Yearning for Wonderland
Today is a very special day, the unveiling of the short story film. This film was created by myself, using Melanie Conklin’s visceral and chilling short story, The Catch. You can read her original story here: The Catch by Melanie Conklin.
This dark and troubling gem was actually the grand prize winner of the Behind the Curtain Flash Fiction contest.
The Grand Prize Package for Melanie included many unique goodies, such as an exclusive interview with me (stay tuned!) touting her latest project, a writing notebook from Ruth Long, the chance to collaborate with me on my next crazy flash fiction contest (coming Spring 2013).
One of the coolest prizes I offered was a dramatic audio recording of Melanie’s winning story. This is something I’ve never offered before and, frankly, something I’ve not seen a great deal. There are audiobooks, of course, but not much in the way of short story recordings and frequently the dramatizations are a little suppressed. So it was an exciting idea for me.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me about my recording process, so I thought I’d share a little, especially since Melanie’s story recording evolved in such a cool way.
The first thing I did was paste her story into a Word document and start breaking up the beats. Every story has a pulse, a natural rhythm, that you must suss out if you are to read it out loud successfully. Some sections must be fast, others dragged out deliciously. I highlight words in different colors to emphasize at different levels. I make notes such as [Pause], [Speed Up] or my personal favorite, [Brogue].
The more I read it out loud (and gave myself extreme chills), the more I realized that I wanted to do far more than just read it. This story needed music!
Simple enough, except I needed music that was royalty-free, the perfect length and mood. No problem. I started sifting through the THOUSANDS of circus-related free music. Most of it sounded like a broken carousel on methamphetamines.
After, no joke, two hours of reviewing music, I found the perfect piece, “Carousel” by Circus Contraption. It was dark, tinkly, and reminded me of a music box slowly winding down. But the section I loved was also two minutes, 30 seconds too short.
So I downloaded some free music editing software and sliced and diced my way clumsily through to the cut I needed. I’m not going to talk about how long it took me to do that or how steep my learning curve was. On the plus side, it ended up fairly excellent and I worked the one editing blip into the story, as you’ll see.
So I had my audio recording and my music. I also had a great vintage photograph from the Behind the Curtain Pinterest board that Melanie used as the inspiration for her story.
I kept staring at that image, which was so evocative; Melanie used it so well in her story that just looking at it was giving me killer goosebumps.
I’m a very visual person, as well as aural, so I finally gave in to the natural temptation. “Clearly,” said I, “I need a movie to go with this audio.”
So I started combing the internet for images that would work hand-in-hand with this photo. It was not easy, but what massively ambitious artistic project is?
Once I had found and edited all the images to my satisfaction, it was MERELY a matter of sequencing them in a dramatic fashion for the story. My hope is that these photographs unfold in a manner that does Melanie’s story justice.
Did I manage?
In vain have I struggled, but it will not be denied. I swore 9 times sideways of Tuesday that I would not run another flash fiction contest. After Fairy Ring, Once Upon a Time Writing Contest AND Faerypin, I vowed I was done with contests for the year.
Instead, I found myself awake at midnight AGAIN with a brain buzzing with suppressed creativity. And then someone must have cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Not one or two but over a half-dozen of my friends started poking and prodding me about when my next contest will be. So you have Ruth Long, Kern Windwraith, Jo-Anne Teal, J.B. Lacaden, Jeff Tsuruoka, Angela Goff, and Lillie McFerrin to blame, along with the countless other Fictionlings who’ve been baying for another chance to enter one of my eccentric pen-fests.
So be it. Too late to back away now. #MOOGHOOHAH
Methinks this contest needs a darker twist, a jagged edge, a crooked seam to counterbalance the beauty and light of the other contests.
My friends, it’s time to go dark. All Hallows Eve is nearly upon us. A chill wind blows, dead leaves rattle past, and good people everywhere lock their doors and light a candle against the dark.
Hear that distant music playing? It’s time to go Behind the Curtain.
Behind the Curtain Flash Fiction Contest
Greasepaint and floodlights and cheerful music out front, but behind the curtain sometimes darker dramas unfold. Whether theatre or circus, pantomime or ballet, there is the world presented…and then the world hidden.
Too often, a gorgeous, painted stage facade conceals dry rot and warped wood. The clown’s smile wipes away to reveal bitter rage. The ballerina’s twisted foot, the leading man’s alcoholism, the abuse of performing animals, all carefully hidden from the audience. For the price of just a ticket, the artifice is yours.
Yet I challenge you to pull it aside, to peek behind the curtain. Who do you see, what do they feel, and most importantly what do they hide?
The prizes are better than ever and will be announced later. Gotta keep you reading, don’t I?
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My good friend, Raquel Matos (@quellelove on Twitter) recently commented that weddings are only fun to plan if you are a special special snowflake. She then said she was not one.
|Raquel and her fiance|
You may remember Raquel from the Fairy Ring Contest. She was kind enough to provide the copies of the books, as well as the original seed of the idea that got me off on all these crazy writing contests.
I recently dubbed her QuelleBelle, because she’s lovely inside and out. So to prove that she is indeed a special special snowflake, I am hosting her the first ever (maybe in the world) Pinterest Wedding Shower.
At this moment, you are likely doing the double-blink that people tend to do when I introduce one of my more eccentric ideas. If you are still reading, let me share the details.
I have started a group Pinterest Board, dubbed QuelleBelle’s Beauteous Day. On it, I have pinned all my ideas for the most charming, quirky vintage wedding shower ever. This is the perfect party theme for Raquel, as she hosts the amazing vintage film blog Out of the Past.
So here’s the deal. This group pinboard is for those who love the vintage fashions and fripperies of yesteryear. Every image pinned must have a CAPTION, an explanation for why you chose it for this whimsical, wondrous online event.
I recommend using the board like this:
1) Pin the outfit(s) you would wear to QuelleBelle’s Beauteous Day. Oh, it can be anything you want: Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga, etc. I am encouraging 40s-50s, but let your imagination go. Pick hat, shoes, accessories, skirt, dress, gown, assemble your dream vintage look. Clearly you need one outfit for day and one for evening. Why not? We have a limitless budget and all of Pinterest to choose from.
2) Pin the gift you would bring Raquel. Explain why you chose it in the caption.
3) Pin a beautiful architectural detail – why not have one corner be a Swiss chalet and another be a French shabby chic cottage? The rooms are as big as you like and decorated in so many styles. Your imagination is the only limit.
4) Pin flowers or favors or any other lovely wedding shower detail that will pay tribute to this unique lady and her style.
The best thing about this shower is that you can come and go as you please, the food and drinks are everflowing and it is filled with wandering, vintage-loving souls like you.
If I have not invited you and you are a lover of vintage/friend of Raquel’s, please @ me on Twitter or email me at annabbps at gmail dot com.
Though she’s too far away for me to plan a real party or even to hug, help make QuelleBelle’s Beauteous Day!
|“I’m here for the winners of the Faerypin Contest, please.”|
Every contest I run, I create one ineligible entry so I remind myself how jaw-droppingly difficult it is to create a story of depth and delight in 300 words.
If you open your favorite book, 300 words barely gives them enough time to introduce the protagonist. The author of flash fiction has not a word to waste – they must paint setting, character, detail in a broad brush. They cut to the bone; all the pretty adverbs and adjectives must go!
The Faerytaleish Pinterest Contest blended art and writing. Writers use images to inspire them, collecting images that embody their work. This time, I asked entrants to find a new image on the Faerytaleish Pinterest Page that struck them and then tell that story.
The results were kaleidoscopic. Please take the time to read all the entries and comment. The supportive comments in this contest were particularly delightful.
As for me, I am taking a break from the madcap world of flash fiction contest. It’s been a lovely run. I have met more talent from this than I could have ever expected. Thank you all and keep writing.
Without further ado, the winners of the Faerytaleish Pinterest Contest:
The writing was savagely beautiful and troubling and vividly painted the chosen painting in words. This entry wins a copy of The Fairy Ring audiobook for the music of the words.
I initially dismissed this image for my own shortlist as saccharine and one-dimensional. Dawn took the image and, through her story, transformed it into a touching and aching fable about love and loss. Dawn wins a paperback copy of Awake by Jessica Grey (thanks Jess!)
Meg McNulty for “The Lady in the Lamp”
This little flash was chock full of well-considered details and a quick stick in the heart at the end.
Cameron Lawton for “Untitled”
Cameron created a perfect summer romance in 300 words.
Lisa Shambrook for “The Coat”
Such an innocent little girl…isn’t she? A well-crafted shocker from Lisa Shambrook.
Congratulations to all who entered and thank you! You have all created something new that did not exist before; I consider that a win as well.
Ardo closed the door.