Wednesday, October 29, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-17 - RESULTS!




Welcome back! We had a small, but amazing week! Go read the entries here. Now let's read what the judge had to say:




Having only three entries did make my first time as a judge for ANYTHING related to writing a lot easier. I hope the dip in numbers meant everyone else was getting a Halloween costume ready, rather than thinking, "Boy, this prompt sucks!" If the latter, sorry folks. On to the comments.

"Chasing Cars" by Emily Karn

This was a fun story. I LOVED the "gorgeous transvestite dressed up as Carmen Electra." That, along with "my partner," makes you think it's about a homosexual relationship (which is fine, of course). But you pull a switcheroo, and make the MC a dog. Then the title ties it up in a bow. Great.

"The Lesson" by Rebekah Postupak

While reading this one, I kept thinking "What's going on?" Which is good. You sprinkled a lot of nice little nuggets throughout. My favorite was “In bowling!” “You’d be surprised.” The ending really caught me off guard.

"Capabilities" by Michael Simko

Good suspense. (I have a short story about skydiving gone awry, which is why I picked this prompt.) You did a nice a job of building tension. Then, a comic release at the end. Nice job.


And the Grand Champion is:

"Capabilities." by Michael Simko


The story starts out tense. "Her ring, which cost me five month’s salary taunts me each time we hit the angle right for the sun" is both a nice turn of phrase, and sets up the relationship between the MC and Aliyah. "if she’s still alive" maintains the suspense. Then she "comes to life," but says nothing. She just lands on the "punked," and leaves the rest up to him.







Monday, October 27, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-17




And we're back for another round! So glad you could join us again (or for the first time)! With NaNo (nanowrimo.org) looming for many of you, I just thought I'd mention some of the benefits of flash fiction that I've experienced. 

1) It provides a much needed creative break from a longer piece that feels like it's going nowhere. 
2) It gives a sense of completion and success at finishing something when a longer piece takes, well, longer. 
3) It allows you to experiment with things that are not 'your genre' or 'your style'. 
4) It teaches you to make every word count - mechanics, structure, and word choice are so important.

That said, I need to know about judging availability during November. Are you doing Nano? If you are, would you still be willing to judge if you win? So after your twitter/email and Special Challenge lines, could you put a Nano line in for me? THANKS! :)

Example:
@lissajean7
Special Challenge: accepted
Nano: yes [doing nano], yes [able to judge]

Now, on to the prompts!!!



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

Rules:
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 Michael Seese. Read his winning tale from last week hereMichael Seese has published three books, not to mention a lot of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. He currently is shilling his latest work, a long short story / short novella titled Rebecca’s Fall From.... Other than that, he spends his spare time rasslin' with three young'uns. Visit www.MichaelSeese.com or follow @MSeeseTweets to laugh with him or at him. 





 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-17 is:




There's one thing they really should teach you [should have taught me] in skydiving school.




 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Include TWO of the following:
an Isuzu Trooper, a Shetland sheepdog, a plate of spaghetti, Carmen Electra 





 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!








Thursday, October 23, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-16 - RESULTS!




We've got results! Thanks to all who wrote this week, we had some amazing stories. If you missed any of them, go check them out here. Back? Good. Let's read what the judge had to say:



For my first time judging, you all didn’t make my job an easy one. Each and every one had something in it that made me want to HM it. I had a rollicking good time reading, thank you. Several of these went in a wonderfully unexpected direction: what is initially assumed to be "inopportune" ends up opening up unforeseen opportunities. A life lesson, here.

"An Egretful Morning" by Denise Callaway—A great start to the entries. First impression: I loved that you managed to get four elements in the very first paragraph. Then, the narrator’s fine observations of the activity of the hedgehog engaged me. The real impact of this story came in the second reading, after reading that last line. Suddenly the fun observations have gravity: her careful focus on the creature is a distraction from a lonely life. This one left me with a melancholy smile.

"The Wisdom of Spindles the Hedgehog" by @hollygeely—This one gave my favorite use of the inversion of "inopportune" into unexpected opportunity. The voice of this one grabbed me right away and the avalanche of unfortunate events kept me enthusiastically engaged—the MC’s attitude, though hilariously wry, manages to remain optimistic. I loved the repetition of the universal laws, especially as it culminated in the universe having the MC’s back. I laughed out loud over the postal worker’s diplomacy.

"Promises Broken, Promises Kept" by Tamara Shoemaker—Wow, what lush language. I’ll admit, romance is not usually my thing, but I’d have to be a chunk of wood not to recognize the fine craftsmanship here. I like how it’s never really clear if its romantic fantasy or a romance adorned in fantasy’s finery (with names like Oberon and Diggory, I wondered if what we might have here is a battle between faerie and wizard?) "… My name spoken to the tempo if the trail of kisses he attached to my jawline" "emotions tossed like loose banners in a brisk wind". Oh, sweet alliteration! The contrast in conceits used for Oberon (nature imagery) versus those used with Diggory (martial) reveal the vastly different approaches she’s taken with the two relationships. The allusion to the Rock of Cashel struck me, with its reference to conversion and triumph over evil)

Untitled by Geoff Le Pard—Brilliant opening with an concrete encounter with a superhero, which drew me right into your delightfully novel concept. I adore the MC’s perspective on the various heroes, her complaints. The tone is such that I feel like I’m chatting with her over the laundry counter. So many hilarious lines, my favorite being, "So they can be saved by a hunky piece of the supernatural"

"The Artist within Us All" by @stellakateT—That first paragraph says so much about the Ian character that by the time we hit the end, I’m ready to see the MC go all Hirst on him. My favorite: "He did a good mouth to mouth when I finally let him into the flat". I loved the development of the MC’s voice. She starts out resigned to Ian’s narcissism, even over the lack of invitations to join him in his travels.  And then he brings up Destiny. Camel’s back broken.

"Longing" by Casey Rose—What is it about the image of a walnut that puts me immediately into fantasy mode? I love how the MC relishes every sense—and the reason for it comes clear in the end. Of course a will-o-the-wisp would savor material joys. Even before I realized who she was, I sympathized with her. So, what seems like a simple life of gratitude at the beginning takes on new dimensions. I loved the idea that she wanted to work through all the teas and that she also fell in love with books. Resounding line: "let myself believe that "adventure" could melt into "permanence.""

"She/He" by Michael Seese—I didn’t appreciate the pacing and structure of this one until I went back and read it again. The voice here seems to start off light and humorous. I chuckled over the flirting teapot and the personification of Earl Grey—and it distracted me from the crucial line (turning off the flame to the exclusion of the gas). I liked the contrast of making time stand still with time stopping cold. The list at first reading seems quaint, but on second reading reads like the con-side of a someone weighing the pros and cons of living.  Loved the use of butterfly net and spiral. Then the shift: "it" becomes "him". The repetition of the second paragraph is stunned me. Now we know why the timing of the infant is "inopportune" (and, yet, quite possibly his salvation).

"Real Estate Blues" by Emily Karn—Inopportune indeed! I loved the manifestation of the crazy neighbors and the happy spin the MC attempted to put on each of them. Such a playful use of the special-challenge elements, the whimsy only heightened by the concrete descriptions of the teapot, the trundling hedgehog, the contrail above the road, etc. I giggled all the way through (and I would only too happily go live in that neighborhood).

"Hello, Mother" by Di Eats the Elephant—I love how the whole story is a single moment in suspension, a mother seeing her estranged son on her doorstep and trying to postpone the actual greeting so she can savor just seeing him again, and not "ruining the moment". With what? The reality is never made concrete, and in that way, the reader remains suspended in the mother’s memories, where he still thinks of her has the best mommy in the world, still calls her mommy, and shares pancake breakfast. I like the parallel with a drought-struck summer. Such a beautiful, heart-rending idea for a story.

"Waiting to be King" by Charles W Short—What a far out (literally far out) take on the prompt! One of the things I adore about science fiction is the way it can be used to hold up a futuristic mirror to today’s reality even as it reanimates an ancient story. The level of honor and restraint shown by the Davidicus stands in start contrast to the behavior of various warring factions in this world, making me long for such leadership (as I’m sure many ancient Israelites felt about David replacing Saul). I like how you set up our expectations that there might be a battle (despite the allusion to the biblical story), that the Saularian flagship might attack, and then the shrewdness shown by the Davidicus in avoiding conflict while besting the opponent anyway.

"Perfect Timing" by @postupak—I got my partner to cut and paste all the entries so I could do it blind, but I knew this was Rebekah’s as soon as "it" was revealed—though I should have guessed sooner at the hilarity of everything coming before it. I liked the unconventional voice, her memory sliding around to a more lovely past You successfully made it so I was right with the MC over the gorram toothpick-chewing! I love how your MC turns "inopportune" around into the perfect opportunity.   


Honorable Mentions: 
"Longing" Casey Rose—for the lovely and seamless use of the prompts
"Perfect Timing" Rebekah—for hilarity

Runner Up:  @hollygeely for "The Wisdom of Spindles the Hedgehog"—for the ever-optimistic voice of Harry despite the avalanche of seemingly horrendous luck.

Special Challenge Champion: Tamara Shoemaker for "Promises Broken, Promises Kept" for the sublimely poetic use of the prompts, teasing the line between romance and fantasy.


Grand Champion: Michael Seese for "She/He" for the economical and poignant growth of a tragic character who finds a reason to turn off the gas.







Monday, October 20, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-16




Welcome back! I'm on vacation (or, as you're reading this, probably on my way home from vacation), so I'm going to make this short. Go read the prompt. Have fun. Can't wait to read the amazing stories you come up with! :)



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

Rules:
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 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 #2-16 is:




[It] showed up [on my porch] at the most [inopportune] time.




 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Use at least THREE of the following:
egret, contrail, butterfly net, hedgehog, teapot, petrichor, spiral





 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!









Wednesday, October 15, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-15 - RESULTS!




Woohoo!!! We made it! If you missed any of the spectacular entries, you can catch up on them here. Otherwise, let's read what the judge had to say about them:



This was such a fun and wildly creative batch of stories! A huge range of ideas. Every story was so unique. Thank you! You should all be quite pleased with yourselves.

Josh Bertetta: I loved this: "bearers of the roots that bridged their souls." This story covers such a wide expanse of time in a short length. And the language and description flow really well from one sentence to the next.

Emily Karn: My favorite here: "This planet is such a mud ball." Again, a world created in a small amount of space. I enjoyed the contrast between the politician's voice and the annoyed alien so much.

Tamara Shoemaker: This story works on multiple levels - as a parable or a fable, but also as an interior monologue. And the structure brings the reader along so smoothly. I love: "I will remain constant for eternity."

@hollygeely: What a great take on the prompt! Sometimes stories with a big reveal at the end kind of come screeching to their conclusion, but this one is paced just right. You really sense the relationship and the manipulation going on. And that last line is just terrific.

@rtayaket: Really nice buildup, and the details convey the sense of anticipation and foreboding that only a phone call from a doctor can create.

@rowdy_phantom: Another that covers so much ground, a complete circle of a relationship all in this short length. The beads provide the symbolic underpinning as well as the reason for falling apart.

Michael Seese: This one made me smile so much, especially the turns of phrase like "a single shot through the heart left the young starlet scarlet" and "holey ghost." What fun, just like a game.

Geoff Le Pard: This story makes great use of little details to convey a larger picture. The intermixing of the clothing and the food, and what they mean, and how this was all leading to a revelation.

@lurchmunster: Like a mystery this one pulled me along and I wanted to know what the next step was. But now I am dying to know - who is at the other end of the phone??

Michael Simko: I love this phrase: "where the Ambassador will lie to the people of the Earth." So matter-of-fact, and it says a lot about political announcements in general. Very creative too, even a universal language.

@fetterslopez: I love the detail of smoothing the paper as a bookend for this story. I also liked the contrast amongst the characters, which you got across in few words.

Rebekah Postupak: I know I know, this one was after the deadline, but I want to mention it anyway. Such a great story that pulls you along on a quest. And, a terrific twist!


Special Challenge Champion: Tamara Shoemaker, "Three Suitors." This story brought the challenges all the way into the fabric of the words in a really intriguing way. It was really thoughtful and served the story, which works on multiple levels. Really nice.




Grand Champion: @rowdy_phantom, "Third Time." The structure of this story conveys regret in a devastating way. We all wonder about choices we've made, turns we've taken, and this story uses the beads on the necklace to express both the idea of these decisions being strung together, and of lives and relationships falling apart.  







Monday, October 13, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-15




Welcome back! We've been fighting allergies/head-cold stuff here, so I'm going to just point you to the prompts below and go to bed. :) Have fun!



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

Rules:
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 Betsy Streeter, also known as @betsystreeter. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week here! Betsy Streeter is a novelist and artist. Her YA sci fi novel, "Silverwood," is available as an ARC and goes on sale in March 2015. She really wishes her son's pet tarantula would eat that noisy cricket.





 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-15 is:


It is time to make the announcement.



 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Include a beaded necklace, a bridge, a glass of water, and an envelope.




 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!








Friday, October 10, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-14 - RESULTS!




Wonderful job, everyone. Sorry I'm getting this posted so late. I take all the blame, the judge had everything to me early yesterday morning... (Thanks, Carlos!) Anyway, if you missed the fun, head over here to read all the amazing stories. Done? Great. Now let's see what the judge had to say:



Great stories all around. You all made my job really difficult but enjoyable. I think I like this judging thing…Well the reading part at least, not so much the judging, (that part is hard). I like the way you all chose to use the special challenge. I thought the complete randomness I threw at you would deter some people, but I was wrong. I now know better than to underestimate the lot of you. You are all way too talented.

Rebekah P.— I enjoyed the dialogue in this. It’s very natural and believable.  You always add amazing twists to fairytales. I especially like how you ground the extraordinary characters with everyday problems. I would love to read a novel or collection based on the fairytale world you build.

Drmagoo—So many lines that I like in this. The first paragraph with the cat moving with the sun is funny and very believable, but my favorite was probably “She had a schnauzer, and I hated both of them.” The dog’s personality is very vivid throughout.

Betsy Streeter—Wow, powerful stuff. And this line (whether it was intended or not) seems to be the description of his and his ex-life partner’s relationship: “This time, he abandoned it to its fate. He had pounded it back on, like an ill-fitting lid of a paint can, enough times. The hubcap wanted to be free. Who was he to stop it?” So much meaning packed into so few words.

Emily Karn—I liked the way the story unfolded. The cause and effect really made the result stand out. The last line really tied the string of unfortunate events together: “Man Harvey, if it weren't for bad luck you'd have no luck at all.” The title also sets the mood for the piece. Who doesn’t have those days when the bed is the only place you want to be . . . for the rest of your life.

David Borrowdale— You had me guessing the entire time. The comedic undertones were great. I also liked how all the loose ends were all tied up in one final ironic line: “That is why our marriage didn't work. You’re a hypocrite.”

Amy Wood—This is too funny. I can totally imagine two grown men still on a psychosocial moratorium, delaying responsibility with never-ending shenanigans. I am dying to know what Ernie has planned. A stoner’s mind is a strange magical place.

Rashatayaket—Deep stuff. I like that he is questioned twice (by himself and the police). The what if’s are powerful thoughts that unlock different stories that could have been. I feel for the guy. It’s a very dark piece, which I always like.

Stella—I am fully freaked out Stella. The animal names were actually old pet names. And yes our cat Pancho was a female cat whose name we never changed. But anyway, loved the line “Ed tried to high five Artur whilst Artur tried to bear hug Ed.” You describe both characters so much in just a greeting. Poor Granddad. I wonder if Mum made it in time?

Michael Seese— Great use of the special challenge. Very clever. The reread was just as enjoyable (almost more enjoyable—almost) than the first time through. My favorite line “The steady rhythm and 24-point Arial bold words conspired to inspire him.”

Casey Rose—I love the coffee pot’s perspective. I think a part 2 of this would be great. What does the coffee pot do after the opportunity to shine passes him by? Does he live out the rest of his life down in the dumps? Or does he work hard and overcome his inadequacies with different owners, finally showing the world what he can do? It’s the good stories that leave you thinking about them long after they are over. If you ever write the part 2 I would love to read it.

Geofflepard—Clever title. Nice twist at the end too. I like how one of Marty’s concerns is what his workmates are going to think. That made me chuckle.

Necwrites—Funny story. How does a “superhero” fail at pet sitting? By tweeting of course. Kind of reminds me of myself when I’m supposed to be writing, but instead I’m sending out failed tweets (0 stars)  My favorite line: "‘I can fly, for Pete sake.’ Not entirely true. He could leap. Far. Far-ish.”




Special Challenge Champion: Michael Seese for thinking outside the box with the words I gave you. You twisted cat and dog to mean something else. Oh, and hitman too.




Grand Champion: Betsy Streeter for a beautiful story. I feel like I viewed their entire life and failed relationship in such few words. What is not said is often just as important as what is said, and you used silence masterfully.