Monthly Archives: July 2015

Week Two Winners!

The results are in from guest judge Tiffany Aldrich MacBain!

Discount by Holly Geely: Humorous and quirky on the surface of things, with a disturbing under-layer of cynicism and unspoken violence.

Tying the Knot by Mark A. King: Lyrical and imaginative, with a sentence structure that alternates in such a way as to give a distinct sense of the character of the speaker.

“Assistant” by Tim Stevenson: A distinct, memorable character with a clearly delineated point of view. Vivid imagery and carefully refined focus.

Climbing to the Moon by Voima Oy: Reminiscent of a well-loved nursery rhyme in subject matter, mood, and arc. Dreamy and hopeful.

The Judgment of Solomon by Steph Ellis: A nice revision of the King Solomon story in which a marriage is not torn in two, but still sorrow abounds. Fresh focus on a child’s perspective and inversion of parental and children’s roles.

Third Place: Ship bored by M T Decker
This story builds tension by drawing upon the traditions of mutiny and lost-at-sea narratives. Within this genre, well-placed details have a chilling effect: the broken down ship, the high seas, bitter laughter, rope. Nothing good can come of that combination of elements. Of course, the action—the violence and horror—that we await does not quite come, but it doesn’t need to appear on the page. It’s already occurring in the imagination of the reader.

Second Place: Untitled by Stephanie Kelley
I read this entry a few times, each more slowly than the last. The story is poetic, really, in that it possesses the economy of language and even the line breaks that you’d find in a poem. And like a poem, it yields more upon a second (or third) read, like the depravity of an audience quick to judge the “pounders” but not themselves for their part in the spectacle, and the trained focus of the protagonist-narrator that both serves and, ultimately, fails him. The story works as a narrative, too—one focused upon human psychology.


Eurydice by A V Laidlaw:
In any retelling of a myth, an author must determine which meaning to privilege. In the case of Orpheus and Eurydice the central concern could be the tragedy of love twice lost or the rarity of the second chance. In this retelling, the author paints Orpheus as a man of two loves—music and Eurydice; because he desires one over the other, he loses them both. Is he punished—are they punished—because he chooses wrongly? Or are the gods so perverse as not to care? Either way, to read this short story is to feel the pain of loss and the futility of outliving it.


Congratulations MT, Stephanie, and AV! AV’s winning story will appear on our blog tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared. And thank you to guest judge Tiffany Aldrich MacBain for presiding over this week’s contest. We will be back this Thursday with Week Three prompts, and we hope you will be, too! Week Three’s judge is prolific fiction writer, Tamara Shoemaker.

Week Three Judge: Tamara Shoemaker

Our week three judge is the prolific fiction and flash writer, Tamara Shoemaker. Tamara has several novels under her belt, piles of flash fiction awards decorating her shelves, and long experience judging for flash contests. Join us on Thursday for the opening of round three!

print author

She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-empty carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the beginning of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy, Kindle the Flame, as well as the upcoming Guardian of the Vale trilogy, Mark of FourShades of Uprising, and Guardian of the Vale.

Tamara’s two latest fiction books are Soul Survivor, a dark, contemporary mystery, and Kindle the Flame, a fast-paced YA fantasy (with dragons.)

Kindle-the-Flame-Kindle Soul Survivor Color

Tamara had this to say about her story preferences:

“I enjoy stories that go beyond the first impulse, the thing everyone else will see when they look at the prompt. A story with layers of meaning, a story with a frame, a story that completely absorbs me and makes me forget that I’m reading will always capture and hold my attention.

With that in mind, do, please, proofread before submitting. It’s quite jarring to be adrift on a story before plummeting to earth with a “their” instead of a “they’re.” I’m a sucker for romance and fantasy, usually together, but as long as the story is well-crafted and typo-free, I’ll enjoy the journey with your characters in any genre. I’m not interested in reading stories with violence, sex, or profanity that is superfluous to the story’s theme. If those things are needed to move the story to where it needs to go, I will enjoy the craft.”

Follow Tamara on her blog:





Summer of Super Short Stories Week Two

Welcome to our second week of SSS 2! 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.

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.

***This week we have CONTENT RESTRICTIONS. Do not include MISOGYNY in your stories.***

Our Week Two judge, Tiffany Aldrich MacBain, has this to say:

“I read for a sense of completeness: are the details well chosen, and at the end of the story can I see why each is there, how it functions relative to the whole? I also like to be moved in some way: to look at or think about or feel about something in a way I hadn’t before.”

And her thoughts on grammar: “When grammar and sentence construction are at their best, the reader doesn’t notice them and gets lost in the story. Errors and over-styling can ruin that effect and make the reader aware that she’s reading a piece of writing (one that would benefit from another round of revision).”

Tiffany has little interest in reading about violence that does not serve the story.

And here are your prompts!

Use this five word phrase in any part of your story:

“I wanted more than silence


Image credit: Img_2296 by Ozalee Meg flickr CC 2.0 
Image has not been altered from its original form.


The Return, by Steph Ellis

my forest dream

“There are more this year,” said Red, looking out from her Grandma’s … no, her … cottage window, an inheritance she had been reluctant to accept.

Nobody heard. She was alone with her memories and the wolfskin rug.

Entering the kitchen, she noticed her father’s axe behind the kitchen door, long unused. That was why the trees had crept nearer. No one to thin them out. No one to cull them.

Red shivered, picked up the wolfskin, wrapped it round her shoulders. Just as she had done as a child.

She sat in her Grandma’s chair, rocked backwards and forwards. Just as she had done as a child.

“Tell me a tale,” she whispered into the silence. But that story had finished long ago.

The air, dry and stale was suffocating, driving Red out into the small garden, taking the axe with her. The trees had crowded ever closer, even in that short space of time. They bowed over her, branches reaching out, wanting to touch, to hold, to claim.

A lone howl caught her attention, a mournful sound that drew nearer with each heartbeat. A wolf appeared.

It advanced fearlessly towards Red, despite the axe she held.

She stood her ground. Remembered.

“You lied, little girl,” he said.

Red hefted the axe, felt that old sense of power. The animal didn’t flinch.

“We both know the truth, don’t we?” said the creature.

The truth? Yes, they both knew the truth. How she had hated her Grandma. Had lost patience with the woman one fine summer’s day. Had taken the axe …

Red looked down at the shaft, the stain had deepened over the years.

The moonlight dimmed. A passing cloud she thought. But as she looked up she saw a dense canopy form, boughs intertwined to create a tree-borne roof.

Now Red stepped back.

The wolf followed.

“We have our witnesses, little girl.”

The trees shifted closer, the light grew dimmer, the wolf’s breath hotter.

“Time to write another story,” he said. And the darkness became complete.

Follow Steph Ellis on Twitter: @el_stevie or her blog:

Image credit: “My forest dream is still a dream” by Vinoth Chandar from flickr (CC 2.0)
Image has not been altered from original form.

Week One Winners!

Judge’s confession time: I sort of hate the notion of a writing contest. Why do you sponsor one then? you might ask. The answer is that I’m a story junkie. I like to find prompts that move me and to see what writers make of them, so the line prompt for this week, the opening line from my book, The Gantean–“Tell me a tale”– was particularly apt for my judging week. All you participants did not disappoint. Every story I read this week had merit (that’s why I don’t like contests! How to judge something as personal, varying, and multifaceted as STORIES?) Whittling them down to a short list was a difficult task. Of the four stories I had on the final list, I truly felt any could have been the winner. I am including a line or two of feedback for every story, in no particular order, until the final three placers:

Grandpa’s Trees, by Stephen Shirres: This story offers a striking contrast between its past and its present, full of a melancholy yearning for (simpler?) better times. Solid and authentic.

The Bone Tree Copse, by Mark A. King: An elegiac tale with vertical and horizontal layers! It earned extra points for an evocative title. Clever, moody, and full of wordsmithery.

The Trespasser, by Sean Fraser: A lovely, smooth meditation on confronting the world beyond this one. The Trespasser no longer trespasses. Atmospheric and vivid.

The Cat in the Woods, by Voima Oy: This had a crafty narrative set up— by starting in second person and moving into first, the author offered a coy, cat-like invitation to the reader, while also forcing complicity. The ending lended a perfect tightness to the story. Well-designed.

The bit left over, by Liz Hedgecock: A sweet, sad, simple tale, grounded in realism and emotion. Well-rounded and told with restraint and delicacy. Memorable.

Jem’s Not-Wish, by Holly Geely: Rich characterization drives this story—overtly, with the old woman and Jem, and covertly, with the traveler-charlatan lurking behind it all. Solidly constructed and enjoyable.

Where There Is Willing, by Catherine Connolly: Mythic and eerie, this is a true fairytale of the dark and discomfiting variety. The shadowy, arcane tone and the Eastern European flavor suited the prompts.

Errors, by Foy S. Iver: With a world that explodes off the page, this story should be tagged by the author for development into something longer. (I’d be happy to beta read!) Reveals a unique imagination. Stirring and exciting.

The Darkside, by Anita Harkess: A tight, psychological tale that might be a parable showing the difficulties of maturing, or might be something darker. Nice layering.

Formalities, by Holly Geely: A sweet story with strong characterizations of mother and son. Well-written and realistic.

Song of the Muse, by MT Decker: A skillful personification of that elusive and abstract concept, the artistic muse. Shows a love of language and a subtly poetic voice.

Where She Belongs, by Sal Page: A well-structured story with a startling but graceful twist. The narrator has a strong and distinctive voice. Smart plotting shows an expert’s deft hand.

Third Place! Wolf, by AV Laidlaw: Ripe with vivid images and cinematic details, this clever play on Little Red Riding Hood hooked me from the start. Oh, the poor, weary character tropes of fairytales, forced to replay the same conflicts over and over again! I feel for them! The author chose hard-working verbs and wove in description with sprezzatura.

Second Place! A Mother’s Plea, by Nancy Chenier:  A dark and dangerous tale, full of beautiful, evocative images. This story does a great job of showing itself through a small aperture; a vast, tantalizing world exists beyond the parameters written here. I want to know more, but I’m also satisfied with the possibilities presented. A lovely interplay of imagination and language.


The Return, by Steph Ellis: A confident, clear voice and solid writing craft rounded out this inspired reframing of a traditional legend with an unexpected twist. The author juggled action, description, dialogue, exposition, and revelation of information adroitly, keeping a perfect balance from start to finish. A work of polish and panache!


Congratulations Steph, Nancy, and AV! Steph’s winning story will appear on our blog tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared. We will be back this Thursday with Week Two prompts, and we hope you will be, too! Week Two’s judge is Tiffany Aldrich MacBain, maven of English and essays.



Week Two Judge: Summer of Super Short Stories 2

Week Two stories (prompts post Thursday!) will be judged by the discerning eyes of Tiffany Aldrich MacBain.

Here is a bit about her:

Tiffany Aldrich MacBain is an essayist and an Associate Professor of English at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her writing has appeared in Creative Colloquy, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Arizona Quarterly. Currently she is working on a series of personal essays about the experience of mothering from within a children’s hospital, and she is writing a scholarly article on the travel journals of a landscape painter who lived in Tacoma at the turn of the 20th century. She blogs intermittently at

Summer of Super Short Stories 2, Week One

Welcome to our first week of SSS 2! Below you will find a photo prompt as well as a line prompt. Use the picture to inspire. 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.

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, or other identifiers at the beginning of the story. Winners will be announced next Tuesday.

Please see our Contest Rules for more information.

Use these words in your story: “Tell me a tale.”

Use the four words “tell me a tale” in any part of your story. 

my forest dream

Image credit: “My forest dream is still a dream” by Vinoth Chandar from flickr (CC 2.0)
Image has not been altered from original form.


Summer of Super Short Stories 2 begins tomorrow!

LCP’s seasonal flash fiction contest begins tomorrow, July 2nd! We have planned eight weeks of exotic photo prompts and evocative line prompts drawn from Emily June Street’s latest novel, The Gantean.

Prompts post Thursday mornings, 7 am PST. There will be two forms of prompt, one, an image, and the other, a short phrase or sentence. Stories must be 350 words maximum; shorter stories accepted. Submit stories as replies to prompt post. Sumission deadline is the Saturday following the prompt Thursday at 6pm PST. Weekly winners get badges and stories featured on LCP site. Two contest-wide winners get signed copies of The Gantean. See here for more information.

Judging our first week, we have Emily June Street, author of the book that inspired the contest. Emily is one half of LCP’s team and an avid reader and writer of all varieties of fiction. Emily likes meaty stories with layers of meaning. You can follow her here:



Her latest book is The Gantean, an epic fantasy of clashing cultures, identity, magic, and love: