Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Year 1, Week 47: Results!

Year 1, Week 47: Results!

Time Slips Away in the Summer...

So, earlier this week I thought, "I don't need until Wednesday, I'll have the results up Monday or Tuesday."

The problem was, its summer, and I never know what day it is in the summer. I forgot today was Wednesday. Well, technically it's already Thursday here on the east coast, but it is Wednesday for a little longer on the west coast, so technically, I'm just hours late, not a day late. Thank God for time zones!

Without further ado, I give you my first set of guest-judging results:

Honorable Mention
with She's Onyx
I'm not sure why, but whether I'm writing or reading, characters who cut fascinate me. This one was no exception. The writer crafted beautiful imagery as he switched back and forth between waking world and dream worlds. However, I felt like the character lacked depth. A few more hints, beyond the imagery, about who she was and why she craved the color over black and white or hints regarding what it was a symbol for would have given this piece more kick. I don't mind writing that makes the reader work, but in this case, a little more about the character would have helped make the end even more powerful than it already was.

First Runner Up

with Dreamscape
I loved the way this piece built, eventually leading up to a twist. There were enough bread crumbs for me to go back and put the pieces together, but not so many that I figured it out ahead of time. The first line made interesting and effective use of the prompt, but the second seemed bland in comparison to the rest of the piece. The description of the alley was well done, but took a little too long. However, when I read about the character  adjusting the corset, I was pulled back into the story by curiosity. The hints of suspicion were told more than shown. Maybe a little less description earlier and a little more here would have balanced the piece better. However, it was well put together, and any flaws were outshone by the surprise at the end! 

Y1W47 Winner!

Craig McGeady (vegted)
with Like Last Night
This piece had me at the first paragraph.The language was beautifully crafted, and evoked very specific imagery. The writer captured the anxiety of waking from a night mare, whether imagined or a flash back, very vividly. Then, one of my favorite things happened. The ending paragraph connected back to the beginning with the image of cartoons and really made the piece feel complete. The only thing I am left wondering is whether or not the dream was a memory or not. In the last paragraph, I almost picture the unnamed "her" confined to a wheel chair, but I'm not sure if that is what the writer intended, and I want to know what the writer was picturing. 

Like Last Night

She dreamed in black and white. Silent and with scars, vertical lines that cut the image, weaving their way from one side to the next before disappearing, reappearing and vanishing. She dreamed in black and white like newsreels from World War Two. Not the funny, hand cranked, two reel comedies from the very early days of cinema, where tuxedoed gallants jerked, hopped and skipped their way across the screen. Her dreams were dark and unpleasant, full of viscous, black blood and contorted, pale faces.

Like last night, when she was woken at 2AM in a tangle of sheets, her head spinning and her pulse racing. She'd been in a car, a passenger on a bench seat with the driver beside her. His hands were clenched around an oversized steering wheel. The white of his knuckles showing the tension that held him in place. The cuffs of his suit were riding up his forearms and he'd neglected to undo the buttons so it bunched around his middle. 

They were speeding through a country road at night and she was screaming for him to slow down. He wasn't listening, instead pushing harder on the accelerator. They hit a corner too fast and he couldn't correct. They slid sideways through the barrier, tumbling over and over. She collided with the roof, with glass, with him. She woke with the whiteness of his teeth, the stretch of his smile, burning a path down her spine. 

She dreamed in black and white. Dark dreams full of cold anger and death, usually her death. And in the morning, with a bright yellow sun blazing in through her window, she filled her world with color, cartoons and cheerios. She sang songs, painted rainbows and tired to forget.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 47!

Hello Writers!

This is my first week Judging and Selecting/Posting a prompt, so I apologize if things look a little off! I'll be popping in from time to time over the summer as a guest-judge instead of a competitor. Come September, I will likely vanish beneath an avalanche of student essays, but since I am student-less for the summer, I have plenty of time to take a stab at judging flash fiction (which is way more fun to read than argument essays and research papers).

Aside from the fact that Si and Mars are taking a break this week, nothing else has changed about the competition. Below, you'll find a link to the rules, the prompt, and the inspiration photos. 

Enjoy the challenge!

Write on!

                                             Beware the Rules that Lurk

Judge This Week: Sara

Word Count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


                                                        She dreamed in black and white.

                                                Inspirational Pictures

P.S. The photo's are mine. I didn't feel like scouring the web for memes and GIF's, so I went on a scavenger hut through my own photo library. The fuzzy feline in the bottom photo is my kitty, Goose. He'd probably bite me if I didn't tell  you that. ;-)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Year 1, Week 46: Results!

Si apologizes for the extremely late results! My life basically imploded. And continues to implode. Sorry about that! I should have seen this coming.

Without further ado:

Honorable Mention

firdaus with Memories

Beautiful story! I love how you showcase the main character’s relationship with her father, it feels very real in this story—love mixed with annoyance mixed with regret and happiness. I like that the main character suspects that the crowd isn’t cheering for her in the beginning—and her assessment turns out to be right! I love the very human mix of emotions shown in this story. One thing I would suggest is to weave in the line “Being the daughter of a famous celebrity was not an easy task. ” a little more smoothly—this information is needed in the piece but feels a bit info-dumpy at that place. Perhaps tie it in with the MC’s discomfort—she feels she should have sung better, as the daughter of a famous singer? Great job transitioning from the performance scene to the funeral scene. It felt very smooth, and reads easily. With the performance fresh in our minds, we can appreciate the main character’s swirling emotions as she stands by his grave. I liked how you tied it all in with music and song bringing a family together.

First Runner Up

Benjamin Langley with Silence

I really liked the tone in this story. Absolutely chilling. I love the imagery of whispers behind newspapers and in people’s ears, hiding from the enemy, until the moment of victory is at hand and then the whisperers erupt in screams. I think it is very original how you keep the people whispering until after victory—when usually I would expect the screams at the moment of attack, an unleashing of anger and power. But it is so much more—unnerving?--that the people are able to restrain themselves up through the moment of victory, until they have won, and then they release. I would like to know more about the dictator in this story—why is he so all-powerful, who are these whisperers? The last few lines are very good, and very unnerving. I like the way you switch to second person and tell the reader to spy—very different. Great job!

Y1W46 Winner!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren
with Awakening

I love the way you manipulate the language in this piece. Great imagery of sound, of a building crescendo that we can almost hear as events unfold in the piece. I love how you tie the prompt into this story, it feels like it fits perfectly, like it was meant to be the first line! Beautiful, emotive descriptions in this piece—though we don’t know exactly what is going on, we can feel it, and we as readers care. I love how you show nature awakening, first gently then with increasing violence, until the purpose of the awakening is revealed: to destroy the humans who have destroyed the natural world. Ending the story in sudden silence is chilling. This piece feels very much like an orchestra to me, swelling and growing before cutting off with a lingering note in the audience’s minds. Excellent piece!

It began with a whisper. The wind rustled the leaves; leaving a message for those who can hear it. The whisper flowed, caressed, cajoled until it could no longer be ignored. Flowers, acorns and others awoke. Stretching, they opened their eyes to see what the wind wanted.
‘Look. Look carefully,’ it whispered.
Slowly they crept closer to the corruption of nature. The more they looked, the sadder they became. Their tears renewed life in the ground it fell upon.
Gradually it turned into a roar. The awoken no longer cried. It was time for action; to attack those assaulting their home. Some used their roots to bury the offenders alive. Others used their amassed strength to drown the wicked. All of the awoken gave their lives to cleanse the earth of humans and their pollution. Blood, flesh and bone became one with the ground.
And it ended in silence.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Year 1, Week 46: Results TBA

Due to moving havoc, Si's reviews will be delayed until late today or sometime tomorrow. We apologize! 

In the meantime, enjoy this cat gif. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 46!

Judge This Week: Si

Word Count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


It began with a whisper.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Year 1, Week 45: Results!

Are you tired of kitten pictures yet
I'm not
Say hi to Xena!
Welcome back, everyone. Some extremely unfortunate events occurred over the weekend and we hope our dorky and irreverent competition takes your mind off of it for a bit. Please be safe, everybody <3

(It's Mars over here as the judge this week, btw (if you couldn't tell from the kitten))

Honorable Mention

Ronel Janse van Vuuren's Misty Knives

Knives, princes, assassins, mystery! Everything a good assassin tale needs. This piece is a cute and amusing read; very lighthearted. I was a little confused about the characters and their development--their actions didn't seem to line up with what they are. Assassin: generally cold-blooded killer. Dauphin: royalty who should have a healthy suspicion of cold-blooded killers. Maybe with more context on their backgrounds (particularly hers), it would have flowed together better (we only got the one line about her past at the end there). What was her "life of iniquity"? What kind of person was she before she started killing? Why's she fallen for the dauphin? Intriguing piece. 

First Runner Up

Sian Brighal's Avid Collector

So, the first time I skimmed through this, I totally thought it was a sex scene (oops). Then I read it again a little closer and saw what it was really about. The thing I actually like the most about the piece is the structure of the writing--it's very appealing, the way the paragraphs are almost the same size, yet the sentences are varied in length and formation. There's not a lot of conflict to the piece--more reminiscing and reflecting on the past in that monologing sort of fashion--which I felt detracted a little from it, but I thought the characters were well-developed (or, at least, the POV character and how s/he describes 'you'). It's a nice little piece (I suppose I shouldn't say that about torture and killing; ah, irony). Well done!

Y1W25 Winner

Carin Marais!

with Passing the Time

One of my friends recently found an exorcist book (with legit exorcism rituals in them (that sometimes include defenestrating priests, curiously)) in her library, and this piece reminded me of that; I'm very amused by this new hobby that Hilda has, and I certainly feel sorry for Gerhardt! (I mean, the only thing worse than a randomly-summoned demon could be a randomly-summoned demon covered in glitter. Speaking of randomly-summoned demons, I would have loved to see how that situation played out! How do they handle that, one wonders?) I like the bits of description dropped throughout the piece about the setting and characters--I can imagine Hilda with her curly, messy bun (and glasses?), excitedly covering every surface of the house with candles (almost like the Dixie-cup prank), and Gerhardt being this sort of put- and worn-out aging gentleman. Excellent job!

Passing the Time 
“I think I preferred your old hobby,” Gerhardt called over his shoulder as he signed for yet another package addressed to Mrs Hilda Faustus. 
He tried to read the label as he turned and closed the front door with his foot. But Hilda was already rushing towards him, clapping her hands with glee at the newest addition to her collection.  
“What is it this time?” 
“More candles?” He looked around the crowded living room. Pillar candles of all sizes stood on every flat surface not covered by trinkets bought off late night shopping shows.
Hilda tore into the black cardboard box like it was a Christmas present and showed him a grimy black candle.  
“See? Pre-dribbled, even,” she grinned. “Doesn’t it look just beautiful?” 
“Very,” Gerhardt sighed. “I still prefer the scrapbooking.” 
“You always went on about the glitter that got everywhere.” 
“I prefer glitter to random summoned demons.” 
“It just takes practice to get the spells right.” 
“The neighbours are talking. Jeff found me in the front yard the other day and--” 
“O! Look at that! They now have monthly surprise boxes! O darling, can I sign up for those?” 
Gerhardt shrugged. He should have known this would happen. It always did in his family. One moment everyone is happy to scrapbook,crochet, or even make a bit of liquor in the backyard. The next moment they find a grimoire and it’s all blood and souls and getting dragged off to hell.  
“Of course darling,” he sighed. “Just read the fine print first, alright?” 
She bustled off to her workroom and he stared at the pile of scrapbooking supplies forgotten in the corner of the room.  
“Whatever makes you happy, darling,” he whispered.

 Congratulations, winners!

Hope to see you all back this Saturday!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 45!


I GOT A NEW KITTY. (Si said I should post ALL of my kitten photos but . . . I have a lot (one of my friends demanded constant kitten updates when we brought her home yesterday) . . . so only a few?)

We considered naming her Link, Epona, or Midna (since we have a Zelda) but didn't like any of those. My sister likes Peach, but I've taken to calling her Xena. (The bite marks in my hand certainly tell you that she's a mighty warrior princess)

Zelda is not taking well to the kitten invading on her territory, thus far: 

(Xena was tucked in the corner of the couch next to me for this exchange)

We're kind of surprised because Zelda is very sweet and gentle, but there's a lot of hissing & growling and glaring whenever she sees the kitten. XD
Okay, I think I'm done now.

Judge This Week: Mars

Word Count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


"I think I preferred your old hobby."

Inspirational Pictures

(I lied; I wasn't done)
(But just look at these cuties)

Why are all the men mages clothed like 150% but all the women mages are clothed 5-30%?

(Artwork linked back to where I found them)
(Because it's all cool)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Year 1, Week 44: Results!

Si got a wee bit distracted by The Traitor Baru Cormorant. V good book.
Gather around, crazed writers, for now it is time to discover which stories reigned supreme. Year 1, Week 44 results incoming!

Honorable Mention

Ronel Janse van Vuuren's Blood Dawn

I loved the twist in this story! I liked the way you showed Yuki's confusion at the whiplash from being ready to die at one moment, and the next listening to the casual praise of her would-be killer! Great imagery in the last line: "the sun momentarily shining like blood on the blade." I would suggest to give us some description of her opponent earlier--perhaps make her appear menacing, to drive home the real danger Yuki feels herself in? Additionally I would weave the information in the second paragraph throughout the story--it reduces the impact of the moment at that time. I liked how we are firmly in Yuki's perspective during the entire story. We can really feel her resignation, shock, and confusion. I'm curious what she'll get up to next! Well done.

First Runner Up

Sara Codair's At Last

This was a creepy and very imaginative tale! My favorite part was how you transition from the medieval battlescene to a modern setting--rather matrix-like and very creepy! I like especially how the reader has to figure it out along with the main character that the first world isn't the real one. I like how as the real world trickles back into being, so do Lenora's memories. One suggestion I would make would be to make the ex-husband come up a bit earlier in the story, and cut off the last line at "[...]finally free." to make it more powerful. Great imagery showing us how scents play into Lenora's transition back into the real world. Excellent tale!

Y1W44 Winner

Nicolette Stephens

with Love Letters

I LOVED this story so much! I really enjoyed the three different perspectives we see on the grandmother--her youth, her memories, and her grandson's perspective. I thought it was wonderfully sweet how the great treasure he steals turns out to be his grandmother's love letters. This story does a great job of showing the connection between characters, as well as telling the story of the grandmother's escape from death. There are some great lines here I really liked, you end each little vignette with a sense of closure and a little bit of wisdom or knowledge for the reader. Great visuals and good job slipping bits of information to the reader in an interesting way. Excellent job connecting each vignette to the next. Great story!

Love Letters

The sword fell from her hand.

“It’s over.” The gardes surrounded her with weapons. She sighed and raised her arms into the air. Surrender was better than death, after all.


“How did you escape, grand-mère?” The child’s voice was full of anxious concern as he peered up into the faded blue eyes of his beloved old grandmother.

“I didn’t, François. They threw me into a cell; a stinking, damp and cold cell.” The woman shivered and drew her shawl closer round her shoulders. François waited eagerly. He’d heard the story many times, but he never tired of it. “I was supposed to hang for my crimes, a thick noose around my neck.” Her spotted hands clutched at her throat.

“But you didn’t, did you?”

“Non, but it was the closest call I’ve ever had. Hundreds of people, mostly the nobles and marchands I had thieved from, came to see my death. I stood, on the scaffolding, and waited to die. I could see no escape.”

François spoke in a whisper. “Were you afraid, grand-mère?”

“Terribly, darling. But fear is not something you show your enemies. No matter how close to dying. Remember that mon petit.”


His grandmother’s words echoed in his head as François lifted the tools of his trade and began to pick the lock guarding the greatest treasure he’d ever coveted. Thieving ran in his blood, of course, but he wasn’t sure anyone else would appreciate what he was risking life and limb for.

He left the home of the man who had saved his grand-mère via the rooftops, his hand reaching into his pocket regularly for reassurance of his success. The king had been her devoted illicit lover, but the letters they had written to each other had never left his possession.

Until now.

Thank you all SO MUCH for participating! Many excellent stories this round! We'll see you again on Saturday with Mars' round of judging. Until then, KEEP THOSE PENS--AND SWORDS--SHARP!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 44!

Brought to you by Si's eternal quest for enough sleep ...

The Cracked Flash Fiction Contest week 44!


Judge This Week: Si

Word Count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).


"The sword fell out of her hand. It was over."

Inspirational Pictures

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Year 1, Week 43: Results!

So here we are again!

I have the strangest urge to play Portal
This time around, it is I, Mars, who is your judge! There was a nice little handful of entries this Saturday :) Thanks to all who participated!

Honorable Mention

Bill Engleson's Work Related

My parents have always told me that if I have to rationalize something to make me feel okay about doing it, I'm probably doing something wrong. I kind of get the sense this character wouldn't care to know that he was being immoral, though! I am curious as to who he works for--or, barring actually knowing who his employer is, where he gets his contracts from. (Assassins are cool.) Probably the most ... what's the word? Creepy? Demented? Ill-making? line in the piece is "When I was younger, I did." How much younger is younger? When did he get into this business? Was his old man in the business? Enquiring minds wish to know. Good job!

First Runner Up

Sara Codair's Hope

Aww, I like it when things have a happy ending. It's too bad for her that no one thought of selling her to GiYu sooner, since his people are apparently way more accepting than humans! Speaking of, I felt like her personality felt incongruous with her backstory--for someone who was a pariah for most of their life, and probably both mentally and physically tormented and abused (generally what 'experimented on' stands for, since experiments tend to not be gentle things), she felt far too talkative and adventurous. It would be more believable to me if she was more timid and had a lot more nonverbal gestures; it might have been useful to write from a more limited third-person view from GiYu, where he observes her more closely, and we hear more of his thoughts. All in all, good story premise and excellent use of the theme of hope!

Y1W43 Winner

Carin Marais!

with Revenge

So if she's a lesser species, and the cat is even lower than her, what does that make the wizard who was killed by the cat? It's impressive that within a few sentences from this wizard, I was imbued for a deep hatred for him (of course, I did just read the Locke Lamora series, so that might be having residual effects on my judgement of mages . . .). There's a little lack of context here--we can infer that she's not an illiterate girl, and she's been reading the magic books, but why was she hired by the wizard in the first place (why can't he dust-proof his books magically)? What gave her a desire to kill him (other than him being a total jerk, that is--normally, people don't kill other people just because they're jack wagons (there would be a lot less people in the world today if that were so))? What does learning magic take--just memorizing spells, or having natural talent? Probably not all of these questions could have been answered within the word limit, but a little context goes a long way!

Ah, I love characters that can bluff their way deeper into out of a situation; it was clever of the girl to make the wizard think she was his brother--and it certainly would have taken a great deal of acting (might have helped if she knew a illusion spell that resembled his brother, come to think of it . . . I guess she didn't plan this out too thoroughly, did she? She'll do better next time)! Love the development of both characters in such a short amount of words. 

“Don’t feel bad. I’m pretty hard to kill.” 
The voice was inside her head, but it was the wizard’s voice nonetheless. The frog stared at her with the unmistakable prideful glare which the wizard had given her every day she had been working there. He had thought that she was just some illiterate girl who came to dust his books.  
In the corner of the book-filled room the dozing cat’s ears twitched.  
“You won’t kill me by just turning me into something else. I could still turn you into a fly in this form and kill you.” 
“A fly of all things? Would that be a predator killing a prey or cannibalism?” she asked. She had to stall him somehow while she thought what she could do next.  
“It would be a higher species killing something of no importance. And that is what you are, after all, no one of importance.” 
“You are not a great wizard if you cannot look beyond a simple cloaking spell, brother,” she said. She had heard somewhere that the wizard had had a brother.  
“But, but I killed you! I buried you and burned your bones just last summer!” 
“You only thought they were mine!” she said without blinking.  
“Then I shall kill you today!” the wizard shouted. 
The cat pounced, claws extended. The girl watched in horror as the cat bit into the frog, killing it. The wizard’s death screams echoed in her mind.  
The cat prodded the frog and, when it did not respond, he lost interest and padded back to his favourite sleeping place. Before the cat curled up, he looked at the girl and she swore he meant it to mean ‘Well, he did kick me sometimes’.  
“And good riddance,” she said.

Congratulations, all! See you this Saturday!