Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Contest results for real this time

This weekend's blog contest was a real barn burner. You guys took to your prompts with gusto and mayhem (well, metaphorical mayhem) ensued.

I picked six finalists but couldn't decide among them so I asked you for help.

Here are the six finalists again:


(1)Colin Smith 10:29am
 Jessica picked up the bottle of baby oil, one of six in a gift box. The card attached read: "From one mother to another. Congratulations! Love, Mom." A flip of her thumb released the top and she inhaled deeply the scent of newborn, flooding her with memories. The heartbeat booming through the ultrasound device. Grainy images on the screen. The kicks.

Jessica wiped her eyes and replaced the bottle with the other shower gifts: diapers, onesies, toys, all carefully arranged on the dining room table. In the middle, a pair of booties. A reminder of the day the kicking stopped.





(2)Alice Witten 1:55pm
"Hurry up," Callie whined as Penny doused her with more fake blood. "It's cold in here."

"The scene's in a goddamn freezer," Steve snapped. "You should be cold."

I adjusted the boom mike, letting it slip and thunk onto Callie's head.

"Ow! I'm telling mother." Any minute Nancy would waltz in to shower praise on her spoiled, entitled princess. And then rip me a new one. This shoot sucked, but I needed money.

Steve took a drink of his soda, crunching the ice as he handed me a folded note. I opened it.

"Another $100 to hit Nancy."

Worth it.


(3) Christina Seine 2:54pm
I am in the shower when our mother leaves. There are no goodbyes, only the eventual whistle of the teakettle boiling in the kitchen, an alarm we don’t yet know to panic by.

“Turn it off!” my brother yells.

“You do it,” I yell back, stepping onto the mat.

He yells, “Mom. MOM!”

Hair dripping, I come into the kitchen. The TV is on; Schoolhouse Rock tells us three is the magic number. An orange pekoe spice tea bag sits near an empty mug. The keys are missing.

The kettle steams.

Three minus one equals two. Boom, just like that.


(4) Amy Schaefer 3:35pm
I eased back my lid. Dark, and quiet except for the generators. The warehouse was ice-cold after the stuffy heat of the oil-drum.

I whistled. Boomer burst out of his drum.

“Simmer down, motherfucker!” I hissed. God, every time we robbed a place.

“Claustrophobic,” he gasped.

“If you know a better way inside than getting delivered, speak up.” I crept through the gloom. “Freckles said the Rolexes were this way.”

The ground lurched. Soot showered down.

Boomer grabbed me. “Earthquake!”

A long, loud note blared. What the...? Shit. Fucking Freckles.

“We’re on a cargo ship, Boomer. Hope you like Chinese.”


(5) Steve Forti 8:23pm
“No, no.” Betty snickered. “It’s… nice.

“What can I say? I’m a grower, not a shower. Besides, do you know how cold it is today?”

Betty fidgeted. “I can’t do this.”

“Sure you can. Just give me a minute, and boom! I promise.”

“It’s more than that, Todd. The gifts, the late night texts. It’s too much.”

“I like to spoil my gal.”

“It feels more like smothering.”

“But…”

“Goodbye Todd.”

As she swam away and out of his life,
FWOOMP!

Figures.
Now he looked a proper puffer fish.



(6) TheOneWriting 8:06am
“Pass the turkey already!” demanded the figure at the head of the table.

He sliced the turkey, while at the same time he sliced open her throat, showering the table in her blood, soiling the fine linen.

As he passed the slice of turkey along to her, before her irritating voice could boom out another command, he imagined stopping it by pushing her face into the mashed potatoes, smothering her as she flailed wildly.

“And what are we thankful for this year?” asked his daughter.

He shuddered a little, banishing the thoughts once more, slower every time.

“Self control.”




Each of entries are brilliant in their own way. They all evoke emotion, albeit very different ones. They all play with words beautifully.  The sentences are lovely.

You'll pardon me if I pause to insert a brief note here that this is the kind of choice I face in query letters every week.  Yes I get hundreds, but winnowing out the ones that aren't a fit, or the writing isn't up to par, or are in categories I don't generally take on, and I still have five or six a week that are really good.

And sadly, none of you are around to read and vote when I'm looking at those queries!

Four of those six remaining queries get a pass usually. One might get a more personalized note or a suggestion MAYBE. But generally I only request one novel every week or so.

It doesn't mean those other five aren't good, or publishable. They're just not right for ME. But since I'm not the only fish in the ocean, that's good news. Bait your hook, and go trawling for the next set of snappers.



Oh? This week's contest winner?

By pretty much a landslide, it's Colin Smith.
Here's his entry:


(1)Colin Smith 10:29am
 Jessica picked up the bottle of baby oil, one of six in a gift box. The card attached read: "From one mother to another. Congratulations! Love, Mom." A flip of her thumb released the top and she inhaled deeply the scent of newborn, flooding her with memories. The heartbeat booming through the ultrasound device. Grainy images on the screen. The kicks.

Jessica wiped her eyes and replaced the bottle with the other shower gifts: diapers, onesies, toys, all carefully arranged on the dining room table. In the middle, a pair of booties. A reminder of the day the kicking stopped.





Colin, send me your mailing address and I'll get you a copy of Sophie Littlefield's engrossing new book THE MISSING PLACE.  I can't say enough good things about this book, so how about I just quote from the Boston Globe:


The setting for Sophie Littlefield’s “The Missing Place’’ is closer to home but just as exotic. It’s the dead of winter in a stretch of North Dakota where truck stops, Walmarts, and four-lane highways frame a landscape pockmarked with oil rigs and populated by the men who work them. Into this no-woman’s land ventures Colleen Mitchell, a wealthy, cosseted suburban mother from Boston, desperate to find her estranged son, Paul, who disappeared days earlier.

Colleen has no car; hotels are full up; and in short order she finds herself marooned at the tiny airport, relying on the kindness of strangers. The first airport worker she encounters takes her to the door of a trailer where she meets Shay Capparelli, the scrappy single mother of another young man who is missing. Their sons were friends — Colleen’s son a volatile loner, Shay’s a popular peacemaker — who’d found jobs working on rigs and were living in the oil company’s shantytown.

Shay and Colleen are a study in opposites, too, and Littlefield makes good use of narrative viewpoint to show each of them from the other’s perspective. Despite their shared determination to find their sons their personalities collide.

With its bleak setting and compelling premise, the novel starts out great guns as they encounter dead ends wherever they search for information. Oil giant Hunter-Cole, their sons’ employer and the region’s main landowner, seems to have local law enforcement, media, and OSHA in its back pocket. ...   Littlefield’s writing shines.


17 comments:

Kitty said...

Congrats, Colin!

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Colin!

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Colin! Yours was my favorite. I'm glad I got so close and was able to amuse some people. Time for the next one!

Susan Bonifant said...

Colin, wow. I think my heart stopped for a second when I read that entry. Congratulations, well done.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Congrats to Colin Smith!

And hey, I'm on Twitter odd hours if you need help with queries...just sayin'....

Colin Smith said...

8-O

WOW!

Ummm... I'd like to thank the Academy... and my Mum (who's glad my entry didn't plot matricide)...

Seriously, I'm humbled and encouraged. To be placed among such fine and talented writers, and voted for by other fine and talented writers... so cool. So Cool.

Thanks Janet. And thanks to those who voted! :D

donnaeverhart.com said...

Congrats, Colin! Perseverance...and sweet success! A great combination.

TheOneWriting said...

Congrats! I was bummed because by the time I was able to get online last night voting had closed, but the one I wanted to vote for won anyway! Your piece was simply superb.

french sojourn said...

Congrats Colin.

Cheers Hank

And Thanks to our Shark Hostess with the most-ess for having us over to play in her universe.

ryan field said...

I absolutely love to read these things!!

Christina Seine said...

Congratulations Colin, well done! And many thanks to the razor-finned QOTKU for hosting these awesome contests!

Alice Witten said...

Congratulations Colin! Your story got me right in the feels.

And thank you to Janet for hosting the contest! I loved reading all of the entries.

LynnRodz said...

Congrats, Colin, well done!

Amy Schaefer said...

Hooray, Colin! It was the "from one mother to another," part that got me.

My favorite part of these contests is seeing the very different stories that emerge from a handful of prompt words. I get excited every time someone writes something unexpected. The stories are fun to read, and great motivation to push myself harder.

B. Renard said...

Congrats Colin! (And to the others as well, they were all very good!)

The baby piece is marvelous, because for the first 90-ish words, it doesn't seem all that different from any other well-written baby shower I've read. And then WHAM. I know a few friends who've gone through this, and you definitely got me choked up and emotionally invested. That's REALLY hard to do in 100 words, let alone when some words are pre-picked. Really genius.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Yes, definitely yours, Colin. Yours so far blew the others out of the water, I'm surprised there was any question.

I loved the quiet unsettledness about it, possibly because I've lost several babies. So yeah. It had a deep resonance for me.

Sophie Littlefield said...

congrats Colin - here's hoping for many more wonderful successes! - Sophie