Monday, July 04, 2016

The Alot of Books Writing Contest results

You guyz outdid yourselves this week! I started reading the entries and the list of finalists was somewhere around 20! I had to start over and rigorously pare down.

One thing I did notice was that this week there were at least five entries I didn't get. Either they were too subtle, or they required background I didn't have (gaming I think was one of them) or there were typos that changed the meaning of sentences.   If you wonder why your brilliant work didn't make the list, my guess is your entry was one I didn't get.

Herewith the results:

This sentence is so magnificent I had to pause and re-read it just for the sheer joy of it
Steve Forti 9:00am
The sound was piercing, like a litter of kittens trapped in a bean bag tumbling down an up escalator.

And this sentence just took my breath away
Scott G 9:52pm
I am the devil, and I am God, with one flip of the switch.

Not quite a story, but what a great start for a novel:  
abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) 12:04pm

This isn't a story but the writing is just gorgeous
C.L.McCollum 3:31pm
The devil has 100 words for ‘sin’ or so they say. “They” are dead wrong; the big bad never had near that much originality. The seven deadlies are for chumps. So dry, so explicitly sinful. No art at all. No creativity.

Now me? Oh my yes. Sinning slips behind me like a black dress dangling out a closed car door, like a chicken bone in a bag torn open, like saying you love him while leaving your loyal someone else at home. Such sins are mine alone.

Want simple? See old Lucifer. Want extraordinary? Let Mama Lilith sin you free.
this phrase from LeahB just cracked me up:

This might just be the creepiest entry ever. In fact, I may never recover. (in other words, damn good writing)
Steph Ellis 5:56pm

His refle
xes had slowed, every impulse succumbing to the cold. Slaughtered carcasses kept him company, blood congealing on bone.

“You’ll go to Hell in a handcart,” his mum had said.

It had taken her
100 minutes to die; he’d counted every one. The police thought she’d slipped on the stairs. How long would he take?

Beaten and imprisoned all for a stupid debt.

“And she was right you know,” said a voice, “although the Devil’s discarded the handcart, preferring something a bit more … compact.”

Luke stared at the ice box. Behind him an electric saw whirred into life.

This isn't a story, but I love it with a passion
John Davis Frain 1:48am
She started in Vaudeville. “Disappearing nightly,” she’d say. Cinema arrived, and absent the talent of Mae West or Groucho Marx, she departed.

A Red Cross nurse, she was ribboned for saving thirty-two Yanks one night in Nazi-occupied France. “They were soldiers, and young.”

She returned home after the 91st Evacuation Hospital. Raised four successful daughters. “My most delightful chore.”

Making ends meet proved slippery until she invented bottle caps that preserved beverages. “Pepsi purchased the patent.”

Today, her 100th birthday, her youngest, Elizabeth, said, “Mama … you must write your memoir.”

“Oh, dear.” She blushed. “I’d have nothing to say.”

This isn't quite a story but something from the POV of an iPhone just makes me happy!
LynnRodz 8:54am
I may be little, but I see things: good, evil, sex...everything. I prefer the happy times when everyone's smiling, dancing, laughing, but I'm there for the tears and the crying as well.

I may be little, but she trust me. Yesterday in bed, today bones and toys for her beloved dog, 100s of memories I keep locked inside me.

I may be little and she trust me, but I can only see so much with my one eye, but don't worry — I see things. Well...I see things until she slips me back into her bag.

These are the entries that made the long list.

Cynthia Mc 9:10am
Peggy Rothschild 11:57am
Rkeelan 10:05pm
Julie 10:25am
CarolynnWith2Ns 3:31pm
Steven D 11:34pm
Sara Halle 11:50pm
Robert Ceres 11:56pm
Nate Wilson 12:35am
AJ Blythe 4:18am
Mark Thurber 8:24am
Rhen Wilson 8:25am

These are the finalists.

Clinton Greaves 9:11am

    “The bone will need time to heal.”

    The doctor looked at me, kept his face from slipping into a tight smile. My husband sighed. “100 dollars?”

    “Sign by the X.” Uninsured, dysfunctional—the doctor’s disdain for us was palpable. I could see in his eyes that though he didn’t typically deal with cases of abuse, he knew multiple injuries at different stages of healing were a hallmark. His chart likely mentioned the black eye just now turning bumblebee-yellow.

    “I’m sorry,” my husband told me.

    Devil I am, I let him apologize.

    He swallowed and shifted his arm in its sling.

By now of course you know I'm a sucker for a good twist in a short piece. This one has that. We've come to expect that domestic violence is perpetrated by husbands on wives. The last sentence turns those assumptions upside down.

What makes this brilliant though is the penultimate sentence: Devil I am, I let him apologize.  It casts the whole story in a new light, a much more sinister light.

This is wonderfully subtle writing.

Curt David 9:15am
“Losing today, my dangling participle will be the only thing Scotty-too-haughty remembers.”

The crowd went wild. Grammar-offs in the streets can be vicious. And Scotty’s rival Big Diction just scored some major examplar-innuendo points.

“Shall we call you ‘Evil Big Diction’? Or maybe ‘Libido Evicting’? Or how about ‘Iconit Big Devil’?”

The crowd groaned. Scotty’s one-letter mistake cost him the anagram points he was counting on.

“Gazabo? Nemertean? Which art thou?”

Damn iambic pentameter. The crowd roared. Scotty’s lips quivered. He would need at least 100 points on his last round. Impossible. Unless.

“Youay endyay entencessay inyay epositionspray, itchbay.” 

 You had me at "grammar-offs in the streets." This entry just cracked me up. It's hilarious and fresh and new.

Lennon Faris 9:49am
Patient: Scarlet, 3-year-old female Labrador
Appointment: limping, ‘smells bad’
Days since first noticed: several, client very busy
Exam: fractured limb, metatarsal bone exposed, maggots
Veterinarian’s optimism that people are basically good, just uneducated: slipping
Prognosis: good with amputation
Client comments: expensive, euthanize
Client vehicle: Lamborghini
Estimated evilness of client: 95%
Discussion involving responsibility, rehoming, inappropriate situation to euthanize: >1 hour
Client’s displeasure: expected
Client’s concealed weapon: unexpected
Defense using oxygen tank to club client: reasonable
Fracture of client’s leg in skirmish: ironic
Accidental nature of sustained fracture: undetermined
Police notified: after appointments, full schedule, staff very busy
Scarlet’s recovery: 100%

I'm also a sucker for unusual form, and this of course with the terse list is just that.
The story is revealed in jabs; punches to the gut.
And it's a GREAT story. Revenge! Dogs! Justice!
In other words, everything anyone could want.

Megan V 9:03pm
Codename: 100
Mission: Rescue 99 from Hell Hall.
Strategy: Slip in, hit the henchmen, track the target, and free the friendlies.
Target: De Vil, the murderess and mistress of camouflage.

Cool, crisp night. The dilapidated mansion bathes in moonlight. I slink through the shambles of a parlor, while my partner 101 plays decoy. 101 lures the men the way she once lured me—perfectly.
I corner De Vil.
The target crosses her arms.
HQ says we should throw the bitch a bone, but I’m not here to fetch her for a bobby. This time, X marks the spots.
I lunge.

And 101 Dalmations is one of the iconic movies of my misspent youth, lounging in darkened cinemas when I should have been doing physics homework.

What elevates this is "The target crosses her arms" and then "X marks the spots." A lovely layered piece of writing that makes me happy.

Plus of course, henchmen!

SiSi 12:34am
“X-Women, assemble.” She wears pink bunny slippers with her pajamas, a blue towel tied around her neck.

“Not now, honey. Aunt Dana needs to rest.”

“But mom, we have to assemble to chase away the bad evil people. Say ‘Begone and stay gone for fear of the X-Women’ 100 times.”

“Let’s just say it 10 times, okay?”

A dramatic sigh. “Okay.”

They chant the line. She grabs me in a bone-crushing hug, careful to avoid my broken arm.

“You’re safe now, Aunt Dana.”

My swollen mouth hurts, but I smile anyway. “I feel safe now.”

I don’t think I’m lying.

It's that last line that twists this story from good to wonderful. "I don't think I'm lying" is so much more subtle and evocative than the certainty of either "I'm not lying" or "I'm lying."

Brigid 2:39am

1. Domestic disturbance
2. Spontaneous abortion
3. Last straw
4. Last meal
5. Just desserts
6. Devil in the details
7. Accidental death: anaphylaxis
8. Cool as a cucumber
9. Slip of the tongue
10. 0800 Police inquiry
11. Dog on a bone
12. Inconclusive evidence
13. Case closed
14. Award-winning recipe
15. Happily ever after

It's always interesting how an unusual form can appear in different entries. It's akin to two scientists reaching the same conclusion on a new theory or invention when they're working separately.  (It's called simultaneous invention)

The beauty of this is the story revealed in just quick little phrases.
Very elegant spare story telling.

Jeffrey Schaefer 8:58am
“You’re doing it wrong,” E said slipping ahead. 
X gritted his teeth. He hated vowels down to his cross-legged bones. “Tyrant.”

“What was that?” Of course, Alpha had heard him.

That was the problem. Vowels were everywhere. They knew all X’s plans to expel them from power. If Orwell had wanted to study a police-state he only needed to have glanced at his typewriter.

Double-U, H and Wye had served a 100 years for their unauthorized get together.


X glanced over his shoulder.

Q held out a piece of paper.

Unfolding it, X cracked a devilish smile.

This is hilarious all the way from concept to execution. This line If Orwell had wanted to study a police-state he only needed to have glanced at his typewriter is just brilliant.

And the ending was the perfect note.

french sojourn 8:42am
“Boilermaker,” he said, sitting down next to me.

“Sure thing, don’t mind that fella next to you, he just lost his wife.”

“Fuck you Ned,” I said.

Ned bit his lip, and served the fella his boilermaker.

“I tell yah, the devils never dealt me a square hand since before I was a kid. Worked my fingers to the bone,” I said, draining the last of my Springbank 100 proof Scotch. I nodded for another.

“Let me get that, you lost your wife.”


“How’d ya lose her?”

“Fucker showed a pair of sixes, and I had a full boat.”

This reminds me of the wonderful title I Still Miss My Man ... but my aim is getting better by Sarah Shankman. (It's also a terrific book)

Now, what makes this entry interesting is that a full boat outranks a pair of sixes, so we're left wondering about the rest of the cards in the hand.

I had to read these several times and really think about the entries, but in the end I just had to go with Curt David 9:15am

Thanks to all of you who entered. It was a truly amazing display of story telling this week!


CynthiaMc said...

Congrats, Curt! Well done! I loved that one.

Congrats to all the other mentions! Woo hoo!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to Curt David. And to all the others mentioned. So many ooohs and aaaahs and eeeeks. And so helpful when Janet separates out so that I read more slowly, and go back to read again after her comments.

And kudos to the Shark for completing this over a July 4th weekend.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats Curt. Great job.

If there were a second place I'd give to Lennon. Loved it.

Hey, I almost forgot, I made the long list. Yee ha.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations, Curt! I would have picked this one as the winner too; it's priceless!
Congratulations also to all the short listers, long listers and honourable mentions. What incredible writing, each and every competition. Awesome job, everyone! :)
And most thanks, of course, to our QOTKU, for these invaluable learning opportunities. As Lisa wrote, on the July 4th weekend too! Thank you :D

AJ Blythe said...

Well done, Curt. And congratulations everyone who was mentioned. There were some awesome entries this week.

I'm happy dancing at making the long list!

Kitty said...

Congrats, Curt!

And now for your Eng. Comp. cartoon du jour: Yes well, legibility and correct punctuation might not be “street” but…

Donnaeve said...

Happy Independence Day!

Congratulations to all the mentions, long listed and finalists! Congrats to the winner, Curt David!!!

I took that Civic's test - like QOTKU - I missed one! (Susan B Anthony) Dang it.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Curt! Quite a haul you're getting. Props to Clinton Greaves, too. Might have been my favorite this week.
Happy 4th to all the fellow Americans, and happy Monday to everyone else! I'll go rescue that bag of kittens now...

Celia Reaves said...

Awesome writing all around, as usual. The grammar-off was such a terrific idea! Congrats, Curt. Like Janet, I noticed lots of entries related to gaming, but I got them and enjoyed them a lot. Shout out to my fellow gamers! Thanks to everyone for their offerings, and to Janet for taking this on over the holiday weekend.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Well done, Curt! Congratulations everyone!

Absolutely loved C.L.McCollum's and totally agree about the gorgeous writing. And Lennon Faris had one of my favorite's.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I loved Curt's when I read it over the weekend. Though I read the last line several times out loud I still don't understand it.

I'm a sucker for anything hip-hop related and Curt's entry reminds me of rap contests.


I also loved Clinton's entry.

Megan's is super!

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats, Curt - I knew your entry was going to go far as soon as I read it. Very inventive. I also loved Christina Seine's entry - heartbreaking. Made me gasp out loud. And beautiful writing.

Enjoy the books, Curt - very generous, Janet. Happy 4th!

Unknown said...

Congratulations to Curt, and all the entrants. I enjoyed every one of them.

Unknown said...

Congrats to Curt. Very clever and creative.

And thanks, Janet, for another fun contest.

RKeelan said...

Congratulations everyone.

I really liked this line by Casara Clark: I can only say that these fleeting moments of greatness give me fire in this sterile eternity.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Congrats Curt. What a great prize you have claimed.

I swear these entries are so damn good, I feel like a talentless hack lurking among you. Well done all finalists and mentions.

Sherry Howard said...

Congratulations, winners and mentions!

I spent some time on this weeks page and noticed something, maybe what JR referred to in her comments. This week has one of the best groups of entries to study for varied form and impact. So, if any lurkers are new to flash, study this week's.

Great jobs!

Michael Seese said...

Great entry, Curt. One you should be proud of. Damn! I ended my sentence with a preposition.

Nate Wilson said...

Congrats to all the finalists and mentions, and especially Curt! There was some fine, fine writing this week. Just like usual.

Thanks again, Janet, for another great contest!

Theresa said...

Congratulations, Curt!

Happy Fourth everyone.

Clinton Greaves said...

First off, Happy Fourth everyone. Secondly, congrats to Curt for a fantastic piece. This is my first time trying flash and it was great fun (and more challenging than I realized). All of you are so very talented. Consider me impressed. And thanks to Janet for encouraging such great writing with a contest nudge.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations to Curt and all the finalists and mentions. I confess I don't get quite a few. My brain just doesn't process.

Flash fiction is a real talent, so kudos to all who entered.

I missed James Madison and the Federalist papers and I knew that, so I'm irked with myself. Still I guess one wrong on the civics test isn't too bad. Apparently only 23 of the top 76 universities in the nation require US history for their history majors. This is a shame. In Texas both US history and Texas history is required to graduate from high school.

Megan V said...

Congrats Curt! Any entry that includes igpay atinlay isay awesomeay.

This week had a great bunch of entries. I really enjoyed CynthiaMC's myself.

Anywho. Happy Independence Day to the Americans in the bunch.

And a wonderful fourth to everyone.

Colin Smith said...

This was a very VERY competitive contest, and given the prize, is it any wonder. The writing dazzled. So uber congrats to Curt. It's wonderful to win anytime, but particularly when the competition is so fierce and talented. As Janet said, that was an original idea well executed. Great job!

And well done to all the finalists, semi-finalists, and especially first-timers. Even if you didn't get a mention, you're a better writer for trying.

Colin Smith said...

The Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest is up-to-date.

Brigid said...

Curt, congratulations! What a fun one.

I really loved Donnaeve's. Reached all the way into my heart.

And I shouted with joy to see my entry in the list. Thanks, Janet.

Unknown said...

What a great group of finalists, long-listers, and mentions! I loved the grammar-off -- congratulations, Curt!

French Sojourn's last line certainly set the story in a different light! (I also had to confirm for myself that full boat = full house = winning hand.) I liked the diction in Craig's skateboard story, the twist at the end of Colin's, and the memories of Zork evoked by Cheryl's.

These contests have made me reflect on the role of twists in storytelling. I love the way the great stories here zig when we expect them to zag. Maybe the greatest danger of cliches and tropes is that they keep us from doing this.

Dena Pawling said...

There were several this time that I didn't understand, but that's no different from any other contest for me.

Congrats to everyone who entered, and the mentions, finalists, and Curt David for the win.

Have a safe and fun Independence Day!

John Davis Frain said...

I also rollicked with Steve Forti's kitten line. So visual.

What an impressive weekend of entries. I don't know if that's due to summer or the fantastic prize, but the talent was overwhelming this week. Hence, Curt David, you should be ecstatic for multiple reasons.

Janet, this is a weekend I wouldn't have wanted to be in your shoes to select only one winner.

Keep your momentum going, everybody. It won't get dark for hours, so write on. Especially you, Jamie Elias, because you've already got the start of novel going!

Merry Independence Day to many of you. Happy Monday to others. It's going to be a great week.

C. L. McCollum said...

Congrats Curt!!! Man there were some incredible entries - talk about tough competition! Well done everyone :)

And man considering this was my first time entering, I don't even care that I didn't manage a story with mine. Think I could put "Janet Reid thinks my writing was 'just gorgeous'" on a resume?? LOL Definitely was the boost I needed this morning.

Thanks for hosting this contest, Oh Great and Powerful Sharkstress!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Curt, and everyone else who entered! I'm always blown away by the writing in these contests. Thanks to Janet for hosting the contests, and to the entrants for sharing your work!

And to those in the U.S., happy Independence Day!

french sojourn said...

Thank you again QOTKU for holding these contests. The time and effort that you put into these events is really appreciated. Congrats Curt. (pretty epic entry!)

In mine, the guy who won, tossed down another pair of sixes and the queen of hearts...just for another twist of the knife. Four of a kind takes down a full boat, and in this case the wife. Now I have to go read the week in review and thoroughly comb through all the entries.

Congrats to all that entered, the mentions, finalists, and of course Curt again. Cheers Hank.

Lennon Faris said...

Congratulations, Curt! Nerd jokes are my favorite, and that was very well-done.

Megan V's was so creepy (moreso bc I'm imagining cute little spotted pups and cartoon figures in this), and satisfying. Love the prose there, too.

I did love all the entries here, though. The talent is phenomenal. I am blown away that mine got any placement. Thanks, Janet --and Carolynn, and Madeline --for your kind words.

LynnRodz said...

Congrats Curt! Thanks, Janet, for the mention and Happy 4th of July!

abnormalalien said...

Congrats, Curt and others listed. And thanks for the mention! John, I doubt I'm going to get much writing done today (I'm lurking from work/school) but I guess I've got another bite size idea to add to my WIPs folder.

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations, Curt! And to all the finalists. What a fabulous bunch of stories this week!

Casara Clark said...

Thank you so much!

Yours also was an incredibly subtle and powerful way to tell a story of a 3 month old left in a car on a hot day. Very poetic and emotional.

Donnaeve said...

I was looking to see if Curt had showed up yet. Maybe he's trying to figure out where to store that boatload of books!

On the side of storytelling, and not getting some, there were several I didn't get, but hey, I've written my share of head scratchers.

Little Dog is sick again. Was fine yesterday, ate good, and ate this morning, and...hours later...throwing up - both ends. He acts fine (except when he's about to be sick, quite comical, yet pitiful) Looks like a trip to the vet tomorrow - even if he seems better tonight.

Oh, and thanks Brigid! Appreciate the shout out!

Cindy C said...

Congratulations, Curt! Hope all my fellow Americans are having a happy 4th and that everyone else is having a happy Monday!

Thanks, as always, to Janet for the time and effort on these contests. I'm always blown away by the quality of writing here.

Kregger said...

Woo hoo to all entrants and to Curt. You guys have chops.
Is there anything better than an "A" game?
If there is I'd better start bringing it.
Happy fourth and thanks to all our veterans.

Scott G said...

Congrats to Curt and all the finalists. Great stories for sure. What better way to celebrate the holiday weekend! Thanks to Janet for making it all possible for us.

Karen McCoy said...

Congrats, Curt! I love that the winning entry dealt with grammar!

Curt David said...

Thank you Janet for your blog, your contests, and this honor! I am very excited to read those books as I am now in the stage of not just reading for pleasure, but reading "as a writer," and taking notes and analyzing writing as I'm reading it. And these seem like amazing authors to study.

Thank you to everyone for your kind words. For years I have been a daily blog reader, and a daily comment reader, but this is my first non-contest comment of my own. (In other words, I feel like I am good friends with all of you, but you haven't met me yet).

I must say that when I first submitted my entry, I went back and only read the entry that was posted right before mine (Clinton's). I thought to myself, "Dang, that was good, I shouldn't have posted right after that one!" Then later in the weekend I read all the entries and had similar thoughts X80. I was, as usual, overwhelmed with all of your writing and talent!

P.S. @ Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli- the last line of my entry was Pig Latin, which I assume is used at the highest levels of grammar-offs. @ Michael Seese and @ Kitty - hilarious. And @ Colin Smith -thanks for updating that spreadsheet!

Janice Grinyer said...

Congrats everyone- great job!

Curt, special congrats to you- that was brilliant! And fun to have you here commenting- you are a master word manipulator :) , we look forward to reading more of your work!