Sunday, February 12, 2017

Preliminary contest results

First, try not to faint dead away that the results are not only Not Late, they're up on Sunday. I'm afraid this is NOT a sign of my improving punctuality; credit it to insomnia only.

Herewith the PRELIMINARY results of this week's contest.

Final results tomorrow. (also the results from last week which are hideously, unforgivably late)

Weigh in on whether your fave got overlooked or which entry you think should win, or questions you have, in the comments section of this blog post.

Special recognition for using words I had to look up
Lucy Crow 2:39pm
Amy Schaefer 9:57am

Steve Forti Award for dexterity with prompt words
Steve Forti 9:05am
 low rents, fade at home, hombre wranglin

To be eligible for this award you have to underline the prompt words in your entry. 

Special recogniton for a great line
Cheryl 10:10am
The first Valentine’s party over, streamers dripped from the walls, the buffet, puddling on the floor like so much discarded happiness.

Just Jan 3:06pm
And a bottle of Jack Daniels reclines, soberly, on the bare floor.

A line that should be required in all future manuscripts
Steve Forti 9:05am
Embiggen the wall

Great metaphor
Michael Seese 9:10am
"a freshly brewed cup of happy"

Not quite a story but superlative writing
Timothy Lowe 9:50am

Lucy Crowe 2:39pm

Kimber 6:17am

Four line perfection
Claire Bobrow 10:05am
She stirred the non-dairy creamer. Nasty stuff.
“Covers the taste,” he said. “You trying to kill me?”
They both had a laugh,
As he clutched his throat.

Example of something that's very well written, but I don't quite understand
MeganV 8:36am
Death can throw a wrench into any man’s plans, but on days like today I swear the cowl-wearing creep has it in for me. Put it this way.
Death of a coffeemaker? No brew.
Death of a tranny? No truck.
Death of a digger? No crew.
Death of a Salesman? No fuck.
All in all a sucky day.
That’s about all I can say.
Or it’s all I would have said, and I could have let it go.
But when Death tries earning street cred with the Devil, the scythe drops hard.
Death of a proposal? No ring.

Here is the long list of finalists

Kitty 9:12am
“Father is threatening to shoot my low-rent brother, Benny,” said Mr. Brewster.

“Low-rent?” said the Sheriff.

“Father calls him a low-rent joyri
de athlete, because Benny is-- was-- a male prostitute. He says he’s retired.”

“Sounds like he has a problem with Benny’s lifestyle.”

“Father’s in
dignant about it, but that’s not the problem.”

“Then what is?”

“Benny has written a salacious memoir, pornographic yet surprisingly literate for him, and…”

“And your father doesn’t want it published.”

“Oh no, on the contrary. Father’s a publisher. Benny’s book would make a lot of money. But purely out of spite, Benny decided to self-publish.”

PAH 9:30am
She looked different in death. Was her hair always so red?
Of course, she wasn’t dead. Not really.
A bullet could stop her like a wrench could fix a broken heart.
She’d been my partner. And I loved her. Once.
That was before she was bit.

There’s a Hebrew phrase: gam zu l'tova.

The stake fit my hand. Or, perhaps, my hand had molded to fit the stake.
I raised it and plunged it into her heart, digging it into her chest.
There was no cry of agony. No hellish scream. No death-rattle.
Oops, I thought. Wrong funeral home.

Amy Schaefer 9:57am
Our job: guard the gate. But our passion: helping people. Even today, with our guts a witches’ brew of expired burritos and cherry cheesecake, we succeeded.

“Let me pass,” she begged. “He’s in there.”

We squirmed, trying to avoid the in
dignity of shitting ourself. What a predicament. Her wrenching sobs tugged our heartstrings, but the rules stipulated: souls only.

The perfect idea.

We mauled her.

Her shade stared at the chunky mess oozing over the rocks.

“Welcome,” we said, moving aside. “Enjoy your

We trotted away and gratefully squatted over the Acheron. “Cerberus,” we chuckled, “you’re a good dog.”

Susan 10:02am
“One last game?”

Lawrence looked up. At the bar sat a familiar face, flushed beneath the indigo light advertising a glowing deal on craft brew. He nodded towards the vacant poker table.

“You look tired,” Lawrence said. “More tired than the last time.”

“It’s been a while.” Death picked up his cards.

“Eighty-one years. You took my dog.”

“Saved you, didn’t I?”

“Not this time?”

Death threw a red poker chip into the mix. “Afraid not.”

Lawrence sighed. “Yeah, alright. Call it.”

“Not to worry, kid. It’s a full house by now.”

Lawrence grinned and took his hand. “Damn straight.”  

Dena Pawling 12:50pm
Mildred finished digging and smoothed the dirt. Good riddance.

Back inside, her alarm chimed. They're almost here!

She grabbed a wrench. “This'll do,” she said, hammering.

Pictures hung, she shoved dirty clothes under the bed, dirty dishes in the oven.

To cover the deathly stench, she opened a window and brewed some coffee. That's better.

Social services arrived. “Where's Charlie?”

“At a friend's house today. Active boy,” Mildred said, laughing.

He scanned the house. “You've cleaned up quite a bit since last month.” He jotted notes, took photos. “I'll close your case. Congratulations.”

Mildred smiled. Free at last.

katie 3:13pm
Digging in Joe's drawer for his utility knife I find diamond earrings. They look expensive and they aren't mine - my tastes run fake and ironic. I put them in my ears anyway because I'm not stupid; they might be useful where we're going. The storm's still brewing when I run out and I smell death, animal or marital, rising in the yard. Wren promised she'd fit me in the car but she takes one look at me and locks the doors. "Can't take you no more, Freddie, those are my earrings and you know it."

RosannaM 4:09pm
Washing machine came on again—the TV told it to.
I’m sure of it.

My phone brewed a pot of coffee at three a.m. and a Sousa march on repetitive loop kept me awake. I punch the digital display on the furnace but it remains frozen at sixty. As do I.

The appliances are taking over.
Can’t unplug them—they’re hard-wired.

Technology now renders us obsolete.

They said it would advance us, and it did for a while, but it has surpassed us and will cause the death of the human race.

I’m sure of it.

Scott G 11:44pm
We stood at the alter and my heart wrenched as I watched her walk down the aisle.

I’ve loved her since we were five, next door neighbors digging in the sandbox.

I loved her in high school, talking on the phone late at night until mom poked her head in my room and gave me the death-stare.

I loved her in college, bar hopping, drinking brews and throwing darts until last call.

The reverend turned to me. “The rings, please.”

My face reddened as I dug the symbols of faithfulness out of my pocket and gave them to my brother.

John Davis (Manuscript) Frain 2:16pm
Whiskered postal worker reads the label on the package. Looks up. You get this a lot.

“Your name is …”

“Death. Rhymes with teeth.”

Whiskers nods. Indignant. “’Course it does. Noel. Rhymes with asshole.”

You don’t argue. He’s accurate.

“If I can just get my package…”

He shakes his head. And the box. “Sorry.”

Noel does rhyme with – you stop yourself.

“Says there’s a bomb inside.”

“Excuse me?” Category 5 headache begins brewing.

“Right here.” He points at lip balm.

You begin to understand the idiom
going postal. You leave. Find Wren at home. Tell her, “We’re joining Amazon Prime.”


Unknown said...

Loved Scott G's, don't understand Katie's.

Timothy Lowe said...

Ummm...holy hockey sticks. Didn't expect the results that quickly!

PAH made me laugh. From these that gets my vote. But I'd go Michael Seese all day - just jaw-dropping writing in this contest. I'm honored to score a mention.

Thanks for a much needed weekend brightener, Janet...

Steve Forti said...

At the risk of making it almost unfair, I cast my vote for The Manuscript this week.

Also, Amy Johnson, you're my hero. Seriously made my day yesterday when I read your entry :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

It's too soon. Too much. Too soon. But at first glance, Dena's is amazing. Chilling. Wow. I will percolate on the others for a while but need to clear my mental palette first.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats to the mentions and finalists! I couldn't choose a winner - they were all great. PAH's did make me laugh out loud, and I felt a chill reading RosannaM's (our TV remote seems to have a mind of its own, and not a good one).

Janet - thanks for the mention! I'll take that compliment any day :-) My middle name happens to be Wrenn, so I got an extra kick out of the prompt words.

Good luck, finalists!

Amy Schaefer said...

Dena's entry is sticking with me. Shivers!

RosannaM said...

Dropped in here to see if there were any late entries that I hadn't read last night, and whoa! Preliminary results are in!

Thanks for the nod! Can you tell I was having a rough time with misbehaving electronics?

Bunch of good ones, but I loved the line, Death, rhymes with teeth that made me laugh!

Colin Smith said...

Well done to the mentions and finalists. If I had to pick, it would be John's, if only because I've read the first of Loretta's novels. :)

Lucy Crowe said...

Oh, these are wonderful! PAH gets my vote - that last line is a killer. (No pun in . . .okay, maybe.) Wheeee, thanks for the mention! Thrilled to be in such great company

Steve Stubbs said...

You said not to pass out, but despite that I almost passed out when I saw the results posted. Fortunately I was able to grab hold of some furniture and did not fall to my doom.

I am just amazed that you are able to do as much as you do.

Don’t inow if appreciation is appreciated at the Reef, but I wanted to say thanks.for your excellent post a few days ago about hiring book designers.

An item in the queue here is to produce a public service book from my former profession. It will be an eBook so there is no manufacturing cost. It will be registered with the Copyright Office so people who put their own name on it and re
-publish it as their work cannot say they wrote it and I ripped them off. It will claim copy-left and not copy-right so anyone can e-mail it to anyone without permission and without paying anything. The only open issue was how to make the damn thing look professional. Muchas Garcia for telling us how to do that.

This is a self-help, and you don’t rep that. A few topics are:

Rapid self cure of depression without spendimg money on drugs or endless therapy sessions. This is not in any book. It is clearly not in the interest of certain groups for people to know how to do this.

Rapid self-healing of psychic pain. Millions of people use alcohol and drugs to numb psychic pain that can be healed using simple procedures that – you guessed it – are not in any book.

For people who think they want a relationship, statistics indicate that MOST of the people in the dysfunctional single world are abusers, con artists, screwballs, and mental patients. Not everybody is in that category, and you don’t want to get involved with those who are. Spotting these people and getting rid of them is the key to ultimate success. It is easy to do, but here again, the information is not in any book.

And on it goes.

Thanx again for your post.

Kate Higgins said...

I loved Dena's and John D.s. Most of the rest gave me nightmares...maybe I shouldn't read them before bed.

And I liked E.M's because what I thought was happening was not what was happening! By the time I got down the list of entries, I really, really needed kittens (Thanks E.M)

Beth Carpenter said...

So many amazing stories. Rosanna's and Scott's were both favorites on my first read. I liked Colin's, too. Love Susan's play on poker phrases, and Dena's scares me silly.I continue to be amazed at the variety, when 5% of the story is already written. Did we get a final winner on the too-cute kitten caption?

Karen McCoy said...

I loved Dena's when I read it in yesterday's comments. A bit bummed that Barbara Lund's entry didn't get a mention, though--I thought it was gorgeously put together.

Congrats on the mentions and good luck to the finalists!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Kate I too need kittens. And I am ever so weary of all the death and darkness both literary and lurking about reality. For once, I wanted life to beat the snot out of death. Literally. And so cats...ok, maybe that doesn't work.

All of you are so freaking brilliant, I feel like an idiot full of sound and fury and signifying nothing writing among you.

John of the Manuscript Frain continues to wow me. And I simply agree with Roseanne. Technology has made fools of us all. I panic if the lights go out for an hour. It's pathetic really.

Both PAH and Kitty made me laugh out loud and laughter is great medicine. So thanks for that.

I will be thrilled to see who Janet picks. I am quite envious of the prize they have earned. Oh, and there's that technology once more, ordering 3 more books on Amazon. Great.

Janice Grinyer said...

Scott G's made me get the feels... :)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Amy Johnson's was "Forti Brilliant"... I hope she at LEAST gets the Steve Forti award!I actually thought she'd be the hands down winner take all.

I loved John Frain's. And Rosanna's. And a few others.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed Scott G's. I hope he wins.

Craig F said...

The word alter kept hitting me like a speedbump.I always thought churches had altars.

Because of that I will go for either Dena, because I owe her a beer, or Rosanna, because her world keeps getting closer.

Guess I blew my attempt at narrative nonfiction in 100 words. Que sera.

JD Horn said...

These are all good, but I must admit I was rooting for French Sojourn's "Death followed mankind, and died alone on a Tuesday."

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations to all the finalists, mentions, and everyone who entered--such great stories.

Steve Forti, Thanks for the comment. :) I thought your "fade at home" was great, and your "hombre wranglin'"--wowza!.

Melanie, Thanks for your comment--very nice of you. Even though my story won't be the contest Nguyenner, I'm glad you liked it. You got me with your story. Didn't see it coming. Raking leaves--very clever.

Lennon Faris said...

I thought Susan's was clever. John (mss) Frain's was hilarious and so relatable. The rest were fantastic.

Congrats everyone!!

Dena Pawling said...

I'm a finalist?? Wow, thanks! I'm honored to be included in such great company.

The one I liked that didn't make the finals is Kimber. Made me laugh, and I especially liked this line - “Finch acted quickly, pulling it like a reluctant cord from its placental earth.”

RosannaM's was very timely. Last week my dishwasher AND my clothes washer both broke about two days apart.

Thanks for the beer, Craig =)

Amy Johnson said...

I'll second Timothy's comment about Michael Seese's story. The second time reading it gave new meaning to "You know how messy Dad is” and "he works you to death." Nice!

Thanks for the contest, Janet.

Scott G said...

Spectacular entries, as usual. Wouldn't want to pick. Thanks for the kind comments and congrats to all mentions and finalists!

Janice - I've always wanted to do that. (I think.)

Craig F - You are correct. Churches have altars. Touche'.

Karen McCoy said...

Oh no, Dena! I hope you were able to fix both you appliances. Your story gets an extra vote from me, for that reason alone!

Yes, I also agree that Amy Johnson should get the Steve Forti award!

I also like Amy Schaefer's stuff too. Always.

And, RosannaM's was brilliant. Right before mine--a tough act to follow!

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Loved Scott G's and Kitty's

John Davis Frain said...

Rosanna's entry is so spot on, it scares me if it's nonfiction.

Thoroughly enjoyed Dena and Susan. (Don't take that out of context, please.)

I wish I had written Claire's 4-line perfection. That was awesome. I keep reading it, I enjoy it so much.

Same with Michael Seese's metaphor. Loved that the moment I read it. I've been having fun tweeting #BadMetaphors over the past week, so good ones really resonate.

Finally, I enjoyed MeganV's as well, right up till the end when I said "Huh?" But that happens to me more often than I care to admit.

And I'm supposed to suggest a winner? Ha. Pick a number between one and fifty...

Gingermollymarilyn said...

They're all wonderful, but being a die-hard romantic, Scott G.'s is my fave.

Lydia D. said...

My vote (well, I say vote, but the Reef is a monarchy, not democracy) would definitely go to Kitty--for one thing, I could understand it.

Unknown said...

What an awesome post, I just read it from start to end. Learned something new after a long time.
Seo Company in Nagpur

MA Hudson said...

All awesome finalists - brilliant work guys!
I vote for PAH. It puts the fun into funeral homes.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Oh, Katie, I love the subtle layers.