Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Thanks to everyone who came to play! And special thanks to the judge who got her decisions to me early so I could post this before heading to GenCon tomorrow! If you missed any of the stories, go read them here. Now let's read what the judge had to say:

First of all, thanks to everyone. Quite a surreal gathering today, everything from anthropomorphic rabbits to cthuloid squirrels. Three of the eight depicted heists—one even combined the surreal and the heist. A rollicking read.

Squirrels and Nuts” by Dave—Holy Disney-Lovecraft mash-up, Batman! I finally got the pun of the title as I was starting a second read through, which elicited a sincere groan. The portrayal of the tentasquirrels (appearance and actions) is delightfully creepy-weird. The tantalizing description of the tapestry makes me want to risk insanity to see it.

Special” by Ashley Gardana: I enjoyed the slow introduction of what being “special” meant. Like the narrator herself, the reader can write off the early clues as “Every family thinks that.” A regular human could hear through walls and smell frying meat a block away, right? One of my favorite bits: the stranger who smells of “sandalwood and familiarity”. This piece left me wanting to read the conversation these two animalis might on to have.

The Dog’s Day” by A.J. Walker— The tension between what the MC says and what he thinks is hilarious. This captures so succinctly the struggle of humans having to endure social events, weddings being the least escapable. Strip away the Hallmark sentiments and the ritual, and what do you have? A dog in a tux, a stolen tiara, and a buddy-of-the-groom motivated by an open bar. The animal (dog) and the art piece (tiara) seem to do double duty as cause of conflict and as symbols of the bride and groom: a too-expensive glittery thing marrying a dog in a tux (who will most likely run away).

Heist” by Madilyn Quinn—Magical realism abounds (ahem) in this heist-with-a-twist tale. There’s the “shared history” between a magic-using MC and her (or his) partner, an anthropomorphized rabbit. The set up is great with the second paragraph elucidating the first in a most surprising manner, obliterating any expectations a reader might have based on the title. I very much enjoyed the rabbity behavior of Ben and the way in which the MC communicates and uses water as a weapon.  

Flaws” by Realmommaramblings—Our third heist-like piece. This one seems to be set in a SF universe, as evidenced in probably my favorite line in the piece: “filling the recycled air with the shrill pitch of failure”.  It’s almost Firefly-esque (which always makes me happy). The MC seems to be struggling with the “quirk” of a paralyzing self-sabotage—who can’t identify with that to some degree? That the captain refused to leave a member of the crew behind despite a huge error only emphasized the Firefly connection. Such a dynamic made me want to go on more adventures with this crew.

Special Mention goes to “Never Make a Promise You Can’t Keep” by Geoff Holme for very cleverly contorting the brackets of the prompt to fit the whole story (affect/effect error notwithstanding). Moreover, the use of the special challenge elements fit right into this story (Mona Lisa as a point of comparison, and a believable appearance of a German shepherd). Oh, the things a young man will do for a pretty face—only outstripped by the things we do for family.

Special Challenge Champion:Lost Love” by Lauren Greene—for deftly combining the animal and the art piece and making it a major plot point. From the end of the first paragraph (“Maybe our date could turn into a lifetime of happiness”) I was ready for the deal breaker. The strike-out didn’t take long—and each strike build on the previous one’s intensity: the small disappointment in the wrong wine, then the bean ball of him suggesting that cats are “mangy animals” and strike three, his disregard of the Renoir. The dramatic irony worked well here, too. Richard is so clueless about the subject of a very important painting that he doesn’t realize the MC is talking about her cat.

Grand Champion: "Anything but Tidy" by Audrey Gran Weinberg--This tale answers the burning question: If cleanliness is next to godliness, what sort of accommodations would a demonic creature seek out for relaxation? I loved the pacing of this one, the slow reveal of “the change” paralleling the build of the MC’s anxiety as she seeks out chaos in this pristine little B&B. The internal grousing interspersed with dialogue complaints created nice tension. Although I might prefer clean accommodations, I was right there with the MC, getting annoyed over a pristine toilet brush and downright frustrated over the orderly art studio. (No, no, art needs to be deliciously chaotic! Like all my first drafts.) Ah, well, Marie-Louise paid dearly for her relentless tidiness.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Welcome back! July is going out with a bang for me as GenCon is this weekend. I am SO excited!!! I'll be spending a lot of my time at the Writers Track panels trying to up my game, but I've certainly left space in my schedule to go play some awesome board games. :) Hopefully I can get the winners post up on time, but if it's a little late that will be why. No promises this week...except in your prompt! Go check it out! :)

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Nancy Chenier, also known as @rowdy_phantom. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week hereNancy stumbled into flash fiction when the squidlet was born, as writing time has to be carved out of sporadic nap times and sane bedtimes. When not writing, she's probably doing something outdoors. She's eternally grateful for contests like FTT and the incredible flash community (shout out to #flashdogs) for providing such a supportive venue for writers.

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-4 is:

I promised myself I wouldn't let [external circumstances] affect my [mood] but quickly realized I wouldn't be able to keep that promise.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a work of art AND an animal (real or imaginary)


Thursday, July 23, 2015


Great job, everyone!!! If you missed reading any of the stories, go here to catch up. Done? Great! Now read what the judge had to say:

The Siren’s Song
By Audrey Gran Weinberg

The star-crossed love of two kids from different worlds plucked at my heartstrings. The setting of a family vacation gone wrong worked well to emphasize the plight of a daughter driven away by a strict/emotionally detached father, which isn’t far from reality. And I liked how the sister empathized with her sibling and supported her dive for freedom. However, I must gently point out that the first sentence didn't follow the one given in the prompt, so the story couldn’t qualify for any awards in this round. Otherwise, I thought it was great.

The Release
By Pratibha

This tale of a mother’s long-suffering sacrificial devotion is endearing and filled with tender moments. How she remained with her children until the last one leaves despite the pain of her marriage, as well as the loyalty between the two friends. The language is beautiful, e.g. “The night shone with the milky light of the harvest moon. The shadows of palm trees danced under the opal sky.” And it’s sad that taking her life is the only way out of her misery. This was an interesting look into the harsh reality of a different culture. Well done.

The Perils of Poor √Čliane
By Geoff Holme

I liked that a real sea creature was chosen to represent the dangers of the deep. The intertwining of current events, facts and past actions to tell the story of the doomed woman held my attention from start to finish. And the way she died gave me goose bumps. The ending sentence with “her long, blonde hair trailing like the tendrils of the jellyfish,” reminded me of a scene from The Lady of Shalott, acted out by Megan Follows in Anne of Green Gables.

Chicken of the Sea
By Madilyn Quinn

Though not a fan of the horror genre, I actually enjoyed this unique take on the old mariner’s tale of sailors drawn by the siren song of mermaids until their ships are dashed upon the rocks. The use of the MCs inner dialogue and mounting trepidation enhanced the suspense build-up until the final fantasy-horror twist of an ending. The mer-creatures repeated utterance of the single word, “food” is chilling. It/he was a great SPECIAL CHALLENGE invention.

Beginning of the End
By Christy

This story, told in twenty-four words, is four times the famous “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” short story attributed to Ernest Hemingway (although his authorship is in dispute). It accomplished the feat of raising questions in my mind. Is she a compatriot or foe of the downed soldier she takes her frustration out on? She could kick a fellow soldier to rouse them into rejoining the fight. And does her destiny involve bringing an end to the “sea of destruction?” This is a well crafted piece of nano-flash fiction.

Father of the Deep
By necwrites

I found this reversal of the Little Mermaid fairy tale fascinating. Following a young girl through her desire for a father’s recognition and approval, until it morphs into a woman’s vengeful assault, created a lifetime in just five-hundred words. And turning everything on its head when she realizes he might not be who she thought he was, was brilliant. This was a great job crafting a fantasy tale with strong emotional elements (hope, longing, frustration, anger), a champion-worthy piece indeed.

Monday, July 20, 2015


WOOHOO!!! First I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my oldest. She's nine years old today! How did she get so big??? It happens so fast (though I'm the first to admit to the eternity some of those days took to pass...) ;) Hug your dear ones close in honor of another birthday! Then go check out this week's prompt and write something fantastic! :)

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Dylyce Clarke. Read her tale from last week here! Dylyce is a retired lover of rain on the roof, waves on a Florida beach and writing flash fiction. She's had two stories accepted by Splickety Publishing Group this year. Dylyce can often be found doing cross-stitch alphabet samplers because she just loves letters. Connect with her on facebook here.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-3 is:

The [lonely] woman stood staring at [the sea] before kicking [off her shoes] and running [toward her destiny].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a deadly creature of the deep that DOESN'T arrive to the sound of ta-dump, ta-dump, tadumptadumptadump. :-)


Thursday, July 16, 2015


Congratulations all!!! Thanks for coming out and joining the fun! If you missed reading any of the stories (like Rebekah's late entry), then go check them out HERE! Finished? Great! Let's read what the judge had to say:

By Jeff S.
A catalogue of activity aboard an aircraft carrier, returning home after an unknown deployment - exercises, presumably, given the mundanity. The detail and terminology seem to indicate firsthand knowledge. All very relaxed until the revelation that the MC ‘was going to end this cruise before the pier.’
Nicely done, Jeff. It left me wanting to know more: always a good thing to do!

By thehousesparrow
The Asian names and the packed railway carriage made me think of the overcrowded trains I’ve seen so often in documentaries about urban life in India: only later do we learn that it is a London to Edinburgh train. The tension between the two characters is ratcheted up nicely by the constant reference to the camera and the mysterious image that it contains - the ticket to a happy-ever-after life for Buddy, away from the controlling Ranji. What could the all-important image be?
We never find out. The impetus of the story changes to Ranji’s viewpoint: that the image has no importance because ‘Ranji had joined the ranks of Deacon Brodie’.
Does this mean that Ranji is now a clandestine, nighttime burglar? The last paragraph adds more confusion as we seem to be back at the station but what is going on? I may be being slow but, for me, the promising start to the story fizzled out with an ending which I didn’t follow at all. I’d love to know what you intended to convey, thehousesparrow.

Weight of Glory
By Rebekah Postupak
The list of Grand National winners is a treasure trove of names crying out to be incorporated into a piece of  flash fiction. Rebekah rose to the Special Challenge… and smashed the glass ceiling! This is just what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, since it was posted over 33 hours after the close of the contest, it would have been unfair on everyone else who entered to consider it for a place on the podium.
Rebekah added a note to say that ‘fun’ had been left out (in the penultimate paragraph) but that was more that made up for by the fun I had reading it - a veritable chuckle-fest!
She claims to have included 29 Grand National winners, but,exercising my usual pendantry, I checked! ‘Gruder’ should have been ‘Grudon’, and ‘Disturbance’ seems to have been lost as well - probably in all the turmoil caused by the grakle…
But ‘Red Rum’ was not included in the list. So I make that an astounding 28 in total… You missed out ‘Salamander’, Rebekah, which I thought would be ideal for a fantasy story like this. But not to worry - I loved it anyway!

Special Challenge Champion
Concert Cure-all
By asgardana
My wife would relate to the MC’s predicament here - being vertically challenged at a well attended concert: we always have to turn up half an hour early to events that don’t have allocated seats in  order to get a place on the front row!
The performer’s name of ‘Charity Cure-all’ made me think that it was a healing meeting, and the MC’s miracle would be a hike in height to be able to see over everyone. But the solution is all-together more amazing for everyone in the audience.
I loved the phrase, new to me, ‘given the stink-eye’ - another entry in my writer’s note book!
Well done, asgardana!

Grand Champion
Miracles Do Happen
By Dylyce P. Clarke
This was a gentle, heart-warming tale of a pair of Liverpool ‘scallies’ hatching a plan to bunk off school and hitch a ride on the coattails of a school ‘field trip’. Everything works out until they come up against their nemesis - the aisle attendant. But all’s well when he turns out to be Mickey’s Dad: what a double whammy of good fortunate - the lads get to see the flick because Mickey’s Dad now has a well-paid job at the cinema.
(This is nostalgic for me because, when I was a nipper, my Mum had a job as an usherette in a small cinema in town. In school holidays, the manager let my sister and me into the poorly attended matinee showings for free.)
At first, I wasn’t sure where the story was set, as the price of a cinema ticket is said to be ‘a few
cents’ rather than ‘pennies’, but later mention of ‘Liverpool slums’ clears that up. There’s some interesting Grand National research involved as well.

A really delightful story, Dylyce.

Monday, July 13, 2015


WOOHOO!!! Welcome back! I, like the contest, am now another year older, and I marvel at how fast time seems to move. As fast as, say, a horse race, perhaps...? Thanks for stopping by! Go check out the prompt and write something!

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Geoff Holme. Read his tale from last week here! Geoff is semi-retired, insofar as he does not have any paid employment. So he spends far too much time writing flash fiction which he discovered in September 2014. He lives in West Sussex, UK and is reachable on Twitter (@GeoffHolme)

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-2 is:

As they entered the [final furlong], the [jockey] realised that [something extraordinary] would have to happen if they were to [win].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least one name of a Grand National horse race winner.


Thursday, July 9, 2015


Whoa! Way to start off year three!!! You made it extra-difficult for our judge this week. Seriously. She told me so. Great job, all of you! If you missed any of the amazing entries, go read them all here. Now that you've had that wonderful experience, check out what the judge had to say about them:

By Michael Berry
My, what a sad story! I could actually feel his anguish coming through with the words. Oh and I loved the last line – a beautiful roundup to a hauntingly heart breaking tale.

By @agardana09
Ooh this was creepy, being hunted down by an unknown woman (Who was she?!) and being hurt. I am still wondering why no one could see or hear her on the library steps – OR HIM to be honest. Is there an additional dimension to the story? Good use of the Special Challenge word as well. Definitely sounds supernatural to me.

Field Trip
By Jeffrey Holler
I have to admit, I don’t read covert ops/spy books, but this one had me hooked – it felt like it was lifted right out of a Tom Clancy (Ok so I peek sometimes in my husband’s collection!). Very well written, with exactly the right amount of detail to add to the tersely efficient atmosphere. I want to know now if Zed *was* set up, and why!

Dates gone wrong
By Dylyce P. Clarke
Ding ding ding! Bonus points for using ALL special challenge words, and in the first sentence! Well done! And boy did that story turn into something completely unexpected – from a bunch of random thoughts, to a hard core murder investigation, and of the mayor’s wife too. I want to know how this ended!

Fictitious reality
By realmommaramblings
I gotta say, this is the first time I’ve ever read a tongue being described as a salty toad – bravo! Very nice SCiFi/Fantasy type story, with brilliant descriptions. I love the idea of someone’s written word becoming a reality. Still wondering what the pen was used against – I want to know!!

Southern Hospitality
By Andrea
A story about surviving a plane crash while going on vacation. This woman has nerves of steel and that’s the truth. Most people would be a sobbing mess, but she walks out of there like a superwoman, and still thinking about relaxation at the end! That’s ironic in itself, and I wonder if the story develops further to show how strong she is (or not). Great writing, I could almost feel the shock of this one.

Special Challenge Runner Up
By Jeff S.
Ok this story created different emotions in me from both sides of the spectrum of wow, and ew. The writing is fabulous. The subject not so much, just because I couldn’t identify what this creature could possibly be! I was completely engaged right from the beginning though – what/who is this thing? Why does he have these unnatural powers? Fabulous Sci-Fi/horror story – I say horror only because I thought he was a vampire at first, or a zombie! Fantastic way to fit the SC words into it as well.

Special Challenge Champion
By @hollygeely
I absolutely loved this story – superbly written, eccentric and random, and fantastic use of the Special challenge words, especially Fish Tank! This is a great example of a standalone piece that could be included in a book of short stories.

Runner Up
Don’t forget your schoolwork
By parkinkspot
WOAH. This turned from a story about teen angst to utter horror (and then somehow back to teen angst!). Geez I did not see that coming! Brilliant writing, excellent twist -  I thought I misread something when I saw “she stepped carefully over the feet..” Loved reading this, my heart is still racing.

Grand Champion
By Geoff Holme

Oh this made me laugh out loud. What a fabulously funny piece. I loved it – very well written, complete with the la-di-daness. And YES thank you for sucking up to me, your sister in fiction. Great use of the SC words, and boy did I love the ending. Just awesome.