Thursday, August 28, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-8 - RESULTS!




Yay! Results! Sorry it took me so long to get them up, I was off the computer last night when the judge sent them and I tried to wrangle my garden into order this morning. (And a darn fine job I did of it, too!) Anyway, if you missed any of the stories, you can check them out here. Otherwise, on to the judges comments!



The Suitcase
Stella
This was a fun read, overall, as I thought it was heading in a contemporary direction when it suddenly took a detour down a magical/fantasy lane. I thought, at first, the suitcase contained the ex-husbands' underwear; what a shock to realize it was their eyeballs! How creepy-fun is that?!
The third through fifth paragraphs are particularly good – so much history revealed and so much character portrayed in so few words.
A bonus nugget-o-fun comes at the end of this piece - I love a Grandmother outside of Red Riding Hood commenting on a fellows “big eyes”.

A Recipe For (A) Disaster
Mark A. King
I love how Mr. King does a flashback in the beginning and I, the reader, don't stumble over it. Also, the writer displays excellent command over his craft with beautifully written lines like, “In the verges, skeletal metal corpses loitered like road-kill”, ”Memories tend to magnify missed details from the past”, and “I’d came to realise my hopes of finding her were a stalking ghost that would not rest.”  I love flash stories that manage to have a true beginning, middle, and end, and Mr. King achieved that. I appreciate the unusual take on the challenge in this story. I can tell I would like a longer work from this Author, he has a very authentic voice.

Karl Russell
Waterloo Sunset
Whoa, what a ride; I wish I'd had my own buffalo-innard seat-belt to fasten beforehand! The intensity of the conflict in the beginning of the story drew me in immediately, and the sharp-turn into the world of the fantastical both blindsided and enthralled me. I love the explicit descriptions (“The taxi outside was a blazing riot of multicoloured butterflies, pinned to the hide of a restless buffalo. ”) and the attention paid to small details which add depth to the story ( “I saw the price sticker on the bottom of his left shoe and smiled. Upside down, it was 66.6”). I find I'd like to read more about the place in this story, and hear more from this author.

Untitled
drmagoo
I love the MC of this piece, and also the valet who struggles to understand him. The author does an excellent job with character in this book, without a ton of description of what they wear or what color hair is or any of that. I like that. Also, as the wife of a man who travels a lot for business, this piece tugs at my heartstrings in a very personal way. I am particularly touched by the MC's fond remembrances of trips shared with his wife. The cliffhanger ending leaves me wanting to read more of this story...I'd like to see where MC and Eddy end up, and if MC gets his miracle.

Agent Brown and Cheif Bubba's First Encounter
Charles W. Short
Ha! This one sure reeled me in – I was thinking this poor traveler had unwittingly smuggled an explosive device of some sort. I kind of caught on that it wasn't so when the unpacked items were pots and pans. As a Food Network fan, I imagined Alton Brown playing the part of agent Brown. (I wonder if the author was thinking of him, as well?) I appreciate the sense of humor in this piece.

Untitled
Lori
I am known, in many circles, as “the girl who does not like zombie/vampire/undead stories.” However, this tale charmed me, or, rather, the MC charmed me.  The author executes excellent characterization with this mummy - she is so well-developed. I loved that she was simultaneously unimpressed by, yet empathetic toward, her dinner. I liked the mini-history lesson about how Mummies were preserved. I super-enjoyed her stapling her arm back on, the way I once (or twice) have stapled in a temporary hemline on a skirt I cared nothing for. This piece excellently depicted what a bother all this being undead business is for a gal. Ha. I might like to read this as a book. Seriously. (And, remember, I am the “girl who does not like zombie/vampire/undead stories”.)



It was amazingly hard to pick a winner. I honestly read over each entry several times before coming to my decision.


Special Challenge ChampionMark A. King, “Recipe For (a) Disaster” for his awesome take on the challenge concept.



Grand ChampionLori, “Untitled”, for making me like a genre I would, typically, never pick up.





Monday, August 25, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-8




Yet another week has passed before I realized it. I think time is speeding up... Someone should check on that. While they're checking, you have a story to write (which still has to be in before midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning even if time IS moving faster....). So go read the prompt and get your brains working!



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 Jamie Hershberger. Also known as @JamieRHersh. Read her winning tale from last week here! Check out her blog here. Jamie re-discovered her love of writing through participation in 2012's National Novel Writing Month. She has participated (and won) the contest every year, since. She is currently seeking representation for her NA novel, "It Takes Moxie", has a sequel to it in revision.  Jamie's non-writing activities include homeschooling her three adorable children and volunteering as a Ministry Expansion Lead for American Heritage Girls.




 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-8 is:


I'm sorry, [sir], but I believe that's [my] [suitcase].



 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Include a secret recipe.


 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!








The Deepening

Here is my entry into this week's Christian Flash Weekly competition. I had up to 200 words to play with, and I used them all. The prompt was Psalm 46:5. Enjoy!


Psalm 46[a]
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;

    the God of Jacob is our fortress.




And here is my story:


The Deepening


The earth shakes. Rumbles. Thunders. Roars. Reverberates in the core of my being.

Darkness falls. It begins.

So little time.

Cracks in the cliff. My feet slip on jumping gravel. Over the edge, waters writhe as though boiling.

Roots. I need roots.

I pull the seeds out of my satchel. I grab one, bouncing atop the others, and plant it in the ground. I raise my hand over it and will it to grow. To thrive. Soon the tree towers above me, and unseen below.

I pick out the next one. Plant it. Place my hand over it. It grows tall and strong.

A third doesn’t take. Heartbreak.

Another.

Yet another.

A crack shatters my focus. The edge of the cliff falls into the sea.

I need more. More time.

So many seeds left.

Faster.

Faster now.

Plant them. Grow them. Next.

Tears sting my eyes as I look at the satchel full of seeds. And the lightening of the sky.

I upend the satchel, scattering the seeds, pressing them into the ground. Grow!

The cliff shears off beside me.

No time!

The sun peeks over the horizon. Hundreds of saplings glow at its touch. My grove.


It is finished.




Friday, August 22, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-7 - RESULTS!





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.

Comments:

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

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-7




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:

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 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.


 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!







Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-6 - RESULTS!





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

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-6





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:

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 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...) ;)


 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!