Monday, October 11, 2010

Win a Drawing: Flash Fiction Writing Contest

This contest is closed.  
Please visit my website for an index of more competitions!
It was a tie between Brian Newlin and Angela Readman.
Both will receive drawings.
Also, I'm going to have to make a painting of Chastity because Michael Gray's story was so good, so I'm sending him a drawing as well.

Thank you all so much for participating.

Win this drawing of Chastity Beldt, graphite on paper 12"x9"

by writing a story about the Aviator, oil on canvas 30"x20"

The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at with your info.

The contest closes Monday October 25th 2010.

There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  E-mail it to me at

More competitions are available on my website:

Here are some of the stories about "The Aviator" that were sent to me by e-mail.

The Aviator by Brian Newlin

John had always loved the sky. The stillness. The wind. The sense of peace and clarity that it gave him. He had been born in the close, smoke-filled narrows of the South Bronx, with the black ribs of the Harlem Line obscuring the grey sky outside the apartment windows. It wasn't until his father had died, choking and rattling with soot filled rage in his lungs, that his mother packed him up for the wide open spaces of Iowa. Standing in the cornfield of his uncle's farm, John stared out into the endless crystal blue horizon for the first time in his life and with the sound of a thousand cornstalks rasping in his ears, he swore someday he would fly.

Years later, right after Pearl Harbor, John enlisted in the Navy. He waved goodbye to his mother at the bus station, never imagining this would be the last time he would see her. "Why the Navy?", she had asked. "You've never been in anything but that old rowboat." But it wasn't the ocean that John was looking for. It was the sky, and the Navy had announced a program that had gripped his heart like a fist. He had read about the airships, even seen one once on a newsreel at the movie theater, but could barely believe that he was finally here. The doors slowly rumbled open and John saw the blimp, it's logic defying mass swaying in the breeze like a cloud made solid. He found himself laughing, wondering what his mother would say back on the farm in Ohio. Ohio? No, it was Iowa.

Floating high over the foothills, John could barely keep focused on the controls in front of him, his eyes constantly locking on the openness of the skies around him. Every gust of wind caused the blimp to rock and sway, and there was a constant low hum of the engines that filled the cabin, almost like the sound of a strong wind through the corn. Or was it more like the rumble of the train past his bed when he was a child? It seemed so long ago. It took all his willpower to guide the airship back to base and land, he wanted so much to fly forever.

He saw her for the very first time at the beach. He and some of the guys had driven out to the shore on their day off. As they spread out blankets, John spotted her standing by the water, wearing a bright blue swimsuit and her sunshine yellow hair tied up with a red kerchief. For the first time in a long time, John found his eyes fixed on the girl in front of him and not up into the clouds. Feeling that powerful grip on his heart once again, he mustered up the courage to talk to her. Her name was Kate, and they walked and talked for hours. He had never seen hair so.... red? Brown? No, blond.

How could he ever forget that blond hair?

The first mission was over the coastline of Peru, scouting for enemy subs. John fluctuated between joy and terror as the airship floated lazily over the waters. He tried to keep his mind on the task at hand, but it kept drifting back to K--- and her blond hair. Kate. They never did find a sub, but John had used the long hours to make up his mind to marry her. The wedding day was like a dream, ----'s hair done up in a bun, her white dress like a cloud against the bright blue sky. His parents had even come out for the wedding. Hadn't they? John couldn't remember.

The following years were filled with joy. There was a house. It was yellow. Or white? His wife, he loved her so much. They had a son, and they named him after his uncle -----, who had a farm... somewhere. There was corn, he thought. Yellow. He remembered yellow. He wished he could remember her face. She was so pretty, even until she had passed away that morning. She wouldn't wake up. Sad. So sad. But there was always the sky.

"How is he today?", Peter asked the nurse. His father looked so tiny and frail, sitting in that wheelchair out on the lawn. "He's had better days. I couldn't get him to eat his breakfast but we'll try again later.", she replied, tucking the blanket around his legs. Peter hated what the disease had done to his father, thinking that the man had deserved better than this. It was as if his memories had floated away like balloons.

John's watery eyes stared out into the endless crystal blue horizon and he hoped his wife would be home soon. The rasping of the wind in the trees sounded so familiar, but he couldn't remember what it was.

---- had always loved the sky.

Bright White by Angela Readman

  My Ma spoke only in questions. ‘Would you like a some eggs?’ ‘Another blanket?’ I shook my head. ‘I know, some soup,’ she said. Soup was her favourite. One with little noodle letters of the alphabet in it. I used to slurp the liquid off the spoon and spend time inspecting the letters scattered in the bowl. One day I thought I might find my name. There were never any I’s. Lots of Z’s, Y’s. She brought the soup one day beaming, ‘Would you like some more bread?’ I shook my head. I took a sip of soup and never noticed the letters, the ones that had taken her weeks to find. Dozens of cans of soup opened and sifted through to dry out the letters so one day I’d find my own name like a sign.
  She took the bowl away sadly, ‘Would you like to me save this for later?’ I said I didn’t think so. I’d been sick as long as I could remember. There’d been doctors, and hospitals and whispers about money between my parents I wasn’t supposed to hear.
  My father’s approach was different. He still bought me bats and balls. I didn’t touch them. I knew I’d never play again. And still my father persisted, sitting by my bed. He brought me old photographs and made me see them again.
  ‘That’s when we you helped me birth the breech calf, remember?’ he handed me the photo of a boy I hardly resembled stood at the back of a cow with bloody hands and a piece of rope. In the background behind me was a bright white smear.
  ‘What’s that?’ he said. I looked closely. It looked like wings.
I looked at the next photo and it was there again, a ghostly hand near my shoulder in the photo of the baseball team. The shape was on most of the photographs. I’d never seen it before, but then, I’d never had time to look so closely at photos before. They were my parents’ thing, a big deal. They didn’t own their own camera. Photos were rare, taken only when my uncle came to stay from the city, the guardian of my family’s memories.
  ‘That’s your guardian angel,’ my father said, pointing to the white smudge on the photo, ‘watching over, everywhere you go.’
  I closed my eyes and dreamt of bright white, something I couldn’t make out like a lamp on in fog. Sometimes I thought I saw something I couldn’t make out, like sun through a sprinkler, the shape of someone refracted into small beads like rain.

  No one could explain how I got better. But I did. I grew, the illness behind me, always sitting on the bench. I lived twice as hard, ran from it, paces behind me. I’m invincible I thought. I got my angel. I always won when me and my buddies played chicken. I climbed highest and thought of bright white spreading out to catch me if I fell. I felt it behind me, arms spread round my shoulders handing me to safety. When war broke I signed up while my buddies waited to be called. I never waited for nothing. I was excited. They were gonna teach me about planes. I was reading all about flying.
  ‘Zeppelins, the closest cows ever get to heaven Pa,’ I said. I told about their intestines, the gasbags in the zeppelins. My father snorted.
  ‘Dumb fool thing to do, sign up to get killed,’ he said. He was a simple farmer who had no time for heroes. Not even the mention of cows won him round.
  ‘I got my angel,’ I smiled.
My Pa got up from his chair and walked to the bible. From behind it on the shelf he pulled out glass my uncle’s glass plates. He showed me sheets of glass, the double exposure my uncle made on those old photo’s. It was how they made an angel. It was their trick to hope. I was angry, no white hands to cool cheeks, no feathers breathing lullabies in my ear.
My father shrugged and lit his pipe.
  ‘You love someone son, you lie when you gotta,’ he said, ‘You’ll learnt that.’
Son of a bitch. He could have waited.
  The day I left, I shaved slowly, no damn angel behind me in the mirror as the steel moved over my throat. My Ma went on tip toes to kiss me at the door and tucked a prayer in the top pocket of my jacket.
  ‘Take care,’ she said. She was wiping her eyes, hoping when her tears were gone only pride would be on her face, not fear. ‘My boy’ll be alright, you feel your angel behind you don’t you?’ she asked.
  ‘Sure,’ I said, ‘Ma, sure, always.’
Then I pecked her cheek. I looked up at the big blue sky and for the first time I walked out under it, alone.


Warwick walked with a limp and he walked crooked, lifting his feet in short quick movements, as though he was stepping barefoot through fire. His back was bent, the weight of something on his shoulders, and his eyes kept looking up at the sky.

He watched the clouds and calculated wind speeds from their passing, and he held one wet finger up to test the air and the direction it moved in. Then he made a short penciled observation in a black moleskin notebook, nodded to himself and hirpled across the runway to a waiting plane.

It was a Piper Cub. Just over twenty feet long and with a top speed of 65 knots. He’d called it Angel and on one side of the plane was painted a blond-haired actress with swan’s wings at her back. Her name was Grace, the actress, and she’d been something in secret to him for more than twenty years. In the painting on the side of the plane, she showed rather too much cleavage for her to be a real angel and too much leg, but Warwick held his hand to hers, palm to palm, and he muttered a short prayer and he crossed himself before clambering into the cockpit.

He checked the fuel gauge, tapped at the glass so that the needle shifted and found its true reading. He flicked switches and turned dials. Then he strapped himself in and pulled the small window shut.

Tom was out front, slow and lead-footed, hands like shovels and an easy smile. He was tall and good looking, chiselled features and a shock of black hair that fell across his eyes. One for the ladies, Warwick thought. Tom grinned at Warwick and gestured with his hands, indicating that everything was good for take off. He seemed excited as the young can be. Warwick raised one slow thumb in the air to confirm that he was also ready.

The propellor turned and the single engine coughed and spat and the plane shook and the air screamed so loudly that Warwick could scarcely hear his own thoughts. Tom waved and nodded, everything a pantomime gesture writ large so that Warwick would not miss what he was saying.

The very air shuddered as the plane swung to the left and began to move towards the tarmac of the runway. A voice from the tower sounded in Warwick’s head, directing Warwick to the third lane, recording the time and making a rude joke about the painted actress and her painted ‘heavenly tits’, a joke Warwick had heard before.

The plane rumbled down the marked strip and picked up speed. Warwick checked his instruments and looked to the sky again. Then he closed his eyes and held his breath, his hands moving automatically through the flight sequence. This was the moment, almost the moment, when he felt suddenly light and a little giddy. The wheels left the ground and he was quickly airborne and the tower below him, shrinking to something as small as a child’s toy and smaller, though the crackle in his earphones was as loud as before.

Above the clouds he felt different, usually he did. His shoulders straightened, as though a weight had been removed, as though the cares of the world, his world, slipped from him. And the pain in his leg left him. That was usual. But it was different today. 

Warwick thought of Grace painted on the side of his plane. A black and white picture of her was stuck next to the altimeter and Warwick talked to her as though she was really there, a one-sided conversation that made no sense to the boys in the tower. 

‘Mad as a hatter,’ rasped the voice in his ears.

Warwick remembered something he’d read, something Sagan had said, about madness and love, and madness being the only sensible way to love. It felt right, like a truth new-discovered.

Warwick unfolded a map and he marked out a new course, not one he’d agreed with the men on the ground. He altered direction, the wings of the plane tipping and the sound of the engine rising in pitch till he levelled out again. 

The tower alerted him to the change and gave instructions to Warwick, adjustments he should make to be back on course. But Warwick pretended not to hear. He squinted against the sun and increased his speed, as much as a Piper Cub could. The voice in his ears fizzed and spat, more urgent with its instructions.

‘Grace,’ said Warwick. Just her name. Then he sipped brandy from a silver hip flask and he picked up the picture from the instrument panel. ‘The only sensible way to love,’ he said, and his voice was broken and something else broken, too.

‘Tower to Angel, course correction necessary. You’re way off line. For Heaven’s sake, Warwick.’

The sun was a bright whiteness in front of him, so bright that he could not see the instrument panel, could not see the picture of Grace in her swan wings. ‘This bird has flown,’ he whispered, and it also felt right, like the point of madness to one in love, like he was flying into heaven, which was not far from the truth.

Winning flash fiction stories will be integrated in with an exhibit in San Francisco at ArtHaus Gallery (April 8th for the reception). 

The show is called: Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs

The exhibit will include a series of 20-40 paintings and mixed media works ranging in size from 8”x10” to 18”x24” framed with thrift store and vintage frames.  In addition to the exhibited works ArtHaus is publishing catalogs signed by me and as many of the authors as possible.  Catalogs/books will consist of image of the painting with the text of the “flash story” surrounding the image.  If I can get the authors to come to a book signing/party, authors would sign their pages for some of the printed stuff.

We're going to have a photobooth for the show for participants to play with and vintage costumes. 

Of course I'll send the authors free copies of the catalogs.

I will announce the winners the day after the closing deadline for the competition. I'm planning on doing one flash fiction competition a week every Monday from now until April.  You can preview the works I have so far completed here: