Oct 152015
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.52, the last contest before we move into year two. But first, a couple of announcements:

After this round we’ll be voting for our favourite stories from MB1.40 to MB1.52. If you haven’t been a winner yet, this is your last roll of the dice for this quarter. Good luck!

After this round I’ll be taking a break while I deal with a major family event. The next contest will (hopefully) be on Thursday the 3rd of December. Watch out for Twitter updates.

The five families (Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese) are the organized crime families comprising the New York Mafia. The division of the Mafia into the five families happened after the Castellammarese War, a bloody power struggle between Joe ‘The Boss’ Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. Maranzano won, declared himself capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) and set about changing the structure of the Mafia in an effort to avoid future gang-wars. As well as dividing territory between the five families, Maranzano also introduced the familiar Mafia hierarchy of boss (capofamiglia), underboss (sotto capo), advisor (consigliere), captain (caporegime), soldier (soldato), and associates. Maranzano was murdered just months after the Castellammarese War. The position of capo di tutti capi was scrapped in favour of The Commission which is still the governing body of the American Mafia today.

Mario Puzo, author of the classic Mafia novel The Godfather, was born on this day in 1920 in New York City. Puzo was born into a poor family from the Province of Avellino, Italy. He joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, but due to poor eyesight did not undertake combat duties. Puzo published The Godfather in 1969 after the publisher suggested his earlier novel The Fortunate Pilgrim (a story based on his mother’s honest immigrant struggle for respectability in America) would have sold better if it had more Mafia in it. Puzo also co-wrote the screenplay with Francis Ford Coppola for the 1972 adaptation, The Godfather, for which they won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Puzo died from heart failure in 1999 aged seventy-eight.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Enric Fradera via CC.

Photo Credit: Enric Fradera via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is me!

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with FIVE and ending with FAMILIES or FAMILY 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 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 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.

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.

Sep 172015
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.48. Something a little psychedelic for you this week. Have fun:

The Merry Pranksters were a group of people, with American author Ken Kesey as their figurehead, who came together in the 1960s to experiment with psychedelic drugs. The group lived communally in Kesey’s California home and are best known for their 1964 road-trip across the United States in a psychedelic-patterned school bus called Further. The Merry Pranksters were the forerunners of the hippie subculture and were recognisable by their strange clothes, long hair, odd behaviour and their renunciation of normal society.

Ken Kesey, would-be leader of the Merry Pranksters, was born on this day in 1935 in Colorado, USA. In between his road-trips and acid-trips he wrote some extremely influential work, the most famous of which is the 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest which was inspired by his time working at the Menlo Park Veterans’ Hospital. The novel was later adapted into a movie starring Jack Nicholson which was only the second in history to win all of the big five academy awards. Kesey himself was not a fan of the movie, claiming never to have seen it but that he disliked what he knew of it. Kesey began suffering ill-health in his sixties, first being diagnosed with diabetes, then suffering a stroke, then undergoing an operation to remove a tumour from his liver, a procedure from which he did not recover.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Rojer via CC.

Photo Credit: Rojer via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Steven O. Young Jr., winner of MB1.47. 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 MERRY and ending with PRANKSTER(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.

Sep 102015
 

Welcome to Micro Bookends 1.47. Here, have a wild card. You can start your stories with any word beginning with BRIT (British, brittle, britzka etc.) Have fun.

In a 1987 edition of The Face magazine, several British actors featured in an interview with journalist Elissa Van Poznak. The title of the interview was The Brit Pack, a play on words based on the group of American actors, the Brat Pack who were popular around the same time. The original Brit Pack included Daniel Day-Lewis, Gary Oldman, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Paul McGann and Tim Roth. Unlike the Brat Pack, the Brit Pack actors didn’t associate with each other either on film or socially. The term Brit Pack is still used occasionally to describe a group of disparate British actors backed by the media to achieve Hollywood stardom simultaneously. However, no group of actors has emerged as readily identifiable as the original Brit Pack.

Brit Pack member Colin Firth celebrates his fifty-fifth birthday today. Firth first received widespread attention for his role as Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. He received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the stuttering King George VI in The King’s Speech and received a nomination for his role in A Single Man. Firth is also an activist for causes such as the rights of tribal peoples, the rights of refugees, and fair trade. In 2010 Firth commissioned research to analyse the brain structures of people of different political orientations. It was found that conservatives have greater amygdala volume and liberals have greater volume in their anterior cingulate cortex.

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

Photo Credit: Stephen Hampshire via CC.

Photo Credit: Stephen Hampshire via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Brian S Creek, winner of MB1.46. 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 BRIT* and ending with PACK 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.

Sep 032015
 

Welcome to MB1.46. I’m tossing out a wild card this week, so go have fun with an X (x-ray, xylophone, Ximenes etc.) You can also use GAME or GAMES as the closing bookend. Enjoy.

The X Games is an annual extreme sports event organised by ESPN, the American sports broadcaster.The first X Games were held in 1995 and featured events such as skateboard street, barefoot water ski jumping, and street luge. Two years later the first Winter X Games were held and featured events such as ice climbing, super-modified shovel racing, and snowboarding big air. Some winter X Games events are now included in the Winter Olympic programme.

Shaun White from California, USA, who celebrates his twenty-ninth birthday today, is the most successful X-Games athlete ever, having won thirteen Winter X Games gold medals for snowboarding, and two summer X Games gold medals for skateboarding. He has also won two Winter Olympic gold medals for snowboarding. Today is also the birthday of another X-Games legend. Sarah Burke was born on this day in 1982 in Ontario, Canada. She won five Winter X-Games gold medals for freestyle ski. Not only was she a great athlete, but she also successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to include freestyle ski halfpipe in the 2014 Winter Olympics, an achievement for which she was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. Tragically, Sarah died following a training accident in 2012 and never got to compete at the Olympics.

Here is this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Mike Fleming via CC.

Photo Credit: Mike Fleming via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is @dazmb, winner of MB1.45. 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 X* and ending with GAME(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.