Round 5 Winners

Posted: February 4, 2014 in Winners
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Happy Tuesday, Friends!

I’d like to say thanks once again to everybody who participated in last week’s photo prompt challenge. The stories really were amazing and I’m so grateful that you choose to share your words with me. I’d also like to thank David Shakes, both for volunteering his time to judge entries and for letting me raid his site for photo prompts. THANK YOU!

Now without further ado, here is what Judge Shakes had to say about the Round 5 entries:

Judging was particularly hard this week. I didn’t think that any entry wasn’t worthy of several rereads. I don’t know whether to thank or curse the entrants! 
I thought the prompt was an interesting choice from my photos and the fiction that it prompted was both original and (as always) funny, unsettling, macabre or ever so slightly deranged! More often than not it’s a strange combination of the lot!
People will stop believing me, but I struggled to choose winners – I don’t lie (often!) and I will again give feedback on all stories in the comments section for round 5.
That said – action has been taken and decisions made as follows:

Runner Up – Karl A Russell ‘ My Tiny Patch of Sky.’

Karl has delivered some strong, character led pieces for this site and this one was no exception. A very original take on the picture prompt – moving the viewer below the picture rather than above it.

The narrator (probably male, but my no means a certainty) has committed a serious crime, but that isn’t the important factor in this tale. His weary resignation and longing for an inevitable end draws our sympathies but always leaves us wondering if we should really care that much for him.

You don’t end up in solitary for nothing.

In 360 words Karl reveals to us a weak and spent character whose outside appearance must be anything but.

By the final powerful line I felt a tension between wanting the narrator to be ‘out in the universe’ and acknowledging that the must have known the consequences of their actions.

I’ve kept thinking about it and that’s always a mark of good fiction for me.

I hope it’s raining at the end.

Runner Up – Jacki Donnellan ‘ On the Web.’

This was a great story and writing in the first person gave it such emotional resonance. The shift between past and present tense added to the growing tensions- as readers we knew the girl had messed up from first full paragraph, despite her youthful optimism.

I loved the opening line – “We met on a thread, on the web.”

When those last 3 words repeated in the coda the wind is knocked out of the reader in the same way that all that hope and longing comes crashing down on our naïve young protagonist.

It could have been far worse – but I don’t think she’ll see that for a while.

The shadows in this may not be a literal ‘reading’ of the picture but made the story all the more powerful as a result.

Next week there is (11/02/14) online safety day in the UK – so a very timely piece and linked to another hot topic – cyber bullying.

Jacki’s careful handling of her narrator and the simple story telling really combined into something special for me. I may even use it with older students during e-safety week!

This week’s winner and FLASH MASTER is…

Kristen Falso-Capaldi


‘It was his photo that made her disappear.’

That first line was such a great hook and the extended metaphor of transparency and relevance was so well handled.

The quality of the writing and characterization of our photographer lifts the tale high above its basic premise of teenage popularity and the tenuous grip our young people have on their reputations.

Again, the idea of the ‘web’ as a transmitter of negativity was an interesting take. At the heart of this web lies our invisible protagonist.

It is the chilling detachment in his character that really made this my winner. There’s a pragmatic approach to his treatment of the girl he claims to have loved – his ‘solidity’ more ‘important’ than her – and anyway – sacrifices have to be made, right?

There’s a ritualistic element running subtly through this story – the ‘spell’ is cast with the taking and transmitting of the photo. It is made irreversible and unforgivable with the ‘trashing’ of the dossier. A sigil made from a thousand stolen images.

I don’t think that ‘sorry’ and ‘thanks’ will excuse the photographer’s actions – maybe there’ll be hell to pay one day?

 I for one certainly hope so.

Congratulations, Kristen! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Image Ronin, Round 4 Flash Master, will be judging the next round of stories. We hope to see you all back here this weekend.


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