Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries First Quarter 2012

First: Dandelion Breeze by Justin N Davies

Second: Awkward Hearts by Karen Jones

Third: The Cupcake Kid by Paul Chiswick

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: Out of Sight by Susan Howe

 

 

Judge’s Report for the first quarter’s competition 2012 from Margaret James

 

I was hugely impressed by the standard of entries in this competition. I enjoyed reading every single story on the shortlist, and I felt privileged to be invited into so many very different worlds and lives.

 

I’ve been asked to choose four winners, so how did I do it?

 

I looked for stories that introduced me to characters doing things which had results of some kind – results that would allow these characters to move on in some specific way, to understand something they hadn’t grasped before, to find the courage to act, to make peace with themselves and/or other people, to enjoy (or conversely be traumatised by) a new experience or revelation, or maybe to achieve an ambition or personal victory, however small.

 

I hoped to read stories in which the characters did things, maybe intentionally or maybe not, that would allow something very bad or maybe very good to happen to themselves or to other people.

 

I wanted to be surprised, but appropriately surprised. By this, I mean I wanted the ending to feel right, but also to be unexpected. When I didn’t guess the ending, but then realised it was obviously the right one, I was delighted.

 

I also wanted to meet characters who would seem real to me – people I would remember long after I had finished reading their stories.  So I left a few days between reading the stories and making my decisions.

 

My winning stories all included a surprise element and introduced me to characters I am sure I’ll remember for a long time.

 

I would also like to single out Old Sam, The Value of X, Dancing on Broadway and Liberation for special mention – great stories, all of them.

 

1st: Dandelion Breeze

When I first read this story, I thought – there’s not just a piece of flash fiction, there’s a whole crime or mystery novel here. But then I read it again, and I realised how cleverly it had been constructed, and how the author had teased and intrigued and misled me. I suspected, but I didn’t know what had happened until I read the very last line, which gave keeping it in the family a whole new meaning for me.

 

2nd: Awkward Hearts

A bereaved husband is trying to come to terms with the death of a beloved wife and also having to deal with the well-intentioned but wrong-headed behaviour of his relations. I couldn’t see how he was going to move on. But he found a way to do what was right for him, even though he suspected nobody else would think it was right. I believed he would now begin to heal.

 

3rd: The Cupcake Kid

There’s a lightness, narrative economy and charm about this story which I found enchanting. A boy steals a cupcake, hoping and believing he will get away with his crime and be able to eat it in peace. He does get the chance to eat the cake, but – as in the case of most wrongdoing – there’ll be a price to pay. It’s a clever moral fable and should be required reading in primary schools.

 

Highly Commended: Out of Sight

This is a chilling story which takes a lot of risks, including changing the narrative viewpoint from one character to another part way through, then back again. It intrigued me from the start and I wanted to know what would happen. I hoped against hope for a happy ending, and this created a pleasing narrative tension as I was made to realise I wasn’t going to get one – that although a happy ending was what I wanted, it would have been completely wrong here.

 

We now regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

Awkward Hearts by Karen Jones

Badger by Rachel Bentham

Behind Closed Doors by Vanessa Savage

Behind the Bedroom Door by Kevin Liston

Breaking the Ice by Mark Brown

Dancing on Broadway by Emily Sharma

Dandelion Breeze by Justin N Davies

Just One by Sherri Turner

Liberation by Jacky Taylor

Making It Up by Peter Raynard

Old Sam by Lee Forrest

Out of Sight by Susan Howe

Rusty in Reverse by Michael Twist

Scab by Vanessa Savage

Short for Julia by Christine Steenfeldt

Skin Deep by Susan Howe

Sunlight on the Garden by Emma King-Farlow

The Cupcake Kid by Paul Chiswick

The Good Camel Coat by Amanda O'Callaghan

The Inheritance by Elaine Miles

The Little Black Dress by Della Galton

The Right Angle by Keith A Morley

The Value of X by Cat Ford

Unwitting Apprentice by Faith Cobaine

When She Comes Home by Joanne Fox

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A Bite of the Apple by Michelle Williams

A Letter from Spain by Asha Thomas

A Man Unchanged by Vishal Nanda

Ashes by Alison Wassell

Awkward Hearts by Karen Jones

Badger by Rachel Bentham

Behind Closed Doors by Vanessa Savage

Behind the Bedroom Door by Kevin Liston

Black Water by Jo Derrick

Breaking the Ice by Mark Brown

Care in the Community by Keith A Morley

Dancing on Broadway by Emily Sharma

Dandelion Breeze by Justin N Davies

Every Day Mali Walks to Town by Martha Williams

Just One by Sherri Turner

Liberation by Jacky Taylor

Lifebelt by Kerry Hood

Making It Up by Peter Raynard

Old Sam by Lee Forrest

Out of Sight by Susan Howe

Pond Life by Rachel Bentham

Rusty in Reverse by Michael Twist

Scab by Vanessa Savage

Short for Julia by Christine Steenfeldt

Skin Deep by Susan Howe

Spreading the Word by Sharon Birch

Sunlight on the Garden by Emma King-Farlow

The Cupcake Kid by Paul Chiswick

The Escape by Kerry York

The God of London by Dave Fraundorfer

The Good Camel Coat by Amanda O'Callaghan

The Inheritance by Elaine Miles

The Journey by Tracy Kuhn

The Little Black Dress by Della Galton

The Night Our Betty Fell Into the Abyss by Christine Bagg

The Right Angle by Keith A Morley

The Swimmer by Rosie Canning

The Value of X by Cat Ford

Unwitting Apprentice by Faith Cobaine

Village Gossip by Kerry Chiron

Want a thrill? by Robert Wood

When She Comes Home by Joanne Fox

Wolf in the Forest by Wendy Clarke

Words and Their Meanings by Ian Burton