Accentuate Anthology Contest Winners: THE WEDDING Theme

Well, after a dismal turnout for entries for the Elements of Love anthology in October, November, and December, when I re-opened the contests and extended the themes, the entries poured in. In three day’s time, I received 17 entries to just one theme, and that’s not counting the others that trickled in until the deadline date and the small handful of entries I received prior to the extension. There were some new faces and names for this contest, and that’s always nice to see. The competition is getting stiff, and it makes the job of the judges, and my job too, really hard.

The judges score the writings blind, but I’m the one who has to collate that and then determine the winners. If there’s a tie, I have to break it. This time, I was a wuss and had to get some help picking the winners, since I knew who had written one of the stories but not the other one. I didn’t want to have any prejudice in my determining the winners. Fortunately, the two other people I asked agreed and it leaned toward my decision too, so that was easier than I’d hoped, but not as easy as you might think.

The nature of contests is tough. You see, when I accept open submissions, good stories can be purchased and we find a place for anything that is good enough. With a contest, though, I have to say no to things that might be quite good. Contests rank things – ‘best’ is sometimes quite obvious while other times it’s quite subjective. In the instance of this contests, we all agreed on the winner, hands down. The judges, myself, and my two friends who helped me go through the judge’s scores all agreed on who would get first place. I really DO like it when it’s that clear cut.

The problem was after the first place winner, we had so many excellent entries that it was very hard to determine what to include as a winner, what to go to editor’s picks, and which ones would become digital download contracts, and sadly, which ones would not make it this round into any of our categories.

As hard of a job as that is, though, I think it’s clear that my job isn’t nearly as hard as your job. That is, the writing, the submitting, and the waiting–maybe being selected, maybe not, and if selected, not knowing for what–book? Cover? Digital download? Winner or Editor’s pick? It’s tough to sit and wait like that, I know! I’m sorry!

So without dragging it out anymore than I already have, I want to congratulate all the winners and selected stories today, but before I do, I want to take the time to let you all know that every one of you who submitted today is already a winner for just taking the chance on your writing and sending it in. Learn from this experience and grow from it and move on and continue to excel!

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD WINNERS

This is a new section to our contests in which certain authors who submitted to the contest but did not win a place in the book, for whatever reason, and still had strong stories that maybe needed a little editing work or some fleshing out, will receive a royalty sharing contract with Twin Trinity Media, exclusive for one year, in which their story will be professionally edited and made available for sale on the TTM Bookstore website as a downloadable e-short story. These stories will sell from .59 cents to 5.99, depending on a number of factors, and we will discuss this with each other independently. The author will share in a 70% Author/ 30% Publisher royalty contract, and then after that year, the story can remain on the site or be removed, at the author’s discretion, and then the author will retain all other rights to the story for resell or submission to other places that accept reprints.

Of course, the winners of the digital download contracts are under no obligation to sell their story to us. It’s just that we really liked these stories, and we think with a little bit of editing work, that people will enjoy reading them, so we’re offering a way to make that happen! If, however, the author would rather retain all rights, including first publication rights, they can keep their story. If your name is included here, you will receive an email later in the week with the details of your royalty contract, and you can accept or decline it then.

The winners of the Digital Downloads are:

  • Turn Left by the Dead Cat, Samantha Priestley – In the end, she was true to herself, and chose not to go. She let go of the past, and the metaphor of the dead cat decaying and her bitterness decaying with it was good. Cat lovers, be warned. Don’t read this one! LOL
  • The 4.0 Wedding, by Donna Thacker – I absolutely looooved this story idea, but the grammar and style needs some work. This author, with a bit more polish, is going to be a big contender in the future! The twist at the end, moderately expected, but with a little rewriting I think will surprise the reader, and leave this initially humorous story with the heart-wrenching ending it should be. The dialogue is a bit stiff, but we can hash that out in editing. The storyline is just exceptional, though. Good job, Donna!
  • On Time for the Wedding, by Joan H. Young – If he can’t have her, nobody can! The tone and feel of this one places you right there in the story. The imagery isn’t bad either. POV needs a little work, but we can hash that out in editing. This was a solid story, well-told, and will make a great read in the digital downloads.
  • Weird, Weird, Jeffery Mason, by Derek Odom – This was a cute story, funny, a little sad in one respect but great in another, right up until the ending. The female lead, Jeffery’s girlfriend/wife-to-be, acted completely out of character at the end, and that sort of ruined the story for us. If this was is rewritten to have a different ending, more in character with the way she was during the entire story, this one totally could have won a place in the book!

Congratulations to all our digital download winners!

HORROR ANTHOLOGY WINNER

Robert Arend wrote a humorous wedding story that involved some horrific elements, and instead of putting it in our wedding theme, we felt it would make a perfect addition to our horror anthology coming out in October. There’s more information coming on our horror anthology, but already, several entries from the Elements Series will be going into that wonderful collection of gore and fright. Congratulations, Robert.

EDITOR’S PICKS WINNERS

This time around we’re going to have two Editor’s Picks winners. Each of these writers will receive a contract for inclusion in the anthology and will receive one free copy of the book in which their story appears. The Wedding Theme anthology winners for Editor’s Pick include:

  • Beautiful Forks, by Lisa Lee Smith

Very sad, very moving… probably the only thing that kept this one from placing higher was that the wedding theme, while including a wedding in the story, it certainly wasn’t the focus of the story. If this were to be submitted to a straight anthology without a specific theme, it likely would have done better for that reason alone. Even so, it’s a good story, albeit a sad one, but it’s one I’m proud to make an editor’s pick offer for inclusion on the Elements of Love anthology. Great job, Lisa!

WINNERS!

Next we have the winners of a place in the book and each of these will get a $50 cash prize on or before publication (usually about a month before it goes to print) and then they will receive two free copies of the book they appear in, discount prices on ordering the book, free bookmarks and the other prizes listed on the website. These authors will also have their names included on the legal page of the book and will be entered as author’s into Amazon.com’s Author Central section to claim their official Amazon.com Author Page. The winners are:

  • Forever Faithful, by Lucinda Gunnin

For someone who loves her cat so much, I sure love when Cindy Gunnin writes about dogs… From Jasper, in our own Elements of the Soul, now to our Faithful (Forever) companion in Forever Faithful. Reading this, you’ll never quite look at your family pet the same again, but that’s not really the point of the story. This one was cute, and funny in that ironic, serves-her-right sort of way. Great job, Cindy!

  • Taking Her Back, by Virginia Dedier

Sometimes, it’s not so bad for mom to eavesdrop, I’m thinking, and this story sure shows that. Ah, cheating and infidelity are bad enough, but to find out on your wedding day, in this way, and at this time… you are torn between whether this was better or worse to find out right then or to have found out later. It’s also got the elements of parallelism between mother and daughter, how one generation improves from the pain learned by the one before. Good story there. I also appreciated the show of understanding and perhaps even empathy for the ‘other woman’, when it was finally realized that she was human too. I like the tone from inside the mother’s head as well. This was a good story and it deserves it’s place amongst the winners.

  • On the Run, by Nancy Smith Gibson

Nancy delivers another short but sweet story, something she’s become quite good at. Not quite a flash piece, we have a short piece here about a couple eloping–one the child of an outlaw and one the child of an upstanding family–so they run away to marry, but a surprise visitor shows up at the wedding. Touching story, but then a sad twist at the end. I think the end might have been done a little differently, but I’ll take that up with the author during edits – the story is one of a sort of timelessness on a theme of parental love. Well, I say that, but perhaps I’m thinking about my father when I do. Good job, Nancy.

FIRST PLACE WINNER

Finally, we come to our first place winner. This is the story that all the judges, myself and Lynn and a friend of mine all thought was exceptional. The writing is well done, the story keeps you reading and turning pages (on the screen, ha!). It pulled me right in, with super fast pacing, so there’s never one single moment of ‘boring’ or ‘description’ that isn’t necessary. No word is wasted, no emotion spared. We get to shift POVs in an expert way from several different players in the scene of one wedding – and being ‘inside’ their heads, sort of the way a voice-over on television would be while all the guests are watching the wedding. It felt conspiratorial. It felt like we were eavesdropping on their private moments. It was simply fantastic. So congratulations to front cover billing, the first place prize of $100 and three free copies of the book plus all the other prizes goes to:

  • Four Somethings and  A Sixpence, by CK Wagner

I look forward to reading more work by this author in the future and am honored to include this story in our Elements of Love anthology.

FUTURE WINNERS

Later this week, I’ll be announcing some of our poetry winners and the winners of the next contest, so please stay tuned for that! In the meantime, why not share in our fun and excitement and enter one of the contests now!  The themes this year are much more open to interpretation, allowing your imagination to run wild.

You can find them here: http://www.accentuateservices.com/AS/node/15

Congrats to all who entered and who won. Looking forward to seeing you in print!

Love and stuff,

Michy