Yes, the time has arrived! The stories are in, the judges have spoken and Kingdom Pen has elected the winning contestants for our inaugural short story contest. We’ve had a lot of fun with this contest and have been thrilled by the enthusiastic participation of our subscribers. The stories we’ve had the honor of reading and judging for the contest have been exceptional, and we’ve been impressed by the writing quality we’ve seen. We’re excited to have reached a conclusion, and we know you’re ready to hear the results. Before we get to the stories, however, there are some acknowledgements we should make.
We’d like to extend special thanks to our excellent judging panel, who worked carefully and thoughtfully on each and every story that was submitted. Our initial judging team consisted of Mrs. Karen King of Alabama, a long-time homeschool teacher, mother of 8 children and loving wife of 23 years; Mr. Braden Russell of Oklahoma, an author, comedy video producer and contributor to Kingdom Pen magazine; and Miss Anna Pendleton of Alabama, an author and singer as well as contributor to Kingdom Pen also. Each of these three worked for two weeks, reading each story anonymously and assigning ratings of between 1 and 10 points in a series of 8 categories for each story. Each category represented a specific of strength in each story, and the points were totaled at the end of the process to select the five finalists.
Each and every story we received had it’s own strengths and strong points, and every one reflected the hard work and dedication of it’s author. Before we move on, we’d like to congratulate every contributor on their effort, talent and imaginative love of art through writing. It’s really great to see young authors working to put out their very best, and we here are Kingdom Pen were thrilled to see so many such stories. The judges shared with me about how some of these submissions really fought hard for the top and were difficult to choose between, but in the end when the dust settled, five were in the lead and these qualified as finalists. The five are:
- Prayers, by Caiti Marie
- Of Parallels and Perpendiculars, by Erynn Besse
- Hephzibah, by Katie Jo Odorzynski
- The Choice of Beonda, by Raechel Lenore
- Life Inside, by Jacklyn Crooks
Of these five, the first three earned the highest total scores, and these were submitted to our final judge for the last battle for the lead. Miss Hannah Mills of Indiana, another author as well as a photographer, artist, Kingdom Pen columnist, and also a member of our Novel Review Team served as our final judge. The last three stories were sent anonymously to her, and after careful consideration and deliberation, she judged the stories and placed them in the final ranking for first, second and third places.
Third place title, along with the awarded Amazon.com gift card goes to Caiti Marie with her story Prayers! Congratulations, Caiti, on a strong work of short fiction. Prayers scored especially high marks for it’s message, setting, and the pacing you employed. Your story held it’s own with distinct dialect between different characters, and the way you interjected back story through periodic flashbacks really worked.
“Prayers was a story that had me excited and praising God by the end of it. The boldness of the message combined with the clarity and strength of style created a beautiful mental picture of the power of prayer and truth of redemption. I was amazed by how real and distinct each character was when I knew little more about them than how they spoke to Christ. The transition between the prayers and the story in Casey’s memory was always smooth and added an exhilarating element to the entire experience. It was incredible how I didn’t have to have gone through the same exact struggles that Casey and the others had in order for me to relate to, sympathize with, and learn from them. As a whole, Prayers was one of the best short stories I have ever read and I’m thankful for how God shined and worked through nearly every aspect of it.” ~ Anna Pendleton
Second place title along with one of the two books from our list of prizes is taken by Katie Jo Odorzynski, with her story Hephzibah! Your story fought hard for first place and scored high marks in every category, making a full 10 points on setting, pacing, and the consistency of the story. We found the setting to be original and unique, the message to be positive and uplifting and your prose to be consistent in style. Great work, Katie, on a fantastic message of hope!
“I found Hephzibah to be a beautiful mix of a positive and uplifting story, along with rich writing that effectively painted vivid imagery. I could nearly feel the sea breeze on my face and hear the cry of gulls as I read, and was quickly drawn into an emotional connection with the characters, especially as the detailed descriptions of the father, son, and the horse made each seem very alive and totally believable. The author knew her material well, and the story was fully consistent – even as far as a meaningful title.” ~ Karen King
Finally, first place honors for the finest short story in our contest and the winner of the according prizes go to Erynn Besse, with her work, Of Parallels and Perpendiculars! This work ranked highest of the three finalists, leading Hephzibah by three points and scoring top ratings in six out of the eight categories. The best way to describe this story is probably with the word fascinating. Your character is unique and strongly individual and real. The setting is calibrated well to flow with the story, the other characters fit perfectly with the conflict and the use of the main character’s fascination with parallels and perpendiculars is used to great effect with her understanding of life. Congratulations, Erynn, on this terrific work of fiction and the careful artistic talent that it reflects.
“I was captivated by this story from the first sentence by its strong voice and quirky narrator. The scenario of misunderstood social outcast surviving in a harsh school environment is one that is often used and easily abused, but this writer’s story easily stands out above the status quo. I really enjoyed reading Of Parallels and Perpendiculars, and hope to read more by this author in the future.” ~ Braden Russell
As promised, each winner will receive their prizes as soon as contact and mailing information can be acquired. Of Parallels and Perpendiculars and Hephzibah will also appear as special features in the upcoming September/October issue of Kingdom Pen magazine, and we’ve also obtained Ms. Caiti Marie’s permission to publish Prayers in the following November/December issue. Be sure to look for them in the short story section of the magazine!