Monday, February 15, 2010

And So Ends Flash Fiction Week

Wow! Simon and I have made it through Flash Fiction Week. And let me just say, this was not easy, folks. Posting every day (I just don’t know how some of you do it),  with an attempt to offer some insightful analysis of such remarkable stories from our Cosmic Coincidence Contest has really cut into my sleeping time. And oh yes, writing a last minute story for the Love at First Sight Blogfest yesterday on top of it all has my head spinning so fast my eyeballs have turned  inward. In fact, I’m pretty sure I can see my optic nerve right now.

Despite my lack of sleep, however, I’ve truly enjoyed the process. In all sincerity, Simon has been a pleasure to work with (especially once he forgave me for bloodying his lip), and the stories that were submitted were just a breeze and a joy to read and explore. Of course, this made for great difficulty in our judging. In fact, the entries were so remarkable that we want to share a little something about each and every one of the stories we did not select. I think by the end, you will understand why Simon and I nearly ripped each other to shreds in the judging process.

Frankie Mallis

(Frankie Writes, First Novel’s Club)

Frankie’s story, "Poison Words," about the torments of high school and adolescent suicide, is a moving portrayal of a reality all too common in the lives of many youths. Such a sad story, but well crafted with subtleties and vivid details that add to the somber atmosphere.
I shoved the phone under the sand. It buzzed again making little specks jump up and down. They danced beside me in a strange rhythm against the waves until Marissa gave up. I guess she found some other loser, stupid enough to listen to her. Or…like I’d known all along, I just wasn’t important enough to bother with.

Liza Carens Salerno (Middle Passages)

“The Sting of It” is one of those stories you can’t even sum up without doing it an injustice. You just have to read it to understand how clever it is crafted—how it leads the reader towards an irony so great, you almost laugh despite the tragedy at the end. And the characterization is so strong, the images so vivid. And check out the tactile language in this….
Adjusting the tilt of the umbrella so that it sat directly over her head, she turned back to the novel that had engrossed her until the itch became too distracting. “I’m just going to ignore it,” she muttered. “I’ve waited too long for this moment, and darn it, the ice cream truck hasn’t arrived yet.” In front of her, the teal sea swished and whispered as the tide measured its way in. The hard packed sand in front of her of lay frozen in washboard ridges shaped by the previous high tide. Dollops of drying seaweed fanned out like undisciplined hair through which iridescent mussel shells sprawled with open wings.

Anne Riley (Anne Riley Blog)

Anne’s "Turnabout is Fair Play" is one of those where you can’t quite decide who you want to be the victor. The narrator is painted in a rather unsympathetic light, and yet, the narrator’s adversary (his wife) is not exactly loveable. As such, it becomes almost a black comedy, a la War of the Roses, in which you’re not exactly rooting for either main character, but still eager to see the outcome. It’s a bit of a satire actually, filled with humor and irony.  I was also particularly impressed with the characterization in this story.
She glanced at the storm, now hovering directly over her, and finished her wine as rain blew across the sea. The drops stung her face as they drove into her flesh, but she did not move. She took a deep breath and pushed a soggy lock of hair away from her face.
“Well,” she said finally, placing her chin in her hand. “That was easy.”

Yvonne Osborne (The Organic Writer)

One of the most impressive aspects of Yvonne’s story, “Remy’s Job” was the voice—it was just so strong. It really leaped off the page: the restrained emotion in the narrator, the desire to change what has been done, and the bitter realization that some things are unchangeable. We see a glimpse of beauty, of hope in the melancholy, and this, ultimately, is what drives the story.
He opened the urn and looked inside, not knowing what to expect. It was only half full. He gave it a shake and the contents shifted. A man’s remains couldn’t even fill an urn. A man’s remains were less than what could be swept out of a fireplace after a party. He held it aloft over the water, as though he were proposing a toast, and emptied it into the wind.

Nina Watson*

Nina’s “A Twist in Time,” depicts a flashback to a beautiful past which haunts because of a loss in the present. But the loss is embroiled in mystery and intrigue and a quiet desperation, so that the twist in the end shocks the reader by dropping them right back into that idyllic past, and yet…not. It’s rather like plunging a cold hand into a hot bath—it should feel good, and yet at first, it stuns you. “A Twist in Time” takes the reader through a multitude of unsettling emotions which echo that of the protagonist. I love it when stories do this, when the reader is no more aware than the characters.
Oh just to hear his voice again...The emptiness seemed to be overwhelming, she was so numb, she wished it would actually hurt. Her mom and dad, her brother, who was her best friend, are all gone. She was truly alone now.

Jeremy Wells (Flight Attendant Shop)

The beautiful thing about “Dead is Stan” is that all the clues to the ending were right there for you at the beginning, but you sort of glaze right over them as Jeremy did a fantastic job of making these small details seem like part of the exposition. And the thing is, you actually know what the ending will be, just not how you will get there—except you do, if you’re just paying attention. “Dead is Stan” is cleverly laid out for the reader with brilliantly descriptive language, to boot.
Only moments ago, Stan had been marveling at the lower half of a delicious brown serving girl as her tray eclipsed the sun. Down had come his martini like some alien craft shot from the tray’s corona. He had tipped the girl well, covering a curious tattoo on her hip - a snake in the shape of the number 2 - by sliding a large bill into the strap of her bikini bottom. He hoped she would remember his generous wallet and not his generous midriff, now bronzing in the sun.

Angie Kate (Always Write)

“Wanted and Unwanted” is a clever rendition of the story of Bonnie and Clyde  and…Lucy? I loved the play with historical characters, the sarcasm, the dark humor, the vivid descriptions, and best of all, the dialogue in this piece—indeed, the story is told primarily through dialogue, but the clues to what is happening are layered. You think you’re being sneaky, that you’re picking up on what is really happening by focusing on the subtle actions/words of one character (Ha! you say as a reader), when ultimately, you’re missing the more obvious clues to be found in the direct words of another character. Very tricksy, this one!
"I'm scared," Lucy said. She looked again at the two martinis between them.
Bonnie sat up on her lounger and pushed back the brim of her sun hat. She removed her sunglasses to stare at the horizon.
"It's terrifying, Lucy. That's why it's perfect." She gestured to the sparkling expanse of blue water. "Don't you remember? The best things in life come from conquered fears."
….
"I don't think I'm ready to die," Lucy said.
Can you tell from reading this which character gets poisoned? Dun Dun Dunnnnnnn.


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There you have it, the remaining reasons why the judging process was so immensely difficult. Although, I’m not one to complain—not in this case anyway. We were very fortunate to have received all of these amazing entries. So for that, I say thank you thank you thank you to all of the entrants. You have made this contest worthwhile.

And Simon, you have made hosting a short story contest a far more pleasurable experience all around, despite the bloody battles. But have no fear, even though the contest is over, I will still make it a point to rib you every now and again. In fact, tune in tomorrow…or, um, maybe everybody but you should tune in tomorrow…hm, yeah.

And just for kicks….



Le Fin


*We were unable to track down a blog/website for Nina Watson, though we will create a link as soon as one is made known to us.

27 comments:

  1. Hey! No fair! Your wrap-up is better than mine!

    Crud.

    Oh, well. I suppose I should ask how the arm's healing up? Better now? When do you get the cast off. My lip's fine, thanks for asking.

    Really, though, Carol, it has been a pleasure. Thanks for being such an immensely tolerant and entertaining co-host.

    But... we're both closing in on 200 followers. What do you think we should do? Maybe we should--

    *Huge Monty Python foot descends from sky and squishes Simon flat*

    *Monty Python music plays*

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  2. Thanks for hosting!!!! Cant wait to see what you guys do for 200 followers:-)

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  3. This was such a fun contest! Thank you for your comments, and especially for your time and effort!

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  4. Oh, Simon, how you make me laugh. Somehow you manage to look lovely all flat and squished. :) But don't shortchange yourself. Your wrap up was brilliant. I'm not surprised ours were similar.

    Frankie, you're welcome! It's been a pleasure for us both. Thank you for submitting a brilliant story. I think my mind was stuck on that image of the sand popping over the phone. Beautiful.

    Liza, your are so kind. We very much loved your story. Simon and I cracked up at that twist in the end. You suckered us in beautifully. I do hope you will post the entire thing for your followers.

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  5. Thank you, Carol, for being such a generous hostess, for your insightfulness and for generating so much anticipation, and, yes, angst. I knew right from the first winner posting I was in for a thrashing. But given the quality of the submissions I can only smile. Each snippet posted above was beautifully written. So much talent. I've gained a new appreciation for the short story. Thank you. Just thank you.

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  6. Those were all awesome - no wonder you had such difficulty picking winners!!! Great job you 2! :)

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  7. This was such a great contest! And I can see why you had a hard time choosing the winners. Thanks Carol and Simon. And congrats to all the winners!!!

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  8. Man! I want to read these too - they all sound great! I do not envy you having to choose between them :)

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  9. They were all great stories. You guys had a tough job. Great contest!

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  10. It was a week of great reading. Thanks to you, Carol and to Simon and to all the entrants. Most excellent.

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  11. I don't envy you the judging process. Great contest, though!

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  12. Oh I definitely agree with Karen. That contest must have been so difficult to judge! I think it's really nice that you still highlighted the awesomeness of all the other entrants' stories as well :-)

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  13. Yvonne, that means a lot to me. Thank you. For your words and for your brilliant entry. I truly hope that you will post your story on your blog for all to see (and if you do, please let me know, and I'll link to it). It's been a pleasure working with your story and with you.

    Jemi, you got that right! They made it crazy tough on us. But I wouldn't want it any other way ;)

    Kimberly, thank you. As always, you brighten my day.

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  14. Merrilee, I'm hopeful that all the entrants will post their stories on their blogs. They were all very worthy and quite strong. They should be shared--but yes, the judging was difficult and heartbreaking. Still, yours was quite magnificent. So, thank you for submitting it. What a treasure.

    Christine, you are a dear ;)

    Tricia, I'm so glad you think so!! What a tough week, though! Ha! I'm not used to posting every day. I think I may take a hiatus soon so I can prepare to query. Fun times ahead.

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  15. Karen, thank you. I hope it was fun too enter and fun to enjoy from the outskirts as well. You're a doll to say so.

    Sarah, Awwww, thank you. Truly, though, they were all so good, we just couldn't see not at least mentioning them. I wish there were time enough to post each one of them. We had loads of fun in the process.

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  16. I enjoyed this whole contest thing, it was fun reading some new people and the stories were great. I'm glad you two made it out alive. Before you start missing it too much I just noticed that you're almost to 200 followers! You'll be able to start this all over again in a week or so.

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  17. Well done guys!!! Can't wait to see what you two are going to cook up the next time around!

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  18. You guys should be mighty proud of yourselves. It's been a wonderful ride. I've thoroughly enjoyed the posts.

    Congrats to all those who entered!

    And Carol, you've been a fabulous host :)

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  19. Carol,
    Thank you so much for holding this conest. It was fun, and it has gotten me back to writing short stories again, something I didn't realize I was missing. It's also a pleasure to be introduced to your blog!

    Davin

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  20. it is so so so awesome that you guys did a recap post of all the entries.
    if i get to 100 followers i'm going to steal this idea when i host my contest

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  21. Thanks to you and Simon for the wonderful comments and for a fun contest. I loved the "plot dice" thing.

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  22. Christopher, my how funny you are. Oh gosh, I can't stop laughing. To think--another--oh gosh--he thinks--contest--ha--ha ha ha ha--hahahahahahaha!!!! But thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I did as well, but it was a tremendous amount of work. And I fear for my other arm, working with Simon. Seriously, that guy does a wicked dropkick. If I make it to 200, well...we'll just cross that bridge when we come to it ;)

    Lila, thank you, dears! We'll see if Simon has the nerve to work with me again.

    Wendy, you are so kind. Thanks, lovie. Oh, and Lolita says, "Wassup, chica?" She also aked me to give you some nasty, slobbery licorice. I have no idea what's up with that.

    Davin, you are most welcome! I'm so glad we were able to serve as a vehicle for your short story writing! You've got some serious talent with the short story. I look forward to seeing your future work.

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  23. Falen, Awww, thanks Sarah! But you know, we almost had to. They were all so good. I wish we'd had more time and resources as I would have loved to give out other awards, such as for best characterization, or strongest voice, or the like. I look forward to your future contests!

    Loki, so glad you entered. Your story was brilliant, Jeremy. I had no idea you had it in you. Do you have any other stories? I hope you consider starting a blog. It's a mad world out here, but it's fun. Would love to talk shop sometime. Geez, what other secrets have you kept ;)

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  24. I don't know how you and Simon did it. I'd never be able to choose winners. They're all so good. Well done though. Now, go get some sleep.

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  25. Karen, Thank you! For a while there I thought we'd never be able to settle on winners. I thought I'd have to hog tie Simon and ship him to some unchartered island. Ha! But it all worked out in the end with minimal bloodshed ;) But I definitely can use some rest. Even though the contest is over, I can't seem to find the time to do anything. Thanks for your comment, sweets!

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  26. Hi! You've been nominated! http://ashelynnsanford.blogspot.com/2010/02/again-sigh.html

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  27. Ashelynn, many thanks! So very kind of you! <3 Have I told you yet how much I love your name?

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