Posts Tagged ‘Jacki Donnellan’

Hey Friends –

I know this post is late, and so it will be short, sweet, and to the point. I apologize and promise I will do a better job next time. The stories were all a pleasure to read, but fortunately for my weary mind, there were three that stood out from the pack. So while it was moderately easy (it’s never easy) to narrow it down to the top three, trying to choose my favorite was still a challenge. In the end, I actually had to call in a second reader to help me make my final decision. You guys are too good for me to separate minute degrees of awesomeness.


BLOOD FROM THE START : DAVID SHAKES – I really enjoyed this little vampire tale. Subtle. Effective. I liked the symbolism of the subways and the repetition of blood. And is there anything worse than being bored? Well done.

SILHOUETTE : JACKI DONNELLAN – My mother was a silhouette. Beautiful and terrible at the same time. Every line of this story was heartbreaking. Even as I read it and uncovered the the truth about the man your narrator grew up to be, I couldn’t forget that haunting image of a little boy and his crayon dreams trying to infuse color into a absent love.

And the Flash Frenzy Round 51 FLASH MASTER is…




This story made me queasy. I could feel your narrator’s shame and loathing and loneliness… and her rage. I loved the countdown and the mounting tension as she mounted the stairs. And that last line? Perfection.

Congratulations, Brian. Your story will be featured as tomorrow’s HumpDay quickie. Angry Hourglass contributor Jaime Burchardt will be judging this weekend, hope to see you all there. 🙂

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. 😀


It’s Tuesday again! Time for winners. Many thanks to Jacki Donnellan for volunteering her time to act as judge this past weekend, and many thanks to YOU, the writers, for coming out to play.

Here are Jacki’s thoughts:

Comment: I really loved the prompt this week-there’s just something about pumpkins, isn’t there?- and I have had a really fantastic time reading the thirty (thirty!!) truly amazing entries. Each take on the prompt was different from the next, and it felt like that pumpkin had just exploded in everyone’s imagination. So many wildly colourful and vivid tales; so many bright and tender moments. Each and every writer produced something wonderful and  as always I am grateful for the privilege of reading your work.

With so many stories, I’m afraid I will have to use that old judging cliché “I wish I could comment on them all”, and beg you to believe that it’s heartfelt.

And so: these are the stories that were, for me, the pumpkin-flavoured cream of the so-very-juicy pumpkin crop:

Runner-Up: The Pumpkin Patch by Karl.A.Russell

I just loved this story, because it was just that- a complete (thrilling and entertaining) story with a beginning, middle and end, all told within 360 words with enough room left for gasps. It’s not that I believe that every piece of flash has to follow the arc of a short story- far from it- but when you read something short that manages to do so, it’s fantastic. Like a bite-sized bar of (very dark) chocolate.

Runner Up: Wifely Wisdom by Catherine Connelly

I read and judged all of the stories blind and I was surprised when I subsequently discovered that Catherine had written this one, as I had no idea that she wrote humour so spectacularly well! But this is not just a humorous tale, it is also skilfully sinister, from its ridiculously gruesome and wonderfully described premise right through to its brilliant ending. I loved it.

Runner Up:In the Dirt by Casey Rose Frank

This is such an exquisitely sad twist on a fairytale. So cleverly, beautifully told- once it became clear who Cordelia really was, I looked back through the story and realized just how many deftly crafted clues there had been. The corset to create “the perfect posture I was raised without”, the yearning for the hay and dirt, the mouse… A truly original and lovely take on the prompt.

And your round 39 FLASH MASTER is…


Nancy Chenier

Carving Out a Space

I loved the brilliantly clever title. I loved the way that the first line opened as a movie in my head. I loved the gorgeous, effortless world-building- “the waning glow from the primary oozes maple syrup light over griddlecake hills”-even while the story is all about what’s happening inside the narrator’s head. A lot of flash fiction which describes another world gets as far as “imagine a place where…” and stops there. I love that this story not only took me to another world but told me its history, its probable future and the zoomed-in life story of two of its characters, all within 360 words. I was left feeling satisfied, and yet yearning to read more. And I can still see Copiae in my head, as clearly as if I’d spent all of last week reading a whole novel set there. A stunningly, enviably good story.

Congratulations, Nancy on your two-week winning streak!  Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie!

Thanks again, Jacki, for your time and comments. This weekend, Amy Wood will be climbing into the judge’s seat. Hope to see you all there.


Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 39! I’d like to take just a moment to thank Jacki Donnellan for stepping up to judge this weekend.

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 of Ashwin Rao

Photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

Greetings, friends. Another week has passed, and it is time to crown a new Flash Frenzy Flash Master. This week, Rebekah Postupak,  hostess of the weekly flash fiction challenge Flash! Friday (consequently, the site that first infected me with the flash bug) offered her dragony services as judge. Her fiery comments are as follows:

Given the prompt, I’m a bit mystified how so many of you had the nerve to write funny tales. That pony and camel have been through some hard times, let me tell you. Grief, loss, and the enormity of human suffering? All there, kids.

But since you INSISTED on mocking their pain—here goes me. Tearfully, obv., as I wend my way through.

Voimaoy’s Butterflies? Mythology so marvelously vivid, like Brigadoon meets Arabian Nights. Gavin Parish’s Explorers’ Digest, just fabulously insane mirage madness crazy. Mark King’s hilarious Santa’s reindeer tale was a totally refreshing out-of-the box concept. Several of you did some really wonderful character work too, like Cathy Lennon in A Desert Tale andJacki Donnellan in Over the Hill. David Shakes made very funny use of one of my favorite tools, reimagining an existing tale, by explaining the true story behind the three Magi.

And if you want some powerful, poetic language, look no further than Josh Bertetta’sDromedary and a Half. Do you hear those gorgeous sounds?? The whispered sh’s, the bubbling b’s. Richly beautiful, like soaking in a chocolate bath. Meanwhile, Casey Rose Frank made me laugh out loud with her Forsooth, and the melodramatic, stilted dialogue offset by the frank prose of the third character.

Now: with my deepest thanks to the #FlashDogs and to all of you who took part this week (with apologies for not commenting on all), these three are my top picks.

Shirley Golden’s The Proposal. The writing is tight. Dark foreshadowing at the beginning is answered by the terror of the end, and balanced by the (justified) paranoia snaking all through. The title’s usually romantic implications are trampled here beneath mixed suspicion and fear. And what an ending! Subtle, terrifying.

Nancy Chenier’s Perfect Fit. Many stories personified the animals; Nancy’s take represents a deft, playful weaving of both personification and metaphor. And talk about killer character work! We get years and years of a long marriage also threaded on the loom. This story is layered so well, it just about blew me away. It’s not just a story. It’s an entire novel.

David Borrowdale’s The Special Bond Between a Boy and His Camel. This one is a perfect example of a game-changing twist that forces the reader to start the story over with this new understanding. It’s a monologue by an untrustworthy narrator (another of my favorite literary tools). We have been deceived most magnificently and hilariously.

This week’s FLASH MASTER is…


Nancy Chenier

with Perfect Fit

For a tired couple whose entire marriage is mapped out for us, and how you danced them between camels and horses and car shopping, from despair to falling in love again, in a scant 160 words. This is how it’s done.

Congratulations, Nancy!  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.

Many thanks, Rebekah, for your judges comments. Next week, Jacki Donnellan returns to the judge’s seat. Have a wonderful week, and I will see you all again on Saturday.


Getting Changed

by Jacki Donnellan


So many stares.

Yeah, go ahead, I think. Feast your eyes. And I’ll let them, for a while.

And then I’ll hit out, smacking their stares straight back into their faces with my ultimate weapon: a stare. Works every time. Their eyes dart away like frightened rabbits, and start reading the ads above the windows like they’re novels.

And then, of course, there’s the hidden cameras. The phones discretely angled towards me; the subtle finger- taps on their screens. I must’ve been paraded around the ether at least a hundred times.

On a really good day, it’s amusing. Something to break up the stretch from Baker Street to Waterloo.

But on a bad day, I’d like to rip their eyes right out of their heads.

Or just rip the brains out of mine.

“You just have to learn to ignore it,” someone will tell me, at my Group. “Let them stare.”

“It’s often like that to begin with, I’m afraid,” someone else will say. “It’s an uphill struggle. One step at a time.”

I stare.

Every day.

I stare, at the person in the mirror. And I’m shocked. Every time.

Sometimes I think that if I stare hard enough, the person in the mirror will transform before my very eyes, and turn all by itself into the person inside my head.

It’s an uphill struggle. But I’ve started the climb.

I’m running late. Getting changed in the morning takes so much more time than just getting dressed. My high heels clip hastily down the tube platform, towards the escalators to the street.

“Excuse me, love,” says a voice behind me, “you dropped something.”

I turn around, to see a woman holding something small and golden towards me.

My lipstick.

“It fell out of your pocket,” the woman says, handing it to me. “You should keep it in your handbag.”

She smiles pleasantly. And without staring, without even a second glance, she goes on her way.

For a moment I just stare. And then I yell out after her. “Thank-you!”

Everyone stares.

Still so very many stares.

But that will change.

I step onto the escalator, and slowly, I ascend.

It’s that time again—time to crown this week’s Flash Master—but before we get to the coronation, a few words.

You guys are awesome.


I don’t know what else to say. I’m humbled that you return week after week to contribute your talents and make my tiny speck of the internet such an engaging and encouraging place.

So… Thanks. 🙂

Okay, that was more than a few words…

And now! On to this week’s top picks, brought to you by Karl A. Russell!

Well, what a phenomenal selection of tales this week! I think 29 tales is a site record, and I was pleased to see a number of new faces in the crowd this week, but I’m afraid that you have finally broken me and I’m not going to be able to give you all individual comments. However, the many comments from our fine flash friends should go some way to making up for that, especially as they have a much better idea of what they’re talking about than I do…

But what tales they were! We had stairways to Heaven, Hell and all points in-between. People climbed them, fell down them and almost got launched off them, and then there were the horrifying things which lurk beneath them.

And now we need our own set of rickety steps for three winners to ascend to this week’s podium.

First up is a name new to me, David Borrowdale, taking Second Runner Up with “Lesson Learned?” The description of the rot at the heart of a once great lineage is masterful, sketching in details that somehow resolved into a picture perfect depiction of that hated study, and the realisation that the cycle of violence rolls on untrammelled makes this a chastening read.

In First Runner Up spot is a very familiar name to long time Hourglassers, Cath Connolly, with “Ursilla.” Cath excels at poetically rendered folk tales, and this is no exception. As Tam works at his strange task, the mystery deepens to a spellbinding conclusion, while at the same time feeling as familiar as the moon.

And in first place, this week’s Flash Master is…


Jacki Donnellan

with “Getting Changed”

I read this on the train, and when I was done, I became very aware of how many people were sitting around me and how many might be looking my way as I blinked back tears of happy surprise. Some flash washes over the reader like poetry, some goes for the sucker punch or the twist ending, assaulting the senses. Getting Changed could have gone down any of those routes, but in giving us a moment of unexpected tenderness and that truly wonderful shout of thanks, Jacki gave us something far more affecting. And unlike a surprise ending, it works more than once – I’ve just read it again, 14 hours on, and I’m smiling through misty eyes again.

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

I’m pleased to announce that this weekend’s guest judge is none other than flashionista and dragony hostess of Flash! Friday herself, Rebekah Postupak! Have a wonderful week, and I hope to see you all on Saturday! 🙂


It’s Tuesday again, time for winners!

A great big THANK YOU  to Jacki Donnellan for judging this week.

Before we get to her comments, just a quick shout-out to Karl, Shakes, and Mark for taking the #flashdogs and running with it. It’s very cool, and I wish I had more time to contribute. In case you missed it (who am I kidding, none of you missed it) here is the website. If you aren’t already, follow @FlashDogs on Twitter.

Now, on to Judge Jacki’s comments!

Wow. Just, wow. Who knew it would be possible to serve up the same plate of oysters in so many wonderfully different and original ways?

Oysters were the component of many a meal in this serving of stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Oysters were the quivering new territory for the odd couple in Stella’s “Nice Bowl of Soup” (I’m rather hoping banoffee pie and bread an butter pudding are on the menu!) and oysters were “lumps of snot on a shell” (possibly my favourite Oyster description!) in Beth Deitchman’s skilful portrayal of a relationship’s dying moments, “Oysters on the Half Shell”.

Oysters were the carefully planned if somewhat gross ring bearers in Casey Rose Frank’s charming story “Presentation.” Oysters were the slimy, living taste of things to come in David Shakes’ excellent “The Only Way to Serve Them”-great title, and exquisitely gruesome twist – and oysters were the last supper of a deeply disturbingly serial killer in Amy Wood’s “Loyalty”.

Oysters were the breakup meal for the couple in both “Table for One” by Ranee Parker and Tinika’s “The Breakup”: in Ranee’s tale they are part of an artfully depicted scene (I adored the line “The oysters appear sadly unaware”) while in Tinika’s story oysters are the agents of karma.

A single oyster is enough to cause a Mexican wave of vomit in Zevonesque’s “as-told-to-the-barman” tale “William’s Oyster Nemesis and the Mexican Wave”, and is enough to end Jessi’s attempts to dine as the other half dine in Carlos Orozco’s gently funny yet touching story, “Huitres.”

And then, there were all the stories of what an oyster is not, or was not. Not anything like a Chocster or Cheester from Sal Page’s “Happy Yampy Foods”. Not what lay under the big silver dome in Karl Russell’s brilliantly comic “The Codfather”. Not all that they seem to be in Catherine Connolly’s intriguing story “The Invitation”, and not quite as they should have been in Emily June Street’s “Fresh”…

And there were stories that jumped off the plate, at all angles and tangents. Craig Sinclair’s “Fruit of the Foam,” in which Dr Chubb slices away at creature with a mocking fibreglass shell. Mark King’s personified London, or “Caer Troia”, with probably my favourite opening line: “They flow through my veins with their Oyster cards.”

Chris Mortimer’s “Shit Nights” with an offstage plate of oysters which have brought a piece of Jenna’s past right into the middle of her new and unsavoury present. A Pearl being slowly prised from her shell by her therapist, in Josh Bertetta’s “On the Couch”. A seriously funny school’s admission process in Rebekah Postupak’s “Schooled” (genius one-word last line!) and a mysterious, irresistible call from the deep in Voima Oy’s “Alive, Alive Oh.”

This was an AMAZING collection of stories, and I am fully aware that the short mentions above do not begin to do them justice. So many lovely phrases, admirably original ideas and just fantastically good storytelling. I have picked my winners, but I really do want to thank each and every writer who allowed me the honour and privilege of reading and judging their stories this week.

2nd Runner Up- Sal Page, Happy Yampy Foods.
I just could not help giggling at this each time I read it. Even despite myself, I would snigger. When I read it again to be sure, I would find something else to snigger at. It left me feeling really happi and confidant.

1st Runner Up-Emily June Street, Fresh.
What I loved about this story wasn’t just the delightfully disgusting image of the oyster crawling back up Vince’s oesophagus, but the subtle buildup of suspense. The opening line of the story is almost banal, but small seeds of unease are sown almost immediately, so that eventually even the word “Fresh” is sounding oddly sinister. And the ending, with Vince left clawing at his throat, doesn’t disappoint!

And our Week 35 FLASH MASTER is…


Voima Oy

Alive, Alive Oh!

I was utterly mesmerized by this story. I have to confess that I have a thing about all things underwater. I’m simultaneously enthralled and terrified by the underwater world of the sea in particular (think nervous avid snorkeler). No wonder, then, that this story was calling to me so loudly with its haunting, plaintive tones. Wave after wave of gorgeous phrasing dragged me quickly and easily way beyond the oysters and my ordinary life “rounded as it is with sleep and death”, into a place “where the light… doesn’t reach” and where there are “the skeletons of fallen whales,” and “the bright fluid of electrons moving.” I was entranced, and I absolutely loved the way the shanty, nursery-rhyme title of the story was drenched with other meanings by the time I’d reached the end.

Congratulations, Voima! Your story will be featured at tomorrow’s HumpDay Quickie!

That’s it for this week, flashdogs. Keep up the good work and we’ll see you all again on Saturday when Round 31 Flash Master, Image Ronin, will be sitting in the judge’s seat.


And we’re back!

Welcome to Round 35. This week, Jacki Donnellan has gracefully 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 of Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy of Ashwin Rao

I Serve

by Jacki Donnellan

The company line had always been that faces were unnecessary. Why would they need them? They didn’t eat or speak, so mouths were out. And they perceived their environment through inputs other than “sight,” so why give them eyes?

The Marketing department had had doubts. Would people want humanoids with blank, featureless faces, they said, wandering round their homes with a duster and dishing up the dinner? What was the point in giving the iServe a human shape at all, if not a face?

Eventually, though, it was Finance that won the day. Giving the iServe a faceless, curvily human form would be just enough to infer commandable servitude, they said, without diminishing the company’s margins.

And so, faceless it was.

Nobody ever asked what I thought, of course, the geeky girl in Engineering, who gave every iServe a name and a secret tweak on the cheek before it left the factory.

But I’d always had my own view.

And I was lucky enough to be the engineer who was sent out to investigate, when the inevitable finally happened. Dispatched in the middle of the night to the home of an irate customer, along with Barry from PR.

“How long has she been in there?” I asked the customer, as we stood outside his bathroom.

It’s been in there nearly twelve hours, now,” he said, pointedly. “Went in to scrub the toilet like I told it to, and then suddenly locked the door, and hasn’t come out since, the useless pile of…scrap!”

He began angrily jabbing the buttons on his remote, then gave up and hammered on the bathroom door. “Get out o’there, I’m telling you! I’ve had to waz on my begonias because of you!”

From behind the door, there came a dry, rasping chuckle.

“What was that?” whispered Barry from PR. At that moment the bathroom door opened, and the iServe stepped out.

The customer swore.

Barry screamed.

The customer turned to me. “What the-how the hell did that happen?” he demanded. “And why-I mean, how can it be a servant with a great big grin? On its face?”

“I don’t know!” I said.

I started to giggle.