March 2013 Flash Contest Winners

I sit here without words.

This month, we’ve got almost 40 flash stories, and this is after the initial pre-selection I do when folks submit their drafts.

Forty stories . . . I can’t say if I’m having the time of my life re-reading them in all their brilliance, or a near-death experience having to actually select the winner.

I think I’ll start inviting other writers to come and select the winners each month!

Today I’ll cover three topics: the winners, a question to you folks, and the April prompt.

The Winners:

First, here’s the traditional short list of the top 10 stories (in my view, of course!):

1. A Spiritual Devotion by Deborah Lean.

2. Dual Desires by Luke Reynolds.

3. Adulterous Decision by R. J. Saxon.

4. Speak to Me by Jacob Lockwood.

5. The Box by Michael Coady.

6. Memorabilia by Salvatore Buttaci.

7. Regrets by Debi Swim.

8. Judgement Call by SnowBees.

9. Boltushka by Paolo Jose Cruz.

10. The Lie by Rebecca Barray.

By creating the above list, I had to forego some of my absolute favorite authors on the site (and talented new-comers), and I had to omit a few stories that are so good they deserve to appear in print.

Alright. It’s taking me an hour to type each single line in this post—talk about the weight of responsibility. Let’s call out the winners.

The first place ($55): The Lie by Rebecca Barray. Deep, emotional, moving.

The runner-up ($33): Memorabilia by Salvatore Buttaci. Totally unexpected, mysterious and fascinating.

The runner-up ($33): Boltushka by Paolo Jose Cruz. A complete thriller with a surprise romantic twist in the last line.

Congratulations to the winners. I’ll contact you off-line to confirm your Paypal email so I can wire you the cash.

And big kudos to the other writers who had submitted their stories to the public scrutiny and both entertained us this month and caused us to think.

The Question:

The “down-voting” button started to stir some controversy. I’m torn. It does provide a level of realism in assessment and an element of drama, but it also seems to be abused at times.

What do you think? Shall we keep it? Kill it? And why?

Let me know, please.

The April Prompt:

Share a piece of your work (form a completed book, a work in progress, or something you’re just starting) that has a motif of “what if” in it.

Any genre goes. The fragment should be a complete 55-word flash story.

Make sure you still meet the contest rules found here :)


Enjoy! :)



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  • Rebecca Barray

    Oh! I’m in total shock. Thank you so much.
    And congratulations to the other winners!!

    • Austin Briggs

      Congrats, Rebecca! :)

    • Sarah Turnbull

      Congrats, Becca! Amazing story. Really well done.

    • Luke Reynolds

      Congrats mate, excellent work!

  • Brad Beatty

    Great site, and I appreciate the time you spend to provide this service to the world. My sincere congratulations to the winner and the runner-ups.

    As for your question about the down button, I believe it should be removed,it is repetitive, A non-vote is the same as a thumbs down. The thumbs down allows less scrupulous authors the opportunity to eliminate the competition.

    • Austin Briggs

      Thanks for your kind words, Brad. I truly appreciate.

      Understand your opinion, thanks. Will consider it.

      I know I’m naive, but at this moment I feel lots of goodwill among the authors. Dunno, maybe some of the nice folks posting the stories do down-vote others out of malicious intent, but I struggle to believe this.

      As I say, I may be too naive in this.

      I hope folks understand that this site isn’t about “competition”. It’s about creating a brilliant showcase of our stories that will benefit us all. At least, this is where my passion is :) and this is why I invest my energy, time and money into this enterprise!

      We’re at the very beginning of this journey. We have more and more brilliant content that I’m starting to promote to actual readers (vs. only writers).

  • Sopphey vance

    Congratulations to all the winners!

    I think the downvote button could be abused and may skew the competition a bit, but at the same time… please let me downvote at will!

    • Austin Briggs

      Thanks Sopphey, I totally get what you mean.

      Of course, I happen to have the ultimate “downvote button” on the admin side of this page – I publish only those stories that pass my judgement (have to say, I haven’t had to reject many because the quality of submissions has been awesome).

      There’s another aspect to this. In the publishing word, we’re all exposed to very public rating of our work, both positive and negative. A many experienced authors insist, thick skin is a pre-requisite of success.

      So I’m still torn on this, haha :)

  • Luke Reynolds

    Adding to those above me, I think the down vote button is unnecessary. A simple lack of vote is probably enough.

    Congrats again to the winners and thanks for featuring me in your top 10, it’s an honour on it’s own.

    • Austin Briggs

      Hi Luke, thanks – got it!

      Loved your story, by the way. I’m starting to think what other ideas, beyond straight cash, could be attractive to those short-listed for the awards.

      I obviously can’t sponsor 10 stories each month, but let’s see what we collectively come up with.

  • A. Partridge

    Great work winners!!!

    About the down vote — I’m torn — I don’t like to think people abuse it — am I naive or do people just use it because it is there? I, myself, only vote likes for stories that move me. I don’t use the down vote at all.

    I’m looking forward to excerpts this month.

    • Austin Briggs

      Yeah, I’m still torn, too! :)

  • Raani York

    Congratulations to all winners! Your stories are great!!

    As for the down vote: I personally think it’s more abused than it’s useful. I really would like it to be removed, but this is only my opinion.

    • Austin Briggs

      Hey Raani, thanks – got it! Looks like the tide of the opinions is gong the way of ditching the button.

  • Fiona Whyte

    Congrats to all the winners. As for the thumbs down button, I’d give it the thumbs down. It doesn’t provide the writer with any useful feedback. It’s just an unhelpful negative. I agree with the contributors who say if you don’t like a story, don’t vote for it.

    • Angela Allen

      Well said, Fiona. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Robert P. Wills

    Maybe if you made the buttons “Great” and “Good” – instead of “Up” and “Down” – people who are voting down stories just to boost their own won’t be as inclined to vote good. I’ve done a fair bit of voting and only once gave a Thumb’s Down.

    That might be an easy solution to see if the problem fixes itself; you’d just have to change the names of the button to “Great” and “Good” and make them a big “G” and a little “g”. And see if the numbers of gs correlate to the current number of thumb’s down.

  • O.D. Trebor

    I’m not sure if this is doable or not, but what if you attached the comment link to the voting buttons, forcing the voters to explain their votes? If they refuse to comment, their votes wouldn’t register. This would be a good way to start a dialogue and hopefully provide some useful feedback.

  • AntonioAngelo21 (

    I love this contest, always great stuff and great people. a thumbs down to the thumbs downers come on folks we are all just here to get better and have a good time.

  • r.j.saxon

    great work winners. :)

    and thanks for the shortlist austin. i only thumbs up the stories i enjoy. i agree with O.D. Trebor, i think there should be a obligatory comment link before a thumbs down can be submitted. :) R.j.saxon

  • SnowBees

    Some great stories this month. I am so chuffed to have made the shortlist on my first go! As soon as I read this post I sat down and wrote my entry for April.

    Thanks to Austin for taking the time to make all of this happen (especially in light of your post about the demands on the rest of your time). I love the 55 word format because it’s fun, and easy to complete in just a few minutes. Likewise it’s quick and easy to read other people’s shorts, so I find that I’m reading more than I do on other writing sites. It’s very rewarding to know that people are actually reading your stuff. This is the most frequently I’ve written in years and I’m loving it. So thank you for that.

    Regarding the thumbs down issue, I don’t feel it has any place in a writing community like this which is all about positivity and support. I can’t think of a single reason to down-vote a piece except to cheat.

  • Austin Briggs

    OK guys, I’ve managed to add a Facebook “Like” button at the end of the posts. This should both limit the “voting” to only the liking, and increase the social media integration of your stories. When folks vote, they’ll have the option to also share your story on their FB wall.

    The next step is to delete the current rating system, transfer the FB Like button to the contest’s front page, and find a way to display the most shared stories in the left sidebar. We’ll get there :)

    This will be a soft transition, so for a while both the old and the new systems will be active.

  • Debi Swim

    I am thrilled to be in the top 10 list! Thank you. And a big congrats to the winners!!

    • Debi Swim

      Where did that strange picture come from?

      • Austin Briggs

        Hey Debi, congrats :) as for the picture — it’s the default avatar on my site. Unless you’ve setup your own pic on Gravatar or in Disquss, this one will appear.

        By the way, the comments will behave funky for a couple of days as they’re migrating into the Disquss system (e.g. dozens of comments aren’t being displayed now). Then all will be cool again.

  • Salvatore Buttaci

    Congratulations to Rebecca and Paolo, the top winners, and to all Top 10 authors. It is an honor to be here at Austin’s site!

  • Salvatore Buttaci

    Congrats to Rebecca and Paolo! As runner-up winner I am so pleased.