Thursday, September 25, 2014


WOW! If you missed any of the amazing stories from Tuesday, go here to read them now! Seriously, you don't want to miss even one! Back? Good. Now let's read what the judge had to say about all that awesomeness:

General comments: Magic lamps simply can't compete with the power and wonder wrought by a flash fiction writer's imagination. You're probably tired of hearing it, but one of the (many) joys of a contest like this one is found in the myriad directions each writer takes a prompt. Two wishes spent; one left. Are these figurative wishes? magical wishes? And our last chance for what? The real prompt here was desperation, a thing writers may understand better than anyone else, and ohhh did you bring it in spades. Thank you for sharing your stories and your wishes here.

Tamara Shoemaker, "Thief." The magic here is cruel, as a mother watches her child suffer illness. Talk about desperation! This one was a tough read, right down to the knife-thrust at the end. At the same time, I really love how, in a twist on convention, you made fantastical elements literal. A car's blurred headlights as the Cyclops? Wonderful. And the curse of the mother's blood, contrasted with the wishes she'd made, makes for a tragic and emotional conclusion. So much pain, so beautifully told here.

Drmagoo, Untitled. Seriously, "supercilious simulacrum"???? FAB. U. LOUS. I'm going to find ways to use this in casual conversations; it's just magnificent. This game show-turned-video game was such a blast, the Cyclops without depth perception, Morganna the Kissing Bandit, and a game show hosted by a Genie? These characters are fresh and funny, and made this piece a true delight to read.

JM MacF, "Your Wish is My Command." Loved this story told from a genie's POV, which came across as a unique (and incredibly frustrated!) perspective. I wonder how careless we are with wishes on a daily basis? "Be careful what you wish for," is the adage, and one you illustrated so well here (though I do know people for whom a lifetime supply of bacon may genuinely be among their top three wishes!!). The genie's longing for a master to make a wise wish is almost palpable. Nice.

Stella, "Winning is Not Always Wise." What a trip! (hahaha) It was refreshing to meet a character whose wish was actually, it would seem, the right one for once. The Mars trip interpreted as candy and a sporting protest (Go, Spurs!), along with the genie's perhaps too-close-to-home observation were hilarious. I'd love to know what the genie thought after she made her wish! Stuffing her face with candy at the end was just perfect, a wonderfully self-centered balance to her two self-centered wish-mates. Such fun. And extra points for bringing me Cadbury.

Michael Seese, "The Final Wish." Now THIS was a labyrinth, haha! Your chatty asides had me laughing out loud; I think my favorite was, "(b)roken glass, razor wire, cobras." Totally snorted on that one. The appearance of the avatar at the end capped the adventure perfectly, sort of like Tron but with humor and sarcasm, and what a perfect ending. Like the maze itself, this story twisted and turned and dragged me, laughing, along with it. A great read.

David Shakes, Untitled. HOWLED. Talk about wishes gone wrong!!! this was just brilliant, from the island stranding to the parrot needing its mouth washed with soap, to Pamela Anderson. Love, love, love this sentence: "A strange smile crept across Jim's face and I knew we were doomed." Just wonderful. I can totally envision how the rest of their days will play out. Let's see, the parrot's first, and then....? This story had it all: adventure, plotting, humor. A riot.

Voimaoy, "Battle of Wits." With a title like that, my expectations soared, and you did not disappoint. I love that you took the story to a place I didn't expect: choosing sides for a magnificent, otherworldly exhibition game. It's hard to imagine having a cyclops and Cerberus on one's team yielding disaster--but you pulled it off spectacularly. And I think this may have been my favorite ending line of all the stories this round: "Across the arena, my first officer was laughing. 'I'll take the dragon,' she said." (Right up there with another great line, "Why hadn't I thought of Godzilla?") What a glorious attitude to balance out the MC's grim despair. A blast from start to finish.

Necwrites, "Loose Lips." Another totally hilarious piece, the two seniors stuck in hell thanks to careless wishes. I am in awe of how you so artfully incorporated the backstory halfway through--that was some serious craft, Nancy. And my goodness. Allergic to hell's brimstone/mildew? and calling Cerberus "doggie"? I just about lost it. I would give a great deal to read this story's next scene. How does one explain a three-headed hellhound to the super?? Great imagination, marvelous characterization here.

JenFaust, Untitled. This story may have come closest to my Arabian Nights-inspired vision, with the man, his magic ring, and the mysterious woman at the oasis. I loved how Rashad stamped his foot and caused a coconut to plummet--too funny. And like some of the best tales in history, this genie appears to be deliciously untrustworthy. What is this glowing ring, and who is Layla? I have a feeling quite a few more adventures await for these characters! Such a vivid and colorful world you've built for them. Great job.

Taryn Noelle Kloeden, "The Cost." Fairy tale mixups/mashups are one of my favorite concepts, and you've pulled one off here with originality and style. The old woman demanding her question be answered before granting the wish reminded me of some of my favorite myths and that fabulous scene from Monty Python ("What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"). It's compelling reading that kept pulling me forward in the way of the best sorts of stories. And while Ali Baba's Morgiana (the inspiration behind the prompt) is a great deal nicer than who yours turned out to be, you made the whole thing a delightful ride.

Mysoulstears, "Wishes Are a Bitch to Make." Perfection. I mean it. I love how you started in the rather dark, eerie present before catapulting us back into an almost flippant past. Not only did that very cool trick deliver the necessary backstory, but you contrasted the blissful ignorance of the characters' past with their far different, totally intriguing current situation. This story reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, "Half-Magic," where innocent wishes made on a coin similarly turned out not nearly how the wishers expected. Except this was the grownup, darker, funnier, more gripping version. It was intelligent, thought-provoking, and elegantly structured. I loved every bit.

Case Rose, "Nothing Better." Oh, this story was just lovely. If JM MacF's corresponding adage was, "Be careful what you wish for," yours must be, "The grass is always greener on the other side." It was so hard watching the MC's wishes turn out in the expected but tragic way they did. I really love how you unfolded the outcome with a sort of grim humor. That middle part was just awesome: "Also a pigeon pooped all over me. It could have been coincidence, but being really rich had started to feel like there was some bad juju attached." What a brilliant example of showing/not telling, in sketching this character for us and letting us figure him out on our own. And what I particularly love is the implied personality of the genie, whose silence at the MC's last wish must surely connote surprise, or respect. A really lovely tale, well-executed, and beautifully ended.


Chocolate award: Stella, because I counted at least four chocolate bars, which means two for each hand, which means bliss.

Best phrase award: Drmagoo, Supercilious simulacrum. 'Nuff said.

Special Challenge Champion: Voimaoy, for pulling off a genius battle in the vein of aliens vs zombies, with a genie/Jeanie, Cerberus, and cyclops losing to a Morgiana, Godzilla, and dragon. I would pay to watch such a thing.

Grand Champion: Mysoulstears. Not "just" funny, not "just" a good read. "Wishes" brings character development, sophisticated structure, snappy dialogue, and a fantastic ending, rounding off a really, really good piece of flash.

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