And the winner is….

This was, by far, the most difficult short story contest to judge that we have had yet. The entries this time were absolutely fantastic. The judges and I discussed the finalists until we thought we would go crazy.

Interestingly enough, the first place winner was selected as first place by three of the four judges and was selected as second place by one of the judges, and after I read it, I have to agree with their decision.

When we judge short stories, there are two things that usually knock the stories out of the running, even when the writing is really mechanically sound. Those two things are: 1) the story didn’t tell a full, complete story and 2) the ending left the reader flat.

For the first one, we had this happen with a few of the entries this time. They were well-written entries, the story was compelling in the beginning, but then we were left with a sense of, “Uhm, what was the point of that?” One of the stories, we all agreed, was very well written, it was cute, but we couldn’t figure out what the ‘story’ was. It was more like it was a scene from a story, but not a full story itself. Keep that in mind. Stories for this contest need a beginning, a middle and a solid ending, and they need a point.

We don’t want you to just relay a scene or something that happened; we want you to tell us a full, complete story that leaves us satisfied.

The winner of this contest did just that and had pretty solid mechanics and formatting too. It was a worthy entry and I’m proud to announce it as the winner. When I went to look up who wrote it, I was even prouder.

But I’m getting ahead of myself….

Let’s start with our honorable mentions.

All honorable mentions will receive html code to proudly display their honorable mention status on any website they choose. They will all also receive one free copy of the anthology when it goes to print, in addition to their free copy they receive just for entering.

Honorable Mention #1:

Eric Patterson, a new member of our little forum here, wrote (I think) three really strong entries into this contest, especially for a newbie to the board. He obviously has been writing before he came to the board and he definitely has a spark. I liked his story about the twins, but then, anyone who knows me on a personal level knows I’m a bit biased about twins. I liked the story about the little girl too. The judges scored him right up there and he was so close to having one of his place third that it came down to a near argument amongst the judges.

Eric, you are definitely worthy of an honorable mention, and something tells me that you are going to be a fierce competitor in future contests. Your writing mechanics are sound and your stories are full and completely and you did have some interesting uses of the theme. If there is room in the anthology after I’ve compiled all the winners, one of yours just might be offered a contract.

Most Creative Use of Theme

Laurie Darroch-Meekis has really begun to come into her own. Her writing for the contests just gets better with every entry. I think what I like the most about Laurie’s entry this time around was the use of the theme. It was absolutely clever. We have a theme of fire and ice and she uses red hot fire peppers and Popsicles. How clever is that? The only problem with this entry was that it didn’t feel like a full story to the judges, but more like a scene. However, all the judges and myself included, absolutely loved the clever use of the theme, so Laurie definitely is worthy of an honorable mention for the best use of the theme!

Honorable Mention #2:

This place belongs to newcomer Andi Caldwell. Both of her entries were excellent stories and with just a little bit of work on mechanics, this new fiction writer is going to come into her own. I hope she enters future contests, because both of her entries were strong and one came within two points of placing in this contest. Watch out for this one. She’s going to be tough competition next year; I can feel it.

Honorable Mention #3:

This one belongs to George Kramer. I like George’s stories. I like his creativeness and there’s a little bit of wit behind the stories too, some ‘hidden humor’ there. He had more than one entry in the contests, and I’ll tell you right now, mechanics are hurting him more than anything, because the stories all are pretty good stories. George, you did a fine job this time around.

Lastly, let me mention Tanya Katerina Noegel. While she hasn’t placed this time and the judges didn’t select her for an honorable mention, I want to personally say something about her writing here. It’s the last contest of the year, so I’m taking some liberties to sort of ‘remember’ here, Tanya is a fine writer. She has good mechanics, her stories are sound, her writing is good. one of her stories from a past contest is in the offer pile to make an offer for publication to her, after we’ve compiled the stories that won, if there’s room in the book for it.

Now, let’s get to the winners.

In third place, we have:

Entry #622, Healing Scars, by Jo Brielyn (man, I had to hunt for that pen name, girl!)

This story was good. It was tender, touching, moving – sad but with a happy ending too – the ONLY reason this story didn’t place higher is that the judges felt the ended cheated us just a little bit in that it didn’t come to a ‘conclusion’ but more just ‘ended.’ Congratulations, Penny!

In second place, allow me to announce:

Entry #7789, Love Burns, by Lucinda Gunnin

What a twisted story, so sad, and yet, so believable. This story could easily be expanded to a novel or even a made-for-TV movie, it was that compelling. Two of the judges said they would have liked a less ‘sure’ ending. For example, what if she was buying the gun to kill herself instead of them, ending it only with the line, “Do you understand now why I need the gun?” and then adding the part about daddy being right. It would have left it open to wonder – was she killing them or herself?

But that was totally a matter of opinion, and just as the story is, it was still a very strong contender with an excellent beginning, middle and ending that did not leave the reader flat. Excellent job and congratulations to Cindy!

And now…

The final winner of the 2008 Accentuate Writers Short Story Anthology Contest, in first place, by a nearly unanimous decision is:

Entry #703 – Untitled for Now – Lindsay Maddox

With some minor mechanical issues, that a really good proofread would have and should have fixed (shame on you Lindsay!), this story was STILL easily the best ‘story’ of the contest. It just goes to show, a superb story can make up for some mechanical errors. What a touching and beautiful story and a nice way to use the theme in a very unobstrusive manner – very good use of the theme, good story with a beginning, middle and very solid ending that brought everything back around full-circle.

This story had it all, except a title. Of course, the judges and I have been calling it Winter and Blaze, but we’ll work with Lindsay to get a title she’s happy with before we compile it for print.

As the first place winner, Lindsay will be the final author to get her name on
e front cover of this particular anthology. Congratulations Lindsay!

And congratulations to all of you who entered this contest! We will begin compiling all the winners together and figuring page counts, so please don’t give up hope – we will likely be making offers to some of the other entries if we have room, so all hope hasn’t been lost if you didn’t get included but entered.

If you didn’t enter or place this year, don’t give up! We have a poetry contest going on right now, and you can find it here. Also, over the weekend, we are working on the rules and the announcement for the first quarter anthology for next year, 2009, and we already have the themes ready to go! It’s going to be an exciting contest next year! Those of you who follow this blog will get first look at the themes for next year’s first book!

Congratulations to everyone who stepped out and took the chance! You are all winners! Everyone who entered will get their names listed in the book too – but more on that later.

Again, congratulations!

Now, I guess I should post this and put everyone out of their misery.

I love you guys!

Love and stuff,