Monday, November 03, 2014

Contest results

I think this was the best set of contest entries I've ever seen.   Either you guys are getting better at this, or Laird Barron brings out the wordsmith in you. Maybe both!

Here are the results:

Things I wish Mum had said to me:
"Mother always said that a girl should carry two things: a paperback and a shotgun."
Megan V 11:58am

Entries that aren't quite a story, but are enticing starts to something bigger for sure
Ray 10:28am

Andrew Lipkin 11:56am

JennyC 12:32pm

Rea Tarvydas 7:14pm

Special recognition for a great final line!
Michael Field 12:12pm

Special recognition for a great phrase
"his hands snatching at the heat"
Shaunna 12:28pm

Special recognition for a GREAT line
“Quick, Jenkins,” I cried. “Use the literary flare!”
feyngirl 2:33pm

Special recognition for a very very creepy opening line
"I'm so hungry," the thing whispered from the attic."
Matthew Wuertz 2:05pm

Name checking Laird!
saustin 5:21pm

A beautiful example of perspective
Kristine Poptanich 6:54pm

Not quite a story but totally gripping
Carolynnwith2Ns 8:06pm

TheOneWriting 10:06pm

AnnieColleen 12:25pm

this one grips my heart
NotAWarriorPrincess 2:04am

This isn't a story but I love it
Lenny Liang 9:43am

I can't even say how sad and angry this makes me feel 10:35am

These five made it to the semi-finals
Mattew Masucci 11:27am

Janet Ursel 1:26pm

Lobo 1:29pm

Kat Waciawik 11:17pm

RM Moji 10:00am

These are the ten finalists.  I don't think we've ever had this many before.

(1) Belynda 10:31am
The field glistens under ice. It’s beautiful, slicked back like hair fresh from the shower. The still air seems appalled into silence by acres of proud red wheat, backs broken by the storm. This was my long awaited boom year, a season of fair weather and fulfilled promises. "When the crop comes in, we'll have the money."

I too am silent as my father carries on with the now useless harvester, his hands turned brutal with cold and engine oil. My mother, pale as paper, gazes upon it all. Her eyes apologize for all the things she cannot change.

(2) french sojourn 10:48am
“Love’s a beautiful thing.”

“That sounds so trite.”

“How did you meet her?”

“I was shy, didn’t really know a lot about dating back then. She was like a flower awaiting bloom by the light of a fountain, and when she smiled at me. Well, I wrote my name and number on a piece of newspaper, smiled, prayed, and passed it to her.”

“You’re such a romantic.”

“Unfortunately, it didn’t end well; I just wish I had taken my father’s advice.”

“What was that?”

“I asked him what I should wear for that first date.”


“He suggested a condom.”

(3) Colin Smith 11:25am
"You make the place sound idyllic, Michael," she said.

"It is, honey, it is.

"And we'll go when I get out?"

"We'll go as soon as you’re ready." I stroked the paper-thin skin of her hand with my thumb, feeling it move over the bones.

"I'll be back," I said, forcing a smile and grazing her fragile cheek with my lips.

"It'll be so beautiful," she said, watching me from the bed, her eyes glassy from the meds.

The doctor showed me the results this morning. Two days max.

I swallowed hard.

"It’s the beautiful thing that awaits us all."

(4) Kitty 12:50pm
Arnold Briar knelt down in the confessional.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been years since my last confession. Father...?"


"Do people go to hell?"

"Why do you ask?"

"I've sinned a lot, Father."

"Tell me your sins."

"I've committed adultery. I've never paid child support. I've plagiarized newspaper columns for my own. I lied about my background. I..."

Footsteps approached the confessional.

"Don't worry. To reach the
beautiful thing that awaits you, just keep up the good work."

The priest's door opened and Arnold caught a whiff of sulfur.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," he said.

(5) Steve Forti 2:45pm
“What a beautiful baby!”

I freeze. A tipsy woman with a sand
paper voice ogles my sleeping infant.

“Such a precious
thing. So peaceful. Hi, I’m Dotty.”

Before I can react, her rapid fire continues.

“I just moved in next door and I’m so happy Carol invited me and…”

I look around, trapped. Voices of other partygoers spill from the next room.

“Silly me. I should get you a drink. Do you want a drink?”

She scurries off and I slip out the
back door, baby in arms. Soon enough Carol will find the ransom note awaiting her in the crib.

(6) Christine Seine 3:32pm
It was in the newspapers. FAMILY WITH 9 BOYS AWAITS BABY GIRL. Everybody sympathized.

Well, mostly everyone. “Get a hobby!” was common. And, “Buddy, don’t you know how to prevent that?”

To be fair, there’d been two sets of twins. And once, triplets.

Like that was his fault.

But this time, the ultrasound picked up only two legs. They’d bought every pink frilly thing in the store.

His wife screamed.


And out Baby came. He went to cut the cord. “Wait … what’s…?”

Definitely not a girl. He sighed. “Beautiful.”

Those sweet little dresses. They’d have to go back.

(7) 3:59pm
Andy’s face was turned towards the steamy window of the restaurant where distorted shapes strolled by.

She’d always said, “If you hafta’ wait, it’s because I’m making myself beautiful.”

Finally, her hand on his back, their thing, announced her arrival. He wrinkled his nose.

“What?” she said.

“You smell different.”

“I do?”

“That’s Polo Black.”


Voice gritty, he said, “There’s someone else, isn’t there.”

His eyes wandered during her silence. A reeking box was thrust into his hands, gift paper crackling.

“Happy Birthday.”

For the first time ever, his blindness embarrassed him.

“I’m sorry,” fell on her empty chair.

(8) 4:12pm
“She’ll make an excellent wife.”
He can only see her back, bent beneath the folds of a rose silk kimono. Stepping closer, he watches her hands fly with clever speed. Tiny, fancifully beautiful things emerge from the flurried movement.
How charming. How quaint.
A stack of exquisitely textured paper sheets rest at her elbow, awaiting transformation…life… from her skilled fingers.
“She is very talented. And her dowry is…shall we say…extravagant.”
He bends closer, looks into the flat flesh devoid of eyes, mouth. One hole; a nostril.
“Yes, an excellent wife. She will never argue. And such skillful hands…Imagine…”

(9) Karen McCoy 8:54pm
The heating duct sighed, its rusted fan clogged with paper. “You really need to stop chirping like that.”

“My battery needs changing,” the smoke detector retorted back.

“Boo hoo. Try awaiting a new fan for months on end. You don’t even need a battery to work properly.”

“So? I’ll chirp until I get one, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“Really.” The heating duct whirred and clanged.

“What are you doing?” The smoke detector asked. “What’s that smell?”

“The start of a beautiful fire.” And with that, the heating duct exploded.

(10) Jennifer Moorhead 10:06am
You got the backbone of a soft shell crab” my husband liked to say. Correct. “You ain’t gonna win no beauty contests neither.” Again correct.
On paper, I was strong and outspoken and awaiting the moment I would turn into a swan. In reality, I was freezing my ass off in a deer stand, shrinking from my husband’s glare.
“Kill it!”
The buck waited.
“Idiot. He’ll get away.”
The butt of the rifle dug into my bruised shoulder.
“Gimme the gun.”
My trembling finger found the trigger.
“Hey dumbass, you’re pointin that thing in the wrong di—”

And the winner is

(9) Karen McCoy 8:54pm

I chose this from a VERY competitive field because I liked the originality.  The entry surprised and delighted me.  

Thanks to all who entered the contest. This was the most competitive field we've had. I'm looking forward to seeing what you can do next week.  (which means, yes, there will be a contest next week)

Karen, if you'll send me your mailing address and an idea of what you like to read I'll send you a book.


Colin Smith said...

I couldn't agree more about both the quality of the entries and Karen's winning entry. Very original. I'm honored to be counted among the finalists. I didn't expect that.

Congrats to everyone. Looking forward to the weekend... :)

Kat Waclawik said...

Yahoo! Semifinalist! :)

I had a lot of fun reading these stories. Congratulations to all the winners, and especially to Karen. Well done!

Megan V said...

Way to go Karen! Congrats! You wrote a fantastic entry!
So did the rest of you semi-finalists.

Also...WOO HOO! I made the blog entry :D Granted, I'm currently beating my head against the wall for not making sure my entire entry pasted right...I missed the last word, which was also one of the required words. Only goes to show how important it is to proofread everything. (and how necessary caffeine is in the morning :)) Still proud though.

Christina Seine said...

What awesome entries. Congratulations Karen!
And many thanks to Janet - these contests are so much fun!

Amy Schaefer said...

Nice one, Karen! No wonder my house makes so much noise.

But I do have to give a shout-out to Jennifer Moorhead. Your entry gave me a belly laugh.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Congrats to everyone mentioned especially Karen.

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Karen! Your entry took me by surprise. And congrats to everyone mentioned by the Shark.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Karen, awesome entry.
This batch was the bomb.
Thanks Jet for the mention and to everyone, we rock.

I figured I'd try to use the vernacular of the young at work.
Karen well done.
Fine job all.
Thanks for the mention Janet, we did a great job.
I mean it.

Now, let's all go vote. How's that workin' for ya?

Kitty said...

Congrats, Karen!

(Note to self: Check the dryer hose for lint clog.)

Matthew Masucci said...

Congrats Karen!

Thanks for the semi-finalist shout-out!

I can't overstate how important these contests have been to my revision process. They teach me quite a bit about economy of language and plot control.

Looking forward to the next one.

SiSi said...

Once again I am awed by the creativity and talent of the entries. Congratulations, Karen--what a clever and unique idea!

And as always, thank you for running these contests, Janet.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Karen - that was original. Reminds me of Steve Forti's puffer fish entry. Proves POV can come from just about anything. Even inanimate objects!

Thank you, Ms Janet for holding these contests, and for the finalist mention. I love doing these. I think I'm actually addicted. They're like stress relief!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Congratulations to Karen and to all the finalists and everyone mentioned!

Jennifer Moorhead said...

Great job, Karen! I love these contests and agree with Matthew 100%. Congrats to everyone!

Thanks, Amy! :)

BrandyM. said...

Congrats! This was definitely great practice and fun! Can't wait for next week's.

french sojourn said...

Karen, way to "dial it up a notch". (thermostat jargon?) Congratulations.

Where I live it's pretty remote, so I really look forward to a chance to interact. Thanks to all the incredible entries, for sharing and allowing us all a chance to look into your creative interpretations.

Madame Shark, as always thanks for your time and effort in building this little reef community.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Karen! I'm always a fan (ba dum tsh) of non-human POVs with human personalities. Well done.

Karen McCoy said...

Holy goodness! Thank you all. (And great pun, french sojourn!). I'm so excited. It was a lot of fun to write, based on a real smoke detector that wouldn't STFU.

I'm so humbled, and blessed to be counted among such a great group of writers! You guys are amazing.

Karen McCoy said...

And great pun to Steve Forti, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what great entries! Congrats Karen and all the other finalists. This was my first time entering and I got a mention from the QOTU. Woo Hoo!!