Thursday, January 29, 2015


Thanks for playing! Your stories were fantastic, as always. If you missed any of them, check them out here. Otherwise, let's get on to the judging:

No little green men were harmed in the judging of this week's Finish That Thought. But a lot of other things happened:

Clive Tern begins an ambitious attempt to bridge three different writing contests with one overarching story. Though the names and geography of this world are different, the familiar touches in the story bring us into the world just as it begins to fall apart. By the end, the story achieves some closure for the protagonist, yet still builds tension for the upcoming conflict.

Lauren Greene goes and lets California be swallowed by the ocean. I enjoyed the nonplussed reactions of most of the characters. Their concerns are with landmarks, sports teams, wine, and Amazon (which thankfully is safe and sound in Seattle). The husband cannot even be bothered to wake up, and the cat provides the ultimate perspective by simply continuing to groom herself.

Holly Geely's protagonist reaction to whole planets vanishing seems tragically realistic. After all the news reports, conspiracy theories, and the arrival of aliens, this protagonist cannot even name the "astronomists" or their "radar thingy". The irony of the title is that even though Mars is literally missing, we see in the downer ending that the protagonist is actually missing Earth.

Michael Simko's narrator editorializes about everything: poets, hippies, even his friends' names. (Not that I judge. Even though technically I am the judge.) I enjoyed the asides and the overall casual nature of the narration in what otherwise ought to be a horror story. As with all good horror stories, this one doesn't show us too much of the monster.

Michael Seese gives the most straightforward description of a fat cat I've read all night: "four-legged bag of trouble". Likewise, the description of small-town life and its boredom might be exaggerated, but only slightly. As alien invasions go, this is a fun romp with a rare happy ending for both Earth and the invaders.

Nancy Chenier packs a lot of family backstory into the word limit, without it feeling like an info-dump. We see three generations of a family: a fantasy-prone but sensible kid, a hard-hearted dad who softens with the unexpected return of a long-lost pet, and a grandfather whose tall tales turn out not quite so tall.

Christy skewers cheesy investigation shows. The investigative team here is so jaded by hoaxers that, when they ultimately stumble into a real close encounter and get plenty of video evidence, they still worry about how to make it look better in post-production.

MRMacrum gives us all six special challenge prompts, along with a bizarre glimpse into an alternate universe with a tabby mayor and canine sheriff unaware of the puns their existence has set up, victimized by an alien with a device that allows him to steal chocolate cake interdimensionally.

Ian P's "The Aliens" is notably the only story that played the prompt completely straight, with no modifications. Written in the form of an eyewitness account of a puzzling encounter, it raises a very important question: why was Donald Schmidt taking infrared photos of an overweight tabby cat in the dark with his friends?

Special Challenge Champion: MRMacrum: You included all six words into the story, and in ways integral to the story. Without the overweight cat and dog sheriff, much of the wordplay would have been lost. The chocolate cake sets up the mystery for the story, and the Mars-bound freight-riding alien hobo is, somehow, its natural solution.

Grand Champion: Nancy Chenier. You developed each of the characters and their backstories smoothly and naturally: the kid who enjoys sci-fi and his grandpa's wild tales, the emotionally-distant divorced dad struggling with an alcohol problem. Even the "sandbag of a cat" with the "milky-way stripe down its belly" is beautifully described. For a story about a cat returning from space, this was a surprisingly down-to-earth and touching story of a family in need of healing.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Welcome, welcome! I don't know where my brain has been this week, but if you find it, please let me know... You almost didn't get this post on time, and that would've been sad. Anyway, no harm done. I remembered in PLENTY of time...*ahem*...and you're none the wiser... oh. um. Anyway, thanks for joining us! Go check out the prompts and get writing! :)

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 Phil Coltrane. Read his winning tale from last week here!  Phil is a software developer, husband, and father of two alien creatures known as toddlers. He enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction of all sorts, from atompunk to zombie. Some of his short fiction may be found on his blog,, and he hopes to complete a novel prior to the heat death of the universe. He can be found on Twitter at @pmcolt.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-30 is:

None of us really believed in [UFOs] until the night [the cameraman] went missing.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least three (3) of the following: an overweight tabby cat, a freight train, a wind chime, a sheriff, the planet Mars, chocolate cake


Thursday, January 22, 2015


Wow! You all made it extremely difficult for our judge! If you missed any of the stories, go read them here. (Feel free to make your own comments.) Done? Good. Now let's read what the judge had to say:

This week my thoughts turned toward the tension of paired contrasts: a new day that’s a final day, and a debilitating condition that is itself defeated. And in the funny way these contests sometimes work, you responded in pairs: the brink of suicide (Lauren Green & Margaret Locke), super-human transformation (Dr. Mike Reddy & Christy), condemned prisoners (Mark Driskill & Michael Simko), macabre physical procedures (Holly “Stephen King” Geely & Kate “All Who Agree, Say Eye” Julicher), and even reborn space explorers (Clive Tern & Nancy Chenier). We also had mountain-climbers (Phil Coltrane & AJ Walker), heart-sore near-princesses (Rose Ketring and Tamara Shoemaker), and incurable incapacitations redeemed by technology (Charles Short and Geoff LePard). How do you do that?!

Thank you so much for sharing your fascinating and terrifying and wondering visions here. It was an honor and pleasure seeing through your eyes, if only for a moment. (Of course, with several of your stories, a moment was more than enough, thank you!!!)

Margaret Locke: What a pleasure to see you at FTT! I hope this is the first of many times. J Loved the look at Tourette’s and its possibilities, and I’m so grateful for the introduction to the very real and awe-inspiring Tim Howard. Thank you.

Dr Mike Reddy: LOVED your imagery—esp the sun “kicking off the bedsheets of night,” what a visceral image!—and the nod to the very, very brilliant Oscar Wilde. And a totally fab last line.

AJ Walker: Cheeky boy, daring to write about Rebekah and a dragon! I love how Rebekah’s physical journey from home to monastery to caves mirrors her internal quest for peace. And I am SO glad you allowed her a bit of hope at the end (I was waiting for you to kill her off).

Lauren Greene: What I loved best about your story is the reminder of how we never know how our words may affect others. A single text saved Marty. May our words bring healing too! We can’t know the darkness others may be battling. Thank you for sharing this story.

Holly Geely: This story ought to have been marked NSAL, “Not Safe After Lunch,” haha! This was both gruesome and hilarious at the same time and just about did me in; I didn’t know whether to vomit or howl with laughter. In fact I’m still shrieking over “His father would have supported him, if his mother hadn’t required his liver for that potion.” DARN THE LUCK!!!!

Tamara Shoemaker: This too was some really, really good worldbuilding. I could totally see our outcast mermaid student miserably flopping along while biding her time. What a fun take on the prompt, from windows and sunrises to the bottom of the sea. Really nice.

Rose Ketring: This piece read like a garden; I could almost feel the breeze and smell the wildflowers myself. How incredibly rich a tale, and so gently told.

Charles Short: I really loved the tension here between a man whose contagion demanded absolute isolation and his innate need for companionship. This story read almost like a cautionary tale and reminded me in way of Geoff’s story, in that the marvels of technology ARE amazing, and yet they are not enough. Such a good reminder.

Christy: Ahhhh, Gilbert, and what he sacrificed for the sake of others! The final lines reminded me of the frame of my favorite musical, Aida, in which Radames and Aida, ancient lovers, meet again in modern times. Are there any themes more universal than love and loss? You’ve illustrated them so well here.

Mark Driskill: Like Margaret and Lauren’s protags, your Captain James was saved from suicide by last-minute intervention from others. This is SUCH a huge story. Oh my word, I’ve no idea how you fit it all into 500 words. I so love your imagination; I’m especially dying to know the history (and fate!) of the Meridian Stone.

Kate Julicher: This was some really fantastic storytelling; it read in some ways like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I gorged on as a kid. Well, a combination of those and the urban legend about waking up in the tub with a note saying, Call paramedics as we’ve just harvested a kidney. –What a great read. Terrifying world. May our society NEVER reach the point where we think this sort of thing is okay.

Michael Simko: First off, yes, being a putz always counts, regardless of the category. :D This was a tremendously fun read. I couldn’t help picturing Cap’n Jack Sparrow, with your womanizing egomaniac who probably deserved the execution he was supposed to get but OF COURSE got saved by a very nice woman at the end anyway. What a romp. Thank you!

Nancy Chenier: I’m a huge Robin McKinley fan, so it was impossible for me to read your story without thinking of her mind-speaking black pegasus Ebon and his rider (one of my favorites!). You’ve taken this Ebon in a direction all your own, however; it was satisfying on so many levels to see Ebon’s deepest fears conquered. The relationship between Ebon and Luna (such great names, all of them!) also worked beautifully as they transitioned between kinds of beings and as Ebon found the courage he needed and peace he deserved. And the gorgeous last line WE hoped for. J

Special Challenge Champion: Geoff LePard: I so appreciated looking out of James’ eyes; technology has brought us SO far, and I’m grateful, but there’s still so much it can’t do. James’ own determination earned him the triumph he’s achieved; I’ve rarely felt so proud of a fictional character.

Runner Up: Clive Tern: OHHH the deliciously fabulously wonderful worldbuilding! What *I* would give to smell chappaberry and the sea, or fly in an aelectropede. This is a strong example of what seamless worldbuilding looks like, and it’s used to marvelous effect here. I could spend a lot more time in this world. Hint, hint.

Grand Champion: Phil Coltrane, “A Conversation in the Airport Lounge.” Ahh, the gorgeous Philippines! I wonder which volcano you had in mind?? I love that part of the world, and this scene read so vividly for me. I loved your saucy interpretation of the prompt—chat windows and Tequila sunrises, haha! Some really wonderful repartee here (“I’m clean and sober! Except for the alcohol, of course”) and character development. Complex and interesting perspective, too, with the thoughtful busboy the one painting the picture of the lovers. Unique take, excellent pacing, fresh writing (do you speak Tagalog!?), strong characters, and a man leaving “paradise” to return to his true “paradise”?  That’s a CHAMP tale for me. Awesome work.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Welcome back for another round of mayhem! I'm glad you're here. Go check out the prompts and write a story! Have fun!

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 Rebekah Postupakalso known as @postupak or @flashfridayficRead her winning tale from last week here! Check out her blog here. When not fretting over her dragons, Rebekah spends her time goofing off at Flash! Friday and picking her jaw up off the ground over how amazing today’s flash writers are. She apologizes in advance for all the mischief about to ensue at FTT.  

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-29 is:

[He] [slowly] opened the window to drink in what [he] knew to be [his] very last sunrise.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Give your protagonist a debilitating physical or mental condition. AND write a happy/satisfying ending!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Lovely! Another week of making the judge's life extremely difficult: accomplished! If you missed any of the entries, check them out here. Otherwise, let's read what our judge finally decided:

Firstly, thank you so much, Alissa, for the space you give us to create and share every week. I’m new to #FinishThatThought and have already enjoyed, learned, and grown my fair share. It’s a humbling experience judging when the submissions are leagues deeper than a story you might have spun from your own prompt. Well done everyone.

Wow, special challenges accepted indeed! And Welsh, nonetheless, gorgeous in script and curious on the ears. I love that you used the mechanic use of AC/DC, rather than the artistic. p.s. Now I want stew!

Such an original take on the prompt! Confession: I’ve never been to a concert but if the world ending is a good parallel to what it feels like, I’m scouring the internet for tickets right this second. The mother-daughter interactions could melt the heart of the Abominable Snow Man. Simply lovely.

You’ve captured the odd moments-“the dirty dishes in my sink”- of a brain in trauma well. Such a horrific event. As writers, artists, fellow mortals we are bound to take note and mourn with their loved ones. Well done.

Dark and soaring. Just the style I love. Countless times I read and caught my breath over the words you wove together: “The voice intones, priest-like, calling the worshipful to prayer,” “Faith alone tells me the rock roof is a kilometre away,” “all the other dimensions known, unknown and unknowable.” And the last line? Brilliance.

Flash Fiction at its best. You’ve packed so much into so few words. Some relationships, when they end, feel like our “own personal Pralaya, Ragnarok, Armageddon” and you’ve created just that sense of closing. Spectacular.

Everything from the title to the tone of this piece matches the theme. The beginning coasts to a start, smooth, almost as if Ong Namo is playing in the background and then-*records being scrubbed* “AC/DC's Highway to Hell.” Delicious contrast throughout!

This. When I wrote this prompt this was the story dancing in the corners of my mind only you’ve spun imagery (“Stars blink out like old Christmas lights and the entire fabric of time is obliterated around me like a crayon left out in the sun”) and conjured phrases (“suffocating darkness and casts it asunder”) far more eloquently than I could. Never stop writing.

This piece still has me laughing! Every word carries its weight (choosing “virile” as the rhyming word for “mobile” - perfect). The Dragon Mistress has breathed fiery life into this story and we should fear for our lives. Benedict Cumberbatch would be proud.

Special Challenge Champion: Doctor Mike Reddy

For rising to the occasion and incorporating not three but all of the special challenge words. So ambitious!

Grand Champion:  Rebekah Postupak

Honestly, this choice surprised me. Not because it isn’t well written- my goodness it’s incredible- but because I’m usually a sucker for the dark and soaring. And it isn’t at all what I pictured stemming from the prompt. However, when I am drawn into the mind and body of a character, when I feel like their words are tickling the tiny hairs in my ears, or I could glance over their shoulder and help them solve a Four Pictures One Word puzzle, that is when I know I’m in the presence of genius. I want to be you when I grow up.

(Me, too!)

Monday, January 12, 2015


Welcome back! A new week, a new judge, a new opportunity for you to share your stories with us. So come, check out the prompt, and get started!

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 DB Foy. Read her winning tale from last week here! Foy grew up writing fantasy with minimal plagiarism and poems full of whimsy. As puberty set in, her rhymes turned tormented and her stories existential. Thankfully, finding the other half of her orange cleared that up. Next came four years of professors demanding words bound by MLA and APA which sucked every bead of ink out of her. A recent transfusion administered by the Shenandoah Valley Writers has her poetry pink and her fiction flash. Steer clear of her ramblings by not clicking on this link and definitely don’t follow @db_foy on Twitter (she hasn’t figured out how to work it out yet).

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-28 is:

No one expects to watch [the world implode], [atoms] splitting, [time] melting, but here [I am].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include 3 of the following – A vat of soup, the Milky Way, crayons, Pad Thai, AC/DC, a copier machine, or a word in any language other than English.  


Thursday, January 8, 2015


The judge sent this to me amazingly fast (something made possible by it being daytime when the contest ended in her time zone!), but my email didn't cooperate. Ah well, here are her comments at the usual time rather than freakishly early. Congrats to all the writers this week, you made it tough! If you missed any of the stories, go here to read them. Now, read the judge's comments:

@Michaelsimko: Somewhat disturbing imagery of a sloth like couple who, for some reason only have eyes for each other. Very entertaining tale of trailer trash love. I loved the little twist at the end. The Aussie slang was somewhat questionable though.

@zevonesque: Sweet story about a girl reluctant to fall in love. I enjoyed her paranoia and skepticism, kind of reminded me of myself. I'm not sure about trading Coke off for Pepsi though haha. 

@Laurenegreene: Loved how many times you got the name of Coca-Cola in there. Made me thirsty. What a romantic little love story it was.

@JamieRHersh: What a horrible story, so well written. I love how the story takes you right there, right at that moment and then the penny drops. It was actually very powerful.

@AlexandriaMWolf: Who doesn't love a story about kittens and people who love kittens? I'm glad she got to keep her and what a great name for a kitty.

@KL_Phelps: Anyone who appreciates that Pepsi is not a worthy substitute for Coke is okay with me. An entertaining story about love at first sight. I thought for a moment that maybe the phone number might be smudged from the spilled coke. Lucky!

@goldzco21: I think the couple in this story need some serious therapy haha. I loved the end, where she says she is joking. Well written and fun to read about love gone wrong.

@geofflepard: I think I need to sympathise with the teacher here. Okay..only because I was one, but still! Nice way to twist the beginning sentence. I liked the loyalty of the blonde girl as well.

@db_foy: I love this. It is such a clever take on the prompt and is extremely relate able. Hang on.. did she read my blog?

@annae394: Perfectly timed story with a lovely sentiment. Young love and any excuse to talk to each other. I really enjoyed this.

Special Challenge Champion: Lauren Greene
The special challenge winner is @Laurenegreene. Not only was her story entertaining but I doubt Coca-Cola's paid advertisements, mention Coke as much as she did in this story. Well done.

Grand Champion: DB Foy
The grand champion was so hard to choose. I tossed up between three entries for some time before I realised that @db_foy story was a stand out. How could a fellow writer and mother of 6 not relate to that? I loved everything about this little tale of everyday life.

Thanks for entering everyone and thank you Alissa for letting me be a part of it. I had so much fun.