Tag Archives: flim-flam games

Flim-Flam Games: Are Themes Necessary?

garden gnome themesAs we wrap up the last week of the June Flim-Flam Games, the garden gnomes do not have a single flash lined up for July. That’s unusual, especially when you consider that we had June’s Flim-Flam Game submissions all set to publish before the end of the first week in May. That means we haven’t had any solid submissions in two months.

We have had a few close calls, but we aren’t playing with hand grenades.

The gnomes are confident that we will receive some submissions for July, but we’d like your feedback on themes. It has been our observation that at least half of the submissions we receive don’t bother to address them, so we’re kind of wondering if themes are necessary. Do readers like them? Do writers? If so, how should we establish themes for each month’s Flim-Flam Games?

Please take the poll below and tell us what you think about the Flim-Flam Games and whether or not themes are necessary. As usual, we thank you from the bottom of our bottomless hearts.

What kind of themes should the Flim-Flam Games have?

  • Garden Gnome Publications should state two or three themes each month (42%, 5 Votes)
  • A combination of both methods above (25%, 3 Votes)
  • No themes; they're stupid (17%, 2 Votes)
  • Themes should be based on weird holidays at Holiday Insights (8%, 1 Votes)
  • Readers should suggest and vote on themes (8%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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Winner: April 2014 Flim-Flam Game

flim-flam game winner april 2014Congratulations to Rich Young, the winner of the April 2014 Flim-Flam Game for his flash fiction story “The Scraping.”

In all, it was a good game last month. We had some really strong submissions. Kicking off the month was “Bad Seed” by Doreen Knight, a wicked tale about the planting of a human seed, a dead body seed. And you’ll never guess what happens next.

Following Doreen’s fabulous tale was “Mars in the Holiday Season” by Anthony McColgan, a funny take on David Bowie.

Jennifer Ann Margaret Patino killed it with “The Beast.” Her story takes some unexpected turns and delivers on a surprise ending that will take your breath away.

RK Musgrave wrapped up the month with “The Guest,” a fine way to end the cruelest month.

The themes for the month of May include:

  • Bikes
  • Hamburgers
  • Salads

Alternatively, you can consult the bizarre holiday list at http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/may.htm and choose a holiday theme. The winner of the Flim-Flam Games each month wins $5. There is no entry fee. Learn more about the Flim-Flam Games from the submission guidelines. We’re currently taking submissions for May and June.

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March Flim-Flam Game Winner

flim-flam game winner march 2014The garden gnomes are giddy and all beside themselves. In March, something magical happened. We started receiving more flashes in the pan to add to the Flim-Flam Bush weekly, and the quality of submissions went up too. That filled us so full of glee that we threw a party.

We were, for the first time since starting the games, able to publish a new story every Wednesday throughout the month. Not only that, but we’re booked up through April, as well. And we’ve started publishing stories for May.

All of this great participation is encouraging to us gnomes. We’re hopeful that someday we’ll be able to publish a new flash fiction story every day. Keep ’em coming!

Announcing The March 2014
Flim-Flam Game Winner

This month was spectacular. It was a very close race. Lydia Bengston came in with a late entry titled “The Shriveltongue Demon,” which managed to gain a lot of social media attention fast.

The week prior, Toni Stauffer, met with social notoriety of her own and even enticed one reader to leave a comment on her very creepy story “For Sale By Owner.”

This event left the garden gnomes regretting a missed opportunity. We decided to award points for comments. So every comment left on a story from here going forward will earn the author of the story additional points on the Flim-Flam Score Card. If you like a story, jump in with some praise!

While the garden gnomes were very happy with all of the stories submitted in March, these two – “The Shriveltongue Demon” and “For Sale By Owner” went neck and neck right to the finish line. In the end, it was “The Shriveltongue Demon” by a nose hair. Congratulations Lydia!

Interestingly, Lydia’s story was more popular on Facebook while “For Sale By Owner” was more popular on Google+. We’re not sure what that means, but we think both authors deserve some applause. You get a standing ovation from the gnomes.

The Final Week For
Sulfurings Submissions

When the gnomes started this publication we had in mind a new publishing model, one built for the third millennium. The idea was to give writers a graduated means of achieving publishing success. The first degree of that scale is the Flim-Flam Bush.

Our hope was, and still is, that authors published in the bush would go on to submit to our anthologies and be published there. Some have. Others started with our Garden of Eden anthology and then submitted to the bush. We’re okay with that too.

The next level of publishing opportunity will be our standalone novellas, the first of these opportunities being the Mythicals imprint (with more to come). And while we wait for that first submission to roll in, we’ve still got one week left for the Sulfurings anthology to fill up. Our biggest need is for short stories ranging from 1,501 to 10,000 words.

If apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic lit is your thing, we hope you’ll consider sending the gnomes something for Sulfurings.

And finally, we’ve introduced a new opportunity for non-fiction writers. Gaslight will focus on commentary on news of the weird. The gnomes can hardly wait to see what you come up with.

Garden Gnome Publications constantly strives to fill a niche in the speculative fiction and non-fiction markets, reaching ever new heights of weirdness for the glory of the gnomes. If you’re not too stoned, we’d welcome you to step foot in our garden and stay awhile.

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Join The Flim-Flam Games

Flim-Flam games prizeFor a few months now, Garden Gnome Publications has been taking submissions for a rolling contest we call Flim-Flam Games. It’s like playing the lottery without buying a ticket. The prize is a measly $5 (you need a PayPal address). And there’s no entry fee.

While we’re not offering a pot of gold, we are encouraging fledgling literary artists to get creative and send in their best flash fiction. Most flash fiction markets don’t pay at all, but the garden gnomes are at least willing to pay $5 for the best monthly story that meets the strictures of three arbitrary criteria, namely:

  1. What the garden gnomes like
  2. What our readers like
  3. And the writer’s ability to incorporate the monthly theme(s)

Wonder what those themes are? They’re listed on our Flim-Flam Games submissions page. In March, we’re looking for stories that incorporate dragons, clovers, or ashes into the storyline in some way. It can be subtle or in your ugly face. We don’t care, as long as you get those little gems in the mud where they belong.

When Should You Submit To The Flim-Glam Games?

Right now, of course.

A little more explicitly, whenever you have a story to tell.

To be even more specific, try to submit before the last week of the month because we publish stories as they come in. You submit, we read, and if we like it, we put it in the queue to be published as soon as possible.

Since last September, we’ve published flash fiction stories almost every Wednesday. If we got more submissions, we’d publish more often.

We’re taking submissions for March 2014 right now. If you want to address a specific theme, as long as the theme for that month has been published, we’ll go ahead and take your submission. If we like it, we’ll add it to the queue to be published for that month. So, go ahead, check out our Flim-Flam guidelines and send us a flash.

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The Path That No Bird of Prey Knows

Christopher J. Feterowski

Dodo birdWhen I found Roy, he was already dead.

A scream rose like bile in my throat. I swallowed it with a choking gulp.

Making a sound was not an option.

If they hear me, they will find me. Then I’ll be dead too.

His mouth was frozen in what appeared to be an uncomfortable mix of smile and scream. It was the type of expression that comes when a close friend jumps out from behind a corner and yells “Boo!” You know it’s a joke. You know you are in no real danger. But something inside you – something primal, something unconscious – believes this could be the end. Suddenly, you are stripped down to the basic human condition: fear and confusion.

Where Roy’s eyes had been were now bubbling pits of putrefied gore. His face was cut to ribbons and deep impact divots had misshapen his skull into something unrecognizable. Something very close to a masterpiece, defiled.

Christian radio personality Frank Pastore was able to correctly announce the way he would die while doing a radio show one afternoon. Speaking to his adoring listeners, Frank, in a moment of serendipity, said over the air, “You guys know I ride a motorcycle, right? At any moment, especially with the idiot people who cross the diamond lane into my lane, without any blinkers — not that I’m angry about it — at any minute, I could be spread all over the 210.”

Three hours later, an elderly woman crossed into his lane and Frank Pastore was human mulch.

But, pecked to death by an extinct bird?

There is no way anyone could see that coming.

The four years of work it took bringing Raphus cucullatus, the Dodo bird, back to life had worn me down. Cracks had begun to form in the corners of my eyes. When I looked in the mirror every morning, my skin, my teeth, my nails, seemed be more tarnished than they were on the previous day’s examination.

The work wasn’t in bringing the birds into the world; that part is easy enough. A healthy spoonful of Dodo DNA extracted from a preserved skeleton, a dash of Nicobar Pigeon, Ostrich, and Albatross, a blast of electricity, and blammo! What once was not, is again. The work is in keeping them alive, playing the part of overbearing mother, long enough for them to breed naturally. It makes me sick to my stomach, rumbling with a combination of pride and revulsion, to think of the hours, the days, I spent sitting and watching respiration cycles, monitoring internal temperatures, examining fecal matter.

Now, I’m about to be killed by a marauding flock of the creatures I coddled like my own children.

I just needed a night out. I needed to blow off some steam. Get drunk. Get laid. Feel taken care of rather than feeling I must take care of. The office was a place dank enough to keep my colleagues away but still hip enough to draw in the 20-something frat boys looking to get wasted on the cheap. Roy had caught my eye when I was three vodka tonics deep. My low cut dress had caught his.

“Have you ever heard of the Dodo bird?” I asked, as flirty as one can utter that particular phrase.

My guts suddenly turned over the way they turn over when you make snap decision and know there is no turning back.

When Roy asked if he could see the birds, I shot him down at first. He was buying my drinks, and I was becoming less and less aware of the flaws in my veneer. Roy put his hand on my lower back and put his mouth close to my ear. The sensation of his breath against my skin reminded me of my womanhood.

“C’mon, show me, and then I’ll show you something afterwards,” Roy whispered.

All matriarchal inhibitions dissolved. We left.

The lab was dark when we pulled up. Not just closed-for-the-night-be-back-at-9-AM dark. Dark dark. Pitch black. I had figured a fuse had just popped. Inside, the hum of blue-white emergency lights lead us, stumbling, to the containment area.

The enclosures were empty. Every single male specimen was gone. At first, I thought it must have been a break in, that a competitor had caught wind of what we were doing and stolen the Dodos for fame or glory. Yet, each glass door, easily opened by anyone with at least one ooposable thumb, was smashed out from the inside.

“Looks like your extinct birds flew the coop,” Roy said with a chuckle.

“Dodo can’t fly,” I replied. “Stay here, Roy. I’ll be right back.”

That was the last time I saw Roy alive. When I returned from checking the other offices for any signs of life, poor Roy, his once pretty face all smashed and bashed and gouged into a thick red stew, was no more. Signs of panic were all around his body. Perfect red tridactyl imprints scattered in every direction, fleeing the scene of the crime, creating a web of violent victory that spread across the room and out the rear door.

Hhhh-nnawwk.

Hnn-ah-ah-ah-Hnwwkk.

A cacophony of percussive honks and broken glass blared from the female containment area. Keeping low and quiet, I crept to the viewing window on the adjoining wall. Inside some 50 or so supposed-to-be-extinct birds were mingling amongst twinkling bits of broken glass, honking and preening, courting mates through spastic head bobs and bounces. For a moment, I forgot all about the dead body that lay not 10 feet from where I stood, awestruck. I was a witness to a ritual that had not been viewed in 400 years.

The loneliness of the moment, the recollection of Roy’s touch, the echo of his laughter in my head, shook me from the state of mesmerized romanticism. Something had gone terribly wrong in our attempt to cheat natural selection. Dutch explorers described the Dodo as docile and fearless to a point of foolishness. Nowhere was it mentioned that they were blood-hungry.

I crept to the door, just slightly ajar, of the female containment room. Keeping my eye on the birds through the reinforced glass window, I pulled the locking mechanism.

CLICK!

50 beady pairs of ink-black eyes were on me at once. The birds stood frozen in the previous moment of whatever courtship display they had begun.

I backed up, trembling and sweaty but slightly more at ease now that my homicidal brood was locked away. I turned my attention back to Roy. Pitiful, hapless Roy. I would be fired for sure. Not only had I brought a non-employee to a restricted genetics lab but also said non-employee was mauled to death by our crowning achievement.

THUD! THUD! THUD!

The damn things were flinging themselves at the viewing window.

THUD!THUD!THUD!THUD!THUD!

Before I could really gather what was happening, the glass was shattered and the birds, all 50 of them, standing three feet tall and weighing 22 pounds each, had washed over me, a wave of feather and talon and beak. In a frenzy, they dug and pecked and scratched at my eyes, my tongue, my neck, opened every main artery.

I was dead.

Extinct.

In my last moments, before the hooked beak of a fledgling to which I had given countless sleepless nights tore out my right eye, I imagined the horror and disappointment of my colleagues when they would find me in a few hours. I saw and felt the grief and anguish of my parents and friends when they would be telephoned by police bearing bad news.

I thought of rotting Roy lying beside me.

I thought of how some things are really better forgotten.

Christopher J. Feterowski resides in Boston, Massachusetts with his girlfriend Catherine and miniature schnauzer, Jules. By day, Christopher is an audio engineer, live production technician, musician, and blogger for Bruinslife.com. Christopher is currently working on his first novel titled, “Transmission” and hopes to have it completed sometime before the end of days. More of Christopher’s poetry and short stories can be found at http://anamericanlullaby.blogspot.com.

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October’s Flim-Flam Game Underway

Tomorrow, the garden gnomes will publish their first flash fiction story as a part of this month’s Flim-Flim Game. The story is titled “Things That Need To Be Said.”

Oregon writer Carl J. Gonzales is the author of this story.

Just a reminder that the rules for this month’s game are a little different than previous contests. We’ve introduced a theme and look forward to seeing how you interpret it.

October stories can be about anything, but you’ll stand a better chance at winning the game if you write about a legendary, mythological, or non-human creature. That can be anything from the myths and legends of yore to modern day chimeras. Or you can make up your own creature. The gnomes don’t care.

Mr. Gonzales chose to write about our favorite topic – the suburban garden gnome.

If you like his story, be sure to Like it on Facebook. At the end of the month, the story with the most Facebook Likes by daily average will get an extra boost in Flim-Flam juice.

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Goodbye September, Hello October

September came and went and so did the Flim-Flam Games. I only got two submissions and neither of them were really what I wanted to publish, so I didn’t choose a winner for last month. Already, I’ve received more submissions for October. Keep them coming!

I’m going to handle the games a little differently this month. I’m going to publish stories as they come in and decide on the winner from among the published stories at the end of the month.

Additionally, as a way of considering the tastes of readers, I’ll consider the number of likes each story receives, but that will be a small part of the Flim-Flam selection process. I will use a process determined by the number of Facebook Likes the story receives since publication divided by the number of days it has been published.

For instance, if a story is published today (October 6, 2013) and received 23 Facebook Likes by the end of the month, on November 1, its Like daily average will be 23/25, or .92. The highest Like daily average at the end of the month will receive as an extra dose of personal like by me in consideration for the Flim-Flam game for the month. The winner will receive $5.

October’s Flim-Flam Theme

I’ve stayed away from themes until now. This month, however, in lieu of Halloween, I’d like stories to involve some kind of legendary, mythological, or non-human creature. That’s a pretty broad brush. Use your imagination.

For the purposes of the Flim-Flam Game, the contest winner will be determined 50% by my personal tastes, 25% by popular vote as expressed through Facebook Likes, and 25% by whether or not the story includes a legendary, mythological, or non-human creature. It can be scary, funny, or somewhere in between, but it should include a creature as a character or a prop within the story.

I will still publish stories that don’t include the creature (if I like them), but in terms of the Flim-Flam Game, they’ll be at a disadvantage.

I hope all of that is clear. If not, feel free to e-mail me at gardengnome @ allenleetaylor.com and I’ll try to clarify. Meanwhile, happy submitting. Read these guidelines:

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