First Line Competition: Winner!

Last month we asked:

The first line of a story can be a tricky one. How do you start to hook people in without making the sentence convoluted or clunky?

Well have a go with the picture above.

And we had 17 great entries. Some of our favourites were:

"Do you think the table will ever come back?"
by George Wicker

"The whales had returned. It must be summer."
by Linda

'After what the four of them had been through the crashing of the waves was the only thing they could really count on.'
by GO! Smell the Flowers

But the WINNER is :

Years and experience had made them unapologetic survivors; now there were four, each carrying a secret they'd deposited into the sea.

by Niki Aguirre who somewhat appropriately released her debut book of short fiction 29 Ways to Drown last November.

Well done Niki a £50 Amazon voucher is on the way.

Photo Credit: Natasha Hirtzel


Niki said...

Fantastic! Thank you very much for choosing me. I am going to go mad on some books.

theamateurbookblogger said...

well done Niki - I want to read on from your opener - I'll have to get your novel instead. Some of the other favourites were great too - Congrats.

Natasha said...

I am commenting to inform the moderators of this website and it's readers that has used the above photograph without any prior knowledge or consent from myself, the photographer, Natasha Hirtzel. By using my photograph to drive traffic to this website, without first getting my permission, the moderators of have violated basic copyright rules. This photo was marked "all rights reserved" on the Flickr page it was taken from, so there is no excuse to have used this photo without first asking permission.

Since the winner of the competition gets a $100 Amazon voucher for coming up with the first line of a story to go with the photo, what does the photographer get for providing the photo that the contest was based on?

Mike French said...

Hi Natasha

The amount of traffic "driven" to the site by this comp I could count on one hand! The comp was for fun and we try to attract readers who would generally be interested in us rather than drive traffic to us on mass.

I am sorry if you feel we acted in a way not in keeping with the ethos of Flickr. Unfortunately the winner announcement did not credit you for your photograph which the original article did with a link to your site. Sorry about that and I have now amended this post to make it clear it is your photo here as well.

Good Flickr sharing of photo practice (which they encourage: there is a BLOG this tag on your photo) is to make sure you do not claim the work of another as your own and to credit the artist and include a link to their profile which we did.

Hope this answers your concerns.

Natasha said...

The amount of traffic driven to your sight is inconsequential. A small amount of copyright infringement is still copyright infringement. What matters is that your website directly benefited from the use of my photograph as the basis for this competition. If there had been no contest associated with your website using my photograph this would be a whole different matter. However, the minute you chose to use my photograph for the basis of your own competition, and did not first receive my permission, you violated international copyright standards as well as "Flickr" and "Yahoo!" copyright standards. Please do not patronize me by apologizing for what I "feel" you have done, and instead just apologize for doing what you know is wrong. As far as I'm concerned, such an apology would close this matter. If you fail to see your fault in this matter, I am more than happy to report this incident to Yahoo!'s agents for notice of claims of copyright or other intellectual property infringement. "All rights reserved" means all rights reserved. Remember that in your future postings and please do not infringe on the rights of any more artists.

Bryan said...


Unfortunately I have to agree with Natasha on this one. While I understand your feelings of why Flickr is great, and why the sharing / community aspect is a good thing, the fact of the matter is still that her photo is "All Rights Reserved" which means that unless you get previous consent for anything, as little as your traffic may-or-may-not be, it is not a viable use of the photographers property, even if you attribute it back to the photographer.

This is further compounded by the fact that there is now a whole search subset on Flickr dedicated to Creative Commons licensed photos that only require attribution to the photographer to be used legally for purposes just like this.

As a photographer myself I understand the risk of having photos online for public viewing, but because we assume the risk of someone using a licensed photo doesn't also mean we can't take action when it happens.

Despite "Good Flickr sharing practice" the fact still remains that its an "All Rights Reserved" photo and if she requests you take it down you are obligated to do so since you aren't legally licensed to use it for this purpose.

I should note that I am a good friend of Natasha in the interest of full disclosure, but beyond that I care about protecting our property as I too, as stated, have photos online as well as help manage a set of photography driven sites that rely heavily on rights control by the artists.


Mike French said...

Hi Byran

Thanks for this, I was unaware of the ...

"a whole search subset on Flickr dedicated to Creative Commons licensed photos that only require attribution to the photographer."

It's buried under the bottom of the advance search option! I will use that in the future to avoid any upset.

We have tried to act properly without denying artists the due they deserve, it's a bit of a minefield! Obviously we have fallen fowl with this one.

So a word from us to all ...

"It has been brought to our attention that we have used a photo by Natasha Hirtzel that we needed her permission for. This permission was not sought for and the magazine unreservedly apologizes to her for this."

kathleenmaher said...

The need for due respect and right for creative work is one all artists share. I think, too, we can all recognize how difficult it is making sure you get credit for what you do.
But it can also be difficult offering artists recognition and community. An occasional tiny oversight might warrant forgiveness. Initially, this site gave the photographer a link. Ill will was never intended. Links break and putting up a simple post isn't so simple, let alone holding a contest. Typos get committed.
And bringing this to light, Natasha, as is your right, has already made you famous here. That may not satisfy you, but don't worry: none of us will make this mistake again.

Natasha said...

Thank you Kathleen. I did see the initial post with the link to my site...that wasn't the problem. The problem is that I had marked, "All rights reserved" on my photo. If you look to the right of my photo you will see that under "Additional Information":

I don't care about publicity, I just don't want people to use my photos without permission, especially when there's a monetary prize involved.

Thanks for the apology.