Monday, February 27, 2017

FINAL Contest results

I was pried out of NYC by a fierce band of desert writers who forced me, FORCED I tell ya, to come to the sun and lovely light air of Phoenix, Arizona and talk with them about effective query letters. Since the paramedics were not called, nor were the gendarmes, it probably wasn't as fun as they'd all hoped.  I, however, did have a great time. Writers are so tasty!


The contest results are a day late because I was watching the Oscars, and I can't read your lovely work and watch TV at the same time.  And I was glad I watched till the end! Zounds! Seeing that guy snatch the envelope from Warren Beatty's hand, and hold the Moonlight card up in front of Beatty's face was so funny I first thought it was a part of the program.  (I'm really glad I don't work at Price Waterhouse this morning!)

Herewith the results:

Here are the words I had to look up (I always like those!)
awlwort: Kathy Joyce 4:17pm
millicarat: Rkeelan 11:23pm

Special recognition for a great sentence
Same Ghost 8:44pm
Her eyes are chilled hunger.


Deliciously amorphous
Marie McKay 12:49pm


Not quite a story but gloriosky the writing is utterly compelling
Barbara Lund 12:51pm


Not quite a story, but I loved them!

PAH 12:58pm
delicartoons 1:34pm



The Steve Forti Award for dexterous use of prompt words:

Steve Forti 12:59pm
benign. A wistful smile



These entries really made me smile
Amanda Wade 1:28pm
Kate Higgins 2:36pm
Sherry Howard 4:41pm


I'm pretty sure these are terrific,  but I didn't quite get them
Megan V 4:12pm
flashfriday 6:57pm




Here are the entries that made the final cut

Timothy Lowe 12:54pm
Hands pinned, face broken, I was sent to the doctor. His lens could summon God from stone. Peering down through a single blue eye, he went to work.

He was a precise psychiatrist, prying into my insides, spilling my guts. Finding out what made me tick.

I was a hard case. He went in with some intricate tools, removed my problematic parts, jettisoning them like trash. He almost got my insides to align. Awaiting the final gear, I dared to hope.

But then a wealthier customer arrived. I was deserted. Laid open. Bare.

I still blame him.

Stupid fucking Rolex.

I love the twist here. We of course are expecting this is about a person, and the devious use of psychiatrist reassures us we are on the right track. And "finding out what makes me tick"-what a perfect example of using our expectations against us.

This is brilliant and clever story telling. Damn fine writing.


Richelle Elberg 1:30pm

They huddled under the mesquite throughout the blue sky hours. Third day. Cross the desert at night, sleep days. Nearly there now; border agents shouted in the distance.
Jets passed overhead, chem trails stretching and shifting and pointing the way. A murder of crows cawed and swooped. Fear gnawed, acid rose in his throat.
“Tonight?” the girl asked.
He didn’t respond.
“I don’t mean to pry.”
“You didn’t have to come.”
“Where else would I go?”
“Back to Indiana.”
“I’ll go with you.”
She was silent for a time.
“How will we cross the wall?”
“Other illegals, Americans, will help.”

This entry knocked my socks off. 
Do you see the twist here?


Colin Smith 1:44pm

Sky Blue: My marriage dreams; My new eye color.
Sap Green: Her read of me; My eye shadow.
Jet Black: Her new BMW; My new hair.
Red Oak: The J.P.’s office desk where I signed my life away; The town where I had a pharmacist design a way out.
Desert Sands: Hotel where our bodies lay; Place where her body lies.
Cheap Rye: Her shoe color; My last breakfast in poverty.
Morning Shadow: Song covered by The Pancakes, playing when she left; Covered by theatrical pancake before I left.
Vengeance Red: Color of her purse where she keeps her passport.

This is a perfect example of a story told by what's not said.


Mark Ellis 1:51pm
The ink-jet printer slid flyers into a bin, each warm page gnawing against the thread of hope for Robert’s return after ten days overdue in the high desert.
They’d called off the search, and now only scrubby towns and cold blue sky would be Stef’s companions as she sought the man she’d argued with, and swore she never wanted to see again if he skipped their anniversary for another backpacking trek.
Prying herself off the counter at Mailboxes USA, she resisted the impulse to dial best friend Millie, who had her own problems, and had been strangely unsupportive of late.
I love the ending of this story.
So much unsaid, yet, we know, don't we, what's happened.
Lovely writing.


Galen Surlak 2:21pm
Unexpectedly, God sits next to me on a jet. He says nothing, but I’m sure it’s Him. Out of the blue, I ask, “Hate to pry, but are you God?”

“Yes.”


He raises two fingers. “You get two questions.”

“Two?”

“Yes. One left.”

I hesitate. What should I ask?

“Try writing down those that gnaw at you.”

I do. I question evil, the future, heaven, hell and more. Ten minutes later, for giggles, I add one more to the massive list: What should I have for desert?

“Dessert has two S’s” he says.

“You sure?”

He nods and then vanishes.

This is an old joke but it's never outdated.
It always makes me laugh.

Nate Wilson 8:43pm

"He sprayed you?"

"With one of those new Jango Fett--sorry, new-fangled jet power washers. Called me impure."

"You should've reported him."

"I did. That's why he chopped down spry moose. My spruce. From my daughter's memorial garden. He said it defiled his yard."

"Wow."

"Prejudice brings out people's shoe trades. Er, true shades."

"Yet, if it's his house..."

"I know. And he had me wino saver. Sign a waiver. When I rented the place from the affluent buck. Dammit. Abluent f--"

"I get it. So, you're here to lodge another complaint?"

"What? No. Biz hottie's in try monk."

 Honest to godiva, the talent here is a little frightening. This is just fucking brilliant. 


I'm travelling Monday night (red-eye back to NYC) so the final results will be sometime Tuesday when I have regained my wits. 

 UPDATE!
It's 9:14pm on Tuesday so you know it took me 24 hours to travel and regain my wits. I now remember why I promised myself no more red-eye flights. Egad! A couple small children on the flight said exactly what I was thinking "waaaaaaah!"

But, enough wailing, back to the contest!

Clearly Nate Wilson must be recognized. His entry was utterly brilliant and most of you agreed with that. You'd probably riot if he was robbed of the prize.

But I also want to recognize Richelle Elberg 1:30pm. Her entry made me realize (for the first time) that a wall locks us IN as much as it locks anyone else out. Much like Nietzsche's oft quoted
"And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."

So, this week we have two winners: The Impossibly Deft Nate Wilson, and the Illuminating Richelle Elberg.

Congrats to you both for outstanding entries in a highly competitive field!

If you'll email me with your mailing addresses, and what you like to read I'll try to find a prize worthy of your talents!

And thanks to all who took the time to write entries.  I'm continually amazed and awed at the breadth of talent in this group of writers. 

51 comments:

Karen McCoy said...

I had to sit this one out (busy weekend) but I am knocked sideways by the talent in all of these entries! Galen's sticks out for me (maybe it's because I'm tired of seeing dessert spelled with one s!).

Safe travels!

Allison Newchurch said...

Janet, Your comment on Nate's post should have been:

"Bucking Frilliant."

Love a good spoonerism. :)

Janet Reid said...

Oh Allison, yes!
Damn! I wish I'd thought of that!

Scott G said...

Congratulations to all these finalists. They are all so good. However, Janet, you are one shat bit lazy crady if you don't pick Nate's. That is just bucking frilliant!

Scott G said...

Sorry. Didn't read the comments right before mine. Just jumped right to the comment box after reading the finalists. Anyway. Man oh man. I never thought I was worthy before. Now I know for sure.

Nate,, can I have your autograph?

french sojourn said...


Nate, Nate, Nate...

Mamn Dan, epic. What a great illustration on word fencing. Clutch.

RosannaM said...

Okay, so long weekend in Vegas. Could not compete, and oh am I glad, because NATE. Just that...NATE.

The rest are oh, so good. But NATE. How in God's name did you come up with that?


So many weird things to see in Vegas. So many things my eyes cannot unsee. Note to those still looking for a retirement
back-up plan…come up with some weirdo shtick and bring it to Vegas for some daily cash. It seems to work.

Will hold my breath for the winner! Luck to all!

Marie McKay said...

Thanks for the mention, Janet. I'll take delicious any day! I really love Colin's structure, and I think Richelle's language is wonderful. Good luck. Well done, all.

Colin Smith said...

Woah! I made finalist in this crowd?! Talk about an honor, to be counted among this collection. Thanks, Janet!

Both Nate and Timothy came up with excellent and original stories, but I have to hand it to Timothy for originality. A story from the perspective of a watch, and written so well to keep wrong-footing the reader right up to the end. It's close, but that gets my vote.

Kitty said...

I choose Mark. As Janet said, So much unsaid, yet, we know, don't we, what's happened.

Donnaeve said...

After reading Timothy's, I began to wonder how many POV's we've had during these FF's that were not human. I recall a roll of paper towels...(was that Timothy's too?)

That said, I gotta hand it to Nate. I don't know if this is some sort of dyslexic speech pattern, but (stealing Allison's thought) bucking frilliant it is!

kathy joyce said...

I can't choose. Bucking frilliant (I love this :) to all!

DLM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DLM said...

A glittering array indeed, but Nate's does have an egg lup. My own egg tale was a fail, and I was bummed about that, but I had fun with it. Sometimes, you have to fry and tail.

And now wack to the BIP.

Megan V said...

I was blown away by Nate, Timothy, and Michael Seese's entries this week. Loved them. Cried because of them. Laughed because of them. They were absolutely lovely! Of the two mentioned as finalists, I'd vote Nate though because his entry feels fresh every time I read it.

I'd also like to thank the QOTKU for the mention! I think my entry might be a decent example of the failure of the writer to make necessary information part of the writing, and not making the story clear enough, when otherwise the reader would have to bring some pretty obscure knowledge and experience to the table :) My entry was a play on the announcers test—a fun memorization exercise. The idea was to have narrator as the lone (and delirious) survivor of a plane wreck, and have him use his version of this exercise to remember his experience, and keep himself alive. The ending is when help arrives, just as he almost gives up on the exercise.

Timothy Lowe said...

The competition in these contests is absolutely the best part. Nate's had my "wow" for originality of speech. Colin's too, I thought was evocative and really had me grounded in a mood and scene. Richelle's for topicality and inversion of expectation. Mark's for that wonderful last line. Galen's for just a pure good story (even though we saw that ending coming, it sure was fun).

Donna, no, the paper towel roll wasn't mine. I was inspired by last week's doll entry, to be honest. Two people I showed my entry said "huh" until I told them who was narrating. These contests really get you thinking outside the box in ways that most people don't.

Thanks for hosting another contest Janet - hope your eyes aren't too red this morning.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Yowza... So much good stuff.

Kate's made me laugh: **it tolerates Colins

I loved quite a few of these, but the standouts for me are Timothy's and Nate's. Bucking frilliant, indeed.

Kate Higgins said...

Bucking friliant is the word(s) of the day and vy mote!!!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

So many rilliant bentries.

Loved reading through them--Colin and Nate's structures, the twists, the jokes. Wondered how QOTKU would pick.

And yes, loved Diane's with the egg as well as PAH's peanut butter and jelly and Michael Seese's Blue and Dena's Semper Fi. And Rachel McCauley's just hit so close to home. Wonderful.

What a great group of writers. I had an absorbed time writing and rewriting as mine kept shifting. Thank you, Janet, for providing so much fun.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I loved Nate's and also Galen's made me laugh and S.D. Kings was also very funny and well done.
Dellcartoons was good too, Janet Reider!

These were all so good.

Nate Wilson said...

So many great entries this week. I enjoyed Megan V's for its bold style (despite no knowledge of the announcers test), the creativity of DLM's, and the little twist of Kathy Joyce's, among others. But my favorite is easily Timothy Lowe's with its masterful misdirection. Amazing stuff.

And Scott G, I don't know what good my autograph will do you, but you can have it. Just know that, like my mind, it may be a bit twisted.

Beth said...

My favorites were Timothy's and PAHs. The watch surgery was wonderful, and the jet crash in the boy's imagination made me laugh out loud. All the finalists blew me away. Congrats to every one.

BJ Muntain said...

I liked Timothy's. I liked the way he played with your expectations, as Janet described. He told you exactly what was happening, yet he twists it until you're surprised.

You know how there's a bias that most readers take a character to be white unless told otherwise? Well, now we know that there's a species bias in reading, too - readers will expect a character to be human until told it's a watch.

S.D.King said...

Gotta go with Nate.

JD Horn said...

Yeah, I'm footing ror Nate, too.

Steve Forti said...

Lots of great ones this week. Really, I'd vote for several of them. But I'll tip my cap to Timothy Lowe this time, as I always love unique, non-living POVs. Great work.

Lennon Faris said...

These are all fantastic. My vote might go to Richelle orColin. Hard though.

And I thought dellcartoon's was hilarious!

Well done, everyone!

Richelle Elberg said...

I just discovered all these comments--thanks for the wonderful, encouraging praise! This was my first FF effort but it's SOO fun. Will be back.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wow. These blew me away. How is it so many of you just get better and better. I was traveling this weekend so no entry from me and just as well. My flash ability pales next to these.

Colin Just wow! You are a master.

Nate How? How did you come up with that? Amazing.

Mark so lovely. Wonderful job.

Timothy so very clever. Bravo.

Galen Janet is right. Old joke but always funny. Nice work.

Richelle Welcome to the Reef. Great effort. Well done.

Haven't read all the commemts so no idea what others are thinking but this week I am leaning Colin's way. That may do more harm than good. But these are all top notch. Well done finalists

Colin Smith said...

Wooo! Congrats Nate--FIVE-TIME winner!! Wow. But WOW to Richelle too--a winner on her FIRST ATTEMPT! That's just awesome, both of you!

All this excitement... I need a lie-down. :)

BTW: According to the spreadsheet (which I will update ASAP), this was the 98th writing contest. We're fast approaching #100... something special planned, O Great Sharkley One?

Susan said...

Congrats to the winners! All the mentions and finalists were well-deserved, but I'm glad Richelle (and Nate!) is taking this home. It feels appropriate. Also, that Nietsche quote is spot-on.

Dena Pawling said...


Had a loooong day and am now sitting in ER with my #3 son (age 19) who got hit by a car while standing at the curb. He's fine but we're waiting for X-rays to prove nothing broken. Nice to read the finalists and congrats to the winners! I understood Nate's. Very funny lol. Sorry but I'm clueless on Richelle's but congrats on your first entry!

BJ Muntain said...

Dena: How awful for your son! Best wishes for his speedy recovery - and that nothing is broken or seriously injured.

Colin Smith said...

The spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest is up-to-date. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Careful, Colin. You may be stepping a wee bit close to Carkoon there.

However, that doesn't mean that WE can't plan something cool for the 100th contest, whatever that turns out to be. Something special we put up on our own blogs to celebrate, sort of like a fun blog tour, maybe? Or pictures? Or any other idea what we can do that wouldn't cause more work for our Queen?

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

BJ: Oh, I wasn't suggesting something big or anything above-and-beyond. Perhaps whenever she posts the 100th contest, it might have a special theme. :)

Beth said...

Goodness, Dena. Glad he's okay.

A double win! Well deserved. Congratulations to both of you.

John Davis Frain said...



Congratulations Timothy Lowe!

Wait, what?

OMG, slide the keyboard in front of Faye and you never know what she's gonna type.

Can I get Steve Harvey up here? Maybe I still have a chance. Steve?

Marie McKay said...

Congrats Nate and Richelle. Fantastic entries!
Thanks Colin for including me in one of the updates. Really kind of you to take the time.
Thanks Janet for all your hard work.

Timothy Lowe said...

Too funny Mr. Frain! Congrats to Mate and Rochelle. Great way to start the week.

Timothy Lowe said...

*damn autocorrect*

Janet Reid said...

I've always said the comments are the best part of this blog. You guyz crack me up.

Except I didn't mean that literally Dena! I hope your son is on the mend very quickly.

As for Colin's idea, well, he just moved house so he's all packed and ready to go, right? (Except this time I think it's a good idea)

Amanda Wade said...

Congrats to the winners and the finalists. Awesome work!

DLM said...

Timothy, did you mean Rate and Nichelle? :)

SPLENDID seeing two winners! Huzzah and felicitations to you both! Well deserved.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, Nate and Richelle. Such great entries.

Dena-so sorry to hear about your son. I hope he's ok and you're all back home now. What a scary thing to have hapen.

DLM said...

My apologies, I meant to say Dena, prayers of thanksgiving your son is not badly hurt, and strength for you. That had to give you a turn.

Richelle Elberg said...

Wow--this is such a great community, how did I not do this before? Thank you all so much! Now I'm going to have to really push myself each week--perfect! Motivation is sometimes lacking here, now I know where to come when I need more. Thanks again Janet and all of you great writers!

Janice Grinyer said...

Congrats to the winners, finalists, mentionables, and the storytellers who entered; its always fun to take time out and read your stories :)

Mark Ellis said...

Let me echo Janice here, and it was great to be one of the finalists this time.

Nate Wilson said...

I’d like to thank the Academy, and of course the person who got me to where I am today: Reverend Spooner.

I’m honored to share this award with Richelle -- on her first try, no less! -- and congrats to all the other frilliant nominees as well. I’d argue the subtlety they employed is harder to pull off successfully than my blatant jumbling (or maybe I just think that because my brain is hard-wired for crazy wordplay).

Thanks again, Janet, for providing us such a fun outlet in which to hone our skills!