Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How the hell did Janet get pried out of NY writing contest results-AND A WINNER

I am back home in my beloved NYC, having met cows, writers, and Canadians. It was quite the adventure!

You guyz were up to your usual shenanigans with the contests. Entirely too many very good entries. I'm still cogitating about the final winner. There are some finalists to choose from. Let me know what you think.

Herewith the results:

Homage to one of my favorites, the story of Anastasia, the one who lived!
Erin Scruggs 11:56am

Homage to DB Cooper one of the great mysteries of the 20th century!
RosannaM 12:17pm

Homage to one of the all time best SNL skits!
Melanie Sue Bowles 8:56am

Not quite a story but sufficiently creepy and so well written it really doesn't matter
Timothy Lowe 11:57am
Just Jan 12:48pm

Not quite a story but exquisite writing
Amy Schaefer 12:17pm

Not quite a story but just wonderful!
Katie Loves Coffee 9:22pm

A bit of writerly revenge!
Sherry Howard 12:04pm

A little election commentary for us
Dena Pawling 12:09pm

Patricia Cox 5:11pm wins the Punniest Story of the Contest with her entry. Her prize is duct tape on her keyboard for a week! 


Leilani 1:41pm
LizellaPrescott 1:46pm
Johnell DeWitt 4:05pm
Jennifer Dlozier 5:32pm

Steve Forti 12:10pm
Left at the intersection.

Right into traffic.

Left patience at home, rear-ended a pinstriped Miata.

Right place, right road to meet its driver.

Left her number with the insurance information.

Right words chosen to earn a first date.

Left our inhibitions behind.

Right to the jeweler, but need a loan. 15% APR. Yikes. Still worth it.

Left at the altar.

Right in the middle of the ceremony.

Left beleaguered by broken dreams.

Right to the bottom of a bottle.

Left my will to live behind.

Right where she stomped it out.

Left with one option – cowardice.

Right into traffic.

Our beloved Steve Forti, experimenting with form again. I love the symmetry here, and the rhythm. Notice the brilliant use of sentence fragments. Right in the middle of the ceremony. Right where she stomped it out.

Of course this is brilliant, Steve Forti wrote it.

french sojourn 12:54pm
I watched her from the shadows in a bush league, roadhouse bar. She was searching for redemption the same way she viewed the world, from the bottom of a shot glass.

I knew her, a cowed and broken woman. Her faith had rewarded her with a stillborn, a daughter that lived for five minutes, and a son missing in some foreign sandbox.

I tripped getting up and used my cane to balance myself. I wasn’t as spry as I used to be. I hobbled over.

“Excuse me,” I said to her.

She turned and froze.

“Don’t be so sad, Ma.”

Ohhhh! This just grabbed my heart. I love that the clues are there but it's not till the end that we realize what we read.  Those two opening lines are an exquisite establishing shot.

Beth 1:13pm
“What’d you and him do for fun here, anyway? Trip cows?”

“It’s tip cows, and no. Watch the road. It should be right along here.”

“There?” He pointed at a sagging mailbox, much beleaguered by woodbine and baseball bats.

“That’s it.” The lane petered out after a mile. “Now we walk.”

Three arguments, two hours of digging, and one hornet’s nest later, they were prying the lid from a metal box.

“How much?”

“He didn’t say.”

The box popped open.

“Stamps? Dude. He punked you good.”

“But he said --”

“They’re not even real. Look, the airplane’s upside down.”
I love this! Of course you have to know your philately!

Claire Boborw 2:05pm
Ben: I hate it when we have to bury one.

Jerry: City dweller got in over her head.

Ben: Found her with a spoon clutched in her hand. Couldn't even pry it loose.

Jerry: Yeah, she was out of her league.

Ben: Guess it was the fudge cows that got her.

Jerry: Or maybe the coffee liqueur.

Ben: Total shame. Not like the road's paved with ways to use chocolate cookie crumb swirls.

Jerry: Pretty trippy name, too.

Ben: Vermonty Python? Yeah, the Flavor Graveyard's full of 'em.

Jerry: Shoulda given that city dweller Pfish Food, like she asked for.

This is deliciously subtle and really funny. Of course you have to know your Ben and Jerry flavors...but who wouldn't know that! And Vermonty Python??  Yea baby!

Sara Halle 3:08pm
The maple monopoly had been stripped of power, thanks to my Quebec syrup heist. Ben, Jerry, and cow colleagues had vowed to support me. Away from prying eyes, I congratulated myself.
Then an unexpected visitor arrived.
"It's been a long time," I stammered.
"I get better with age." He smiled. "Unlike you."
Anger flashed, but as always I kept my cool. "You want something?"
"You're gonna hit the road. I'm the big cheese here."
I laughed. "Not anymore — I rule Vermont now."
"That's why I brought outside help." Cheddar nodded toward the door. "Ice cream — meet my cousin from Wisconsin."
I'm not sure I quite get this but it's a fun idea and has some hilarious word play. 

Brigid 7:12pm
Lucinda was the kind of fairy who wore 10,000 league boots to squaredance. Lovely lady (spry dancer), but only the desperate asked for her help.

"Typically one quests to earn wishes," Lucinda said peevishly. "Rescuing my cow, or waving a broadsword heroically."

"But that's for 3 wishes. I only need one. Please."

Lucinda sighed. "Choose wisely, speak carefully."

"I would like a basket that fills itself with any food I request."

"That's IT?" A basket appeared with a pop. "What are you? Queen of a starving country? A failing chef?"

She spoke around her chicken. "Oh no, pregnant with triplets."

This cracked me up. I love the description of Lucinda. And the idea of the ever-filled food basket
is perfect. This is fun and clever.

lizosisek 11:27pm
We count cows as we drive south, because it’s easier than counting our mistakes. We’ve played the blame game enough to be league MVPs. Why go down that road again?

We pass a billboard for a triple X store. Maybe…

No. Sex won’t fix five years of distance, regret and crippling grief our only glue. No matter how kinky it is, or how spry we are.

We pull into the cemetery. Visit separately with our children. We know the routine, though we haven’t signed the papers.

This is how our marriage ends – with separate mourning for everything we made together.

That opening line just drags you into that story with the force of a punch to the gut. That little bit of hope (Maybe...), self-squashed, is just heartbreaking. Do you see the homage to T.S. Eliot   at the end? This is exquisite writing.

tell me later 3:41pm
I'd never met Donald in person, but there was no avoiding him on Twitter. He called us every name in the book: broads, cows, and a few more that would never make it into a kids' movie.

I could forgive what he said about me. What he said about my colleagues had to be punished.

So I called in a favor.

"Just cause him some trouble. Trip him on the sidewalk. Mess up his bedsheets. Pry his window open and wail whenever he so much as blinks."

"Got it," my invisible friend says.

"Thank you."

That will take the troll down, I'm positive.

After all, who's he gonna call? Not us.

I love this! It's hilarious and subtle. It requires the reader know about the new all-female Ghostbusters movie and the hilariously misogynistic response some gents have had to it ("it ruined my childhood," wailed one fella from his mom's basement Commodore 64)

Donnaeve 7:52pm

Away from Mama, she starts.

“Get away from me, you little prick.”

I think about tripping her while my fingers worry a cowlick. Hers are busy texting.

When a stranger’s car sidles up, I dare to speak, “That ain’t the school bus.”

She yanks my arm. “Shut up, moron. One word, you’ll regret it.”

She climbs in, and the car speeds down the road.

I consider her words, the outcome.

Mama’s worried.

Not me. I eat like a horse, sleep even better.

Bonus. Despite the police, those prying questions, my Little League game improves.

Not one word.

Definitely no regrets.

So, just so you know, I've met Donna in person, and she is a very nice, well-mannered southern lady of great decorum. Of course, you read her stories and you might not believe me, but it's true.  This raises subtle to a whole new level. Do you get it?

You've stymied me again.
I know you love doing this.
I sense a vast conspiracy amongst y'all!

Let me know who you think should take home the cow.
Of course the prize is a cow.
You didn't think I'd come home from Vermont without a cow did you?

I read these all over again several more times.
Honestly, any of these could be the winner this week, they're all really good.

In the end I went with the one that didn't require any outside knowledge, only a close reading of the text.

This week's winner, and proud owner of a new cow is Donnaeve.

Donna, I have your address, and FedEx is on the way.  Mabel likes grass so I hope you haven't mowed the lawn recently.

Congratulations to all the finalists, and a big thank you to all who took the time to enter. It was a real pleasure to read your work!


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wow! No idea. These are all breath taking. Sorry, your Majesty, but you are on your own here. I would not be able to pick. The finalists are all deliciously wonderful. All of them,

Colin Smith said...

For me, it's between Steve Forti and Donna. I agree with you about the rhythm, sentence fragments, and creative use of left and right in Steve's story, QOTKU. As for Donna... she might just clinch it for subtlety and elegance even with such a gritty theme. And she has been a finalist so many times, it's about time she won (again). And she's about to be a nytba, so what better way to promote her UPCOMING DEBUT than a prize for this exquisite show of literary skill?

They're all good, though. Congrats mentions and finalists all. :)

Kitty said...

I vote for Beth.

Stephen G Parks said...

I'd vote for lizosisek. There's a lot of emotion and backstory in so few words.

Steve Forti said...

Wow, that feedback just made my morning! Blushing here.
I'll abstain from the voting this time, but give kudos to Michael Seese for penning my favorite non-finalist this week.

And what better prize than a cow? They magically turn into steak and ice cream! What more could you want?

Celia Reaves said...

As usual, the choice is tough with so many outstanding entries! Steve Forti's is a masterwork of form and rhythm, and I loved the sly wit of Beth's heist story, but it's French Sojurn who stole my heart and shattered it.

DLM said...

For me, lizosisek. I've taken that drive. Captured perfectly here.

(The happy ending, of sorts: he is one of my best, lifelong friends now.)

Cindy C said...

I love all the finalists! Such wonderful writing from all of them.

If I had to pick, and I'm glad I don't, the best I can do is narrow it down to three-- donnaeve, french sojourn, and tell me later.

Donnaeve said...

Never fails. I still get that little badump! of the heart when I find myself grouped in with such talented writers. And then I get another little badump! when I read QOTKU's take.

I'm excluding mine when I say it's doggone hard b/c each have their own special pizazz. I read one and go, ooooh, that one. Then I read the next, and I'm thinking, ah, maybe this. Then I read the next...and with that, glad I'm not you. Good to go to the "reiders" and let them decide.

I'm going for my run before it gets to heat stroke level outside. Heat indices today are between 105 and 108. I worry about my husband - who will be out in it.

(Thank you, Colin!)

Donnaeve said...

and Sisi! :)

LizellaPrescott said...

Wow, so many wonderful entries, and they're all so wonderfully different! I'm going to say Beth because the "trip cows" line cracked me up, as did the upside down plane at the end.

RachelErin said...

I loved how different they all were this week - so many funny ones!

I did not get Donna's, and my favorite was tell me later - the twist made me laugh. Steve Forti's was brilliant, but so depressing. I need to look at pictures of puppies, now. Or the one of the cat in a laundry basket snuggling with dozens of baby chicks.

One comment about lizosisek's, because it touches on several past discussions about setting and context....if this is supposed to be in VT, there are no billboards. VT banned billboards in the late sixties.

I noticed immediately (and sadly, it pulled me out of the story b/c I was confused), but I'm curious if anyone else noticed it? Not many people know VT well, so is it a case of the story being more important, b/c so few readers will know or care?

It's also interesting to me how the context of the story - a writing contest inspired by a trip to VT - defined the setting for me. The only textual clue is cows, and so many of the other finalists had VT references. If I had read the story somewhere else, I wouldn't have mentally placed it in VT (because of the billboards). Are there any context clues an author can control? (I think not many...)

Was the story intended to be in VT? Anyone else assume that? Any other thoughts on setting and context?

Megan V said...

Claire has my vote! It's such a fun story and it's definitely not half-baked. :)

DLM said...

RachelErin, I didn't assume anything at all was set in VT. I didn't understand that to be one of the rules for this week ...

Unknown said...

Long time reader, first time commenter--I'm from Vermont and I'm loving the theme! Sara Halle's is probably referencing the Cabot Cheese company--chedder, maple, and ice cream are the three big specialty foods in VT. Also a few years ago there *was* a heist involving the Quebec-ian maple reserves.

Colin Smith said...

Rachel: I didn't read lizosisek's story as set in VT, and if lizo intended us to think VT, I missed that. Was it driving south and seeing cows that made you think VT? We have cows in NC (there's a field of them just down the road from us), and you can still drive south from them. Maybe lizo was thinking VT, but you can easily set it anywhere that has cows and a road heading south. This gets lizo off the hook nicely because instead of faulting lizo's story for having billboards in VT, you can just set her story in NH, or NC, or Carkoon!

Janet has said she likes stories where the reader brings information to the story that sheds a whole new light on it. The best stories of this kind work even without reader insight. In other words, one person reads the story and appreciate it as it is, but another person sees the verbal clues and understands it in a completely different way because of some knowledge or experience shared with the writer. That's the art of good storytelling of this kind. Can you enjoy GULLIVER'S TRAVELS without understanding the political and sociological messaging, or NARNIA without the Christian allegory? I'd say yes to both. That's what makes them universal and timeless.

Is that what you were asking about setting and context, Rachel? If not, oh well. Thanks for giving me an excuse to ramble. I'm sure everyone needed a nap... :)

RKeelan said...

Steve Forti's entry jumped out at me while I was reading them over the weekend. It'd get my vote, even though the last line echoes the second instead of the first, which drives some obsessive part of me absolutely crazy.

Among non finalists, I really liked Scott G's entry.

Steve Forti said...

@Colin: As someone whose daughter decided 3am was a good time to wake me up last night, yes, I needed a nap. Thanks for the help :)

Nate Wilson said...

Steve's gets my vote this week, but as always there's fierce competition. You can't go wrong with any of them.

Donnaeve said...

Welcome Holly! Don't let that be your last!

Colin Smith said...

Hey there, Holly!! Welcome to the comments. :) I'm sure I don't need to tell you about all the resources available. If you've been reading for a long time, you know how things go around here. Thanks for your Vermontian insight. As Donna (stbnytba) said, I hope this isn't your last time commenting. :)

Sherry Howard said...

First, congrats to all the great entries! A lot of writing classes I've participated in have used constraints as a way to trigger the best writing. So I love it when someone (Steve Forti) uses the restraints Janet gave us (five words, 100 words) and adds more (left, right, and fragments). And Steve made it look effortless and natural.

That said, I'm forever amazed at the variety a contest triggers. We have an amazingly talented group of writers submitting flash here!

I can't pick one as "the best" but I did notice something that I wonder about. Steve's was listed first, and it stayed in my memory while I read all the others. So, in some way my brain picked his because nothing else bumped it out of the way. I wonder IRL how much that type of thing has an impact on an agent's choices, or if they learn to compartmentalize better than I did.

DLM said...

Nate, just hit your blog and am LOVING the aquarium story. Mike the Reluctant Savior. Baaaahahahahahaha!

french sojourn said...

What a selection, I read them a few times and admired the penwork. However lizosisek's kept haunting me. I imagined it in a gritty sepia like tone, and the imagery to me was sublime.

The others were real special in their own ways. I am so glad you're choosing.

Cheers Hank.

Timothy Lowe said...

Hats off to Steve Forti - I read his and knew it would be a finalist. Thanks for the contest, Janet, and the mention. Always a fun time!

Morgan Hazelwood said...

So fun to see all the different takes!

lizosisek's is lingering with me. So sad and poignant.

Bridgid and tell me later both were fun!

julieweathers said...

What a wonderful collection of stories. I didn't get Donna's story, but nothing new there. I often don't get the stories.

I love the cow tripping line and the Vermonty Python.

God, I wish someone would sic ghosts on the Don. He needs the sh!t scared out of him.

I'd vote for lizosisek, purely on sentimental terms. It hit home. For all his faults, two of the things that I greatly admired about my ex were a keen sense of humor and a great intellect. Well that and the bullrider butt. I'm an admirer of Wrangler patches.

For years we could talk about anything and everything. I'd always take along a lot of books on road trips and never read more than a page or two because we talked politics, history, agriculture, whatever crossed our minds. Usually it was history as both of us were history nuts. It was interesting to discuss in depth people and events with someone who had a quick mind. In addition, his father was born in 1890. He knew the history of New Mexico and Texas because he lived it. He drove cattle and worked the big ranches.

Somewhere along the line the communication gave way to subjugation. Death comes in many forms.

At one time I carefully made grave covers and flower arrangements for Mirinda several times a year. Now, I call Don twice a year and the extent of our conversation is, "Please take flowers to Mirinda."

DLM said...

Julie, your ex has some assets in common with my ex, but that (butt that?) he is a Levi's man.

Scott G said...

Congrats to all the finalists!

I've narrowed it down to three: french sojourn, lizosisek, and Donnaeve.

All are masterful, but because I'm a fan of subtlety, I'm going with Donnaeve.

I would also vote for julieweathers comment, if I could.

Brigid said...

Holly Stone, thank you! That makes that entry clearer for me.

My favorite non-finalist is RKeelan's, which made me laugh.

I genuinely like every one of the finalists, which makes me feel particularly Midwestern. I should have an opinion, dangit! Instead I have 9 opinions. Steve Forti's stuck with me the most after yesterday's initial reading, and I admire the form so much. Lizosisek's is haunting and vivid as can be. Donna stbnytba's is one of my favorite-ever examples of the story in the white space. French sojourn's makes me want to fill in the missing years. Beth's stresses me out because I'm afraid the kids are going to destroy those stamps. Claire and Sara Halle make me very hungry and a little giggly.

I think my vote has to go to tell me later — it's clever and delightful and timely, and not murderous. A lot to fit in 100 words.

RosannaM said...

Weighing in from the West Coast, so I am rather late to the party. What a bunch of great entries! I was wowed by the form of Steve Forti's, and I think I would have to hand it to him just on the fact that all those left/rights counted in his word count, so he forced himself to work with even fewer words.

But I truly loved the Ghostbuster story---tell me later.

And Donnaeve with her sibling murder and not one word subtlety.

So good luck everybody. I think Janet is going to have to throw darts at little Post-It notes with all your entries in order to choose.

Claire Bobrow said...

I love these contests because I always learn a ton - about style, literary references, or arcane facts. Who knew there was a famous stamp with an upside-down airplane? That's pretty damn cool.

Congratulations to all those mentioned, short-listers and finalists. Heck, congrats to all! Fellow writers, you are awesome. I'm honored to have made the list. Thank you, Janet, and thanks for your kind comments Megan V and julieweathers. You made my day!

julieweathers said...


I'm kind of partial to Wrnaglers. My blog post on starching Wranglers is still my most popular post and I wrote it years ago and I wrote it years ago.

I'm not sure why Wrangler became the go to brand for cowboys. You'd think the Levis would be. The little Jewish tailors came up with some revolutionary ideas regarding making jeans that really lasted for hard working gold miners.

Some 100-year-old Levis were found in a gold mine not long ago and are still in excellent shape.

Regardless, Wranglers became the cowboy jeans. That's a testament to what proper marketing can do.


We have an amazingly talented group of writers submitting flash here! --


I am always amazed at the stories. They are wonderful.

I love the cow in the sidecar. We used to have a cow who was broke to ride. Just saddle her up and be a real cowboy or cowgirl. Of course, there was a lot of getting bucked off on your head before she decided to be a saddle cow, but that's part of the fun.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Such fabulous writing... Congrats to all the finalists. I'm truly honored my story was among those mentioned. If being mentioned was a 3-d thing I'd hug it. Regarding the winner: I'm torn between Beth and Donna, leaning toward Donna. That's some powerful subtlety. Steve Forti, your comment "magically turn into steak and ice cream!" I LOL'd. Janet, thank you. I learn so much here.

BJ Muntain said...

Steve Forti: Cows may magically turn into steak and ice cream, but the ice cream stops once they turn into steak... :P

Rachel: I didn't automatically place the stories in Vermont. The ones mentioning cows and skies could just as easily have taken place here in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, billboards are not banned here.

I'm between Brigid's and tell me later's. But then, I'm in the mood for humour today. Beth's had me shuddering - I've known too many people who didn't recognize what they had, and threw it out or gave it away.

DLM said...

Julie, it's right in the name: they wrangle - they wear Wranglers. My ex (often called Beloved Ex) was a mere Illinois cowboy. He actually did the cowpoking work, but being a Nordic Upper Midwesterner, he is not quite legit. Guys who say uff da don't quite pull of "Cowboy" quite the way the Marlboro Man did.

My brother, an archaeologist, last year found a barn FULL of probably seventy to eighty year old dungarees. He wanted to find some way to donate/conserve them. He did photograph them. http://dianelmajor.blogspot.com/2015/10/collection.html

"Cows may magically turn into steak and ice cream, but the ice cream stops once they turn into steak." BJ, I love this!!!!

I entirely missed this contest, and was bummed - family business made me miss the deadline. But I did post my own seven-league boots tale on my blog. Would adore anyone's thoughts. :)

Just Jan said...

I loved all the finalists, but feel that Claire's Ben and Jerry skit is appropriate for a contest inspired by a trip to Vermont! Congrats to everyone and thanks to Janet for the mention and the contest. Lots of great entries, as always!

Colin Smith said...

Diane's links:
Diane's brother's dungaree haul

Diane's late entry to the contest

Beth Carpenter said...

When I read over all the entries Saturday, I knew you’d have your work cut out for you. It’s so hard to choose a favorite, because they’re amazing in such different ways. I love them all, but Steve Forti’s march to tragedy, Brigid’s hilarious fairy tale, lizosisek’s heartbreaker, and Donnaeve’s horrific play on karma stand out to me. I loved tell me later’s story, even before knowing about the movie. I’m honored to be in such company.

Good luck, Janet. Wow, look at that sidecar. No wonder it took longer than expected to get home.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Hard call. Wish I could pick two and give them equal points, but I did that already. So I think it has to be Donna. Her last line punches you right in the gut. Great work by all the finalists, though. (Hey Janet, how about throwing in a pair of sheep to keep the cow company?)

Claire Bobrow said...

Thanks, Just Jan! With Vermonty Python gone to its eternal rest, I'm sending you a virtual pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk in honor of a certain agent :-)

And in case you're interested, there really IS a Flavor Graveyard: http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/flavor-graveyard

I'm voting for the return of Chocolate Mystic Mint.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Wow! These are all so great! I have to say lizosisek really got me hard, though. There's something so poignant about almost-divorced parents visiting the graves of their children separately. It's both evocative and tragic. Add to that the excellent writing and the killer first line, and I know where I'd cast my vote. :)

Although, again, everyone WAS fantastic. Geez, I don't know. Glad I just get to read and enjoy!

Beth Carpenter said...

Forgot to mention, I loved Amy Schaefer's story. A thirty-year-old toothbrush. Hilarious.

Craig F said...

I'm kinda partial to the stories of Beth and Brigid. Hard pick though.

Congrats to all and sundry. A lot of wonderful stuff.

I want to apologize for the lack of depth I came up with. I thought of Ben and Jerry as low hanging fruit and digging a bit deeper took too much time. I know Moxie is actually from Maine but Vermont seems to be its only other market.

I also know that Pumpkin Chunkin has moved to Delaware but it originated in Vermont.

Again, congratulation to you all.

RachelErin said...

It's so interesting to me that I was the only one who unconsciously put most of the stories in VT. A good reminder to me of the partnership between writer and reader - we can't control what our readers use to color in the spaces left by the story.

julieweathers said...

Why it's important to proofread.

Beth Carpenter said...

Julie, your "How to Starch Wranglers" post is so funny. The things we do for love.

I'm the opposite. When my toddler saw a toy iron, he thought it was a boat. He'd never seen Mommy iron.

Kate Larkindale said...

Way to make it hard to chose!

Loved Steve Forti's entry, but I also was floored by lizosisek's. And Donna's was great too.

Janet, I don't envy you having to pick a winner!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to all the finalists! There's so much talent in this community. I love the structure in Steve Forti's entry. Brigid and tell me later both made me laugh out loud. And Donnaeve, as always, has given me chills. Well done, all!

You have a tough choice to make, Janet!

Lennon Faris said...

These are all fantastic. I could never choose. Sorry, Janet!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your kind words! For what it's worth, Rachel, I wasn't picturing Vermont when I wrote this. It's set in Southern Tier New York, near the Pennsylvania border. I grew up there, and came away with multiple inside jokes about both cows and billboards. Not sure what that says about me and my childhood friends...

John Davis Frain said...

I can never get here on Mondays & Tuesdays, and now I'm kinda glad for it. Because I'd need to get about six more voter ID cards to cast all the ballots necessary for my votes.

If the criteria is most times read a single story, I'll have to go with Donna's subtle brilliance. That said, I'm not sure I understand the same way the next person does. Sis came up with the plan, and Bro killed Dad and now they're both in it together? That's a lotta reading between the lines, so I don't really know if I got it.

First story I ever sold was about the Flying Jenny, so I'm partial to Beth as well. Steve's is just brilliant. Of course.

All that said, before my arm gets too twisted, I'll have to go with lizo and that ride down south because I'm still in the car.

Donnaeve said...

I'm gonna fill ya'll (yep) in who didn't get the story.

There's a few clues. The texting big sister is doing is why the "strange car" shows up. Little bro tries to interject, (timidly) "that ain't the bus." She's traipsing off with a stranger (you can assume she met online) instead of going to school - and she threatens little brother. This is one of the first clues, when she says, "Not one word, you'll regret it."

The next hint is this, I consider her words, the outcome.

And so...little bro decides life without Sis sure is great. He's kind of liking it without her, and besides, his ballgame is improving - bonus! He's not about to give up such a great "outcome." Not even with the police questioning him. The last hint completes the circle. He's only doing as she said... Not one word. Definitely no regrets.

And that's it. This little twist was learned right out here with a post QOTKU did one day. It involved a fence that was meant to keep ...was it a dog? inside. Anyone remember that?

Thanks for all the nice compliments, everyone!

MA Hudson said...

I thought all the finalists were amazing but my vote goes to the ghostbusters story (tell me later). I love a clever revenge that doesn't involve blood!!

french sojourn said...

Congrats Donna, I must confess it took me a few reads. These contests are like auditing a well taught masters class in literature. Great win. Thanks again QOTKU for the time you put into these.

cheers Hank

John Davis Frain said...


Fantastic news, and a great segue into Dixie Dupree. This contest, and your entry in particular, was an education for all of us.

It might have just been my Internet service provider playing tricks on me, but when I saw the hanging chad at the end of your entry ... well, I knew it was only a matter of time till Janet made the announcement. Well deserved!

And, by the way, after my ninth read, I have yet another interpretation! Of course, with my memory I can hide my own Easter eggs, so I've forgotten the first eight interpretations.

A Room of My Own said...

Congrats Donna! Wonderful style. Love that!

And to lizosisek - WOW! Just wow...read it four times. Spectacular work.

CynthiaMc said...

Congrats, Donna! Well done.

Steve - yours was amazing as well.

Congrats to all the mentions!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Donna Congratulations. I hope you and Mabel will be very happy together. Great story.

Marie McKay said...

Congrats, Donnaeve, such clever writing! Loved it. Well done to all. The finalists were ALL so good.

Brigid said...

Congrats, Donna! Let us know when to come for an ice cream party.

Colin Smith said...

Donna! Congratulations!! I hear Mabel loves rejection notes, so you have a use for that pile you don't need anymore. Ever! ;)

Steve Forti said...

Congrats Donna! And good luck with the stbnytba status!

Thank you to everyone for the kind words. Always a nice boost to the esteem and motivation seeing positive reception. On to the next attempt (one of these days...)!

Claire Bobrow said...

Congratulations, Donna - loved your entry! Don't let Mabel start texting.

Fantastic work, everyone!

Donnaeve said...

*pant* * pant* *pant*

I'm been jumping up and down! Wheeee! I can't WAIT to get my cow! When the newly purchased air conditioned FEDEX 18 wheeler shows up out front, I'll proudly escort her down the sidewalk and into her new residence. She and Little Dog will be best friends! I just know it. Looks like I'll have to stop feeding Little Dog boiled beef...and maybe I'll take ole Mabel down to the Chick-Fil-A in Buies Creek so she can see some of her cousins.

Seriously, thank you so much Ms. Janet!!! There was a great display of talent shown with this particular batch of entries.

Congrats to all other mentions, long listed, and short listed! There's a lot of talent out here.

abnormalalien said...

Ack, Donna, you've definitely mastered subtlety; I read yours all wrong.

I thought mom was walking son to the bus stop and took off with her, shall we say, "suitor."

So much better your way, thanks for the explanation. And congrats!

Nate Wilson said...

Congratulations, Donna! Enjoy your cow! (By the way, if you decide to tip her, give at least 15%. She may not show it, but she'll appreciate the extra hay.)

And DLM, I'm glad I could entertain you with my "adventure" last month. If my kid (or his cousin) pulls me into any more madcap situations, I'll let you know.

Beth Carpenter said...

Congratulations, Donna! Great story. Enjoy the cow. Free lawn mowing and fertilizing -- what more could a girl want?

RosannaM said...

Congrats! Donnaeve, even though I interpreted it as the little brother actually killed her! Oops. But I did get the rest. I think. No. Yep, I did.

Pretty new to these contests, and I have to say they are a fun challenge, and I am delighted to settle in with a cup of coffee and delve into the weird, twisted, haunting, poignant entries on Sunday mornings.

Thank you, Janet for this. I think it's better than Sudoku. (my current Alzheimer's prevention plan)

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the party here, but congrats, Donna! And thank you, Janet, for these contests! They give us all a chance to challenge ourselves and to read some amazing work by our peers.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Congratulations, Donna! Count me in as one who read your entry and loved it :)
And congrats also to all short listers, long listers and special mentions. Your writing inspires me to strive harder.
And a huge thank you, as always, to Janet for the incredible learning opportunity you provide here on a daily basis. It is truly appreciated :D

AJ Blythe said...

Wow, finally found time to read the finalists (my weekend was a write-off so I didn't even know there was a contest).

Miss Janet, I'm glad you weren't sure you understood one (I wasn't sure either) and that one story related to Ben and Jerry's and another to the new ghostbusters - both of which I am very unfamiliar with.

Not that I am unfamiliar with ice-cream (sadly quite the opposite, lol), but Ben and Jerry's is not common here.

And I have heard there is a new all-female Ghostbusters, but that's about as far as my knowledge goes.

Donna, loved your story. It would have got my vote, although Steve's was a close second.