Posts Tagged ‘Foy S. Iver’

Hello, all! I hope you had as much fun writing this weekend as I did celebrating my anniversary. Many thanks for all the well wishes. Many thanks also to Steph Ellis for judging this weekend’s stories. You’ll find her comments below.

After a long day at school, I need a little escapism and the stories this week certainly gave me that.  I enjoyed reading all the entries and, as always, feel really guilty that I cannot place everybody on the podium.  But I take comfort in knowing that those who didn’t make it this week will probably be in a different position next week or maybe were even here last week (judging blind I have no way of knowing) – reading tastes are so subjective!  Anyway, without more ado, here are my results:

HMs

The Cave where the Monster Lives by Catherine Connolly 

So many hints at darkness in this little story.  The woman, a psychiatric patient of some sort, has undergone a traumatic experience in the past in a place for which the cave is used as an analogy, but an analogy for what?  Her womb and the loss of unborn children or perhaps her home where she lives/lived with the monster; a monster who harms her babies, or was she the monster.  So many hints but there is one thing clear, whatever the doctor eventually discovers it is sure to be harrowing.

Into the Cave’s Mouth by Pattyann McCarthy

This one I liked because it carried with the element of the ‘tall tale’.  The story could be read as horror but there were a couple of features that pointed me in another direction; for instance, the opening line ‘Jonah and the whale? That story wasn’t nuthin compared to my experience!’  Not the most solemn way of introducing a tragedy and then later on the survivor was ‘seduced’ against the rocks and he lost consciousness.  Or perhaps the voice used was because he had really lost his mind? Either way, the victim was certainly a man who could tell a story.

3rd RU

Evolution of Angels by Richard Edenfield

An original concept, giving angels an evolutionary time line using some terrific imagery.  This is the story of the anniversary of the day angels ascended to the heavens.  Like humans having to walk before they could run, angels had to swim before they could fly and they needed water wings because (nice touch of humour here) it was ‘very unbecoming to see an angel doggie paddle’.  They gather annually to ‘dispel evil’ in places that nobody suspected angels would go, the grotto at the Playboy mansion for instance, or anywhere with palm trees and good landscaping is starting to hint at more sophisticated (or jaded?) tastes.  Then they float in ‘some sort of nonchalant nostalgia’, remembering back to when ‘things were simpler, a time when they were nothing more than angel fish’. 

2nd RU

The Last Anniversary by Bart Van Goethem

I admit to looking up spelelology – the study of caves – and then completely understood the truth of the title!  So much said in so few words.  Very clever.

1st RU

Occultation by Foy S. Iver

Beautiful, beautiful prose poem.  An example of fluid, fluent writing telling a story of love, jealousy, and perhaps revenge.  The first sentence sets the reader up for the metaphor thread that runs through the story, “Do you remember when I was your moon?”  The narrator was once the moon, her lover the tide, but now another, the sun, has entered his orbit, his ‘gravity’ until the narrator is ‘eclipsed’ by this new rival – an event that mirrors the title.  But the woman scorned does not give up, she needs to remove her rival from his protection and offers under pretence of friendship to take her for a swim. This is no innocent offer, it hints at a dark ending, she will rid herself of her rival, put out her flames.

AND OUR ROUND 81 FLASH MASTER IS…

FLASH MASTER

A.V. Laidlaw

with The Cave

I was almost convinced that this story was based on fact, its tone was so realistic that it had me googling various names to see if they existed or not, eg The Regime of Colonels (fact) was responsible for the suppression of intellectual thought with tragic consequences for Kourvetaris’ own family (fiction): the arrest of his father, the suicide of his mother. 

In addition, there was also a mirroring of past and present throughout the story, as when the journalist waits for Kourvetaris, he observes life around him, the woman feeding her ‘rat­whiskered lapdog raw steak as she ignored the page waiting for his tip’, the celebrity trying to be recognised without wanting to appear as if he is seeking attention – the world is as shallow now as when Arisgoras hid away his papers because society had become ‘too venal to understand his philosophy’.  Then the journalist congratulates himself on his stoicism, another ancient school of philosophical thought, another reflection.  But in the end he does not receive his scoop, Kourvetaris has found the truth, ‘the sunlit world outside is simply an illusion’.  There is no point in revealing Arisgoras’ writings to the journalist and Kourvetaris, by not including a return address to his letter, seals himself off from future contact much as Arisgoras had sealed off the cave from his citizens.

Congratulations, AV! No gold stars, but your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, the AbFab Rebekah Postupak of Flash! Friday fame will be here to judge. Hope to see you all then.

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means… WINNERS! Thanks to Foy Iver for judging this past weekend; you’ll find her comments below:

Thank you, thank you to Rebecca for allowing me to perch in the judging chair! Not an easy task balancing on leather back while reading stories fit to bowl me over. The prompt seemed to suggest carnivals and circus life but all of you brought your own originality to it. I noted what I appreciated about each of them but, in the end, emotion and imagination won the top spots. Well done, all!

Beyond Belief

A nice ode to Alice after Wonderland. My favorite line? “People like me lose their childhoods, put them down somewhere and can’t find them again.”

Rivulets

Begins with blood and ends with atonement just like the ultimate pardoning. Love the title; reminds me of the old hymns.

Turn Left Past Prairie Bend

Great layers in this one! The pace, too, is well timed. Slow and dust-covered until those final lines when intrigue disturbs the expected.

Welcome to FunTown

GAH! Clowns are what demons look like. This one left me rocking in a corner scrubbing at the image of that Picassozoide (doesn’t that sound so much freakier than “Picassoesque”?) face. Well done?

ABOVE AND BEYOND

The “Odd Thomas” aura of this one brought a happy warmth to my belly. Such true descriptions of the believing. We differ in our sacraments and worship styles but we share faith and that should be enough. I hope that one day it is and the bickering can die at the root.

A Place Beyond Belief

So applicable on many levels but especially to us writers. Sometimes we’ve just got to give the mirror “that old fuck-you smile” and keep putting pen to paper.

In Our Town

The final line of this one is the clincher (“we’ve moved beyond belief”) taking that popular word choice and giving it a whole new meaning. I enjoyed the matter-of-fact voice and the Gaimanesque use of repetition.

Certainly

The prompt seems to have revived a bit of Lewis Carroll’s ghost! Another one that’s deliciously whimsical. It feels like dream-reading as you walk through the words, nibbling at poetic phrases like, “each butterfly whispering a single sentence of the story” and letting yourself be swaddled in the idea that this is how “the world could be.”

El Norte

Strong poetic images in the first paragraph! This writer captured well the idea of looking to El Norte, an unfortunately reality for many.

Special Mention “The Butterfly Effect” by A.J. Walker for pulling me out of a gray-office day

Poetry, poetry! A magnifying glass turned on “ponderous bees” and butterflies “designed by innocence,” this beautiful bit of flash sucked me right out my office window and into a meadow fit for all the “blue sky thinking.”

The ending is so uplifting, pointing out that we, too, are part of life’s gossamer dance.

Special Mention to “Stunning Garden” by Sal Page for pulling off chilling AND human

This plays out like cinema, slow and eerie, as each new horror is peeled back to reveal a fresh wound. Those final paragraphs had me screaming at Chaplin to watch his back.

But it isn’t all fried flesh and mystery. There’s a breath-takingly human moment between the chills when we learn about David’s dying relationship with his mother.

P.S. fantastic chameleon title!

Second Runner-Up “Risky Business” by Sonya 

I adore the cheekiness of this one!

Strong voices, natural dialogue, measured peeks at a foreign future and a catastrophic past, this is distilled flash.

Writers who can create whole realities on a threadbare word count continually amaze me. But then it’s not threadbare because the tapestry is whole, a gorgeous weave in 100 powerful words.

First Runner-Up “Escape” by Marie McKay

So much beauty in this!

Through the unitalicized text, looks and emotions unfurl, painted like a vibrant brush stroke across the mind.

Quickly, we learn to fear what the voices flee, and hope in the haven they’ve found.

It’s masterful writing that can bring this much depth of emotion in so few words.

And our Round 73 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Karl A. Russell

with “Asteroid X-237”

Force me to feel or force me to think. “Asteroid X-237” does the later deftly. There’s so much meat to be stripped away from bone in this one. With only three characters, a single setting, and a decision as vast and weighty as the universe this writer creates a novel-worthy flash fiction.

It leaves me wondering what I would do in any of their places – give in to despair, find resolve in knowing a grim truth, or continue in rabid denial? Fantastic world-building, character creation, and thought-provoking prose.

Congratulations, Karl! Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie! Next weekend, Voima Oy returns to the judge’s seat. We both hope you’ll join us for more Flash Frenzy.

 

Welcome back for another round of Flash Frenzy. This weekend, Foy Iver has the honor of reading subs and the difficult task of choosing a Flash Master.

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

 

A STORY

by Foy S. Iver

“What story is this you ask? You mean how was it born.

How is any story born? In solitude or the company of friends? Is it an art learned through credit hours and coffee-blood? Or are you born with all your stories inside your flesh, growing in the womb like a silver tongue tucked between uncut teeth?

Can any of us tell the shape of a story, what dictates its totality?

Must it have a beginning? An end? A tortuous middle? Is it a moment, over as it begins, or a history, tangled in its own length? Must it gleam like my marble eyes, be sharp as my razored teeth, or tease the imagination as my body does now? What is a story?! Who can know…

Does that answer your question?”

The window washer stared, suds sopping down his right sleeve. He opened his mouth, pencilled mustache twitching in confusion.

“Emm, what story is this?”

The shark blinked.

“Oh…third floor.”

Happy Tuesday! Before we get down to business, I’d like to take a few minutes of your time for some shameless self promotion. For those of you who follow my personal blog, Diagnosis Diabolique, or read my tweets that aren’t about Flash Frenzy, you’re already in the know, but for the rest of you I’d like to announce that I have two short stories coming out in anthologies next month. The first, Ecdysis, is appearing in a UK publication from Flame Tree Publishing titled: Gothic Fantasy: Chilling Horror Short Stories. The second, Project Handbasket, will appear in a Lovecraftian anthology from Ulthar Press titled: A Lonely and Curious Country. These stories would not have happened if not for the inspiration and encouragement of the online flash community that gave me the confidence to pursue my writing. You guys are all amazing and I want to say thank you.

Okay, I’m done.

SHARKS! Last week I went to a live theatrical viewing of Sharknado 2, The Second One! Every single story that was submitted this week is better than that movie. Seriously. Maybe there should be a Flash Dogs Movie Division? While you all ponder how awesome that would be, take a peek at all the great things Judge Shakes had to say about this week’s entries:

Nice to be back in the judge’s chair and honoured that Rebecca chose another of my snaps to be the prompt this week. I was worried that it would be too difficult to get Sharknado out of writers’ minds, but you’ve served up some superb stories that are as diverse as our little flash community itself. Bravo to one and all. As I type, I remain oblivious to who wrote which story. I’ll be seeing who the winners are myself when this is published. It’s quite exciting.

A Son’s Letter from Fort Breach (1862)

An authentic narrative voice and little touches like the name of the fort make this a joy. The polite admissions build upon one another as the story unfolds. The ‘light head injury’ may be the cause of our unreliable narrator’s downfall, coupled with the whiskey…

I openly laughed when we got to the seeing what would and wouldn’t fit in the cannon. A great opening salvo – see what I did there?

In The Mind of Someone Living

Our first post-apocalypse tale and it’s a good one at that. The ‘broken teeth’ of the walls are the first ominous hint that this future might be one that wants to crush you in its jaws.

Jacob clings to the hope that the waters will recede like the limpets cling to the rusting cars. Something tells me that, as it seems Jacob comes to realise, the waters will take a long time to recede.

For What We Are About To Receive

“Sometimes you have to swim with the sharks to break through a brick wall.”

Using the prompt as this (slightly mixed) metaphor was clever, as was the inversion of the view of who the true predator sharks were. I do love a good vampire tale and caught on just who the family were and how the church would provide before the satisfying ending was in sight. This is the sort of thing I’d write. I love that they say grace before eating.

Bait

Our second post –apocalyptic tale and another cracker. There’s a cold plan and a dark future in this story.

I loved the staccato rhythms of the ‘operations’ here – undermining the short-lived safety for our hunted protagonist.

The shocking realisation that the things that were once children will eat through our captive narrator in 2 minutes flat was a hard-hitting ending.

Red Weather

I want to live in Rockford (does it have files?), despite its oddities. The three- eyed fish too horrible to eat? Cool! Raining cats and dogs for real? Fabulous!

The pious Reverend Martin might annoy me, attributing everything to gifts from heaven but I know I’d have time for Professor Lynch (first name David?).

The closing lines hint at a problem: “Why are you looking at me like that?” I think we’ve another unreliable narrator on our hands. Quirky and enjoyable.

Annabell Rouge and Her Flying Boys

Most intriguing title award number 1! Some of the crew’s ribald names and the whole opening scene had me thinking ‘Black Sails’ but the title pays off with the steampunk flying machines. I loved that the shark was the tip of a shell that destroys the bar and shakes the Flying Boys from their reverie. This has a fantastic ending and is just great fun.

A Story

So clever! Lots of folk were wondering if they’d get a story out of the prompt and we get ‘A Story’.

The meta-shark pontificates on where stories come from. I loved ‘credit hours’ (I don’t have enough) and ‘coffee-blood’ (I have way too much!)

The quality of the imagery is superb – ‘must it gleam like my marble eyes, be as sharp as my razored teeth..?’

Then, the rug is pulled from under us as the hapless window cleaner repeats his original question – clearly unfazed having met a third floor meta-shark.

Destination Wedding

We know it’s not going to go well when the unlucky bride begins to ‘cry into the crinoline’ – what an awesome phrase that is! The quality phrasing continues as the tide of details wash away the idealistic dream wedding.

In the end, Amy realises that Garret is all that matters and gets the world’s most unique wedding photo into the bargain. My favourite part is when she rips the hotel’s flowers from the planter – a fantastic mental image.

Our Ancient

This is a wonderfully sustained piece, one richly poetic in its language. After several reads you are still picking up on imagery and nuance. I like the ambiguity, each reader will make their own suppositions based on our narrator’s mythical slumbering demigod.

The last line is great – ‘We, too, must fish to live.’

Last Sight

A horrific car crash and a black feather flutters in all our hearts. The mother’s only thoughts are of her shark obsessed son (and those of us who are parents know only too well how all-encompassing those early childhood obsessions can become).

Back to the car and she sees – ‘crimson fluids plinking on the ceiling’ – a harrowing paragraph follows. Hope returns in the closing paragraph and line.

Nephew

Another mythical tale, shrouded in Stygian mist (loved that nod) and bound by ropes of ichor (loved that nod even more). I have to admit that as a male reader I immediately assumed the fiercest warrior was a man, so when the creature arose and asked its questions I was also surprised. The child returned but altered, though only she will know. Even the fiercest of warriors are scared of something.

Madagascar Flash and the Stainless Steel Shark

Most intriguing title award number 2! ‘From here on out it was nothing but back seats and caviar.’ Our boxers dream of the double win, and Phil barely lifts a glove to achieve his. As Cortez takes to the ring our hopes are high and the clever use of the prompt interwoven with the pugilists’ aliases. ‘To survive, a shark has to keep moving.’  The discovery channel myth as metaphor was a lovely touch.

Movie Night

Our third post-apocalypse tale here, proving that no three apocalypses (apocali?) are ever the same. BBQ rat is on the menu and people keep themselves barbarically entertained until the only movie left in town can start again for the umpteenth time. Del is away, doing something dangerous and Jenna is more than a little concerned, despite it being her birthday. The movie is Jaws 3D and Del has bought some awe and wonder back to the world with his improvised 3D specs. I had that scene from Back to The Future part 2 in my head and I wondered if that’s what inspired the author from the original prompt?

Weakness

Most audacious attempt award! This writer reads twitter and knows some #flashdogs folklore, that much we know is certain. A playful story – ‘This is all in caps because I was shouting at the time’- had me laughing hard. Now where would someone get the idea for a struggling writer with a penchant for murder or a dragoness with a taste for crispy fried friends? A brilliant story, although sadly divorced too much from the prompt for it to win this time. The next time I need to hide the evidence I’ll rope them in. Maybe we could mail out the body parts? I’ll post, you pack. (Did I guess correctly?)

The Look of the Irish

Nice pun in the title and a clear condemnation of ‘Irish’ jokes before inverting the tradition both in the remonstration of the cab driver and in the closing ‘joke’ played by the narrator’s Connemara born father. A lovely story to end on, raising more than a smile. I loved that the prompt was taken at face value again here but the end story was original, funny and almost plausible. Well done.

Third Place:

A Son’s Letter from Fort Breach (1862), by Brady Koch – because I liked the voice.

Second Place:

Nephew, by Alicia VanNoy Call – very close as so well written in my opinion, but more of the prompt in…

And our Round 70 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Foy S. Iver

A Story

Because who needs an explanation as to why there’s a philosophical shark sticking out of the third story of a building?

Congratulations, Foy! Your story will be featured as Wednesday’s HumpDay Quickie! August is coming up, so keep your eyes on your inboxes, Flash Masters, I’ll be calling upon you to judge soon. Next weekend, Pattyann McCarthy takes a turn in the Judge’s seat. We both hope to see you there.

Stephen Steinhart, Ribbon Cutter

by Foy S. Iver

Am I the only one who finds it odd that severing something in two symbolizes new beginnings? Just me? I suppose I have a more reason to reflect on this enigma than most, being a close friend of Stephen Steinhart, Centerville’s go-to-ribbon cutter. Whenever there’s a strip of cloth or human tissue that needs slicing, he’s the one they call. Last week alone we attended 5 inaugural openings, 3 unveilings, and 9 umbilical detachments.

Of course it didn’t start that way. Centerville, like every other town with plenty of personality and no Starbucks, would give the honor of ribbon ceremonies to whomever was most relevant. Bank Managers and Project Coordinators would produce scissors they’d stolen out of craft bins at their kid’s kindergarten. You know the ones, colored with chompers so dull they couldn’t cut through butter. But after Steve’s first public snipping everything changed. He brought something that no one could define, let alone mimic:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, our Town Hall Rec Center, newly renovated!”
Snip.
“Steve just has that technique,” Mayor Gilbert says, holding red fabric remains still trailing around the government building. “I don’t know, it’s like…an art.”

Others point to Steve’s eagerness to contribute:
“Nurse, umbilical clamp.”
Clip.
“Steve, will you do the honors?”
“This won’t hurt a bit, ma’am.”
Schlick.
“WAAAAAAH!”
“I think it’s all in that smile of his,” adds Joanna Terrance, new mother and proud “Steinhartlot.” “He looks so fulfilled doing it. Made me forget I had a squirming watermelon coming out of my shoot.”

Some believe it’s all in his tools:
“The Moxi apartments are once again termite free! Applications online.”
Slick.
“Steinhart? Love that guy!” says a Big Bob’s construction worker who asked to remain unidentified. “I think his secret’s in those scissors he whips out. Have you seen them? They’re longer than my arm.”

And they’re all right. The way Steve separates tape, it’s like magic. No one else has his perfect precision, rabid enthusiasm, or big ass scissors. It’s a destructive hope and he’s good at it. Sometimes I wonder if Steve sees the irony, too. But what do I know? I’m just the instrument.

Hey all – The hour is late and I’ve got some news to share once the celebrating is over, so let’s get to it. Thanks to everybody who came out and wrote stories this past weekend, and thanks to Jaime Burchard for reading and judging. You’ll find his comments below.

First off, Ashwin Rao, what an excellent picture to start off one of my favorite rounds here at the Angry Hourglass. Almost all of you hit this hard, and you folks gave me an overall entertaining night of great reading.

Third Place: A.J. Walker – “In Three Pieces”

I’m a sucker for back-and-forth dialogue, and here it’s given in a very snappy treatment that reminds me well of the 1950’s. The biggest thing going for it though? Its decision to shake it up. Bitter enemies, flash photography, a grand opening and that ending? Yep, definitely the 1950’s.

Second Place: stevenstucko – “The Family Zoo”

There’s no denying the charm this story gives off. The entire read felt like it was chosen words for a narrator to read on the zoo’s History channel treatment, or even the recollection of a fond friend. It’s detailed, easy-going and it has a great pace. Look forward to more of Steven’s work.

and our Round 65 FLASH MASTER is…

FLASH MASTER

Foy S. Iver

with “Stephen Steinhart, Ribbon Cutter”

“But what do I know? I’m just the instrument.” These last two sentences were icing on the cake for a story that simply had it all. The nifty concept being backed up by great dialogue? Check. The obvious care the author went into telling us about a man with an odd profession? Check. It’s fearless in its execution, and its confidence won me over big time. Outstanding work, Foy.

Congratulations, Foy! 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.

And now for some “bad” news. The Angry Hourglass will be taking a brief hiatus. I am currently studying for my pathology boards, and as the test dates draw ever more near, I need to focus my attentions. There will be a Flash Master Face Off the first week in June, and the Flash Frenzy Weekend Challenge will return on June 13th. In the mean time, don’t forget all the other wonderful flash fiction challenges that will help to satisfy your flash fiction needs during my absence: Flash! Friday, Finish That Thought, Micro Bookends, Luminous Creatures, Flash Mob, and any others I may have missed. Thank you, friends, for your efforts here every weekend. I hope you’ll join me in just a few short weeks when Flash Frenzy resumes.