Sunday, January 27, 2019

Results for The Brrrrrr-ing It On Flash Fiction writing contest!

Ok, this is the LAST TIME I'm using blood as a prompt word. You guys just went to The Dark Side as one! Next contest: puppies! kittens! bunnies! Fluffy chicks! rainbows!

Words I had to look up: puissant (Sousbois96)
diffind (Leilani)
bergamot (Dan Castro)

Aw geeze Kregger!
I can't think of another entry that I just could not read, but this one with the gore...OWIE! Did you conspire with Kate Higgins? Another one that left me shielding my eyeballs.

I'm a sucker for second person narrative. Mat Thorne did a great job with that.

Mallory Love's great pairing: Places where in our teenage years we tested the thrill of forbidden love. Places where it later tested us.

Great first line:
John Davis Frain
I took Mom to dinner every Sunday until she killed me.

Dan Castro cracked me up with this:
I despise acronyms. Am I the Titan Hurling Oversized Relics?

Steve Forti
>>o bill. i feel so sick about our fight. im sorry ill be better. promise. ur love language may be ‘words of affirmation’, but I hate a realization that its a language me no hablo. o dear, ill try. i think about u 24-7. ur always on my mental radar. kill me and put me in a coffin - dying would be better than losing u. don’t give up, babe. give me another chance. i luv u.

dy, for the last time. You have the wrong number. I am not Bill.

>>o. nvm
>>actually… u single?

I just surrender.
Honestly, uvula? In THREE words?
We have met the prompt word wrangler master and his name is Forti.

Here's the long list:

Madeline Mora-Summonte
Moonlight slashes the alley's dark throat. The words – LUV U LARA - are so fresh, so raw they weep. Tears glisten, drop, pool.

Here, finally, is proof of Craig's unwavering devotion.

Lara will find it first thing when she opens the diner that morning.


Lara watches the police cover Craig's body, the bloody message on his chest. Her co-workers chatter, approve.

"Oh, hon, what a relief this stalker nightmare is over."
"Cops finally got their proof."
"Dude carved himself up like a turkey!"

The police bag the knife. Lara smiles.

The cook will never even notice it's gone.

Timothy Lowe
Jimmie was born with a teardrop-shaped heart -- inverted, with only one ventricle. Aorta ripe like a stem, pumping blood to his feet.

His words came out sideways. Thick. Muddy. Uvula-engorged things.

Edward scissor-words, they called him.

Until the slam poetry contest.

Jimmie closed his eyes. Listened to the reverse ricochet of his heart.


“Fairies of dust, muzzles of gold, I have a heart that can hear, an ear that eats art.”



But it wasn't poetry. It was how he communicated.

Weeping, he stumbled off into the dark, to find somebody who understood.

“A plastic eating enzyme…good Christ,” Alex said, he leaned down to pat Ranger. He surveyed the darkened city ahead, hopes of finding supplies were bleak.

“Seriously, wouldn’t such an ungodly creation raise a red flag?” Ranger as usual, didn’t say a word, he just gave a slight wag.

After the enzyme escaped containment it traveled the country. It developed an appetite for telephone and power lines. The grid was lost, governments fell, and then the blood flowed. It only took three weeks to tear the world apart.

“How will humanity ever survive without knowing what’s up with those frickin' Kardashians?”

Here will do. At a word, the heavens diffind. I step through the tear, wondering again what men see. Skies deforming? Wormwood falling? Might they - just a glimpse - see me?

That he has withheld. I have not been seen for millenia. Nor may I touch -


"How'd you do that, mister?"

I whirl. Two boys, eyes awe-stretched.


But wait. Around me, imperatives crumble. The pit is opening. I unfold across the hills. Fear springs deliciously; still, I hesitate. Once, adulation was as sweet as blood.

Eternity looms.

Wings blot out the darkening sun as I slake my thirst.

Katelyn Yaeger
They’d covered the body quickly, but she’d already seen him. Even in the dark, she’d known the bloodied, boyish face. Young, determined, stupid Jimmy. She’d always said his findings would get him killed… all his ramblings about a killer with incredible powers. Inhuman strength. Flight. Heat vision. She’d thought him delusional. Clearly he’d known something.

Clark had pulled her away wordlessly, holding her as the shock hit. No tears from him, but he’d seen death before. She told herself it made sense. It should have.

Except Jimmy had warned her.

"You’ll need kryptonite, Lois. Luthor will help.
Don’t trust Clark."

luralee kiesel
Photo: three of us on the teacup ride.
I resist the urge to tear it up.

From the one who never said the words: plush message cat proclaims “wuv u”
Later, Garfield!
*Find box with silver bow

Dress you borrowed for our double date.
You were right, it did look better on you.

Ugly “Best Sister Ever” mug
-where did I put that box*

Invitation, dreaded words embossed in dark blue
Blood should be thicker than water, but when he dumps you for your sister they deserve each other.

The gopherwood ark teetered atop the mountain.

"Please," Noah coaxed his cockatoo. "You can do it. T. U. V."


Noah banged his fist. His cup of tea rattled. His shark-fin dumplings fluttered like a flag. "If you can say words, you can say W. Forty days we've been at this. Forty nights. It's W. W, W, W, you bloody beast!"

Knock, knock.

Noah glanced at the door. "Who's there?"

God spoke. "Ulamas."

"Ulamas who?"

"You llamas stink," God laughed. The cockatoo snickered. "Open the doors and let them out."

Noah groaned. No wonder the world had gone to hell.

Amy Johnson
That morning’s test confirmed it. He’d be surprised. Thoughts of indelible times filled her mind.

No more Bloody Mary. She made a cup of tea. Raspberry Rapture. The label’s wording struck her: A Bright New Day Awaits.

He wouldn’t be home until dark. She’d go clothes shopping, get her hair cut. Something different. Would coloring be safe?

That afternoon, she saw him approaching the front steps. He was early and carried a bouquet. She should have considered the possibility, after last night. He spotted her. She shoved the suitcase into the cab, jumped in.

“Get back here!” he yelled. “Mary!”

Never much use as a guard dog, ol' Shep sure had a nose for finding lost things.

My old leather work gloves.

A favorite hunting knife.

A tore up old oil- and blood-stained tarp.

The tattered duffel Betsy packed the day she tearfully told me she was leavin'.

Pure shame the mutt piled his muddy finds in a dark heap on the front porch the very night old Sheriff Brody came by, hawking phlegm past a chaw-coated uvula, offering condolences after word got 'round that my wife done run off.

Fucking clever dog, that Shep. Loyal to the end.

Here's the short list
Lennon Faris
My teens blacktop ice skate with Annie. I load groceries, chatting with Annie’s mom. Last bag tears.

Bagger appears, snatching up cans. Dull eyes find mine –dark eyeliner, greasy hair, blood-drop tattoos.

“Thanks,” I smile.
Loping, wooden gait.
“Pariah’s in Annie’s class, on meds,” whispers Annie’s mom. “Never talks. Check your bags.”

Loaded, backing up, music blaring.
Teenagers fighting in back seat.
Pariah’s double-fisting my window! Eyes ferocious!
Gun it! I think.

I think?

Slam brakes. Music off.
Screaming? –a girl.

Hands shaking. Teens untangle Annie’s coat from my door. Annie’s OK. Mom’s hysterical.

Pariah’s gone.
No talking needed.
I'm in awe of writers who can delicately spin the negative space of what's NOT on the page so deftly.

Tara Tyler R
“Dad! My uvula is bleeding!”

Five words I never wanted to hear. Kylee’s still a little girl.

I find my daughter’s bathroom door in the dark. What the hell am I supposed to say?

“Dad? What do I do? There’s blood everywhere! Dad?”

“I’m here, honey. It’s your time of the month.”

“My what? You mean my period? Oh yuck... Fine.”

“Are you okay? Do you need anything?” God, I wish her mother was here.

“I got it.” I hear her sniff back a tear. “You can go back to bed.”

I rub my head. I’ll never sleep again. 

I'm always a sucker for misused words that make the story so clever. This is a great example of that. Plus, can't you just feel the emotion here? GREAT writing.

Michael Seese
I’d paid the rent early. Can't have the landlord barging in and spoiling the surprise.

I’d donated blood, twice, the second time using a fake ID. “Always giving. Too much.”

I’d re-read the letters, and caressed the old photos, desperate to find some reason to stay.

I had none left.

Lying there, transfixed by the dark snake slithering through the cool water in the tub, I was surprised it didn't hurt more. Sleepy now, my eyes fell upon the angry words, written—as always—in lipstick on the mirror and, below them, my terse reply.

“My final gift to you.”

 Took me two reads to see what was happening here.
Do you get it?

Marie McKay
They have her word. Tears roll down my daughter's cheeks. My thumbs trace "sorry" on her swollen face.

WHOOPS from the boys crash through the windows. They play rough and loud. Bloodied knees and chins and teeth. Deep cuts left to gape and scar.

I don't distract her from her rage. Distraction is a lie. Instead, I find her hand and make my silent vow.
"I know they took it, your first word. And they took hers... and hers... and mine. But we'll unpick the dark threads rendering us closemouthed and instead stitch together our voices. You have my word.'

This is just stunning.

"Find me in the dark, Baby."

Those were the last words Mommy said to me. I've been looking for her ever since.

Now here she was at my window.

"You're crying," she said.

"You always used to kiss my tears away."

"Let me in, Baby."

"Mommy...there's blood on your face."

"Wipe it off for me, Baby."

"Daddy said no."

"Daddy isn't here. Do you miss me, Baby?"

"All the time."

"You don't have to any more. Take the garlic off, Baby. Do it for Mommy."
 If I'd been wearing sox when I read this, they'd have flown across the room.
This is just stunning. So simple, and yet, not at all.

Did you notice a theme in the short list this time?
Parents and kids.
And all lady finalists except Michael Seese.

I'm having a VERY hard time choosing the winner. (No surprise there!)

I'm going to post this now (11pm Sunday) and then take a look again tomorrow morning.
Let me know what you think in the meantime! 

I took a couple more spins through the short list, and honestly, all these entries are just wonderful.
I cannot choose between subtle and funny, dark and elegant, and the ones that crack me up even as tears come to my eyes.  To say any one of these is better than the other is crazypants.

And you know what? I have FIVE books to give away.

How about everybody wins?
Prizes will be given in the order of when I get your email saying which book you want.

The choices are:  

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
Tear it Down by Nick Petrie
When You Find Me by PJ Vernon
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz

St. Nicholas Salvage and Wrecking by Dana Haynes!!

And yes, I can mail overseas! 

My email: JetReidLiterary/gmail



Brenda said...

I love Micheal’s entry but I very much fear that I’m missing something. He slit his wrists in the tub. Is there something deeper that I’m missing?

AJ Blythe said...

Totally in awe of you guys. Didn't enter (long weekend in Australia for our National holiday), but glad now I didn't. Jeepers.

My pick would be Tara. The word mix-up was funny and after so much dark reading it makes it stand out.

I feel embarrassed to say I didn't get Marie's entry. I thought the girl had been bullied/bashed by the boys but I don't know what her first word would have been.

And I'm with Brenda on Michael's entry...if there's something deeper I'm missing it.

Steve Forti said...

When I read through them yesterday, the one that stood out for me was CynthiaMc. Definitey gets my vote!

Katja said...

I wanted to look at the post with all the entries again. Is it just on my device that the post isn't there anymore? (Although I tried with Fiancé's phone - same thing!)

All I can see/access is THIS post and yesterday's :/.

Apart from that, I can't decide which entry is the best.


NLiu said...

Really enjoyed reading all the entries this time! I especially loved Jennifer Mugrage's entry, but maybe because I found it so topical what with having a tiny baby of my own. MB Owen made me laugh with the line about the "heartwarming" uvula gift. Less keen on the dentist stories... (The horror!) Well done all!

Katja: on my phone I had to scroll down and hit the arrow to move back to the previous page of blog entries to find it. Might work for you too?

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Loved Tara's and Lennon's stories. Wow!

This contest was brought to you by the National Red Cross and the creators of Bird Box.

Seriously, I had to watch 2 Friends episodes for some spark of joy after reading all the entries. Well done, writer friends!

MA Hudson said...

Loved, loved, loved Lennon's entry!
All the finalists were amazing - well done guys.

french sojourn said...

So many powerful entries, but Marie McKays gutted me. Beautifully crafted but eviceratingly real.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Too hard for a Monday. Some of these are well so very upsetting. I think Michael maybe - that one broke my heart. CynthiaMc so sad and scary.

As usual, all of these feel like winners. I can't wait to see who our queen chomps for this one.

Aphra Pell said...

I can't choose - they are all brilliant.

Timothy Lowe said...

I loved French Sojourn's -- a neat underpinning for a novel. And JustJan's stood out as well. I have to agree with others that I felt like I was missing something with Seese's. I get the whole "donating blood twice" thing but why the "fake ID"? Was the first line of dialogue the line written on the mirror in lipstick?

I loved it anyway, of course. Seese, like Forti, should have a handicap.

Nice job everyone - and thanks for the contest, Janet. It was a wonderful distraction from playing WWHD (What Would Hiassen Do?) with my WIP.

Claire Bobrow said...

I can't choose, either. The entries were brilliant, and the short list impeccable!

There were a couple whose endings surprised me or made me laugh out loud: Hank, Barabara, Katelyn.

Madeline Mora-Summonte: your first line was a stunner. Same to you, John Davis Frain.
Steve Forti: you slay me.
Rio: it didn't make the mentions, but I loved your story.

Nom de plume said...

These were all wonderful but the instant I read CynthiaMc‘s entry it was the winner in my book! Am I the only one who hopes the mom turns the child into a vampire and they frolic around eternity having immortal adventures?

Claire Bobrow said...

...and that would be Barbara, not Barabara. Goodness me. More coffee, please.

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations to all! Thanks for the contest and the mention, Janet. Flash Fiction Fridays are so fun--great for inspiring creativity.

Just Jan said...

CynthiaMc gets my vote, out of a very tough field.

Thanks for the laughs, French Sojourn and Steve Forti--loved your entries. And thank you for the shout out, Tim Lowe!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Janet - thanks so much for the mention!

My vote is for CynthiaMc - it was creepy and heartbreaking at the same time.

Claire - so glad you liked that line - thanks!

Richelle Elberg said...

Nice job everyone! I'm voting for CynthiaMc, although I have to admit that I too don't quite get a couple of the entries--the 'first word' and the snake in the it 'just' blood seeping out or is more happening?

Lennon Faris said...

CynthiaMc's also grabbed me (sooo eerie, but yes Bethany that was kinda my thought too!), but then they were all fantastic. There were some super creepy entries here.

Thank you for the short list mention, Janet, and for the contest in general. They are always fun!

And thank you so much, Cecilia and MA Hudson! Very appreciated.

RosannaM said...

Such a great group of stories this round! I, too, am going back and forth! Glad I'm not the judge.

And I went back and read them all. I did love Kate Higgins' entry. The twist at the end, while not for the squeamish was wholly satisfying!

KDJames said...

There were so many good entries! Good job and congrats, everyone.

CynthiaMc is probably my favourite on the short list. I had to read Lennon's several times before I understood what she did. Superb. Also confused about what "first word" means in Marie's, but it's still compelling.

And shout out to Rio, who didn't make the list. That was poignant. Well done.

Thanks for the mention, Janet! Been a while since I entered and it was a nice challenge. I agree about the need for less blood next time. :shudder:

Claire Bobrow said...

Totally OT, but ya'll - one of our own has just won two ALA Youth Media awards (livestream of ALA Midwinter announcements is going on now), and they're not over yet.

Huge congrats to Adib Khorram!!

John Davis Frain said...

Amazing writing, as always happens during these contests. A little darker and bloodier than usual, but still amazing. (And when blood and dark are two of the prompt words...)

If we can't vote for Mr. Forti, then I guess I'll ... wait for the results.

Yeah, I'm no help at all.

Kate Larkindale said...

So many great stories, y'all! But I think for me it's between CynthiaMC and Tara Tyler R...

Adele said...

I read the first twenty or so posts early on Saturday, thinking I might enter, but the accumulated gore was too much for me. Today I read just the finalists - my vote foes to Lennon Faris.

Katelyn Y. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katelyn Y. said...

Thanks for the mention, Janet! Also, awesome job everyone! As always, lots of fun reading the stories. I really enjoyed several of them (particularly John Davis Frain's), but I have to vote for CynthiaMc. That story stuck out the first time I read the entries and then when I came back to them today.

April Mack said...

I loved the vampire one.

As for “first word,” I thought it was talking about a #metoo experience, since “me too” can’t be said first... it always follows something. And it was all women who had their first words stolen.

I didn’t quite understand the snake in the tub story either.

flashfriday said...

omgoodness. CynthiaMc hands down: this story has everything. Perfect construction. Tight writing. A zinger at the end that simultaneously sheds light (dark??) on the story and crushes the reader's expectations in flawless flash fiction style. There's character development, plot, tension, and a seriously atmospheric creep factor. I love it so much I had my kid read it this morning. She won't fall asleep in her classes today.

John Davis Frain said...

A bloody good ending to a bloody contest! It's 2019--everybody wins! Okay, technically, only the short-listers, but still.

I don't get to pick one, but The Word is Murder was sure a fun read. So far, everything I've read by Gregg Hurwitz has been terrific. (I assume this is another Orphan X tale.)

Wonderful solution to your problem, Janet. Why can't everything work out so well in life!

Congrats all you short-lister-finalist-winners!

Marie McKay said...

Thanks, Janet. That's brilliant. Well done, everyone.
I thought I'd just clarify that in my story the idea is that after a girl says her first word her mouth is sewn closed. The boys outside are loud, but the women are compelled to silence.
Not a cheery one, I'll grant you!

Kregger said...


Everybody wins!

I couldn't make a choice, so I'm glad Ms. Reid figured it out.

Thank you for the gory mention. I was as surprised to see Kate Higgins' submission so close to mine as an oral idea. Great minds must think alike. (Her's but not mine.)

So, I'm guessing my story represents too much blood and gore for MG?


Alright, I'll go back to writing about Little Bunny Fru-Fru scooping up field mice and lopping off their heads. That's better, right?

Congrats to all that entered.

CynthiaMc said...

I am completely overwhelmed, y'all. Thank you so much for all of your kind comments. I am normally a sunshine and roses writer but it was cold and rainy here (which we Floridians take personally) so I thought I'd flirt with the dark side.

Congratulations everyone - long list, short list, and everyone who entered or even thought about entering but chickened out. Do it next time!

Colin Smith said...

Congrats to the chosen! The Writing Contest Spreadsheet is up-to-date in the Treasure Chest.

Brenda said...

Congrats to all!

Theresa said...

Brilliant entries, and a brilliant solution for choosing winners.

And what great news about Adib today!

Katja, I had the same issue when I read through the entries yesterday. I found I could no longer scroll down to the previous blog posts. Now I have to click on the arrow for those.

Lennon Faris said...

Well this was a great surprise on a Monday. I feel very honored to be a part of this group. Thank you, Janet, and thank you everyone else!

Congratulations to you all. And to Adib!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to the 5 winners! Wow, how exciting is that!

So many great story writers here, it's tough competition. And congrats to Adib.

Rio said...

The talent here never stops astounding me. Congrats to all the winners!

Thank you Claire Bobrow and KDJames for the nice words. The story is close to my heart, so it means a lot that it resonated with you.

Jennifer Mugrage said...

NLiu, I wanted to show that the prompt words COULD be used to evoke something other than crime or horror. Even though they were clearly meant to evoke those, given the nature of the prize books.

I didn't expect to place. Especially after reading all the other amazing entries.

My favorites were the twistiest ones ... the dog digging up evidence of murder, the near-tragedy with the car door, and when Superman turns out to be the villain. (Even though in real life I love Superman and won't hear him maligned, that one does a great job of relying on readers' background knowledge to keep the story succinct.)

Great job everyone!

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations to the amazing finalists, and to Adib. Way to go! My favorite finalist was CynthiaMc's but I also loved Rosanna's story of the nurse playing word salad to get a paid helper.

Michael Seese said...

Thank you to Janet, for a great contest, and to all who offered me words of encouragement.

And kudos to all the winners.

To answer a few questions raised:

- No, it does not go any deeper than he slit his wrists in the tub.

- @ Timothy Lowe. Regarding the fake ID, I don't give blood -- since I'm a total sissy with regard to needles -- but I would assume they have rules about donating twice in one day or even on consecutive days. He wanted to get around that rule. Regarding the "first line of dialogue" if you're referring to “Always giving. Too much” that isn't what was written on the mirror; it's just something she always said to him as a way of berating him. In hindsight, I kinda wished the last line had been "Still giving. Last time, though" as a way to tie it back to her words.

Amy Johnson said...

Yay for Lennon, Tara, Michael, Marie, and Cynthia! Way to go! I must start setting up the decorations for your party. Red ones, of course! And there will be cake, because cake is cheery, and after some of these tales, we need some cheerfulness.

And yay for Adib! I'll make you a cake, too.

Katja said...

Theresa, NLiu, thank you (maybe I could/should have figured it out myself, doh, but it's just never looked like this before).

Congrats to all you amazing writers!!

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats all you wonderful winners! So well-deserved. Thanks for your stories - I loved them all.

Leilani said...

Of the short-list, CynthiaMc's was my favorite too. :)
Well done, everyone.

Marie McKay said...

Thanks very much. That means a lot.

Sherin Nicole said...

Good decision, Janet. They were all so good.

Adib Khorram said...

Thank you all for your kind words! I'm still quite stunned.