Posts Tagged ‘Kristen Falso-Capaldi’



Six months and twenty-six rounds of Flash Frenzy? Where does the time go? You have all been amazing participants and I think it’s time to celebrate your awesomeness.

So, this week I’m launching the first Flash Master Face Off. 

What’s a Flash Master Face Off? I’m glad you asked. Each of the winning stories from the past 26 weeks will go head-to-head in a battle of popularity with the best story to be decided upon by readers. The winner will receive (in addition to ultimate bragging rights) a $50 Amazon gift card.

Voting will be open until Tuesday evening. You (and your friends) can vote once every 12 hours. So return and enjoy your favorite stories again and stay tuned for the winners. 😀



Hello, friends! Once again we had an amazing group of stories. I’m continually amazed at the quality of writing you all produce on a weekly basis in such a short period of time. This week Jacki Donnellan was gracious enough to donate her time to judge your stories, and here is what she had to say.

What a privilege, a treat and a challenge to be asked to judge this week’s round of Flash Frenzy, and to have the “task” of reading and savouring the eight fantastic entries. Each story took the prompt in a completely different direction- there was introspection, revenge, romance, fantasy and even self-improvement! I really enjoyed reading them all. Every story contained at least one line, device or idea that I really loved.

Realizing now how hard it is to write judge’s comments without sounding clichéd and insincere (sorry if the former, but definitely NOT the latter!) I will swiftly move on:

HM-Karl Russell -“Tag” I was hooked from the very first paragraph of this story-what had he guessed?-and was certainly not prepared for the answer! I enjoyed the slow, almost tortuously engaging pace leading to the reveal, during which I even had time to chuckle at “she thinks she’s something special, with her paint pens from Amazon.”  Then we’re hit with the fantastic image of a tag “crawl(ing) around the lip of the concrete”, before the ominously clever final line. Great stuff.

Runner-up- Kristen Falso-Capaldi ”Last Tag” Reading this story was like unwrapping something layer by layer, convinced with each layer that I’d guessed what it was. “It’s about some kids about to spray a wall,” I thought. “Oh-wait.” Then, “So Ronnie’s just a ghost. Oh, wait…” What I eventually held in my hands was a brilliantly creative and imaginative way to tell the story of a young person’s struggle to leave their mark on the world; the story behind the legacy created by a tag.

And this week’s FLASH MASTER is…


Dr Magoo


This was a massive amount of story told in just 358 words. I was drawn in immediately to the scene of an execution up against a wall in an oppressive regime, and then knocked immediately off my feet by that line at the end of the first paragraph, “forced to witness the decay of my only son in real time.”

What followed was a tight yet wonderfully prosaic description of the narrator’s world- of our world, where the killing of one individual means nothing, and yet means everything; of a world where walls come down but remain standing in our minds and where history stubbornly repeats itself.

And then finally, I found myself not looking at the world at large any more but at that one man, whose story was not universal after all, but deeply personal. I found myself standing and watching the tragic end of a quiet, private story, “the last digit in history’s book of casualties.”


Congratulations, drmagoo! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Thanks again for participating. This weekend David Shakes will be returning to judge. Hope to see you there.

As a reader, writer and creative writing teacher, this was a great experience for me! I am always in awe of and humbled by the talented writers surrounding me. I read each story out loud twice, then made my choice. And it was a tough one. My favorite stories are those that grab me with solid writing and a believable voice. I also want to be left thinking, sometimes even questioning.  I think my choices reflect what I look for as a reader and strive for in my own writing.  This was a tough prompt, so kudos to all.  I chose two honorable mentions and a Flash Master.


Honorable Mention:
David Shakes

Oh, this was a doozy.  It begins in a Garden of Eden of sorts, where the protagonist sits, welcoming the home’s newest family.  His tale isn’t a pretty one, though, as two of the cat’s nine lives have ended in human death.  I loved the voice of the narrator, it captures the nonchalance that I would expect should my cat ever start speaking aloud. Even as the sad and horrific details are offered, the cat’s voice remains stalwart; he is beyond reproach and that’s that.  Except he isn’t.  A tale of a devil who claims innocence, but the reader (at least this one) is left thinking “beware!”. What’s really in store for the newest inhabitants? It’s probably not going to end well.  Great take on the prompt with a little help from the Rolling Stones.

Honorable Mention:
Beth Deitchman

I’m a sucker for imagery-creates-mood, and this story delivered. The writing here was very strong. A depression era family is about to lose their farm, and the young protagonist and her feline companion are shooed away when the man in the dark car arrives. Along with her cat, the young girl spies on the conversation and is privy to some very adult circumstances. Meanwhile, the family’s feline provides the comfort the child needs. I was also left thinking about the steadiness of the animal world; the human world around them may be crumbling, but the simplicity of their daily routines do not waver.  The cat bathes, cuddles with the girl and purrs.  This, at the end of the day, is why we both love and envy our pets.

This week’s FLASH MASTER is…

with: “Cat’s Eyes”

This brilliant take on the Noah’s Ark story made me laugh, and being a cat owner, it certainly explained a lot. The cat is, or course, annoyed with everyone from Noah to the other humans to the other animals.  And why shouldn’t she be?  The humans have put them in tight quarters, leading to struggles with species relations, abominable cross-breeding and a whole lot of poo.  In the end, the cat is forced to swim; this final insult sends the feline species on a trajectory of scorn toward humans for the rest of time.  I thought the writing here was clever.  A few lines reminded me of Woody Allen’s prose, specifically the line about Noah’s unwillingness to admit that he didn’t know what a cubit was and the line about the overpopulation of rabbits aboard the ark.  Loved the play on words in the last line.  Bravo! Well done.

Congratulations, TinMan! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Thanks all for your participation. Next week Flash Frenzy Round 7 winner, Jacki Donnellan will be our judge. Hope to see you then.


By: Kristen Falso-Capaldi

It was his photo that made her disappear. She was the beauty who sat next to him in sophomore English, the one with chestnut hair and little dresses in swirls of color. She had a nice smile and friends and two feet on the ground. She was opaque.

He was thin, pale. Transparent. He felt himself slipping away.

He loved her then.

He began to follow her. And always with the yearbook camera slung across his back.
He knew every place she went, every conversation she had.

Then. The photo. He snapped it unnoticed from a doorway, then sent it spiraling into the world through a web of wireless routers and fiber optic cables.

What he’d done made him important to certain people. He grew opaque. He was still the shadow following them with a camera, but now they talked to him, waved, shoved beers into his hands. He had to stop loving her; someone had to be the sacrifice.

And she began to fade.

Now they were seniors. Her hair was bleached colorless and her lips painted dark red. She wore black. She floated through the halls unnoticed.

Not by him. In a secret file on his hard drive, he saved the hundreds of photos he’d taken of her over the years. In some, she slept in class, in others she smoked weed by the bleachers. In a few, she was a speck hundreds of feet down a crowded hallway.

Every day, he’d look at them in order, beginning with the first ignominious one, then he’d watch her age and change, drain of color and fade.

Each time he finished looking at them, he’d whisper the same two words.

First: “Sorry.”

Then: “Thanks.”

He snapped the last one at graduation. She was standing by the parking lot, arguing with her mother.

Then, he got up and delivered a speech to his peers about importance.

That night, he placed the final photo in the secret file, then he looked through them one last time.

“Sorry,” he said. Then: “Thanks.” He sat in silence for a few seconds, then dragged the file into the trash.

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

I’d like to say thanks once again to everybody who participated in last week’s photo prompt challenge. The stories really were amazing and I’m so grateful that you choose to share your words with me. I’d also like to thank David Shakes, both for volunteering his time to judge entries and for letting me raid his site for photo prompts. THANK YOU!

Now without further ado, here is what Judge Shakes had to say about the Round 5 entries:

Judging was particularly hard this week. I didn’t think that any entry wasn’t worthy of several rereads. I don’t know whether to thank or curse the entrants! 
I thought the prompt was an interesting choice from my photos and the fiction that it prompted was both original and (as always) funny, unsettling, macabre or ever so slightly deranged! More often than not it’s a strange combination of the lot!
People will stop believing me, but I struggled to choose winners – I don’t lie (often!) and I will again give feedback on all stories in the comments section for round 5.
That said – action has been taken and decisions made as follows:

Runner Up – Karl A Russell ‘ My Tiny Patch of Sky.’

Karl has delivered some strong, character led pieces for this site and this one was no exception. A very original take on the picture prompt – moving the viewer below the picture rather than above it.

The narrator (probably male, but my no means a certainty) has committed a serious crime, but that isn’t the important factor in this tale. His weary resignation and longing for an inevitable end draws our sympathies but always leaves us wondering if we should really care that much for him.

You don’t end up in solitary for nothing.

In 360 words Karl reveals to us a weak and spent character whose outside appearance must be anything but.

By the final powerful line I felt a tension between wanting the narrator to be ‘out in the universe’ and acknowledging that the must have known the consequences of their actions.

I’ve kept thinking about it and that’s always a mark of good fiction for me.

I hope it’s raining at the end.

Runner Up – Jacki Donnellan ‘ On the Web.’

This was a great story and writing in the first person gave it such emotional resonance. The shift between past and present tense added to the growing tensions- as readers we knew the girl had messed up from first full paragraph, despite her youthful optimism.

I loved the opening line – “We met on a thread, on the web.”

When those last 3 words repeated in the coda the wind is knocked out of the reader in the same way that all that hope and longing comes crashing down on our naïve young protagonist.

It could have been far worse – but I don’t think she’ll see that for a while.

The shadows in this may not be a literal ‘reading’ of the picture but made the story all the more powerful as a result.

Next week there is (11/02/14) online safety day in the UK – so a very timely piece and linked to another hot topic – cyber bullying.

Jacki’s careful handling of her narrator and the simple story telling really combined into something special for me. I may even use it with older students during e-safety week!

This week’s winner and FLASH MASTER is…

Kristen Falso-Capaldi


‘It was his photo that made her disappear.’

That first line was such a great hook and the extended metaphor of transparency and relevance was so well handled.

The quality of the writing and characterization of our photographer lifts the tale high above its basic premise of teenage popularity and the tenuous grip our young people have on their reputations.

Again, the idea of the ‘web’ as a transmitter of negativity was an interesting take. At the heart of this web lies our invisible protagonist.

It is the chilling detachment in his character that really made this my winner. There’s a pragmatic approach to his treatment of the girl he claims to have loved – his ‘solidity’ more ‘important’ than her – and anyway – sacrifices have to be made, right?

There’s a ritualistic element running subtly through this story – the ‘spell’ is cast with the taking and transmitting of the photo. It is made irreversible and unforgivable with the ‘trashing’ of the dossier. A sigil made from a thousand stolen images.

I don’t think that ‘sorry’ and ‘thanks’ will excuse the photographer’s actions – maybe there’ll be hell to pay one day?

 I for one certainly hope so.

Congratulations, Kristen! 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.

Image Ronin, Round 4 Flash Master, will be judging the next round of stories. We hope to see you all back here this weekend.