I was so impressed with the quality of submissions to our writing contest this month. Impressed and dismayed. The better the stories, the harder it is to pick just one. I kept thinking, I want this story and this story and this story in the book. Because, as you know, this isn’t just a contest. Soon this will be a printed book, a compilation of the best stories that come through The Write Practice. I really wanted to see some of these stories in our book.

But c’est la vie, you can only pick one.

The Judges

Huge, great, bear hug thanks to the wonderful people who helped judge this contest: Dominic Laing, Danielle Duvick, and Nancy Vanders. You were marvelously discerning and a whole lot of fun to work with. Thanks for helping.

And everyone, if you haven’t read Dominic and Nancy’s Show Off winning stories, you should. They’re really really good.

Well, let’s begin shall we?

Book Burning

Honorable Mentions

The first honorable mention goes to Casey’s wonderful, quasi-dialogue story, Of Two Minds, about a woman who has to choose whether to forgive the husband who cheated on her or get rid of him for good (for good for good). I liked it because we get so much of the story, the character, and her situation through simple, single sentences of dialogue. It’s brilliantly done. And Dominic put it well when he said, “I love the uneven resolution; not sure of the result, but sure that leaping is the right thing to do.”

The second honorable mention goes to Just B’s No Way Out, a courtroom drama about a man pushed to a desperate decision to feed his family. Just B exceeds as a storyteller, and the narrative draws you in effortlessly. Plus it has a happy ending! You should definitely read this one.

The Runner Up

The runner up is Bob Vander Lugt’s Sand, Smoke, Current, a story about fathers, sons, and inheritance. This story affected me deeply, and it could have easily been chosen as the winner. It’s accessible and well written, and yet there are some profound ideas about how fathers pass on their battles to their sons.

And the ending! Oh man. So good.

The Winner of Show Off: Dissent Edition

The winner of this month’s writing contest is Deb Atwood’s Baby Carrot, about a barren, young couple thinking about adopting, despite their complicated family history. I read Deb’s story twice before really understanding what was happening. There’s so much going on! And yet later, when I thought about the contest, it was this story, and Evelyn’s courageous and subtle act of dissent, that I remembered. I’m still thinking about it, more than a week after I first read the story.

One thing that these stories have taught me is that dissent comes in many forms. Dissent is often, as it is in “Sand, Smoke, Current,” choosing to do something in the face of inevitable failure. Sometimes, as it is in “Of Two Minds,” it’s a deep division within yourself. And sometimes, dissent is being stuck in a system, whether that system is a government or a family, as it is in Deb Atwood’s story, and doing something subtly out of step. Dissent can be a very small choice, but it can change everything, even a family set in its ways.

Congratulations Deb. And thank you  all for being my favorite dissenters.

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let’s Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).