"Life" Theme Short Story Contest Winners

Accentuate Services, Accentuate Writers and Twin Trinity Media are proud to announce the winners of the Accentuate Writers Short Story Contest for the ‘Life” theme.

It was one of the more difficult contests to judge, but with 44 entries we received on the “Death” theme, we’re certain it’s not going to have been the hardest one!

I read an agent who posted on Twitter the other day that she hated having to say no to good stories, and that’s something I can now totally relate to. When judging these contests, we use blind judging, so no one knows in advance who wrote what stories. I read the judge’s comments, then I read the stories, and using the scoring system we set up, the judge’s determine the winners–I only break ties or make sure I truly agree with the judges. So far, though it’s been awfully close, I’ve agreed with their decisions on the winners, but I haven’t always agreed what order they were to be put in. I think that’s the subjective part of judging contests. It’s super easy to tell a bad story and not count it, but what do you do when you get fantastic stories that are within fractions of being equally as good?

It’s harder than you think!

The worst part is, not every story can win, and that means some really good stories, some exceptional stories in fact, simply don’t make it into the book. That’s the part that’s hard for me. I want to publish them all! All I can hope is that the writers of these stories understand that not making it into this book or any other book or winning any other contests doesn’t mean the writing is bad. Some really good stories just don’t get chosen – but that doesn’t mean someone else won’t want them, and give them all the attention they richly deserve. If you don’t make the cut here, submit elsewhere! Tweak it if you think it needs it, and then submit it! You have NOTHING to lose. The story is written, so just submit it!

I think you’ll be amazed at the results if you scout around stories that don’t win here. Eventually, ever well-written story will find a home if you persevere long enough to find it.

Now that I’ve prattled on long enough, let’s get to what you really came here for. The winners!

We have two third place winners this time:

#35, Naked, by Sarah Sullivan

#445, The Jar Girl, by Nancy Gibson

Both of these stories were well written, stories. Sarah’s needed a little bit of style help, but the story overpowered that enough the judges were willing to overlook it. Sarah is a first-time winner to our contests, and I’m really happy to see her get this third place position! Nancy’s was a technically proficient piece, with an old-time fairy tale feel to it. I’m really enjoying watching Nancy’s writing grow and flourish. She has some real talent and I know beyond any doubt that we’re going to be seeing some great things from Nancy once she finishes her novel.

Both of these stories would have placed higher, but they lost points on the adherence to the “life” theme. In other words, the judges thought the other stories that placed higher fit the theme slightly better than these did. Both really good, and completely different stories, that will make excellent additions to the Elements of Life anthology. Congratulations, both!

Moving on to second place.

This was so hard, because the two stories in first and second place were so close in the scores that either of them could have taken first place. I mean that. So I had to break the tie, and with the help of a friend, we read both stories and then asked the question, “Which one fits the ‘theme’ best?” So, when we announce that:

#12, Signed, Tallulah Granger, by Tamblyn Shaye

Takes second place, she should know that her story was worthy of a win in every other aspect.

Which brings us to the first place story.

No other story in theย  contest wrote the Life theme as exactly as this one. It was, by far, the best adherence to the theme without shoving it in the reader’s face. The story was compelling, had a good pace to it, and some elements of: love, romance, fear, life, death, and all the other good things a story should have. But add on top of that a really unique way of incorporating the theme (a theme I admit *I* was having a hard time coming up with ideas for!), and really making it sing.

It is my pleasure to announce our first place winner for the “Life” theme:

#20, Lifelines, by Robert Arend

Robert has entered and placed in our contests in the past, but this is his first place win, and I’m happy to include his story in Elements of Life and see his name on the gorgeous artwork that will adorn our covers.

Congratulations to everyone! We have 44 qualified entries into the theme for ‘Death’, so judging is going to be so hard on that one. Don’t forget, we still have the last quarter open this year for a chance to get into a book. This last quarter is: Elements of Love. The themes are “First Love”, “The Engagement” and “The Wedding”. Stay tuned for the next blog post where I announce the 2010 themes!

Congrats again! Keep writing!

Love and stuff,