Oct 112015
 
Photo Credit: via David Spinks CC.

Photo Credit: David Spinks via CC.

Welcome to the results show. Before we get down to business, an announcement:

On Monday the 19th of October, voting will open for the best stories of this quarter. You’ll be voting for your top three stories from MB1.40 to MB1.52. There will be prizes! The top three stories will also go forward to the Micro Bookend of the year contest to be held soon. Remember, you’ve got to be in it to win it, so if you haven’t had a winning story yet, this week’s contest is your last chance for this quarter.

Now please join me in thanking this week’s judge, Bill Engleson. Here’s what he had to say:

I have spent the morning reviewing these excellent entries. I have also felt the piercing pangs of judging. I will never visit a courtroom ever again, either on-line, on the Tube, or in an actual courthouse, without paying huge respect to the lot of the lonely judge.

Without meaning to sound like a wishy-washy, namby pamby non-judgemental sort of guy, may I say that I unreservedly found pleasure in each and every entry.

Another day, one cup of coffee more, or less, a different Toronto Blue Jays game echoing in the background of my Judges Chamber and the selections could have been different.

Anyway, I had a bit of a technological learning curve…new computer that I am slowly, agedly becoming familiar with. Also, if I seemed to have skimped on the length of my comments, I was trying to avoid my penchant for rambling on, a disreputable quality not suited to a micro fiction judge, or so I imagine.

Honourable Mentions

The Summer of Love by @dazmb

The wistfully sad, slightly bitter tone of this ode to the 60’s hooked me. Again, my time, albeit in the less raucous Canadian landscape. The image of idealists having fallen into the self pleasuring grace of gambling added to the sorrow.

CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE MYSTERY OF DORO STREET by Brian S. Creek

Maybe it is my uncomfortable and enduring affection for “The Birds” but this darkly funny tale (at least, I think its humorous) got me going. The punch line is so so true.

Help Wanted by KM Zafari

I am obviously a failed punster never having made the leap to Civil Serpent. This bit of witty commentary drew me right in, the balance of the job descriptions kept me going.

What’s in a Word by Stella Turner

I am a sucker for talking birds. There were a few entries that used this technique. The humane measures humour (or not) in this one struck a perverse chord in me. Worthy of a last-minute but no less valuable honourable mention.

3rd Place

Burtons Suit Blues by Ed Broom

Right out of the chute (or shoot) a great pun, very creative use of the bookend. And the tone of the end bookend…marvellous. This tale also pays homage to the Jazz Micro Bookends contest a short while back which I thoroughly enjoyed. A sad yet hopeful mood piece, I grant it 3rd place.

2nd Place

The Implacable Nature of Being by A V Laidlaw

As a former front line civil servant, I couldn’t help but be drawn in to this sojourn into a bureaucratic maze. With the smooth use of the bookends and the agony of seeking a correction, I signed off on 2nd place.

Winner

Blackbird by Karl A Russell

This sad and beautiful story ripped my sometimes cynical heart out. There is a snippet of humour, a quiet bowl of sorrow, some learning (I was once a marriage commissioner – one specific role filled by a humanist ceremonial officiant, I discovered.) Quite a complete and oh so loving story. My 1st choice.

Blackbird

Karl A Russell

“Civil partnership, is that it?”

“What? No Mum, that’s something else.”

“Oh. Well, what’s that other one then? Humourist or whatever?”

I can’t talk to her, so I look out of the window instead. The smokers in the shelter look like bedraggled birds, waiting to spread dressing-gown wings and soar toward the sun. I wish I hadn’t quit.

“We were partners though.”

I look back, feeling my throat tighten.

“I know Mum. I know.”

She looks like a little bird herself, perched at the bedside. She’s still holding his hand.

“It’s called a humanist ceremony. Yeah, I think he’d like that.”

She smiles through tears.

“Humanist. Yes, that’s right.”

Oct 082015
 

Civil rights are the rights of an individual to personal liberty, free from interference from government, organizations or other individuals. Civil rights include protecting the individual’s physical and mental well-being, protection from discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability and include rights such as privacy, the freedom of thought, speech, expression and movement. While in theory civil rights guarantee equal protection under the law, in reality many groups feel their rights are not as protected as other groups. This can lead to opposition, legal action and social unrest.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Baptist minister, politician and civil rights leader, celebrates his seventy-forth birthday today. Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.A. to a 16-year-old high school student and her 33-year-old married neighbour. When he was one year old his mother married a postal worker who later adopted the boy. Jackson maintained relationships with both men and saw them both as his fathers. He was teased at school for his out-of-wedlock birth, which he has said gave him drive to succeed. On leaving high school, Jackson received an offer to play professional baseball but turned it down to play football at the University of Illinois. He achieved a B.S. in sociology but dropped out three months before obtaining his masters to focus on the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King was said to be so impressed by the young Jackson that he put him in charge of the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket,  an organization dedicated to improving the economic conditions of black communities.

Let’s wish Reverend Jackson a very happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: via David Spinks CC.

Photo Credit: David Spinks via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Bill Engleson, winner of MB1.50. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with CIVIL and ending with RIGHT(S) 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 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, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Oct 062015
 

Bill EnglesonOur most recent winner is Bill Engleson. Follow him on Twitter, take a look at his website, and go read his novel, Like a Child to Home.

Bill has kindly agreed to judge this week’s contest so pay attention as he tells us a little about himself and his writing:

I am a retired Social Worker, I live on a small Island, write, volunteer on local health organization Boards as well as at our local volunteer library, The Dora Drinkwater. Did I say write?

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? I treat Micro Bookends as a poetic challenge, mixed with the concept of a crossword puzzle. This story began with the idea of perfection and how often it fails. My other submission more captured the photo prompt.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? I think it is all about framing a mood, distilling the essence.

Why do you like flash fiction? There is an immediacy in flash fiction. I write 4-6 pieces a week now. Each site I visit is different from the others. The challenges, while similar, are sufficiently different to appeal to slightly varied story forms.

Been writing long? Dabbled always. Since retirement 13 years ago or so, regularly.

You write anything else? Poetry, letters to the editor. A monthly column in our Island journal, The Flagstone. The column is called In 200 Words or Less.

Any advice for other flash writers? There are so many great writers writing. I’d be better advised to take advice from them.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? I have two draft books of essays (life and politics in my rural heaven) that I am slowly editing/assembling. And a prequel to my first Social Work noir novel. On two of the sites I visit, Thursday Threads and Flash Mob Writes, I have two “serial” mysteries evolving.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? Cry, the Beloved Country.

Micro Bookends 1.50 – Results

 Results  Comments Off on Micro Bookends 1.50 – Results
Oct 042015
 
Photo Credit: Nano Anderson via CC.

Photo Credit: Nano Anderson via CC.

Welcome to the results show. A wonderful collection of musical inspired tales this week. Here’re my winners:

Honourable Mentions

Man Talk by Stella Turner

A fun moment in a father son relationship. The son wants to discuss sophisticated topics like the Latin origin of the word ‘perfect’ (great use of the opening bookend by the way) and the pitch and tone of the guitarist. The father has his mind on the football. But they’re talking to each other and the most important thing.

My Final Guitar Lesson by A.J. Walker

I love the set-up here: a girl reads aloud from her boyfriends diary and is upset he’s amused that she hasn’t mastered the Bm7 chord. So she ‘Townsend’s the guitar’ into his skull. What a great line. Nice, natural use of the bookends.

Child’s Play by Geoff Holme

It was nice to reminded we can beat the Aussies at something. Very clever to use the guitar in the photo as a means to torment the Aussies with air-guitar on the cricket bat. Nice use of the closing bookend too.

3rd Place

Making Beautiful Music Together by Carolyn Ward

This one made me laugh. I like the details in the opening paragraph of the differences between the two friends: Erika ‘prim and powdered’ and ‘pamper[ed] and preen[ed] for Hairy Bob (great name) while Tabs prefers the extra hour in bed. Then we learn why; Erika is in a relationship with Hairy Bob. Great descriptions of the pair ‘clanging and rattling, fingers playing each other’ in the music cupboard. And the closing line is fantastic: ‘struggling amid the maracas in their musical prison, black as pitch.’

2nd Place

Washed Up by Steph Ellis

I really liked the language and descriptions in this piece; ‘acoustic crouch’, ‘defeat perfumes the air you breathe’, ‘your melodies drift into half-remembered mists’. This downward spiral of the musician ‘tainted by sordid stories’ is wonderfully told in poetic yet lean prose. You really feel for this person for whom music was their life, especially if the sordid stories (‘always denied’) weren’t true. But as we know ‘mud sticks’ so ‘Why sing when no one listens?’ The closing bookend is used wonderfully in the line, ‘once luminescent pearls fading to pitch’; a metaphor for the music and the artist.

Winner

Cortigiana di Lume by Bill Engleson

A sad story about the effect of time on a once beautiful and exotic lady. I loved everything about this piece, but the one line that stood out is the fantastic description of ‘a wrinkle that insists on flinging itself out from the left side of her face’ as a demisemihemidemisemiquaver. What a great image and, together with ‘strings pulled and plucked’, a subtle and clever use of the photo prompt. I love the final paragraph with its wonderful descriptions, that depicts the character as one who has enjoyed (endured?) the company of powerful men and has become a powerful, and still sought-after figure, even though her beauty is fading. A lot to like about this complex little piece. Well done.

Cortigiana di Lume

Bill Engleson

Perfect, she is! Perfectomundo, she might once have said! In certain casually carnal company. In the end, all she could think, sadly, was how perfunctory it had become!

Glenys Walters sits before the mirror. Her finger traces a wrinkle that insists on flinging itself out from the left side of her face right near where her upper and lower lips converge, that little fleshy junction, spiraling into a demisemihemidemisemiquaver.

She has risen too far above her station; her wiles, her guile, strings pulled and plucked, the back stairways where the aromatics wander in search of favors, ever pandering for her piquant pleasures, for the courtesans indulgently intoxicating pitch.

Oct 012015
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.50. We made to a half century! Who’d have thought? Thanks to everyone who keeps writing and commenting and making this a fun place to be.

I’ve got something musical for you this week. Have fun:

Perfect pitch is the ability to recreate a musical note without the benefit of a reference tone. It is a relatively rare phenomenon present in around 1 in 10,000 people. Someone with perfect pitch (like this boy) may be able to name individual notes played on various instruments, identify individual notes in a chord, sing in a given pitch without first hunting for the correct pitch, and name the pitches of everyday sounds such as car alarms. Unlike relative pitch (the ability to identify or re-create a given note by comparing it to a reference note) which can be learnt in adulthood, perfect pitch cannot be learnt after a critical period of auditory development in early childhood.

Dame Julie Andrews, who celebrates her eightieth birthday today, possesses perfect pitch and a talent for music that some critics have called freakish. As a child, her vocal range spanned four octaves and on visiting a throat specialist was told she had an almost adult larynx which could account for her singing ability. Andrews is of course best known for her roles in the musical films The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Andrews underwent surgery in 1997 to remove nodules from her throat, a procedure that ruined her singing voice. In 1999 she filed a malpractice suit against the doctors who had operated on her after they assured her the procedure was routine and would not affect her voice. The lawsuit was settled in September 2000 for an undisclosed amount.

Join me in a rendition of Do-Re-Mi with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Nano Anderson via CC.

Photo Credit: Nano Anderson via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is me!

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with PERFECT and ending with PITCH 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 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, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

Micro Bookends 1.49 – Results

 Results  Comments Off on Micro Bookends 1.49 – Results
Sep 272015
 
Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius via CC.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius via CC.

Welcome to the results show. Before we get down to business, please join me in thanking this week’s judge, Karl A. Russell, for sorting it all out. Here’s what he thought:

Hey, you hip and happening cats! I have cast my sweet peepers over your words and now I’m ready to lay some truth on you all.

Honourable Mentions

Blowing Smoke by Bill Engleson

Jazz is the soundtrack of choice for the film noir, the hard-bitten gumshoe its eternal anti-hero. Here we get an intriguing glimpse into a noir tale – how did he come by that scar? – before crashing headlong into a modern world of corner boys and dead ends.

Equinoxically Yours by F. E. Clark

A mixture of heady scents and evocative images, rhythmic and startling. Read this one aloud to truly appreciate it, preferably in a basement cafe while wearing a black turtleneck sweater.

Signed, Sealed, Awaiting Delivery by David Shakes

I’m a sucker for a good soul-selling tale, but too often in flash, the urge is to throw in a twist ending. Here we get a nice change, trading on the inevitable outcome of such a deal to make great use of the closing bookend, and the trick with the last / first word of most of the paragraphs was neat too.

3rd Place

Generation 1 by Brian S. Creek

I was never a fan of Transformers, but otherwise, I recognise everything in this piece – the need, the rationalisation, the attempts to bully yourself into growing up – and I’d bet good money that there’s an element of autobiography in here. I’d also bet that he went ahead and bought it anyway…

2nd Place

Scott Free by Bill Engleson

This came closest to the free-flowing improvisation of great jazz, with a slightly unusual format that catches the eye, made up of words to captivate the ear and a seemingly random association of discordant phrases and images that create something that’s part poem, part story and more than either combined.

Winner

Mother Knows Bert by Ed Broom

Miles Davis famously said that jazz is as much about the notes you aren’t playing. Fittingly, this week’s winner is all about the words that aren’t being written. The auto-corrected text is a delight, and a wonderfully original way to incorporate the bookends without having to actually use them in the story at all.

Mother Knows Bert

Ed Broom

JAZZ COMES!

Mum’s right, of course, in her own unpredictable Nokia text speak. Lazy bones is exactly what I am. I should have popped round today to say hello and to talk about Col’s birthday. Unlucky lad had his Raleigh nicked last week and she wants me to find him a replacement on eBay.

THIS BILE. WHAT SHOULD I SAX?

Pay what you like, Mum. This 18 speed hybrid looks good, though. Auction ends later tonight and the current price is £40. I think it would be a steal at twice that.

OK. NAY 100 POUND. INCREASE MY AGE.

Sep 242015
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.49 and part two of an unplanned great-American-authors series. Enjoy:

The Jazz Age was a time period in the 1920s when jazz music became popular. The period is mainly associated with the United States but there were also significant jazz ages in the United Kingdom and France. Jazz music originated in African-American communities, particularly that of New Orleans. Critics of jazz music labelled it the music of unskilled or untrained musicians. Eventually jazz was picked up by the white middle classes and large cities such as New York and Chicago became cultural centres for the style. The jazz age coincided with prohibition in the United States and illicit speakeasies became synonymous with the style. The jazz age ended in 1929 with the beginning of the great depression.

American author F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on this day in 1896 in Minnesota. He is most famous for his 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald spent a lot of time during the jazz age in Paris with his friend Ernest Hemingway. Like many authors of that time, Fitzgerald supplemented his income by writing short stories for magazines such as Esquire, a practice both he and Hemingway referred to this as ‘whoring.’ Fitzgerald had been an alcoholic since leaving college and by his late thirties suffered from ill-health, including recurring tuberculosis. He died of a heart attack in 1940 aged just forty-four. The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews and moderate sales on publication and Fitzgerald died believing his work would be forgotten. Today it is recognised as one of the great American novels and has sold over 25 million copies.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius via CC.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Karl A. Russell, winner of MB1.42 and MB1.48. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with JAZZ and ending with AGE 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 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, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.