Hello everyone and welcome to the forty-fourth month of this competition. Last month I received 32 entries from 15 authors for the theme of ‘making a claim’. NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked.
Not an easy choice this month – as if they ever are! – with me rearranging the stories several times before finally plumping for the order that appears below.
One was disqualified for only being 99 words (according to Word). It did include a correctly hyphenated word so it could be possible that the (regular) entrant counted that as two words. Fortunately it wasn’t the only story the author submitted – it’s always worth sending three… although sometimes that makes my job harder as I struggle to choose between two (or three) of them!
A second was also 99 words (with two words that should have been one) but was the only story submitted by that author, a regular to the competition, so missed out. 😦
Another was disqualified for including the three-word title in the word count and sadly the only other story submitted by the author had two words separated by an … ellipses with no space in between so once separated, made a 101-word story. It’s only fair to everyone to correct the stories to check the correct word count. It’s always worth submitting three stories for this reason.
Another was 102 words because two words had been incorrectly hyphenated (as it stood alone rather than being before a noun, e.g. it was half term rather than a half-term holiday) and another put together, as one word, when they should have been separated. If in doubt, I go by the Oxford English Dictionary (e.g. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bed_sheet).
Another story had a hyphenated word that did preceded a noun but it was an adverb, a quickly-prepared picnic – https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/6-common-hypercorrections-and-how-to-avoid-them/assuming-that-all-final-consonant-sounds-in-french-are-silent(the fourth of the six) explains. Fortunately the author had submitted two other stories, one of which was successful.
Another author was not so lucky by submitting a story that was, when the punctuation was connected to the relevant words, only 92 words and one of those (a spare ‘it’) shouldn’t have been there. The story was submitted three days before the competition so time to have reread it and ensure it was correct. It’s a shame because it was really good but the author’s only story so missed out this month and sadly new to the competition so a treble shame.
Please please do read your stories carefully. There was a story, for example, which contained an ‘eighteen’ rather than ‘eighteenth’ and ‘where’ instead of ‘were’ – simple mistakes but judges mark down mistakes to be fair to every entrant. Fortunately in this instance, the author had submitted two other stories, one of which went on to the final batch.
If grammar isn’t your strong point, please do ask someone else to read your story and give you feedback on it. There’s no harm doing that anyway. 🙂
I recommend using something like https://wordcounter.net to check your word count, which leads to grammarly.com if you click on the ‘grammar & spell check’ option, although it didn’t pick up on the rogue full stops and commas. 😦
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). Sometimes a story beats another because it has a strong link to the theme so it’s worth writing a story to the theme rather than tweaking a story you already have to loosely fit it.
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 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).
Apart from the top three and highly commended, 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 May is ‘irresponsible’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Friday 31st May. Details and entry forms on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/100-word-free-monthly-competition. 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):
Jennie Cordner with ‘This Should Be Fun’
“Come camping,” they said. “It will be fun.”
Why didn’t I refuse? I broke my neck tripping over a bloody tent peg. For thirty years, I’ve been confined to a wheelchair.
The telephone rings. “I’m calling about your accident,” they say.
I like to engage in these distractions from everyday life and reply, “I’m so glad you called. I’d like to make a claim.”
They are unable to hide their enthusiasm for my suffering.
“The date of your accident?” they ask.
“Let me think. Yes, June 19 1989.”
Still, once I Google “accident,” someone else will call tomorrow!
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):
Laura Besley with ‘As One’
‘But how will I know which is the right one?’ I ask.
My mother kisses my forehead. ‘Women have been claiming hearts for generations, love. You will know.’
There are rows and rows of them, all beating to their own rhythms. Choosing seems impossible. My own heart flails like a fish on land, until my eyes rest on a small heart at the back, tight as a fist, but slow and steady.
‘That’s the one,’ I whisper.
And its owner, my life partner, appears. We leave hand in hand, hearts beating in unison, bound together until one of them stops.
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 Allison with ‘Living the Dream’
“This is everything we’ve ever wanted.”
Beth stands on the veranda surveying the rolling hills beyond the scented cottage garden.
“Last night there was a family of badgers playing on the lawn. We never got to see anything like that from the council flat.”
Pouring a glass of champagne, she lets out a contented sigh.
“Who would believe we could own a place like this? Apart from me. I always did. I believed it when I took out the life insurance policy. When I put the weed killer in your food.”
She raises a glass.
“Here’s to living the dream.”
Highly commended (winning my Entering Writing Competitionscourse worth £20 / $20) or a free edit and critique of up to 1,000 words (worth £7 / $9) – in author alphabetical order:
- Celine Curtis with ‘Hell at Heaven’s Gate’
- Justin Rultonwith ‘Clown and Out’
- Lestie Mulholland with ‘We Came, We Saw, We Went’
- Paul Mastagliowith ‘Within Touching Distance’
- Shona Small with ‘Last Call’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in author alphabetical order:
- Jane Broughton with ‘Oh Brother!’
- Lee Thomas with ‘I’d Like To Make A Claim’
- Valerie Fish with ‘Heartbeat’
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.