Round 31: Winners

Posted: August 19, 2014 in Winners
Tags: , , , , , ,

Happy Tuesday, Friends. One moment of brief shameless self-promotion and then on to this week’s results. Last week, your photo-prompt provider and judge, David Shakes, tagged me in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. If you haven’t read his post, go check it out here. Hourglass rockstar Karl A Russell was also tagged and posted; you can read his content (full of Hourglass friends) here. And last, but not least, my post can be found on my new personal blog here.

Okay! On to the results!!!

Hello. Glad to be back judging at the hourglass. Great to see new faces and old.

This week’s prompt was one of mine. The bike was abandoned on a lonely stretch of beach in Cornwall UK. The seaweed had got into it. I don’t think it had washed up, but where was its wheel? It was miles from anywhere.

I was always going to use it as a prompt myself – but could never get past the time we dared a kid to ride into the marine lake in West Kirby…now I’m glad it was used here instead.

10 great tales from 10 superb writers.

This week I had the stories printed, names removed and mixed up from the order they were posted in. Even then, voices, traits and styles still shone through:

Ethel by Stella Turner

I read the title – thought: ‘Stella or Sal?’

I read the tale through and knew it was a Stella classic. Loved the disarming first line. Laughed out loud at Mammy’s take on Dad’s gas. The emotions of the final paragraph were all the stronger for the light-hearted opening. Our narrator, I fear, did not have to wait too long before he’d be called to serve again.

Stella’s strength is characterisation. We’ve been given memorable, familiar characters here – deftly wrought in a few pen strokes. The WW1 setting was also timely and I felt this was a fitting part of the centenary – like the best bits of a BBC drama condensed to their raw essence.

I also loved the reason for that missing wheel.

A brilliant start.

The First Noble Truth by Joshua Bertetta

I couldn’t place the voice here, and that’s because Joshua Bertetta is a new writer to me. I will be seeking out more of his work post judging.

I loved the personification of that bike. “I taught Little Jonny life’s most valuable lesson: balance.”

Haven’t we all named our first ‘true’ bike and have it take us on adventures? My Dad kept mine for me – I think he thought I could pass it to my son. I nearly cried seeing it rotted and rusted at the back of the garage – so when I read the penultimate paragraph I felt a genuine lump in my throat.

Great description of the bike’s stoical demise.

That’s the sign of great writing for me – emotional connection.

Speaking of ’emotional connection’…

Chick With The Chat by Catherine Connolly

Showing a cheeky, playful side – Catherine weighs in with an extended metaphor for my broken bike!

Poor Kev’s lack of experience leads him into a conversation with someone who has had more than enough.

The short, rich descriptions work well in this piece, hitting the target every time. The present tense is also effective.

I liked Mel’s character (she was late 80s Melanie Griffith in my head, but with a scouse accent) and the last line was fabulous. A wonderful, dialogue driven story.

The Bicycle Mission by Maryann Holloway

Another fresh talent to me and another great introduction to a new writer.

Maria and Jimmy’s plight is one we can all identify with, having had the images of the devastation from Katrina and her aftermath beamed around the world.

Again, the bike becomes a metaphor, a symbol for young Jimmy – his shattered world encompassed in its broken frame.

It becomes Maria’s too, her resilience and strength of will for her son admirable. I almost cheered when she got the wheel back!

A tribute to the good people of New Orleans and a story brimming with hope. Fabulous.

Done by Karl A Russell

I wonder if Karl’s tale was inspired by more recent news reports from America? Missouri this time?

I suspected this was Karl’s – the way he structures his dialogue is quite telling.

The opener pulls us into the tension – the dialogue confirms it ( ‘They gonna fight again?’) and then we tilt sideways as we realise Theo’s companion is more than just a by-stander.

Theo loves his bike as much as Jonny or Jimmy above (boys and their bikes – I told you!) but he’s done with it, done with everything.

Theo’s tale happens as much between the lines as within them. Karl (for me) is a master at the shared consciousness that must be generated for flash to work.

As for Theo? At least in heaven he can skate.

The Lakeview by Voima Oy

I recently said that I usually write a phrase or a line and I know I’ll submit a piece because it has a good chance. I wish I’d written:

‘Dolls with cracked faces looked up at the sky.’ or ‘They were pale and languid, like flowers that never saw the sun.’

The fate of the children in the Lakeview is uncertain. Had anyone tried to help them?

The contrast of life in one neighbourhood and another resonated for me. Where I live you’re never far from places like the Lakeview. Social housing is a failure.

The haunting end to this tale left the bike as a rusting full stop. Beautifully done.

The Ambulance Chaser by Mark A. King

I’ve enjoyed Mark A. King’s stuff recently and as far as I can tell he’s only been at it since June? Unbelievable!

This is a great piece of work containing a ‘few of my favourite things’ as Julie Andrews might sing:

obscure gods with exotic tastes; a London of contrast and a London of nightmares; lost souls and those that will prey upon them without pity.

There’s a wider world at play here, a hinted at mythology and layers – ‘ambulances’ that will drop you at the ‘abattoir’.

The chilling coda left me feeling uneasy. Trying to run is useless. Maybe as useless ‘… as a bicycle with one wheel and no seat.’ Great stuff.

The Tinkerer by Image Ronin

Cedric’s sad withdrawal into the shed is the only way he can deal with the tragedy at the heart of this tale. He loses himself ‘tinkering’, all the while the ruined bike hanging in clear sight – a bitter reminder.

The father’s view of the value of things countered by his late son’s adherence to a philosophy from our modern ‘throwaway’ culture.

I’ve had the same conversations with my Dad.

I sensed that Danny loved his bike as much as any of the boys in the other stories so far. To him, the etched letters were protection for a precious gift. To Cedric -it’s a defacing.

I felt Danny’s anger and frustration as he cycles off into that ‘light grey rain’.

Cedric’s ‘trembling fingers‘ tell us all we need to know about how much he feels to blame.

Really moving tale.

Better Than Nothing by Emily June Street

Emily’s opener pulled me in the same way Karl’s did. We get ‘big picture’ and small detail, both beautifully described.

The need for a vehicle is urgent – the cars, we know, are useless.

I hear the term ‘world building’ a lot. It’s something Mark did in his tale and it’s something Emily deftly does here.

She also builds the atmosphere masterfully – Jon not having spoken for over a day leads to the fabulous line:

‘I could face anything but solitude or silence.’

Just what fate has befallen mankind and our two protagonists?

Hope rests in a junkyard, our bike and a skateboard.

Now – wouldn’t it be cool if Jon was Little Jonny from Joshua’s tale?

A brilliant tale (more revenants please!) and our first (and last) female rider!

The Magical Flight by Kristen Falso-Capaldi

I wanted it to be – from the line: ‘Not the boy. He treated me like a brother.’ …and, as I read on, I kept thinking: ‘It is! It is!’

The use of a famous film (shared consciousness again) does not take away from the clear writing skill and flash sensibilities that Kristen has in spades. Exhibit A:

‘I wish I could have taught them acceptance. But I had no language. No time. They gave me no time.’

The famous bicycle from the film E.T is given a role centre stage and E.T is given a voice.

It’s an oddly poignant tale and the idea that Elliot is middle-aged and somewhere else saddens me.

Best line?

‘Even if he is here, he is no longer here.’

So there we have it. Ten great takes on one little photograph. Ten diverse tales, and not a duff one amongst them.

The ‘blind’ reading helped. A little.

Second Runner Up:

Better Than Nothing by Emily June Street

First Runner Up:

The Lakeview by Voima Oy


Image Ronin

with The Tinkerer

Congratulations, Image Ronin! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie!

Thanks everyone for stopping by. Hope to see you again this weekend for a new prompt and a new round of Flash Frenzy!


  1. Being new to this prompt I have to say I love the way you recap the week. Thank you for the encouraging words about my story.

    • jbertetta says:

      Having never had a review of my work, I really appreciate what you say of my story and your kind comments. Hope you do take some time to look at my other writings 🙂

  2. […] reviewed by another, received some great feedback, which is pasted below. Here is a link to the winner; here is the […]

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