Hello everyone. This month I received 19 entries from 11 authors (probably because you were all doing NaNoWriMo… as I was!). This is the first month that no story was disqualified… yay. There was a fantastic mixture of feel good, feel sad and entertaining and just because there were fewer stories, it didn’t make the job much easier to pick the winners.
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). Some I read (more than once) and went “Huh?” That’s not a good sign… and the difference between you being the author and me being the reader. You know what you mean by something but if it’s not conveyed…
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 (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).
A new recent feature… 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 December is ‘a sign of hope’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Sunday 31st December.
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):
Karen Rodgers with ‘To Hare Or Not To Hare’
The arctic hare skips across the snowy landscape, warm in the winter climate because of her hidden blubber.
“Slippers,” says Lyn, tucking into an orange cream – her favourite. “They’re advertising slippers!”
They both stare at the T.V advert, highlighting the amazing price of their rabbit totes.
“Warm cosy feet,” sighs Bridie, adjusting her hot water bottle onto her knees, to rest beneath the blanket.
“The hares have got the right idea. Warm in their habitat.”
“An extra layer of fat will do me just fine,” says Lyn, grabbing another chocolate.
They touch hands.
Cold radiators shield the room.
Joint 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) – in alphabetical order:
Jennie Gardner with ‘Cold Hands, Warm Hearts’
It’s taken us a while to get here, more than the half an hour we’ve been walking, but finally it feels like we’re finding our way back.
First, it was me ranting, you trailing sheepishly behind. Slowly you caught up.
Eventually, we walked abreast.
The leaves budded, blossomed, fell as we learnt to skirt around thorny issues, to stroll and chat.
Holding hands we remember. Remember how to flirt, love, listen and laugh.
Today, there’s a glow to our cheeks, a faster beat to our hearts as we swing around and head for home – our hands cold, hearts warm.
M W Brown with ‘Humphrey’s Christmas’
Humphrey opened his eyes. Something was wrong. He scurried out of the bedroom.
A waft of smoke filled his sensitive snout. His paws slipped on the wooden steps as he raced downstairs.
A blaze of flame crackled from the hearth rug. Tinsel melted, raining drops of fire from the ceiling.
Humphrey barked, his lungs burning from the strain and heat.
The Christmas tree flared and toppled over, sending shards of broken glass and smouldering branches onto Humphry.
He barked through the pain until footsteps thudded overhead.
His family was safe.
Humphrey’s eyes closed for the last time.
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) – in alphabetical order:
Joe Bailey (no relation!) with ‘Christmas’
Days are short.
A family sit in their warm home; pictures of children sit on the mantelpiece; a Christmas tree draped with tinsel stands proudly in the corner.
Not everyone is so lucky during the festive holidays.
Winnifred stands in the cold street, peering at the Christmas displays, remembering the warmth in her heart when she had a family.
Now cold and homeless, Winnifred looks through the window of her old home at Christmas past, with its hand-made paperchains and lovingly decorated Christmas tree, bringing back a feeling of warmth.
Now she sits on the street. No warmth at all.
Sarah Treadwell with ‘Winter Sorrow’
All it took was one night, just one night for my world, my life to come crashing down around me.
My husband always lavished me with love and the much-needed winter warmth during the bitter winter nights.
That night however was different. That night he pulled away from me.
The light of the fire danced across the beauty of his face, highlighting the dark circles beneath his eyes.
I watched his lips move through teary eyes, his grip on my hands providing no comfort.
My heart was breaking.
My world had ended the moment he uttered the words “It’s progressed”.
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:
- Carol Shea with ‘Frozen Out’
- Jeannie Abbott with ‘Winter Bloomers’
- Veronica Whittaker with ‘Taking a Stand’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Carol Pryke with ‘Home Again’
- Charles Osborne with ‘Lucy’s Lucky Day’
- Lestie Mulholland with ‘Out of Touch’
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.