Hello everyone. We had another bumper crop of entries (twenty-six with a couple coming in close to the clichéd wire!). I had to disqualify one story this month because it was only 94 words, another two because they were 99 (with no hyphenated words and I couldn’t see where the word would be missing), a third had a word missing (please do treble-check your entries before clicking on ‘submit’) so adding it in would make it 101, and a fourth was 103. It’s a shame because they were really good stories but I have to be fair to everyone. FYI bullet points don’t count as words and words followed by ellipses… should have a space, i.e. “I’m… er, not sure” is four words (not taken from the disqualified story, by the way).
Fortunately all the stories were written to the theme, even one entitled ‘New Beginnings’ which could have also fitted January’s theme of ‘a fresh start’ but had a Christmas theme too (sorry, Paul, you can’t enter it again!).
There were a couple of stories that didn’t quite make the highly commended list because I was hoping for a twist that didn’t come. It therefore made them a little flat. Still good, but flat nonetheless. In fact, this month was probably the toughest so far (as you’ll see from the amount of successful entrants) and the stories just keep getting better, making my job not at all easy. Thank you. But seriously, thank you for entering, for such enjoyable reads and don’t despair if you didn’t make the list, you probably only just missed out (all the Highly Commendeds scored a nine out of ten!). Try again for this month’s theme which is ‘a fresh start’.
So, without further ado… <opens gold envelope> The winners are…
First place (winning three courses of her choice): Celine with ‘Christmas Angel’
“Mummy, when a star explodes, where do all the bits go?” My daughter smiled up at me.
“They make new stars!” I stammered. “And people too – we are all made from star dust”.
“Then why don’t we shine?”
“You do shine! All the time.” My words choked me.
“So why didn’t that driver see me?”
“He did! He swerved to avoid you… hit a post… then you.” I sobbed.
“Mummy don’t cry! I’m now the biggest, brightest angel on top of the Christmas tree – ever!” I turned to look at the tree; when I looked back, my angel had vanished.
Second place (winning two courses of her choice): Allyson Salmon with ‘A Wish for Christmas’
Violet’s quavering voice fades as her extended family sing the last notes of the Christmas carol and her glass falls to the floor.
“I just want one more Christmas dinner with my parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts.” she whispers. “I want to sit with them by a roaring coal fire with Christmas carols on the wireless and eat mince pies.”
A hand takes Violet’s hand.
“Merry Christmas, Violet. Leave the table and sit here by me.” It’s chaos at the table as chairs are thrown back. “They’ll be fine without you.”
“Merry Christmas, Gran. Merry Christmas, Mum. Merry Christmas, Dad.”
Joint third place (winning one course of his choice): Chad Lutzke with ‘Unwrapping A Lesson’
Two presents lay under the tree, identical in size and shape. Richard ripped into the first with a determination that can only be exhibited by that of a child. The present was exactly what he’d hoped for. He awarded his parents with gracious hugs.
Time for the final gift.
After unwrapping it, Richard sat confused; the gift was the same as the first.
His mother smiled and spoke: “Son, we’ve given you the gift of giving. Now share this with the boy down the lane and ready your heart.”
Within the hour, Richard would understand the gift he’d been given.
Joint third place (winning one course of her choice): : Linda Mallinson with ‘Can Do’
Jane stood the Christmas tree on a recently polished wooden stool.
Ejecting the dog, she produced a can of flea spray and used it liberally on the carpet round the fir.
The smell of last night’s Chinese take away was masked by a squirt of honeysuckle air freshener.
She didn’t stint on the hair lacquer either as she coated the tree branches to stop the needles dropping.
Tinsel and lights were added.
Opening a small cardboard box, Jane gently extracted the fairy and placed her on top of the tree.
The fairy coughed, three times, and flew up the chimney.
Highly commended (each entrant receiving a coupon code for the Entering Writing Competitions course*) – in first name order:
- Caroline Hurley with ‘Trespasses’
- Debasree Banerjee with ‘Season of Love’
- Kathy Beach with ‘Personal Profile: Santa Claus’
- Kathy Schilbach with ‘A Christmas Story’
- Lesley Middleton with ‘Christmas for One’
- Paul Chiswick with ‘New Beginnings’
- Paul Isaac with ‘Comet’
- Sally Hewitt with ‘Me, Mulling’
- Sam Palmer with ‘Christmas Present’
*Anyone winning this course for the second (or third!) time can donate the code to a friend.
So, congratulations everyone. As you can see, so many strong entries this month and many just missed out on the top spots. I’ll be in touch shortly with your codes.
You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).
You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.
If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.