Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Featured Writer for Challenge No 32 for Friday Feb 24 - The Perfect 9.5. A critique of each entry. And Challenge No 33, 'I Love You Because...'

It's that time of the week again! It was great to have our usual amount of entries for such a difficult prompt. 

I confess I struggled for weeks thinking about this one, but I finally got an idea and my story grew from there. Thank you everyone who commented favourably on my hot little passionate flamenco dance number, especially for those who thought I could/should be the Featured Writer. I like to hear that, but I'm not in the competition.  
Like most of our 400 word stories and poems, there is room to extend my story. I find it helpful to read the comments then take my story away and improve/extend on it, as I plan to e-publish a book of my flash fiction before the year is out, and they can be any word count under 1,000. 

If I manage to work out the e-pub system, I'll also be asking for your best stories to be considered for a Romantic Friday Writers e-book, and looking for a tres clever arty person to design our cover.

And thank you everyone for making the time to visit more stories/poems this week.

No glitches this week that I know of, just some imaginative treatment of the prompt. Not surprisingly sport (including dancing) was featured, as for this numbers game we often think of competitions.

Now, apologies for the length of this post. I want to demonstrate to you how thoroughly your stories are considered for FW and RU. 

I colluded with Donna Hole again this week. Donna does a lot of critiquing for her fellow blogger/writers so I respect her expertise. She read every story/poem and sent me her ruminations. This week I'm going to reveal Donna's summations, then give her her head with the decisions. I think she deserves this after all her hard work.

Over to you, Donna...

Ms Queenly has a great sniping story of competition, and I liked that the love interest stood in the sidelines to encourage her through the difficult task of admitting faults.

 - Roland's characters are flawed by nature; the excerpt didn't show a distinct flaw that showed devotion despite the flaw.  They state they love each other and that is all there is to the relationship, at least in this excerpt.

 - Andy's poetry is a celebration of women.  There is no specific "relationship" there; women are loved because they are women.

 - Denise's setting and dancers were exquisite.  Based to set the heartbeat, the sweat of exertion, the love of a man for a talented beauty.  I can see passion igniting at the end of the night.  An excellent emotive vignette, a flash fiction worthy of publication for its heart and passion.

 - Anna's story of sibling love was beautiful, and I hope she develops that into at least a flash fiction piece; it would take very little tweaking to evoke more passion. But again, they are together because they are siblings and already share a bond.

 - Nancy's blind date really captured me.  I loved it.  But it was in all essence, a perfect date.

 - Weissdorn was truly inspired.  I loved how she showed a relationship building around the sporting event.  Phillipe was perfect for her, I could really see why that relationship would work.  But, the 9.5 was for the competition, not the relationship.

 - Linda's "gossipy" take was so much fun.  I about p***d my pants laughing at the twisted ending.  I liked how the imperfections of the showcased relationship were witnessed by an outside party.  Made it that much more juicy.  But what I was looking for in this excerpt wasn't there at the end: why would the wife stay with a such a lout?

 ** Laura's love letters were funny and heartfelt.  I could see myself as this wife, frustrated but not at all ready to give up.  What is love without conflict to make up :)  And his response had me crying with joy that he took it all in stride, and eloquently blew kisses back at her.  Truly, who could resist such a strong relationship?  

 * Adura's about tore my heart in two.  And I liked the almost flat, matter-of-fact voice of the narrator.  I wasn't sure how to leave feedback to Adura; but if the paragraphs had been rearranged just a little so the story did not start in flashback, but followed from meeting, to dating and uncertainty, to his untimely death just when they were getting comfortable, this would have been even more powerful.

*** Janu's was poignantly nostalgic; it captured the essence of lifetime commitment, from both perspectives.  She loved him by caring for his needs while he loved her by providing for their family and future.  Then the tables turned, and he loved her by repaying all her care and selflessness.  This was a complete history of love, endurance, and sacrifice.

 So there we have it. I may/may not have chosen the same two winners but it is so difficult to decide.You may/may not agree with Donna's POV, so I'd ask you to have your say next challenge - (only if you read ALL the entries.) Please leave in the comments who you think should be FW or the RU for the prompt. I'm giving you notice so you can think about this while you read next week.

So after much rumination, the runner up this week is Adura Ojo! Congratulations on your prose Adura. Please display the harlot on your blog!

FW this week is Janu. I don't know how you were affected by Janu's poem this week, but it had a great impact on me, more so when an email from Janu revealed this is a true story. 


For the next few prompts, I'm going to do a song series. All prompts will be titles of songs (there's no copyright on song titles.) Starting with 'I Love You Because...'

What do Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves have in common? They all recorded 'I Love You Because...' I like all versions, but the one I recognise is the Jim Reeves version from the '60s. Go to youtube and listen to each if you want further inspiration for this prompt. I think these words really suggest poetry to me. I might have a go at some more prosetry or I may stick to prose. I think the prompt speaks for itself and shouldn't need further suggestions...


The words 'I Love You Because...' must feature in the poem/prose at some point - be as imaginative as you wish with this. It doesn't necessarily have to be in first person (I know some writers hate first person, I'm sure I don't know why.) Make it whatever person you wish. Just write us a lovely poem or story. Don't forget to include a romantic element...hmmm, can't wait to get started...

L'Aussie Denise

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Featured Writer for Challenge No 3, Friday Feb 10 - The Long, Cool Aphrodisiac.

Hi fellow RFWers and new followers. It's great to see new names on the member list and new followers each week. It's even better when the new writers post stories for us. Two new writers participated in this fortnight's challenge - Erin Kane Spock and Weissdorn (aka Celeste.) Due to my not having updated our Submissions page since the beginning of the year when we trialled a 400 - 600 word limit, both our new writers were over the limit. Remember how hard we all thought it was to keep to 400 words, but now we take it in stride most of the time.

In the Submissions page it's clearly stated that you have to be a member to be in the running for Featured Writer and Runner Up - you submit your link in the right sidebar (the one with thumbnails) and hopefully post for us on a regular or semi-regular basis.

We had a couple of delays this week - Nancy Williams had an Internet glitch. When she tried to publish her story the net crashed. She only got it up a couple of days ago. Some of you have seen the late link and been to read Nancy's story. That's great and it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to see your heartfelt comments on Nancy's story. Weissdorn's been having google problems and her comments had been disabled. At a late hour she reinstated it, but you had to be in the know and click on the time of posting to comment. Tricky. I've come across that before. Weissdorn was wondering why she'd received no comments, but I assured her there were comments on our site as you couldn't leave your comments on hers. I hope you read them Celeste!

I collaborated with Donna Hole once again this week for help in choosing which we considered the best stories. I'm sure you'll all agree that the standard is improving and there were several possibilities. To be FW there must be a romantic element and appropriate response to the prompt - there was no problem with that this week. You also need to be only slightly over the word limit.

So to Runner Up this week. This goes to two of our members - Andy, for capturing the essence of the aphrodisiac - a single thing that makes the heart quiver with desire. For second Runner Up, after much discussion, we're going to award Anna. Her concept of a whole country as an aphrodisiac (France of course) was charming. Anna's prosetry may need a little more tweaking, but the sentiments were heartfelt. Considering Anna is learning to write in English, we think it's time she was awarded for her amazing improvement.

Andy and Anna, copy the badge to your site and link to your story!
Featured Writer this week is a double whammy also. Madeleine Maddocks captured us all with her perfectly-structured flash fiction. As Donna said: 'She told the whole story in one circumstance. There was character and plot growth and a romantically-satisfying ending.' I was also blown away by new member, Erin Kane Spock. I loved Erin's story so much - I went back for several reads (as did others). I didn't have her in the mix for a FW due to her 600+ words, but when I realised that was still in our guidelines I couldn't disqualify her. So Erin, please consider yourself a FW this week. What a great entry!

Madeleine and Erin, please take the badge for your website and link to your  story.
I don't have time for a rundown on all of your stories this week. Suffice to say, all entries were of a ripping high standard! I appreciate the time most of you take to visit each other and comment and critique. I saw Celeste (Tales From the Rhoen) everywhere. It's great to follow each other's blogs, twitter and FB etc...

Looking forward to what we come up with for Challenge No 32, 9.5. Check the Challenges page for extra ideas. Really, it's whatever you make of it. Keep the romance element coming!

Don't miss Challenge No 33, 'I Love You Because...' for March 9th. I'm sure this prompt needs no extra help.

No entries over about 420 words next week o writerly ones.

Denise (L'Aussie)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Featured Writer - Challenge No 30 - Learning to dance when it's over...Update on next two posts!

Hello fellow RFWers!

The entries this week were full of life and hope. I loved reading them all and am doing the judging alone this week as I wanted Donna in the mix with her online dating story, well, it was a lot more than that!

I always find it terribly hard to choose winners and this week was no exception as even though there were only 10 entries the quality was high. Going back for multiple readings was no chore.

I know not everyone gets around to read all the entries, so I'll give everyone a shout out here and perhaps if you haven't read some, you'll take the time to pop on over, read and say hello. We all crave encouragement, don't we?

So, in no particular order:

  • Janu's poem, 'No Regrets' was powerful with her message of 'I learn to walk, then dance.' I loved 'After the night is a promise of a New Dawn.' Janu has just started writing for us and was the recipient of the Encouragement Award last week.
  • Roland went over the word limit, rebel that he is, but his 'Danse Mardi Gras' was gripping, as is all of Roland's work. Captain Sam has Mellori back in his arms at the haunted jazz club in New Orleans. Alice is flowing by in a black sleek dress with a tango slit (tango was a popular dance this week!). She was surely 'dressed to kill.'
  • Anna's entry was an endearing sweet piece. The message was that love is eternal and who can argue with that in any language? Anna received many complimentary comments on her prose. Considering Anna is Swedish we are all amazed at her swift improvement in writing in English.
  • Donna gave us something different this week, with her (or Brenda's) foray into online dating. That's what a lot of people do nowadays 'after the dance is over' so very up to the minute. Donna portrayed Brenda's anguish, indecision and uncertainty throughout the piece. I hope Donna works on this story as there's a lot more I'd like to read about.
  • Laura melted me this week with her hot chilli-chocolate tango and her killer last line - 'It seems that a broken heart dances the perfect tango.' Wow! Laura received several in-depth comments and suggestions to make a great story even better. 
  • Kiru touched a chord with her extract from her new book, A Valentine Challenge with her two endearing characters Kaisie and Michael. She raised the issue of family estrangement which many of us could relate to. Families need that central character to be the 'glue' but when that 'glue' is no longer there, how do families co-exist?
  • Adura had us all amazed with her 'Auto Tango' poem. Adura said in a comment - "Auto Tango" is probably one of the most technically difficult poems I've ever written. Each stanza is linked - starts with seven syllables which reduces until it becomes one and then it starts with seven all over again and repeats the process until one word at the end of the last stanza." It was high energy poetry reflecting the tango as a high-energy dance - the stanzas dance within the poem.
  • Scherherazade delivered romance, conflict...then murder! Pow! She caught us all! What an ending! I'm still not sure whose severed head was left lying at the end of the story, so I'm hoping there's a follow up to this! What's going to happen at the cabin?
  • Andy's 'Like a Harlot' was quite different from what we've come to expect from Andy, and that's great. Mix it up friends! Surprise us! This vision in Andy's poem becomes 'like a dying flower she withered before my eyes.' His last line was full of humor - 'Perhaps tomorrow I will try Ballroom Dancing instead.' 
  • Well I guess I should mention mine...I loved writing this positive piece about a woman who's been downtrodden but is finding her feet again. Love the idea of belly dancing. Not that I've ever tried it, so a bit of research went into the story and it must have convinced those who read/commented. Ah, I love the reality of hope!
So you can understand my problem in choosing a winner. I want to award you all. You are all superstars!

This week I'd like to award Anna the Encouragement Award again for the vast improvement you are making in your English, Anna. We all loved your story. I'm excited to see what you're going to write in the future. You just get better and better.

Runner Up? I loved Janu's 'No Regrets.' Beautifully crafted, beautiful heart-felt message - walk, then dance.

Featured Writer? Oh, I'm torn. I had to keep going back and forth between so many of you but I couldn't settle on just one. I'm awarding the accolade to Adura for 'Auto Tango' and Laura for her heart-breaking story of the broken hearted still able to tango. 

So if you didn't get awarded this week, I hope writing is reward enough. The bar was raised this week and I hope we can keep producing such high-quality entries.

Thank you!

Now on to the next two challenges!

Apologies to those of you who had already taken the badge for the next challenge (9.5) and posted it on your blog. That was tremendous and I'd love it if more of you would do that so we can spread the word. But I had the wrong date on it - forgot momentarily that it's not weekly any more, lol! I'd also overlooked the fact that it's Valentine Day on February 14th, and our next challenge is just before that. I thought The Long, Cool Aphrodisiac would be more fitting if any of you lean towards a Valentine Day's type story/poem. 

So members and friends, take the two badges and post them on your site and spread the word for our next two challenges. Don't forget to check the Challenge page for that little bit extra to get you thinking...

Welcome to new followers and members. I hope you will throw aside the curtain and join us! We want to read your stories or poetry!

Happy writing!

Denise (l'Aussie)