Posts Tagged ‘CR Smith’

Hello, writers! What happens when your hostess is post-call? She forgets to schedule the winners and humpday quickie posts! Never fear – I have results and a story for your Wednesday enjoyment. As always, thank you to everyone who submitted stories this past weekend, and thanks also to Voima Oy for judging. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

I’m happy to be here to judge Round 132 of Hourglass. Thank you Rebecca for having me as judge, and Ashwin Rao for providing this intriguing image. Thanks to everyone who wrote stories this week. The variety of stories here are all examples of excellent writing and the possibilities of the flash form. So much can be said in 360 words or less. Well done, everyone!

Here are my comments—

Now Sing–This story is set behind the curtain, in the moments backstage before a performance. There is a feeling of reluctance, then resolve. The details here are wonderfully observed, and the countdown is very effective. I especially enjoyed the ritual of the shoes before going onstage. The ending is perfect.

Santa Played the Sax–what a great title! The idea of a snowman costume made of industrial glue and white rice is so funny and surreal. The dialogue is superb–“Just hope this sh..pardon me boys, this stuff comes off cos did I mention I’ve got a job interview tomorrow?” Great characters and a story that begs for more stories.

JoySmile–I think this story makes very good use of the black-and-white photo. This is a story of a dazzling smile and a lifetime in show biz, from the early TV days of Ed Sullivan to an appearance on The Ellen Show.
I really liked this line, too–“Unless, of course, the unexpected happened which, of course, it did.”

Kawaii–The setting is Japan, Eiga Mura, movie town in Kyoto. This is a place of appearances–geishas and ninjas and Hello Kitty. The narrator is a traveller, an outsider, a stranger. The word “Kawaii” is the common connection. People seem friendly, but the experience is elusive, the meaning just out of reach.

Dad had a Fan in His Office–Here the setting is a movie theatre, years ago. It is as if the curtain is pulled aside to reveal the horrible events. The details here are so vivid–the velvet seats, the sound of the gunshot, the red everywhere. That ending–wow!

The Stain of Laughter–Here is a story with a history–There are the two adopted Vietnamese brothers. There is Grandfather, and his memories of the Burma war. The “Incident” seems to be an ominous foreshadowing, but the game of hide-and-seek behind the curtains turns out to be quite funny. The “yellow peril” ending is wonderful!

As Close as it Gets–The narrative voice carries this story of distance and photographs. The writing here is beautiful–“Why didn’t you ever say? Why didn’t you show your face?” Holding the photos is the closest they will came to touching. This realization is all that’s left, now. A sad and beautiful story.

These are all excellent examples of the flash form–possibilities as varied as the writer’s imagination. Thank you all for your stories. Here are my choices–

Special Mention–

Now Sing by Margaret Lonsdale–marvelous details

JoySmile  by Frank Key –Surprise ending? Yes!

Honorable Mention–

As Close as it Gets by Sian Brighal — Strong narrative voice, beautiful writing

Santa Played the Sax by Stephen Lodge — Great characters, and an open-ended story

2nd Runner Up

The Stain of Laughter by Geoff LePard –Vivid characters, a story within a story, and a very funny ending.

1st Runner Up

Dad had a Fan in his office by C.R. Smith –The details, the horror, the ending, wow!

And our Round 132 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Angelique Pacheco

with Kawaii

–worlds within worlds, mysterious and elusive, this story lingers.

Congratulations, Angelique! Your story will be featured as the HumpDay Quickie! This weekend, April Foolery will be judged by David Shakes. Hope to see you all there.

Happy Tuesday, Friends! Thanks to everyone who came out to write this past weekend, and thanks also to Brady Koch for volunteering to judge and for offering a copy of his new book as a bonus prize. You’ll find Brady’s comments and top picks below.

First of all thanks to Rebecca for inviting me to judge and for bringing Angry Hourglass back. With our lives and environments in a constant flux, it’s helpful to have respite on the weekends for a little creative release.

We had some great reads this week. 2 dystopias, 2 dog encounters, 2 visits from beyond the grave, and 2 instances of tree lights brightening the human experience.  It’s amazing what a simple photo prompt can evoke. I was curious to see what kinds of themes can come from this prompt so I made this word cloud to analyze. Interesting to see what we’re all thinking about.

Some quick reflections on this week’s entries:

The Life App by Angelique Pacheco – I can relate to this one with my phone constantly affixed to my palm.

The Dog Did It by Alva Holland – This seems like something I would do . . . or have done. Post-election campaign signs and holiday decorations are both in the same category for me: you have two days after the event to take them down.

Knowing by @el_Stevie – Always a fan of fitting a dystopia into flash. Really like thinking about the relevancy of these newspaper boxes in a future society.

To Grant A Wish by @carolrosalind – Great concept of using the tree as the character. Made me think of the other events a city tree would witness over its lifespan.

In Memoriam by @geofflepard – The holiday lights as memorial won me over. The fact that each bulb has meaning was just great to no end.

News of the World by @AvLaidlaw – I like portrayals of wrong-headed revolts. Feels immediately relevant.

My Poinsettia Love by Nicola Tapson – Poinsettias always struck me as a sad plant. Maybe it’s the white blood, maybe it’s that no matter what efforts I make, I can’t get them to live past January. I’ve heard the post death delivery of flowers over years, but this is the first time I can think of where the dead loved one is hinting about foul play.

Untimely by Jeff Rowlands – Grim Reaper is a busy guy. He has to run late some times as Jeff Rowlands effectively points out. Great concept of reading your own obituary.

1st Runner Up: To Grant A Wish by @carolrosalind – fresh POV for a lead character.

 

And our Round 118 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Geoff Le Pard

With

In Memoriam

Simple and honest story of coping with grief years later.

Congratulations, Geoff! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie! If you wish to collect your book, please send me your mailing address through the contact tab and I’ll forward it to Brady. Next weekend, A.J. Walker is back as acting judge. Hope to see you all there.

Hello again, writers! Your intrepid hostess is on a mission to find a new home this upcoming week, and your photo prompt is a prediction of just what it may look like. Our judge this weekend is CR Smith.

*Edit – new photo posted at 11:00 am. Somehow the original photo didn’t get tagged as previously used. Thanks to those who brought it to my attention.*

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.

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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

 

*Original photo for those who already posted stories*

round 87

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

The Soul Club

by CR Smith

From here, I watch the nightlife awaken. See the coloured neon signs flickering to life. The hidden doors opening up, shining light across narrow streets. I hear the amplified sounds as they seep into the ether; the bursts of laughter, breaking free from overlapping conversations. I see and hear it all.

As I play my saxophone, the red dots blink along the skyline, seemingly flashing in-time to the music. It’s so cold out here I can almost see the notes swirling upwards to meet them. Plenty of people rush past, hurrying to get out of the cold, but nobody seems to notice me. Glancing down at my upturned hat, I see a screwed up train ticket, a sweet wrapper and a sprinkling of change. The only thing I’ll be buying tonight will be served in a polystyrene cup!

I’ve almost gone through my repertoire, there’s only one tune left to play. My fingers are so cold I can hardly feel them, let alone move them. My feet are frozen to the ground. As I bring the saxophone to my lips, turning my final breath into music, my eyes slowly close. The notes swirl around me until I’m lost in a haze. When I open them again, I’m lying on the ground with a man standing over me. He looks familiar, but I can’t quite place him.

“Fancy going somewhere warmer, our sax player’s moved on, and I need one for a gig tonight,” he says.

I can’t believe it, it’s a dream come true. I follow the man to the nightclub. To a staircase, where the further down we go, the hotter it becomes. Eventually, we enter a smoke filled room and I hear the familiar chink of glasses, the murmur of conversation. As the smoke clears I see the crowd, they’re not what I expected.

“What sort of club is this?” I say, looking at the strange assortment of creatures.

“Some people call it a soul club,” he says, laughing. “I’m a bit of a collector!”

Hello again, writers. Since this is a late post, I’ll keep my introduction short. Many thanks to everyone who wrote this weekend and to Fae Fielding for judging the stories. You’ll find her comments and top picks below.

Definitely out of my comfort zone judging, especially as I have known, for over a year, how good the writing is with AH flash. This week was no exception.
It was difficult to choose, as they were all so different.

The Writing’s on the Wall

Favourite lines:
‘He slaps her on the bottom with his greasy sausage fingers.’
‘He’ll brush my words off. They’ll be smudged away to nonsense.’
I like the idea of the blind sax player rubbing away the chalked words, and my heart sinks too. Oh no!

Rush Hour

Favourite lines;
‘- probably another suicide – these people just didn’t think about others.’
‘He shouldn’t run, not in shoes from Church’s, same as the boss wore.’
These two lines sum him up straight away.

Intermission

Favourite Lines;
‘When the saxophonist played them back into the present and returned them to the world,’
‘Where the noise is too great, that is where I go. And I give them that which they have forgotten … I play them an intermission.’

Expressing Myself

Favourite Lines;
‘These essays certainly do not flow from my pen. I labour over my opening sentence, writing, crossing out, rewriting.’
‘hoping for inspiration or some kind of divine intervention,’
As a person who entered Uni later in life, I acknowledge these observations of essays writing.

Like Breathing Into a Saxophone

Favourite Lines;
‘A glorious ensemble of hints with no answers but some ass kicking show stopping questions.’ I liked the Jazz description very much.
‘But a smile crept into a note that swam through the air and ended at her doorstep.’ Lovely line.

The Pied Piper of the Cloud

Favourite Lines;
‘She exists in the etherscope of automatic downloads.’
‘She’s nestled in the three hundredth scroll down of the T’s and C’s.’
I loved the way the title is linked to the last line.
The Soul Club

Favourite lines;
‘As I play my saxophone, the red dots blink along the skyline, seemingly flashing in-time to the music.’
‘turning my final breath into music,’

A Sure Bet

Favourite lines;
‘It was embarrassing to hear her boss say “Saw Ray last week outside Lidl”.
‘who didn’t like enterprise unless it was wrapped in an Armani suit.’
We get the flavour of Emma coming through strongly in these lines.

It took most of the afternoon to decide between three for placings…

2nd Runner up

Life Breathing Into A Saxophone by Richard Edenfield

The first line repeated three times drew me in. I love music, and play different music genres for my different moods. I hate Jazz, but loved the description (it was one of my favourite lines). I almost felt as though I was watching one of those late night films, or listening to late night radio. Descriptive and atmospheric.

1st Runner up

Intermission by Steph Ellis

I felt that this piece was written as a musical score rather than a typed story. It was lyrical and meditative. They seemed to be in a state of mindfulness too. We could all do with a bit of silence to pause and recharge. I really liked the idea and message coming through. There wasn’t a lot to separate this story from the winner

and our Round 98 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

CR Smith

with The Soul Club

Lovely description to open the story. Plenty of contrasts; bright night life, laughter and then the cold, nobody noticing and not enough cash. The contrast in going from the freezing cold, down to the hotter club. The odd assortment of Souls, linking the musical soul with putting his soul into the music and having his soul ‘rescued’ by the man collecting souls.

Congratulations CR! Your story is this week’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, Catherine Connolly returns to the judge’s seat. Hope to see you there.

Welcome back. Thanks to everybody who wrote stories for this week’s prompt and to CR Smith for reading them and choosing her favorites. Her comments and top picks are below.

Comment: Great stories as always, a pleasure to read.

Favourite Lines

King Rat: I cannot forgive others their vulnerability, it enrages me, forces me into action.

The Case Of The Violin (or The Violin Case): The story may well have ended there, were it not for the fact that it went on a bit longer.

Pigeon-like: I once heard him swear but he was whistling again an hour later.

Wings: One mild March day, the sky was so sharp and blue you could almost see through it.

I Hate Acrostics: Once they’re gone, we’ll start on the squirrels.

Giving them wings: Close to the fetid vagrants with sleeping bags, but far removed from the suited and brief-cased, the boy sat on the steps of the square.

Soul Food: Uncle said that all the souls of alcoholics came back as pigeons, that’s why they were so easily fooled by the smell of alcohol; or as his uncle put it: it’s a like the wheel of fate that turns and you can’t get off.

This Is The Way The World Ends – Not With A Bang But A Flutter: Too late, humanity realised the pigeon apocalypse had begun.

Priceless Moments: It was said she could drain the colour and light out a room faster than a party political broadcast.

HM Giving them wings by Fae Fielding

This lovely coming of Age tale, also contains several really excellent lines, such as, ‘Sent him to the city of a hundred tongues, amongst the homeless and the nameless,’ and, ‘Their self discovery gave them wings.’

3rd Runner-up King Rat by Steph Ellis

I love a good horror story and this bears all the hallmarks; dark and creepy with some fantastic lines, ‘the monotony of death, the thrill of the dark, those self-righteous sinners,’ the scene is so well set.

2nd Runner-up Pigeon-like by Sal Page

I laughed out loud several times reading this story, the inclusion of the cheese and crackers being particularly revealing. I particularly liked the varied list of necessities for life in the shed and the inclusion of the 3D printer.

and our Round 95 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Stephen Lodge

with The Case Of The Violin (or The Violin Case)

I’m a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and his essence runs all the way through the tale. Very funny, multi-layered piece; I laughed on each read through, and not always in the same place, so many great lines — too many to mention.

Congratulations, Stephen! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’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.

That’s it for this week. Next weekend, Mark King will be judging. Hope to see you all then.

Good morning and welcome back, Flash Dogs. It’s round 95 here at the Angry Hour glass, and CR Smith is this week’s 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.

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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

Practice Makes Perfect

by CR Smith

Friday night was practice night. The excitable rabble, always turned up at the community centre straight after school. They would hurry to get changed and line-up in the corridor, awaiting his instruction. Everyone agreed that, although slightly unorthodox in his methods, Mr Hughes was an excellent teacher, demanding one-hundred-percent commitment from everyone. One pupil – Johnny Finn – managed to get himself sent home several times for not taking the whole thing seriously.

Lessons always began with running on the spot, followed by a series of star-jumps. Mr Hughes said it was to get the blood pumping. He spent plenty of time explaining the technical intricacies of the breast-stroke, the butterfly and the crawl — to mention but a few — and each week highlighted one stroke in particular. Keeping a close eye on his pupil’s movements from the sidelines, any limb he thought wasn’t performing properly would receive a tap from his long-reaching cane.

The pupils gave it their all and when totally worn out by their exertions, Mr Hughes would allow them a short respite, reminding them of his mantra, ‘practice makes perfect.’ Then he’d test them on the length of time they could hold their breathe by sticking their heads in a bucket of water. His lessons briefly touched on diving, but for safety’s sake he could only let his pupils practice jumping onto mats.

These lessons went on for months, until one day Mr Hughes decided they were ready and instructed them to meet him early the next morning at the riverbank. All those weeks spent sliding around on their bellies across the community centre’s floor started to make sense. His pupils looked down into the water lapping at the old wooden jetty and, one by one, dived in, hoping that practice really had made perfect.

Welcome back, friends. Hope you all had a wonderful week. Thanks to everyone who came out last weekend and wrote stories. Thanks also to Sal Page for reading and judging. You’ll find her comments below.

Holy Water and the Church of Greasy Hamburgers by Richard Edenfield. Great title. Family holiday/day out as religion. The characters of the parents are wonderfully drawn with mentions of their little ways. The mother only ever eating other people’s fries and the father’s obvious-to-all stinginess. The stick of chewing gum like the lake’s diving board and ‘The water felt like a good pair of worn jeans, instantaneously friendly and knowable’ are both ‘spot on’ similes. For all their quirky ways, they feel like a normal family. The idea of them ignoring each other and in silence at the end as their way of achieving togetherness feels very true to life.

Fishin’ in the Rivers of Time by AV Laidlaw. Another lovely title. Four adults briefly relive their childhood. The noticed details of how they have changed now they’re older give way to acting like children again. But things are not the same: the heat feels different, the planks are worm-eaten and the hut is mildewed. And then that last line shows the past is the past and their reliving has been a brief act. Nicely done.

Cliché for Lemmings by Steph Ellis cleverly uses the prompt in a metaphorical way. ‘Dip your toe in the water, they said, no need to dive straight in.’ The narrator, though, does dive right in, lemming-like, persuaded to be part of a medical trail because they’ve invested in the company. At the end the narrator is having an out-of-body experience …‘died and gone to heaven’ metaphorically or literally?

In Green and Gold by Casey Rose Frank, the narrator’s remembering the past details of her and her friend’s youth, through colours, characters and conversations. I love the concept of ‘At the day. At nothing and everything’ and the description of the water on the decking in ‘secret inkblot messages’. The penultimate line spells out baldly where they are now and the ultimate confirms that this is all memories.

Practice Makes Perfect by CR Smith. Do we really need water to learn how to swim? I love the swimming instructor’s unconventional methods, the implication that he’s not letting his pupils anywhere near water until their technique is perfect. They practice their strokes and dive onto mats and the only water is in buckets to practice holding their breath. And the idea of a boy sent home for not taking it seriously is very funny. The whole concept is appealing in its absurdity and the image of them diving into the lake at the end leaves the reader wondering whether all this practice will have worked.

The Lake by AJ Walker is from point of view of someone who believes god is telling them to kill trespassers to the lake that they will taint if they swim in it. It appears to be his lake, though we don’t know this for sure. He has made the lake ‘a place of god’, ‘drunk of the lake’, refers to the ‘power of the lake’ and uses religious language, such as worship, blessed and devout. This is chilling in that the narrator is utterly convinced others are wrong and he is right and yet the reader can see his victims are just people wanting to spend time by and in the lake, through what he is saying about them. There’s the implication that this is something he’s done before and will do again as he drags their bodies into the lake.

In Nothing and Always by Catherine Connolly, it gradually becomes clear the narrator is revisiting an event from the past, the moments before her death. She is with herself the whole time (‘My feet mock me’ and the pressing on together works well here), knowing what is about to happen as her sister, it seems, is encouraging her to jump into the lake. The sister who she never sees here, though I can’t help wondering whether if this happened it would help in some way – seeing it over and over & making the decision not to watch it ‘this time.’

Splash by Voima Oy. At first glance this is short and descriptive but on further reads we can see there’s a lot going on under the surface, just like the lake itself. The lake idyll of the past has been ruined by overuse and pollution but the narrator knows it’s more than that. There are powerful images of three eyed fish and the – possibly alien – silver rain from a cloudless sky – contrasting with the reflected clouds in the first paragraph – that doesn’t cause a splash. The narrator saw and the reader can only imagine what next for the mutant water plants (those innocent sounding green shoots are anything but that in context) and anyone ‘brave or foolish’ enough to attempt a swim.

Second Runner Up – Splash by Voima Oy

First Runner Up – The Lake by AJ Walker

And our Round 90 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

CR Smith

with Practice Makes Perfect

Congratulations, CR! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’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.

Thanks again to all who participated this week. Hope to see you all again this upcoming weekend.