Columns > Published on December 31st, 2012

UPDATE WITH WINNER - LitReactor's Flash Fiction Smackdown: December 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, in which you're challenged to thrill us in 250 words or less.

How It Works

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

The Rules

  • 250 words is the limit (you can write less, but you can't write more)
  • Any genre
  • Give it a title
  • 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
  • We'll pick a winner on the last day of the month
  • LitReactor staffers can't win, but are encouraged to participate
  • All stories submitted on or before December 28 will be considered. We'll run the winner on December 31.

This Month's Prize

Remember Patrick Wensink, the author of Broken Piano for President, our September 2012 Book Club Selection? Well, he has a new book, and he wants to give you a copy! Winner of this month's contest gets a copy of  Everything Was Great Until It Sucked, his first book of nonfiction.  Here's a little bit more about the book:

"I've never known an American economy that didn't smell like Red Lobster's dumpster," begins Patrick Wensink's (bestselling author of Broken Piano for President) long-awaited essay collection.

Zipping together heartbreak and hilarity in one neat package, this book is one man's journey along the front lines of America's economic nightmare. These nonfiction pieces feature Wensink selling his own BBQ sauce, tying the knot in a doughnut shop, getting fired from more jobs than most hold in a lifetime and struggling to make ends meet as a stay-at-home-dad.

In the end, Wensink perseveres in typical self deprecating fashion, chronicling his unexpected rise to bestseller status when Broken Piano for President goes viral thanks to the World's Nicest Cease and Desist from Jack Daniel's.

These essays originally appeared in Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and more.

And here's a little bit more about the author:

  • Patrick Wensink is the bestselling author of Broken Piano for President, as well as two other works of fiction.
  • He has appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and more.
  • The New Yorker once wrote one whole sentence about him and he nearly had an aneurysm.  
  • He lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife and son.  

Your Inspiration

Photo via

And the Winner Is....Carly Berg

I enjoyed the pacing of Carly's entry and the clear plot arc and believable twist at the end. I especially loved the taunt. Well done, Carly!

Zita Pita

I wasn’t allowed at Journey’s because they were trash. Her parents were always drunk and broke. They had six kids, in a trailer.

At Miss Zita’s magazine stand, I bought a Coke.

Journey held a Snickers. “Susan, can I bum a quarter?”

She mooched too much. “If you say ‘Zita pita, smell my feeta.’ You chicken?”

Journey banged on the glass and yelled, “Zita pita, kiss my feeta.”

The window opened. Miss Zita said, “You are not-a nice girls.”

Journey, charged up from talking smart, flung the money.

The old woman picked it up with shaky hands

Journey walked hands on hips like she was big stuff. She had scared an adult.

“I said to say ‘smell’ my feet, not ‘kiss’ my feet.”

“Let’s see you do something, then.”

“Well,” she said, “Are you gonna stand there all day, chicken?”

“This goddamn Coke is warm!” I banged on the window with the glass Coke bottle, just as Miss Zita opened it.

Her nose gushed blood.

We ran.

The policeman came at dinnertime. He said, “Were you at the magazine stand today with Journey Hoolihan?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Someone assaulted Miss Zita with a bottle and broke her nose.”

“Mercy!” Mom said. “Those Hoolihans are nothing but trouble.”

Father said, “Susan won't be near the Hoolihan girl again, Officer.”

“I expect Journey’s at juvenile hall. You’re lucky, Susan. You have good parents.”

“Yes, sir.”

My parents were right. I should stay away from trashy kids like Journey Hoolihan.

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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