Monday, November 12, 2018

Flash Fiction contest results!

We had a very light turn out this weekend. Is it NaNoWriMo? Or are you all in a post-election coma?
The entries we did get were the usual terrific stories I've come to expect.

Herewith the results:

Words I had to look up:
Ranunculus (Alina Sergachov)

In a class by himself, and honestly trying to trip him up is becoming more than a challenge, it's now a quest: Stevi Forti
Don’t do it. I’m telling you. Do not piss him off or transgress in any way.

Come on. How could he even know?

Old man’s got some built in radar, kid. Like the song says. He always knows.

But he seems so delightful. I’m sure he won’t mind if I eat just one.

It ain’t a complex transaction kid. Milk plus cookies equals presents. You steal from him, coal ain’t all you’ll get.

Nu-uh. I hear lyin’s a transgression, too, you know. Chomp, chomp.

Suit yourself, kid. Was nice knowing ya.

Ho, ho, ho?!

Ur in deep shit now.

Special recognition for Dan Castro experimented with format. Brave indeed, but I couldn't actually read the entry. (Sorry Dan)

Special recognition to Timothy Lowe for an entry that made me cackle, and recoil, at the same time.

Special recognition to CarolynnWith2ns for 2 lines that haunted me
“She’s alive.” He shouted.
Was he my savior or slayer?

Special recognition to Colin Smith for an entry that's masterfully subtle and enigmatic.

Special recognition to Dena Pawling for some perspective on what's important.

Sometimes the contest entries are about publishing, and I can calculate the pace of your rodent wheel just from reading your work! This week:

Brenda Lynn


Hawking, Einstein, Feynman and their dog walk into an agency.
Hawking: “We forgot Schrödinger!”
Feynman: “Arrested hours ago for inciting cat mass...”
Einstein: “Mass?”
Feynman: “Massacres. He’s old school, Hawking. You were pre-calculus when he died.”
Hawking: “Nope. Early energy. I was pre-calculus when Albert died.”
Einstein: “Energy?”
Agent (darkly): “Ummm ... Gentlemen?”
Feynman (flashing the extra-famous, thousand-watt smile): Delighted...”
Einstein: “Light...”
Agent: “Cute dog. I’m guessing she’s your strong female lead.”
Feynman (winking) “Her name’s Fortran. She’s old but she’s still got speed.”
Einstein: “Speed! C’mon, boys. We’ll write the book later.”
Agent: “That’s what they all say.”

Amy Johnson
To enter or not to enter?

That was the question. I resumed pondering before dawn’s first light.

One early attempt was too dark. I’m writing MG—gotta consider my reputation. One idea could make a good short story, but not a flash piece. Another story was a maybe. Had mystery and humor. But did I do first person pencil before? With an extra hour I might be able to finish that Forti Award attempt. At least now I know of thirty-one towns in Arkansas that end in “d.”

And here are the entries that really stood out this week:

Maria McKay
She found the extra hour beneath her pillow. It was pink and oval, the way she'd imagined her soul might look.

Outside was dark; she dressed,unsure of how this would work. The hour she'd chosen was the hour before she'd turned 16.

The oval ticked as soon as she picked it up: now the bed she stood next to contained her 15-year-old self.

Looking at this early self, the one she'd come to forewarn, she saw the light. An hour wasn't long enough for a kid to digest what she'd come to say. It needed a lifetime.
I love the idea of the extra hour being any of the hours of your life.
I would have a very hard time choosing between two events to forewarn myself of.
One would save me; the other would save someone I love.
This entry made me wonder if I could choose?

Very nice work here.

They called it a blight. Not to mention the inhabitants: the loud sex, trampling feet at all hours. The smell.

They complained. That bloke - what was his name, Noel? Neal? - didn't flinch. They got the planning department onto him. Court summons. He ignored it, claimed divine inspiration, holy immunity.

Pearly dawn. It rained. Ark doors shut. The end.
This just cracked me up.
I'm always a sucker for alternate POV, and this one is delightful.

Alina Sergachov
The bus pulls to a curb. The driver gets off first. Passengers follow his lead.

No rush, no panic.
No bus stop.

I pull one earbud out. A piercing two-tone howl of a siren syncopates with the symphony No6. ‘Code Red’.

No fort.
Ranunculus instead of a bomb shelter.

I never had sex. Tragic waste.
It was too early. Is it too late?

A man who dared to waste one hour of time.

Others crouch. And kneel. I wait for the incoming missile in the comfort of a bus. Alone.

Dark sky. Light rain.
Crescendo. Explosion. Silence
Heartbreaking elegance.
And too topical for words.

"What time do you have? Quick, before their frappuccinos come."

"It's noon. What time do you have?"

"Eleven. Too early. I didn't add the extra hour."

""What went wrong?"

"I tried to reboot myself, but my screen went dark and then nothing."

"Pull up your light folder, the one with time zones."

"I don't have a light folder."

"Did you set your System Preferences to include poetry? Look for 'A light exists in spring." Or 'Light, more light! The shadows deepen.'"

"What are you speaking? COBOL?"

"No, poetry."

"It's all Fortran to me."
I love the idea of poetry in system prefs!
I've been at war with my software for almost a month now, and so this had a particular appeal!

Michael Seese
I prayed for an extra hour. He must have heard me.


The smell of purity hovered with me in the aether, enveloping me in peace.


She always said not to jog in the dark. But the virgin air of early morning cleanses my soul.


The car never saw me. The driver never stopped.


Her voice broke through the veil, her light piercing the fog.

I saw the path home.

My new home.

What should we do, Mrs. Nash? said the voice I’d been hearing, assuming it was God.

“Nothing,” my wife said. “He has a DNR.”
This entry uses the theme of the contest in a poignant twist that really appealed to me. 

I've been thinking about these entries all day.
Each has a lot of merit, and choosing isn't picking one that's better than any of the others. That simply isn't possible.

Honestly, I picked the one that made me laugh. This week's choice is NLiu!

Thanks to all who took the time to write and post entries.
I know I say this every contest, but it's always true: your writing delights me.
I'm very grateful for the chance to read things that are new and fun.

And I'm probably as surprised as the rest of you that I got these posted promptly.
Most likely it's cause I have a big submission going out today and I knew I wasn't going to have time for much of anything but dialing, yapping, and sending.

If it's any comfort to you, the pitch letter for that project is 307 words, and I did 30+ revisions on it in 48 hours. 


Aphra Pell said...

All great winners. I rather loved Noise in Space's entry - subtle but very clever piece of referencing, and also funny (especially if you are a scientist).

Steve Forti said...

Congrats NLiu!

And Timothy Lowe - you gave me the biggest laugh this week.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I could not find the time this weekend as I am seriously gearing up for my trials and tribulations into the query trenches. I am also headed to New York in a week for Thanksgiving to spend it with my daughter and her friends so much to do before then. Also, there were life things to do - apparently when I forget to clean, shower, and eat for weeks at a time, neighbors and co-workers start to complain :/

These entries were terrific. Congrats NLui. Good job.

I am still amazed how so many of you can come up with such great flash pieces contest after contest. Amazing stuff.

The Noise In Space said...

I'm stunned that Jeannette Leopold didn't make the finalist list--I loved that one!

And @Aphra Pell--thank you, I really appreciate that! I was worried that I had made it too obscure, so I'm glad someone got it!

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Yes, It's because of Nano.

Congrats to the winners!

Michael Seese said...

NLiu's was a great choice. Well done.

Amy Johnson said...

NLiu: Congratulations on your well-deserved win! What week for you--baby news AND a contest win! I'm going with animal-themed decorations for your winner's party, both because of the content of your entry and because I'm hoping your three-year-old will like them.

Aphra Pelll: I think the absence of a period in the last sentence of your story is oh-so-perfect for showing the doom has arrived. Nice! (Shaking my head, impressed with your wowishness.)

Janet: Thanks for the contest. I hope things go great with your big submission!

Sherry Howard said...

These are always such fun to read!

Brenda said...

So much fun. I love these contests.
Great story, NLui. Congratulations.

Timothy Lowe said...

Making Janet cackle is almost as fun as making her recoil. I knew mine was pretty gratuitous, but when the words come together, it's hard to tell them no. Congrats NLui. Yours and MarieMcKay's were my favorites, as well as Unknown (moody). Best of luck on the sub, Janet and company...

Megan V said...

Congrats NLui! Really well done!

Personally, I also really enjoyed Daniel Steffe's entry. :)

Unknown said...

Just woke up (I'm in a different time zone than the shark empress), it's become a morning routine to read this blog when I wake, and contest results are always something to look forward to!

I think my favorite was Marie McKay's, I love the imagery of it.

And thank you for the callout Megan V, I appreciate it :)

Alina Sergachov said...

Thank you very much, Janet. And good luck with the submission!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

NLiu congrats, clever, clever, clever. Loved it.

Janet, thanks for the mention.
And, much luck with the submission. If you can, if you actually want to, please let us know how it goes.

Marie McKay said...

Thanks, Janet. Always delighted to be mentioned. Well done, NLiu. Great winning story.
Thanks for the encouraging words, Timothy and Daniel.

Kate Larkindale said...

As usual, a wonderful bunch of stories. Y'all are just too clever for me. Congrats to all the mentions and of course to the winner.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, NLui! Your story made me laugh out loud :-)

To all the mentions and finalists - great work! There may have been fewer entries this time, but they were mighty.

NLiu said...

Oh wow!!!!! Thanks Janet! And thanks so much everyone for the lovely comments!

This completely made my night!

Celebrating (one-handedly)! (Shall I wake up the husband?)

And Amy Johnson, I am loving the idea of an animal-themed party. I will make sure Slant the Ant gets an invitation.

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations NLiu and all the finalists and mentions. Great work all.

For me it was Nano, post-show recovery,pre-Thanksgiving hosting prep and Alabama football (Roll Tide!).

My Nano project is being swapped out. Last year's idea, which I planned to bring into reality this year is just too big. Flirting between Freaky Friday meets 9 to 5 at Christmas or The Birthday Charter, which began as a Reef contest entry but wouldn't let me go. The time-travel tapestry I plan to turn in to a short story and I want to do something with the pre-teens calling aliens as well. These contest entries always spark longer projects for me.

NLiu said...

P.S. Anyone else find Noah's ark actually kind of terrifying if you think about it?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats NLiu. Another great flashfiction weekend. So fun to read the other stories.

And good luck, Janet, with the pitch.

Dena Pawling said...

Thanks for the mention Janet.

I almost didn't enter because of the fires. In 2008 [in mid-November, not-so-coincidentally] my house was one block from a mandatory evacuation line. I could see flames from my front window. I know what it's like to pack and wonder if I have to leave, and if so if I'd have something to come back to. My daughter had several friends who lost their homes. This year, my brother's house is three blocks from a mandatory evacuation line. I have friends who had to evacuate. Fortunately none have lost homes [so far]. These winds are nasty. But when I read about the town of Paradise being completely destroyed, then saw the prompt words, that little story demanded to be written.

Congrats NLiu! Anything that makes me laugh right now is a good thing.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


A new baby and a Reef flash fiction win.

What an awesome week for you.

Lennon Faris said...

Loved reading these. Congratulations, NLiu! That's some good morbid humor!

Well done, all.

Claire Bobrow said...

NLui - I missed the baby news first time around. How wonderful! Huge congrats on this new "entry." Try to enjoy every moment - it will go by in a flash...

John Davis Frain said...

Such gems to choose from. You couldn't have gone wrong with several choices.

Maria McKay was brilliant as usual. Absolutely adored the poetry from Leone, that was wonderful. Alina hit a home run right into the heart. Michael had a clever twist that hit the sweet spot.

So, NLiu, you should feel particularly positive to get the nod with all the stiff competition this week. And well deserved, because your entry was delightful.

Colin Smith said...

Oh cool! I got a mention!! :D Thanks, Janet. Glad you liked my attempt at something.

Congrats, NLiu! Your name is now in lights on the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest. I know that's a life ambition of every writer so WELL DONE!! ;)

Karen McCoy said...

Congrats, NLiu! I was one of the many who watched from the sidelines. Not just Nano for me, though that was a factor. I also managed to make it to the third round of NYC Midnight's Flash Fiction contest, and spent the weekend polishing my entry for that. All the flash fiction practice from the reef has definitely helped, so thank you to Janet and all the others here--I've learned so much from you all. And Janet, good luck with your submission!

Karen McCoy said...

Dena Pawling, I hope your brother is all right. I am thinking of you all. Last year, one of my entries was inspired by the Atlas Fire.

Praying that everyone stays safe!

Craig F said...

CongratsNLiu: yours was my favorite from the lighter side

The darker side was tied between Carolynn with 2 and Dena

Stay safe, Dena, and get as much rest as you can. You never know when you might need it.

OT: One of the greatest creative minds of our time, Stan Lee, passed away today.

Dena Pawling said...

Thanks everyone for your good wishes. Most evacuation orders have been lifted. My brother's house is still standing. Still windy through Tuesday so we're not done yet, but looks promising.

C. Dan Castro said...

Thanks for the recognition, Janet!

Ummm, was anyone able to read the Dan Castro entry? It's legible on my Ipad.

Just Jan said...

Way late to the party, here, but enjoyed all these creative entries. Maria McKay--very imaginative! NLiu, congratulations on this very funny piece!

french sojourn said...

Congrats NLiu...winning on different creating... Writing, life giving....wonderful news.