Posts Tagged ‘Amy Wood’

Greetings, friends. As I was perusing the interwebs last night, I came across the following quote:

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” – Ray Bradbury

Because this is close to one of my 2015 writing goals, and because I was feeling a bit displeased with the story I had just finished, I posted the quote on Twitter and tagged my fellow #flashdogs. It wasn’t meant as a direct challenge, more of a reminder that there are good things ahead, but if it were meant as a challenge, at least 12 of us would be 1/52 of the way there! 😀

Many thanks to the writers who contributed stories this weekend, and thanks to Amy Wood for volunteering to judge this round of Flash Frenzy. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Thank you to everyone who wrote this week, as always it was an absolute pleasure to read your wonderfully varied tales.

You Don’t Need Wings to Fly – Patrick Stahl

Such a lovely, old-fashioned fairy tale. It gave me a warm glow to think that Alyssa – despite thinking she’s freak because of her lack of wings – finds someone who can see past that and appreciate her for who she is, not what she looks like.

Untitled – drmagoo

Beautiful and sad. A really good demonstration of how much can be crammed into 360 words, without going over the top. ‘She was beautiful in the night’ – lovely line.

Reflections – zevonesque

Ooh, ouch. Poor Terri. Love is never easy and unrequited love is maybe the worst of all. I really like this line ‘soothing chaotic kaleidoscope of reflections’ – it perfectly describes that moment of first seeing bright neon lights reflected on water. Great work.

The Time Traveller – Mark A King

Wow, what a story. This really packed a punch. I wasn’t expecting Bethany’s accident, masterful ‘twist in the tale’ writing there. Brilliant little story. I hope the father manages to find her alive this time.

Crazy Legs – Catherine Connolly

Fantastic descriptions! I can see that roller disco so clearly in my mind, all the faded paint on the skate wheels and the lurid legwarmers. You managed to make me feel like I was there in the middle of things, it’s amazing. Really lovely writing.

What’s In a Name? – Voimaoy

Lovely writing as always. I love the line ‘bruises are temporary tattoos’ – reminds me of my martial arts training, sometimes the bruises are as pride-inducing as actual tats. You evoke a wonderful sense of camaraderie between the girls, wild at night and incredibly normal during the day. Great story.

Roll Back – Brian S Creek

Time Skates! I want a pair! What a brilliantly original take on the prompt. I absolutely loved this story. ‘Time won’t even know I’ve been there’ – I like the idea that Time is almost a sentient being in itself. Fantastic writing.

…To Spite The Face – Foy

Wow, this was hard-hitting and no mistake. Teenage rebellion is a thing of wonder and Laci has taken it to the next level. Not an easy read and worryingly true-to-life but masterful storytelling. ‘The wind is spiteful’ – yes, that’s the perfect way to describe a cutting January wind, good line.

Skatey Katey – Stella KateT

Aw, poor Skatey Katey, trying to escape a family which is really no good for her. Wonderful story, it really proves how much can be said in a very small number of words.

Nemeses – Rebekah Postupak

Unicorns and dragons, oh my! I love a good fantasy tale and this ticked all the boxes. Excellent as always from you.

Works Every Time – necwrites

Even though this was just for fun and outside the deadline, it deserves a comment of its own. What a wonderful tale. I love the way you used Beatrice’s age as starting point for each paragraph, charting her life and the way it’s woven around her love of skating. I’m cheering for her as she pushes off at the end as well, go Beatrice, go! Had this been within the deadline, it would have made the podium for sure.

And now for the winners!

Second Runner up – You Don’t Need Wings to Fly by Patrick Stahl. This lovely feel-good story makes me smile each time I read it. Very nicely done.

First Runner up – Reflections by Zevonesque. Poor Terri. Waiting so long for Mal to make a move and then losing out in the end. Unrequited love, so damned painful. Great writing, lovely turns of phrase, well deserving a place on the podium.

Our First FlashMaster of 2015 is…

FLASH MASTER

Brian S Creek

Roll Back

 

As soon as I read this I loved it. Such a brilliantly original take on the prompt, I’d love to read more about this world where roller skates can propel people back and forth in time. (Can I hold out hope for a longer story some day? Please?) Fabulous use of the prompt picture, thank you for sharing it with us, Brian!

Congratulations, Brian! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s 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.

I’m still looking for volunteers to judge Flash Frenzy Rounds 50 and 51; so for now, that position remains TBA. Regardless of who finds themselves in the hot seat, a new prompt will be ready and waiting for hungry flashdogs this Saturday. Hope to see you there.

Welcome back! I hope everybody had a lovely holiday season and is ready for an amazing 2015.  To start this year of flash off right, Amy Wood has volunteered her services as judge.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I trust everybody had a wonderful holiday and rang in the new year surrounded by loved ones. I spent the final moments of 2014 dancing in the glow of black light at a wedding reception, I hope yours was equally as magical.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We have a brand new set of months and prompts, but before we kick off year two this weekend, let’s take a moment to look back on what was accomplished in year one.

48 weekends of Flash Frenzy.

17 Flash Masters.

Hundreds of unique stories.

And a new hashtag to rule us all – GO #FLASHDOGS!

I can’t say thank you enough for all the work this community has put forth in writing and in judging and in the simple but priceless act of mutual support and respect. You are all amazing. What I can do, is offer a small token of appreciation to a few of the talented Flash Masters here at the Angry Hourglass, and because I can’t chose a favorite, I left it up to the community itself to decide.

First are our Runners Up:

Image Ronin with The Tinkerer

and

Amy Wood with LoveStruck

Each will receive a $25.00 gift certificate to Amazon.

And our Flash Master Face Off 2 winner is…

VOIMA OY

with

Alive, Alive, Oh

Voima will receive a $50.00 gift certificate to Amazon for her winning story.

Many,  many thanks to all who participated. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store for The Angry Hourglass as well as the #flashdogs. This weekend, Flash Master Face Off runner up Amy Wood will be acting as our 2015 inaugural judge. See you on Saturday.

And just in case you missed it, here is Voima Oy’s winning story one more time. 🙂

 

photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

Alive, Alive, Oh

by Voima Oy

 

Here she comes again, my little mermaid, my pearl diver in her tight black suit.

She is the only one who comes out this far, far beyond the seabeds where the oysters sleep, forming their little moons. She is beyond beds, now, and that domestic routine. Oh my love, let me show you oblivion beyond your wildest Hokusai dreams. To me you are Botticelli on a half shell, you hair flowing like seaweed. I remember those days. Do you?

Of course, I can pick up what you’re thinking. I wish you could understand me. No screams of snails in a saucepan, I whisper between the stars. Can you get the picture? Look, the colors I flash just for you, for you! I am beautiful. How can you resist? Come closer. Let me hold you.

Still, you hesitate? I know you are intrigued. You dream of me, don’t you, I know. We’ve met there, before, did you know that? And you have heard me mentioned in the sailors’ songs, the stories they whisper in crowded bars. Yes, they know me, too.

You know me, yes you do. But we haven’t been properly introduced.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m way, way, older than you. I come from somewhere else. This place, this shape suits me, here. The dark, the pressure of gravity. The skeletons of fallen whales. This is what they call the Twilight Zone–where the light from your sun doesn’t reach. My eyes have seen many different suns. Look into my eyes and you’ll see.

Come out with me, beyond the seabeds, past all traps under this moon. Your little life is so limited, here, rounded as it is with sleep and death. I can feel the longing in you, the empty spaces yearning to be filled. Come out with me beyond the human. Let us be together, mind and mind.

Let me show you what it is to be alive, to swim in the bright fluid of electrons moving. To dance to the songs the quasars sing.

Come closer. Let me hold you. Your tears taste of blood and the sea.

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday filled with joy and love. Week after week the flashdogs give their all to create stories for The Angry Hourglass, and now it’s time for me to give back. Below is a list of the winning stories from the past 22 rounds of Flash Frenzy. You have until Dec 30th to vote for your favorite (get your friends to vote, too!).

You can vote once every 12 hours, and the three authors with the most votes will win Amazon gift cards. So, return and enjoy your favorite stories again, and stay tuned for the winners. 😀

 

Hello, Friends.

This last post will be a short one. The Angry Hourglass will be taking a break this weekend and next to celebrate Christmas. The last week of December there will be open voting for the second Flash Face Off, and a new year of flash fiction will commence the first weekend in January.

I just want to thank everyone who has participated at The Angry Hourglass this year. Writers. Judges. Readers. All of you. You are amazing, wonderful people, and I am so glad to count myself among your ranks. Long live the #flashdogs!

Special thanks to Jaime Burchardt for judging this weekend. His comments can be found below.

 

I want to thank everyone who participated and showed off their talents. Guys and gals, this was not easy. At all. But here I go…

3rd Place: Amy Wood – Wrong Place, Wrong Time:  This one was rough around the edges. The words are so sure of itself, and it’s that confidence that made it stand out among others. This story wanted nothing more than to reach the punchline, and normally that’s not a good thing. This time it’s the rarity.

2nd Place: Catherine Connolly – A Moment in Time: I absolutely fell in love with the dialogue, first off. It made the entire story feel at ease, and gave me a sense of joy. It’s clever without reaching or trying to be something more, and the ending is especially charming.

THE FINAL FLASH MASTER OF 2014 IS…

FLASH MASTER

Voima Oy

with Gate 43

I found myself reading this one a lot, letting the words string together a surely surreal atmosphere. It read like an episode of The Twilight Zone that decided to take a day off from being scary and decided to just relax.

Congratulations, Voima! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie. Thanks once again to Jaime for judging. We’ll see you all after the holidays!

Welcome, friends, to another round of Flash Frenzy. Your Round 40 judge is Amy Wood!

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

 

LoveStruck

by Amy Wood

“See him, that chap there?” Cupid Angelo nudged Cupid Brian and pointed at a man staring listlessly into a dreary fountain. “He’s hopeless. Complete and utter waste of time. Three times I’ve set him up and he’s still single.”

“Maybe you’re setting him up with the wrong girl,” Cupid Brian shrugged, stealing Cupid Angelo’s ice cream. “Or he might be gay, did you think of that, genius?”

“Tried that.” Angelo plucked the spoon from Brian’s grasp. “He experimented but screwed that up too. The pen-pushers are punishing me with this guy.”

“Well, there was that thing with the bloke and the donkey and the Vestal Virgins back in Rome…”

“I know,” Angelo winced. “I was young. Surely that wasn’t bad enough to warrant getting saddled with Mr Useless-at-Love.”

Brian swiped Angelo’s latte.

Angelo rolled his eyes. “Okay, I’m officially asking for help. What do I do with this guy?”

“Try a donkey,” Brian said, smirking. “He might like them.”

“Not helpful,” Angelo snapped. “Hold on…”

Useless-at-Love took a coin from his pocket and rubbed a thumb carefully over it before flipping it into the murky water. Barely a second later another coin landed in the same spot. A blonde girl glanced at Useless and smiled, all bashful dimples and doe eyes. Useless smiled back.

Brian grinned. “Feel that?”

“Yeah,” Angelo nodded slowly.

The familiar flutterings of newborn attraction wriggled pleasurably in his stomach. What would it be like to feel that and know they were nobody’s feelings but his own? Angelo thrust the thought away. Not the time.

“Looks like they don’t need us,” Brian said, settling back in his chair. “You lost one, mate. Useless found love all on his own. Not good for your portfolio.”

“Bugger off,” Angelo frowned and nicked Brian’s Danish pastry. “It’s not my fault.”

“Keep telling yourself that, mate.”

Angelo munched the pastry and watched Useless flirt with the blonde. Maybe love really did conquer all. Maybe one day he’d get to try it for himself. Maybe one day he’d tell Brian just how much he enjoyed being on assignments with him. But not just yet.

WOW! What a turn out! I could go on about how you all continue to amaze me, and how lucky I feel for your continued support in this endeavor, but the hour is late and Karl has comments for everyone, so let’s just cut to the chase. 😀

 

“How many?

Really?

19…

Wow.

Well, I did say I wanted everyone to enter this week, didn’t I?

Okay, I can do this, so long as I can get away with just judging and not giving comments on them all…”

(checks Twitter, spots Stella’s demand for comments)

“…oh, go on then…”

Stella – Happiness
Stella gives us our first wish in the fountain, and it seems like a sweet natured, happy ever after kind of deal, with our plain speaking protagonist – a Stella hallmark – finally being swept off her feet by a Burl Ives lookalike. But that last paragraph, with its mentions of miracles, Heaven and a surely long-dead mother, suggests a more final dance. It’s a credit to Stella’s grounded realism that this bittersweet moment of romance and release is delivered so believably.

David Shakes – Tuppence
Shakes hides his magic well, but it’s there, both in the story he weaves and the language he uses to tell it. Encrusted with cynicism and a worn-out acceptance of the real world, the tale nevertheless glitters like the faeces-covered coin of the title. Talking of council owned deities and laying the responsibility for his wife’s remission firmly in the hands of the medical profession, the protagonist seems almost to be trying too hard to disavow the magical, but in his final, whispered thanks, he shows us the small miracle which has been there all along.

Joshua Bertetta – Setting Things Straight
In setting things straight, J Bertetta gives the mythical water-gazer Narcissus the opportunity to rebuke his detractors, starting with the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Despite the millennia which have passed since he spurned Echo and fell foul of Nemesis, our narrator has a surprisingly modern voice and an extremely well constructed rationalisation for his actions. It’s just a shame for Narcissus (and a delight for the reader) that his protests reveal him to be as self absorbed as ever…

Emily June Street – It All Floats By
In Emily’s tale, the sacred and the profane exist side by side, the penitents prostrating themselves even as they eye the next Cola stand. The heat and the dust are oppressively rendered, the tale’s language as dense and crowded as the thronged Basilica. When we finally break out into a moment of quiet and peace, it is with a sense of relief, and a feeling of something about to happen. In the end, it is little more than a brief conversation, mostly in a foreign tongue, but Emily’s light touch transforms this exchange into a modern parable, before returning her protagonist to his Cola stands and certainty.

Voima Oy – Exit Strategy
Voima’s protagonist, Jerry Poole, is a nice, old fashioned guy in an unpleasant modern world. He’s not that far from Willy Loman, been with the bank for so many years, still has a kind word for the kid from the copy centre (and what a telling detail that is, that he not only knows Clark’s name but also his outside interest in music), and there’s something crushingly inevitable about his dismissal. The world is not made for men like Jerry, and they can’t survive in it for long, or so it seems. But in one of those bait and switch tricks that Flash fiction handles so well, Voima reveals that her poetic elegy to a dying breed of drab salarymen is in fact no such thing; Voima’s a Chicagoan after all, and this is a hard boiled crime story straight from that most Mobbed up of cities. The final, fading image of Jerry, heading off to his new life, left me grinning long after I’d finished reading.

Dr Magoo – Untitled
Dr Magoo – Eric to his friends – excels at world building, and this nameless piece does a great job of sketching in scientific discovery, intergalactic warfare, capitulation and post-war reconstruction, all in 359 words. The forward momentum is relentless, with the developments piling up as quickly as the questions; what is the portal? who are the Caithans? what did Stan’s father do to deserve his nickname? We don’t get any answers, but that’s okay, because Eric is quickly setting us up for phase two, and a promise of unfinished business to be settled.

Mark A. King – The Street Faerie of Kolkata
In The Street Faerie of Kolkata, the life of an Indian street orphan is recast as epic fantasy, seen through the eyes of a brutalised child. The punishment she receives – for the crimes of being poor and female – are mercifully kept from the page, but in her childish description of her brother’s “raggedy and lifeless body” we catch a glimpse of the horror she has endured. When she is promised respite by an ethereal Mother Teresa, we can only hope that she too will grow to become one of the angels; far too many never make it that far.

Image Ronin – The Thinker
In a bittersweet tale, reminiscent of I Am Legend or Coupland’s Girlfriend In A Coma, Image Ronin’s Arthur wanders the almost empty streets of a post-cataclysm world. He searches for answers, for explanations, for Pot Noodles, but more than anything, he searches for a reason to let go. His mother’s chiding wasn’t enough and neither was her departure, nor the loneliness, isolation and feral dog packs of this strange new world. Perhaps tomorrow Arthur will find his reason to go, but I somehow doubt it.

Maryann Holloway – Faded Memory
Faded Memory is a short, playful piece, told in breathless, run on dialogue. Small details like the Newton’s Cradle help to flesh it out on the run up to a neat twist that begs plenty more questions.

Casey Rose Frank – Payment
Told in short, staccato sentences, this is one of the most striking looking pieces this week, the layout arresting the eye even before Casey’s words get to work. And what work they do. The slowly unfolding riddle is told in sense impressions, confused remembrances and guesses, and we guess along with the nameless man on the island. With each new revelation, we reassess our understanding of the tale, until we are left with only one thought; wherever he is, however he got there, he deserves it.

Tom Smith – The Fountain
This is a wonderfully cruel take on the prompt, with poor old Yassel granting wishes and hoping for a selfless request to lift him from the doldrums. When he thinks that he’s finally found one, the stage is set for a truly starling, laugh out loud twist ending.

Liz Hedgecock – The Maker
As artists, we’ve probably all gone too far at one time or another; the stomach twisting horror story which seemed so good when you submitted it at 3am or the roman a clef where the characters are nowhere near as cleverly disguised as you thought. In The Maker, we meet a sculptor who’s artistic efforts take him all the way to the gallows, but who describes the steps which take him there with such joy and triumph that it almost seems worth it.

Catherine Connolly – Drowning Deep
Cath takes flash fiction to its ultimate conclusion here, expanding a microcosmic moment to fill practically the whole story, then pulling back at the last to reveal a classic twist ending. What makes it work so well is the sheer flood of words which Cath unleashes upon her readers, a torrent of startling images, painful expressions and curiously medical terminology that threatens to overwhelm us and leave us as stunned and breathless as poor old Lana…

Pratibha – Cell Mates
Cell mates is a tale of longing, rebellion and release, a very modern story of abusive and controlling relationships, but it is also so much more than that. In the chance encounter between two lonely souls, we find a fable that reminds us of how strongly we can impact those around us, often without ever realising it. While the mystery man is the catalyst for our imprisoned protagonist’s great escape, it appears that she in turn gave him something even greater.

Beth Deitchman – Apologies
Andrew’s got it bad. In Beth’s skilfully executed domestic drama, we see just how badly as he struggles through a long, lonely lunch hour, caught between his desire and his self disgust. As he waits, silent but for a pair of exasperated outbursts, we follow his internal argument and wonder if Ellen will ever arrive, and if she does, just which way Andrew will jump. When Ellen does appear, Beth perfectly captures the tension and tenderness which accompanies Andrew’s surrender. Poor guy.

Amy Wood – LoveStruck
Love Struck features another take on the worldly-wise mythological creature, in this case a pair of Cupids named Angelo and Brian. As they quibble good naturedly about their work and Angelo’s s youthful mistakes, we catch a glimpse into the first blush of true (or at least new) love as our coin tossing man meets his perfect match. But it’s in the closing words, in Angelo’s plaintive longings, that we find the tale’s true heart.

Marie McKay – The Meeting
Maria’s tale is a short, sweet natured tale of new hope and old fashioned romance. The tiny details here – notes written in long hand, the ever present empty chairs which accompany the singleton – are what bring the piece to life and leave us hoping that Harold and his blind date have many wonderful outings ahead of them.

Craig Sinclair – A Little Dip
Full disclosure: the talented Mr. Sinclair is a close friend and occasional creative partner of mine… In his tale, we find a common office drone, trapped in an endless cycle of work and self-loathing lunch breaks. As he dreams of release, of surrendering to the weakness he thinks controls him, he is drawn back from the brink by dull routine and the weight of commitments. The final line is a deeply cynical acceptance of the status quo, and an admission that it will never change.

Carlos Orozco – Memories
In our final tale this week, Carlos sketches in the remains of a dying town, populated by the poor, the proud and the dead. In the middle of this still, quiet, square stands an equally quiet man, reminiscing on how it came to be this way. With a small wish and a much larger sacrifice, John offers himself in the hope of saving the town. Whether his wish will be granted or not, I for one will be haunted by that perfect, powerful ending for some time to come.

As ever, I have loved judging, and I have found something startling, original, hysterical, heartbreaking or magical in each and every one of your stories. But even with such a bumper crop, we can’t give out 19 winner’s badges, so I’ve had to make a decision.

In third place, for his gleefully dark comedy, it’s Tom Smith for The Fountain.

In second place, for her unique take on the corporate raider, it’s Voima Oy with Exit Strategy.

And in first place, because I’m a sucker for a good tale of unspoken devotion and because the back and forth interplay of stolen snacks was so cute…

Your week 33 Flash Master is…

FLASH MASTER

Amy Wood

and her Cupids in LoveStruck.

And now I’m going for a long lie down…

Thank you, Karl for your time, energy and comments!

Congratulations, Amy! 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.

Thanks all! We’ll see you again this weekend! Judge TBA

Cheers!