Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Awards and Guys in Fat Suits

I've had a few days of R & R since the end of the contest and am ready to resume the regularly scheduled programming...whatever that is. I am still unable to post comments at a lot of blogs. I hate blogger.

Thanks again to all who entered and participated in some fashion during the run of the contest. Laurita and I will be meeting shortly to package up the books and send them off to the recipients. You can expect those to arrive before the snow flies.

It's business as usual about here. Not a lot of drama. I had my final basketball game of the season last night. There were only four players per team, so no substitutions meant no time off the court. It was an exhausting hour. Fortunately, we had on hand several tanks of oxygen, a defibrillator and a Saint Bernard with a tiny keg of brandy.

Hit zero gravity button...
 The boy had his grade 9 carnival last week at the school. That is the year-end activity the school now holds instead of a graduation ceremony and dance. It's a fun evening at the school with lots of fun schtuff set up. The bouncy castle, fly-paper wall
and the sumo suits were but a few of the activities. They found that the formal affairs were getting out of hand. The ball gowns, tuxes and limos were getting a bit much for their age bracket and those in charge chose to take a step back. Good choice.

*Sniff* I'm a little verklempt right now
They also held a 'Student Choice Awards' where the grade nine's could vote for their peers in several categories. Best smile, most unique hair style (male and female), best strut (male and female) and most forgetful were a few of the categories. Sean's friend 'K' won the award for student most likely to  'take over the world'. I am proud to announce that Sean brought home the award for 'Funniest Student'. I quizzed him on that...funny as in 'strange' or funny 'Ha-ha'. It makes a difference, and the answer will also determine what side of the family THAT came from. I reminded him that the honour wasn't likely to help him much in his goal of gaining entry to the Marine Institute here in St. John's...no matter how many Billy Connolly jokes he told.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lost on the Rock Contest - Honourable Mention

*Note to all* Blogger appears to have been going through some issues yesterday. I wasn't able to post comments and I received an email from somebody telling me that they couldn't post at this blog. If you tried to post a comment to any of this week's stories or interviews and could not, please go back and try again today as I'm sure the writer's would appreciate the feedback.

We bring the Lost on the Rock week to a close with our honourable mention stories. I am presenting Numbers, by Gerard Smith of London, England. The theme of 'Loss' tended to produce sad, melancholy or even horrific stories. Gerald's serendipitous tale really caught the judge's attention as it offered up a possibility of hope. Check out his blog All kinds a random. It definitely is, as the banner at the top of his blog describes...Observation. Opinion. Experience. Random. Stuff.

Also, please take a moment to drop by Laurita Miller's blog, Calling Shotgun.  She is presenting Simply Lost by (the one and only) John Wiswell.

We now present Numbers, by Gerard Smith...


The girl was frantically shouting out numbers as she chased after the departing tube train. When it was gone she dropped, deflated.

She rose again: hopeful, "Did anyone get the last two numbers?" Silence of course – Londoners.

She was gloriously beautiful, as was the guy on the opposite platform with whom she flirted; the electricity between them as potent as that which flowed through the tracks that separated them. I saw the sparks.

On the train I approached her, "Excuse me."

She looked at me warily, London wary.

"Zero, nine – the lad on the other train, they were the last two numbers, I'm sure." She scribbled them on her hand, thanked me and smiled – wow!

I envied that guy. He had power. Girls never looked at me, let alone run after trains for my number. In the days that followed I looked out for them; had my vigilance united the glorious couple? I saw nothing more of them.

Day in day out I took that tube train: to spend my days balancing books, my evenings watching TV.

For fourteen years Lucy enriched my life. The thought of going home to her buoyed my day. I was bereft when she died, yet her death elicited little sympathy from my colleagues – she was a cat. I mourned her loss alone.

The years, like the tube trains, just trundled away.

The colour gradually drained from my life. Numbers became harder to crunch; a misplaced numeral ensured the loss of my job. I didn't take the tablets the Doctor prescribed; oblivion seemed preferable.

When I felt the familiar rumble of the approaching train, I closed my eyes. I felt serene falling forward, ready.

Someone grabbed me!

"What you doing man, you were gonna frigging jump?"

It was a young man, so full of life, so familiar?

"No!” I lied.

"You freaked me out." He had an American accent.

Our eyes met – did I see them both in him, that glorious couple from years ago?

He put his hand on my shoulder, "Are you OK?"

His empathy soothed me, " Yes, thank you, thank you so much.” When he smiled I was left in no doubt, he had his Mother’s smile – wow!

The blackness lifted and left me.

I wondered if it was serendipity that placed him there to heal me? But no, I believe that someone, somewhere, arranges things: thank goodness, thank God.

Bio: I’m Gerard Smith, a 45 year old Director in a Healthcare Communications Agency. Although Irish, I’ve lived and worked in London for 23 years; I love the city, it’s become home. I’ve only recently started writing, spurred on by the short/micro/flash fiction genre, which really suits my impatient need to know what happens ASAP (without compromising on story.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Interview With Michael Jackson

Today's interview is with Michael Jackson, 4th place winner in the Lost on the Rock contest. I had considered changing the title of this post to 'Interview with Mike Jackson' so as not to confuse fans of a certain entertainer. Actually, I don't mind if thousands flock to my site accidentally. Perhaps they will read about THIS Michael Jackson, of Warrington in the UK, and want to flock to his blog and read more of his fiction.

Our Mike Jackson is a former primary school teacher and has only joined the writing game since he retired two years ago. He used to love telling stories to the children at school and now enjoys writing the stories at his blog MJShorts. His story Where is Esther? appears today at Laurita's blog Calling Shotgun.

Have you ever been lost? Physically? Emotionally? Grammatically?

I don't remember ever being lost physically or emotionally but at the moment feel a little lost with a children's book I'm writing. It's my first attempt at a book and the first three chapters seemed to fly on to the page but since February I've become bogged down. It's as if I've lost my way - I've tried going back to the beginning and picking my way through to see where the problem lies, but I'm still lost. I've decided to leave it alone for a while and see what happens. It might be that I have to abandon this journey and set off on a new one.

Tell us about your writing. What is your favorite genre? Do you have a favorite story or character you’ve written?

I only started writing 'properly' when I retired just under two years ago. For the first 12 months or so I concentrated on two blogs - one was about education and the other a more general 'rambling thoughts'. In December 2010 I started a new blog to post my short stories. This has become both fun and addictive. I find myself experimenting with short stories, flash fiction, dribbles, drabbles, 5x5 stories, twitter stories. I enjoy responding to the different writing prompts that fellow bloggers are often posting.

I'm not sure if I've settled on a specific genre yet. Many of the stories on the blog are humourous and some are science fiction/fantasy. I plan to write a children's book and it will be fantasy. I also enjoy writing dialogue only stories, one of my favourites is 'Life In a box'.

Where is your writing space?

My writing space is my 'Studio' - my wife calls it my shed. I made it myself, cedar wood shingle roof, fully insulated t keep out the cold and wet, it has it's own electricity supply and Internet. I keep a lot of my books in there, numerous writing pads/journals, it's got a very comfy armchair and a lovely view of the garden. I can, and often do, spend hours in there.

Are you working on anything right now?

At the moment I am developing my blog of short stories, trying to get to grips with Twitter, wondering whether, as a writer, I should have a Facebook page and about to embark on writing chapter 4 of this elusive children's book I've started.

When you think of Newfoundland, what pops into your mind?

Newfoundland - the first thing that pops into my mind is Canada and snow. As a child I remember being told that the explorer who discovered it called it Newfoundland because it was a 'New Found Land' - I loved the simplicity of the idea.

Bio: I've come to 'writing' late in life but have always enjoyed telling stories. As a primary school teacher and for 25 years a Headteacher I had lots of children to tell stories to! I've been retired for almost two years now and am thoroughly enjoying the time and the freedom to write. I enjoy writing stories for my 'Short Stories' blog and meeting lots of other enthusiastic writers/bloggers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lost on the Rock Contest - 3rd Place

Our third place winner in the Lost on the Rock contest is Sue Harding of Warwickshire, England. I understand that some of her intimates refer to as the "Knitting Assassin". Perhaps that's because she hangs about with so many of those noir-ish types. I have had occasion to drop in on her blog I Refuse To Go Quietly! and have always enjoyed the writing she presents.

Take a moment to drop by Laurita's Calling Shotgun to read our interview with Sue. We'd now like to present Oubliette, another fine tale...


If I climb to the top of the stairs, there is a low door leading into a small attic. I come up here when the memories become too real. This is my place of ‘leaving behind’ the pain; it is my oubliette, my place of forgetting.

No-one else comes here. Only one other knows of it and he is sworn to secrecy. It is something we share and yet he can only ever wait outside because I will not let him in.

It was all so long ago and yet I remember it as sharply as if it was just happening. In some ways, perhaps, it still is.

Neville knows not to come in. We have been together so many, many years and yet I have never allowed him into my secret room. Obligingly, he has never asked. He merely accepts that from time to time I need to withdraw from life and be separate.

It was Neville, you see, who found out what had happened all those years ago. He had been exploring the woods and had come across the old potting shed at the back of the old nursery. It was all broken down and overgrown; the glasshouses standing vacant, the panes broken or missing.

I’d stopped crying by then, afraid it was the nasty man come back to check on me after he'd pushed me down into that dungeon-like cellar. When I felt the noise of footsteps above me I panicked in the darkness and stumbled into a pile of old clay plant pots. With his curiosity aroused Neville had discovered the door and pulled it open.

Thinking to make my escape, I’d leapt forward snarling and spitting like a cat, ready to attack and plunged forwards bowling him over. I was startled by the brightness and by the figure of a young lad rather than the horrible old man who’d smelled of dirt and tobacco. I’d been almost hysterical when Neville had grabbed hold of me and it was only when he shook me hard and yelled back at me that he wasn’t going to hurt me that I finally stopped screaming.

Neville, my saviour. He became a good friend in the days and months that passed, after he’d taken me safely home. I swore him to secrecy that he must never tell anyone what had happened to me and when we finally arrived back at my home he honoured our agreement. My mother was crying with relief and my father just wouldn’t let me go. They’d been about to call the police when they couldn’t find me, having searched the surrounding area for hours. Neville backed up my story that I’d been playing hide and seek with some friends, down by the old nursery, when I’d got stuck in the potting shed after the door handle had come off. He’d heard me crying and rescued me.

So, Neville became quite a hero and a fixture in my life from that time on. We grew up, he went off to college and I stayed on at school, being a few years younger. We courted and eventually married. At least, that’s the happy ending everyone believed.

The truth, hidden behind the aspects of middle-class conformity and appearances of genteel post-war Britain, was quite a different prospect; 1950’s society still clung precariously to established stereotypes of propriety that would not have openly accepted the arrangement that governed our marriage.

Neville endured the probing questions that suggested our lack of offspring might represent a failing on his part, even to the point where he didn’t contradict the misconception that others were happy to believe.

All these years he has patiently stayed beside me, content to be my protector and allow me to live a quiet and sheltered life. Our arrangement is simple – that part of his life is separate. He is very discreet, of course. I often wonder what makes him stay. Perhaps there is more to love and living our lives together than can be explained away by a simple definition.

But even now after more than sixty years there are times, flashbacks, to a long ago summer when a sunny day brought to a halt the excitement and wonder of youth and ushered in the loss of innocence, as I retreat once more to my place of forgetting. There, in my times of solitude, I block out the worst images and fight to replace them with blackness, as if splicing and editing cine film until I can look back and not see the past.

Neville found me, he rescued me and he has sheltered me all these years, but still I am tied to the trauma of what happened back then. How I wish I could wipe away the memories of a past that will not go away. Perhaps, if I had the determination and the courage, I would bow to his gentle suggestion of counselling, but I am trapped by the fear that it might bring other memories to the surface. Solitude is a small price for me to pay but it has cost Neville dear.

After eleven years' hard-labour as a Library Assistant I am fortunate to have been able to give up work this year and am now a 'kept woman'! (well, I think that sounds better then the 'pensioner' connotation of early retirement!) I now spend my days reading, writing, knitting (no, it's not boring - excellent time to mind-plot!) and in keeping with my persona as a life-member of the Campaign for Real Ale, consuming quantities of quality brews and red wine - though not both at the same time!

I hang out at my blog: http://www.irefusetogoquietly.blogspot.com/ - callers there are most welcome, especially if they'd like to contribute to 'Thursday @ 3'!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lost on the Rock Contest - 2nd Place

Denise Covey, or L'Aussie as she is often referred to in cyberspace, hails from Brisbane, Australia. I have become familiar with her over the past several months due to her regular contributions to the #fridayflash scene where she posts her stories at http://flashquake.blogspot.com. Some  may even consider her a 'prolific' blogger as she also posts travel stories/photos at http://laussiestravelblog.blogspot.com and has a blog devoted to her French travels, stories and book reviews. You can find that at http://pichetsinparis.blogspot.com .

Be sure to drop over to Laurita's blog, Calling Shotgun, where you can find our interview with Denise. Without further delay the Lost on the Rock team presents the second place story Lost, by Denise Covey.


Her black hair is wetly plastered on her forehead; her dark robe pulls around her ankles like a shroud as she stumbles along the slick sidewalk, a forlorn figure in the misty rain.

I scrape my chair closer to the window and watch. Flowing like rivers around the woman is a multitude of people – tall Africans in technicolour caftans, blue-swathed Afghani women, dark-robed Muslim gentlemen.

Looking out from the café window, I can imagine myself in Baghdad, Beirut or Nairobi.

Anywhere but Paris.

                                                *  *  *

The sky was black and starless, heavy with the thought of rain when I shut the door to my little pensione in the Marais district. My aimless wandering has brought me again to my favourite square in Belleville where it’s market day. More like a Moroccan souk than a Parisian square, I think, with its hodge-podge of wares and rowdy jostling.

I watch turbaned African women elegant in striped boubous, children chattering at their skirts. Tourists weighed down with cameras jostle sober Orthodox Jews heading to the synagogue. North African men, tall and stately in jellabas, enter the mosque on the corner. Turkish men drink their java in the open wooden tea-house across the road, their cigarette smoke sending smutty curls into the grey sky.

The woman is at my window. I see black eyes sunken and mouth gaping. My God! I start to my feet. She jumps back, tosses her head and wails, her keening sharp in the sopping morning air.

I fall back into my chair.

‘Oh my God,’ I groan. I hang my head while the woman sobs. I reach a shaky hand toward the cold glass where her gnarly fingers clutch at her face.

‘You poor thing,’ I whisper. I stay where I am, pressing my cheek against the damp pane, remembering...

I remember the day the bomb fell out of the muggy midsummer sky…

                                                *  *  *

I see the Arab woman turn the corner, stumbling towards hell. She covers her face with her hands, sobbing raggedly, gulping the acrid air. As the searing heat and pestilential dust find her, she drops her hands from her face and stares.

Cement columns lean at strange angles; blocks of wall twist grotesquely like a miniature World Trade Centre, bolts and steel exposed. Where the floor once lay there is a gigantic hole from the mortar, filled with debris, the toxic dust rising in grey filthy puffs.

The debris includes her two children, left at the table, reading, only moments before.

The crowd watches as she throws herself into the smouldering heap, her lips quivering, her arms outstretched, her robes spreading over the monstrosity as if to shield her darlings from the unspeakable sight.

She begins to scrapple in the debris, oblivious to her ripped and scorched fingers, her torn knees, her blood mixing with their precious blood. She chants as she digs, frantically pushing cement chunks aside with super-human strength. Suddenly her frenzied digging stops, she gazes downward, blinks. An unearthly sound erupts from deep inside her.

Men in the crowd step forward at last, their garments flapping as they fight her, drag her bodily, her legs jerking, incomprehensible garble spilling from her mouth. Her scarf falls into the grey pit; her long black hair escapes its bonds and trails behind her in the putrid dust. Her screams get louder, piercing the gritty afternoon air. Mothers turn away, rushing home to their loved ones, to smother them in kisses, to breathe in their baby smell, to hold them safe in their arms.

The woman is hauled away. She looks back. The puddle of blood, dismembered arms and legs, a smouldering tiny leather boot are her last sight of her precious ones. Does her crazed stare register the foreigner clutching notebook and camera stepping from the crowd, reaching out?

                                                 *  *  *

How did she end up in Paris? Perhaps she arrived in Paris’ safe haven via Syria or Beirut, facing further danger on her road towards freedom, but how she would have hated to leave her children.

Their dust lies somewhere in Baghdad.

I sip my coffee with shaking hands, tremble and wonder. When I look at her she jerks away, eyes downcast. She stands erect, walks alone into the crowd, daughter of Ishtar, dignity restored.

S’il vous plaît.’ I call the waiter for more coffee.

I reach into my bag and stare at the tatty photo of my family.

The backdrop is the gigantic columns of the World Trade Centre, splendidly piercing the sky. I can still hear them laughing as I joked around with my camera. I gently kiss the darling glossy faces.

I remember afresh the terror of that day when the plane that was flying them home veered off course and crashed into the very same building. My loved ones became part of the debris that floated to the ground, that toxic shower.

Did my little ones cry for me? Did my husband feel relief that my work compelled me to catch a different plane, a plane to my Baghdad assignment? I can only imagine his final thoughts in his final minutes, as he held our children close to his beating father’s heart.

I reach for my press card, tap it on the table, remembering. I fumble in my bag again, retrieve my blank notebook and flip it open.

Merci.’ I thank the waiter who brings my coffee. I click my pen and slap it against the page, rhythmically, tap, tap, tap

My hand shakes as I begin to write:

An Arab woman
Lustrous black hair…no…

Try again

Dust to dust, dust to dust…oh God…oh God…no…

Suddenly the pen races across the page as if propelled by another source:

The bowels of the earth
Are filled
With pestilential dust
That was once
Flesh and bone

I cover my face with my hands. I begin to scream.

Denise Covey published her first short story at eleven when her dog saved her from being bitten by a snake. She was delighted when it won a competition and so she was bitten by the writing bug. After studying Arts, she taught High School which gave her endless story scenarios. She now tutors English, and writes constantly. She has written two novels and has short stories and travel features published.

Denise loves to travel and dreams of writing a travel narrative. If she’s not at her laptop you can find her reading, researching or running. You can find her at her writing blog.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Interview With Angel Zapata

The Lost on the Rock team are pleased to present this short interview with contest winner Angel Zapata of Georgia, USA. If you have not done so drop over to Laurita Miller's blog, Calling Shotgun, to read Angel's 1st place story Keeners.

Have you ever been lost? Physically? Emotionally? Grammatically?

I was raised in a big city, so getting lost in a place with numbered streets was next to impossible. Emotionally? Don’t get me started. I’m always a bit lost at sea. Hell, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. Grammatically? I’m very comfortable using my own compass. I never worry about syntax rules or utilizing completely logical structure. My experience tells me that most of us really don’t “speak well,” we just “talk good.” And that’s okay. It’s a realistic outlook I never want to lose. Of course this never excuses the avoidance of editing or use of spell-check.

Tell us about your writing. What is your favorite genre? Do you have a favorite story or character you’ve written?

Since most of my writing is flash fiction, there’s no time for drinks or appetizers. I begin at the meat. And by the end, my goal is to leave you happily sucking on the bones. In regards to genre, the horrific stands predominant, but I don’t mind it served alongside any sub-genre. And my favorite story I’ve written thus far is probably “The Mouth of Babes.” Who doesn’t like dead women with man-eating tattoos on their abdomens? Hmmm, there seems to be an odd food theme going on here…

Where is your writing space?

Unlike other writers I know, my writing space is a constantly moving island. At home, I have a dark corner in the bedroom; sometimes I move to the kitchen counter or my recliner. At my day job, I create outline after outline at any free moment. I can make myself comfortable anywhere. All I need is a flat surface and some sort of fluid or ash.

Are you working on anything right now?

I’ve been clocking in a mess of hours on a poetry chapbook. Short stories have only been in my life for about four years. Poetry has always been my first love. It feels good to return to her. I’m hoping to have it completed by this fall.

When you think of Newfoundland, what pops into your mind?

First thought is Discovery, which is a fitting irony for the “Lost” theme. New found land. It sounds like my writer’s paradise…only colder. Next thought would be Canada, immediately followed by Miller and Davidson. O Canada…you have been so good to me.

Angel Zapata respects the dead. His horror short story collection, The Man of Shadows is available in paperback or eBook through Panic Press and Amazon. He also edits 5x5 Fiction: 25-word stories told in 5 sentences of 5 words each. Visit his blogs A Rage of Angel and 5x5 Fiction.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lost on the Rock 2011 Contest Winners

I suppose we have waited long enough to announce the winners for the Lost on the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest. We have stalled so long that even I am dying of suspense. I know that everyone is giddy with excitement. It's as if it was Christmas morning...or something like that.

As I noted in my last post, the competition was tight and Laurita and I wish we could put ALL of the stories up here this week. Alas, there can be only four (and two honourable mentions). I should note that the top four represent three different continents. This Internet thingy is really something.

Without further ado, the winners are...(Drum roll, please):

  • 1st place is "Keeners", by Angel Zapata
  • 2nd place is "Lost", by Denise Covey
  • 3rd place is "Oubliette", by Susan Harding
  • 4th place is "Where is Esther?", by Mike Jackson
  • Honourable mentions go to "Simply Lost", by John Wiswell and "Numbers", by Gerard Smith.

Many thanks to everyone who entered. A thousand blessings to you all and those who live in your tent. I'd also like to thank my writing buddy Laurita Miller for co-hosting this contest. Sharing a contest can be something of a challenge but it's well worth the pay off. A shout out to the lovely 'V' who acted as intake secretary and official bartender for the contest, allowing us to judge the contest 'blindly'. I hope you enjoy the line up of stories and interviews Laurita and I will present this week. Here is the schedule of what will appear here at Conversations From Land's Edge:

Monday-      Interview with contest winner, writer Angel Zapata
Tuesday-      Presenting 2nd place story "Lost", by Denise Covey
Wednesday- Presenting 3rd place story "Oubliette", by Susan Harding
Thursday-     Interview with 4th place writer Mike Jackson
Friday-         Presenting Honourable mention story "Numbers", by Gerard Smith

Over at Laurita Miller's blog, Calling Shotgun, you will pretty much find the opposite arrangement:

Monday-      Presenting contest winning story "Keeners", by Angel Zapata
Tuesday-      Interview with writer Denise Covey
Wednesday- Interview with writer Susan Harding
Thursday-    Presenting 4th place story "Where is Esther?", by Mike Jackson
Friday-        Presenting Honourable mention story "Simply Lost", by John Wiswell

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Judgement Day

The fine people at Google have decided 6 days of non-blogging activity was punishment enough for 'breaking' blogger. They have let me come out to play. I just wish they'd give me that missing post back. You remember the one? There were two videos: one where a guy is teasing a dog and the dog is talking back to him. The other had guys trying on an electric dog collar....just for fun. High times.

I won't dwell. I'm prepared to move on to more important things like judging for the Lost of the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest. The lure of wine and nibblies was enough to bring the judges together to rank stories and participate in hand-to-hand combat.  We had it all: 15 flash fiction stories, cheese, crackers, two pairs of
boxing gloves and white wine dispensed from a box in the fridge.

Wine and nibblies on a fine ceramic plate
The stories covered quite a range of subject matter: from death of a loved one, to loss of a relationship. From the loss of moral fibre to the loss of innocence. Coming to think of it, the 'Loss' theme lead to some good stories, but some downer subject manner. *gulps back more wine* Perhaps next year we will run a contest with a more upbeat theme such as "euphoria on The Rock" or perhaps "cuddly animals on The Rock".

The contest was 'blind judged', meaning that we didn't know the names of the writers ahead of time. Surprisingly, the judges seemed to be on the same wavelength as six stories grabbed our attention from the start. The major challenge was putting them in proper order and declaring a winner. We have sent out email notification to the top finishers. These folks will also be given a few interview questions to answer and will be asked to supply a link to their web pages or blogs and also a photo of themselves. Remember...if no photo is supplied, I'll be forced to break out the purple crayon of doom and draw a likeness of that person to run with their interview...

Ripping open the hermetically sealed envelope of authors
Many thanks to all who participated in our contest this year. We appreciate your involvement at every level. Writing and submitting stories, Twittering about the contest, blogging and linking to our posts about the contest...it was all great and we're thankful for such a group of online friends. As usual, it's difficult to narrow it down and we thank ALL of you who submitted stories and wish we could run them all. You're all winners in our books.
We will be waiting for some feedback from the four prize winners over the next couple of days. We will announce the those names, and the names of two honourable mentions, on Sunday, May 22nd along with a schedule of when the stories and interviews will appear here and at Laurita's Calling Shotgun blog.

In other news... I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to Cathy Webster and her review of #fridayflash regular G.P. Ching's book The Soulkeepers at her blog. Drop by and check it out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Savage Beatings. And a Joke

I was going to post this entry yesterday but somehow I broke blogger.

I am sorry.

This week was a fairly regular routine of eating, working, sleeping and reading contest entries. I’ve gotten through a first read and am about to go through them a second time. I have four that stand out as superior stories for me. That being said, I’m sure that Laurita will have four different ones that SHE likes and Ellen will have four different ones for which she will emphatically support and administer savage beatings until we agree with her.

This is not me.
To counter this, I have been hitting the treadmill to build up stamina for what I’m sure will be a spirited debate with my associates to pick a winner for the Lost on the Rock Contest for 2011. I recently signed up for Tae Bo classes in a local gym, thinking it would help me get the upper hand on the lovely ladies. Sadly, when I arrived at the class I discovered it was Tie-Bow…a class where elderly gentlemen get assistance and training on how to create a proper cravat. The women will probably kick my ascot...but at least I will look simply maaaavelous (said like Billy Crystal, of course).

The chuckle of the day yesterday goes to Cathy Webster at her blog Life on the Muskoka River where she presents her “Ode to Lost Dryer Sheets.” If you missed it, it's hilarious and a must read.

And speaking of funny tales…corporate HQ back in Ontario recently held a contest to submit the best joke. The winner was guaranteed extra rations of bread and water. I didn’t bother to enter because I can’t compete against the combined wit of the drafting office. Besides, I could stand to lose a bit of weight. I present the winning entry below.

“For several years, a man was having an affair with an Italian woman. One night, she confided in him that she was pregnant. Not wanting to ruin his reputation or his marriage, he said he would pay her a large sum of money if she would go to Italy to secretly have the child. If she stayed in Italy to raise the child, he would also provide child support until the child turned 18. She agreed, but asked how he would know when the baby was born. To keep it discrete, he told her to simply mail him a post card, and write 'Spaghetti' on the back. He would then arrange for the child support payments to begin.

One day, about 9 months later, he came home to his confused wife. 'Honey,' she said, 'you received a very strange post card today. 'Oh, just give it to me and I'll explain it later,' he said. The wife obeyed and watched as her husband read the card, turned white, and fainted. On the card was written: 'Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti. Three with meatballs, two without. Send extra sauce!!!!”

Monday, May 9, 2011

And That's a Wrap

The deadline has now passed for the Lost on the Rock Contest 2011. Many thanks to those of you who entered. We had a little flurry of entries on the last day. In fact, one snuck in just before the deadline.

I would also like to thank those of you who helped get the word out via your blogs and Twitter, etc. Every little bit helps. For those keeping score, we ended up with 15 story submissions. I have read four and see that the bar has been set high. Laurita, Ellen and I will meet next week to champion our favourites. I will come prepared this year with boxing gloves and mouthguard. As I recall, Ellen has a nasty right cross...

We will be sending interview questions to the top four finishers late next week and hope to post the winning names on Saturday, May 21st.  The top four stories and interviews will be posted both here and at Calling Shotgun the week after that (ie. the story will appear at one blog, the interview at the other). Perhaps there will even be an honourable mention or two posted as well.

Just to pad this post out a little, I shall provide you a link here to an article at a travel website called Gadling. Perhaps the world's ten creepiest abandoned cities will provide inspiration to the horror writers in the crowd. There's a cool photo of each...from Taiwan to Turkey or Italy to the USA. There's apparently no shortage of places where people just up and left for reasons both natural and man-made.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Back-up Post

I'm really annoyed with myself this week. To be more precise, I'm really annoyed with my computer. More specifically, my Word program.

A few months ago a had worked on a lengthy post and somehow lost my work. I then started to type out my lengthier posts in Word and then cut/paste them into my blog. On Wednesday I was working on a post about reality television. I finished it after about 1 1/4 hours and then did a spell check. For some reason the program locked up on a paragraph. I was then given an option to retrieve my work, and I did. Now, you'd think that the Fez Guy would hastily move that story to his blog or at least save the dickens out of it. Nope. I tried the spell check again and it locked up again on the same paragraph (it must have thought that it was complete crap). I tried saving the document but this time I must have done something different and then Poof, it was gone.

Those who know me well will attest to the fact that I don't often swear (I leave that up to the boy). He swears enough for all of us. In fact, he swears so much that when he goes to interview with the Canadian navy when he hits 18 they will admit him right away. He could be the profanity instructor to the entire Atlantic fleet. He'd probably make admiral in a few weeks...OK, so I'm off on a bit of a tangent.

Me as a boy...
My reality TV post is now 'Lost' in Cyberspace. Speaking of 'Lost'...the deadline for the Lost on the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest is the end of day tomorrow. You may already know this as Laurita, myself, and our friends have been Tweeting the heck out of this in an attempt to get more entries. It's a mere 1000 words. Give it a try. Take next week's #fridayflash story (if it's already written) and send it to us! (as long as it fits the 'Lost' contest theme). You can read the contest information here. The post about the prizes is here. We will take a couple of weeks to read, re-read and then rank the stories. The top four will be sent a few interview questions to answer and return. The interviews and writer's photo will appear at our blogs the week after the Canadian Victoria Day weekend. If you are selected in the top four and don't want to include a photo, that's OK too...I'll just sketch up a likeness of that person with my handy drafting crayon...

Yeah, the death of my last blog post had me a bit bummed out this week, but my friend Cathy Olliffe sent along this video from tooshocking.com to cheer me up. The cute dog video then led me to this video which, as a former dog catcher who had to deal with obnoxious owners, really put a smile on my face. I don't think that I need to say that alcohol and dog collars don't mix...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Contest Prizes!

Lost on the Rock 2011 Flash Fiction Contest

There are only 7 days left to get your entries in for the Lost on the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest. For those of you still pondering this, you can link to my earlier blog here with all of the contest rules. We are expecting a varied selection of story genres on this ‘Lost’ theme from our combined circle of friends. We're really looking forward to how some of you worked this theme of things 'Lost'.

Laurita Miller and I have had some discussion about prizes and decided on the following four (in no particular order). We're thinking that the story selected as the Contest Winner will get first choice from this list, second place gets second pick, and so forth.

A copy of 52 Stitches horror anthology, edited by Aaron Polson. Strange Publications, 2010. Trade Paperback, 129 pages.This collection of 52 flash stories come in bit-sized pieces of 750 words or less by horror writers from Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Australia. You will find frightening tales from established writers such as Alan Baxter, Cate Gardner, Jeremy Kelly, Jonathan Pinnock and Laura Eno.
A copy of The Cuffer Anthology: Volume II, edited by Pam Frampton. Killick Press, 2010. Trade Paperback, 152 pages. This anthology of 34 short fiction (1200 word max.) features stories of local flair by both new and established writers from Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a collection that varies from literary fiction to science fiction, humour and horror. The feature story is Holes to China by Cuffer winner Chad Pelley. Also included are stories by Jillian Butler and Gerard Collins, not to mention Fledgling by my friend and writing buddy Laurita Miller. My story The Inscription also lurks somewhere within the anthology.

A copy of Haunted Shores: True Ghost Stories of Newfoundland and Labrador, by Dale Jarvis. Flanker Press, 2004. Trade Paperback, 208 pages. Dale Jarvis is a writer, researcher and story teller who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He has searched archival sources and taken first-hand accounts of mysterious lights, ghost ships, headless pirates and other unexplained entities and weaved them into dark tales from all parts of this historic province.

And finally, a $15 gift card from Amazon to get whatever the heck you like...Woot!

We'd like to remind everyone that not only do the top four stories selected by the judges get their stories published either here or at Calling Shotgun, they will also be interviewed by us and have the interview posted on the same day. Think of the crazy things one can say. Think of the promotional value. Does it get any cooler than that? (Don't answer that...)

We would also like to give the prizes a personal touch and perhaps include a load of moose droppings an item or two with each book that screams 'Newfoundland'. Have no fear...there will be no Jiggs Dinners, cod tongues or seal flippers sent out with the prizes...