Before I Post the Winners...
I'm done! I've read and evaluated every Christmas story submission, tallied the scores, sent emails to all the authors and I'm ready to post the winners.
(Authors, if you didn't get your emails, let me know ASAP!)
Thank you to everyone who came to the site, read the stories, left comments, and voted. Your honest comments are very important to the authors as it gives them a sense of where they connect with the reader and where they miss. That type of feedback is crucial to learning the craft of writing.
Although the authors have received a score sheet evaluating various aspects of story and a partial line edit on their actual story, I've only posted a brief critique for each story highlighting what I feel are the weakest points. The reason for the limited online critique is it takes a lot of time—up to an hour—to read and evaluate each story. It would double my time were I to include line edits in the actual posts—and honestly, I don't believe anyone but the author will actually go back to those stories to see those evaluations—and they're getting them in a personal email. (If I'm wrong, you're welcome to correct me in the comments and maybe I'll reconsider, but it would require much groveling and begging from multiple readers to change my mind.)
We had a voting issue, but it was resolved to my satisfaction. We were able to determine exactly when the email was sent and discounted all anonymous votes after that time, plus some votes that the author recognized as family, leaving her with 7 counted votes. I believe the winner to have won fair and square.
There was another voting issue that has occurred in every short story contest I've held. Once again, SOME OF YOU DID NOT VOTE FOR YOUR OWN STORY! I just don't get that!!! Did the fact that a story got zero votes effect my critique? No, because I didn't look at those votes until after I made my own evaluation. But still, PEOPLE! Can someone explain that to me????
And lastly, some good news—I now have enough quality stories to do a second Christmas collection. It will be available for the Christmas season of 2012. I still need to go through and make the final determination on which stories will be in the collection. Authors, if you're selected for the new collection, I will email you directly with instructions and a contract—probably some time in January.
Now for the big reveal...