Results for the “Done” Short Story Contest

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest!  Here were the rules, which I put up at the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference:

Do you have what it takes to write a perfect short story?  Me either.  So we’re not going for “Great.” We’re going for “Done.”

  • Your character is an insecure traveler who is obsessed with obtaining something in particular.  You get to pick what they’re obsessed about.
  • An ancient ruin in the middle of a forest.  Any place, any time, doesn’t have to be our world.
  • Your character is about to get married to the wrong person (whether they know it or not).
  • Story AND PROOF OF SUBMISSION must be emailed to by midnight Wednesday, April 24


  • $50 Amazon Gift Card for first story received.
  • Two $25 Amazon Gift Cards drawn from all stories received by deadline.
  • No other judging will be performed.  Goofy?  Serious?  Planet destroyed by aliens, the end?  All we care about is done!

The point of all this?

  • To help motivate people to write, finish what they write, and submit what they write (look up Heinlein’s Rules sometime).
  • To take perfection out of the equation and just have fun!

Here are the results:

We had 10 entries.  Yay!  Each entrant had a one-in-ten chance of winning.   But wait…

Of the 10 entries, in the end, five didn’t give proof that they submitted the story to a market.  Upon rereading the directions, I allowed that it might have been easy to overlook that requirement, so I emailed all the people who didn’t send proof to let them know…and still ended up with five who didn’t get back to me.

Which mean that each entrant had a one-in-five chance of winning.  But wait…

Of the five remaining entries, two were received past the deadline.

Which mean that each entrant had a one-in-three chance of winning.  But wait…

There are three prizes.

So!  Everyone who followed directions…gets an Amazon gift card out of this.  I’ll reveal names in a minute.

Other items of interest:

  • Wordcount ranged from 705 to 5700 words.
  • Genres submitted: SF, Fantasy, Adventure (Mainstream or, mmm, maybe Thriller on that one), Modern fairytale (fantasy), Western Romance, Romance, Fantasy, Pulp Adventure (Mainstream or Mystery/Crime, depending on how the writer was feeling about markets that day), Magic Realism (Mainstream or Fantasy), and Mainstream Fiction (that could easily slide into Mystery/Crime with a few edits).

Two of the stories used the same-ish setting (Mexico), but in commmpletely different ways.

What did we learn out of this?

  • ME: Write clearer directions.  WRITERS:  If submission guidelines aren’t clear–ask.  And follow up on feedback ASAP!
  • ME: Specify standard manuscript format.  WRITERS:  Always submit your work in standard manuscript format unless specifically instructed otherwise.  I prefer Times New Roman subs, but hey, Courier’s cool.  Do not show up at your writer-job-interview wearing bunny slippers.  Sadly: LOTS of bunny slippers here.
  • ME: You have to draw the line somewhere.  WRITERS:  Deadline, deadline, deadline.
  • ME:  People were a lot more positive about this than I expected.  However, a lot of people I remember saying “Oh, what a cool idea” didn’t send anything.  A couple of people told me that they started but didn’t finish (extra props to them…but no $).  WRITERS:  No, you can’t chase down every opportunity that comes your way, but you should be chasing down as many as you can.  Repeatedly.  Because often if you follow the directions…you win.

Where the stories any good?  Ahhh, that wasn’t part of the contest, was it?  But let me say – they were stories, no better or worse than what I see come through the slush pile.

Great job to everyone who participated!  Keep working on professionalism…you’re already ahead of the people who didn’t turn anything in.  As for the people who didn’t submit:  You can’t win if you don’t play.  Rejection isn’t losing, it’s just a busted lottery ticket 🙂


  • First in – John K. Patterson ($50 gift card).
  • In by deadline – Dori McCraw ($25 gift card).
  • In by deadline – AmyBeth Inverness ($25 gift card).

Thanks all, and we’ll have to do this again sometime 🙂



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