As I've said, picking the winners of the contest was hard since there were so many contenders to consider. I tried my hardest to be "strict but fair" (as I've always said about my Dad). There were only two entries that received a 5 Crawfish rating, so both deserved winning recognition. Please feel free to take the blue ribbon to your blog.
That said, remember, "acceptances" from editors, agents, publishers, etc. is a VERY subjective thing. Each person reading looks for something different...that indefinable "it" that sings to the reader's soul. That's why it is SO important to never be discouraged by "rejection." Each person issuing the acceptance or rejection is using different criteria by which to judge. It's a matter of personal taste and/or a set of guidelines we have no concept of; exactly like what people look for in art. I may love Rembrandt while you go for Grandma Moses. Your work might be dead on target, but perhaps the agent or publisher has just recently taken on a project very similar to yours.
This all goes to reinforce the necessity of putting your work out there. With persistence and hard work, you will find the right set of eyeballs, providing it is as clean, tight and well done as it can be.
Winner #1's work (Michelle/Lady Glamis) was chosen because I loved the depth and complexity of it. I was forced to read it several times, and each time I found something new I'd missed. There are layers here, people! It also is a highly unusual mixture of the elements of prose and poetry I've rarely read. The voice is lyrical, and the use of sensory details and symbolism rang my bell.
Without further ado, I present for your reading pleasure...[Entry removed by request of author after contest.]
Winning entry #2 comes from Barb Ettridge. It is an excerpt from a short story. I liked its unusual setting and premise. The character development was well done and interesting. I particularly loved that I did not know if the MC was male or female until I got about halfway through. (Yes, I like surprises, and I like writers who give readers credit for being smart enough to figure things out, or to be able to wait while things unfold.) Barb's writing did an excellent job of showing vs. telling too. I also enjoyed the variation in sentence structure and length. Here ya go:
I had never met the sea. I didn’t know that the land just stopped with nothing until the rocks and water below. And the sound. It was like thunder at ground level rather than high above. I was afraid of it but I wouldn’t let it show. Walked with my head up and my steps measured. Clean I was when I entered that ship.
Not that I knew a body. When the guard called my name from his list, there was no one to recognise me. But it wasn’t loneliness that settled on me, it was relief. Now I could leave things. I didn’t have to be one of those Cleggs, said with a certain look. I could keep clean and private.
It was trouble for me at first. Being on this floating dungeon, a prison that we took with us. The sickness rolled through me, but vomiting at the railing made things worse. Every time I looked down in the grey waters I realised there was nothing holding me. This ship was nothing to the sea. If the planks of wood were gone, I would be falling without end.
The days had a deep rhythm. I was woken by the growing heat below decks, the light not reaching down there. At first I walked the decks avoiding others. But then I heard more food was given to those who worked. When one of the guards came looking for a midwife I presented myself. I know it had only been lambs, but birthing is all the same.
It was a different life with the free settlers. They had lanterns and sheets and meat without slime. Some evenings I allowed myself to dream that it could be so for me. I started to wonder about a future and how it would be on the land. Maybe I could find myself a man. One who was weak and who could be driven. One who was foolish enough for my needs.
I birthed their babes. I cleaned them up and made them soup. All the time I was watching their men folk, looking for the links and discovering who belonged where. I gained a name as a healer and people asked for me. What I didn’t know, I guessed. It was clear that broth and sleep could help most things. I lost a few but that was expected. Wrapped in their cloaks we lowered them into the sea.
Sometimes a coin was pressed into my hand and I sewed it into my hem. Feeling them brush my ankles as I walked, I wondered what it would cost to buy my way out. It was dreaming on the deck like this, that I heard the end of it. ‘Why that’s Clegg. She knows the future. A true caulbearer.’ I could have sobbed at those words. The gig was up and I had to go back to being me.
So, what'dya think? Good stuff, hunh?
Thanks to Anita (Firestalker Girl) for the nice blog bling called "Love Your Blog." And also to Michelle (Lady Glamis) for the "Proximity" merit badge. The description attached to this award reads:
"These blogs invest and believe in the proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships, they are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends, they are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!”
I appreciate the gifts, ladies, and will wear them with pride!