This week's short turnout did not diminish the quality of stories we received.  A huge thank you to all who participate and to those readers who visit every week and of course to this week's Judge Ryan Strohman

Honorable Mention

_Charles Jones (@ChuckWesJ) gets an honorable mention definitely. You
could see where it was going right from the start, but who doesn’t
love the idea of something so cute and cuddly being so incredibly
sinister.

The Winner

_The winner as Rafe (@etcet). His use of the prompt
was fantastic in the way he broke up the wording and played the smile
as something entirely unexpected. I also love the line “the
peripheral neural pathways were the first to succumb, leaving you as
nothing but a brain in your own corpse.”

The Winning Story

_I'll never forget.

That smile hung in the air like a Cheshire Cat moon, a known but unreachable distance away. Part of it, sure was the drugs -- going down for the long sleep, the peripheral neural pathways were the first to succumb, leaving you as nothing but a brain in your own corpse until you came back up.

It made zombies seem like a reasonable thing to believe in -- long sleep storage was pretty much the perfect snack, being a fresh brain in an immobilized body, without the power to do more than panic internally.

But the smile remained above me, even as my eyes lost the power to focus and the face around it faded to a soft blur. And when I woke next, whoever was behind it would be centuries dead.

We devour the living to fuel our travels, and only the barest slivers of them remain, like the rim of a crescent moon, smiling.
 
 
I'll admit I got a late start this week, but last night I went to sleep watching croc handlers so this is what you get ;)  Remember the only necessary part of the prompt is the sentence, the picture is just for fun.

The Judge

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Here's a little bit about last week's winner and this week's judge Ryan Strohman from his website


"I’m an author of two ebooks, Project Utopia and Paradox, that could be classified as Sci Fi Techno Action Thrillers.  I enjoy working out (martial arts, running, and weightlifting), but I also eat too much.  I work as an IT Manager for an employee benefits consulting firm.  I also own a side business, Strohman Technology Consulting Services, that specializes in small-business and residential technology consulting and computer services.  I am married to a wonderful lady named Lisa, and we have a two-year-old little devil named Adam.  I’ve been getting hooked lately on #FlashFiction.  Oh yeah, I’m pretty awesome."

The Prompt

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I'll never forget that smile.

The Rules

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_
  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

 
 
Another week of fantastic flash fiction and short stories.  Authors gave us good dragons, bad dragons and dragons that weren't dragons at all.   To read them all go here.  Now, let's get to the results, shall we?

Honorable Mentions:

_ Solimund's staunch naturalist inhabits an interesting place to visit.
Hazzard's birth of a dragon slayer was sparse and gritty and pulled no punches with the speaker's emotion toward the dragons.
MB1k's steampunk train heist and its heavy freight of opportunistic cynicism.
ChuckWJ's speaker's discombobulated, disconcerted nod to Kafka's "Metamorphosis."

The Winner:

_ Strohman's gang initiation was both a clever twist, and an excellent scene-setter with characters that earned instant believability.

The Winning Story:

_“People call them Dragons. The Eighty-Eight Dragons, to be exact.”

Captain Emerson looked out the grimy side window at the group—men in their teens and early twenties—lining the street and staring down vehicles as they passed. Some wore expensive hoodies, jeans, and shoes, while others were adorned with white wife-beaters that showed off expansive and colorful tattoos.
 
 
Happy Chinese New Year!  2012 is the year of the dragon and promises to be an exciting time on many fronts.  Dragons have so many meanings and connotations, from protectors in the east to destroyers of villages in the west, from Kung Fu masters to little lizards.
Check out my story, "Dragons" at Daily Science Fiction to see another idea.  DSF has many wonderful stories by Nebula winning authors and rising stars in Fantasy and Sci-Fi delivered to your inbox daily for FREE.

The Judge

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This week's judge is equally comfortable in front of a set of weights or high tech gadgets and video games, he's also a heck of a writer.  The inimitable Rafe B, please take a moment to check out his website and show him some love.

The Prompt

Picture
My buddy Fluffy who passed away last year.
People call them dragons.

The Rules

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_
  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

 
 
Another great week with some really interesting entries! 
Thanks to all of our entrants:
@Vignirsson
@seadamsky
@ChuckWesJ
@Computilizer
@rastrohman
@SiobhanMuir
@DavidALudwig
@ModernBard1024
@solimond
@etcet
@LupusAnthropos
@MLGammella

And of course our Judge:
@caramichaels

Click here to read all of there

In the end though, there's only one winner

Honorable Mention:

_ @LupusAnthropos for best unintended suicides.

The Winner:

_ @etcet both for the nod to Ayn Rand/Atlas Shrugged and the Equilibrium style future. Eloquent and provoking.

The Winning Story:

_"We just wanted to be free."

Every facet of the protest brought forth a variation on the theme, from the occupied public spaces to the darkened patches of cyberspace to the email and phone cascades flooding the bureaucrats' offices.

"We just wanted to be free."
 
 
I was originally going to use this article's title as the prompt, but that would defeat the point of offering you something you haven't already thought of.  So hopefully this derivation works. :)  Thank you to all of you who have participated!  Remember the more friends you invite the more fun we can have and hopefully the more we can grow as writers!

The Judge

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This week's judge is a returning champion, a talented writing and a consummate encourager. 

One of the founding members of Camp Duct Tape, host of MenageMonday, author of The Mayday Directive and many more,  Ms Cara Michaels!

The Prompt

We just wanted to be free.

The Rules

Picture
_
  1. The prompt must be the first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

 
 
We had an amazing turn out this week. Thank you to all who participated!  To read all of the stories click here.
I'd like to thank our judge J. P. Sloan for doing a wonderful job this week.
Now on to the results in the judges words!

Special Mentions:

_ Siobhan Muir for most profoundly uncomfortable subject matter;

Lisa McCourt Hollar for successful Godwining;

Ryan Strohman for most unexpected genre/twist of plot, and making me grin.

Runners Up:

_ Rafe (@etcet): I really enjoyed his narrative style. Style is a difficult element to describe or advise upon, as it really depends on flow of words, diction, and voice. This entry is textually rich, approaching poetic. I only wished that it took us somewhere.

Karen Walcott: A close second for this week's prompt. What we find in this entry is a sense of dread and suspense that propels us forward. In flash fiction, I really want to read a "scene", and not just exposition or something that reads like a pitch. We get that in spades with Karen's entry, and are left gawking, reaching out, wanting to know what in God's Green Hell is going to happen next.

The Winner:

_Cara Michaels: Returning to my point about creating a true scene with few words, this week's winning entry knocks it out of the park. Beyond situating the reader deeply into the P.O.V. of the main character, Cara accomplishes two tremendous feats in 500 words. First, she gives us a super-setting and a sense of history without leaning on exposition. We glean a depth of backstory through the presentation of action and dialogue... precisely as a capable author should. Second, the main character undergoes two distinct shifts of emotional state... shifts which are believable and intriguing. What's more... we care. Building empathy for a dynamic character is an absolute must for a fiction writer, and doing so in 500 words or less requires skill. Congratulations!

The Winning Story:

_“An ancient legend tells of a sword and stone, but this was something different.” The storyteller’s rich voice lifted over the gathering. “Guided by the great mystic, Merlin, young Arthur pulled Excalibur from a stone and united the Ancients of Old Earth.”

Merlin? Arthur? As in Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table? I couldn’t help grinning. I’d loved the Arthurian tales as a child. It seemed his tale had grown even more awe inspiring in the last nineteen thousand years.

I closed my eyes, just letting the flow of the story roll over me.

“And so we know the tale of a great king, and his enchanted sword in the stone.”

The air crackled with anticipation as the storyteller hunkered down.

“But what about the man in the stone?”

 
 

The Bonus

_ I originally started Motivation Mondays for the same reason that I wrote Jade Dreams.  I love stories.   I have a special place in my heart for short stories and fables like those in The Blue Fairy Book, The Book of Virtues and the tales of the Arabian Nights.

It was reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series that put into mind the idea "What if all the stories are true?"  I studied the similarities between Arthurian legend, the Spear of Destiny, Beowulf, the Song of Roland and more.  From that research Jade Dreams was born

This week I wanted to give everyone a gift just for stopping by so I'm offering a coupon code for Jade Dreams at Smashwords

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: VM94E
Expires: February 15, 2012

Just visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/64151 and enter the coupon code when you purchase the book.

Alright, enough with the self-promotion, on to the contest.

The Judge

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This week's judge is J P Sloan

Please show your support by visiting his blog where he describes himself thusly:

"I am an author of speculative fiction, daily honing my craft and striving to maintain my sanity."

The Prompt

_An ancient legend tells of a sword and stone, but this was something different.

The Rules

Picture
_
  1. Story must continue from the prompt. (This means the prompt is the first sentence of the story.)
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

 
 
We'll be back next week January 9th!

Motivation Monday is taking off.  People are finding out they can find some truly great short fiction here.  You can get your #WIP500 done in one go while showing off and gaining new readers.  Let your writing buddies know that they can join in too!

This week to celebrate the rerelease of Jade Dreams, I'm giving away a free e-copy to everyone who enters this week.  In addition, my favorite entry this month will receive a signed copy of the paperback as soon as it becomes available.  I'm very excited about this book but even more excited about this contest.  Get out the word and let's make this a place where readers come to read the best of the best in short fiction!