Category Archives: Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness

LCP Update

Beth and I had a long overdue LCP meeting today at the Hummingbird Cafe in Fairfax, where we ate delicious Cajun food.

Beth is busy drafting Regency Magic Book Three and working on short stories. I may have convinced her to return to some detective fiction she was working on a few years ago, too.

I’m wrapping up the final touches on The Cedna, Tales of Blood & Light Book Two, which will be available December 27th, 2015. I’m also revising STERLING, ToB&L Book Three, and I’m hoping to get it out to some fresh readers in the new year. Next I’m fiddling around with some drafts that have been stewing on the desktop and maybe be ready for the next layer of work.

Most importantly, our annual winter flash fiction contest–Winter of Whimsey & Wyrdness–will begin in January 2016. The theme is REBIRTH. Stayed tuned for further details about the contest structure and prompts.

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.

Five Hundred Words of Magic Now Available!

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LCP’s latest ebook is now available! Try twenty-nine flash fiction stories about magic by twelve authors!

Links for purchase:

Amazon for Kindle

Payhip (for epub or Kindle) This weekend only, use this code at Payhip for an extra 25% off: EF8AEVQ4XB

Pre-Order Five Hundred Words of Magic!

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You can now pre-order the anthology we created from the winning stories of Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness on Amazon. This is the kindle edition, which will be released January 3rd.

We will be releasing the book for iBooks and Nooks starting January 3rd as well. Stay tuned for more information.

All our talented winners will also receive their very own special edition print version, coming later in January.

Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Seven Winners

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We saved this image for Week Seven because it was so magical, and everyone knows that seven is the most magical number. We also knew Christian’s photo of Barrio Alto in Lisbon would inspire great stories—and we were not disappointed. This week might have been the best yet! It’s been interesting to watch the evolution of submissions over the course of this contest—it seems like you regular submitters began to notice our judging preference for a novelistic style and adjusted your writing accordingly.

This was one of the reasons we wanted to do an anthology contest (we didn’t tell you): we wanted to honor tightly crafted stories that followed a true narrative arc. This means we did not weigh some other elements so highly—though next time around we might be looking for a different secret approach, so keep your toolboxes open and don’t toss away your descriptive poetics too quickly.

We plan to host three competitions next year—Spring, Summer, and Fall—each one with different parameters and outcomes. We’ll keep you posted as our spring contest approaches.

Many thanks to everyone who submitted a story in any week. It has been a pleasure to read the fruits of your imaginations. Keep it up!

First off, we have an exciting announcement:

We decided to include Catherine Connolly’s story from last week, Their Guardian Generals, into our anthology. Catherine did a great revision on this story, and we think you’ll love to read it in its latest incarnation. It will be the fourth story associated with the image Totem in the collection. Welcome, Catherine!

And this week’s anthology winners:

Similitude by David Shakes

This dark story sat with us for a while after reading. Beginning with a splash of vibrant colors, David painted a scene in vivid detail. Against the cracked blues and radiant golds, he gives us a moment of beautiful simplicity: “A last shopper stares hopefully at some overpriced antiquities but her husband has buried his hands in his pockets and is heading back to their hotel.” His last line chills us to the bone.

The Jeweled City by Holly Geely

Holly offered a fresh take on the theme of magic, opting to explore the metaphorical nature of belief and hope rather than the more overt fantasy genre story. The result was a meaningful meditation on the power of one’s choices. Nothing is easy in this story, and the final line beautifully sums up an uneasy truth about magic.

Torrent of Gold by Nancy Chenier

We pretty much knew this story belonged to Nancy Chenier even though we were reading blind. Her distinctive polished style is easy to recognize, and we always know she’s going to give as a good story, complete with plot elements and characters we care about. In this case, she also gives us a fair dose of language as exciting as the colors in the photo. Delicious verbs describe the action–legs wobble, grips gnarl, and golden ichor oozes. Striking images abound: a wild-haired mermaid of a girl swimming in a supernatural sea. The twist at the story’s end startles and horrifies.

Colourful Talents by Catherine Connolly

Catherine surprised us with this fantasy tale evoking Czarist Russia. We felt deeply for her heroine set to work on a magical task that would sap her—the Creatures love a female protagonist brought in to save the world’s colors, not to mention the time-honored fantasy theme that every magic has a cost. We think Catherine should use this idea to create a story of longer length. A novella, perhaps?

This concludes our winter flash fiction session. Join us again in 2015 for more. Thank you to everyone for making the contest so much fun. Stay tuned for details about the release of Five Hundred Words of Magic, the anthology collected from this contest.

–In appreciation, The Creatures.

Their Guardian Generals by Catherine Connolly

Bong hears the chuckle begin and scoops Chin up, holding her close as she runs. Luckily, they are yards away from the group of pillars rising tall at the edge of the trees, no more. Several quick steps and they are beyond their boundaries and amongst the whittled wooden bodies. Bong holds Chin’s hand, as she traces the edges of the Great General and his black inscriptions with her nails. He doesn’t seem to mind. His laugh, at least, is still loud, above that of the others; his mouth wide and gaping, as he mocks into their masses before him.

It is a night since they last laughed. Though she, at least, has heard them again. Eun. Hwan. So many more. Far too many. “Hold tight to the General,” Bong says, as she turns towards the lamps. Darkness is descending into their light – testing their warriors where they stand. “Turn away and keep him at your back,” Bong says, voice firm. “No peeking now! You know what you’ve been told?” Bong exchanges a glance with Suk, who sits cross-legged nearby – back already turned, before his eyes dart away. She thinks she sees him close them, before he presses his hands tightly to his ears.

Chin sighs before obeying. “But I want to see!”

“No,” Bong says. “You don’t. You’re on a promise now. No turning ‘til they’re gone and the Generals have sent them away. You remember what we’ve said before?” Chin pauses, then nods. “Now. Cover your ears. I’ll tell you when it’s safe. You trust me, don’t you? We’ve been okay to now?” Chin’s eyes look into Bong’s, as her head moves up and down. “So – hold faith with your favourite General.” Bong puts an arm around her; holding her to her side, whilst she keeps contact with their guardian.

There are twelve of them here, sitting, together – waiting for the noise to cease, though it is welcome, too, whilst it lasts. Perhaps others in the areas east, south and west. Perhaps not so many. Bong reaches her other hand towards Suk. It quests into air. Glancing sideways, not backwards – ever – she sees only unoccupied space. A flattened patch of green where his body had been. It is warm to the touch. Bong’s eyes are suddenly swimming. She closes them briefly; breathes in, then out, before opening them and keeping them trained on Chin. Their laughter is long, tonight – though she hasn’t kept count of the timing.

It takes Bong a moment to realise the din is no longer deafening her and that Chin is tugging at her hand; on both knees now. “Where’s Suk?” she demands. “He was there, wasn’t he? With us?”

“He couldn’t keep his promise to the guardians,” Bong tells her. “He had to see. Once he had, he had to go with them. The Whatevers. Wherever. He can’t come back. Like the others, remember?” Chin nods vigorously; mouth trembling. They will add again to the stone pillars beyond the wooden whittled bodies tonight.

Follow Catherine Connolly on Twitter: @FallIntoFiction or on her blog: http://www.fallintofiction.blogspot.co.uk/

Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Six

Welcome to Week Six. Today we offer you a photo prompt courtesy of Jerry Wingren of Boulder, Colorado. It is titled Totem.

Submit your stories of up to 500 words in the reply section of this post. Submissions are accepted up until 6pm PST on Saturday, December 13. Stories considered for the anthology will explore a theme, idea, character, or event related to magic. See complete contest rules here.

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Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Five Winners

What a long busy weekend it has been! What with the Flashdogs and Flashversary excitement, we’re surprised anyone managed to turn in stories. Our prompt photo this week showed one of Emily’s flying trapeze teachers falling to the net after releasing the trapeze bar. Enjoy this video of LCP’s own Emily June flying on a rig (yes, in a tutu) and fortunately NOT falling into the net:

 

And without further ado, our three anthology picks of the week are:

Salty Embrace, by Holly Geely:

Great character development lends humor to Holly Geely’s story—especially in the non-human Blue Moon as a mechanical Jeeves to Stewart’s alcoholic Wooster. Though the story has a clear arc and resolution, Geely gives us a revealing but open end, suggesting that perhaps Blue Moon’s wishes will come true.

Sideways, by A.J. Walker:

In A.J’s fine story, details such as the green and red walking socks, the fluttering jeans, and the yellow mustard stain work as close-ups, bringing us right into Samuel’s confusing world. Walker feeds us only as much information as Samuel has, so we share his disorientation. The clever conclusion gives us a satisfying but still surprising explanation for the story’s mysteries.

 Portents and Eventualities, by Nancy Chenier:

In her richly layered story, Nancy hints at a larger narrative, giving us a glimpse into a well-drawn world. She paints lovely images with delicious language: “apathetic stars,” “the earth shuddered with eventuality,” “eyes wide enough to reflect the moon.” Strong character motivations ground this story and give it meaning and complexity.

Congratulations to all and thanks again to all participants for giving us your stories week after week.

Week Four Featured Story: The Break by Brett Milam

The Break

Lines of coke, syringes of heroin, bottles of Oxycontin, Gavin had tried them all, but nothing compared to the break. When the break happened, it was like his mind was airlifted into another dimension where colors were unimaginably bright and they had a physical property to them.

It was as if the sky had violently torn apart and from this chasm manifest a shower of light that transported Gavin to that other dimension. Worldly things and concerns drifted away like sawdust off of a well-chiseled hunk of wood.

Even so, the second before the break, he still got swelling around his pelvis and feverish droplets of sweat underneath the curvature in his back. It fucking hurt, all the same.

The other night, he’d woken from an uneventful dream. Dreaming had turned mundane once you went through the break.

Almost immediately, he craved the break.

Gavin pulled the sleeve back on his black turtleneck — he’d become prone to wearing them after his ex, now dead from a methamphetamine overdose, said they looked “snug” on him — to expose his forearm.

Then he directed his pointer finger with the kind of blood-rushing, centralized power feel you get from a boner toward his forearm, hovering a centimeter from the delicate flesh. With a simple tap and eyes closed, he snapped the radius bone clean in two.

The bone broke through the skin and a torrent of blood gushed out. By then, his mind was gone. It was zip-lining through the cosmos, hopscotching around the stars and the asteroid belt. It was like the tail-end of his mind had a rocket attached with enough jet fuel to encircle the Milky Way.

A few minutes later, he returned to the confines of his limiting cranium, his arm lifeless at his side, blood no longer spilling out, but pooling near the foot of the bed, and he could see in the mirror across the room, which displayed his ashen face.

Another tap of the pointer finger to the snapped radius and it was healed instantly. The blood was gone, returned back to its normal functioning beneath the surface of the skin.

Somewhere in the copious opium binges, Gavin had developed this, whatever you call this. Even in his high state, magic didn’t seem the right word. Magic was beautiful, illuminating; this, this was something else.

Often times, Gavin thought maybe he was on a cold slab somewhere waiting to be disposed of by the county, having already overdosed and all of this was some post-death hallucination, lasting residual effects of all his drug abuse.

When he’d first discovered it, he started small, literally, with the stapes bone in the ear. It was like his first marijuana bong hit. Pleasant, but weak. Before long, as he was a fast learner, he’d snapped both femur bones.

But it was no longer enough. This, whatever this was, satisfied him no longer. So, he soon tapped his finger to his landlord’s frontal bone.

Gavin had found his new rush.

Check out Brett Milam’s blog and more of his stories at: http://milambc.wordpress.com/. Follow him on Twitter: @brett_milam

Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Four Winners

Our prompt this week came from our friend Ryan, freshly home from a two-week vacation in Japan. He took the picture while descending into Tokyo. We thought it would inspire all kinds of interesting ideas (and it did!). As always, we wondered whether anyone would recognize the location and use it as the setting for a piece, but we mainly received stories with looser associations this time around. Emily wrote a story for this prompt called “The Stowaway,” which will appear in the anthology, and Beth might have something up her sleeve, too.

Honorable mention: The Break, by Brett Milam

Creepily delicious, Brett Milam’s story takes us into the mind of an addict, who seeks higher and higher highs. Though the imagery horrifies, we can’t seem to look away—its draw is too strong. A bizarre yet creative premise set this story out from the pack, and the final line chills us to the (unbroken) bone.

Our two anthology winners are:

Sentinel Satellyte, by Mark A. King. Mark wins best opening line this week in a story rich with intoxicating language. The story begins with a glorious account of Aardvark’s past: He once stalked dragons! Using a bit of the old bait and switch technique to create great narrative tension, Mark shows us Aardvark’s new passion, at the same time developing a compelling main character with dimension. Fantastic imagery abounds in “smudged-pastel impressionist sunsets,” a “milky cataract haze,” and the glorious “suburbia terra ferma.” Mark beautifully juxtaposes the grandeur of the language with a keen sense of humor: this “supreme stalker of the firmament” hides from his mother. Tight writing and strong word choices pushed Mark’s story to the top of our list. Great work!

 Night Flight by Karl A. Russell drew on arcane vampire mythology for its premise, but Karl created a thoroughly modern setting for this comic-book style epic battle between old enemies. Karl manages to convey an entire history in a scene of only five hundred well-chosen words. His clearly-drawn characters inhabit a well-defined world. This story played cloak and dagger games, giving itself up in the details only after several readings. Cleverly told.

Congratulations, Week Four Winners, and thank you to all who participated.