1000 Word Sprint Winners!

Here are the results for the

1000 word Sprint contest

Word Weaver SPRINT 1

What a fun contest!

First of all, the goal of the “Sprint” contest was to get your story up and running as fast as possible.

Talking with author friends of mine who have judged my Word Weaver writing contests and other writing contests, it had been mentioned that often a new writer takes too long to get their story up and running.

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your humble host

Addressing that challenge in a contest seemed like a good idea.

And it was.

When I’m critiquing a book, sometimes it’s the third chapter before we know what the story is really about. It’s very hard to get somebody to jettison two chapters that they sweated and slaved over, but for the good of the story that’s often what has to be done. (And maybe that cut material can be used on the blog as fan Fair. It’s rarely wasted.)

Second of all, the Sprint did not have to be a complete story.

The idea was get me immersed in your story quickly. Not necessarily tell me a complete story in 1000 words.

So I’m happy to report that EVERYBODY who entered the contest basically had me up to speed in their respective stories very quickly!

I was impressed with that.

It also validates something that I have suspected for a long time about writers.

They’re like a gas.

They expand to fill the space.

So if I was giving you a whole book, you might take until chapter 3 to get up and running. If I gave you 3000 word limit, you might take 2000 words to get up and running.

But if I only gave you a 1000 words, most of you figured out how to get the story going pretty quickly because you realized you didn’t have very much time left to tell a story if you took too long to get it up and running.

Now there’s one asterisk here, and that is this: I don’t know for sure based on the thousand words you sent me if that’s really what the story is about. In other words, you could take 1000 words to tell me about a wedding when really the story is about some big battle. That’s not necessarily good or bad, it’s simply saying I might think you did a good job based on this 1000 word samples, but if it was part of an 80,000 word book and it was completely unrelated to the rest of the 79,000 words, then maybe we’d have a different take on it.

But that’s outside the parameters of this contest, so will set that aside for now.

The final thing to mention is, since everybody did a good job of getting the story up and running, how do we decide the winner?

Good question.

I thought I would base this on several things.

  • First of all, there are different story telling styles. There’s the approach we usually see in novels which is immersing the reader in the story in a certain point of view. Having the reader be a character or see the story through a character’s eyes.
  • There’s also what I called ghost story style, or campfire style, or Grimms fairytales style, which is much more telling the story than showing it.
  • Neither is right or wrong for this contest. In novels, I prefer being shown as opposed to being told, and if any of you have ever had me do a critique for you, you know that’s what we’re emphasizing because that’s what readers expect.

Depending on who the audience is, there’s nothing wrong with doing a story that’s much more told to them. Novels for younger kids are often written that way, as are biographies and certain other stories.

So once I saw all the stories got up and running quickly, and we knew we had two different categories, so to speak of storytelling methods, then we had to decide which was the “best” story.

Since I am enjoy being shown more than being told, the ones that showed are going to fare better.

The ones that got the story up and running in the first paragraph are going to do better than the ones who did it in the second paragraph.

People who could do it in the first sentence would have a little bit of an edge.

But overall, since they all got up and running quickly, the tie breaker was how quickly I got engaged and immersed in your story.

The one determining factor above everything else would be how quickly you got me into the rhythm you were trying to achieve, regardless of the style that you were using to do it.

So when you look at the stories, keep that in mind. It’s totally subjective, and I grant you on a different day with a different judge, a different story might win first place. All of these were good.

Again, I wanna go on record as saying every single entry got their story up and running quickly! So we obviously don’t suffer from dragging things out too much over here, although I do see it on occasion. You guys are capable of achieving it quickly, so I’ll expect that from now on.

With that said…

Here are your winners!

Their stories follow later in THIS post.


1000 Word Sprint

Third Place Winner

“My Autistic Brother The Wannabe Nudist”

By Dabney Farmer

Dabney has a style I enjoy. Presented in a more “telly” manner, I think you’ll like her piece. Read it, and my comments follow – as well as the second and first place winners and their stories.

 My Autistic Brother The Wannabe Nudist

DabneyFarmer

My autistic brother Lee is a part-time nudist. Now let me be clear, when I say ‘part-time’, I don’t mean it’s his job. I’m not sure he’d you’d get paid for that. It be possible, but I don’t want to over think it, he’s my brother after all.   Lets just say Lee isn’t modest.

From a young age he has never liked wearing clothes. This may be normal for a lot of little kids, and it was cute when he was three years old,(according to my parents that is), but when Lee turned twelve and was still walking out the front door to the driveway butt-naked to see if he’d left any candy in my Dads car. Well, lets just say it’s not so cute anymore.

It wasn’t that we didn’t try to keep Lee dressed, but when he wanted to, he could be a naked Houdini. Only, instead of taking off a straitjacket, he took it all off. So he was half- Houdini, and half- Magic Mike as a ten year old.

Lee’s nudist tendencies made it more than a little challenging to have guests over.

Thankfully, I was lucky to have grow up with friends who were very considerate of my brother. Although, I got sick of being asked, ‘Is he like Rainman?’ over and over again. Which is just as annoying as it sounds.

Like most girls, I loved throwing sleepovers at my house. Lee didn’t bother my friends like most little brothers. He went about his business as if they weren’t even there, which caused some problems, because he still ran around naked.

Most times, he ran by so fast my friends didn’t get a clear sighting of him. Well…except for this one time when he ran into the living room completely naked and stopped right in front of all my friends sitting on the couch. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, he proceeded to jump up and down right in front of us, and then ran out of the room.

My friends were momentarily shocked before they had an explosion of laughter. That was one sleep over none of us could forget.

Another time, when my older cousin was visiting from New Year’s, I heard Lee coming down the stairs, but didn’t stress about it. The whole family was used to Lee strutting around in the buff and my cousin was no exception. So I didn’t think to warn her. If I had only remembered that my cousins college roommate, Civil, had been invited too, I probably would have reacted more quickly.

But it wasn’t until I heard Civil say… Oh… Hi., you must be Lee, that I realized I should have acted faster.

We had quite a lot of explaining to do after that, but Civil seemed to understand, even though the look of utter shock never left her face that night.

Our home wasn’t the only place Lee liked to strip, he would do this at other peoples homes too. One day, my mother took Lee with her to visit my great aunt. Lee wasn’t interested in old lady talk, so he got to hang out upstairs watching TV. After a while, they heard the bed bouncing, and knew he was jumping on the bed it. My aunt was worried he’d break the bed as it was old. So my Mom said she’d go up and stop him.

When Mom got upstairs, she found Lee had stripped naked and was bouncing everywhere, and being naked I bet you can only guess what was bouncing around the most.

It was nothing new for my Mom to see Lee without clothes on. However, my aunt was another story. She was over seventy’s at this point, and far too old for surprise parties. If she had been upstairs to see Lee, this would be a very big surprise alright.

As my mom scrambled to find if on cue, right as Mom was searching for Lee’s clothes that had bounced off the bed, my Aunt called up the stairs, Dear, do you need me to come up to help?

No! No! I got it, my Mom stressed. Don’t get up! We’re fine!

Luckily, my aunt couldn’t move that fast up the stairs, but to play it safe Mom had to dress Lee fast. After that, Lee had to stay with Mom, as she’d had enough surprises that day. Once  downstairs my aunt asked  why Lee’s shirt was inside out? To which my mother had no answer to that.

After my Mom got home and told us what had happened, Dad laughed and said ‘There probably hasn’t been a naked man in that bed since she was married.’

Mom was not amused by this line, and I was too young to understand what Dad meant. So I didn’t get the joke for another two years.

At school, Lee would often pull off his shoes and go barefoot. To stop him, the teachers tried duct taping his shoes to his feet. Which only made Lee want to take them off even more. Not to mention, it was a real pain to get the tape off when he got home and wanted a bath.

Sometimes, Lee would hop in the tub with his shoes on as he was too impatient to wait for us to take them off.

However, as you might have already guessed by now, it wasn’t just his shoes Lee, he pulled off at school. Once, a teacher left him alone only for a minute while she went to go to the bathroom. When she came back she found him naked except for his duct taped shoes. Which were still on.

What did I like about this story? What spoke to me?

It’s cute! It’s lighthearted but it makes its points. It gets up and running quickly – almost in the title, really – but the first paragraph sets the fun tone and the expectations that the reader can expect. And having a naked kid running around is going to engage your reader pretty quickly.

“I don’t mean it’s his job. I’m not sure he’d you’d get paid for that. It be possible, but I don’t want to over think it, he’s my brother after all.”

With those words, I was hooked. Third sentence. Not bad.

I read on with a smile, expecting to be entertained, and I was not disappointed.

Congratulations, Dabney!

Dabney, you are invited to have this story appear in our “relationships” anthology, anticipated to be published later this year.

Not only are these winners JUST NOW discovering they’ve won, but they are learning for the first time about this invitation the same as you are.

Please congratulate them with me in the comments section below!


1000 Word Sprint

Second Place Winner

“The Lost Scout”

By Allan Smorra

Allan did a fine job with this piece. I quickly got the tone and setting, and especially liked the tension he presented. It’s a snapshot of possibly a time gone by, too, and he captured it well.

The Lost Scout

Allan Smorra

Ronnie and Stevie sat on a park bench under a starlit sky.

“The lights just went out. Did ya see?”

Stevie missed it. He was watching the full moon rising slowly behind them.

“Do ya think he’s OK?”

“In a roomful of Scouts? Of course, he’s OK.” Sometimes Ronnie didn’t think things all the way through.

“Yeah, what am I worried about? Donnie’ll be OK.”

Ronnie and Donnie were twins. Identical in more ways than one. One for all and all for one.

Stevie was jealous. He had no siblings. You got yourself into a jam, you get yourself out.

Time moved along.

Across the road from the two boys stood a single story flat-roofed recreation center. Narrow windows mounted on top of a block wall that faced the street were dark now. The initiation ceremony was under way. Two potential candidates awaiting their fate. The third one, inside, facing his.

Time moved along.

No more words were spoken.

The lights in the rec center came on and a loud cheer roared through the open awning windows. The two boys looked at each other and grinned widely. He did it! He got voted in. Now we will get our turns.

One long minute passed. The side door of the building opened, and a large figure stepped outside. The headlights of a passing car gave the boys a glimpse of Assistant Scoutmaster Barnes, now walking down the sidewalk in their direction.

“Ronnie, git over here. You’re up next.” Mr. Barnes stood in the middle of the road motioning to the boy. He checked for traffic in both directions as Ronnie ran across the street. “Stevie, you hang on and we’ll git to you in a little bit.”

“Yessir. I’ll be right here.”

Mr. Barnes walked Ronnie toward the side door of the facility. “C’mon, son. It’s your turn in the barrel.”

Stevie watched as two silhouettes turned and entered the building. A minute later the lights in the building went out.

All alone. Again. Stevie looked around the vicinity of the park bench.

He turned all the way around and scanned the park. Nobody is out tonight. Well, it is a school night after-all.

Another car drove past his bench, the driver oblivious to the presence of a pre-teen all alone this time of night.

It’s a good thing that he’s not afraid of the dark.

Or of being alone.

Out in the open.

In the dark.

Stevie made another 360-degree scan of his surroundings. Casual-like. No hurry. Just taking a slow look around. Enjoying the park. What little he could see of the park. Checking to see if a toddler needed help. Or maybe, a stray dog was on the loose and needed to be reunited with its owner.

Yes, ma’am. I found him over here by the swing set. Oh, no ma’am, he didn’t try to bite. He would clip the owner’s leash to the dog’s collar. He’s a frisky one, this little guy. No, ma’am, thank you for offering, but I can’t accept a reward for finding your lost dog. I’m a Scout—well, almost a Scout—and helping others is a part of who I am. That is, who I am going to be, ma’am.

A pair of teen-agers in a convertible drove past Stevie’s bench. The driver’s arm stretched across the top of the seat back, his date cuddled up underneath. A love song blaring out of the dashboard radio, growing softer in the distance. Soldier boy. Oh, my little soldier boy.

Once again, the lights in the rec center came on and a loud cheer roared through the open awning windows.

Stevie’s stomach knotted up. Almost there. Your chance to be a part of the Troop. Join your buddies from sixth grade and be a part of something that’s safe and fun. Learn valuable outdoor skills. Meet new people and make new friends.

They will be the brothers that I don’t have.

The side door of the building opened, and Mr. Barnes walked to the edge of the sidewalk. He looked both ways for cars on the road and, seeing none, beckoned Stevie across the street. “C’mon, boy. You know the drill by now.”

Stevie wasted no time getting off the bench. “Yessir. I’m on my way, sir.”

Mr. Barnes stopped at the door and let Stevie precede him into the room. He could see Scouts lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, forming three rows, front-to-back. Ronnie and Donnie were standing next to Head Scoutmaster Gordon.

The only thing missing was smiling faces.

Someone turned off the lights.

Mr. Gordon sighed. “It’s been a long night and we’re going to dispense with a lot of the formality of this occasion.”

Stevie’s chest was being hammered from within. Good. Let’s get this over with.

“Over the last three months you have attended our monthly meetings. Last month you camped overnight on the beach with us. We have been watching you, evaluating to see if you have what it takes to be a Scout.”

Here it comes. Almost there.

“We took a vote tonight and I’m sorry to say that you were not accepted into our Troop.”

Tears flooded Stevie’s eyes. That’s it? Are you kidding me? He couldn’t catch his breath. It’s a good thing that the lights are out.

The lights in the room came on and a loud cheer echoed through the room.

“We’re just pulling your leg. You’re in. Welcome to the Troop!”

Assholes! Stevie ducked his head and wiped the tears from his eyes. Assholes! Now they’re watching me cry like a baby.

The rest of the night was a blur.

Words of welcome rang hollow. Pats on the back brought no solace to the rapid rise and fall of Stevie’s emotions just as the lights were turned on.

Who can you trust?

For Stevie, it marked the end of making friends and the beginning of a lifetime of having acquaintances.

What did I like about this story? What spoke to me?

I think the lights going out, in the second sentence, was an initial hook. Then, there was tension – nothing sinister, just kids doing what kids do – but Allan laid it out well, so I was feeling it.

I like the way he captured the quiet night and the old school ambiance of a bygone era. It was a nice story. I’ll admit, I didn’t like the ending, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I prefer happier endings, but that didn’t take away from the story getting up to speed quickly and keeping my attention throughout. Well done, Allan!

This is very good writing.

Allan, you are invited to have this story appear in our “relationships” anthology, anticipated to be published later this year.

Not only are these winners JUST NOW discovering they’ve won, but they are learning for the first time about this invitation the same as you are.

Please congratulate them with me in the comments section below!


FIRST PLACE WINNER PRIZE PACKAGE:

owl and pussycat promotions

Our first place Sprint Winner will receive

A 1-Year Platinum Author Package from

Owl and Pussycat Promotions

The winning author will receive:

  • Your own Page on our website.
  • Your own Website connected to The Owl Branch with your books,
    bio, and links. (Social & Book links)
  • Social Media Promoting on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest MeWe, Alignable and Hootsuite
  • Author Interview
  • Provide special announcements for your events, book signings etc.
  • Host an author event especially for you &
  • Provide Takeovers for your event. (two times per year)

PLUS:

A Blog Tour or Author Video!

From Viv Drewa, Karen Vaughan, and Dellani Oakes of

Owl and Pussycat Promotions


AND NOW

1000 Word Sprint

First Place Winner

“Sticky Business”

By Amanda Ruehle

Sometimes it’s tough to pick a winner. It’s easy to find a top 3 candidate, but to choose one story over the others is very hard. This story was fast to start, it engaged me from the outset, basically from paragraph 1, but it was the 4th sentence – because style-wise it was structured that way – that had me really into the story. This one edged out the others because of what it did after that – as I’ll explain after you read the story.

Sticky Business

Amanda Ruehle

The alarm clock tore me from sleep at the usual time. Six o’clock. Too early for some, but over the years, I grew used to it. The call from headquarters came earlier than normal—right before seven, just as I was finishing my breakfast.

“Nate,” the dispatcher began without preamble. “We have an urgent situation downtown. We need you there ASAP.”

“On my way.”

“Oh, and Nate?” she added. “That new gun you have? Make sure to bring it.”

A couple of minutes later, I was in my truck. I checked the address of the call in the vehicle’s computer and headed downtown. It seemed the whole city had been on edge since a few days earlier, when a large transport vehicle crashed and several of its passengers escaped to roam freely in the streets. We had never faced a problem like it before. Hence, the new gun. A part of me prayed I wouldn’t get the chance to use it, but honestly, a bigger part of me really hoped I would. The thrill of something new, you know?

When I reached the scene, two patrol cars were already there. I recognized one of the officers—Carr was his name. We had worked together before.

“Hey, Shepard!” he called as I approached. “You got this one?”

“Yeah. How does it look?”

“It’s a mess,” Carr replied. “Watch your step.”

I walked past another patrolman on my way to the store at the center of the hubbub. He was attempting to comfort a grandmotherly woman whose face wore an expression of mute and undiluted horror. The store’s proprietor, I guessed. I was sure the officer would question her later, but he was obviously not going to get anything out of her at the moment. Her eyes were as big as saucers.

And damn, Carr wasn’t kidding when he said it was a mess. The shop looked like a tornado broke loose inside. Shelves that once held neat rows of jars and bottles dangled at drunken angles from their brackets. Some were torn free entirely. Shards of glass—the sad remains of the aforementioned containers—carpeted the floor, their jagged edges sparkling under the lights like the wicked points of a million diamonds. Pellets, lozenges, and bars of various sizes and shapes spread across the entire space. Powders of all colors dusted every horizontal surface. Counters, linoleum tiles, nonslip rugs—everything was covered. Even the cash register had a fine coating, although its drawers were unmolested. The perpetrator of this particular act of theft and vandalism had had no interest in money.

A giant red stain covered a good portion of the floor in one corner. It oozed across the tile, tacky and viscous. Crimson footsteps tracked through it and traced erratic circles around the room. Hundreds of footprints. Around and around. In and out of that sticky puddle. Droplets of red splashed the walls. Some even marred the pristine white of the ceiling—a good nine feet off the ground.

What kind of an animal could do such a thing?

I gingerly picked my way across the shop, being especially mindful of all the razor edges of glass that gave any misstep the potential to be painful and bloody. There was a thick scent in the air. It was nauseatingly sweet—cloying—and threatened to make me regret my breakfast of sugary cereal. I angled toward an open window to catch some fresh air and hopefully settle my stomach.

An open window, hmm? Leaving a window ajar overnight didn’t seem like an overly intelligent decision, especially with the escapees loose in the city. But the window didn’t look like it had been forced, and I could almost guarantee that the poor old lady out front had not opened it that morning. I inspected the frame and sill a little more closely, and—bingo!—I found a small tuft of ebony black hair. Score one for the home team! Point of entry found.

I was in the middle of giving myself a mental pat on the back for the discovery when a crash and the sound of breaking glass echoed out of the back part of the store. So, our delinquent hadn’t left the building yet, after all. Bad for him. Good for me. I tiptoed across all of that damned glass again, trying not to make any noise. I lowered my hand and slowly drew my new weapon out of its holster on my belt.

I reached the doorway leading to the back of the shop. Behind it was the space normally removed from public viewing, where shipments were received and the business’s wares were sorted, measured, mixed, and cooked. And right in middle of it all, his back turned to me, sat my suspect.

Eh, to hell with calling him a suspect. He was the perpetrator. Caught red-handed with his fists in the cookie jar. And I mean that literally. His hands were stained scarlet from his frolic through that sticky mess in the front room.

My gun fired with a barely audible thwip!, and the dart buried itself into the muscular, hairy shoulder of the chimpanzee. I ducked out of the doorway and back into the front of the candy shop, hoping the ape would fall into his drug-induced nap before he decided to come looking for me. It had been a pretty good shot, if I do say so myself, so I knew it couldn’t take long. While I waited, I looked once again at the rubble that had once been a successful confectioner’s business. How long would it take to repair everything? Replace all the goodies that often had people lined up out the front door? How long before the circus fixed its truck and collected all of its animals?

And how long before I could see or smell cherry syrup again without a full-out gastric revolt? Never. That’s how long.

I am Nate Shepard, animal control officer.

And this case is closed.

What did I like about this story? What spoke to me?

I got fooled. I was thinking prisoners escaping a transport truck, then a murder scene – as I had my antenna up trying to not get fooled.

The story had a great detective/murder mystery feel to it, had a good place, and a nice twist at the end. It was a complete story, though that wasn’t a requirement, and it was good all the way through.

Well done!

Amanda, you are invited to have this story appear in an anthology we anticipate to be published later this year.

Not only are these winners JUST NOW discovering they’ve won, but they are learning for the first time about this invitation the same as you are.

Please congratulate them with me in the comments section below!


DOOR PRIZES!

Congratulations to everyone who entered! You’ll all receive an audio book copy of our #1 bestselling anthology The Box Under The Bed or one of my other audio books if you already have TBUTB.

IMG_2111

Entering these contests has been a great way for new writers to get noticed, because more than one person will be getting an invitation to appear in an anthology we release later this year.

NEW AUTHORS AND NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED WRITERS WILL BE SIDE BY SIDE WITH SOME OF MY BESTSELLING AUTHOR FRIENDS, LEARNING WITH THEM AS WE PUT THE ANTHOLOGY TOGETHER, CREATE ITS COVER, AND MARKET IT!

If you’d like more information on my Private Critique Group of other services, click HERE

What’s next?

JULY will feature our next regular Word Weaver Writing Contest

July will have a theme of “scary” stories. Macabre, odd, eerie, that kind of thing.

But we might have something else before that. Or after it. Or not. “Space Island” is kinda tugging at me. Click HERE and HERE for info on that (you hafta scroll down a little in those posts)

And we will have another regular Word Weaver Writing Contest afterJuly and beforethe end of the year, so stay tuned!

Please join me in congratulating our winners in the comment section below!

33 thoughts on “1000 Word Sprint Winners!

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