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.







Monday, October 6, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-14





Phew! If you're reading this, then I was able to get this posted! WooHoo! (I'm not going to tell you how far past 9pm I was writing this sentence...) So let's not waste any time. Go check out today's prompt! :)



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 Carlos Orozco, also known as @goldzco21. Read his winning tale from last week here! Carlos graduated from Heritage University with a BA degree in English and a minor in education. He resides in Yakima Valley and spends his free time binge-watching shows on Netflix and writing for several flash fiction contests. He is also a proud #Flashdog. You can follow the flashdog movement at @flashdogs or visit their blog theflashdogs.blogspot.co.uk/.





 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-14 is:



It was [his] only job that weekend, and [he still forgot about it].



 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:


Include 3 of the following: a dog named P-weezy, a cat named Pancho, a left shoe, a yellow #2 pencil, a hubcap, a banana peel




 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!









Thursday, October 2, 2014

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-13 - RESULTS!




Sorry I'm pushing the envelope with getting this judgery posted, but it's been a crazy day! If you missed the fun, go check out the stories from Tuesday here. Otherwise, read on to see what the judge had to say:



First, thank you all for writing your stories. I am amazed and overwhelmed by the response and the range of interpretations.  So many great stories!  Each is wonderful, and unique.

All are winners. Each of you has created a possible world that did not exist before. That is a fantastic gift, and thank you for sharing it. 

It is an honor and delight to read all these stories, and to choose among them is very, very hard. First, let me comment on each one--


Pop Pop and Puddin’ Pop Take on the Universe by Bullish is just overflowing with energy and the infectious style is out of this world.  And it's a universal reality-- a youngster wanting to drive on her own.  This is such a fun story!

Mountain Top Experience by @CharlesWShort is a story of character, courage and integrity.  The main character faces the physical challenge of the mountain itself, and the moral challenge presented by the other boys. But only alone on the mountain top, does the future leader receive the wisdom of the aliens. A very thoughtful and inspiring piece.

Contact by Emily Karn is a wonderful example of world-building. The culture is marvelously described, and the made-up words are used to good effect. What is the Prophecy? Is this unexpected contact an end or a beginning? I think of first contacts in our history and wonder what this contact may bring.

The Giver's Song by @rowdy_phantom depicts a different world and alien culture. Here is a story of connection and communication.  The foundling who may be an emissary, the Givers and the Listeners. "We are only stories."  What a beautiful story.

Love at First Sight by @CaseyCaseRose is set on a fairly new terraformed world.  The narrator's grandparents were among the first ones here. There are still new trees, which reminded me of a new subdivision, and new neighbors. The arrival of a boy her own age is an exciting thing. It's a story of two lonely kids hesitantly making friends. I loved the catadillo, and the dinosaur sealing their friendship.

Magical Marsha by @pamjplumb is a different story of friendship. This time, there are three friends about to go their separate ways now that school is over.  I love how all the things Marsha has done make sense now that they know she's an alien!  Can you imagine the kind of send-off the friends will be planning.... 

Probing Questions by @zevonesque does not disappoint. The questions are a big part of the story.  And it starts with a great first line--"the sky was wrong." It goes from humorous situation to genuine terror in the final question. Great finish!

Aliens and Tea by @MakingFiction gets my vote for the best opening line---"the sky decided it would spell words with clouds." And it has the most hilarious made-up word--the "Questionalienology Manual."   This is so funny!

Stormy Weather by Penname has great characters in this tale of a romantic quarrel between the two storm deities. Their actions and feelings are all-too human.  I loved the descriptive language and mythology here!  And maybe this explains the strange weather.

Cloudy Below by rashatayaket depicts a world turned upside down. Some great lines here--'fall forever into the ground". Only the blind man is not affected by the unnerving reversal. This is such a fresh and imaginative take-- so wonderfully surreal.

The Visit by Stella takes an entirely different approach. Amid all these alien worlds, this story feels so down-to-earth. There is real alienation here. And I love how the special challenges are incorporated into the story, not dictating it. 

God's Dilemma by @geofflepard is such a vivid tale of survival in the midst of senseless destruction. It could be any time, anywhere. It seems to be describing an alien world. What is going on with the mysterious drones and then the green food crates, children taking shelter in the caves?  This alien world is the world we live in.  It is here, and now.

Red Dirt Alice by Denise Calloway starts out with vivid description. The rain on the shiny red surface of the car, the road, the farmhouse set the scene for the strange things to come. The mysterious family history, the old letter, all add to the eerie feel.  Is this the back of the mirror?  Haunting and mysterious.

Seeking a Man Who Enjoys the Beach, Seafood by Michael Seese gets my vote for the best title. I love how the challenges are incorporated into this story of a blind date that seems like a disaster and turns out to be an unusual and perfect match.

The Sky was Our Savior by Patrick Sahl is an imaginative take on a classic s-f story of alien invasion. I love the humor and science in it--the atmospheric pressure, the grainy photos, the moon rocks.  Also has a very nice finish--the day it all ended. Well done!

56 Crows by @goldzco is the most unsettling and surreal. There is a sense of foreboding from the very first line. Why are the crows falling out of the sky? It becomes increasingly ominous, signs and numbers, as the pictures change to a single picture of a map--and the last line--"They led me here, to your house."

Once again, I am astounded by the variety and visions in each of these stories. I cannot pick just two. So, here are my picks--



Honorable Mentions--
Special Challenge--Contact--Emily Karn--for the most creative world and words to describe it
Story--Love at First Sight--Casey Rose--for a new world and new friendship
Both--Probing Questions--A J Walker--for the first line and the final question


Runners Up--
Special Challenge--The Giver's Song--necwrites--for beautiful language and story
Story--God's Dilemma--@geofflepard--for alien world that is here and now


And the winners--
Special Challenge Champion--The Visit--Stella Kate--for seamless story using the challenges in wonderful economy of language


Grand Champion--56 Crows--Carlos Orozco--for turning a world inside-out and leaving an ominous mystery