The Winner of Show Off: Winter Solstice

This month, we had forty-four entries to our writing contest. How do you choose the best story out of forty-four well-written and even powerful pieces of writing?

Thank you so much, all of you who submitted something to this contest, especially to the many of you who told me this was your first ever submission. You’ve made a huge step in your writing life, and I hope you will continue to share your work with the world. As I told one reader, The Write Practice is a place to not only practice your writing, but to practice courage. A writer without courage is a writer who will never be read. You have proven you have courage.

Winter Solstice

Photo by Duane Tate

Another huge thanks goes to Patricia W. Hunter who helped judge this contest. Patricia’s story, The Worst Christmas Ever, won our writing contest last month, and she was kind enough to join me as a judge for this, and potentially, future contests. If you haven’t visited her beautiful blog, Pollywog Creek, you need to.

The Runner Up and Honorable Mentions

This month’s contest was particularly difficult to judge. I initially had twelve stories on my short list, and every time I took one off, my skin tingled with pain. Below are a few that particularly stood out. I only wish I could mention more.

BB Scott’s “Winter Solstice

What a shocking story! Fans of detective stories will love this one. It completely surprised me. Mr. Scott, I hope you are turning this into a novel. It will be excellent.

Steph’s Story which begins, “Marielle’s Snow Shoes….”

The first thing that captured my attention was the onomonapia “fwump fwump” of her snow shoes. This piece is beautifully written, incredibly vivid, and has one of the best motif’s in the contest (the seeds/eggs/pups). Wonderfully done, Steph.

Karra Barron’s “Winter’s End”

Karra’s story is full of intensity, action, and dystopian fantasy. I loved how she incorporated the Mayan “prophecy” of the end of the world in such a simple but imaginative way. Karra’s story was also by far the most popular, getting over 60 “likes.” It was certainly difficult to not choose this story with all the clamoring fans!


Tasamoah’s story was the most redemptive story of the contest. Snappy, vivid, and brimming with emotion, this was hard to not choose.

The Runner Up: Angelo Dalpiaz’s “Winter Solstice”

Like Mr. Scott’s, this story needs to be written as a full length novel. If you haven’t read this yet, you need to. Angelo tells the story of a woman in Northern Italy during World War II who nearly loses her children to a fire and then loses them again when her neighbors commit her to an insane asylum. It is painful and beautiful at once.

I’d also like to mention Clint Archer’s story, which was the funniest and most clever story of the lot, and Douglas H’s dialogue-story, which was a blast to read and so perfect for the theme. Great job, Gentlemen.

The Winner

The winner of this contest will work with me to edit their piece for publication on The Write Practice at the end of the month. So make sure to stay tuned or even subscribe. It will also be included in a planned anthology at the end of the year. Very exciting!

So without further ado, the winner of Show Off: Winter Solstice is…

Lisa Burge’s “The Driver”

Lisa’s ending had my jaw on the ground and my eyebrows up above my hairline, but the best part of the story is Lisa’s deep characterization of the protagonist and her excellent use of the theme, Winter Solstice.

The thing that most surprised me about Lisa’s story was not the dramatic ending but this section below, which happens right after the protagonist confesses she intentionally terrorizes her husband:

“Do you want to get away for a while,” she asked, eyebrows raised with sincerity.

He looked up at her, surprised. “Where?”

“I don’t know. Florida maybe? Or Vegas?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know if we can afford it right now.”

This surprised me as much as the ending. We receive no warning for her momentary change of heart, but for some reason she wants to bridge the perpetual Winter Solstice in their marriage by going to a warmer getaway, a place where coldness and darkness don’t exist, as if warmth could somehow melt the coldness of their hearts.

However, her terrorized husband can’t get his head out of the cold, dark night, the longest of the year, as she is able to for just a moment. His rejection becomes rejection of warmth forever. It’s beautiful, tragic stuff.

Congratulations, Lisa! And thank you again to everyone who submitted a piece. I hope you remember that just because you didn’t win this contest doesn’t mean you’re story was not good or that you are not a writer. It was an honor to read your story.

What was your favorite story in the contest? Why did you like it?

About 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).

  • Ohmygoodness! Thank you for the mention!! And congratulations to all, with an extra big congrats to Lisa!

    • Patricia W Hunter

      I was spellbound, Steph. Really good writing.

      • Talk about spellbound – I just came from your site, and your photography is amazing. You have such an eye, and it shows in your storytelling as well. Congratulations on your December story and thank you for taking the time to read and comment on mine. Now back to Pollywog Creek to enjoy more pictures, from your camera and keyboard!

        • Patricia W Hunter

          Steph, thank you – for all your kind words. They are greatly appreciated.

  • Marianne

    Congratulations all!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Joe, Thanks so much for recognizing my story. This is my first entry into a contest like this and your acknowledgment thrilled me and has motivated me to write, write, and write some more! Congratulations to everyone!

    • Patricia W Hunter

      I loved your story. It really was hard to not choose. I hope you will keep writing.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Patricia. I hope that this is just the beginning of a long and wonderful relationship with writing.

  • Patricia W Hunter

    Thank you, Joe…for everything, but especially for taking me under your literary wings. You mentor me in this.

    Congratulations, Lisa! I can’t wait to see the rewrite. I know it will be wonderful.

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  • Excellent job on the selection! I definitely think you chose the right story. And congratulations Lisa! You did an excellent job leaving me wanting more and I finished the story burdened for this couple. Tragic but fantastic!

    As far as my personal favorite, that’s a tough one. There were many excellent entries. I thoroughly enjoyed the dialog in Dominic Laing’s story. I also enjoyed BB Scott’s story. I thought his ability to describe the scene in such detail was fascinating. Plus, can’t go wrong when people get shot. I kid, of course.

    Christan Perona’s story was just plain beautiful. Great writing. As well as Jonathan Parnell. He did a great job putting into words the bluntness (if that is such a word) a child can bring. Plus, he said crotchety ass and that made me smile.

    D.L. Rose’s story left me asking so many questions. I’d love for her to continue the story, giving us more intimate details of the events, the characters.

    Too many great stories and writers to choose from!

  • Congratulations, Lisa! Brilliant story!

    Great site and contest, Joe. It’s been a lot of fun over here the past week.

    Thanks for all the good reads, everyone!

    • It has indeed, Jonathan. I hope we see more of you.

  • BB Scott

    Thanks for the acknowledgement Joe and congratulations to eveyone who had the courage to submit. Joe, your blog is simply fantastic and you need to be commended for the unselfish support you dish out to all young writers.

  • Angelo Dalpiaz

    Congratulations! Lisa. Great story, and a memorable ending. Bravo!

    Thank you to all who commented on my story. And Steph…yes, it is a non-fiction story.

    Joe…you have inspired me with your comments. About 6 years ago I traveled to Italy and met my aunt and cousins. I was finally able to learn the deep, dark, family secret about my grandmother’s last years. My aunt gave me the letter my grandmother wrote to my grandfather in 1937 from that awful hospital. My aunt then told me the story. It’s a story that has been bouncing around my thoughts since then. I’ve written about 10 small, short stories that are actually scenes from the novel I hope to write this into one day. Your comment about this being a novel hit home with me. I am going to focus my efforts into writing this as a novel length story. Thanks Joe!

    This is a great site and I’m so happy a friend recommended it to me. But please bare with me, I’m having trouble finding my way around.

    • I truly hope you do, Angelo. It will be excellent, I’m sure.

  • Congratulations Lisa! You’re story was one of the ones that gave me goosebumps at the end. The good kind!

    Thank you so much for the kinds words and encouragement. You picked a great theme that definitely inspired me. Looking forward to the next 11!

    • Me too, Karra. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us.

  • Congrats, Lisa. Well done.

  • Thanks for the honorable mention. This is the first time I’ve entered my writing anywhere, so it’s a coup to be *sniff* recognized.

    • Your story was hilarious, Clint. I loved it.

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