From the great prompt words, to the entries, you just knocked my sox right off.
Here are the prompt words again:
gaze (provided by Melanie Sue Bowles)
scapegrace (provided byJulie Weathers)
scram (provided byLennon Faris)
forti (provided byMegan V)
fin (provided by the comment column on 4/26/17)
And here are the first round results:
The Steve Forti Award to Steve Forti, cause really who else even comes close?
Security had to bag a zealot last night. Tried to escape. Gr. A cell should be secure, dammit. Requesting reinforcements.
CFO, R. Tiddlywinks
Get those hens in line. Scramble a few eggs if needed, so to speak. Not literally, of course. Fortify that compound, or I'll find some guards with more testicular fortitude. Fire anyone who is aloof or timid. For time is short. The big day approaches.
CEO, E. Bunny
We managed to escape gracefully. Unlike your impending downfall. For 'tis certain you'll never find these eggs. And vengeance hops your way.
The Free Hens
Imaginative use of prompt words
fortinet firewall. Patricia L. Shelton 9:27am
forticating whale Barbara 1:49pm
A character that begs for a novel
Colin Smith Knuckles the Emasculator.
I didn't quite get these three entries, but the writing is just lovely
Megan V 11:44am
Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale 8:41pm
Words I had to look up
Homage to the Bard
D Willadsen 10:50am
I think this might be the best opening line in a very long time
Mrs. FasterThanLightning sat at Mrs. StrongerThanSteel's table, drinking coffee, as Mrs. S folded laundry, including her husband's red costume.
And then here comes Terri Lynn Coop to give BJ a run for her money
I gazed at my reality show team -- a chef, a clown, and a motivational consultant.
The ending here made me laugh for a solid minute
Mark Thurber 10:56am
Giant tentacles rise from pond behind gazebo as orchestra plays three fortissimo chords.
Not quite a story but holy moly!
abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) 3:22pm
Not quite a story but these cracked me up completely
Peter Taylor 8:30pm
Not quite a story, but lovely lyrical writing and a GREAT concept
EM Goldsmith 10:08pm
This is hilarious IF you know the sourcecode!
John Davis (Manuscript) Frain 12:07am
This isn't quite a story but the writing and imagery are breathtaking
Fortissimama A. Capella, she a neon girl. She triangle-orange in a blue-circle world. She don’t want no dust-town life, never find a color in this old world. She scram. Saunter downcity, catch her some gaze.
Boys whistle. Boys catcall. She flip her hair and wink. They follow.
They follow down the years. It be one year, it be two years, it be ten. One by one, blue-circle girls smile at them boys. One day, nobody follow. All them scapegrace boys, they turn into dust-town papas.
Fortissimama ain’t a mama, but she still laughing neon-orange.
Here's the long list of finalists
Melanie Sue Bowles
She adjusts my feeding tube then grabs a handful of raisins, cramming them in her mouth.
Late again, because of me.
“All set?” Her words are garbled.
I smile and nod. Wordless.
She adjusts my oxygen then waves from the door spoofing a Charlie Chaplin soft-shoe. The whoosh of the regulator settles into a comforting rhythm, but I can’t dance to it.
She navigates the city landscape, graceful as a gazelle in neon Chucks and a floral sundress. I navigate our apartment in a motorized wheelchair wearing an easy-access gown.
She adjusts her body-cam. Because of her, I live vicariously.
One murder. Three suspects. Zero alibis. And me.
They were all there when the stubby bastard died.
The tall one, scarred, met my gaze with indifference. The other, nondescript except the obnoxious gold collar, avoided eye contact at all costs. And the slender fellow, a scapegrace in need of a trim, grinned. Discomforting.
“Wasn’t me,” they each said.
“Anyway, who put you in charge?” the Tall One asked.
Not my first rodeo, friends.
Apply some pressure; they scrambled, broke like fingers.
“Middle did it,” the small one finally squeaked.
“I’ll kill you!” Middle cried.
Thus solved the Murder of Thumb.
Grandma didn't tolerate no lip.
“Some people have grace, and some just don't, dear,” she said, pouring a crisp cup of tea.
Grandma was sharp as a tack, though occasionally she'd fall prey to this faraway gaze that left her thoughts mired mid-order between scrambled and poached.
“I'm fine, dear. I --”
The banging beneath my feet startled me. As always.
Grandma got down on all fours, most unladylike.
“You can't escape, Grace!” she yelled through a crack, rattling the fortified box below the floor. “So give it up!”
She glanced up and smiled.
“Now where was I, dear?”
The question again: “Why did you do it?”
I ignored everyone else. The doctors. My parents. But I’m ready to talk. “To escape grace.”
The new shrink frowns. Gazes at her notes. “Who’s Grace?”
“Not a person. The thing. The idea.”
She’s not getting it.
“You know. God?”
“You…don’t want to go to heaven? Why?”
I move cold scrambled eggs around my plate with a plastic spoon, wishing they’d let me have a fork. Run a finger around the bandages on my left wrist.
“Everyone says he’s in heaven.”
So I’d rather be in hell.
We scramble towards him, two starving girls, legs like gazelles.
He’s brought food.
After we finish eating, he says to Grace, “Let’s go.”
This was the agreement. She would go
Only eight, she cries.
I don’t have the fortitude to watch them walk away.
Mama behaves as expected, using child support to buy drugs
I call the police – as planned.
“Where’s Grace?” they ask.
I cry. Play dumb.
Foster care’s okay. There’s food!
I often think, Lucky you to escape, Grace.”
Postcards come often, regular.
The foster parents are suspicious, though they’re never signed Love, Daddy and Grace.
I showed him my heartsick gaze, vowed to abandon my scapegrace ways. From beneath demure faux lashes I promised to scram when he wants space, never Forti the truth, never answer a fin “nothing” when a great white “something” lurks.
So he married me.
Now he follows me everywhere. Every week-a-versary’s another (suffocating) bouquet of roses, every meal’s a (tacky) candlelit banquet, every email’s a (clichéd) Petrarchan sonnet, and even simple grocery lists are now obscured by swarms of his (immature) x’s and o’s.
Dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit dammit.
The landscape, graced with ferns taller than the stars, cries out in fortissimo for a mark, some proof of my final, greatest achievement.
For who would know I made it here? My time machine has dissolved to dust, victim of its own energy, and I am alone.
My signature will be a joke to anthropologists, who will no doubt scramble to decode the anachronism.
The cave will protect my work, I will descend tonight to draw gazelle in the age of dinosaurs, leave coded messages in my handprints.
Millennia from now, before I am even born, I will be famous.
He asks about her date.
Happily, she chatters.
I place the milk pitcher. By him.
“Scapegallows,” he insults. Of course. “He wouldn’t know a fortissimo from a finocchio.” He eats his cornflakes.
Our daughter gazes, blankly.
Angered, I touch her shoulder, “Fatherly humor.”
He rolls his eyes.
Stiff-backed, I sit, “Finish your breakfast, dear. How was the band?”
Her cannolo remains untouched.
Patient, I sip my Italian Roast.
He stands—slender and handsome as ever—and scrams.
I accept his tainted kiss, airbrush-style this morning.
He leaves. Scapegoat.
“How was your date?”
Wednesday night. She’s cramming. If interrupted, she says, she might never reach the goal. He understands. As a future doctor’s spouse, he can be a time-thief or timesaver. But she has to eat. He brings her a chimichanga, zealous in his need to prove himself supportive.
A gentle knock. No answer. He knocks again. Frets. Faint from hunger? Asleep? He tries the door. Locked. Panicking, he locates the key he hid under the eaves.
Empty – her escape gracefully executed.
He sighs, glad he installed that tracker on her cell phone yesterday. She’d better be at the library. Or else.
Horoscope: a moment today will make you a hero!
Half marathon: I’m a gazelle!
…Silver by one millimoment.
Brother’s audition: his cape graces boulder shoulders, regal Phantom rendition. In finale, baritone voice squeaks. Audience laughs.
My 'moment?' Punch them all in the suckers?
Job interview: nail it. “Thank you, sir,” I close.
Candlelit proposal: girlfriend confesses moment of indiscretion, aka ‘Shawn.’
Universe has dark humor.
11:58 PM, can’t sleep. I text brother: beer fortification??
Phone gleams: sure. I’ll postpone suicide
Bah-ha. Love his morbid jokes.
And, screw you, horoscope.
Midnight: Grab keys.
Brother flushes pills.
I found a photograph of you today but the pictures in my head are better.
Your wedding day: honeysuckle scrambling over the gazebo, framing us, as you wave your bouquet at the bee circling my mother-of-the bride hat.
Or this one of Graduation. You, finished with school, chomping at the bit to make your mark on this world.
And here! 7-year old you: a tumbling, tree-climbing scapegrace; all legs and laughing independence one moment; claiming comforting knee-kisses the next.
Yes. These pictures in my head are much better than the faded polaroid of you in my arms. Perfect. Newborn. Breathless
Every morning I escape grace and wake in an unfamiliar bed.
There's a woman next to me. We're lying side-by-side like two corpses in a double-wide coffin.
I have no idea who she is.
She's old, but beautiful. I probably know her. I hope I do.
Her gaze is on me.
I try to ignore the fortissimo beat of my heart, scrambling for something to say, something to ease the worry in her eyes.
I know I'm supposed to recognize her, but I don't.
I'm supposed to know her name, but I don't.
"Good morning, Dear. I love you."
Her head poked in, gaze full of questions. Apparently I’d stolen her fort.
“I’m sorry. Scram,” my voice weak with cold.
The dog whined, then squirmed in, warming the air enough to silence my aching, chattering teeth. I slept. Dreamed of panting, then whining, growling, biting.
Not a dream. “Ow, ouch.” I was too weak to pull away.
Barking. Angry. Harsh. She struggled to leave, kicking my stomach, turning to bark in my face. Voices approaching.
“Yo, Scapegrace! Easy. What’d you find? A—Dad? Dad!! It’s a kid.“
Bright light, the dog just whining now. Hands reaching in.
I will not beg a zebra mussel for forgiveness.
The beastly bivalves take over our lake and starve thousands, yet we're supposed to be grateful for cleaner water? No. I'm done paying.
Someone needs to take down this mollusc a peg.
"Race is a social construct," I say.
"Don't care. Apologize or owe triple the algae tomorrow."
"Stripes aside, we're not so different, you and I."
"Don't try to appeal to--"
"Except you're small."
"Ooh, you're dead, Clam. Finished."
With great effort, I dig in and drag myself directly at the infernal mollusc. Ramming speed!
The short list and the winner will be posted tomorrow at NOON (Eastern time).
Please feel free to weigh in on your faves, or what I missed, in the comment section!
Lots of good stuff here.
I love the rhythm of this line from Lennon Faris: his cape graces boulder shoulders.
These were all great and I actually did write a story and then had problems getting the thing to post. heavy sigh
What a wonderful and talented crew resides here.
After much deliberation, I think Brigid had my favorite entry this time around. It pinched my heart every time I read it.
Overall, there was so much here to adore. I am stunned by the talent of everyone who entered into Contest #100
I'd like to put a vote in for Cheryl. Very meta!
I also liked the whole of Colin's entry--Knuckles the Emasculator is nice icing...
Mine is a retelling of The Shoemaker and the Elves.
Love Lennon's and Ashley's entries.
Lennon's, Kate's - those are my votes. Loved Morgan Hazlewood's stargazer story. A lot of great stuff this time, despite the devilish prompt words!
Congratulations to everyone who entered! Some really great stories here. Of the ones listed, I like Steve Forti, Ashley Turcotte, and PAH.
Peter Taylor's 8:30pm entry is not one of the finalists, but it really cracked up me!
I like seeing a bunch of new names. Congratulations to the new Reiders stepping up and submitting.
When I read Donnaeve's story, I knew it would be a finalist.
Great job everybody.
Haven't had time to read the entries (avoided them until I had posted mine which was near 11pm and am only just back online this morning). Of those on the long list I couldn't pick between Ashley Turcotte and Donnaeve. Both took my breathe away.
So much great writing here! Many of these were a sheer pleasure to read. The two that were especially memorable for me were Cheryl's (beautiful writing, unusual concept) and Leilani's (wonderful voice). Thanks for making me laugh, Nate Wilson, Alva, Kitty, and AJ Blythe.
Champagne and shark fin soup for everyone. You are all winners!
Yeah, I knew Donnaeve would be a finalist the first time I read it. I also knew my 100 words fell short of a story and could not compete with so many of these. You guys are too damn good. Flash artists all. Geez.
Wow! I am so impressed our Queen is already chomping at finalists. How impressive is that. This has been fun and all of the finalists are wonderful. Can't wait to see who claims the prize. I love this map book so much.
Yay! I got a mention! And for something good, at that. :)
I'm for Lennon's.
Steve Forti's multiple uses of 'forti' made me laugh out loud. Several times.
I should also say, I'm grinning like nothing over that mention. "the best opening line in a very long time" makes me very happy.
Tough choice. I adored Timothys with the monkeys creating a scrambled threat. Jaime's -- wow. Ashley and Donna were heartbeaking. Robert, Rkelan, Kate, and Lennon's all tugged on the heartstrings. Tough choice. If someone held a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd go with Lennon's because I'm a sucker for a happy ending. Can't wait to see what Janet decides.
Wasn't able to join this time around (daughter's birthday) but I enjoyed reading the entries immensely. Lots of great stories!
My favorites are those from Mallory Love, Timothy Lowe, Morgan Hazelwood and James Leissening.
From the long list, I loved Kate Outhwaite's.
Yes, I had picked most of the long list as finalists. I especially loved Ashley's and Melanie's and Donna's and Lennon's and Rkeelan's and . . . well, all of them. Barbara's story about the old sailor telling a tall tale cracked me up with the last line about riding all the way to Nantucket. Oh, and Megan's Phantom of the Opera poem was epic. Congrats to all of you!
Such good writing. I am constantly impressed by the ability to do so much with so few words. I keep trying, thinking the practice can only help. Maybe if I had just a few more words, like 80K or so, I could master this whole flash fiction thing.
Kate's is heartbreaking, but I think Lennon's my favorite.
This is my 10th? 15th? time carefully crafting an entry, and my first time remembering during the chaos of my Saturday to actually post an entry! Thank you Timothy and Cecilia for the shout out. I wasn't TRYING to pander, but the word 'fin' was in there and I just took it and ran with it.
Ashley Turcotte's story blew me away, gave me real chills. That's hard to do in 100 words.
Wow. What am I happier about? A shout-out in Writer's Digest, or a shout-out in Janet's contest? Both are pretty awesome. Thanks, Janet. I'll put Knuckles under contract... :D
Congrats to the long-listers, and congrats to Janet for actually narrowing the field down to this list. Lots of great entries, and I too LOVE to see new names competing. May this not be your last time. For the record, this was my 81st entry in a Janet Contest. And though I may not make it to the finals a lot, I know my writing has benefited, so keep it up, guys!!
All the best to everyone! :D
I am 1) so impressed with so many of these entries and 2) so glad I don't have to pick only one as a winner.
All these incredible stories. And scapegrace. I mean, c'mon. It's like, "Chief, we did everything we could to stop them."
"Uh-huh. What about -"
"We did. We used scapegrace. And they still kept writing and entering and turning words into gold."
PS: Thank you Karen!! I'm humbled and flattered you enjoyed my story. :D
Thanks, Barbara Etlin. :)
I admit that I made the error of starting to read the other entries before posting mine. I had to stop or I would have chickened out - they all were so good.
I'm with Colin - getting a mention is pretty cool all on its own. I'm going to go have some celebratory chocolate. :D
Rkeelan, and Lennons, for sure.
Or all of them :)
At least I made you look up a word, JR- it's an antibiotic for shipping fever, sometimes given as a preventative. Dangerous stuff for humans, because it messes with your heart. When I took Animal Science in college, it was one of those scary things that could happen to anyone working with cows- one quick accidental poke- made me swear off cows forever. Year 10 in Montana coming up, and we still have no cows :)
Dammit, Janet, I love unexpected humor, so FlashFriday gets my vote.
Of the also-rans...
I'm a sucker for clever wordplay, so Timothy Lowe's anagrams spoke to me. And as I almost went for the multi-Forti myself, I'm glad I resisted and left such things to the master.
Fantastic stories (and not-quite-a-stories), everyone!
Congrats to all the finalists and the shout-outs!
All I will say is that my favorite, the one that made me think, "Oh damn, it's over . . ." is on the list. We'll see where it shakes out in the finale.
Thanks everyone for a fabulous contest that basically produced a flash fiction anthology.
Thank you, Barbara Etlin. I'm chuffed you enjoyed my story :-)
I so echo many of the comments, and Colin I think you summed up the benefit of these contests, they really do hone one's writing. Congrats to all that entered, and an added shout out to the longlisters. Yeah!
Again thanks to QOTKU for all you do.
I read them all and I swear, I couldn't choose ten if my life depender on it!
After re-reiding them I still can't get the image or the wording of ...
"the doublewide coffin."
sublime imagery and intent.
The entry of Lennon Faris is my favorite.
Wow! What a bunch of great stories as usual. Makes me almost grateful I couldn't enter this one (we're in the midst of moving house and I don't have the capacity to form coherent sentences, let alone a clever story). Good luck to all the long listed finalists!
Congratulations to all the mentions and finalists, and to all who entered. Reading the entries has been a pleasure. Thanks!
Thank you, Janet. You've made the big #100 wonderfully fun and exciting.
Congrats to the mentions and long-listers.
I wasn't going to enter this one. I have the amazing book of maps and you guys are a formidable bunch to come up against BUT I figured I go where the words took me...sailing through life.
Good job all, can't wait to see who gets to travel the world via such an amazing book.
Congrats to all! Such fun to read.
Way over one hundred words here...
Yesterday I got to spend the day with the GREAT folks from Pelican Book Store where we had an event at The Silver Coast Winery and discussed everything from DIXIE DUPREE to ghostly activity in my house. :)
Today, I'm heading up to Rocky Mount to visit the Braswell Memorial Library and The Good Reads Book Club - so I might miss who wins!
Anywho - while I was driving around eastern NC, I see The Queen has been busy!
I've said it before and I will say it again - IDK how she does it. I loved all the entries - who wouldn't? I loved seeing the new names pop up too.
I will readily admit - I didn't get some of the LL mentions! :>O
I loved the humor of Nate's (Ramming speed!)
Beth's stuck out for having that perfect, subtle CREEP factor.
FlashFriday's for absolute confidence in only needing (wait while I count the dammits - 16!) 84 words to craft a compelling story of obsession - like Beth's.
Then here comes Michael Seese. His story almost startled me the way that thumping did!
And PAH...OMG. Too imaginative, and funny! The Murder of Thumb.
And...dang. Melanie, Kate, Lennon RKeelan and RobertCeres all got me in the feelz dept.
Well. I think I succeeded in listing almost everyone. Most helpful, yes?
Thank you for the LL mention Janet!
COLIN Your "humorous" voice was SHINING in your entry, btw. And you got a mention in WD??? Which one? I missed it!
Oh man. They are all awesome. I might vote for Nate's because his really made me laugh (a clam and a mussel coming to blows?? what the heck? but I love it). But I loved all.
What! Here I was, keeping myself busy and the Queen put this up late yesterday?
It was a fantastic 100th. So many great phrases and uses of the words (and names!) in this contest. And Steve Forti!
I made the long list?! (big inside glow)
Who to go on the short list? Heart-tug or humor?
RKeelan's really hits home for me. And...and all the other heart-tuggers too. Really.
Beth Carpenter's! Hah! But also...all the other humorous ones.
Glad it's Janet's decision. I'm still learning.
Donna: Thanks! I thought about going for deep and literary, but decided on the humorous angle because, well, that's what appears to come naturally..?! Of course, the risk is Janet may either not dig the humor, or be in more of a lyrical mood when she's judging. In the end, I decided WTH (what the heck) and go with my instincts. Better to be true to oneself than simply pander (not Panda), even if it costs being picked. Given the competition, though, there was a good chance I wouldn't make it to the finals even with my best literary attempt! :)
I take it from Twitter you found my WD mention?
Glad I could make a few people laugh. And still humbled at being a prompt word.
My vote this week goes to Ashley Turcotte. Excellent work, powerful. And I must say it's great to see Kate Outhwaite back in action. You were always one of my favorites in years past, and this is another stellar entry.
Good luck to all the finalists!
Well done, everyone!
Colin - how fun to be in Writer's Digest! Got a kick out of seeing your name in there. :)
Wow, what a worthy crop of entries for #100! Lennon's entry blew me away with how rich a voice and story it managed to fit into 100 words. The other finalists and mentions were also fabulous.
I thought Allison Corin did a masterful, subtle job of showing how our preconceptions can blind us to the reality of a situation. I also enjoyed Jennifer Delozier's homeless piano player, RosannaM's dystopia (with all the appropriate pills, of course), and Katie's new agent story.
I was so pleased to have made Janet laugh! :)
Wow! I was doing yard work all day yesterday and didn't have a chance to check on the finalists. Just got to work and took a look. Promptly jumped up and down. (Which is proof of just how excited I am to be included with all those incredible stories; after all that work yesterday, I can hardly even walk.)
I've been reading this blog for years, but almost never post. (I'm that kind of shy.) So I really appreciate how many of you said kind words about my entry in the comments.
So much fun to read all the entries - creative, clever, astonishing. Great work everyone! Big congrats to all the mentions and finalists. Way too hard to pick a winner, but Lennon and R Keelan's really moved me, and PAH's made me laugh out loud! Janet: I don't envy you the decision.
Some entries I loved that didn't make the list: Mallory Love, Mike F., Timothy Lowe, Jennifer R. Donahue, Kate Outhwaite, Scott Sloan, James Leisenring, and Gypmar.
Leilani: great voice!
Congratulations to the finalists! Oh man, I have no idea how Janet will decide this one. I was blown away by so many of the entries, and not just the long-listers. Donnaeve? Ashley? Lennon? It's a dartboard that's just one big bulls-eye as far as I'm concerned. You guys are amazing and all winners.
Ashley's and Kate's were very powerful.
What an amazing group of entries! Way to go, everyone.
What an honor to make the long list... Wow. I had to blink twice.
Echoing what many have already said: So much good stuff, it's beyond difficult to decide on just one. LynnRodz and PAH, Fun and clever. Nate, Steve Forti, and Colin, Funny! And Colin, The mention in WD! So cool :-D
I could sorta go on and on, but if my feet were held to the fire, Lennon. It's quite possible I'm already her number one fan.
Thank you, Janet, as always for this terrific opportunity.
Good luck with the decision, Janet.
For me, Ashley, Kate, and Lennon's are the stories that resonated, but there are a lot of great ones here.
Sure thing, Sir Colin! And Writer's Digest? Wow! Link?
Karen: See my blog (link in my Blogger profile). :)
I think I would have to vote for Ashley's. That's the one that just had the total "oh crap" factor for me. It's beautiful and sad and just makes me cringe all over. I also loved the twisty endings to Beth's and Michael's. With a prompt like scapegrace, you wouldn't think to be so thoroughly surprised by an escaping Grace!
Found it, Colin! Supremely cool.
This was fun! My first time entering and I got a mention. How cool was that.
My favorite was lalani's. It says so much without saying it at all. And great language!
On the long list, Pah, Cheryl, and Kate Outhwaite's were my faves. There were so many great stories all around, I wouldn't want to be Janet right now.
Congrats to everyone!
Janet has posted the results.
A big congrats to all the finalists. And what a difficult decision Janet has to make.
I loved PAH's. That one made me laugh, and who knew you could laugh at a story about a murdered thumb?
And Lennon's, very poignant, and I was so glad it ended happily.
And Melanie's, made me happy too. How lovely and caring.
Good luck to you all! Fun contest.
I’m pleased that mine made you smile, Kitty and Janet. In truth, in the 1960s when I was about 13, I was the one caught gazing out of the window and, not knowing what was going on and that I was supposed to answer ‘command’, made to do far worse than just walk to the teacher’s desk and be embarrassed.
I included the full scenario in a mid-grade mystery …but have been told that this and other elements would be totally implausible to the current generation whose parents would take legal action if teachers behaved as I have described, and the whole story is far too politically incorrect. Sigh! Another ms that I enjoyed writing but which will remain in the bottom drawer forever. Maybe the genre should be changed to historical narrative non-fiction…
Janet, if my "not quite a story" could crack you up completely, I already consider that a win! Thank you.
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