Monday, January 30, 2012

Trifecta - Week Twelve

A lot, it would appear, can be said in 33 words. As we set our first weekend challenge, we wondered if we weren't asking a bit much. Not only had we given you only 33 words to play with, we had given you only 3 days in which to respond. It wasn't an easy challenge. But we should never have doubted you -- 42 writers rose to the challenge, and we loved reading the many varied responses to the prompt.

Choosing one short story as an outright winner from so many was no easy task. But in the end, we couldn't resist Satu's beautifully written Cherries, the completeness of which made a mockery of being restricted to only 33 words. That, and the fact that we're suckers for double entendres here at Trifecta:
He picked her like a ripe cherry. Nipping at her skin, rolling her around on his tongue. Then his teeth crushed her, he swallowed the delicious juices and carelessly spit out the pit.
In second place was Amanda for her beautiful Love Story. Amanda continues to nail it every time, and I guarantee you'll love her line about the 'fat old moon'. In third place is a Trifecta debutante, mothersofbrothers, who wrote (unsurprisingly, given her moniker) about being a mother of brothers. Again, she didn't waste a single word and her last line was perfect.

And so we return to our weekly one-word prompt. For those of you who dropped in for the first time this weekend, the rules of our weekday challenge are a little different to its weekend counterpart. You must use the third definition of the word below to craft a piece of writing of no less than 33 words and no more than 333. The chosen word should appear in your writing exactly as it appears below.  For more information, please check our instructions page.

We wish you well.

image noun \ˈi-mij\

: a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing;especially : an imitation in solid form : statue
a : the optical counterpart of an object produced by an optical device (as a lens or mirror) or an electronic deviceb : a visual representation of something: as (1) : a likeness of an object produced on a photographic material (2) : a picture produced on an electronic display (as a television or computer screen)
a : a tangible or visible representation : incarnation <theimage of filial devotion>b archaic : an illusory form : apparition

Friday, January 27, 2012

Trifextra: Week One

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

Our new schedule has its ups and its downs.  On the positive side, you have two chances each week to stretch your creative muscles.  On the negative side, of course, you have less time with each of them.  The purpose of said cruelty is simple: to keep you writing.  And reading.  And then writing some more.

We had some excellent submissions this week, despite the shortened timetable.  With less time to judge, we editors were even more careful about reading the responses as they came in and discussing them one-by-one.  I can honestly say that I read your responses more carefully this week than I have any week in the past.  And I like that.

This week's winner was Amanda with her dark, moody piece In The Details.  As we said on our Facebook page, she had us at the gray matter sliding down the wall.  Amanda's strength, as we see it, is her ability to create a mood for the reader.  She pulls you in with her craftily-worded narratives.

The beast is in the details. 
There is a page ripped out of the travel magazine in the caddy next to the armchair. The needle is stuck on the record. Dinner sits abandoned and congealing in a pan on the stove. A drawer has been jerked open on the night stand. A scream has been stifled. The butt of a gun, smooth and heavy and iron, sparks against the stained porcelain of a pair of front teeth. Coffee rattles in all the cups. Men behind their newspapers sigh like they do. This town is a puddle of ketchup and smoke from a frier. 
Still, there is a plane ticket in the back pocket of a pair of worn size zeros. There is an intention as lofty as any, hanging in the air like the lingering smell of gunpowder. There is the matter of a broken heart and a baby on the way; a belly that won't grow. There is the matter, gray and transparent, sliding down the wall behind the bed.

Downstairs, in the diner, Alda Mae will be checking the clock again, cursing under her breath. "That girl," she will mutter. A man in a plaid flannel jacket will shift uncomfortably in his seat and order another coffee. He will barely be able to contain the problem in his pants, she should have been here, by now. She should have been here.

Second place goes to Carrie from Views From Nature whose writing is consistently top notch.  This week she gave us Transformation, a piece so beautifully described it's impossible to not fall into the scene yourself.  If anyone needs help with setting, Carrie is your girl.  (Note: Carrie, I'll be getting in touch with you.)

Third place goes to Columbibueno with her piece The Legions Dare.  Columbibueno's ability to twist language is remarkable.  Each week, she has me falling in love all over again with the same words I've heard since birth.  I'm not sure how she does it; I only hope she keeps doing it.

And now on to our first ever weekend challenge.  Remember: these prompts will go up on Friday and close on Sunday.  You have only three days to write, and the prompt will change weekly.  For the weekend challenge, you need only adhere to the rules listed in the post.  If word count is not mentioned, you don't need to limit yourself.  If a definition is not given, you are free to interpret the words as you wish.

The first weekend prompt is as follows: write a love story in 33 words.  You are free to interpret that prompt however you wish, but your response must be 33 words exactly.

Good luck, fellow Trifectans.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Week Eleven

Well, I have to say I rather enjoyed Week Ten. Not only did we get a record number of submissions, we also got to know many of you a little bit better through the Friday Check-in meme. Thanks to everyone who filled that in. We'll be keeping that open for a while, so if you didn't get a chance to do it this week, there's still plenty of time. 

Week Eleven, as we announced on Friday, will see a few changes to the Trifecta format. The first change is that the regular one-word prompt is moving from its current Tuesday - Sunday slot to a new Monday - Thursday slot. The competition remains the same: a one-word prompt, using its third definition, in no less that 33 words and no more than 333. There will be an additional challenge running from Friday - Sunday, the format of which will vary from week to week. All changes are outlined in our newly-updated Instructions page

We had 22 submissions to enjoy last week which obviously made judging extremely difficult. And even when we had pared those 22 down to 3, we continued to struggle to pick a clear winner, such was the quality of our top three. In the end, The Jester Queen just pipped it with her tale of two ex-lovers arriving  at a courthouse in the middle of a storm to confirm the end of their marriage. But as they struggle through the courthouse doors and out of the driving rain, something suggests that perhaps rapprochement, not divorce, could be on the cards. The storm before the calm, we wonder?

Sharon waited in her car until the last possible second, then hugged her jacket tightly and stepped into the deluge. Water sluiced over her hood, cascaded past her shoulders and rolled down her unprotected lower body. Within moments, she was soaked below the hips.
The wind jerked her first one way, then another. Every step forward was a fight, and the slick pavement made her movements pinched. Halfway to the courthouse stairs, she met a pair of wingtips exiting a dark car. Without looking at each other, Sharon and the man fell in step.
He brought up his umbrella, but a blast from behind snapped the bumbershoot’s fabric outward, breaking it cleanly in less time than it had taken the man to raise it.  He threw down its remains.
“Hold on to me,” said Sharon. She was unsure whether she meant to support him or the other way around. It didn’t matter. They hooked arms against the storm, and in so doing gained the stability to run. Pulling each other, they reached the stairs and then the door. The man handed Sharon his briefcase. As she took it, she realized this was Richard, whom she would divorce within the hour. How little he resembled himself as he braced one hand on the wall and pulled with the other against the monsoon.
A sliver of light as the old wood yielded, and Sharon jammed in her foot to force the door outward. Then, as with the umbrella, the wind changed, walloping Richard back. Sharon grabbed his arm again to keep him from falling.
He seized her, and for a moment they teetered on the threshold. Then he gained his balance and propelled them both inside, where the fickle wind slammed the door behind them. They staggered forward together, still connected in that instant, as they moved out of the world where water held sway and into another dominion entirely.
In second place is Chris White. This was, without doubt, one of the cleverest, most original, most creative responses we've had to any of our prompts. Make sure you click on this one to see how Chris weaves together imaginary tweets that together signal 'The End Times'. It's brilliant. In third place this week is Amanda from Last Mom on Earth. We think Amanda pretty much nails it every week and her story of the tension between a father and a son is again beautifully crafted. It was also great to see Shirley back in our under-18 category. 

And finally, to our prompt. In this week's Friday Check-in, we asked you to give us words that you'd like to see in our weekly challenge. We've saved them all in our word bank, and you'll be seeing a lot of them over the next few weeks. Previous Trifecta winner Joules, from  LucidLotusLife, suggested a number of words, some more suitable than others. But in among her collection, she suggested 'beast'. We checked it out, and we liked it. We hope you do, too.

 beast noun \ˈbēst\

1   a:  a four-footed mammal as distinguished from a human being

     b:  a lower animal as distinguished from a human being
     c:  an animal as distinguished from a plant
     d : an animal under human control

2:  a contemptible person

Friday, January 20, 2012

Meet Your Fellow Trifectans

We at Trifecta thought it might be fun and useful to get to know our community a little bit better.  So we created a meme.  I know, I know.  Memes are the underbelly of the internet.  You're right to think that you're too good to participate in one.  But just humor us, okay?  We're hoping to encourage a community feeling here at Trifecta, and we thought this might be a good way of checking in on everyone.  So, if you have a minute, please copy and paste these questions into a blog post of your own.  Answer them and then come back here to link up.  After you've done that, try to head around and visit as many as you can and learn more about each other.  For the record, anyone can link up.  It doesn't matter if you've never submitted a response to a Trifecta challenge.  If you're reading this, we want to hear from you.
  1. What is your name (real or otherwise)? 
  2. Describe your writing style in three words. 
  3. How long have you been writing online? 
  4. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? 
  5. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. 
  6. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? 
  7. Who is your favorite author?  
  8. How do you make time to write?
  9. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. Remember--it must have a third definition.
  10. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading.
Keep in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest information.  

Please do not enter your responses to challenges here.  This link-up is only for the above questions. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Week Ten

A quick calculation reveals that we've had 32 different writers contributing to the site in its first nine weeks. We didn't build this site with a specific number of contributors in mind, but what we realised, quite early on, was that numbers were not going to make this site a success. What was more important than roping in hundreds of followers was that we attracted people who love to write and who love to read the words of other aspiring writers. Every one of the 32 contributors to date brings something unique to the challenge.  Watching a community of writers take a single word in so many different directions each week makes judging a pleasure.  We hope you enjoy reading the responses as much as we do.

This week's winner is The Girl from the Bay. She posted over at Trifecta Anonymous so we're not sure what girl or what bay. What we are sure about, however, is that the girl can write. Her piece was beautifully written with some startling imagery. It's her first Trifecta challenge, but we hope it is the first of many:
She sat, slumped like a ragdoll against the base of a tall tree in the snowy Spring forest. Her wavy brown hair hung in long, damp clumps from under her beige stocking hat with the big tassle on top. It was a gift her Mother had knitted and given her for Christmas along with the matching gloves that now were also getting damp as her hands laid on the melting snow, palms up. Row upon row of trees were silent, each studiously holding a silver bucket that hung under a tap.

There was not a sound in the clear early morning air. The birds were waking, sleepily shaking melting frost off their feathers, preening and preparing to take flight and make song for the day. As the sunlight began to filter through the treetops, shining down on the girl in long golden beams, one thing became clear. There was no light in her staring eyes. A final vacant look of desperation and disbelief were frozen on her face for all eternity. In the distance a bloodhound began to bark excitedly – it had found her trail. Now in the silver buckets, the sound of sparkling droplets of sap hitting bottom could be heard. The trees had begun to weep.
In second place is Chris White's splendidly masculine tale of a lion skulking beneath the gladiatorial arena as he waits to devour his next victim. Who knew a lion could have such a way with words? In third place was another first-timer, Jester Queen, with her intriguing drama played out on a balcony overlooking an idyllic ocean scene.

And so to our weekly prompt. As ever, look for the third definition and make sure you use it exactly as it appears below. Good luck.

sway noun  \ˈswā\

1  : the action or an instance of swaying or of being swayed : an oscillating, fluctuating, or sweeping motion

2  : an inclination or deflection caused by or as if by swaying

Friday, January 13, 2012

Almost Hemingway Award: Cycle 2 Winner

Congratulations are in order for our Cycle Two Almost Hemingway Award winner: Lara Hill for her lovely piece: Flirt.  It would seem that the judges were not the only people touched by this creative response.  Congratulations, Lara.

We were always outside the house. We rushed our tea to get back outside. My cousin and I wore rollerskates from our Grandad. We made our way around the house on the concrete path, holding on to the wall, the pebble dash imprinting our palms.
When the brightlight holidays ended, we returned to school. The Indian summer allowed us spend all the breaks running around the school yard. When we got hot, we would strip off. The boys would pull off their jumpers and t-shirts and fling them on the grass or tie them around their waists. Free and exultant we threw away the layers.
One scorcher of a day I realised there was something strange about taking off my t-shirt. I suddenly knew that I would have to give up my wild cat, tom boy ways. I saw the bare chested boys and sensed I'd been cheated. They could flirt with a Tarzan and Cheetah life for many summers to come.
 Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.  We appreciate the feedback and enjoy the lively competition.  You have a few days left to get in your response to weep.  Who knows--you could be our next Almost Hemingway winner.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week Nine

This week saw a dramatic decrease in your characters' homicide rates, but that false sense of security came packaged with a decrease in the overall functioning of your characters' interpersonal relationships.  Cutting remarks, cutting glances, marriages falling apart over duck a l'orange--there were not a lot of happy faces this week.  Except for those of your judges (yes, one girl and one guy).  Discord tends to create good writing, and this week was no exception.

This week's winner is Aphrodite's Glass Box for her intricately-described dinner between the ubiquitous out-of-love yet happily-married couple.  The writer reminds us that taking action requires great courage, even if (or perhaps especially if) the action being taken is one of simply walking away.
Close But Not Closer 
She smiled as she talked to the food on her plate, her ennui growing increasingly more oppressive. The sex had come to a standstill and the conversation hadn't taken long to follow. What she didn't know was why. What he didn't know was that she didn't care anymore. Their last discussion brought her to her knees once in pleading tears and again in supposed remedy. And for two weeks they had managed to cordially invite one another to witness their definition of living. But tonight the bitter taste of truth felt shoveled farther down her throat than a forkful of duck a l'orange. 
Her utensils clinked a lonely melody as she meticulously crossed them over her plate. She released an audible sigh and stared at the top of his bowed head until even he couldn't ignore the weight of her stare. But his eyes glanced up only momentarily. It was that familiar, cutting glare that still successfully intimidated her. So she swallowed her bravery once again, and instead set about washing their plates.
Our runners up this week include Thin Spiral Notebook's Leftovers, a tightly-knit essay on the packing-up of the holidays and Satu's Sunken City, a beautiful, sad story of giving up hope against the backdrop of a lonely city.  Congratulations to all of our winners.  You guys make the judging process enjoyable, if not easy.

This week's word is a tricky one.  The third definition here is not the one you're most likely thinking.  This week's prompt is:

weep transitive verb

1: to express deep sorrow for usually by shedding tears

2: to pour forth (tears) from the eyes

3: to exude (a fluid) slowly : ooze <a tree weeping sap>

You saw what we did there?

Reminder: responses must be between 33 and 333 words.

And now, if we can, we'd like to turn your attention briefly to a little matter called The 12th Annual Bloggies.  Many of you probably know of the Bloggies, the longest-running weblog award.  Nominations are currently underway and are open to the public.  We would be honored if you would consider nominating Trifecta.  We would love to grow this competition, and a Bloggie would be a huge step in that direction.  Being awarded a Bloggie would ultimately lead to a greater exposure for your writing--talents we believe worthy of a wider audience.

You may nominate for multiple categories, but we think we have the best shot at either Best Topical, Best Group or Best New Blog.  Please take a minute to look it over, if you like.  Nominations close on January 15.  We appreciate your support.

Now write.  Go!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Almost Hemingway Award: Cycle 2

It's that time again. Time to sit back for a minute and reflect over this past month's Trifecta winners and choose a writer for the Almost Hemingway Award.  The Almost Hemingway Award is awarded to a winner or runner-up whose response most touched our writing community.  The winner of this award will be archived on the Almost Hemingway page of our site.

Just a quick review: the Almost Hemingway Award is judged by our community.  Voting is open to anyone: readers, writers, friends, grandparents.  Each person may vote twice: once in the comments on this post and again on our Facebook poll.  In order for your vote to count, you must be a registered follower of this blog (see sidebar).  In order to vote on Facebook, you must be a fan of our Facebook page.

Take a minute to read through this month's fabulous winners and then drop us a comment to tell us which one you'd like to see win the award.  It's not going to be easy--it was a good month at Trifecta.  But nobody ever said this writing challenge was easy.  As a matter of fact, some people have said it's rather difficult.  We take that as a compliment, and you contributors should, too.

Again, it is not only acceptable but expected that you vote for yourself.  You believed in your writing enough to submit it, don't desert it now.

Voting will close on Friday, January 13 at 7 am EST.  The winner will be announced with our regular Friday post at 8 am EST.

Here are your choices:

Flirt by Mindy
Flirt by Lara Hill
Lance's The Articles

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams' Shame
Shame by Lucid Lotus Life
Shame by KP

Roof by Amanda
Roof by Lara Hill
Purple Moose's Roof

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams' Yellow Balloon
Purple Moose's Skirt
Last Mom on Earth's Snakes

Happy voting.  Tell your friends.

All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.
Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Week Eight

And so we say goodbye to festive cheer for another year. Alas, this year it disappeared rather quickly in our house when I broke the news to our kids that, due to the worsening economic crisis, I was only able to give them Hide and Seek for Christmas. But the good cheer seems to have disappeared equally as quickly for many of our writers who brought us a wonderfully dark week, containing no less than four murders in only eleven tales. Happy New Year indeed...

We welcomed more new faces this week as our little community continues to grow. We also had our first guest post on Friday which, judging by the comments, resonated with many of you. Remember, that slot is always open for anyone who wants to share, so just let us know if you'd like to take part.

This week's Trifeca winner is Kelly from Writing in the Margins. It's Kelly's second time as outright winner.  This week she brings us a truly creepy story of memory, yellow balloons and chocolate.
Yellow Balloon

Each time the memory tried to surface, Henry forced his brain to skirt it. He wrapped it up tightly, sealed it in plastic and shoved it to the back of his mind.

But his stupid, stubborn brain would circle the memory, seize it, shake it; deliver small unexpected packets of it the way the internet chops information into bits before sending it.

Snippets came to him; sharp pinpricks that sent him reeling.

There was the monogrammed handkerchief. Cotton. Pink. Flowers embroidered upon the edges.

There was the seven-digit sequence.

There was the feel of peach skin; the scent of strawberries; his certainty of his hatred for chocolate.

Henry toyed with a pen. Through the window, he saw a girl and her mother in the park. The girl had a yellow balloon tied to her wrist.

One yellow balloon.

One yellow balloon was all it took.

The bits and pieces arranged themselves into a discernable whole. The complete memory burst forth.

The handkerchief was his mother’s.

The digits her telephone number.

The peach skin…

He screamed.

His wife startled and dropped her mug. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Sorry.” But he knew: That woman standing before him was not his wife. And he wasn’t Henry.

“Get me a towel.”

He stood and made his way to the kitchen.

He picked up the telephone and began to dial.

But he realized that he could no longer recall the sequence.

And the memory of the pink handkerchief faded and drifted.

“Henry, the towel?”

‘Coming.” He selected a pink towel. Just before heading back to the living room, he took a chocolate bar from the freezer. “Here you are, darling.”

“Thank you, Henry. I see you found the chocolate. I thought you’d sworn it off?”

“I couldn’t resist.” Through the window, Henry saw a little girl playing in the park, a yellow balloon tied to her wrist. “She’s beautiful.”

His wife stood. “I think so, too.”

“I’ve always wanted a daughter.”

“Take her some chocolate, Henry.”  
Our two runners up this week are Barbara at The Purple Moose Gazette for her splendid story of a young mother running bootleg 'likker' to feed hungry mouths back home and Amanda at Last Mom On Earth for her haunting, mysterious tale of death and snakes.

This week's word:

CUTTING  adj \ˈkə-tiŋ\

1: given to or designed for cutting; especially : sharp, edged

2: marked by sharp piercing cold <cutting winds>

Please note: we are asking for the adjective form of the word 'cutting'.  As discussed in our instructions, responses that do not use the word correctly will be disqualified.

We wish you well.