Friday, February 21, 2020

Flash fiction contest!

I've been reading my requested fulls, and diving into my queries!
As my reward, a flash fiction contest cause all y'll just boggle my mind with your work!

Contest prizes: TWO books!

The Right Sort of Man (an ARC edition)

A Royal Affair (an ARC edition)

I LOVE these books with a passion.

I can ONLY send these to a US address, so if you live overseas you can still win, but the prize will be something else. (If you live in Mongolia, the prize might be a packing crate with a shark in it!)

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use: Kalamazoo

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

9. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE.

10. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

11. Please do not post anything but contest entries on this blog post. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!"). Save that for the contest results post.

12. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

13. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: Saturday, 2/22/20 at 8:34am. (NYC time)

Contest closes: Sunday, 2/23/20 at 9am  (NYC time)

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid

Ready? SET?
Not yet! 

Rats! Too late! Contest is closed.


Steve Forti said...

2005: Every day, I’m on time for lessons, but still at the bottom of the scale. This is hard.

2007: I took down re, but then challenged mi to spar. Kicked my butt. Better keep practicing.

2010: Adagio, allegro. Y’all may doubt me, but I’m getting good at both.

2012: You know who called me tone deaf? Fa. I really want to stick it to that jerk.

2015: Who do I find fantastic? La. I realistically can contend with so, but never la.

2020: I’m speechless. I passed ti and won the Kalamazoo Kazoo! All that training, finally on top.

NLiu said...

Mum's perfect. Always there. Patient. Fair. Gingerbread hugs, royal stories. Smiles. Cake.

Dad's a mess. Works late. Smells. Yells. Forgets birthdays.

He never thanks her: "It's what she's for."

Dad arrives with a strange, fleshy woman. Mum's disappeared.

Big sis protests. "You can't have an affair! Mum--"

Dad snorts. "That robot didn't have feelings, Claire!"

We find Mum in a cupboard.

She's in pieces.

We get her together, recharged, woke. Tell her everything.

One spark can stop a human heart. Who knew? Certainly not Dad's doctor.

Now we live in Vermont.

Like I said, Mum's perfect.

Dad was only human.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

She flipped through the pages of the decades old Rand McNally.
“You dumb fuck,” Steve said to Clair. “Kalamazoo is in Michigan not Montana.”
“Screw you,” she said. “You’re a royal pain in the ass. I wouldn’t have an affair with you if you were the last man on earth.”
“Out of luck sweetie because I am the last man on earth.”
“Yeah I know,” she said. “So what do we do now?” She wrapped her blanket tighter to fortify against the cold.”
“We keep walking south. Making sparks under that Mongolian yak-wrap of yours tonight will warm us up.”

DianeL said...

After the Affair

It was Dieter’s Saturday in Montreal with the twins but he couldn’t muster enthusiasm.

Clair had thrust the boys out as soon as he’d pressed the bell.

“How can they trust you when you’re always late?”

He’d lowered his sunglasses.

He treated them to marbled ribeye and pommes frites at Joe Beef, and then kit them out in Blundstones from Simon’s, laughing along when their new heels sparked on the cobblestones.

He even extended his time by braving switchbacks to the top of Mount Royal in his banged-up Toyota. Still, his left eye twitched damnably all afternoon.

Steph Ellis said...

Sparks of fury drove her on. For a month, he’d been lying.

“Bastard,” she screeched, hurling a plate at his head.

“Hey, that’s my Royal Daulton,” he protested.

“You knew about my affair and did nothing!” How could he not be jealous?

“Didn’t need a clairvoyant to tell me you’d come back. You always do. Besides, I did do something.” He showed her a picture on his phone. “Made a killing,” he said.

“Blackmail again?” Her previous lover paid thousands.


It was a body she recognised.

“For me?” she whispered. She’d been wrong. He would do anything for her.

Sian Brighal said...

I picture your tongue on her shame as though licking cream from the sweetest eclair. It sickens me, but she continues her chocolate confessions, eager to serve slices of her affair, and I’ve so missed the taste of Chantilly. We sip amontillado afterwards and you spark her redemption with pennyroyal and tea. She smiles, but her hand betrays, sliding slow over her belly. You lick your lips on the digestif of her anguish as she reaches out for the tealeaves. Somewhere in the dark, she’ll brew and live or die, but you won’t care… you cat that’s got its cream.

Aphra Pell said...

Lord Montague Clair had a pedigree dating back to the conqueror and a yen for giant veg. But though his soul was in spuds, his heart belonged to Darlene Moggs, former celery queen of Kalamazoo.

Until the Cloverleaf Fair.

Imbibing a pint of parsnip wine before commentating the grandmothers’ three-legged race was, society agreed, regrettable. As was playing spot-the-carrot with the mayoress behind the cake stall. But it was calling Darl’s prize-winning stalks ‘inedible green string’ that sparked the war.

They never proved who turned all Monty’s hotly tipped Jersey Royals into Mr Potato Heads. But the divorce was inevitable.

S.D.King said...

Tokens. Slots. Spinning fruit.

Royal Caribbean - 10 glorious gambling days. Wasn’t Monte Carlo, but promised an orgy affair for her exploding addiction.

Instead 14 days cabin quarantine. A septic lair. Cabin fever. Cabin insanity.

Now back from Japan, a jet-lagged bus of 60 snored at 4 am heading to Army base quarantine. She was wide-eyed.

They pulled into a commercial fuel station next to a charter bus. The bus marquee said “Caesar’s Palace.”

Slipping out, she joined those seniors returning from the restroom.

Not a spark of guilt as she settled into an empty seat.

Tokens! Slots! Spinning Fruit!

C. Dan Castro said...

Airport terminal. Frenetic.

A knockout saunters over.

Her smile...kind.


And even if her smile and eyes lie, she’s a phenomenal piece of ass. I feel a spark!

“I’m clair...” Accent. Jamaican.



“OK, I’m Tom Foolery.”

“No, stinga. You’re Kalamazoo-bound for...Shawnee.”


Heng up mon! Your wife knows about dee affair.”


“But Shawnee has good news.”


“She’s pregnant.”


“Yah, mon. Totally, royally screwed. You gave her a baby. She gave you...well, ask your doctor for Valtrex, naah mean?


“No, just a phenomenal piece of ass.”

She slinks away.

My privates itch.

Amanda said...

Dillion lit the spark when we met at The Royal Conservatory in Montreal. He’d played “Clair de Lune” with a kind of expressiveness other music students and even gods, must envy. It burned with a steady fury after a day at Beaver Lake. By Christmas, he took me to meet his family in Kalamazoo. “Clair,” he bent on one knee from the piano bench.. “You’re the light of the moon and my inspiration.” Waiting for him by the lake, the diamond sparkled, oblivious to the affair he’d had while touring Paris. I clutched it as he approached.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

The woman in six from Kalamazoo,
she and John-Boy are appalling.
They moan and groan in their hullabaloo,
A garish affair naus’ating.

Though the rooms are pristine and sparkling clean,
the owner’s a harpy merchant.
Her pill-popping hands, so lauded, are mean,
They call her a public servant?

Clairemont Motel, what a wild aerie lair
behind locked doors, I can tell you.
A one-star rating I’ll give it, my dear,
This hell—


Ah. The Madame of Hell. In those ugly-as-sin clothing she makes the wait staff wear too.

“No supper for you ‘til you put your clothes back on.”

shanepatrickwrites said...

“It’s a kazoo, Clair. Kalamazoo is in Michigan.”

“So far, this affair is a royal pain. You’ve done nothing but disappoint since the original spark fizzled. No more business trip weekends for me. If I want to be corrected by a pompous ass, I’ll stay in Montana.”

Pete stared into his drink. “Go on then. There are plenty of women who know the difference between a city and a noisemaker.”

He looked up, hungry to see the hurt in her eyes. Instead he saw her walking toward the door.

She’d already moved on.

french sojourn said...

He slipped on the Montblanc watch, and adjusted the worn leather strap. His old tarnished St. Claire College class ring was a tight fit, but the faded Royal Flight School tie was much more compliant. He stepped back to take it all in. The hair was off, the part looked forced, so he dabbed a little hair crème and worked it in gently.
He needed something extra, just a spark of color, he briefly remembered that whole paisley cumberbund affair, and decided to skip it.
Finally satisfied with the overall look, he closed the coffin until the viewing scheduled later.

Colin Smith said...

They call them “triggers.” A thing that sparks a reaction. Like with a gun.

Squeeze. Bang.

It’s marching bands with my sister. Make her cry. Went to a Claremont game with her. She was bawling by half-time.

Squeeze. Bang.

I’m more classical in my taste. Impressionist.

Satie. Ducas. Ravel.

That royal concert. The singer was no Edith Piaf. Fair attempt, but no cigar. Then the pianist starts into “Pavane for a Dead Princess.”

I couldn’t help myself.

Squeeze. Bang.

A propos, really.

The train? The girl’s phone played “Clair de Lune.” Her name was Sam? I didn’t ask.

Squeeze. Bang.

Matt Krizan said...

Claire had hardly spoken to her in the month since her father left.

"I’m’na see elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes--" Jeffrey, making plans.

Claire, ignoring them both.


"A jaguar, a jackal, a--"


, Claire. Your brother’s birthday. Go get ready."

"Orangutans and--"

"Jeffrey, enough. Now, Claire."

She slouched upstairs, with that same sullen glare, blaming her for screwing everything up so royally.

How could she explain? The spark had gone out long before the affair.

Someday Claire would fall in love; someday she would understand.

“And penguins!”

“Jeffrey, please.”

She hoped.

“Mommy, why are you crying?”

Barbara Lund said...

It was an affair to remember: all sparks to flames and rags to royals on the big silver screen. The leads bought their own cons and married in secret in a lodge in Montana, but the third night of their honeymoon, Clair snarled at Wil and Wil had no pre-scripted words to soothe her.

Then Clair went off-script entirely, and after licking the blood from her sharp teeth and prying the skin from under her long nails, she fled to the locals, sobbing about the beast who had killed her co-star.

Marie McKay said...

An affair sounded sordid. Love shouldn't be sordid. She loved both of them for different reasons.
She lived a pleasant, predictable life with Sinclair.
Monty had added sparkle- a kindred spirit with a passion for acting. She encountered Monty at the Theatre Royal. He was older. She had suffered stage fright, but Monty was delightful, and she soon recovered.
Monty lived a world away from Sinclair's dreary pedantry. A lover whose existence was easy to bury.
Sinclair would never entertain the idea of there being a phantom of the footlights nevermind her falling in love with one.

Megan V said...

People came in droves to attend Grand Rapids' ArtPrize.
He drifted in from Kalamazoo, his VW dying just short of a legal parking spot—a feat worthy of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Not that he worried about the parking job. He had a boxful of éclairs at the ready.
Then she arrived, her volunteer’s uniform as pristine as a royal guardsman’s. “Afraid you’ll have to move.”
He held out the box. “Afraid my batteries dead.”
“Sounds like you need a jump.”
The jump itself was a noisy affair—barely concealed by his popped hood—but with double the spark.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Homeless Desmond’s got horse-face, B.O., some spark of satan
Crazy Claire is a toothless, sticky-fingered woman
Shunned by society. Always been
Found each other. Love began

They walk hand-in-hand everywhere
And everywhere, people sneer and stare
How could two disgusting beings dare
To kiss and laugh and flaunt their affair?

Why do couplings such as this
Summon tauntings, antipathies?
Is there a criteria to deserve bliss?
Godly demeanor or handsomeness?

We should not, by our little cruelties, destroy
A love between “two ugly people”, oi!
They found something beautiful and hard to come by
Leave them be, let them enjoy

Michael Seese said...

What a day.

One minute, I'm on the plane, fingernails etching trenches into the armrests of 22B. The next, I'm sweating in a Turkish prison.

A little éclaircissement...

Despite my fear of flying, I booked a midsummer dream vacation to Rome. All was copacetic, until some fancy-pants parked his royal attitude in 22C and pulled out a quill pen the size of a javelin. I freaked, and slapped his shiny pate with a partially eaten Twixt Bard.

And to think, the whole affair could have been avoided had I remembered Shakespeare's words.

22B, or not 22B: that is the question.

Lee Nire said...

“Um, onto clairaudience—”

“Speak up!” He shifted his weight.

“Shh! I think you’re missing Madame Spark’s point.”

“You don’t need special powers to hear the staff airing grievances at a retreat. She’s a royal pain—”

“Shh.” She nudged him. Again.

“Nope, can’t hear a thing.”

“John, stop.”

“Sitting until my legs tingle from paresthesia isn’t transcendence. Listening hard is just snooping. Why the hell are we here?”

“To get in touch with our spirituality.”

“When I was hired at the Kalamazoo Gazette, I thought journalism was taken seriously. I didn’t expect this woo-woo crap.”

“John, you write astrology.”


Craig F said...

The stones falling from heaven screwed us royally. The trashed power lines sparked fires. All the survivors could do was huddle like dung beetles in the offal of Earth. It didn’t take a clairvoyant to know the montage was at least a countrywide affair. No help came.

Aliens followed the stones. They rounded up the remaining humans and corralled us. The looks they gave our emaciated bodies said that we were no longer at the top of the food chain. A machine kept us fed and watered. The Aliens left and someone noticed the corral wasn’t locked. We found hope.

Zevonesque said...

A Sunday With Sparkly Bits

Suzie looked across the water from the Cafe Royale. A couple of fishing boats bobbed on the Atlantic swell. Beyond the promontory she could make out the ferry heading to Ireland.

She ordered a second tea, as she needed to stay a wee bit longer; she was going to be a bad girl and order an eclair. She enjoyed her sordid affair with chocolate and cream.

Cindy sat quietly, trying to remain calm, knowing if mum was getting cake she would be getting a Knickerbocker Glory drizzled with sparkly bits. The weather was poor, but it was a good day.

Linda Shantz said...

“It’s been too long.”
“Remember Mont Tremblant? The eclairs? And Mount Royal?”
“There were sparks. Quite the affair.”
“Et quand les Habitants pouvaient gagner?”
“You haven't lost your sense of humour, but you've lost your accent. And your smile.”
“Ontario has robbed me of much.”
“Come back.”
“Ah, you haven’t changed. But some of us are meant to be alone.”

Timothy Lowe said...


1) Use something sturdy. Royal oak or similar.
2) Two words: roofing-nails. (Coffin nails are tough to pry loose)
3) Measure carefully. This cask won’t be holding Amontillado.
4) Be careful to keep up appearances. Get the wife something sparkly to avert suspicion.
5) Get your affairs in order. Insurance, train tickets. (Even Kalamazoo will do this time of year)
6) Be precise with your timing. Mistress has to be ready with the spade.

Post-script: Incl. air holes (in case Mistress is running late).

CynthiaMc said...

"It isn't an affair, Mum," I said.
"Are you married?"
"Not yet."
"Drink your tea."
It tasted like mint. His favorite. A montage of all things him raced through my mind:
That sizzling spark between us.
Our first kiss over eclairs after church on Sunday.
Our first time, on a blanket in a field of daisies in the moonlight.
"Royals don't marry the help."
"He calls me his princess."
"He's marrying a real one."
"Not yet."
Not ever.
Princess Trusting
Princess Stupid
Princess Forever in the Oubliette
I'm his princess.
He said.
He'll see.

Beth Carpenter said...

Mon, Tues, Wed. Perfect. I love Prime.

I’ll invite my former neighbors, including Mr. “Careful, your brake fluid is leaking” Fixit, to my new over-appraised, shabby-chic lair. Divorce didn’t pay nearly as well as widowhood would’ve. Stupid prenup. He cheated but I’m royally screwed.

Remote control electric lighter. Two-day delivery.

A casual affair, nibbles and cocktails. They’ll all come out to Kalamazoo. Too curious not to. Oh dear, a malfunctioning gas fireplace! I’ll get Mr. Fixit over early to check it out, while I go for extra ice. He’ll smell the gas—too late. An unexpected spark.

One click.

Luralee said...

He lit a feeble spark. “You’ve gotta help me! It’s what you do!”

“It’s none of my affair.”

Crazed fanatics had arrived from all over the state. Kalamazoo, Royal Oak, now Fremont—
If He left so would they.

“Get in the truck.”

They’re surrounded before you can say “clairvoyant.”

“What’s in the back?” Zealots swarm the truck bed. “Just a cooler full of Vernors.”
“Guess we were misinformed. You’re free to go, Reverend.”

The disappointed mob starts to disburse...

“Are we there yet?” A wail from under the seat.

Devil’s own fault they never got that Dodge out of Hell.

Alyssa R said...

Prince Asher and I dance together once before she arrives. The beauty from "Kalamazoo" who's finally sparked Asher's interest.

When she dashes out of the royal palace, I am relieved. Asher is...not.

I find him on the stairs, holding a delicate shoe and weeping.

The shoe looks… familiar.

(Leave it, Claire. This affair can end before it begins.)

Asher is like Monty, my starling. If he's caged, he'll die. He needs to be free.

I am his cage.

Heart shattering, I smile. "It's fairy work. Put it on her foot, and you'll know."

I love him too much.

Will MacPhail said...

The spark grew, flared, and eventually fizzled out like an adolescent love affair. A tear fell as I turned away, the ring hidden within the little black box tucked deep in my pocket.

I moved to Montreal, but each summer I came home. Around every corner we held hands my heart skipped a beat. A breath was lost as I passed where we first kissed.

I avoided Clair for years, but when I found her she was reduced to a poem. I left the ring on the marble knowing the royalties my heart owed me will never be paid.

John Davis Frain said...

The pen wasn’t a pen.

“Need your signature, Claire, or they won’t believe it’s suicide.” Parker handed over my Mont Blanc. Pricey for a pen, doubly for the customization.

I thumbed the cap. “Are you cross over the affair, dear?” Flashbacks to three husbands, rest in pieces.

“Fine point. But it’s your memoir’s royalties that sparked this.”

My hub, the sharpie. “It hasn’t even earned out, hon.”

“It will now.” He brandished a sword and rushed me.

I opened my pen and fired. Twice in his heart. My signature.

“Always said which was mightier, dear.” But he’d already stopped listening.

Karen McCoy Books said...

They’d probably looked at over 200 houses.

This one, with a clairvoyant rock garden.

That one, with a royal armoire.

Eventually each one blended together into a montage. He just couldn’t decide.

She toyed with having an affair. Clarity won out.

Just a spark, that was all they needed. The right house would present itself.

Finally, he ended up picking one he liked. The lease was paired with divorce papers.

She didn’t protest. Rather, she decided to finalize her will.

He didn’t recognize her body when he found it decades later, when termites invaded his basement.

Just Jan said...

There’s a spark. A sluggish rhythm.

“Are you alive?” whispers the wind.

“I feel my heart beating. It’s a glorious affair.”

It whips my royal blue scarf. “What will happen when I turn warm?”

“I’ll be here,” I insist. “I have a heart.”

Day by day, I fail. A jackdaw pecks my eyes. Curious squirrels nibble my nose. Near the end of the month, my arms drop off.

“The rain comes. How will you survive?”

“My heart is--” I begin, but the red candy Claire placed so gently inside me slides to the ground.

“Broken,” wails the wind.

I melt.

Erik White said...

"No, no, come in."

"It's not too early?"

"No, please, sit. Coffee?"

"Please. Emily's gone, Tom."

"Where to?"

"She ran to Michigan."


"Yeah, Kalamazoo."


"The city, Kalamazoo. There's another man."

"Oh my God, Jerry."

"They've been together for some time now, I guess, a real affairagé. Oh, douleur est une montagne. I'm suffocating, Tom. Emily was my spark."

"I can't imagine."

"Emily Claire Forti.... I'm lost."

"I'm sorry, 'Forti'?"

"That's right, Steve Forti."

"That royal bastard. Jerry, clear your schedule."

"You know this man?"

"I'll explain on the way."

"Wait, the coffee."

"No time! We're going to Michigan."

Brigid said...

"I've looked from Kalamazoo to Montana and you're the first person, Thecla, I really spark with."

"I feel similarly, but it's--we barely--I don't know what you do for a living, Ashraf!"

"Haha! Fair enough, darling. You know those 'are you human' tests on websites? I teach robots how to beat them."

"Wait. Are you the reason I have to click 40 pictures of traffic lights to check my bank balance?"

"I can't take full--"

"Do you know what a royal pain those are?!"


"I thought you were a gentleman, but it turns out you're just an artificial hack!"

Jeanne said...

“Pennyroyal tea? You think I’m stupid?”
“Mais non, it’s mint from the garden, good for headaches.”
“Like the one you’re giving me with all this money talk?”
“Your wife, she knows?”
His eyes sparkled. “Not yet.”
A gallic shrug. “It is expensive to live in Kalamazoo.”
Images of their affair flashed through his mind, a montage of sweet memories. What else was he going to spend his wife’s money on? He sighed and bit into a chocolate-iced eclair. The cream squirted into his mouth, bringing the taste of bitter almonds.
“From your wife’s bakery,” were the last words he heard.