Monday, October 30, 2017

Results-Flash fiction contest: The Usual Santas (Soho Press)

Oh you clever beasts, whipping up stories to torment me delight us over the weekend.

Herewith the results
Special recogniton for being utterly delightful



Amy Johnson 9:08am

The strangest coincidence EVER in the long history of these contests: ending with the same line, and so close together there's almost no chance the latter saw the former before posting.

Nate Wilson 11:23am
Beth Carpenter 10:31am

Special recognition for compound words (which, when separated put entry over the word count)
french sojourn 5:11pm
flashfriday 7:58am

Great description
Kate Outhwaite 4:16am
fetcher extraordinaire


Here's  the longlist

Timothy Lowe 9:09 am
Gammy had a gift for making long stories short.

“Likely story!” she cawed when Grandpa noticed strange smells on their 18 acres.

“Cock-and-bull story!” she cackled when he observed declinations in the soil, the ground so hollowed out it collapsed.

“Bedtime story!” she shouted when his imagination conjured a billion dollar reservoir.

Finally, exasperated, he served her papers which she signed.

“Sob story,” she muttered. That night, while digging a hole in the cellar, a madcap eruption of black gold spewed at her feet.

After the sale, we asked Gammy what happened to Grandpa.

“Long story,” was all she said.

Sharyn Ekbergh 9:14am
18?
I walked by the yellow Victorian. Counted the cats.
Always 17.
Counted again.
The door was open. It was never open.
I walked up the stairs. I entered the house.
“Miss Fish?” I called.
I searched each story. The basement.
In the kitchen 18 bowls.
18 pairs of jewel colored eyes.
The pride capered around an elegant black cat with emerald eyes.
On the counter a short statement.
The Will of Arabella Fish.
“I leave my property to the person feeding these cats.”
I looked down. The black cat smiled.
“So, how do you like your tuna, my darlings?”

Patricia Shelton 9:47am
 Cowering back, hands raised to fend off the hellish glare of the bright light, he stands his ground, attempting to quell the anger before him.

“It runs on gasohol, it's roomy, with heated seats.” Defiantly stepping forward, taking charge.

The snort of derision stops him mid-stride. They come ahead, menacing, forcing him to caper back against the open top limo. There were 18 of them, they'd brought family. Their leader steps forward, lowering his head, dimming the light.

“Long story short, Santa, you gonna ride this year, or walk?”



Kregger 10:08am
“I hate Christmas.” My handcuffs chafed.

“Well, G.R., Who doesn’t.”

“I’m green with envy.” I evolved my story. “Not the dye pack.”

“Get over it.” The guard capered along. “You’re 18 now, grow up.”

“It’s all that singing, noise and merriment, it drives me bat-shit.”

“Tell it to the judge.”

I stood before her honor, like a rain-drenched werewolf in Soho.

“Mr. Inch,” she banged the gavel. “Tell me a short story.”

I did a counter-clockwise Linda Blair and kicked off my shoes. “I’ve got a tiny heart?”

“How graphic. Thirty days…”

I turned away.

“…and return the presents.”

Mallory Love 2:17pm
Blind Date # 18
Location: An upscale wine bar in Soho
The Prospect: a corporate executive; a little on the short side, but cute
The Conversation (on the record):
“So, Beautiful, what’s your story?”
“Well, I’m thirty, never married, but looking for something serious. You?”
“Same.”
“Are you from around he-"
His phone buzzes and flashes a name-Erica. Personally, I think it’s rude, but wave him on as he leaves the table to answer it.
Ten minutes later, he returns.
“So where were we?”
We settle into comfortable chatter and kiss goodbye.

Afterwards, I call Erica. Another cheating husband caught.
  
Ginger Mollymarilyn 5:15pm
“So, honey, what’s your name?”
“Emma.”
“What do you want for Christmas?”
“Escape Renegade and the Ariana doll.”
“Emma, you’re on the Naughty List. Lying to your mommy, quite the storyteller, I see. Only 18 days till Christmas, help Santa, and you’re on the Good List. Santa’s been eating too many shortbread cookies and can’t fit down the chimney. Do you know what code your mommy uses to get in your house?"
“Yes, 2011, when I was born.”
“Don’t tell mommy our secret or else you’re on the Naughty List again.”
“Yes, Santa.”

This year, Santa’s gonna be getting.

Sherin Nicole 10:30pm
18?

Not much time considering the crimes they’d committed to get here: fraud, threats, shoplifting to corroborate their Instagram backstory.

Anything for 15 minutes of the good life. They’d nearly gotten away with it but came up short.

Mindy shoved her hands into the pockets of her orange jumpsuit. She’d shank someone with her silver stilettos if she didn’t get food fast.

Taylor grimaced when a girl picked the capers off a Mediterranean Frittata. “Criminal.”

“How much longer?” Mindy glared at the guard.

“9 minutes.”

Ugh, you literally had to commit murder to get a brunch table in Soho.



Just Jan 7:53am
“What’s the story?”

“Fat Boy tried to drop Rudy off an 18th floor fire escape.”

Rudy probably deserved it, the little shit, but still. “Did he forget you guys only fly on Christmas Eve?”

“You know how he is—so HOHOHO about everything.”

“He didn’t get into the elves’ brownies, right?”

“Not this time.”

“Good.” Assault would be hard enough to defend. He didn’t need a drug charge, too. “Anyone tell the Missus?”

“No way. If he’s grounded, she’ll turn us into short ribs.”

“Understood.” Frosty picked up his briefcase. “I’ll take it from here.”

Law and Order: North Pole

It's that last sentence that made this stand out from all the other santa stories we had. I thought it was really funny (and since I'm a devoted L&O fan, I immediately started casting the series!)


Short list 

Leilani 6:03am
Central Park is partying tonight. Soho's far enough from Seoul, they'll never find her. She pats her roofline into place. The plastic surgeon did her proud.
She's stashed the stuff on the 18th story, on top of bagels, underneath the lox. She tips a vat (or two) of whiskey into her waterlines, and turns the speakers up. Her elevators start to list.
The doorbell rings.
She jumps, begins to fall. It's tipsy being tall, when you're used to short.
Windows crunch. Bagels shower.
Children cry, "There's rocks in the cream cheese!"
Central cries, too. The perfect escape, ruined by gravity.


This is brilliantly imaginative and needs to be read slowly at least twice to be appreciate fully.


RosannaM 12:57pm
News that the records are unsealed horrify me.
My name’s in there.
Sure, not on the short list, maybe not even on the long list.
But mentioned. Investigated by the alphabet soup agencies.

Dismissed as an unlikely suspect then,
now journalists and conspiracists will ferret me out and gnaw for answers.
Of 18 people in the know, I’m the last living.

So how did I get away when escape routes were barricaded?
Sobbed my eyewitness story and went home with my mother.

No one thinks a fifteen-year-old girl
can be turned into an asset, and I can’t ever tell how.

I love love love the idea behind this story. 

CynthiaMc 9:57am
"So how are you, Major?"

"Short and sassy. What's your story, Doc?"

I was the good girl.

Todd was the bad boy my parents warned me about.

We were 18. Invincible - except for them.

"Marry me, Jen."

"I can't."

"You can't escape romance."

Todd went to war with the Few, the Proud.

I went to medical school.

"Afghanistan's a long way from home," I said.

"Yet here we are. Thanks for saving my leg."

"My pleasure. Sorry about the other one."

"War's hell. No regrets. You?"

He wasn't wearing a ring.

"Just one. I should've said yes."


"Marry me, Jen."

 You have to read carefully to get the chronolgoy correct here, but this is such a lovely story it's worth the effort.


This one wasn't hard. There were a lot of terrific entries, but CynthaMc just stole my heart.

Cynthia,  please send me your mailing address and I'll get a copy of The Usual Santas in the mail to you.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to write and post entries.  Your work was a wonderful weekend respite!

42 comments:

Kitty said...

Congratulations, Cynthia! And because I'm a huge L&O fan, too, I love Just Jan's. I picture the actor Saul Rubinek as the defense attorney.

Theresa said...

Congratulations to Cynthia and all the finalists! Cynthia's was one of the ones I reread over the weekend.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Cynthia!! And well done to the short and long listers. I laughed at the compound word entries. Nice try. I wondered if Janet would let you get away with that. :)

Fearless Reider said...

I'm perpetually gobsmacked at the level of talent here and the variety of forms it takes. Congratulations, Cynthia! It's an amazing feat to tell that story in such a small space.

I just wanted to give a shout-out to Anna May's story, which is Heart-achingly spare and beautifully told. That one struck a nerve; 18 weeks is the point when I went into labor with my youngest son. Thanks to medical miracles and 3 months of horizontal living, that's a much happier story, as the pitter-patter of his size 13 sneakers upstairs just reminded me.

Fearless Reider said...

Ack, I did not actually give my heart a proper name, but I did violate my no-comments-before-coffee rule. Also wanted to mention I was tickled by the number of gasohol mentions -- brought back memories of my Iowa childhood, and had to have caused some kind of spike on Google, I hope.

Kregger said...

Congrats to CynthiaMc,

Heartstrings plucked, a tear shed and regrets assuaged, and it's not even 4 am.

What else can a Reider ask for in under 100 words?

As always, thanks for the shout-out. My appreciation is beyond depth.

Reiders rock!

french sojourn said...


CynthiaMc, I loved the flow and your wordplay. Well done, and Congrats.

Janet, as always, thank you for these wonderful word gymnastics, I really appreciate your time in hosting these.
Cheers, Hank.

RosannaM said...

Congratulations, Cynthia. Your story was touching and the ending made me happy.

I am honored to have made the short list. I wasn't sure if anyone would get the reference to JFK, but I didn't want to be obvious. And even though it used up a ton of my words, I couldn't resist sneaking in long list, short list and mention as a nod to these contests.

These contest are such fun and they catch us at so different points in our lives as far as what our schedules are like, what our emotional state happens to be and what our life circumstances are, that it is amazing the quality of stories that come out of everyone. I read each entry with delight, awe and sometimes shivers.

Jen said...

I love reading all the incredible entries to the contests. Congrats Cynthia! :)

Amy Schaefer said...

Congrats to CynthiaMc, and the rest of the pack. It is always so fun to read these stories on a Monday morning.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Congratulations to Cynthia, that is a big story in 100 words!
Timothy, I loved yours, it made me laugh.
I still don't get Leilani's but wish I did.
Happy to be on the long list, these are great fun for a weekend!
My road is flooded out on both sides of us and the little brook we step across to get to the river is a wide torrent like we've never seen. Woke up to the sound!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congratulations Cynthia! And congrats to the others mentioned.

There's such well-honed talent here and I learn so much from these entries and Janet's comments.

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats, Cynthia!

Always nice to see your work on the blog. Thanks Sharyn! Loved all the entries here. But especially loved Sherin Nicole's - that last line was more delicious than a high-brow brunch!

A few days off from the WIP finally got my head straight enough to untangle a snarl I was stuck on, so anyway you look at it, it's a good Monday!

Thanks for hosting another one, Janet!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Congratulations Cynthia! I thought about that one a lot yesterday, after I read the winners.

Rosanna I thought I'd spotted the JFK-ness in yours, so I'm tickled to be right!


And, as promised Reiders, here's my latest: "Aground, Upon the Sand" in Syntax & Salt

Sherry Howard said...

Congratulations, Cynthia! Your story flashed Grey's Anatomy when I read it! It's always fun to see the huge variety yielded from the same prompt words! Greta stories as always!

Amy Johnson said...

Congratulations to all who entered, especially those who made the long and short lists, and most especially to CynthiaMc! Hooray for Cynthia!

Thank you for the mention, Janet! It's very much appreciated.

Amy Johnson said...

I'm with Fearless Reider in wanting to mention Anna May's entry. Heartbreaking. And she did it in a mere 58 words. I didn't want to read it again, but I kept doing so. I'm finding the story has a stick-with-me quality that stories sometimes do (and in a way, I wish it didn't). Beautiful,
Ann May. Fearless Reider, I'm so very happy you have a happy real story.

Nate Wilson said...

Once I saw Beth's entry I figured neither of us had much shot at the long list. But hey, we now share an "award" with perhaps the longest title in the history of these contests.

Congratulations to Cynthia and all the finalists!

RosannaM said...

Jennifer, I just read your story. It was lovely and poignant and made me feel how you can yearn for the life that was, but also adapt and hopefully thrive in the life that is. It will linger.

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations, Cynthia! I love a happy ending. I could have taken 70,000 words to write that story and not done it as well.

Congratulations, too, to Jennifer. Beautiful story of starting over and remembering the past.

Nate, my apologies. Janet's right; I didn't read the other stories before posting and was shocked to see we'd both come up with sibling rivalries and the same last line, posted at practically the same time. Every so often you talk to a writer who's convinced someone stole their idea from a query. This shows how someone could come to that conclusion.

Beth Carpenter said...

And once again, Nate's comment posted while I was putting words in the comment box. We must keep similar schedules, which will make sharing the "award" easier.

Leilani said...

Congrats, Cynthia!

Sharyn, we were driving through Incheon (next door to Seoul) and I saw an office/apartment/SomeTallBuilding with the name Central Park. It made me laugh. So I pictured the real Central Park making an escape after a jewel theft, hiding out in Seoul in the guise of a high-rise.

I think I liked Patricia's best. Sorry, Santa, no upgrading allowed! Reindeer Union?

(Whee, I made a list.)

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Thanks, Leilani! I would never in a million years have figure that out.
But of course Janet did.

Julie Weathers said...

These stories are always so good. There are always a few I don't understand. I chalk it up to old age. Sorry, Leilani.

Cynthia, congratulations. I loved your story. It has some hidden meanings on different levels that I actually do get.

These were a joy to read so thank you all.

CynthiaMc said...

Thank you all for your kind words.

Everyone at the office is remarking how cheerful I am for a Monday.

I hope you all realize how good you are and how much you have taught me and helped me grow as a writer. You all are amazing.

Julie - thank you. I ran out of words to say everything I wanted to say. I was hoping people would get it.

Now back to floating around with a goofy grin on my face.

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, Cynthia. Wonderful story.Well done all who were mentioned. Thanks Janet for the contests.

Mallory Love said...

Congrats, Cynthia! I love second chance romances. Yours is better than some books I have read with the same concept, and in only a hundred words. I agree those who commented about Anna May's entry. It hit me right in my motherly heart. I also enjoyed Meghan V's, Patrica Shelton's, and Sherin Nicole's. Great job everyone!

Claire Bobrow said...

Congrats, Cynthia - well done!!
Great job, mentions and finalists, and all who entered!

I loved Anna May's story so much. JustJan and Sherin - you cracked me up :-)

Karen McCoy said...

Congratulations, Cynthia! What a beautifully woven story. All dialogue too. Well done. Keep that grin! :)

Kate Larkindale said...

Another brilliant bunch of stories. Congrats to all the finalists and to Cynthia of course!

BJ Muntain said...

Congrats to Cynthia, and all the long- and short-listers!

John Davis Frain said...

CynthiaMc, that was incredible. You deserve to keep the goofy grin all week! Let the folks in your office wonder.

The Nate Wilson/Beth Carpenter entries a mere 8 minutes apart were amazing enough. But then they reprise their performance by posting 9 MINUTES APART TODAY! Hilarious. Hope you guys enjoy dinner together ... separately.

Also a shout-out to Ginger Mollymarilyn, who brought a brilliant idea to life. What a wonderfully criminal thing to do!

Janet Reid said...

has anyone seen Nate Wilson and Beth Carpenter at the same time?

Megan V said...

Congrats everyone! Congrats Cynthia! Also Really loved JustJans entry this week.

Richelle Elberg said...

Congrats to Cynthia and all the short and long listers!! And thank you Janet, again. These are such fun and really good writing exercises.

Dena Pawling said...


Congrats Cynthia! Keep that goofy grin. You earned it.

And congrats to everyone else who participated, and those who made the long and short lists. This was fun.

Colin Smith said...

I have updated the Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest. Congrats again, Cynthia!! :)

kdjames.com said...

Yes! I'm so glad Cynthia won, I loved that story. Congratulations, Cynthia!

And Jennifer, what a hauntingly beautiful story. Well done. Thanks for posting the link.

I hadn't participated in one of these for a while (and haven't gotten any better at it, either!) and it was fun to give it a try again. Thanks for hosting these, Janet.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

I'm thrilled to have made it on the long list. I'm humbled for the recognition. Awe, shucks.
Congratulations, Cynthia!
And I, too, must give a shout-out to Anna May's entry. So beautiful in its creative simplicity.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Thank you, John Davis Frain, for the lovely compliment.

Just Jan said...

Happy to make the long list! And very relaxing to read all the talented entries after a long day of clean up from a nasty storm.

Congratulations, Cynthia!

And thank you to Kitty, Claire, and Megan V for your kind words.

Sherin Nicole said...

Beautifully written, Cynthia! That little moment of realization at the end is all smiles.

Anna May, yours stuck with me also. I could feel the heartache in it. And RosannaM, deeply intriguing. I want to read that book or watch that movie.

The long and short lists were great as always and the humor was high.

Thank you, Timothy,Mallory, and Claire! That was fun.