Monday, July 20, 2015

Go Set A Watchman Writing Contest results

There was a slight delay in posting the results today because I was caught up doing queries for the MidWest Writers conference that starts this Thursday.

I dragged my sorry self in from lunch (90degrees in NYC today---yuckola!) and soon found a treasure trove of entries. You've outdone yourselves this time!

Herewith the results

Special recognition for meta entries:
french sojourn 6:46am

(channelling Miss Alice) 7:49am

Special recogniton for a lovely twist of an ending! I do love twists.
Lee Kelsall 7:32am

Special recognition for entries that weren't quite stories, but were delightful and layered nonetheless, and great fun to read:
Steve Forti 7:40am

S.D. King8:05aam (and a great twisty ending!)

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli (with a new word for me too!!) 9:42am

Steph 10:14am (I love love love this)

Arya al'Thor 11:55am

Special recogniton for a sequel to a previous entry!
Curt David 8:01am

Here's who's who (I think)

1: watchword

2: totalisor

3: chiromancy

4: flamming

Special recogniton for a great turn of phrase:
“That girl’s skinny as paper,” Michael J. Craft 8:22am

Special recogntion for entries that weren't quite stories, but the last line just awed me.

Michael Seese 12:29pm

Kitty 12:48pm

Special recogniton for an entry that will make the start of a very interesting novel

AC 8:02pm

Special recogniton
Dena Pawling 6:35pm based on a true story


Here are the entries that caught my eye, and became semi-finalists:
Jennifer Delozier 8:52am

“Watch out for that one,” Vito said, pointing to the woman dancing in a flimsy, fringed bikini, a flamboyant cowboy hat perched on her bleached blonde head. He bounced in his seat like a hyperactive toddler. A neon sign flashed above the stage: “Club Lead.”
“Way ahead of ya.” Vito’s companion pulled up his shirt to reveal a total of three bullet holes scarring his midsection. He nodded to the dancer, who pulled the gun strapped to her shapely thigh and aimed it at Vito.
“Wait! What the…”
“What? You wanted to be part of the club, didn’t ya?”

Cynthia Mc 9:37am
"Hold my beer. Watch this."
Before I could say "Hell no" my flamboyant twin brother tossed me his Bud and climbed the flimsy rigging.
"You're a Supreme Court justice. Show some decorum."
He mooned me.
364 days a year Hal and I are total professionals. On our birthday we sail my boat to the Caribbean and relax.
This year we weren't alone. Snickering carries over water.
I closed my book, grabbed my 30-30, shot the camera out of Mr. Paparazzi's hand into
"Shark-infested waters!" we yelled.
The man dove anyway.
Crimson tide.
"Thanks, Sis," said Hal.
"Thank the shark."

Beth 10:41am

Marcus glowered at the spectators.

“This is sick. Watching a man flying a Little Red Wagon over a flaming pit? They want to watch me die.”

“No,” Jens responded. “They want to watch you survive.”

The flames roared, groping for their victim. Marcus shuddered.

“It’s not too late to get some hotdogs, turn this into a cookout.”

“You’re a total wuss! Just think; one ride, and you’ll be famous!”

Marcus tested the wheels.

“I think it’s broken.”

“Let me see.”

Jens climbed into the wagon.

“I don’t see anything…”

“See ya, buddy,” Marcus said, giving the flimsy cart a shove.

Elena 11:05am
Sarah clutched the flask. Watcher’s Whiskey, cheap rotgut her flimflamming husband favored. Ten ounces total, and the sympathetic chemist had doctored it just right. Nothing detectable.

“…Like to go home,” a woman opposite mumbled at the subway floor.

“Come on,” the woman’s companion, aggressively petulant, draped further over her rigid shoulders. Sarah narrowed her eyes as he clapped a palm upon her knee, forced it back toward him. “You owe me.”

The woman closed her mouth.

Sarah supposed she wouldn’t need all ten.

“Mister,” she said congenially, extending the flask. “You look like a man who could use a drink.”

christinadalcher 11:22am


I can't see the car from here, only sunset-colored flames. Flimsy piece of crap is totaled, but I'll be okay. I don't even feel anything. No pain in my legs, none in the back of my head. I'm sure I'm fine.

Damn iPhone's stuck in repeat mode. Must've tapped the screen when I hit the ground. Total nose dive, which is funny, since that's the new Saskwatch album playing. Track Six, "Call Your Mane." No, wait, it's "Mall Your Cane." Maybe "Call Your Name?" That's it. Call … Your … Mall …

My head's fine. I'm sure of it.

this entry would be stronger without the title. More subtle. It's very good, but if we aren't told what's going on (which the title does) we have to figure it out for ourselves. That's much more satisfying in a story. Have confidence your readers will get it!

Jeffrey Schaefer 12:20pm

Byron watched from his beloved perch, waiting for the man below to finish.

“How much longer you reckon he will take?”

Byron cocked his head leftward.

Sylvia stared back at him with beady eyes, totally black.

He scoffed. “Must you come every day?”

“Times are good,” she replied. “Morality is at an all-time low.”

“Clearly.” Byron noted the flim and flam growing beneath her feathers. He officially considered her large. Even though the men used the square more frequently, he still liked to show restraint.

“He’s ready.”

Byron acted first. He cawed and then swooped down towards the gallows.

I love entries like this where I have to re-read to suss out what's going on. This is deliciously subtle, particularly "waiting for the man below to finish" which you think might be a picnic tilll you read the final sentence.

Timothy Lowe 3:29pm

Darkness so total it hums.

He taps an old man’s cane along withered scraps of streets, feeling the watchers, their unblind eyes heavy but unseeing.

“C’n I help ya mister?”

A young boy. Polite. Freshly scrubbed. He can smell the soap on his skin.

“Can’t see, can ya mister?”

Another, a girl. She’s a towhead. He hears it in her voice.

“Dear,” he begins. Pauses. Decides. “No, but thanks to you and your brother here.”

He hears her frown.

“How’d you know he’s my brother, mister?”

He taps his empty sockets. She’s another he’s flimflammed.

“I’ve been watching you both.”

Great first line!

CarolynnWith2Ns 4:31pm
She was flim flamed from advancement by the promise of a man whose total focus was commitment to his own success. He the supervisor, she the subservient dedicated to coat tails and riding them.
She knew the man was a watcher, a studier, a man totally pledged to self, with a focus so narrow, he would not notice a flim flam flipped his way. She promised total dedication to his accomplishments until she reneged with a Beretta, a silencer and an alibi of vacation.
Sitting at the man’s desk now, she watches and flim flams the next in line.

Pharosian 5:00pm
You used to protect me. I looked up to you because you're my big brother.

But when I started to think for myself, you grew angry. And when I learned to destroy your specious arguments with logic, you struck me.

Then I met David, who delighted in my totality. We would talk into the night, and laugh, and love.

Your flimsy ego, bolstered only by an inflammatory religion, couldn't stand the idea of my independence. Your jealousy poisoned your brotherly love for me. Your so-called honor demanded putting me in my place.

And now you watch me burn.

Yikes! This grabs a reader and won't let go!

Steven 6:20pm
I should be elated, right?

Under my watchful guidance, Bill changed radically, presumably for the better. He transformed from dipsomaniac to teetotaler in record time. He replaced womanizing and nightclubs with couch-surfing, and foodie blogs. Once a trading floor workhorse, he’s now devoted to me … endlessly … and his meager take-home corroborates his renewed commitment.

I douse him with my favorite fragrance and we head to Havisham’s; he adores their cherries jubilee.

A strange coincidence occurred as the flambé was served. My flimsy heel snapped, my foot collided with the waiter’s, and the sloshed cherries ignited Bill’s cologne.


John Frain 6:24pm
Night watchman darkens the store one last time. Lock clicks. I peek from my hiding spot. Toy soldier, teetotaler it turns out, toots his trumpet. Party!

There are flimsier reasons to celebrate. Black Friday comes to mind.

Barbie tickles the Big piano. I gnaw a fire-sale price tag off my neck – even this stuffed lion has some pride – and share a drink with an American Girl. Hey man, ya never know, right? Then G.I. Joe saunters over and kills the mood.

This, too, will flame out. But not till we cross Fifth Avenue and rock the Plaza one final night.

SiSi 8:41pm
I leaned over the flimsy railing and checked my watch. Thirty minutes since lunch.

My new husband emerged from the ocean, his normally flamboyant gray hair plastered to his skull. “I love you,” he mouthed.

Yeah, I love you too. Forty minutes.

A handsome man offered me a drink. No way. I pointed to my wedding ring, pleased to prove my total faithfulness. Forty-five minutes.

My husband stiffened in his beach chair as if planning to stand. I looked concerned. Fifty minutes.

His body relaxed. His head lolled to the right.

Fifty-five minutes. My late husband was early for everything.

Terri Lynn Coop 12:04am
The need blazed in his steel blue eyes as my flimsy negligee surrendered to his impatient hands.

“Mommy! Watch me!”

The scene retreated into the glaring light ricocheting off poolside concrete that was as harsh and unyielding as the totality of my loveless marriage.

“Yes, Honey, I’m watching.”

Clutching the romance novel that spurred my dream, I closed my eyes, longing to experience what came next.

Blond hair. Shimmering bronze skin.


“I’m watching.” The indulgent reflex was heavy in my voice.

Rippling muscles.


“What is it?”

The empty flamingo raft, swinging gate, and man-size wet footprints answered me.

And here are the entries that were better than good--the two finalists:

(1) MeganV 11:13am

Definitions are vicious things.
def·i·ni·tion /defəˈniSH(ə)n/ noun a statement that explains a word’s meaning.
Example: The MAN didn’t know the definition of inFLAMmable.
mean·ing ˈmēniNG/ noun intend to express
Example: He didn’t understand the word’s meaning when he struck the match.
in·tend /inˈtend/ verb to plan.
Example: He didn’t intend to hurt them (a FLIMsy excuse).
in·flam·ma·ble inˈflaməb(ə)l/ adjective easily set on fire
Example: But the house was inflammable.
fire /ˈfī(ə)r/ noun destructive burning.
Example: And fire killed my family while I WATCHed; TOTAL survivors: one.
Definitions can’t tell me why.

I love the innovation and imagination at work here. It's a story, but it's also a list of definitons. That's pretty damn amazing.

(2) Kat Waclawik 5:47pm

“Feel,” she demands, so you lie awake tracing tiny feet as she dances flamencos inside your distended belly.

Watch,” she demands, so you roll out of bed in total darkness to see what Santa brought her.

“Listen,” she demands, so you wrap the robe tighter around your shoulders as she lays out her flimsy, post-curfew excuse.

“Smell?” she asks, so you rub sleep from your eyes before concurring her daughter needs a fresh diaper.

“Eat,” she pleads, so you lift your head enough to sip a spoonful of your—now her—famous chicken soup.

“Rest,” she concedes.

So you sleep.

This is utterly sublime. So elegant you want to read it while wearing pearls and a little black dress by Chanel. That perfectly turned phrase "your--now her--famous chicken soup" is the world you can see in a grain of sand.

This just knocked my sox off.

One entry is perfection, the other pushes the boundaries of imagination and story telling. Both are terrific. How to choose?

Hell with choosing. I pick both.  It's good to be me.

Kat Waclawik and MeganV if you'll both email me your preferred mailing address I'll send you either a copy of Go Set a Watchman or if you'd prefer another book, let me know what you like to read.

Congratulations to all the finalists for making this one of the best contests ever, and thanks to all who entered.  It was a lot of fun to read your entries.


Colin Smith said...

Ooo... it's been a while since we've had Semi-Finalists!

Congrats to the mentions, the finalists (semi- and otherwise), and the winners, of course! Great job.

BTW, I knew she'd like Megan's. Very clever. ;)

Colin Smith said...

Weee!! First comment!!! :D

Frame this moment. It won't happen often. :)

Kitty said...

Congrats to both Megan & Kat!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Holy crap you guys, so many awesome entries.

Congrats to the winners! Somehow I missed MeganV's in my initial readings of the stories.

CynthiaMc said...

Congratulations Megan and Kat!

I love these contests. They are a hoot.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Megan and Kat, well done!

Another round of awesome writings. Good job everyone.

Sam Hawke said...

Wow, great entries! Well done everyone!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to all the mentions, the finalists, and the winners!

(And congrats to Colin for first comment.)

Marc P said...

Very good indeed! :)

Karen McCoy said...

Well done, MeganV and Kat! Such unique stories, both.

Unknown said...

Congratulations to the winners! Once again a showcase of some terrific writing.

Cindy C said...

Great job, Kat and MeganV. You both evoked such emotion in so few words!

Janice Grinyer said...

Megan V.'s "Definitions" really knocked my boots off too! Congrats to the winners and semi finalist and everyone!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Superb on the winners! Just superb.

Another great contest pushing the boundaries of the 100-word flasher.

To the winners, I bow in awe.
To my fellow semis, I lift my tea mug.
To all the shout-outs, a *knucklebump*
And to everyone, thank you for all the good reading. On the face, the prompts look so simple. In their depths, so complex.


Unknown said...

MeganV - your entry made my jaw drop. Beth - the first time I read yours I laughed out loud and again just now. Congratulations everyone!

Gingermollymarilyn said...

Congratulations, ladies! Meghan - so clever and creative. Kat - a beautiful poetic masterpiece!

Anonymous said...

Ohhh, congratulations to everyone. Special grats to Kat and Megan. Great choices.

Unknown said...

Congratulations Kat and Megan, wonderful writing!

Donnaeve said...

Congrats to all mentions, semi's and the wins! Haven't had time to read, but will!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

WOW ! Fantastic winners.

Hey, I was a semi, I've never been a semi before.
This time I thought it would be fun to use the words multiple times. 3 each for 4 and one twice.

But woe is me, one of my Ns got lost.

Congrats to all. This was a blast.

Hey Janet, good luck among the nice Midwesterners. They are all just so friendly. Being from back east it's unnerving, the niceness I mean.

Dena Pawling said...

I got a mention! Yay!

Congrats to everyone. Great stories.

Jillian said...

So many wonderful entries. I adore Kat Waclawik's. It stirs up a lot of emotion.

Amy Schaefer said...

Congratulations, everyone! I love reading the contest results. I find it oddly satisfying that everyone does something so different with the same 5/100 words. It gives me confidence that there will always be new stories to read, out there in the big wide world.

Beth H. said...

Congratulations to the winners and fellow semi-finalists! I always love reading through all of these, even more than I enjoy writing my entry!

Janet Reid said...

CarolyNN, I'm sorry, a robot posted that so spelled your name wrong. I guess Capcha wasn't keeping watch.

I however, the NON(2ns!)Robot have fixed it.

Also, sorry.

Also, nice scares me. (really)

John Frain said...


No shame in stepping aside for such a powerful winning entry.

I bow in your general direction.

Megan V said...

Congrats everyone! Well done. I really love reading everyone's work. Kat—your entry was breathtaking. I read it several times and each time it pulled at the heart-strings.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Megan and Kat! Really to everyone. I'm always amazed by these.

Kat Waclawik said...

meep! Thank you! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

Well done, everyone! MeganV, your entry was perfect: unexpected, familiar yet unfamiliar, and ultimately very powerful. Congratulations!

I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged lately. My current novel is barely crawling, the novel I’m editing is even worse than I realized while drafting, and the novel I’m querying just received yet another round of form rejections. I was nearly too paralyzed by self-doubt to enter the contest.

I wanted to let you all know how much I appreciate you. Writing can be cruel: so often it’s basically a well-guarded introvert trying to communicate with the world. Though I rarely comment, I love being a part of this community. You all enliven my breakfast every morning. Thanks for being a safe place where I can tell my fears and insecurities to shove it, because I’ve got stories to tell. Woodland creatures rock!

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Kat, your entry is sublime. Janet has the way with words, what other word would do? I hope winning one of her contests gives you a kick of adrenaline.

Megan, I read yours on Sunday morning. It blew me away.

Congrats to all the mentioned and semifinalists.

french sojourn said...

Another great contest, with inspiring writing everyone.

Way to go Kat and Megan. Sublime indeed.

It always floors me the work the QOTKU puts in. We are indeed a fortunate family, to have such a great Matriarch. (Enjoy the deserve it!)

Cheers Hank.

Anonymous said...

Strike a light, brilliant entries!! Congrats to Megan V and Kat: you guys do wonderful work :)
Kat, I loved the series of demands and words. Lovely!
Megan- Those definitions were SO CLEVER. The type of thing I always wish I could think of but don't have the brains for :D

Also, Pharosian, I loved yours, too!

Kate Larkindale said...

What great stories! Congrats to the winners!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

So many great entries. Congrats Kat and Megan. Such grab-your-heart stories. And Kat, you have what it takes. I hope today is a better day for you in terms of confidence in your writing.

LynnRodz said...

Congratulations to everyone mentioned, not mentioned and everyone who entered for the first time. Great job everyone. And, of course, to the winners. Kat, I absolutely loved your story.

Elena said...

Congratulations to everyone and especially Kat and Megan V! Loved your stories!

@Kat, I feel you and am glad the contest served as a reaffirmation of your awesomeness. =)

Anonymous said...

Wow - fantastic winning entries by Kat and Megan! Really nice work.

And congrats to all the mentions and semi-finalists!

Curt David said...

Congrats to the winners! Janet- thank you for the blog, these contests, and for taking my challenge in my contest entry! The police in the story below thought the answers were 1. Totalisor (the computer), 2. Flamming (the guy who takes the money and runs away), 3. Chiromancy (fortune teller) and 4. Watchword (a rallying word). However, I now believe the police were wrong, as QOTKU is always right.

The police were listening to a tape of Mr. Chiromancy, Mr. Watchword, Mr. Flamming, and Mr. Totalisator.

“American Pharoah or Flimsy,” said one.
“Should I bet?” said two.
“Give me your palms,” said three.
“PHAROAH!” yelled four.
“Put in dollars now,” said one.
“Can I borrow a grand?” asked two.
“Yes. I foresee you prospering,” said three.
“Yes. PHAROAH!” yelled four.
“Are you still there?” asked one.
“Later suckers,” said two.
(Fading footsteps)
“Technically I was right” sighed three.
“Pharoah” whimpered four.
“System restarting,” said one.

The police figured out who said what. Can you?