The Winners Are . . .

The results of the creative nonfiction contest are in!!!

Thank you so much for your submissions. There were so many wonderful stories that it truly was difficult for the judges. After reading them all, I was so glad that I was not judging!

As you know, we asked for your best work in your best style and had no preconceived ideas of what type of stories would take first, second, and third places.

The judges used a system which ranked them in order.  I then took their ranking and assigned a number to each ranking, added and subtracted by two (judges) to average the scores. This turned out to work very well because their results were so similar. gift cards will be winging themselves through cyberspace to the three winners!

Here is the list of the winning stories:

  • FIRST PLACE:  “The Lady’s Coat” by Lynne Nielsen
  • SECOND PLACE: “Waste Not Want Not” by Lisa Ellison
  • THIRD PLACE: “So It Happened Like This” by Mike Durr

Here is the list of honorable mentions in no particular order:

  • HONORABLE MENTION: “The Relaxation Group” by Jackie Dinnis
  • HONORABLE MENTION: “For Ian” by Regenia Spoerndle
  • HONORABLE MENTION: “Water Droplets” by Enrique Guerra-Pujol

The judges provided comments about the winning stories:


This essay possesses mystery and imagination. [It] has resonance and a sense of wholeness. The prose is appealingly lyrical with compression of images and feeling.

This story’s use of sensory details and description works well to set the stage for the coat to become a central character of its own – the vehicle that serves to transport the narrator back in time.  The many references to time help the reader to become even more aware of the passing of it.  The overall story premise is very unique and the sense of mystery created draws the reader in immediately.


This writing has much to recommend it. There is a sense of a past, present, and future, where lives are blighted as a man refuses to tell his child and grandchildren that he loves them. The irony is that the man clearly loves his family, showing his affection through care and self-sacrifice. Still, he considers saying “I love you” to anyone but a spouse a waste of words. While the reader does not know why the man’s daughter turned to alcohol and, possibly, drugs or why his grandson will eventually kill himself, these acts seem tied to the man’s refusal to “waste” words of love.

The sustained metaphor of the weekly meal as mass is captured well with unique imagery.  The grandfather/granddaughter relationship is demonstrated well by showing the two of them interacting together. The well-crafted dialogue helps to develop these characters on the page. The overall message of love being shown rather than spoken comes through clearly. I particularly like the subtle  example of the young girl having to walk to the edge of the kitchen as a means to protect her from being burned.


Obviously the start of a longer piece, this writing can stand alone. Precious freedom is its focus. The narrator is haunted by the ghosts of slaves who tunneled beneath the Ohio River to flee north. They ask, “What will you do for your freedom?”

This writing is vivid, from the dripping tunnel, to the cracked and peeling Naval Training Center, to the sweltering jungles of Indochina, where “every day spent outside a body bag” is a good one. And always, there’s the heartbeat of What will you do for your freedom?

Wonderful opening line. It hooked me right away.

The use of detail to place the reader in scene is employed well. Many of the descriptions evoke not only a clear image of a place, but also a sense of what it felt like.

The universal theme of seeking freedom is woven throughout the story relative to history and geographic elements that leads the reader on a journey alongside the narrator.


I wanted to make one other comment about the submissions in general. With the exception of only a couple, the submissions could all have used an outside eye reading for typos and grammar errors. I bring up this point because before you submit to journals, magazines, and agents, find a friend you trust to read over your work and search for missing words, misspellings, and grammar errors. My judges ignored these issues (within reason), but some professional readers will not do so.


It was such a gift to be entrusted with these stories to read. Thank you for allowing the judges to evaluate them and for me to post them on this blog.

I will begin posting the winning stories on Monday!


Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing contest, Writing prompt

15 responses to “The Winners Are . . .

  1. Congrats to the winners.

  2. Oh no! I missed this. I have to figure out how to be a better blogger and not the kind that gets paid millions to live on an island somewhere, just be more regular about checking out my cyber friends. Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to you for being so supportive of fellow writers.

  3. Congratulations to all the winners. I can’t wait to read them!

  4. Congratulations to all of the winner. I look forward to reading each story. Thanks, Luanne!

  5. Congratulations to all. The stories look great and I will be checking back on Monday.

  6. Congratulations –

  7. Thank you, Luanne and the esteemed judges for offering this exciting opportunity to compete in a writing competition. I enjoyed the process and appreciated the feedback. The gift card will be put to use!

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