Monday, September 05, 2016

Proud Spirit flash fiction RESULTS

We had about half the usual entries this time, most likely due to the holiday and the drop off in readership from the hiatus.  Fewer entries but same amazing quality. Y'all are just fiercely talented writers.

Herewith the results



the Steve Forti Award for clever use of prompt words
Steve Forti 8:58am "Dordogne,"

A very chilling sentence
Timothy Lowe 12:13pm
    A hundred miles south, Mother Nature’s frozen saliva condensed in a cloud as she prepared to devour her disciples.

Evocative paragraph!
Mallory Love 2:14pm
    They gave me a Purple Heart to complement my bruised black one. They didn't know it was friendly fire. Except, by then, we were no longer friends.


It says nothing good about me that this entry cracked me up completely
Amy Johnson 5:32pm
My heart leaped when I saw she had posted the contest results.

"To the so-called author who posted a letter: Yes, it’s a story, and I suppose you’re proud of yourself, thinking your offbeat entry would capture the spirit of the contest. But I have news for you: You came off more like a horse’s patoot than a top dog who could shepherd a new trend in writing contests. You didn’t impress this toothy agent who currently has your query. And don’t enter another one of my contests. I’m watching you, and I bite."

I hung my head in shame.




Finalists
Kregger 9:36 am
I flicked Aloysius and Nebuchadnezzar on their asses to get the wagon moving. Why my high-spirited wife wants to name every critter after some fancy-pants person, I don’t know. Our horse, Jebediah disappeared in Kansas, damn rustlers. The dog, Jedediah died in the Rockies—thankfully, he tasted good. After the Sioux stole our meager herd, she named our youngest son after them. I proudly buried him in the Utah Territories, knowing we’d never have to fight. Thank God, she died today. One less mouth to feed. If our oldest sons, Al and Neb don’t get moving, I’ll eat them too.

I love the clever word play on names here. JeBediah, JeDediah. The boy names Sioux. And of course, the fact that "Al and Neb" aren't oxen at all. This is a brilliant example of how to reveal character.



Beth 11:20am
“Watch that dogie.”
“I got him.” Alfred squeezed with his knees and his horse shot forward, covering the ground in five long strides. He reined her in and turned, nudging the calf back toward the herd. On the canyon rim above them, a bull elk stood proud, silhouetted against the sunset. Perfect.

Alfred dismounted the repurposed carousel horse, today’s test complete. He patted her lacquered neck and grinned. This was genius. Maybe Warp-speed Croquet hadn’t sold a so well, and the less said about Virtual Spelunker the better, but Cowboy Spirit was a winner. He’d bet the ranch on it.
I loved the absolute 180 degree turn here. That's a real accomplishment in 100-word stories! And that zap of humor with Warp-speed Croquet and Virtual Spelunker adds zip to the technical mastery here. Very nice job.



Lennon Faris 9:00pm
Beardie: horsey face, shaggy hair, dog tags round his neck.
On good days, I give a dollar.
God bless, Sir.
Friday: usual herd of humans filing past, Beardie face down.
Does no one see? I touch his shoulder. Track marks, no breath. Spirit leaving.
Chest compressions. Call 911!
Sirens. Narcan, EMT shouts.
Bam! Into muscle. Beardie’s head jerks up, paramedics scatter. Beardie screaming, cursing paramedics by name.
I post proudly, Saved a man’s life today.

Monday: Beardie, usual spot. God bless, Sir.
Eyes opened.
No life saved yet.
I give ten bucks, then my hand. “I’m Michael. Want some breakfast?”

Well, this one yanked my heart strings of course. There are no tricks here, no triple axel word play, just a lovely story, beautifully told. Not a word out of place, not an extra word to be found.  This is elegant writing.


Rkeelan 10:23pm
Her dragon flew a horseshoe pattern. That meant Father would come soon. He was so very proud of her, his pretty daughter. Once free-spirited, now compliant.

Amy held out her hand and Dogon swooped in to land, claws prickly against her palm.

"I can't take this anymore," Amy whispered, looking at the xacto knife before her.

"That is precisely how your mother felt," the dragon said in his rumbly little voice. "She grieved." He nudged the xacto knife. "I urge you to hate instead."

Amy took the knife, its blade protruding from between finger and thumb.

Hate.

So, who can resist a talking dragon? Certainly not I.
And a dragon with malevolent plotting up his sleeve? Sign me up for two of them.

And I like the idea that it ends with Amy not having done anything, that perfect moment when you're not sure if she'll turn left or right. This is a textbook case of the writer being in complete control of her narrative. She knew exactly when to stop.




Brigid 11:21pm
Subj: Interested in a clean race?
Ms. Larkin,
Welcome. You seem like excellent competition. Let's make Kansas proud.
John Shepherd, Governor

Re:
Mr. Shepherd, thank you. Would you host a veterans' benefit at Red Horse with me next month? Could reach a lot more people.
Ellen Larkin, Democratic Candidate for Governor

Subj: Lunch
John, can we change lunch to the Dogsbody? No spirits this week--my staff made fun of me!
Ellen

Subj: Congrats!!!
Ellen, amazing win. I've learned a lot from you.
You know, I'd make an excellent First Gent, if you'll have me.
Love,
J

I love the form  here. And so much unsaid, yet perfectly clear. Very nice story telling.



Just Jan 12:32am
“You’ve had widows at your door ever since Grandma died,” said Charlie.

“Yeah, I’m all they talk about down at the horseshoe pit.” Gramps sighed. “What is it this time?”

“Another pie.” He held it out for inspection. “Cherry, I think.”

“Minnie Barlow. Third pie this month. Bet she’s proud of herself.”

Charlie laughed. “So what if she’s spirited? You should ask her out. She’s probably tired of talking to her dogs.”

“What she wants is someone to help spend her millions. Honestly, Charlie, can you see me doing that?” Gramps lowered his newspaper and found the room empty. “Charlie?”

This just cracked me up completely. Can't you just see these two gents,  sitting in the living room, talking?  And the idea of grandmas at the horseshoe pit was terrific. This is terrific, fun writing.



Calorie Bombshell 1:39am
He’s in his usual spot, conjuring Jack Daniels’ spirit from the bottom of a shot glass.

“Photos and address?”

He slides me an envelope and I palm him five hundreds.

“None of my biz but . . . never seen a runaway hide out in a backwoods horse farm before.”

“Loves animals.”

“Sure is pretty. Proud papa I’d be. With her dimples and that blonde – ” He eyes my coal-black hair.

“She favors her late mother.”

“Recent?”

But I’m too busy planning a homecoming to respond. First, the pet shop. Shock dog collar. Next, the hardware store for reinforced locks.

Boy howdy, does this one have a twist! I'm in awe of being able to write a story in 100 words, let alone with a MAJOR twist like this. 

For those of you who often say you don't get the subtle things: this guy isn't her father. He's her kidnapper. She got away, he's getting her back. 

This is perfectly chilling, and incredible writing. Not flashy, not clever, just plain beautiful. Like an Amish quilt. 


french sojourn 2:36am
“Hello, I’m Dick.”
“Hi Dick, I’m Lisa. Divorced long?”
“Nah, just separated.”
“What the hell? You know speed dating implies you’re available”
“I am available, she’s not coming back.”
“She’s that proud…huh? What did you do?”
“Nothing. It was her decision to constantly travel for work, bound to happen I guess.”
“Ain’t that a female dog, riding two horses at once huh?”
“What? No, not that. Sure, I’m dispirited, but I can’t just wait around.”
“Did she at least send you a Dear John letter?”
“Nope, but the airline sent me a nice Dear Saint Peter letter.”
“Times up, dick!”
Ha! Love the play on Dick and dick. Very nice.
And I'm still not sure if he killed or, or faked his own death, but either one is pretty funny in this context.



I think I know the winner but I'm going to let it sit overnight just to make sure.
In the meantime, how about y'all let me know what you think of the entries and the finalists.

AND did I miss any particularly juicy use of prompt words?

Results around noon. Ok, 12:30, I was dithering.

(a new way to torture writers! I love it!)



This weeks winner is Lennon Faris. I loved the entry, but it also seemed the right entry to win this prize, since Proud Spirit is all about extending a hand to help those who need it. Lennon, if you'll send me your address I'll get it to Melanie Sue Bowles and she'll get your book off to you.

I should mention that it's US addresses only.  Lennon, if you live somewhere ELSE let me know and I'll send you a book and we'll pick a second winner instead.

And just a reminder, here's the page to donate to Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary. They take PayPal (always important to me, I love making donations that way)


Thanks to all of you who took time to write entries. I loved reading your entries and as usual, it was hard to pick any kind of final list, let alone only one winner.

Back to blog topics tomorrow!

55 comments:

Kitty said...

It's not you, Janet. In fact, I loved the month of pets. I would have loved to enter, if I had been able to come up with something.
I had the prompts...
her dog for herd & dog
authors eating for horse
pro-udders for proud (my favorite!)
...
but no story. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I just didn't have it in me :(

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I believe this delay in picking contest results is a tried and true method of torturing writers. Such a clever lot here at The Reef.

I am partial to Just Jan and French Sojourn myself. All the finalists are worthy.

I stopped in as I needed coffee - the muse grabbed me at 2 AM and has not let go. Thank God for holiday weekends or I'd have to call in dead and writing. Good luck to everyone and great job everyone who entered.

When I was trying to put my current WIP in order, I initially wrote 100 word chapters to narrow my focus to what was story as well as writing opening lines(thanks to stbnytbs Donna for that). This flash fiction deal will improve your writing. Even if you write epic fantasy. Good luck finalists. Enjoy your shark bite. It only stings for a minute.

CynthiaMc said...

Good luck with that. So many great choices.

I try to enter every time mainly because it stretches my brain, teaches me discipline, forces me to work on plotting, gives me ideas I can work on later. I still love my strait-laced agent and the Goth kids she's relocating in the Witness Protection program. I still love my 10-year-olds who tried to contact aliens - and did! I still love Harley, my fisherman and the woman who booked his charter boat every year for her birthday. I don't think I'm done with any of them yet. I love all of these characters and I want to spend more time with them.

If you haven't entered, go for it! It will improve your writing, plus it's fun to see the variety of responses. And it lets you play with styles you might not have considered.

Celia Reaves said...

Great finalists and terrific writing all around as usual. I made a pact with myself to enter every contest this year after my critique group pointed out that my work wasn't focused enough: "You've got good ideas, but you always go one idea too far." I figured it would be good discipline, and I was right. I didn't realize how much fun it would be!

I'm awfully glad I don't have to choose the actual winner, but of the finalists I'm partial toward Brigid's story in emails. It's an interesting form that's really appropriate in this case, and a whole story from beginning to end. Nicely done. Still, all the finalists are winners. Good luck choosing.

Brigid said...

Elise/Donna, that's a splendid idea. 100 word chapters might get my cogs turning again for my WIP(s).

I'm so glad to have this place. Thanks, Janet & all.

french sojourn said...


Calorie's was pretty slick, and I'm still hearing Just Jan's inflection...."Charlie?"

I went back and re-read all the entries...impressive. I would have to throw darts to choose from the 46 entries. "Better you than I."

Thanks for the contest, I would echo the comments above. These contests have really improved my writing, and the enjoyment I get from writing.

Good luck to the winner.

cheers Hank.

Just Jan said...

Glad to see you haven't lost the ability to torture us, oh mighty Shark-Queen!

Kregger's entry caught my eye the first time I read it--glad it made the finalist list. Good luck to all!

Colin Smith said...

Calorie's gets my vote of the finalists. I like when you don't notice the prompt words, not so much because they're well hidden, but they flow naturally with the story. I think Calorie managed that, as well as told a story in a scene. A good story, too. And... okay, I admit, I like that she's and I both went with a similar theme, but from completely different angles.

I have to give a shout-out to Megan V. Of all the entries, hers would have made my finalist list.

Great work, everyone! :)

Lennon Faris said...

These were all good. My vote goes to Brigid's. I had to read it a couple times to get the story because it was so clever, tells a story without actually 'telling' it. Very cute.

Fun side note, when I FIRST read the first line ("interested in a clean race?"), I thought it was a Hitler-esque reference. I'm used to darker entries! It didn't take me long to realize my mistake though.

Timothy I also noticed that when I read through your entry. That's such an eerie way to think of a blizzard/ snow storm.

Thanks for the mention, Janet!

Colin Smith said...

... just to clarify, when I said "of all the entries" I meant of all the entries, not just the finalists. I'm sure there are other entries that would make my finalist list if I went back and re-read. Megan V's was particularly memorable.

OK. Back to your regular commenting... :)

Timothy Lowe said...

Great work, everyone! I have no gut feeling this week - they're all so good. I have to echo the comments above that say just go ahead and enter. I was waffling and then I just went ahead and posted. It's always nice have something about your entry catch the shark's eye!

September bustles with newness. No exception for my family - kids back in school, me back in school, wife with a new job...also back in school. Like EM I am trying a pretty ambitious rewrite of a recent WIP, although I have to say I'm jealous of her muses. They seem to be much more insistent than mine.

I will always take time out, though, to enter one of Janet's contests when she's nice enough to offer the opportunity. (Even with what sounds like an extremely busy transition!)

Thanks QOTKU!

Michael Seese said...

My money is on Just Jan. And kudos for blending "herd" into "dog."

Beth said...

Can't decide between Lennon Faris's, Brigid's, and Just Jan's. All made me smile, in different ways. Glad I'm not judging.

Also enjoyed Steve Forti's and Craig F's. Lovely reading.

french sojourn said...


LynnRodz; I absolutely loved savoring your " Décès d'un matador."

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Good stuff... all around. Kudos to everyone who entered and congratulations to each of the finalists. I've narrowed my favorites down to two: Lennon Faris and Just Jan.

Brigid said...

Off-topic: Have y'all read Kari Lynn Dell's Reckless in Texas? It's delightful. A great read.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Ha! I knew Lennon would get it the minute I read that last line - excellent excellent story!!! Its not just having the ability to help someone in need, its recognizing that your ability to help does not make you the special butterfly, it makes you HUMAN. Loved this so much, Lennon! My daughter works in a non-profit that aids people (who are addicted) to obtaining Medical help- she will love this; it resonants with their message of hope.

Calorie- I was creeped out. Good job!

Brigid - love and politics; a marriage between both "parties"! love it!

Congrats to everyone; enterists, mentionables & finalists! I know it got my writing skills back on track after working in the Hills for an entire month without cell & wifi due to a contract glitch. Now I'm in the last stages of getting ready to query- working on an Author web page!

and IM GOING TO SURREY- gulp.

JulieWeathers said...

I've been in a writing funk lately so my story isn't even getting any attention. I'm fixing that today. I'm listening to Kelly's Irish Brigade now to prime the pump.

Anyway, I liked Kregger's entry best, but they are all top notch as usual.

Good job, writers.

Kregger said...

Way to go everyone, especially Lennon Faris. You rock.
I knew after I posted my story I was in trouble.
Such talent.
Thanks to Ms. Reid for the mention. Others may rock, but you are a rock star.
Kregger

Mark Thurber said...

Janet is right -- fewer entries, but the quality is as high as ever. Congratulations, Lennon, on a great story, and kudos as well to the other amazing finalists and mentions, which shocked me and made me laugh. I was also captured by the elegant word play of Megan V's story and the fantasy world of Colin's, which I understood to be about a (voluntary or involuntary) ascetic and a powerful magic tome with a will of its own. (Did I get that somewhat right, Colin?)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Way to go, Lennon. Fine job.

CynthiaMc said...

Congrats, Lennon! Well done.

Loved disappearing Charlie too. Loved Steve Forti's as well.

Colin Smith said...

Congratulations, Lennon! First time win. :) I have updated the spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest, so you can check out your name on the Winners List there!

Thanks, Mark. What I had in mind was more Urban Fantasy involving a kidnapped girl who, after five years, finds the strength to use a very dark spell. But your take could be an interesting story! :)

french sojourn said...


Julie, sorry to hear you're in a funk. As you are one of the staples here, I will just say get better and know we're pulling for you.

Lennon, way to go. Another notch. Well done. Even though the field was narrowed in numbers, the talent is mind numbing. Great job all. Stay tuned to the Shark channel,

Thanks again QOTKU you rule with a mighty fin.

BJ Muntain said...

As usual, some really great entries. Congrats to the finalists, and especially to Lennon! I would have chosen Lennon from the finalists, too, although Rkeelan came close.

Yay! Janice is coming to Surrey! :) A month without wifi and cell? I'd be so lost.

Julie: Hope your funk goes away completely soon. I understand that all too well.

Lennon Faris said...

Whoa. Thank you Janet for the honor, and everyone else for the congratulations. I'm in awe. Truly did not expect it with the rest of the talent going on. Am very much looking forward to reading the book. We're all a big fan of horses and dogs in this household :)

The first part of the story was based on something that happened to a coworker's fiance. City workers sadly see that a lot around here. It's amazing that these people truly have no grasp that they literally just died, and were pulled back for one more chance. Drugs suck! I am so grateful for places that help the down and out, including Proud Spirit who help the four-legged ones.

Julie - hoping your writing funk is gone.

Thanks again, Janet and all.

Celia Reaves said...

Congrats, Lennon. Yours was a really beautiful story, deftly told, and the prize is well deserved. Everyone, great entries all around. I become a better by entering, but mostly by reading what others wrote. And when Janet comments, wow, things get that much clearer.

Mark Thurber said...

Colin- got it now, thanks! Even though I clearly missed some of the details, I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere you created. And I got the dark spell part right at least!

I like it when my 100-word stories turn toward fantasy, even if I miss more than I hit because I fail to make things explicit enough. My hit rate improves when I use family members as beta readers, but that requires that I write my story before the wee hours of the morning...

Thanks again for these contests, Janet. The current revision of my WIP is making me realize what a debt I owe to these contests. They are perfect practice in what to leave in and what to take out.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Lennon! Very fitting of the spirit of the theme.

Also enjoyed Calorie and Just Jan's. And Megan V's from the non-finalists, as well. Thanks to those who enjoyed mine, was happy with this one.

Good to be back in the swing of things. Hope everyone else returns for the next one. Happy Labor Day to those of you in the US and not working today.

LynnRodz said...

Congrats, Lennon, yours was one of my favorites!

Marie McKay said...

Well done, Lennon. A really great story. Terrific writing. Thanks,Janet,for having a contest. I missed them. Despite my Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse being a tad lame, I had a lot of fun! Congrats all finalists- a talented bunch!

Kate Larkindale said...

Congrats Lennon! Great story. But I am very glad I don't ave to pick the winner. SO many good ones...

Theresa said...

Well done, Lennon, and to the rest of the finalists, too. Another close race this week!

Peggy Rothschild said...

Congratulations to Lennon Faris and all the runner's up. What a great collection of stories. Wonderful reading to wrap up the holiday weekend.

LizellaPrescott said...

Congrats to Lennon and all the finalists! And thanks so much for the fun, lazy morning reading :-)

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations, everyone! What a brilliant way to return after the month hiatus!
Thank you Janet for running these competitions- and then for explaining the entries... There were a few that I didn't understand this week, so I truly appreciate the enlightenment! It makes the reading so much more enjoyable :)
Happy writing week, everyone!

Claire Bobrow said...

Well done, Lennon! Congratulations to you, and to all of the finalists. All the entries were a pleasure to read - so much creativity and excellent writing out there.

Happy Labor Day, everyone!

Mallory Love said...

I love yours, Lennon. It made me tear up a bit. Thanks for the mention, Janet! Totally made my day! I love these contests. They really stretch me as a writer. And I love seeing what everyone else makes out of the puzzles of 100 words we're allotted. I also enjoy the commentary. There is so much I don't see until it is mentioned. ( FYI: if anyone is interested, I've been reading Dialogue by Robert McKee and it is so insightful. Especially the conflict chapters where he breaks down the subtext behind certains scenes of screenplays and prose. One of my favorite new books on my journey to DIY my MFA. )
There is always brilliant stuff (and people) here on this blog.

Brian Schwarz said...

Agreed Janet! It's not you. It was simply time and lack of ideas! :)

Calorie Bombshell said...

Lennon - Congrats on a truly moving story. What beautiful writing. I just loved it!

Colin - thanks so much for the kind words. It means a lot coming from a terrific writer like yourself.

Janet - I'm utterly gobsmacked with pride to think my writing is like an Amish quilt. Thank you, thank you for making my day!

Congrats to all of the finalists! Terrific writing as usual.

Steve Stubbs said...

Well, it’s gross, but Kregger is the clear winner.

Gross.

That is a sign of te times.

If you’re gross, you win,

Congrats, Kregger.

I am glad you are not running for president.

kdjames.com said...

Congratulations, Lennon! And to all the finalists as well. Really tough choice this time, as I liked several of these but for different reasons.

I felt a little bit like Kitty, in that I knew how I wanted to use the prompt words, but there was no story in my story. I decided to post it anyway. I tend to be a perfectionist (well, MY perception of perfection) and it's very difficult for me to stop futzing with a piece of writing and let go. This contest helps with the realization that it's okay to just be done, to send it out in less than polished form, that the world won't end and no one is going to show up at my house to kick my cat. Not so far, anyway. And every time, I learn something. Thanks for conducting these contests, Janet.

AJ Blythe said...

When reading the entries (as in all entries) my top two were Lennon Faris and Michael Seese, so glad to see Lennon win. Congratulations to everyone who entered though, there were some great stories.

Donnaeve said...

Waaaay to go, Lennon!

Elise, (and Brigid - if you use the technique) I'm glad it's working for you!

Thank goodness for The Shark's take. Some of these I struggled with and only see the brilliance once she's cleared the haze from eyes.

Great job all!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Yes, busy weekend.

Congrats, Lennon. A deft touch for a touching story. And I'm also glad when Janet takes time to explain the top entries. There's so much to learn here. Thank you, O QOTKU.

Beth said...

Congratulations, Lennon. You told a touching story, and then made it into an even better story, all in 100 words. I loved it.

Marie, I thought the Four Horsemen was quite clever.

I’ve been waiting months to hear back on an R&R, and being the woodland creature I am, conjuring up worst-case scenarios about why it’s taking so long. This contest is just what I needed, offering both a wonderful distraction as I delight over all the miniature masterpieces, and some much appreciated validation. Thank you, Janet.

LynnRodz said...

Thanks, Hank, I was at the doctor's office and lost my connection or else I would've thanked you sooner. I had to get 5 vaccinations for our upcoming trip to Peru. You would think we were going to Mars instead of Machu Picchu!

Btw, I attended my first bullfight when I was 6 years old and my family was visiting Mexico. I'm totally against it. That's why I wanted to give the bull's POV as well. Cheers!

Just Jan said...

Nice job, Lennon!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Well done to all the shout-outs and to the winner! I had the prompt words written out next to my keyboard and there they stayed while I had to deal with a micro-emergency.

The winner was pitch-perfect, great job.

Terri

RKeelan said...

Congratulations to Lennon Faris and everyone else who entered.

I just found time to read all the stories.

From among the non-finalists, the entries by Steve Forti and John Davis Frain really jumped out at me.

french sojourn said...


LynnRodz: I was also 6 years old when I saw my first bullfight, as well. In Portugal, although they don't kill the bull, it was still torture for me. And all these years later, I still feel such hopelessness for those stoic creatures. I loved your POVs.
Bon Voyage mon amis!

Side note, in mine the airlines notified Dick that his wife died, and he was coldly carrying on without grieving, as he was a dick.

Loved the four riders of the Apocalypse, and the other one with the wee dragon.

3 comments /out

MA Hudson said...

Congrats Lennon! That was my favourite - a real pleasure to read. I love how poetic it was without being cryptic. I only needed to read it once to understand what was going on, after that I read it again just to savour the lovely writing.

Megan V said...

Congrats Lennon! It was a treat to read and definitely tugged at the heart. Congrats to all the finalists and mentions, and to all the wonderful entrants.

Thanks for the shout out Colin, Mark, and Steve. It's appreciated, and very much so.

Kregger said...

Steven,
I appreciate your support, but I am running for president.
My platform is...
Needless to say, I'm a write in.
Kregger for Prez!

Lennon Faris said...

I don't think anyone will likely see this, but just in case I wanted to say again thanks for all the congratulations and encouragement. All of your words mean so much to me!