Tag Archives: David Borrowdale

Week Three Winners!

Week Three opened with one of our favorite prompts, combining two compelling themes: music and the outsider. We were surprised that no one took up the cause of the outsider in the stories this week. Before posting the prompt we had conversation about the word zingaro and its meanings—I (Emily) worried about the photo’s title being offensive. Zingaro is an Italian word meaning “gypsy,” derived from a Greek word meaning “untouchable”—as in the caste, not as in a superhero. Beth used both meanings of “untouchable” to great effect in the story she wrote for this prompt, which you will be able to read in our anthology. We decided to leave the title despite its unsavoriness to see what you all made of it, since even a word with unpleasant connotations can stimulate creativity in interesting ways.

For the first time during our judging of the contest, Beth and I had very little overlap in our personal selections, demonstrating what a strong group of submissions we received, spanning the range from experimental to traditional. Nice work, everyone!

Honorable Mention Winner: Wish by Laura Pinhey

Replete with clear and easily visualized images, Wish succeeded in showing us rather than telling us. Laura strikes a marvelous balance between leading the reader through the scene and leaving room for our imaginations. On the one hand, she provided beautifully drawn details: a wooden man with a Blue ball jar head, the bottle of Everclear, the inside cover of Led Zeppelin Four, and the crackling seed in the pipe. On the other hand, with Emmie’s nameless wish, she invites our speculation, leaving us to wonder why Emmie runs without looking back.

Anthology Selections:

The Screaming, by Jacki Donnellan

We love a great opening line and what could be more enticing than a confession like this one? Jacki has given us a creepy tale about possession and obsession with an inanimate object as a central character—a character for whom we feel compassion. Anyone who has seen a great violinist perform knows that there is a palpable relationship between musician and instrument. This story takes that relationship into the realm of the supernatural. What if Itzhak Perlman’s violin turned on him? A horrifying thought. The Screaming’s flashback structure reinforced our narrator’s obsession, and the juxtaposition of the magic (music) with the mundane (tinnitus) added texture and layers to this piece that deftly captured the essence of magical realism.

 The Zingaro Exclusive, by David Borrowdale

This boldly told story explored the dark secret behind a legend’s success. Our fantasy-loving hearts were pleased by the magic system wherein the musician evoked and then destroyed ghost-people with his playing—what a creative concept, ripe for further exploration. The clever use of redactions lent the story mystery, while precise details gave stunning specificity: horsehair caressing cat-gut, a G3 breve as a fat old lady, and middle C quaver as a sensual young woman. David demonstrated expert restraint while slowly revealing the conclusion.

The Storm King, by Voima Oy

In this lovely fairy tale, Voima appeals to all five senses with rich imagery: the unblinking blue sky, mouths as dry as dirt, notes falling like raindrops onto thirsty ears, a cool breeze stirring hair, and the scent of wet earth. These details built a world we could picture clearly and left us wanting more. The strong story structure introduced the central conflict early and led us to a satisfying resolution.

As always, judging was HARD. So many excellent stories. Thank you to all who contributed again this week.

Winter Of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Two Winners

Our prompt picture this week was a film still from a movie called Recurrence, which is currently showing in the Lucerne International Film Fest. Directed by Marc Schicili and Brady Wedman, the movie is an abstracted, modern retelling of an early flash fiction, An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce. Originally published in 1890 and weighing in at less than 4000 words, the Bierce story was flash before flash was popular. Not to mention the story contains the mother of all plot twists.

Side note: wouldn’t many flash fiction stories make great short films?

Our image shows the National Cemetery at the Presidio in San Francisco, California, which holds the graves of American veterans and their family members.

It was a tough week for judging. So many of the stories had great concepts. Emily had to get out the rubric again.

Honorable Mention: For Mittens, Holly Geely

Here we have a classic example of strong flash: a clear story arc with a central conflict, a single well-described scene with economy of language, and of course, the creep factor: “Jeff always gave them a last chance.” Add a zombie cat and what’s not to like? Perfectly balancing darkness and humor, Geely staged this story expertly, displaying authorial confidence and panache. This one wins the sprezzatura prize of the week. Read it on our blog tomorrow.

Anthology Winners:

Growing Pains, David Borrowdale: David offered a vivid and memorable interpretation on this week’s prompt—seeing teeth instead of gravestones in this tale of the tooth fairy’s origins. We love a story that drops a reader right into its action and doesn’t give away all its secrets at once. Little details like Alice’s dancing pigtails and the predatory canines paint a clear picture of the setting. Written with a light hand, this story hints instead of shows, leaving room for the imagination to fill in the gaps between teeth.

Nothing Personal, Nancy Chenier: Nancy’s first line brought us fully into the story—enticing our senses with beautiful descriptions of the alchemist’s art. In the way of a true storyteller, she doles out information bit by bit, keeping us hooked until the very end. The complexity of the idea suggests that this could be the seed of a larger work. We expected disturbing stories from the graveyard picture, and this one took the cake for wyrdness. We’re still pondering the ramifications of multiple selves in parallel universes.

Potential Energy, AJ Walker: This story pushed edges in many ways: subject matter, characterizations, imagery. There is an art to developing characters in only five hundred words, and AJ managed that beautifully here, not only with the grave robbers but also with the off-stage characters of the wytches (love the spelling!). Balancing sweet imagery with dark creepiness, the story sticks in the mind. We remain worried about the potential of those Gaimanesque wytches.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Mark A. King: What bold choices Mark used: second person, multiple eras, balancing repetition with advancing story-line, painting in broad strokes that nonetheless locate us in time. Mark’s story straddles the line between prose and poetry with startling poise. We especially appreciated the depth of thematic layers in this one—religion, war, god, beliefs. A truly unique take on the prompt.

If you are a new anthology winner, please email: emily at luminouscreaturespress dot com

Thanks to all who participated and gave us such a wealth of stories to read!

 

Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week Wone Winners!

Happy Sunday! We spent the day deliberating over the brilliant entries we received this week. Christian Miller’s striking photo prompt inspired a lovely variety of stories, all with special touches of magic.

If you are interested in seeing more of Christian’s work you can follow him on instagram, call sign “bookworm7219.” The prompt photograph was taken, as some of you may have guessed, at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The Musée building began its life as a railway station; Emily’s story for this picture, which you will see in the anthology, involves the clock in its actual habitat at the Musée.

We are happy to report that we selected three stories for the anthology this week, as well as one honorable mention that will be posted on our blog tomorrow. Anthology winners, please send Emily an email so she has your contact information for publishing logistics:

emily at luminouscreaturespress dot com

 

Honorable Mention: Hands of a Charlatan, by Chris Milam @Blukris

This piece captivates with its lush language, rich imagery, and a compelling opening premise. The voice of the protagonist shines and brings us down to the intimate and bittersweet end.

Anthology Winning Stories, in no particular order:

The Mistress of Neglected Time by Nancy Chenier @rowdy_phantom

We fell in love with this story and it’s endearing protagonist, 8:43. Well-crafted and satisfying like cool butter on warm bread, it pulled out all the stops. Nancy used such dynamic verbs, clear details, and evocative images; we were helplessly pulled under her bittersweet spell. The blending of the ordinary with the magical echoed a desire to find magic in a mundane world. Highlights of the gorgeous imagery: a gibbous moon peering through the clock face, 8:43 getting his toes tangled in a lace tablecloth, and the Mistress wearing a floral housecoat. And the ending’s poignancy will linger with readers long after they finish the story.

The Almanac of Kinks in Reality by Jacki Donnellan @Donnellanjacki

From the title to the last line, we adored this story, and we defy anyone to resist that delicious first line. We were roped in with Jacki’s full bodied characters and fast pacing, enchanted by verisimilitude amidst a magical storyline. This story also exemplifies great flash fiction: it has a clear arc, well-developed characters, a conflict, and a resolution—all in only 500 well-chosen words. True sprezzatura.

The Collector by David Borrowdale @MicroBookends

With undertones of horror, this story snuck inside our heads and took root like that dangerous first rule, leaving us thinking about it long after our multiple readings. Just enough foreshadowing enticed the reader and led to a satisfying conclusion structured with the tightness of fitted gears. The story concept was well-executed, and the clever structure really made the piece. We always love to see a strong villain.

Congratulations to our winners and thank you to all who participated. We hope to see you again next week!