Herewith the results
Not quite a story but intensely evocative
Marie McKay 9:03am
Special recognition for a great line:
Natalie is a high priestess of OCD.
thirty years (concurrent plus good behavior) in the making
Dena Pawling 12:48pm
This might just be the perfect Reacher homage
Reacher didn’t wear sunglasses. The sun feared him
John Davis Frain 3:25pm
This made me laugh so hard!
Dena Pawling 12:38pm
Nate Wilson 10:16pm
Not quite a story but oh so true
Kate Higgins 9:11pm
Not quite a story, but holy moly!
Scott G 11:01pm
Kae Ridwyn 12:05am
Homage to Four Weddings and a Funeral
Peggy Rothschild 12:49am
I love the juxtaposition of this:
I dared God to kill me. / God dared me to live.
Gin while we play rummy. Rum while we play gin.
These are the entries that made the long list.
Steve Forti 11:32am
Celia Reaves 12:37pm
Megan V 1:54pm
french sojourn 9:32am
“You couldn’t ask for better weather for a B.B.Q., huh Winslow?”
“It’s certainly a thrilling time when the Circus rolls through town.”
“The guy with the big hat, what was his job again?”
“He’s the Grand Master of the big top, Stanley.”
“And those girls hanging from the ropes?”
“The fellas with the make-up?”
“They’re clowns, they do funny things to make children under 16 laugh, they pitch buckets of confetti, and other hi-jinx.”
“I think my guy’s a clown.”
“Just a gut feeling.”
“Spit it out, Stanley.”
“Well, he tastes funny, I prefer Safari’s.”
The twist at the end just cracked me up. So Hank has written a story that makes us laugh about people being eaten. Honest to godiva, that's one heckuva feat. And "spit it out" and "just a gut feeling" and "my favorite" are perfect little double entendres (although of course, not risque!)
And it took me awhile to find "gin"!
Steven D. 10:08am
Ginger’s Sweet 16 party concludes. Nostalgia blooms.
I’ve watched her blossom, from an awkward tomboy pitching apples in the backyard, to a fellow shut-in logging uncountable hours on Grand Theft Auto, to the delicate flower facing her mirror now.
The benefits of semi-confinement.
Her beauty clearly descends from her exquisite mother.
I’d hoped we’d be a formal family by now. Yet, rejected advances after a few non-thrilling dates, three … no, four-years ago, have forced me into this non-traditional husband/father role.
The mirror betrayed my untimely glimpse.
My family seems irrationally horrified as the officer extracts me from our attic.
Holy murgatroyd! Does this just creep the hell out of you? Yea, me too. What I most appreciate about this is the subtlety. It's not till that last line that we fully understand what's going on, and it's all right there in that one phrase "irrationally horrified." And then just to put the cherry on top of the cake "My family." Steven D made this look easy. It's not.
“Happy Birthday, Grandma!”
And so it begins. Her eyes go round and she claps her bony hands, thrilled to be the center of attention. “You remembered!”
She swallows her meal without complaint, eager to blow out the candle on the pink-frosted cherry cupcake. She tells the story of her surprise Sweet 16, when she was so startled she spit chocolate milk all over her boyfriend’s shirt. We laugh on cue.
As he pushes the wheelchair away, the aid gives me a thumbs-up. It’s working. Five pounds so far. Doc’s pleased.
I think tomorrow, I’ll make it a red velvet cupcake.
Everything here rests on what's not said. And ya'll know I'm just a sucker for that. When you get to the end you realize that "we laugh on cue" was a clue, but this is so deftly written you didn't know till later.
We split up, like always.This is lovely writing. Very short, but very powerful. Did you ever think you'd have sympathy
I like the food court, she likes Macy’s.
We both like crowds.
She tries on one outfit at a time.
Back and forth to the dressing room.
Bumps a ginger-haired woman with her cane.
Armloads of clothes fall, purse spills.
I sit near a Mom with a kid pitching a fit.
Eat my fries.
Watch the Mom juggle the tray, push the stroller.
Brush against her at the trashcan.
16 bucks short.
Sends me out again.
Not thrilled, but we gotta make rent.
I fix my ponytail.
for a kid stealing from a mom at the mall? Yea, me either but "we gotta make the rent" gives
you that one piece of info to change your mind.
Ah yes, my Oscar. My grand debut. An acting virgin, I arrived on set 16 minutes early, thrilled to see my name on the door.
My co-star was swoon-worthy, years my senior but playing a teenager. Industry standard.
Our love scene was a disaster. He was too handsome and I was too nervous. Later, when he suggested we practice, I pitched myself into his arms and lost another virginity.
His love faded after we nailed the scene. He was a better actor than I’d realized.
Oscar would be a cute baby name, for someone who didn’t choose career over motherhood.
I love the double use of Oscar. I like the subtlety. Nothing overt but the whole story revealed in "he was a better actor than I'd realized."
Jennifer Delozier 8:38pm
"Betcha you can't." He sat next to me at the writing conference, blinged-out in pens and bookmarks splashed with the name of his soon-to-be bestseller.
"Betcha I can."
"If you can use all 5 in 1 coherent, grammatically correct sentence, I'll buy you a drink - 2 if you do it in less than 25 words."
I accept his challenge. "Begin the Beguine was a grand, musical experiment which pitched convention aside by utilizing 16 measure phrases to thrilling effect."
I love the smell of whiskey in the morning.
For starters, this entry is homage to the inspiration for the contest: ThrillerFest and particularly the pitch practice I helped with. And then the true mastery of syntax displayed by NOT using pitch in musical terms even though the sentence is about music. That's just throwing in a triple axel for the fun of soaring over the ice. And that final sentence: I love the smell of whiskey in the morning, just perfect.
This is funny. It's a story. It uses words deftly. It made me laugh. And it displayed mastery of craft.
And just in case you've never heard Begin the Beguine, here ya go:
of course I can't choose a winner.
I've read all of these finalists multiple times.
I have my choices narrowed down to two but I thought I'd let y'all weigh in on this before trying to pick just one.
And of course, some coffee might help, so I'm going to put on a pot now and see if it helps focus my thinking.
Two cups of coffee and three more reads later I think we have a winner.
There was so much to admire about each entry but in the end, I chose the one (of the last two I was dithering about) which did not depend on any specialized or inside info. Steven D's entry is universal, and today that was what I based it on. Next contest might be different so don't go carving that in stone!
Congrats to Steven D! (Send my your mailing address and what you like to read and I'll get a book in the mail to you)
Thanks to all who took the time to write entries and enter the contest. It's always a treat to read them.