Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Year 2, Week 32: Results!

Thanks for playing! The writing teacher in me would like to pet everyone who entered, so I thought I'd mention what I liked about the entries, because, really-- something wonderful DID stand out to me about each one! As a fellow writer, I covet praise in great quantities... applying the golden rule here... :)

Mary Quite Contrary stopped me short on the exquisite line about the shadows growing "shy" as the light gained strength. Don't Try This at Home's ending was marvellously subtle. Travelling Through Time made me sad and yearning for more. The Letter moved well and had ample tension.

First Runner Up

Marj Crockett's You've Got Mail

What stood out to me about this story was the twist, the revelation that the victims were not victims at all. I also appreciated the depth of character: Sean hiding the letter from Alice to protect her. I inferred he's been taking them out all along... I wondered at the fact that the letters came only to him at first and only later added Alice's name. Why that was, wasn't clear, but the strength of the story outweighed that for me. Read your dialogue out loud for places contractions would be appropriate. 

Y2W32 Winner

L. M. Leffew

with Letters

This story won the moment I smelled the " tang of meat searing." Bam! I enjoyed becoming horrified/electrified right along with your narrator in that moment. The contrast between being "safe" inside her apartment, only to be faced with her stalker. And he made... dinner? He "dangles" a wine glass from his fingers? (sounds like an elegant man) Nicely done. The image of the stalker is foreboding, yet he's relaxed. That's a creepy-sensual contrast and rather refreshing. I would have liked to see more in terms of the previous letters' contents, since you had words with which to play. I would like him filled out more, this interesting stalker chef. 


There it was again: another letter, sitting pale and innocuous in her mail box. Marie doesn't open this one. They've all been the same, full of flattery and obsession. She starts to tear it to pieces over the trashcan some fastidious neighbor has placed near the mailbox enclave but pauses just as the envelope gives, slips it into her purse instead. 

She'll try the police again tomorrow. They kept the last three letters. Somewhere, in a file with her restraining order, she thinks, tucked away on a dark dusty shelf for all the good it's done her. But, surely, letters four through six will mean they can do something else, something more. 

Plan in mind, she straightens her spine, retrieves the rest of her mail and takes the three flights of stairs to her apartment. She locks the deadbolt and chain behind her, lays her forehead against the door and breathes in the cool scent of home, the sweet warmth of vanilla candles—did she leave one burning?— the sharp tang of meat searing— 

She jerks upright, fights the sudden animal-reflex to freeze, and turns just as a figure steps into her kitchen doorway. Tall and broad and seeming to block all the afternoon sunlight, he leans against the frame, one of her wine glasses dangling from his fingers, and says, "Good evening, Marie. Did you get my letters?"

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cracked Flash: Year 2, Week 32!

Judge: Kelly

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! (3/25 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 amusement).)


"There it was again: another letter."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Year 2, Week 31: Results!

I (Mars) honestly did mean to have these up earlier today, but then some things got in the way! Nearly passed out yesterday after my blood draw at the doctor's (just to check my vitamin levels, nothing horribad going on), and today I got sucked into a girl's night out/family reunion type deal a ways away from my house, and then my sister accidentally left her phone at the restaurant so we had to go back (*sobs quietly in corner*) but the results! are up! Yay!

(The good news is our other judges are gonna handle the next few weeks, so hopefully they'll be better at this game than I've been the last few weeks, lol (*more sobbing in corner*).) Thank you to all you lovely people that join & support our competition <3

First Runner Up

Benjamin Langley's Turn the Other Cheek

This one amused me, both with "hehe you're not the chosen one," and with the use of second-person; it felt a lot like one of those Choose Your Own Adventures (which are hysterical). I was certain from the title that this was going to be some kind of religious story, but the actual result is far more entertaining. I felt like I was missing some information about the amulet and this other set of cheeks, but overall, I liked the piece. The open-endedness of the piece doesn't bother me, either, as it does with many stories that seem to end without a finish; this reads to me as an emotional plot arc for the main character; overcoming Lygor's taunts and coming back at the end with renewed determination. Love it!

Y2W31 Winner


with Lies

HAHA oh no. Around "I had nowhere else to go," was around when I started figuring out how this story was really going to end, but oops, I really liked it. The piece had me going when the main character noted the "wife" figedting with discomfort--I really thought she was his wife, but I should have known better! It got me because I wasn't quite expecting that kind of ending. The ending line--which brought the entire piece in a circle--was A+. A truly horrifying tale. Great job!


"By the way, I lied," I said nervously, nibbling the styrofoam cup. The tea was cold. 

He frowned, "Which part?" 

"Most of it," I took the last sip, gulping down the tepid liquid, dreading what was to come.

He put down his cup, his eyes as hard as the iron table in front of us. 

The sound of honking and general chaos of a bus stand filtered in through the window of the small room which served as a canteen. 

"I don't have an alcoholic father who beats me up," I shifted uncomfortably in the plastic chair. 

"And your mother?" 

"Probably dead," I shrugged, "I ran away from an orphanage."

He leaned back in his chair watching me with hooded eyes. 

This stranger had been kind. Bought me breakfast when he had found me crying outside the bus stand, and I had blurted those lies. 

His wife had been impatient and a little peeved when he had suggested tea and something to eat. Now she sat at the edge of her chair fidgeting. 

"You remind me of my sister," he'd said, "she's ten too."

Somehow he had made me feel safe and I had followed him to the canteen. 

"Come to my place," he offered, "my sister would love the company."

I had nowhere else to go. 

An auto-rickshaw took us to the edge of town. His wife didn't get off with us. 

We took the stairs up to his room in a dilapidated building. I didn't see anyone around. 

"Where did your wife go?" I asked, uncomfortable. 

We entered a small damp room with a cot in the middle. 

Shutting the door behind us he said, "She's not my wife."

"And your sister..." my voice faded away as I looked into his eyes. 

"I lied too," he whispered menacingly. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cracked Flash: Year 2, Week 31!

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: 2 AM SUNDAY (3/19) PDT (I swear one of these days I'll be on time)

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 amusement).)


"By the way, I lied."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Year 2, Week 30: Results!

I enjoyed the different takes on this week’s prompt.

First Runner Up:

Sara Codair with Solicitation

An interesting and fun read. Check for sneaky typos (interested instead of interest). Great use of dialogue.

Y2W30 Winner:

Bill Engleson 

with Dress Code

I enjoyed the stand-off over high heels.

Though, I was a bit confused as to who was telling the story. You can strengthen that by perhaps telling it from the no-nonsense Mavis’s point of view (adding her own beliefs as she watches Cleo remove her shoes and gradually revealing the information oddly left there in the middle about Mavis and the previous manager). And beware clich├ęs – too many in a piece can cause a reader to skip over paragraphs.

“Damian grinned. Then glowered.” Loved this.

Dress Code

“Like pain? Try wearing high heels. In fact, I’m taking the damn things off.” With that, Cleo leaned against the pillar, back jacked her right foot, yanked off her patent leather discount refugee from hell, tossed it to the side, repeated the process for her left foot, heaved the offending instrument of torture, and then stood there fierce, proud, and securely flat-footed.

A calm look swept over her, a glow of gloriously attained abandon.

Damian Demeter, our new Manager, looked frazzled. Gran would have said he looked fit to be tied. For sure he was tongue tied.

Stonewall Consolidated Insurance Inc. had helicoptered him in a month ago to transform our district office. His pinstriped emergence had set the tone from the get go. Dark days were upon us.

Maybe things had become sartorially slack, at least by traditional business standards. His predecessor, Charlie Raible had been a charmer, efficient, direct, but an easy-going man to work for. Charlie believed that a modern workforce needed gestures of comfort and solicitude to induce stability. The company’s medieval dress code rankled every one except for Mavis Truett, who’d run the claims department since the release of Double Indemnity. Well, that was an old office joke, but Mavis was a lifer who bridled at Charlie’s compassionate approach and likely was the one who caused his downfall.

“Ms. Lambert,” Damian finally broke the stand-off, “If you don’t want to obey Stonewall’s dress code, you are free to depart.”

Damian had slapped Cleo with a stinging gauntlet.

You could have cut the tension with a knife if we were allowed to have them in the office.

Cleo was a smart cookie. I sensed her calculating the odds.

“I’m out of here,” she declared.

Damian grinned. Then glowered.

Maybe, just maybe, his dictatorial days were numbered.

That’s it for this week. Until Saturday… keep writing!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Year 2, Week 30

Welcome back to another round of Cracked Flash Fiction!

We have some rules c:

Judge this week: Ronel

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 amusement).)


"Like pain? Try wearing high heels."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Year 2, Week 29: Results!

Okay okay I've got results up! Little late, so thanks for bearing with me, guys <3 See you all on Saturday! 

Honorable Mention

TipTim with A Mouthful More 

This is a pretty feel-good piece for me. In a world where kindness seems hard to find, stories like this, of people looking out for other people, especially children, bring happiness to me. The ambiguous ending confused me. One more line would have clarified Mah'moud's decision, and it would have completed the story. I can assume that it was something great, like adopting them or some such, and that's the way I prefer to think about the ending of this, since that makes me really happy. The line "He seemed to have mastered the commendable art of being able to talk and swallow food at the same time," made me laugh (since I speak fluent full-mouth-ese, by way of living with six siblings). Wonderful work. 

First Runner Up

Sara Codair with Migratory Blues

I confess that I was running a little experiment with this prompt--I was wondering how many people would end up using 'they' as a gender-neutral pronoun. (The answer to that is 1/4 people, haha!) The piece gives us an interesting peek into the world built here--we get that Fuz is some kind of avian creature, and that they have migratory patterns, and probably sentience, and that this world is going through some kind of climate change. I appreciate the level of worldbuilding woven into this piece in such a short amount of words. I also liked the build up to the ending--the foreshadowing of Fuz' death(? probably could be less ambiguous). I enjoyed this piece!

Y2W29 Winner

Bill Engleson!

with Sheepish in the Round--The Flying Flock of Freedonia

There's something very whimsical about this piece, and I think that's what drew my attention. Usually stories at this level of whimsy aren't entirely coherent or don't contain a full plot arc, but this one is and does. I had some problems with the tenses in the piece--switching from past tense to even further in the past does require some change to give a fully chronological feel. The line I think demonstrates my point the most is "Perhaps in time, he thought, her meaning would be clear." Each time I read that, my brain insists there ought to be a 'had' before 'thought,' to keep the tenses in line. Those last lines make me smile every time I read them--I love the lighthearted feel of this piece and happy ending. 

Sheepish in the Round--The Flying Flock of Freedonia

They unfurled their wings. There were twenty of them, bulky, muddled, wary, but alive. 

Against winters frozen tableau, a strange sensation overtook the drove.

“Angus,” Esmeralda, who often was the member of the flock who couldn’t resist asking “why,” spoke from the outer loop, “What in the name of all things woolly is going on? What are these?”

Angus was not a natural leader. He’d spent most of his time in the field contemplating the past. More an historian, a teller of ancient tales, than a visionary, he understood that he was the best they had. 

His mother, before she took her final journey, had clarified for Angus what his role must be. “Darling, we are not a species who traditionally need to know where we are going. You are right to look back and wonder. However, however, my dear one, every so often, one of us must step up and point us in a new direction, or interpret events, or just say something comforting. I believe, in your lifetime, you are the chosen one.”

At the time, his mother’s words skimmed over his head like a heavy wind. Perhaps in time, he thought, her meaning would be clear.

As Esmeralda asked her question, he realized that that day had arrived.

He surveyed the drove. The growths had afflicted them all, sprouting from their shoulder blades, rising like trees, like flowers out of their bodies.

Angus could feel the weight on his back. He scrunched his shoulders and his two new appendages fluttered ever so briefly. His feet, rooted in tradition, briefly lifted him above the ground.

“Angus, what are you doing?” Esmeralda screamed. “You are flying.”

“Is that what this experience is?” he asked.

“My goodness, yes. Flying!”

“Then,” said Angus, “Let us all soar away.”

And they did. 

Thanks for participating (and putting up with me)! See you all Saturday :) 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Cracked Flash: Year 2, Week 29!

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: 1 AM SUNDAY (3/5) PDT (hour late posting again--been at ECCC all day! 10/10 would recommend) 

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 amusement).)


They unfurled their wings.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Year 2, Week 28: Results!

Judging Cracked Flash Fiction was a delight! Each story had a memorable moment, and it was not easy to choose. (I've read that before and thought judges were just blowing smoke, but now I know it's true!)

To the business...

Honourable Mention

Patrick Stahl with "No Doudou"

There's so much more than what's on the page. I enjoyed the interaction between the dock boy and Corrine, especially when she boldly demands he take good care of her beloved doudou. In just a few lines you give me a sense of two people, where I am, what's at stake. The ambiguity about the object her father is bringing on board-- whether it's the doudou or something more nefarious (that's what I think it is, but I doubted he'd begin a mutiny with his daughter on board?)-- doesn't necessarily detract from the story, though I yearn for closure. That you create that yearning is a victory. 

First Runner Up

Marcus Brook with "It's the Rules"

The foreshadowing of the "beautiful smile" is effective, and the explosive underwear-- clever. I appreciated the humanness of the narrator, the fact that he has some regret is refreshing, even if it's just over physical beauty. It's also nice to see him itch! "Its" should be "It's." 

Y2W28 Winner

Ronel Janse van Vuuren

with "Purple Sparks"

I chose this story as the winner for two reasons. 1. The compounding surprises-- the unexpected but believable punch Jess delivers to the crewman and the last phrase when you reveal where "on board" is. Both were fun. 2. The economy of language. You deliver a ton of scene, all accessible, with few words. The use of the adverb "worriedly" caused me a bit of a stumble. Given the fact she's considering punching him (we later find) and that her answer, "I can bring it on board" shows boldness, it feels like she should be looking around "undecidedly" or chewing her lip, not because she's afraid but because she's calculating her next move.

Purple Sparks
By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
121 words

‘You can’t bring that on board!’

Jess looked around worriedly and then stared into the man’s eyes: ‘I can bring it on board.’

‘No. You can’t,’ the crewman said with a quick shake of his head.

Sighing softly, Jess looked around once more, making sure that they were alone.

She punched him in the face and he crumpled to the ground.

‘See, Sophie, of course I can bring you on board,’ Jess said to the small dragon trailing her. ‘Besides, this ship is as fireproof as can be.’

She grinned as purple sparks flew from the dragon’s snout. On their way to their cabin, the two of them walked beneath the banner welcoming witches and familiars to the Annual Magic Cruise.
I enjoyed this Young Adult fantasy of friends as close as sisters resolving their issues with a fight of magic going astray. Check the punctuation (sentences should end with a full stop or something similar and an ellipses is formed with three dots, not two, etc.) and for typos sneaking in. I would’ve placed the “That was until the ‘sleep’ spell…” part in a new paragraph for effect. Having the main character going from one set of emotions about her friend to another really showed the crazy spectrum of teenage emotions and thoughts. Well done.

Thank you all for your participation! Until Saturday...