We are delighted to announce that our 2012-2013 Fellowship winner is Sarah Gerkensmeyer from the far-upstate town of Fredonia, NY. Her wonderful story, MONSTER DRINKS CHOCOLATE MILK, was at once whimsical and funny, with haunting depths that kept us guessing. The voice was both charming and poignant, and always skirted over an underlying darkness. The story chronicles a surreal moment of acceptance between a human and a childhood monster - describes a final nostalgic scare - and then the monster whispers away in an ending that strikes the perfect pitch. Both a terrific metaphor and a wonderful descriptive tale of fantasy, this story captivated our souls. We are delighted to offer the $1000 prize and opportunity to read at our September 11th Salon to Sarah. More about Sarah on her Fellowship Page.
The number of submissions this year decreased slightly, perhaps because everyone is now so used to online submissions that paper subs seem like a hurdle, but we are delighted to report that the quality of the writing increased substantially. Topics ranged wildly, from lice infestations, to human massacres, to quiet reunions in a dark movie theater. Originality and creativity ran wild. Nearly every story gripped us at the beginning and didn't let go. Nearly every story had unforgettable details and lovely crafted writing. We were delighted to lose ourselves to many wonderful evocative stories. Thank you all, you should all be proud.
We had submissions from all across the United States and several from Canada. Our farthest-flung parent-writers were from Germany and the U.K. Our busiest parents had five children (a handful of you also reported being single parents, or mentioned having children that were on the spectrum). Our hearts go out to you and we sincerely hope that you keep on WRITING despite all the various challenges you face.
Our second place winner this year wrote a very touching story that started with the outrageous image of a husband making a home-made ice rink in the backyard as a show of love for his wife. The story deftly spun into a tragedy - loss of love and rampant alcoholism - painful and vivid. Congratulations to Jennifer Carr of Webster, NY, whose story REPEAT UNTIL YOU BELIEVE had all that as well as the perfect last line.
Third place goes to Annam Manthiram of Rio Rancho, NM, whose surreal story CHRYSALIS showed that sometimes experimental short fiction can be outstanding. The imagery of the dramatic change of the main character from bullied high school kid into....something else, was Kafkaesque in the best way. We wish Annam luck with her writing as well as her growing family!
Finally, we wish to note the following Honorable Mentions: THE LAKE by John Smelcer of Vestal, NY, THE SPACE BETWEEN by Christine Ditzel of Batavia, NY, and the gruesome SHARDS OF GLASS by Pauline Benninga of Lexington, MA. We salute you for standing out above the crowd.
Thanks to all of you who entered for your wonderful dedication to fiction, despite the demands of young children. Hang in and keep writing.