Saturday, October 12, 2019

At long last, the flash fiction contest results.

I should have just lied through my fangs and said all your entries required so much dictionary time that results would be late.

Truthfully of course, I was on a reading binge Monday-Wednesday, and by Thursday and Friday I was cleaning up all the stuff that got pushed from M-W. 160K tomes will do that to you!

The good news is the bio is quite amazing, and I can't wait to be able to talk about it! (Probably a year; editing this is going to take some time, but that's someone else's job!)

Herewith, at long last, results!

Aphra Pell sends me to Word School!
fornent (wait, it's not there!)
fortalice (not there either!)
formicaries (aha! ant's nests!)

Unknown chordata

Lance: shabbaba (not there)

Sandra J: fortalice

Jenn Griffin: fortin (not there, so I googled, and it turns out to mean little fort, and it's so obscure it's ONLY in the MW Unabridged edition.  Thanks Jenn, now I need to buy a NEW dictionary!)

KD James: Tardigrada, arthropoda

Special recognition for a great line
Marie McKay
The canals stank of misfortune.

NLiu: It's so bleak, the muse never visits.

nightmusic scares the salt from my sea!

Angel L does too

Brilliant juxtaposition of unicorns and rhinos!
Laurel Neme

CarolynnWith2Ns cracked me up

Megan V did too
"A fortifying beverage, your majesty?"
"No, no, Fortescue.” The Queen said. “What I need is a Forti-defying beverage."

Why do I even try.
Phylum!! He used PHYLUM!!

Steve Forti
Dana came to Prague for the chance to work with her dream director, but he’d been ignoring her for ten minutes, listening to some local extra talk in great detail about her wordless cameo. If I end the audition, she thought. No, there aren’t many killer lead roles for timid forty-something actresses.

Still, she bit her tongue when he dropped his pants and the extra joined him in, well, public pornography.

bering back, the director shook Dana’s hand. “You got the part.”

“What the hell was that?”

He shrugged. “Before I hire anyone, I always do a thorough background Czech.”

honestly, I surrender.
This is world class word play.
I'm outclassed.

Even Casual-T recognized my pain
O Fortuna velut luna statu variabilis… The choir’s triple-forte shook me awake. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an evening at Carnegie Hall as much as the next gal, but I’d been going forty hours straight, searching for six words to finally thwart Forti. It’s no picnic, being a literary agent in NYC, you know. Cocktail parties, celebrity meetings, author’s bribes… Oh, it’s all such a drag. But what really irks me, is that Steve keeps besting me.

Hold on; let me check this week’s contest.

Argh… Forti you fiend, you’ve outsmarted me again. Come and get your trophy, Lummox!

Special recognition
Just Jan
It ain’t easy being Four.

“Without you,” sniffs Eight, “there’d be no double-dates. Your position’s admirable.”

I disagree. Stuck between the fiendish threesome and high-five, I’m upstaged constantly.

“Watch your elbows!” they say. All straight lines and angles, it’s hard to fortify myself between their voluptuous curves.

“I get no respect,” Twenty whines.

Guess what? Thirty is the zest; Fifty, a fortress. No one wants to be Forty. Even at Christmas, I’m challenged.

“What’s a colly bird?” asks Nine.

I rest my case.

Six sighs. “You have love.”

Adornment of my namesake digit? Not my forte, but I’ll take it.
This is so clever I read it twice just to laugh again.
The colly bird line is perfection.

The family sat in stony silence.
Timothy Fortesque chose a box from the mountain of gifts and read the label--for:Timmy. "May I open it now?" No one objected. He tore off the paper. "Little surgeon set! Awesome!" He fingered the scalpel--so realistic. Now he could do the job properly.
"Thanks for this, Uncle Gus!"
Cadaver smiles all around.
Who's next? Not Gertrude. Old fiend might pass for forty, but she smelled of atrophy, lumbago, and formaldehyde.

Yesterday, Father complained Tim hadn't gotten his brain along with his looks.

He had it now.

Cadaver smiles all around just slides in like an ice pick doesn't it?

french sojourn
“Forty days and forty nights of rain… just for teaching them faith.”

“Bullshit, that was written later.”

“I can give you scripture and verse, my son.”

“Well… ok, maybe, but it didn’t go as per plan, so heavenly in its simplicity, right father?”

“Mistakes were made, lest we never forget… for time heals all wounds.”

“Listen, I know Noah worked his ass off, but he was completely miscast.”

“The man fiendishly built an ark, he laid away stores, he was flawless in his faith… who did he disappoint?”

“Well, how about Philip and Ernie, you know… the two unicorns.”
absolute subtle perfection here

Timothy Lowe
For teething: liquid ibuprofen and a benzocaine necklace.

For timid steps along the foyer hall: a ring pop pacifier.

For toilet-training: M and Ms (#1), donut holes (#2).

For tying your shoes: a bag of snickers (baby-size).

For the T-ball tournament (4th place): a shiny trophy, lumberjack-proud on your shelf.

For a C in history: a nasty blast email to the teacher.

For coming home with the sheriff: I endeavor to explain.

For tying one on, wallpapering the living room in puke: a shiny new Lexus.

For T-boning a school bus, a gentle head shake: “When will you learn?”

and speaking of subtle.
everything that's on the page shapes the story, but the story is what isn't said.
Brilliant work Tim.

I'm invisible. I can walk down the street, go into a store, and no one sees me. I can speak and not be heard. Neat, right? Is this an autobiography lumped together with science fiction, you wonder.

No. I wasn't always this way, quite the opposite. For the longest time I wished to be invisible, but careful what you wish for. Test the waters first. Then again, you can't.

If I ended up this way, well I'm not alone and don't judge me for typecasting. We're millions out there and just you wait, for time will render you invisible too. 
How interesing it would be to have a crime novel depend on the idea that people don't see middle-aged women. Undercover in plain sight.

“We’ve a bet going. It might cause a fuss.”
“Cut me in. Terms?” the bartender asked.
“We need to fortify ourselves.”
“Roger thinks someone’ll buy our drinks.”
“Steven thinks our talent won’t impress your clientele.”
“Nothing impresses them. Twenty for Steve. Whaddya planning?”
“I played Hamlet in my youth. Well, Fortinbras. Practically the same.”
“We could use the piano instead,” Steven suggested.
“Heart and Soul” never sounded worse. Their fingers flew like fiends from forte to pianissimo.
“HEY! You’re awful. Everyone’s gone.”
“Good,” they said.
Roger slapped down forty. Steven pulled a .40.
“We’ll need that back. With the register.”

I always love a good caper story, and this one is hilarioius to boot. And these two lines are cracked me up.
“I played Hamlet in my youth. Well, Fortinbras. Practically the same.”

After a week the casseroles stopped coming. Jeanne shoved the extras in the freezer, disassembled his blanket-fort, boxed up his Legos, and went back to work.

Play the dirge piano,

“Thanks,” said Jeanne, blowing her nose with fiendish force.
“You still cry a lot.”
“It’s been a long time though.”
“Not that long,” said Jeanne.

Sing the dirge now mezzo,

“He’d be forty today.”
“Wow. Crazy. Life goes on, I guess.”
“Does it?” said Jeanne.

Shout the foul dirge forte,
Shout the foul dirge forte,
Like Timothy Lowe, what's here isn't the story but the story is crystal clear in what isn't on the page.
Brilliant writing.

Of course, this was an insane choice.
Any one of these isn't "better" than the others. They're all absolutely wonderful in their own right, and could have been chosen for the prize.

This week though, JustJan really made me laugh, and that's what felt right.

The other entries, particulary my beloved nemesis Steve Forti, were all amazing. I'm in awe of the talent that turns up here in these contests.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post.
It's always a pleasure to read your work.

Jan, drop me a line and let's get your prize worked out!


Aphra Pell said...

Congrats Jan! All brilliant shortlisters, but I want to wave a pom-pom for the entry about the fort beseiged by the tardigrades. You can't go wrong with a tardigrade.

For ref:

Fornent - to stand in front of, opposite, alongside or facing. It's Scottish / Northern Irish dialect.

Fortalice - a small fortress / fortified house, used in the late medieval period as an English variant of the latin fortalitia. Now archaic but still sometimes used with reference to Scottish border peel towers. Sir Walter Scott used it a lot.

Both in Merriam Webster!

Steve Forti said...

Stuck between the threesome and the high five. Great line. Congrats Jan.

Timothy Lowe said...

Jan, yours had me all the way. I bow to your superior number sense. Great stuff, everyone!

nightsmusic said...

Congrats JustJan! I loved your entry as well.

An aside to Mr. Forti; I meant no offense with my entry. It was the first thing that popped into my head and all in good fun...though if it hits too close to home, I'd never tell ;)

Sheri M said...

The phylum Chordata is the phylum to which all mammals belomg.

Fearless Reider said...

Congrats, JustJan What a rich feast of entries. Forget Prague — Steve Forti is surely headed for The Hague. That pun was a crime against humanity. My hat is off.

flashfriday’s entry struck a deep chord with me — no pun intended. It’s cleverly constructed but, more than that, it has an emotional veracity that’s tricky to achieve in 100 words. I hope that’s insight gained from empathy and not personal experience. Most people don’t grasp the way grief over a child doesn’t diminish but grows with time, as each passing day takes you farther away. It’s as if the child grows in the opposite direction — as other kids grow up and start to make their marks on the world, the lost child fades farther away in people’s memories and their impact becomes smaller and smaller. We would have celebrated our son’s 21st birthday this week if we had not buried him on his 4th. “Life goes on” is the cruelest platitude because it’s true.

Writer friends, never doubt that what you write matters, even if it’s “just” an entry in a fun Flash Fiction contest. Somewhere, someone needs to hear what you have to say.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Congratulations, Just Jan and all the finalists. Great job everyone.

Have a terrific weekend. And I really can't wait to discover who this 160K word biography is about.

Steve Forti said...

nightsmusic - No worries at all. Honestly, I'm still flattered every time a reference is made to me on here. It's good that anyone even knows my name, let alone remembers or affords any status. So please, have at all the story embedding you wish :)
Except you got one thing wrong. I can't be "way past forty" if I still have a good ten months to go before hitting that milestone. That's an eternity, I tell ya. My joints may vehemently disagree, but I'm still a spring chicken, dammit :-p

Sandra J. said...

Congrats JustJan! Your entry was very clever. I particularly loved the line, "All straight lines and angles, it’s hard to fortify myself between their voluptuous curves." I imagine Three and Five throwing annoyed looks at Four when he (he's all straight and angles, so Four's a guy, right?) inadvertently bumps into them.

Fearless Reider - I'm sorry about your son. A parent's love is timeless. Thank you for sharing such a personal loss.

Janet - thank you for challenging my brain with your Flash Fiction contests. Your word choices force me entirely out of my comfort zone and I can almost feel the synapses firing all on cylinders in an effort to put together something reasonably presentable. It's invigorating (and a bit scary). Besides, I'm learning an incredible amount from all the contest entries and your take on them. Kudos.

nightsmusic said...

Ahhh Fearless Reider, I'm so sorry for your loss. And no, it never 'gets easier' or 'fades with time' or any of the other platitudes well meaning people say who have never experienced it. *hugs*

Mr. Forti ;) I'll have you know I'm well past your upcoming age however, I'm still 27 inside! The shell might be aging, but the heart and mind refuse. :) And thank you for being so gracious. I honestly thought hard about posting that, but it was a brain fart I just couldn't resist.

Angel L said...

Thanks for the mention Janet. Congrats Just Jan! Great job everyone. I particularly loved the entries from Casual-T, Luralee and Hannah.

John Davis Frain said...

Being away until mid-day last Saturday, I made the cardinal sin of looking at some entries before setting in to craft my own.


Like listening to Beethoven before a piano lesson. Sure, I can bang on some keys, but what's the point?

I particularly liked Tim Lowe and Flash Friday for their deft use of telling a story by telling a different story. So subtle. So excellent. I have to try that for an upcoming contest.

Now, I confess. I understand on a very general level what's going on with Just Jan's story. Four colly birds, sure I've heard of them. But I know I'm missing something, so excuse me while I go back and read a (shudder to admit) fourth time and maybe get what's going on.

Regardless my incompetence, congratulations Jan on a splendid entry.

John Davis Frain said...

Oh, and "slides in like an ice pick" is as delicious as any line from a story. Well placed, Madame Reid.

Colin Smith said...

Well done, everyone! And particular congrats to Just Jan.

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

Theresa said...

I share Mr. Frain's uncertainty about Jan's story. I know it's about numbers and I thought it was a riff on the 12 Days of Christmas because of the colly birds, but then there were the references to twenty and thirty and I got all mixed up again. Numbers do me in every time.

Lance said...

Congratulations to JustJan on a great piece. And to all the short-listers, congratulations. All due honors to Mr. Forti.

Lessons learned on this end:
1. Dive too deep into the internet looking for obscure words, and you can get lost.
2. Hold on to the safety line back to the dictionary.

Thank you, Ms. Reid, for another great contest.

Casual-T said...

I don't envy Janet, having had to pick a winner from this lot... Such good entries all around. Some make you laugh, some make you cry, and some make you reach for the dictionary, but all make you sit back in your favorite reading chair, take another bite of that freshly cut slice of humble pie, and marvel at what can be done by merely stringing words together in a particular order.

Congrats, JustJan, for taking home the prize.

@Fearless... As a parent myself, the mere thought of what you describe leaves me in a cold sweat. Sometimes time does not heal all wounds.

JanR said...

Congratulations JustJan! Funny funny funny funny!

Timothy Lowe's really struck me too - so subtle the way the unease grows. On finishing I immediately went back and started at the beginning and I love stories like that, where the second read is a wholly different but equally good pleasure.

Fearless Reider and flashfriday, in tears with you.

Just Jan said...

Thank you, Janet! I am honored to be in such brilliant company. These words were...well, I can't think of a word that adequately defines this collection, but I will say that I kept having to check and double-check to make sure I got all five in, and that made my head spin. Kudos to everyone who entered. Double kudos to those who made Janet clutch her dictionary!

Rio said...

Just Jan - another well-deserved win! I’d give it five stars, but that would be cruel, wouldn’t it?

LynnRodz - I knew your story would be a finalist as soon as I read it. It was like an entire Twilight Zone episode in 100 words. Then I read Ms. Reid’s comments and realized what the story was actually about, and now I think it’s even awesomer.

Fearless Reider - I’m so sorry. I wish to God no parent ever knew that kind of pain.

Marie McKay said...

Congratulations, Just Jan. Quirky and sharp. Love it.
Well done all the finalists.
Thanks for the mention, Janet.

Fearless Reider,I am so sorry for your loss. I can't begin to imagine your pain. There are no words.

Megan V said...

Loved Just Jan' entry! Awesome work all!

KDJames said...

Congratulations, Jan! Your story made me laugh too, once I realized what it was about. Humour is so welcome these days.

I'd forgotten some of these in the busy past week, and it was nice to re-visit them. So much to admire and wonder over. Well done, everyone.

Fearless, I'm so sorry. I can't and don't want to imagine that kind of loss.

Aphra, thanks for the pom-pom wave! "Phylum" sent me to google -- "what is that, a flower?" -- and I couldn't believe I'd never heard of the vast majority of them. When I got to tardigrada on the list, I just had to find a way to include them. They're truly remarkable.

But I have to agree with Lance-- if the writer has to head to the dictionary to write the story, chances are good the reader isn't going to follow along seamlessly.

Thanks for another fun and challenging list of contest words, Janet.

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, JustJan! I loved your entry (but had to look up "colly birds" to get that particular joke.) Well done!!

LynnRodz said...

Congrats, Just Jan, well deserved! Yours was one of my favorites.

Hank, your story made me laugh as well.

Thank you, Janet, for including me with such great company. I think you have something there, sort of an Undercover Club. My mum used to listen to a radio show by that name. It sounded intriguing, like a group of spies, but in reality it was a show for mostly elderly ladies who would listen every night around midnight while they were in bed under covers.

Rio, thank you for your kind words. I kind of like the Twilight Zone take on the story.

Fearless Reider, I'm sure no matter how many years pass, you'll remember how old your son would've been. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Luralee said...

Congratulations Just Jan! There were so many great entries this week. I’m thrilled to have made the list.Thank you Angel L for mentioning me. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

flashfriday said...

FOUR CHEERS for Just Jan!!! congrats on the win, and warmest congrats to all mentions & finalists. A pleasure and a privilege writing in this community.

Thanks also for the kind comments on my story. Fearless Reider, I grieve with you. Thank you for sharing your son and your sorrow with us. -My story was written to honor a friend whose son died last year, with whom I have walked a part of this journey. I also wrote in honor of Botham Jean's mother Allison, and named my grieving mother for her. May their names always burn in our hearts.

french sojourn said...

Outstanding JustJan, well done and well deserved. So much talent out there, I am constantly amazed by all the entries. It's fun to re-read the entries, it's like mining for gold, so many details in each entry.

LynnRodz, take it from me, you are anything but invisible. Wonderfully written entry as well. So happy I had the opportunity to meet you and your husband.

Janet, thank you for the kind words, more than kind. And thanks for the effort you put into these f.f.contests.

Cheers Hank

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats JustJan!

And what awesome entries these were. I love reading them. And it makes me think, am I really a writer? I'm so glad it takes all sorts of quirks and talents of all the various writers who fill our world with stories.

Jenn Griffin said...

Janet, FYI: Jean Fortin was the inventor of a barometer that uses mercury in a U-tube to measure air pressure. Olive Thomas was a silent film actress and Ziegfeld girl. She ingested her husband's syphillis medication and died of poison from the mercury it contained. Some speculate it was suicide.

Did I know any of this before the contest? Absolutely not! I was just looking for a way to incorporate Forti... I know my references were obscure, but I had a lot of fun with my entry anyway.

LynnRodz said...

Aww, thanks, Hank. Too bad it was so hot this summer, we went west instead of south.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

As usual I am in awe.
Congrats Just Jan.

And it just goes to show-ya that Forti is from another planet.

nightsmusic said...

Jenn Griffin Just an FYI because it's really obscure, but my aunt was a Ziegfeld girl...

Karen McCoy said...

What lovely entries! JustJan, you made me guffaw. I also loved LynnRodz's entry.

I had to sit this one out. Flu season started early...

nightsmusic said...

And I realized though I'd thought to do it with my posts, I didn't thank you for the honorable mention, Janet! Scared the salt out of your sea is a fine complement!

LynnRodz said...

Thanks, Karen McCoy, hope you get well soon.

Fearless Reider said...

Thank you for all your thoughtful words! I’m grateful for this supportive community of kind souls — and fiendishly talented writers.