Tuesday, February 06, 2018

King of Bones and Ashes Flash Fiction contest results FINAL

Thanks for waiting the extra day for the results.

I followed the comments on the previous blog post about delayed results and realized some of you thought I'd watched the SuperBowl. It will surprise no one to learn that I not only didn't watch the SuperBowl, I didn't realize it was on, and I'm still not sure who played.

Some of you however will wonder how a person can be alive and NOT know. I'm reminded of a conversation I had years ago in the barn where I stabled my horse. It was about a month after a hard fought presidential election. I was visiting with the girl whose horse was in the adjoining stall. I mentioned the incoming president and she looked up from the hoof she was cleaning and said "Oh yea, the election, I was wondering who won."

But on to things we all agree are noteworthy: your contest entries!

Herewith the results:

Not quite a story but I love this entry a LOT.
Kitty 8:38am


Not quite a story, but hilarious
Amy Schaefer 11:22am


Steve Forti Award for Deft Prompt Manipulation
flashfriday
Flakir-by-the-Sea? Flaketown?”
With another fluorocarbon, Eb?


Homage to the greats!
John Davis Frain
(and yes, I notice you include Wake Up Call as well!)

Here's the list of finalists

CarolynnWith2Ns

Unsolicited Testimonial/Review

Although I had to wait for my tax refund in order to slap down 1200 bucks on a new Kirby Avalir Vacuum Cleaning System, I was glad to do so. Nasty leftovers like party debris, everyday dust, dirt, dog hair and even a bastard’s bone-bits and ash, gone. Kirby, the king of rug suckers and bare floor cleaner-uppers.

Having always been a broom and dust pan kind of woman, I don’t mean to blow the commercial horn for a high end vacuum but when I need to get rid of unwanted evidence Kirby is my choice.

 It's really hard to resist anything that includes the phrase "broom and dust pan kind of woman" and of course the subtlety of this piece is utterly charming.



Colin Smith
I became suspicious when I arrived home and found my wife scrubbing kitchen utensils in the sink—a task she would abhor, normally.

"Is everything okay?" I said. "Jim been bothering you?"

Jim's our neighbor. He lives alone, doesn't go out much. I don't like the way he's been looking at her lately.

"No," she said. "Everything's fine."

"Have you been cooking?" I saw burnt wood and ashes in the fire pit.

"Hmm?" she replied, and resumed her work.

"And where did Kirby get that bone?" The dog was too busy to come to me.

"Probably from Jim," she said.

This is so elegant and subtle I just wriggled with delight.
It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan, one of the most deliciously creepy books I've ever read.



Amy Johnson
The Cliffhanger by Amy Johnson, Organic Gardener Wannabe

2013
Christmas gift: Kirby’s Guide to EASY Organic Tomatoes

2014
These plants won’t fruit.
“Potassium deficiency. Amend soil with potash.”
Amend? Plain dirt isn’t okay?

2015
Fruit rotting from the bottoms up.
“Blossom end rot due to calcium deficiency. Amend soil with bonemeal.”
You gotta be kidding--I’m a vegetarian.

2016
Where’d all the leaves go? What’s that?
“Tomato hornworm. Very destructive.”
But it’s one of God’s creatures. Drive to the overgrown field behind the library. Your new home, caterpillar (you little thief!).

2017
Lawn mower incident.
No point asking Kirby’s.

2018
This just cracked me up completely!




Michael Seese
A fakir by trade, faithfully I rise with the sun and settle into my ritual.

Staking my claim, a crowded stretch of urban Purgatory, I brave the slings and arrows and taxi horns and weekday warriors and dog poop, touting the tenets of Allah and Buddha, with a zest of Lennon & MarxCartney added for flavor. Pity prompts some to press a token of cash into my skin and bones.

We all follow the sun home. They to manicured McMansions. Me to my cozy loft, where I count my blessings, green and otherwise.

Did I say fakir? I meant faker.
The writing is so deft here that I read it a couple more times just for the pure pleasure of MarxCartney, urban Purgatory and that last twisty sentence that made me laugh out loud.
This is gorgeous writing.


Melissa Hintz
Amphibian Flash Mob

Mom called me lazybones, but who is she to talk? Laid her eggs and skedaddled. Or lumbered, probably.
Turtles do not dash. We amble.
I try to ignore the car horns as I cross Coventry Road. Orgy of sex, bugs, swimming, and nude sunbathing awaits if I can get to the other side.
Halfway across, a two-legged darts to my side, picks me up.
“Don’t Kirby,” a voice calls. “It’ll bite your fingers off.”
I wag my tail, grateful. Soon I’ll be basking on my favorite log.
But he puts me back where I started.
Sigh.
Humans.

I'm always a total sucker for the unusual POV, and this from a turtle is terrific. Also it's hilarious, and poignant, and that's no small trick in 96 words.  And I can never resist any entry that includes skedaddled.



How about you weigh in on the finalists, and let me know who you think I missed.
Final results later today


Of course it was hellishly hard to pick just one winner (you guyz really like to torment me on these
contests, but like many of you, Melissa Hintz' entry just stole my heart. How can I resist something called Amphibian Flash Mob? 

Melissa, if you'll email me your mailing address, we'll get a signed copy out to you post haste.

Congrats to all the finalists and shout outs, and my thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post entries. I love reading your work!

54 comments:

Kitty said...

Wow, these five finalists are really good. If forced to choose, I'd choose Melissa's Amphibian Flash Mob. The title alone is hilarious!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

No idea. Flu still has me muddled. All seem the stuff of genius to me. Congratulations to all the finalists.

Kathy Joyce said...

I loved reading the entries. So much variety. And talent, of course, talent. I can't pick one over others. Congrats to all.

RachelErin said...

Amy's and Melissa's were my favorites.

Amy Johnson said...

Wow! Thanks, Janet. I'm so glad the story made you laugh. Writing humor, or attempting to, gets me running on my wheel. Run, run, run. Will anyone besides me find this funny? Run, run, run. In case anyone wondered, the story is based on true events. Except the overgrown field is next to a doughnut shop, and the lawn mower took out something else I'd planted--not the tomatoes.

I really liked Steve Forti's story. But I hope his wasn't based on true events. "Can't even think of a clever way to use 'kirby'" is funny. That line coming from Steve, master of word acrobatics, ups it to hilarious for me. (Or very sad.) That thing toward the end--combining two prompt words ("rash? Or not")?! It's a whole new level of fortificence! Steve, if you really did lose your job, please be encouraged. We all know that you are amazing! I can't imagine a new job not coming along soon.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Congratulations to all the finalists. I love Melissa's... Sigh. Humans. HA!

Steve, Hoping all is well.

Dena Pawling said...


These are all great, for different reasons. I couldn't decide. Congrats to everyone for tormenting Janet with excellent writing!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

These were all wonderful but Melissa's turtle is the one that stays with me because it is hilarious and like Janet says, has the extra layer of poignant. That's a deep story for 96 words. And you can't avoid seeing that poor turtle stuck in traffic and hoping for a helping hand. Great job.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

What fabulous stories. I enjoyed every single one and, sorry-no help here, will appreciate whichever one Janet chooses.


Off Topic:
Congrats to Jennifer Donohue, who has a short story now live on Mythic Delirium. As noted under Janet's, So Where are the contest results? column. Congrats, Jennifer.

Kregger said...

I piling on with Melissa's story as I can relate.

I've saved turtles along lonely country roads. Funny, they all seemed to waddle back into oncoming traffic. Once, after a particularly gruesome rescue, I got the stink eye from a chicken holding a deer-crossing sign.

Maybe the turtles thought they were skunks?

CynthiaMc said...

Every one of these is delightful.

Rug sucker is my new favorite epithet.

Turtle story cracks me up. We see it happen every day along the coast.

James Leisenring said...

Another vote for Melissa's, though I like all of the finalists a lot. Other favorites for me were Richelle Elberg and Sherryl Clark.

Great work everyone!

Richelle Elberg said...

So many good entries, congrats to the finalists! I really liked two that didn't make the list: Amy ‘High as Balls’ Schaefer and Emalbom’s heart-breaker. Of the finalists, my vote goes to Amphibian Flash Mob. As always, such fun—thank you Janet!

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks, RachelErin! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OMG I'm a finalist. My life is complete.
To be among such a group of talented and sometimes wacky bunch...I am honored.
Home today and after parking my broom I am back to rug sucking.

Elissa M said...

They're all wonderful (as usual).

If I'm forced to pick one, I'd go with Melissa Hintz for purely nostalgia reasons. I'm one of those *sigh* humans who always helped the turtles across the roads. I did take them to the side they were facing though.

Julie Weathers said...

They were all great. I enjoyed them so much. Melissa stole my heart, though. A friend's little boys wanted some turtles for pets so Don stopped his truck one day to run one down that was crossing a highway. As luck would have it, it was a three-legged turtle they named Tripod and had many years.

Sigh, humans.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Skedaddling Turtles! Love it.

I also liked Michael's fakir/faker bit.

Steve ... ? :( ... ! :)

JD Horn said...

Thanks to everyone who entered. I must say, this contest has been a dream come true. Back when I started submitting entries in 2006, I never thought I'd ever see this day. To celebrate, Kirby was going to send the winner a signed (by his dad) hardback copy of "The King of Bones and Ashes," but today he told me we should also send a softcover copy to each of the other four finalists. If the finalists email their shipping address to JackDouglasHorn@Gmail.com, we'll mail the books out once we know who's won. Please put "Flash Fiction Contest" in you message title.

Amy Schaefer said...

JD, that is so generous. I'm glad to see that all of the finalists will be honoured - what a great group of stories!

John Davis Frain said...

Nice crop of finalists. I'll explain my vote this way:

When I read them all, I selected Colin Smith & Richelle Elberg as my Top Two. Since only Colin is on the final ballot, I gotta go there.

Richelle, your last line cracked me up.

What I loved about Colin's was what wasn't there. The story keeps going in your mind long after your eyes finish reading it.

Richelle Elberg said...

Thank you John Davis Frain! What I have found with these contests is that either a decent idea pops into my head in the first 10 minutes of looking at the words--or it doesn't. When it doesn't I might struggle for hours and still not wind up with anything decent. But when the lightbulb flashes on, it takes me maybe 20 minutes--this was one of those. ;)

Kate Larkindale said...

They're all so good, it's hard to choose! But I guess I'm a sucker for turtles... I can't get that little critter out of my mind.

Karen McCoy said...

These are all superb! My votes go to 2Ns and Amy Johnson.

Steve Stubbs said...

They are all fabulous. My vote is with Carolyn-nnnnnnn.

That ending was simply brilliant.

Jen said...

TARDIS would like to weigh in (my Russian tortoise, btw, who caught up on Janet's blog with me). It will come as no surprise that we were both fans of "Amphibian Flash Mob."

TARDIS says humans have their teachable moments. ;)

Kate Higgins said...

I loved every one of these entries.

I didn't enter because of personal stressors, life-gets-in-the-way crises and lack of quality time (even at the witching hour of 3am when you lie there thinking; if you just lie there, you WILL go to sleep again). I could not complete with utter simplicity, subtlety and innate creepiness of some and the perfect point of view of the others.

Janet, you have you work cut out for you, girlfriend!
If you need help, you can find me at 3am, staring at the bedroom ceiling watching my glow-in-the-dark-stars fade.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats Melissa!! Wonderful win.

And JD Horn-so generous and how very fun for the other finalists. Congrats on your book coming out and what a marvelous agent to have by your side punting (or should that be coaching or refereeing?)for you!

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

JD, What fun! A copy for all the finalists. And how thoughtful. We had a Corgi named Kirby - he passed several years ago.

Kregger, You have to move turtles in the direction they're headed or they'll just head right back to the road.

Melissa, Congratulations!

Kathy Joyce said...

Congrats Melissa, and great job all. JD, kind of you to add more books, the finalists all deserved a win. As for the rest of us, we buy the book and learn a bit more about how to do it well.

Kregger said...

Melissa,
Congrats, I loved your story.

Melanie: I totally agree, but turtles refuse to take my valid directions.

Claire Bobrow said...

I missed out on this thing completely, but oh boy - I loved reading the finalists' entries. You knocked it out of the park with a capital K, people. Congrats to Melissa on a well-deserved win!

One Of Us Has To Go said...

I too would have chosen Melissa as the winner, because I just find it unbelievable how she came up with this story given the 5 prompt words.

Amazing!

Lynn Beard said...

Y’all are such a talented bunch. Congratulations to everyone!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats Melissa, it was simply awesome. Loved them all. Such fun.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh, sorry, thanks JD. Really, BIG thanks.

Kitty said...

Congrats Melissa!

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Melissa!

Amy, thanks for the kind words. And I swear I'm not just saying it, but yours was my favorite this time.

Alas, my story is true. I didn't feel up to entering, but I couldn't help but slip in the prompt words. Force of habit. So in back on the hunt. Boo. But you all make it easier.

And JD, kudos on the new release!

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Melissa!

Amy, thanks for the kind words. And I swear I'm not just saying it, but yours was my favorite this time.

Alas, my story is true. I didn't feel up to entering, but I couldn't help but slip in the prompt words. Force of habit. So in back on the hunt. Boo. But you all make it easier.

And JD, kudos on the new release!

Colin Smith said...

WOW! Not only a finalist, but I made Janet wriggle with delight. As close to Carkoon as I often skate, it's nice to give QOTKU delightful wriggles. AND another book to add to my TBR. Thanks, Janet. This was a nice encouragement. :)

Speaking of books... thank YOU JD! Very generous of you. I'll be in touch. :)

John: Thanks for the vote of confidence. :D

Melissa: Well done!! Congratulatons!!! Hard to beat a turtle POV. ;)

I'll update the Contest Spreadsheet in a little while.

John Davis Frain said...

Congratulations, Melissa.

I went back and read it again. Delightfully fun story. And only 96 words! It pains me to get down to 100. I can't imagine the pain inflicted in getting down to 96. Ugh.

But nothing compared to the pain in crossing the road. Well done!

And a tip o' the hat to JD Horn for sliding in with extra awards for the finalists. Sweet move!

One Of Us Has To Go said...

Could someone please explain why Kitty's entry was not quite a story? I really loved that one, too, but don't know why the story bit wasn't completely there.

Sorry if this is a stupid question 😟.

Michael Seese said...

@#%!#@ auto-correct.

Agree. Melissa's was a lot of fun.

Nice job, and a well-deserved congratulations.

Amy Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations, Melissa! Great story! We stop and "help" turtles too.

Thanks, Karen. :)

Thanks, JD--what a thoughtful and generous thing to do!

Of course, thanks, Janet, for all you do running these contests.

(I'm late returning to the party today--one came down with the flu, and Mama has been mama-ing.)

Mallory Love said...

Congrats Melissa! Always love a good baby turtles story. I also liked Colin's story. All the finalists did fantastic jobs. Congrats!

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats, Melissa - pure fun! And congrats on the new release, JD - very classy move!

And of course thanks to Janet for yet another brain-busting contest. Kirby robbed me of at least an hour of sleep ;)

Mike Hays said...

I agree with the choice of Melissa's Amphibian Flash Mob. I can feel the turtle's pain and frustration. Also, the sentiment, "Sigh. Humans" runs through my head multiple times a day.

Another great contest!

Lennon Faris said...

Congrats, Melissa!! I enjoyed reading all of them. Well done, folks.

Lennon Faris said...

Also, H.M. Elliott - I laughed at yours! Hilarious.

Thanks for the contest, Janet!

Just Jan said...

Congratulations to all the finalists for scoring a new book (nice touch, JD Horn)! Loved reading these entries. Thanks for another great contest, Janet.

JD Horn said...

Thanks again to all. Melanie - Sorry to read about the passing of Corgi Kirby. Chihuahua Kirby is sending you good canine vibes. :)

french sojourn said...


Congrats Melissa, nice one. Enjoy the well deserved accolades. Congrats to the finalists and all that entered.

And as always thank you QOTKU for all that voodoo that you doo. Specifically the time and consideration you invest to these verbal gymnastics.

Cheers Hank.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Congrats to the finalists and the winners! You guys just keep upping the antes, don't you!

(I meant to participate, honest, but I'm trying to finish another story for an anthology open call....)

and thank you, Lisa Bodenheim for the congrats! ^^