Congratulations to our overall contest winners!

We had a grand total of five overall winners for Summer of Super Short Stories 2. Emily just returned from the post office to mail copies of The Gantean to Mark A. King, Nancy Chenier, Steph Ellis, F.E. Clark, and A.V. Laidlaw. Congratulations all!

We’d like to offer a special thanks to our guest judges: Tiffany Aldrich MacBain, Tamara Shoemaker, Margaret Locke, Nancy Chenier, Holly Geely, and Kristen Falso-Capaldi. Their time and feedback was much appreciated.

Thanks also to everyone who submitted stories for our summer contest. We’ll be back in the dark of winter for Winter of Wyrdness and Whimsy 2, with a new twist.

Outliers by F. E. Clark

the night

“Oh. Gawd. I’m soaked.” Kara wriggles in her skinny jeans. “Can you even see the path?”

“Yes, just a bit further.” Jan plods on, up ahead.

“Maybe it’s hidden for a reason.”

Light sparkles through the rain drenched trees; Silver Birch, Beech and the occasional raddled looking Scots Pine.

“Outlier, outlier, outlier …” It has become a mantra for Jan.

“Jan, we don’t even know if there IS an outlier. That bloke from the pub looked like a real wind-up merchant.”

Exhausting the tourist infested sacred-sites they had sought other places. Ordinance Survey Maps, books and locals, all held plenty of clues for those who looked.

Finding the main circle easily enough, they had gone looking for the outlier stone.

“Out-lier, out-lier, out-lier.

Jan stops suddenly, Kara barges into her back. Then she sees it. The stone is set right in the middle of the path.

“Oh my gawd, it’s like a giant cock!”

Silence. Cold drops of rain sprinkle down on the girls.

“OUT LIAR!! OUT, LIAR….” Jan rounds on Kara, “LIAR!”

“Jan. What do you mean?” a shiver shakes Kara.

“You KNOW what I mean. How COULD you?”

Kara focuses on the outlier stone. It rears at an angle up into the trees, double the height of a tall man. She shakes her head.

“You LIAR.” Jan walks away, circling the stone. It is covered with moss and lichen. She cannot bring herself to touch it.

“We didn’t mean to.”

“Liars.” Jan whispers seeming to sink in on herself.

“It’s over.”

Jan’s not listening, she stumbles past Kara, back along the path.

Kara stands. Stunned, looking at the stone. Afraid to follow.

After a long while the cold hits her. She walks round the stone, notices writing near the base, looks closer. ‘We do not speak of our magic’

Realising she has no-one to tell about her discovery she begins to sob.

The car is gone when she reaches the trail-head. It is a long walk to the village.

When finally, she pushes into the bright pub, a voice cackles, “Found the truth stone did ye lass?”

Follow FE Clark on Twitter: @feclarkart

Week Eight and Overall Winners!

The summer flew by! We’ve been so pleased to host this contest for the second year in a row. So many wonderful writers contributed a wide range of funny, heartbreaking, haunting, moving, and beautiful stories each week.

This week was no exception. You made my job very difficult with this batch of inspired, magical stories. But, as the contest requires winners, here we go:

In the Ocean of Your Mind by M T Decker: I imagined this poem as an Druid invocation: the high priest telling the new initiates, gathered among the standing stones, how their magic works. As a fan of economical language use, I find poetry especially pleasing. The poem also gives good advice to writers and other creators of things.

Dare Ye Stonehenge by Pattyann McCarthy: What a great opening line! I can see those birds, swooping as one to avoid Stonehenge. You do a lovely job conjuring both the threat and the draw of the standing stones that have inspired people’s imaginations for centuries. The story’s darkness beautifully echoes the storm brewing in the photo.

The Passing Seasons by AV Laidlaw: I love the crystal clear images of this story, rendered in details such as the son’s soft hand, the puff of dust, and the cowled faces of the sisters. (What a wonderful turn of phrase that last one!) Beautiful language also abounds in such phrases as “footsteps tracing spiral destinies on the black grass.”

The Dark Magic by Pratibha: I have to admit that I took some guilty pleasure in this story: the image of the perpetual tourist searching for the perfect shot rather than simply enjoying the location is familiar to all of us. (I think I have a photo of me posing in front of Stonehenge somewhere…) There is a delicious maliciousness in this story as well as an indictment of that tourist culture—we go places but we don’t always experience them. Perhaps we could learn from the tourist’s fate at the end of this story!

Rain Dance of the Isenji by Voima Oy: I love how the magic works in this story: to bring the rain, entice the clouds to join the people in their dance. There’s a sweetness, too, in the travelers from the stars staying to help the people and make some friends and then a bittersweetness in their exit at the end.

Tourist by Holly Geely: This story runs the gamut from amusing to heartbreaking, taking us from a pair of self-proclaimed Druids “doing the deed” at Stonehenge to a glimpse of the narrator’s dark past. The forced carefree attitudes and vacant smiles turned the story from comedy to tragedy in one simple, but very powerful image.

Third Place: Weather Magic by Sonya: What a little gem of a story! In so few words, we get a clear sense of so much: the characters’ personalities, their relationships, and the rules of the world. I’m reminded of set designers and their models in Ali’s miniature Stonehenge, a clever use of the prompt photo.

Second Place: The Trial by Steph Ellis: This story offers narrative tension right from the beginning: we start in the middle of the action and worry with the poet about the lord’s displeasure. The writing is strong with beautifully chosen verbs—growled, glowered, scrabbled, and quailed—that convey so much in a single word. I couldn’t help but think of the TV show The Vikings (one of my favorites!) as the story unfolded.


Outliers by FE Clark: This story has it all: narrative tension, a clear arc, fabulous word choice, and word play that tickled me (outlier, out, liar!). I love the details throughout the story: skinny jeans, specifically named trees: “Silver Birch, Beech, and the occasional rattled looking Scots Pine,” and the stone covered in moss and lichen (not to mention its resemblance to, well, you know). These details make the setting that much more vivid. Lovely verb choices add to the story’s power: wriggle, plod, barge, and sprinkle. Well done!


Congratulations to Sonya, Steph, and FE! FE’s story will appear on our blog tomorrow morning.

We have FIVE ULTIMATE prize winners for our contest-wide prizes:

The first ULTIMATE prize goes to Mark A. King for submitting the most stories (10!). Mark, you will receive a signed and doodled copy of The Gantean by Emily June Street, probably in a year or so when the snail-riding elves who deliver international mail finally slither up to your cottage.

The four other ULTIMATE prizes go to Steph Ellis, FE Clark, Nancy Chenier, and AV Laidlaw, who all tied for the category of most winning writers in the contest, each with four stories that made it to the podium. Each of these excellent writers will also receive a signed copy of The Gantean. Ultimate prize winners, you will all be contacted via Twitter for your mailing addresses. Many thanks for participating in Summer of Super Short Stories 2! Look for our next contest, Winter of Whimsy and Weirdness, in early 2016!

Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week Eight

It is our final week of the Summer of Super Short Stories 2! As we turn towards fall and the light wanes, our prompts become a little darker, too. Our final week brings us full circle to LCP’s fantasy roots with prompts to inspire magic. Week eight judge Beth Deitchman, co-founder of LCP, has a taste for subtlety and panache. To learn more about Beth and her preferences, click here.

Next Tuesday, in addition to the weekly winners, we will also announce the two winners of the contest’s ultimate prizes for most wins and most stories submitted.

Below you will find a photo prompt and a line prompt. Use the picture to inspire you. The line prompt must be included somewhere in your story of 350 words or less. You can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it. There are no content restrictions.

Submit your story or stories (up to two) in the reply section to this post no later than Saturday at 6pm PST. Please include word count and Twitter handle/email/other identifiers at the beginning of the story. Winners will be announced next Tuesday. Please see our Contest Rules for more information.

 And here are your prompts!

Use this six-word phrase in any part of your story:

“do not speak of our magic”

the night

Image credit: The Night by Andrés Nieto Porras Flickr CC 2.0 
Image has not been altered from its original form.




A Phoenix Denied its Fire by Foy S. Iver


Iron skin imprisons a clear mind.

To them, I’m still me. The same soul trapped beneath heavy eyelids, waiting for the moment I remember myself. It’ll only take a week, or two, a month, maybe more but not long, no, not long.

They’re wrong. I’m a husk yearning to be thrown to compost; a corpse begging for its worms, a phoenix denied its fire. They are free and fluid. They do not know it’s possible to loath time for what it is: the presence of a future, a continuing.

Against my tympanic drums, whispers of advanced directives and God’s timing sound. They fear the guilt of taking what is not theirs to take.

Please, god, take it!

Their hearts would bleed tears if they knew how loudly I scream this. But they cannot hear, cannot see, cannot feel what rages beneath calm mouth and peaceful brow.

So I endure. This anthem alone sustains me: death comes to everything.

Follow Foy S. Iver on Twitter: @fs_iver

Week Seven Winners!

Hello everyone! I’m so pleased that Emily and Beth asked me to judge the contest again this summer. As a proud member of the flash-fiction community, I am always happy to lend my support to this wonderful craft. As most #flashdogs know, writing micro-fiction is no joke. We’ve got a tiny space to say a lot of big things. And those of us who have been doing it for a while know that there is a certain power in that. Who among us hasn’t found our longer works improving tenfold due to the mad editing skills needed for flash?

Anyway, this summer has been a whole lot of heavy-duty novel revisions for me, so I haven’t been able to be as active a member of the flash community as in years past, but I’ve been with you in spirit. And that’s why judging week seven of Luminous Creatures Press Summer of Super Short Stories has been such a treat. I loved reading everyone’s varied and unique takes on the prompt. I appreciated the use of symbolism, imagery, irony, quirky dialogue and mythological allusions. I read some lines that made me, well, pretty damn jealous of many of you.

Good work, everyone! Just a reminder that all stories were judged by blind reading to preserve the purity of the contest. First, a word or two about each story:

The Blue Bird by F E Clark:
A small ceramic blue bird becomes a symbol for a woman enveloped in an abusive relationship. I grieved for her short-lived lightheartedness and the shattered bird that became part of her temporary celebration. But I also took small comfort in the bird’s final message to his bereaved owner. We can only hope she takes heed.

A God’s Justice by Steph Ellis:
“Why do you tell me my own story?”
“Because you do not yet know its end.”
I knew as soon as I read those two lines between the Raven and Sibyl in “A God’s Justice” that Sibyl was going to get it, and big time. And boy, did the Raven deliver. A tale of hubris and swift eye-gouging, heart-ripping justice for crimes committed against gods. Even if the perpetrator herself had the blood of the gods running through her veins.

Harpies by A V Laidlaw:
Love the imagery in this woeful tale of one man’s nightly hell. The protagonist must pay for his sins through attacks to his flesh by harpies who (shudder) wear the faces of the wife and daughters he neglected in favor of adultery and drugs. And like all nods to Greek mythology, he’d surely like to die, but nope, death doesn’t come for him, just those vicious reminders of his transgressions.

To Everything Its Season by M T Decker:
“Someone has to drive.” Indeed. And even Death needs a driver. In this take on the afterlife, Ember, the protagonist must wipe away her tears and try to avoid sentimentality as she drives Death from place to place.

The Half-Life of Bats and Cats by Mark A. King:
The turmoil of a post-apocalyptic society sets the backdrop for the shattered relationship between a predatory mother and the daughter she tormented. As we near the mother’s demise, we wonder what will now become of the protagonist who admits, even as she says goodbye to the woman who once stalked her like a cat, “I will be lonely without her.”

The First Kiss Between Death and Everything by Mark A. King:
A very clever take on the prompt indeed! An office romance is born at a drunken costume party. The grim reaper makes a move on a girl who quite confidently tells him her costume represents “everything.” (Dibs on that costume for next Halloween by the way) And the rest, as they say, is history. Or at least until they sober up and put on their street clothes.

Little Bird Fly by Pattyann McCarthy:
My heart grieves for the mother who watches her daughter embracing life, even as her daughter’s young life is slipping away. The beauty of a sunny day of kite flying and the joy she feels watching her daughter laugh and run with her older brother provide a perfect ironic backdrop for the terrible truth this mom must hold inside. It’s a tale that teaches that valuable lesson: cherish every day.

Flighty by Sonya:
This short tale runs the gamut from the height of happiness to a final goodbye. The protagonist seems to be haunted by a woman (a former love, I imagine) who sits, almost translucent in a coffee shop. Her last words are cut short, as is the protagonist’s happiness.

The City Under The Clouds by Ophelia Leong:
Adam, the protagonist of “The City Under the Clouds” takes an arduous journey to Below, the city he wondered about since his childhood. It isn’t until he reaches manhood that he finds – described with stunning imagery – Below. There, in the graveyard of the city, he learns the truth: Below is no more, just a once great empire turned to ruin.

Raven Girl by Catherine Connolly:
The image of a raven-haired teenaged girl swallowing birds from the sky won’t soon leave me, nor will the line, “We are what we must be, in the end.” Some strong description here, and a tale that won’t end well for Bran or the birds she’s devoured.

Beneath the Not Quite Dead Tree by A J Walker:
“Sometimes deaths are needed to save a life,” Elizabeth says to her sister Alison before giving her a first lesson in life and death. This story covers the thought-provoking theme of the balance of life; one life ends and another is saved. In this case, Elizabeth uses magic to revive a dead bird, thus preserving the balance.

Why the Tropics Don’t Get Cold by Nancy Chenier:
A migrating bird confronts the “foundling from the sea” who has magically stopped summer from exiting. Why the aversion to autumn? She’s trying to preserve the life of a woman she holds dear. Another story that made me think about the balance of life and death. Save one life, but hold the seasons captive? A provocative concept.

A Phoenix Denied Its Fire by Foy S. Iver:
At first I thought this story was going to be magical in nature. I visualized a prince or princess, frozen as a statue hoping for someone to break the spell. But then I realized the protagonist is a patient in a coma or perhaps someone suffering from a disease like locked-in syndrome. It touched me, this very powerful take on mercy killing from the point of view of the patient.

Memory Wife by Voima Oy:
“The chair in the living room was filled with her absence.” A powerful line from “Memory Wife,” a tale of loss filled with such vivid imagery – the sights and sounds of the missing other half – I felt true sorrow for the widower protagonist. Nicely done.

Without further ado, I present the week seven (drum roll, flourish of trumpets, marching band playing “Firework”…) the winner and runners up!

Third Place: The Blue Bird F E Clark:
I’m a sucker for a good symbol. It would’ve been nice if our protagonist threw the bird at her abusive partner’s head, but alas, no. But I didn’t see the tale as hopeless, because though she lost her brilliant blue ceramic bird, she gained something. In that tiny piece of paper, like the words inside a fortune cookie, she could see the possibility of freedom. Great imagery here to create the shifting mood of the story. Well done!

Second Place: Why the Tropics Don’t Get Cold by Nancy Chenier:
Again, a story that made me think ‘deep thoughts’. In my mind, this story transcended its basic premise of a girl-creature who used magic to preserve the life of her ‘grandmother,’ while single-handedly stopping the seasons from changing. For me it became about the bigger picture: the balance of nature, of life and death. The idea of playing god (or goddess), yet disturbing the balance with possible dire consequences.


A Phoenix Denied Its Fire by Foy S. Iver:
I chose this story for two reasons: First, I loved the premise. I personally like a story that makes me think about the big life questions. I couldn’t get the image of this person, imprisoned inside his/her own body, out of my mind. The second reason was the writing was expertly crafted. Lines like “I’m a husk yearning to be thrown to compost,” or the title line “a phoenix denied its fire,” formed amazing metaphors for the protagonist’s desire to be freed.


Congratulations FE, Nancy, and Foy! Foy’s story will appear on our blog tomorrow. Thank you to Kristen for judging and to all you wonderful writers for sharing your stories! Join us on Thursday for Week Eight, judged by yours truly, Beth Deitchman!

Week Eight Judge: Beth Deitchman

Our final week will be judged by LCP’s own Beth Deitchman!

Beth Deitchman has been a dancer, a university lecturer, and an actor. While studying Spanish in Panama in 2011 she re-discovered her passion for writing and has been scribbling ever since. Co-founder of Luminous Creatures Press, she has authored two books of the Regency Magic Series, Mary Bennet and the Bloomsbury Coven and Margaret Dashwood and the Enchanted Atlas, and co-authored two collections of short stories with fellow Creature Emily June Street. Beth is currently working on a novel about ballet dancers. She lives in Northern California with her husband Dave and dog Ralphie.

Beth has this to say about what Kind of flash fiction she likes: “Every word matters, so I like them to be well-chosen. I prefer stories with an arc over meditations on a theme or image. I also want some juicy narrative tension. And I admire panache.”


(Beth huddles in a cavernous chair with her dog, Ralpie)