Monday, January 18, 2016

Flash fiction writing results

Another terrific writing contest, and lots of new names on the list!

A LOT of  you got tripped up with diddy, which is not the same as ditty.
Ditty is a short, simple song.
Diddy is not.
You can use diddy any way you want, but when it's clear that you're using it to mean ditty, that knocked the entry out of consideration.

Same with failing to use the prompt words.

And some of these otherwise good stories were too elliptical for me to understand. I love subtle and I don't mind having to work for the ending, but I have to understand the story for it to qualify for recognition.

Herewith the results:

Not quite a story, but holy moly what an idea!
Kregger 10:11am

Not quite a story, but I love how subtle that last line is!
SiSi 10:13am

Not quite a story, but hauntingly lovely
Colin Smith 10:16am

I wonder how the Yelp reviews are?
Dena Pawling 10:31am
"I owe my master chef distinction to Scatological Cuisine 101."

Dee Blacks 6:31pm

Here are the finalists:

Timothy Lowe 10:20am
A splendid dying sun hovered on the horizon as the turboprop went down. Later, two men slipped unscathed from the wreck.

“Fuck,” Lester said.

“Not on the first date,” Jez replied.

They stared at the plane. Riggio was going to kill them.

“Riggio’s going to kill us,” Lester said.

“He won’t know,” Jez said.

“How the fuck is he not going to know?” Lester spat. “It’s a fucking Soloy Pathfinder loaded with blow.”

Jez laid his piece against Lester’s nape. He’d drained the coolant in Carson City. In the distance, a rumbling of trucks.

“We’re burying you in it.”

For starters, this is an amazing use of prompt words. And I love the echoed line about Riggio. There's a certain bravado in repeating a line in a piece that only allows 100 words total.

Luciakaku 10:26am
“You’re such a scat.”

“Stop saying that. It doesn’t mean what you think it does.”

“It’s short for scaredy cat.”

“It’s really not.”

“Then what’s it—?”


“That’s her ringtone.”

“She listens to P Diddy? Never mind.”

“We are a-go. Hashtag boob operation.”

“Sometimes, I wonder why we’re friends.”

“Wait, shit, my phone makes a noise when I snap a photo. What if she hears it?”

“Run. Okay, ready?”



“You’re on my foot! Okay. Shhh.... Got it! ...Oh gross. Where’s the brain bleach?”


“Not cool. This is not a drill!”

“Gimme that. ...Oh. Oh God. DAD?!”

What I love about this is you're not really sure what's going on, but you can feel the energy roll off this story. This is verve and voice.

Matthew Wuertz 10:29am
>begin transmission

>this is orion three


>audio communications are out

>something snapped in the circuitry

>stuck with text transmissions

>at least voice recognition works

>mostly write

>some typos

>looking around now

>ship parts scattered in orbit

>something bopped us

>sams dead

>im hurt

>this is oscar

>anyone reading this send help

>bio samples missing

>coolant leaked from the containers

>no not coolant

>like drops of blue oil

>what were those samples

>wish I could ask sam

>corridors a mess

>this isnt right


>diddy go

>doesnt make sense

>what was that


>your not sam



>end transmission

I love the "diddy" use here cause it fits in so well with the story's vernacular of text-speak. And telling a story, not just in fewer than 100 words, but in texts is a real achievement. And "Your not sam" just might be one of the scariest lines ever! And then "no" "no" is just a perfect, elegant ending. Is the hair on the back of your neck standing up? Mine is!

kdjames 10:30am
"Did Dylan's cats make off with a cool million, loyalty lost like Little Bo Peep's sheep, while the rest of us napped?"

"Naw, boss, them boys just runnin' late."

"It's been three hours. Where are they?"

"Well, the job is down by the wharf."

"What's that got to do with it?"

"You know what they say--"

"The thing about herding cats?"

"No, the other thing."


"Straight flush beats a full house, but for cats, a strait flush with fish beats a warehouse full of a million unopened 'frigerated tins of caviar."

"Christ. Hollywood's right, never work with animals."

I'm STILL laughing.

InkStainedWretch WENCH**2:15pm

    The latest sighting came from Oman, so Little Bo Peep booked a flight to Muscat. On landing, jet lag disoriented her. Did Dylan say he'd meet her at baggage claim, or outside the terminal? Had he even awakened from his nap?

    She stepped outside into the cool breeze, and there he was! With his shepherd's crook and flashing grin, he herded her lost flock up to the curb.

    “Oh!” she cried. “You found them! Let me see if they're all here...


I read this, then the light dawned!
This just cracked me up completely.
I love how elegantly it leads to the unspoken punch line.

**yes, I got the name wrong. Yes, I am an idiot who should be flogged with a wet noodle.

Sara Halle 6:23pm
After Anonymous outed me, it was tough. No more stops at Dunkin' for a Coolatta because everyone had a glib opinion about my job.

I did dye my hair, but it wasn't enough for a new secret identity. And even with a kryptonite scalpel, plastic surgery wouldn't work — I heal too quickly.

When things got so bad that Lois walked out, I snapped. Yes, my rage-induced global earthquake was catastrophic. But now everyone on the planet has it out for me.

It's said people get the heroes they deserve. Well, after today humanity won't have a hero at all.

I love the phrase "glib opinion about my job."
And I love how only two words tell us everything we need to know.

Mark Thurber 4:38am
Hey, diddle, diddy,
The spoon looked so pretty,
The dish was entranced by her polish.
But his passion soon cooled,
With the fork the dish fooled,
And the spoon was left feeling quite smallish.

Hey, diddle, doodat,
The dog was a cool cat,
Whose musical taste was bebop.
He scatted so high
As he watched the cow fly,
Attempting the Fosbury Flop.

Hey, diddle, payback,
The cow found a drawback
Of being less athlete than cudder.
In a snap she hit earth
And enhanced the dog’s mirth
By impaling the dish on an udder

Ya gotta love a story in verse AND  one that invents "cudder" to rhyme with udder.
Plus of course you have to know the nursery rhyme and I always like things that require the reader to bring something to the story.

Stephen G Parks 8:24am
He called us the scatterlings of Africa,
children of the ultimate Diaspora.

He read from the book of the survived:

Everywhere they’d taken us, we had thrived.

We weathered every storm, every freezing snap;
even contaminated cooler crap.
We stood on the shoulders of giants
(and other parts, we ain’t lyin’)

We went into the dark
Saw the loneliness that Diddy fear’d.
We rode rockets to the stars;
inhabiting places irrevocably queer’d.

We embraced our destiny
despite Diddy’s implore.
We traded disease, pestilence, even death
to win that war.

We are the mother-bopping cockroaches,
and we ain’t mortal no more

I thought paper towels POV was the weirdest thing ever last week, but cockroaches? Considering how much time I spend making sure these little buggers don't live under my roof, this entry is just ... I don't exactly know. It's not quite a story, but it really does have a narrative.

These contests are so subjective I sometimes feel bad for y'all. Some weeks the really scary stories appeal to me the most; other weeks it's the subtle elegance.

And some weeks it's the funny ones. This is one of those weeks. I needed a laugh. Hell, we ALL needed a laugh this week.

The winner is the one the one that made me laugh every time I read it over the course of the day: InkStainedWretch. Wench

Miss Wretch Wench if you'll email me with your preferred mailing address and name, and what kinds of books you like to read, we'll send you a prize. One guaranteed not to put you to sleep!

Congrats to all who entered!
I promise: no more diddy!


angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

It must have been hard to choose. Congratulations Inkstainedwretch. My brain always read your name as inkstainedwench. That's my dyslexia and no comment on your name.

All of the chosen entries were my favorites when I read through them yesterday. Congratulations to all mentioned.

Thank you QOTKU for hosting these flash fiction contests. Thank you for the precious comments you leave after each one.

Today's my birthday. I got an iphone and the first thing I'm going to do is download kindle and books.

Lucie Witt said...

Congrats to this week's winner! Your entry cracked me up as well.

Happy MLK day to everyone. Apparently at school my son learned the "I have a Dream Speech," but in rap form. For some reason this made me think of this week's writing contest.

My best friend's grandma went by Diddy. Between her and the former Puff Daddy, I've always thought of it was a name!

Donnaeve said...

Angie, I don't think it was your dyslexia. I almost started to email QOTKU to tell her it's WENCH! Not WRETCH! I'm thinking there's been a name change - that - or I too am dyslexic and never knew.

Congrats to Wretch! Congrats to the other finalists and mentions!

Okay, so I said I'd picked out eight that I liked - that was one of them. I'll go ahead and tell the rest just b/c another FF entrant might like that I liked theirs!

Dee Blacks
Michael Seese
John Frain
and of course InkStainedWretch

I have to admit diddy and bop, now we know as diddybop, threw me a curveball. I just can't write humor. I've tried. The brain doesn't want to go in that direction no matter how much I try to push her. Maybe that's my 2016 challenge. Write one FF entry (I think I could only commit to one)that's funny.

Donnaeve said...

Clarification - not that diddybop = humor, but honestly with a word like that (used correctly) it either would have had to be music or humor.

nightsmusic said...

Congrats, Wretch! Your entry made me laugh out loud. Every time I read it. I thought it was brilliant because; sheep! counting!

Donnaeve, thank you. I used to sing Little Bunny Foo-Foo to my girls to get them to sleep. I know, twisted. We'd sing it in the car too, so it just popped up.

I failed to mention yesterday that I really like Matt's header!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations InkStainedWretch! You made me laugh too.

My first time to enter. I'm the first to admit mine wasn't very good, but it's the first fiction I've written in nearly two years. Suddenly, I remember how much fun it is to make things up! Thanks for the opportunity.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Those prompt words... Job well done Inkstainedwench and other mentions. This was a stretch for our creative muscles. I bow to those who made their stories sing so sweetly to QOTKU.

I am living Matt's sub-header so congrats on this. All first drafts are crap. And most second drafts. Just the way it is. Editing, revision are simply part of the process.

It's too cold in my neck of the woods. And there's no snow. If it's going to freeze, there ought to be snow to cover all the bleary dying foliage. Dreams of Spring and catching an agent by the toe must sustain me. Now step 1 - coffee.

french sojourn said...

Wonderful entries, and a most deserving winner. Congrats to all that entered.

I guess I can add diddy to the list that straightens my neck hairs...decimate, irregardless, et cetera.

Way to go Wretch....I always read it as wench as well...must be my aixelsyd?

Cheers Hank

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Obscurity and diddy/ditty doo doo. Oh well.
Writing is hard when you're trying to act smarter than the smart-ass you think you already are.

Congrats Wretch. Love it.

OT and not to be political but:
I can't believe MLK has been gone almost 50 years. It was one of those, (I remember exactly where I was when I heard), moments. I thought the world had gone crazy back then. I was right and it still is but it's all we have boys and girls. Bebop that.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh Angie, Happy Birthday.
May all your birthday candles not burn down the house :)

Steve Forti said...

Congrats to the wenchy Wretch! A very funny entry. I was rather partial to Matthew's, as well.

Just Jan said...

Congratulations to InkStainedWretch for a very fun entry! These words were evil, but at least their origin was well explained in yesterday's WIR so it wasn't just random torture.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I loved Matthew's entry when I did my readthrough attempt on Sunday morning (I don't think I got 'em all), and the Wretch's definitely got a laugh out of me. Congrats folks!

All weekend, that "Doo wa diddy" song has been in my head. It didn't influence my particular entry; lord knows why Chernobyl surfaces in my brain when it does. But there you have it.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wretch not wench! Ugh! My pre-caffeinated brain read that so wrong. My apologies InkStainedWretch.

Back under my Rock of Revisions I go.

Donnaeve said...

And I would be remiss not to say HAPPY B'DAY ANGIE! And I would also be remiss in not saying I liked Colin's entry too - but I was only picking out stories...still very lovely, Colin!

Now off to Raleigh - and I'll have to catch up tonight when I'm home!

Have a good day, ya'11!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

And Happy Birthday, Angie. Let there be cake.

Dena Pawling said...

I got a mention! Happy dance!

And presumably, long lines of dinner crowds waiting for hours is better than Yelp reviews =)

Congrats Wench [when I read it, it said wench, and a search for wretch doesn't find any hits] and happy bday Angie.

Kregger said...

I'm pretty sure it's Wench, while she may be the other, I prefer my painted women less destitute and more wanton.
Nice use of prompts, Ms.ISW and keep up the good work.
Everyone else, keep plugging away.

Colin Smith said...

YAY! Congrats InkStainedWench!! And well done to the other finalists. Hey, Lucia--look at that! First time entry last week, and now you're a finalist. :D

On the diddy/ditty thing, you realize that to non-American ears, the words sound the same coming from the American tongue? ;)

OK, so I wrote my "story" and immediately knew three things were against me:

1) No-one has ever in the history of the contest won twice in a row. Not that it couldn't happen (Janet has incredible integrity as a judge), but the odds are against.

2) She said she wanted a laugh, and my entry was far from funny.

3) Is it a story? Maybe? Perhaps? Clearly I thought it qualified as one of those "holes in the spider web" kind of things, but clearly not. I've been doing these contests long enough (this was my 57th entry) you'd think I'd know better. But sometimes that line between story and scene is hard to see subjectively.

But I entered anyway, and I'm honored at getting a mention. Thanks, Janet! :)

Oh, and thanks, Donna--glad you liked it. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Congratulations and good work to InkStainedWretch (I, too, keep wanting to see it as InkStainedWench) and to all the mentionables!

Happy birthday, Angie!

Audrey - yours was good. Just because it wasn't one that Janet picked this week didn't mean it wasn't. Keep entering. And it's great that it got you writing again!

Janet Reid said...

This would be funny if it wasn't so damn mortifying.

Ink Stained WENCH is correct.

I got it wrong, wrong, WRONG not once but twice.

I can't believe it took all y'all 2 hours and 50 minutes to email me with the error! C'mon!

Anonymous said...

Holy shit. I did not make finalist on my second entry into these contests. o.o I didn't get any sleep last night. It's delirium, right? Holy shit.


Once again, wonderful entries from everyone. The competition is so stiff, it's an honor to get a mention, let alone how quickly I have. And congratulations to InkStainedWrench (there's so much confusion, might as well throw another ball in the ring)!

InkStainedWench said...

Thank you all for your kind words! And what a great bunch of entries! I'm honored!

And, as you see, it is Wench. Kregger can rest assured that I cheerfully serve flagons of ale at a tavern, rather than huddle in rags outside.

I go by the same nym at Absolute Write, with appropriate gravatar.

Michael Seese said...

@ Donnaeve -- Yes, I appreciate the shout-out.

And it's hard to argue with Janet's choice as the winner. Nice job.

Amy Schaefer said...

Congratulations to all the finalists - what a fun group of entries. I hope everyone chacha-ed through the weekend. And Happy Birthday to Angie!

Anonymous said...

Very nice job to all of you. Happy birthday to Angie!!!

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations Ink and everyone!

Cindy C said...

Great job, everyone! Inkstainedwench, your entry makes me laugh every time. So glad you took time out from serving flagons of ale to write it!

french sojourn said...

Bon anniversaire' Angie.

I hope this is your best year yet.

Cheers Henri'

John Frain said...

W of the InkStain, congratulations. I read your entry and had to immediately go back and read it again knowing I'd enjoy it even more the second time around. And I did. I don't even know who Dylan is (maybe I'm not supposed to?), and I still got such a kick out of the ending. Nicely played!

Audrey Shaffer, welcome back to fiction writing. Have fun!

Happy Birthday, Angie. Can't say it better than Hank: Make it your best year yet!

And thanks, Queen, for the contest. The ONLY diddy I could come up with was the Sean Combs / Puff Daddy / P Diddy / Diddy version. Guy changes names like most of us change shirts. Good times, thank you.

Unknown said...

These are so much fun! But I guess you all have known that for quite a while. I will now forever associate the Arabian Peninsula with sleep-inducing sheep.

InkStainedWench said...


Wrench! lol

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, InkStainedWench! Such tough words as well. Congrats to finalists and mentionables.

Matthew Wuertz said...

Congratulations, InkStainedWench!

Congratulations to other finalists and honorable mentions. :-)

Ms. Reid, thanks for having the contests. They're always enjoyable to participate in. Your comments to me were a huge encouragement for my writing, at a time when I really needed the boost. Thanks.

nightsmusic said...

To InkStained(insert wench, wrench, wretch, wrest), I was once for a long time, also a dispenser of golden beverages of the gods. I often miss that job a lot. Just sayin'

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANGIE! I somehow missed that earlier. And I think that's my three posts for the day.

Cheryl said...

That was a tough one. All I kept coming up with was someone teaching The Name Game poorly, and I couldn't make a story out of it.

I still need to learn the trick of splitting a word up, but I don't quite think that way yet. I'm not devious enough.

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations to all the finalists, and of course to the Ink Stained one.

Colin Smith said...

Cheryl: Even though mine wasn't a story, if it's any help, splitting "diddy" into "did dy--" is what gave me the start for my piece. Try starting with splitting a prompt word and see where it takes you. :)

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats to everyone who entered - such a tough batch of words. I saw it and said, 'crap'. Matthew Wuertz's was definitely one of the most interesting to read. I also enjoyed Claire's little ode to motherhood - something about the husband's line of dialogue made me want to fall over laughing. I also have to say I really enjoyed the Disney Princesses.

So many creative takes on P Diddy and Little BoPeep - Congrats, Inkstain - very funny twist.

Kregger said...

I thought I've seen your moniker over at AW.
Are you the woman from Redd's Apple Ale commercial?
Sorry, gang, about going OT.

Janice Grinyer said...

Congrats InkStainedWench - I enjoyed reading that ending a couple of times over too! *chuckle* It was great!

So once again, congrats to the mentionables, the semis, the finalists - quite a good crew!

Janice Grinyer said...

My second comment to add - Happiest Birthday, Angie! May today (and writing year!) be your best one yet :)

LynnRodz said...

Congrats ISW! When I read your story and KDJ's, I began to hear the Twilight Zone music, doo-do-doo-do. You two were definitely on the same wavelength.

Happy Birthday, Angie!

Unknown said...

What fun! So much goodness. Congrats to all the entries, and ISW for scoring the win.

Audrey, I enjoyed your entry. I look forward to reading many more.

And Colin, my heart skipped a beat when I read yours.

Happy Birthday, Angie!

Janice Grinyer said...

Third and last comment- found this on my FB feed concerning civil rights - "13 significant Books on Civil Rights

Just a heads up on this MLK day :)

RKeelan said...

Congratulations to all the finalists and other mentionables.

My wife and I also particularly liked Claire's entry.

Unknown said...

Janice's link: 13 Books on Civil Rights.

Claire said...

Thanks, Timothy and RKeelan!

Congrats to all the mentions/shortlisted and especially to ISW. I really enjoyed reading all the entries this week.

Unknown said...

I love these contest. Great stories.

John Frain said...

So, lunchtime and I took the opportunity to go back and read some more flash, see what I missed the first time around.

Oh, Sisi, that last line. Delicious! Well, temporarily delicious, if you know what I mean.

If I could finish an entry at a reasonable time, I wouldn't have to read these in the middle of the night and miss so much cleverness.

Congrats again, InkStain. I read yours (yet again) and it was funny (yet again!).

And, confession: To further prove my ignorance, even on second reflection I'm still not sure why Colin's entry isn't a story.

Steve Forti said...

@Claire - count me as another who enjoyed yours. Had to show it to my wife, who definitely related. (Between that and the Shopkins talk, it's like the rest of my day spilling over into this site!)

Okay, got to step up my game next week to earn back that award!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, InkStainedWench. Great humor, yours and Kd's.

And, Happy Birthday, Angie.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations, ISW; you made me laugh and re-read several times too - as did Mark Thurber (that image of being impaled on an udder is priceless!) Well done, everyone, and happy birthday Angie!
And thank you again for these contests, Janet. Your comments are so enlightening!

Karen McCoy said...

Congrats Ink Stained Wench! Your story (and your name) are pure genius.

Congrats also to the finalists and mentions!

These contests put me out of my writing comfort zone and I love it. Thank you!

Sam Hawke said...

Aw, no Steve Fiori award this week Janet? That was all I was really shooting for this time. ;)

Congrats everyone. No way could I think how to use 'diddy'.

I creeped myself out with my gross little story, but now am wondering if it fell into the last line too subtle category... Or just too ewww!

Colin Smith said...

John--and others confused about the "not quite a story" thing--take a look at Michael Seese's winning entry from last November, and Janet's comments:

Scroll down and read Michael's comment on why this is not a "not-story"--it's all about the can. :) Maybe that helps?

Theresa said...

Congratulations, ISW! Very nicely done.

Happy birthday, Angie.

I loved reading through all the entries. Diddy was a great word to be included in the contest.

John Frain said...

Oh my gosh, of course I remember Michael's brilliant story about the high school bus crash. Still haunts. I've re-read it several times since that entry. I can't match it, but I can enjoy it. And I actually understand how it's a story. How the reader fills in the negative space.

Hence, my confusion. I know, you thought you were clearing things up, and I'm only further confused. Feel sorry for me, I have to live with this mind.

Both of your stories are moving and haunting in their own way. And you skillfully require the reader to fill in the blank parts (nice job of doing that, by the way) similar to how Michael did.

However, I get a different sense when I compare the two from a story standpoint. Problem is, I can't explain it. Which means I must not be understanding it. Maybe a walk in the frigid air will help me. Thanks!

Colin Smith said...

John: As I said, I wondered whether mine qualified as a story at first. Clearly I came down on one side, and Janet on the other. I think I understand Janet's reasons. With Michael's, you can reconstruct a story starting at point A and ending at point Z. With mine, that story is a little harder to see. While we may get point Z, where is point A? I thought perhaps the bit in the middle about sitting in the gazebo etc might be point A--what the couple originally planned. But is it really the beginning of a story? Or is it just part of a scene where the MC is reflecting on the situation? I believe Janet thought the latter, which is fair enough. I can see that.

Anonymous said...

I made the shortlist? YES!

I was not expecting that, at all. This entry was so ridiculous, I almost didn't even post it, but I was so pleased to have "Forti-ed" all the words into the first sentence. Not even sure where the rest of it came from, but after I wrote it I shook my head and said, "You did NOT just do that." I figured either people would think it was pretty funny or unbelievably stupid. Wouldn't be the first time.

Thanks, Janet, I'm delighted that it made you laugh.

Congratulations, ISWench! Yours made me laugh too, even though I had to read it twice to get it (it was late, I was tired). Well done.

Happy Birthday, Angie!! Wishing you many more.

Stephen G Parks said...

Hey, so now that the wretch/wench controversy has been resolved, congrats to ISW and everyone else.

Honoured to make the shortlist.

And nice to see lots of new faces, too.

Lance said...

Congratulations to ISW on a great win And to all the entrants giving a shot at be bop a rang doon.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I've had my tea and am rereading through the comments to see what I missed from yesterday. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. I was very quiet about it except for mentioning it here. I'm émue. I gave myself an editing webinar but the iphone was a gift.

Congrats again Wench. I glad it's not wretch.

Steve Forti said...

@kdjames - Well, that's the first time my name has ever been used as a verb. That's... kinda awesome. Glad it's nothing like Britta'd (for you Community fans).

Eve Messenger said...

Congratulations to InkStainedWench and to all the scat-diddy-bop-cool-cat writers this week. Your stories never cease to amaze me.

OnlyTheGoodDieYoung said...

I think all of the short listed entries were sparklingly clever. I couldn't choose between them. I was especially blown away by people's ability to split the words into clever little spreads across sentences. Thank you for the great reading everybody.

OnlyTheGoodDieYoung said...

PS - am I missing something with the 'your not Sam" line? Isn't the word "you're" or is there something there I'm not seeing?