“The Will of the Sky” and Contest Winners!

As some of you may know, my short story “The Will of the Sky” was published on Story Embers today! Story Embers is an incredible website, and I was so honored to receive second place in their short story contest this year. Finally, it has been shared with the world! (You should also check out Kate Flournoy’s “Ella,” which won first place. It’s well worth the heartbreak. Go New Wessex!)

“The Will of the Sky” is a desert fantasy about a man from an honor-shame culture who has been shamed by his son and wrestles with whether to forgive or exile him. It deals with the complicated nature of duty and family, honor and love. I hope you enjoy it.

The Contest

So, in honor of that win, I decided to make my third flash fiction contest desert-themed. Choosing winners is always so hard because of how many incredible stories I receive. I would recommend you check out all the entries, winners or not.

Here are the Instagram posts:

Here are the Facebook posts:

The Judge

This time, I had the honor of judging the contest alongside the lovely Shaina Merrick!

Shaina Merrick spins her web of stories from the Western Side of the Rockies. The mountains surrounding her show up in one way or another in many of her stories. Her favorite part of writing is the first blush of a story begging to be written. The germ of an idea carries her through the rest of the draft, and all the way through the editing process. As well as a healthy amount of chocolate and hiding in a cave of pillows with a good book. Books are the reason she began to write in the first place, the stories written down on paper whispered of the stories she could write, if she ever put the book down long enough to start them. The stories that inspire her the most are written by Maggie Steifvater, N.D. Wilson, and Jeanne Birdsall. If she could craft stories that are even half as compelling as those, life would be perfect.

I met Shaina at Realm Makers this year, and we became fast friends, holding deep conversations and giving lots of hugs. Having her help with the contest was not only fun but also helped me choose the winners! I’ll be switching off judges every month (though there will most likely be repeat judges over the months). If you’re interested in helping me judge, let me know!

Also, I hope you guys enjoyed the Facebook contest. I think it did decently well, so I plan to keep the Facebook contest running for at least another month to gauge its sustainability. As always, please let me know if there is anything I can do to better my contests. I want to make them the best they can be.

So, without further ado, here are the prompts and their esteemed winners!

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One Way: Part 2

This picture does not belong to me. I found it on Pinterest.

If you haven’t read “One Way: Part 1,” I would highly recommend you do that before proceeding. Otherwise, here is Part 2!

“. . . have a portal creature.”

Another high voice. Why do these huge serpents have such squeaky voices?

Eirikur swims to the other side of the house, the place farthest from the door, and starts poking something with his nose. More light streams in––he’s uncovering the windows. Enormous windows, big enough for a sea serpent to fit through. Goodness, you could fit a whole family through that window.

The door stone keeps shifting. “You know . . . against our code . . . house them,” the squeaky voice continues. “. . . abominations . . . must be executed.”

Brynhildur pushes the bubble toward the window. Her voice is softer than normal but just loud enough for me to hear without the hearing aid. “You mean ‘eaten.’”

“Eaten?” I shriek. Just as I thought when I first saw Eirikur and Brynhildur––I’ll end up in a huge reptilian stomach.

She lifts the bubble onto her nose and balances me there. “Kalfr uses some parts of the code and ignores others, such as the fact that portal creatures must be either exiled or executed. Not eaten.” Then she tosses me through the window.

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One Way: Part 1

This picture does not belong to me. I found it on Pinterest.

This confounded rain. I scowl at the sky, but it doesn’t listen, just like everyone else. Droplets splatter against my glasses and hinder my already-dim vision. The rain gathers in bothersome puddles that soak my shoes and set my bones aching. Should’ve brought an umbrella, but I had to be stubborn, didn’t I.

Oh well. I can handle a bit of rain.

I shuffle along the sidewalk, moving my walker slowly and carefully, supporting myself with each step. I can almost hear Greg’s voice in my head telling me that it isn’t safe for me to go out by myself, that everyone gets old, that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, that Spring Meadows Retirement Home would take good care of me.

I snort. The only way I’m leaving my house is if I’m dead.

He thinks I don’t know what he’s up to, but I’m old, not blind. He’s tired of his dingy apartment and thinks his dear sweet mother will hand over her house like a docile old woman. Preposterous. If he keeps this nonsense up, I’ll write him out of my will. He never even gave me grandchildren.

The smoke-clogged air finally gets to me, and I cough, practically knocking my glasses from their precarious position on my nose. Pushing my glasses to a more settled position, I glare at the factory chimneys as they pump more of that nasty stuff into my air. Unfortunately, my glasses aren’t fogged enough to keep me from seeing those dreadful black clouds.

When I was a girl, the air was nice and clean. But now––

Even my walker isn’t enough to keep me from tripping. The puddle and my face meet, but instead of slamming into hard concrete, I am swallowed by water.

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Rainhaven: Part 2

If you haven’t read the first part, I would recommend reading this. Otherwise, you might be a bit lost. But without further ado, here is the rest of “Rainhaven.”

This image does not belong to me. I found it on Pinterest.

Rain slammed against the sidewalks, thudded against the lights. “Rochelle!” Selah shouted. “Rochelle, can you hear me?”

“Rochelle!” came Brad’s baritone. “I’m with your sister! Where are you?”

His voice certainly carried farther than hers did. Maybe it was a good thing she’d recruited him. But still, they had no idea where to look. 

Glass shattered behind her. She spun around, holding her umbrella out in front of her as if it were a weapon, leaving her head unprotected. “Who’s there?” she shouted.

Brad had tensed next to her. His umbrella spread over his head, orange like his hair but intermixed with pearly streaks. “You’re getting soaked, Selah.”

“I noticed.” She could barely see through the rain, so she moved the umbrella back to its normal position. A tiny umbrella, like the kind they had in drinks, floated away in the streams moving along the street. Wait. “Viv?”

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Rainhaven: Part 1

This image does not belong to me. I found it on Pinterest.

Rain pounded against the roof and streamed onto the ground, forming massive puddles that would soon morph into streams. Selah peered out the window but didn’t see the tell-tale sign of her mom’s crimson-and-gold polka dots or her dad’s navy-blue, green, and white zigzag pattern. No umbrellas, no humans.

She bit her lip. At this rate, they were going to be late for the Rain Parade––unless her parents were already on site. But if they were going to do that, they would have told her beforehand.

The sound of footsteps pulled her attention away from the window. Rochelle swung her umbrella, still closed, back and forth. “Viv says I can go to the Rain Parade this time. Can I go? Please?”

Selah blinked. “Viv told you what?”

Rochelle’s golden-brown braids––courtesy of Vivienne––whipped around in a circle as she twirled in place. “She said I could go. She said she’d even buy me a new umbrella at the festival afterward.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Selah held up her hands. Rochelle stopped twirling. “You’re not going anywhere until Mom and Dad get back––if they even say you can go.” Selah steeled herself for the protruding lip and wide eyes. Yep, there they were.

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