Northampton, MA (PRWEB) July 15, 2006
Tom Howard Books is pleased to announce the results from its 14th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest. Jan Breen of New Jersey won first prize and $1,000 for her story "Geraldine Fitzgerald & Saint Patrick's Day in Pittsburgh". 1,217 entries were received from around the world.
In Breen's heartwarming tale, a young journalist learns the true meaning of stardom from a former movie queen who gives a holiday concert of traditional Irish songs at a small cabaret in Pittsburgh. Expecting a prima donna, the reporter and theater crew are instead won over by Fitzgerald's extraordinary humility, grace and kindness.
"Her smile was...real, that's the only way to describe it. Her smile actually had wattage, it made me feel warm. I felt as if she had embraced me. The smile involved her eyes and that's what hit you next. She actually had emerald green eyes. It wasn't the color that stopped you as much as the life in them. It was as if they held this great peal of laughter just waiting to burst forth. And she looked you in the eye and held your hand as if she actually cared who you were."
Of the winning entry, the judges said, "It is difficult to write about an actual event, yet structure the narrative to swiftly engage the reader's interest. Jan Breen has deftly avoided the usual pitfalls. The first-person narration is exactly right. At first negativity reigns (as does cynicism) and then comes an awakening of her experience that is warm, deeply involving, and finally exciting. The climax will bring tears even to the most jaded reader.
"The story is structured wisely, with tones of doubt at first, then the carefully plotted revision of the singer-actress's behavior and attitudes. Finally, we are confronted with an unexpectedly beautiful world created by personality and song and the narrator's complete capitulation of her initial negative approach.
"The language is imperceptibly comfortable. Never on display. Only the story gets center stage."
The second prize of $600 went to Laurie Gough for "Naxos Nights". Gough lives in Guelph, Ontario and Wakefield, Quebec. Her atmospheric tale of a backpacker in Greece, drawing on Gough's experience as a travel writer, culminates in a mysterious, possibly supernatural encounter. In Lissa Byers' "Phantom Feelings", which received the third prize of $400, a wounded soldier and his wife anxiously anticipate their reunion, while wondering if their love can overcome the changes that the war has wrought. Ms. Byers hails from Arvada, Colorado.
Of "Naxos Nights", the judges said, "It has a quality that can be read and enjoyed more than once; the levels of experience indicate a happy degree of observation, feeling, and intelligence. Life flows in it--as life often does, in its own way and with its own directions and meanings. To respond to it requires not only sympathy and empathy with the narrator but a willingness to be part of the flow, sharing the travails of the writer firsthand. The author brilliantly contrives to engage the reader so forcefully, it becomes impossible to put the story aside at the finish. It’s a tale to savor, to read and re-read."
In "Phantom Feelings", the judges said, "Byers has taken a somewhat simple story, not too unusual in these times, and yet has given it a warmth and a reality that is touching and 'felt'. The characters are fully believable, while the story is told in simple, direct language, carefully controlled to avoid over-statement and unnecessary literary flourishes."
High Distinction Awards of $250 each were given to Debbie Camelin, Craig Rondinone, Brenda A. Morris and Melissa Lassor.
The winning entries are published online at http://www.winningwriters.com/tomstory
About Tom Howard Books and John H. Reid
The Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest accepts short stories, essays and other short works of prose. All styles and themes are welcome. Both published and unpublished work are accepted. The next contest will open for entries on August 15, 2006, with a postmark deadline of March 31, 2007. Entries are accepted online and by mail. For guidelines, please see http://www.winningwriters.com/tomstory
Contest sponsor and final judge John H. Reid is a former journalist and magazine editor who has published several novels, a collection of poetry, a guide to winning literary contests and fifteen books of film criticism and movie history. He lives in Wyong, Australia. Mr. Reid is assisted in the judging by Dee C. Konrad. A leading educator and published author, Ms. Konrad was Associate Professor in the English faculty of Barat College of DePaul University, and served as Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences for the year 2000-2001.
About Winning Writers, Inc.
Winning Writers assists with entry handling and publicity for the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Short Story Contest and other literary contests sponsored by Tom Howard Books. Winning Writers is today's leading source for poetry contest information. We have been selected as one of the "101 Best Web Sites for Writers" by Writer's Digest (2005 and 2006). Our online database, Poetry Contest Insider, ranks and profiles over 750 literary contests. Our free email newsletter offers news about free poetry and prose contests and quality literary resources.
Winning Writers was founded in 2001 by Jendi Reiter and Adam R. Cohen. Learn more at http://www.winningwriters.com
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