Challenge Winner: FFM 2018

FlashFictionMonth starts tomorrow, and it’s time to select a winner from among the 27 challenges I’ve been issued this month. That’s more than double the challenges I received last year!

It’s also kind of an awkward number. I could deal with this using a random number generator, but that wouldn’t afford me a chance to use my fancy dice; so I guess I’m using a d100 and re-rolling until I get a valid number.

The winning number is… 66! Wait… 88! No, 68!
…This may take a while.
Skipping all the invalid numbers, our actual winner is: 26!
Our winning challenge comes as a last-minute entry by Teague-Drydan:
At least half of the month needs to be fairy tale re-writes. Bonus if they aren’t well known fairy tales.
Thank you, Teague-Drydan! Your points will arrive shortly. (And sorry to the no less than five of you who voted for the All-Star challenge: another time, maybe!)
Because I was kind of on a …roll (badum-tsh) and we have plenty of challenges to go around, we have a second, lower-priority winner: 4! An anonymous contributor slapped me with a glove and challenged me to write every single character queer. Which, you know, I can do, but doing it explicitly is harder. Will I be doing it anyway? Possibly! Since this isn’t the actual winner-winner, I’m not going to do any acrobatic tricks to make it explicit (and I’m certainly not going to give it as much priority as the actual winner, not to mention the official FFM challenges), but we’ll see how far I get in avoiding allocishet characters over the course of the month. Queered fairy tales, here we come!
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Challenge Me: FFM 2018

It’s that time of year again! Flash Fiction Month is fast approaching: and with it, the extra chance to WIN FABULOUS PRIZES and MAKE ME A SLAVE TO YOUR WHIMSY! I hope that’s a good pitch, because I barely altered it from last year!

For those who haven’t been around long enough to know, a bit of explanation: Flash Fiction Month is a month-long challenge to write a piece of flash fiction between 55 and 1,000 words for every day of July. There are challenge days and prompts aplenty, and also there are fabulous prizes (I’ve got a bit of a mug collection going!), and it’s a great deal of fun for everyone involved. Do join in if you feel so inclined; and if not, at least you’ll have plenty of reading to do!

I’ve participated for the past four years, and for the past two I’ve also crowdsourced an extra challenge to carry me through the entire month. In 2016 that meant murdering a whole bunch of people with shovels (…fictionally), and in 2017 it meant beginning each story with the previous story’s ending word. What will it be this time? YOU DECIDE.

Rules

Anyone – I repeat, ANYONE – may enter this. You don’t even need an account, here or anywhere else: you just need to be able to reach me. As long as you’re able to communicate your challenge to me, anonymously or otherwise, I will accept it.

Here are some convenient ways to reach me:

  • Comment on this post.
  • Comment on this mirror post DeviantArt.
  • If you’d like to remain anonymous, send me a note there.
  • Challenge me on Twitter.
  • Use occult forces to send me your challenge via a dream.
  • Hunt me down and slap me with a glove.
  • Slip a note assembled entirely out of newspaper clippings under my door.
  • If you communicate with me regularly anyways and/or have my email address, those options are always there for you.

(If you choose an anonymous method of communication (and I can’t reliably get back to you) but do not wish to be credited anonymously, please include whatever information you’d like to have included; also, if you have a DeviantArt account, keep in mind I’ll need to know what it is in order to distribute that part of the prize if you should win.)

You may issue as many challenges as you like. You may also add your vote to an existing challenge (the winning challenge will be chosen randomly: this will increase its chances), or modify an existing challenge by adding or changing criteria. (Keep it to one vote per person per challenge. I will enforce this as far as I am able; please don’t exploit the loopholes of anonymity.)

I will reject challenges only if I feel that the challenge is completely undoable (by, for instance, being incompatible with the actual rules of FFM) or in conflict with the spirit of the event. Please stay away from fanfiction challenges or ones that involve each story throughout the entire month having the same specific length; pretty much anything else is valid!

Your deadline is noon (Central European Summer Time) on June 30th. There will be no leniency. Winner(s) should be announced by that afternoon.

Fabulous Prizes

You stand to win:

  • Official credit for the challenge in whatever form you’d like, from complete anonymity to a name and a link, both in the eventual collection and on the stories themselves.
  • Up to 500 DeviantArt points, if you have an account (details below).
  • The grim satisfaction of watching me dance through your arbitrary hoops, knowing I am but a puppet upon the strings you have laid.
Boring technical details:

The person whose number I actually roll will receive 500 points, and so will the person who originally came up with the full challenge; if these are the same person, those points will overlap. If a modified version of a challenge wins, every contributor to the full challenge also wins 250 points. If anyone who would win points doesn’t have a dA account, they forfeit that part of the prize. Credit will be shared between all contributors to the winning challenge.

Challenges So Far

  1. Incorporate a quote from a different Bee Gees song into each story.  ~TheWarOfTheRing
  2. You must have a banana present somewhere in your story or you have to have a Bee Movie reference. Either works.  ~Domaex
  3. Each story must simultaneously be a serious example of one genre, and a silly example of another.  ~jdeyke
  4. Every character must be queer. ~anonymous contributor
  5. Puppies in every story. They must be happy and nothing terrible may happen to them.  ~jdeyke
  6. The first sentence and last sentence of each story, if taken separately from the rest, must construct a two-sentence story in their own right.  ~ilyilaice
  7. The main character in the next day’s story must be a character that was featured (however briefly) in the previous day’s story.  ~lion-essrampant
  8. Blow up at least one farm animal in every story. Bonus points if the number of farm animals blown up across the entire month exceeds one hundred billion. ~Damon L. Wakes
  9. Upvote #6.  ~Teague-Drydan
  10. Each story should feature a number that is at least 1 higher than the day before.  ~Teague-Drydan
  11. The last line of the previous day is now the first line of the next day.  ~Teague-Drydan
  12. Each day someone/thing has to have an allergic reaction to something. Bonus: each reaction is different.  ~Teague-Drydan
  13. Each story must follow the basic principle behind the Roller Coaster method: it must begin and end with opposites. (Bonus: a. Whatever the opposing force was in the previous story is incorporated somewhere in the middle ground of the next one.  b. No two opposing forces may be the same throughout the whole month.)  ~blackflamingo777
  14. Every story begins with a first line based on the same sentence, but it must be written differently in every story.  ~blackflamingo777
  15. Somewhere in every story, you must end one sentence with “in accordance with the prophecy”.  ~blackflamingo777
  16. Over the course of FFM, your oeuvre must address the following items: something somebody once told you; the sharpest tool; a finger and a thumb; the shape of an L; what does it mean to be ‘fed to the rules’?; a smart brain and a dumb head; “You’ll never shine if you don’t glow”; definitive proof that all that glitters is in fact gold; a  shooting star that breaks the mold; the meteor men, and the hole in the satellite picture; skating on thin ice; the world on fire; “Can you spare some change for gas?”; an all-star, getting their game on, and going to play, or alternatively and perhaps easier, a rock star, getting the show on, and getting paid; Shrek.  ~joe-wright
  17. Someone named with the name of your choice must appear in every story. Bonus points if the named character is the very same throughout the month.  ~WindySilver
  18. Upvote #16. ~Damon L. Wakes
  19. A space-time-dimension travelling house plant appears in every story. At least three stories must be written from the perspective of this plant.  ~Ffaunax
  20. A favorite song of yours is mentioned by lyric or title in each story. Bonus points if it’s a hit tune known to many.  ~xlntwtch
  21. Upvote #16.  ~xlntwtch
  22. Your character, in every story used, must be notably allergic to something – lethally.  ~PennedinWhite
  23. The question “How much do I owe you?” should be used in at least half of the stories.  ~PennedinWhite
  24. A phone rings in every conversation, and must be answered each time. The phone conversation much last at least 5 lines of dialogue. (The phone will not additionally ring during the phone conversation.)  ~PennedinWhite
  25. Upvote #16.  ~TheWarOfTheRing
  26. At least half of the month needs to be fairy tale re-writes. Bonus if they aren’t well known fairy tales.  ~Teague-Drydan
  27. Upvote #16.  ~Domaex
  28. Upvote #26.  ~LadyBrookeCelebwen

Thank you, and happy challenging!

“Twelve Drowned Roses” read by LushBunnie

LushBunnie over on YouTube has done a beautiful reading of my “Twelve Drowned Roses“, which I wrote for my very first Flash Fiction Month back in 2014!

And there’s a creepy doll in the background!

“Twelve Drowned Roses” was one of those stories I wrote with no plan and no idea what I was doing, the consequence of giving up – it wasn’t too near the midnight deadline yet, but it was late and I was tired and staying up later wouldn’t have helped any – and, as such, I was very surprised at how well it turned out (not to mention the positive response it got). It’s a nice creepy one, and LushBunnie‘s reading style works perfectly for it. Do give it a listen, and check out the rest of her channel!

(And, of course, if you enjoy the story you can find it in 2014’s FFM collection: Borrowed Strength.)


As far as other news goes, there’s not much I can say at the moment. I am full of Secret News which, for now, is going to have to remain secret. Suffice it to say that the paid writing gig I mentioned a while back is progressing well, and I’m really looking forwards to the day when I can start being less cryptic about it.

Myths, Monsters, Mutations, and other things

Yesterday I went to an exhibit on local superstition and folk magic! Here are some things I learned:

  • Most folk magic concerns itself with warding off attacks by witches, which is weird, because there’s hardly anything about how to actually cause that harm in the first place.
  • Better put pentagrams and crescent moons on ALL your common household appliances, just in case!
  • Catholics like(d?) to touch their magical amulets and talismans to holy items – relics, paintings or sculptures of holy people, &c. – in order to imbue them with holiness. Then some sort of religious schism happened and Evangelicals became a thing, and they were like, “Silly Catholics! Everything is equally holy! What superstitious twaddle!” but they didn’t actually stop doing this; they just started using pictures of Martin Luther to charge up their magic items instead.
  • Quoth a man who was asked about a magical talisman he kept in his barn: “I’m not superstitious, but they say it works even if you don’t believe in it.”
  • You should definitely keep a dead toad in the room when giving birth.

In other news, there was a tiny snail in my bathtub a few weeks ago. I do not know how it got there.

News!

It’s been a hard few months for writing. This summer I participated in one flash fiction challenge after another for something like four months straight, and then midway through the last of them this had pretty much the expected effect, which is that I crashed, hard. There was a lot contributing to this – various personal stressors, writing exhaustion, a serious loss of confidence when I failed to complete THE GAUNTLET (and even before I gave up on it, played fast and loose with the rules) – and the result is that I haven’t written a game for NaNo this year, haven’t finished the epic holiday project I had planned for this year, haven’t finished the stop-gap measure holiday project I had the idea for just 11 days before I would have needed it, and haven’t touched the novel I’m working on (remember that? It’s been in the works for a long time now; the roughest draft is done, and I’m now theoretically in revision stages) since I set it down to make way for Flash Fiction Month last June.

It’s not all bad news. Despite my own feelings about my work for the Gauntlet, I was actually singled out in the winners announcement:

We have set aside a SPECIAL MENTION for GDeyke
as well, because of how their high-quality entries charmed the powers
that be enough to outrank even some of the competitors with more entries
to their name. Our eyes glaze with longing for what could have happened
if more entries had been completed.

Especially given how much I’d been kicking myself for what I thought to be a piss-poor performance, this was unbelievably comforting to hear, and I am truly beyond grateful for it.

In even better, incredibly exciting, almost-certainly-curing-me-of-my-writing-listlessness news, I’ve landed a paid writing gig – pretty small in scope, but I’m certainly not complaining. While I haven’t actually signed an NDA as such, I feel the NDA was implied, so I’m not sharing any more details yet; but be assured I’ll tell you all about this in, oh, probably less than a year! Be assured also that it is very exciting.

And finally, I’ve also had a story accepted into Myths, Monsters, Mutations, which leads me to my next point:

Shameless Plugs

It’s December: month of gift-giving and holiday shopping! I am nearly certain your loved ones would like some of these books:

Myths, Monsters, Mutations is an anthology of “over 300 pages recounting tales of the dark side of fairy tales, macabre mutations, and the monsters that lurk within us all.” As I’ve said, I have a story in there, and so do several other writers I can recommend! You can find it on Amazon US here, on Amazon UK here, and on any other Amazon by just filling the appropriate suffix into the URL. I’m certainly looking forwards to reading this one.

I myself have written several books, and would like to especially draw your attention to my FFM collections, which, as you may recall, are available in print now. They’re fairly cheap, and because of the unabashed variety of stories FFM tends to provoke, your loved ones’ personal tastes are pretty much irrelevant: something in there is pretty likely to be to their taste. (If you can only justify getting one of them, my personal recommendation is Changeling – it’s the most recent and in my opinion the best of them so far – but you can also easily browse them for free online before committing to a shiny new print copy.)

Finally, in book futures, my good internet mongoose DamonWakes has written a book about murder in space and is crowdfunding it through Unbound; and while Ten Little Astronauts certainly won’t be out this year, funding is only continuing through December 25th. There’s no risk here: the book will be published at this point whether it hits its goal or not, but hitting the goal will make the end product much fancier. It’s still at 51%, so every bit counts! And there’s more than one way to make a pledge in someone else’s name, so even without a physical book in hand it’s still a viable gift option. I’m very much looking forwards to reading this book myself: Damon is an excellent writer, and I’m always down for some good space murders. If this sounds at all like something you – or anyone you know – might be interested in, please do give it a look!

FFM series in print

My own print copies of the FFM series have now arrived in the post, so I can show off just how fancy they really are! Observe:

FFM 1-4 front

The cover art looks incredibly fancy in person. The dark parts look darker than they did on the computer, the bright parts look just as bright, and overall they just really pop.

FFM 1-4 back

The back covers: also really fancy. Man these things look good.

Palalgia inside view

Excerpt from “Knock on Wood” (Palalgia), because the interactive stories are where the fancy inner formatting is most obvious. Check out those nifty skulls! Note: the apparent glow is actually just lighting; I cannot guarantee that your copy will have a glowing spine.

FFM 1-4 shelf

The spines are dark and sombre on the shelf. Very serious. You’d never guess that they’re at least 20% silly jokes. Though the effect is probably enhanced by the light-coloured books on either side, they look similar enough to be cohesive but different enough to be told apart; it’s only a shame I couldn’t mark the spines more obviously.

 

This also means that the book pages have been updated with convenient buy links. You can get there through the menu, but just to make things easy for you, here are all those links again:

borrowed strength ephemeron palalgia changeling cover small

Thank you, and enjoy!

Changeling + print versions!

 

 

This year’s FFM collection is now out – on Smashwords, as usual, but also as an exciting print version! This is about the point where one would usually show off how fancy it is with photographic evidence, but, uh, funny story there. I actually can’t buy copies myself at cost, because CreateSpace only accepts credit cards and credit cards aren’t even really a thing here, so I’m stuck waiting for it to show up on Amazon just like anyone else who can’t or doesn’t want to buy from CreateSpace directly. Nonetheless, I assure you it is extremely fancy.

While I was at it, I also sorted exciting print versions (all of them just as fancy!) for the last three years’ FFM collections, so if you’ve ever wanted all my FFM stories nicely collected in a format you can store on your bookshelf and inhale those heady paper fumes from, this is the day that your dreams have come true. And if you’ve just wanted them in a convenient format you can store in your e-reader and inhale those heady electronic fumes from, this is also the day your dreams have come true. Dreams are just coming true left and right over here.

I’ll keep the book page up-to-date with links as it ships out to various distributors, but in the meantime you can get the Changeling in print here and in just about every e-format available here; and if you’d like to eagerly await additional distribution channels or pick up the last three years’ FFM books, just click on the appropriate image below:

borrowed strength ephemeron palalgia changeling cover small

Review: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K. J. Charles

I figure it’s good for everyone if I branch out into occasional book reviews, and I have recently read a book worth reviewing, so here we are: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K. J. Charles.

I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing about it, except that I had bought it as part of a bundle and as such was damned well going to read it no matter what: which, as it turns out, was a good thing, because otherwise I doubt I would ever have picked it up. Here is a quick run-through of my impressions:

First impression: “I honestly can’t tell if this is erotica written with an eye to character, world-building, and humour, or if it’s speculative mystery with a lot of gratuitously explicit sex in…?”

Second impression: “All right, so this is basically Sherlock Holmes, if Sherlock Holmes were about ghosts and sex and, on occasion, sexy ghosts (try not to think about the incestual implications of ghostly sex scenes involving dead relatives).”

Third impression: “Haha this is awesome actually”

Fourth impression: “Right, having now read the entire book, I think I can safely put it down as a romance novel.”

Romance isn’t really my cup of tea, which is why I doubt I would have read it on my own, and this makes it difficult to compare it to its fellows. I suspect that most of the things I liked least about it (it was awfully sexy, a bit sappy, and ran slightly towards wish-fulfillment) are in fact staples of the genre. What is, however, my precise cup of tea is low-brow humour wrapped up in elevated Victorian diction, and if that’s what you’re into The Secret Casebook is a veritable goldmine. Large portions of the book pretty much feel like you’re sitting beside a Victorian man in a waistcoat who is nudging you in the ribs with his elbow, winking heavily, and going, “Eh? Eh??”

It’s also quite well-written overall, but the humour is why I’d recommend this book even to those who aren’t usually fans of romance as a genre.

Avoid if: you are a child or easily embarrassed by sex scenes.

Definitely read if: you enjoy some combination of Victorian diction, paranormal mystery, and/or romance; you’re interested in historical ghost stories; and/or you have always wanted for Holmes and Watson to hook up.

You can find a description and buy links here.