Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest
* GRAND PRIZE WINNER *
Ruby Slips and Poker Chips
by Heather Kindt
There was a lot to like in this story. It’s great way to show how an interesting character can grab us right off the bat and immerse us in a story. Readers want a character they can connect with, sympathize with, root for.
In Heather’s story, I got that. Plus, her Main Character (MC) has some flaws.
As you will see, Heather’s MC is easily likable, full of personality, and somewhat driven. We get to see where that takes her.
It is absolutely a well-written piece and it is well-deserving of first prize. It was my privilege to read it and ow it is my honor to present it to you.
This story, for whatever reason, spoke to me. I loved it from the opening lines and stayed with it all the way though. I wanted to know more and wondered what was waiting around every curve. I think it will make an enjoyable book (more on that in a sec).
I hope you enjoy it.
For winning 1st Place, Heather will receive THIS valuable prize package:
Cover Design & Publishing Package from Award Winning Moyhill Publishing (www.Moyhill.com)
This insanely great package includes
COVER DESIGN and EBOOK FORMATTING for your edited book
PROOFREADING and up to two electronic proofs with changes if needed
MARKETING COVERS (larger formats) for Amazon and Smashwords.
PROMOTION for the book placement on the shelves of the Moyhill virtual bookstore.
YOUR BOOK GETS FOUR WEEKS AS A PINNED TWEET to over 20,000 followers from Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstoreaccount.
A first time author will also be guided through the setting up of social media, author page and other marketing strategies, plus Moyhill can upload the manuscript to Amazon and Smashwords for you!
PUBLICATION of Heather’s winning piece on this website (happening now)
A GUEST BLOG POST or AUTHOR PROFILE to appear on this site soon (that’s priceless, really)
a video interview with me, should they so choose, also to appear on this site**
MASSIVE BRAGGING RIGHTS
** requires a quality high speed internet connection and a good camera on your computer or phone. Maybe other stuff. I’m not doing this at 3 A. M., okay?
DON’T FORGET: ALL contestants not winning first, second, or third place will be put into a drawing for other prizes!
HERE are some of the AMAZING AUTHORS whose books will awarded:
Allison Maruska, Project Renovatio. Author of the runaway bestseller The Fourth Descendant, Allison Maruska offers an audio book version of her latest hit, Project Renovatio.
With over 550 reviews on Amazon, The Fourth Descendant established Allison as an amazing breakout author. I read Project Renovatio. It is a brilliant, thrilling YA novel that grabs the attention of readers and holds them until the very end.
Hugh Roberts, Glimpses
28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns. You REALLY wanna win that!
Dana Wayne, Mail Order Groom, Secrets of the Heart
Dana Wayne is all about the romance! Mail Order Groom is a historical western romance. Secrets of The Heart is a contemporary romance. Both are amazing!
Curtis Bausse, Perfume Island, One Green Bottle
One Green Bottle, set in Provence, is the first in a series of Magali Rousseau detective stories. Perfume Island is the second book in the amazing series. You’ll love it!
T. A. Henry, Scripting The Truth
Any story that takes place in post-WWII Britain and has the phrase “She’ll try to do it all while trying to keep the seams on her stockings straight” has to be read. You’ll agree.
Joanne R Larner, Dicken’s Diaries, Richard Liveth Yet
One reviewer called Dicken’s Diaries “a ‘diary’ with lots of amusing stories and indeed it is a cleverly written, humorous book.” Richard Liveth Yet is Richard III as you have never seen him before! Great stories from a great writer.
Yecheilyah Ysrayl, Renaissance: The Nora White Story
In 1922 Mississippi, Nora White has graduated high school and is college bound, but she is fascinated by the prospect of being a famous writer in The Harlem Renaissance – and decides on a change of plans. Techeilyah will amaze you with this one!
and of course, ME
A few folks will be selected to receive a copy of Poggibonsi: an Italian misadventure,my hilarious sexy romp through Italy (definitely a hot commodity, so to speak) as a signed paperback or as an eBook. Don’t even ask me if I’ll sign the eBook. Just. Don’t.
And now, the 1st Place Winner in Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest
Ruby Slips and Poker Chips
by Heather Kindt
“It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings.”
Quandary Pond was situated between my house and the tiny one-bedroom shack that sat five minutes down the road. The shack was a rental, and a poorly cared for one at that. Our neighbors didn’t stay there much longer than a barefoot on the pavement outside Price Chopper in July. The house appeared lopsided to me, shingles falling off, and the siding was worn with time. Grass grew as high as my thigh and Uncle Embry often stated his intention to go over there and give the yard the weed whacking it deserved. The last residents had left in the middle of the night. I overheard Aunt Henrietta say something about drug charges.
“I’m going down to the pond!” The screen door shut behind me. Uncle Embry was at work at the air-conditioned post office and Aunt Henrietta reclined in the oversized Lazy boy trying to stay cool in the heat of the Kansas afternoon. The fan that oscillated next to the chair made more of a racket than what it was worth.
I preferred cooling off by the pond. Dressed in cutoffs and a tank from the local thrift store, my braids bounced against my back as I skipped down to my favorite hangout.
Making my way down the path from the house to the pond, I glimpsed a red station wagon sitting in front of the shack. New renters. I never really took the time to get to know anyone who lived there, since they’d probably be gone in a couple of months. Removing my shoes, I dove into the pond, no longer worried about the leeches that some of my girlfriends squealed about. After a short swim, I trudged out, settling on a drip dry as I made my way to the tree where I hid my stash. The hollow in the tree contained a jar for bug catching (usually fireflies at night), a couple bottles of water, a net, a pail and my science journal (which I kept in a plastic bag in case it rained). I picked out the net and started to creep around the reeds looking for Old Bill, the bull frog that was as large as a grapefruit and had so far avoided capture. My goal was to sketch and categorize each frog in the pond, as well as many of the insects. Rounding the bend by a large tree, Bill sat on a rock sunning himself. This was going to be the day. A crop duster flew overhead masking any sounds my feet made in the grass. I lifted my net at the perfect angle for frog catching, ready to pounce.
“Are you trying to catch that frog?”
Old Bill jumped off the rock and back into the depths of the pond. I could almost hear him laughing at me from the murky waters.
I whipped around in anger, ready to attack the big mouth with my words. “I was until you had to open your trap and scare him away!”
“I’m sorry.” The boy was older than me, and definitely not someone from my school. He had dark hair, almost black like the new tar they laid on the main road through town. A smattering of freckles dotted the bridge of his nose, probably the kind that the sun brought out in the summer. “Do you want me to try to catch him?”
“No,” I muttered. “Just go away. This is my pond.”
“The map the realtor gave us said it was called Quandary Pond, I must’ve missed the sign.” He paused and grinned. My fist had knocked that type of grin off a couple of boys’ faces before. “What’s your name anyways?”
“If I tell you, will you go away?” I kept my back to him determined to at least find a tadpole and shake away the annoying fly behind me.
“Maybe,” he said, still following. I reached the shore near the trail and set my net against a tree, refusing to reveal my other treasures.
“I’m Dottie.” I turned to start up the path to go home. “Are your parents renting the shack?”
“My mom and I just moved in yesterday.” He didn’t follow me up the path, but drew some letters in the mud on the bank with a stick. “I’m Corbin.”
“Nice to meet you.” I reached the crest of the hill. “Now stay away from my pond.”
“Hey, Dottie!” Corbin ignored my comment. I turned and rolled my eyes. The other girls at school would find him cute.
“What do you want now? Pond’s not for sale, so don’t even ask.” Corbin pointed to the letters he drew in the mud that read Dottie’s Pond.
“Just in case someone else doesn’t know, thought I’d save them the trouble of having to deal with you.” Corbin threw his stick into the pond and headed back to the rental.
The events of the night before failed to break my spirit. When I arrived at work that morning I was in a perky mood thinking about Vegas. My favorite band, Toto, was blaring from the stereo on the counter that ran along one wall of my classroom. I picked up cassette tapes at yard sales and thrift stores because that was the only way I could play music in my jeep, that also happened to be a dinosaur from the eighties. It had over two hundred thousand miles on it, but my mechanic kept it running as consistently as the little noses in my classroom.
I sang along while I passed out an addition sheet for the students to work on when they got to school. I knew I wouldn’t make it on one of those singing competitions on television, but it helped me get through my morning. As I pulled down the last chair from the top of a desk, Westward walked into the room. She stopped the music, yanked out the tape, and headed for the door.
“Hey! I was listening to that!” I wasn’t sure what her evil, diabolical plan was this time. Taking someone’s Toto cassette was a low blow, even for her.
“I will not allow this trash to be played in the school.” When I protested, she cut me short, “I need to speak to you during your planning time today. Don’t be late.” She left the room carrying my good mood with her.
At ten o’clock, I dropped my students off with Mr. Pellitier, the art teacher. He always had them free draw the first five minutes of class to spark creativity, so he stepped out into the hallway.
“What’s wrong, Dottie?” I should have known my agitated mood was written all over my face.
“I’ve got to go meet with Westward. Does that explain anything?”
He chuckled to himself putting his hands inside his art smock. Stan went to college at some esteemed art school in New York and had dreams of becoming a great artist. But I think somewhere along the line his dream changed from becoming the next great artist to inspiring the next great artist.
“Well, good luck. You know I’m on your side.” He turned back to the class.
Westward sat at her desk, typing away at the computer when I entered the room. Without a word, I sat down in a big, lilac chair and waited for her attention. The office definitely had changed since Rollins was here. Westward got Mike to paint the walls a pale pink color during the summer break. A signed picture of John Mellencamp hung on one wall alongside a gigantic poster of him in some movie. Animal print linens were used as accent pieces throughout the room including some kind of zebra blanket thrown over the lilac chair I sat in.
She continued to type, so I picked up a picture in a pink furry frame sitting on the bookshelf next to me. Westward’s hair was jet black and she had her arm around a woman who looked like her twin.
“Is your sister a principal?” Westward wore her tortoise shell glasses and her red hair was especially bright today. My Toto cassette sat on her desk like a prisoner held in this bizarre zoo. I even felt bad for Mellencamp.
“No, she’s dead and you’re late.” She continued typing away at her computer.
Instead of handing her excuses, I said, “Yep. What happened to your sister?”
She hesitated in her typing for a moment. The tension that filled the room told me she was ready to leap across the desk, strangle me to death, and add me to her collection. “A house landed on her.”
I almost spit out the gum I was chewing. “Did you just say a house landed on her?”
“Yes, I know it must all be highly amusing to you, Miss Gale, but she was my sister and it was a terrible tragedy for our whole family.” She didn’t look up the entire time, letting me know that my words didn’t bother her.
“But . . . how?” Westward almost seemed human for a moment, like a person with a real family and emotions. I didn’t think I could handle this new revelation.
“We live in tornado country, Miss Gale. Use your imagination.” She turned to look at me for the first time. “As you know, the conference starts next Wednesday. If I calculate correctly, you should probably leave this Saturday to give you plenty of time to get there.”
“You want me to drive? But that’s over a thousand miles!” My little dinosaur made it fine around town, but a drive to Vegas would be the death of her.
“How else did you think you were going to get there?” Now I was the one that wanted to leap over the desk to wipe the smirk off Westward’s face.
“Let me see . . .we happen to live in the twenty-first century. I’m sure a plane might be an effective mode of transportation.” I knew she would come up with some way to get back at me for Corbin’s rigged drawing.
“If you drive, that will save the school the money for one plane ticket. I also made arrangements through the conference website for you to carpool.” Westward picked up a piece of paper off her desk moving her finger down the print. “I have two people I want you to pick up on the way to Vegas. They’ll be reimbursing the school for your services. There’s a Mr. Fields and a Mr. Lyons.”
“And who will be reimbursing me for the gas, hotels, and mileage on my car?” My heart was racing. Westward wanted me to pick up strangers on my way to Vegas. It was one step above hitchhikers. Who knew? Maybe they were homicidal maniacs.
“Your passengers, of course.” She turned to open the window behind her and then picked up a manila envelope and handed it to me. “This envelope contains your hotel reservations in Vegas, addresses to pick up your passengers, and the flight information for myself and Mr. Lane so you can pick us up at the airport Tuesday night.”
I grabbed the envelope, slamming the door to her office on the way out. Stan stood outside the art class when I came storming down the hallway.
“Well, I can see that went well,” Stan smiled.
“Just give me the kids,” I muttered.
The alarm went off way too early on Saturday for a normal human being to be coherent, and any ounce of perkiness was out of the question. I had been up late the night before trying to map out a route to pick up the other two teachers on the way to Vegas. To hit the two towns they lived in, I could either take the Interstate or Route 66. Darkness and cold drafts surrounded me as I lay in bed thinking about the day ahead of me. Westward’s paperwork said to pick up Shay Fields in Amarillo and then continue on to New Mexico to get my five hundred miles in for the day. Pushing the covers off I thought about the daylight I was burning even before the sun had come up.
Lugging my suitcase out to the car, I felt relief over the fact that I checked the oil the afternoon before, it was still too dark to see much in front of me even though I had my porch light on. Opening the back door, I threw my luggage in and started to head back to the house to lock up. Something caught my attention, like a white surrender flag, on my driver’s side door. It was a simple mailing envelope with my name scrawled on the front. I took it inside to read in the warmth of the house.
The envelope bulged in the middle, hinting to its contents, and my curiosity level went up two notches. Ripping open the top of the envelope, I pulled out my Toto cassette elated to have it for the thousand-mile journey that loomed right outside my doorstep. A note still lay inside the envelope, so I unfolded it, already knowing who it was from.
When I was in Westward’s office yesterday afternoon, she told me that you chose to drive to Vegas. I know this has to do with our conversation the other day. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable, and I hope this tape helps a little. I swiped it off Westward’s desk when she left the room. Maybe you need this road trip to figure some things out, and I hope you find what you’re looking for along the way. I’ll see you on Tuesday.
I slid the letter into my coat pocket and held the cassette in my hand knowing my need to blast it this morning. I hopped in my jeep, reversed it into my turnaround spot, and started down my driveway just as the first light entered the sky. A strange and new feeling swept over me passing the outskirts of Quandary, a feeling that my life was about to begin.
It has been my pleasure to showcase these amazing writers. Look for interviews and more on them in the upcoming weeks.
Why did it win? What spoke to me?
I loved the folksy feel to the beginning; the personality of the main character, being young but also smart – good stuff.
I felt I was in for something special and I sensed it right away.
As the story moved on, I was totally immersed. I wanted to know more and understand why people were doing what they did. Then comes a mystery, and a journey . . . Maybe you figured it out before me, but I LOVED the humor and I especially enjoyed the way this story parallels and parodies (with respect) the story on which it’s based. That’s not necessarily new; some would say there are no new stories – but finding ways to have fun and keep us reading while we know what’s coming – that’s a rare talent.
This story, for me, completely worked. I was hooked early on and stayed with it all the way through.
And I am going to work VERY HARD to make sure this story gets published – a special treat that nobody knew about until right now, not even Heather. I wanna help steer this thing to where I believe it is destined: PUBLICATION. Soon. More on that as we go.
For now, join me in celebrating this moment with a very talented author, Heather Kindt.
If you liked this story, please share it on StumbleUpon and other social media so our winners can get the recognition they deserve.
Tomorrow, the 2nd place winner in the Word Weaver Writing Contest:
Cobalt Point by Anne Marie Hilse
If you would like to sponsor our October 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest and get this kind of exposure for your product or service, please contact me.