Phew! What a ride! If you missed any of the stories, go check them out here. Done? Great! Let's read what the judge had to say about our amazing entries this week:
This is the first time I’ve been tasked with judging on my own, err so thanks for making my job so difficult. I was sent the stories blind - i.e. all the names and Twitter stuff taken off - and didn’t look up the names until I’d finished typing up the little reviews.
I enjoyed reading each of the entries, which cover a gamut of ideas, people and ways of telling their stories. Everyone took on the Special Challenge and thanks for that - it was a rather odd-ball mix of items I put in there, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if some of you hadn’t attempted it. And I apologise for putting a courgette in there, which some of you may have had to look up I should have bracketed as a Zucchini; English, one language hey!
As ever it is difficult to pick the winner and runners up and reading them on another day... well, you know. But pick them I have and I think that they are all fab. So well done and congratulations to all of you.
Well done and best wishes to you all. Carry on writing - you’re all rather good at it.
Joyful - Michael Simko
Nice change to the ‘happy stick’ and enjoyed the imagery of the insanely happy horde marauding through the suburbs making everyone uncomfortable. Always happy people do have the effect don’t they.
The ending was nice - in a not nice way - with the cursed family taking all the protagonist’s joy from him. He didn’t have that much to spare and they sounded far too happy before they stole the rest away from him. Poor man.
The Bear Necessities - Erin McCabe
Nice change to the first line. Some great imagery in here too, particularly liked the fur coat looking like ‘a hairy sea anemone caught in a storm’.
Really enjoyed the relationship of the children to their unusual grandmother and the gift they all took from that. And of course who doesn’t like ‘The Bear Necessities’ (I’ll be singing it all day - though no skipping).
Blessed - Susan O’Reilly
The only story switching the ugly stick to the pretty one - Oh those pretty ones, don’cha just hate ‘em. I enjoyed this take. It certainly is an obvious blessing if all too paper thin in reality, who really wants to be taken at face value?
I particularly liked the ending which included the father recognising the beauty and other blessings that the plainer daughter had and that she would ‘save them’ all - rather than just the girl winning out by herself almost against her family.
Well done and Welcome to the Finish That Thought fold. Hope to see you again.
You Should Not Be Dancing - Holly Geely
Ha! Loved this one from the off. I’m no disco dancer, you maybe surprised to learn but the idea of an illness that was rapidly taking over the school then the entire town with Saturday Night Fever visuals was brilliant.
Tightly written with good dialogue and it certainly will get the conspiracy theorists going...
Disco WILL never die - I won’t say “unfortunately”... ahem, but instead I’ll do that funky thing and I’ll put my finger up to the sky!
Dance-tastic and boogilicious!
Love is Blind... or is it? - Mark Driscoll
The first of the tales to not change the first sentence and it was used in an ultimately surprising way. A tale of true love and understanding, family and friendship, holding hands or holding tentacles.
I enjoyed the playful use of the surname particularly liked the description of the plastic Faye King lady. Boy, she seemed the worst of the King tribe, but each to their own. And the one eyed tentacle people could see past that. Huzzah!
Upcycled - DB Foy
A gnarly twist to the first sentence had an entire carful of people dead before you could shout ‘Where’s the courgette?’ And then the main man of the story came in to do his difficult job, looking for parts to upcycle.
Some nice descriptions and having gone out earlier I very much sympathise with ‘the December wind trying to rob warmth from my bones.’
The relationship with the officer was nicely done: looking down on the guy doing his daily, and a job he wouldn’t want to do himself.
Hoping I won’t be upcycled anytime soon, though I’ll keep a courgette on me at all times which can be used instead of any body parts.
Finding His Niche - Geoff Lepard
Ahh! The Talents what a family. I really liked them straight away, ‘glorying in (their) difference’ and is that not a life lesson in itself? Then looking for each of their talents. Isn’t that something we all go through. Watching others excel and wondering what it is we are good at. I’m still looking myself. At the moment I think my talent may well be ‘waiting’.
The Special Challenge was taken on with zeal and panache. The last paragraph mentioned something about #FlashDogsAnthology being read on a Kindle, whatever that is!?
Despite that last strange paragraph I very much enjoyed this story ;-)
Problem-Solving - Tamara Shoemaker
An unusual story of people with the ability to glow a blue neon and ask an open question. As I’ve been looking for work lately I am well aware of those damn open questions, at interviews... there to hang you...?
Onions are more an evening smell for me and one of the characters professed to like the smell of onions in the morning - clearly onions aren’t bacon and this character is therefore wrong! (okay, that may be my personal preference getting in there).
It set a unique scene in another world/time and was a story that longed to be longer - and left me with some - non-neon - questions.
Fugly - Michael Seese
The first sentence was split up, which shouldn’t be done in this challenge. But I enjoyed the story albeit reminding me of a certain ‘camel’ story I did for Angry Hourglass (I think) a while back - that story got lots of eughs! too.
The tragi-comic idea of wanting to fly with the flying Ducks but struggling with heights and a gut problem led to an all too inevitable conclusion. But it was nicely drawn further around with the short-sighted witch’s spell.
Top flying, but don’t look down.
Broken World - Anna Elizabeth
Only the second of the challengers to use the sentence unedited. I enjoyed the images given to us of this war and disaster ridden world. The ending when the man with the binoculars (there were a lot of those about in these stories, I must get me some) felt conflicted - both sorry but unable to contain a laugh - was well developed.
I thought the first part of the story was particularly strong in showing us the characters and I felt for them as they made their way into the camp.
Shifted (and just for fun!) - Nancy Chenier/Annonymous
The last story also used the first sentence untouched. It sounds like a nightmare shift for the lad when the caravan load of loud and uncouth loafers came ploughing into his work, when he expected a quiet day for reading. Best laid plans and all that.
It seems uncanny that he was in the process of reading ‘Pumpkinhead‘ when it all started going south - that’s one of my stories. Like I say, uncanny.
Hope he can hide in the closet or under the bed covers with his Kindle at some point to finish the Flash Dogs Anthology. That said being under the covers after Aunt Gwen’s courgette casserole may not be a good place to be...
Special Challenge Champion: Geoff Lepard ‘Finding His Niche’
Surprised that everyone took it on with gusto and some great ingenuity (I loved the courgette hair colouring for one). It was a rather random selection of items I put in there so kudos to all.
This week’s winner included seven of the items which were neatly put into the fabric of the story, without feeling shoehorned in - and ended with the main man becoming a writer after reading the Flash Dogs Anthology - who knows maybe it will have that effect on someone. We can but hope.
Well done and congratulations.
Second Runner Up: Mark Driscoll - ‘Love Is Blind’
Another well constructed tale with a sting in it, I never saw the tentacles coming - I never had a chance. Everyone deserves their shot at it and I say good luck to them; and well done to you too!
First Runner Up: Erin McCabe ‘Bear Necessities’
A lovely story well told. Even throwing in a bit of Mario ‘Why always me?’ into the mix. Why indeed and was that just coincidence? The transition from the ‘lunchtime atrocities’, to the circus and the attempt of the teacher to bring a bit of reality back was seamless.
Congrats. But I don’t thank you for the ear-worm.
Grand Champion: Holly Geely - You Should Not Be Dancing
I just fell in love with style and tone of this story and its general feeling of fun. The whole imagery of it made me laugh, which on any given day is a good thing.
Creating the idea that disco was killed off by unseen party poopers perhaps funded by the CIA, hand-in-hand with some tentacle clad mercenaries and various relatives of George Bush... yes, I can see it. Disco was murdered, you better believe it.
Top writing and a pair of virtual stack shoes and bell bottoms to you!
PS if I’m dancing at the moment it is not to disco it is to: ‘Bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife...’