Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Upping the Ante Writing contest results!--finally!

Well, this was an interesting experiment. I think it had too many restrictions though:
1. starting line
2. ending line
3. format required: story
4. prompt words

I think two of those are the max for anything 100 words and under.

That said, there's some darn good work here and some of you really knocked my socks off.

The results were late cause I was reading Ashley Ream's new book The 100-Year-Miracle, and let me just say: yowza!! More on this later; let's get to the stuff you've been waiting for.

Special recognition for an outstanding first line
Timothy Lowe 9:07am
and then she sawed her husband in half.

E.M. Goldsmith 11:07pm
And then she saw the flying monkeys.

Special recognition for outstanding line/s
Michael Seese 9:29am
Margot was in no mood for catechesis.

Jared 3:18pm
Siobhan kissed the woman for a quarter of a second. A dime of a second.

Stephen Spain 8:57am
Daisy wasn’t particular about temperature, but she believed that revenge is a dish best served with style.

Special recognition for a superb turn of phrase
JSF 11:38am
peek over the ledge into gravity's graveyard

This entry just cracked me up completely
Dena Pawling 10:15am

The Duchess of Yowl likes this one very much
Donnaeve 10:47am

Special recognition for innovative form
Kae Ridwyn 5:56pm

Not quite a story, but still, I love these two entries very very much
kdjames 8:56pm
And then she saw that her characters had inspired a writer friend to compose fan fiction. And it was amazing.

Wow! This was huge, unprecedented. A career milestone right up there with getting an agent, or fan mail from prison.

She needed to express her appreciation. But she'd depleted her April word allotment and was running low. Still, she had to try.

"Hat, Kae!"

No, that wasn't right. Think, she thought.

"Splat cat!"

Maybe she should quit while she was ahead.

She sure hoped Kae knew how flattered she was and that, truly, the compliment had stunned her.

Where Theres A Quill 8:52am
“And then she saw Shirley in the park.”

“She sure?”

“By the see-saw.”


“Shirley says she’s been shilling for the Cat long enough, she’ll sell shells wherever she wants.”

“Rubbish! I’m calling a meeting. Grab that Betty girl.”

“Best not bother Betty today...”


“Bit bitter ‘bout buying into Chuck’s butter.”

“Ugh! That new guy chucks his wood everywhere!”

“Drama galore, right? Productivity’s gone ker-splat.”

"I miss the old crew."

"Who exactly?"

"Every Who. And Fox! She’d sock Boss for outsourcing!”

“She wasn’t intimidated by the hat?”

“They dated. Once she got past Boss's green eggs, nothing stunned her.”

Here are the six finalists.

Kitty 9:00am
    “And then she saw Catherine Higgins, Mrs. Platt said, after she hit her with her vehicle,” said the officer.

    “Ms. Higgins said nothing’s broken, it was an accident and she won’t press charges,” said the Chief. “Thank God that sweet old lady was driving slow and doesn’t know Arthur is seeing Ms. Higgins.”

    Later, Arthur told his wife, “That Buick is simply too big. You can’t see over the steering wheel.”

    “I can see just fine.”

    “You need a smaller car.”


    “Yes, Dear?”

    “Stop seeing Catherine or next time I’ll gun that Buick. This time I only stunned her.”

I'm a sucker for an old lady driving a Buick story, most likely cause Granddad was a Buick man. And I do like the little twist that no one expects a little old lady to be lethally aware of her man doing her wrong.

Celia Reaves 1:45pm
"And then she saw it was only the cat!" Maggie smiled at the couple who laughed, waved to the mostly oblivious crowd, and was done.

Backstage, Gabe scrubbed out a cigarette on his plate. "Tough room."

Not really. Maggie knew when she wasn't clicking, and she hated it.

Walking to her car, head down, she didn't notice the figure until he stepped from the shadows. Reflex took over; never let a heckler get the upper hand. "Big gun. Sorry about your dick."

"What are you, a comedian?" Over the gunshot she heard him laugh, and her gratitude stunned her.

It took me a good five seconds to get this one, and that's always a plus. I love the stories that make you think "wait, what??"

And of course the line about the gun is genuinely funny.

Patricia L. Shelton 4:34pm
And then she saw exactly how the trouble had begun, and quite possibly how it would end.

A simple gust of wind.

A hat blown askew.

The red warning light blinking – unseen, unheeded.

The security door ajar.

The isolation room empty.

The white jacketed bodies on the floor.

The outer door open.

The soft splat of the Edward Novitski Prize hitting the wet, sticky floor.

But it was the cat's knowing, angry glare that truly stunned her.

This is another entry that you have to think about to understand.  I googled "Edward Novitski Prize" and that is a big clue. On the other hand the pairing of the first line "how it would end" and the last line "knowing, angry glare" gives a pretty good hint even if you don't google.  

Calorie Bombshell 11:26pm
And then she saw the news. Three dead in a murder-suicide at a Manhattan hotel.

And Tom still hadn’t come home.

Not even his secretary could locate him.

Maybe she pushed too hard for marriage. Children.

He never said so, but signs were everywhere.

Receipts for fine jewelry and lingerie.

Women’s panties stashed under the bed.

His platinum wedding ring tossed among spare change on the dresser
All left for her to see?

“Which one is your husband?” The coroner lifts two sheets.

Those piercing blue eyes. Now fixed and vacant and smudged with mascara. I shouldn’t be stunned.


Did you notice that it goes from third person to first person? "And then she saw the news"/"I shouldn't be stunned"  Because I know this writer's work from previous contest entries, and I have confidence in her writing, I didn't assume this change was a mistake. I looked instead for what it contributed to the story.  This is the kind of small detail that can really lift something from good to excellent, as it does here.

Plus, the juxtaposition of "which one is your husband" and "her" is  just perfect.

Jessica 1:51am
And then she saw a dollar. The bill was stuck to the pavement, glued to the concrete by the morning’s rain. She watched it flutter with hungry eyes. It was close, five steps away, curled away from the sky like a cat’s paw showing its claws. She hesitated, watching the people pass, their steps pounding the ground with wet splats. She almost grabbed it. She watched as a child with a pink hat pick it up and offer it to her mother, beaming. The way the mother snatched the bill and threw it in an awaiting trash can stunned her. 

I stumbled when I read "she watched it flutter with hungry eyes" cause of course it sounds like the dollar bill  has eyes (interesting idea of course.)  Clearly this is something that would have been revised away had the writer had more time.

It's the ending though, that last line, that just grabbed me and wouldn't let me leave this off the list of finalists.

We the reader don't know if our narrator is stunned by the mother throwing away a dollar because it has no value to her, or that she'd throw away something that her child gave her with a big smile.  Both are haunting in their own way.  

Rkeelan 8:35am
And then she saw it. She raced across the linoleum, but the oatmeal was already splattered all over the microwave. It was scathing hot and clung to her hands like napalm.
Fuck. Fuck!
She could already picture his tolerant smile.
Think. Think!
Why could she never find anything in this kitchen?
Toast? No time.
Yogurt? Disgusting.
Cottage cheese? Cancerous yogurt.
Banana! Individually wrapped.
Milk! Pour it in a glass.
She had just enough time left to compose herself.
He lowered his briefcase to the floor. “Mom? What is this?”
She didn’t understand. The dismay on his face stunned her.

This one took a second read as well.  The big clue is "why could she never find anything in this kitchen" and then you really get it with "briefcase"

This is absolutely subtle and elegant writing. 

If I wasn't so late on posting this, I'd mull it over some more and read all the entries again, but at this point it's just past 9am and there's this demanding thing called work, so I'm going to take the easy way out and have two winners this week.

Congrats to both Rkeelan 8:35am and Celia Reaves 1:45pm

Rkeeland and Celia Reaves, if you'll email me (jetreidliterary@gmaildotcom) with your mailing address and what you like to read, we'll get some prizes in the mail to you.

Thanks to all who took the time to enter. It was a lot of fun to read your work!


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

What a talented bunch of scribblers.
Congrats to all.

Kitty said...

Congrats to Rkeelan and Celia Reaves and to all who entered. I didn't expect mine would make the finalist list, so thank you, Janet.

Unknown said...

Congrats to both winners and to all three finalists. Kitty, I was very impressed by your story! I think the thing that is most difficult about flash fiction is finding the perfect balance between saying too much or not enough. A few of you always do this very well. I'm always so impressed by reading these entries!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congrats to all those mentioned and especially to the finalists and winners! Well done!

Steve Forti said...

Congrats winners and finalists! This one was tricky, for sure. That damn closing line was the toughest part.

Unknown said...

Great job, everybody, and congrats, Celia and Rkeelan, for winning with your very cool entries. I really liked the other finalists too, plus found a couple others very striking (e.g. Marie McKays's amazing twist ending and Mike Sheriff's demon creature from the crash).

I enjoyed the twist this week and felt like the stories had a somewhat different character as a result. As usual, the prompt that was "hardest" for me ("stunned her") was also the one that helped me the most in coming up with the story. I'm realizing that this seems to be my "method" insofar as I have one: ruminate on whichever of the prompts is most troublesome.

JD Horn said...


Jared said...

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! And for all who read my entry, thanks for giving my words a chance!

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I love Calorie's entry.

Congrats to Rkeelan.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wow! Way to go Celia and RKeelan. That is quite the accomplishment for even tougher than usual flash fiction contest. Great job to all that entered. This is a talented Reef. Must be something in the water.

Dena Pawling said...

I got a mention! Thanks. With all the talk in the past few weeks about grammar and stuff, I couldn't resist when you gave us a starting phrase that began with AND. Glad I could make you laugh =)

Congrats to all the mentions, finalists, and the two winners! These stories were fun to read. Even though they all started and ended the same, they were all so different.

Timothy Lowe said...

Thanks, Janet, for hosting another fun contest. Challenging for sure. Loved the entries. For some reason, Kregger's resonated with me - reminds me of all the talk about 'negative space'.

Congrats to finalists and winners!

Unknown said...

Congratulations RKeelan - well done, and a little heartbreaking, and to Celia - every stand-up comic out there is nodding knowingly.

Donnaeve said...

As usual, I didn't "get" some of these until QOTKU stepped in. I loved a LOT of these stories. IMO humble opinion (again, coming from someone who didn't get some until NOW), this was a really superb round of writing.

Anyway, congratulations RKeelan and Celia Reaves! Big round of applause to all the mentions and finalists!

And thank you for letting me know I entertained TDoY. We must keep that one happy at all costs!

Lennon Faris said...

These were great! congrats to all.

On risk of sounding dumb, can someone explain Rkeelan's entry? I can tell it's written well, I just don't understand the ending.

Also, I did want to say that Brian Schwartz's palindrome entry made me gasp out loud! I thought it was very powerfully written.

All of these were superb!

Celia Reaves said...

Oh. My. God. The woman who just walked by my office gave me a leery look because my eyes are bugging out and I'm gasping for breath. Out of such a talented, awesome group of writers, I'M A CONTEST WINNER TODAY!

Congratulations to everyone who entered. Rkeeland, yours was amazing. I also loved Calorie Bombshell's stunner, and Where There's a Quill made me read it aloud, giggling.

Okay, fainting now.

BJ Muntain said...

Congrats to Celia and Rkeelan, and to all the finalists and mentionables today - and, really, to everyone who entered.

Lennon: My takeaway from RKeelan's entry is that the woman is suffering from dementia. She couldn't find anything in the kitchen anymore, and she was making breakfast when her son was coming home from work. I felt like hugging the poor lady.

Janet Reid said...

I too liked Brian Schwarz's entry lemme tell ya. In the end though: story.
Interesting form is interesting, but story rules.

Also, I generally deduct points if you have to tell me something about the story for me to get it (ie: this is a palindrome.)

Of course: this is all very subjective as we know from Terri Lynn Coop's
great line: some days it's a cat named Fred.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Rkeelan's entry is absolutely haunting and heartbreaking at the same time. I've read it several times. It is stunning.

So...the essay contest starts when?

Tickets to Carkoon arrive when I hit Enter. Here goes...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Got 'em.

french sojourn said...

Congrats to Rkeelan and Celia; What a wonderful co-win, definitely one for the books. I hope you're both breathing rarefied air. Well done.

Brian: I read yours and checked the contest rules, my Pspell Tzech was way off, as I arrived wearing stilettos to a knife fight, but was impressed you had a flame thrower. I would say your entry was one of the most powerful I've ever read. I shall en devour to be sharper next time.

And to reiterate to Writerofwrongs, congrats on your book deal and your award winning debut book coming out fall 2016 ADRIFT.

Cheers Hank

RKeelan said...

Thank you everyone. This was quite a week for me. I was published for the first time ever (in the Canadian Science Fiction Review, for flash fiction no less) yesterday, and today I co-won my first ever Friday contest.

Congratulations to everyone who entered. It's the calibre of the entrants and past winners that make this contest worth winning.

Lennon Faris, BJ Muntain's explanation of my story is just perfect.

Unknown said...

I liked yours too, Brian. It's a good trick to remember. Next time I am struggling to get under the 100-word limit, just make it a palindrome, and, BOOM, I've got 200 to work with! I'm assuming it went something like that, right?

Marie McKay said...

Thanks very much. I really appreciate it.

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, everyone. I haven't managed to read ALL the stories, but the finalists' and the winners' were great. Thanks, Janet.

Marie McKay said...

Thanks very much. I really appreciate it.

Unknown said...

Aw thank you! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Janet! I quite agree with your finalist selections. They all wrote fantastic stories!

Unknown said...

Lol yup! I'd been wanting to write a palindrome for a while actually and this just seemed like a perfect opportunity. I like breaking the rules (ending with the first line) while still maintaining them. I'm a sucker for a loophole.

Beth H. said...

Contest results days are always the best! I look forward to reading these in more detail later. "Cancerous yogurt" is absolutely brilliant.

Unknown said...

Lol. Well thank you! I appreciate it! :) Its everyone else's countless entries that force me to try to up my own game!

Lennon Faris said...

Thanks, BJ! This makes so much sense now. I read it through again and it actually made me tear up this time. My Grandma (a very sharp woman) is going through this very thing and it is like a punch in the gut when she does things like this. Rkeelan's bit is a very succinct capture of its essence. Give the woman a hug, indeed.

OK, the explanation makes sense, Janet (not that you had to give one, but I do love hearing your thoughts). Always good to learn from the best!

Once again, congrats to all. Loved reading them.

Cindy C said...

Congrats to the co-winners and everyone mentioned. The tough prompt brought out some wonderful writing!

nightsmusic said...

Congratulations to all the entrants and especially the winners. Some stunning entries!

Donnaeve, I'm with you though. To be frank, there are times when some of the entries are just way too over my head, and I'm not a weak reader by any means. However, that said, it was fun reading them all which I've done slowly and with great deliberation in some cases!

Calorie Bombshell said...

It seems my first post is lost in space, so I'll try again...

Celia and Rkeelan - congrats on beautiful writing. Both well-deserved wins! Celia, your new classic "Big gun. Sorry about your dick" had me rolling with laughter. I loved everything about your story. RKeelan - so poignant and haunting. As Janet said - elegant writing.

Janet - the change from 3rd to 1st person was, indeed, intentional. I thought the ending might have more impact that way. I'm glad you liked it.

Celia and Angie - thanks for the kind words about my story. It means a lot to me when someone (aside from my daughter, Juliet, and my cat, Chutney) compliments my writing!

Again congrats to the winners, finalists, and those mentioned. What a great bunch of stories!

Kate Larkindale said...

A great contest as usual. Congrats to all the mentions and to both winners.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations to the winners and finalists. I always feel like such a numbskull that I don't get so many of these stories until they are explained to me. Even then I don't always "get" them.

It's like wearing someone else's glasses and everything is out of focus for my poor wee brain. Regardless, it's always a fun romp.

Amy Schaefer said...

Rkeelan and Celia, your entries were fantastic. People did some amazing stuff within strict guidelines.

Where There's A Quill said...

(This comment has been edited to spare you the original capslock abuse and frivolous exclamation marks).

Oh my gosh. I can't believe I received a mention! Week made. Thank you so much, Janet.

Many congratulations to the winners, finalists, and other mentions! Celia, Rkeelan : As soon as I read your entries, I knew you both had excellent chances at taking the gold. Well-deserved. (And I am glad my entry made you laugh, Celia!)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all who got either a mention or became a finalist. All the stories turned out great. I was just sitting down reading them all and I had a grand old time reading them all.

Anonymous said...

And then there were two! Congratz to you all. I read all the stories, and Janet was right, tons of good stuff this week.

Thanks to everyone, love reading your work.


I swear I didn't mean to do a flashback of DoY's kitten days, but I could't help it. Rules are rules though. If it's not fiction, it doesn't count.


Colin Smith said...

I've been in an all-day meeting, so you've been spared my usual flood of comments. :)

WOOHOOO!!! Congrats to Celia and Rkeelan!! Excellent work. I'll add y'all to the spreadsheet in a bit. This was a toughie, so you should be really proud of yourselves.

And I totally get why Brian went with his wonderful palindrome. With these contests, sometimes you want to play to win, and other times you just want to play. ;)

Thanks for hosting, Janet. You push us hard with these, and they always bring out the best in your readers.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and CONGRATS to all the other finalists and shout-outs. Again, this was a tough contest, so you did awesomely to catch the Shark's eye. :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to both of the winners and the mentioneds. It was fun to read everyone's stories.

So...I wonder what Le Sharque will throw at us for parameters next time she decides to put on a contest! Nothing like whetting our woodland imaginations.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I wasn't expecting that. The L word and two verys. Thank you, Janet, that made my whole week. I wasn't going to enter this time (I truly was brain dead and had used all my words) but I had to respond to Kae's entry. It's funny, sometimes the entries I spend 10 minutes writing are the ones that get a mention.

Congratulations to Celia Reaves and RKeelan! I loved both your entries. Well done.

So many good stories over here again, and such fantastic word play. These contests really bring out the best.

I didn't mind the restrictions this time but have to admit that, reading through them, after about the twentieth occurrence of "And then she saw..." I was ready to never see those words ever again. :)

CynthiaMc said...

Congrats, everyone! Well done.

Lance said...

Hearty congratulations to Celia and RKeelan for amazing fiction. Thank you, Ms. Janet, for the notes and taking the time for these amazing contests. Hey all you mentionables and finalists! Great!

BJ Muntain said...

Someday, in at least a hundred years or so, people are going to look at Terri Lynn Coop's tombstone, and wonder at the writing: Some days it's a cat named Fred.

A classic line that will live in infamy, at least amongst those who KNOW.

Lennon: My Dad was suffering from dementia, too, and it was getting worse in the months before he passed away (to other causes). Give your Grandma a hug from me. She deserves it.

Colin Smith said...

I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in The Treasure Chest to include this week's contest and winners. Congrats again, Celia and RKeelan! :)

RKeelan said...

I guess it's a bit late to point out now, but my name has an extra 'd' in the second-last paragraph:

"RKeeland and Celia Reaves, if you'll email me..."

Janet Reid said...

Always glad to fix a typo!
Thanks for the heads up.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I'm late posting - as per usual! - but congrats, everyone!
I'm not entirely sure what 'innovative form' is, but I'll take it, and maybe even make a badge for it (for my wall) - when I've finished the WIP, of course :) Thank you, Janet!
And I didn't catch yours, RKeelan, when you entered it, but WOW! Stunning writing! You too, Celia :)
And BrianSchwarz, you're inspired me. Like Colin wrote, sometimes you 'want to play', and that's totally what my entry was this contest. But perhaps I'll 'up the ante' with my playing, and try a palindrome. One day! *Kicks self and heads off to start focusing*
Well done, everyone :)

John Frain said...

Great, great stuff.

Celia, that was so exquisite. After the end of your story, I wasn't sure which character I'd like to be. Probably the guy left backstage!

RKeelan, such writing. It sings. At the end, I thought it would get a "but not a story" tag, but I'm batting below the Mendoza Line on that regard and I was wrong again.

Keep writing, y'all. Excellent choices for winners.