[POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge


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Post December 18, 2016, 11:06:04 PM

[POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories on the form in the post following this one and send it to me via PM.

Please do not post comments about the stories until the vote concludes.



The challenge was to write a story about helping an elf regain his or her holiday spirit.



The following entries were received:



That Old Sickness of the Heart



The weather was cold and the overcast night sky promised to worsen soon. The blonde long-haired elf, dressed in his brown-green clothing with a wide woolen hat on his head, was walking alone with a very sad look on his face.

At a certain moment, a bald tall man approached the small, lonely elf and started talking to him. “It’s a chilly night…you seem to be lost. Can I be of assistance?”

The elf looked at the middle-aged human and replied in a dejected tone, “I’ve been testing videogames recently, to make sure the gifts we bring children worldwide on Christmas Eve are okay.”

“I see,” the man whispered, with a strange expression. “And…?”

“And…I saw all that violence, all the blood the players need to spill while playing, the evil actions perpetrated in many fictional, Fantasy or Sci-Fi worlds...and I just couldn’t go on watching.”

“Too much violence in such games meant for both young and old people for your taste?”

“Exactly! I wonder if it is in your human nature to be evil or it’s the games you play that brings out the worst in you…I truly don’t know…”

“That’s a really good question…” the man uttered, making a face.

“So, all the quality control I did was pointless…and I felt so dejected! That is why I left Santa’s complex, quit everything I was doing and walked away…”

“There is a lot of truth in what you say…” the other nodded. “But maybe you can be of help, to make a change for the better, at least for one of us humans.”

The eyes of the elf became brilliant, and his interest was aroused by those unexpected words. “Do you really think I could? Yes, I certainly would be glad if I could make things better, at least for one of you humans, just tell me how…”

“Well, this is not something I can explain to you here, in the middle of the street. But if you will follow me into the near alley – I will explain everything to you.”

The short elf did as requested and followed the tall man wearing the long coat into the alley. But great was his surprise when he saw the other taking a knife from his pocket and put near his face. “Now, kind elf, give me your money, and your fancy suit, or you die!”

The elf shouted, “What are you doing? Wasn’t I supposed to help you? - to offer you redemption for a change?”

“You are going to deeply help one of us, small guy, ME! I have walked these cold streets all day in search of an easy target. So do as I say: give me your money! And your clothes too, as I can easily sell them in town at some Carnival shop.”

“But I have no money, and these clothes are of no value…” the elf retorted sadly.

“I’ll be the judge of that! Look at those golden buttons, and the silver buckle you have on your jacket…they must be of great value. Give them to me, or I will…” and he moved the pointed knife nearer the elf’s face.

It was at that moment that the elf remembered something that he had almost forgotten in all the excitement. He was a magical creature, and he was endowed with magical powers. So, he snapped his fingers and activated the energy in his body to turn the knife itself into gold. The thief was so surprised that he almost cried out in true amazement. “How did you do that?”

“I am just trying to help to you…” the elf said.

“And this is gold? Real gold? Oh my!” The desperate man was unbelievably happy about what he saw. “You did help me!” Then his eager eyes turned away from the golden knife and stared at the elf again. “So, could you do the same with other objects? Turning them into gold?”

“Yes, I could do that…but I can’t change everything in the world into gold…” the other told him. “Are you saying that doing this again is something that might be enough to make you change your thieving ways?”

“Oh, yes, yes…this gold is very helpful…but now I want much more!”

“As I said, I can’t change all the objects in the world into gold…but your request makes me think of great possibilities. Maybe I can yet be of help to humans…” And that being said he snapped his fingers and simply disappeared.

While magically travelling through enchanted dimensions, the small creature considered that this might be the answer he was looking for: he could give men on earth lots of riches. He would give gold to all the humans he could, until he did run out of magical power for that night. They would all be happy, at least for a while, and they might stop playing their bloody video games, or worse. Or so he deeply hoped!

Actually, the innocent elf couldn’t imagine that humans would soon start attacking each other to get other people’s gold for themselves, as two valuable objects are better than one. He didn’t even know that the same thief he had given that first golden knife would be killed later that same night by another delinquent who saw that precious golden weapon and wanted it for himself.

The elf couldn’t imagine it, but a battle for gold was just about to start in the poorest streets of that area of town, and this was a war to be fought probably using golden weapons...Would playing bloody videogames have been better in the end? Or should the elf have also turned their PCs and consoles for video games into gold?

He knew of the old wise saying that went: “Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, but rather it dwells in the soul…”, but he knew he had limits. Given Mankind’s nature itself, it wasn’t within his power to change all the humans’ virulent souls into gold anyway…


The End



A Long Way from Home



Jessica saw him sitting sullenly, head to knees, knees to chest. At first, she thought he was an average drunk sitting outside the corner store, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. As she walked closer, she noticed there was something peculiar about this little man sitting on a dirty abandoned curb on the wrong side of Miami.

She was downtown and used to seeing stranger things, but what stood out to her the most about this odd little fellow were his red and white tights. No man in his right mind wore tights in Miami unless he was posing as a fake super hero. After recovering from the fleeting shock of his tights, she then noticed his pointy green hat, his pointy green shoes, and pointy ears.

Jessica stood still for a moment contemplating her next step. She learned long ago that talking to strange people downtown often cause trouble, but there was something different about this stranger. He radiated a kind, naïve sort of energy that made Jessica feel comfortable around him. She felt compelled to talk to him, if anything, to fulfill her curiosity.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said keeping a healthy distance from the odd little man in the red and white tights. “You seem lost. Do you need help?”

“No one can help me,” the little man said sadly. “You can try if you like, but it’d be pointless.”

“Try me,” she said.

“Well,” he began. “I lost my holiday spirit.”

All at once, the clues began to click in Jessica’s head. Pointy hat. Pointy ears. Holiday spirit!
This was no ordinary vagrant sitting on the corner of downtown Miami. This was an actual elf from the North Pole. Jessica felt excited, but used all the self-discipline she could muster to contain her composure in front of the Santa elf.

“Can I help you find it?” she asked.

“Once it’s gone, only the person that lost it can find it,” the elf said.

“How did you lose it?” she asked probing for more information. “And why did you think you’d find it in Miami?”

“Let me ask you something,” he said. “How would you feel if you had to work all day at a soulless job, doing the same thing over and over again, answering to your bosses every whim, and faking happiness just to get through the day?”

“That kind of sounds like my current job,” Jessica said bluntly.

The elf scoffed. “How long have you been working at your current job?” he asked.

“Five months,” Jessica said.

“I’ve been working at mine for five-hundred years!”

The elf began to openly sob and Jessica winced uncomfortably.

“Now you understand why I’m depressed. I lost my holiday spirit decades ago. Finally, I decided I couldn’t fake it anymore, and left the North Pole for brighter skies and warmer weather.

Jessica looked at the elf’s worn green shoes and dirty hands, and felt more than a little sorry for him. “So that’s why you decided to move to Miami,” she said.

“Yes,” the elf said. “This place is nothing like the North Pole. It’s warm, it’s tropical, and Santa’s reindeer can’t poke you from behind when you’re not looking.”

Jessica’s eyes-widened at the thought of a stiff reindeer poke.

“Well, now that you’re here,” Jessica said changing the subject, “why aren’t you happy?”

“Because I’m poor, broke, and can’t find anything to eat. Now, I just want to go home.”

That sounds like my freshman year in college, Jessica thought.

“You know what you need?” Jessica said.

“What?” asked the elf.

“A bad attitude.”

“What’s that?”

“A bad attitude is when you do something you’re not supposed to and ask questions later. It means you need to be selfish once and a while and enjoy yourself. When’s the last time you had any fun?”

The elf thought for a moment, and didn’t answer.

“See,” Jessica said. “You’re all work and no play. That makes Jack a dull boy… I mean elf.”

“I suppose,” said the elf hesitantly.

“If you keep living like that, you’ll end up going crazy and swinging an axe at people in a haunted hotel someday.”

The elf looked confused.

“Never mind. What’s your name?” Jessica asked.

“Chestnut Twinklefoot,” the elf answered.

“Well, Chestnut,” she said. “I think it’s time you added a little fun in your life. Then when you return to the North Pole, you’ll have some fond memories to look back on and won’t resent your life so much. What d’ya say? Want to hang out with me tonight.”

That night, Jessica helped Chestnut enjoy himself for the first time in years. She didn’t take him to a dance club, tattoo shop, or any other hedonistic excursion Miami had to offer. She just let him be selfish for the first time in his life and do things he wanted to do. Since he was a Christmas elf that meant they saw reruns of It’s a Wonderful Life, ate chocolate ice cream, and drank copious amounts of Puerto Rican-styled eggnog called coquito. In the morning, Chestnut awoke with a new glimmer in his eye and twinkle in his step before disappearing into the ether.

Jessica thought that was the last she would ever hear from Chestnut Twinklefoot, but two months later, she received a Christmas card in the mail. The card glittered with the magical glow of Christmas cheer. It read:

Dear Friend,
When life brings me down
And drags on my heart
I just turn around
And click my heels with a start
And mix cinnamon, white rum, with vanilla coco
And sip on a magical brew called coquito.

Thanks for giving me the best night of my life.

Candy kisses,
Chestnut Twinklefoot


The End



Christmas Colors



Calvin always goes in earlier than I. Usually, by the time I get to the lab is awash in the riot of colors.

But not this morning. This morning the lab is a dark, dreary grey. The idea wall is one long series of charcoal drawings: a dead forest; a drab soup kitchen; a funeral. A funeral!

I am aghast, "Calvin?"

He turns to me, my little elf-man, so fine and delicate, but he too looks drab and grey.

"Oh, Calvin," I put my hand out, but he ducks away. "What is this, dearest?"

"Don't you ever get tired of it, Toni? Day after day; year after year; one color on top of another; one shade; a tone, a tint, a gradation of nuance. Look how subtle! What depth! What quality!"

"Calvin," I whisper.

"I'm tired of it!" He shouts. "All this shading as if it's some sort of progress!"

I pick the forest drawing, starting at the top with a pale-purple-grey moving into the blue, yellow, the shiny gold button of a sun fading along the horizon into orange and blushing pink. As I color I talk, "Do you remember the Christmas we went to the mountains and even in the depths of winter snow, how vibrant and colorful the world was?"

I draw in a copse of snowcapped evergreens: the snow reflecting the sunset, the needles black-green; and a log cabin, the walls fading from damp black to deep, rich brown. In the window is a spruce with its frosted mint-green needles strung with tiny lights for an inviting glow.

"Enough." With a swipe of his hand, Calvin obliterates my work.

"That was . . ." I start, but Calvin cuts me off.

"All these colors! They don't make the world a better place. They don't feed people! They don't conquer death!" He raises his hand toward the back wall -- the palette wall with every color we've ever created.

"No!!!" I wrap him in a bear hug only just preventing him from destroying the work of millennia. What has happened to my partner? To the man who had been by my side when colors at Christmas were relegated to an icy sunrise, a bleak sunset, and the holly bush?

Maybe fresh air will help. With a soap bubble pop, we're on Yuletide Street. Immediately, I wish I had brought a palette. Everything is faded, washed out. The lights don't twinkle; the colors don't sparkle. Calvin looks the worst: his lederhosen appear centuries old; his felt green jacket is worn and fraying; the pointy tips of his ears should be cherry red with cold, but instead barely manage a grey-tinged pink.

The walk is a mistake. Now, even I am depressed.

"Oh, it's all so pointless!" Calvin jerks his hand out of mine. "It's absurd. We create the same colors over and over and over; and to what end? Will cranberry red save the world, prevent the end of the universe, where crimson could not?"

"Calvin, what is this? What's going on?"

"He left. He left. The others will leave. Then we'll be all alone. And what will it all have been for?"

"What are . . . are you talking about Vincent?"

Calvin is glumly silent.

"Oh, dear." I shake my head. "Vincent was never going to stay. I mean we thought he'd stay in Christmas, maybe go into weather patterns, so it's a bit of a shock that he's gone into river patterns, but then not really. Vincent always had a thing for the broken pattern; the disconnected. He was never going to stay in colors."

"See what I mean!" Calvin shouts. "He left, and they'll all leave, and what is all this for if they're all going to leave?"

"George will stay. He's already as good with colors as we've ever been. And there's Maria and Natalie. Not Anya. She'll go into birdsong. And it's too soon to tell about the younger ones. But George definitely."

This time the silence is stony.

"You think all our children will abandon us?"

"Vincent did."

"Calvin."

I take his hand and pop us into our bedroom. Here, I have a spare palette and a blank working wall. I sketch out a scene; this one is from when George was five. Five hundred is such a precocious age.

We were still in an age where color was fleeting and rare. Calvin was coloring the King's Christmas tree, and there was George following behind Calvin, brightening this; smearing that; a hair's-breadth shading here.

Calvin watches in silence as George time and again brought out some heretofore unimagined hue.

"I won an award for that tree." Calvin says.

"I know." I answer.

"Vincent left."

"Of course he did, dear. He had to follow his own path."

"And George will leave."

"And go where? Sure, he could create colors somewhere else. Spring is certainly popular, but here he has us; he has a head start. You saw what he did with that tree. He has a flair for the dramatic and the celebratory. Here he will be doing the work he truly loves."

"You think he'll stay?"

"He'll stay." I put my hand on Calvin's forearm.

He takes a deep breath. "Well, we haven't much time if we want to make this another beautiful Christmas. Should we bring George in?"

Beaming, as I nod. He takes my hand and pops us into the lab to begin.


The End



The Elf Who Saved Christmas



I squinted into the sun, a hand protecting my eyes, and saw what looked like a small Christmas tree perched on the bridge ahead. As I got closer, I realized it was a little person dressed in green pants and shirt and a red cap with a white puff sitting with his legs dangling over the edge. His beard was a few days old with a mix of black and grey hairs.

“Good day, good sir,” I said. I moved next to him and placed my forearms on the railing, my fingers laced together. “Long ways down, isn’t it?”

He didn’t respond, just continued to look straight ahead.

“Sun feels good after three days of rain. Don’t you agree?” I leaned over enough to see his face. “Tough day at work?”

He remained silent. I stood beside him for a few minutes, then sat down, mimicking his pose.

“My name’s Jed. You got a name?” I waited.

He finally said,“Elf 113,” in a scratchy voice.

“Interesting name.”

“Well, it takes a lot of us to make all those toys, and Santa’s too busy to try and name everyone. Besides, we all look the same to him.”

“Huh,” I said and tried not to smile. “So what brings you to the bridge today. I cross it just about every day, and I haven’t seen you before.”

“I . . ..” He looked down at his hands. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Oh, I doubt it’s that bad. After all, it’s Christmas, a time to smile, and sing, and best of all, drink. In fact, I have a half-filled bottle of fine whiskey in my coat pocket. Well, at least the finest I can afford. Would you like a sip?”

“No thanks. My mom said it would stunt my growth.”

This time I choked back a chuckle, but a little seeped out. I attempted to disguise it as a cough.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to get involved, but I hated to see someone who appeared to have lost his way do something he might regret--like jump. “So you never said why you’re here.”

“I got passed over for another promotion. Three years in a row. I even had my new uniform ready.” He looked out over the water below. “Everyone sees it as a badge of honor.”

“Oh? What does it look like?”

“It’s the opposite of what I’ve got on--red pants and shirt and a green hat.” He finally looked at me.” I guess the outfit I have on will finally get washed when I jump.”

“Whoa, whoa. What do you mean jump?” I wanted to reach out and grab his arm but was afraid it might startle him. “That seems pretty drastic for not getting a promotion.”

“There’s Elfie May, too.”

“Elfie May?”

“That’s what I call her. Her real name is Elf 275. She works. . .worked. . . in the sewing department. We’d been dating for a year. I was going to propose. I thought she loved me, until she and the reindeer herder ran off. I don’t know where.” He turned toward me, pain on his face. “And I don’t care,” he said, his voice a few decibels louder.

“You sure you don’t want a little nip. It’s the best medicine I’ve found.” I removed the bottle from my coat, unscrewed the top, and took a belt.

“Well, I guess it can’t hurt.” I passed the bottle over. He put the top to his lips, tilted the bottom up, and took a bigger drink than I’d hoped he would. I was going to have to panhandle to pad my bank account, i.e., my trouser pockets, sooner than usual.

“Thanks, “ he said, handing the bottle back. “Now jumping doesn’t seem so scary.” He placed his hands on either side of his legs and lifted his butt slightly.

“Wait. You can’t jump today.” This time I grabbed his left arm. “It’s No-Jumping-Off-Bridges-Day.” I grasped harder. “You’ll ruin everyone’s Christmas if you do.”

“You’re BSing me.” He relaxed and let his body ease back onto the bridge.

“No, I’m not. Swear to His Holy Father.” I crossed myself hoping I did it right.

“No, you’re BSing me for sure.” He scooched forward with a determined look on his face.

“Okay, I was BSing. But I’ve got a friend--a female friend--who might be able to help you out.”

“She can find Elfie May?”

“Well, no, but she’s nice and friendly--for a price.”

“You mean a hooker.”

“Kinda.”

“Either she is or she isn’t.”

“Okay, she is--or used to be. She’s a little long in the tooth, as they say.” It was my turn to look down at the rippling water. “We were married once. Needless to say, it didn’t work out. She drove me to drink. And I drove her to. . ..”

“Oh, hell.” he said, standing. “I didn’t want to jump anyway.” He brushed off his bottom and strode off the bridge. “Too much of a coward, you know. Let’s go see your old lady and find out if she has any Christmas spirit.”

I didn’t know if the little guy felt any better, but I did. I might even wish a few folks a merry Christmas on our way to town, something I hadn’t done myself for a couple of years.


The End



A Raisin To Live



She lived alone many years after her husband passed away. Life just seemed to pass her by. The traffic outside her front windows traveled the streets to and fro as she watched sad and alone. Her husband took care of everything and she was fine with that. Now that he was gone, she didn't have the desire to do anything.

She no longer decorated for Christmas except to unwrap the elf statue she would place on the mantle above the fireplace. Her husband found him in an antique store before they were married fifty years earlier. The statue (she was never sure what it was made of) seemed to beam with joy each year. Megan and Jim would often talk to it and the elf appeared to radiate a glow as if 'he the elf' was glad to be with them.

Jim was always industrious. A good provider and a nurturing companion always with a smile; Megan had joy when she looked at him. He was quite a handsome man in a non-assuming manner. And devoted, oh yes he doted on her with great affection. He loved her soul and this encompassed him throughout their life together. He was tall with brown curly hair and always muscular being he was a cement contractor. She loved looking at him, when he wasn't looking.

Megan was ordinary in appearance and she knew it. Nevertheless, her life was her man and she was happy with that. Now much older with white hair, her dark blue eyes having faded to gray, she had long since buried love and there was no one else.

The house was always kept clean. The house needed painting, it needed new curtains for the old ones had worn, the refrigerator wasn't working like it should, the couch looked old and torn, but she covered it the best she could with knitted tapestry. What the house needed most was mirth and warmth from living souls who cared for one another. I would like…(the writer thinks for a moment) she would have liked that too.

Hermee wasn't smiling anymore. He was frowning. He wasn't happy sitting on the mantle. I don't know - can elves get depressed?

Children go their own way, living their own lives, forgetting about the times they were held and comforted by a mother who adored them. But sadly in time, the parents become the children, often forgotten, except for a call a few times a year on important occasions. Megan was still waiting for her call.

The doorbell rang. She rushed to the window and peered out the curtains. It was her neighbor Jonathan and his five-year-old daughter Shelley, a nickname for Michelle. Megan opened the door.

"Hi Megan," little Shelley said smiling. "We got a present for you!”

"Did we catch you busy planning for Christmas?" her father said being polite.

"Please come in. I'm glad to see you both. Have you finished your shopping for the holidays?" Megan was embarrassed she didn't have food on hand. She always loved serving raisin cake to visitors during Christmas days.

"We can't stay but a minute, we have many stops to make. Merry Christmas Meg." Jonathan handed her a beautiful hand crafted scarf knitted by his wife.

"Thank you so much." Megan held back tears.

"I have some homemade eggnog for you. I'll put it into your fridge." While Jonathan walked into the kitchen, little Shelley walked over to the fireplace. She stared up at the elf statue and stretched for it, but of course it was much too high. Megan reached up and took the statue from the mantle and handed it to her. Shelley hugged it cradling it like a baby.

While in the kitchen, Jonathan opened the fridge to find it off. He checked the plug; it was in but the fridge wasn't working. What food was in there had spoiled. He looked in her cabinets to find only crackers and some canned peaches with rust around the edges.

He placed the eggnog on the counter and walked hurriedly back into the living room. "Come on Shelley we need to go." He noticed the elf statue his daughter was snuggling in her arms. "Sweetheart, put that back we need to leave."

"No, it is her present," Megan said earnestly. "I want her to have it."

Jonathan said thank you and rushed out the door. As Shelley walked down the steps, Megan could see the face of the elf statue...and he was smiling...for the first time in a long time. Megan closed the door, leaned her back up against it and cried while she held her stomach. She slid down until she sat on the floor.

Hours later she got up and went to the kitchen to make some raisin cake in case she had more visitors. She opened the cabinets and remembered she didn't have any flour, raisins, cinnamon or eggs. Her memory faded from the present to the past and back again.

She walked back to the living room and sat on the couch. She looked up on the mantle. She missed him.

Moments later, there was a knock at the door. She looked out the curtain but it was too dark to see. She slowly opened the door and to her surprise it was Jonathan's father who was also named Jim. His wife had passed away the year before and he stayed in most of the time.

"Your son was here hours ago but he left," Megan told him.

"I know I came to see you".

"He reached out and hugged her with one hand. In the other hand he was carrying a raisin cake and a thermos of coffee.

"How did you know?" Megan asked looking at him with bewilderment".

Jim said, "Your little elf told me"

Looking past him she could see her yard full of people with gifts and food and love and mirth. Hermee went for help.


The End



A Spirited Meeting



"Kvass. Amarula. Bajtra!" the girl said.

Jesus Christie, it's another elf. This one had the look down, too. Dark hair, green eyes, pointy shoes, pointy ears, green and yellow striped outfit, stocking hat with a tassel--but she looked like she was six. I'm not into that. I'm not into Little Persons, either, but that doesn't seem to stop them from searching me out like I was the Messiah, or something.

Plus, she smelled a little like licorice. Yuck.

I ducked away from her on the dark, cold, snowy street. Viktor, the bouncer, waved me through the door into the warm barroom. He knew me well.

"Vodka," I called to Anton behind the bar. Anton was born in Brooklyn, but he poured the best Russian vodka in town. The best everything, really. He winked and poured me a shot before hustling down to a customer at the other end. The liquid burned all the way down and cleaned my sinuses, just the way I liked it.

"Are you the one who writes those books?" the elf asked.

I jumped, surprised. "How did you get past Viktor?"

"What?"

"You're just a kid. You shouldn't be in here." I waved to Anton. "Can you have somebody find this girl's parents?"

Anton's been pouring my drinks for years, so he's used to the obsessed fan thing. He started to come back over, but the 'she-elf' turned and glared at him, and, I swear, Anton stopped in his tracks and looked afraid to come near.

"I am Brianna Norrel. I'm 325 years old. I've been in taverns since before your great-great-great grandfather was born."

I scratched my two-day's growth of graying stubble. "Suuure you have. Right."

"Are you Ellis Cullen, author of the 'Elf Help' books, or not?"

"Yes, but I'm not giving autographs today."

Brianna smirked. "Don't want one. I need holiday spirit."

I barked a laugh. "If you're coming to me for that, I'm a dry hole. I hate the holidays."

She put her hands on her hips. "I read the dust jacket of one of your books. You're famous. You help people get their holiday spirit. Mine is gone."

"Look, those books are just a gimmick. A Little Person elf shows up and helps people save the day. They fix whatever is wrong, from a store closing to a sagging roof, help the couple fall in love, give them some holiday spirit, and everybody feels good. They sell a ton of copies to women." Now that they make them into movies on the Hallmark Channel, it's even worse. I used to be a real writer. Now, I can't stand my own work anymore. "I don't really know any elves, and they don't actually save the day. It's just simple, formula writing. I can't help you. Go away."

She climbed up on the leather stool next to me. "I can't go away. I can't go back without the spirit, so I'm staying with you until you help me get some."

I sighed. "Isn't there someone else you can bother?"

She looked sad. Like verge of tears sad. "You're the 'Elf Help' man. I'm an elf, and I need help."

I thought about leaving, but I really liked Anton's place. It was more my home than my own was these days. "If I help you, then will you go away?"

"Of course. After I have the spirit, I can go home again."

I blinked. "What, you're like, trapped here? Need a bus ticket for Cleveland, or something?" It would be worth it.

Brianna punched me in the thigh. It didn't hurt at all. "Could you take this seriously?"

I looked at her pointed ears and outfit. "Sorry. What was I thinking?"

She rolled her eyes. "Well? Make it happen."

"Make what happen?"

Do children look that annoyed at their parents?

She replied, "The holiday spirit."

"I don't think it works that way."

She muttered under her breath, "How do human women put up with them?"

I definitely didn't think I had enough to drink for this. "Hey!"

"If only for Kvass," she lamented.

Anton, who was hurrying past, stopped in his tracks. "Kvass?"

Brianna nodded. "Amarula? Bajtra?"

"Amarula... Bajtra... No." Anton held up a finger as if to wait, then disappeared toward his backroom. I didn't understand this at all. How could Anton speak Elf?

He came back holding a dusty, dark-green bottle with a no label. He set it on the brown bar top in front of us. A murky red liquid sloshed inside. "My grandmother made kvass like in the old country, from beets. I've had this bottle for many years." He uncorked it and poured a teeny bit into a shot glass.

I boggled. "Kvass is a drink?"

Brianna looked at me sideways. "Of course. What kind of spirit did you think I wanted?"

Brianna took a sip, and I swear to God, she began to sparkle. Literally! She sighed softly and whispered, "Much better than seagull wine."

Elves were real. I asked, "Why did you need me?"

She looked at me appreciatively. "I look like a kid. No one will sell spirit to me."

I asked Anton, "How much for the bottle?"

"$200."

I dropped the money on the bar and handed her the bottle. Her smiling face surprised and moved me in a way I did not understand at the time. I felt... I felt happy, like I hadn't been in a long time.

She hugged me and said sweetly, "Thank you, Ellis. I hope you have a happy holiday." She hopped down off the stool and strode out the door with the bottle. I felt quite warm inside.

Anton paused. "Uh, did you just give a bottle of booze to a six year-old?"

"No, it just looked like it." I smiled. A real elf had just helped me remember my own holiday spirit. "How about a round for the house? I feel like giving."

"You got it, my friend."

I mused, This would make a great book.


The End
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Post December 18, 2016, 11:06:55 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories using the long form below with scores of 0-10 (in whole numbers) and send it to me via Private Message (PM): (when logged in, copy it into memory, click the 'PM' button below my avatar (or depending on your board style, mouse over the green username by my avatar and a menu will pop up with an option to send a private message), paste the form in, & then fill in your scores.)

Categories:
1) What overall score would you give the story?
2) How good was the Characterization?
3) How effective (or original) was the plot?
4) How clear was the setting to you?
5) How good was the use of dialog?
6) How well did the story meet or address the challenge as it was given?

NOTE: you may need to have posted at least one message before you can send a PM. If the system won't let you, all you have to do is join in a discussion or just say hi in a thread before voting via PM. We'll be glad to meet you. If I suspect a voter of being a false identity (i.e. a troll), I won't count their vote.

Author scores for their own entry will not be counted.




That Old Sickness of the Heart
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

A Long Way from Home
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

Christmas Colors
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

The Elf Who Saved Christmas
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

A Raisin to Live
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:

A Spirited Meeting
1) Overall:
2) Characterization:
3) Plot:
4) Setting:
5) Dialog:
6) Challenge:


Please do not post comments about these stories until the vote concludes.
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Post December 19, 2016, 08:31:52 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

My votes are in...eh,eh :D
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Post December 20, 2016, 01:04:35 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

After the first 24 hours of voting, April is in second, and I am in first.

However, I'm about to vote and since authors can't score their own story, I'm about to fall back in the race. Tune in to see who's on top tomorrow.
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Post December 21, 2016, 01:29:39 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Our new race leader is April , followed by JM.
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Post December 21, 2016, 02:42:02 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

REMINDER: due to the Christmas holiday, the vote will conclude on Friday evening, so get your votes in before then.
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Post December 22, 2016, 09:33:13 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

There was no change yesterday. No votes were cast.
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Post December 22, 2016, 12:42:36 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

kailhofer wrote:REMINDER: due to the Christmas holiday, the vote will conclude on Friday evening, so get your votes in before then.

Uh-oh, gotta get busy. Thanks for the heads-up.
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Post December 23, 2016, 09:33:38 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Okay, my votes are in.
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Post December 23, 2016, 11:37:07 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Voting has closed.


Thank you to all the members who voted.

Congratulations to first-time entrant jmstein who won the contest with the story "A Raisin to Live" after a late surge in voting swung the result in JM's favor.

Good job, JM.



For the record, these were the authors of the entries for this month:

That Old Sickness of the Heart by Sergio Palumbo
A Long Way from Home by April Coan
Christmas Colors by Kate Stuart
The Elf Who Saved Christmas by Jim Harrington
A Raisin to Live by jmstein
A Spirited Meeting by N.J. Kailhofer


SCORES: (Overall next to the story title, then the average score next to each question #.) -



That Old Sickness of the Heart: 707
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 18

A Long Way from Home: 510*
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 5
*Non-voting penalty applied.

Christmas Colors: 689
1) Overall: 7
2) Characterization: 7
3) Plot: 7
4) Setting: 7
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 8
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 16

The Elf Who Saved Christmas: 571
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 6
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 6
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 7

A Raisin to Live: 793
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 9
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 8
6) Challenge: 9
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 30

A Spirited Meeting: 582
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 5
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 5
5) Dialog: 6
6) Challenge: 6
# Zeroes: 0
# Perfect 10s: 8

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Post December 24, 2016, 12:10:14 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

My favorite story was "A Raisin to Live".

It caught me by surprise it was so good. A story about an elderly woman who had lost her husband and is now too old to look out for herself, gives the one possession she cherished to a neighborhood little girl, a "statue" of a Christmas elf her husband found fifty years earlier. When she gave it away she gained people to look after her...I can't even retell this without crying.

How many elderly people are alone this Christmas and how can we make room in our lives for them, looking in on them ever so often.

This was a great present.

My second favorite was "That Old Sickness of the Heart".

It also tells a wonderful story about the human condition and how not to give to the wrong people not worthy of generosity.
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Post December 24, 2016, 12:15:30 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Congrats, JM!

I didn't have time to write comments, but here are the scores I gave:



That Old Sickness of the Heart
1) Overall: 4
2) Characterization: 4
3) Plot: 5
4) Setting: 4
5) Dialog: 5
6) Challenge: 5

A Long Way from Home
1) Overall: 8
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 6
4) Setting: 6
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

Christmas Colors
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 10
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 8
5) Dialog: 110
6) Challenge: 10

The Elf Who Saved Christmas
1) Overall: 10
2) Characterization: 10
3) Plot: 10
4) Setting: 10
5) Dialog: 10
6) Challenge: 10

A Raisin to Live
1) Overall: 6
2) Characterization: 8
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 10
5) Dialog: 7
6) Challenge: 10

A Spirited Meeting
1) Overall: 9
2) Characterization: 9
3) Plot: 8
4) Setting: 10
5) Dialog: 10
6) Challenge: 10
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Post December 24, 2016, 10:49:58 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

My comments (for what they're worth):

"That Old Sickness..." -- too preachy, too negative, and the elf didn't get his Christmas spirit back, so I felt like it didn't hit the prompt at all

"A Long Way from Home" -- This was fun, cute, and I thought it was great take on the prompts, and I loved the ending with the coquito.

"Christmas Colors" (yes, I'm going to comment on my own story) -- the ending's a little pat (kind of like a Hallmark movie: warm and fuzzy, but a little too happy); and I thought my take on the prompts was a little mushy, sure the elf gets his Christmas spirit back, but not from a human, only from another elf.... Though I will say, I had a scene where the wife consults with Old Saint Nick, and the story is much stronger for having lost that.

"The Elf Who Saved Christmas" -- I liked this though maybe it was a bit more "adult-themed" than I was expecting, and I'm not sure I approve of Jed taking our forlorn elf to a prostitute, but it's solidly written. I felt it was a little soft on hitting the prompt as we end up not being sure the elf has his holiday spirit back or not. It's nice that Jed's in a happier place though so I got my happy ending.

"A Raisin to Live" -- I didn't love this. The idea is cute and sweet, but there was an awful lot of exposition that made the story drag, and the part from Hermee's perspective was a bit jarring, especially since it wasn't repeated. I thought the ending was a little pat (I do love a happy ending, but I like to see the characters work more for it), and whether or not it hit the prompt was a little mushy. Hermee did seem to get his holiday spirit back, but I'm not sure how much of a hand his humans had in that.

"A Spirited Meeting" -- And, once again, Nate, yours is my favorite. There's one little niggle when Brianna asks for Kvass and Anton responds but then later he wonders if Ellis gave a six-year-old a bottle of alcohol. Maybe just something to make a little more clear about how or what Anton sees when he looks at Brianna. Otherwise, I love that you went all out for the alcohol definition of spirit. This was fun and well written and a great take on the prompt. And the ending is golden: happy without being syrupy.

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Post December 24, 2016, 12:51:46 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

I have a question - when did the Lords of Literary Fiction banish leading with exposition? Personally, I like being 'told' a story every now and then, because I like the flow of them. Like stories being told to children at night or around a campfire.

I see the last comments were made by an editor. A good one gives instruction on how to do better. All I got on the commentary for the first two highest ranked stories was an angry, disappointed voice. You know, people actually write these stories. They need encouragement. It makes me wary of sending any stories to this site for publication.

About being sappy or syrupy, that's what the critics said of "Little House on the Prairie", but the fans loved it. The producers crafted well told stories that were moral in nature. Same thing about "Touched By an Angel". The network canceled the show and a massive number of it's audience brought it back with a hugely successful letter writing campaign. Same thing with "Family Guy". The critics hated it and the fans loved it and pushed the network to bring it back.

It could be that editors drudge through slush piles so much they lose their objectivity to what is good in a story and axe it based on personal bias or the story not having the structure they think it should have.

I absolutely loved the story, "That Old Sickness of the Heart". It was a strong morality play like story that develops the notion that deep in humanity, the corruption is so bad, that ultimately they can't be helped. I gave this story my highest scoring.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Here are my votes.

That Old Sickness of the Heart
1) Overall:9
2) Characterization:9
3) Plot:10
4) Setting:9
5) Dialog:10
6) Challenge:10

A Long Way from Home
1) Overall:8
2) Characterization:6
3) Plot:7
4) Setting:7
5) Dialog:7
6) Challenge:9

Christmas Colors
1) Overall:9
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:7
4) Setting:6
5) Dialog:7
6) Challenge:10

The Elf Who Saved Christmas
1) Overall:8
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:7
4) Setting:6
5) Dialog:8
6) Challenge:7

A Raisin to Live
1) Overall:7
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:8
4) Setting:7
5) Dialog:8
6) Challenge:10

A Spirited Meeting
1) Overall:5
2) Characterization:4
3) Plot:5
4) Setting:4
5) Dialog:5
6) Challenge:5

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Post December 24, 2016, 02:30:08 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Yeah I thought, That Old Sickness of the Heart was the best story. It basically was a conversational piece about a kind hearted elf trying to help a thief get straight by giving him what he wanted. The direction the story took from there surprised me.

A Raisin to Live was pretty good, but it made me sad for the elderly woman. I liked the ending though, the statue of the elf was actually alive and he saved her from neglect.

I also liked A Long Way from Home. It was told sweet and child like. The joy in the story was awesome.

Christmas Colors was pretty good too!

My votes

That Old Sickness of the Heart
1) Overall:10
2) Characterization:10
3) Plot:10
4) Setting:10
5) Dialog:10
6) Challenge:10

A Long Way from Home
1) Overall:8
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:7
4) Setting:7
5) Dialog:8
6) Challenge:8

Christmas Colors
1) Overall:7
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:6
4) Setting:6
5) Dialog:8
6) Challenge:7

The Elf Who Saved Christmas
1) Overall:6
2) Characterization:6
3) Plot:7
4) Setting:5
5) Dialog:5
6) Challenge:7

A Raisin to Live
1) Overall:7
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:9
4) Setting:6
5) Dialog:8
6) Challenge:10

A Spirited Meeting
1) Overall:5
2) Characterization:5
3) Plot:4
4) Setting:5
5) Dialog:5
6) Challenge:5

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Post December 24, 2016, 05:45:05 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Next month, can we do a dead serious challenge?

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Post December 24, 2016, 10:12:53 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

I was thinking, what about the paths we fear to take?

How about a psychological horror themed challenge about a character's fear of their own evil and their attempt to overcome it, before it destroys them and causes the destruction of many others.

Hey, the flights are canceled and I'm sitting here alone looking for something to do.

It's an idea.
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Post December 24, 2016, 11:02:44 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Walter Harris wrote:I see the last comments were made by an editor. A good one gives instruction on how to do better. All I got on the commentary for the first two highest ranked stories was an angry, disappointed voice. You know, people actually write these stories. They need encouragement. It makes me wary of sending any stories to this site for publication.

I was rather disappointed at this comment. Kate has been a very good editor. She may not have been at it for a dozen years, but she's done a bang-up job so far.

An editor is not the same as a cheerleader. Sometimes we may indeed provide as much encouragement as we can. However, sometimes an editor may feel an author needs a kick in the rear instead. I'm not trying to say that is what Kate was doing here. I'm only saying we do not always cheer you on. If you respond only to encouragement, you may be happier at another site. We do what we can to turn you into a better writer while you are here.

You should know, however, there isn't a more nurturing site for less-experienced speculative fiction authors than Aphelion. Literally hundreds of our alumni have gone on to turn pro. We have a tremendous 20-year track record and a good, well-earned reputation.

We, including Kate, I'm sure, earnestly hope that we can help all the authors who were in this challenge improve, and you, as well, since you sound like you would like to enter.
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Post December 24, 2016, 11:06:01 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Walter Harris wrote:I was thinking, what about the paths we fear to take?

How about a psychological horror themed challenge about a character's fear of their own evil and their attempt to overcome it, before it destroys them and causes the destruction of many others.

Hey, the flights are canceled and I'm sitting here alone looking for something to do.

It's an idea.

Thank you for your suggestion, but next month's challenge is already set up. It will go live on the 30th.

I can't reveal much about the challenge other than to say there will be more than a little opportunity for dead seriousness.
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Post December 25, 2016, 08:19:56 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Nate, thanks for the support. I appreciate it.

Sergio, my comments on your story may have been a bit more harsh and abrupt than I intended; I meant no offense.

Walter, my comments are my opinions -- not a consensus of public opinion.

Furthermore, there were some technical issues with the voting so that Nate felt like it might look like cheating to claim all the votes he received, so he cut his own vote count in half, which is the same penalty April incurred for non-voting. When you double Nate's and April's votes, it becomes glaringly clear that the rest of us lowly peons were left eating their dust.
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Post December 25, 2016, 09:18:02 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

On a more conciliatory note: I give the type of feedback I want to receive. What did you like about my story? What did you hate? What did you think worked? And what did you think didn't work?

I don't feel obligated to agree with the feedback I get, but I do enjoy seeing what others think.

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Post December 25, 2016, 12:50:25 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

To Kate: Since Nate said you might be doing some literary butt kicking, shouldn't that be followed with kindly instruction on how to write better next time. As it were, the only two stories you torched, were the ones that beat you in the scoring. It sounded like you were angry and disappointed.

If a writer takes the time to write a story and send it in, they shouldn't get a kick in the teeth without explaining what to do to fix it. You know a good way to repair the bad impression is to go back and give a commentary, this time with 'kindly' words of instruction. As an editor, you can't afford the perception that you have a personal bias against stories that hit you the wrong way.

As a side note, when a story has a moral theme, a lot of editors/writers/readers frown on it from the get go and it shades their mind towards the story.

Concerning your story, I like yours fairly well, I gave it a high score overall and you hit the prompt solidly. The plot was not as interesting as it could have been and the dialogue seemed flat and uninteresting. Descriptions could have been better. On the same note, I scored A Raisin To Live only one point higher cumulatively than yours. It had a slightly better plot and dialogue, but also needed work on the descriptions.

No hard feelings.

To Nate: You ought to give yourself the well earned votes you received.

If you're really going to do a serious heavy drama oriented theme next month, that's my kind of story.
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Post December 26, 2016, 04:57:42 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Congratulations jmstein and well done to all who submitted a story.

My favourite this month was Christmas Colours, I loved the originality in the concept. My equal runners up were A Long Way From Home, The Elf Who Saved Christmas and A Spirited Meeting.

I adored this elf prompt. Even though I didn't get a story written by the deadline I did flesh out an idea and will still write that story anyway.

I'm also hoping to get something actually written and submittable for next month's prompt.

Thank you to Aphelion and its busy elves for running this challenge and maintaining such a cool site.

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Post December 26, 2016, 06:17:15 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

I don't know how to answer these posts. I did not expect any notable response. Receiving extreme love and extreme hate for my story confuses me on how I should feel about it.

I based the story on the concept of someone giving the most precious thing they owned to someone who was also needy and in turn the spirit of reciprocity would emerge and meet everyone's needs. The way the woman helped the elf was by letting him go when she needed him the most.

Thank you Bronxrider for posting your response, it was a present for me as well. Thank you Mr. Harris for your critique. I'm thinking about it and how to apply it. Thank you Mr. Curtis for the high score in characterization, that made me feel happy and that I was doing that area of writing well.

My favorites were Christmas Colors (I did love this story) and A Long Way Home. They received my highest scores.
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Post December 26, 2016, 07:09:37 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

jmstein wrote:I don't know how to answer these posts. I did not expect any notable response. Receiving extreme love and extreme hate for my story confuses me on how I should feel about it.

I don't believe anyone expressed any hatred of any story. That's really not how anyone critiques around here. Someone may be take a story to task, but it is not hatred.

Every author can be quite protective of their own pieces, but I'd suggest you take in any feedback you receive, positive or negative, and wait on it for a while. Then, look at your story as objectively as you can. Thinking that way, then decide, did that feedback carry some weight? Was there something you could have done better? If so, work on those things. If you feel that critque didn't speak to you, then discard it--but wait a while. You might find a negative critique carries more weight than a positive one, but your mileage may vary.

Editor Emeritus Eddie Sullivan usually uses a quote from Neil Gaiman, I believe, that says, "Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." There can be a lot of truth in this statement. I guess I'm saying, find the truth in the critique that works for you.

Critiques can be wonderful or they can be awful. As a writer, you need skin thick enough to absorb both.
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Post December 26, 2016, 07:14:09 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

ajaye wrote:I adored this elf prompt. Even though I didn't get a story written by the deadline I did flesh out an idea and will still write that story anyway.

I'm also hoping to get something actually written and submittable for next month's prompt.

Thank you to Aphelion and its busy elves for running this challenge and maintaining such a cool site.

Thank you for your kind words.

I hope you do get that story written and that you do join us for the next one. If you so wish, you can always submit that story for this prompt to the regular part of our Webzine for consideration to be published as a regular part of our monthly zine offerings. If it's 1,000 words or less, you can submit it to me, 1,001-7,500 words to Kate, or over 7,500 to Lester.
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Post December 26, 2016, 07:59:54 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Here are my comments on the stories:

"That Old Sickness of the Heart" I have to agree with Kate that I thought it came across as kind of preachy, which took away from how I viewed the piece in it's entirety. I only gave it a 4 for the Overall category. I gave it middle marks for Characterization, Plot, and Setting, and high marks for dialog. However, I thought the elf did get his holiday spirit back. It didn't help the people in the story, but holiday spirit in people wasn't the goal, just the elf. I thought that you did hit that mark well. In fact, I gave you a 10 for Challenge.

"A Long Way from Home" You kind of went the alcohol route as well, and I liked that. However, I was so disheartened that you didn't vote, April, even after a reminder was sent to you via PM, a reminder in the story announcement thread, and a general vote reminder was posted on Facebook. You would have come in second. I was rooting for you, because you wrote a very strong story. I thought there was a little room for improvement on Characterization and Dialog, but I gave you high marks for the rest.

"Christmas Colors" It was such a different take on it, it threw me for a minute, but then I started digging it. I gave a 10 for characterization on this one. The lowest mark I gave was a 6 for plot because I didn't see how it was flowing toward the end enough, but high marks for everything else.

"The Elf Who Saved Christmas" I thought this was a good story, but it just didn't blow me away in any category. I gave it a 4 for Setting because the bridge didn't feel very well defined. It's a hard trade-off to make, and I'm sometimes guilty of it myself. 5s-7s on everything else. I think maybe a stronger emotional impact may have helped at the end.

"A Raisin to Live" I thought this was a hard story to score. I gave it an 8 for plot because I could see it clearly developing into a story where others would come an help her, and a 10 for setting because I could really see this apartment in my mind. However, I only gave it a 3 for Challenge. I really didn't see Hermee getting his holiday spirit. He smiled, but I thought that was because the child was loving it. That didn't seem the same to me as holiday spirit. So then, at the end where it said "Hermee went for help" it honestly didn't make any sense to me. If instead people would have come and brought her all those things without her giving away the elf, and let the elf smile because of all the holiday spirit it was seeing from the mantle, it would have been a much more touching, more human, story for me, and I would have given it many 10s. As it was, I gave midrange scores for the rest. So, for me, it could have been much better than it was.

As for my own story, a lot of people gave it good marks or really scored it down. There wasn't a whole lot of in-between. Yet again. I did go for the alcohol bit instead of something more touching, but I thought I had that covered with the author becoming motivated to write his books again, but clearly that was not enough for some. I do think Kate had a point about Anton asking about giving the Kvass to the "6 year-old" after pouring her a tiny shot. I should have had the bouncer ask instead.

BTW, kvass, bajtra, and amarula are all real-world alcohols.
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Location: Italy

Post December 27, 2016, 08:57:50 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

Sorry if I didn't post anything before, but I was pretty wrapped in my cover of sweets/cake for Christmastime while on vacation in snowy Switzerland as it is usual in this period...eh,eh :lol: :lol: :lol:

Anyway, many congratulations to the winner, indeed!!! :D

My preferred entries were A Raisin to Live( 7 to each category) and A Long Way from Home (7 to each category), though I really loved the very funny A Spirited Meeting as I gave it 8 to each category...eh,eh... :D :D
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Posts: 751

Joined: March 01, 2014, 05:11:50 PM

Location: Just look under your bed

Post December 27, 2016, 10:13:22 AM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

So the lesson here is inherent. You learn here that some will love your work and some will hate it. The same piece of work. The readers, the editors, everyone and anyone. If you remove money and prestige you have the right to tell them all to shove it. If you want a reader to pay or an editor or publisher to pay, then develop thick skin. If you write for you then your work is perfect as is. If you write for someone else then it sucks if they say it suck and it wins when they say it wins. This lesson is given in little baby bites here, trust me. It is probably the best take away from this site. If you can't take what Kate laid out then you probably best just write for yourself because true critics and editors can be brutal in comparison. Even in the token market if you have something I don't like in your story you change it or you don't get published. I don't have time to hold your hand all the time. If you haven't honed your craft enough and built up your psychic armor enough to hear this part sucks, change it or this doesn't work for me and mine, then you had best stick to the minors.

Being an artist can be brutal. Being a writer more so. Being an author more than that. Being your own brand, huh don't get me started.

If you want the love then be ready for the hate. Fan(atic)s come in two flavors. We only like to think about the lovers but the haters abide as well. Get used to it. :mrgreen:
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman

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Post December 27, 2016, 05:50:31 PM

Re: [POLL] Vote: December 2016 Flash Challenge

My favorite story of all time is A Raisin to Live. It was touching and real. I know a woman like this, she was kind hearted and would give of what little she had to people. I want to print this story up, laminate it and hang it on my living room wall every Christmas.

How do I get permission to do that?

My second favorite story was The Elf Who Saved Christmas. It was hilarious and I didn't expect the ending. The elf became a man that holiday season.

My votes for this challenge were:


That Old Sickness of the Heart
1) Overall:5
2) Characterization:5
3) Plot:7
4) Setting:6
5) Dialog:5
6) Challenge:5

A Long Way from Home
1) Overall:7
2) Characterization:7
3) Plot:6
4) Setting:5
5) Dialog:5
6) Challenge:5

Christmas Colors
1) Overall:5
2) Characterization:5
3) Plot:6
4) Setting:5
5) Dialog:7
6) Challenge:7

The Elf Who Saved Christmas
1) Overall:9
2) Characterization:8
3) Plot:9
4) Setting:8
5) Dialog:8
6) Challenge:6

A Raisin to Live
1) Overall:10
2) Characterization:9
3) Plot:9
4) Setting:8
5) Dialog:9
6) Challenge:10

A Spirited Meeting
1) Overall:4
2) Characterization:3
3) Plot:4
4) Setting:3
5) Dialog:3
6) Challenge:4
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