Hello everyone. This month I received 39 entries from 20 authors, some funny, some sad, and as you’ll see, I’ve picked a variety.
One was disqualified for being 99 words (with no obvious reason why, i.e. no added punctuation that didn’t count as a word) which was a shame, especially as it was submitted on 1st April! Fortunately the author had submitted two other stories. However one of those had an extra ‘to’ in it so deleting that took the story down to 99 words. A story by another multi-entrant was effectively 99 as it had an extra ‘the’ in it. Again a great story but again, two others to choose from.
Another (from a newbie) had a rogue ‘said’ so removing it took the story down to 99 words. Sadly, it was the only story from that author, although I did receive two revised versions of the same story which, as per the rules, I didn’t accept. Another 99-worder was so because it had a row of asterisks which don’t count as a word (as per the rules) and although from a regular entrant, it was their only one this month so their opportunity ended there.
Finally another story was disqualified for having no (apparent) relevance to the theme of ‘fool’.
PLEASE read and re-read your stories before submitting them. This also shows the importance of sending in three stories.
Another was disqualified for being two words over… because the words were connected with ellipses (…) so when separated, pushed the word count over (see the rules on this matter) which was a real shame because it was a really clever story (Beatles themed – I’m a big fan!). Fortunately, again, the author had sent two other stories, both on the word count. Yay.
The winning stories are ones that I reacted most favourably to. They were clever, surprising, eek-making (in a good way), or gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. You may have chosen a different order or indeed not placed one or more of them so if you entered and didn’t find your story / stories here, don’t lose heart. You probably only just missed out (there were originally eight highly commended then I whittled down to the maximum three) so do enter new stories this month*, next month, whenever you like. It’s an ongoing competition and free, so you could win at any time. There were new and familiar names this month so anyone could win… it’s all dependent upon whether your story grabs me, for whatever reason (whether it be clever, funny, unusual, quirky, or sweet).
For the first time ever, and I may well do this again, there are some ‘Honorable Mentions’. They don’t win anything but they were so close to being Highly Commended that I wanted them to know how close they came. It’s still something for them to put on their CVs.
*The theme for May is ‘comic’, which doesn’t just have to be about humour – there is more than one meaning of a word – and you can submit your entries (do send three!) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Wednesday 31st May.
So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month.
First place (winning free access to three of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £60 / $60) or a free edit and critique of up to 2,000 words (worth £14 / $18):
Ash Nazir with ‘Master of Disguise’
The Job Centre adviser stared at the claimant. “Why the long face?”
“Little mishap,” Bottom said. “With a feisty fairy. Turned my head into a donkey’s. Will it affect my benefits?”
“As long as you’re available for work. What can you offer an employer?”
He smiled, showing his goofy teeth. “Laughter and fun. I was a Fool for Queen Titania and King Oberon.”
“Why did you leave?”
“Short contract. Only for midsummer.”
The adviser perused the form. “How will you fit into an office environment?”
“Like this.” Bottom stuck a moustache on his snout and put on some glasses. “Ta-da!”
Second place (winning free access to two of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £40 / $40) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,500 words (worth £11 / $14):
Paul Isaac with ‘Not Okay’
Caught adrift in a supermarket aisle, grief, pure and simple, washed through me like a wave. I hastily concocted cover and dropped some canned food onto my foot.
‘These damned hands!’ I said, forcing a smile through freshly salted cheeks. ‘Help me pick these up will you?’
‘No.’ My son’s eyes were smouldering. ‘You’re not hurt. You’re crying. Again. You’re not fooling anyone,’ he sighed. ‘Just admit it.’
Ten years young and freshly motherless, it should be me keeping him afloat. An approaching sea of faces whispered their symphony of sympathy.
Worse. They circled with concern.
Joint third place (winning free access to one of my online creative writing courses (currently worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9):
Carol Pryke with ‘Dinner Four Too’
Zak perused his handiwork. He was pleased Chef had let him loose on menu preparation.
Starters: Crawn Poptail. Carrot Sloop. Pish Flatter.
Main course: Chigh and pips. Gammon and pony apple. Post rork.
Sweat course: Strawberry pool. Cares and mustard. Clueberries and bream. Janana and Belly.
“Oh, what a choice,” he mused. “Hey, Boss, done the menu.”
“Sure ya spelt it right today, Zak? ‘Old beef and salad’ yesterday was not very appetising. Nor was ‘Scrumbled Oggs’.”
Grabbing the screwed-up paper, Chef waved his ladle about. “Fool. Haven’t you learned anything? It should be gammon and pineapple, NOT pony apple.”
Laura Besley with ‘Farewell’
‘Angela?’ I lean over the partition.
She blinks once before looking up from her computer. ‘Hi, Derek.’
‘Oh, right. See you on Monday.’
‘No, I’ve got a new job. I won’t be back.’
She blinks three times. ‘But?’
‘But you can’t.’
‘I can’t? What do you mean?’ My heart clacks as quickly as the keys on the computers around me.
‘Nothing. Ignore me. Good luck.’
‘Thank you. I… uh… no, nothing. Take care.’
She nods. ‘You too.’
I walk away, turning back only once, to see her blinking rapidly whilst looking out at the early evening sky.
Highly commended (winning my Entering Writing Competitions course worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9) – in alphabetical order:
- Helen Jones with ‘Strawberry Fool’
- M W Brown with ‘Phoneutria’
- Sarah Treadwell with ‘Nobody’s Fool’
And new! Honorable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Danielle Henderson with ‘A Brief Encounter’
- Elizabeth Kearney with‘Joy Fool’
- Jennie Gardner with ‘Knicker-bicker-glory’
- Pamela Humphrey with ‘Just A Fool’
- Sibbo with ‘The Takedown’
Congratulations, everyone. The entries for this month are already drifting in. Remember, you can send up to three per month so rather than miss out on a chance by sending one story, do submit more.
If you’ve enjoyed these stories and / or just want to leave a comment, please do so below and / or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org., although I won’t (can’t) discuss forthcoming entries unless it’s a general query.