Saturday, November 21, 2015

Top Writers Revealed!

We were so pleased to receive entries for the "Once Upon A Time" Story Writing Contest from these 37 teens (in alphabetical order by last name):

Alex Avakian, Christopher Avakian, Angus Bailey, Zofie Basta, Amy Berberyan, Katelyn berg, Jackson Bokenkamp, Alyssa Chang, Zongze Chen, Prattay Chodhury, Kyla Coaxum-Ales, Bianca Darlington, Katrina Darwich, Nigel Dickens, Mina Enayati-Uzeta, Estro Gonzalez, Galia Housepian, Kyle Jonke, Ananya Katappagari, Nikoletta Kish, Mahima Kodavati, Emerson Lee, Kara Lee, Farah Malla, Elizabeth Marcou, Piper Mills, Vanessa Morales, Angelina Poghosian, Caressa Renna, Sasha Reynolds, Harrison Rothacher, Jane Shin, Emeline Singband, Mackenzie Smith, Mia Struck, Sarah Tominaga, and Alyssa Tong!

I'll get to the announcement of the top writers and runners up in a minute, but first we'd like to share some details with you:

Anarda and I spent a lot of time reading and rereading your stories, and considering their merits. We'd like to say, first, that everyone took a creative approach, and all the stories featured something memorable. (We would also like to encourage you to work on improving your spelling, punctuation, and grammar!)

For the first round of eliminations, we used our basic criteria:

First, five or six of you wrote stories that were not fairy tales. We used an extremely loose interpretation, but even so, science fiction or mystery stories, no matter how well written or told, did not qualify for this contest. So even though some of these stories were cute, clever, fun, and entertaining, we had to say no.

Second, the rules were plainly stated: The story was to be no fewer than four pages and no more than six pages long, in 12 point type, double-spaced. We had a few that were between one and three pages (in very large type), and two that were nine or ten pages (in really teensy type!). Again, we eliminated you. I can hear the wails of "but I couldn't tell my story in that short a length!" or "I said everything I had to say!" but if you enter a story contest in a magazine and they give you a page length or a number of words you have to hit and you don’t, they will disqualify you without even reading the story. We did read your stories, and we did enjoy and appreciate them, but we had to abide by the rules we ourselves set.

And now…

Our three top writers, in alphabetical order:

Alex Avakian, for "The Old Man's Journey"
The writing was consistent. We loved the use of the props the old man brought, and that he used kindness and trickery rather than violence to gain his objective. It was a great quest story.

Angus Bailey, for "Captain Rack and the Tin Match Box"
This was an imaginative, creative, and humorous true retelling of a traditional tale. The writing was consistent, the grammar was good, and the details were great.

Harrison Rothacher, for "Numochucho and the Three Fairy Dust Pixy Keys"
This story had a wonderful "voice." All the characters were distinct, and we liked the creation of a special way of speaking for the goat. It was hilarious and original.

These three writers each received $25 gift cards to Barnes and Noble bookstore.

Our five runners up, in alphabetical order:

Amy Berberyan, for "The Tower"
For a different viewpoint, good details, and a great dragon.

Nigel Dickens, for "Impiorum: The Wicked Backstory"
This was a dark, interesting twist on a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, with a lot of tension and suspense.

Ananya Katappagari, for "Promises, Paratroopers and Pigs"
The story incorporated traditional elements of classic fairy tales, but put a modern spin on them. We liked Ed and Edna.

Nikoletta Kish, for "Snow White"
The writing was strong, the changes in the story were effective, and Snow White grows into a person who makes better choices!

Kara Lee, untitled
This story was quirky, with great language and naming, and a fairy tale-like moral choice at the end.

These five writers each received
$10 iTunes gift cards.

We also had a small gift for each of the remaining 29 writers. Those who were not at our awards ceremony at Book Cafe to receive it, you can pick up your gift at either the Buena Vista or the Central Library, from Anarda or Melissa, Monday through Wednesday of this coming week!

Here are some elements we enjoyed from the stories that did NOT ultimately win a prize, which Anarda has set to rhyme (more or less):

An embarrassment of Riches,
That’s what we thought,
When we received all this plenty, 37 at last count!

While we laughed and sighed over them,
chuckled and grimaced, 
Corrected much grammar, yet loving the stories,
We realized sadly, and this you will know,
Some will be “winners,” and some…a little less so.
But “a little less so” is no small trifle.
Your creativity flowering
On these pages was considerable.
How best to honor you all?
That was our dilemma.
So here, very briefly,
Is our paean to you,
In gratitude and awe,
For the fine writing you did,
And will continue to do.

Starting with a Mermaid, dangerous and Fey,
Too short of a tale, alas, but exquisitely made.

A girl and a bird—or Beastess, as she’s called,
By angry villagers who want her to fall,
A novel in the making?
Yes, please, we implore!

Prince Charming appeared twice—and what a character,
But each time he was a LOUSE,
And required an “exterminator”!

Snow White, too, was a popular girl
In one she is Greek, with a long tale to tell,
And I can’t wait to observe the story unfurl,
I’ll bide my time impatiently for a publisher
To reveal this perfect pearl.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
So many retellings,
In one she is maddened by her husband’s excesses!
In another she is a schemer and victim of a murderess!

A boy as a Cinder wins a queen Cinderella,
Besting his step-bros with help from his mini-mouseketeeras;

A cold-hearted Princess learns that stealing hearts is a danger,
For her, for the Prince, for her hopes for hereafter!

And then there’s Prince Harvey, not known for his brains,
But brave, and adventurous, and blessed with odd friends.

Jason is another lucky one,
With shape-shifting buddies,
A runaway Princess lends spice to the story!

Bullies become friends in Nobody’s Tale,
And Sea-Monsters are whacked into Apples,
By friends who never fail.

There was a story about orphan Gray,
A boy with magic goodness, or that’s what they say,
And Time Machines feature
In a tale not quite Fae, but it’s fun, an Adventure!
What more can I say?

What of the tale of a Creator, whose death would bring the End,
So the Creator became Forgetful, and had an Adventure instead!

The power of weak over strong is evident in Avidyle,
Where an old man with a loving heart
Leads a kingdom against the vile.

And when we hold our contest for the writing of NOIR,
Do enter your story (you know who you are);

Ditto for a dystopian Burbank and mice,
a novel I think,
This prelude scared me—it was really quite nice!

I’m longing to join the TDTBT, full of intrigue and flutters,
And unreliable snarky narrators!

Poor Mad Hatter, that story’s really not fair!
And PC Monitors that host best friends—but where???

We love Ninja Grandmas who fight feisty Bad Wolves
With the help of granddaughters too sweet for their own good;

Another wolf is sheltered by a loving grandmother
Who teaches the young “hood” to love ALL of nature.

There was Joy who was gently romanced by a Prince,
but only after she found her strength combatting a Witch;

And a wicked Priest and mad Painter,
men who pushed a daughter away,
Only for her to find out it was her Mother,
Heartless Faerie Queen! who had led her astray;

Another Faerie Queen Mother appears, in a retold Bard play,
With whom playwright Omega is happy to stay;

Disobedient Lily’s story is a sad one,
A cautionary tale of a village full of woe,
As parents leave their hearts behind,
Their children sleeping forever more;

But Lilith’s story is the happy flip side,
Over riches and toys,
Offered by a Lonely Tree Boy,
She chooses Family and Kin,
And to listen Within.

And, if there’s a Point to this long, shambling verse,
An embarrassment of Riches,
That’s how we think of you first!

Thanks again for participating in our story writing contest! Congratulations to all who wrote!

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