Hello everyone. There were 31 entries from 23 authors in February, and yes, sadly more disqualifications. One was sent 11 minutes after midnight (UK time), 4 stories weren’t written to the theme of ‘leap year’ (three from the same author, which is a real shame as they were excellent) and one of those was 99 words rather than 100 (with a hyphenated word so perhaps the author counted it as two but it does state in the rules that it counts – according to my Microsoft Word – as one). So near and yet so… you get the idea.
When you’re writing a story, I’d recommend thinking about how the reader might feel at the end of it. What you’re after is a ‘wow’. If you give it someone else and they go ‘oh, OK,’ then you know that’s not likely to get the reaction you’re after from the judge. If you get a ‘interesting’ then you’re halfway there. If you get an ‘eh?’ then you’ve definitely got a way to go. If you don’t have anyone who will give you their opinion, then write the story well ahead of the deadline, put it away for at least a week then re-read it and see how you react. Hopefully that will guide you with your edits. With this competition, you have three chances to wow me, so as long as one of them wows your friend / relative then maybe it will do the same to me. I also love clever stories as some of the winning stories are this month.
If your name isn’t mentioned this time, don’t lose heart. It was a tough month. Those picked scored between 9 and 10 so you may well have missed out and still scored 8.5. It’s very subjective. Another judge may well have picked your story.
OK, golden envelope time… (drum roll please)…
I always knew I wasn’t worth much; not even a birthday each year.
Born shortly after midnight, I sometimes imagined my stern mother holding me in until the clocks chimed.
A leap year birth was in line with the family motto of “don’t make a fuss.”
Twenty (or is that five?) today. I have not told my colleagues. I live in disconnected safety.
I get to my desk and see an envelope. I hope nobody sees my flushed face and flicker of a smile. I open the card – ‘Happy Retirement, Ron’. I sign my name, with no fuss at all.
Second placed (winning two of my online courses): Rebecca Schwenk
Mars or Bust
Midnight, February 28, 2036 – Mission Control
“You have exactly 24 hours to establish your base. After that, there’s no escape.”
“You ready for this?” Tesla asked, searching Lumen’s face. This had been an intensely challenging project. Human settlement on Mars was the goal of Earth’s most brilliant scientists. Instead, the mission had been plagued with computer anomalies, data hiccups and mechanical malfunctions.
Incredibly, science had landed Opportunity and Curiosity on the planet.
“Crap. Hand me the hammer. The ladder’s stuck again.”
Inevitably, February 29 dawned; the ladder dropped.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap year for mankind.”
Third placed (winning one of my online courses): Noelle Bryant
“Now remember, Maddie, don’t make arrangements with your friends for next Monday. We’ll all be going to the party at High Cliff.”
“But Mum, I don’t want to go. All the bratty cousins will be there. Joey always talks down to me when he’s only two days older, and the triplets are just disgusting. They pick their noses all the time, even when they’re eating. It’s gross! Georgina can’t stand me and pinches me when no-one’s looking. I hate them all!”
“Why do I have to go?”
“Well it’s Leap Year,” said Mrs Lemming, as if that explained everything.
Highly Commended (each winning my Entering Writing Competitions course), in alphabetical order:
- Jeremy Chotzen with ‘The leap of Bobby Macfee’
- Kathy Beach with ‘Monday 29 February 2016’
- Michelle Vongkaysone with ‘Bridge Of Dreams’
- ‘Pig’ Johnson with ‘All Day Today Is Time in a Half’
- Stephen Lodge with ‘Leap Year’
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