Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Spring Into Action" Flash Fiction Contest Is Here!

Win Books and an Awesome Writer's Mug!

It's here!  It's the big day!  It's our first-ever blog contest, and it's so we can sharpen our literary skills as writers.  To those who say they can't write flash fiction, I ask them if they can tweet, because if they can effectively use twitter, then of course they could write flash fiction.  Would you like to know what draws me to writing pieces of flash fiction and what's inspired me to enter contests similar to this one?  A fun writing prompt usually on a great blog can entice me to enter, but hey... this contest is different because we have photographs, and they're killer visual writing prompts (one literally is).

What I love about writing and reading flash fiction is the fact it's untidy.  It has loose ends with regard to the plot, and it makes me want to either read more or write more to find out where the story's headed.

 If we're to become successful writers, we must master the art of learning how to leave our readers on the edge of their comfortable reading chairs begging for more.  Master the art of flash fiction, and your talent as a writer exponentially increases.  As I see things, as writers we are at our best when we lift up one another and offer encouragement, and that's what this contest is all about.  

Before we go any further, let's lay down the rules of the contest.

1) You must become a member/follower of this blog (unless you are already a follower, of course). 
2)Flash-fiction word count must be 200 words or less.
3)You create a unique piece based on one of the photographs below.  In case you wondered, yes I took all of these photographs. Please let us know which photograph(s) your work is based upon. You may pick up to two photographs.
4)Your work must not be anything else you've published before or part of an already existing work.  Let's make this 100% organic writing and totally unique!

Now that we've gotten all of that out of the way,
Let's Get Ready to, make that write!

Now pick your photograph, and go!

Photograph 1:

Photograph 2: 

Photograph 3: 

Photograph 4:

Best of luck to all entrants!  We will announce the winners as soon as judges are finished with the results(that means it probably won't be next Sunday, but soon after).  Contest ends next Sunday, April 22 at 12:00 p.m. As stated previously, there will be one winner and depending on number of entries, either one or two honorable mentions. If ten or more entries, then two honorable mentions will be awarded.

As soon as judge(s) are finished tallying votes, we'll announce winners the next day and unveil the identity of the judge(s).  Also, on "Soul & Sweet Tea", we'll feature the winners and their work of flash fiction!

*Late Breaking Contest News!!! 11:00 p.m. Sunday, April 15

Just confirmed that our winner will receive a prize package which will be purchased from the most beautiful bookstore in Chicago, Open Books!  If you're not aware of this amazing bookstore and it's purpose, then check this out.


Revo said...

The hotel was as good a place as any to lay low. Set far enough into the cypress swamps it existed where GPS maps dropped off. It was just me, a meager staff, the gators and a big bag of money.

“Mr. Drake?” The words followed a knock at the door. “A Mr. Lane arrived. He asked about you.”

Perfect. The one person I didn’t want to find me does.

“Thanks June, tell him to meet me by the dock. I’ll be right down.”

Lane is a born hunter, a bull shark that swims with goldfish. There are only two problems with that; I’m not a goldfish and this is my pond.

I watch through my window, seeing the man in the linen suit and white fedora meander closer to the brackish water’s edge. If I breathe in deep I can smell the North Country. He’s out of his element.

He wants his cut, and for his sins, he’s about to get it. The gators love the perfume of blood.

Rather than grab a pile of bills I put a pair of pennies in my pocket. Someone has to pay the ferryman.

After all, it’s the least I could do.

(200 words) @RevoBoulanger

Joey Francisco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revo said...

(based on pics #3 and 4)

Laura Renegar said...

(based on #4 & #3)

The swamp’s breath blew low life into my tomb of a room. Still, I breathed. Above the inn, century-old trees dangled their mossy tendrils. Below, kudzu threatened to cover all traces of what was supposed to be a romantic weekend.

Kyle never showed.

I leaned over the rail. Bullfrogs croaked and a hoot owl answered. Night was taking its own sweet time coming in the bayou, just as it had last night and the night before. Still, the oaks hovered and held secrets that blocked out the sun. No room for the light where the gators grew big.

I picked up the phone receiver and stuck my finger in the rotary dial, tracing half and quarter and even full moons.

“Hello?” he said.

It wasn’t too late to hang up, but I stared out into the green and spoke. “His address and photo are under the mat at Sal’s Seed Supply, as is half the cash.”

“And the other half?”

“I’ll call you with its location when I read his obituary.”

“How do you want it done?”

“You choose.” We all do, you know. Kyle chose, so I chose. The less I knew the better.

Caterina Torres said...

Based on picture #4, at 199 words.

My mama used to tell me she would sit on this porch with her grandpa and sip tea all afternoon until the sun went down and the mosquitoes came out. She would paint the most beautiful stories through the enchantment of her words until I drifted off to dreamland. The memory of her smiling face floated through my mind, bringing tears to my eyes, when the clack of footsteps sounded behind me.

Wiping my face, I turned to see Clarice Jones and hoped she’d come to give her quick condolences so I could be left alone in peace once again.

“What are you doing out here alone, child?” Clarice sounded like she wanted to chat. Sitting by my side on the front steps, she put her arm around me for comfort and I found myself leaning into her embrace. The smell of lavender on her skin reminded me of mama.

“Wishing for better days,” I responded, sniffling.

“You should come join the rest of us inside.”

I fiddled with the lace of her black dress. “This house reminds me too much of her.”

“You can’t escape the past, child.”

“I know, but you can’t blame a girl for trying.”

Dale Nichols said...

Based on 4.

The Tea was exactly what I needed. The heat from my afternoon walk was unbearable. I'm a photographer for a small magazine searching for the perfect view from the swamp. They were doing a story about a woman who had disapeared 20 years earlier without a trace.
Thirty shots on my digial camera were good but, while I scanned them as I sipped on my tea, a woman with black long flowing hair showed up in a few of them.
I was sure I was snapping photo's of an empty swamp except for the wildlife.
Over my shoulder I heard a gasp. I turned to see an older woman staring at the image of the young woman, The young woman appeard to be walking on the water, looking at her reflection.

"That's my daughter," The woman said. "She dissapeard twenty years ago after walking home. Her names Miranda."

Before I could say anything, she turned and ran out the door toward the bridge that led to the swamp. It was then that I noticed the photo behind me of the same young lady in my photo. Miranda and her mother standing by the river.

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

(Based on pictures 1 and 2.)

The group with the smarmy tour guide headed for the stairs. Bernard leaned from the arrow slit to hock a loogie at the gator in the swamp below. Instead, it landed with a plop on the tower wall, twenty feet down.

Earl snickered. “Good job, weevil butt.”

“Let’s see y’all do better.”

Earl stuck his sparse frame through the slit to his overall’d ass. His attempt hit the greenish water, sending ripples against the wall. “Damn.”

“Not enough tree-jectory.” Bernard scratched his stubble-specked chin. His eye turned to a stack of miniature pumpkins arranged in the corner by some well-meaning attraction director. “What about them there?”

Water plumed, drops raining down on the gator. It didn’t even twitch.

“Out ta way. My turn,” Earl demanded, nearly swallowing his chaw.

Smooshed together, pumpkins in hand, they wedged themselves in the narrow window. Splush. Splush.

“Tarnation! Closer! We’s gots to that critter.”

They jostled against each other, down-in-the-heel cowboy boots sticking up and heads hanging over. Bernard drew his arm back with another missile.

Blam. Ka-pow.

Bernard and Earl dropped limp as rocks bounced off their noggins. On the roof, two Armani suited men high-fived.

“I say old man, good shot.”

H.L. Pauff said...

(based on photo #2. 200 words)

I smelled him even before he burst into my office.

“Security!” I yelled. Tomorrow’s paper was going to print soon and I still had stories to edit.

“Please, I have something you want,” the shaggy haired man said.

Two security personnel emerged and grabbed him by the arms.

“I have a picture of Choko,” he blurted out as they began to drag him away.

My eyes shot up and I waved security off.

The Terror of the Tiguan Swamp had killed twelve people yet no one had a clear picture of him. These were the first deaths in years and I knew there was a compelling story there, but I hadn’t printed anything yet. I couldn’t quite figure out how to frame the story.

“I was close to him, real close,” the man said as he placed the photo on my desk.

I stroked my chin and studied the picture.

“That’s it?” I uttered, looking up at the greasy man. “How do I know you didn’t just print this out from the internet?”

“Because I met Choko,” he said, pulling his pant leg up.

As I stared at the man’s metal prosthetic leg, I knew I finally had my story.

AngiNicole said...

Based on the 2 and 4 - like a jazz rhythm. Snap along... But seriously, #2(gator) and #4(house)

I stepped out on the porch. My home was old and people said it needed repair, but I loved the way the paint peeled off the columns, the moss and flowers dripped off the porch. They were almost part of the structure by now. Sitting down in a dilapidated chair, I said hi to Earl.

He just looked at me with his big glassy eyes. He watched me like I could be his lunch. It was a tense relationship. Everyday I talk, he lies there, sunning himself in the cool water, planning my demise. One day he might get his wish.

I suspect one day I’ll wake up, find my old house floating in his swamp. I wonder if he’ll speak as he eats my leg. That would be my luck. Spend 50 years with a gator only to find out he speaks as he swallows me up. Huh.

But for now, it’s coffee and unrequited speech for me, sun and the evil eye from him. As I finish the last drop down, I wave and say “Have a good day, Earl.” As I close the door I hear the splash of his tail as he swims off until tomorrow.

Olivia Kelly said...

This is based on Pic #4:

I peered over the edge of the railing, down at the body of the man sprawled on the stone patio. Well, not a man exactly, since he was half-Fae. It was puzzling that he seemed to be dead. Fae were immortal, and I’d just assumed that it would be harder to kill a Halfling.

This was…inconvenient.

It’s hard to extract information from a dead man. Not impossible, mind you, but hard. I stared out over the darkened swamp, thinking.

Spanish moss dripped from the gnarled trees as they twisted and hung over the still, murky waters of the Delta river. Something splashed in the night, but it didn’t silence the deep croaking of the bullfrogs or incessant buzz of the cicadas. No noise came from behind me, since the Halfling had been living here alone. The lone sleeping bag and meager scattering of possessions was a good indicator that my assumption was correct, and I couldn’t detect the scent of more than one occupant.

This guy’s scent had been easy to track. It was pretty clear there weren’t bathing facilities nearby.

I sighed. There was nothing for it. I was going to have to contact the Priestess.

Debra Dunbar said...

(pic 2, 196 words)

Officer Roberts peered around the tree into the swamp. Yep. It was a gator. Just like the kids had said. He’d heard they were fast. That they could grab a grown man and roll him to a drowned death in minutes. There weren’t supposed to be gators in Maryland though.

Carefully he unsnapped his holster and edged sideways for a better shot. He hated to have to shoot his gun; there’d be paperwork. Animal control had three dead deer on the highway before they could make their way over though, and as slow as this gator looked, he could be gone in a flash. Least, that’s what he heard.

He took an awkward shot, guessing that you shouldn’t look them in the eye. He saw the bullet hit. The gator didn’t move. They must have really tough skin. Another shot. And another.

The officer moved away from the shelter of the tree to get a better look. Carefully he took a long branch and poked at the non-responsive animal. Hooking it under a leg, he dragged the heavy gator to the shore. It was then realized he’d just riddled a concrete lawn ornament with bullet holes.

Mayumi said...

Prompted by Photograph 1, of Fort Mantanzas. 198 words. And per instructions, I didn't think too much about this. :)


Stone stairs and the blood of Landstanders foolish enough to raise arms against him disappear beneath Fin's boots, as every step takes him closer to the top of this tall, windowed tower, and to the girl trapped within.

“Wavewalker!” a guard warns, but he's silenced by metal tines already streaked red; it's the same for his partner beside. And up Fin runs, never stopping.

His muscles ache, his lungs burn, but the door is just ahead, and suddenly he's crying her name as his spear splinters the heavy wood:


He's barely broken through when she rushes up, arms thrown around him. And though her eyes are wide and frightened, her voice drifts to him with such gentle love, like the dreamy sway of the coral among which they used to swim. “You came.”

Time is short – more Landstanders are surely already racing to reclaim their princess prize – but still he cups her face, so sea-pale and soft, and kisses her, for fear it will be the last thing he ever does.

He draws back at the taste of tears.

“There's no way out,” she whispers.

The spear creaks in his fist. “There's always a way.”

bookish said...

Photograph #2
Yellow sat under the shade of a bearded tree watching the gator taking its time near the shoreline. She wore a dress made of an old fabric called Dotted Swiss that she’d found in the church bin. A party dress for a happy day.
She’d been crouched there for awhile now. The calves in her legs were beginning to complain but she wasn’t ready to leave just yet. A bead of sweat formed between her shoulder blades and made its way down her spine and she shivered despite the heat.
She enjoyed watching the gator. If he knew he was being watched he gave no indication. He moved with a malevolent grace in the rusty water. He was king here and it was good to be king.
She was remembering the first time Roy Brown had called her Yellow. He said the name suited her, “Yellow Brown, piss and shit, good for nothin’ and a relief to be rid of”. And then he’d laughed. But he wasn’t laughing now.
The gator glided toward her and opened its mouth wide. The arm floating in the shallows disappeared with a satisfying crunch.
“My name is Grace,” she said.

Kristen M. Beals said...

Based on Photo #4

I'll never forgot that old, mossy stone porch. Johnny and I used to lie there after the dances, enjoying the smooth coldness of the stone against our sweaty skin, and talk about what we would do with a building like this if it were our home.

"First off," he would say, "I'd kick all these damned people out!"

He used to love to make me laugh. I thought I couldn't live without him. We were both 17, and it seemed like the perfect life lay before us. Everything in the world was perfect, if only for a moment.

That, was of course, before the booze took hold of him.

It's hard to believe, only a few short years later, here I stand looking at that porch, with its glorious white columns, standing tall and proud, with the fadings of Johnny's fists on my face. Oh how life changes so cruelly.

He will wake up soon, in the E.R., and wonder how he got there. He will yell and call out my name. The nurses will not know that "Jenny" means Jessica, because they will not know that in his drunken confusion he often mistakes his mistress for his wife.

Marc Bolda said...

The bones in the bayou do not speak and the light fades now upon their memory. But there's a tree close by, where a shell fell and killed three men (one of 'em a distant relative of mine) and ain't nobody bothered to fix a marker, 'cause here's the thing: you could pick up the ruckus by Glendale plain as day and what does old Stonewall do?

See that old oak tree over there, yup, that very one. That's where he napped for over an hour while our boys are trading artillery shots with the Yankees. My Grandpappy told me this while I was still a boy.

Not many people knew that apparently, how worn out he was, but Lee had that effect on people, they'd give him their best until they had nothin' left to give.

Might have made all the difference though, my Grandpappy said, had Jackson got into it, but as it stands, Battle of White Oak Swamp remains a footnote and Jackson died less than a year later, done in by his own people at Chancellorsville. I sit in the shade of that same tree and think about that sometimes--wished I coulda woken him up...

Marc Bolda said...

Sorry - that was based on photo 3 - 200 words...

Willow said...

Based on photo #3
183 words

Bleak sunlight streamed through the hanging leaves. Whispers of moving water told Isandro which direction to walk. Frogs hummed a monotonous tune and, somewhere close-by, an egret shrieked. A heavy silence hung beneath the sounds of the swamp, sinking into his clammy skin.

The trees parted and the main river came into view. Isandro halted, staring at the murky water. He shrank down and inched closer, aching as he manoeuvred his bulky frame through the foliage. His breath sounded thunderous in his ears.

There she was. In the middle of the river, stroking her fingers through her long white hair, stood a nymph. Isandro pressed closer to the shadows, watching. An odd sheen covered her grey skin. He wanted to call out and study her better, but he was breathless and his heart hammered at the sight of her again.

Then she turned and her eyes pierced the shadows – looking at him. She hooked him with her serene gaze and Isandro smiled back, until he noticed her reflection in the cloudy water.

The light danced, revealing a flash of sharp teeth.

Angela Ricketts said...

From the Halls of Photograph One

I walked from a chamber and ran straightforward into a wall of stone. Upon this wall were words, not graffiti, instead the words consisted of entire dialogues between my love and I. Hurtful, hateful words we had flung at one another during our lives. The wall seemed such a hateful thing. I began to pound at it with all my might until I could see a bit of light shining through the smallest of holes.

“It is you who have caused this carnage, this waste and this hurt inside a man I call my son,” said a voice. “Do not fear me daughter of Eve, it is only yourself you have to fear.” I knew this though it hurt to admit it. “I do fear you, as I have trespassed against my love, against you. Faltering and failing those commandments you lay down as laws.” My knees grew weak.

Here He appeared, “No child,” He said, “You cannot lay down in misery you have caused.” He held me steady beneath my chin not allowing me to fall. “You will stay afoot and you will continue your journey for love through these halls and chambers of destruction you laid plan to.”

Jean Oram said...

Based on #4, but a bit of #2 snuck in as well.

I stormed out of the mansion. I’d finally had it. After five years of dealing with last minute dinner parties, so-called “accidental” gropings, spousal secrets, and even the odd ghost, I was done. I barely gave a last glance over my shoulder as I heaved my ratty suitcase into the backseat of my VW convertible.

Alligators. Honestly.

Who in their right mind would stay on at a place that allowed alligators to wander into the summer kitchen like they owned the place? For the past month I’d been wondering where the odd leg of lamb had disappeared to, especially since bones didn’t appear on the lawn—a clue that usually led me straight to the family’s spaniel instead of the family’s well-meaning and generous son. After I’d started moving the frozen cuts up higher to thaw, the thievery had stopped. Problem solved. I can outsmart a damn spaniel.

I shivered at the thought of alligators roaming, unbeknownst, through my kitchen.

The VW sputtered to life and we stirred ancient dust as we tore down the plantation’s unpaved driveway. Where was I going? What would I do? I’d assumed my ultimatum would result in the alligators’ removal, not gin-fueled mirth.


Terri Bruce said...

based on picture #1 & #3
200 words on the nose


The tower loomed out of the gloom, phallic and piercing.

E’dan pulled up short, uncertainty flavoring the acrid taste coating her mouth. O’ka wheezed to a stop beside her and chortled. “Subtle, no?”

E’dan made a tsking noise even as she felt herself blush. “I didn’t believe he could be as bad as the rumors, but clearly I underestimated his depravity.” Everyone knew the stories and no maid dared come within a mile of this swamp, though the shortest distance to the capital lay through its heart.

“Shall we go back?” asked O’ka with another chuckle.

E’dan didn’t bother to answer. She twisted the knob and shoved the door open. Her maidenhead seemed a small price to pay to be rid of Fe’van. He was a murderer, a heathen, and a savage, and she’d rather die than see him on the throne. Though still, she shuddered to think what she’d have to do this night to secure the demon’s assistance.

The wizard was in the hall. He looked her up and down and didn’t seem much inclined to approve what he saw. He shook his head and folded his arms. “Oh, honey,” he said. “Those shoes with that cape? Seriously?”

Lauri Meyers said...

Photo 2 - the alligator!
I couldn't believe we were watching National Geographic Channel. I tried to look interested, but really I just wanted to see who got voted off American Idol. How had we grown so far apart? Ever since the new South America wing at the museum was announced, he was always working. He finally took a night off, and we were spending the evening with alligators. Hungry alligators.
It was fascinating to watch them lurk quietly in the water waiting for their food. Every movement was so slow, so calculated. Maybe I should plan a trip to New Orleans. I could sign up for a private swamp tour and just casually knock him over the head into the swamp. The edges of my lips curled in delight at the picture of him thrashing around with an alligator. I think I know who would win that struggle.
"I love that you love nature shows so much," he said noting my smile.
"What's not to love-suspense, murder, a good meal," I recovered.
At least it was spring. That was when alligators breed. Perhaps his 200 pound carcass would be a lovely meal for a family of alligators.

Dr Anne said...

Hi, I sent an entry yesterday but it hasn't shown up.
I am resending it, hope it's not too late to enter.
Dr Anne.

Flash Fiction.


Imogen leaned over the railing, straining to look across to the swamp, where the ghostly limbs of trees cast green gloom. She watched the swamp for hours every day.
This was the last place she’d seen the unicorn. The creature had turned, inclined her head, snorted and flown through the trees, moonlight dusting her glorious coat and flashing from her horn and diamond hooves.
Imogen had never seen such a beautiful being. She knew they did not always appear to humans, and watched the creature from her balcony, until the day she’d managed to tie a purple ribbon around the unicorn’s neck while it rested. The unicorn had spoken, in tones so low Imogen had to lean close to hear, “You cannot keep a unicorn, but because you have not harmed me, if you untether me I will return some day and take you with me. And you will have good fortune.”
Imogen stroked the unicorn’s silken fur, and found herself dusted with silver and gold, and clothed in silk.
The unicorn stamped, and flew off.
Imogen’s life had indeed been good. And now, as it moved toward its end, she waited for the unicorn to return.

200 words

(c) 2012 Anne Howard
(based on photos 3 and 4)

Joey Francisco said...
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Joey Francisco said...
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Joey Francisco said...
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Joey Francisco said...
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Dr Anne said...
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