Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Wow! I am so thankful you all joined in the fun this week! What a ride! And I'm super thankful for our judge who stayed up late to read them all and get her decisions to me before the holiday craziness began. We had two latecomers this round, but the judge was gracious enough to comment on those as well. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Day with your families and loved ones (or if you're not in the USA, have a great day anyway!). Go read any stories you missed here. Now let's read what the judge had to say:

I was so excited to see where this particular first line would take you, and you did not disappoint! Obviously, I geared it toward the idea of a high school setting, which some of you embraced, and some pulled me worlds outside of my parameters, and I respectfully incline my head in awe. Each of your stories was a delight to read, and I truly enjoyed them. Thanks so much for making my job of picking a winner so hard! You all win! High fives all around! (Looks over shoulder at Alissa). Never mind. I suppose I'll have to come up with a top two. Here we go:


Oh, such a story of remorse, or lack thereof. I can feel the spiraling despair in this one, the lack of emotion, because to feel is pain.

It wasn't specifically stated, but I wondered if the man in the bar next to Kayleigh was her conscience. Casual mentions of his immortality, how he has been there with her from the start, his disapproval from the beginning, his affinity for bourbon that helps to drown out his dissatisfaction.

I loved the dark tone of this, the mystery. It didn't matter so much who the people she killed were, David, Alex, as the fact that she did the killings, and we get wrapped up in the hopelessness of it all. As the last line says, “What else was there?”

The conscience, as I'll label him, gets shoved to the back burner, and Kayleigh welcomes the darkness with all the hopelessness of despair.

Mark Driskill

What a story of grace! Or G.R.A.C.E., as the case may be. I enjoyed the journey in this story from one end to the other. The concept of her spiky hair that kept everyone out was brilliant; and Mr. Spitzel broke through that wall. I love how the narrative throws the reader off-balance with the expectation that Miss Rangin (pardon me, Miss Isabelle Rangin) would be angry at his intrusive desk-carving, but instead, her eyes fill with tears at the love so obviously just for her (I'm a romantic at heart; how could I not love this?).

Those final few sentences are rife with gorgeous imagery: “Her eyes softened and filled like cups of warm joy.” Also, “Miss Isabelle Rangin literally danced in the school cafeteria on top of tables and on top of the world.” What a beautiful picture!


Chills! What a well-put-together story! A modern-day take of Snow White and the wicked queen who looks with all shades of jealousy into the mirror and asks, Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of us all? Lindsay, Kayleigh, Lindsay is the fairest of us all, and don't you forget it.

I love the character building of both Kayleigh and Lindsay—so much in so few words. When I reached the end, I felt like I had just finished a novel. I particularly loved Kayleigh's dilemma—how to get a reaction out of Lindsay, because Lindsay was neutral. She was Switzerland. Great description, and fitting title to go with it.

This piece grabbed my emotions. I couldn't believe how angry I was at a fictional character when the last line pulls out all the stops on Kayleigh's character. Wicked girl! May the odds be never in your favor!!


Boom! From the first line to the last line, I was hooked, and that's saying a lot because normally I don't get hooked on science fiction (just ask my husband, who begged me without success to love Ender's Game).

And it helped that the first line and the last line were the same, and they were the same in a completely non-gratuitous manner. It fit like a puzzle piece! So when I read the last line, I thought, there is no other line that could go there.

I was floored by the worlds/colonies/universes that were brought into this story; so much depth covered in only 500 words (or 498 as the case may be). I loved how well the special challenge wove seamlessly into the text, like another puzzle piece. This whole thing just flowed really well.


It's like I just fell asleep and woke up in the best world ever!! I enjoyed the appearance of myriads of my favorite mythical creatures (or are they mythical??), and contorted into fits of giggles over the lines: “'You can only die once,' said someone cheerfully. 'Not me!'” said the phoenix.

I love the mystery of the chalk line. What's on the other side, why Kayleigh can't come back, what magic holds her there, and what is “the other side” doing to her? The narrative introduced a lot of questions that didn't necessarily get answered, but I felt like that wasn't the main thrust of the story.

The connection at the end is what really stuck with me—the transformation into the same kind of creature as the narrator struck me at once as horrible and fantastic, terrifying and surreal. That final line at the end put a period on the end of a emotion-riddled piece. Loved it.

Michael Simko

Ooh, the ultimate double revenge story. I was reeled in immediately, reading with horrified fascination as Amelia did the unthinkable—took her sister's boyfriend for herself, took him with no good purpose but for the sake of revenge. The end grew darker and darker, and then, whump, the twist.

Wow! What a gripping voice. It pulled me in and wouldn't let me go. I wondered what the dark deed was that “that Jezebel” did.

I love the snapshots of close-up images that wove through the story. The flies that buzzed behind the holes in the screen, Ron's Adam's apple bobbing beneath his too-blonde beard. Excellent setting. I could feel the heat (temperature and other). Great job!


Okay, I know this one came in later than the close of the competition, but I loved it so much, I had to stick it in here. The tongue-in-cheek tone was at once hilarious and connective. I immediately was there, at the prom, watching the ogre kiss the sister, who, yuck, had snot-green eyes.

In true Beauty and the Beast style, instead of speaking in the vocal tones of a boulder tied to a stick (that line made me laugh out loud), his voice is tempered steel. His eyes are less snot-green and more moss-colored. I read the unraveling of the narrator's preconceived notions in that one line: “My sister—I miss her, too.”

Beautiful. And that's not a word usually tagged with ogre stories. I loved this. LOVED it.

Matt L:

A brilliant tone in this one! It left me giggling after it was all read through, and I had to go through it at least twice more to get the full effect (and the laughs). The use of creative, exaggerated imagery kept my attention. I particularly loved the breakdown of Kayleigh's tears: 30 parts water, 50 parts salt, and 20 parts genetic material. And then later, 40 parts Mary Kay Foundation Number Five, 20 parts salt, 30 parts water, and 10 parts genetic material.

And if I were any better with chem/phys, I could tell you exactly what that means. As usual, I have no clue, but I totally enjoyed the concept.

I loved how well the special elements were woven into the story, particularly, the "kiss of Virgin's blush rouge." So creative! Way to break down the parameters of the box! I love it!

Special Challenge Champion:


You portrayed the high school setting for which I was looking, and then you took it the extra mile with Kayleigh's obsession-turned-horrible-secret. The elements were woven in seamlessly; I had to search hard to find all of them, but they were there! Great job including those!

Finish That Thought #2-21 Grand Champion:


Flawlessly written, incredible world-building; I still can't get over how much I loved the frame of the story with the repeated first and last line. Kudos, sir, you may have just converted me into a sci-fi fan. Almost. I might try to read Ender's Game again sometime in the next fifty years. Unless you yourself have a book or two out? ;)

Monday, November 24, 2014


As we wrap up November, I want you to know how proud I am of you: for coming to check out the prompts, for writing (or attempting) a story, for using your creativity, and for sharing. This community is only as strong as each member. Thanks for being a part of this adventure. Now, go check out the prompt and write (before I get even more sentimental)! 

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 Tamara Shoemaker. Read her winning tale from last week here!  Tamara Shoemaker was penning harrowing suspense tales from little on up, and the older she grew, the more harrowing they became. While this genre still holds her interest, her most recent love is young adult fantasy. Three of her suspense books are for sale on Amazon. Her newest suspense, Soul Survivor, will be available in January 2015. The first book of her latest young adult fantasy trilogy, Mark of Four, will hit the market in February. Bonus points if you follow her on Twitter (@TamaraShoemaker) and/or go like her Facebook page (

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-21 is:

All may be fair in love and war, but [Kayleigh] just stepped way over the line.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least FIVE of the following:
Locker Room
A teacher named Mr. Spitzel


Thursday, November 20, 2014


WooHoo! What a round! If you missed any of the amazing stories, check them out here. Otherwise, let's read what the judge had to say:

I thought all the stories were very good. A few, I could have seen myself writing. And I was surprised by 3 references to "Footloose."

My thoughts:

"Release" by Tamara Shoemaker

A very touching story, with some great phrasing. I think my favorite was "explode in a million angry sparks."

"Serendipity" by Rebekah Postupak

Seemed like "My Fair Lady" meets "Cinderella." I really liked the voice of Dominique.

"Streetfighter" by Mark Driskill

A funny read as it went along. Then at the end the POV is pulled out to reveal what is really happening.

"Love And The Gods" by Erica Rahaman

You had me at cleavage. Seriously, a nice take on classical mythology. I could easily see these characters in a longer short story or a novel....

"The Woods" by Michael Simko

I'm always a sucker for a great phrase, and "The gunman looks like a TWISTED love child of a moonshiner and a clown" was it.

Special Challenge Champion

Michael Simko for "The Woods," simply because you managed to get "Copacabana" in there. Who would have thunk?

Grand Champion

"Release" by Tamara Shoemaker

Much of the flash I write relies on humor. For that reason, "Love And The Gods" was a close second. But lately, I've tried to pull a few more heartstrings, as it were. And "Release" does that. It starts out with a typical child-parent exchange. But soon we learn of "the pain and heartbreak of the last month" which even the child feels inside. Then at the end, we hear in real-time our heroine's tough decision.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Welcome back! We're over halfway through November now (hopefully NaNo hasn't driven you completely crazy yet!). My family has been struggling with sickness for over a week now, but I'm hoping we're on the end of that train. I really need to write some words, which has been impossible with fevered children on my lap for days! Join me in writing words today! The prompt is fun and flexible! 

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 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 or follow @MSeeseTweets to laugh with him or at him. 

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-20 is:

"If you step on my [toes] again, I'm going to POP you."

Michael wants to remind you of the rules that allow you to change pronouns, tense, punctuation, and anything in brackets; but also wants to add that if you would like to take it out of dialog, you may. ie, I vowed that the next time he stepped...

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include at least three (3) one-word song titles. Highlight them so he can find them. eg, make them ALL CAPS or <b> </b> 


Thursday, November 13, 2014


The judge has spoken! Check out the stories here, if you missed any of them. Read the comments and decision below. :)

When I set the first line, I was curious to see what kinds of places people had gotten into, and I was not disappointed in the variety of locations, and situations that the authors came up with. With the special challenge, I expected to be delighted by the strange additions, and found myself unexpectedly challenged by some of the games that the authors who accepted the challenge incorporated. Overall a lovely bunch of stories, and thank you for sharing them with us.

David Borrowdale:

It is clear from the difficulty of those clues that this character is devoted to crosswords. The clues were beautiful, and I loved seeing how the character broke them down for the person who entered the room – I had figured a child with the "You know I'm not to be disturbed" line, but I love that 18 down clues in the reader to the fact it is, instead, man's best friend.


The fact that Shauna was worried about damaging the cup, rather than the kitten exemplifies her obsession with her collection that has to sit just so. Her dedication to Rachel is equally clear, and the compromise that comes with relationships carried nicely. Plus, kitten!


A lot of punch in a little story. The fight was a quick affair, and I like that Gena didn't just sit idly by as the men fought it out.

Michael Simko:

Thank you for the guide to game used – this one challenged me in a way I didn't expect the prompt to do. And I learned about a bunch of new games. The second person future tense was an interesting choice, and a bit jarring to me as a reader, but by the end I settled into it. It felt like a much longer piece, like what we were getting were only fragments of a full story waiting to be expanded on.

Michael Seese:

Not only did you manage to squeeze in the game titles, but also a series of bad jokes, and several puns. These lent well to the personality of the person who had their arm twisted to participate in a crime against their will, but there were hints throughout that it was a grim humor, and the twist at the end, answering the why, didn't disappoint.

Mark Driskill:

Taking the game challenge in the direction of sports was something else I didn't expect, but worked nicely in this story. Jeremy seems like a handful, and a joy all at the same time.

Nancy Chenier:

It is clear the speaker has paid a lot of attention, knowing the habits and favorite dink of the "you" in the story. The build from a caring friend to an obsessed stalker is subtle, and the end gave me chills. Nicely done.

Special Challenge Champion:
David Borrowdale

You folded the names of games in nicely, but it was taking a game that was played, and turning it into an obsession that snagged you the special challenge championship spot this week.

Grand Champion:
Michael Seese

A casual conversation revels a dire situation in the end. The build was nice, and what can I say, I'm a sucker for puns.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Welcome back, Nanoers and non-Nanoers alike! My Nano got off to a great start and has struggled ever since. I have high hopes still! Go check out the prompt and write something amazing! :)

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 Christy Shorey. Follow her on Twitter as @weylyn42. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week here! Christy is predominately a writer of novel-length works, particularly those generated in the fine month of November, but is seeking to stretch her writing limbs in the areas of short stories and flash fiction. Born and raised in Florida, she continues to live there with her husband and two lap warmers, urm, cats.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-19 is:

How did you get in [there]?

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a strange addiction AND the names of at least two games (but not as games). 


Thursday, November 6, 2014


WINNERS!!! My head is rebelling right now, so hopefully I can craft a coherent sentence. If you missed any of the stories, go here to read them. Here's what the judge had to say:

I like to make open-ended prompts because it enables creativity. Our writers this week embraced different view on the prompt and took it several different ways. We had horror, a couple horror that release, a story that could make a video game. We had point-in-time pieces and pieces that fit a novel’s worth into 500 words.
This week was a master class on how to do second-person POV. Three second-person pieces, and each felt different.
It was a pleasure reading your work, thank you.

Jamie Hershberger

This sounds bad from a romantic, but I was hoping it was going this way. I was wondering who would go the lobster route, and you hit it right off the bat. Fun story, and wise decision.
“Meanwhile, I was remembering of the many dances of Jorge.” What a great double-entendre, that for the first time ever in a double-entendre, was completely clean.

Emily Karn

I was wondering if Emily had walked the dark side. I love the cooking wizard actually being a wizard. Great play on the prompt.
“It hurts your soul deep inside where no one else can see it.” Your voice is so strong, even in second person. I can picture this being read aloud in a coffee shop in the performance artist method.


I love the use of second person POV. This brings us in as the caregiver while not making it seem like we’re in mortal danger.
“And the screams become commonplace, part of the job. But they never get easier. That was a lie.” What a wonderful way to use second person to bring us into the role of the caregiver.
And wow, I got chills from that ending.

Geoff Lepard

What a wild trip exploring people who can hear trees. I’m reminded of the Redwood forests and can imagine the scream from the giant trees.  The person hearing the screams, but has sympathy is a great take on the prompt.
“For some it's just a background hiss, like a tingling tinnitus which sets your nerves on edge.” Great use of audible clues to wrap the story. I think my ears started buzzing from reading this — so thanks for that.

Mark Driskill

What a great take on the detective noir genre. I love the voice going. All the signs point to a serial killer before you pull the rug out from us. At first I read and said, “Hey, he didn’t foreshadow.” But then I went back and saw the subtleness. Well played.
“It’s the kind of conversation that leaves you numb on the inside, and slimy on the outside.” What a perfect setup to the rest of the story.

Michael Seese

First off, did you challenge me to a spice off? Sir, I have slain for less. My Penzey’s creed is solid and masala is to die for.

I suppose I’m a bad person for being glad that someone went the bloody route with the prompt.
“Quickly, thought, out becomes downright comical.” I laughed, again proof that I have problems.
Slaughtering poor mutants — my goodness. Fantastic voice, and love where this went. I was picturing a zombie story pretty early on, but you went for the humanoid mutant aspect. Love how you unapologetically keep it in the killer’s perspective.


Horror lends itself well to second person POV, and you pulled it off. You shoved a great world into a flash and it pours through. What a great conclusion turning the first line on it’s head. Great tie in with the spices being integral to the story.
“One cup and he’s yours.” I love how you have a happy romance in a horror piece. The tone comes from whimsical and hopeful to yaksi taking their rights.

Charles W Short

The amusement park of fear. How many of us played the amusement park games and had people asking why our computers were screaming? Sharp story with a seamless integration between different time periods of memory.
“Five years later I could no longer claim apathy or innocence to what was taking place.” I was like, did he really go there?


Special Challenge Champion:
We had imaginative use of spices in the story from cooking (fantastic), to magic (wonderful), to puns (groanful). The one that called me first when I read was using spices to evoke emotion.

Geoff Lepard: 
  “You know the only thing that works? Fruit. Well anything the trees give willingly. Spices are best.” The sacrifice of the trees is human and inspiring at once.

Finish That Thought #2-18 Grand Champion:


Using second person to pull us into the empathetic role is wonderful. When we went for the hug I expected the artist to hurt us. Instead you end on such a human element that, sorry, there’s some dust in here. Great story, fantastic voice. Love the ray of light in a prompt that harkens darkness.