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Everything you worried might happen did, not to mention a few things you hadn't even considered.  The walls feel like they are caving in on you.  The waves crash high above your head, tossing you about like a rag doll.  You close your eyes and resign yourself to your fate, the end has come.

Then the morning sun rises.  You are battered and bruised, worse for wear, but for some reason you are still alive.  Visions of the end of the world vary, but our own personal Armageddon can seem like it impacts the whole world.

Guest Judge: Steve Voelker

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Steve Voelker is a writer that specializes in the horrible and fantastic. His work has been included in numerous anthologies and collections, including the Bram Stoker Award Nominated Slices of Flesh. He lives in Pennsylvania with his ridiculously supportive wife, three energetic children and one completely insane dog. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Voelker58, where he will keep you informed in the very likely event of a zombie apocalypse.

You can follow his blog at SteveVoelkerFiction.com

Steve's Story "Live Better" contrasts the most significant event in history with the most mundane of circumstances.  Find his story and more in Song Stories: Volume 1.

The Prompt

I saw four men on horseback

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 brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

 

Results

04/11/2013

0 Comments

 

Contents

Judge's Comments

I sincerely enjoyed reading all the stories and was honoured to be guest judge. Well done to everyone. They were all very good.

Honorable Mention

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Inescapable Logic by Jeffrey Hollar
The clever last line made me smile

Winner

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The opening paragraph instantly grabbed me. It was a pretty neat twist at the end, where the ... lover turns out to be more than human too.

The Change
By Robin Abess
If I could erase one memory from her mind, it would be of what she witnessed that night. In the midnight hours, as the screech owls gave their eerie cries and the loons on the lake answered back, her world changed, and it was my fault.

I knew better. I shouldn’t have taken the chance, but I loved her so dearly, I couldn’t let go. Not even for one weekend. We’d only been together two months then, although I had known her longer, as a friend. I brought her with me to the cabin. I remember how childlike she was, clapping her hands at the sight of the cozy structure nestled comfortably amongst the tall trees. I’d never brought anyone there before, and it seemed perfect. It would’ve been too, if I’d kept track and paid attention better, to the month and time of year. I was so besotted, I simply forgot. By the time I realized, it was simply too late.

It was spring, and everything was in bloom. The smell of pine and daffodils combined wafted through the windows I’d opened, perfuming our love nest. She came to me with open arms and willing lips, her eyes shining with love. We lay together afterwards, basking in the late afternoon sun spilling through the window and holding one another. We had dinner, made a fire in the fireplace and talked of future plans. It was only when night came on that I suddenly remembered and swore aloud. She asked what was wrong, and as I opened my mouth to make some excuse, I felt the pull and turned away.

I heard her move toward me, and I ran from her. She called my name, hurt making her voice tremble. Wanting to get as far away from her as I could, I moved into the woods, but in my worry over putting distance between us, I slipped, twisting my ankle badly. Cursing, I rose to my feet, but I could hear her following me, continuing to call me. Then it was too late.

The light hit me, spreading around my body, transforming me. The last mortal thing I remembered was her wide frightened eyes as she witnessed the change, and her scream. The next thing I knew it was morning and we both lay on the ground beneath the trees. I rose, but she didn’t. When I went to her, her eyes were still wide, but blank. I spoke to her, and she made no response. Knowing there was no other way, I lifted her, closing my eyes, muttering the correct words for the portal.

Now, I watch her as she moves around the room gracefully, trying out her new wings. She is no longer capable of loving and she is no longer mine. She’ll exist to procreate for the race, and in a few short years she’ll die, with no memory of human life or love. And I will never forget. Such is the life of the fey.

 
 
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This weekend, I lost my best canine friend of 9 years, only four months after we lost our cat of umpteen years.  Watching them pass - one by stroke and the other by the hand of the vet - are things I wish I could erase from my memory. 
There is a Sunday School song that includes the line "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see." 
What things have you seen that  cannot be unremembered?  What Lovecraftian horror might drive the view insane?  Share your deepest regrets and darkest fears -  or just some silly or gross image you could have done without seeing.

Guest Judge: Jack Horne

Jack  Horne lives in Plymouth, England, where he works for the local theatre. Quite a number of his poems, short stories and articles have been published, with some also broadcast on the radio. A collection of his short plays has just been printed and a novel and a co-written poetry book are scheduled to be published soon

In "Raquel's Photograph", Jack considers David Soul's classic "Don't Give Up On Us Baby" and pondered what might happen if the hero failed to get his love back.  Find out what happens in Song Stories: Volume 1.

The Prompt

If I could [erase/change/forget] one memory...

*Bracketed words can be replaced with any comparable word or phrase.

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 brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

 

Results

03/28/2013

0 Comments

 

Table of Contents

Judges Comments

This was a tough decision, as all three were well written and had their own strengths. I found myself going back and forth between them as I read and reread, trying to make up my mind.

Honorable Mention

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“Annihilation” by Robin Abess is my pick for Honorable Mention. Robin managed to fit a lot of story into those 500 words, and really painted a complete picture. Because of her detailed writing and strong use of imagery I got a good sense of the world she imagined, and of the character of Lira. I like how the story begins and ends with the red button, and how Lira, who didn’t study her history, seems bent on repeating the mistakes of the past.

All honorable mentions will automatically be entered in the drawing for a paperback copy of Song Stories: Volume I after it is released next month.

Winner

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Handwriting Analysis
By Jeffrey Hollar

Ultimately, I decided that “Handwriting Analysis” by Jeffery Hollar was my favorite. 

I like the idea that some problems can’t be solved, especially when the prompt is about the end of humanity. While many science fiction writers suggest we will wipe ourselves out in some sort of global war, Jeffery’s story actually has the world working together to thwart the impending doom. Rather than the world ending abruptly in some sort cataclysmic event, humanity wastes away slowly, as the Earth and her resources finally give out. These are very creative ideas about the end of mankind, and they were executed perfectly. What really sold the story for me was the strong voice and wry sense of humor in Jeffery’s writing. And that I would probably be laughing right alongside the narrator. I always seem to find humor in the most inappropriate situations. Overall, “Handwriting Analysis” was an enjoyable read, very well done.

“Statistical analysis concludes the continued presence of species: Homo sapiens within the confines of ecosystem specified constitutes a null profit proposition. Corrective measure indicated by analysis is removal of species: Homo sapiens from the confines of ecosystem specified with maximum expediency by most decisive means available.”

While most of those present in the control room reacted with stunned silence or confused ignorance, my undeniable response was unrestrained laughter. We’d all just been given a crash course reminder of the old adage to not ask questions you didn’t really want the answers to.

I suppose, at its core, the project had seemed not only viable but ingenious. It was no longer solely within the purview of a small clique of alarmist tree-huggers and end-of-days crackpots, but common knowledge that Mother Earth was screwed.

With a population floating around 12 billion souls, the elitists and intellectuals were learning a lesson the most uneducated Third-World matriarch already knew. No matter how well she could stretch what she had, there would come a point when children wanted for more than Mama had to give.

We’d exploited every natural resource to its breaking point. We’d engineered and synthesized every artificial element within our knowledge base. We’d modified and enhanced every square foot of the planetary surface to support habitation. Bottom line? It wasn’t enough.

Project Phoenix was seen as humanity’s best and last potential solution. Over the course of the next five years, the best and brightest bent our efforts to the most ambitious technological endeavor in all of recorded history. That solution involved inter-linking a dozen Cray Titan supercomputers resulting in a hybrid…creation capable of maximum energy efficiency while providing an exponential increase in capabilities.

Simultaneously with this hardware triumph, the programmers, climatologists, biologists and all the other –ologists busied themselves providing all of the software input Phoenix would require to evaluate the crisis and postulate a resolution. Twenty-seven brilliant minds became irretrievably unhinged in the deal, but every omelet requires broken eggs, we rationalized.

Our beleaguered world watched and waited once Phoenix was brought online. The sheer number of variables to be factored in was expressed only by theoretical mathematics. To the common man, the talking heads merely expressed it as being a really complex question with no easy answer. Well, it turns out the anchorpeople were pretty wrong. While the question was unaccountably difficult, the answer should have been obvious to us all.

So, while my colleagues, co-workers and fellow condemned folk wrapped their monkey brains around Phoenix’s response, I was already laughing at the absurdity of our situation. We had asked our Techo-God to answer our prayers and answer It had. Oh, it would take Phoenix a week or so to complete the calculations and finish up the machinery required but that was no longer of any consequence really.

The true import of what Phoenix had arrived at came down to something as simple as this: the handwriting was on the wall and the words that hand had written were “Goodbye Humanity”.

 
 
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Like Titan A.E. in 2000, a number of movies are coming out this year which explore the idea of life after earth.  Tom Cruise will Star in Oblivion.  Father and son, Will and Jaden Smith will play a movie titled After Earth.

What might life be like on the dawn of the Apocalypse, what type of life-forms might still exist on the earth that remains?  Use this week's prompt to explore your ideas of the next step in evolution or the types of people/creatures who might endure global devastation.

Guest Judge: Anthony Box

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This week's judge is Anthony Box.
Anthony Box is 23 years old, and lives in Bakersfield, California. He has a BA in English from Cal State University Bakersfield, currently working towards getting a teaching credential, and hopes to teach high school English.

Anthony is also an assistant wrestling coach at his old high school. He was a student athlete in college, wrestling for CSUB (a NCAA Division I program). His senior year he placed 4th in the PAC 12 conference tournament.

Anthony's "Painted Black", features a young man "gifted" with abilities far beyond ordinary human beings who is drafted into an army of "talented" individuals with a frightening agenda.


The Prompt

[The human race has become obsolete]

*The words inside the bracket may be altered as long as the meaning still reflects the extinction or the impending doom of mankind as we know it.*

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 brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

 

Results

03/19/2013

0 Comments

 
Please join me in offering a huge thanks to Guest Judge: L. T. Dalin who took the time to critique each story this week.

Judges Comments

Untitled by Mark Ethridge
@LurchMunster I love this story. It reminds me of when I was little, and we’d play boys against girls up on the hills. I’ve been so tuned to songs lately that for me, this resembles the feel of Kid Rock’s “All Summer long” – which is one of my favorites. Very well done, Mr. Munster, this is a well-balanced piece of memory lane.

Untitled by Rebekah Postupak
@postupak

I read this three times – the first time. I couldn’t help it. There is a sensuality to it that’s captivating and unusually erotic in its clean lines. Color me impressed.

Untitled by Nellie
@solimond

I really liked this, though at first I didn’t quite understand the ending. I realized it was my own fault for reading it too fast - expecting something obvious. I think this would make a terrific longer piece! Well done!

Academic Abandon by Jeffrey Hollar
@klingorengi

The intensity of this story is remarkably well written, and I think that anyone who’s ever been to a rave – without admitting to such – would recognize the feel. I like the idea of a stale anthropologist ending up in such a place and I think you described his “transformation,”  if one can call it that, very nicely.

Untitled by Alissa
@lissajean7

A mystical story indeed. I would have loved to know what exactly was coming, and what she didn’t know – but all in all, I really liked it. You did a good job of setting up anticipation and ending with a cliffhanger.

A Tall Tale by Lisa McCourt Hollar
@jezri1

This is a delightful twist to the story of Jack and the beanstalk! I liked the fact that they seemed like a “normal” couple, with a family until she goes to check on her sheep. One thing, which confused me, was that she didn’t like the fact that he was a giant-killer and rather preferred him a herder, yet she had no problems seeing herself as a giant killer. I guess one never knows what one likes until one is faced with it! Great job with this interesting twist.

Untitled by Cara Michaels
@caramichaels

The much heard of and talked about Circe. I like the intensity and sudden death-feel to the story. As always you have a marvelous way with words.  It does feel as if I were thrown into the middle of a page of a very exciting book – but this would definitely entice me to read more. Great work!







Honorable Mention

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All honorable mentions will automatically be entered in the drawing for a paperback copy of Song Stories: Volume I after it is released next month.

Jeffrey Hollar @klingorengi:  While the days of frantic gyrating is behind me, this did remind me of a few epic nights. I think you did an exceptional job painting a picture - and you really do deserve an Honorable, honorable mention.

Winner

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The winner of this week's contest earns a free kindle copy of Song Stories: Volume 1

Untitled by Rebekah Postupak  (@postupak)
With every judge there is an element of personal preference. Really, it's the main element. I loved this story because it was so female. Full of hear-me-roar, yet a handful of batting eyelashes and red-lipstick. It spoke to that woman within who yearns to wear pretty dresses and spend four hours curling her hair. Great work!

“You have summoned me; behold, here have I come.” (Keep your eyes down; don’t look up, don’t look up, don’t look up.)

“You are even more breathtaking than the last time I saw you.” His voice thundered across the hall. “What wizardry is at your command, that you could achieve such a feat in so short a time?”

“No wizardry, lord, save that which is natural to a woman.” (Hunch your shoulders. Stoop. Tremble a little.)

Now he was behind me, his breath warm on my neck. His voice was thick. “But you are no natural woman.”

(Pause. But only briefly.) “And you, my lord, are no natural man.”

“No.” One hand brushed across my cheek, a quick flash, like lightning. “No, I am not. So—so you will have me? Surely you did not journey this great distance to reject me again.”

“It depends. You know my condition.”

The room temperature dropped, and I shuddered at the sudden chill. “Marriage,” he said.

“Yes.”

“But you know—you are lovely, oh, you are so lovely! Your skin is so soft—but surely you know I am not the marrying sort. Would your woman’s heart not be satisfied with jewels? No. Foolish thought; you are too clever for jewels. A kingdom, perhaps? Or several. All within your grip.”

“Kingdoms I have,” I said. (Keep your voice gentle, demure. Like silk.)

“I could give you more kingdoms—what is that fragrance? your hair—”

(Not much longer. Don’t look up.) “That is the smell of the East wind, my lord. I came to you freshly washed by the dawn.”

He groaned. “You will not yield? This is the only way?”

“Yes, my lord. Marriage, then I am yours. Yours only.” (Now whisper. Whisper softly, so he can hear you, but barely.) “Yours entirely.”

A thunderclap. “Enough! Enough. This once, and this once only, I shall be the one to yield. You wish to marry the king of the gods? Then so you shall. My hand, my heart, are yours, Hera, you who have driven me to the brink of madness. Now take pity on me, and say you are mine.”

“I have your word? Then yes: I, O Zeus, am yours, to do with as you will.”

And as the sky around us exploded into storm, I lifted my eyes and smiled.

 

Dizzy

03/18/2013

8 Comments

 
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The pulsing lights, the throbbing bass, a room full of pheromones and sweat even without alcohol, immersion in the ancient rite of dancing is enough to put you off balance.

As we enter into our first full week with Song Story: Volume 1 from Song Story Press, we are neck deep in the excitement.  The pursuit of an audience, of great music and more great stories brings with it a heady emotion reminiscent of child hood games.

Does this week's prompt remind you of innocence or terror or romance or a little of each?

Guest Judge: L.T. Dalin

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This week is Motivation Monday's very own L.T. Dalin.

LT has been writing all her life, in some form or the other, but it wasn't until University when she studied Broadcast Journalism that her eyes were opened. Since then she's spent the past years trying to find her voice, her style and comfort zone, and she's having a blast with it. She's also a housewife, with a loving husband and two very demanding budgies. When she's not attending to them, she's working on a Fantasy Trilogy for YA called The Finder.

In L.T.'s "Death's Apprentice", a tallyman of the fatal sort takes an interest in the fate of two star-crossed lovers to amusing effect.

In her second story, "Primal" urges move a blood-sucking club promoter to consider throwing it all away for the thrill of the hunt.


The Prompt

[Watch out]; here [I] come!
*words and phrases in brackets can be replaced creatively (eg. "Ready or not; here we come!)

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 brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

 
 

Table of Contents

Untitled by Kimberly Gould
Excerpt from Fifty Shades of Fae by Angelica Dawson
The Tester by Megan Clark
The Keeper by Kayla West
Untitled by Lupus Anthropos
Untitled by J M Filipowicz
Old School Rules by Bullish Ink
Untitled by Alissa Leonard
Untitled by Ryan Strohman
Untitled by Marie Frizelle
No Place near Home by Jeffrey Hollar
Strangers in a very Strange Land by Wakefield Mahon

Comments from your Host

Thank you to everyone who made submitted this week.  I enjoyed every piece and I’m sure our readers did as well.  A number of your scenes hinted at longer stories which I’m excited to see when they are complete.  I would especially like to thank our guest judge Vic Kerry for stopping by to serve as an impartial judge.  Now on to the results.

Honorable Mentions

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The following entries earned an honorable mention from out judge and will automatically be entered in the drawing for a paperback copy of Song Stories: Volume I after it is released next month.

Megan Clark for The Tester and Alissa for her strange take on two classic stories The Wizard of Oz and Little Red Riding Hood.


Winner

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The winner of this week’s contest and a kindle copy of Song Stories:Volume 1 is Lupus Anthropos.  Here’s what Judge Vic Kerry had to say:

Lupus Anthropos [wins] for his hilarious romp through 1980's cheesy pop hits. So here it is:

Untitled
by Lupus Anthropos

"Toto."

"I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

"That's what I said: 'Toto.' Can't you tell?"

"What's to tell? We've been wandering around here all day and it's all starting to look the same to me."

"Seriously? Haven't you been paying attention?"

"Seriously. Look: you've got ten years on me. Sure, I've HEARD a lot of this before, but I have never SEEN it before. I can't always make the connections."

"So Kansas, Chicago, Boston - it just doesn't really matter to you?"

"Not really - just as long as it's America."

"No. America's not at this concert. Today, it's just Kansas, Chicago, Boston and Toto. Toto is the group that's playing now. They're singing 'Africa.'"

"Africa! Then we're definitely NOT in Kansas anymore!"

 
 
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There is an iconic moment in American cinema when Dorothy declares to her little dog Toto that everything has radically changed.  With the recent release of the movie Oz, and the release of Song Stories: Volume I this coming week, this seems a fitting place to start back into Motivation Mondays.
    Use this week's prompt to explore ideas of displacement: the fear and wonder at being transported to a place you've never seen before.  You might be transported by imagination, a dream, illness, madness, death, a supernatural event or some freak of nature.  But when or where would you go and how would the difference manifest itself?

Guest Judge: Vic Kerry

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Vic Kerry lives in Alabama with his wife, cat, and six dogs. He is the author of the novel The Children of Lot and an avid Elton John Fan.
    In "Scarecrow" Vic runs with a metaphorical and very dark interpretation of Elton John's classic song.  Kenneth Cavendish survives a tornado but his road back home is no so smoothly paved.
    Read Scarecrow and more in "Song Stories" from Song Story Press.  Available on Amazon for Kindle this week.
    Visit his website to find out more about Vic Kerry: www.vickerry.wordpress.com

The Prompt

[Toto], I have a feeling we're not [in Kansas] anymore!

*words and phrases in brackets can be replaced creatively (eg. "Grog, I have a feeling we're not in the Stone Age anymore!)

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 brownie points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST0
  5. If your story would be rated R or NC-17 in a movie, please post a note to that effect at the beginning of your entry.
  6. The winner of each week's competition will win a kindle copy of "Song Stories: Volume I"
  7. The winner and runner-ups will be entered into a drawing to win a beautiful paperback edition of song stories
  8. Have fun!

 
 
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The first volume of the Song Stories anthology is finished and to celebrate, we're bringing Motivation Monday back with a vengeance!

Each week will highlight a different author. The weekly prompt will be related in some way to the story.  The highlighted judge will select a winning entry and two to three honorable mentions.  The winner will receive a free kindle copy of the anthology.  The winner and honorable mentions will all be added to a grand prize drawing. Three lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of the anthology.

The rules remain the same: 200-500 words in any genre as long as your first words are those in the prompt. 

3/11/2013 is our first day back so mark your calendars, tell your friends and then come show off your skills.  Motivation Monday is back!