Valentine’s Day was always busy at Piece of My Heart. The couple waited in the doorway for over a minute before I had a chance to dash over and greet them. The woman was staring up at the chandelier, wide-eyed, when I approached. The man returned my smile.
“Do you have a booking?” I asked.
“Jackson,” the man replied. “I called last week.”
They were an odd couple. She was so thin she looked like she might break in half. Her big blue eyes darted as if looking for danger. He stared at the ground as I led them to their table, watching his footing on the thick carpet. I slowed down to accommodate his limp.
I reached for the woman’s coat, but she recoiled. As Jackson helped her out of it, I noted the three stumps on his left hand. He handed me the fur, thanking me as I stepped forward to take it. I draped it over my weaker left arm, which immediately started to ache.
Katie was not much for similes but she once said to Darin that a man is like an appendix. They were in the shower when she said this, and she was holding him in her warm hand, or maybe it was just the shower that was warm. Darin doesn’t remember what he said back, and maybe because he can’t remember the next line the scene can’t move forward and so it replays in his mind over and over: the shower, the simile, and Katie’s laughter right after she said it. Darin remembers this scene around Kemptville and thinks of it all the way to Ottawa, where he pulls into the truck stop at about one in the morning and feels the nervousness (which is like anxiety, but not anxiety, because Darin doesn’t like that word) reach a level seven out of ten.
Yes, the Online Writing Tips Short Story Prize is back for 2019, and the deadline has just been announced as midnight on Friday May 31st (GMT). It’s free to enter and international entrants are welcome. There’s no theme, but to get an idea of what we’re looking for, check out the winning story from 2016, the winning story from 2017, and the winning story from 2018. This year, first prize will again be a sumptuous £100, with £50 for second place, and £25 for third. There are richer story competitions, but none brought to you with more love: our only goal is to encourage new and experienced writers to excel, regardless of their means or location. All the submission information is available here – good luck!
The 2018 OWT short fiction competition is now closed for entries – thanks so much to everyone who has submitted their work. We’re still counting the entries and it looks like we have nearly 600! Once again, that’s almost double the number of entries we received last year (in 2016 we had 148 entries, in 2017 we had 300 (exactly), and now we have almost 600; if the competition continues to grow at this rate then in 25 years we’ll have more entries than there will be people alive on earth.) We are thrilled – and a little overwhelmed – by the volume and range of submissions we’ve received.
The judging now begins. Alas, we have only three prizes to award, so we apologise that there is no way we can give all entries the recognition that they deserve. Please know how grateful we are to everyone who shared their work, and please remember that with so many strong pieces our choices will inevitably be subjective.
Our judges this year are Tyler Keevil, D.D. Johnston, and Lucy Tyler. Tyler Keevil is the author of three novels and a collection of short fiction. His short story “Sealskin” won the $15,000 Journey Prize and his novel No Good Brother has recently been shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Prize. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Cardiff in Wales. D.D. Johnston is the author of three novels, which have been described as “Funny as all Hell” (The Sunday Herald) and “determinedly extraordinary” (The Morning Star). His short story “The Invitation” was shortlisted for the £5000 Bridport Prize. He’s a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire, England. And adding a different perspective to our deliberations, our third judge, Lucy Tyler, is a theatre maker whose creative work has been performed in Europe and the US, and whose critical writing appears in several scholarly books and journals. She’s Lecturer in Performance Practices at the University of Reading, England.
Given the volume of entries, we plan to make our selections in two stages. In the first instance our aim is to narrow the field to a longlist of 60 (approx. 10% of entries), which we plan to announce on Monday 25th June. We will announce authors by their name (or pen name), but, so as not to hinder non-winning entrants’ chances of publishing their stories elsewhere, we will not publish story titles at this stage. Please be patient as we try to choose between so many excellent pieces of writing. Thank you and good luck!