Posts Tagged ‘David Shakes’

Happy Tuesday, writers! Thanks to everyone who wrote and submitted stories last weekend. I hope everyone enjoyed the free for all. Thanks also to David Shakes for judging the submissions. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

Return of the Monster

“What’s on Your Coffee Table” would really make a genuinely decent show! Pitch it, Stephen, pitch it! The characters’ names hint at details unwritten and the playfully bizarre tone really appealed.

Man Toes

My first question would be – how did Rebekah come across this picture to begin with? A brilliantly woven tale, a slow reveal and expert writing as usual.

The Devil’s New Job

How cool of Carol to write a sequel to her fantastic THE INFERNAL CLOCK story and afford me the opportunity of plugging our new anthology! You don’t need to know the characters to enjoy this story – but it helps! Suitably creepy – loved the boxing up idea!

Overlooking The River

I remember writing a few years back that Patrick would be a writer to watch. This was wonderful in its imagery and the building tension, just to have the rug pulled. I so wish I could see that prompt. Nice one Patrick.

The Poet Goes to the Shops

Dirty carrots?! The poet’s lines, in isolation, contain some lovely phrases and ideas but in the context of the overall tale just add to the beautiful absurdity. A sketch waiting to be filmed I feel. Hilarious.

Big Richard

Where did those character names come from?! Great narrative voice and another (subtle) nod to our new anthology, THE INFERNAL CLOCK which is now available as a Kindle edition and a paperback. I really love this story – what more can I say? A great mix of genres, a strong narrative voice.

Dreams

Is it wrong that I can follow Steph’s line of thought from brick house, to little pigs to evil child? Maybe we’ve worked to closely on THE INFERNAL CLOCK (have I mentioned our anthology?!) I loved where this went. Dark as ever, Steph, very dark indeed.

Confessions of a Portal Guardian

I do like this Voima! The narrative is so good and the last paragraph’s moment of suspense is a brilliant way to end. We both like a portal don’t we? Recurring theme for you and I. Deft storytelling and most satisfying.

Painting Your Troubles Away

I hope that Angelique’s paintballing experience was the only real-life inspiration here! I loved the line:

Revenge would not be sweet, but salty, like her sweat and his tears.’

I may have to steal that at some point! Great twist with the punchbag and the tough (but not life-threatening) paintball plan. Well done Angelique.

 I AM A GOD

Oh unreliable narrator, what to make of you? Brian – you’ve written a good one here. The tone is perfect. I am still undecided – deluded nutter or fallen god? That’s what makes this a cracking tale. I know that Brian’s a marvel fan and this felt like Marvel movie humour – he knows that’s a compliment.

Wasn’t My Fault

I like the idea that Len from next door is the keeper of the lexicon for this salt of the earth narrator. The date of this little round did not escape Stella here and she used it to great comic effect. Obviously, this lot are from Coventry though – that sort of malarkey would never happen in Solihull darling!

Whenever I judge these things, commonalities begin to assert themselves. Great narrators and protagonists seemed to be a strong theme this week. Comedy in all its forms too. A great set of tales and impossible to judge on merit alone. I’ve gone from the gut:

2nd Runner Up:  Overlooking The River by Patrick Stahl for its imagery and poignant ending.

1st Runner Up: The Poet Goes to the Shops by Ewan Smith for the rhythm and juxtaposition in this one.

And our ROUND 133 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Rebekah Postupak

with

Man Toes

Rebekah is back with a show don’t tell tour de force!

Congratulations, Rebekah! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Thanks again to everyone who wrote and to Shakes for judging. Next weekend, Jaime Burchard returns to judge round 134. Hope to see you all there.

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Happy Saturday, writers! It’s the first day of April, practical jokers abound, and for once I count myself among them. Best of luck to David Shakes who will be judging this weekend’s collection of rogue tales.

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 and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

THIS WEEKEND THERE IS NO PHOTO PROMPT! I WANT YOU TO WRITE YOUR BEST 360 WORD PIECE OF FLASH USING ANY INSPIRATION YOU FIND THIS WEEKEND! IT MAY BE OLD PHOTOS FROM THIS SITE, FROM ANOTHER FLASH COMPETITION, LYRICS FROM A SONG, A SCENE IN A MOVIE – ANYTHING GOES! EXTRA POINTS IF YOU POST YOUR OWN IMAGE ALONG WITH YOUR STORY. Have fun!!!

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BETRAYED!

Happy Tuesday writers! Here is the unfashionably late Round 129 winners post. Many thanks to the patient writers who submitted last week and also to judge Ewan Smith. You’ll find his comments and top picks below.

The photo from Ashwin Rao this week shouted the word “Relationship”. Nine AHers responded with cracking stories.

A Certain Tomorrow
This is a story of waiting and, as such, not a great deal happens. But the author skilfully builds up the feel of impending fate. There is a wonderful sense of Laura having become disconnected from her body which is now little more than a physical shell. Soon, she will be disconnected from Jeff entirely but for the moment the two of them just hold on, waiting for the Certain Tomorrow. Very moving.

The Broken Spoons
I love the wheels within wheels aspect of this with a real image being fictionalised both externally and internally by the story. (Does that make sense? Well I know what I mean…) Great natural dialogue and there really should be a band called The Broken Spoons. I just wonder if that’s a reference to the couple spooning in the picture…hmm…

The Quarrel
A violent relationship under stress; always an opportunity for sparks – and anything else at hand – to fly. By starting the story in the middle of a furious argument, the author hooks the reader straight off. I did like the idea of Mike lying awake half the night worrying where Jessie was when she was asleep on the sofa in the next room all along. Lots of swirling emotions there.

Holding The World In Your Arms
The story of an abused narrator whose personality has been systematically ground up and destroyed. “…with every explosion a little more of me turned to ash, my soul as empty as any Pompeian plaster cast.” Driven by the wish for revenge, or perhaps simply the need to end the fear, she poisons the abuser and finds her own resolution in death. Although set in modern times, there is a mythical quality to this story that is deeply satisfying.

Loving Whole
I like the sense in this story of the fragility of life. A sliver of inattention, a moment of carelessness and the world becomes engulfed by grief. The image of the girl found dead with the phone still in her hand, message showing, is a strong one. There is a lot packed into the story and it has a great structure with the brief final sentence taking the reader right back to the start. A good read.

If The Bar Burns Down, The Rain Gonna Cry All Night
A really entertaining spoof biography of everyone’s favourite child star, Piril “Dame Judy” Quench. The humour is perfectly judged throughout so that I felt, somewhere at the back of my mind, that I really did remember a TV series called Knackers Yard. (Oh – and I’m going to steal “implausibly lovely” to use in my CV.)

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Profile Pix by David Shakes
A lovely story. From the off, the simple descriptions are very evocative, giving an immediate sense of place. The lack of emotion and intensity in the narration only magnifies the unfolding horror. The structure of the story is so elegant; I love the single short sentences between the paragraphs like a solemn drumbeat of commentary. And the clarity throughout – gorgeous.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: As The Sun Goes Down by A.J. Walker

Now this is funny! There’s the first narrator having his perfect romantic moment by the lake – well, apart from the mosquitoes, the winos and the screaming children. Then the second narrator with two mozzies up her nose feeling as unromantic as it’s possible to be. Brilliant. The contrast between their physical closeness and their mental distance gives the story such energy. It made me laugh at 6.53 on a Monday morning – there ain’t no greater praise than that.

and our Round 129 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

J.R. Hershberger

with

“Sisters”

Two sisters; one betrayed, the other aching with her pain. Unable to face the grief of the present, they retreat into the past and into a childhood game they once shared. Time passes and only when they are ready do they return to reality. I love the way that this is a story about something mentioned in passing at the start and then barely referred to again. It’s as if we readers, like the sisters, can’t face the agony of the betrayal; we’d rather think about playing Rotten Tomatoes instead. The more I read this, the more it grew on me. A super piece of writing.

Congratulations, J.R.! Your story will be featured as one of tomorrow’s Hump Day Quickies! Stay tuned for the Round 130 winner’s post which will be along shortly for this week’s Twofer Tuesday!

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

David Shakes

Do you remember the nameless three from the lake? The girl and the two boys – one had ridiculous tan marks where his vest had been. Remember?

They must be on a missing persons report somewhere- but it never made the news here. I guess they hadn’t left a plan of where they were going.

Do you remember the sounds as they slipped beneath the water? The girl first and then the two boys – just a small splash and then ripples expanding into nothingness. Remember?

You cleaned your knives and developed your photos in secret. They’re stashed in a shoebox wedged beneath the floorboards. Dust covered memories; blood soaked reminders.

Do you remember the first time you took a life? There’s no photo of that – it wasn’t as planned. They said it was an accident, a child’s game gone wrong. You know it wasn’t.

Remember?

When Anna-Marie cut her hand in craft class. You were first there to help- tasting the coppery blood whilst others fussed with bandages. You took her to the woods a few months later and she never came back.

Do you remember the hunt for her? How they questioned every classmate and how you pushed all your feelings down into the pit of your churning stomach? They weren’t even suspicious of you were they and those feelings never came back – just like Anna-Marie.

Remember?

Of course you remember. You see it all now. You thought you’d acted alone but I was always with you – watching, guiding, teaching. You can see that now.

Your actions have caused ripples like those on the lake – they continue to expand ever outwards tainting many lives and strengthening my cause. I’ve much to thank you for.

It’s time to come with me now my friend. Do be afraid. Your service buys you no favours with me. I’ve some people waiting for you.

There’s the nameless three from the lake. Though the fish took their eyes a long time ago they’re eager to see you. Anna-Marie is there too. They’re all there waiting – waiting to help you remember – eternally.

Happy Tuesday! Thanks to everyone who wrote and commented on stories this past weekend. Thanks also to Marie McKay for volunteering her time and judging. You’ll find her comments and to picks below.

Thanks, Rebecca, for allowing me to judge this week. I always feel unworthy of the task especially when the stories are all so fantastic. We had mystery, tragedy, humour, murder and the supernatural:

Three Mile Stretch

The narrator finds the story of ‘Old Man Redpath’ eerie but treats it with a good dose of scepticism. The real story lies in what the old man’s family are trying to hide in creating the ghost story in the first place. Intriguing, I really want to know what truth is buried beneath this ‘stench’ of lies.
I love the line: ‘Now it is fear that follows the course of the lake.’

The Hipsters and Mister Takada

This story outlines beautifully the details of how Mister Takada’s interest in photography has developed:
‘The youthful past-time became a teenage hobby that progressed into an adult profession…’
Mister Takada seems to have fallen prey to a scam. We’re not sure if ‘the hipsters’ are moved by conscience or by Mister Takada’s brilliance, but things are squared by the end

Five Friends At The Lake

This is a tragic tale that tapped into one of my worst fears. The reader is introduced to what seems like an idyllic setting. But as the first part ends, we are made aware of a tragic event, this event dominates the second part.
I like how this writer works with structure. This sentence makes ‘the deep pool’ a character in itself:
‘I made sure to catch the reflection of the deep pool against the rocks.’

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

This is a sinister story. The repetition of questions gives this story pace. The reader is not made fully aware of who the voice in the story belongs to, at first, but it is slowly revealed. I love how this one unfolds and the details that help provide great characterisation:
‘When Anna-Marie cut her hand in craft class. You were first there to help- tasting the coppery blood whilst others fussed with bandages.’
In the end, there is no reward for Satan’s work.

“At the Bank of Gallow’s River”

The ending of this story has stayed with me. We don’t know if the mobster is sparing the lives of the characters, or if he is just toying with them before they are executed, but the line:
‘”So this is what fear looks like,” he said, and he gazed out over the river, his head tilted to one side.’
is incredibly menacing.

Summer Afternoon

This is a beautiful piece of science fiction. We are given snippets of information about Earth, and we can perhaps assume that something has gone wrong there:
‘“A place like this would be protected by razor wire, guards.”’
On their journey to Earth 2, Riley, the main character simulates Iowa. The photograph that is taken of the characters is of their simulated experience, making this line very poignant:
‘Life becomes a dream of life, a summer afternoon with friends, just the way he remembers.’

Macbeth In The Park

The dialogue in this story is blended with Shakespeare’s text to great humorous effect. I love the idea of the river being the cauldron. But my favourite part of its being the cauldron is the dialogue:
‘”You can get the worst diarrhoea from it.”
“Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”’

Memories of generations

This story is reflective and beautiful. This is the last photograph the narrator will take as he/she appears to be nearing the end of their life. Looking on at his/her grandchildren, the narrator says of youth:
‘I remember having boundless energy which I wasted doing everything and nothing.’
And life brings us full circle:
‘I made all the mistakes that my son is currently making and my grandchildren will make in the future.’

Should Have Used the Flash

The title gives us some idea of what the conclusion is going to be, but it is the events leading up to that conclusion that are very entertaining. The three characters are truanting from work; yet, I can’t help but like them: the writer’s characterisation and depiction of their relationship make it hard not to. Therefore, when the photograph doesn’t turn out, it is rather a happy ending.

The 60-Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall

This story is brimming with stunning imagery:
‘The moment was caught and placed in a tiny zoo where is was kept and fed with just the proper amount of darkness and light…’
The extended metaphor of the embryonic nature of a photograph as it’s processed is used fabulously throughout the piece.
Also, the idea the main character is making a ‘noise’ by snatching a photograph off an unsuspecting photographer is wonderful.

Snap Harry

This story uses a clever play on words to create a terrifying plot. The narrator’s longing for a relationship with the girl in the story is made very clear, and once he employs the skills of Snap Harry, the results are horrific. The fate that befalls the narrator’s love rival will haunt me for a while! The final line is perfect:
‘The picture was of a young man, captured on a perfect summer’s day.’

Honourable Mention: Five Friends at the Lake by Alva Holland

Second runner up: Summer Afternoon by  Voima Oy

First runner up: The 60 Watt Pulse and the Garden Wall by Richard Edenfield

And our Round 128 FLASH MASTER is

FLASH MASTER

David Shakes

with

Distant Memories Now Freshly Awaken

Congratulations, Shakes! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! And with that, February is a wrap. Tune in next weekend when Ewan Smith is back for another round of judging. Hope to see you all there.

Happy Tuesday, friends! Thank you to everyone who stopped by to write and comment this past weekend. Thanks also to David Shakes for judging and commenting on this week’s entries. You’ll find his thoughts and top picks below.

Hello folks.

Thank you Rebecca for inviting me to judge. 2016 has be a pivotal year. Interestingly, a couple of stories touch upon quantum mechanics and the multiverse. My own theory is that we’re now on the wrong timeline – hopefully The Enterprise, Time Cop, The Sliders or Dr Who will show up soon to make some adjustments without causing a temporal rift.

When we’re course corrected, I hope I still have my new job. The only downside is that it’s eating my time like there’s no tomorrow. I’m not writing. I’m still reading. (Always read – always!)

What a pleasure it was to read your stories for what I considered a great prompt. Think I detect some new (to me) voices too. I really loved everything you wrote. Glad to be back in the saddle.

May I just add one more thing? Thank goodness the Hourglass is back! We need this.

As always, judged blind and random order. I’ve made short notes for all and then it’s time for winners:

Thin Spaces, Shadow Places

One of my top three titles. Alluded to this in my introduction – Sci Fi with depth of emotion and some great philosophical moments. Making the here matter most – someone knows my own outlooks or just resonated?  Lovely writing.

From Fear to Modernity

Another of my top three titles. A familiar style – full marks (or Mark’s?!) for emotionally charged imagery. I connected with the character on a really deep level and the ‘caldera eyes of her gaunt doppelgänger…’ is fabulous imagery and heralds that ending. That single word at the end. That word. Sublime.

Of Quantum Ticketing and Squashed Ducks (and Don’t Even Mention the Dog)

Last of the top three titles, first of the laugh out loud tales this week. I first spat my coffee at the line:

‘…it’s not doing duck things anymore.’ and then didn’t stop laughing. The punchline was fabulous and grounding too. Great fun here. Northern humour through quality dialogue? It’s like a treasure hunt this!

LaVon King, Street Artist, Dies at 26

Brilliant in its blunt simplicity. A social commentary wrapped in a tragic story. The brevity of the descriptions of the artwork for the moving gallery still managed to conjure great pictures in my head and the juxtaposition of ‘…dark eyes peering from jungles’ and ‘angels weeping over expressways’ really worked – felt cinematic. Strong endings abound this week – this was one of the strongest.

Through Hell and Beyond

A ‘does what it says on the tin’ title here but a well handled story. Some of the side roads presented us with another type of social commentary and I kept thinking: The Wages of Sin (I suppose you can take the boy out of church…) I liked the last line very much – I suspected that reincarnation beckoned – a chance to be reborn?

Big-Boned

Second laugh out loud story of the week and just great. In the first paragraph and I guess eternity / maternity link and thought – this is the man – The Prince of Puns, Guardian of Grammar, doing his thing. In the second paragraph I didn’t see the ‘…back in two shakes’ and ‘David!’ coming – stories should, they say, connect on a personal level though!

Final paragraph and the set-up pays off – the punchline was brilliant. Well worth it.

A Choice to be Made

This gave me a coffin fit! No – I can’t do puns can I? I thought the white van man reference and the fact that we were delivering one side of the Mersey (mine or Zev’s?) made this a FlashDog tale (tail?) at least and I drew up a shortlist of suspects but can’t guess as well as in others. I found myself in the position of typing ‘Do they burn coffins in the UK?’ in to Google. Seems it’s an FAQ! This is the second example of a simple tale that works because it is what it is without pretense. We’ve had life after death and now life with death.

No Through Road

No parking, deep emotions.

The second story to do the life after death trip and the second one (in the order I read them at least) to feature the loss of children. There’s a focus on memory here, of memory being stripped away perhaps, but not before it’s recalled and reconciled whether our narrator wants to or not. What’s beyond the tunnel? No parking.

No Parking

or ‘To be Frank, He Gets What He Deserves’ – No, puns still not my thing at all. I do like a nice tables-turned story and the predatory Frank will eternally regret dating Ashley. I liked how she still had time to appreciate the well described view at Lover’s Cove and this was the first, subtle signs that she may not be as intimidated as we’d first imagined. Blowing him up may have been a tad too far though!

Composing a Sonnet

Most disarming title award. Psycho killer qu’est ce que c’est?

I really liked how this one played out, with the narrator’s voice taking us along with it, drawing us in to his thought patterns, his motivations. ‘My house is ETERNITY’ – a bold line with, I felt, layers of meaning – backed up with the finality of HERE for the boy’s fate. ‘There, there – all done.’ Chilling – especially ‘…although I must say crimson is a most becoming colour…’ A master of show not tell at work here.

Those Things Are Going To Kill You

Warning signs eh? Signs that give warning. This was great and, upon re-reading, the clues are there from the start – dry lips & breath tests; pins, needles and fast food wrappers. I wondered if the businessman who burned himself was our guy? A glimpse of the future or a past not remembered?  Certainly the repeated use of the word ‘burning’ gave hints, the air being too thick to breathe. Great last line, (haven’t they all been though?) loaded with meaning. Kind of thing I’d try to write to be honest.

A Heartbeat in THX Sound

We start and end with some Sci Fi. A future where the death of cinema and the rise of technology has reached its sad conclusion. I loved the question ‘Would you put The Grand Canyon in your pocket?’ – a fabulous summary of the point our author is making. The real horrors are hinted at in the one-liners – like kissing in person or believing the truth (topical!) being a thing of the past. This is the only entry to directly reference the film too. That last line is so loaded with imagery that I’m still unpicking it.

There are no special mentions as they were all special (and not in that ‘it’s the taking part that counts’ patronizing kind a way) – that’s why I mentioned them all. You’ve taken time to make thought into word and now something unique exists in the digital ether because of it. How cool is that?

Second Runner up is A Heartbeat in THX Sound by Richard Edenfield for premise and execution

First Runner up is Big-Boned by Geoff Holme for the humour and audacity

And our Round 117 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

AV Laidlaw

with

Those Things Are Going To Kill You

…because I enjoyed it the most

Congratulations, AV! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend we enter the magical month of December, and Brady Koch will be there to kick-off the judging.

We will be breaking for Christmas, but if I can find a volunteer to judge, The Angry Hourglass will ring in the New Year with Round 121!

Until next time!

Hello again! I hope everyone who celebrated this past week had a wonderful holiday. For those Black Friday shoppers out there, I trust your expedition was uneventful and free of injury, and now you’re ready to write some flash. This weekend, David Shakes is our 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 and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

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photo courtesy Ashwin Rao