Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winning Entries from "By the time he arrived..."

Here are the winners from the first writing prompt contest of the year:

First Place
Gillian Adams
Jenna Blake Morris

Second Place
Rebecca Pennefather
Jyllenna Wilke

Third Place
Jordan Newhouse
Georgina Caballero

Honorable Mentions
Abigail Hartman
Richard Barrett II
Madison Cherie

One of the changes that's been made this year is that there are points for honorable mentions. First place gets 3 points, second place 2 points, third place 1 point, and honorable mentions .5 points. I keep track of everyone's points throughout the year so we can do all kinds of fun giveaways at the end of the year. So you certainly don't have to enter every time, but you can end up with some cool stuff if you're consistent about it.

For your reading pleasure, here are some of the winning entries. (Posted with permission.)

By Gillian Adams (1st)

By the time Dirk arrived, he knew he was too late.
The keening wail of mourners assailed his ears.  His horse danced a nervous jig, hooves clattering on cobblestone.
He should turn back.
Tugging his hood down, he pressed on, fingers straying to the rapier at his side.  The spiked palace gate loomed ahead, soldiers on either side, crossed halberds barring the way.
Dirk flicked his hood aside.  “Let me pass.”  The soldiers shifted nervously, but did not move.
“Brother.”  A man stepped from the shadows.  “We’ve been expecting you.”
Dirk’s rapier leapt in his hand.  “Roderick.”
“Father’s dead.  But you’ll see him.  Soon.”  Roderick motioned the soldiers forward.  “Arrest him.”

The judge says: Well done! Nice peppering of sensory information with the setting’s description. There’s just enough intrigue to keep my attention, but not confuse me. It’s easy to read and fun to imagine what would happen next. Excellent!

By Jenna Blake Morris (1st)

By the time I arrived, I knew it was too late.
    Of course, when you're being frog-marched around by brainwashed goonies, you don't call the shots.
    But Cord was already dead on the table. My head started spinning.
    "Reese!" Faust said warmly, like we were old friends and he wasn't going to kill me. Then he launched into this spiel about his master plan. When he pulled out his evil-genius homemade charts, I quit paying attention, finally let myself look at Cord. And regretted it. If he weren't so still, he'd seem...alive.
    "Reese?" Faust said.
    I hesitated.
    Then Cord opened an eye, winked at me.  Alive.
    The plan was back on.

The judge says: The style is so energetic and full of life. Even though this wouldn’t be my normal genre, I’m completely engaged. Love it.

By Jyllenna Wilke (2nd)

By the time I arrived, I knew it was too late to calm my mother. Only the arms of two men kept her from attacking everyone in the hospital room. I slowly approached her, all the while watching her writhe and twist her ghostly body.
“The dementia will only continue to worsen until...” The nurse swallowed hard and looked away.
“They’re coming back to finish killing me!” My mom’s eyes bulged out and she gave another violent effort to get free.  
“Mama, no one is going to hurt—ˮ I felt the vomit start to climb into my throat as I stared at the bloody gash stretched across her neck.

The judge says: Original take on the prompt. Caught my interest. I really feel like I’m in the scene.

By Jordan Newhouse (3rd)

By the time he arrived, he knew he was too late. No doctors, no nurses, just his baby girl lying in a hospital bed. She was only 15 years old - too young for this.
He went over and took her hand.
"I'm sorry." Her desperate grip said more than her tremulous words. "I miss my baby."
He tried to think of comforting words, but his mouth was parched and his head throbbing. Watching her belly grow for months hurt bad, but he hadn't imagined the hurt he was feeling now.
"I didn't see her, but I heard her crying."
"You did the right thing."
"No, I want my baby back."

The judge says: What a unique way to use this prompt. It pulls on the emotions with a depth that makes the reader want to read on. Nice!

By Abigail Hartman (Honorable Mention)

"By the time I arrived, I knew I was too late."
The speaker, finished with his recitation, spread his hands palm-up before him.  The telling was over; now came the waiting, waiting in the cold, violent light that filled the place like water.
Then out of the glare leaned a silhouetted face.  "So the child lives."
No answer was needed.  The face rose and a body appeared starkly beneath it as the voice continued, "You were tardy.  Very well! let it live; it is, after all, only a girl-child.  But a child such as she..."  The figure turned, sending ripples through the light.  "You will have to be more careful, Puck."
The judge says: Great descriptions. Especially like “violent light that filled the place like water.” I want to keep reading.

By Richard Barrett II (Honorable Mention)

By the time he arrived, he knew he was too late.
He sat down and leaned on the table, his breathing low and short as he placed two fingers to his temple. “All right,” he said. He took a deep breathe to regain his composure.
His breathing slowly steadied as he reached for the tumbler, and sipped the lemonade.
“They’ve taken it,” he said, staring off into space.
“Sir…How…shall we proceed?” asked the sergeant.
He breathed methodically in thought. They could not have it.
“Well,” he said, his mind still running the possibilities. He turned his gaze toward the sergeant, his blue eyes flickering steadily. “We’re going to blow it. We’re going to blow the most destructive weapon—ever known to mankind.”
The judge says: Unique hook. Nice creativity with good suspense build-up. You can feel the stress, the tension. Nice job!

Congratulations, everyone!


  1. Wow, I really enjoyed reading those! Thanks and good job, all around!

  2. These are great! Nice job to all the writers!

  3. Great entries everyone! I love seeing the different spin each writer puts to the prompt!

  4. Great job! I always enjoy reading the different entries. I really loved the first two entries; they were both very engaging. I liked the suspense in the first entry and really enjoyed the second one. I love how the author created a suspense-type scene but still wrote in a humourous manner.

  5. The one by Jenna Morris is AMAZING!!!! They're all great; congrats to the winners!!!

  6. Yahoo! Congrats, everyone! Gillian, I loved the historic feel of yours. Awesome job! :-)

  7. I loved these! So well done! Gillian and Jenna...just wow. Stunning. These all are so wonderful! :)

  8. Congratulations, guys! Love them all! Especially Cord coming back to life. ;)

  9. Jordan Newhouse, you really got me wanting to read more! I want to read the end of the story! Tell me more! My favorite out of them all.

    I didn't make the list, but I will keep trying!

  10. Sorry I didn't see your comment earlier! You probably know as much about the story as I do :) I like to come up with premises (like "teen pregnancy from the perspective of teen mom's dad" in this case) for the prompts but I haven't yet fleshed out a whole story from any of them.