Text Box: Text Box: Winning Entries Second Quarter 2016

First: The Mohair Coat by Amanda O’Callaghan

Second: (In My Way) by Rob McInroy

Third: Love Behind the Gasometer by D.R.D. Bruton

Click on the titles to read the three winning stories

Highly Commended: Thumbs by Jodi Moxon

 

Judge’s Report for the second quarter’s competition 2016 from Sheila Bugler

 

Well, what a pleasure it was to judge this competition. I enjoyed every short-listed story and narrowing my choice down to just three was no easy task. In fact, several times I thought about contacting the competition organiser and asking if I could bend the rules just this once and include a few more stories. I didn’t, of course, and the three short stories I chose are fine examples of what you can achieve in under 500 words.

This isn’t the first competition I’ve been asked to judge (I hope it won’t be the last, either). Each time I judge a competition I am reminded just how subjective this process is. Quite simply, I selected the three stories I enjoyed the most. It is likely another judge would have made different choices. I don’t say this to take away from the winners – I genuinely believe I have chosen the best stories. I read all the stories several times and, truthfully, each reading only reinforced my initial impression.

The three winning stories – and the highly commended story, Thumbs -  stood out from the others because of the quality of the writing, the effect on the reader (each one made me feel something) and the length of time it stayed with me after I’d read it.

As well as the winners, I’d also like to mention some other stories which came really close. They are Loved by Ramos (such great writing) and the hugely moving Molly and the Toe-rag. I also really enjoyed the originality of Full Circle and Snakes for its powerful imagery.

 

1st: The Mohair Coat

I loved this story. It is beautifully written, rich in imagery, evocative and deeply moving. Written in the first-person, this is a story about grief, specifically the narrator’s grief for her (or his) dead mother. In 445 words we get a complete picture of the dead woman - an immigrant from an unnamed country who only ever wore her mohair coat on journeys back to her homeland. The coat was only worn four times in sixty years.

Being Irish, I grew up with stories of mass emigration and generations of people forced to leave their homeland. Perhaps that was why I was able to empathise so much with this lovely tale. Or perhaps I loved it so much because it is such a beautiful story. The penultimate line is one of the loveliest I have read anywhere, ever. Read it and I think you’ll see what I mean.

 

2nd: (In My Way)

Ah! I loved this story. It made me smile the first time I read it and I kept smiling with each subsequent reading. I am smiling now just thinking about it.

(In My Way) is a love story. It is funny and clever and moving. It’s about a boy and a girl and a vampire and a werewolf. It’s about giving up on the dreams we have as children, and discovering those dreams again in later life. It’s really quite magical and if I tell you anymore I may spoil that magic. Instead, I urge you to read this lovely tale yourself. I promise you’ll be smiling long before you reach the end.

 

3rd: Love Behind the Gasometer

Less a love story, more a slice of gritty realism underpinned with dark humour, this is another great example of flash fiction. The author uses the stark imagery of gasometers to tell his simple tale of a romance between the unnamed narrator and Julie. This love story is played out under the shadow of an old gasometer and the author cleverly imposes a sort of majesty and romance on these ‘great skulking carbuncles of metal.’

I chose Love Behind the Gasometer for its originality and its ability to make me smile.

 

Highly Commended: Thumbs

Another moving story about immigration. The central character in this story is Tomasz, an immigrant haunted by memories of the land he has left behind and a daughter no longer with him.

A chance encounter triggers memories of the life he has lost and awakens his paternal instinct to love and protect.

It’s a lovely, uplifting story.

 

We regularly receive several hundred entries each quarter, so those making the long and short lists should feel very proud.

 

Short Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A French Landscape by Edwina Jones

A Fresh Bouquet by Emily Crowther

A Kind of Kidnapping by Vanessa Savage

A Plymouth Deluxe, Circa 1950 by D.R.D. Bruton

All the Time in the World by Sally Davies

Baby Steps by Susan Howe

Candyfloss by Kay Fisher

Fingernails by Kate Jones

Front Cover Down by Shirley Golden

Full Circle by Mary Thompson

Impossible by Jamie D Stacey

(In My Way) by Rob McInroy

Life Expectancy by Susan Howe

Love behind the Gasometer by D.R.D. Bruton

Loved by Ramos by D.R.D. Bruton

Milk and Money by Jane Dugdale

Molly and the Toe-rag by Catherine Edmunds

Remembering by Margaret Leggatt

Snakes by Carolyn Paul Branch

The Mohair Coat by Amanda O’Callaghan

The Price of Milk by Linda Grierson-Irish

The Siege by Sandra Crook

The Survivor by Anita Goodfellow

Thumbs by Jodi Moxon

Tragedy by Paula Hendry

 

Long Listed Entries — in alphabetical order

 

A French Landscape by Edwina Jones

A Fresh Bouquet by Emily Crowther

A Kind of Kidnapping by Vanessa Savage

A Plymouth Deluxe, Circa 1950 by D.R.D. Bruton

After A Night's Drinking by Calum Normand

All the Time in the World by Sally Davies

Baby Steps by Susan Howe

Bagsy-blobsy No Back Answers by Jan Kaneen

Bumping Uglies by Terry Pratt

Candyfloss by Kay Fisher

Collateral Damage by Anya Meyerowitz

Crack by Nicole Richardson

Cruel to be Kind by Freya Morris

Dulcis Domus by Linda Grierson-Irish

Fingernails by Kate Jones

Fire and Ice-cream by Kim French

Front Cover Down by Shirley Golden

Full Circle by Mary Thompson

Heart To Heart by Paul Chiswick

How to Measure a General by Christina Sanders

Impossible by Jamie D Stacey

(In My Way) by Rob McInroy

In Your Name by Jamie D Stacey

Jólakötturinn by Terry Pratt

King of Clichés by Charles Knightley

Life Expectancy by Susan Howe

Lost Balls by Veronica Bright

Love behind the Gasometer by D.R.D. Bruton

Loved by Ramos by D.R.D. Bruton

Maudlin Claude by Sharon Boyle

Milk and Money by Jane Dugdale

Molly and the Toe-rag by Catherine Edmunds

Not There by Karen Jones

On Day Seven by Sharon Boyle

Rain by Brendan Hall

Rebirth by Dyan Colclough

Remembering by Margaret Leggatt

Sacred Streams by Conor Montague

Snakes by Carolyn Paul Branch

The Anagram Man by Carolyn Gillum

The Art of Secretion by Carolyn Gillum

The Freedom of the Sea by Hannah Persaud

The Girl by Karen Jones

The Last Supper by Carol Stone

The Mohair Coat by Amanda O’Callaghan

The Price of Milk by Linda Grierson-Irish

The Siege by Sandra Crook

The Survivor by Anita Goodfellow

Thumbs by Jodi Moxon

To be the Beach by Mandy Huggins

Tragedy by Paula Hendry

When David Bowie Moved In by Freya Morris

Whirligig by Jo Derrick