The 2nd PLACE WINNER in the March 2018 Word Weaver Writing Contest: Anne Clare, “Dark Corners”

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YOUR HUMBLE HOST

It is my pleasure to present to you the second place winner from the March 2018 Word Weaver Writing Contest, Anne Clare’s “Dark Corners.”

Anne Clare’s story was a blast to read. She hooked me from the opening and held me straight through to the end. Obviously, it was a fave of the celebrity judges, too.

Have a good time reading this story. I’ll give you my reasons for why I liked it, as well as including comments by the celebrity judges, at the bottom of the post.

Enjoy!


SECOND PLACE WINNER

2

“Dark Corners”

Anne Clare


 

 

Bonny tiptoed to the library door and peered around the frame, holding her breath. Miss Worther sat in the far corner, back bent over the desk, pen scratching across a sheet of paper.

She must be writing to that sweetheart we’re not supposed to know about. She’ll not notice I’m gone. And the other grown-ups are too busy talking about the landings in France.

Tugging on her dark plait, Bonny considered, then nodded, satisfied. She slipped through to the music room and out the French doors, the bottle of milk carefully concealed under her bulky jumper.

The June days were too long for the growing shadows to offer much concealment. She skulked towards the carriage house through the little orchard, travelling from tree to tree. She imagined she was a soldier like Daddy, evading searching German eyes.

At the last gnarled trunk, Bonny turned back to study Thrush House’s frowning face. The windows that dotted the stained stone were empty, blackout curtains in place. Even the other evacuees were absent, the little ones in bed, her brother Edward and the other big boys listening to the night’s programs.

Good. Miss Worther’s not likely to put up much fuss, even if she saw me. But I shouldn’t like to be caught by Mr. H…

Thrush House was about as good a place as they could’ve landed when Mum sent them away from the bombings, but the owner, old Mrs. Heatherington, didn’t care much for children. She’d given them over to Miss Worther, who was nice, but she was always busy at the convalescent home.  Weekends like this, when Mr. H, the old lady’s nephew came by, were the worst.

Bonny hated how Mr. H’s eyes never changed expression, even when he pretended to smile at her. He was always suddenly interested in what they were doing when Miss Worther was around. Once she had gone, he went back to scolding them whenever he decided they were “underfoot.”

The rotter can make a big house like this feel smaller than our old flat. At least out here I can get some quiet.

The main doors of the carriage house were shut, and opening them would mean wrestling with rusted hinges while standing in full view of the house. There was, however, a little door on the far side, partially hidden by an old rubbish heap and some weeds.

Bonny tugged it open, then waited for her eyes to adjust to the dusty dark.

She had been the first to think of the old carriage house as a retreat. It was all but abandoned, and the empty stalls were dim and mysterious. The corners were cluttered with interesting old pieces of wood, rusty tools and bits of harness, and it had an excellent old beam in the ceiling on which she and Edward had managed to hang a rope to swing back and forth.

Miss Worther hadn’t forbidden them to play in the carriage house –when the children rescued the first cat, she’d even suggested it as a safe home for the wee thing. However, she had suggested that they only go in during the daylight, and with an adult. She also wasn’t likely to approve of Bonny’s giving part of her milk ration away.

But, if she doesn’t know…

Bonny glanced back one last time and darted inside, pulling the door almost closed behind her.

The new kittens slept in a back corner on some tattered old horse blankets. They knew Bonny’s step and came, mewing and scrambling over each other.

Bonny played with them for a bit, cuddling their warm bodies and teasing their tiny paws. Their mother, Portia, kept to the shadows, and Bonny couldn’t spot Brutus, the tom. She spent a few moments trying to call him and peering through crannies before giving it up.

I suppose I ought to hurry back before I’m missed.

Still, Bonny took her time wiping out the discarded dish she used for the cats’ milk, careful of the large chip in the rim. She refilled it, and the kittens jockeyed for position, lapping the treat greedily.

The crack of light by the door slowly faded, the light turning rosy with sunset. The others would notice she was gone.

Bonny sighed. She stood, stretching, trying to think of one more reason to stay. Nothing. She took a reluctant step towards the door, then froze.

A low murmur drifted from the direction of the orchard- were those voices?

Men’s voices.

One sounded like Mr. H.

If he sees me, I’ll catch it for sure.

Bonny ducked far back into the corner, crouching, hoping the shadows concealed her.

“We can talk in here,” came Mr. H’s slow drawl as he opened the door. “No one uses it anymore.”

He left the door open, the last beams of light reaching towards, but not quite illuminating, Bonny’s corner.

A bulky shadow nearly filled the doorframe. The glowing end of a cigar failed to illuminate the stranger’s face. “You sure? Door wasn’t locked.” The rumbling growl of his voice sounded like the butcher’s back home.

Mr. H. sniffed. “The evacuee brats probably broke it.” His head swung around, eyes skimming over the shadows. Bonny’s skin crawled as they passed her corner, but after a moment he turned back to his companion. “So. You have a solution to my problem?”

“Half of one. I can’t get anyone down there soon enough, and there are people about who make it not worth the risk. If it didn’t have to be a rush job…”

“There’s no time to spare.”

“So you said. What’s the bloke got on you, anyway?”

“That information wasn’t part of the deal. And if you aren’t going to help me, I don’t see that we have anything more to…”

“Oh ho! Settle down now.” The shadowy stranger flicked the ash off of his cigar, his voice amused at the panic in Mr. H’s voice.

Bonny smiled. Mr. H always acted so big. Sounds like he’s gotten himself in some trouble. Serves him right.

She strained her ears, more curious than frightened.

The big man took a long drag on his cigar.  “I have some stuff that’ll do the job. I’ve got a friend on the staff, found out his medications…” he listed off some names that sounded like gibberish. “Just get one of the bottles and dump it out in the loo—it’ll look like he took ‘em all, and then give him this in his drink. He’ll be none the wiser—well, until it’s too late anyway.” He gave a harsh laugh.

Wait—what? What, he can’t mean…

                Mr. H held the little glass vial up to the light. “They won’t be able to tell the difference? What if they do an autopsy…”

“Who’ll be asking for one? He’s a mental patient. He’ll be just another victim of the war.”

“Why can’t you handle this? After all, it’s your field…”

The cigar glowed bright. “Not just mine, from what I’ve heard. Just how did your big brother end up in that alley?”

There was a long silence. Stabs of pain shot through Bonny’s foot, cramped from her sustained crouch. She held her breath and tried not to move, waiting for Mr. H’s answer. There must be some answer—none of this could be what it sounded like.

“What…that was…that was an accident.”

The other man snorted. “Lucky accident. In any case, you can’t afford me. You’ve had some losses.”

“Nothing that I won’t win back. And besides, I’ve got backup. When I inherit…”

“When Auntie kicks off you mean?  An’ a tough old bird she is.”  The cigar wiggled as he shook his head. “No. You already owe me, and I’ve done the hard work for you, getting this, getting it planned out. You’re not worth any further risk to me—not without more coin, anyway.”

“I’ve paid you more than enough. I could’ve gotten this much help from any two-bit swindler…”

“Careful, Heatherington.” The man’s growl made goosebumps rise on Bonny’s arms. “Let’s not forget how things stand. If I were to call your debts in today, for instance…” He pulled a knife out of his pocket and flicked it open. Even in the dim light, the silver blade flashed as he trimmed his fingernail. He left the blade open, and held it between his body and Mr. H’s.

Bonny’s mouth went dry, but Mr. H didn’t sound concerned. “More fool you if you did. What would you stand to gain?”

The shadow chuckled; the knife clicked shut and vanished. “True enough.” He turned to go. “Still, I wouldn’t expect any more favors. Clean up your own mess.”

Bonny hardly dared breathe as the men’s silhouettes filled the doorway. She clenched her sweaty palms together.

Just at that moment, one of the kittens rubbed against her leg.

Bonny jumped.

Her shoulder bumped the wooden wall. A board, leaning against the wall, slid sideways.

Bonny grabbed for it—too slow.

It teetered, scraped against the wall, then fell to the floor with a clatter.

Both men spun about, staring towards her hiding place. “Who’s there?” Mr. Heatherington’s voice cut the air. The other man’s hand flew to his pocket.

Silence.

Oh God, Oh God, please…

Bonny bit her lip until she tasted blood. Closing her eyes, she imagined herself as a statue.

The image of the knife danced behind her eyelids.

Mr. Heatherington took a step towards her dark corner—

Please!

                – then another.

A terrifying yowl rent the air.

Cursing, Mr. H and the stranger jumped back. Bonny nearly toppled over.

The tomcat, Brutus, streaked across the floor to her corner, yowling and hissing. Shaking with shock and momentary relief, Bonny stifled a hysterical laugh.

“Blasted cats,” muttered Mr. H. “If I had a free hand I’d drown the little beasts.”

“Hardly good sport. We’ll find better…” and the two men were gone, shutting the door behind them with a click.

Bonny’s heart pounded a frantic rhythm as she waited to be certain they were gone.  The silence stretched long, but she did not move. What if they come back? What if they find me? What would they do if they knew I heard them…

At last, legs cold and cramped, she could hold her pose no longer. Bonny drew air into her lungs with a little sob, and plopped down on the ground.

She scooped Brutus onto her lap as he came near.

“Good kitty.”

A few deep breaths later, Bonny scrambled to her feet. Brutus mewed in discontent.

I’ve got to get back to the house before anyone notices I’ve been gone!

                She didn’t want to give Mr. H any reason to wonder where she had been tonight.


 

What did I like about this story?

What spoke to me?

img_2351-11DAN ALATORRE: For me, this story had terrific tension. It set the stage without overdoing it – I like to get hints at setting without being spoon fed. I loved the snarkiness in the main character, and her multifaceted personality. She dislikes some people and likes others, as one might expect, but she takes time for stray cats, too – as children will. She read as real. Three dimensional.

The suspense and tension were terrific, building as the story went, but Anne didn’t just lay it out there. She had it go up and down in the way I believe great storytelling should.

I loved this story, and I can’t wait for more from this very talented writer.

JOHN WINSTON: Good showing over telling = 10. Authentic Dialogue: Spot on, flowed well = 10. Rising tension: Perfection = 10. Character development: Great job of developing the characters with just a few words = 9. Setting and description: I thought this was brilliant. Nice combination of action, description, setting, and even dialogue in such an economy of words. I could visualize all the scenes clearly = 10

JENIFER RUFF: Overall this writing is very clean. Either the author is just darn lucky to be able to write this way, or she put in the time to do a really nice job. There’s really nothing in it that doesn’t add to the story. The imagery is clear, the timing and pace are consistent. I felt like I was watching it happen.


This was a terrific story, as I’m sure you agree.

  • Join us Thursday for a profile on Anne Clare.

  • Friday, it’ll be the first of our two 3rd place winning stories, Excavation Murder by Victoria Clapton

  • Saturday will feature the second of our two 3rd place winners, Dreamers by Heather Kindt

  • and much more! We’re just getting started!

Right now, please join me in congratulating our 2nd place winner, Anne Clare

See you tomorrow!

Profile of Word Weaver 1st Place Winner Geoff LePard, author of “What If?”

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your humble host

What goes on inside the writerly mind?

Let’s sit down with Word Weaver Writing Contest Winner Geoff Le Pard and find out.

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006, and he hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels, he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

Here’s our Word Weaver Profile of Geoff Le Pard, done BEFORE he knew he won the contest – as were all the profiles. (I added a short update at the end from a comment he made after he found out he won.)


  1. Dan: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?

Geoff: It was a standalone story, that had been bubbling around for a while

  1. Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?

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author Geoff Le Pard

I’m what you might call an organized pantser when it comes to novels. Most times I have an idea – sometimes just a phrase or a scene – which I might mix with an idea for a character or setting. If I think that has legs I will write a few pages and see if it grabs me. If so then I can go one of two ways. Mostly I just carry on writing, anything between 10,000 and 30,000 words, without giving much thought to plot holes, arc, character development etc – at this point it’s all about the story and the scenes that seem to follow one from the other. I have, however occasionally plotted a few steps forward and then written. What I don’t do it plot very far ahead. After I have a chunk of work, I will review it in detail, looking for themes and strands, twists and deceptions and begin to note them down. I will now be able to write on. Often I will not have a clear ending yet but sometimes the ending is clear, it’s just the journey to it that I have to find. If I don’t have the ending I have learnt I will find it, I just have to ‘write towards the light’ as I think of it. And then the editing begins and that takes me ages….

  1. Where do you do your writing?

When my father died I inherited his old desk – he wrote poetry. It was a crappy reproduction dark wooden thing with a leather insert on the top. I painted it a reddish pink and covered it on family photos – my ‘memory desk’ – with my mother and father front and centre. If I need inspiration, I sweep away the papers and pick an obscure great aunt in some 1930s wedding and imagine her as a character… and if all fails, I open the drawer and smell dad… that scent won’t ever go!

  1. Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

Quite a simple one, really; continue to write novels and short stories and publish them; if someone reads them and likes them, even better – but it is the writing and publishing that counts for me. On the way I want to improve what I write too, and I don’t see that learning process slowing any time soon

  1. What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

Time and suppressing the guilt I feel about everything else I could/should be doing! More specifically writing short fiction gives me both a constant reminder of new ideas and exposes me to being creative on a regular basis

  1. What’s the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story idea? Describe in detail. Inquiring minds want to know

Behind a builder’s hoarding near the office where I used to work; I was walking home past this plastic sheeting and saw a movement (it was after 9 at night and I was intrigued); it was a homeless woman with a small fire trying to cook a can of food – this in central London, near the financial district. I think we were both surprised by the encounter and it lead to my novel, Salisbury Square, about the interface between the inhabitants of large cities, above and below the affluence line that divides its inhabitants

  1. What does writing success look like?

More published books, whether novels or short fiction anthologies

  1. What are you working on now?

A memoir of my mother – a change of tack this, based around some blog articles I wrote last year; It is ready to be published and my aim is to launch it in the next month.

After that I am in the final throes of a sequel to my first published book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, which is a comedy thriller and coming of age story. The sequel, The Last Will of Sven Andersen follows the hero of Dead Flies, Harry Spittle, to his first job in London. It is set in 1981.

  1. What is the best part about being an indie (or traditional) author for you?

I’m a card-carrying indie! Whatever I publish is what I want to publish; no one is telling me to include or exclude a character or theme or scene. I chose my covers (my designer is, without doubt the best) and my launch date. In short, freedom.

  1. There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?

I follow Lucy Brazier; love her stuff. She mentioned this comp, I had an idea that I’d wanted to explore without having had the right opportunity, it fit the theme of this comp so… serendipity!

11. Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

Not many; I do regular flash, some of which are judged weekly but nothing of this kind before.

12. Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, if there is one?

If the theme works for me, yes.

13. Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

Goodness, what an invitation to polish my ego! I have an ongoing battle with my writing. It pendulums between brilliant and utter dodo’s do-dos throughout the period from idea to completion. Usually by the end I’m no more than reasonably satisfied, mainly because I’ve probably edited the enthusiasm out of it. My deepest affection for a piece comes after the first edit when the basic draft feels in an ok shape. Of course, in this case, I knew it was writerly gold!!

14. What’s next for you?

After the memoir and The Last Will, I have a choice: I want to really knock into shape a book I wrote about 8 years ago and which has remained in my WIP folder since; I also have a fantastic idea for a modern fable, based on a short piece (750 words) that I wrote at Christmas. I think I’ll probably write the first draft of the new book and then re-stitch the older idea… unless I leave the new idea for Nano and start my summer with a re-stiching!

15. What was Dan’s critique process like?

Harsh but fair! Sorry, that is rather glib. Excellent, in fact. A mix of nice encouragement and good pointers. Took me a fair while to make the changes but it is a far better story now. Thank you, kind sir!

UPDATE: after Geoff found out he won, he started replying to all the comments and made this note:

Dan, what can I say? I’m humbled, delighted – no, scratch that, I’m rock ‘n’ rolled with delight; it’s like being told I have to bath in chocolate or something – and grateful. As you’ll have realised, your suggestions led to a significant redirection and refining of my story, giving me the chance to get so much more out of the word count. It’s such a pleasure to get thoughtful guidance on ones writing – someone giving of their time like this makes it so much easier to pen the next story and so on.

And to the judges, an enormous thank you for the efforts involved in judging. Obviously you are people of taste and discernment and if you’d let me know where to send the cheques, I’ll dispatch them forthwith.

And you my fellow contestants, winners and those whose turn will be next time, thank you for participating. And for such kind thoughts here (on the original post and winners announcement), too.

I think it’s time I told my wife… she’ll be anxious about the screams and hoots…


Gang, join me in congratulating Geoff for a terrific story!

Here’s where you can read more of his work:

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My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

00 2

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

00 2

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

This is available here

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

00 2

Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

00 2

Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Smashwords

Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

 

Mini Writing Conference aka Writing Craft Day

FWA Focus Day April 28 2018

 

Time to step up your game! April 28, these brilliant ladies and I will be giving you the goods, directly, on what to do to improve your writing.

Florida peeps: It’s a short hop over to the hotel!

You can learn cool stuff and then buy me a drink afterwards. We’ll talk about how awesome I am.

People In Cold Places: Use this as a spring board to get somewhere warm and beachy

and then learn cool stuff and buy me a drink and talk about how awesome I am. Or these other cool people.

It’s an awesome opportunity.

This is a great chance to get good info form great writers. We’ll answer questions you have about writing. YOUR questions. About YOUR writing.

What’s better than that?

Kicking it at the bar and sharing cocktails with other writers, that’s what.

I’ll be hanging out in the hotel all evening Saturday, so why wouldn’t we sit back and chat? Contact me from the blog or from Facebook and I’ll hang out with you.

LET’S DO IT!

HERE ARE YOUR WINNERS! Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest (March 2018)

Are you excited to see who won our March 2018 writing contest? I know I am. (Or was, I guess, because I know who won – and in a moment you will, too.)

HERE COME THE WINNERS!

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As always, it was CRAZY hard to determine the best story out of so many amazing entries. So I called on a few author friends to serve as celebrity judges.

YOUR CELEBRITY JUDGE PANEL:

Top: J. A. Alen and Lucy Brazier

Bottom: John Winston, Allison Maruska, and Jenifer Ruff

I read and critiqued ALL the entries, then selected the finalists.

The celebrity judges agreed to read the finalists, then each celebrity judge would independently rank the stories and vote for the winning story accordingly. (As did I, but they had no idea what story I liked best.)

So I sent them the stories, in alphabetical order by title, with no author names attached… and held my breath.

Then, we waited.

and waited

…and …WAITED…

I know it seemed like a long time. It WAS! Turns out Canadians use the metric system so I guess Wednesday in America is really Friday the Great White North or something. But Jenny eventually sent me her rankings.

Just kidding. Jenny did a great job, as always.

These were GOOD stories, gang.

Reeeeeally good.

Maybe some of the best stories we’ve had so far.

And it’s important to say: on a different day with a different judge, or in a different contest, ANY of these finalists’ stories could have taken the top slot.

Oh, GET ON WITH IT! WHO WON???

I know, I know. You wanna get right to the winners. Fine. Scroll down to peek (I would have already), and I’ll be here when you come back, saying the stuff that needs to be said.

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How difficult is it to look at tons of stories and figure out which one is THE BEST?

Hmm… I spent hours and hours looking over the stories, critiquing them, seeing which ones stuck out from the crowd… I award a preliminary #1 to a good story that I think could win – until a better one comes along. I’m constantly re-ordering them as I read. And I’m critiquing them as I go, to help you guys get to the next level.

Cool stuff about our Word Weaver Writing Contests

  • EACH of our winners in the prior contests have published their stories!

  • So have a few other top-placing contestants!

  • Some of the contestants were invited to be in our first “scary anthology.” (There will be another one of those coming up soon.)

  • We build GREAT relationships!

  • OTHER contests have given us contributors for another anthology (which needs to happen pretty soon but hey I’ve been busy).

  • One contestant was so good I asked to find a way for us to work together on a project down the road. And we have. (And still are. And hopefully will be for the foreseeable future.)

  • Contributors did not have to win or place, etc., in the contest to get invited to be in an anthology. I looked at other stuff of theirs, and selected from there – and I will again.

Yep, we are living the dream on this blog – ALL of us. And  LOT of people who got critiques replied to tell me how helpful the information was. Love that. You guys write good stuff, and it’s time somebody told you so.

So…

If you don’t enter the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, you are missing out.

Can you afford to miss out? I don’t think so. Lesson learned, you non-enterers.

NEXT:

A big THANK YOU to our sponsors. Gang, writing is a business but it doesn’t have to be a solitary one. Great partners make the work easier.

  • RUSSELL J. FELLOWS EDITING, our generous first place sponsor, will be helping a lucky winner take their story to the next level. (www.RusselJFellows.com)

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And a bunch of amazing author sponsors are gonna give away their books to people, plus some cool stuff from ME.

Editing. Critiques. This is the kind of help you asked for, so I delivered. Contests are a lot of work, but terrific sponsors make it a lot of fun, too.

Once again, the feedback I gave on the stories was extremely helpful to our contestants!

“Wow, thank you so much for the critique. Amazing job, thank you.”

“Hey Dan, you really know how to make my day! I’m so grateful for your detailed critique of my story. It’s wonderful to get this kind of feedback, and totally validates all the hours we put in, alone at our desks, writing our hearts out. To be honest, I jumped up and down and cheered so much, my dog thought I had gone completely berserk…

“I want to thank you for the effort you have put in and let you know that I found this feedback very valuable.

“Hi Dan, thank you for all of the helpful critiques on my writing.” 
“Your critique was spot on and helpful.”
“Dan- thank you for taking the time to give me so much feedback- I will have a great time studying the comments and learning from them.” 

To all of you:

I am truly humbled by your praise.

Thank you.

IF YOU DID NOT WIN: Please consider this like the Olympics. The winning stories simply spoke to me that particular day. Many of the entries could have won on a different day with a different judge. If I said your story was good in my note to you, it was. Work hard and come back – and win next time. We’ll be here cheering for all of you.

Have I rambled on long enough?

I have? Okay.

So now

without further ado

rising to the challenge with a theme of MURDER/MYSTERY/SUSPENSE, to coincide with a book I’m supposed to be writing.

HERE ARE YOUR WINNERS!


Honorable Mention

Don’t think somebody gets Honorable Mention as a sympathy vote. They don’t. It’s my way of saying, out of the all the entries, yours was way up there. Not quite enough to take the top spot, but you need to know it was in the running because it’s a good story. You’ll see what I mean when I post these stories over the next week or so. (Some prior Honorable Mention winners were invited to be in the scary anthology. Expect these Honorable Mention winners to be in an upcoming anthology of mine, too. It’s good stuff.)

The Honorable Mentions are:

  • Andy by Laura Holian

  • Autistic Girl and the Killer Lawn Gnome by Dabney Farmer

These stories and their authors will be featured on the blog in the upcoming weeks. The stories are really good, and you’ll see why I selected them.

CONGRATULATIONS!


downloadIn 4th PLACE…  a THREE-WAY TIE!

Hey, that’s the way the judges scored them, so that’s the way I award them.

And yes, they each get the prize for 4th; I don’t split it. Darn it.

THREE Truly Great Stories

  • Dark Skies by Adele Marie Park

  • Normal Things by Barbara Anne Helberg

  • Where The Power Hides by Anne Marie Andrus

Ooh, are you gonna love these stories. These ladies have been honing their craft, and it shows!

I have had a chance to read them – of course I did; I was a judge – and each one has something very special for you. THAT’s why they were finalists, THAT’s why the judges liked the stories, and THAT’s why YOU will, too.

Our 4th place winners will receive:

  • PUBLICATION of their story on this blog

  • An author profile, also on the blog

  • AN INVITATION TO USE THIS STORY IN AN UPCOMING ANTHOLOGY THAT I WILL PUBLISH THIS YEAR

  • Consideration for other works of theirs to be used in an anthology to be produced by me later this year.

CONGRATULATIONS!


3In 3rd place, ANOTHER TIE!

No kidding. That’s how close the scoring was, and how GOOD each of these stories is!

  • Excavation Murder by Victoria Clapton

  • Dreamers by Heather Kindt

A couple of terrific stories you’re gonna love. They’re intense.

These THIRD PLACE Winners will BOTH receive THIS prize package:

  • PUBLICATION of their winning piece on this website and consideration for publication in the anthology

  • $10 Amazon gift card. Each. Dammit.

  • A guest blog post and/or author profile to appear on this site.

  • MAJOR BRAGGING RIGHTS (but try not to outbrag the first and second place winners, okay?)

  • No gold medal. That’s really just for the #1 winner.
  • AN INVITATION TO USE THIS STORY IN AN UPCOMING ANTHOLOGY THAT I WILL PUBLISH THIS YEAR

  • Consideration for this and other works of theirs to be used in an anthology to be produced by me later this year. I’ll be contacting you soon about that, but you can contact me, too.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Anything else on this one? I think that’s about it. Not bad, though.


2In 2nd place,

and if the first place winner is unable to carry out the duties, the second place winner will step in and assume the role…

  • Dark Corners by Anne Clare

Now, here’s what you need to know about this story.

We had five celebrity judges and me. I read the stories first, decide on the finalists, and send the stories to the judges. Meanwhile, I privately decide my vote for who I think did the best this time. As I read the judges’ rankings coming back, day after day, we were in a TIE FOR FIRST PLACE with one judge remaining to report! Jenny didn’t know it, but her vote – the one we waited and waited and waited for – would decide the winner. THAT’S HOW CLOSE THIS WAS! Not taking anything away from the #1 spot, but it was CLOSE!

TWO judges thought this story was the best one, giving it their #1 rank out of all the entries we received – and when you read it, you will see why.

Anne Clare will receive THIS prize package:

  • PUBLICATION of her award winning story on this website, and an invitation to publish it in our next anthology.

  • $25 Amazon gift card

  • A guest blog post and/or author profile to appear on this site

  • slightly less massive bragging rights than first place (because that’s only fair) but more than the third place people

  • Again, not a gold medal. Sorry.
  • FRIENDSHIP WITH ME, PROBABLY, because I wanna keep good writers close, and this is a very good writer. I was gripped by the openoing and it kept me glued to the story right through the end.
  • Anne now gets to refer to herself as an AWARD-WINNING author, because second place is an award, right? Yep. Totally counts.

  • Anne is also invited to become part of my inner circle, a sacred and occasionally scary place where I and a few other bestselling author types dwell and share the secrets of the temple. Or just whine on Facebook. It goes back and forth, really.

HUGE, HUGE

CONGRATULATIONS!


and now – drum roll, please

the moment you’ve all been waiting for (except for the people who already scrolled down here right when they clicked on the post), our grand prize winner…

1st

 Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest

* GRAND PRIZE WINNER *

1st Place

“What If?”

by Geoff Le Pard

(applause)

This amazing story will captivate you the way it captivated me and the other judges. Geoff’s story received THREE votes for first place, and one vote for second place, making it the most popular story we received in this contest.

Tomorrow, you’ll see why.

Geoff created a terrific story that you are going to love.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Geoff will receive THIS prize package valued at over $150:

RUSSELL J. FELLOWS EDITING

russell j fellows

THE EDITING PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • manuscript edit 

  • collaboration with other published authors in a private Facebook group created for the anthology

  • anthology book cover, showing the creative process

  • get beta readers for anthology, showing that process

  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO EDIT YOUR BOOK (FROM RUSSELL) AND THEN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO PUBLISH YOUR SHORT STORY (DIRECTLY FROM ME AND WITH MY HANDS ON GUIDANCE).

  • That’s kind of a big deal

The FIRST PLACE winner will also receive:

  • PUBLICATION of Geoff’s winning piece on this website TOMORROW

  • A GUEST BLOG POST or AUTHOR PROFILE to appear on this site soon (that’s priceless, really)

  • MASSIVEST BRAGGING RIGHTS OF ALL

  • this cool picture of a gold coin that has a 1 on itIMG_1303


THANK YOU ALL. Today, we celebrate writing.

A round of applause for our winners.


DOOR PRIZES!

REMEMBER: ALL contestants not winning first, second, third, or fourth place will be put into a drawing for other prizes!

How awesome is that? More awesome stuff. You really get your money’s worth in this contest.

Door prize winners will be notified later this week (-ish) as to which prize they won, and the sponsor will send the prize to them; then I follow up to make sure it all happened.

Allison Maruska

– Winner’s choice of 1 signed paperback, eBook, or audio book!

(Not all of her books are available in audio book format.)

Allison

allison books

Quite the selection!


Joanne R. Larner

– a set of the Richard Liveth Yet (trilogy);

Dickon’s Diaries (single book).

joanne r larner author pic

joanne r larner books


Heather Kindt

– 1 signed copy of Ruby Slips and Poker Chips


Anne Marie Andrus

– signed copies of Monsters & Angels


Russell Fellows

– A copy of both my books (electronic formats only)

russell author pic

russells books


Sarah Brentyn

– signed paperback copies of flash fiction collections

Sara Bretyn author bio
author Sarah Brentyn

Sara Bretyn books


and stuff from me!

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  • Several audio books of The Box Under The Bed (audio books are not autographed) will be awarded

  • Several autographed paperback copies of my bestselling books will be awarded

  • Several not-autographed copies of my eBooks will be awarded


When I post the winning stories, I will tell you a little about why they won, and more about how tough the decision process was.

KEEP READING! WE’RE NOT DONE YET!

ALL of the above-named winning selections will be featured here on the blog every day starting TOMORROW, so come back to read the stories!

The winners have not yet been notified (other than this post) so after contacting them we will arrange for their prizes to be sent and their interviews/profiles/etc., to be scheduled here on the blog. If you won and are reading this, you have my email so feel free to contact me. I’ll be in a coma for the next few days, so no rush.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS

You will get an email on Wednesday or so, letting you know how to deliver your prizes to the winners. (Did I say Wednesday? Maybe make that Friday.)

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS

The next Word Weaver Writing Contest is being kicked around right now, so if you have ideas, let me know!

In the next Word Weaver, you can expect:

MORE prizes

MORE feedback

and BIGGER BRAGGING RIGHTS

I can’t express my appreciation to all of you for trusting me with your amazing stories. You are wonderful talents, each and every one, and you inspire me.

IF PUBLICATION OF YOUR COMPLETED BOOK IS YOUR DREAM,

my Word Weaver Writing Contest is a big step towards fulfilling that dream.

Look at the number of people who published a book after entering the contest. This is where you wanna be.

If you would like to congratulate our winners, please do so now by making a comment belowand then do it again  when their post runs in a few days.

If you would like to be a sponsoring author for the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, contact meThis was great exposure for our major advertisers as well as getting authors’ books in front of lots of eyeballs.

It’s a lot of work, but I want you all to know – this thing is a blast.

THANK YOU, EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!

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You guys ROCK!

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the paranromal thriller “An Angel On Her Shoulder.” Get your copy HEREFree on Kindle unlimited!

Get ready for another anthology!

And get ready for our NEXT Word Weaver Writing Contest, COMING SOON!

How To Assume Your Reader Is Smart

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We writer types aren’t always sure readers know what we’re talking about.

As a result, we can explain things when we don’t need to.

Check out this partial scene:

“Alright, but you have to promise.” Lori held out her pinky. She was making him pinky-swear. Something they had done as kids.

“I promise.” Jaxton held out his finger to lock it with hers. “Pinky-swear.” Humor was his way of dealing with stressful situations, and her comment made him feel a little more at ease.

 

Kinda telly, and a little repetitious – but aren’t we really spoon feeding the reader here?

 

We don’t need two explanations of the prior pinkie swear reference.

But… we writer types aren’t always sure readers know what we’re talking about!

There was a scene in a movie, probably Stand By Me, where the kids spat on their palms and rubbed their hands together as a bond. We didn’t do that as kids, but we did something similar. Doing an Indian Swear was a big deal. You had to cut yourself and mix blood as part of the handshake. Usually that was a pin prick. (Heck, usually we were too chicken to do any blood drawing, so we just pretended.)

But nobody stopped the movie to explain what the spit-laden handshake was all about. Viewers got it. My daughter comes home with rituals and phrases she learns from other kids at school. How she acts about it tells me what concern level to give it.

Some readers won’t know what a pinkie swear is, but most readers will.

The ones who don’t, certainly will after they read this; and even if you didn’t say “pinkie swear,” they’d understand it as a kid-like ritual. No need to over-explain.

 

Revised:

“Alright, but you have to promise.” Lori held out her pinky.

“I promise.” He held out his little finger to lock it with hers. Their hands moved up and down in unison. “Pinky-swear.”

(Then SHOW him becoming more at ease. Maybe he sighs or nods, then changes the subject.)

But – but – but…

Assume your reader is smart.

It’s okay for not every little thing to be explained in a scene. In Shakespeare In Love, he twirls around and rubs the quill before starting writing. It’s obvious it’s a ritual the second time we see it, but it’s fairly obvious the first time just from how he does it.

Or when the guy throws spaghetti at the wall in The Big Chill. “Still the best way to see if it’s done.”

Oh. That’s all we need.

Let the reader figure some stuff out. They’ll be more immersed in your story as a result.

I actually like it when there’s a little mystery involved in small stuff. I feel like there’s more to the story, and it’s between the characters. Maybe I’ll be allowed into the excusive club if I behave.