Monday, July 11, 2016

Writing contest results-FINAL (finally)

Youse guyz are back to your usual tricks of writing so well it was just torture to choose a winner. I can hear you all cackling with delight at turning the tables on me.

Herewith the results

Not quite a story but intensely evocative 
Marie McKay 9:03am
Kelli 5:26pm

Special recognition for a great line:
Natalie is a high priestess of OCD.
LizellaPrescott 12:33pm

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.
SiSi 1:01am

Gin while we play rummy. Rum while we play gin.
sdbullard 1:26am

These are the entries that made the long list.

Steve Forti 11:32am
LizellaPrescott 12:33pm

Celia Reaves 12:37pm
Megan V 1:54pm

Donnaeve 2:18pm
Rkeelan 7:22pm

JustJan 9:41pm
Gypmar 4:36am


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?”

“My favorite…acrobats.”

“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.”

“Whys that?

“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.

Beth 1:32pm
“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.

RosannaM 2:49pm
We split up, like always.

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.

Grandma returns.

We compare.

16 bucks short.

Sends me out again.

Not thrilled, but we gotta make rent.

I fix my ponytail.
This is lovely writing. Very short, but very powerful. Did you ever think you'd have sympathy
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.

Ashes 2:58pm
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.

So, have at it.

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.


Michael Seese said...

Yeah, Steven D's entry was quite a surprise.

Just Jan said...

I enjoyed them all, but Hank's was my fav--my type of dark humor. I don't envy the decision ahead of you this morning!

Theresa said...

I love the smell of whiskey in the morning.

Jennifer's entry gets my vote for absolute favorite. And I have my inspirational quote for the week (or for life).

Julie Weathers said...

Steven D. and Jennifer for me. I'm not much help.

There were some fabulous entries. Congratulations to everyone who entered and extra kudos to the mentions and finalists.

Cindy C said...

I love all of these, but when I first read them Beth's really resonated with me.

Donnaeve said...

Steven D's set the creep factor off the charts. I absolutely LOVED his last sentence which put it all together.

Hank's made me giggle.

The others were great too. If someone pressed me between Hank and Steven's...jeez Louise. I'm gonna say... Steven D's.

It's not easy to choose!

*thank you for the long list mention.*

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Well, good luck with this. Great entries all. I am pleased I did not get my entry in. What an incredibly talented bunch. Can't wait to see who claims the prize.

Colin Smith said...

Well... I'm no help because my favorite made the long list, and wasn't a finalist: LizellaPrescott's. Which goes to show, either I have no clue, or just because you don't make Janet's list, doesn't mean your work isn't appreciated.

But picking from the finalists, which is tough because they're all worthy of the top prize, my vote is for RosannaM.

However, judging from Janet's comments, I think Jennifer Delozier has the edge. But far be it from me to read QOTKU's mind. :)

Well done, everybody!! And a special well done to those who got a finalist nod even though they used the prompt words in a name. Janet has said before that she considers such use to be a bit of a cop out (after all, you can use just about any word in a name). So if you did that and still got a nod, you must have done particularly well.

Scott G said...

What a great bunch of stories. Congratulations to all the finalists.

My top two are Steven D and RosannaM. Very deft writing because I'm feeling sorry for people doing something wrong. The difference for me is I'm really hoping the girl in Rosanna's story gets her 16 bucks and I'm really hoping Steven's guy ends up in a mental institution, so I'm going with RosannaM.

I could have just as easily flipped a coin. Great stuff.

As always, thank you Janet for the opportunity.

Timothy Lowe said...

It looks like it was a good weekend to have a family reunion and miss the contest - with entries like these, it must be tough. Have to go with Steven D's for the unexpected. Nice job, everyone!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Well done, everyone!

For humor, I'd go with Hank's.

For heart, I'd go with Beth's and RosannaM's.

Megan V said...

My vote goes to RosannaM, with Jennifer as a very close second.

I'm afraid Steven's entry is lost on me, but then, it is early in the a.m.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

My vote goes to Hank... Terrific entries all around, and congrats to everyone who made the cut. Good stuff.

Marie McKay said...

Thanks for the mention, Janet. Very happy with that. I think all the stories are fantastic. My personal taste probably dictates Steven D's to be my favourite. It is chilling. Well done, all.

Kelli Mahan said...

Jennifer gets my vote. Obviously, I'm a sucker for a musical reference. Congratulations all around! And thanks for the mention - unexpected and a lovely way to start my Monday.

Kregger said...

For more times then I care to remember, Beth's story hits home.

Claire Bobrow said...

They're all great, but I love Jennifer's!
Congratulations to everyone - wonderful entries!!

LizellaPrescott said...

Wow, what a fun batch of stories! Any of them would make a worthy winner. If I absolutely had to choose, I would lean towards Hank's, for the clever wordplay and because my kids are terrified of clowns.

p.s. Thank you Colin for the kind mention.

RKeelan said...

I vote for Beth's entry.

I also liked Just Jan and Colin Smith's entries, but alas, they didn't make it to the finalist stage.

Kate Higgins said...

I love Jennifer's because it is not only a homage to music but also sort of a homage to Mike Hammer PI. "I love the smell of whiskey in the morning" which, if it isn't in one of Mickey Spillanes's old pulp detective novels...should be.

I also love it because it wasn't scary, bloody, horrible, spooky or creepy...I've had enough of that this week.
Thanks for agreeing with me, Janet, about my not-a-quite-a-story entry being "oh so true" and noting my entry.

Kitty said...

I was surprised only two Reiders used something other than 'thrill': Peggy Rothschild, who wrote "wiTH RILLettes," and John Davis Frain, who wrote "fourth rill." EXCELLENT!

Great entries, as always. Go luck picking a winner!

Colin Smith said...

Lizella: You're very welcome. I loved the OCD theme of yours, and the line at the end about the ten clicks after firing six rounds... perfection! It's possible it didn't make the final cut because of all the gun violence in the news last week (you'll note there are no guns in any of the finalists, which might be coincidental, or at least a subconscious reaction to the news, if not intentional). It may seem a bit arbitrary, but things like that have been known to affect Janet's selection. And that's okay--she's QOTKU. She's allowed. :)

Brigid said...

I love Beth's. How often do we get a twist like that—a bona fide surprise—that isn't gruesome? It's clever and charming and I'll be thinking about it all day.

Janet Reid said...

I took "I love the smell of whisky in the morning" as an homage to Apocalypse Now.

cue Ride of the Valkyries!

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I love RosannaM's the best.

And I love Jennifer's line "blinged-out in pens and bookmarks"

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I'm also dealing with the effects of last week's gun violence so dark humor/thriller didn't stay with me as much as Beth's and RosannaM's stories.

But, GREAT stories this weekend all around. So wonderful to read.

Good luck, QOTKU.

Nate Wilson said...

I'm torn between Steven D's and Beth's, but I think I'd give the slight edge to Steven. Great entries, all.

Colin Smith said...

RKeelan: Thank you! :)

BJ Muntain said...

Coffee helps everything.

I like Beth's. Not only is there a twist, but it hits home for me.

Great work, everyone!

Dena Pawling said...

I got a special recognition AND another mention?! Thanks!

I love abnormalalien's first line:
Mikey was as thrilled as a cat during flea-bath season.

I like all the finalists [and, for the record, I actually understood all of them, which is a shocker]. Sorry I can't help you choose a winner. What books did you pick up for the prize?

Steve Forti said...

My vote is for Beth. Hits a little close to home.
Also, re: Jennifer's, I have to channel my inner Stannis and mumble "fewer".

Craig F said...

I have looked at these several times this morning. Each time someone else grabbed my attention. So I did it one more time to see who got it the second time.

That was Hank.

That does not mean any of the others are on a lower scale. It was just the way the dice fell.

julieweathers said...

I also had scenes of Apocalypse Now when I read "I love the smell of whiskey in the morning." Ride of the Valkyries Surfing and I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Jennifer Delozier said...

Theresa - You're welcome! I hope never to see you at any future AA meetings...

Kate - Thank you as well. For the record, "I love the smell of whiskey in the morning" was ripped from both noir AND from "Apocalypse Now." I happened to be sitting in the noir lecture at ThrillerFest when I got the idea for the entry, but the line is totally from the movie.

Steve - you are oh-so correct (great GOT reference, BTW.) "Fewer" sounded too wordy, though, so I chose "less" hoping no one would notice. You're all too smart for that. I'll know better next time!

And Janet - thank you for my first finalist mention. It was lovely meeting you at the conference.

Claire Bobrow said...

I'd heard OF "Begin the Beguine," but never actually heard it. So, thanks for that musical interlude, Janet (and Jennifer!). Very nice way to start a Monday morning.

Unknown said...

Wow, these were all so good this week. For myself, I can't decide between Hank, Beth, and Ashes. (Also, Michael Seese made me gasp, and I thought the entry by Lennon Faris was wonderfully evocative.)

Sorry not to join you all this week, though my silly office story about whisky and a disguised ex-wife would not have stood a chance against this week's masterpieces. I finished it two minutes before post time, then I got flustered and couldn't convince blogger that I wasn't a robot. Shouldn't the fact that I got flustered prove that I am not a robot?

Janet Reid said...

Mark, I saw those two failed entries and it just slayed me to not have an entry even a minute past the deadline. I would have been very tempted to adjust the close off time!

I guess this is a warning not to wait till the last five minutes or Blogger might foil you.

Next time!

Celia Reaves said...

Wow, tough decision. Good luck, Janet! Jennifer's entry toyed so beautifully with the contest itself (and I adored her line about being "blinged-out with pens and bookmarks). Hank (French Sojourner) is the one that made me laugh while feeling guilty about laughing, but come on - he didn't have to say "this one must be a clown, he tastes funny" because it's right there. Both Rosanna's and Beth's stories were heartbreaking, in different ways. Beautifully done.

Thanks for putting me on the long list, Janet. Made my week!

Unknown said...

Haha, Janet, no problem -- rules is rules! Plus I think it amused my wife to watch my brain fry in real time as I was unable to distinguish lakes from waterfalls and pizzas from salads. BTW I love Begin the Beguine and am joyfully listening right now to the clip you posted.

Ashes said...

Starting Monday off as a finalist always makes for a good week, thanks Janet!

But I think I've been outdone because my votes are for RosannaM and Hank.

Thanks for the shoutout Mark, you put me in very good company.

julieweathers said...

Or we could could just have whiskey in the jar.

Now, I'm off to prime the writing pump with Kelly's Irish Brigade and get back to the ball. Odd factoid of the day, Dixie was one of Lincoln's favorite songs and he requested it frequently.

LizellaPrescott said...

Colin: Excellent point about gun violence and potential sensitivities. In any case, I was thrilled to get an honorable mention this week. I am amazed what the folks around here can do with just 100 words.

cleemckenzie said...

I really enjoyed reading the entries that won. I can see why you chose French Sojourn as #1. What a surprise, and it made you retrace your steps to find out how you wound up at the end with a gasp.

french sojourn said...

This was quite a tiffany setting of entries, the mentions, shout outs in the comment sections, and the finalists.

I loved what I felt like was a contemporary spin on the little match girl...always yanks out my I would vote for RosannaM. Not to beat a dead horse (I'm tenderizing it) but it struck close to home for me.

Thank you for the contests, and I'm still gobsmacked to be in the same finalists.

Cheers Hank

And thanks for all the kind comments of my Bostonian Cannibals in 1920's Congo.

french sojourn said...

Congrats StevenD, well deserved!

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Steven D!!

Thinking about it, it might make an interesting twist to the contests if Janet did, every now and again, throw in a theme restriction. E.g., "No gun violence", or "Must reference one of Patrick Lee's novels." Just to spice things up a bit... :)

Kate Higgins said...

Jennifer and Janet;
Wasn't the quote from Apocalypse Now, " I love the smell of napalm in the morning..."???
I guess I'll have to look that up...

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Way to go Steven D on a great entry.

Kate Higgins said...

OK, it was both: whiskey and napalm in "Apocalypse Now"...the breakfast of champions I guess...

RosannaM said...

Wow! Thank you, Janet and everyone for all the inspiring feedback. Long time Reider, but just now emerging from my woodland creature hideout to play in the forest with you all for the first time.

Enjoyed reading all the entries Sunday, and was blown away at how 100 words can be wrangled into shape to make me laugh, cringe and sigh.

Loved Beth's--the beauty of the caregivers. And Steven's made me go check the attic (was that a noise?). And Jennifer? Come on, all the words in one sentence? Color me gobsmacked!

And Mark--my sympathies over your robot mishap!

Lennon Faris said...

Congrats, Steven! and to all the others.

RosannaM - For some reason, I loved the last line of yours. Very simple but it was like the little-girl version of cracking your neck before doing something.

Lizella - I found yours so gripping.

All of these were wonderful. Glad I didn't have to participate in the 'voting!' Thanks Janet for putting these on.

Unknown said...

RosannaM- Welcome, and your shoplifters were a brilliant debut! You'll be pleased to know that I have just successfully distinguished food from non-food in order to submit this comment. It's amazing what one can accomplish in a tranquil frame of mind!

Unknown said...

Sorry, not shoplifters -- pickpockets!

Marie McKay said...

Well done, Steven. I did love yours!

Kate Higgins said...

Congratulations Steven, well done!

Karen McCoy said...

Darn, woke up too late to vote! Steven D's was indeed universal, and reminds me of a quote from Neil Gaiman:

"The challenge now is to go forward and to keep going forward: to tell stories that have weight and meaning. It's saying things that mean things, and using the literature of the imagination to do it."

This was the entry I almost posted, but then I chickened out and wrote something about a goat instead.

Only 16 when he was shot

In front of his grandmother.

One in a long line of needless deaths

That only some people recognize

As a pattern


A few bandaids won’t last

When sewed with rage

And anger.

What we need

Is imagination

To pitchpole expectations

And help us remember

That ideas

Outrank guns

Because they thrill

More often than they kill


They last.

RosannaM said...

Mark, Glad to hear you have triumphed! Thanks for the warm welcome.

Janet Reid said...

Colin Smith
Thinking about it, it might make an interesting twist to the contests if Janet did, every now and again, throw in a theme restriction. E.g., "No gun violence", or "Must reference one of Patrick Lee's novels." Just to spice things up a bit... :)

your fellow commenters are going to throw you under the bus and then send you to Carkoon! I won't even need my rocketboots to launch you.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats, Steven D! That was a hard-earned won.

Cindy C said...

Congrats to Steven and everyone mentioned!

Beth Carpenter said...

I loved them all. Amazing twists and wordplay. But RosanneM's was my favorite because I feel like I know the girl, with her odd mix of responsibility and lawlessness, after only a few words. And I didn't catch on until the last line.

Kate Larkindale said...

I'm so glad no one is asking me to pick the winners of these things. SO many great stories! Congrats to Steven and to all the finalists!

Steven D. said...

Thank you, Janet. It’s an honor to be singled out amongst such great entries. Your flattering remarks will keep me sailing through the week.
The competition is truly fierce around here. You guys keep me running back to the honing wheel with each contest. I really enjoyed Hank’s and Colin’s stories. Though I saw where it was heading, Steve Forti’s had me laughing. Congratulations to all those mentioned, the long-listers and the finalists.

Colin Smith said...

Steven D.: Wow, thanks! :)

Janet: We're already packing to move house, so I'm prepared. Just give the signal and it's once more unto the breach, dear friends!. Carkoon, though it may not be the most inviting host country, or planet, I'll go, for the sake of such a challenge. It'll be a long journey, though, through oceans deep, sky blue and white with foam, then into the great beyond. But I've been before. If that's where you send me. Just don't make me run. Nerve-racking experience that would be! :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin In case you must go to Carkoon again, I hear there is an opening at Fuzzy Print Literary. It seems some rejected writer over-reacted when his cabbage crime series was called rubbish by an intern. The writer knew nothing of the intern so it was the agent who endured the writer's gassy wrath. Of course, the intern meant his comments as a compliment, but the writer was unfamiliar with Carkoon's publishing standards. So sad. The incident has caused a strange rise in Brussel Sprout Romance at the agency while Kale Literary sales have become stagnant. Perhaps, you can help them out. Especially with the Lima Bean Cow Erotica.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: I'm hoping y'all don't send me back to Carkoon. Even the thought of gassy wrath brings back nauseating memories! I hear the kale market is pretty bland right now. As for lima bean cow erotica... I'm hoping there's too much at steak for that market to be a success... :)

BJ Muntain said...

Should we hold a vote? Send Colin to Carkoon or not?

And to make it fun, why not add why or why not?

I'll start: I say, yes, let's send him to Carkoon. We haven't heard about the Buttonwheezer clan for awhile.

(Colin, feel free to enter your own reasons why or why not, but your votes don't count.)

Just Jan said...

Congratulations, Steven D! Once again, a great contest sponsored by the QOTKU. The included musical interlude was also lovely.

I am honored to be included on the long list and find myself in good company there. Congratulations to everyone mentioned and, really, to everyone who entered. It wouldn't be so much fun if we didn't have all these great stories to compete against.

And thanks for the shout-out, RKeelan!

Sherry Howard said...

Congratulations to all! These entries never cease to amaze. Combine five words, simmer slowly in a writer's brain, and serve up some unique word soup. Gotta love it. Anyway, although I hate to pick just one, I have to say Jennifer did so many elements well that I'd say she has an edge.

Lennon Faris said...

Mark Thurber - thank you! I just saw your compliment and didn't catch it before my earlier comment. I'm sorry you didn't get to enter yours!

Claire Bobrow said...

Congratulations Steven D - great story! So much to learn from all of you guys.

I'm feeling pretty chipper today - finally finished reading the QueryShark archives. But I have a sneaking feeling it's kind of like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you're done, you have to start all over again. Rust patches are already forming in my brain.

Michael Seese said...

@Mark Thurber. Thank you for your kind words.

Michael Seese said...

@Mark Thurber. Thank you for your kind words.

Kae Ridwyn said...

t's first week back at work after school holidays and I'm finally managing to get online - to discover that my story scored a 'Holy Moly'! HUZZAH!!! Thank you, Janet!
Congratulations to all the special mentions, long listers, short listers and Steven D. Your writing is so incredibly inspiring. Thank you for sharing it with us all!
And now I'm off for some celebratory cake. Because that's what you eat to celebrate a brilliant achievement like this, yes?
Happy writing, everyone!

Janice Grinyer said...

Congrats to everyone - mentionables, Semis, and Finalists!

Steven D. That has to be the creepiest story I've ever read written here. I needed to hug puppies and eat ice cream and sing Mister Rogers songs to clear my mind! Please take that as a compliment- not too many things can creep me out.

But yep, that story of yours did so!