Sunday, August 14, 2022

After a while, crocodile

 I like the guesses you made on yesterday's blog post, but you're all over the map (ha!).

None of you were close. 

I'm staying with a friend for a few days before heading to the final destination.

Here is the friend:


I was seriously overdue for cat petting!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

See ya later, alligator!

 


I'm off!

I'm kinda nervous about this trip. I haven't left the city in at least 2.5 years.

I haven't even left my little neighborhood in Bushwick much these past pandemic years.

But a pal has persuaded me to venture out -vaxxed, boosted, masked - into the wider world.

Well, wider world in that it's not Brooklyn, but it's also going to be isolated, rural and hopefully deliciously watery!

Have a guess where I'm going?

Or even the direction!

Are you headed out anytime soon? Where are you headed!



Tuesday, August 09, 2022

RIP Snot-Green couch




The Snot-Green couch at the start of her life


The Snot-Green couch after the "facelift"



The snot-green couch (may it RIP) finally had to be evicted.
One too many prong pokes from the bedraggled cushions.

After getting my second booster shot, I came home on the bus and got off right across from the furniture store where I’d bought SNC lo! these many years ago.

In I went and said “sell me a couch.”
If you ever need to feel loved, say that in a furniture store.

Bare-chested nubile young men arrived bearing chairs, coffee service, and a tray of delicacies.

A pleasant hour transpired while I viewed the options,  sat and re-sat, picked the one I wanted, pronounced it suitable, and handed over wads of cash.

Next day two hefty men who could clearly bench press a building arrived carrying the couch as thought it was a purse.

Up three flights of stairs in 90+ degree weather. More wads of cash into their mitts to say thanks.

Assembly ensued and now I sit on the new couch with nary a prod, prong or problem.


I'm now working on developing lolling as a fine art. 

 

 

New couch on Day One

 

Monday, August 08, 2022

August 7 FF contest finalists


Lennon Faris

It was a night that, between gulps of coffee, we techs called a real shitshow at The ER for Magical Creatures. So far we’d:

 

- Purged a toxic ingestion from a dragon’s depths. (It was a politician. We voted to put him back.)

- Expressed chupacabra anal glands (a showy, frothy baptism for Linda).

- X-rayed a selkie pup (defecating atoll chunks).

 

Last appointment, checked the file. “Nail trim for…demonic sabertooth hippogriff? Cool.”

 

We entered, halted. Re-read file.

 

“D.S.H.”

 

I touched my razor-thin scars. Whispered, “Hitchiker’s Guide phase.” My assistant sprinted for a towel.

 

“Hiya, buddy.” I wiped sweat.

 

“Meow.”

 

 This is subtle and hilarious and innovative.

 

 

 

 

S.D.King

“Stop lying!”

 

“I’m not!”

 

“Aliens didn’t get into your car and eat lunch with you!”

 

“I think they were aliens. They were short, greenish and had phasers.”

 

“Right. Here to take over Earth? Grab the tin foil!”

 

“I’ll show you. They put their contacts in my phone.”

 

“You ate KFC and texted?”

 

“They loved it and we got frothy Starbucks frappes- a tollhouse cookie, too. But McDdonald’s fries – I think they cried. Wait, here comes a text now!”

 

“Earthling, the depth of your civilization overwhelms us. If you choose to take over our planet, we will comply. Uploading coordinates now.”

 

I love the fresh take on alien invasion AND that the MC is being scolded for eating KFC and texting!

 

 

  

 

 

Kregger

My wife likes Wordle, but I don’t.

 

I started with Hangman. A four-letter word got me sent to the principal and a call home.

 

Boggle drove my parents into a froth shrieking, “That’s not in the dictionary!”

 

Word Jumble messed with my dyslexia.

 

Scrabble and its cousin, Words with Friends, dropped depth charges on my head. My peeps aren’t showy, but I still lost.

 

Then the mother of all word games, the NYT Sunday crossword. It took a toll.

 

Then Wordle?

 

Now Quordle?

 

My newest phase is called Curdle.

 

That’s where I express a lung, screeching AAIEEE!

 

Copyright?

 

 This hits so close to home I'm a little worried that Kregger is actually me.

 

  

 

M.R. Howe

People depend on me; important people. My position isn’t as showy as the Neophysicists', even though we both wear white coats. They barely regard me when they come to my station, but they need me.

 

It happens in phases, carefully monitored: heat; purge; drain. Insert the implement to proper depth, froth forming a wispy atoll at the surface of the fluid.

 

Dr. Buttonweezer steps toward the door, distracted. He pauses and turns, concern flooding his features as he considers the flask.

 

“Did I remember to say extra cream?”

 

He didn’t.

 

He didn’t have to. I’m good at what I do.

 

Well, of course I'm partial to any mention of Felix Buttonweezer!

But I like this cause it plays on our expectations.

 

 

 

  

LynnRodz

"A word for a series of islets?"

 

"Atoll."

 

"Distance to the bottom of something?"

 

"Depth."

 

Here she goes again doing the NYT's Sunday crossword. Then she's all showy, bragging how she always finishes it. She doesn't tell everyone I'm the one who does it for her.

 

Now 'she does' Wordle.

 

"A five letter word with h-a-e in it?"

 

"I dunno, figure it out yourself."

 

"Com'on, I'm on a winning streak."

 

"Cheat!"

 

"Not the right word. Gimme another."

 

"CHEAT!"

 

"Alexa, you're going through another phase. I can always turn you off."

 

"CHEAT! CHEAT! CHEAT!" Froth coming out of the speaker.

 

"Alexa?"

 

 

This just cracks me up completely.

 

 

It was very hard to pick just one winner.

I vacillated a LOT. 



But in the end I had to go with LynnRodz for topicality and totally cracking me up.

I just love the idea of sending Alexa into a frothy meltdown. 



LynnRodz, email me with the kind of book you'd like to get as a prize!



Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter!

It was a pleasure to read your work.


But oh boy, did I learn a lesson here. The prompt words just weren't very flexible were they?

Next time I may have to use lochs, locks, and lox!



Sunday, August 07, 2022

Preliminary results for the flash fiction contest

These are the entries that really caught my eye.


CynthiaMc
 

I'm from north Florida, the most southern part (Miami, a suburb of New York being the most northern).
 
So why were we diving the only atoll off Key West ahead of a hurricane instead of holing up in a bar like normal people?
 
Because my adopted cousin Binky swears he saw a spaceship.
 
And where I work it's publish or perish.
 
"Did you bring your phaser?" I asked in my snotty scientist voice.
 
We dove beneath frothing whitecaps to showy tropical fish at max depth
 
...to the spaceship...
 
"Sorry, Cuz," Binky said telepathically, "We need another scientist."
This just cracked me up.
 
 
BJ Muntain
From the depths of the Pacific Ocean, from the frothy surf of the newly risen Atlantis Atoll, welcome our next guest... how do you pronounce your name?
 
Prince Knu'kg.
 
Okay, Prince. What happened? I thought Atlantis was underwater.
 
Every thousand years, our home rises to the surface. We will be visible for three months.
 
Visible is right. Folks, can you see this video? Isn't that the most showy island you've seen? What are those things flying around it?
 
War dragons.
 
War?
 
Every surface phase, we raid your world.
 
But...
 
Thank you for your invitation. We couldn't come ashore otherwise.
 
I'm always a sucker for dragons.

 
 
Lennon Faris
It was a night that, between gulps of coffee, we techs called a real shitshow at The ER for Magical Creatures. So far we’d:
 
- Purged a toxic ingestion from a dragon’s depths. (It was a politician. We voted to put him back.)
- Expressed chupacabra anal glands (a showy, frothy baptism for Linda).
- X-rayed a selkie pup (defecating atoll chunks).
 
Last appointment, checked the file. “Nail trim for…demonic sabertooth hippogriff? Cool.”
 
We entered, halted. Re-read file.
 
“D.S.H.”
 
I touched my razor-thin scars. Whispered, “Hitchiker’s Guide phase.” My assistant sprinted for a towel.
 
“Hiya, buddy.” I wiped sweat.
 
“Meow.”
 
This is a perfect twist ending to a hilariously inventive story.


 
S.D.King

 

“Stop lying!”
 
“I’m not!”
 
“Aliens didn’t get into your car and eat lunch with you!”
 
“I think they were aliens. They were short, greenish and had phasers.”
 
“Right. Here to take over Earth? Grab the tin foil!”
 
“I’ll show you. They put their contacts in my phone.”
 
“You ate KFC and texted?”
 
“They loved it and we got frothy Starbucks frappes- a tollhouse cookie, too. But McDdonald’s fries – I think they cried. Wait, here comes a text now!”
 
“Earthling, the depth of your civilization overwhelms us. If you choose to take over our planet, we will comply. Uploading coordinates now.”
 
This is a delightful twist on alien invasion!
 
Colin Smith

“You by land, me by water?” said Eric. “I was an Olympian, you know?”
 
“Me too,” said Joe, stretching his legs. “Water’s choppy. May the froth be with you!”
 
The lagoon had a five-mile diameter, rimmed by land a half-mile wide. The prize waited on the opposite side of the island.
 
“Depth of insanity,” she said. “Lads being showy. A stupid phase.”
Maizie sipped her margarita watching the water.
 
Two hours later, she saw splashing and heard distant running.
 
The running came closer, but the splashing didn’t.
 
“Eric!” she shouted.
 
“I guess…” said Joe, panting,”…the island took atoll on him.”

 
May the froth be with you is a perfect line.
 
 
 
Kregger
My wife likes Wordle, but I don’t.
 
I started with Hangman. A four-letter word got me sent to the principal and a call home.
 
Boggle drove my parents into a froth shrieking, “That’s not in the dictionary!”
 
Word Jumble messed with my dyslexia.
 
Scrabble and its cousin, Words with Friends, dropped depth charges on my head. My peeps aren’t showy, but I still lost.
 
Then the mother of all word games, the NYT Sunday crossword. It took a toll.
 
Then Wordle?
 
Now Quordle?
 
My newest phase is called Curdle.
 
That’s where I express a lung, screeching AAIEEE!
 
Copyright?

This cracked me up because of course AAIEEEE is usually heard here when I tackle that stupid damn Wordle game that I can NOT stop playing.

 
 
M.R. Howe

People depend on me; important people. My position isn’t as showy as the Neophysicists', even though we both wear white coats. They barely regard me when they come to my station, but they need me.
 
It happens in phases, carefully monitored: heat; purge; drain. Insert the implement to proper depth, froth forming a wispy atoll at the surface of the fluid.
 
Dr. Buttonweezer steps toward the door, distracted. He pauses and turns, concern flooding his features as he considers the flask.
 
“Did I remember to say extra cream?”
 
He didn’t.
 
He didn’t have to. I’m good at what I do.

 
Aha! Felix finally graduated from medical school!
 
 

Beth Carpenter
“It starts with an icy glass mug. The next phase is a single generous scoop of frozen vanilla cream in the depths, followed by a waterfall of carbonated syrup solution, sweet and bubby, washing over it and foaming up into an atoll of the richest, creamiest froth you can imagine, so thick you could eat it with chopsticks. Then, a showy spritz of whipped cream, topped with a cherry.” I smack my lips. “Frozen perfection.”
 
“Ooooh.” An awed silence follows as the pescatarian, refined sugar-free, kale smoothie-fed children contemplate the legend. “Now tell us the one about funnel cakes, Grandpa.”

 
I had to look up pescatarian.
Fortunately it does not mean "a diet rich in kale."

 
 

 
C. Dan Castro
1530. Final phase.
 
Baker “wakes.”
 
The Arkansas sways, pummeling waves spraying froth. Sneaking aboard wasn’t hard.
 
A hundred warships list nearby. Relics.
 
In the ocean depths, Baker’s timer counts.
 
60.
 
The atoll. Silent, scorched rock. Thank Baker’s “ancestors.”
 
50.
 
Laughter haunts me. Kids who won’t grow up.
 
40.
 
Miles away, American ships monitor. Entertain reporters. Politicians. A showy monstrosity.
 
30.
 
My hands tremble. Clean. Bloody.
 
20.
 
I designed it to end the war.
 
10.
 
Two cities, now shattered walls with children’s silhouettes.
 
5.
 
I’m called...
 
4.
 
...the hero scientist.
 
3.
 
But I can’t...
 
2.
 
...stop thinking...
 
1.
 
...about those children—

 Haunting
 
 
 
french sojourn

“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Fargo Phil.
Let’s all lift a frothy brew, and toast to his last strike.
 
Cheers!
 
He was a showy pro-bowler, but all those sequins only covered his dark and lonely past. His game was improving, and at a phase when his outside curve was finally tightening up.
 
Love takes a toll on us all, but Sadie left him in the depths of depression at such a difficult time, what with the Kenosha regionals a week away.
 
Sadly, the break-up killed him, …cose we all knew how poorly Phil handled a split.”
 

Only cause I've watched The Big Lebowski more times than I care to reveal did I recognize the bowling humor here.

 

 
LynnRodz
"A word for a series of islets?"
 
"Atoll."
 
"Distance to the bottom of something?"
 
"Depth."
 
Here she goes again doing the NYT's Sunday crossword. Then she's all showy, bragging how she always finishes it. She doesn't tell everyone I'm the one who does it for her.
 
Now 'she does' Wordle.
 
"A five letter word with h-a-e in it?"
 
"I dunno, figure it out yourself."
 
"Com'on, I'm on a winning streak."
 
"Cheat!"
 
"Not the right word. Gimme another."
 
"CHEAT!"
 
"Alexa, you're going through another phase. I can always turn you off."
 
"CHEAT! CHEAT! CHEAT!" Froth coming out of the speaker.
 
"Alexa?"
 
This is the definitive Wordle story.
 
 
shanepatrickwrites

Knitting in a toll booth, she remembers that phase of her life. The click-clack of the needles, echoing the gunfire of her last night in the life. The showy mistress of a narco, she rose from the depths of Medellin barrios to whisper advice to Escobar’s second, crushed under her lover’s weight. Red froth pouring from his mouth. She glazed her eyes, hoping they’d think her dead, too.
 
“Vamos, cabron. Todos muerte.” The gunmen left.
 
Her ears rang for days. She disguised herself as an old woman, knitting her way north.
 
A million purls later, “One dollar, please.”

 
this is brilliant, but it's not really a story.

 
Amy Johnson 
A sweltering Saturday, a mourning jog, penance for a week of tiramisu.
 
I’m struck from behind. My face slams into the sidewalk. I look up. This shirtless guy in showy runny shorts keeps sprinting. I scoop up my front teeth, shove them into my sock. I mutter, “Telf-tentered.”
 
A few blocks later, there’s Shirtless on the corner. In the jumping jacks phase of his workout. I mutter, “Nartittitic.”
 
Almost home, sweat froth stinging my eyes, something strikes me from behind. Shirtless! The depth of my fury! Everything goes fuzzy. Visions of a picnic on an atoll beach. I mutter, “Tiramitu.”


 
This is intriguing but I think I'm missing something. What's a Sirasisu?

 

These entries are the preliminary list of finalists.

Did I miss any that you particularly liked?

Do you have a favorite? Who do you think should get the prize?

 

Let me know in the comments column!

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Friday, August 05, 2022

Wordle Flash Fiction contest

 I've been playing Wordle for a while now, and it drives me bonkers a good half the time. 

BUT time to make Wordle earn its keep!

A flash fiction contest using Wordle words!


 

 The usual rules apply:

 

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

 

2. Use these words in the story:

 

Depth

Froth

Phase

Showy 

Atoll

 

 

(NO Steve Forti extra prompt word this week. I have retired from the field of battle. Forti Thwarts the Shark!)

 

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.

 

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

 

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

 

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

 

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title.)

 

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

 

9.  There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

 

10.  It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.

Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

 

11. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (For example: "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

 

12. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

 

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

 

 

Contest opens: Saturday, 8/6/22, 9:32am EDT

 

Contest closes: Sunday, 8/7/22, 10:00am EDT

 

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock .

 

 

 

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

 

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

 

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid.

Ready? SET?


Not yet!

ENTER 

Sorry, too late.

Contest is closed.

 

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

What I was doing instead of writing a blog post

 

One of my editor pals likes to torment me with delicious new books.

This is the latest one.

Got it in the mail yesterday (Tuesday) and that was the end of getting anything else done!


Are you reading something that's keeping you from your to do list?

Monday, August 01, 2022

why I don't give notes on queries or requested fulls

 


 

Janet, post-edit memo

 

I just sent back notes on one of my client's novels.

 

Here's how it unfolded:

 

I read the novel twice: once to get the plot and characters in my brain, the second to be able to see the action unfold knowing what the whole story was.

 

You can only see the clever things being laid in if you know what the end will be.

 

The two reads took me about four days total. (I was doing other things too.)

 

I made notes on both reads.

 

Then it took me about two days to write the notes into a memo, revise, and polish.

 

Total elapsed time is probably 25 hours.

 

Now this wasn't 25 hours straight. I don't have the concentration for that right now.

 

And the key thing about revising an edit memo is you have to look it over at least a couple times, more likely five or six, and you need some time between those passes.

 

If I "fix" fewer than three things in  a memo, I know I'm getting close to the final version.

 

So, what does all this mean for you?

 

Investing 20+ hours in a novel I know I'm not going to add to my list is a bad use of my limited resources.

 

That's why I don't offer much, if anything, in notes on requested fulls, and nothing at all on queries I pass on.

 

Expecting/wanting  notes on a full, or a query, is simply setting yourself up for disappointment.  Avoid that. There's enough disappointment in publishing without asking for more.

 

Any questions?

 

 

 

Friday, July 29, 2022

The Red Kettle

 


Some years back a friend showed me her fancy new tea kettle that boiled so quickly I suspected Superman's eyeballs were the heat source.

 

But I didn't drink tea much at the time, so I didn't add this Super Kettle to the list of things I'd get "one of these days."

 

Fast forward to this year.

 

Holden Sheppard posted a picture of his kettle on Twitter and I didn't realize he meant his red kettle sitting on the stove in the background. I though it was some sort of Aussie phrase for a body part.  (Holden is fondly known as Hubba Hubba Shepherd here at Shark Central.)

 

That reminded me of the kettle I'd seen lo, those many years ago. I do drink tea now  but I also use boiling water to warm up the coffee pot and the coffee mug before I turn on the coffeemaker (this is a very neat trick but I only started using it when I began working from home and wasn't rushing to catch the 9:03 train.)

 

So I bought a red electric kettle.

It was darn cute.

 



 

I washed it carefully and plugged it in.

 

Superman was elsewhere (maybe working out with Holden Sheppard).

It took a while to get the water boiling.

 

So I compared the using the kettle with boiling water on the stove.

Same amount: 1 cup.

 

Ready set go.

 

Stove was more than 30 seconds faster.

 

What you also need to know is I don't pay for the natural gas that fuels the cooktop burners.

I do pay for electricity that runs the kettle.

 

So long kettle.

Dang.

 

As is my habit when I have appliances (or pretty much anything) in working order that I no longer need,

I put it in a transparent plastic bag and hang it on the railing in front of my apartment building. 

 

It's a time honored tradition in Brooklyn.

 

So, on my next jaunt out, I put the kettle out to find a new home.

 

Only when I was on the train did I realized I'd failed to include the instructions with the kettle. I rather hoped it would still be there when I got back.

 

But, as I  came up out of the subway and walked up the street I saw "my" red kettle.

In the hands of the only man on our street that I really truly dislike.

 

 

He's an older guy, works (or hangs out) at the barbershop by the bodega.  I actively dislike him because he torments the homeless guy who lives on our block. Once he even used a squirt gun to spritz the guy with water....and was laughing about it.

 

 

It was all I could do to not grab it out of his surly mitts snarling "you do NOT deserve the red kettle."

 

I settled for a disdainful sniff. He's probably used to that since it's pretty much my standard response to him.

 

But I'm kinda sorry my cute red kettle is now gone.

 

 

Have you regretted giving something away?

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Using bullet points in a query

Does anyone ever use bullet points in a query letter? We discussed this in my critique group and the thought that men and women (agents/publishers) react to stories differently, might influence how they read a query letter. And, since we are trying to convey information succinctly, that bullets might do that in a non-traditional way. On the other hand, if the query shows a tidbit of our writing style, then bullets wouldn't cut it. Any thoughts to enlighten me?  

 
 
The bullet points I've seen in a query look like this:
 
Title: The Buttonweezer Guide to a Happy Marriage
Author: Betty and Felix Buttonweezer
Genre: literary fiction
Word count: 94k
Keywords: marriage, fight, murder
Similar: Stephen King, Nostradamus, QueryShark blog

 
 
Or this:
 
 
by: (Author)
Word Count: 72,000
Source: some obscure website I've never heard of.

 
Stories generally do not lend themselves to bullet points.
 
Bullet points highlight the important things in an article.
 
Including keywords is just  ridiculous in a query for a novel.  Keywords are search engines find things. Readers do not look for books like a search engine.  They look for description or category first. Murder and redemption gets you everything from the Bible to Shawshank Redemption.
 
I don't really care where you found my name because it's obvious you did.  It does tell me you didn't look at my website which is a Big Red Flag that you didn't actually do much research.
 
Repeating your name is just a waste of space and my eyeball time.
 
None of these are the most part of  your query.
 
What is important?
 
The story!!
 
 
I've said it before and I guess I'll say it again: don't do something non-traditional, weird or offbeat, thinking it's a better way. It's not. Please just tell me about a story I want to read.

 


 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Final flash fiction contest results

It was REALLY difficult to narrow the field to five.
 
 
 
 
 
Michael Seese
 

High in the Hollywood Hills, billionaires are a dime a dozen. Many earned their money through perfectly acceptable means, such as going all Elon then price gouging the world. Others profited through more shadowy endeavors.
 
The bottle blonde—peroxide and whiskey—dropped on me a bombshell of an offer.
 
"My richer-than-god dumber-than-dirt husband is testing his home-built airplane Saturday. Make it look like an accident, and you'll get a cut."
 
Pity that the signature on her ill-advised "miscellaneous expenses" check was carboned to two other documents.
 
A confession.
And a power of attorney.
 
Life is good here in the Hills.

 
 
I like how the story curls back on itself.
It's a nice twist.
And Michael Seese is a deft word wrangler of course!
 

 
S.D.King
 
 
Blonde curls. Pressed khaki uniform. 127 Badges. 21,566 boxes of cookies sold. That’s billionaire equivalent for Junior Russian Girl Scouts. Her prize? Present cookies to the President.
 
Marching Bands. Bunting fluttering. Shadowy bodyguards forming a perfect semi-circle on the podium.
 
She stepped up. Smiling, she held out a box of home baked cookies. He took two and patted her on the head while cameras flashed. No one noticed her ruffled blue and yellow anklets.
 
It would be almost 12 hours until the bombshell hit. She would be high in the Ural Mountains by then, practicing wilderness life badges 26-54.

 
I'm not a big fan of Girl Scout cookies, but that's a soapbox topic for another day.
This is nicely subtle.
 

 
 
 
 
 
Brigid
 
Dad was right; Evvie should've been a copyeditor. Marketing influencer was all dreary sponcon and shadowy TikTok contests for creepy billionaires.
 
This promised world-changing bombshell turned out to be a slogan contest for 'the perfect blond roast', which the world needs like another indie hole in the head. Still, $1000 and a tropical vacation was worth it. Evvie only grumbled a little that 2019 marketers got salaries.
 
It was the surprise of her life when she showed up to collect her prize. It was 'the perfect blonde roast', and she should never have accepted that free dye job from L'Oreal.

 
Ah yes, the perils of peroxide.
Shadowy TikTok is a nice unexpected turn of phrase.

 
 
AJ Blythe
 
Meeting of the Banished, Craig F’s bar, 10am
Present: Colin, JDF, NLiu, Dena, Craig F.
Colin: JDF is right, I have a clever escape route out of here.
(Excited chatter from group)
Colin: Janet has her eagle eye on character cliches. Let’s mix it up, slip out when she’s chomping elsewhere. Take a cliché and re-pair.
NLiu and Craig F.: We’re shadowy and blonde.
(They side-step a renegade cop and flee)
Dena and JDF: We’re a bombshell life.
(They abscond past a beautiful female)
Colin: That leaves me with billionaire and…
(Realises he’s alone)
Colin: ...an almost perfect plan.

 
The only thing wrong with this otherwise perfect entry is that if you aren't in the know about Carkoon and the players here, you wouldn't understand what's going on.
 

 
 
Megan V
 
The day Jenny turned ten, M.A.S.H. dreamed up her perfect man. Blonde. A billionaire. (He had to be a billionaire on account of the mansion they’d live in).
 
She’d be an architect, busy drawing up plans. He’d be Bruce Wayne, minus that whole shadowy alter-ego. (Bats were definitely not her thing).
 
The day she turned twenty, Jenny married him lakeside at the country club. (Too good to be true).
 
His fist dropped the bombshell a week later. (Followed by his boot).
 
Suddenly, Jenny realized she’d never had a reason to pick up a bat before. (Now, she had a billion).

 
I like the two meanings of bat being a key element of the story.
 
 
There were a lot of terrific entries that weren't quite stories.
 
I had to gnaw on this for a good long while, but the prize goes to S.D. King this week.
S.D., if you'll drop me a line with your mailing address and what kinds of books you like, I'll get a prize in the mail to you.
 
 
Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and enter the contest.
It's always a pleasure reading your work.

 
 
 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Preliminary flash fiction results

 

Here's an early look at the entries that stood out for me.

 

 

Lisa Bodenheim

 

She sneezed and sniffed.

 

“Like this?” He aimed the camera.

 

The viewfinder framed the shadowy grays of sky, river, and hills.

 

A breeze ruffled his blonde-tipped fake Frohawk with its perfect zig-zag design, wafted his musky pheromone cologne her way.

 

She sneezed again and wheezed. Shitty bombshell of a billionaire!

 

How do you tell this life-long boyo his taste stunk? The new camera, appropriated hairstyle, synthetic musk cologne—-all for her sake.

 

Her eyes watered and itched.

 

“You have your stuff, darling?”

 

He was supposed to have been her next victim. Instead, he’d become her one and only vanishing point.

 

The descriptions here are excellent.

Where I foundered was "vanishing point."

I had to look it up, but that's not the problem. I like looking up things.

The problem was I didn't understand how becoming a vanishing point related to the story.

Now, that may just be me. Ok, probably is.

 

 

 

NLiu

 

They'd thought she was blonde, natural, soft.

 

She wasn't. But she was catwalk perfect, spotted in the street: shadowy cheekbones, billionaire lips, unsettling eyes.

 

The fashion houses fought for a contract.

 

Her photo? Everywhere. Fast.

 

Now, at the pinnacle of her career, she was glitzy, gleaming, full of life - but hungry. So hungry.

 

Time for her bombshell.

 

She screamed. Loud. Piercing.

 

All those who'd gazed on her - envied over magazines, lusted over the internet, ill-wished and gossiped over soggy posters on rainy stations… stopped.

 

Her smile grew, eclipsed by her teeth.

 

They'd thought she was human, natural, soft.

 

She wasn't.

 

billionaire lips!

 

 

Just Jan

 

Sixteen missing to date. Cold cases, all of them.

 

They look to me for comfort, and so I deliver: fudge bombshells to the muddied volunteers, blonde-brownie sundaes to officers burdened with overtime, and frosty treats for the bloodhounds. On the house, of course.

 

In this life, I’m the king (emperor, if you will) of ice cream.

 

The local news loves to run stories about the billionaire who scoops up hope while a shadowy force preys on the neighborhood kids. The entire town eats it up. It’s the perfect spin.

 

Just don’t look in my freezer.

 

Nice twist!

It says nothing good about me that I saw it coming!

 

 

Steve Forti

 

“A perfect call”

 

“Billionaires shouldn’t exist”

 

“Bombshell new testimony”

 

“Ugh, Lon.  Why must the news be so stressful?  And what’s with the need for superlatives in every headline?  Like here: “Rights demolished by Supreme Court’s shadowy docket.”

 

“Shadow.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Nevermind.  It sucks, Mel.  Long-cherished freedoms taken for granted, now taken away by unelected overlords.  But that’s life in this post-word splitting reef.  When you gotta go whole hog on prompts, the world goes whole hog on chaos.”

 

“What can we do?”

 

“Only thing there ever is to do: rebel.”

 

“That’s dumb, Lon.”

 

“Desperate time, Mel.  Desperate times.”

 

post-word splitting reef just doubled me over with laughter.

 

 

Michael Seese

 

High in the Hollywood Hills, billionaires are a dime a dozen. Many earned their money through perfectly acceptable means, such as going all Elon then price gouging the world. Others profited through more shadowy endeavors.

 

The bottle blonde—peroxide and whiskey—dropped on me a bombshell of an offer.

 

"My richer-than-god dumber-than-dirt husband is testing his home-built airplane Saturday. Make it look like an accident, and you'll get a cut."

 

Pity that the signature on her ill-advised "miscellaneous expenses" check was carboned to two other documents.

 

A confession.

And a power of attorney.

 

Life is good here in the Hills.

 

 

Nice twist!

 

 

S.D.King

 

 

Blonde curls. Pressed khaki uniform. 127 Badges. 21,566 boxes of cookies sold. That’s billionaire equivalent for Junior Russian Girl Scouts. Her prize? Present cookies to the President.

 

Marching Bands. Bunting fluttering. Shadowy bodyguards forming a perfect semi-circle on the podium.

 

She stepped up. Smiling, she held out a box of home baked cookies. He took two and patted her on the head while cameras flashed. No one noticed her ruffled blue and yellow anklets.

 

It would be almost 12 hours until the bombshell hit. She would be high in the Ural Mountains by then, practicing wilderness life badges 26-54.

 

Nicely political without being over the top!

 

 

 

 

Amy Johnson

 

Annette had a perfect, millionaire’s family. Then she spotted the gorgeous blonde in Oliver’s arms and knew things would never be the same.

 

She cleaned up bombshell after bombshell from the shadowy places in the home they’d built together. Before the kids could see. It was for the best, she figured. Soon enough they would have to deal with the stench life can bring.

 

The kids were playing in the yard when Annette glanced out the kitchen window and saw her approaching them. The golden girl opened her mouth. A stick fell out. Annette smiled, knowing she was a billionaire.

 

Is Annette a dog? I mean a four legged canine dog?

I don't quite get this.

Let's just blame the heat, and the fact I woke up in the middle of the night worried my air conditioner would stop working.  (not good in 95+ heat!)

 

 

LynnRodz

 

I died alone. A perfect ending to an unfulfilled life. Within seconds I went through a dark tunnel with no light at the end as many had described. I arrived in front of a blonde androgynous being who looked over my shadowy past with a handheld device. I had been a billionaire who bought whatever I desired regardless of the consequences to others.

 

"Does this mean I'm going to Hell?" I asked.

 

The being looked at me and smiled. "You mean, back to Hell. Yes, I'm afraid so. Right through that door," he pointed. "Planet Earth."

 

It was a bombshell.

 

Now this is a very interesting concept!

 

 

Melanie Sue Bowles

 

“Know what your problem is?”

 

My stomach lurched. I looked up from my laptop. My husband’s perfectly tanned face darkened the door of my cozy writing nook.

 

“You sit in this shadowy hole, doom-scrolling. Wasting your life. Wasting!”

He flipped his bleach-blond hair off his forehead. I suppressed an eye-roll.

 

“Lucky to have me,” he muttered, stomping away. I waited for the front door to slam then looked back down at the screen to reread the email from my editor:

 

“Your book is going to be a bombshell! Who would’ve thought murder could be so funny? We’ll all be billionaires.”

  

I'm a little worried for Jim!

 (that's Mr. Melanie Sue for those who wonder)

 

 

 

M.R. Howe

 

That’s a bombshell, alright.

 

Some little blonde kid found it under the swingset during recess, I guess. Thought it was an old shadowy bottle or something. Started playing with it and tossing it around before some ex-military gym teacher shit his pants, blew a whistle, and ran for his life.

 

It could have blown at any point. Lucky kid; probably end up a billionaire if he can keep that curiosity in check.

 

There’s a catch to disarming these. One wire, five or six seconds later you know if you live or die. Snip and pray.

 

Five.

 

Four.

 

Three.

 

Two.

 

Perfect.

 

oh geeze. This is cruel, cruel I tell ya.

Maybe it's a test?

Did it blow up?

Did it not?

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Ivanov

 

“They’re perfect.”

 

I glance across the room at the tiny, blonde woman who had just broken the silence. Darla. Of course this had all been Darla. The rest of our colleagues stare out the window, faces wan, slack jawed.

 

“How can you say that?” I point at the shadowy forms hulking overhead. Monsters, our monsters, consuming life as we know it. The weight of everything hits me like a bombshell. “We’ve ended the world, Darla.”

 

She nods. “And after they’re done, they’ll know who to thank. Not Jamie, that billionaire prick. Us. The scientists.” Darla smiles. “We’ll rule the world.”

 

oh boy, this does not bode well does it?

 

 

Brigid

 

Dad was right; Evvie should've been a copyeditor. Marketing influencer was all dreary sponcon and shadowy TikTok contests for creepy billionaires.

 

This promised world-changing bombshell turned out to be a slogan contest for 'the perfect blond roast', which the world needs like another indie hole in the head. Still, $1000 and a tropical vacation was worth it. Evvie only grumbled a little that 2019 marketers got salaries.

 

It was the surprise of her life when she showed up to collect her prize. It was 'the perfect blonde roast', and she should never have accepted that free dye job from L'Oreal.

 

Nice twist!

 

 

I had to look up sponcon. How behind the times am I? Did you know the word?

 

 

 

 

 

KAClaytor

 

Mitzie was blonde beyond her roots, one too many cousins married down a branchless family tree.

 

In her trademark manner—vacant blue eyes, tapping a manicured finger against perfectly ruby-glossed lips until her teeth bled Dior 999—Mitzie offered a petulant sigh.

 

“Hurry, darling. Get your vacation trinket. Anything'll do.”

 

A vapid ancestral twig and billionaire’s boy through and through, Billy flung fistfuls of sand, shouting with glee, “I got one, Mommy!”

 

But when Billy’s unexploded bombshell, the American’s Golan Heights souvenir, rolled from the shadowy depths of Tel-Aviv airport’s x-ray, Mitzie’s stupor stopped.

 

“Run for your life!”

 

Bye-bye Billy.

 

One of the best first lines I've ever seen, ever.

 

 

 

 

Tain Leonard-Peck

 

The blonde walked in. She was smirking and shadowy as always; a perfect disaster of a dame.

 

"I've a bombshell for you," she drawled, lashes fluttering like a flag in wind.

 

"Come on, out with it." I don't play games.

 

"Got a racing tip your life's about to change. We're getting the professional stuff now."

 

I blink, incredulous. "Fortified oats? The boss must be a billionaire. Lucky day!"

 

She tosses her silky mane.

 

"Lucky day, huh? Hope that luck follows you to the track."

 

She turns and leaves, her hooves clicking, tail waving high.

 

The odds always favored Lady Luck.

 

I'm always a sucker for unusual view points, and of course, being horse-mad since the age of 10, this one is right up my alley.

 

 

 

AJ Blythe

 

Meeting of the Banished, Craig F’s bar, 10am

Present: Colin, JDF, NLiu, Dena, Craig F.

Colin: JDF is right, I have a clever escape route out of here.

(Excited chatter from group)

Colin: Janet has her eagle eye on character cliches. Let’s mix it up, slip out when she’s chomping elsewhere. Take a cliché and re-pair.

NLiu and Craig F.: We’re shadowy and blonde.

(They side-step a renegade cop and flee)

Dena and JDF: We’re a bombshell life.

(They abscond past a beautiful female)

Colin: That leaves me with billionaire and…

(Realises he’s alone)

Colin: ...an almost perfect plan.

 

This is hilarious and meta and did I mention hilarious.

 

 

 

Megan V

 

The day Jenny turned ten, M.A.S.H. dreamed up her perfect man. Blonde. A billionaire. (He had to be a billionaire on account of the mansion they’d live in).

 

She’d be an architect, busy drawing up plans. He’d be Bruce Wayne, minus that whole shadowy alter-ego. (Bats were definitely not her thing).

 

The day she turned twenty, Jenny married him lakeside at the country club. (Too good to be true).

 

His fist dropped the bombshell a week later. (Followed by his boot).

 

Suddenly, Jenny realized she’d never had a reason to pick up a bat before. (Now, she had a billion).

 

oh my!

The only problem is I don't understand what M.A.S.H. refers to.

 

 

 

There were a lot of terrific entries that weren't quite stories.

 

What did you think?

Any I've over looked here?

Which ones are your faves?

 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Flash Fiction Contest to Torment Them All!

 We had so much fun last week, I think we need to do it again!

And with this wretched heat, it's not as though I'm going outside for damn near anything.

In fact I am draped over my air conditioner like a dive bar chanteuse on her piano.

 

 

There is a wrinkle in the usual rules.

 

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer. (that's the same as always.)

 

2. Use these SIX words in the story:

 

Blonde bombshell

Shadowy billionaire

perfect life

 

Here's the wrinkle: you can't use them in this original phrasing.

 

Example: Felix Buttonweezer dropped a perfect bombshell on his billionaire bride-to-be Betty.

Pre-nups all around. Perfect. Their life would be about something other than money. What they didn't know was a shadowy blonde had plans of her own.

 

 

 

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.<---Steve Forti, you have vanquished me.

 

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

 

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

 

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

 

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title.)

 

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

 

9. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.


10. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.

Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

 

11.  Please do not post anything but contest entries. (For example: "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

 

12. By posting an entry, you  agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

 

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story. 

 

14. Judging is entirely subjective, whimsical and often mood-driven. Do NOT take it as a professional assessment of your writing if you're not selected as a finalist. 


15. Extra points if you know what the unifying factor is with the prompt phrases. 


Contest opens: Saturday, 7/23/22, 8:35am (Eastern Daylight time
).

 

Contest closes: Sunday, 7/24/22,  10am (Eastern Daylight time).

As Colin observed last week when the contest opened late: "opening times are ...flexible."

 

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, 

NYC Time


 

 

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest.

 

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

 

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid.

Ready? SET?

Not yet!

ENTER! 

Rats. Too late. Contest has closed.

Look for results on the morrow (7/25/22)