Hello everyone and welcome to the thirty-eighth month of this competition! Last month I received a whopping 62 entries from 34 authors for the theme of ‘departure’. So especially tough this month to pick a top thirteen (ish). In fact I didn’t so there are two seconds, two thirds and several more honourably mentions this month. 🙂 NB You can all send in three stories for a better chance of being picked! At the time of writing this (20th November), there have been eleven entries but then I do usually get a flurry towards the end of the month (and sometimes within the last couple of hours).
This time, one story was disqualified for being 104 words but fortunately the author had sent two other stories, one of which was my favourite of the three so no harm done. Another was 101 with no obvious reason for the extra word. Another was 97 because the author had counted a hyphen / dash as a word… or more likely, Word had counted the standalone – hyphens in the word count so that when I corrected them to the longer – dash, the word count dropped. 😦
A story was disqualified for being a tweaked version of a previously submitted story. The rules do state that the first version only will be accepted.
Another author submitting three stories had one disqualified for being 99 words. Another author submitting two stories had one of them with two words that should have been hyphenated taking the story down to 99 words. Another the opposite; had a hyphenated word where the description was an …ly adverb so no hyphen required, taking it up to 101.
Another story lost points for having ‘breathe’ (verb) instead of ‘breath’ (noun). The author had already sent in a different story which I preferred so ultimately it didn’t matter.
This probably all sounds very harsh but I need to be fair to everyone. Oh, and underfoot is one word not two. 😦
A little tip for you: where you have more than one character of the same gender in a story, do make sure that every time you have a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ it refers to the character just mentioned. Even if you don’t have any names,
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 stronger 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 November is ‘owing a debt’ – to be used however you wish – and you can submit your entries (and do send three) at any time up to midnight (UK time) on Friday 30th November. 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):
Bridget Scrannage with ‘Checkmate’
The king had planned every move and counter move from the start. Seduce her. Get married. Mould her into who he wanted her to be.
He surveyed the emotional chessboard in his mind and considered options. If she did this next, then I did that, she’d be conquered. I’d declare victory. But what if she changed tactics? He pondered a myriad of scenarios.
Meanwhile, his opponent’s disengaged. The queen can move in any direction. She has. To a new town. A new life. Far from him. The deluded king, absorbed in his strategies, hasn’t realised he was always her pawn.
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):
Celia Jenkins with ‘Departure from Reality as I Take the Big Black Dog for a Walk’
I know who I am. I wake, work, eat, sleep… live.
And then the transition from my normal mind, gloom at bay, just living my life, happens in a beating of charcoal wings, pure pitch darkness, every ounce of my being enveloped, the big black dog sighing on my chest once again; sinking, drowning, I’m lost in the fug, the haze, breath caught in my throat, catching, can’t think, can’t think, can’t breathe, I’m gone. Downwards. Spiralling. Despair.
Then suddenly, like a brick to the back of the head, the depression recedes and I return to who I was. Breathe.
Karen Lawrence with ‘Making Way’
She watched his chest rise and fall, holding her breath every time it seemed his stopped. At ninety-seven her father should be ready to leave. He had a firm belief in an afterlife, which gave Muriel comfort. Aware that her granddaughter was, at that moment, giving birth to the first of their next generation she found her emotions irrational, demanding he should wait to hear, impatient for him to depart. A sound signalled a text.
‘Dad, he’s here now. A strapping boy, like you hoped. They’re calling him Alexander after you.’
He let go, making space for the new life.
Joint third place (each 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):
Anne-Marie Latter with ‘Factor 30’
“I thought it would be hotter,” the woman said, as she leaned back and enjoyed the warmth on her face. “This is nice, but I just expected more heat.”
“It’s a common misconception about this place,” her companion replied. “It’s actually pretty comfortable all year round. You don’t want to burn or get heatstroke on your first day, do you?”
The woman smiled. She had been so worried about this trip but it was turning out to be quite pleasant.
The devil smiled too. He loved messing with the new people. Wait until she realised this room had air conditioning.
Rachel Barnett with ‘The Actor’
George Departure. You know? Foreign. Big nose. Acted in loads of eighties rom-com films, even though he resembles the back end of a bus.’
I shook my head. ‘No idea who you mean, sorry.’ I reached for my glass, draining it. ‘Give me another clue.’
‘You must know. He was in “Cyrano de Bergerac”.’
Bernice frowned. ‘No. George Departure. He’s French. I told you.’
‘Hang on, do you mean Gerard Depardieu?’
‘Yes, that’s what I said. George Departure. Do you know who I mean now?’
I nodded, grinning as I lifted our empty glasses. ‘Fancy the same again?’
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 alphabetical order:
- Astra H. Lowelle with ‘Wave Goodbye’
- enrayn with ‘He Left Me’
- Ian Marshall with ‘Window Shopping’
- Laura Besley with ‘The List’
Honourable mentions (not winning anything but only narrowly missing out and still looking good on their CV) – in alphabetical order:
- Alan Barker with ‘One Way Trip’
- Angela Greenwood with ‘The Farewell’
- Barbara Young with ‘Joan of Arc’
- Catherine Busby with ‘Taking a Breather’
- Jennie Cordner with ‘This is Me’
- Justine Laws with ‘Never, Ever’
- Lesley McLean with ‘Estranged’
- Lestie Mulholland with ‘Flirting with my Future’
- Patricia Cooksley with ‘Lonely Bird’
- Terri Mertz with ‘Nondisclosure’
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.