Dec 252014
 

Merry Christmas everyone! There’s no contest this week but if you need a place to write over the holidays, you’re very welcome here. Below is a wintry scene (or is it a sand dune?) to get some ideas moving. And the bookends? Go ahead and choose your own festive bookends (e.g. SNOW [micro] MAN, FATHER [micro] CHRISTMAS, HOLLY [micro] IVY, THREE [micro] KINGS, FEAST [micro] DEDICATION… you know the drill by now.) I’ll leave the prompt up until the next contest on Thursday 1st January 2015.

Photo Credit: AntoineMeu via CC.

Photo Credit: AntoineMeu via CC.

Be sure to come back on Thursday 1st January 2015 for the next round of Micro Bookends.

The Judge

No judging this week.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words (ish) starting and ending with FESTIVE BOOKENDS OF YOUR CHOICE and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Because it’s fun.

When?

Now! Prompt will stay up until 5am GMT on Thursday 1st January 2015.

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized).

Dec 212014
 

A very quick post from me this evening as I’m already on leg one of my annual Christmas tour of Britain (Isle of Wight to Darlington via Newbury). First an announcement:

Micro Bookends is taking a break next week. The next contest will be on the 1st of January; however, if you’re anything like me, there will be a time (or more likely several times) over the next week where you’ll need to remove yourself from the festivities, shut yourself away in a quiet room and write. To that end, I’ll be posting a festive prompt on Christmas Day which will remain open all week.

Photo Credit: Helium Paper and Party via CC.

Photo Credit: Helium Paper and Party via CC.

I just had to use this photo as this week’s prompt as soon as I saw it, and you guys really did it justice. There was a lot of whimsy this week as you might expect, but also a lot of serious and even dark stories. Such a fantastic range of interpretations. Thanks to everyone who wrote and commented.

A massive thank you to this week’s judge, Rasha Tayaket. Here’s what she had to say about your entries:

Some real gems of stories submitted! I both appreciate and loathe the opportunity to judge this week, as I always find more than one that I think should be winners. Alas, the point of entering each week is to compete against your peers – sometimes the words and picture work well for your particular style, sometimes not. It’s all part of the fun! But enough about me and onto your stories.

3rd Place

Birthday Dig by Grace Black

I love the father-son interaction. I think it was a great take on the photo prompt with the dinosaurs and dirt. There is a lot going on with the narrator and we get a very clear snapshot into his life. We know he is a better father to his own son and his own father was to him, he was not planning on having a son but stepped up to the plate when the time came, and that he loves the mother of his son. Really love all the detail that stacked nicely into this short short story.

2nd Place

Kat’s Magical Spoons by A.J. Walker

The idea of a child digging up dinosaurs from her own back yard fits perfectly with the picture provided for the prompt. I love the innocence of Kat and Sam’s genuine surprise that she is able to dig up all her homemade dino eggs. After digging up plastic dinosaurs Kat feels like she can do anything at all

Winner

What I Taught My Daughter About Dating by Geoff Holme

Carbon dating, that is! Hannah writes a report on her dad’s work, baby brother Bobby reenacts it with dirt and plastic dinosaurs on the floor. I could see this scene play out as a father juggles his time between two children. From the title to the dialogue, this story encapsulates the photo prompt and seamlessly uses the bookend words to create a lovely picture. I would definitely read more about Hannah and Bobby, and can only imagine through trouble the narrator is in with Eve.

What I Taught My Daughter About Dating

Geoff Holme

’Rating’? No, it should be ‘dating’.”

I was looking over Hannah’s school essay about my work as a palaeontologist.

Fossilised dinosaur bones are found only in sedimentary rock. Researchers have to find adjacent layers that include igneous rock; radiometric dating can determine their age.

“They’re like bookends, indicating the start and end of the period when the sedimentary rock formed.”

I’d also explained how I use a rock hammer to dig out fossil bones. Bobby must have overheard.

Downstairs, he’d covered the carpet with dinosaur models and coal from the Aga and was using our finest dessert spoons to recreate the scene.

Thinking of Eve’s reaction convulsed my digestive system.

Dec 182014
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.11. Thanks for stopping by. Grab that popcorn and let’s watch a movie.

Movies in the United States are given a rating based on their content by The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The ratings are G (general audiences), PG (parental guidance suggested), PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned), R (restricted), and NC-17 (adults only). In the early 1980s complaints were made about the amount of violence and gore in PG-rated movies such as Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The solution was the introduction of the PG-13 rating.

Can you guess whose great idea the PG-13 rating was? That’s right, the man who directed or produced the aforementioned movies, Steven Spielberg, who celebrates his 68th birthday today. Considered one of the most influential directors in the history of cinema, he has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan), and directed other classic movies such as Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and the Indiana Jones series. Join me in a rendition of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow for Steven with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Helium Paper and Party via CC.

Photo Credit: Helium Paper and Party via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Rasha Tayaket, winner of MB1.10. Read her winning story here, and what she has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with RATING and ending with SYSTEM and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Who is Rasha Tayaket?

 Who is the author?  Comments Off on Who is Rasha Tayaket?
Dec 162014
 

RashaRashaOur most recent winner is Rasha Tayaket. Visit her blog, follow her on Twitter, then read on to learn a little more about her and her Micro Bookends 1.10winning story. Rasha has very kindly agreed to judge this week’s contest so pay attention:

I like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain….oh wait…? That’s someone else’s story.

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? I started off with a completely different story from the perspective of the person taking the picture of the frazzled woman. I scrapped that idea, wanting more words to do it justice, and focused in on a few elements of the picture as well as the disorder theme.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? I focus on 1 thing – this time the papers on the refrigerator caught my eye – and expanded from there. Sometimes it is from the pictures, other times I get an idea from the synopsis you provide – but I typically pick one thing and expand from there.

Why do you like flash fiction? I enjoy reading and writing flash fiction to break up my day at work. It allows me to take 20 minutes here and there to focus on something other than my job and clear my head for when I get back to it.

Been writing long? Off and on I suppose.

You write anything else? Participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time – so I am attempting a novel and write a little poetry. Right now, mostly just flash fiction.

Any advice for other flash writers? Read things you like so you can emulate the style/structure. Read things you don’t like so you know what you want to avoid. All about knowing what works for you is about ruling out things that don’t work.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Well, I did NaNoWriMo so at the moment I am working through trying to edit the monster I created.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? I just finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Really well written and worthwhile read!

Want something a bit faster paced I would highly recommend getting into the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

Dec 142014
 
Photo Credit: Alessandro Valli via CC.

Photo Credit: Alessandro Valli via CC.

Hope you’re all having a great Sunday. Thanks to everyone who wrote this week. There was a great range of fantastic stories. We had a lot of disorder, both culinary and mental, and a great deal of explosive stuff, including, but not limited to, diarrhoea. Hope you’re not eating as you read.

Before I hand over to this weeks judge, Bunmi Oke, here’re my own musings on the stories that didn’t make it into the winner’s circle:

Word Salad by Geoff Holme

A very clever title referencing both food and mental disorder, and a nice use of IED. I love the description “her hands writhed like eels in a bucket”. The latter part of the story captures perfectly the sense of helplessness and confusion of trying to make sense of bad news interspersed with medical jargon.

Special Sauce by Voimaoy

This is such a fun story. I love the idea of chilli sauce so hot it sends the ship into a different universe. And the system with such a lovely view the captain says, “let’s stop here for lunch”, conjures up images of space anchors. I wonder what will happen with the new batch of special sauce. Great stuff.

Mushroom Risotto by Stella Turner

Great use of clocks as a running theme. I love the line “her heart was forever being broken by the succession of uncles that came for lunch.” The narrator’s explosive temperament finally shows through for a great ending. Lovely sinister stuff.

Desperate Measures by Natalie Bowers

I love the way the clues are dripped in slowly until the final reveal. The lingering detail on the coke bottle suggests to me that the girls left in a hurry with only limited supplies. Such a good closing line. Well done.

Newness by Cara

You can feel the tension simmering throughout this excellently written story. The line about people judging you, especially if they’re related to you, is so true. This story fits the photo prompt so well. I can picture the character swigging from the bottle of wine, just keeping her emotions in check. I know I’ll be experiencing some of these emotions over the next couple of weeks. Well done.

Diplomacy by Stephanie Ellis

This story is perfectly hinged around the line “She wanted more.” Before that we think the host is trying to avoid any unpleasantness, and after we know the opposite is true – even flash should have a midpoint. At first the line “they detected the bouquet of one of their own” made me think the guests were a family of vintners opening one of their priceless vintages, but of course it is much more literal than that! Great vampiric fiction.

Get The Shot by Ed Broom

Pulp Fiction spin-off where Mia Wallace and Vince Vega get married and spend their evenings watching TV and hosting dinner parties. I love it! Great use of other Travolta movies for symptoms – Danny Zuko’s hand-jive from Grease, and Tony Manero’s arm in the air from Saturday Night Fever. Great fun.

People Who Need People by R Matt Lashley

Matt wins the award for best use of the bookends: explosive diarrhea and bedwetting disorder. This is a brilliantly unique, unusual story and very well written. I love the fictional diarrhea that occurs during church services or when their favourite sports team is playing. The image of the assault by the overweight son and his apple-face girlfriend will give me nightmares tonight. The ending is as strangely brilliant as the rest of it. Matt sure has a unique and very enjoyable style.

Spirit of the Season by Nancy Chenier

A lovely story that perfectly captures seasonal disharmony. I love the description of the argument “curdling the gravy and souring my eggnog.” And the ending is perfect, with the children taking refuge under the table to argue over far more important issues.

Dragon Fire by Anna Elizabeth

A nice bit of fantasy here. Explosive mood swings are perfectly natural when you’re of dragon descent. I love the description of the character: “slight and feisty, adorned with hazel eyes and a chocolate brown pixie cut, plus, she loved to bake”. The fact she loves to be says so much about the character. Being of dragon descent and loving baking is a great contrast. What has led Zalia to be sitting on the floor muttering “it’s not a disorder”? Will we ever find out? Perhaps.

A big thanks to this weeks judge, Bunmi Oke. Here’s what he thought about this week’s stories:

They did not have to come in their hundreds but with the quality of the entries I had to peruse (and with the bookends), you won’t exactly find my job over the weekend an enviable one. I reckon contributors did really have fun inking across a spectrum of uneasy calm to mildly disturbed and to utterly eruptive characters amid messy settings. A miscellany of humor, chaos and elements of surprise thrown in, in no particular proportion or order (yeah, that’s disorder) made this task for me as delightful as it was daunting.

Believe me, winner or not, you all were splendid. Keep at it. (And bring more people!) Great job, writers!

Honourable Mentions

Untitled by Roger

Such inventive, humorous coinage (e.g. “pyro-culinary terrorism”) and puns cannot be lost on anyone with a fine taste in creative writing. One heck of a mind game-r this is.

What a mess by John Cassidy

Quite an Amazing (or is it Amazon?) gooey scenario. Medley of an initial anxious moment and eventual beacon of messy, explosive laughter, story made me rethink shared/collective embarrassment is a thing to laugh over. Clearly, this was a hearty write and a funnier read.

Choice Cuts by Carlos

Well done. The shuddering unraveling in the last line twirled my stomach – a precursor to what could have been an anti-cannibalistic retch. A bite into this story tasted so unbelievable that I almost got Carrie-d away.

3rd Place

Her Name by Holly Geely

I like the subtle delivery here as OCD imaginatively takes me inside her own head, giving me a more-than-enough sneak peek. What’s more, the clever use of personification tinkers with the humane portion of me – not to mention the personalization too: “She’s different for everyone, but for me…

First name: Obsessive; Middle name: Compulsive; Last name: Disorder. Nice piece.

2nd Place

Christmas: Plausible Deniability by A.J. Walker

Though I scarcely look forward to the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law interrogation slash faceoff (I predict the kitchen won’t contain it), the cute metaphors this piece is adorned by were a reading delight. Graphic, hyperbolic depictions (e.g. “epicenter of the blast zone”) with a creative allusion to a real-life scenario currently at the front burner, made not having this piece in top three both implausible and deniable.

Winner

Disorder by Rasha

A realistic, almost-relatable (because I ain’t psychotic, duh) portrayal of a distorted perception of reality. This simple, yet ingenious story took me on a sufficiently brief tour into the typical troubled mind of a seemingly helpless bracket of people. I’m not done taking in the entropic setting when the closing sentence flips everything on its head, re- presenting the entire piece in a brighter, if not different light. The stunning surprise, unforced sympathy and curt silence it elicits all at once are a stirring quality.

Congrats to you!

Disorder

Rasha

Explosive sounds of pots and pans banging around erupted from the kitchen. Martha was disheveled, her hands gripped her hair and she was muttering about the mess.

“Can I help?” I asked. She did not respond. I started to cover turkey leftovers. She screamed and I jumped.

“Stop haunting me!” she shouted uncovering the dish.

“Haunting? Martha, I’m not a ghost.” I grabbed for the doctor’s note hanging on the refrigerator to once again remind Martha that she had been diagnosed with psychosis after the accident.

The sounds in the kitchen silenced as I pointed to my own name on the line diagnosed with hallucinatory psychotic disorder.

Dec 112014
 

Click here to skip the waffle and go straight to the bacon.

Well, we made it double figures! Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.10. Thanks to everyone who keeps turning up to write, comment, and be part of the MB community. I really makes this little corner of the internet a fun place to be. Now onto business.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) has nothing to do with flatulence, but is a behavioural disorder characterized by repeated episodes of aggression, destruction, and violent behaviour that last less then 30 minutes. There is no single cause for the disorder but there does seem to be a genetic component as well as an environmental one. Imbalances in serotonin (a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being) may also be involved. It is usually treated with drugs and anger-management techniques.

Someone famed for their fiery temper is the former 3-Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White who celebrates his 53rd birthday today. How many of the stories about his temper are true, and how many have been embellished by the media, I don’t know, but it is said that he once took a knife to the jacket and trousers of a young chef who complained about the heat in the kitchen, charged a customer £25 for a side order of chips that weren’t on the menu, and reduced to tears that other famous hot-tempered chef, Gordon Ramsay.

Let’s wish Marco a calm and relaxing birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Alessandro Valli via CC.

Photo Credit: Alessandro Valli via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Bunmi Oke, winner of MB1.09. Read his winning story here, and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with EXPLOSIVE and ending with DISORDER and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘who is the the author’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Who is Bunmi Oke?

 Who is the author?  Comments Off on Who is Bunmi Oke?
Dec 092014
 

Bunmi OkeBlessed with an awfully slow reading habit ([no] thanks to a mind that wants to drain the life out of every word read), plus an attention span that’s only a little longer than a blink, the bloke has a penchant for the brief.

Wh-at/-oever ‘poisoned’ me with a fondness for flash fiction must’ve ensured the antidote’s beyond reach,” he recalls telling a friend days ago.

An unsuccessful affair with blogging (place smells musty, be warned!) drove him to Facebook and Twitter.

Hopelessly, Bunmi daily wishes he’s one-tenth a bookworm as he’s a bibliophile.

Bunmi has very kindly agreed to judge this week’s contest. Read his Micro Bookends 1.09winning story, then read on to learn more about his many writing projects:

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? My mind is obsessed with a dizzying number of (writing) ideas per time. Thankfully, prompt and bookends are a helpful (and challenging) lead.

Typically, my approach is to literally gawk at the pic, rummage it for one or two potential flashpoints, then latch on to the first (or best) idea that sprouts – and it hardly fails (me).

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? I think it is useful (and basic) to accept that all does not have to be said.

As for the fitting, (I) try have the ending figured out first, [jolting, poignant, and/or erupting – I’m for denouement any day!], (I) then work the piece from top down – while stealing glances at the word counter, of course.

Why do you like flash fiction? I do NOT like flash fiction. I love it! The brevity, the requisite literary discipline to pull it off, and, ironically, the liberty to express oneself within the space/word constraint are all a short-attention-span, longwindedness-averse person like me can ask for.

Been writing long? About half a dozen months.

You write anything else? Poems (incurably laced with rhymes), quatrains, and epigrams. They have been darlings for long. I can say I owe facility with flash fiction to these prior genres, especially regarding pithiness and word-strictness.

Any advice for other flash writers? Being prolific as a writer is sure a blessing – one that should not be mistaken for license to prolixity. Writing can be short, simple yet punchy.

And yes, fall in love with challenges: Online competitions are a healthy exercise for your literary muscles and taste buds.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Oh, certainly. From 98 pages-plus of un-inked poetry ideas on PC to a truckload of raw, undeveloped story ideas lounging in my Evernote app on phone, to a sky-high heap of half-written quatrains oscillating between the two gadgets, yes, there are tonnes of (abandoned?) projects. “Procrastination!” Geoff, you ain’t alone.

As for consistent ones, however, I am working on a riveting series of ballads. As well, currently exploring collaborations with certain brilliant co-writers.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist is a fine offering. I love his simplistic yet sublime take on creativity.

Jeff Goins’ The Writer’s Manifesto (Stop Writing to be Read & Adored), succinct as it is, redefines the purpose, redirects the focus, and reshapes the perception of the writer regarding (his) written words.

Apocrypha and Abstractions’ Flash Fiction Musings For The Literary Minded [Vol 1 – 3] are a cute compendium of flash pieces – a reading delight any day.

Oh! “…a book…” you said? Oops, my bad. But there you have it/them!