Friday, August 22, 2014


WE HAVE THE RESULTS!!! I won't blather on and on, you've waited long enough. Thanks for showing up and writing awesome stuff. If you missed any of it, go check 'em all out here (You're gonna want to after you read the effusive comments by Rebekah, so just go do it now...). Otherwise, ON TO THE JUDGES COMMENTS!!!

Huge thanks to all of you, especially Alissa, for your patience as personal obligations prevented my getting the results back as fast as you deserve.  Your stories are, without exception, fabulous, and I had a grand time reading them. Thank you for seizing those vials and running in such diverse directions! And thank you for your gracious indulgence in allowing me to blather on about them. You are far, far too nice a batch of writers.


KDJulicher. What vivid worldbuilding! This story of intrigue moved effortlessly from its ominous beginning (“No mistakes, Hana”) through really wonderful plot escalation and a perfect conclusion. This story is the perfect example of the right sized story for the space—there’s a lot going on and yes, enough to make the reader crave more; but not so much you feel you’re trying to swallow a waterfall. Really well done.

Emily Karn, “Poison Princess.” What a dark tale of suffering and revenge! I really loved the line, “Which duty was greater, the one I owed my subjects or the one I owed myself?” This sentence perfectly captures this story’s tension, and the vials so beautifully reflected the greater decision Melisande needed to make. The prompt of the vials were incorporated seamlessly in the larger tale. What a great job.

Jamie Hershberger.  Love, love, love the creative use of the vials, testing for “bluebloods” in the literal sense. This story presents a brilliant execution of the prompt, and a hilariously tragic ending twist. Ohhhh that duplicitous Royal Blood Tester. This story is another example of a beautifully sized tale for the space. It’s also a great example of voice—the Tester’s arrogance, sarcasm, and rabid efforts to hide his mistake were a delight to read.

DrMagoo. Like I said on Twitter, any story kicking off with a clever line like “the fate of dinner in my hands” can only be good. I loved the very funny pairing of the innocuous (dinner prep) with murder; the MC’s greater concern over how best to complement the poisons culinarily was (pardon me) delicious and made me laugh out loud. Building in facets of Mark and Callie’s relationship throughout added perfectly textured depth. An overall funny, well-executed, thoroughly enjoyable tale.

Rasha Tayaket. Like Jamie’s tale, “Game” flies the mandatory prompt right out of the box and keeps going. Each vial transforming a contender into a type of dragon offered us a marvelously fresh take. And WHOA NELLIE, did you ever do a spectacular job with this intense action scene. I’m taking serious notes. You timed your pacing so well, pushing the external match forward in tandem with the combatants’ mental strategizing. And your twist is so good, flipping the scene on its head and adding a Roman-style layer of depth.

Mark King. You know you’re in trouble if the fate of Ireland is at stake!! This trip back to Y2K and its reinterpretation of those events/fears as well as the priest’s psychosis brought a cleverly dark turn to the vials. Your “Lady or the Tiger” ending is really well done. It’s a risky move finishing with a cliffhanger, but what I really love about your final line is it completes the story’s true tension/question, the priest’s spiritual journey. That takes an extraordinary level of sophistication, and you’ve pulled it off with panache.

LurchMunster. Not just a black dragon, but a ROBOT black dragon. Love at first sight! That’s my personal bias speaking, of course, though since I’ve long been a fan of LurchMunster’s writing, perhaps I’ll be forgiven. And man, what a heartbreaker. The embedded scene with the MC’s great-granddaughter was so beautifully, so tragically done. Like Mark’s story, the real tension here isn’t the superficial plot and which vial the MC will drink (though of course we want to know this!), but rather whether he will choose rest or revenge. What a great story. And what a great revenge it’s going to be.

Michael Simko. I think I may have snorted my entire way through this tale. Such fantastically colorful names—Burgomaster, Junkerin Liesolette, F├╝rstentum… This world absolutely bursts with life and flavor all its own. It’s like Iron Chef meets Gladiator. And seriously, a priest that trips right as he’s about to marry them and save Walther’s life? I just about died myself. Hysterical. Such a clever tale, and ohh my goodness, an ending line that made my heart sing with its gorgeous understatement.

Charles Short. Seriously, I know few writers (Alissa is another one) who can take the smallest of prompts and build the biggest of worlds. Your scifi/dystopian/allegorical take on the vials made for unique and compelling reading.  I have to say, the darkly serious tone of the story left me totally unprepared for the puppy-centric last line, which left me reeling. Now THAT was a twist! And I really loved the genre mashup. Your execution of this prompt blew the lid off my expectation. Great job.

Special Challenge Champion: Michael Simko, because the priest’s death totally killed me.

Grand Champion: Jamie Hershberger. Originality, cleverness, satire, voice, plotting, pacing—this story’s got it all. I’d love to read more of the Royal Blood Tester’s (mis)adventures and politickings. Congratulations on a job really well done.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Hiya! Welcome back! I'm so tired from my weekend at GenCon Indy that I think I should still be sleeping...for several days. :) Ah well, someone had to get the kiddos to school this morning. (It was a GREAT time, if you were wondering - I highly recommend it.) That said, you're here to check out the new prompt and write a story, so I won't keep you any longer. Enjoy! I look forward to reading what your creative minds grow from this little seed.

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 Rebekah Postupak. Also known as @postupak and @flashfridayfic. Read her winning tale from last week here! Check out her blog and Flash! Friday flash fiction contest here. Rebekah's flash fiction obsession has been getting her into trouble since 2012. She keeps it in line by running her own contest at Flash! Friday and writing for awesome contests like #FinishThatThought as often as possible.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-7 is:

Two vials lay before [me], the fate of [the kingdom] in [my] hands.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include an accidental death.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Congratulations to EVERYONE!!! Such a fun week! I'm a tad bit excited that a little flash piece I wrote for the Haunted Waters Press Super Moon Contest WON publication in their Aug/Sept issue of From the Depths! I'M GETTING PUBLISHED!!! (Sorry, I can't help myself!) ANYWAY, you're here to hear which one of YOU won this week... Before you continue, if you haven't read all the entries, head over here to do so. Well, I suppose I won't keep you from it any longer - here's what the judge had to say:

Judging was more difficult than I expected. Kind of like picking your favorite child. Each one is unique, but I chose a winner. Here’s the rundown:

Mommy Dearest by Rebekah Postupak
Clever, funny take on Rapunzel, her witch mother, and princess-sisters. Just a pleasure to read. Bonus points for the almost-but-not-quite inclusion of colors in reference to Snow White, Red Rose, and lots and lots of greens.

The Last Edge of Night by Lori
A dark and brooding tale featuring Grimm, appropriately enough, who gets his revenge in the end.

The Wolf at the Door by emilykarn
Fun modernization of a fairy tale mashup. Wonderful visual of the wolf “buffing a sharp-clawed paw against the bright broadcloth vest he wore.” (Thank you for clarifying that the three pigs were “no relation.”)

The Witness by storeroomoftheheart
The most uplifting entry in which the last face the narrator expects to see is that of the just judge who expiates all our sins.

The Logistics of Fish-Ownership by Samantha J
Oddball kind of funny with great tit for tat dialogue.
“Where do you live?”
“That’s pretty insensitive, Lisa. . . I’m not exactly ‘living’ anywhere.”

Monster by rashatayaket
This one has all the classics: Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, Igor, and Dracula. Finally, Igor gets the limelight. And it doesn’t end well.

The Ex by Quenby Olson
Hell hath no fury like an enchantress scorned. She may not be good at charms, but be careful or you’ll end up a mouse on her doorstep.

Charming by Anonymous
Kudos for pulling off 2nd person POV! Best takeaway line: “No princess wants a man with better hair than hers.” Ain’t that the truth?

High Heel by Anonymous
It’s the old secret baby story with a modern-day Cinderella twist. I loved this line: “I shut the doors, the one directly in front of me and the one to my past . . .”

And the winner is . . . . (drumroll)

Special Challenge Champion: The Wolf at the Door by emilykarn
A kraken, ladies and gentleman, is her sea creature. I have a soft spot for the kraken, which my oldest son named as his favorite animal at a preschool story time. Somehow, she made that creature organic to the story as were the others and the fairy tale characters.

Grand Champion: Mommy Dearest by Rebekah Postupak
Clever idea, good dialogue, sharp visuals, and just plain fun.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Welcome back for another round!!! I'm gearing up for GenCon Indy this weekend, so I have a lot to prepare and not a lot of time. My good friend, crit partner, and previous FTT winner Kate Julicher won the Baen short story contest and I'm excited to cheer her on! So, no more from me - Go write! :)

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 Carolyn Astfalk. Also known as @CMAstfalk. Read her winning tale from last week here! Link to her Facebook author page here. This is what she has to say about herself: I'm a stay-at-home mom to four kids, and over the last four years have managed to mostly complete four novels that I would best describe as Catholic romance/fiction, which is an itty, bitty, tiny genre. I don't have the signed contract yet, but one should be published in 2015. (Fingers crossed.)

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-6 is:

[His] was the last face [I] expected to see [outside my front door].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

-No colors.
-Include at least one of each: Land animal, sea creature, winged creature.
-Include the name of a fairy tale character. Hint: not Snow White (the color thing...) ;)


Friday, August 8, 2014


The stories were SO GOOD this week, and there were SO MANY, that the judging took a wee bit longer than normal. Well...he got it done on Thursday, but it wasn't until after I went to sleep. :) (Granted, it was a bit of an early night...) So, if you missed out on reading all of the awesomeness, go check it out here. Otherwise, here's what the judge had to say (Thanks, Michael!):

Thank you to everyone who entered.

Fifteen entries this week. Miss Alissa said this was a new record. More important, fifteen wonderful stories without a weak one in the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the entries, and that makes trying to pick this week’s champion very hard. In my judging method I ranked works — we had nine tie. This is trying to judge who is prettiest at a pretty-person convention (they have those, right?).

We had stories with people falling, with forgiveness, and with revenge. Spaceships, ghosts, and made wonderful appearances. We had many nameless characters, we had male and female characters, and even an it. We had fairy-tale princesses and cabin boys who would grow to be pirates.

Carolyn Askfalk: A haunting tale of regret with powerful emotions. Then to mix in the feelings that his love may have died hiding that she was still in love with her husband. This drips with hurt and it’s wonderful. Kudos, your made up words were so subtle I tried to look them up.
Great line with: “Only hate would sentence a man to a lifetime of guilt”.

Michael Seymour: This is a great beginning if you wanted to pull this into a larger story. Wow, pulled off to be the angel of death (or something close). I love the “Go ahead. I probably deserve it.”  We learn the nameless protagonist’s motivations and personality quickly. I have to confess to being confused by the ending and wondering what the evil soul heading to heaven did.

Giselle Marks: A fantastic story of alien encounters. I love how you dodged every cliche of the genre and made it your own. The aliens showing up as children is creepy. This story seems to beg for more — it could easily support a short story or longer. Nice try by the moalfs trying to play on human emotions before being led off. After all, the law is the law.

Rebekah Postupak: What great use of new words that need no explanation (though you gave them at the end). The lad has kissed plenty of cold fish — I hope he wasn’t a mortician. Very fun play against the fairy tale tropes. I can picture Rapunzel dropping our nameless protagonist to the ground below.

Melina Gillies: Any first paragraph that ends with, “I am the devil” is one I love. Then it takes a delightful series of turns. He was guilty, then violent, then going to die, then forgiven. Your descriptions are wonderful: ”A firm touch — delicate and sure”, “raw and battle-scarred like my soul”. This is a heck of a roller coaster in under 500 words.

Quenby Olsen: Whoa nelly. A demonic possession always is a favorite. This feels like Poe where the narrator is horrified but can’t leave. You have a way with horror, and it shows in this piece. The eyes snapping open while the heat surrounds him is chilling (which is odd, considering it’s warming).

Erica Rahaman: I don’t know how you made a sweet, endearing troll story, but you did. The father is so believable in his adoration of his daughter. No fair playing the father card against me. Who knew trolls were so noble and caring. I expected that the other trolls gave the dragon the daughter — but instead you popped a strong twist.

Jessica Dragon Cheramie: Whoa. Mind = blown. I was digging the writing and wondering what has happening and then her father’s head is on a plate. What a fun twist (fun in a head-on-a-plate kind of way). Your writing is very strong and the dialogue intermingles very well with the action. I adore how “she” was worried about blood on her chairs more than her father being killed. This would make for a heck of a fun introduction to a novel.

Stella Kate: Ohhh, our first switch to where the POV is the one saying the words. And then to make it more wonderful, your character lied. I can picture the Donny Osmond poster on the wall (thank you for that). The senses are great through this, smells, sounds, feelings, emotions. This is a wonderful story, and what a great introduction to your magically-capable protagonist.

Imageronin: You have to love a story that could be read multiple ways. Through it I was sure that our protagonist had murdered his lover so he could be with the other member of their trio. Then that assessment is ripped away. This is a very deep piece masquerading as a macabre piece. The tone of this work works to set a bitterly sweet creep factor.

Mysoulstears / @LurchMunster: Beautiful. I could tell where the story was going and still loved every sentence. The descriptions of how he knew her mood was wonderful. The quandary we want to know: how can our protagonist read everyone else’s mind but hers?

JM MacF: Could this be the finest fan flash fiction ever? Who doesn’t love Princess Bride? This is a fantastic back story for the tale. Poor Wes. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure snugget was something you made up, or if I just don’t know words for headwear. This fiction needs to be seen more. The only little gotcha, you repeated two sentences (Got caught…). Was that on purpose? I had a sense of matrix deja vu, but I’m thinking it’s not. (My apologies if it’s something too clever for me).

Murmade: The wizard returns. This is a fun dive into a world of magic. I love how much you were able to convey while keeping in one scene. The lady wizard waiting for the return of her man is touching. Like good flash, it raises as many questions as it does answers them. Now I want to know why the wizard didn’t know who he was, and what happened to the person the wizard inhabited. This needs to be a short story.

ChristianFlashWeekly: As a father to a girl I am taking notes. The machetes are touch of class, and would look great over my steps. Very nice how you tied the girl’s forgiveness to the father’s over protectiveness without letting him know why. The Burger weight gain is likely true.

Lori: Rebels doing what they can. I love how Vodka forgave our protagonist — despite knowing well who had caused what. The image of a dirigible of death is vivid. At first I pictured Steam Punk, then over to something more akin to Blade Runner. Very cool how Vodka walked off to certain death with an air of dignity while our protagonist realized it was him/her who did it.

Special Challenge: Include two words and use them in your story. They should come across as natural. Extra difficulty: No proper nouns or food names.

What great imagination and wonderful usage. This is the most subjective thing we could ask since it’s playing off the judge’s imagination and experience. But then, that’s writing. The real unfairness is the best made-up word probably was so good that I hadn’t noticed it was made up.

Special Challenge Runner-Up: JM Mac F! 
I loved expendiary so much that I had to google to see why no one has used it. You know you did well when your made up word is so natural that others did.

Special Challenge Champion: imageronin! 
For making me check to see how many of the words used were real. I award you the special prize: Person who taught me the most words this week. Druggernaut is a fantastic word, and may start a whole category of steamdrugpunk by itself.

Story Prompt: [She] whisper[s], “I forgive you,” as [her] hand slip[s] out of mine.

Having to choose makes me want to write things that will blow this blog’s PG rating. So many great stories to choose from — but one must be chosen. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for keeping it clean! And thanks to the writers for writing such awesomeness that you had to bite your tongue! :)

The entries are so competitive that judging has had to go to the old staple of who had the cleanest entry to go with great story. And even that made it tight. In the end, the choice was to go with the cleanest manuscript that spoke to me strongest.

Grand Champion: Carolyn Astfalk! 
The premise that our protagonist tried to save his lover, only to realize, or rationalize, that her death was punishment is too engrossing to ignore. Your story covered a range of bitter sweet emotions: Guilt, sorrow, despair, hate. “For the rest of my sorry days, peace would slip through my grasp just the same as her hand.”

Monday, August 4, 2014


Can you believe it's August already?!?! Where has the year gone? My kiddos started school today (Monday). It was the twins' first day of Kindergarten. (I'm doing fine, thanks.) The prompt today made me think of finishing chapters in our lives. When one chapter closes, another opens. I am looking forward with excitement to the twins learning to read and write and making new friends. This is going to be a great year. Now go check out the prompt and tell me what it makes YOU think about! :)

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 Michael Simko. Also known as @michaelsimko1. Read his winning tale from last week here! Michael writes Adult & New Adult Thrillers and Mysteries. He is just beginning querying his storm-chasers-on-a-mission novel. He can be reached at @michaelsimko1 where he tweets about writing, technology, and tornados.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-5 is:

[She] whisper[s], "I forgive you," as [her] hand slip[s] out of mine.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Invent two words and use them in your story. They should come across as natural. Extra difficulty: No proper nouns or food names.


Thursday, July 31, 2014


Thanks to everyone for coming out this week! We only had three entries, but that means it'll take less time for you to go read them all! Go here to get up to date before we announce the winners. Now, here's what the judge had to say:

Erica:  The impending danger to the mother and son was very real in your writing.  I felt the tension rise and fall with the ending eliciting a fear all mothers have.  My heart sank for her.  The medical event was very creative and added to the very real feeling of being selfless as a mother.

Casey:  Your story was very descriptive and slightly sad.  The boy had love for his mother but her mental health had caused him to hate her a bit.  I may be reading too much into the story but mental disorders are very real.  At the end, I wondered if the boy is also suffering from the same mental disorder, or do we have evil fairies living among us!  Thank you for your story!

Michael:  Good job making the deadline!!!  Great story that is very descriptive.  The details in your writing bring it alive in my imagination.  I enjoy your storyline and the images it elicits.   Good work!

Special Challenge Champion: Erica

Grand Champion: Michael