Monday, November 16, 2015

Friday the 13th Flash Fiction contest results!

It's been a rather surreal weekend hasn't it? I very much appreciate all of you who took the time to write entries for the contest. It felt good to have some normalcy. I hope you all felt the same.

 Herewith the results:

Special recognition for a hilarious phrase:
"they figured out how to cheat death by thinking outside the icebox"
Em-Musing 9:56am

"He’d take his lumps, but he didn't hafta eat ‘em too."
Irene Olson 11:42am

Special recognition for a turn of phrase to haunt you
"munching on a lady's finger."
BJ Muntain 10:11am

Special recognition for entries that were deliciously subtle
Kregger: 10:01am
Christina Seine 10:58am
Robert Ceres 2:07pm
Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale 7:27pm

Special recogntion for entries that paid homage to Paris
Writer of Wrongs 10:02am
Cynthia Mc 10:43am
Julie F. 12:38pm
Amy Schaefer 3:27pm
JAZ 9:09pm

Not quite a story but gorgeous writing
Timothy Lowe 10:04am

The ice-iest entry ever
Steve Forti: 10:06am

I believe we have Illicit Goings On in the comment column!
Colin Smith 10:15am

Not quite a story, but deliciously creepy
Jennifer R. Donohue 10:43am

A great sentence:
"The days become so short so fast."
Lisa Bodenheim

Special recognition to kdjames 7:46pm, who wrote what a lot of us were thinking
Ice. The snick and shush of skates across the rink in winter.
Box. The one my great-grandpa made, where Mom stored loose buttons.
Fuzz. The blanket we spread on the grass to watch fireworks on the Fourth.
Beet. My uncle the farmer, still hauling sugar beets every fall at age 88.
Cool. The light breeze drying my tears as I stand on the deck, watching the sunset, telling myself there is more good than bad in the world, more love than hate. More hope than fear.

I can't write about crime. Not today.
Today I need stories of happier times.

Here's the long list of finalists:
Amanda Capper 10:35am
S.D. King 3:15pm
Marie McKay 4:14pm
flashfriday 6:18pm
Claire 7:11pm
Nikola Vukoja 7:41pm
Karen McCoy 10:09pm
John Frain 4:12am

Here's the short list of finalists:

(1) Michael Seese 5:16pm
A beetle scurries beneath the icebox, ignoring the amorphous fuzzy gray blob lying there.

I work frantically to clean. They'll be here soon, and I want everything to be spotless. Though I do love having guests, they leave such a mess. Bit by bit, I get everything tidied up, stowing the mop scant seconds before the knock on the door. Answering, I am cool as a cucumber.

“No, officer. I don't recognize her. Mutilated, you say? That's horrible. Yes, I'll lock my doors, and report any suspicious people. Thank you.”

In time, I will find the finger under the fridge.

Only after that last sentence do you realize the guest leaving "such a mess" are not in fact the same people coming to the door.

That last sentence is like flipping an image from positive to negative: same lines, but you see everything very differently.

That's an incredible feat, particularly with so few words.

(2) Almitra Clay 5:19pm
Planting my feet again on the ice-rimmed edge of the cave, I tilt the box. Bones spill out. Deer? Bear? . . .Human? The leftovers dance and clatter downhill to their resting place on the fuzz of new Spring grass. The sprawling mess has attracted crows, and my hands now reek of jerky.

“You need to clean more often,” I scold. The words echo back from the earth.

Beet’s head snakes out of the darkness. He licks one long tooth, regarding me with the same cool stare that has sent so many grown men running. “I was saving those,” he whines.

It too me a long minute to realize what was going on here. I love that in stories. It's open to interpretation but the clues I think are important are "one long tooth" and "same cool stare."  This is a dragon in a cave.

And the perfect line is "my hands now reek of jerky" cause the meat from the bones got dried. And the bones saved.

Again, very subtle and totally evocative. And anything with a dragon has my vote.

(3) LynnRodz 7:18pm

    When they were together, people noticed.

    What does he see in her?

    I don't get it.

    He was perfume-ad-runway-beautiful, she was mean-girl-bait-boxy. As they sat together in restaurants or walked along the beach, everyone did a double take. His love came through when he smiled at her. Her admiration for him evident in her eyes.

    He walked her home.

    "You'll be-et..." Her mind started to get fuzzy. "...b-back next week, won't you?"

    "You know I will." He kissed her forehead.

    He waved before the rococo old doors of the institution closed behind his sister.

And again, the last sentence changes how we see the story. And the absolute perfection of "mean-girl-bait-boxy" creates such a clear image we don't need to know anything more.

This is beautiful writing, and a beautiful idea. I love it.

(4) Kimber 8:32pm
She is a gardener of sorts, busiest when the seasons change and night comes too early. Reaping time.

With a little hum she prunes away tangled, fuzzy weeds, clearing the way for her furrow, knife-straight and deep.

Loam filters through gloved fingers grasping at the dancing fruit. She snips roots with steel shears, and a reluctant earth gives up its harvest: a soft, fleshy beet of loud red, just silenced.

A box of ice waits to cool the sanguine produce; customers have exacting freshness standards. This is a farm-to-table operation.

She stitches up the body, now forever fallow.

Again, those small little phrases that illuminate everything so clearly: "reaping time" "sanguine produce" "forever fallow"

This is just gorgeous writing.

(5) Calorie Bombshell 10:23pm
Prospective clients are the hardest to impress, he warned.

    So I got rid of the peach fuzz above my upper lip and traded in the rusty Beetle for a Cadillac.

    Still, it’s always the same smirk, roll of the eyes, and irritating question.

    “What’s in the cooler, Mike?”

    More like a lunchbox. Vintage hand-me-down from Dad when I took over his business last month.

    Always be nice and smile, he’d say. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

    So I open it a crack and watch them scramble for their checkbooks.

    Dying for my services. Just like he said they’d be.

For all of you literalists out there, this one is going to drive you nutso, cause yes, no one knows what's in the "lunchbox." It's the McGuffin. It's the suitcase from Pulp Fiction.

But even though you don't know what it is, you know what it does.

This is wonderfully fun.

(6) Kathy Ellen Davis 10:32pm
L.T. Was trying to play it cool.
good thing he was a beet.
His face could turn red all it wanted;
no one would notice.
Peach Fuzz was just finishing up;
his one beet band,
Lettuce Turnip, the Beet,
was next.
The whole vegetable kingdom loved
his voice,
his dance moves,
and his upbeat songs.
But this was something new.
This was something he had always wanted to do;
maybe that’s why he was so nervous.
He hit the stage, took a breath, and started.
The papers the next day said
it was the best beat-boxing they’d ever heard.

Oh my god, I laughed out loud on this. "Lettuce Turnip, the Beet"!  "Best Beat Boxing!"

This is just fun. And this weekend, we needed some levity.

Of course it was very hard to choose one entry from all of these terrific finalists. In the end I had to go with the one that was subtle, and a  bit humorous, and very definitely something not seen here before.

The winner is (2) Almitra Clay 5:19pm.

Almitra, if you'll email me with your preferred mailing address, and a list of the kinds of books you like to read we'll get your prize in the mail.

Thank you to everyone who took time to write an entry. It was a lovely bit of normalcy in a very not-normal weekend.

Congratulations to the finalists! Your work amazes and delights me.


Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congratulations, Almitra. And the dragon whines. So fun. Like.

And congratulations to all the others in the long and short listings and the mentionables. I'm glad to have created a great sentence.

And LynnRodz...yours really hit me in the heart.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats Almitra, (oh my), love it.

Kdjames, how wonderful, we got to read your heart.

This is the first time, in a long time, I was not able to enter - job and family. Missed using my writing mind.

Congrats to all mentions and finalists. Like Arnold said, "I'll be back."

S.D.King said...

Great job, Almitra!

And thanks to. Colin for the winner spreadsheet.

The first time I stumbled on this site was a Friday. I had never heard of flash fiction. Sounded fun. Won.

Spoiled me forever, and still gives me hope that some day my longform writing will catch the attention of a kidlit agent.

I think of quitting often. Heck I have quit a few times, then Friday rolls around...

Donnaeve said...

Always something inspiring in the entries we see, and the heartfelt ones this weekend were particularly special.

Congrats to Almitra Clay, semi's and mentions!

*Imagine the look on my face at Colin's entry.* I think he just likes my name.

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Almitra! It was a fun read and I could picture the scene so well.

I made the long list, my day is off to a good start. Think I'll have bacon for breakfast.

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Almitra! Loved that it was a dragon.
Also, congratulations to the rest of the short- and long-listers and all the mentions.

Colin Smith said...

OOHHHHHHH!!!! *The Light Comes On*

Here I was thinking, "Illicit Goings On"?? It was supposed to be a sweet little story of a deaf man proposing to a blind girl. What's illicit about that? Or had I written the literary equivalent of the Rorschach test ("And what do you see in this story, Ms. Shark? Mmmm... uh-huh... veeeery interesting...") No offense, Ms. Everhart, but Donna was a completely random choice--I wasn't thinking of you at all. I was trying to choose a name that was simple and was a good rhythmic fit. I almost went with Jenna, but we know a Jenna at church, and my wife might have suspected illicit goings on. :) I'll include a disclaimer with the next contest entry: "All names used in this story are of fictitious people and in no way relate to anyone living, dead, or in the comment box." :)

Thanks for the mention, though, Janet. :)

And CONGRATS Almitra!! First time win, if I recall. Well deserved. And another great batch of finalists. Well done to you all!!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Congratulations, Almitra. I love anything with dragons. Some day I am going to have a pet dragon too. I just need an agent to help me take care of it.

Great entries everyone. I was grateful to have this contest to spur me to write this weekend. Paris rattled me right out of my writing bubble. Evil insists on having its say.

Great job everyone.

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats everyone - great entries. Kimber, I knew yours would be a finalist when I read it. Holy crap the building moment of realization that colors that piece is so fantastic! And a shout out to Bree Rossi's entry - what a cool way to tell a story, in twos.

Thanks for the contests, Janet. They give us all an excuse to invent and an opportunity to read each others' work.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Congrats Almitra, I loved Michael's and Lynn's.

Marie McKay said...

Congratulations, Almitra and to all. Delighted to have made the long list. Thank you.

Lucie Witt said...

Congrats, Almitra!

This was my first time entering and geez was it HARD. I hand wrote my first draft, positive it was around 100 words. More like 170. I have always enjoyed the immense talent these contests display, and now that I've entered I have a whole new level of appreciation.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congratulations, everyone!

Almitra - loved this! Now I really want to know more about these characters. :)

Susan said...

Congratulations Almitra and all the finalists and mentions! Well-deserved!

Writer of Wrongs: I have to say, your entry gutted me when I read it. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Everyone's entries were fantastic.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks so much for the special recognition!

Congrats to Almitra (I love dragons), the finalists, and all the mentionables!

Lucie: I usually wind up with 150 or so words. This time, my first draft had 250. That's when you get to whittle away at it like a sculptor, until the true story shines through.

Dena Pawling said...

>>For all of you literalists out there, this one is going to drive you nutso

I'm one of those literalists, and usually there is at least 1, sometimes 2 or more, finalists or mentions that I have no idea what's going on. Y'all are much better writers than I am. But I persevere.

Like Carolynn, life got in the way on this one, and I didn't have time to enter. Congrats to all who entered, and to Almitra for the win!

Lucie Witt said...

It's an EXCELLENT lesson is trusting the reader.

BJ Muntain said...

Dena: Just because someone can write something you don't understand (even if others do) doesn't mean they're any better writers than you are. Different, yes. Better? No.

Lucie: It really is!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Lucie, it is really tough to get a story into 100 words. I think all of us agree on that. It is tough to get a worthy comment into 100 words.

It is a great excercise, however, when revising your own full length work. It helps you evaluate each word, determine what is part of story, what is not.

I try to challenge myself to take a big tale and stuff it into 100 words each week.

I now think of this as my pug writing- the pug dog is described as "multum in parvo", a lot of dog in a small space or in this case a lot of story in few words.

And it's a lot of fun to see what the Reiders do with the prompt words. I ignore them and circle back round to them once I know the story I wish to tell. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not so much.

I bit off more than I could say this week. My daughter's closest childhood friend's little brother died seven years ago today and I wanted to tell his story. I wanted to understand how his family survived it. I still have to fight tears whenever I think of it so it was cathartic to write but it didn't work in 100 words. At least not the words I used.

Colin Smith said...

BJ is absolutely right. Your style might not be one that always resonates with the Shark, but that doesn't mean you're not a great writer.

If there's one thing we should take away from these contests it's how subjective this industry is. Getting a nod of approval from Janet, a well-respected NY literary agent, is a big deal. But I would bet money that there are entries that didn't make the cut with her that would have been finalists, or winners, if a different agent was judging.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Almitra and the other mentions. Always fun.

Karen McCoy said...

Congratulations Almitra! Definitely my favorite kind of fantasy to read. Put me in mind of Terry Pratchett.

Like Marie, I'm grateful to be on the long list, and counted among such amazing writers. Especially Calorie Bombshell. Missed the Pulp Fiction reference, but the story was so beautifully rendered that I knew it make the short list all the same.

Thank you all--these contests are necessary salve within the world's madness. Praying for all in France, and around the globe.

Unknown said...

Congrats everyone! This was my first time entering and I had so much fun, both writing my entry and then reading everyone else's. :) Can't wait to join y'all again!

Colin Smith said...


A couple of people have noted that this weekend's contest was their first (YAY! Good for you!!!). Since you have officially un-lurked yourselves, if you are not on the List of blog readers and their blogs and would like to be, please email me (my address is in my Blogger profile) with a link to your social media home (whether a blog, facebook page, instagram page, twitter account--whatever) and I'll be happy to add you. The only caveat to this is Janet's rule about linking: No links to pages whose purpose is to increase someone's bank account or naughty bits. :)


Dena Pawling said...

Thanks BJ and Colin. Sometimes I think my writing sucks. Other times I think it's y'all's [wow a word with two apostrophes] writing must suck because I don't get it.

Trusting your reader definitely does not apply to me. I'm not trustworthy =)

I think I'll flip it, like you suggest. I'm just not writing for those readers who get the subtle stuff. I'm writing for those who don't.

Calorie Bombshell said...

Congrats to Almitra (great name). Loved the story! I had a very vivid image in my head when I read it. That's the hallmark of great writing (IMHO).

Thanks for the shout out, Janet. Yes, I decided to include a MacGuffin - my first - in the story. Saw a bit of Pulp Fiction on tv awhile back and thought the cooler would be a good substitute for a briefcase. Of course, in a cooler, one can keep things on ice. :-)

Karen McCoy - what a lovely compliment. You made my Monday!

Congrats to all mentions, long and short-listers.

Melissa Guernsey said...

Congratulations, Almitra!

Nice work everyone! I love the glimpses into everyone's imagination.

Leigh Caron said...

Congrats to Almitra and all who were finalists and mentioned.
Thank you,
Janet for this fun contest and smiling at my "line".

Anonymous said...

Dragons? YES! Congrats Almitra, nice job. Congrats to all the finalists and mentions.

Although I couldn't enter this one, I enjoyed reading all the entries. Great job everyone.

french sojourn said...

Congrats Almitra. Wonderful tail!

Another fun contest, congrats all. Thanks for hosting the ffc.

cheers hank

Janice Grinyer said...

I absolutely loved the Dragon/caretaker relationship in your story, Almitra! You could see the spring cleaning going on, the muttering, the whine LOL Perfect! And definitely deserves the win!

Congrats to the notables, the long and short lists (Michael, loved the imaging going on in yours!)

My entry was selfish - I had anger to work out, and I just went with it. Probably not a good idea. Oh well.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Given my predilection for playing Dungeons and Dragons several days a week (well, okay, the version we're using is Pathfinder), and my love for fantasy, Almitra's entry thrilled me and I was super happy to see the win.

I also appreciate the mention! I don't feel I fully realized what I had going on in my head, but I guess enough of it came across. Due to my recent health stuff, had a tremendous hole where my writing used to happen, so struggling back to it (like,it'll be a miracle if I both participate in and complete NaNoWriMo this year, my first non participation/non win since 2009).

Anybody here anime fans? This entry put me in mind of Cowboy Bebop, specifically the (I think?) 11th episode, Toys in the Attic.

Kimber said...

Congrats, everyone! I am a longtime lurker who entered for the first time last week. It was so fun, I had to do it again. I loved reading all the entries. So many ways to use the same few words!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Absolutely adore the finalists' entries. Amazing how much can be said with so few words. Powerful stuff. :)

Craig F said...

Congratulations all around. Some spectacular work for the odd list of words and the timing.

I think Hank should have gotten some recognition too though.

LynnRodz said...

Congratulations to Almitra, fun story. And congrats to the other finalists, mentions and everyone who entered. I, too, loved Hank's and Julie F's entries.

I appreciate Dena's comment, as well. There are times when I don't quite get what a story is about. It's good to know I'm not alone.

Hubby and I scooted around Paris today. It was great to see people, young and old, out and about. Then I came home this evening and opened up Janet's blog and did a double take. It's been awhile since I've made the finals and it was la cerise sur le g√Ęteau to a lovely day. Thank you, Janet, Lisa and Angie for your kind words.

nightsmusic said...

Congrats to Almitra and everyone else who can manage to get these on 'paper.' I've only managed once because I keep thinking I can never compete here. Way too many wonderful voices and you all have them. I do love reading all the entries though. :)

Cindy C said...

Congratulations Almintra and everyone else mentioned. How nice to have all these great stories to read on a weekend that definitely needed some beauty and fun.

AJ Blythe said...

Congratulations, Almitra. As always I'm in awe of everyone who entered. I've only ever entered a couple of times. Every contest I write something but always make a mistake of reading the entries that are there first... and chicken out posting mine. Will try to post first, read after in the future!

nightsmusic said...

@AJ Blythe

That would be exactly the same reason I don't ever post mine. I read through all the brilliant entries and then mine and think,

Colin Smith said...

AJ/nightsmusic: I learned the trick of posting before reading a long time ago. It can be hard resisting a peek, but I know if I did, I'd second-guess myself, or chicken out. :)

Craig: You and Lynn just gave Hank recognition! Don't underestimate the value of your commendations. Granted, it's not a QOTKU-nod, but she has said herself how hard it is to pick finalists and winners. I'm sure Hank appreciates your praise. :)

french sojourn said...

Wow, so kind of you, Craig and Lynn. I don't often try poetry, but I felt like I was bending words with an odd tempo.
Thank you for your kind words. And as usual Colin you are right. I really felt humbled for the shout outs.

So much great writing this week.

Cheers Hank

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

@nightsmusic: awww, don't think that way! Post your entries, please? You can both admire the brilliance of others and achieve your own.

Unknown said...

Congratulations to the finalists and the winner.

LynnRodz said...

AJ and Nightmusic, I feel that way every week. Last week I was so blown away by many of the entries, I told myself I should just stop posting. And then this week, I couldn't concentrate on my WIP after what happened Friday, I stayed up until 4 am watching the news channels.

Saturday, I decided to work on the contest to take my mind off everything. I definitely didn't want to write about what was happening here in Paris, but I loved all the entries from everyone who did. And like both of you, after I finished my story, I wasn't going to post it, but decided to anyway.

All that to say, don't give up, post your stories because you never know.

Unknown said...

Congrats to everyone who entered.
Almitria & all within short list, loved all your entries.

I make a point of NOT reading anything before I post because it's too difficult for me to think like 'me' when I read so many awesome and amazing entries. However, after the fact, I try to read most, if not all, for the pure pleasure of reading.

Glad to have made it to the longlist of finalist's - always a 'woohoo' moment when I see my name in the list :)

And Janet, I'm sure this has been said before, regardless, I have been entering your flash fiction off/on for a while now and have had mentions every so often. I'm very grateful for that, but what I'm more grateful for, is discovering how to create a short story (or not-quite-a-story-but) with only 100 words. This has helped me so much in my overall writing. Aside from being fun, it's been one of the best lessons in restraint & 'less is more' - so thank you for holding them as often as you do :)

nightsmusic said...

This is my third post for today (chatty!) but a big part too of why it's hard for me to post is, beside the fact that I am the lowly rung in a group of brilliance, I've gotten to know most of you a bit and with that, the anonymity of me has disappeared a bit. I'm not being read by people I may never meet again (book readers come to mind) but by those I interact with on a semi-daily basis. It makes it all that much more personal. Except for my two crit partners, no one else really sees my work. At least not anyone I know. So this here? Very hard for me.

Anonymous said...

Janet, thank you for that mention. I'd written a really rough draft of something else, before the news, but when I went to edit, I just couldn't. And then five minutes later I had that and decided to just post it even though I'd made no attempt whatsoever to make it a story.

Almitra, congrats! Count me among those who had no idea what your story was about, although I had a hard time reading so many of these (too emotional) and had started to skim. Now that I know, it's simply delightful.

Hank, I loved your poem. It was beautiful and the rhythm was so well done.

I just want to shake some of you for saying you can't post stories because you think you aren't "good enough." And then give you a hug. Every time you write a comment, that's sharing your writing. These stories are merely another format. Yes, it's hard to make yourself vulnerable. Really hard. But there's value in doing it that you can't even imagine until you've done it. What is that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt? "You must do the thing you think you can not do."

There are more than enough people in the world who will try to silence you or reject your work or simply ignore it. Don't do it to yourself. Really. Stop it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, look at that! Blogger finally posted my name the way I entered it.

Lance said...

Congratulations, Almitra! Great, great story. I would never be able to post if I read any other entry first. Just go with it. Thank you, Ms. Janet, for another educational and inspiring contest.

John Frain said...

Almitra, well done! I confess: I missed it on my first read-through. I always enter so late (edit, edit, edit) that when I get around to reading all the entries at 4 in the morning I start to lose track of things. I need to only read a few at a time.

EM, I tried to follow after your story from last week and make mine about a Nazi hunter chasing your guard from the station. So thanks for the intro. Had never done something like that before and I enjoyed the challenge of it. (You're story last week was so moving, I didn't want it to end.)

AJ Blythe said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Colin and Lynn. Next contest I will do my very best to not read any entries so I actually post mine. If I could work out the time in Aussie I'd try and be the first to post!

Unknown said...

Congrats, everyone!
I love reading all the entries and trying to make a story out of 100 words. I have to admit, I will probably never write something crime related; I'm a picture book author and the goofy and ridiculous is much more my style! I love the challenge as a way to stretch my author brain and play around with things.

I've already got a picture book story now in the works about L.T.
I literally cheered when I saw I was in the finalists!
Thanks Janet for hosting the contests and thanks everyone for your awesome entries. I'm glad I stumbled upon this blog; now it's one of my favorite ones to read!

Eve Messenger said...

Congratulations, Almitra, what a beautifully written piece. I loved LynnRodz's story, too.

Unknown said...

I. . . won?

Uh. Brain rebooting now.

Thank you for the fun contest! Thank you for all the nice comments! I had fun reading all of the entries!

JAZ said...

Hey, congratulations, Almitra. Ah, the scent of jerky, the slender tooth...atmospheric and evocative. Love that dragon. Nice work.