Before I announce the results, I want to thank all of you very, very much for participating in this contest. While I run these contests mainly for fun, they also serve a couple of legitimate writing purposes: to give you feedback from readers (your target audience), feedback from a publisher's perspective, and to practice getting your work in front of others. Submitting is a nerve-wracking experience for most writers and you get over the fear by doing it.
Every single entry in this contest had things in it that I really liked. I tried to mention the strongest points in my comments on each post. I also listed things you should watch out for, things that might keep me from reading more were they a "real" submission.
I recognize that I seriously crippled your writing by giving you only two paragraphs to set up your story and provide enough of a hook to entice your audience to keep reading. This is really tough to do. In many cases, I'm sure you would have taken more time, given us more depth and developed the scene more completely had you been submitting the first chapter. Therefore, if I suggested that you do that, please do not see that as a criticism of your entry, but rather an indication that I felt there was undeveloped potential there.
If you want to take credit for your work, please identify yourself in the comments section of your post.
Now for the awards.
First Place with 7 votes: Entry #22 submitted by Patricia Wiles
Honorable mentions, a four way tie with 4 votes each (in chronological order):
Entry #6 submitted by Karlene Browning
Entry #8 submitted by Jeff Savage
Entry #9 submitted by Michael Keyton
Entry #21 submitted by Melanie Goldmund
(Ones I'd be most likely to ask for more...)
First Place: Entry #21 submitted by Melanie Goldmund
This one went immediately to creepy, had wonderful descriptive imagery, and could be developed into a great story/novel. Even though the paragraphs were long and it would read better if separated into more than two, this entry embodied the spirit of horror in a classic style. It gave us a great beginning and I see lots of potential.
Entry #13 submitted by David Woolley
This is a great start to a tween horror novel. With all the inappropriate teen horror out there right now, I'd love to see something like this developed into a scary novel that I wouldn't be embarrassed to give to my children, nieces and nephews. (If you finish it, let me know.)
Entry #8 submitted by Jeff Savage
This has wonderful descriptive language and a very strong beginning. It would make a great prologue for something really cool. I'd love to read more. (And I don't care if you call it a prologue or chapter one, it's still a set up to a story, not the beginning of the story itself.)
First Place Winners: Please send me your mailing address and the title of the book you'd like for your prize—a classic horror book of your choice (must be available in paperback and easy to find). If your entry is the beginning of a full story you may send the entire story to me and I will post it here and also include a link back to your blog or website. (Include the link in your e-mail.)
If you are not one of the first place winners, but you have the rest of your story posted on your blog or website, feel free to post the link in the comments section of your entry.
Advance notice of upcoming Christmas Story Contest:
I'm going to run a Christmas story contest, beginning December 1st. I will post the full stories. Word count limit is 1500 words (although you can do less). I will be dividing the entries into two categories: published authors and unpublished authors, with Readers Choice and Publishers Choice prizes in both categories. Start writing now. I'll publish more details in a few weeks.