The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

June 19, 2011

Watery Grave III: And the award goes to...

"These are the times that try men's souls."

Thomas Paine might have been talking about judging the WGI this year. He wasn't, of course, he had something a tad more significant to the American population as a whole in mind. But his famous declaration may give readers some clue as to the difficulty the judges encountered in determining the top five stories in this year's Watery Grave Invitational.

I'll drop another clue and say that the judges reached consensus on only two of the top five stories, with all three of us slotting those two stories in exactly the same position in our respective top-five lists. Identifying three more stories involved hair-pulling and face-punching -- or would have if we all had been in the same room together. As it was, we simply engaged in name-calling behind each others' backs. (Okay, I did; the other two are above that sort of thing, no doubt.)

What I'm trying to say, in my usual foot-in-mouth style, is that any of the participating authors who does not find his or her story in the top five, please don't think that we didn't find your story worthy or enjoyable. Indeed, the quality and variety of the stories made reading the entries a great pleasure, and arriving at only a top five (six this year!) induced a strong measure of angst. Many, probably all, of the entries will find homes at webzines and print publications later this year, and deservedly so. To borrow from a Frank Sinatra song, "It was a very good year."

And now I'm pleased to announce the winners of the Third Annual Watery Grave Invitational:

1st Prize: RUN FOR THE ROSES by Chris La Tray ($50)

2nd Prize: FINGERPRINTS by Eric Beetner ($35)

3rd Prize: A POCKET FULL OF HORSES by Chad Eagleton ($20)

4th Place: HARD TIMES by Ian Ayris (A bye into the next WGI)

5th Place: A tie:
                A GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK by Patricia Abbott
                TOO MUCH TOO YOUNG by Nigel Bird
                (Byes into the next WGI)
I hope to publish the top three stories shortly.

Congratulations to ALL of the authors, who collectively turned in a calibre of work that would not lead one to believe that they had only two weeks to prepare these stories.

I would like to thank the judges: Aldo Calcagno, editor and publisher of Powder Burn Flash and Darkest Before the Dawn webzines; and Chad Rohrbacher, who has published stories in magazines like Crime Factory, Needle Magazine, Big Pulp, Dark Valentine, and others. He has fiction forthcoming in Yellow Mama, Pulp Engine, and in the anthology CHIVALRY IS DEAD by May/December Press.

Here is a complete list of the stories entered in the contest. Look for them to be published around the web and in print later this year:

Hard Times by Ian Ayris
Kentucky Runners by Matthew C. Funk
A Game of Hide and Seek by Patricia Abbott
Dust Clouds by Jane Hammons
When the Heart Bleeds Green by Sandra Seamans
Not Dark Yet by John Kenyon
Too Much Too Young by Nigel Bird
A Pocket Full of Horses by Chad Eagleton
Fingerprints by Eric Beetner
A Can Short of a Six-Pack by Paul D. Brazill
Renegades of Pain by Sean Patrick Reardon
My Little Angel by Rosemary Keenan
Jumping the Fence by Joseph Hartlaub
Knight Errant by Brian S. Roe
Blind Crime by Sigmund Werndorf
You Cut, I Choose by Liam Jose
Run for the Roses by Chris LaTray
A Game of Horse by Todd Mason


  1. Congrats to all the winners! It's a very good thing when there's just too much writing goodness.

  2. Congrats to the winners! Looking forward to reading them here soon, and seeing the rest of the work around the web.

  3. Congratulations to winners and thanks to the judges. I felt honored to get the invitation and look forward to reading the top 3 when they appear here.

  4. One more time, blogger (grrr) Congrats to all the winners and big thank you to Naomi for hosting the contest. Snoopy dances all round!

  5. My apologies to everyone who is having trouble posting comments. (And thank you, Blogger, for your usual not-so-fine work!) On advice from David Barber, I've changed the comments to a pop-up box. Please tweet me at nj713 if you're still having problems. It may be time to consider a move to Wordpress.

  6. Congrats to all and big congrats to the main winners.

    Well done Chris on the 1st place.

  7. Proper well done to everyone, especially the top three. Can't wait to read your stories guys. And thank you most of all to Naomi, for organising such a fun event.

  8. Thanks, Naomi & Co! My highest hopes were to be in the top five, given the quality of the writers entering. It is quite an honor, believe me, and I was actually a little verklempt when I woke up this morning, turned on my phone, and got a wave of congratulatory messages. As usual, I really don't know how to act.

    I can't wait to read the other stories!

  9. Congrats all! What a great list of writers. Can't wait to read those top entries.

  10. Not just the top ones, Chris. There are several more that are going to win accolades when they are published.

  11. Wow. Blistering heat. That was some competition and, even though I lose the crown, I come away feeling pretty good (the introduction was thoughtfully done and helps a lot). Congratulations to everyone and to the judges and our host Naomi. Fabulous to be involved and I look forward to reading each of the top three.
    Cheers, Chris, and enjoy.

  12. Big time congrats to all the top 5 entries. Thanks to Naomi and everyone else involved, judges, and authors. This was great and a lot of fun. Like others, can't wait to read the stories.

  13. Nigel, you're a class act, sir. Always a pleasure.

    Sean, you won't have any problem finding a home for 'Renegades of Pain.' It's a very good story.

    And Mr. La Tray, thank you for diving into the fray with guns blazing. You done good, sir.

  14. So glad to be included in such a great list of writers. Thanks to the judges for taking the time to read and consider all those stories. I'm glad to hear there was passion for the choices :)
    Congrats to all the winners!
    The real test now comes when the stories are published and we see what the wider audience thinks. I, for one, am really looking forward to reading what the heck everyone else did with the whoe horse theme.

  15. Congratulations to all the writers and the winners in the WGI! And praise as well to Naomi for putting together another stellar event. Thanks.

  16. Congrats to all the winners and the participants. Thanks to Naomi and the judges for being so generous and giving of their time.

  17. Congrats to all the winners. Heckuva good lookin' bunch here.

  18. Congratulations, Chris, Eric, Chad, Ian, Patti and Nigel. That's a great winner's circle. I'm certain that I'll enjoy reviewing every step of this race.