Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Third Quarter 2013

First: Animals That Live Amongst Us by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Second: Toast by Jane Cooper

Third: Sun by Sophie Smith

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

 

Highly Commended: Dark Side of the Moon by KM Elkes

 

Judge’s Report for the third quarter’s competition 2013 from Rachel Abbott

 

I was seriously impressed with the quality of the entries in the short list. I had expected to be able to read through and dismiss a fair number of stories at the first reading – but that wasn’t the case. Far from it. I wasn’t able to eliminate any single story on the first read through, so I knew this was going to make the final judging tough.

In the end, I suspect that a high percentage of the stories could have achieved a top three place, so I had to create a scoring system. Points were awarded based on the quality of the story – did it grab my imagination and was I hooked? Next I considered how well the emotions had been expressed – how had the writer made me feel? And the final assessment was on the use of language, with marks knocked off for grammatical or punctuation errors (of which there were very few).

I finally had a shortlist of fourteen!

It is worth noting that there were a couple of stories that I thought were really well written, very emotional, and should have made the top three, but they were slightly spoilt by the writer creating a strong image of the situation through excellent descriptive passages, but then stating the obvious in case the reader had missed it. These writers need to have more faith in their ability, because as I reader I got it without the need for explicit clarification.

It was an excellent experience for me, and I felt that I learned a lot about making short sequences work brilliantly.

 

1st: Animals That Live Amongst Us

The story is told from the point of view of a young woman, sitting cross-legged in town, making paper animals from pages ripped from a book. We wonder what her story is, and why she is drinking vodka straight from a bottle. We realise that she makes the animals because it is an activity that soothes her. It takes away some of the pain of her life. But the focus of the story turns to those watching – those demonstrating an interest in her now that she is doing something unusual; something they can define as art. And yet these are the very same people who may previously have chosen to ignore her, or turn away from evidence of her suffering.

 

2nd: Toast

Toast is the story of a marriage that is falling apart. In just one year since their marriage, the husband’s life has changed. And not for the better. Redundant, and struggling to find the motivation to look for work, his wife has begun to treat him with disdain. The author does an excellent job of showing the wife’s contempt and the husband’s sense of failure in such a short number of words, and the story reaches an interesting climax when even in a battle of wills with the toaster, the husband comes off worst.

 

3rd: Sun

The competition for third place was tough, but in the end I chose Sun because I felt the writer had managed to evoke a real feeling of illicit passion – from gentle, innocent kisses to the point where lust takes over. And in this story, Lust can only visit at night, when the couple can’t be seen. As the sun comes up, the two girls revert to being who they are expected to be, with just stolen moments until the night comes and they can be together again. 

 

Highly Commended: Dark Side of the Moon

The writer paints a picture of the horror of losing a child. In a busy fairground, it takes seconds of inattention for a child to go missing, and a lifetime of regrets. I liked the link between the child being lost as the carousel spins her round and out of sight, and the lives and thoughts of the parents, spinning round, exploring every moment leading up to her loss, and every hope and fear since that day.

 

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

 

Animals that Live Amongst Us by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Bigger Than the Sky by Sam Mealin

Blackbird by Sally A. Johns

Countdown by Susan Howe

Dark Side of the Moon by KM Elkes

Divorce by Edwina Jones

Down Among the Gillyflowers by Catherine Edmunds

Kill Me One More Time by Peter Yates

Message Understood by Susan Howe

Moments by Eran Wesselius

Not Finding Our Mam by Douglas Bruton

Object of Local Importance by Peter Burns

Raise the Dead Phone App: A Review by Susan Petrone

Shenanigans by Rachael Dunlop

Sun by Sophie Smith

Toast by Jane Cooper

Tomorrow by Jamie Stacey

Under Observation by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Various Things about Leaving by Karen Jones

Walking Alone by E. Avery Cale

Wash Day by Mandy Huggins

Weight by Lauren Sudworth

Windows of the Soul or Whatever by Natalia Theodoridou

You Can Get Everything at the Retail Park by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Your Name is Leda by Catherine Edmunds

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

....and the Devil Walks Amongst Us by James Jordan

Animals that Live Amongst Us by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Bigger Than the Sky by Sam Mealin

Blackbird by Sally A. Johns

Coming Clean by Anna Ellam

Countdown by Susan Howe

Dancing in Snow by Mandy Huggins

Dark Side of the Moon by KM Elkes

Divorce by Edwina Jones

Down Among the Gillyflowers by Catherine Edmunds

Heads or Tails by Geraldine M. O'Neill

Holes by Sherri Turner

Kill Me One More Time by Peter Yates

Message Understood by Susan Howe

Moments by Eran Wesselius

Mr Thoroughgood by Alison Wassell

Nice Bum Rating by Patsy Goodsir    

Not Finding Our Mam by Douglas Bruton

Object of Local Importance by Peter Burns

Playback by Nick Metcalfe

Raise the Dead Phone App: A Review by Susan Petrone

Saltwords by Natalia Theodoridou

Scissor man by Nigel Tomlinson

Shenanigans by Rachael Dunlop

Shrinking giants by Freya Morris

Smells like Geraniums by Marie Gethins

Sun by Sophie Smith

Sunlight and Frost by John Revington

Sychosis by Barbara Leahy

The Art of Hiding by James Jordan

The Dam by Philip Ogley

The Last Lunch by Laine King

Toast by Jane Cooper

Tomorrow by Jamie Stacey

Turning Worms by Lorraine Blencoe

Under Observation by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Useless Without the Other Half by Vanessa Savage

Various Things about Leaving by Karen Jones

Volvo by Harriet Shawcross

Walking Alone by E. Avery Cale

Wash Day by Mandy Huggins

Weight by Lauren Sudworth

What Friends Do by Cathriona Slammon

Windows of the Soul or Whatever by Natalia Theodoridou

Worms by A.M.Hall

You Can Get Everything at the Retail Park by Ceri Lowe-Petraske

Your Name is Leda by Catherine Edmunds