Hello everyone. This month I received 41 entries from 22 writers. Two stories were disqualified for only being 97 and 98 words as they included the two- / three-word title. Fortunately, that author later submitted a third story which was 100 words spot on (excluding the title) so that went through for consideration. It’s very unusual for competitions to include the title in the word count so do check the rules before entering. A new author to this competition submitted three stories (yay) but sadly two were disqualified for being 97 words. One had three dashes in them which don’t count as words (and Word doesn’t include them in the word count) – as I state in the rules. The other had two dashes so not sure where the other word was missing but fortunately the third story was 100 words exactly. Another author (a regular) submitted four stories so the fourth was discounted. Another story (from a regular) was disqualified because one of the opening speech marks had come detached from its neighbouring word so when reattached only totalled 99 words.
One (from a newbie to this competition) was really clever but sadly didn’t make the shortlist as it had a flat ending. One author submitted the same story twice but I just filed the second version as the rules state that the first entry of a story is the one accepted. There were also a couple that didn’t have anything to do with ‘ticking’ (the theme). Shame. Another had the word ‘state’ where it should have read ‘stay’ and had an apostrophe in a plural word so lost points for those (and missed out on a joint third-place slot). Yes, I’m harsh but fair to everyone. Quite a few new names this time so well done and do enter again.
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 (without being sickly). My favourite reminded me of adventure games (by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson) I used to play as a teen… with a clever twist.
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 (I usually have too many highly commended / honourable mentions then have to whittle them down) so do enter new stories this month*, next month, whenever you like (but not in advance!).
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).
Again there are some ‘Honourable 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 September is ‘afraid, very afraid’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three so you have a better chance of reaching the shortlist) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Saturday 30th September.
So without further ado, below are the successful entries this month.
Paul Isaac with ‘Letter Bomb’
You arrive home to a package. It’s ticking, and it’s signed by your crazy ex. Do you open it?
(Read your choice backwards.)
Chance a stood never you, damn. Detonator remote the blow they before see you thing last the is face crazy ex’s your. Bushes the in movement there’s. Phone your for reach you or, run to try you.
Cared they know you time this least at, hey. Detonator remote the blow they before see you thing last the is face crazy ex’s your. Bushes the in movement there’s. ‘You love I’ reads clock ornamental engraved an.
Lyndon Loweth with ‘My List’
Eat an oyster, ‘Oh God, THE worst thing that’s ever been in my mouth.’
Get a tattoo, ‘Doh! Should’ve made sure the tattooist wasn’t dyslexic.’
Go to bed with twins, ‘Why didn’t I put that down twice?’
Text a random number to say “I’ve hidden the body”, ‘The police have a very poor sense of humour.’
Spend a night in gaol, ‘Hmm, see above’
Do a bungee jump, ‘Wish I’d taken my false teeth out first!’
Crossdress for a day, ‘Wow, that was an eye opener.’
‘So I’ve finished ticking off my list, the only thing left is… the bucket.’
Veronica Whittaker with ‘Ticking to a Different Beat’
Grandfather clock, with pendulous gait, crumbling into weighted wintering days.
Grandmother clock, with flat cracked face, stumbling into those last seconds of living.
Father, with his snapped shut fob watch, watching the world with a shuttered mind.
Mother, with her alarm clock, wound up so tight, face open wide, always on edge.
Son, with his Fitbit, eyes fixed forward, sprinting too fast to see what he’s missing.
Daughter, with her Mickey Mouse watch, arms cartwheeling with joy, too young to care,
yet all of them ticking, all of them striking, and all of them coming together to tell their time.
- Gaynor Jones with ‘The Time it Takes’
- Kai Michael Neumann with ‘Epigone’
- Mark Sadler with ‘The Other Body’
- Susan Carey with ‘A Woman’s Clock’
- Tarquin Calver with ‘The Watch’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Andy Morfett with ‘Tick… Tock?’
- Carol Pryke with ‘Ticking Until July’
- Laura Besley with ‘Eye for Detail’
- Lesley Mace with ‘Out of Time’
- Lestie Mullholland with ‘In Search of Crosses’
- Martin Fuller with ‘Box Ticking’
- Robert N Park with ‘Thirty Seconds’
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.