Tag Archives: Flash Fiction

The One-Hour Flash Fiction Challenge

This Saturday, August 8th, at 8 PM EST, we will once again be hosting our bi-weekly flash fiction challenge. The challenge: You have just one hour to write, edit, and post your story.

This is a “prompted” challenge, meaning your story must be based on the prompt, which will be revealed just before 8 PM. The challenge takes place here on our forum, so you’ll need an account if you want to participate.

The purpose of the challenge is to force you, the writer, to clear your mind of all distractions and write a complete 1,000-word-or-less story within the allotted time. You’ll have to not only write the story, but also edit it, and then post it by 9 PM EST.

For those interested, here are the rules:

Unlike our bi-monthly flash fiction contest, the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge is just for fun. The challenge will be held every other Saturday, officially beginning at exactly 8 PM EST. There are no prizes! And the rules are simple.

1. All stories should be complete, written and posted within one hour, and can be anywhere from one sentence to 1,000 words in length.

2. You may choose to write your story in any genre.

3. Your story must be built around the restrictions—words, themes, photo prompts, word limits, etc.—provided by the Flashmaster at the beginning of the challenge.

4. Once the participants’ work is posted, the voting and comment session begins and continues until all votes are in. Time limit for voting will be determined on the spot, depending on how many people finish the challenge.

5. The winner becomes Flashmaster and hosts the next contest.

And that’s it. Simple and fun.

Think you can do it? Join the forum and be present this coming Saturday at 8 PM EST. More information can be found on the forum.

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And the 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

There’s a Tongue in the Drain
by Roger Lovelace


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was our good friend David G. Blake, author of the excellent “A Kite for Sarah” (Nature, Mar 2014) and “Night in the Forest of Loneliness,” which we just reprinted in our Halloween issue.

Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2014, David chose “There’s a Tongue in the Drain,” by Roger Lovelace, as the winner. The contest prompt for this story was a simple photo:

I asked participants to answer two questions with their story: Who is this person? What’s up with the grate? You’ll be able to read what Roger came up with in Shock Totem #10, due in early 2015.

Congratulations, Roger, and all our other top three finishers this year!

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September 2014 Flash Fiction Contest

Every other month we host a flash fiction contest on our forum. The next contest begins on Tuesday, September 1. This will be the last contest of 2014.

Participants have one week to write a story based on a prompt that we provide. The prompt must be integral to the story. This requirement, we hope, forces writers to pen a brand-new tale rather than submit some previously written or reworked story.

When the week is up, the stories are anonymously posted in the hidden contest forum. The entrants then have three weeks to read each story and vote on their top three. Additionally, most give feedback on each story, thus ensuring everyone gets something out of the contest.

The final contest of the year is in September. Once that winner is announced, all five individual winners throughout the year will be given to a neutral judge, who will then pick his or her favorite. That story will be published in the next issue of Shock Totem!

If interested, sign up here. It’s a good time.

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And the March 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Cory Cone

Cory won with his story “The Better Magician.” The prompt for this month’s contest was this image:


Click for larger image.

For this contest, we set the following guidelines: “These look like hotel keys, but they’re not. That’s too easy. So what are they for? Once you figure that out, choose an empty slot and tell us its tale. The number, the key(s), what are they for? Who are they connected to? Why? These are all significant and must be part of your tale.”

Thirty people participated. Aside from Cory’s First Place win, Second Place went to HL Fullerton, and Allison Dellinger claimed Third Place. Cory’s story will now go into the running for the overall winner for 2014, to be determined later this year.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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And the January 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

J. Kyle Turner

Kyle won with his story “Everybody Needs.” And on the one-year anniversary of his last First Place win!

The prompt for this month’s contest was this discovery of century-old negatives found in the Antarctic. For this contest, I asked the authors to tell us about one or more negatives from the past that, when found in present time, reveal something much more sinister. Though I asked that the setting be a “wintry” one, they were not required to set their tale in the Antarctic or 100 years in the past.

Second Place winner was Shock Totem #7 author Amberle L. Husbands, and Third Place went to Aimee Blume. Kyle’s story will now go into the running for the overall winner for 2014, to be determined later this year.

So a big congratulations to all the winners!

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And the 2013 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Stabat Mater
by Michael Wehunt


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was up-and-coming horror scribe Bracken MacLeod, author of the excellent Mountain Home. (Click here for our review of Mountain Home and here for our interview with Bracken.)

Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2013, Bracken chose “Stabat Mater,” by Michael Wehunt, as the winner. The contest prompt for this story was this Harlan Ellison quote from a Tor.com interview:

“In the introduction to this new edition of Web of the City, Ellison writes of a possible legend about Ernest Hemingway intentionally destroying his first novel. From the introduction:

“Yes, the story goes, Hemingway had written a book before The Sun Also Rises, and there he was aboard a ship, steaming either here or there; and he was at the rail, leaning over, thinking, and then he took the boxed manuscript of the book…and threw it into the ocean. Apparently on the theory that no one should ever read a writer’s first novel.”

The quote was referring to the reissue of Ellison’s first novel. For the contest prompt, I asked participants to write about tossing away their firstborn child and base it on the same theory Ellison describes above. I also asked that they not take the easy road and write something that involves sacrificial/religious offerings.

To read what Michael did with the prompt, check out “Stabat Mater” in the next issue of Shock Totem, due in January 2014.

Congratulations, Michael!

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And the September 2013 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

John Guzman

John won with his story “Scene Stealers.” He previously won our May 2012 contest. That story, “Magnolia’s Prayer,” was then chosen as the overall winner for the year and was published in Shock Totem #6.

The prompt for this month’s contest was the following image:

The rules were simple: What is it for? Where does it lead to? What’s it’s like on the other side? Who—or what—is over there at the end of the line? Because obviously this isn’t a normal roller coaster.

Guzman had a very decisive win, but let’s not forget Second Place winner Paul Edmonds, who won with his story “My Father’s Construction.” And Michael Wehunt placed once again, with “Always Hold Your Loved Ones Close.” This is Michael’s eighth top three finish in nine contests, three of which placed first.

John’s story, plus this year’s four previous winning stories, will be judged by a neutral reader (someone who is not on the staff and has not participated in any this year’s previous contests), and the story he or she chooses will be published in issue #8!

So a big congratulations to all the winners throughout 2013!

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Muerte Con Carne

Marta is a bitchy ball-buster who knows Felix will do anything for her. Although unsure of Marta’s plan to cross into Mexico to film a documentary about illegal immigrants, he agrees to help her, as Marta knew he would. She is also hoping to find out what happened to her parents, from whom she was separated as a little girl.

She plans to wear a tiny camera, set into a crucifix, around her neck, which will provide feedback to Felix’s computer.

After one of their frequent fights, Marta takes off into Mexico, leaving Felix behind. But Marta, while tough, is no match for the crazy family that kidnaps her before she can cross back into America. Not only do they want her to mate with the mentally-challenged but insanely strong son, they have kidnapped others who will provide meat for their taco stand.

Marta realizes this and is horrified because she had eaten at the stand earlier that day—yet she is also craving the forbidden food when its aroma envelops the house. She also has to fight for her life against the giant son, who is a wrestler—but he doesn’t go up against other wrestlers. His opponents are Mexicans trying to get to the border, and are no match for the brutality they find themselves trying to survive.

Felix realizes Marta is in danger and does everything he can to get to her. But will he be successful or sautéed?

This is extreme horror at its best. It’s suspenseful, nasty, and completely disgusting. I loved it. Shane McKenzie doesn’t pull his punches; he lets his readers have it without one shred of remorse.

Muerte Con Carne is another literary knife to the gut from a great author.

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And the 2012 Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

Magnolia’s Prayer
by John Guzman


As many of you know, throughout the year we host a bi-monthly flash fiction contest on our forum (not to be confused with the bi-weekly one-hour flash challenge). From those bi-monthly winners, an overall winner is chosen by a neutral judge, to be published in the next issue of Shock Totem.

This year’s judge was up-and-coming horror scribe Adam Cesare, author of the brilliant Tribesmen, Video Night, and the just-released Bound by Jade novella.

Of the five bi-monthly winning stories from 2012, Adam chose “Magnolia’s Prayer,” by John Guzman, as the winner. This story was based on the strange prompt of undelivered mail.

You’ll be able to read “Magnolia’s Prayer” in issue #6.


Not the final cover.

Congratulations, John!

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And the May Flash Fiction Contest Winner is…

John Guzman

John won with his story “Magnolia’s Prayer.”

The prompt for this contest was based on something that has intrigued me for a few years now, ever since I read a few articles on the mystery of undelivered mail. I’ve wanted to write a story about it, but the muse hasn’t been moved, so 41 other authors gave it a shot.

Why do some mailmen hoard undelivered mail? There are obvious reasons, of course—theft, hoarding, etc.—but the authors were instructed to be more creative, write about the not-so-obvious reasons, be unique, stretch the boundaries.

In addition to John’s winning tale, Michael Wehunt, top dog in March’s contest, came in second with “Pavement Rich in Gold”; and Third Place went to “The Things We Hide From View,” by Damien Walters Grintalis, which is her sixth top-three finish!

Congratulations, fellas!

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