Monday, December 04, 2017

Preliminary contest result-FINAL

Honestly, I think you are all gathering in some undisclosed location and plotting to torment me with these contests.  This is some damn fine work, y'all.

Herewith the results:

Special recognition for writers who used words I had to look up
I see you've upped your game this week. Some of you must have worn out that dictionary looking for new and difficult words!  I think this is the most I've ever had to look up!

Uckewallist-dellcartoons 9:10am
gluhwein-Rosanna 11:14am
bondat -Craig F 2:17pm

A double helping of recognition for the writers who had TWO words I had to look up
vesicles-Kerry Bernard 1:11pm
Stochasticity-Kerry Bernard 1:11pm

taita taiga- Rkeelan 12:29am
leukism-Rkeelan 12:29am

Nominees for the Steve Forti Prompt Words Acrobatic Performance
Dellcartoons 9:10am
Nate Wilson 12:57am

The start of a story I want to live!
Mori 9:03am

This cracked me up
Nathan Holland 9:15am
Sherryl Clark 6:16pn

A phrase I want to work into more conversations
Those carbon catastrophes Kerry Bernard 1:11pm

Big Orange Interregnum  Craig F 2:17pm

And here are the finalists:
Mallory Love 9:10am

It’s luck, they said when the new heart came right as my fragile one was about to give out.
fate, they told him when she couldn’t be revived after the accident.
I toasted to second
chances when I got the call about the job not long after my surgery.
He mixed soda and bour
bon most nights to burn away her memory.
My new boss was callous. Rough with his words. Cold with his stares.
For months, I hated him.
One day, he told me. Then, I understood him.
Now, I love him.
kismet. My heart was always his.
well of course this tugs at our heartstrings, and I'm always up for a good twisty story that does that. I love the cadence of this story.  Consider "Cold with his stares" versus "he stared coldly." That's just pure voice and style. I love it.

Laurie Betzel 10:19am
It seemed like chance when we bumped into each other at the bon voyage party on the Lido deck. It seemed like luck when neither of us had a partner for the ballroom dance class. It seemed like kismet when he quoted my favorite Pablo Neruda poem, If You Forget Me, at dinner. It seemed like fate when he offered to share a cab ride home. Now, bound and gagged in a windowless room, staring at a wall papered with photos printed off my social media accounts, I knew it was none of those things. He had planned it all.
My ONLY complaint is that the last sentence is superfluous.  The reader gets it all in the last phrase "I knew it was none of those things."  Taking out "He had planned it all" lets the reader have an aha moment (which is a very good thing)  Putting it in means we don't (not a good thing.)

I have a feeling that if this story had sat a bit longer Laurie would have excised that last bit.  The artistry comes in revisions!

Rio 11:21am
Bonilla looked around. “There’s nothing here.”

“Exactly,” Torres said. “Scene’s been stripped.”

Bonilla’s innards went cold. “Stripped?”

“All cells with human DNA, gone. Blood, hair. Even dead skin cells floating in the dust. All disintegrated.”

Oh, dear
fate, no. The KISMET-II particle stripper. “You think one of my scientists did this?”

“There’s a good
chance,” Torres said. “Someone’s been stripping crime scenes all over the city. No evidence left at all.”

“That’s some hard
luck there.”

“Sure is.”

“And you’re saying the suspect is —”

“Yes, Dr. Bonilla, a physicist by day, stripper by night.”

Damn, Bonilla thought. Another one.

This cracked me up completely. 
It's also darn good writing.

Casual-T 12:13pm
The 3:20 was on schedule, my life was not. 46, divorced, missing my kids. I always did my best, but, as my ex had so eloquently put it, "Your best just isn't good enough." Thanks dear.

Luck, chance, fate, kismet, call it what you will, all I know is that, if it hadn't been for that French girl, it would have been me. Her hand gently touched mine, as I stood, wavering, by the platform edge. She looked at me, smiled, and whispered, "C'est bon," and let go.

I don't think she felt any pain as the 3:20 pulled in.
Zowie! So much left unsaid here. I love those kinds of stories that let you fill in all sorts of things with your own imagination.

Friends, I wanted to participate in the contest, but I won’t get a chance to write today, barring a miracle. I planned to work on it yesterday. My brother had knee surgery, so my butt was bonded to a post-op waiting room chair for five hours. Talk about a perfect opportunity to spin a tale! No such luck. I tried to conjure an idea, but got bupkis. META bupkis. As a pantser, lack of inspiration is a fate worse than banana pudding. So, unless my fingers miraculously type something without my brain participating, I’m out. Sorry! Prosperous writing, all.

This cracked me up completely when I read it the first time.
Then I noticed the prompt words were used.
Clever clever writer!

Brian Schwartz
There are three ways to survive a bear attack.

First, you can run. But Edward wasn’t a runner. Too bold for that fate. He’d brought down giants in prison. Finding a bear, it was kismet.

Second, you can play dead. But Edward wasn’t the pretending type. He didn’t mind the color under his girlfriend’s eye. “She’s clumsy,” he’d shrug. And she’d never leave him.

Third, you can fight back. But with Edward’s
luck, he’d survive. And since I couldn’t leave it to chance, I watched the finessed bear meet my daughter’s boyfriend through the scope of a rifle.

Bon appetite.

What makes this story is that lovely phrase "finessed bear" because it says a lot without using a lot of words.

This is very elegant writing.

Rkirkman 5:31am
Bleedin’ luck. My heel, snapped in a crack in the sidewalk.

I leaned against the building to break off the other heel—the zombie stride not being attractive, or efficient. I would miss the
Chancellor’s reception now.

I looked up. Our eyes met through the
Kismet Cafe window.

It was
fate. In Prague, he had shoved me away from a runaway motorcycle.

He motioned me in.

“Rabbit.” He pointed to the Chinese Zodiac placemat.

“Rabbit?” I sat. “I never got your name.”

Bond. James Bond.”

“Double-oh seven,” I said, as I screwed on the silencer in my purse.
It's really hard to top a James Bond reference.
Let alone a lady with a silencer in her purse (wait, I have an electric cattle prod, does that count?)

As usual, you all are making this very difficult.
How about you weigh in on the comments and tell me who should be the winner, and if you think I missed an entry that should have been a finalist.

Further results later today!

I changed my mind twice on who wins the flag today.  I loved all of these and all of them are prize-worthy. In the end though I had to go with the entry that required that second read to truly appreciate. I love that kind of subtlety.

KathyJoyce, send me your mailing address and I'll send you a prize!

To all of you who took time to write stories and enter the contest, thank you! I enjoyed reading each of these and many of them were quite amazing, even some that didn't make that final list.

I am conjuring up new and unusual ways to torture you with a flash fiction contest over the Christmas holiday. I will have my revenge on all of you who are making these so hard to judge!
The winner today is Kathy Joyce.


AJ Blythe said...

Well done to everyone who made the list! I have to read them yet but wanted to jump on with a Community Notice:

Make sure you are backing up your devices!! I've been offline for the last 5 days after a Windows update broke my computer. After a lot of faffing around with Microsoft had to reformat my laptop to factory settings (Microsoft said "it happens" *eye roll*). Luckily I back up so didn't lose anything except my sanity.

Off to bed now but will read contest entries and results in the morning. Night all =)

Kathy Joyce said...

AJ, me too! But I'd been traveling for business and lazy about backups. Still trying to recover what I lost; it could be very expensive. Back up today!

As for the contest, my favorite part is reading the finalists one-by-one. I don't let myself skip ahead to see whose stories are there. Such great work. I'm honored to be included this time.

Nate Wilson said...

Great entries as always, but for me it's no contest. Rio gets my vote. Finally, the trope done right.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Weekend was full of drama - the kind that stills creativity. Really bad stuff I want to scream my lungs out about but the personal nature of it forces me to be silent for healing’s sake.

I still need to read the entries, but great job everyone who entered. These contests are challenging. Way to go all mentions and finalists. Being shark-bitten is a fantastic way to start the week.

Dena Pawling said...

Congrats to all the long listers. Great entries! My vote this time goes to Laurie Betzel. Awesome story, gave me shivers.

Amanda Capper said...

Rio or Brian S. get my vote.

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations to all who entered, especially the mentions and the finalists. Great reading this weekend! These contests are always a super writing workout, and sometimes a vocabulary lesson. (This time around, thanks to Merriam-Webster, I learned a bon is a fava bean. I had no idea!)

Elise, Hope today is a brighter day.

Brian Schwarz said...

Oh wow! I see my name up there! :) Mallory’s story stood out to me when I first read through all the stories! It’s haunting and beautiful and subtle. Laurie’s was also excellent! That turn! All of them were really good! But my vote goes to Rkirkman for the Bond reference. I grew up watching Connery and Moore during the Christmas season with my Dad, so something about the reference in December just feels right. :) Also, I really ought to stop in more often. :)

Lennon Faris said...

I loved these. I might have to go for Brian's as the ending made me laugh out loud (an evil laugh, of course).

Rio's was also hilarious, and Mallory's was such a succinct, sweet story.

Loved them all though! Well done everyone.

french sojourn said...

There was something that resonated from Casual-T's that I liked a lot. Well done all, and there were more than a few not selected that I thought were also sublime.

Congrats to all, and Cheers! as usual.

RKeelan said...

Under "A double helping of recognition for the writers who had TWO words I had to look up," taita should be taiga.

Mike Hays said...

My vote goes to Rio. Science, crime, and a KISMET-II particle stripper are exactly what I needed today.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

I loved the entries from Casual T, Laurie Betzel and Brian Schwarz

Claire Bobrow said...

All of the finalists were excellent, but I'm still smiling at Rio's. That one gets my vote!

Richelle Elberg said...

Brian Schwartz and the bad bad boyfriend bear hunt gets my vote! Nice job all!

The Noise In Space said...

My vote goes to Rio for turning the trope on its head so brilliantly! And second vote to Brian for the bear story--absolutely wonderful!

Elissa M said...

I think they're all marvelous. If I have to pick one though, I pick Brian's 'cause...bear.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Congratulations to all the mentions. And YAY to the finalists. I keep reading and rereading. I'm down to either Rio or Brian as the winner.

Well done, everyone!

Richelle Elberg said...

I have a question unrelated to the contest. In all the years I've lurked here off and on, and of late participated a bit more, I can't find a way to just scroll one by one by recent blogs. To go back in time and read what I've missed in order. If I click 'next blog' at the top I'm taken to some individual's blog on Trump which just made me annoyed. Can't find an archive either. I'd like to be able to sit and read one by one when I have time without going back to my emails and clicking the links for each. Am I being obtuse?? Probably....any help appreciated.

Kathy Joyce said...

Richelle, I've never had the problem you're describing on my phone or laptop. I've also never accessed the site through an email. Maybe go directly to

Kathy Joyce said...

Sorry, it's:

Richelle Elberg said...

So, that did it--thank you Kathy Joyce! Obtuse indeed. I was always on a specific blog link rather than on the main page. Doh! Thanks again. :)

Ashes said...

Another vote for Rio.

But Rkirkman had a deft entry too.

Seriously though, are all the street signs I have to identify in the Captcha just Google's way of making me assist in programming their self-driving cars?

RosannaM said...

Congratulation to all the long listers! Another delicious read over the weekend.

Kate Larkindale said...

What a wonderful bunch of stories (as usual). My vote goes to either Mallory or Casual T, I think....

Kate Higgins said...

I loved Mallory's story but Rio's was a story I want to read; mystery, humor and a premise I haven't heard of.
Congratulations to all of us who entered, I am always amazed at the stories that appear. It's always a writing lesson for me although sometimes I just want to give up with all this wonderful competition.

My biggest lesson is learning how to effectively get rid of the junk words. Kind of like Michelangelo and his statue of David; all he did was chip away everything that didn’t look like David. (Credit to the Boston Post 1974)

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

These were all wonderful and congratulations to Kathy. It cracked me up too!
I learn so much from this so please Janet, torture us for Christmas.

Brian Schwarz said...

Ooh congrats Kathy!! Well done all!

Matt Leyshon said...

Congratulations Kathy, that was a great entry!

Kathy Joyce said...

Oh my gosh! Oh! MY!! GOSH!!! I did not expect that with all the great stories. Thank you Janet. (Honestly, this could be the most excited I've ever been about writing success!) And congrats to everyone else. There were so many great stories. (Where shall we have our next secret meeting? :)

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


It's your day today! You helped out a fellow Reider and won the FF :)


Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats Kathy! Another great round of entries from all. Too much fun, these are.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Great job, Kathy. Incredibly clever- inspired by lack of inspiration. Brillianf.

Karen McCoy said...

Hooray, KathyJoyce! I love your meta entry! I was late to the party on this being a west coaster--well done all.

Steve Stubbs said...

I can't believe all this talent. Why aren' all of these people rich?

Or maybe they are and I have just not heard of them.

For me it was a toss-up between:

Rio 11:21am


Rkirkman 5:31am

A very close toss-up but I would vote Rio.

Rio said...

Colin! New Mexico!!! The sunrises are indeed poem-worthy. I'm so happy you noticed.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, Kathy! Great entry :-)

Richelle Elberg said...

Congrats Kathy!!! And thanks again for the (in hindsight obvious) solution to my blind clicking.

Janice Grinyer said...

Congrats Kathy- yours was subtle enough THAT I did read it twice to make sure it was an entry :D Very eloquent exit/entry LOL

I liked Rio's too - made me giggle out loud.

Congrats to all the finalists, mentionables and non-mentionables! I only have time to pop in here every so often, balancing Forestry & homelife- but when I do, I am not disappointed by JR's wisdom, and everyone's brilliance...shine on!

Casual -T said...

Congrats, Kathy!! I love how your piece toys with the reader. It took me a minute to realize what was going on here... Very clever, indeed!

A big thanks to you, Janet, for affording us this playground of ideas. It's pretty motivating to have made it into the finals, this time 'round. Much appreciate your comment on my little ditty!

Well done, one and all!!

And now on to the next round...

Megan V said...

Congrats Kathy!!!! Well deserved win for an amazing flash fiction story.

Kerry Bernard said...

Congrats Kathy. Great idea and well executed.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations Kathy Joyce and all the finalists!

I've been out and about today visiting with handsome doctors and doctor's aids. Is there any other kind of way to start your day? And grocery shopping. I could do without that, but I've been reminded numerous times about fudge recently. Fudge requires ingredients. Unfortunately, I guess I'll have to order black walnut extract. So, I'm late saying HOORAY! What a talented bunch this is.

Julie Weathers said...

Totally off topic, does anyone know how many Reiders finished Nano?

Amy Johnson said...

Kathy! Way to go! I'm so happy you're so happy. I was partway through your story when I started wondering, and eventually became more sure of your cleverness on display. Great job and fun to read.

I was thinking we'd have at least of few uses of "bonanza." I'm always surprised by what the amazing writers here come up with. Thanks, Janet.

Amy Johnson said...

Oops--that should have been "surer" instead of "more sure." Why does "I should probably look that up" so often happen right after I've proofread five times and then hit send?

Marie McKay said...

Congratulations, Kathy. Very clever. Well done all the finalists. Thanks, Janet, for the contests.

Laurie Batzel said...

Holy Moses, I'm so honored to be counted among such inspired work! I dashed this off on Saturday as a distraction from the twitch-inducing batcrap crazy state my 4 kids were driven into by this weekend's "supermoon."

Janet, thank you for the feedback, I honestly appreciate anything that will help me improve as an aspiring writer.

These stories were all so creative, well done Kathy Joyce and Mallory Love gave me all the feels.

Janet Reid said...

aha! I knew it! One more pass, the next morning and you would have seen it.

And now back to contemplating my Christmas torture for you all.
I have some VERY good ideas.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Kathy! And well done all the mentioneds. :)

Rio: I'm glad to give NM a bit of sunrise recognition. :D The truth of it is, the version of the "butterfly effect" (the theme of my story, as y'all no doubt discerned) that sprung first to mind was, "Could a butterfly beating its wings in New Mexico cause a tsunami in China?" That's initially why I picked New Mexico. After, I reflected on whether another State would be preferable, but nothing else seemed to work as well.

Janet: I think I speak for all of your readers, both lurked and un-lurked, when I say *ahem* BRING IT ON, SHARKIE!! ;)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin What are you doing? Do NOT provoke the shark. She knows lots of weird ass words and learns new ones every day. Do you really want to spend anymore time tending the kale fields on Carkoon? I still have gas from the last time I was there.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: What's the worst she could require of us? Write a story containing exactly 100 syllables and the word "Xmas"? Steve Forti does that kind of thing in his sleep! Perhaps a 100-word gut-wrenching tale including the word "tinsel"? She should remember what you did with the word "ash"... 8-O

We got this. ;)

Barbara said...

Congrats, Kathy, and all the longlisters. (And even everyone who didn't make the list.) These things are hard. At least for me, and so much good stuff comes out of them.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Among the Reider Nanoers (those who buddied up here) Colin, Gayle and John Frain finished/won. A lot of us made it past 40K though:)

Actually, I made it past 50K but I was rewriting so I didn't report my word count. I was afraid the Nano Police might arrest me for cheating.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

By the way, congrats to Colin, Gayle and John for winning Nano 2017:)

On to the murky depths of revision land!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yeah, Colin exactly - a 100 syllable story. Great giving a shark an idea like that. And me in the middle of a crisis.

You guys ever feel like writing is like being a stand up comic. When you kill it, it’s great. It’s a freakimg addiction when your writing touches someone, anyone, but you have no idea how you did it.

And when you bomb, well Holy crap, it’s like the world just came to a crashing halt. But are you going to try again. Oh yeah. You’d saw off your damn arm for one more laugh, one more tear, one more oh wow.

Well, I’d saw off Colin’s arm anyhow.

Ok, back to Carkoon with me.

Dr. Krag Churchill said...

Wait...Kathy Joyce?
Oh, now I get it.
Now I'm jealous. Life imitating art.
Note to self: Find someone to imitate.
Kathy Joyce is a good choice.
Rhymes too.
Good job to both ladies and everyone else involved.
Can't wait until Christmas.

Mallory Love said...

Congrats Kathy! Your entry was so clever that I also had to reread it. I enjoyed Laurie's and Brian's, too. I read them on Sunday and thought: yep, those two are winners for sure. All the other finalists were brilliant as well. Heck, some that weren't finalists were as well. The talent is always vast and extremely high in these contests. Thank you, Janet, for another fantastic one and for the honor of being a finalist. It really turned my less than stellar day around. Your compliments have that magical power. Can't wait for your Christmas revenge....I think.

french sojourn said...

Congrats Kathy, enjoy the win, well deserved.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm not sure if this is the place to mention it. I told Colin on Twitter. If this isn't the place, Miss Janet can remove it. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to put the name of a Reider Nano finalist in Rain Crow. Colin has already agreed. I don't know what kind of character, male, female, or even human. Who knows, it could be the Colin Smith Ale House or the USS Colin Smith. I certainly don't know what would happen to the character. I don't even know what's going to happen to my main characters. I'm just along for the ride. I'll just say I won't make them a horrible villain.

My guess is Colin is going to be a Union officer from Massachusetts at this point.

Anyway, just putting that out there.

Kathy Joyce said...

Thanks all, for your kind words. I feel all sparkly!

Catherine Matthias said...

So glad I wasn't the one to judge these. Loving so many makes it hard to be monogamous.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: It's my accent, isn't it. :D

OK, time for a writerly pep-talk, inspired by Elise, but as much for me as anyone:

Yes, Elise, we all have those moments when we feel like we killed it as a writer, whether it's a contest win, or a "WOW" from a beta reader, or a line we wrote the other day. And then the rest of the time, when we don't win the contest, or the beta readers are not loving our work, or the words are clunking, we feel like we're the worst. Everyone else is so much better. We wonder who we're kidding calling ourselves writers.

But we're lying to ourselves, and we know it. And we know we know it because we keep writing. Because we know that contest win wasn't a fluke, and our work is capable of wowing beta readers, and there are plenty more wonderful lines in us.

I'm getting ready to update the Writing Contest spreadsheet. It's interesting to look through the list of winners to see whose names are NOT on there. One name stands out by its absence. And I'll embarrass her, because, well, she's pretty darned hard to embarrass. Julie Weathers. We all know what a fine, fine writer she is. Janet herself is chomping at the bit to read her novels. And yet she has never won one of Janet's contests. Why not? Maybe flash isn't her thing (though I think her entries are good), or maybe the weeks she came up with a zinger, someone else is a little bit zingier. Or maybe what she's written has not been what was tickling Janet's fins those weeks. But no-one denies Julie can write. And I suspect, deep down, Julie knows it too. Which is why she keeps writing. And thank the Lord for that!

Writing is hard. If it wasn't everyone would be doing it. Even the best, most seasoned writers write bad stuff. Most of the time, they're savvy enough to recognize it and destroy it before anyone else sees it. But sometimes the dross slips through. A novel bombs. A short story goes unsold. But that doesn't mean they're no longer writers.

So don't give up, friends (and me)! Embrace the struggle. Just we edit our work into better novels, so the struggle edits us into better writers.

Okay, I'm done.

Julie: I've pretty much sealed my fate now, haven't I? :)

Julie Weathers said...


Nothing is set yet. However, saying "I don't even care if you kill me as long as it's a noble death" opened some doors. War is hell.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Bless you, Colin. :)

And I can’t wait to read Julie Weathers novel, any of them, all of them.

And next time I will finish my flash entry unless it’s that 100 syllable thing. Word doesn’t count syllables. That is not a good idea. Let’s not do that ... yeah, yeah I know Forti would knock it out of the park alomg with another few dozen geniuses lurkiing in these waters. But no. Just no,

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Kathy, for a very clever entry! All of you made this look like child's play. Thanks again, Janet, for the opportunity.

Craig F said...

Kathy Joyce: Congratulations

Also congratulations to all the rest of the long listers, honorable mentions (of which I got two, hot damn) and all the rest of you who entered. I know there are several hundred others who did not enter. You should

Brian: good to see your voice again.

Elise: Don't forget that you have won here. I had a couple that almost made it but the world got in the way.

John Davis Frain said...

I'm late again. It's not even fashionable anymore.

Congratulations to Kathy Joyce. Well struck!

I loved Mallory and Brian's on Sunday. Love all the finalists on Monday.

I'm perplexed with Rkirkman's 5:31 a.m. entry. Excellent writing and a fun story and I too love a woman with a silencer in her purse. But on Sunday when I read it, I thought: "Brilliant writing, but not quite a story."

Nope. Wrong again, Frain. I referee a basketball game most nights of the week, so I never tire of getting things wrong.

Take no offense, Rkirkman. I thought your story was wonderful. Just didn't seem to have an ending for me. I guess it was because it was Bond, so how could that be the end?

Anyway, brilliant stuff, you finalists and I am SOOOOO looking forward to the Great Christmas Challenge of 2017.

Julie Weathers said...

I love that picture of the baby shark with the huge attitude so much.

One more comment regarding flash fiction, writing, and Rain Crow. Flash fiction really isn't my thing and I know it. Once in awhile, a story will pop in my head immediately when the contest goes up, so I'll write it, but dang, for some of you this is a real strength. It's amazing to see what you do with it.

I do think I can write... at times. Some of it I have to yell at the characters to slow down so I can catch up. Other parts are like chiseling bit by bit from rock.

As you say, writing is work. Anyone who thinks it isn't hasn't done it.