Columns > Published on April 29th, 2016

UPDATED WITH WINNERS - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: April Edition

Flash fiction: A style of fictional literature marked by extreme brevity

Welcome to LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown, a monthly bout of writing prowess.

How It Works

We give you inspiration in the form of a picture, poem, video, or prompt. You write a flash fiction piece using the inspiration we gave you. Put your entry in the comments section. One winner will be picked and awarded a prize.

The Rules

  • 15 words. It can be less, but not more. 
  • It can be any genre.
  • Give it a title. Please keep it to 10 words.
  • We're not exactly shy, but let's stay away from senseless racism or violence.
  • One entry per person.
  • Editing your entry after you submit it is permitted.
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate.
  • All stories submitted on or before April 28th will be considered. We'll run the winner on April 29th.

This Month's Prize

Wondering how to avoid the onslaught of flowery spring and greenery and baby bunnies?? This creepy book—dubbed "Hamptons Noir"—just might be to the cure for all that pastel. Ew. 

We have 2 copies to give away, so best 2 entries will win a copy of The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich.

A scathing and exhilarating thriller that begins with a husband's obsession with the seemingly vacant house next door.

     It's wintertime in the Hamptons, where Scott and his wife, Elise, have come to be with her terminally ill father, Victor, to await the inevitable. As weeks turn to months, their daily routine—Elise at the hospital with her father, Scott pretending to work and drinking Victor's booze—only highlights their growing resentment and dissatisfaction with the usual litany of unhappy marriages: work, love, passion, each other. But then Scott notices something simple, even innocuous. Every night at precisely eleven, the lights in the neighbor's bedroom turn off. It's clearly a timer . . .but in the dead of winter with no one else around, there's something about that light he can't let go of. So one day while Elise is at the hospital, he breaks in. And he feels a jolt of excitement he hasn't felt in a long time. Soon, it's not hard to enlist his wife as a partner in crime and see if they can't restart the passion.

     Their one simple transgression quickly sends husband and wife down a deliriously wicked spiral of bad decisions, infidelities, escalating violence, and absolutely shocking revelations.

     Matt Marinovich makes a strong statement with this novel. The Winter Girl is the psychological thriller done to absolute perfection.

Your Inspiration

There's something extra-literary about April: It's Shakespeare's birth and death month. Cervantes died in April, too—the same day as Shakespeare. It's National Poetry Month. World Book Day is the 23rd. This year AWP is in April (partially...we are there RIGHT NOW, so if you are in LA, come see us at the LitReactor Booth.)

So yeah, pretty special time for writing. Also, T.S. Eliot wrote his famous poem, The Waste Land, in 1922 that begins with this oft-quoted line:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain.

So celebrate books and poems and dead writers and spring flowers with a 15-word flash piece. Best 2 winners get a book about winter. Makes perfect sense, right?

And The Winners Are... Jose F. Diaz & PLA

Thank goodness I can award more than 1 winner this month because choosing a winner was very difficult. So many great entries--from past winners and new voices! I was worried that my prompt was too lame, but you all really ran with it. Nicely, nicely done!

Without further ado, our winners:

From Jose F. Diaz:

Iraq in April

The Euphrates River



for blood


during the war.

The flowers

Also bloom.


From PLA:


April has the cruelest mouth, spitting lilacs as if they were teeth.

About the author

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd living in Portland, OR where she works as a technical writer for an engineering firm and volunteers on the planning committee for Wordstock, a local organization dedicated to writing education.

She holds a degree in Creative Writing and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and hosted a poetry club for a group of high school writers.

While living in Seattle, Taylor started and taught a free writing class called Writer’s Cramp (see the website). She has also taught middle school Language Arts & Spanish, tutored college students, and mentored at several Seattle writing establishments such as Richard Hugo House. She’s presented on panels at Associated Writing Programs Conference and the Pennsylvania College English Conference and led writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for writers of all ages & abilities. She loves to read, write, teach & debate the Oxford Comma with anyone who will stand still long enough.

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