Micro Fiction Writing Competition Round 6: Deadline extended!

 

*Please Note: This competition has now ended. Please see our competition page for info on all our latest competitions*

Unfortunately, once again we have not received enough submissions to justify a fair competition. So we are extending the submission deadline for another 10 days. The new deadline will be October the 24th at Midnight AEST. If you can help spread the word, that would be amazing and would help to get this competition through to completion and offer the writers the healthy competition they deserve.

I understand that the $2 entry fee may put people off and whilst I’d love to keep the entry FREE, I’m not sure my bank account will thank me for it. The entry fee helps pay for the prize money, but what’s left has to come from my own pocket, which I’m more than willing to do as it’s a pleasure to hear such excitement from writers when their stories are chosen for a prize and publication. Your very helpful contribution, of a small entry fee, will help me to keep these competitions running and if we get enough from one competition, we can make the next one FREE.

See the original post for details on how to enter HERE

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If you’d like to be reminded when the competition is ending and when a new one begins please sign up to our mailing list below. You’ll also be kept up to date with all our latest news, stories, and promos including giveaways and writing competitions, plus receive a FREE Ebook exclusive to email subscribers.

 

Alternatively, go to our COMPETITIONS page for info on the latest competitions!


Get your FREE Ebook

Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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Micro Fiction Writing Competition Winners: Round 5

Thank you to everyone who entered our 5th round of the Micro Fiction Writing Competition. The entries this month were all outstanding, so picking just 10 for the short-list was a challenge to say the least, and picking just 3 winners was a little agonising. I’d love to make everyone a winner but alas, it wouldn’t be a competition then, would it? Congratulations once again to all our shortlisted stories this month. If you missed the previous post containing the shortlist, you can find it HERE or just see the list below.
As a quick reminder however, here are our 10 shortlisted stories for round 5 of our micro-fiction writing competition.

  1. Born on The Wrong Side of the BedSheet – LAURA BESLEY, Great Britain
  2. Grey-Grey-Ma’s Toes – MFC FEELEY, United States
  3. How to Become a Great Grandmother by the Time You are 50 in 10 Easy Steps – MICHELLE CHRISTOPHOROU, Great Britain
  4. Joint Effort – TZE CHUA, Singapore
  5. Sweetheart Divinity – MYNA CHANG, United States
  6. The Landscape of Hands – DETTRA ROSE, Australia
  7. The Long and Short of It – BETT WILLET, United States
  8. The Skeleton on Top of the Wardrobe – ALISON HILBOURNE, Great Britain
  9. The Visit – LAURA TAPPER, Great Britain
  10. You May Decide to Ride Elephants – NICOLA DAVISON, United Kingdom
This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog going, thank you.

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Echo Dot – (3rd Gen) Smart Speaker with Alexa

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Winners

And here they are, our 3 winners. Congratulations to you all, you should be very proud!
1ST PLACE ($50 prize, printed copy of anthology + a digital copy)
‘Grey-Grey-Ma’s Toes’ by MFC Feeley, United States.
What we liked: This was such an enjoyable, engaging narrative, with a good sense of place and realism. The joy and innocence of the relationship between granddaughter and grandmother was beautifully captured and an attractive main character (a logical and honest child) is always welcome in a story.
Bio: MFC Feeley lives in Tuxedo, NY. She wrote a series of ten stories inspired by the Bill of Rights for Ghost Parachute and has published in Best Microfictions 2020, SmokeLong, Jellyfish Review, Brevity Blog, Liar’s League, and others. She has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist, and has judged for Mash Stories and Scholastic.
You can find more of her writing at MFC Feeley/Facebook and on Twitter MFC Feeley @FeeleyMfc
Author’s Statement: Because I never knew mine, grandmothers always seem magical to me; I watched my friends’ grandmothers closely. I started this story with the image of a maroon vinyl rose on an old lady’s foot. My first drafts received polite rejections, but I maintained affection for the piece. Weeks later, I noticed a lot of fragrances, so I drummed up the aromas and the theme of Bonnie’s jealousy for her older sister—a theme I’ve used before, although I only have brothers! I realized that the grandmother should be older, a Grey-grey-ma, because even though she can barely walk, her toes keeps dancing. That is magical. I am thrilled that Grey-grey-ma’s Toes has found a home at Mum Life Stories. Thank you.

Grey-Grey-Ma's Toes

Grey-Grey-Ma’s Toes

The pew smelled of polyurethane and Lemon Pledge. Grey-grey-ma, smelled of Ben Gay and lavender. Bonnie knelt. Grey-grey-ma got to stay sitting because of her back.
Bonnie’s sister, Constance sat behind the altar, off to the side, with the choir. Bonnie could see her by leaning over to the right. Light from the long tapered candles played on her hair. Bonnie waved her steepled fingers discreetly. Mom hissed. Constance didn’t look up, but Bonnie felt her smirk.
Constance devoted so much time to curling her hair she’d missed pancakes and maple syrup only to twirl the kitchen in a stench whirlwind of hairspray, and ask if it looked natural. Because Bonnie, a logical and honest child, observed that only a congregation of stupid heads could mistake Constance’s curls for natural after watching Constance grow up as a straight-head for her whole entire life. Bonnie now sat wedged between Grey-grey-ma and Mom, instead of in her usual spot at the end of the pew, where Grey-grey-ma could sneak Bonnie candy under the auspices of giving Mom a little break.
It was time to stand, but Bonnie got to stay seated and hold the book while Grey-grey-ma found the page and then they bent their heads together as if Bonnie could read already, because Grey-grey-ma knew that was how it happened: one day—boom! —Bonnie would a reader. Already, Bonnie had most of the words memorized. Besides, she and Grey-grey-ma were the only ones who prayed with feeling; everyone else acted like they were reading a grocery list and surely that was more offensive to God than waving. “Doesn’t she look beautiful?” whispered Grey-grey-ma, breaking the rule about no talking, except Grey-grey-ma was old, which made it OK, and she was deaf, which made her whisper really loud, which made it funny.
Grey-grey-ma clapped the prayer book shut and Bonnie tucked it behind the rail in front of them. Bonnie slid her butt all the way back in the wooden bench; drone-drone-drone went the preacher; Bonnie distracted herself by swinging her feet like she was dancing on air. It didn’t make one single noise. Still, Mom squinted a warning. Then Grey-grey-ma danced her shoes in the air too. Grey-grey-ma’s shoes had vinyl roses on the toes. Connie watched them. She’d wear them around the living room when they went home and maybe even get them as a present.
Meanwhile, Constance’s hair was already falling straight.


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Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef


2ND PLACE ($20 prize + digital copy of anthology)

The Landscape of Hands’ by Dettra Rose, Australia
What we liked: A story about stories that is wonderfully descriptive with thrilling turns of phrase. It’s warm, nostalgic and invites us into the story, leaving us wanting to know more.
Bio: Dettra Rose writes flash fiction, creative non-fiction and tiny poems. She wrote her first flash fiction in 2018 and won the Australian Writers’ Centre inaugural Furious Fiction competition. Since then she has developed a serious addiction to flash. Dettra’s pieces have won and been shortlisted/longlisted in a number of esteemed competitions, including: Bath Flash Fiction Award, Reflex Fiction Flash Competition, Retreat West’s Micro Fiction and TSS Publishing Flash 400. Dettra is also working on her first novel.
A born-and-bred Londoner she now lives in Australia and calls both places home.
Dettra lives with her non-verbal partner, a handsome cat and a bossy dog. Say hello at Dettrarose.com or on twitter @dettrarose or Facebook @Dettra Rose
Author Statement: My story was inspired by the theme of great-grandmother. I wanted to convey her with wisdom and insight and one foot in the old ways. I liked the juxtaposition of her not being
able to read words, but able to read people. I wanted something intimate and personal, passed on through the maternal line. As I wrote, I played with the great-grandmother reading tea leaves or cards, but chose hands because of touch and connection. I raced to write ‘The Landscape of Hands’ just hours before the deadline. Pressure like that usually crushes my storytelling but this time, happily, it didn’t.
I’ve always loved words. I’m fascinated by how they can connect or disconnect us. Themes I
enjoy exploring include: Communication and its breakdown, Love – what burns it out and refuels it and, Endings and beginnings.
My stories often have hope in them. Redemption is important to me. I like the small tender
moments that are ordinary yet extraordinary. Inspiration comes in many different ways,
often through listening to people. I write to connect. I write because if I don’t, I get cranky! Like most authors, I’m juggling my life to make time to write but don’t always succeed. Four years ago, my partner had a major stroke. He was youngish, fit and healthy. He lost all his language, both written and spoken. He’s become almost independent again, but still has very little vocabulary. It’s given me an even deeper appreciation of words.


The Landscape of hands
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

The Landscape of Hands

Mum’s hand was around mine as great-grandmother Kettie opened the front door. Her skin had blotches like coffee stains. Her eyes were blue as denim.
Her boxy flat was cluttered with dark furniture. On the table, orange roses with wide-open faces.
She made tea in a dented silver pot and I sat on Mum’s lap. They gave me an old doll to play with; she had human hair and a puffy white dress.
We drank Russian Caravan tea and Kettie took Mum’s tight hand and unfolded it like a precious letter. She couldn’t read stories on a page, just in people’s palms.
They talked about my father in whispers, but I understood. They hush-hushed about me. I understood that, too. Kettie looked at my hands. Pressed my thumbs and fingertips. Her touch made me goosebumpy.
Then we shelled fresh peas and shared them with magpies.
That’s my only memory of meeting great-grandmother, Kettie.
I saw her again in sepia photos. She was swimming in a giant coat huddled into her father on a train platform. Two suitcases on the ground, too small to carry their lives in. They shouted refugee. I studied her hands in old pictures. Often, they were close. Holding each other like lovers. I wanted to touch them. Turn them.
When Mum plucked mine from my sides and showed me my heartline, union lines, travel line, fate line – the stars, crosses and rings – I felt kettie in my skin. We studied our palms many times, as some do night skies.
I only met Kettie once, but I know her in the stories I can tell you about your palms. Your fingertips and wrists. In the spaces between your ring and index fingers. In the landscape and constellations of your lines.
My great-grandmother said hands are stories rarely told properly. My grandmother and mother learned those stories. Now like precious heirlooms, they’ve become mine.


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3RD PLACE ($20 prize + digital copy of anthology)
Born on the Wrong Side of the Bedsheet‘ by Laura Besley, Great Britain
What we liked: A well-balanced, satisfying story that is relatable and inspirational. The great-grandmother’s personality is so skilfully revealed through small, relatable details: an ‘ironed teatowel’, measured dish liquid, etc. The ‘you are good enough’ moral sits nicely with our purpose at MLS, to see women confident in their identity.

Bio: Laura Besley is a full-time mum to two young boys and squeezes her writing time into the bookends of her day. She has recently been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers with her story ‘On Repeat’ (Reflex Fiction). Having lived in Holland, Germany and Hong Kong, she now lives in landlocked central England and misses the sea. Her flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers, was published in March 2020.

She tweets @laurabesley
Author’s statement: My inspiration for ‘Born on the Wrong Side of the Bed Sheet’ came from a friend who used this phrase about her own great-grandmother last summer. When the theme of great-grandmother came up, I knew immediately that I would use that phrase for my title. Having a title before writing the story is very rare for me. As I was drafting it, I thought about the relationship that the two women might have and how it might be bridged in a single conversation. You’re never able to predict whether a story will do well in a competition, but I secretly had high hopes for this one, just because I loved it so much, and am thrilled that it’s won third place!

Laura’s debut flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers, out now! Order here 
 

The wrong side of the bedsheet

Born on the Wrong Side of the Bedsheet

‘Eliza, come,’ my great-grandmother says. ‘You can dry.’ Despite her age, she still insists on doing her own washing up.

I look at my mother, then my grandmother, pleading at them with my eyes to do or say something, knowing they won’t. Everyone is scared of “Big Grandma” (not that she knows we call her that). We’ve been sipping coffee and eating chocolate cake in honour of her 90th birthday while making stop-start conversations in the dark sitting room.

‘Here,’ she hands me an ironed tea towel and starts running the water, using a teaspoon to measure the washing up liquid. She looks out into her garden and starts washing the Royal Albert violet-patterned teacups.

I reach for one and she says, ‘No, leave them for a few minutes otherwise the tea towel will get too wet.’

‘Okay,’ I say.

‘Tell me, Eliza, does this baby of yours have a father?’

I knew it. I knew this was coming all afternoon. Even my maxi dress can’t hide my expanding stomach. ‘That’s usually how it goes.’

‘Don’t get smart with me, young lady.’

‘Sorry.’ And I am, for so many things, nothing I can tell her though.

‘Does he know?’

I nod. ‘He’s not interested. Said he’s too young to be a father.’

‘How old is he?’

‘Same age as me. 21,’ I add, in case she’s forgotten.

‘You can start drying now,’ she says.

‘Did I ever tell you that I was born on the wrong side of the bedsheet?’

I stop and look at her. She’s still washing, looking out the window.

‘No,’ I say.

‘That’s what it was called in those days. My mother was a servant in a big house and was forced out once her condition became known to the Housekeeper.’

‘Did she go back home?’ I ask.

‘Goodness, no. She wouldn’t have been welcome. No, she took a room above a pub and worked there as a cleaner and barmaid.’

‘And you?’

‘I grew up in a room above a pub. Never knew any different. One day, though, I was playing out the front and a man got out of a car – remember how rare it was for someone to have an automobile in those days – and asked my name. “Emmeline,” I said. He handed me a gold coin and said, “You’re as beautiful as your mother. Always be good, Emmeline, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.”’ My great-grandmother sighs. ‘I didn’t tell anyone at the time, it felt exciting to have a secret. However, later, when I told my mother, she suspected it was my father, but still wouldn’t reveal his name.’

‘Did you ever see him again?’ I ask, looking down at an almost-dry teacup.

‘No.’ She snaps the washing up gloves off and turns to face me. ‘Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you or your baby isn’t good enough. Promise me.’

‘I promise.’

‘Now, finish that drying up; it won’t do itself.’


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Writing Flash – How to craft & publish flash fiction for a booming market (Kindle Edition)


Next Competition

If you missed out on placing in this round, never fear, there is another round beginning within the next couple of weeks. The theme this time will be ‘Foster Mother’. As the last official round, I am anticipating lots of entries and no need for extending deadlines…here’s hoping!

Sign up to our mailing list here, or below to receive a notification when competitions begin. You’ll also be kept up to date with all the latest news, stories and promos (including giveaways and writing competitions) and receive a FREE Ebook exclusive to our email subscribers.

Alternatively, go to our COMPETITIONS page for info on the latest competitions!


Get your FREE Ebook

Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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Shortlist: Micro Fiction Writing Competition Round 5

Well it’s that time again, when all our contributing writers sit on the edge of their seats, quickly scanning over my opening paragraph (more out of politeness than interest) because let’s face it, your not reading this post to see what riveting words of advice I have to impart, you just want the list! The list that may or may not contain your name, the list that holds all your hopes and dreams in the balance, ready to set your day, your week, your month, on fire in a positive way and set your life on a trajectory toward life-long success and happiness! 

Too much?

Yeah, I just really needed something to put in the opening paragraph besides, here it is!

Now that you’re smiling, try and keep it up, even if you don’t see your name on the MLS Micro Fiction Writing Competition Shortlist below, your still a great writer and a valued contributor to this competition and you still have another chance with our next competition, starting in a couple of weeks. 

Without further adieu (or should I say torture) here are the 10  short-listed stories. Winners will be announced once they have been contacted and we have received their bio’s and authors statements, so keep an eye on your inbox if your name is on the shortlist, because if your one of our top 3, we will be contacting you very shortly.

This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog running, thank you. 

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SHORTLIST

Here are our 10 shortlisted stories in alphabetical order (please note the order has no bearing on placement):

  1. Born on The Wrong Side of the BedSheet – LAURA BESLEY, Great Britain
  2. Grey-Grey-Ma’s Toes – MFC FEELEY, United States
  3. How to Become a Great Grandmother by the Time You are 50 in 10 Easy Steps – MICHELLE CHRISTOPHOROU, Great Britain
  4. Joint Effort – TZE CHUA, Singapore
  5. Sweetheart Divinity – MYNA CHANG, United States
  6. The Landscape of Hands – DETTRA ROSE, Australia
  7. The Long and Short of It – BETT WILLET, United States
  8. The Skeleton on Top of the Wardrobe – ALISON HILBOURNE, Great Britain
  9. The Visit – LAURA TAPPER, Great Britain
  10. You May Decide to Ride Elephants – NICOLA DAVISON, United Kingdom

Congratulations to all our winners, all of our shortlisted stories will be published in our very first anthology sometime at the end of this year and all writers will receive a free digital copy.


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Brevity, a Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef (Buy it Now)


NEXT COMPETITION

Our next and last official round of the competition will open sometime within the next couple of weeks, so check back soon. If you’re on our mailing list you will receive an email notification when the new round begins.

Sign up HERE, or fill in the form below to be added to our email list and you will receive a notification when this and future competitions begin.  You will also receive all the latest news, stories and promos (including giveaways and competitions) as well as a FREE Ebook exclusive to our email subscribers.

 

Alternatively, go to our COMPETITIONS page for info on the latest competitions!


Get your FREE Ebook

Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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Kindle Paperwhite – Now waterproof with twice the (8GB)

Micro Fiction Writing Competition Round 5: Deadline extended!

Unfortunately, once again we have not received enough submissions to justify a fair competition. So we are extending the submission deadline for another 10 days. The new deadline will be August the 24th at Midnight AEST. If you can help spread the word, that would be amazing and would help to get this competition through to completion and offer the writers the healthy competition they deserve.

I understand that the $2 entry fee may put people off and whilst I’d love to keep the entry FREE, I’m not sure my bank account will thank me for it. The entry fee helps pay for the prize money, but what’s left has to come from my own pocket, which I’m more than willing to do as it’s a pleasure to hear such excitement from writers when their stories are chosen for a prize and publication. Your very helpful contribution, of a small entry fee, will help me to keep these competitions running and if we get enough from one competition, we can make the next one FREE.

See the original post for details on how to enter HERE

M:Fiction Comp R5

If you’d like to be reminded when the competition is ending and when a new one begins please sign up to our mailing list below. You’ll also be kept up to date with all our latest news, stories, and promos including giveaways and writing competitions, plus receive a FREE Ebook exclusive to email subscribers.

Alternatively, go to our COMPETITIONS page for info on the latest competitions!


Get your FREE Ebook

Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

ebook button


perfecto-capucine-3gC4gBnD3Xs-unsplash (1)Kindle Paperwhite – Now Waterproof with more than 2x the storage (32GB)

Micro Fiction Writing Competition Winners: Round 4

*UPDATE: This competition has ended. Please visit our competitions page for more information about our latest comps*

Thank you everyone for your patience in waiting for the announcements this month. Busyness has become my new norm, but in a really good way. Whilst our entries were on the low side this month, the quality of entries was at an all-time high, which made the choice of picking 3 winners an even harder task this time around. Congratulations to all our shortlisted stories this month, there were just 5 of them but they were all very deserving. Our reasons for only picking 5 this round are HERE if you haven’t read the post yet.

As a quick reminder however, here are our 5 shortlisted stories for round 4 of our micro-fiction writing competition.

  1. Daddy’s Girl – Laura Tapper, Great Britain
  2. Eleven Things I Hate and Love About My Step Mother – Michelle Christophorou, UK
  3. Insurance Policy – Nicola Ashbrook, Great Britain
  4. Tabula Rasa – Bayveen O’Connell, Ireland
  5. The Playground – Nancy Leinweber, Australia
This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog going, thank you.

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Winners

And here they are, our 3 winners. Congratulations to you all, you should be very proud!

1ST PLACE ($50 prize, printed copy of anthology + a digital copy)

   ‘Tabula Rasa’ by Bayveen O’Connell of Ireland.

What we liked: We loved how relatable this was, and how the writer used the car wash as an objective correlative between the two characters. It really touches on the unique relationship between child and step-parent.

Bio: Bayveen O’Connell lives in Dublin, teaches English, and facilitates Creative Writing Workshops. She loves Bowie, Halloween, victorian gothic, historical fiction, taking photos, traveling (especially to Italy and Japan), and Cava. Her fiction has appeared (or is forthcoming) in the 2020 Flash Fiction Day Anthology, 2019 & 2020 Flash Flood, Ellipsis Zine, Virtual Zine Mag, Molotov Cocktail, The Cabinet of Heed, Underground Writers, Ravens in the Attic, Nightingale & Sparrow, and others. You can find her Creative Non-Fiction in Scum Lit Mag and Former Cactus.

Author’s Statement: When I saw the theme, I immediately wanted to undermine the fairy tale ‘jealous and vengeful’ step-mother stereotype. I equally wanted to tackle the cliche of the teenage daughter who’s both hostile towards the ‘impostor’ mother and towards her father for betraying her birth mother’s memory. Some of the lines of dialogue came to me first, in trying to create two real-world characters who were at a crucial moment in navigating through a relationship that had had a rocky start. In terms of setting, I chose the car wash because I remember, as a child, always feeling really cocooned inside the car there when the world outside disappeared behind suds. The act of cleansing the exterior of the car also mirrors what’s happening inside between the characters, Donna and Hailey. Through really listening to and sympathizing with each other, their relationship evolves and they come away with a pristine vehicle and a clean slate.

I’ve loved creating stories since I was a child. I was born in Ireland but I spent five of my formative years growing up on the Gold Coast, Australia, where there was access to fantastic public libraries, (a great one at my school in Biggera Waters too), and I was educated through a curriculum that really encouraged reading, writing and art. My writing is often motivated by examining historical events, traditional practices, mythology, and folklore from different angles and attempting to give a point of view from the perspective of the ‘other.’ I’m also inspired by travel, art exhibitions, personal experience, the Gothic, and dark ideas.

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Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

Tabula Rasa

Donna stopped her tan coloured Datsun on the tracks of the automatic carwash. Waves of foamy suds started to course down the windscreen and she turned to me, her brow knotted:

“Hailey, did I ever tell you about my mother? When we were little my baby brother, Toby, cried and cried and wouldn’t sleep. Colic, I think. Anyway, Mum’d strap us all into the car and we’d go to Jackson’s Garage, or Belmont Station, the nearest drive-through car washes. I used to think these things were magic, the only places Toby would nod off. And when he was asleep, the twins napped too and I used to watch Mum’s eyes go wet with relief. Like someone took an eraser to the worry lines on her brow.”

Huge blue buffers closed in around the car and I looked at her and shrugged. “What’s that got to do with me?”

“Well,” I noticed how she managed to keep her tone even with me, not like Dad’s other girlfriends, “I thought you could get to know me by hearing my memory.”

The giant bottle brushes were still whirring with force along Donna’s car. With no view except Cookie Monster blue and white lacy waves, we could have been anywhere. It felt so calm, clean, safe: how I imagined the eye of a hurricane. My urge to spit fire and push away dulled.

“Hailey, honey, I know how special mums are, I’m not going to bleach yours out. Your dad has so much love, enough for all of us –”

“Donna,” I interrupted.

“No, just please listen. I’m just asking you if we can start fresh, you and me?” She brushed her hand past the corner of her eye as massive hoses sprayed the car down.
There’s a strange weight of expectation when an adult asks something of a kid, like when dad asked me if I could keep my tears in when we went to visit mum on the ward.

Sometimes the only way to hold it in was to stop breathing. I was used to being mum and dad’s guard dog for so long, but there was something about Donna; how she always offered me the butt of her chocolate bar and wanted to include me in cooking, and insisted on driving me places.

Suddenly a metal bar blowing hot air came traveling up the bonnet, up and over us.

“Tabula Rasa?” I said, the view out the windscreen slowly coming into focus like a Monet painting as the water droplets separated.

“Oh fancy! You doing Latin now?”

“No, but my history teacher, Moreton, says it all the time.”

All the parts of the carwash slotted back into place and everything came to a standstill. Donna turned the key in the ignition and pushed down the clutch. I took a stick of gum out of my hoodie pocket and held it out to her. Taking it, she smiled at me, her eyes wet and brow smoothed.


41ixrzhhQdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef


2ND PLACE ($20 prize + digital copy of anthology)

     ‘Eleven Things I Hate and Love About My Step-Mother’ by Michelle Christophorou of the UK.

What we liked: We really enjoyed the list style of this story, and how the writer was able to convey a narrative through it. The use of subtext follows what writers are advised to do – “Show, don’t tell.” It’s relatable and uplifting, leaving the reader feeling satisfied.

Bio: Michelle Christophorou recently won the Strands International Flash Fiction Competition. Last year, she won the Retreat West Fire-themed flash fiction competition, for which she received a ‘Best of the Net’ nomination. She has also won and come second in, respectively, Ad Hoc Fiction and Retreat West micro competitions, and was a runner up in Funny Pearls’ short story competition. Her short fiction has appeared in print and online, most recently in Splonk, Virtual Zine, Lunate, and 100 Words of Solitude. In an earlier life, Michelle practiced law in the City of London.

Tweets @MAChristophorou

Author Statement: This story was inspired by the competition theme, coupled with a prompt to write a story in the form of a list. The prompt came from a flash workshop run by Matt Kendrick, who heads up online writers’ group Betas & Bludgers. I stole the idea (at first, subliminally) of changing the number in the title from the work of another participant in the workshop! It is not at all autobiographical aside from my being an Everton fan who, fortunately, did have a season ticket growing up in the 80s. I have been writing creatively since September 2017, when – having ceased practicing law and with my son now in school – I sought a new challenge and enrolled in a course at Surrey Adult Learning. Our tutor, Ruth Brandt, was wonderful and I haven’t really stopped since. I am inspired by fleeting ideas, memories, prompts, competition themes though my output tends to be sporadic and mood-related. I find the support of writer friends and the online writing community crucial in continuing to write and improve my work.

Eleven things I hate & Love About My Step-Mother

Ten Eleven Things I Hate And Love About My Step-Mother

HATE

  1. She isn’t Mum.

But she tries to be. Like when she confiscated my phone for ‘inappropriate’ messaging, or when she delivered that embarrassing talk on the relative benefits of tampons versus sanitary towels. Plus, she time-locks the Wi-Fi.

  1. She always laughs a little too loud and a little too long.

Especially when my mates are over, which makes my cheeks burn.

 

  1. She calls me Chrissie and only close friends and family are allowed to call me that.
  1. She bought me a sewing machine and some Liberty fabric for my 13th birthday when she knew I wanted an Everton season ticket.

“We already said you have to wait till you’re 15.” Never mind that our Stevie’s always banging on about going to Goodison.

  1. Dad always watches her when he thinks we’re not looking.

Which is disgusting. And embarrassing.

LOVE

  1. She’s not 700 miles away.
  1. She always laughs at my jokes, even when I know they’re not funny.

She even laughs at my puns. And no one finds wordplay amusing.

  1. She calls me Chrissie and only close friends and family are allowed to call me that.
  1. She remembered my 13th Birthday.

She also helped me make an awesome, shimmering dress for the Christmas Ball and Leo said I looked really pretty.

  1. She made Dad smile again.
  1. After Leo dumped me, she held me while I cried and told me I was perfect and that — one day — I’ll find a boy who treats me just like Dad treats all of us.

And I believed her.


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3RD PLACE ($20 prize + digital copy of anthology)

The Playground‘ by Nancy Leinweber of Australia

What we liked: A sweet story with some inviting imagery, the dusty old playground which set the stage for new love. We get a real sense of the child’s involvement in bringing her new family together.

Bio: I was born and grew up in Canada and moved “temporarily” to Australia in 1997. A few years later, temporary became permanent and I became a very proud dual citizen of these two amazing countries. At the moment my writing is mainly focused on short fiction, children’s stories, the odd guest blog article, and completing a novella. I hold an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing from the Adelaide College of the Arts. My family and I live in the picturesque Adelaide Hills with our two cats.

Author’s statement: If I had to sum up what motivates me to write I’d have to say, it’s the curiosity to explore our humanity.

The inspiration for The Playground did not come easily. I’d made a few starts by the Sunday evening before the competition deadline, but I had nothing to show for my efforts. My friend and writing partner, Rosemary messaged me to ask how I was going with my entry. After some moaning on my part, she gently suggested that an idea might pop up when I stopped thinking about it and moved onto another project…or not. Turns out that was the kick in the pants I needed. The next morning I  began exploring the idea of how and why the relationship between the step-mother and her new family might have started,  paring it back to the very beginning and trying not to be too soppy.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Playground

Dad decided to stay here—in a remote part of a barren state, in a far off country—after my mother moved onto the life she wanted. He had a secure job, a comfortable house, and good friends. He wasn’t forced to face relatives or old acquaintances that lived overseas and who might wonder what happened to drive away the mother of a baby, and who might ask how he was going to raise that baby on his own.

Other than work and shopping, Dad’s only outing was to take me to the local playground. Looking back, the early years weren’t much of a life for him. And the playground wasn’t much either; it was hot and dusty. There wasn’t a tree in sight—only scrubby bushes and dry grass. An enormous metal slippery-dip, that Dad forbade me to go near, dominated the landscape. Languishing in a corner was a sandpit that had lost its battle against the elements and was more pit than sand. Despite this, I loved that playground and would hound Dad into taking me there whenever he had a spare moment.

We fell into a routine of going out early to avoid the worst of the heat. Along the way, he’d buy a newspaper and take-away coffee. I’d stop to examine trails of ants and marvel at how they clambered over, around, and sometimes under the twigs and rocks, I put in their path. Dad said we travelled at the break-neck speed of 100 meters per hour.

Kate appeared during one of these playground visits. When we arrived she was sitting on Dad’s bench; the wind playing in her long blonde hair; her eyes fixed on the horizon. I should clarify … there was only one bench and she was on it. There was no one else around so while I ran off to play, Dad approached her hoping for some adult conversation. He didn’t notice the damp tissue clutched in her hand until it was too late. Dad says it was awkward, standing there with his newspaper and coffee. Kate says he was a magnificent silhouette against the brilliant blue sky.

‘Sorry to bother you,’ he said. ‘I’ll stand.’

‘Oh, you don’t have to do that,’ she said as she slid over. ‘We can share.’

And when I began begging him to let me go down the metal slide, Kate said to him, ‘If it’s alright, I’ll go with her. She can sit on my jacket so she won’t get burnt.’

‘Don’t you have a family?’ I asked her.

‘Maddy!’ said Dad.

It’s okay,’ said Kate. ‘I’m on my own.’

‘You’re like us!’ I yelped.

That sealed the deal.

Kate became a regular fixture at the playground and then in our lives. She said we filled a hole in her heart. I often wonder which of us needed the other more.


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Writing Flash – How to craft & publish flash fiction for a booming market (Kindle Edition)


Next Competition

If you missed out on placing in this round, never fear, there is another round beginning in a few weeks. The theme this time will be ‘Great GrandMother’. I’m sure there are lots of fascinating stories just waiting to be told about this topic so I am anticipating lots of entries and no need for extending deadlines…here’s hoping!

Sign up to our mailing list here, or below to receive a notification when competitions begin. You’ll also be kept up to date with all the latest news, stories and promos (including giveaways and writing competitions) and receive a FREE Ebook exclusive to our email subscribers.

Alternatively, go to our COMPETITIONS page for info on the latest competitions!


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Shortlist: Micro Fiction Writing Competition Round 4

Apologies for the lateness of this post. My usual writing time has been hijacked by my business…in a good way! Thing’s have really taken off and orders are coming in regularly. Unfortunately, it means a little less time for the blog than I would like. I always get there in the end though, and so without further adieu, let’s get to the announcement that everyone is waiting for.

This round of the micro-fiction competition has been a little disappointing. The quality of entrants was of course fantastic as always but numbers were extremely low. Even after extending the deadline, we only received 10 viable entries, i.e. entries that had paid the entrance fee, written about the chosen theme and followed all the rules of the competition. This left us with a bit of a conundrum. Do we short-list all 10 stories simply because they were valid for judging or re-run the competition? Neither option seemed very fair to those who entered nor provided ethical competition. So we came up with a third option.

We will announce 5 short-listed stories from this round, so 50% of the entries. This allows for some judging to actually take place. The 3 winners will be chosen from this list and once all 6 rounds of the micro-fiction competitions have been completed, we will choose another 5 stories from all the entrants of all 6 rounds (that we believe fit the theme of round 4) to be short-listed and included in the anthology.

Below, are our 5 short-listed stories. Winners will be announced once they have been contacted and we have received their bio’s and authors statements, so keep an eye on your inbox if your name is on the shortlist, because if your one of our top 3, we will be contacting you very shortly.

This page contains affiliate links which may earn me a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase. Affiliate links are how I keep this blog running, thank you. 

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SHORTLIST

Here are our 5 shortlisted stories in alphabetical order (please note the order has no bearing on placement):

  1. Daddy’s Girl – Laura Tapper, Great Britain
  2. Eleven Things I Hate and Love About My Step Mother – Michelle Christophorou, UK
  3. Insurance Policy – Nicola Ashbrook, Great Britain
  4. Tabula Rasa – Bayveen O’Connell, Ireland
  5. The Playground – Nancy Leinweber, Australia

Congratulations to all our winners, all of our short-listed stories will be published in our very first anthology sometime at the end of this year and all writers will receive a free digital copy.


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Brevity, a Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef (Buy it Now)


NEXT COMPETITION

*UPDATE: Round 5 has begun. Details HERE!*

We will be taking a month’s break before starting our next competition, so check back in around 4 weeks for a new round. If you’re on our mailing list you will receive an email notification when the new round begins.

Sign up HERE, or fill in the form below to be added to our email list and you will receive a notification when this and future competitions begin.  You will also receive all the latest news, stories and promos (including giveaways and competitions) as well as a FREE Ebook exclusive to our email subscribers.

Alternatively, go to our COMPETITIONS page for info on the latest competitions!


Get your FREE Ebook

Accomplish more IN a fraction of the time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave many of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time.

With this ebook you will learn to approach your days in another way, reducing stress and getting results through prioritizing, leveraging and focus!

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