Micro Bookends 1.33 – Results

 Results  Comments Off on Micro Bookends 1.33 – Results
May 312015
 
Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Welcome to the results bit. A huge thanks to this week’s judge, Marie McKay. Here’s what she thought of it all:

This week, the bookends and photo prompt did a great job of fuelling your creative juices. There were common threads in many stories, but there was a huge amount of diversity, also. I was looking forward to reading soap-inspired stories based around feuds, romance, betrayal, adultery, and domestic turmoil! You did not disappoint; indeed, you went a step further, handling these themes, as well as others, with great expertise and originality.
Needless to say, I found judging incredibly difficult but here goes:

Honourable Mentions

If Walls Could Talk by Steven Stucko

I enjoyed reading about the interconnected lives of these neighbours as their situation had a quirky set-up with one set of neighbours inadvertently providing relationship counselling for the other as a result of a thin set of walls. I liked how this author uses one of the conventions of soap opera- characters overhearing one another- for the purposes of good!

A Last Hurrah Geoff Le Pard

The poignant imagery in this piece drew me to it.

‘She spreads her hair like rationed butter barely covering her wholemeal scalp.’ Time has passed and this couple’s relationship and circumstances have changed, highlighted in a description that made me ache: ‘Her eyes glisten, rummy where once their twinkling killed me.’

Later, we are made aware of the absence of someone, and the sorrow that the story is steeped in becomes even more apparent:

‘…space…too cramped for three but now we struggle to fill.’

Neighbourly by Steph Ellis

This is a sinister tale of deception. I love how Frieda masquerades as a Good Samaritan while all the time she is stealing from her dying neighbour.

‘Pleasantries, goodbyes.’ These two words, for me, are a wonderful social commentary on the fleeting nature of our neighbourly interactions.

3rd Place

In the Billow of the Storm by Lynn Love

The language of this piece made it stand out for me. ‘My brain tumbles.’ This line indicates the impairment of the main character’s thought processes. This is further highlighted with a focus on their vision of the world- ‘the droplet’ caught in an eyelash ‘cuts daylight into rainbow ribbons.’ Their perception, probably as a result of hypothermia, is distorted. ‘Snug in the cold as flakes melt to music’ is beautiful and tragic. Eloquent writing!

2nd Place

Shed from Grace by Foy S. Iver

I had to do a little research for this one, but it was worth it. The theme of purity is explored in this original take. A goddess is thought to live inside the Kumari before the onset of puberty.

‘Soap bites at Sajani’s eye-flesh’ as she is washed by her servant. The pain experienced physically, here, mirrors the inner turmoil the young girl is feeling at having become ‘impure’ with the onset of menstruation. The character’s awkwardness, now, in her own body is revealed in the line: ‘She squeezes her thighs tighter as the cleansing hand drops below her waist.’

Ironically, the physical development of the girl does not spell progress for her; instead, now that the goddess has left her ‘vacant’, ‘…hovel will replace her palace. A dirge will silence her opera.’ Wonderful use of language and bookends.

Winner

Thud by Jessica Franken

I found this winning flash piece outstanding. The story had me wince throughout because of its use of onomatopoeic words to signify an old man’s fall in the bath.

The opening dialogue is deliberately disjointed, displaying Jean’s anxiety at her husband’s fall and providing the reader key information right from the outset, ‘Soap…he…slipped…his head.’

The details of ‘backwards nightgown, barefoot in the snow’ are raw and distressing.

One of the main features of this story is that – again through thin walls – a neighbour, the narrator, hears the noise of the man hitting his head.

‘So close I shot out my arms to catch him…’ This part of the story is so authentic, I almost wanted to shoot my own arms out.

Even in such a short word count the reader is given a taste of what the narrator’s backstory might be when s/he wishes her/himself away from urban life and its interconnections, imagining ‘tending sheep on a quiet hillside.’
This story will stay with me for a long time for many reasons but especially because of this line:

‘… but walls are still solid and living still cruel.’

Well done on an excellent piece of flash fiction!

Thud

Jessica Franken

“Soap…he slipped…his head…” Squeak—thud. Ten p.m., my neighbor Jean at my door, backwards nightgown, barefoot in the snow.

Squeak—thud. I heard it through the bathroom wall. Squeak. So close I shot my arms out to catch him, but walls are still solid and living still cruel. Thud.

Squeak—thud. I heard it and knew Jean would come. In the seconds between thud and knock, even as I moved to the door I imagined myself far away, tending sheep on a quiet hillside.

But then the knock, then a deep breath, then Jean in my arms, her grief an aria in life’s savage opera.

May 282015
 

Welcome back! Previously on Micro Bookends

A soap opera is a radio or television serial drama depicting the interconnected lives of multiple characters often in a sentimental or melodramatic way. The first series considered to be a soap opera was Painted Dreams, which debuted on Chicago radio station WGN in 1930. Soap operas were traditionally broadcast during weekday daytime slots, making them particularly popular with housewives. The name soap opera comes from the detergent commercials broadcast during the shows, and the melodramatic story lines. One of the most popular soap operas in the UK is the Australian import, Neighbours.

Kylie Minogue, who celebrates her 47th birthday today, helped Neighbours achieve viewing figures of 20 million in the UK when her character Charlene Mitchell, married Scott Robinson, played by Jason Donovan. Since her soap-opera days Kylie has gone on to become the Princess of Pop, selling over 70 million singles worldwide, and receiving an OBE in 2008 for services to music. But Kylie hasn’t forgotten her acting roots, taking on some minor roles such as the Absinthe Fairy in Moulin Rouge! In 2005 she successfully underwent treatment for breast cancer and has since become a sponsor and ambassador for the cause.

Join me in wishing Kylie a very happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

Photo Credit: gfpeck via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Marie McKay, winner of MB1.07, MB1.25MB1.26 and MB1.32! Read her winning stories, and what she has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SOAP and ending with OPERA 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.

May 242015
 
Photo Credit: David Joyce via CC.

Photo Credit: David Joyce via CC.

Welcome to the results show. Another fantastic round of Micro Bookends. That photo coupled with the bookends, FEAR and FLYING, really got your creative juices flowing. Gold teeth, bad breath, bad trips, and screaming. Lots and lots and lots of screaming. I think this is one of the strongest top threes we’ve ever had. I had all of them in the winner’s spot at one point. In the end I chose…. well, you’ll just have to read on to find out.

Honourable Mentions

Positive Thinking by Geoff Holme

Some very clever wordplay here – power of Persuasion, nicely done. Poor Sam might not make it to his daughter’s wedding, showing how real flying fear can be. It’s just as well Alicia is a bibliophile as well as a bookworm. Imagine if she had a flimsy James Patterson she’d picked up at the airport. Good fun.

Not-So-Impenetrable Walls by Caitlin Gramley

Great use of the opening bookend: “Fear is what keeps me here.” The character’s OCD (“Healthy is my name, cleanliness is my game”) has led him or her to this desperate situation. I really like the sense of panic from the short sharp closing sentences, right down to the Yodaesque finish.

Contemplations of a Dying Man by Carlos Orozco

Appropriate that Fear and Loathing is playing on the television given the psychedelic nature of the story. Very powerful images throughout: “He tried to lower his jaw to the floor, so that the flavor could crawl out.”, “The only logical way to get rid of the taste now would be to swallow his tongue.” Terrible (in a good way) ending. Nightmarish stuff.

Mining for Gold by Steph Ellis

Excellent use of the photo prompt: the harvesting of valuable items in the Nazi concentration camps. A harrowing story. The line “a small sun that shone briefly before the pliers did their work” speaks volumes to me. Thankfully, the story ends on a positive: “rumours about the approaching Allies started flying.”

3rd Place

Fear’s Lozenge by Foy S. Iver

Such a good title and concept. I think we can all admit to be swallowed by fear from time to time. Beautiful language from the excellent opening line (“Fear pops you in its mouth and sucks on you”) to the hopeful finish (“Somewhere – free – your almost-children are flying.”) Bonus points for mentioning the gold tooth, tongue, throat and saliva. You certainly squeezed that photo prompt 😉 .

2nd Place

Fear by Jacki Donnellan

Fear as a drug to be used to cure a humdrum life. Such a good concept and brilliantly explored. We get the humdrum from the “magnolia-walled office” and the MC “plodding from one safe, sanitised moment to the next”. I love the descriptions of the effect of fear: “boredom to unease; heartbeat to hoof beats.” But like all drugs, it’s possible to overdose on fear, especially premium grade: “Above the crescendo of my scream I can see Death’s angels flying.” Such a powerful closing line.

Winner

Phantom by Marie McKay

The opening line grabs you and won’t let go until the story has taken you through its lovely rhythm to nightmarish conclusion.  The story and word choice are excellent, but what I really love about this piece is the rhythm. I don’t know if we’re looking at a supernatural being or if the MC has a mental disorder, but the short sharp sentences heighten the sense of unease. I always think good dialogue can carry a lot of weight, and the line, “What’s keeping you, Lady?” shows more than a few lines of description ever could. And speaking of rhythm, the train thrumming “Take care! Take care!” to the MC adds to the nightmarish quality of the story.

Phantom

Marie McKay

‘Fear me,’ he says- just as he hands me my change; just before the train pulls up; just before the guy behind me shouts, ‘What’s keeping you, Lady?’

I try to find a trace of the words on his face. In the lines across his forehead. In his pinpoint pupils. In the shiny gold between his yellow teeth. But they’ve disappeared.

Except, somehow, I am in possession of them. I carry them onto the train, feel them fluttering at my chest. I try to pull them into some other shape. But the train thrums, ‘Take care! Take care!’ I turn towards the squawking skies and watch the noises flying.

May 212015
 

Hello again, nice to see you. Ready for some micro fun? Read on:

Fear of flying, or pteromechanophobia, is a fear of being on an aeroplane, or other flying vehicle, while in flight. It is one of the more debilitating phobias as being unable to travel by air can mean missing out on foreign vacations, visiting relatives, and prevent travel for businesspeople. The possibility of a fatal crash is the most common cause of fear of flying but it may also be caused by other fears such as fear of enclosed spaces, fear of vomiting (from motion sickness), or fear of heights. Treatment can often be as simple as educating the person about how safe air travel actually is. Other people take a more direct approach and take a sedative.

The A-Team’s Bosco Albert ‘B.A.’ Baracus (played by Mr. T, who celebrates his 63rd birthday today) was so scared of flying (I ain’t gettin’ on no plane) that he had to be sedated, clubbed over the head, or otherwise tricked on to the plane when the mission were required him to fly. To say Mr. T, born Laurence Tureaud, has had an interesting life would be an understatement. He has been a wrestling champion, football player, soldier, bouncer, bodyguard, and actor. Mr. T helped with the clean-up after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Afterwards he stopped wearing his trademark gold chains, saying they were a sin before God and disrespectful to those who had lost everything.

Let’s wish Mr. T a very happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: David Joyce via CC.

Photo Credit: David Joyce via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is me!

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with FEAR and ending with FLYING 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 Caitlin Gramley?

 Who is the author?  Comments Off on Who is Caitlin Gramley?
May 192015
 

Caitlin GramleyOur most recent winner is Caitlin Gramley. Check out her blog, enjoy her winning story again, then read on to learn a little more about her and her writing:

I am a mother of two rambunctious boys and wife to an amazing man. I recently found my long lost love for writing and I have flash fiction to thank for that. It’s hard to believe I walked away from writing and lost my way for a bit, but I’m back and my love for all things literary is stronger than ever!

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? When I see fight scenes I often think about the many inner battles people face daily. When I saw the word FACE, I knew my character would be facing herself in the mirror. It took me a while to figure out how to use BOOK, but once I established that the loud voice was Satan feeding her lies and the small still voice was God, I wanted to end it with him saying she was in His book, symbolizing that He loves her and knows her name.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? I usually keep the word count in mind when writing but I always go over. Then I go through and edit out the unnecessary content and hope that I can still get my point across.

Why do you like flash fiction? I have a very short attention span when it comes to writing, so flash fiction is just the right length for me.

Been writing long? I used to write all the time in high school. Then I got married and had kids and my interests were elsewhere for a while. I have only been writing flash fiction since march 2015.

You write anything else? I mainly focus on flash fiction and poetry. You can read my work on my blog Real Momma Ramblings.

Any advice for other flash writers? Well, I am new to flash so… to other newbies I would have to say, don’t let other’s stories intimidate you. Instead, learn from their work to better yourself as a writer.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Not at the moment. I have many ideas but nothing concrete. Right now I am focusing on getting more involved in the writing community, both online and in my own town.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? Shrilugh (The Shrilugh Saga Book 1) by Myndi Shafer. The world Myndi created is just so fantastical. I wish I could go there.

May 172015
 
Photo Credit: Maurizio Costanzo via CC.

Photo Credit: Maurizio Costanzo via CC.

Welcome to the results show. A real mixed bag of stories this week. Some people took the prompt literally and we had characters slugging it out with swords and space épées. Some people took a more figurative approach and we had characters battling with their demons. I enjoyed them all. Here’re my winners:

Honourable Mentions

History, man by A.J. Walker

I’m tempted to print this story out and pin it on the wall in my bedroom. Ode to the man who got out of bed. Stirring stuff.

And Yes – He Won by Holly Geely

I couldn’t help but hear lightsabers swooshing and buzzing as I read this. Ben doesn’t speak until the penultimate line but his wonderfully described actions tell you all you need to know about him. I’d love to know how you cheat to win a space-duel against an eight-armed opponent.

Nothing Like A Video Game by Ed Broom

An excellent commentary on the technologization of warfare: the drone controller may not literally have blood on his hands, but he still has to push the button.  Love the use of the opening bookend: “Face fits, Flight.”

Song Book by Marie McKay

The Pied Piper of Hamelin brought up to date. A sinister little tale. It opens with that old chestnut, “Face for radio.” As soon as I read that, the image of an infamous, deceased radio DJ sprang into my head. The rest of the story was spookily familiar: the hair like musical notes, the flamboyant dress sense, the adults too busy to notice what was going on. This one certainly stayed with me long after reading.

3rd Place

To Die For A Woman’s Heart Is To Die A Fool (I Know This Now) by R Matt Lashley

What a great title! Oh, the irony that these two men, fighting over a woman, are going to die starting into each others eyes. I love the descriptions of the sword placement: “stowed in the hairless patch on my belly”, “sheathed in his lower right torso.” I also like the anatomically correct (maybe?) descriptions of the wounds, kind of like a first person omniscient perspective. The final paragraph wraps it up brilliantly. “A gasping human kabob of foolish pride…Neither wanting to die first. As if it would make a difference in her book.”

2nd Place

Disengaged by Nancy Chenier

Rather a sad story this. Four short, beautiful paragraphs, denoted by the points of the compass, showing the decay of a culture. Some lovely turns of phrase: “have faith that the embers in your blood can burst into a fire”, “your heritage has drained away, tickling your toes as it goes.” The final paragraph (“extinguish the torches, fold away the costume”) not only marks the end of the story but the passing of a forgotten culture that no longer has a place in the modern world.

Winner

Truth Silences Lies by Caitlin Gramley

A figurative sword fight between the voice that tells you you are worthless and the voice that tells you you are everything. So often the former is dominant and we hear about too many young people who have ended up in trouble, or worse, after failing to live up to what is perceived as an acceptable body-type. The conflict between the voices is maintained throughout the story and I found myself willing Cynthia to hear the little voice. I love the description early in the piece: “her hair, frayed yarn, looked as though it had been dragged through wet sand.” On first reading I assumed that the quiet voice had won and Cynthia had been rescued with her name in the book. On subsequent readings I began to wonder. What is the truth and what is the lie? To us the truth is that Cynthia is beautiful, but to her it is that she is hideous. The final line says to me that body image issues are difficult to beat, and once your name is in the book, you have a long battle ahead of you.

Truth Silences Lies

Caitlin Gramley

“Face yourself,” The voice said. Cynthia looked in the mirror, “You’re hideous.”

She believed it. Her swollen eyes glared back at her, puffy from sobbing. Her hair, frayed yarn, looked as though it had been dragged through wet sand.

“No one could love you,” the loud voice hissed.

“I love you.” A still small voice whispered in the distance. Cynthia didn’t hear it.

“What did you eat today?” The loud voice filled her mind, gaining volume to attack the truth.

“You are beautiful,” the small voice sang.

Cynthia shook her head.

“COW!”

“Beauty. Precious. DAUGHTER.”

Cynthia wept.

“Fear not my child, for I have written your name in my book.”

May 142015
 

Hooray, it’s Thursday again! Ready for some micro fun? Enjoy:

Facebook is an on-line social networking service launched in 2004 by Harvard University students, Mark ZuckerbergEduardo SaverinAndrew McCollumDustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. Originally called Thefacebook, the site was set up to allow Harvard University students to identify and contact their fellow students. The website was shut down by the Harvard administration as it breached security, violated copyrights and violated individual privacy. The site ran in to further legal trouble when the Winklevoss twins claimed Zuckerberg stole their idea. The lawsuit was settled with the twins receiving 1.2 million shares in the company worth around $300 million. Today Facebook has over 1.4 billion registered users.

Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, celebrates his 31st birthday today. It was clear from an early age that Zuckerberg had an aptitude for programming. His father taught him BASIC while at middle school then hired a software developer to privately tutor him. He was not your typical computer geek, however. He also excellent at fencing and enjoyed reading classics. Today, he is worth around £35 billion.

A rendition of Happy Birthday To You for Mr Zuckerberg, with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Maurizio Costanzo via CC.

Photo Credit: Maurizio Costanzo via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is me!

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with FACE and ending with BOOK 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.