Sunday, March 11, 2018

How Now Meow Flash Fiction contest-results-FINAL

These are preliminary results. Winner posted Monday afternoon!

Special recognition for getting the correlation of the prompt words
Amy Johnson

and Michael Seese, for not getting them but making me laugh anyway.

Nominees for the Steve Forti Award for Amazing Use of Prompt Words

Steve Forti
“Pita? You got a screw loose. Wonder bread? Forget it.”
“Okay, how about a wrap?”
h. You ask for a wrap, I think you're dense. It isn't able to stand up to the sauce.”
“What t
hen? Rye?”
“R-rye!? Are you insane, man? This ain't corned beef. It's a meatball sub!”
“Then what, just an Italian roll?”
“Just? Just an Italian roll? It's a classic for a reason. It's perfect. And i
f I really want to do it right, I'll toast it.”
“Geez, you're crazy about this.”
“Crazy delicious.”

Not quite a story, but utterly lovely
Dena Pawling
She kindled a fire on tabletop mountain
Raising her hands
From the abundance of joy
Praising the gods
For the birth of her Henry

She kindled a fire on tabletop mountain
Raising her voice
From the deep ugliness of grief
Pleading with the gods
For the life of her Henry

She kindled a fire on tabletop mountain
Raising her fist
From the pit of despair
Cursing the gods
For the death of her Henry

She kindled a fire on tabletop mountain
Raising her eyes
From the wisdom of experience
Thanking the gods
For the gift of her Henry

Not quite a story but holy moly!
First scotch, then rye.

Neither helps.

I take another look at the note. The handwriting is still mine.

I found it by the fireplace, a few crisp words announcing my intention to kill myself.

The thought of dying is repugnant, but my other self must feel differently.

I used to pity her suffering, now I despise her selfishness. I wish she would kill herself—if only she wouldn’t take me with her. I hope she knows that.


Pills lay spilled across the tabletop.

I claw at the bottle. What does the label say?


Not quite a story, but gripping as hell!
Madeline Mora-Summonte
Dearest Husband,

If you find this, please know I did not go quietly. But the enemy I was pitted against was entrenched, formidable. Familiar.

Do not blame yourself, Henry. You worried about leaving us. You said business could wait. I insisted we were fine.

I do hope it brings you some peace to know the children will not suffer. They sleep like angels. The tablets worked. Sometimes to stop ugliness, one must do unthinkable things. Or so the voices tell me.

I must go now, my love. It is time to light the fire.

Your devoted wife,

Here the stories that stood out for me
Henry discovered the tablet in the fire pit. Strange markings covered its surface. He took it to his friend, Clay.

"It's Sumerian cuneiform," Clay said.

"Sumerian? The first civilization on Earth? What does it say?"

"You won't believe it," Clay said.

"Is it how they invented the wheel?"


"The plow? Writing?"


Henry gaped. "Dear God! It proves they really were created by Annunaki gods from outer space?"

"Afraid not." Clay cleared his throat. "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

"No," Henry said, as Clay continued.

"To escape the farting pug. Seems they even invented the first riddle."
This just cracked me up.
I often confess to having the sense of humor of a 12-year old boy, and this just proves it.
The writing is terrific and taut as well.

Colin Smith
When Ryan fired me, I called him a repugnant rapscallion. A table-thumping tramp. A hood, a heel, a hoodlum, and a pitiable putrid profligate poser. I told him he could take his wretched wastrel work and thrust it where the helioic sphere does not radiate its resplendent rays.

He told me to remove my ungrateful, unguent, ulcer of a body from his edifice of endeavor, and find myself an alternative avocation.

The conflagration in the refuse receptacle was an afterthought as I evacuated his smoldering premises.

I never really wanted to work for Roget in the first place. Bombastic boneheads.
This made me laugh out out, and "bombastic bonehead" is my new favorite phrase. Honestly, Colin could start writing for the Spiro T. Agnew Memorial Speech Writing school after this.

Nate Wilson
Dear Liza,
There's a hole in my bucket.

Dear Henry,
I'll fix it. Swing by the stable tonight.

I'm not driving a leaky bucket through atmo, babe.
Come to my hab.

Don't "babe" me, you repugnant bastard. That was one time only.
No house calls.

Such a spitfire! Love that about you. Among other... qualities. Meow.
I'll saunter over.
Hengry for More

Yee-ech. Offer retracted. You come at your peril.

Dear Liza,
There's a hole in my spleen. You'll hear from my lawyers.

Dear Henry,
It matches your bucket. Go to hell.

I'm a sucker for these kinds of off-beat entries. This one of course benefits from being familiar; the hole in the bucket song that kids learn in first grade music class.  Of course, Nate put his own spin on it, and it made me laugh.

I guess the funny entries are doing pretty well today!

John Davis Frain
K-9 rounds up the usual suspects. Enters names into her tablet.

Jimmie Three Paws. Muttley Crue. Their leader, Great Catsby. And the new cat on the block, Fifty Shades of Clay.

As an afterthought—the human, Mrs. Henry.

“Start barking,” K-9 commands.

“Heyyyy,” Catsby purrs.

Hours later, pugnacious Chief stomps in. “Confession?”

K-9 shakes her muzzle.

“When’s this end?” Jimmie asks.

Chief nods at Mrs. Henry. “Ain’t over till the cat lady sings.”

“What’s the crime?”

Clay thinks, erecting a statue in a dog park.

“Vandalism,” Chief spits.

Jimmie shuffles three paws. Swallows. “I thought it was a fire hydrant.”
Talking cats and dogs, plus puns! Honestly, it doesn't get better than this!

Claire Bobrow
Publishing intern by day…
Black Panther by night!
Who would ever suspect pitiful milquetoast Clay, always hiding under chairs and slinking about the office, afraid of water and pug dogs?
But when the sun went down and a tsunami of sin struck Gotham City…
No one could stop the Black Panther.

So he’d play along until they fired him.
Pretend to enjoy traipsing on tablets and cluttering keyboards.
Even reading queries, like the one he’d napped on today.
No O’Henry, that author, but still…
The Secret Life of Walter Kitty had distinct possibilities.

This one is Clay the kitten's favorite (as relayed by Intern Kim). Not surprising since it reveals he's a superhero by night! I love the word play, and the dexterous writing.

Honestly, this was really hard. I loved all these a lot.

In the end I had to agree with Clay (and Kim) that Claire Bobrow's stood out.  Congrats Claire! Your prize is a copy of Word by Word by Kory Stamper.  I loved that book a lot and hope you will too. If you've already gotten a copy let me know. Drop me an email with your preferred mailing address.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post entries this weekend. It was great fun to read your work. The depth of talent on this blog is rather frightening!

 Let me know what you think, and if an entry you thought should have been mentioned got left out.


Craig F said...

I don't have a clue who should win. I would pick Dena but everyone knows I still owe her a beer, so that would be suspect.

I did figure out the prompts were related:

It is an ode to the almost Saint Henry and his not quite epic battle with the dragon.

That year, just to add to the fun, the king ran the alphabetical list backwards, Henry's fight was just before George. We all know about Saint George and the Dragon.

We don't really know about the controversy. Henry's nickname was Jalapeno Henry. At the time there was an effort to canonize Henry. They said he had to have given the dragon indigestion or George would only have been more snack food because he was kind of wimpy.

Dena Pawling said...

Colin! OMG I laughed so hard when I read Colin's. And he posted his just before I posted mine. I almost didn't post, because his is so great.

So I vote for Colin.

And thanks for the mention. Utterly lovely. I'm gonna print that and post it by my computer. Wow.

Luna said...

Nate's delights me.

Michael Seese said...

It HAS to be Colin.

His story is hilarious.
And let's not forget funny...

Kathy Joyce said...

Honestly, I was struggling. Nothing was coming together. When I read Colin's, I quit. No way could I beat his story. So many good ones, but Colin's grabbed my funny bone and wouldn't let go.

Megan V said...

I'll be honest, I didn't get Colin's entry. Sorry Colin!

My vote from the shortlist goes to JD (Manuscript) Frain. It made me laugh, which is an amazing feat.

But my favorite entry from this contest was not mentioned at all, and that was Just Jan's.

Great work all!

RosannaM said...

A lot of good ones this time, but the alliteration by Colin gets my nod. What a wonderful, whacky, wordsmith!

Kitty said...

My vote for Colin's story has absolutely nothing to do with my reading Kory Stamper's "Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries." ;~)

CynthiaMc said...

Loved Colin's, word junkie that I am.

Clare's made me laugh. I am convinced our boy cats are out fighting crime at night.

And of course I always look forward to Steve Forti.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm torn between Nate's and JD Frain's....

And thank you for the mention! I'm with Dena - going to print my "gripping as hell" out and put it by my computer, too.

Timothy Lowe said...

I also liked Just Jan's - and RosannaM's.

I have to give it to Colin from this bunch. What an ending!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colinnnnnnn ! All the way.
Look at all those extra Ns I gave you. Winner has 2Ns too.

It's nice to be back among the world of Reiders. I have been without power, water and heat for the better part of a week and only now feel like a normal member of the developed world. Thomas Edison and electrical line men and women are my heroes. Hope to see you all tomorrow but with round 3 hitting tonight...who knows.

BTW Colin, you clever boy, you really did crack me up.

CynthiaMc said...

Carolynn, I feel your pain. We were without power for a week (now referred to as Hurricane Hell Week).

Welcome back!

Nate Wilson said...

All the other finalists are great, but it's hard to beat the one-two punch of alliterative synonyms. My nod goes to Colin. Well done, sir.

Amy Schaefer said...

Truly, how can any red-blooded writer resist Colin's thesaurus story? He gets my vote.

Now, if you'll excuse, me, I have to let the boiler repairman in. This is Day 4 of trying to track down what is wrong with the [redacted] thing. So if you hear the sound of uncontrollable weeping, you'll know where it's coming from.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin For magnificent humor.

Steve Stubbs said...

They are all fabulous, and the outlier is Madeline Mora﷓Summonte.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Yes to Colin! Though I also loved John Davis Frain's.
I am convinced Steve Forti either has a software program I don't know about or his brain is wired differently from the rest of us.
There were many good ones but I think Colin takes the cake. (or book).
I love Dena's too.

Claire Bobrow said...

I laughed out loud at Colin's, so I'm throwing my vote to him. Roget - brilliant! :-)
Good work, everyone. I'm honored to be a finalist - thank you, Janet!

Nate: now the tune of "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole." is going round and round my head. Help.

Colin Smith said...


I have become momentarily verbally vacant. Loquaciously lacking. Tongue-tied, if I may say. An honor to be listed with such lustrous literary luminaries.

Story or not, I like Dena's, and Madeline's is spine tingling. Mr. Forti is ever brilliant, and I liked Nate's take on the old bucket song.

Thank you for your kindness, everyone. It means that much more given the quality of the other choices.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and no hard feelings, Megan. :)

Richelle Elberg said...

Well done all. I found Mark Thomsen's particularly poignant.

John Davis Frain said...

In the end, as it was on Sunday, deciding was just too difficult. A tie-breaker was needed as the only option to call a winner. I had to flip a coin to decide.

The only nickel I could find fell between the slats of our air conditioning vent. So it happened that Nate and Colin eliminated each other in the cool, vented air of our basement and Claire's crime-fighting cat gets my vote.

Also, I'm scared to enter the basement.

Lennon Faris said...

I'm going with Colin's. Though as usual, I liked 'em all. And Amy, congrats on catching that. I learned a new definition for 'pug'!

Thanks for the fun, Janet!

Claire Bobrow said...

John Davis Frain (and CynthiaMc!) - your kind words are much appreciated :-)

Thanks to Janet and all the wonderful Reiders, I feel like a winner already. I get to hang out with you guys, and...
I won the flash fiction contest at my regional SCBWI conference over the weekend!

french sojourn said...

What's not to love with a Walter Kitty reference, Danny Kaye would have thought it purr-fect. Nice one Claire Bobrow.

Steve Forti said...

Thanks for the kind words. And don't let the secret out about my special program, Sharyn!
I'm leaning towards The Manuscript, purely because his patented clever names amused me on first read.
Kepp 'em up. These give me little bursts of fun to battle the job searching blues.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Claire!! :)

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

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations Claire!

Richelle Elberg said...

I sometimes have a hard time understanding why some aren't quite a story and others are....any insights here? Maybe my brain is filling in the ending/blanks, but I feel like sometimes the ones called 'not quite a story' are...

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congrats to Claire - for her win here and for her win at her conference!

And thanks to Steve and Colin for the kind words regarding my entry.

Claire Bobrow said...

Well, I went off for a dog walk (sorry, Clay!), and look what happened. I am gob-smacked and - help, me Mr. Roget and Colin - speechless! Thank you so much, Janet and Intern Kim. I feel like Colin got robbed, but I have a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach and it's not a hairball. Congrats to all the other finalists and entrants - your work inspires me!

And p.s. - I hope Clay finds a loving home soon!

Colin Smith said...

Claire: I don't feel robbed at all. Janet's is always the final word on her contests, so it's perfectly fair. I truly appreciate the vote of confidence, though. Now, enjoy the win! :)

Barbara said...

Congrats Claire! I loved a tsunami of sin. Great line!

And congrats to all who entered!

Ashes said...

Congrats, Claire! I was too fuzzy-headed this morning to weigh in, but now that I've read them over I can honestly say yours was my fav. Really cute and bright.

Guys, did I miss the theme reveal? Did anyone guess it correctly?

Colin Smith said...

BTW, the Writing Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest is now up-to-date. :)

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations, Claire! Way to go! Walter Mitty/Walter Kitty--clever. Thanks, Lennon.

Thanks, Janet, for the contest and the recognition. I love a good puzzle!

MA Hudson said...

Claire - Congrats on your purrfect winning entry! Very cute.

Colin - Loved yours, it put a smile on my dial!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, Claire! What a whirlwind week with 2 wonderful wins!

As Janet and other Reiders have noted...the talent among this group is high. When I read through the entries, I was so fascinated by the variations in stories and use of the words.

Ashes: Amy Johnson guessed it, about clay. To read her full explanation, she was the 2nd entry of the contest entries on March 9.

Lennon Faris said...

Congrats, Claire!!! Well done!

LynnRodz said...

Congrats, Claire, I loved your story!

John Davis Frain said...

What a weekend, Claire! Tip o' the cap to you. Good things come in threes, so you might want to query tomorrow!

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Claire! Very cute story.

Thanks for another great contest, Janet. And thanks for the shout out, Timothy Lowe and Megan V.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations, Claire.

There were so many good entries as usual, but I fell in love with Colin's.

It struck home because I'd just finished a battle scene with men yelling orders and screaming. You try not to repeat the same words and yet you don't want to get so fancy it looks like your playing linguistic gymnastics. So you rearrange, find new words, re-write some more and finally come up with something that sounds passable and you put your well-worn thesaurus back up until next time.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations Claire - for both wins!!!
And thank you, O QOTKU, for running these :)
Your insight is truly appreciated!