Thursday, August 27, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-8 - RESULTS!





Congratulations to everyone who participated!!! If you missed any of the amazing stories, go read them here. Done? Great! Now read what the judge had to say:


Ten entries, and such a mix of genres along with inventive uses of both the prompt and the special challenge that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. This is also my very first attempt at judging a flash fiction contest, so bear with me as I work my way through each and every captivating piece of work.

Reviews:

Holly Geely: Of Mice with Men

A creative entry with a Monty Python quote and a plot that brings to mind a twisted successor to something like the Redwall series. I feel like there could be a whole world uncovered here, and this only touches the surface.

Lauren Greene: No Sweeter Words

A short and sweet coming-of-age tale told in a few paragraphs. Smooth prose, and characters that I want to see in the next comfort-food movie I watch on Netflix. And it made me smile.

Sheri Williams: Austen is Always Right

More Monty Python! I’m sensing a trend here (and not one with which I have any sort of a problem). This one is light and romantic, with witty banter - via text - that makes it a lovely ode to Miss Austen herself.

Andra Jenkin: The Impossible List

And the romance continues, which shouldn’t surprise me with the prompt. But I love that each one has its own voice, and this one has a main character with a voice I’d love to hear more from. Please let me know when you flesh this out into a longer story I can really sink my teeth into.

asgardana: The First-Ten-Millennium

Now we tumble into Sci-Fi territory, and it is riveting. A cold, impersonal future, where people dissect the beloved classics of the past in order to show the reader what we could (will?) become. Nicely done.

ParkInkSpot: Back Off, Damned Sirens

Rich prose dominates this piece. Something menacing lurks beneath the words of the first part of the story, to be rewarded by that sudden twist and brief shot of violence at the end before the classic fade-to-black. I gasped on the last line, and for good reason.

Jude Knight: Untitled
This is the first of the entries that adheres to the time period from which the prompt comes, and it is a delight. In a few short lines, I was immersed in a world of stays and fans and the warmth of candlelight. This was just a snippet, but it promised such greater things to come.

Michael Simko: To Woo the Lady

Ah, and now we have the nod at Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And it is hilarious. I feel like I should have a more detailed list of comments to make, but I don’t. It’s just a fun story, the whole farfegnugen thing.

Melina Gillies: Untitled

This is a nice twist, a story told from the perspective we’re perhaps (depending on our life choices) not supposed to root for. A wannabe mistress looking for her next conquest. Her desperation - and her confidence that she’ll succeed - waft from the page like overpowering perfume. And, oh, what an ending!

Geoff Holme: Say It Again, Sam

Now this is taking the Special Challenge to the next level. Nearly all the dialogue is spoken in quotes, and some of them so cleverly done that it starts to feel like an Abbot & Costello routine. I almost wish the word count limit was longer so I could see how more quotes would be woven in.

***

Now, this was a difficult task for me. I wanted to do all my judging and write-ups last night, and found myself going back and forth over several pieces and needing a bit more time to be confident with my final decision. And I needed coffee. That always helps.

Honorable Mention: asgardana. Probably the best twisting of the prompt, sending us into the future, into a world so unlike what Austen wrote about that I almost experienced a chill while reading it.

Special Challenge Champion: Geoff Holme. A piece that took the special challenge and ran with it like a dog with a squeaky chew toy. I’m not sure whether to shake my head or start up a round of applause.

Grand Champion: Melina Gillies. A story that managed to flirt with the pasts of each person, rounding them up to complete characters with only a few well-chosen lines. And that note in the pocket… I may or may not have punched the air while reading it.


Overall, really well done this week. Judging was more difficult than I thought, mostly because of the sheer talent on display. Thank you for letting me sit back and enjoy your work. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-8




WOOHOO!!! We're back for another round! Roll up your sleeves, pull out your keyboard, and have at it! (Yes, really. I'm too tired to ramble on about stuff. Go see what mayhem you can get your story into.) 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 (PG-13)
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 Quenby Olson. Read her winning tale from last week here! Follow her on Twitter @QEisenacher. Check out her website at https://quenbyolson.wordpress.com/ 
Quenby Olson lives in Central Pennsylvania where she spends most of her time writing, glaring at baskets of unfolded laundry, and chasing the cat off the kitchen counters. She lives with her husband and three daughters, who do nothing to dampen her love of classical ballet, geeky crochet, and staying up late to watch old episodes of Doctor Who. 



Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-8 is:


The judge today decided to see what you could make of Jane Austen's famous first line:


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a [single man] in possession of a [good fortune], must be in want of [a wife].




 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:



Include a famous (or your favorite) quote from a movie.





 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!






Friday, August 21, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-7 - RESULTS!




Wow! So many joined the fun this week! It's so exciting to see new 'faces' alongside veteran FTT contributors. Thanks to everyone for writing this week. If you missed any of the amazing stories, go read them all here. If you're all caught up, you may continue on to read what our judge had to say about them:




Sixteen entrees, and most very disturbing. Congratulations authors, not only did you create wonderful works, but you hit several government lists. 

The stories are wonderful, diverse, and took an innocent prompt in some seriously dark directions. You all need therapy.

Reviews:

Holly Geely, Holy Victory
                Line 2 delivers "Back then I got kidnapped every other week" and then it continued on to a wonderful twist ending. And that's what our gent gets for not obtaining consent for that kiss.

Sheri Williams, Untitled
                Oh goodness, Sheri delivers with a spoiled mob princess who kills her old man for saving her. There's dark, then there's offing your pops for killing your kidnapper dark. The sense of entitlement from our protagonist captures the feeling well.

Quenby Olson, Wax and Wane
                "The party end of a glock." I demand to read your detective noir when you write it. What a great way to run with the prompt. For a story set in one cell it is filled with details and characters. I was wondering how your character could be so calm, and then the reason is delivered.

Melina Gillies, Untitled
                "I'm annoyed at death for using such a strong beam of light." I may be in love with Bridget. Any girl that snarky in the face of death is great. Fantastic voice, and the mortal danger of suffocating takes things in a new way.

Lauren Greene, An Unwelcome Rescue
                And I just hurled a bit in my mouth. What a strong look at the Stockholm syndrome. I was waiting for one of those to show. But, I didn't anticipate innards being shoved back in dead bodies.  Oh my.

Ashley Gardena, Now what?
                Yeah for a female captor! Read line two and smiled. Then the hit that knocked a tooth loose. The second Stockholm is so different than the first. Love the variety. What a wonderful question, of if the capture was protecting her.

Cyndi Pauwels, Untitled.
                Cyndi, how did you know that computer security is the key to any good dark story. What delightful revenge for our protagonist betraying the captor. And the best sympathetic villain yet. A special mouse to make the victim comfortable — what a gem.

Pratibha, The Walls
                I read that title and thought of Lovecraft, and I think it delivered. I'm not sure if this is a trip down madness in an asylum, or if she really is a prison who got revenge. The voice is compelling, and I want to know what is happening.

Charles W. Short, The Part of Being a Space Pirate No One Tells You About
                First, wow, what a title. You know it's a good title when I write this part of the review before reading the story.
                Whoa. Original to a sin. I love the roast bounty hunter. Pretty sickening, and horrific to be the pirate.

Audrey Gran Weinberg, Service with a Grimace
                I'm still laughing at the punch line. What an interesting premise, with a lady captor wanting to get in on the captive action. And now we see the problem with using George…err…Derek to perform such delicate work.

Ophelia Leong, Among the Dragons
                I'll take "A story I didn't expect from his prompt for 200, Alex." What a great take on the prompt. I love the dragons thinking to her. Also, nice to see that no dragons were harmed in the making of this story.

Park Ink Spot, Love Makes You Do Funny Things
                "I'm glad to see nearly anyone die." Now there's a hook. This piece embraces the dark side, and has a cool way to rehabilitate. Love the look into the killer. What solid visualizations.

Nancy Chenier, Nothing Personal
                "Their aggressive ignoring of me." This is a piece that needs explored further. The world seems so much larger than flash fiction allows.  Write this piece as a short.  Do eet.

Geoff Holme, Mausoleum
                I read your first line and wondered if you were about to taunt prompt. Instead we have a piece calling out Stockholm Syndrome, and one where the character is refreshingly still angry. Great foreshadowing, as soon as the character mentioned enough food for the week I pictured the ending we received. Well, other than the low blood sugar.

Lori Fetters Lopez, Her Pieces Need No Titles
                What a fantastic world. Still laughing at the NASA line (though I like our world's NASA). Wonder change of direction. I thought our protagonist was in trouble, but all along she had a plan in mind.

Andra Jenkin, Dark Matters
                There's unique, and then there's a time-traveling killer who lets prisoners out to get alone time. I adore the moody spaceship. Fantastic descriptions, and the non-American accent lends to a Steampunk feel.

——

The quality of the stories, sadly makes judging near impossible. If I could give out a dozen first place trophies I would (well, virtual trophies). But, that's not what you came to hear. But it's true.  So, the winners are the pieces that spoke to me the most when I read them.

Honorable Mentions Galore (Because I'm like that) (Which is technically against the rules, but since I’m getting this up late - and there were so many entries - I’m going to allow it…)

Favorite Spoiled Rich Kid: Holly Geely. No scum, you don't get to play our game — but thanks for the bombs.

Best book girlfriend: Melina Gillies (well, her character that is). I'm a sucker for a feisty Scottish lass.

Nicest Villain: Cyndi Pauwels. The bad guy got her a special mouse. Too bad someone thought romance was blossoming.

Best version of doctor who ever: Andra Jenkin. He's Sherlock with a time machine. Someone must make this.


Special Challenge Champion: Lauren Greene. When I can taste bile, you know you set a scene. And wow the shoving parts back in.


Grand Champion: Quenby Olson. When I reread and still love it you know the voice has me. The ending had me smiling away at the hints that came before. What a complete story in 500 words.



Well done everyone. A good dozen of these would win on a normal week. Something about a dark prompt brought out the stars.





Monday, August 17, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-7




It's mid-August, and this year continues to soar past at an alarming rate! Someone needs to push the pause button, or something. At the same time, there are several games coming out that I'm super excited about and I wish it was two weeks from now (Disney Infinity 3.0)...or six weeks from now (Lego Dimensions)...or Christmas so I can afford all the things by asking someone else to buy them for me - oh wait, that's what my children do; I'm an adult (interest in children's video games notwithstanding). Sigh. Now that I have rambled horribly, 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:

Rules:
1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (PG-13)
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. Read his winning tale from last week here! Michael Simko holds a third-degree blackbelt in snarkjitsu. He's a glorified secretary who records the antics of the voices in his head, and then steals their credit. Michael writes Flash, shorts, and novels. He is a father of two young children who demand constant stories. He apologizes if Scooby-Doo and Ninja Turtle references litter his fiction, but that's a dad-win as far as he's concerned. Michael tweets @MichaelSimko1, but it's advised that you don't try to find him there.



 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-7 is:


Preamble: This week's FTT takes inspiration from seeing both Chuck Wendig and Alissa at GenCon. (I'm not sure how to take this...) Remember, the rating for this contest is PG-13.


Under normal circumstances, I'd be glad that someone killed my captor.




 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:



Paint a vivid picture without describing color (e.g. no red, no salmon, no "the color of blood exposed to air")





 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!







Thursday, August 13, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-6 - RESULTS!




WOW! You all brought your A-game this week! Seriously! I enjoyed every one! But you don't want to know what I thought of them; go read what the judge thought:



Guys and gals, this was a really strong week overall, thank you all so much. Sorry I can’t pick eight winners, a handful of these tales would win a “slower” week. You should all be very proud of your stories.


The Bargain” by Quenby Olson @QEisenacher
Quenby gave us the tale that is ultimately comes the closest in flavor to Something Wicked. Not a required part of the assignment, but it delighted me all the same. I only wish I had more awards to hand out this week, this was an awesome field of stories.

Egyptian Sun” by Melina Gillies @melinagillies
The opening paragraphs contain several nice similes. I’m always a sucker for a good desert tale, particularly one involving excavations. This one leaves me hungry for more backstory—and it’s always a good thing to leave and audience wanting more. I enjoyed the richness of clues scattered through this tale of Rebekah’s completion of prophecy and victory over the sinister Tinker. The portal’s open, what happens next?

 “Ghost Watch” by Sheri Williams @AuthorSheri
The first few minutes of being a discorporate soul must surely be the most confusing. Sheri gives us a look at a fresh ghost who is trying to figure out the new rules. And the ghost watch is engraved with a prediction that is both true and (maybe, eventually) untrue. Let’s hope that our newdead (to coin a word) protagonist finds grandpop and that happy closure.

Abandon All” by Nancy Chenier @rowdy_phantom
Now we come to our (“Race the Clock” unofficial-award winner). Nancy got her story in with 10 minutes to spare, and we almost missed it. (Sorry Nancy!) It’s an upbeat little tale about nurturing hopes in a post-apocalyptic world. Not all hopes are abandoned after all, and with just a little loving care, they can make a remarkable recovery. I particularly enjoyed seeing a hope described as “a child’s drawing of a star.” There’s a strong metaphor here, and there’s more depth than apparent on the first reading. Loved it.


Runner Up
The Portal into Summer” 
by Geoff Holme @GeoffHolme
The title and first line draw a grin from a lifetime SF addict, and Geoff gives us a tale of a prophet who uses her knowledge to turn a quick buck. This could be a classic case of pandering to the judge. But the saleswoman kidnapped the kitty, and that’s always going to lose some points. (boo hiss Geoff, Mike only went for the princess!)


Runner Up
The Spice Seller” 
by Ophelia Leong @OpheliaLeong
A character-driven tale that’s heavy on the wild oats. We have at least four people (and possibly one mule) that are interested in spicing up their holidays. The interaction between the sales girls, Mitzi and Angelina, is subtle and wonderful. The combination of nudges (desire, loneliness, and third-wheel) that eventually push Mitzi into action are also wonderful.


Special Challenge Champion
Winds of Change” 
by Lauren Greene @laurenegreene
Grandpa seems to be quite a prophet, and completely unflappable. He finds himself suddenly homeless, and stoically goes to work constructing a shelter. He’s losing his granddaughter, too—something he accepts as inevitable. He doesn’t even seem much concerned that the Yankee salesman is responsible. Each of his expect-the-worst predictions comes true, one by one. I bet it sucks being right all the time.


Grand Champion
Knowledge” 
by Michael Simko @Michaelsimko1
Michael gave us a prophet who wagers everything on superstitious awe. Of course, he’s on a time limit and in a serious hurry. The gutsy move ultimately pays off. This tale has a classic sword-and-sorcery flavor; it could easily fit into the universes of Howard or Burroughs or Leiber. Very nice indeed.






Monday, August 10, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-6




So... My kiddos started school last week. We've had a bit of a difficult adjustment. I'm exhausted; they're even more so. I hope this week settles things (like tempers and expectations) to manageable levels. So cheer me up, please? Go check out this week's prompt and write something amazing. (And thanks for stopping by!)



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 D.E. Park. Read his winning tale from last week here! Dave (D. E. Park) spends his spare time writing flash and micro fiction, and just attempting to get enough sleep. He’s a first-generation computer nerd (older than the internet), a lifetime devourer of SF&F (loser geek), even a comic book fan (three strikes!). He actually hasn’t been actively writing for very long (you can't tell?) He lives in Chicagoland with his wife Annie. Follow him @parkinkspot and check out his writing blog at parkinkspot.wordpress.com.



 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-6 is:


Stealing this opener from Ray Bradbury, from Something Wicked This Way Comes:
The seller of [lightning rods] arrived just [before] [the storm].




 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:



Incorporate a prediction (true or false).






 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!








Wednesday, August 5, 2015

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-5 - RESULTS!




Congratulations to everyone!!! If you missed any of the stories, go read them here. Done? Yay! Now you get to read what the judge had to say:



What a roller coaster of reading delight! Who would have thought that getting a man to cook for a woman would have been the cause of so much death, destruction and disaster? And here I thought I’d get a few funny foodie stories! So, while lying on a West Atlantic beach in France, with giant breakers rolling in, I read, and reread all your extremely diverse stories with much amusement!


Inheritance” by Madilyn Quinn (@madilynquinn)
In this fairy tale/ Alice in Wonderland gone terribly wrong, the handsome but poor Queen’s trusted food taster thinks he has caught the Princess’s heart. But has he? I liked the spade being the garden instrument introduced (Queen of Spades/Hearts?) Nice touch!

Freedom from Food” by Amberlee Dawn (@talithaarise)
This was the closest perhaps to what I guessed might happen - where some very interesting recipes came up - maybe I’ll even give them a try myself! The ‘chestnut & sumac stuffing’ sounds delectable while the ‘wild carrot and kohlrabi au gratin was stronger than titanium’ had me giggling, as did some of the other descriptions. I was happy that our heroine could end her days of drudgery working in the ‘white dungeon’ but am still wondering - will Tom ever recover from his surgery, (and from tasting her experiments?).

No Title, by Dr. Magoo (@drmagoo)
This was a creepy story, which reminded me of the standoff at Masada, or much more horrible, various death pacts that some loopy groups have made in the past. Short and not sweet, this piece succeeds in sending a chill up my spine, for sure! In Dutch there is only one word to describe this piece, and that is ‘gezellig’ - for those who don’t know it - try Google.

Choices", by Charles W Short (@CharlesWShort)
This was a really serious and tragic story, of a man who loves a woman and wants to share her faith, but needs to decide whether to save himself or die with her. I’m not sure sure how much this is a Flash Fiction story, or a fatalistic account of what the future may actually become. Frighteningly close to one potential reality!


Special Challenge Runner Up:
Usually the Arsenic Works” by Patrick Stahl (@patrickstahl)
The title itself was a dead giveaway that this was going to be a fun read, and so it was. The imaginative and lively fighting scenes between Jim, Nash and Sal versus Molly, kept me riveted - despite the ever changing point of view (necessary due to circumstances)! (Could this turn into Kill Bill 3?) I too might have tried the arsenic, but now I know what works if I ever need to defeat a she-devil! 


Special Challenge Champion: 
Persimmon Pie” by Ophelia Leong (@OpheliaLeong)
Years ago, I wrote a poem called Persimmon Dream, and connected Persimmons to Persephone’s fate. In Persimmon Pie, a delightful tale is spun, which seems innocent enough, where the heroine, Abigail, helps her neighbor learn how to bake a pie for his mother. However, under the surface, there is more. She "moved slowly like a praying mantis…(or a cobra?)… hoping to keep his gaze on her."
She feeds on his innocence like Hades of the underworld, adding strange ingredients to these pies so he will keep coming back, steepening his learning curve, rather than easing the path for him. All a part of her very suggestive plan! 


Grand Champion: 
What’s for dinner” by ParkInkSpot (Dave) (@parkInkSpot)

I had to draw the Wendigo while I was reading this story for the 3rd time, and it did come out scary indeed. I can imagine why Dave has nightmares about this (by the way, Dave, is this about you?!) And while I’m asking - did you actually mean ‘usual’ or ‘unusual’ in the second sentence? Each of these would turn the story in a whole different direction! In any case, this very realistic story of a therapist convincing her client that by eating some human flesh she can disprove his Wendigo psychosis and thus cure him turns out to be quite a nasty little trick - but on whom?! And this niggling little question is why I just have to award Dave the Grand Champion award, even though I don’t think there’s a garden tool here, is there? Still, it’s a story to be read, and reread!