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?

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).