Micro Bookends 1.30 – Results

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May 102015
 
Photo Credit: Beatrice Murch via CC.

Photo Credit: Beatrice Murch via CC.

Good evening, afternoon, or morning to the international flash fiction community. Ready for some results? A huge thanks to R Matt Lashley for going all judgemental on us this week. Here’s what he thought of it all:

Alright, alright. It’s good to be here ladies and gents. Thank you for coming out tonight. My, aren’t you a nice looking crowd. I didn’t realize the annual convention of beautiful people was in town. Must be my lucky day. I know you’re all anxious to get back to whatever it is that beautiful people do all day, so let’s get right into the results …

Honourable Mentions

The Speech by Sarah

There’s a lot (a whole lot) of telling in flash fiction. Lots of summarizing, lots of lecturing. I believe, because flash is so compact, the tendency to tell rather than show is innate within the form. It’s a struggle to show details in such limited space. And that’s why writing good flash fiction is an art.

This week there were a number of pieces that did a good job showing. This author balanced showing and telling in a logical way. This story also provided advancing conflict all the way to the final scene—something else that is hard to do in flash. Very well-written story.

Mechbot Nanny by asgardana

What kind of mechbot thinks, “First off, I’m not even supposed to be here.”? A mechbot with a human attitude, that’s what kind. And we don’t find out exactly how human until the end of the story. In flash, pulling off a transformation in a character’s worldview is difficult. This piece managed to do it in an engrossing way.

Easy Like Sunday Morning by to_the_future

This piece was a nicely told, straightforward story. Little details make a story real. For example, the guy flicking away the cigarette butt–great little detail that instantly added credibility to the story. Hearing the character think “first of many [cigarettes]” gets us thinking about being bored by the tedium of performing a task we know we won’t enjoy. And maybe even conveys a little nervousness. Excellent details, excellent story.

3rd Place

Sitting in a Tree by Jessica Franken

When you have so few words to get a story out, titles can play a huge role in bridging gaps and providing context. The title of this piece put a nursery rhyme into my head and then played off of it starting with the first line. It worked well.

The narrator tells her love story which starts off with a happy ending in mind, but she revises the story a few times, adding nasty bits of real life, until we’re left with an unquestionably unhappy ending.

The parenthetical style in the last paragraphs made the ending choppy, like what-weres and what-could-have-beens were churning around in a food processor. It was unusual, but somehow worked to create a nice chopped salad of emotions.

2nd Place

Winging It by Tamara Shoemaker

After finishing the first half of this piece, I was punch-drunk on metaphors—and loved it. It was tight too—all of the images were relevant. It’s so easy to get overly verbose or to take that universal word hammer and pound relationships together that end up corrupting a story or, at the very least, diluting its power. This piece forged imagery and story together quite nicely.

Winner

Note to My Sister by Rebekah Postupak

The twist at the end sold me on this piece. I’m probably dumber than most people reading this, but I like a clever surprise as much as the next guy. Probably more so since I rarely see them coming, ‘cause of being dumb and all.

I enjoyed the list structure. It was technical and my mind immediately wanted to follow the enumeration (first, second, third, last). This was a nifty, well-written, picturesque little story that employed an effective technique to surprise me. Those of us who’ve written and read a fair share of flash fiction know firsthand how difficult it is to pull off a surprise revelation. Kudos, author!

Note to My Sister

Rebekah Postupak

First, I’ve brought your underthings, which are silk and smell of lavender. (That was a surprise!)

Second, your pantyhose, so nobody will guess how long it’s been since you’ve shaved. You crack me up! We don’t care, but I know you do, so.

Third, a new dress. It’s secondhand (sorry about that), but just LOOK at all those pearls!! It could be a queen’s gown, and the sea green matches your eyes.

Last is hair and makeup. I’m lending you my favorite lipstick. Just this once.

There, you wild angel, you star of my heart, you death-snatched sister, are you happy? You finally get your wish to be a lady.

May 072015
 

In honour of the general election taking place in the U.K. today, I tried to avoid politics for this week’s contest. Alas, I didn’t quite manage it. Enjoy:

First Lady is a term used for the wife of a male head of state. In the case of a female head of state the term Fist Gentleman is used for her spouse, and the term First Family is used to describe the couple and their children. Occasionally a woman other then the spouse of the head of state may adopt the role (if not the title) of First Lady, as did Chelsea Clinton during Hilary Clinton’s campaign for election to the U.S. Senate. The term is not used for the wife of a Prime Minister in countries with a constitutional monarchy, such as the United Kingdom, as the reigning monarch, not the Prime Minister, is the head of state.

Eva Perón, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 to 1952, was born on this day in 1919. She left home age 15 to pursue a career as an actress. Ten years later she met Colonel Juan Perón at a charity event to benefit the victims of the San Juan earthquake. The two were married the following year and Juan Perón was elected President of Argentina the year after. During the next six years Eva campaigned for women’s suffrage and labour rights until her death from cancer in 1952 aged 33. The life of Eva Perón was celebrated in the musical, and later movie, Evita.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Beatrice Murch via CC.

Photo Credit: Beatrice Murch via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is R Matt Lashley, winner of MB1.05 and MB1.29. Read his winning stories, and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with FIRST and ending with LADY 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 032015
 
Photo Credit: Dan Markeye via CC.

Photo Credit: Dan Markeye via CC.

Welcome to the results show. First, a huge thanks to this week’s judge, Ed Broom. As always you made judging a tough gig. Ed handled it with aplomb. Here’s what he thought of it all:

Perhaps inevitably given the unfortunate Kaspar Hauser and that rather creepy photo, there were an awful lot of equally unfortunate children in a lot of nasty mazes, sewers and other subterranean structures. Not all of them made it out. Yikes.

At times it felt quite claustrophobic down there in the deep dark dampness of an asylum or breeding chamber or wartime tunnel. I’d guess that the body count reached a new high this week with many other troubled souls left along the way.

That aside, there was much quality writing (including some excellent poetry) and some highly original ideas. Above all, though, I wanted stories. The ones I’ve picked out below all told tales which hooked my interest. I cared for the characters and rooted for them as individuals.

As ever, congratulations to all of you for taking the time and trouble to enter given the huge constraints of this competition: you all deserve a medal. Go print off one now and stick it on your monitor. And three cheers to Micro Bookends Dave, obviously. Anyway, over to the judge and jury for the prizes.

Honourable Mentions

Set Free by Dylyce P. Clarke

A troubled boy – possessed or probably only guilty of being different – is expelled from the city, his home. Some nicely straightforward writing quickly gives us the backstory then cuts to the stranger who utters a single word. Should the boy take his hand? I like the fact that we can’t see inside the boy’s head and that we’re left hanging. Please let that stranger be a good man!

Rat Child Found in The Dales. Chief Inspector to Investigate by Foy S. Iver

It takes something to raise a titter from the story of a feral child, but that line – “That she was raised by cave rats?” – tickled my ribs. As if that Chief Inspector didn’t have enough on his plate, poor chap, here’s something else to sort out. Funny and farcical dialogue, well constructed, and I’d like to hope that the author used this story to flip the bird to a real acquaintance named Kerry.

Dashed Again by Meg Kovalik

The intriguingly named and cloaked Orion presents himself for examination by his spectral father figure through some sort of grate. We sail from the highs of wild optimism to the lows of rejection in a mere 100 words. I love that carefully chosen verb, “flail”, but I especially like everything that we’re not being told. Why does the gate open so infrequently? What must Orion do to succeed? What will happen if he does succeed? An enjoyably enigmatic tale.

3rd Place

Dreams Soaked In Gasoline by Iskandar Haggarty

A heady blend of poetry and prose here with echoes of the late Syd Barrett’s crazy diamond. Plenty of killer phrases and imagery from that “stale cigarette” to the “words of dead poets” and that repetition of “discarded”. Love that title, too. Anyone else reminded of the great Tom Waits? She, the central character, sounds wise beyond her years. Does she really go up in flames? A “damned revolutionary” – good work, soldier.

2nd Place

Life, One Fungus at a Time by Emily Clayton

Mum’s gone leaving Dad and daughter, quickly becoming the image of her mother. Lots to love here: “like a granny without her specs” is a terrific turn of phrase, even more so when applied to a young child. Another well chosen verb, “huffs”, perfectly captures her impatience, and I like the pairing of that “military stance” and “Captain Kaylie”. As if that weren’t enough, we should mention the mushrooms. The evil mushrooms which “ate a child.” I’m not sure I want to know too much more about this: I’m a wee bit scared. Quality piece of writing.

Winner

Away Sweet Child, Ride Away by R Matt Lashley

Maybe it’s the smooth use of not one but two classic lyrics (for which I am a complete sucker) as Bookends. Maybe it’s the way these refer to that single FM station emerging from that “one working speaker.” Maybe it’s that “new-to-her” or “fresh biscuit dough” wordage. Maybe it’s the automatic associations invoked by that ’82 Datsun. It’s all these, of course, and more besides. For me, topping the lot like a bright red cherry, it’s the sheer unbridled optimism of this story. She’s had a torrid past but now she’s getting out: this, people, is the feel good story of the year! Don’t you want to be sitting right there in the passenger seat as she floors the gas or, at the very least, shouting encouragement? Excellent stuff with a top-notch title too. Class!

Away Sweet Child, Ride Away

R Matt Lashley

“Wild thing, you make my …” The Troggs’ tune, barely perceptible over the whir of tires, crackled and popped from the front left of the new-to-her dark blue ’82 Datsun. The radio received one station: classic rock. The one working speaker, like her life, was shattered.

But today, the lonely, abandoned, broken girl who sold five dollar handjobs on the subway would disappear forever.

She wiped the dollar store makeup from her eyes then floored the gas. Hot desert wind blasted her face, baking her cheeks like sticky, fresh biscuit dough. Then she cranked the volume, tossed her head back and howled with Axl, “Woah, oh, oh, oh, sweet child …”