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)I hope to publish the top three stories shortly.
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)
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