Friday, April 2, 2010

IMO - notice there is nothing 'humble' about my opinion

First off, I did not judge the contest. I knew some of the entrants and wanted it blind for the judges and to keep the judges sequestered during the contest.

What I’ve done here is to comment briefly on a few of the things I liked. This would be a really long post if I listed everything I liked about each story.

I’m always a sucker for literary devices. An extra proof reading would have helped most stories, especially if read aloud. Some didn’t pay close enough attention to the guidelines and the judges deducted for that. Another comment I saw often was in regards to creating a need for the reader to care about the well-being of the main character. Certainly that is due more attention by nearly all the writers.

Here's the good stuff (IMO)...
Published Authors
A Shrewd Moment by Andy D Kemp (France)
Very visual descriptions. No way did I want to sit on the cold upholstery. Good relationship between the driver and passenger. I cared about them.

Bostwick Blues by Don Blinebry (USA) *
I liked the Noir feel of the piece. Nearly heard the narration that was key in both radio and television gumshoe stories. I liked the addition of the snitch. It is so easy to forget to widen the cast when writing in first person.

Carnival by Francis Hayes (UK)
Good use of setting throughout the work. I laughed at the Kansas comments, since I’ve lived there. Strong dialogue. Worked well, in fact, totally got me with the twist at the end. This writer must have been to the US or have a magical imagination that is perfect about the locations in the US. I would not have guessed this was not written by an American.

The Jade Princess by Derek Coleman (USA)
I like the narration and the unexpected twist at the end after the fraud had been exposed. Made me smile with the thought that often the treasure isn’t the obvious one.

The Lemon Man From Agerola by Jo Smith (France) *
I was so mad at her friends for putting her in harms’ way by jumping in the other car. I bought into the story and the risk.

Packet drink, Please by Aneeta Sundararaj (Malaysia)
I like the relationship between the old woman and the child - neighbors, but more. "When we smile at each other, both have missing front teeth." I liked that showing of their ‘oneness’ -- their bond of friendship and more.
Unpublished Authors
Appreciation by Ivana Maric (Croatia)
My state of mind is to like the twist in this story. Good use of foreshadowing. If you’ve read my blog, foreshadowing is one of my favorite writing tools. Good job on setting the setting and changing the dialogue to fit the changes in the internal dialogue of the main character.

Let’s Drink on It by Russ Waterman (US)
Smart idea to set a story on a California beach. Shows the writer has me figured out. I liked the beach bum attitude of the two characters, typically Californian. Some judges had trouble with the time line, but I don’t think a country this large would go Armageddon all at once. I think it would come in waves and the fact that the guys were resolved to the end coming wasn’t a problem for me.

Meticulous Planning by Fiona Taylor (UK)
This is enough to give chills to every mother of small children. The title fits perfectly. The mind of the main character is chilling, as it would have to be.

Of The Gods by Anne Dewvall (USA)
Very literary, a style I like. I couldn’t figure out the setting or main character, so that kept me reading because it was done in an intriguing way. Nice use of symbolism. I found that it was an enjoyable piece once I shut off my mind to the questions and rolled with it. It reminds me of the book of Revaluations in the Bible, not meant for everyone to understand the underlying story.

One More Hour by Glynis Smy (Cyprus)
This one had me going. I was guessing with the rapid changes of circumstance, so I was pleased when I found out who the main character was and what was ‘afoot’ as Mr. Homes would have said. Made me smile. Very original idea.

Opening A Vein by Samantha Kelley (USA)
I love the line, "The ink flows out of my pen like lies out of a politician." You know me, I like the use of literary devices. I could have stopped here and been perfectly satisfied. Ah the insanity of being a writer!

The Pussycat by Robin Rhodes (USA)
I could almost hear the bar music, though it wasn’t mentioned. Good use of dialogue in most places. The setting was established nicely. The ‘attitude’ of the main character was consistent throughout.

The Hunter by Peggy Nolan (USA) *
Totally not what I expected from Peggy. (Yeah, like reading her blog makes me an expert!) I liked the setting - I admit I never stopped to wonder what the teacher was thinking while we were all thinking of getting through the lecture in one piece. Thought the setting was believable and original.

The Sacrifice by Nicolas Sharp (?)
Starts with a good pace and the writing supports the chase. I was totally surprised by the twist at the end, plus I liked the bond between the two characters. I’m one who likes people to connect.

The Surprising End of My Innocence by Janie Hickok Siess (USA)
Easy to get attached to the main character. Straight storyline, from beginning to end, without gaps. Very little dialogue, but what was there was strong and point on target.

Thank you to everyone who entered the short story contest. I hope you gained something useful from the experience. I’ll email the judges’ comments to you this weekend. Some are very blunt and I even commented to one judge on that. So lick your wounds after reading their comments, then read mine again. Plus, the points the judges like are certainly keepers as you write other works. Do again what you do well.


  1. Love to know where the writers who are in France live, me I'm in the Deux Sevres. Its a big country so we are unlikely to meet sur la rue...

  2. Thanks for sharing Nadine, it is good to read what you thought. It was a challenge and a learning curve. My first but not my last. :)

  3. Glyn, perhaps she will contact you???

    Glynis, The stories were generally good. Most needed to be reviewed again before submitting, however I liked them. I did have different opinions than the judges - I suspect I look for different things, but the judges took the tase seriously and I couldn't have asked for more.

  4. Just to be funny, that is the pic of me for my ID badge at work. See why I wear sunglasses?

  5. Those are all very intriquing titles

  6. Glyn, I forgot Andy is from France too. That makes two entries from France. Cool, eh?

  7. when you have a moment, i have something for you on my blog.

  8. Hello Michelle. Great! Which blog?

    I think Glynis said something like that too. Now that I've milked the short story contest to the end, guess I'd better move on... Thanks ladies.

  9. I just emailed the judges' comments to the writers who entered. If you didn't get one, contact me immediately. On Monday, I'll remove all the stories from my hard drive.

    Thanks everyone for making this little contest a success. I appreciate your time and interest.

  10. Good Grief! One of the judges just emailed me that I hadn't included their comments to the writers. I am soooo not going to move during the next contest. Email me if you want to have these comments sent. I think it is worth getting them, but... I need your email addresses again.

  11. HI Nadine,

    Thanks for sending the judges' comments! I'm still on my learning curve :-)

    And of course, what I wrote was not what I was expecting either...seriously. But that's what happens when I simply let go of my own expectations and have fun with a writing prompt (yup, my story came from a writing prompt!)

    High five to everyone who entered!


  12. This was a fun contest, Nadine and sharing your comments is just icing on the cake. Thanks for both.

  13. You did a great job with this contest. It really isn't easy to run one. I have respect for those who do. It has to be out of pure love.
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Website picks

  14. DJ, I thought so too. Some of the stories were equally original. I enjoyed reading them. It was an honor to host the contest.

  15. Hi Nadine,

    Thank you for running this contest. I’ve learnt a lot and it’ll just boost my confidence to keep writing my stories and entering more contests.


  16. Peggy, life is a journey. I've been writing forever and still learn more about the craft. Besides the audience is ever changing. It is fun and exciting (and lots of work - the good kind).

  17. Don, Carolyn, Aneeta - it was my honor to host the contest. Thanks for being part of it. Shall we do it again next year?

  18. Thank you for sending the judges' comments, Nadine. I think this was a very well run contest and I enjoyed taking part. Well done. Thanks as well for your comments. Feedback is so important.

    And Glyn, I'm in Burgundy. Not too far from Chablis. The nearest I've been to you is Poitiers. - Jo :)

  19. Nadine:

    Thanks for your hard work on this contest. It was much appreciated.

    My only response to the judges' comments was this: I wish they had realized that I was telling a true story. It was a remembrance of a real life event, not a fictional short story. Thus, some of their comments about adding more dialogue, etc. were totally off the mark.

    As an attorney, I write professionally, but the persuasive writing I do on a daily basis is far different than what I submitted. Otherwise, this was an interesting experience . . . I'm always interested in learning more & improving my skills on the professional and personal front.



  20. Hello JHS! You weren't the only one who submitted a non-fiction piece. While it may not be written in stone, most often in the publishing industry, when refering to "genre" works, it means fiction.

    The simple solution would have been to fictionalize a true event. There are many definitions and sub-categories of "genre", so I stick to one that I like to keep consistant.

    Ta! There was another attorney who entered the contest too. How cool is that? My hubby is an attorney, but rather be called "lawyer" - better lawyer jokes, I guess.

    One other note about fiction. Never, ever write in a query letter "fiction novel" because again, the word 'novel' implies fiction - same as using the word genre.

    It isn't an easy task to switch to fiction after sticking to the rules of evidence all day long. Good job!