Monday, October 17, 2016

Writing Contest FINAL RESULTS

What a lovely respite from the awful week of political news! Thanks to all of you for improving my outlook on life!

Herewith the results!

The Steve Forti Award for amazing and innovative use of prompt words goes to
Amy Johnson 5:08pm
Everything seemed apropos that morning. Almost everything. Sam in his usual overalls. Sun creating a golden hue over the llama farm. Autumn air crisp. Latte in Sam’s hand?

“Ma, maybe llama farming isn’t for me.”

“But with your brother running off to Afri
ca, that leaves just us to tend the farm.”

“Yeah, Jed’s off photographing the Serenge
ti--me, I’m stuck mucking llama dung.”

That evening we heard them. Sam took off running for the gate, yelling. “Wait! Wait!
Wa--” Llamas stampeded.

Sam’s head isn’t in this. Must have forgotten the latch.

I’ve been thinking about trying something new myself.

and the runner up for the Steve Forti award is unavoidablytiger 7:57pm
Do. Re. Do re ti me.

-Sound of Music crap.

Solf├Ęge. Shut up.

I sketch notes with my Bic. At least they didn’t throw all my pens away. Sharp nibs only.


It’s for him. Valentine’s Day. Handmade gift.

-Gross. You wanna give him a gift, go sexy. Get Li

op. It’s platonic.

-You wish, whore.

That better be a joke.
What did you do?!

The song’s crumpled. I take the pill hidden under my pillow. Stare her down in the window. Her smugness blurs.

A knock.

“Mrs. Thomas? Time to see Dr. Drake.”

“Ok. Can I bring his gift?”

Well it wouldn't be a real weekend unless we talked about paint, right?
Thankfully, we had Beth 11:06am for that!

An astonishingly wonderful opening line
A hitman looks at sixty.
Frenchsojourn 11:09am

Homage to the new Nobel Prize winner
RosannaM 11:22am

Homage to the Loaner Cat
kregger 11:26am

Beautifully subtle!
delicartoons 11:24am
CAT: Computerized Axial Tomography.
WALL: Wilson's Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
POST: Prognosis Or Status? Terminal.
SPLAT: Shock, Pleading, Learning, Acceptance, Tranquility.
TIME: Today I'm Mostly Exhausted, Though Otherwise Lately I'm Very Excited.

Great use of "catatonic"
Just Jan 10:20pm
Miss Devon Rex’s famous Cat-A-Tonic sells out completely.

Other than the Jane Austen reference, this is EXACTLY right
Kate Higgins 11:27pm

Post time. You sit resolutely at your computer, you'll get a good start on fulls.

First book; "SELACHOPHOBIA", you snicker and scroll down to #2: "NYCTOPHOBIA". Seems to be a phobic trend.

Outside, lightning and thunder collude with the flickering streetlights; you jump.

Rain splatters on the iron fire escape with determination. The wind, insistent and guttural with admonishment moans,

Your sphinx-like loner cat, green eyes glowing, sits fixated on the blank wall behind your desk.

The night intrudes as the electricity convulses into obscurity.

Decision's made – chocolate, vodka, "Pride and Prejudice" and Somniphobia.

Here's the short list for this week

Bethany Joy 9:14am
“Catatonic?” I ask.

“Nothing as serious as that,” Dr. Wallace says. “Focus on the fact the epilepsy is alleviated.”

That’s a helpful hint (I cling to those). Trace the timeline then and the only conclusion is that it must be post-surgery.

“In the 1950s it was cutting-edge treatment,” he continues.

Wet-clay thoughts splatter and drip away.

A man watches me in a white coat. Dr. Wallace? Must be. Context (I cling to that). The desk calendar reads April 8th, 1978. A precious clue.

“Catatonic?” I ask.

This literally took my breath away. With almost NO exposition, the entire story is conveyed in what is not said: the space between the filaments of the spider web of words.

And more than just a clever bit of style, it's also a wonderful story, much of it left to our imagination. 

This is just gorgeous writing and story telling. I am in awe.

JD Horn 9:47am
Tomcat, polecat, Time cover splat.
Wall Street Journal, locker room, frat.
Wheezing, flailing. Give up the ghost.
“Wrap it up,” calls The Washington Post .

this cracked me up because it's a perfect jump rope rhyme. Have you forgotten jump rope rhymes? They're such fun.  And a whole lot harder to write than you'd think. 
And of course, this conveys commentary on the current political situation in a not-too-subtle way.

Deb Smythe 12:12pm
Dry, emergency rations clatter into my bowl. Clearly some catastrophe is imminent. New kid acts like he doesn't care, gobbling his food and splattering chow everywhere. After breakfast, he joins me at my bathroom post when he's supposed to be patrolling the outside wall.

When the apocalypse comes, and perhaps if it doesn't, I'll be forced to eat him. He'll taste of the unseemly things he snacks upon, but I'll not suffer his loutish ways for all time. I clout his head as my aide exits the bathroom. Forgetting her place, she reprimands me. Another course for the apocalypse menu.

Can't you just see the cat who thinks this way?
This is a perfectly evoked point of view from the fluffball on the floor.
Excuse me, the regal feline who should be on the couch being petted.

Distinct pov and voice are very hard. This is an excellent example of one that is very well done.

flashfriday 4:03pm
“Tell us your name,” said PossumSleepingTruckDriver flatly, adjusting himself on his heavenly cloud.


“Why won’t you tell us your name?” This from GoosePlanePropeller, her formerly majestic honk now a faintly shattered squawk. “I told you mine.”

I don’t care to.”

“You think you’re better than us, don’t you?” PigSummerBarbecue said crisply.

HounddogBearTrap scowled. “She don’t look no better’n us.”

Maybe it’s not your business.”

“Everything’s our business!” shouted FruitflyVinegarBowl. “Tell us!”

I won’t.”

“Not everybody falls for peer pressure, you know,” sniffed LemmingCliffBottom.

How about you try guessing?” And CatSplatPostTimeWall’s eyes swept across the cloud, laughing as silence fell.

This cracked me up both in how it used the prompts, and the hilarity of of the dialouge. And the lemming's line made me laugh all over again when re-reading.

Brilliant imagination, and elegant taut writing.

Angel Lanphere 11:17pm
Joe walloped me good this time but I was grateful he didn't splatter me across the floor.

“No cat scan needed,” the doctor said, examining the gash on my brow. Its fresh mark crossed over an old one.

“Take Advil. Ice it for the swelling.” he finished, eyeing me.

“Do you feel safe at home?” the doctor asked abruptly. My eyes cut to Joe, seated near me. A domestic violence poster behind him.


Nowhere, really.

“I live alone,” I replied and turned to go.

The doctor watched her leave as she came, alone.

 Holy moly, talk about wanting to know what's going on here! This is a great bit of suspense writing, and in 100 words or less. Quite an achievement! 

It was hard to pick just one winner this week, I liked every single finalist and all for very different reasons.

In the end though I chose the entry that knocked my socks off: Bethany Joy 9:14am.

Bethany, if' you'll drop me an email with your mailing address and the kinds of books you like to read, I'll send you your prize for the contest!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write stories and enter. It's always a pleasure to see what you come up with. The caliber of the writing goes up with every contest. It's getting toughter to single out finalists let alone a winner.  



nightsmusic said...

Janet, you don't like Jane? You probably mentioned that before, but I don't remember :(

They were all great entries. We finished our floor this weekend so another I couldn't enter. I must admit, there were some again that I'm missing something on, like Angel Lanphere's, but I loved them.

Theresa said...

Great bunch. I keep coming back to JD's.

Long Monday ahead.

Donnaeve said...

Great choices and congrats to mentions/finalists thus far!

Off to Raleigh - y'all have a great day!

Colin Smith said...

Lots of good entries again this week, though I can't say any really jumped out at me like last time. Congrats to all the mentions, and all the best to you, Janet, for picking a winner! :)

french sojourn said...

Great finalists, Angel's grabbed me instantly. Loved the last line...beautifully constructed.

Thanks for these contests and for the shout out. When I think of all the work you do, I'm amazed at how you manage to shoehorn in these contests.

Thanks again and as always, Cheers!

Kregger said...

I had to read Flashfriday's twice...well, maybe three or four times, but then I got it.
That was cool.

Claire Bobrow said...

These mentions and finalists are scary good. I didn't have a chance to read all this entries this time - we're on a mad dash to look at a last couple of colleges with our son. Good luck choosing a winner - very, very tough. Congrats to all who entered!

Steve Forti said...

Kudos to the mentionables. I think I'm dumb this morning, though. Can someone please explain JD's to me?

Celia Reaves said...

Good entries again, as usual. There were a couple of really creepy ones Janet didn't mention, but will be giving me nightmares: The Noise in Space on middle children, and Donnaeve on the traveling poster. A couple Janet did mention stand out to me. Beth picked up the running gag on painting and gave it just the right half twist. And Bethany Joy touched on something that's a special interest of mine, since I teach cognitive psychology and talk about this form of amnesia in class. Beautiful. Well done, everyone. I can't wait to see who Janet picks this time!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Good job all mentions, finalists, and entries. Flu is still making me ... so no preferences. I defer to the shark

Nate Wilson said...

Ooh, I like the subtlety in delicartoons's piece. As for the contenders, it's a tough call this week since they're so evenly matched. I like all five for different reasons, but for me Deb Smythe's has the edge.

Mark Thurber said...

I thought Angel's was absolutely brilliant.

Among the non-finalists/mentions, I loved Kae Ridwyn's dragon and wasp, and both Shaun and Nate cracked me up in their respective ways.

Beth said...

Great stories. I like all the finalists, but my favorites are Bethany Joy and Deb Smith. I love the hidden message of optimism in Delicartoons - brilliant.

I also loved Lozosisek's, probably because of a great Dane pup in a similar situation we had when I was a child. Cheryl's ballad of a bowl was so clever and well-written. I think Kregger perfectly captured the thought process of a hunting cat.

Celia Reaves tragedy entirely in sound track was just amazing, and The Noise in Space's scary twins made me shudder. The last line was perfect - so menacing in its innocence.


John Davis Frain said...

I have to go through again later today to make sure I understand all the finalists, but wow do I also remember this opening line from Saturday:

"A hitman looks at sixty."

Cheers, Hank! That's a classic.

RosannaM said...

Thanks for the mention-it was fun trying to sneak a few Dylan lines in (singing along the whole time, of course). Congrats to the finalists, and oh how you winnow it down has got to be crazy-making.

There were a few that didn't make it that I liked. Colin's rapping story was unique. As well as S.D. King'sbackward/forward entry-brilliant!

I also enjoyed Celia's story all told in music titles.

Good Luck and Good week everyone.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Bethany Joy! And well done again to all the finalists and mentions.

I'll update the Spreadsheet ASAP. :)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and thanks, Rosanna! Although, when someone says, "that was unique," I tend to think of the child in mis-matched shoes, wearing her skirt over her pants, a sweater three sizes too big and four decades too old, and self-applied makeup (without using a mirror). Let's just say it was an experiment. :)

Kelli Mahan said...

At least we know if JD Horn gets tired of Witching Savannah, he can always fall back on jumprope jingles and Hallmark cards! All kidding aside, I LOVE this man's work! :)

Lennon Faris said...

Wow, I liked so many this time.

Congratulations, Bethany!! Well done!

Angel's was a cool twist and believable (nightsmusic - the m.c. is being treated for a domestic abuse injury, and her attacker/lover is sitting right there, but he didn't walk in with her because he didn't want the doctors to know he was involved).

Flashfriday's was hilarious.

Colin's also stood out to me from those that didn't make it on this list. I thought it had a catchy rhythm with a poignant story.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Bethany!

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, Bethany. Well done, all. Thanks, Janet. I do love reading your commentaries. I learn something new each time.

nightsmusic said...

Bethany, congrats!

Lennon, I got the domestic violence, but I think the switch to third person is what threw me. Thanks!

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, Bethany. Well done, all. Thanks, Janet. I do love reading your commentaries. I learn something new each time.

Janice Grinyer said...

Congrats Bethany Joy! And congrats to all the mentionables, and short-listers. And the entries too.

I think I am going to just enjoy the next few go-rounds rather than participate. The entries are so much fun to read; some I get, some I don't, and some just plain creep me out- Good job! My prompt for this week came from an incident recently where I found someone's abandoned shopping list in a cart I had pulled free from the other carts at the doorway. There are stories everywhere...

Anyhow, good job everyone, and I must now pack for Surrey this weekend!

Beth said...

Congratulations, Bethany. Wonderfully done.

Lennon and Nightmusic,it's funny, because I interpreted Angel's story to mean Joe was in the examining room, but the doctor couldn't see him, thus he was an abusive ghost.

And Deb Smythe, sorry I spelled your name wrong originally. Love the story.

nightsmusic said...

Beth, I was leaning more that way too, except the abuse was fresh unless she'd killed him before she came in. Sometimes, it's too much thinking for me...

Karen McCoy said...

Congrats, Bethany, and well done all! I loved the finalists and mentions, and the commentaries are extremely helpful. Like Marie, I always learn something new.

RosannaM said...

Colin--I love those kids!

And, really, where would history be without experimenters?

RosannaM said...

And a big shout out to Bethany!

S.D.King said...

Congratulations, Bethany! NICE!

And thanks Rosanna for the shout-out. I tried to do a take on the well-known "Our Generation" and it was HARD! Way harder than I expected. They say the original was written by an eighth grader. Whoa.

Our generation will be known for nothing.
Never will anybody say,
We were the peak of mankind.
That is wrong, the truth is
Our generation was a failure.
Thinking that
We actually succeeded
Is a waste. And we know
Living only for money and power
Is the way to go.
Being loving, respectful, and kind
Is a dumb thing to do.
Forgetting about that time,
Will not be easy, but we will try.
Changing our world for the better
Is something we never did.
Giving up
Was how we handled our problems.
Working hard
Was a joke.
We knew that
People thought we couldn’t come back
That might be true,
Unless we turn things around

Now, read it this way:

Unless we turn things around
That might be true,
People thought we couldn’t come back
We knew that
Was a joke.
Working hard
Was how we handled our problems.
Giving up
Is something we never did.
Changing our world for the better
Will not be easy, but we will try.
Forgetting about that time,
Is a dumb thing to do.
Being loving, respectful, and kind
Is the way to go.
Living only for money and power
Is a waste. And we know
We actually succeeded
Thinking that
Our generation was a failure.
That is wrong, the truth is
We were the peak of mankind.
Never will anybody say,
Our generation will be known for nothing.

Janet Reid said...

Oh wow, Lennon Faris!

Your comment:
Angel's was a cool twist and believable (nightsmusic - the m.c. is being treated for a domestic abuse injury, and her attacker/lover is sitting right there, but he didn't walk in with her because he didn't want the doctors to know he was involved).

wasn't what I thought!
I thought her attacker was a poltergeist of some kind, that this was paranormal!

Just goes to show how different readers see different things.

Actually, I kind of like your take on it better than mine now too. (and I still think it's a great story)

Brigid said...

Bethany, well done!

Of the non-finalists, I also really enjoyed the entries by Timothy Low and The Noise in Space.

Timothy Lowe said...

Thanks bridgid. Technical issues force me to comment on my phone, not my preferred method. But a mention in comment land is almost as fun as one in results. Loved Germany's (was struck by it on first read). I thought angel's "alone" was in the metaphorical, but I like all the other interpretations better. The play on acronyms was fun and very creative. I also wanted to shout out to my good buddy Rob Roemer who I cajoled into entering. We are currently taking a fiction class together at writers and books in Rochester. It's been invigorating. Thanks for another contest, Janet!

Timothy Lowe said...

Told you it wasn't preferred. Not sure why Bethany became Germany. My phone must be smarter than I am.

Bethany Joy said...

Janet, thank you for absolutely making my day! The contests are a great opportunity to practice storytelling & I appreciate everything you do to inspire writers.

Thank you everyone for your kind words; they mean so much to me. This goes without saying, but each entry was fascinating and it was a pleasure to read them all. Celia, I wish I could take your class because the subject is endlessly interesting.

Lennon Faris said...

Ooh, a paranormal twist to Angel's is pretty cool. I like that interpretation. Creepy either way!

Kitty said...

Wow, these are really great entries! I'm in awe. Congrats to Bethany!

JD Horn said...

Congratulations, Bethany!

Colin Smith said...

The Writing Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest is now up-to-date.

Congrats, again, Bethany!

Gypmar said...

Mark, "Shaun" was my 13 year-old son Nels entering for the first time (with his dad's log-in.) He will be tickled by your comment!

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations Bethany!

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations to Bethany Joy (beautiful name!) and all the finalists, mentions, and everyone who entered. Such great stories! I, too, got a kick out of flashfriday's--laughed out loud, then laughed again with the re-read when I took better note of LemmingCliffBottom's line about peer pressure. I'm laughing again just thinking about it. It's a lemming. That followed the other lemmings off a cliff. Peer pressure. So funny! Getting giddy.

Janet, thanks for the mention, and for these contests. Writing stories with 100 words or fewer is good writing practice. And very fun. Who needs to write novels? Just kidding. Just kidding. Just kidding. Please don't tell anyone I said that.

Colin Smith said...

[Public Service Announcement]
Sorry, I meant to add this to my last comment, but forgot... If you're hunting around the blog archives and come across a writing contest not on The Spreadsheet, please let me know. There are contests on the blog that are not included, but that's because they either a) depend upon a photograph (e.g., a caption contest, or a "book spine poetry" contest), or b) required entrants to submit their entries via email (I think this was the very first writing contest). So if you find one that doesn't fall into one of those two types, and isn't on the list, email me (see my Blogger account for my address) please so I can make the list as complete as possible. That way, when we get to the 100th contest (this one was #92 by my count), there's no dispute about the number. :)

Thank you!

Mark Thurber said...

Gypmar- Excellent, kudos to Nels for a crisp, funny story!

John Davis Frain said...

High-five to you, Bethany Joy. Great job capturing the Shark's fascination. You steal Le Sharque's breath away, you're having a tremendous writing day. Doesn't get any better than that. Unless you add chocolate, I guess.

However, confession: I, quite unfortunately, find myself in the remedial class this weekend because I don't think I'm following exactly what's happening in your story. I looked up "catatonic" to make sure I had the right definition. Ditto on "epilepsy." I'm a go read it again, see if a light clicks on or if I remain embarrassed...

Well, that didn't work. See if a cold bottle of Budweiser helps clear things up.

Meanwhile, Lennon Faris, your interpretation of Angel's story makes it SOOOO much more clever in my mind. Not to take away from what was already there -- and heck, maybe that's how it was originally intended -- but I had it being a poltergeist as well.

The guy sitting there, his affiliation unknown to the doctor, makes it 57x more chilling. Angel, great stuff.

Kate Higgins said...

Janet, The only reason I picked a Jane Austin was because it was predictable and wasn't scary or threatening...unlike that thing that loner cat was watching on the it whispered your the a nearly midnight....(insert evil laugh here: maawhahaaaa).

I loved all the finalist! Congrats Bethany!.
(I think the closer it gets to Halloween the creepier the entries will get.)

The Noise In Space said...

Congrats, Bethany Joy! What breathtaking writing--intricate and so heartbreaking.

And thank you to Celia Reaves, Beth and Brigid--this was my first time entering, so I was extremely nervous that I'd made it either too obvious or too obscure. But it's definitely a very fun challenge!

Just Jan said...

Congratulations Bethany! Very nicely done. And thanks for the mention, Janet. This was a fun contest.

Just Jan said...

Congratulations Bethany! Very nicely done. And thanks for the mention, Janet. This was a fun contest.

Bethany Joy said...

Thank you! Beyond proud to join the list!

Angel Lanphere said...

Janet, I'm honored to be a finalist. Thank you so much. After I read your blog post this morning, I danced around my room! It certainly put a spring in my step. Great job everyone. Congratulations to Bethany Joy – I loved your entry.
Thank you all for your kind words. I'm absolutely thrilled my entry has caused some discussion.

Since there were different opinions I thought I'd share what my story is about. I wanted the reader to assume my MC was beaten regularly by some guy named Joe. A doctor would never ask if everything is ok at home with the supposed abuser in the room (at least I think so) and she most likely wouldn't tell the truth in front of her abuser anyhow. Even though she sees Joe in the exam room the doctor was not aware of his presence. What I was trying to convey was this abuse was physically her own doing but in her mind Joe is the one inflicting this pain. A person who harms themselves and has delusions as to whom is doing it.

So there it is. Based on your comments, my story does appear more like a poltergeist (and that's way cooler!) but I'm glad you guys enjoyed it regardless. Any tips on how I could have made my message clearer is appreciated. Thanks again.

french sojourn said...

Congrats Bethany...very nice.

Angel, that's how I read it as I thought your beautiful last line was literal. Thinking she had self-inflicted the abuse. Great job.

Kae Ridwyn said...

[Late commenting again - sorry...]
But WOW what high calibre writing! Congratulations, Bethany Joy, short-listers, and honourable mentions!
Thanks, Mark Thurber, for your comment on my story about the dragon and the wasp. I almost didn't post it, as it's so far removed from what I'd normally write - but I'm glad I did and that you enjoyed it :)
I, too, liked Celia Reaves musical entry, was creeped out by The Noise in Space and loved the poignancy of Megan Laughman's beginning and ending. But the entry that stunned me was Mallory Love's - those final words will stick with me forever, I think *shudders*

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congratulations Bethany Joy. And everyone mentioned. I enjoyed reading through the stories.

Mark Thurber said...

Angel, for what it's worth, I interpreted your wonderful story exactly as you intended, that the MC was hurting herself and attributing it to "Joe." I can see how people reached the other two interpretations though. It can be so hard to leave precisely the right clues in 100 words. (I find I most often fail in my flash fiction by being over-subtle and assuming that what's in my head gets through to the reader, which is why I invariably do better when I read it to someone else first.) Reading your story several more times, I think two points of possible confusion could be: 1) that it was unclear whether "Joe" was physically in the room where the MC was being seen, even though she left alone per the doctor, and 2) that the MC's saying "I live alone" might discourage the reader from thinking that Joe is a delusion of hers (although it could also be that she has learned others won't believe her if she mentions him). One possible idea on the first point might be to modify the last line to: "The doctor watched her leave THE EXAM ROOM as she came, alone."

Kae, I've struggled to pull off fantasy in 100 words, so I was very impressed with how you created a world with small touches -- e.g. "Time was, he’d never have overnighted at an inn, but the threatening storm had his elderly dragon agitated." Then, of course, you very cleverly left it to the reader to fill in the ending to the story!

Nate Wilson said...

Congratulations, Bethany, and everyone else mentioned!

I also thought the injuries in Angel's piece were self-inflicted--too many times watching Fight Club, perhaps--but I love both the supernatural and already-in-the-room interpretations. The different possibilities add to the mystery, and entice me to read on (if there was more to read, obviously).

Angel Lanphere said...

French Sojourn, thank you!

Mark Thurber, thanks for taking the time to help me out. I appreciate the advice.

Nate Wilson, thank you for your kind words!

Bethany Joy said...

Thanks again for the kind remarks, everyone!