Micro Bookends 1.40 – Results

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Jul 262015
 
The lone protester

Photo Credit: Dan Phiffer via CC.

It’s results time again. Hurray! First a huge thanks to this week’s judge, Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, who has done a fantastic job of picking the winners from another amazing crop of stories. Thanks, Donald. Here’s what he thought of your stories for this week:

A very evocative combination of bookends and photo prompt this week. I counted a lot of stories about actors and other performers. The photo prompt seemed to be harder for people to get a handle on; some stories seemed to ignore it altogether. Going through all the entries, here are the ones that stuck out to me:

Honourable Mentions

Death By Haiku by Dylyce P. Clarke

While I would quibble with the definition of haiku here, there’s something audacious about telling a story in a series of short poems. I like the way the images flow from one poem to the next to tell the complete story as much by suggestion as by straightforward narrative.

The Landings by Marie McKay

I really like that this story takes things in a direction that none of the others do. We can feel the narrator’s desperation, even though we may not know exactly why he wants the invasion as much as he does. I only wish there was a slightly stronger tie-in to the photo prompt.

“Every Man’s A King” by Geoff Holme

The power of this story lies as much as in what isn’t said, in what we know are going to be the logical consequences of what the narrator does, as it does in the words used. The narrator is trying to take back what control of his life he can, and we can admire that, even if we don’t admire what he does.

3rd Place

Easy Street Atonement by Foy S. Iver

Even though I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, there’s something very powerful suggested here. Are we in a world where public atonement has become common again? Or is there something inside the narrator compelling him to this unusual act? Again, the story is as much in the hints as it is in the words on our screens.

2nd Place

The Walk On by A.J. Walker

I find this story to have the most inventive use of the photo prompt. A poignant tale of real life invading the artificial world of so-called high culture, and totally upstaging it. I think we all need to apologize for not knowing his name.

Winner

Stages of Love by KM Zafari

A hauntingly beautiful story with a less than obvious use of the bookends and an excellent use of the photo prompt. We have a life’s worth of passion and heartache between the bookends. Very well done.

Stages of Love

KM Zafari

Stage 1

Was when we met on the subway. You, in your overcoat and hat. Me, sneaking glances over the paper I was pretending to read.

Stage 2

Was when we found out we weren’t alone in the relationship. You, shaking in the doctor’s office. Me, holding your hand.

Stage 3

Was when I asked you to marry me. You, too sick to walk. Me, standing in the snow with a sign proclaiming my love.

Stage 4

Was both the happiest and saddest time of my life. You, beautiful in your wedding dress. Me, in tears both times I wore that suit.

Beloved Wife. The tombstone bears your new name.

Jul 232015
 

It’s great to be back. Hope you’re all well. Ready to rock and write? Read on:

A stage name is a pseudonym adopted by entertainers such as actors, singers and musicians. There are many reasons why an entertainer may choose to adopt a stage name. Their own name may be considered boring (like Reginald Dwight, who legally changed his name to Elton John), they may wish to dissociate themselves from a famous relative (like Mike McGear, brother of Paul McCartney), or they may want conceal their heritage to avoid potential discrimination (such as Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury) and Ramón Estévez (Martin Sheen)). Some change their name to better fit their image, like today’s birthday boy, Saul Hudson, also known as Slash.

Slash was born in London fifty years ago today. He is best known as the lead-guitarist of hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Time named him the second greatest electric guitar player of all time behind Jimmy Hendrix. In 2012 he, and the rest of Guns N’ Roses, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band have attracted controversy throughout their career, the original cover art of their album Appetite for Destruction and a cover version of the Charles Manson song, Look at Your Game, Girl, being particularly controversial. More recently they have been criticized for tardiness at concerts such as at the 2010 Reading and Leeds Festivals, where they arrived an hour late and their sound was cut after they ran over by thirty minutes prompting a sit-in protest from the band.

Let’s wish Slash a happy big five-oh with this week’s photo prompt:

The lone protester

Photo Credit: Dan Phiffer via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt, winner of MB1.39. 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 STAGE and ending with NAME 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.

Who is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt?

 Who is the author?  Comments Off on Who is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt?
Jul 152015
 

DonaldOur most recent winner is Donald Jacob Uitvlugt. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog. If you enjoyed Donald’s MB1.39winning story, you may like to check out more of his work at 1000words and Cast of Wonders.

Donald has kindly agreed to judge the next contest, so pay attention as he tells us a little about himself and his writing:

Donald Jacob Uitvlugt lives on neither coast of the United States, but mostly in a haunted memory palace of his own design. His short fiction has appeared in print and online venues, such as Necrotic Tissue and The Drabbler, as well as anthologies such as 100 Horrors. He strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction,” stories that are small in scope but big in impact.

So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? I knew when I saw the photo prompt that I wanted the story to take place in the control room of someone’s mind. I had first thought of a football player (American football), the “six” being part of a play call. But I had a hard time fitting “degrees” into that scenario.

The idea of Alzheimer’s as “death by degrees” popped into my head (inspired by thinking of my own grandfather), and I wrote the rest of the story rather quickly, the challenge being to paint the scene while sticking to the word count.

100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? As might be guessed from my Twitter handle, I find a lot of inspiration for my writing in Asian art. Like many forms of Asian painting, micro fiction relies heavily on “negative space” – on what isn’t said. One learns to trust the reader to meet the writer half-way. Or they find something that the writer didn’t intend, which can be even more interesting.

Getting rid of modifiers is helpful too. A well-placed verb or just the right noun can do away with five equivocal words. And it gives the modifiers one does use more impact.

Why do you like flash fiction? It may be a paradox, but I find the limits of flash fiction to be extremely freeing. When I submit a Micro Bookends story, I try to always turn in exactly 100 words (not counting the title), because it’s just a little more challenging.

Flash fiction strips some of the pretension that writers can have. When you have so few words to connect with a reader, you have to make every word count, and I try to take the lessons I learn from flash into my longer fiction.

Plus there’s the instant gratification factor. I can have a story written in hours. If I post it for the Micro Bookends contest, I’m getting feedback on it instantly. A lot more rewarding than sending a 5,000 word story out into the aether and waiting months for a faceless editor to reply in a form rejection.

People who write and read flash tend to be fun people.

Been writing long? I’ve been writing since late elementary school, but only seriously (ie, to get published and paid) since 2007.

You write anything else? Since 2007, I’ve had the good fortune to get a couple dozen of short stories published and I don’t know how many pieces of flash. Haven’t had the persistence (yet) to complete a novel-length project. A fair number of my stories are available for free online. Let me know via Twitter if you’d like a list, or simply Google my name and you’ll find several.

Any advice for other flash writers? Keep writing. Read, and read widely. You never know whence inspiration might come. I never expected Japanese poetry to influence my writing as much as it has. You may find your inspiration in music or biology. Immerse yourself in the flow of others’ words, and you’ll get a better sense how you want to use words.

Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? Oh, I’m always working on something. My issue is usually picking something to focus on long enough to bring it to completion.

On my blog, interested readers will find episodes from a “story-in-drabbles” called Trashling Tales. The stories explore an urban fantasy world in a Spoon River Anthology/Winesburg, Ohio fashion, each episode only 100 words long. I would love feedback on what I have so far.

I also have a science fiction story and a couple of horror stories coming out soon. My blog is generally the best place to find what has come out recently.

I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? Probably the best book in helping me articulate what I mean by “haiku fiction” – and a book I need to re-read myself is Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Basho by Haruo Shirane.

The book certainly demonstrates the skill used to create depth in an apparently simple genre like haiku. I think there is much in the work that flash writers would find interesting.