Monday, August 05, 2019

Flash Fiction contest early returns--FINAL now posted

UPDATE at bottom of post

I had to decamp from ChezYowl on Sunday, after almost two weeks of being with Her Grace. Needless to say, I needed your writing contest entries to cheer me up! A good dose of revenge, mayhem and clever really did the trick. Thank you!

Herewith the results:

Words I had to look up:
Colin Smith Cullion
Michael Seese annuli
Steph Ellis and Just Jan ganglion

Steve Forti is just sneering at me now.
I slink back to my hammock to dream up another plan.
In Virginia for a wedding and unable to enter this week. I bet that gives Janet a sense of demented serenity, thinking she has thwarted. I've got no time to think, no computer, literally typing off the cuff on my phone while waiting for the shower.

But I wanted to share a true story from yesterday when picking up the rental. I only can choose from intermediate class cars. I get to the parking lot and the only piece of crap ride left is a friggin station wagon. What a crock!

Guess who's rolling up to the ceremony in style.

Here are the standouts:

The Scarred King sighed. Beautiful Alliona! She rocked him to his foundations. What to write, to woo her?

Then: eureka!

In the scratching of the pen, he heard wedding bells.

Two weeks later, Alliona arrived.

With an army.

The Scarred King gulped.

Admitting to being the Scared King had always been too awkward. He'd never confessed he needed remedial English lessons. He'd thought spell check would save him.


Alliona came for him, sword swinging.

"Wait! I meant, you're pret-"

Abruptly, he was the wrong kind of smitten.

Folded in Alliona's breastplate, his note: "Your pride I be smitin! SK"

Two weeks later, Alliona arrived. With an army. 
Might just be the best two lines of the week.

And of course I loved the theme here.
Sharyn Ekbergh
Strange things have been happening around here I tell you. 
The cats were going crazy stalking and chomping insects all over the shack. Seemed like millions of the buzzing things.

Ramona nailed the last one. I trapped that bug under a glass, fetched my magnifier.

It was an adorable ant-sized creature. Pink wings and a green body with yellow feathers on its tiny head. It smiled, I tell you, smiled! It stood with pride but looked scared while it frantically waved a miniature sign.


The glass rocked off the counter. Ramona pounced. Swallowed.

Gotcha, she said


This story just tickled my humorous.
And such a lovely metaphor for the world today, too.

Ellis Tandy
Jenn traced the rocket-shaped scar on Cal’s foot and waited. Not a twitch.

With a touch of pride, he said, “Told you I’m not ticklish.”

“Just making sure. One giggle and they’ll throw you to the... you know.”

He knew.

“They’ll try anything. Chris Fleming videos.”


“Baby goats in diapers.”

“I’ll be strong.”

“Keep a straight face for ten minutes, and we’re set for life.”

Their eyes gleamed.

“Aaaaand our next contestant on Live or Laugh – Caaaaaaaal!”

Striding onstage to bloodthirsty applause, Cal filled his mind with miserable things and tried not to notice how hungry the lions looked.

Chris Fleming videos

I had to look up the Chris Fleming videos.
Did you click the link?

Marie McKay
The skin was scarlet; scars feathered and raised, constricted her movements. She stretched as far as she could for the alcohol, but they had put things just out of reach.
She forgave them a million times each day; they were weak, consumed by pride.
She reached again, her feet briefly leaving the ground. She took the bottle back to her quarters. There, she removed her frock, provoking her mind's ear to recall the tearing sounds of flesh.
Removing the lid from the bottle, she saturated a sheet with the alcohol before wrapping it round wounds where wings used to be.
This is the start of something exquisite, no?

Leona spied the shoes beside the door. The shower was running. Fingers to lips, she pointed—sofa, la-z-boy, curtains, credenza.
His family hid.
Oscar, his new boss, whispered, “Birthday and a promotion? Glad I gave him the afternoon off.”
She forced a smile. “Me too,” and stashed him behind the door.
She hung the banner—U. ROCK!—and let loose the balloons.
The shower cut off. Was she making a mistake? No. A lioness had pride.
Hushed giggles
Her husband yelped. The intern screamed and clutched her towel.
Leona smiled with demented serenity and whispered, “Fool me twice.”

It says nothing good about me that I just loved this!

Broccoli on her plate and napkin gathered neatly in her lap, she wondered vaguely if the knight still felt the prenup rider was worth the gold disc armor and twenty roc knaves he now theoretically owed her.

She wouldn’t have agreed to the rider at all, but she’d found him bold, pure-hearted, and eloquent, with an unflagging optimism about reformation that could have put even a mother to shame. In short, she murmured fondly, he is absolutely everything a knight ought to be.

[burp of smoke]

Er, “ought to have been.”
So much left unsaid, and so perfect!

We go early, walking up Montgomery with cars on 26 roaring below. Lionel sees the bloody foot first and lunges to sniff it but I manage to keep him back. Everyone up here has cameras but the closest house is being remodeled and I can see scaffolding blocks the view. "We'll alert someone," I tell Lionel. He twitches his scarred ears and I feel pride and shame. At home, Lionel alerts the sage bush by peeing on it and I think that's close enough for now. I get a tea and Lionel gets a bone from the good-boy crock.

And another entry with so much left unsaid, and tantalizing.
This is GREAT writing.

Amy Johnson
Ms. Pesterly’s arms were crossed. Again.
“Your quiz, Lonny. Now. You’ve had enough time.”

She greeted him as she often did: “See me before lunch.”
It wasn’t only hunger that had Lonny’s stomach turning as he approached her desk.
“Read Meredith’s answer to number five.”
“Stop. Drop. Roll.”
“Now yours.”
“Li on de grownd and rol. Herl rocks at scary villin til he falls. Pri de gas can away. Giv him a kick in groyn.”

Thirty years later:
The boy across the table smiled as he read the inscription: “To: Ricky—Never be discouraged. Lon Hunter.”
Do not get me started on Mrs. Pesterly.
Or her colleague Mrs. SniggerPuss who attends writing conferences to make sure writers know the One True Way.

Of course I'm dithering on picking the standout from these standouts.
It's not helping that they're all wonderful in different ways.

Plus I'm sulking at being thwarted so neatly (again!) by Steve Forti. Honestly, I may need to rebrand myself as a coyote.

Let me know your thoughts here: who got overlooked, who you think stands out.

Complete results later today.

Also, isn't Ramona just the bee's knees?


I've been beating my head against the wall today on a variety of things.
It was lovely to come back to the standouts and re-read them. A reminder that this really is all about the work. A reminder of how much I love my job. So, thank you!

And I just had to give this to Amy Johnson.
I think we're all in agreement on why.

Amy, email me with your preferred mailing address. A copy of Louise Penny's new book A Better Man is the prize IF you want it. (If you don't like/read crime, that's ok, I've got other choices for you.)



Aphra Pell said...

All brilliant as usual.

My top three are Luralee - just a brilliantly realised story - FlashFriday, because dragons, and Amy Johnson, because I'm an educator and people like Mrs Pesterly get on my wick.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

I can never ever choose, but in this contest I can't forget the Demented Serentity / Dented Amenity.

Kregger said...

Even though he isn't in the running, Steve Forti cracks me up. If he was a singer, he'd probably be able to sing the phonebook. He could probably write a memoir that would make Thierry Boyle a rock star, but I digress.
Ms. Reid, you picked my top five. Good luck.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Ramona says.
"Fall to your knees, bees!
The Queen is here."

LynnRodz said...

I liked Sharyn Ekbergh's and that was before I saw Ramona. Omg, she's adorable!

I was surprised that one or two, although good, weren't actually a "story." (Then again, what do I know?)

Richelle Elberg said...

My vote goes to Sharyn and Ramona.

I too thought a lot of them weren't really stories, including my own. Or maybe I just didn't GET some of the stories!

As always, great fun and thank you Janet!

JanR said...

These are so good! Congratulations all! I loved NLiu’s line “Abruptly, he was the wrong kind of smitten.” Luralee made me shiver and Amy Johnson, I’m smiling awwwww.

I also thought Fearless Reider’s was imaginative, chilling, and beautiful writing, while french sojourn and Michael Seese made me tear up.

TArnold, do you know my family??? That was so relatable :)

Fearless Reider said...

All the shortlist stories entice me, but Luralee’sreally stands out to me — a novel in 100 words. I also loved Michael Seese’sstory, and Richelle Elberg’s made me LOL. T Arnold’s entry has a special place in my heart. Before Mr. Fearless Reider and I were hitched and we were separated by half a continent, I mailed him a 10,000 piece puzzle but secretly confiscated one piece, just to remind him how incomplete his life would be without me. It’s been three decades, and he hasn’t forgotten it (yet).

Timothy Lowe said...

Nice work everyone. As for me, I am still in a state of deranged serenity. If Forti would just give up already, it might just make these contests easier.

Claire Bobrow said...

Every Monday should start with kitten photos.

Kudos, finalists, on your fantastic work! It was full of all the best stuff - shivers, clever twists, laughs, and heart. But someone clearly forgot to read Horton Hears A Who to the adorable Ramona...
Sharyn :-)

Thanks for the comment, Jennifer Mugrage! And while we're talking boat names, here's another contender: The Unthwartable Forti.

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks, Janet! I'm tickled you liked my story. Thanks also to Aphra and JanR for the shout-outs. Very appreciated.

Just Jan said...

Loved the prompt words this week as they could be inserted into the stories so many different ways. Also, Mr. Forti truly is the Roadrunner.

Congratulations to the finalists. I can't choose just one, but thank you for writing them.

Luralee said...

Awww, Ramona is adorable!
Thank you, Janet. This is such a talented group, I’m honored to have made the short list.
Thanks Fearless Reider, AphraPell, and JanR for the mention. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but Flashfriday made me laugh, and FearlessReider’s was imaginatively creepy.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

I loved Katie's among the finalists. FearlessReider's among those not mentioned.

Good job everyone!

Fearless Reider said...

Thank you, JanR, Luralee, and Cecilia — you made my day! I’ve enjoyed re-reading all the stories and I find I’m still haunted by Marie McKay’s entry. I would love to read more of that story — I hope you’ll develop it.

Ramona is the Platonic ideal of a young cat, and she would never do what my dog just did to the living room rug.

Joseph S. said...

Off topic but relevant recommended books for August includes Patrick Lee's "Dark Site."

Karen McCoy said...

Coming back to the reef after a week in Colorado with family, along with spotty wireless and cell phone reception. Looks like I missed a lot!

Loving these flash stories--my favorite has to be Amy Johnson's entry. I'm always a sucker for an underdog.

MaggieJ said...

Ramona is absolutely the bee's knees, also the cat's pajamas, whiskers, and meow. She's the most adorable little moggie I've seen in donkey's years. All this, and a destroyer of world peace in a single pounce.

Enjoyed the story too!

Angel L said...

I loved Ellis Tandy's and also the one from Flash Friday. Great job everyone!

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Amy!

I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest.

Laura S. said...

Yay Amy, congrats! That was one of my favorites. The revenge story, by "Unknown," didn't make the "standouts," but it stood out to me. Thanks, Janet, for these great writing exercises/opportunities and your feedback and comments.

Lennon Faris said...

Well done, Amy and everyone who entered! Was a pleasure to read these, as usual. Amy, very inspiring. Steve Forti, yours made me laugh!

Ellis Tandy said...

Thanks so much for running these contests, Your Sharkiness - that was a lot of fun!

I loved NLiu's spelling-challenged Scared King, but must admit Claire Bobrow's was my very favourite.

Amy Johnson said...

Wow, and wow again! Thank you so much, Janet. And thanks for your nice comments, Karen, Colin, Laura, and Lennon. Reading contest entries here is such a treat for me. The Reef dwelling fam is amazing! Today is such a happy day--I shall get right on making fudge for the entire Reef!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, Amy! So many enjoyable entries!

NLiu said...

Wow, thanks Janet and JanR! Your comments really made my day. And I have written two perfect lines?! Your Majesty, I blush!

Congratulations everyone else, and especially Amy. I really enjoyed all the entries this week.

Snickerpuss and Pesterley! I can just imagine them sat in their conservatory, drinking tea with their little fingers sticking out, glasses perched on supercilious noses. Do they have doilies? Of course they have doilies!
"Apparently, he became a writer."
*sniff* "Oh, really?"
"Commercial fiction."

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, Amy - what a great story! I lift my glass to you, and to all the Lon Hunters of the world.

Ellis Tandy: your kind words are much appreciated. Thank you!

french sojourn said...

Congrats Amy, this was a choc full-o-talent contest and yours stood out wonderfully.
Thanks again to the queen of the noun...known universe for her time, effort, and teaching moments.

Cheers Hank!

Marie McKay said...

Very chuffed to have made the shortlist and to have such a great comment from Janet. Thank you so much.
Thanks Fearless Reider,too.
Congrats, Amy, on a well-deserved win. Great story.

NLiu said...

And thanks Ellis too! Sorry I missed you the first time!

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks Lisa, NLiu, Claire, Hank, and Marie. You get fudge! You get fudge! You get fudge! Everyone gets fudge! :)

Beth Carpenter said...

Coming in late to read the finalists. Wonderful as always. You are all amazing! Congrats, Amy!

Casual-T said...

Judging by the slew of crumpled-up paper cups and champagne-soaked confetti strewn across the fun-colored carpet, I guess I’m a bit late to this party. (A weekend full of work kept me from attending sooner.) Nonetheless, I wanted to send a supportive holler to all you talented folks out there. Great writing (as per the usual agreement!). And a big congrats to Amy. Beautifully done!

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks, Beth and T. :)