The NovelNook Flash Fiction Writing Contest Second Place Winner IS…

Running a Flash Fiction Writing Contest is a lot of FUN!

Addicted to FUN?

Photograph by Anne Petersen

I learned something from this contest experience that I think may be of value to many of you authors. All of our entries were fun to read. A number of them were ruled out because of MAJOR editing mistakes.

A punctuation oops can cost you an opportunity.

A punctuation oops can cost you an opportunity.

Grammar and punctuation, I can’t stress it enough.

When all the entries were in, each judge read all of them, and then we set them aside for a week. Then, we reread all of them again. It was amazing how much our perspective changed as a result of a second read.

There were six submissions that really stood out. We set them aside again for another week. On our third read, (and vote), our winner, Susan Pawlicki, was the clear victor for first place. But, second place had become a real battle royal.

At this point, we were able to narrow it down to two stories. We put them aside again and did another read and vote several days later. What really differentiated our second place winner was how the two authors handled the theme. In light of that, I’ve decided to give an honorable mention to an author who was so close that the voting tally was almost imperceptible. I’ll name that author at the end of this blog post.

Authors, this is what I want you to hear.

When you submit a story and receive a rejection letter, don’t take it to hard. You may have been so very close. It may have been the smallest element in your story that kept it from being accepted. It may have been personal prejudice on the part of the person reading it.

I’m willing to bet that in many cases a story, or book, is given a cursory read.. If your story doesn’t resonate with that decision-maker immediately, you may be rejected. It may have nothing to do with your book. It might be something that happened to the decision-maker that day.

Does this make your story bad? No. In fact, if that same person were to reread your story on a different day, they may have a completely different perspective on it. (We did.)

However, I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH how much GOOD EDITING will affect the outcome of your submissions. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY enjoys reading a poorly edited book. I hope you will take that one statement and…

MAKE It YOUR MANTRA!

I’m proud to announce

that our second place winner is…

Sue Butler with her story, “The Unexpected“.

Sue wove an intricate plot into a flash fiction piece that we really liked. We felt that her interpretation of the theme was strong. We also liked her character development.

“The Unexpected”

by Sue Butler

Our Employee of the Year is John Mulcaster.’ The words rang out like a hammer hitting a gong. I stood up and stumbled towards the podium; I had never won an award l before and had no inkling that this one was to be mine. Nervously, I accepted the shield and envelope from the Chief Executive; the former had my name and the year engraved on it, below Sheila Thomson in 2012. I would have to give it back at the end of the year, but the envelope contained vouchers for a large department store, and they were mine to keep. I returned to my seat amid the applause, nodding to the people who smiled and patted my arm  in congratulation, a big grin on my face.

I decided to celebrate in the Rose and Crown on the way home: it was only a small detour. I was still grinning when I rang my wife, Julia, and left a message on her voicemail, telling her what had happened, and that I wouldn’t be too late. She was probably shopping for the guests we were expecting later, some long lost relatives of her’s that I’d never met. I sat at the bar, and during my second drink, fell into conversation with a bloke who came in shortly after me. He seemed a nice enough bloke, a family man if I recall correctly, a wife who worked at the hospital – not as a nurse though, something in administration, and two daughters who were playing up, pubescent, like. Anyway, he drinks up and says he’s got to run because the missus is going to be a bit late shift, and he has to get the girls ready to go out. As he rushes off his wallet falls to the ground a few feet away from me. There was no one else about, there hardly ever was on a Monday afternoon, not even the staff. I glanced around anyway, just in case, like.
I had to pick it up, didn’t I? I couldn’t leave it there for any old geezer to have. And yes, I know I should’ve handed it in, but I thought if his details were in it, maybe, I could give it to him in person like. As if……
Close examination of the wallet, courtesy of a quiet bench in UpTown Park, reveals two store cards, one debit card and three credit cards. Pure stupidity; why carry so many? You only need one debit, one credit, and maybe the store cards, if you are intending to go shopping. Aside from the money, the collection of cards also includes an expired gym membership card, and a driving licence proclaiming the owner to be Geoffrey Smythe of 22 Battenburg Lane, Deltham. The rest of the wallet contains £170 in notes, which I pocket. I hold the wallet, toss it in the air gently, and then catch it. Battenburg Lane is about twenty minutes away if you walk a bit sharpish. I could get there, post it through the letterbox and be away before I am seen. That way old Geoff gets his cards back – he probably hasn’t had time to realise the wallet’s gone, so he won’t have cancelled them, and I get the cash; my reward for finding the wallet, you see, and old Geoff, he can afford it, I could tell by looking at him.
There was a lot of flashing lights at the Battenburg crossroads, both police and ambulances.  A tearful woman was saying, ‘He was looking for his wallet.’
I can’t see the face underneath the blanket, but I know it is Geoff. I want to vomit; I feel as if I’ve pushed him under the lorry myself. As I approach, his wife turns her tear stained face towards me and spots the wallet . She snatches it from me and screams at it and shouts at his corpse for being so stupid. She’s lost it completely, and the paramedics take her away in the ambulance.
I have to make a statement, and the police thank me for my honesty in attempting to return the lost wallet. That’s a joke, my honesty. My phone rings; the screen shows, Julia, and although I do not want to, I answer it. Her voice sounds like a stranger. She tells me, in-between sobs, that she is on her way to the hospital to see her half-sister-in-law. He half-brother, Geoff, has been killed in a road accident. My brain numbs, and although I know what she is saying, I hear nothing. I feel bad, dirty and traitorous, and the £170 is burning a hole in my pocket. I finger the notes guiltily and hear my wife’s parting words,
‘And the bloke must’ve nicked the cash, I hope he rots in hell.’
I arrange to meet her later, end the call, and hurry to the rubbish bin outside the Asian supermarket. The entrance is clear. I carefully lifted out some rubbish from the bin and shoved the cash inside, intending to cover it again. Delayed shock made me throw up over the money, and I stuffed the emptied out rubbish back to cover it. My eyes were watering and blindly I stumbled to the corner of my road. Nausea overcame me and I sat down, breathing slowly.
I hear Julia’s voice calling, ‘John?  What’s up? What’s the matter?’
I looked up to see her concerned face looking at me from a black cab window. I am about to speak when the woman sitting opposite her shrieks, ’That’s him, that’s the bloke who had Geoff’s wallet!’
I gazed helplessly at them, not able to utter a word, and watched as the taxi drove off. I am sweating now, and still feel sick, but cannot find my handkerchief. I checked in my pockets again, but can only find a small certificate proclaiming me Employee of the Year.
My shame knows no boundaries as I wiped my face with it and began to cry.
The End

Now that the contest is over, and the winners have been announced, I would like to give an honorable mention to, Kate Baggott, for her story, “Salvation“. Kate’s story was in the thick of the voting right to the bitter end. We liked her story a lot. However, in the end, we felt that her story didn’t represent the theme as clearly as our winners. Good luck with placing your story elsewhere, Kate.

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Hopscotch”, by Julio Cortazar.

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

 

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The NovelNook Flash Fiction Writing Contest Winner IS…

Our First Ever Flash Fiction Writing Contest Was a HUGE Success!

Winner

It was a real battle!

We had a number of fantastic entries and it took every minute of the time we had allotted to come to our decision. In the end, our first place winner was a clear victory. Second place required several heated debates and will be announced on August 26, 2013.

So, without further ado…

Our Winner is?

Susan Pawlicki with her story, “A Change Is As Good As A Rest”.

The judges felt that Susan’s story captured the theme of – A Victory at Work, and, A Defeat at Home with the most creativity. We felt that her entry presented the strongest voice, both her own author voice, as well as her character’s voices. We also liked the subtlety of her plot and the reveals within it. Many of our entries were kind of “in-your-face” with the theme and didn’t allow our reader’s imagination to kick in. Susan’s story revealed some highly creative thinking, and we liked her plot twist. Her story was also one of the best edited entries that we received. All-in-all, we found it an entertaining read.

Congratulations, Susan Pawlicki!

“A Change Is As Good As A Rest”

by Susan Pawlicki

 
“Really? I get a day off?” The apprentice fought to keep his face sober and not break into a smile.

His mentor, who had much experience on the job, looked sideways at the beginner’s eager face and thoughtfully thumbed through the red spiral notebook in his hands. “Well, ‘day’ is a relative term.  You get a break from what you’ve been doing, anyway.” The teacher’s lips moved silently as he counted with his finger down a column in the notebook.  When he reached the bottom of the column, he tapped his finger twice on the paper.  “After all,” he said slowly, “you’ve done so well, bringing over forty potentials to the Organization this month alone—and in such unexpected and original ways….If anyone deserves some time to think away from work, it’s you.”

 If the apprentice could have blushed, he would have. “Wow….I never expected….I mean, I thought once the Organization took you on, you didn’t get time off.  And you came all the way to my place to tell me.  I never thought that was even possible.”

 “Well, nobody ever knows quite what to expect going to a new job.  I mean, no one ever really understands what he’s getting into, does he?”  The trainer looked up. “Even with all that instructional material out there—new stuff year after year, books and magazine articles, lead after online lead, videos, CDs—and everyone thinks he understands how the Organization works…but until you’re out in the field, you just don’t know.”

 “That’s the truth if I ever heard it.”  The words were out before the apprentice thought, but he heard them as he spoke.  His eyes widened, betraying the fear and dismay that sprang up in his stomach.  He looked down quickly, aware his face would give him away.

 “Pardon?” The teacher continued thumbing through the notebook without looking up.  “They’re really quite amazing, your numbers.  And your originality—seeing that woman’s potential and nabbing her in the bakery, for example—well, you’ve given all us senior personnel quite a lot to think about. You show incredible promise.”

Maybe he didn’t hear what I said, the apprentice thought. “You’re right,” he tried.  “What you said before, I mean—that’s right.  No one is ever fully prepared and all that, no matter how much you’ve read or watched and think you know…”

The trainer closed the notebook thoughtfully and turned to face his employee.  “Yes… and I do appreciate your attempt to cover your own lack of preparation in such a simple yet effective way—just a lie, an unpretentious untruth to calm waters that may be less quiet than they appear…to calm me, in fact, after I’ve heard not just an unpleasant word, but a rude one.  A forbidden one.  One that merits notice… and punishment.”

 “I’m sorry!”  The apprentice took a step backward.  “It’s hard to stop using words you’ve used all your life! You know I didn’t always recognize the ‘Truth’­­­­ when it was put before me in the past, but I always recognized the truth when it worked in my favor, when what it said was right for me, like I recognized the truth of what you just said!  What you said is true, even if you said it! No one ever is prepared, especially for a job like this one!”

“Please, don’t make excuses. It’s unbecoming.”  The mentor reached out for his apprentice’s arm.  “Given your numbers, I’m surprised you didn’t bother to ingrain the list of unspeakable words into your being a little more firmly.  What if you let that word slip with a potential Organization member?  It might undo all the work you’d done for us, and we’d lose that person Forever.  Don’t you understand that?  And Forever is a very long time here.”

 The apprentice stared at his forearm, where his teacher held him.  “Please let go,” he said, trying not to jerk his arm away.

 “Does it hurt?”  His mentor’s face was blank, but he tightened his grip slowly.  “Does it burn?”

“Yes!”  The apprentice gave up and began trying to wrench his arm away.  “You said I got time off to think!”  His voice took on the high pitch of desperation.  “Does one slip take away forty victories?”

The triangular tip of his teacher’s tail began switching back and forth with increasing speed.  “Oh,” he crooned, “you get time off from work.  You get time to think.”  He picked up his pitchfork.  “I’m just going to give you something to think about.”

The End

Great Story, Susan!

novelnook flash fiction writing contest

A Devil of a Tale

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “The Time Machine”, by H.G. Wells.

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

           

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Writing Contest – Submit

Flash Fiction Writing Contest…

Submit now!

the clock is ticking

Illustration by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

A few weeks ago we introduced the first ever flash fiction writing contest at NovelNook.com. The submission period for entry ends today at midnight. You still have time to pen that fantastic story.

Here are the official guidelines, once again

I challenge you to write a flash fiction story that incorporates these two elements: a victory at work and a defeat at home.

These are the rules

  1. It must be 1000 words or less.
  2. It must incorporate a victory at work, and a defeat at home, into the plot.
  3. It must be edited to the best of your ability.
  4. It must be submitted by Midnight, July 15th, 2013.
  5. You must submit it to, kentdufault@yahoo.com.
  6. You must submit it in the body of the email – not an attachment.
  7. You must accept the results of the contest without complaining.

These are the prizes

  1. The winning author will receive a free cover from my graphic designer wife for the writing project of their choice.
  2. The winning story will also be published on the  NovelNook.com blog on August 19, 2013.
  3. The winning story will receive a critique and an explanation as to why I chose it as the winner when it is published on the blog.
  4. The winning author will receive an Amazon Gift Card valued at $20.00 USD (for USA Amazon only)
The Fine Print
  • The cover must be redeemed by December 31, 2013.
  • This is for an electronic Ebook cover only.
  • The book cover will be produced to the cover standards as dictated by Amazon.
  • The prize includes design and illustration. If photography is requested, you will be responsible for purchasing the usage rights.
  • You will get three consultations with the graphic designer via email: An initial interview to convey your ideas, an initial proof round, a second proof round. After that, she delivers, and you take what you get.
  • All rights to your entries remain with you!! We’re asking for nothing but a good (well edited) story and first publication rights for the blog.

Second Place! Will be published on the NovelNook.com blog on August 26, 2013 and will receive a critique by me.

Here is a sample cover that my wife produced for me. I will be publishing this book on Amazon in the near future.

Bellakentuky

Hurry! Submissions end today at Midnight.

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Hopscotch”, by Julio Cortazar.

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

 

NovelNook Writing Contest – Sponsored by Bellakentuky

Ramblings and a Writing Contest

“When life gets busy, sometimes you just got to strip down to your tighty-whiteys and jump into the pond!” – Kent‘s Grandma

Life has been busy for me over the last few weeks. The result of that is this post – I’m titling…

Bellakentuky’s First Ever

Super Fabulicious Flash Fiction Writing Contest

But don’t let the ridiculous title fool you!

There is some really good food for thought in this article!

I hope it will inspire you!

Today’s post is going to be an exorcism (of sorts) from me, and a writing challenge for you!

Ramblings and Challenges

Photograph by Diana Robinson

In the past week, I had two, very distinct, and quite different, memorable moments occur in my daily life. One of them was a triumph and the other an utter defeat.

The Triumph

I have worked as a photographer for the same company for over ten years; first as the general manager at two of their locations and then later as a freelance photographer. The job has always entailed (among numerous other things) sales. When I was a younger man, I would have bet money that I would never be good at sales. But history has proven me wrong. As it turns out, I’m pretty darn good at sales. What we sell are family photographs (sometimes just their children) – portraits done on the beach here at Hilton Head Island. While this product definitely has intrinsic value, you would think that there would be a cap as to how much someone might spend on this particular product.

Bellakentuky

Photograph by Kent DuFault

Last week, I had the biggest sale of my career. It was the second largest sale in the company’s history. I’m not going to tell you how much it was, but I will tell you that it was in the five figures category. This client, and the ensuing sale came out of nowhere: they made their appointment late, had no lead time to prepare, and they almost made a decision to cancel.

But they bought, and they bought a lot. I kept waiting for the deal to fall apart, for them to change their mind, or for the credit card to be declined. These are all things that have happened to me in the past. But nothing happened. They made their decisions, their credit card went through, and when they left our office…

I was shaking, and I felt victorious!
Ramblings and Challenges

Photograph by Laura Gilmore

The Defeat

My defeat came the very same day. About six weeks ago, my wife and I adopted a puppy. She’s a cute little thing: part Chihuahua and part Boston Terrier. She’s smart. We worked with her constantly on the housebreaking, and she really seemed to be getting it. We slowly allowed her more and more leeway around the house.

Then we discovered it. She had been going in the house all along, but hiding it. What made this particularly defeating was the fact that I knew, that she knew, it was wrong. She was hiding it. Hiding it in part of the house that we rarely visit. It hurt me deep down because I’d had so much confidence in her.

Bellakentuky

The puppy is in jail. Photograph by Lisa Brandt Heckman.

Well, it’s back to square one with her.

She’s now once again confined to her pen where if she chooses to be sneaky, she has to live with it.

The Challenge

I challenge you to write a flash fiction story that incorporates the two above elements: a victory at work and a defeat at home.

These are the rules

  1. It must be 1000 words or less.
  2. It must incorporate a victory at work, and a defeat at home, into the plot.
  3. It must be edited to the best of your ability.
  4. It must be submitted by Midnight, July 15th, 2013.
  5. You must submit it to, kentdufault@yahoo.com.
  6. You must submit it in the body of the email – not an attachment.
  7. You must accept the results of the contest without complaining.

These are the prizes

  1. The winning author will receive a free cover from my graphic designer wife for the writing project of their choice.
  2. The winning story will also be published on the  NovelNook.com blog on August 19, 2013.
  3. The winning story will receive a critique and an explanation as to why I chose it as the winner when it is published on the blog.
  4. The winning author will receive an Amazon Gift Card valued at $20.00 USD (for USA Amazon only)
The Fine Print
  • The cover must be redeemed by December 31, 2013.
  • This is for an electronic Ebook cover only.
  • The book cover will be produced to the cover standards as dictated by Amazon.
  • The prize includes design and illustration. If photography is requested, you will be responsible for purchasing the usage rights.
  • You will get three consultations with the graphic designer via email: An initial interview to convey your ideas, an initial proof round, a second proof round. After that, she delivers, and you take what you get.
  • All rights to your entries remain with you!! We’re asking for nothing but a good (well edited) story and first publication rights for the blog.

Second Place! Will be published on the NovelNook.com blog on August 26, 2013 and will receive a critique by me.

Here is a sample cover that my wife produced for me. I will be publishing this book on Amazon in the near future.

Bellakentuky

Book cover by Clarisa Ponce deLeon

I look forward to reading your stories!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.