Hello everyone. This month I received 30 entries from 18 authors. One was disqualified for being only 99 words but the author had sent more than one story (always advisable) so there was another to choose from. Another lost its way for only being 98 words (with a two-worded title so that making up the 100 words) and unfortunately the only that author made which is why I suggest entering the maximum of three stories. If one gets published here, you’d still have the other two to send elsewhere. A third story was disqualified for not sticking to the ‘the outskirts’ theme.
Two others were disqualified for only being 96 and 94 words and were sadly the only entries from an author but the same author was placed last month so hopefully that’s some compensation. The word count has to be 100 exactly, not a maximum, and Excluding the title. Sorry!
Another story lost a point for a spelling mistake (a numbered date – so the spell check didn’t chuck it out). It’s easily done but you should be so thorough that it doesn’t go out with any errors.
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).
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 March is ‘superstitious’ and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Saturday 31st March.
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):
Christina Burton with ‘Freeze-frame’
I can still taste the saltiness on the ocean breeze, snapping a polaroid unbeknownst to the boy licking ice cream from his cone on the promenade.
Oh how I love walking barefoot. Sandcastles; sediment squelching through fingertips and toes. The water inviting, it embraces, cooling cheeks from suns warm kiss.
Content I watched days dulcet haze creep towards dusk as shells were pocketed meandering home.
Interrupted in thought, a whispered smile brushed his lips; capturing the still frame in sepia memory. It was that very moment the shutter called time; the image flickered and faded fizzling to the outskirts.
Joint second place (each 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):
Jacqueline Carter with ‘Ghostly Sermons’
They’re reputed to be haunted, the outskirts. Not by one soul or two, but many if you asked nearly anyone at the pub on a biting winter’s night while ale warmed bellies and cheeks alike.
You have to pass them as you travel into the town proper; standing like little matchstick rows of burnt timber and shattered glass, weeds winding tall and poking through where chance will allow.
The old church laying half caved in, a cross still standing at its altar as if it waited for ghostly sermons to begin each night when the moon rose full and round.
Valerie Griffin with ‘This Is Not How It Was Supposed To Be’
Ethel rubs her reddened hands, the skin paper thin around her gnarled and swollen joints.
Each morning she’s wheeled into the day room, and each interminably long day she sits, away from the others, watching.
She’d rather stay in her room. In fact, she’d rather not be here at all.
The staff jolly along her fellow residents in raised voices, as if volume will permeate the dementia and bring on understanding.
Ethel envies them their receding grasp on reality into blissful oblivion.
To her, every day is a frustration, her still active and witty mind stuck in her decaying body.
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):
Justin Rulton with ‘Displaced’
We used to stay up all night listening to records, marvelling at the form, examining everything about them.
We’d talk, touch, breathe the same air, see the same view.
Now we are digitised, electronically remote, we can’t interact with the things we love because they don’t physically exist.
We communicate in silence, transfixed by gadgetry we love until we are told we need something better, something newer.
Streams have replaced grooves, LCD has supplanted paper and icons have become our emotions.
We are living on the outskirts of each other’s lives, at the border of everything we used to love.
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:
- Ashling Dennehy with ‘The Runaway’s Tattoo’
- Barbara Young with ‘A Deal In The Desert’
- Jennie Gardner with ‘Kurt in the Outskirts’
- Jane Broughton with ‘Castaway’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Helen Somers with ‘Never Go Back’
- Laura Besley with ‘Mission: Recording Of Temperatures On The Outskirts Of Earth’s Atmosphere’
- Liz Smythe with ‘The Fringes of Society’
- Nancy Raynsford with ‘Living on the Outskirts’
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.