Friday, August 14, 2020

Is that Steve Forti I see over the hill Flash Fiction contest

Turns out it's Steve Forti's 40 this weekend.

I think we should celebrate with a flash fiction contest (I stole the idea from Tim Lowe of course)

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

If you want to compete in the Steve Forti Master Use of Prompt Words category, you must also:
A. Use the word Titicaca in addition to the other five prompt words
B. put the words "Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you" at the top of your story.  (these words do NOT count against your 100 word limit)

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. (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, August 15, 8:12am
Contest closes: Sunday, August 16, 9am

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!
So sorry, contest closed.


B.I.Hirsch said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you.

Year twenty-one of Genghis' reign, Mayan Delegate For-Ti stood in the Khan's yurt seeking an audience to establish trade routes.

(portion of Great Scroll destroyed)

“What does turtle–”

Tortoise, Great Khan. Sort of a turtle, but land-speed averages 1/3 mile per hour.”

“What does–”

“Turtles are faster.”

“What does–”

“Not that a turtle's worthless, but tortoise's what you want.”


“'Course, given the overland distance from here to Lake Titicaca–”

At the fourth interruption, Genghis Khan graciously ordered Delegate For-Ti beheaded.

Matt Krizan said...

My way up felt tortuous. Yet, as I look back down, my path is straight and true, as if the choices I’d made were the only ones I could have made. The very urtext of my life is there, laid out before me—no deceptions, no lies. I see, then, that the journey had been worth it. (There were times when I hadn’t been so sure.)

I pause, sorting through my emotions: fear, certainly, not knowing what lies ahead, but a new-found hope, too.

With a deep breath to fortify myself, I take my first step over the hill.

shanepatrickwrites said...

“Happy birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you,” she muttered while sharpening her knife in the dark. “You prompts-splitting poser. Do you cheat at ‘Go fish,’ too?”

“Yur the sort who’d add an ‘e’ to make a tort delicious,” she spat, scraping the blade across her thumbnail, rolling bits of keratin in front of the honed metal. Satisfied that the keen edge could slice spleens like a paddle through Lake Titicaca, she dipped the steel in the feces and liverwort mixture, not her dog of course. Reef dwellers always make their protagonists test for DNA.

“I’m coming for you, Steveareeno,” she said, for the umpteenth time.

Thomas Woodward said...

You think you know. I love that about you. But you don’t.
The trunk rattles. I roll down the window, and blow a stream of smoke between the tinted glass.
“Yes, officer?”
“License and registration.”
I pop the glove compartment effortlessly, humming to myself. Don’t move too fast. Get it sorted.
I pass the noteworthy documents through the gap in the window, and wait as his footsteps fade away. Another feeble attempt emanates from behind the back seat.
The footsteps return. “See that you get that tail light fixed.”
“Yurt, officer,” I say, smiling.

Brigid said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you

"Come back, Steve. Practicing law is better than living in a blanket fort in a cow field."
"It's a yurt. And no."
"Yang agreed to make you partner."
"Don't want it. I c--ac-achoo!"
"What, you think you're not worthy?"
"Just not that sort of guy."
"Since last week."
"Helluva week."
"Seemed normal to me."
"Sure. I spent 73 hours helping my client steal from his mother."
"Great view here."
"I think those young cowtippers are throwing patties at your Jag. Mahmoud?"
"It's Yang's. Got enough blankets for another fort?"
"I'll take cow-teasers over tortfeasors any day."

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you!

Many years ago, I stumbled across this blog. Although I was sort of nervous, I decided to enter a flash fiction contest. Torture. The following day, reading through the other entries, I thought: "Oh man, who's this Forti dude. He read the rules wrong. He's gonna be DQ'd. He's all over the place, splitting prompt words into two or three other words. Poor guy."

Turns out it was I who read the rules wrong. The word wrangling was allowed. And I'm not worthy to even stand in the shadow of Steve Forti's Thesaurus. I'll be in Titicaca living in a yurt. Where you can smell the kale fields of Carkoon.

french sojourn said...

She was born to French peasants as the hundred-year war raged. Time for their sorrow or temptation didn’t exist in the 1400’s, they were hard years.

A voice spoke to her from on-high.

At 17, she led the liberation of Orleans, then assorted battles against the British invaders.

Captured, tortured, tried, and convicted… she was sentenced to death for the crime of dressing as a man. A year later her life was taken.

“Sorry, ur time is up lass,” the soldier said as he lowered the torch

She bowed her head in prayer as the flames started their eternal dance.

Colin Smith said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti! :)

“You word wrangler, you!”

I inwardly grimaced at his tortured prose, an assortment of non sequiturs, mixed metaphors, and emotive misspellings mashed into a mess of less-than-thought-provoking ideas.

“This effort is worthy of The Times!”

A useful rag, as my hamster can attest.

“It… I ca… can hardly…” I passed him the tissue box. He took one.

“I especially liked the line, ‘Y’urt my feels, buh I don care; like Michael Jackson, I’ll be there.’”

“Th… thanks,” he sniffed.

“Excellent work, George,” I said. “Welcome to Hallmark.” My cheeks flushed. “And tell your mother I said hello.”

Craig F said...

Dena was my heart, even though a self-proclaimed mage. Her attempt to start the beer wort burned the damned yurt down.

Since we were cohabitating, I couldn’t use a tort suit to rebuild it. We had to sortie out and find a new fortress for us.

The first was drafty. The second didn’t have a cool dark place for beer.

The third looked like we built it for ourselves, but…it was haunted.

The ghost caterwauled the whole first night. We did a séance the second night.

“Ghost, gotta problem?”

“The witch blew up my beer wort, and me too.”

Megan V said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you

“Lordy Lordy Look Who’s Forty”
“Can it be?”
“You know I swore he—“
“Ran off to build the perfect yurt?”
“Pfft. All he’d manage is a pile of dirt.”
“He’d sort it out. It’s the Forti of forts.”
“I should have lent him T.A.R.D.I.S.”
“Your tortoise?”
“What about cake?”
“I guess we can manage it.”
“If none of Mel’s horses or dogs take a whack at it.”
“He’s in Titicaca, we can’t hand deliver.”
“Amy can sail there.”
“We can send a great swimmer!”
*chews cake* “Wort?”
“Who else but the shark?”
Happy Birthday Steve with some Reefy snark.

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you

Where was the Yurt? Did I make some sort of mistake, take the wrong path? Wait.. where is the path? Shouldn’t there be trees here?
Jack looked at me with pity. I hated that look.
“What?” I retorted, a disproportionate reaction to his stare. I was beginning to feel like the trip to Lake Titicaca wasn’t worth it. My agitation mounted. “Why did you insist on camping, Jack? I don’t like it here, I’m scared.”
“I know, mom.” He patted my hand, “You’re safe, that was forty years ago. Let me get the nurse.”

Just Jan said...

Happy Birthday, Steve Forti, you word wrangler, you!

That was the sign in the living room. The music? Top forty, of course.

In the kitchen, I tried to recall if Steve’s favorite pasta was tortellini with cashew or the cavatappi he ate when he lived in the yurt. I resorted to mac and cheese, a perennial crowd pleaser.

Lastly, the gift--something for a writer without pets. The Titicaca water frog had died in transit, but I’d made a backup plan, one with significant teeth. It wasn’t amenable to wrapping and needed daily steeping. I knew Steve would appreciate it.

I’m so glad Janet accepted my invitation.

Michael Seese said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you.
PS: You're still a kid.

"What happened?" asks the old man.

One minute I'm playing in sofa-cushion forts. The next I'm plying assorted civil torts.

One minute I'm getting under girl's skirts. The next I'm fretting over my net worth.

One minute, I'm a hip rock-and-roll singer. The next, shaky hands slip a ring on her finger.

One minute I'm scolded for running wild. The next I'm holding my child.

One minute I'm meditating in a yurt, alone. The next I'm evaluating nursing homes.

Someone I don't recognize stares back from the mirror.
The boy in the fort whispers, "I wish I were still here."

Jennifer Rand said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you!

We'd left the yurt at dawn. The end of a conservation expedition that began at Titicaca. The final prize: locating the Fernandina Giant Tortoise not seen since 1906. The trek was grueling, our guide not the sort to inspire trust. But fortune was with us today as we stood over the telltale feces and bedding. It was all worth it. We were close.

Suddenly, the shimmer of a magnificent shell in the distance. "There she is!"

A gun at my head shocks me from my elation. Eyeing our guide, I notice with dismay a fashion choice I'd overlooked--his tortoiseshell-rimmed sunglasses.

Peggy Rothschild said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you

"Fortify the fortress, Yurtle!" Queen Requin strode the ramparts.

"No one's approaching, your Worthiness."

"Bah! Before you know it, Forti will write his way into the castle. That's the danger of a Forti Sortie."

Drawing his weapon, the sentry tried to still his trembling hand. "Will it be bad?"

"Pure torture. That man's inkwell of evil is deeper than Lake Titicaca." The Queen glared. "I'll be below mustering the troops."

The empty desert shimmered. Was this Forti a sorcerer, twisting words and creating chaos wherever he appeared? Was Forti's pen mightier than Yurtle's sword?

The sentry abandoned his post.

Kregger said...

Happy Birthday, Steve Forti, you word wrangler you.

Once when young, sunrise over Everest, to salle forth on the first sortie from base camp was worth life itself. To crawl from nylon yurt and sleeping bag sans oxygen was torturous and yet, exhilarating.

Unlike today, twenty years his senior, I search for the world’s greatest wordsmith. A man to atharthi the QotKW herself.

Northwest from La Paz, I trek, into the Incan primordial homeland.

I find him, girded loins and shirtless, seeking enlightenment on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

Responding to my prompt, he emotes, “Pondering the transmogrification of ‘Shitty Breast.’ Why?”

I demure, to Forti, extraordinaire.

Steve Forti said...

EYES: She looks amazing.
NOSE: Smells divine, too.
LIPS: Her kisses are sweet.
STOMACH: Oof, shouldn’t have had that dairy.
TONGUE: It was delicious, though.
(CENSOR): That was my call. She wanted ice cream. It was for the greater good.
BOWELS: But now I gotta go. I’m contorting over here.
BRAIN: Hold it, dammit. But no more dairy. Ur tapped out. Got it. I ca-
RDIAC SYSTEM: Rerouting blood pressure.
(CENSOR): Thanks chief.
BOWELS: Show or tell. One is inevitable.
HEART: Hey, I feel something.
(CENSOR): Nope, that’s just me.
BOWELS: This is it. It’s happening!
(CENSOR): Sorry, me again.

Timothy Lowe said...

Boldt Castle is a fort near me? he says, Googling furiously.

Better searches appear in the Google scroll bar:

Bending latticework for a yurt
Best substitute for St. John’s wort
Boiling better tortellini
Birthplace of the Incas
Building a weird-ass consortium with a cadre of pretty cool like-minded souls
Best ways to wish a forty-year-old a happy birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you!

John Davis Frain said...

Merry Birthday, Steve Forti, you OLD word wrangler, you!

“Show me yours, I’ll show you mine,” Steve said. They sat in the yurt-cum-bounce house.

Magic Molly grinned, performed her trick in slo-mo, and displayed the quarter in the crook of her elbow. “Voila. How it’s done. Now your turn, Mr. Word Contortionist.”

“Never thought you’d show.”

“Or tell? Sorry, deal’s a deal.” She squeaked her red nose. “Gimme your secret.”

He pointed toward the woman sorting balloon animals.

“She’s your ghostwriter?” Molly’s eyes blinked uncontrollably. “Mrs. F-F-F-F-F-Forti?”


“A cause for celebration is more accurate,” Molly said. “Yowza! I’m trading kiddie carnivals—no offense, Mr. Forty—for flash fiction.”

Marie McKay said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler, you.
The Yurt was haunted. Ghosts took up residence anywhere. I once ate a haunted torte (for the purposes of exorcism, of course.)
The Yurt owners wanted things sorted. They'd make it worth my while, Iet me glamp there through winter. It was a swanky place near Titicaca.
I'd used my most trusted method: expulsion by incessant punning. Yet this ghoul wasn't for shifting; had the zip on the door shoot up faster than the hand in 'Carrie.'
With a warm bed at stake, I upped my game and said: "That's some serious in-tent."
And with that I had possession.

JanR said...

Happy Birthday Steve! Fortiy! :O

U word wrangler, your sort is rare. Elegant. Nefertitic. A cause for celebration. And a toast! Or too.

Forty. Two. Sorry.

Thanks! Drink after it works, K?

It didn’t wort yet? Thought 4 sure the yurt would grub her attention. Never seen a boat yurt b4.

Oh it did.

But now I have a shark in a yurt instead of a net.

Steve!!!! U OK????


Think so. You should have seen her. Bombarded me w books. Got away.

:( So tgat toast. Kale juice?

Yeah. Back to catching an agent the regular way.

Good birthday though. Forty books!

Amanda said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler you!

You are the sort that can weave words together like a wizard at Hogwarts!
Don’t worry, it’s no tort, you won’t be banished to a yurt in Central Asia, or a fort.
With each stump of The Shark you worthiness and majesty grow, like a king at his court.
Bask in our respect as you float on Lake Titicaca, or some dream resort!

flashfriday said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler.

You bury words like bodies flung out of an ink-trunk (tic)--hoping nobody notices or thinks to question you (toc)--even as your sinister parse-motor thunders past, leaving gory urtexts quivering at our feet. We gape (tic) at each perfectly executed/executing roar (is it turning off? or turning on? are we next?), unsure whether to feel angry at (toc) or unworthy of witnessing.

Still I claw at the words, serifs and shoulders and beaks leaking across my hands, struggling to salvage the remnants.

I can’t.

I (tic), academy-like, can only annotate the devastation in your wake.

And summon dragons.


RosannaM said...

Forti threw on his pants mere seconds before the Zoom meeting. Wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. Plain, yurt-beige wall in the background.

Face, contorted into a semi-smile, flashed on-screen. A single biscuit crumb wobbled upper lip.

“Got an offer. You’re worth more, but, crap I’d take it.”

Should he? Hell, Forti at forty felt sort of bold. He decided to chance it.

“Hold out for more.”

“More what?”

“Rights? Money? Advance?”

The face shifted nearer, teeth prominent.

Bravery fled. Forti caved.

Later, eating cake, his wife tended his bite wounds.

Negotiating with a shark was never virtual.

Kae Ridwyn said...

“Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you”

“Quick, Em! The salt!”

“What, now? Or… tell me you’re not…”

In the kitchenette, Emily fortified herself with a top-up first. She knew the drill. Pouring salt on their backs was easiest: Jack’d killed hundreds back in Queensland. But Em sighed. They’d made it to picturesque Lake Titicaca, before being too over-the-hill to enjoy it - and of course, Jack was the sort to spend their holiday destroying cane toads. Had it been lust or true love initially? She walked away, texting her bestie.

Going through more salt here than back home.

Emily, u r thick! They’re giant frogs!

Jackie said...

“Happy Birthday Steve Forti, You Word Wrangler, You!”

(Screw the birthday, Steve, the complete draft is the thing to celebrate, and I’m celebrating it vicariously with you.)


Here she is, fresh off her tour of The Emirates, rescued from the sultan’s pleasure palace on a Texan’s yacht, special delivery right here to you!

The name you cry out in your sleep every night. . .


Let’s give her a big hand, if you can take them out of your pockets long enough, and in the paper cups guys, please! Unless you were raised in a yurt with a herd of yaks.

She got a contortion style to make your time worthwhile.

She got fortitude and steaming sortitude.

Stand back, everybody!”

Linda Shantz said...

“Happy Birthday Steve Forti, you word wrangler, you! And now, something really special. Back from his mission on Lake Titicaca, our good friend Felix Buttonweezer! Felix has a poem for us. Floor’s yours, Felix!”

Coughs. “In sort of a yurt camps Steve Forti,
To hide from the fact he’s turned forty.
We’ll make him a torte
With the richness of wort
And together we’ll gather there for tea.”

“Tea, yes, well, thank you, Felix. I might need something a little stronger after that. Happy Birthday Steve!”

Casual-T said...

Happy Birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you!

For Forti turning forty was the sort of thing he wasn’t sure was worth the effort. The lemon torte, punctured forty times, looming as he woke from his final slumber as a youthful thirty-something, reminded him that from now on things would be different. Forti would be forty!

Smiling, she handed him a package.

An inflatable yurt! What was she thinking? As if he was going to go camping at Lake Titicaca anytime soon. A shark-print tie would’ve been better.

“Happy fortieth,” she cooed.

Forti sighed, pulled the blanket over his forty-year-old head, and mumbled “Wake me when I’m fifty.”

Tain Leonard-Peck said...

"I'm sorry, but this is basic tort law."

The taller man growled, menacing in the sound-muffled yurt.

"Do not presume to tell me what I must do, lawyer, with your worthless, doughy arms."

"Whether my arms are...doughy or not, we need to sort this out. The oblast authorities will seize your fort to pay damages, you must settle."

"I settle for not. He paid me insult, with his stupid, beady eyes."

"So you punched the governor's pet?"

"Bears not pets! Are men in their own right!"

The attorney sighed. "Pass me another more tea. What is it, St. John's Wort?"

KDJames said...

"Happy Birthday, Steve Forti, you word wrangler, you precocious whippersnapper."

There was a big spider on my bathroom ceiling earlier. Reminded me of the lake camping trip (not Titicaca, but could have been, given the morning ruins) when we woke after overnight rain to hundreds of spiders poised overhead on the tent tarp.


I chickened out, "I'll get it next time."

Next time, it had disappeared. Hiding. Waiting.

Now I'm huddled under a sort of yurt-like blanket fort, tortured by regret, worthless to write an entry, listening to overnight rain. Imagining spiders.

Hope your birthday was more pleasant than that.

travelkat said...

“There’s a yeti prowling the yurts.”
“Should we retreat to the Karakorum fort?” asked Svetlana.
“I’m not the sort to turn tail,” Maxim retorted.
“I’m not a worrywort, but you weren’t at Dyatlov. I saw what happened, shredded tents, mauled bodies.”
“I thought that was tribesmen, or an avalanche.”
“Nothing human or natural did that damage.”
From behind a snowdrift QZX147 snickered and nudged her partner, Phil.
“They always blame yetis. We left mothership radiation, and they still blame the equivalent of vegan dancing bears.”
“Suckers. Let’s rev up and prank the Pacific Northwest. My turn to wear the suit.”

C. Dan Castro said...

--What should I do? Daddy cooked. I don't like the smell of the shoyu.


--My husband cooks when unhappy. Stirfry. Smells almondy. Not sure what he put into--


--Dad totally hates us. So--


--Don't know who my family's texting. Two--


--Three or four?


--No. Three or fo--?


Fourteen minutes later.


Amy Johnson said...

Happy Birthday, Steve Forti, you word wrangler you.

Steve spotted his birthday torte in the fridge and considered his options. Saint-John’s-wort? Go live in a yurt? Time machine!

In his tree fort, list in hand, Stevie considered his options. “Fort, Sort, Tort, Wort, Yurt.” His mouth stretched into a grin. “Titicaca.” A prepubescent giggle escaped his lips.

He stroked his silken chin and considered his options. This setting was pleasant, safe, full of promise, full of options. But there was no flash fiction contest here. No reef. No wife. No kids.

The matter sorted out, he stepped into the time machine, list in hand, destined for home.

NLiu said...

"Happy birthday Steve Forti you word wrangler you. Titicaca."

"What do you make of this?" Irene asked.

Andrew leaned forwards in his chair. "Some sort of joke?"

"It's from Munwort."

He grimaced. "Or not."

"It reminds me of one last week: 'Tortoise is in the yurt.'"

"Yes!" Andrew rifled through papers. "Got it!"

They put them side by side.

"The last word is a location," Irene said.

"And tortoise? Forti?"

Irene sighed, tapped the battle map. "There was our tortoise."

Stephen whistled. "Wish we'd cracked that. HQ won't be happy."

Irene narrowed her eyes. "Word wrangler... Oh my! They'll hit comms!"

Andrew dived for the phone. Too late.