thousand suns, dislike. But probably I'd join a group (could we make it private? is that a thing?) and at least lurk from time to time. When I remember. I prefer a blog format, but that can get overly complicated with multiple people writing posts. Let us know what you decide?

kdjames.com said...

Julia, your post-conference enthusiasm is delightful. Love hearing these snippets of your time there, thanks for sharing. I was so overwhelmed by excess input my first (only) conference, I couldn't even read for two weeks afterward. Forget trying to write.

Timothy, my dad was a HS English teacher and I have so much respect for what you do. There is no more important profession than that of teacher. Thank you. That said, it seemed my whole life was an English class and I read the entire curriculum of books well before I ever had my dad as a teacher (yes, all four of his daughters had him as a teacher-- hardest "A" I ever knew I had to earn).

BJ and Dena, I always seem to find "meaning" in things I read that were not only never intended but that no one else seems to see. But I spent most of my school years staring out the window, daydreaming. Except 11th grade English class.

LynnRodz said...

80 comments in! Sheesh, am I late to the party or what? First of all, congrats to John Frain for the win. I loved so many of the stories. I mean who wouldn't love polygamist toast, or vegetarian cats, or the subtlety of Ashes story, or Linda Strader's Canary Island tale to name a few? (Love Las Palmas.)

As for what make an entry not quite a story is, it tells a "scene" and not a "story." If you read the samples Janet mentions as not quite a story you'll see it remains in a specific scene. I hope that helps.

bjmuntain said...

kdjames: Yes, Facebook groups can be private. Someone would have to take on the work of approving memberships.

I was lucky. I was a grammar stickler, even back in high school. At the beginning of each grammar section, we were given a quiz. If we aced the quiz, we didn't have to take that grammar section. I got to read a lot of science fiction while others had to learn their grammar good.

Timothy Lowe said...

bjmuntain -

It wasn't "How Doth the Little Crocodile" by Lewis Carroll? You made me curious.

kd - kudos to your dad - not hard to get kids to read 'the classics' - or anything, for that matter.

I must confess I am going to steal Janet's flash fiction concept for my classroom this Sept. I'll even give out books as prizes - classics, of course. But I think I'll make the kids the judges of the entries, if I can figure out the media aspect. I learn a lot from what other people like.

Donnaeve said...

LynnR - that makes sense (the not quite a story explanation) except I got a "not quite a story" mention where the story moved forward by decades. (about the last little red-headed girl in the world, Jasper Sinclair) I think that garnered the "not quite a story" from QOTKU b/c there wasn't really an "ending" for Jasper. She was frozen in time, but you don't know if it's forever or what. At least that's my theory. Pure speculation.

QOTKU would have to concur, b/c I'm not 100% certain about that.

(I love saying concur. Ever since watching Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio.

LynnRodz said...

Dena, don't worry, even though I had no trouble understanding Animal Farm in 9th grade, believe me there are some stories I don't get here at all. Yes, I read them two or three times, but if I'm still at a loss after the 2nd or 3rd try, I just move on to the next. I had to laugh when you said, I can't be the only person who reads some of the finalists, in EVERY contest, and wonders what-the-heck that story was about.

As a matter of fact, when I read the stories and I don't understand some of them, I tell my husband, "Read this and tell me if you understand what this story is about?" He'll read it and say, "I haven't a clue." And then I tell him, "This is going to be one of the finalists." And guess what? Nine times out of ten it is. Why? Because Janet is the QOTKU and she's all knowing. What you and I don't understand, she does. LOL!

It doesn't take away from those stories and it doesn't mean we're dense. People think differently and like different things. (Thank goodness.) Will I ever win a contest here, probably not, but it doesn't stop me from trying. Just last week, I wasn't going to post my entry, and believe me, I hesitated before hitting Publish. Why? Because it was too much of a stretch from what I'm used to writing - and what happened? I got a mention from Janet.

We're all winners here because there's so much to learn from our beloved Shark.

LynnRodz said...

Donna, then you blew my theory out of the shark infested water. I guess Janet will have to give all of us a course in what constitutes a story and not quite a story.

Julia, I think Janet would prefer Paris to Disney World. Besides, it's halfway between those in the States and those in Asia and Australia. Or were you only thinking about Carkoon members from the US?

kdjames.com said...

I've noticed that quite a few of the "this IS a story" entries end in death. It's a pretty definitive thing, death, and a clear ending. But that also tends to be depressing, so I avoid writing it. Don't mind reading it.

I'm delighted if I can manage to convey anything in 100 words. I have very low expectations on that score. A mere scene is a huge accomplishment. You guys have no idea how difficult that is for me. You should see my first drafts. Actually, no, you shouldn't.

Lance said...

Congratulations, John. What a great story! Wow! And congratulations to the finalists, semifinalists, and mentionables. And to everyone else who entered: amazing writing.

Well played french sojourn. That's a story I would keep reading for sure. Full house it is.

I second what Colin and the others have said about entering these fine flash fiction contests. I lurked for quite a while before I jumped in. Come on in. The water's fine.

I may be mistaken, but I believe the QOTKU has expressed her desire that the contests be for readers of this wonderful blog. I could be mistaken.

Thank you, Ms. Janet, for your considerable time and thoughtful consideration. These contests are incredible.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I love the companionship here, but between my crew on Books and writers, maintaining a slight presence on twitter, and posting too much here, that's about all the social butterflying I can spare. I have pretty much gotten away from Facebook.

I'd rather spend my time writing than looking at cat pictures.

That being said, I'm one person.

Julia said...

Lynn - I think anyone who found their way to J otter be able to go. But I also wanna be able to go, and I know Christina and Bri would wanna go, and since there's no way in holy heck that I can afford Paris, esp as I'm not gonna do this and not bring Janet, then... at least the first time... Paris ain't likely. Not unless some of those "partials" turn into "fulls" and into "Gosh darnit, wow, this is a darn bestseller, here's a million right up front."

Which is about as likely as me just buying the tickets outright right now.

Which is not to say that I don't agree with you - I just don't think it's likely right at first. Baby steps to the building... baby steps to the door... baby steps to the elevator... (What About Bob, if you haven't seen it.) Maybe not Disney World, but I think Paris might not yet be in the cards.

@KD - I waited and waited and waited for this conference after begging for the last one and being denied; I'm gonna ride it as long as I can, and you'd better bet I'm gonna milk every last tip into those M/S's, because I'm tired of being the one whose work is sort of... irrelevant... around here. (Every character is motivated by something.)

So all I really want are two things - to make my writing the best it can be (1), and to help everyone else - here, and in the League of Vermont Writers (I'm the Board Secretary) - to do the same. And I suspect that those things won't ever change; I only left medicine because I had to when I got sick, and I'm pretty sure sick won't force me from this. :) It's always been there - now, I just have a reason to talk about it here. And when I can't, I'll stop.

Now, about FB, KD, BJ, I'm more than happy to take the FB page on, because I feel really strongly about the success by support thing, and we already HAVE each other. We just need a way not to interrupt the flow here for those who don't want to deal with non-blog-pertinent stuff. And as I'm a major transgressor, I'm more than happy to do that. Risk nothing, gain nothing.

But again, I'll do nothing until and unless I hear from her.

Ta,
J

Megan V said...

Well done all!

John, I loved your entry the minute I read it. Beautifully done. :)

These contests will never get old. So much creativity in 100 words. A-MAZING.

bjmuntain said...

Nothing that short, Timothy! And I just spent the last two hours searching, but I just can't find it. I remember there were political names dropped, and Heaven and Hell all in a tither.

Maybe you can find it. I'm sure it was 19th Century England. I tried searching for satire, humour, parodies... but I can't remember the name of the thing or even the poet. I'm sure it was in an Oxford collection of 19th century literature and/or poetry, but still can't find it. And my university texts, alas, are in the garage, making them very difficult to find.

Colin Smith said...

Julie H: The sure-fire way to check whether or not it was me: Was I drinking Newcastle Brown? :)

LynnRodz said...

Julia, okay this time the Mouse, next time when you hit the bestseller's list, Ratatouille.

Off to bed....

bjmuntain said...

Julie, I think 'interrupting the flow for those who don't want to deal with non-blog-pertinent stuff' doesn't happen here. Sharing and critiquing each other's work doesn't happen here, either, but pretty much anything else goes. I'd be for a FB group if it were about sharing writing and critiquing, sharing tips and such. But not if it takes the golden retriever-ness out of the blog.

Recaptcha made me choose sandwiches. The only sandwiches were burgers. Wow. I think it's getting close to bedtime now...

Julia said...

@BJ - nope, they don't. That's the point! (as Olivia said!)

Dena Pawling said...


Hey Colin -

“And since she's judging the contest, she is my primary audience, and I'm primarily writing for her.”

Yes, it's Janet's blog. And yes, she's also judging the contests. But if I wrote my contest entries primarily for her, I'd probably never enter. She looks for things that are totally NOT how I write, so for me, writing for Janet would seem like a waste of time and effort. But I still enter, because (1) I learn from it, (2) it's fun, (3) she's never told me I couldn't, and (4) every once in a while I unknowingly DO write something she likes, and I get a mention. And last week I was actually a finalist!

I don't write for fame or fortune, or even recognition. I write (even tho it can be frustrating and difficult) because I want to. If I get any of those other things, that's just the icing.

My guess is that this is why YOU write, too.

=)

kdjames.com said...

Julia, I can't see any reason Janet would object to any of us forming a group FB thingy. I don't think we need her permission for that. BUT. Given that she has said she doesn't really care for the referential mentions in the FF entries, I doubt she'd be thrilled if we named the group by referring to her or anything having to do with her blog. I distinctly remember Jenny Crusie having a similar objection when an offshoot was formed from the old HWSW blog, so maybe I'm projecting (she didn't care what anyone did, as long as her name or "brand" wasn't used).

And frankly, I don't think of myself as a Sharkbite or whatever other name you mentioned (can't remember, too lazy to look) and would be less likely to join if it were called something like that. But I'm weird that way. Not much of a "joiner" and prefer not to be labelled. Regardless of how much I enjoy this group, I see us as individuals.

Colin Smith said...

Dena: I hope no-one takes that comment to say you should ONLY enter if you write what Janet likes. By no means! Janet reads quite widely and appears to enjoy a broad variety of genres, beyond those she represents. So certainly we should be writing what appeals to us FIRST. However, when your primary audience is particularly well-versed in certain genres, there are things you can assume they know and understand that others might not. When trying to tell a story in 100 words, that can be very helpful. And since this is a writing contest, and she's the judge, if I want to compete, then I'm going to write to Janet as my primary audience. That doesn't mean you HAVE to write to compete. You can take the challenge as a personal challenge and just write to hone your chops. For me, I enjoy the competition because, as I said before, it pushes me to raise my game. So not only do I get practice at editing and word choice, I look at the bar set by John and try even harder next time.

Don't take what I say as "the way it should be." I'm offering my own experience to encourage those who are on the fence about giving the contests a try. Enter for your own reasons. But at least enter. :)

Dena Pawling said...


"Enter for your own reasons. But at least enter."

Yep, I agree

John Frain said...

It fascinates me how often I find a wonderful line in the comments where I think to myself -- "Ooh, there's a character in a story. Better clip that!"

Tonight, it happened again, courtesy of kdjames: "all four of his daughters had him as a teacher-- hardest "A" I ever knew I had to earn."

Love that. And it's for one word. It wasn't the hardest A you ever had to earn. It was the hardest A you ever KNEW you had to earn. It paints such a different picture, and instantly.

It takes me so long to get here most Mondays, but I have to thank you for the kind words. I'm so flattered.

Janet, thank you for all the time you put into these. You're amazing. I'm redundant, I know I've said it before, but you're amazing.(oops, there I go again.) I know I'm a better writer from these contests.

And oh my gosh, congratulations to Amy. I get thrilled with a shout out from one of these contests, it's almost beyond my imagination how you're feeling right now. (Almost.)

kdjames.com said...

Now I'm blushing.

Also intrigued by the idea of providing inspiration for a character in one of your stories, John. You write it, I'll definitely read it.

Janice Grinyer said...

It is the end of the night in quiet Bismarck (usually around 10 pm - cow curfew) and lo and behold, I am finished for the day. I knocked around *that* chapter which has given me so much grief in all the wrong ways. It hasnt hit the dirt yet, but its roped and coming along...then I go online to find -

I MADE THE SHARK'S MENTIONABLES...!!!!!! Wait, that didnt sound right, especially in Bismarck...

NEVER MIND I AM DANCING IN BISMARCK NORTH DAKOTA RIGHT NOW (and its after 10pm) !!!!!!! WITH ANY AND ALL WHO WILL JOIN ME!!!!

Congrats to everyone and their neighbor and especially John for the perfectly structured 100 word story, to the finalists to the mentionables to everyone who participated! And especially thank you to Janet for giving us writers the opportunity to stretch and grow each week!

*fisting pumping and booty shaking, "good thing its a basement apartment" kind of vibe*

I AM totally ready to tackle bad metaphors, kill all Mary Sues, and cut to the knees any drawn out forever and day plotlines this week now!

Julia said...

You go, Janice!

&...

Omigosh, I just realized what humming golden thread ties Every. Single. One. Of my MC's together. Good Lord.

Now I don't know whether to see a shrink, go with it, or change something. Hmmm...

John Frain said...

Nice blush, kdjames. And right in character!

John Frain said...

Oh, Julia, those Eureka moments. Don't you just love 'em!

If you're looking for a vote, I'd say D) All of the above. See a shrink, go with your crystallized vision and then change something because, we always have to change something.

Hey, and if I neglected to say Thanks yesterday for your wonderful wrap-up of the WDC in NYC ... well then, thanks!

Marc P said...

@ Donna and LynnR - I agree with you both lol. A story of course can absolutely take place in one scene. Sometimes the beginning middle and end is a series of narrative events that happen to the protagonist. They can happen in one place or in a series or scenes. Sometimes the beginning middle and end of the story is a change in understanding of what is happening or what has happened for the reader. I have only been here for little while but I remember the one of the man in his cell listening to the scaffold being built outside. By the end of the story we know that it is a scaffold and what it signifies - he knew all along - so it is a discovery of understanding by the READER than kind of forms the narrative. Something changes emotionally for the reader in a story here, nothing does for our protagonist really. So for a story to be in one scene - something has to CHANGE. Sorry for the caps I don;t why I am doing that, putting in prompt words lol. So the change has to be through action by the protagonist or by understanding by the reader. twists or reversals if you like. So a story has to have change in either one of those ways, and it has to be of an emotional nature. This will make us wince, cry or laugh or any of the emotional responses required for us to have experienced a story. Most of the stories on here tend to be about a murder A far as I can tell. Some stories start with the dead body and explain why, some lead up to the hit and beyond, some like Colins .. leave us with the sense that another death is to come. In some ways his story is on one scene geographically, if I remember right, but it is a story because even though we don;t see it we learn that he has made a decision to kill himself. So for me a story has a beginning middle and end or three acts if you like -however small - but that can be structured through action we SEE or through past action we LEARN, or through projected action yes to come that we have DEDUCED. Story is all about change. And CAPS clearly :)

W.R. Gingell said...

Dena- same here! I don't at ALL write the kind of thing I expect Janet to like, but I love the challenge of the 100 word format, and it teaches me to hone and streamline my writing, which is always a great thing. So I keep on entering cos it's fun, and good for me, and FUN.

And oooh! a semifinalist! so yay! and unexpected!

Congrats to John! I loved your format :) And especially the last segment: that was delightful.

Congrats to everyone else in the finalists!

Also, here: have a few more exclamation marks (!!!!) Just in case you didn't get enough in my comments.

Julia, I love the idea of a woodlands fb group, but like Julie, I have only so much time to devote to online fun times, and between this blog, my own, my twitter and my FB, I just don't have the time (or in fact, energy). Don't know about anyone else... just my 2c.

LynnRodz said...

Marc P, great analysis. I should've said, not quite a story remains in a scene without a beginning, middle, and end, or CHANGE. It's just a snapshot of a moment.

Ohh wait, now that I think about it, I wrote a "not quite a story" where the scene changed (I was walking down the street to a specific destination) but my thought process was still the same without a BME or change. So forget what I said about staying in a scene. (I would go to bed, but it's already a new day.)

NotJana said...

Congrats, John Frain!

As for not getting some of the stories after the first read, I'm guilty of that as well. Heck, more often than not I have to look up a prompt word or two, or at least make sure they mean what I think they mean. I'm not a native speaker and that's the excuse I'm going with. (I'm a scientist, finding excuses why things don't work as they should is basically my job.)

I love words. As in I love to use ten words when three would have been sufficient. Have I mentioned I'm a scientist? Which means I love to explain things to make sure everyone understands. More than anything, these contests force me to cut down on both. Publishing an entry knowing I haven't explained everything even though I really, really wanted to usually brings a huge smile to my face.

Thanks Janet!

Nikola Vukoja said...


"Not quite a story but scary as hell
SiSi 10:10am
Nikola Vukoja 7:53pm"


Yeah, the really scary bit is I didn't even have to think about it. Dad has said I sometimes scare the bejesus out of him (& that little gremlin who sits by my left earlobe loves it).

Thanks for having these fun flash fictions :)