They'll announce the winners in about six weeks.
I'm not a big fan of writing contests -- for me -- because I struggle with getting it just "perfect" and suffer from a general lack of self-confidence. But I think it's a great way to work on writing to a deadline. If nothing else, it certainly helps to sharpen your brain power.
The contest runs for 24 hours only. You receive a story tidbit from which you write. It only has to somehow be in the story -- whether literally or just the concept. You're even allowed to change the characters and setting if you want. And you have to stay within the word count limit.
This weekend's was the second one I did.
I also wrote one for the Winter 24-Hour Writing Contest. I didn't win anything, but I had a blast writing it and getting feedback from family and friends. There were so many possibilities...
This was the winter topic:
Blue ice stretched to the horizon, fading into the blinding rays of another waning winter sun. She shivered violently as the shifting mass groaned under her feet. She instinctively glanced down, looking for cracks under the transparent sheen. Suddenly, she tensed and dropped to her knees. Desperately clawing at the ice, she screamed... 850 words or less.
And, as I didn't win, here is my story:
by Susie Foote
Blue ice stretched to the horizon, fading into the blinding rays of another waning winter sun. Despite her warm jacket, Sophie shivered violently as the shifting mass groaned threateningly under her feet.
She instinctively glanced down, as she’d been taught to do, looking for cracks under the transparent sheen. Why had they felt the need to chase down a suspect in this climate? And how had they gotten separated?
Suddenly, she tensed and dropped to her knees. Desperately clawing at the ice, she screamed, shutting her eyes...
Sophie sat up, blinking. Then, looking up at the ceiling and down at the rumpled flowered sheets, she sighed, happy it was just a dream. Just a dream, she reminded herself. But what was causing these nightmares to reiterate in her subconscious?
Pulling her legs out from under her covers, she shivered again as her feet touched the cold hardwood floor. She needed a cup of tea to shake the chill of the room -- and her thoughts -- from her being. She staggered from her bedroom, down the hallway towards the kitchen and the much-needed cup of tea.
Her phone sang her favorite tune from Romeo and Juliet. She grabbed it, flipping it open and balancing it on her shoulder.
It was her co-worker, Marcy, lamenting about their job at the theater and the hours they had to keep.
"Ready for rehearsal?" Marcy wondered.
Sophie mentally thumbed through the responses she stored in her mind like an old Rolodex of addresses, a sure way to have the right response at any given moment.
"I forgot. Just tired, I think," she answered, yawning and flicking on the kettle.
"You need to get more sleep," Marcy told her.
Sophie didn't want to argue the point, her mind still stuck in her dream.
It's winter here…winter there, she thought. She's some place colder than her city apartment...
Sophie shut her phone and continued making her breakfast. She felt chilled in her short-sleeved pajama top, reaching over to a sweater she'd left on a chair.
The kettle finished, and she poured the boiling water into the teapot, the steam reminding her of the smoke of her breath in her dream. She sat down on a stool.
She opened her eyes, wide. She hadn’t remembered shutting them. Was she dreaming? Her breath shot out like bursts of smoke, the warmth of it instantly freezing in the air. The biting cold on her cheeks told her it was no dream.
She clawed again at the ice, desperate to free what she was seeing under it, the blood of her ripped skin obscuring her view. Her tears froze to her face. “If onlys” bounced around her brain. She wished she’d stayed home. She wished she’d never thought to join the FBI. She wished she didn’t have such a stupid partner.
Stupid? Who was she kidding? He was the smartest man she’d ever known. He was just stupidly in love with her.
And now? She closed her eyes, telling herself to be strong. It wasn’t becoming for an agent to be so…so what? Emotional. Feelings were discouraged. They could bring the end to even the most experienced field agent.
She placed her hand on the ice, allowing the brief warmth of her skin to melt the spot above what she was seeing. Random tears escaped, hitting the ice and causing little dips in the surface. She stared at them, noticing again the cracks around her.
Her heart began pumping as adrenaline reminded her to flee. There was nothing she could do to change what had already happened, but she could at least save herself.
A sharp retort, like that of a gun, sounded in the air. Her heart stopped, and she jerked around to see the wide span of blue ice again, cracking, opening, shifting, settling.
The sun dipped further, and the ice grew dark beneath her. She tried to stand up, to get her footing and head back to the shore, but it was much too slippery, and she was tired from the cold. She fell back to her knees, her eyes misting in pain.
She lay on the ice then, to dream that dream again…that she was at home, in her little apartment, working as a Shakespearean actress in a big city theater. It had never appealed to her since she hated performing in front of people, but now it seemed so much easier.
She wished Peter had done the same. Then…
She put her hand on the ice above what appeared to be a submerged FBI jacket and let herself sleep.
“To sleep: perchance to dream,” she quoted to herself and shut her eyes. “Ay, there's the rub; for in the sleep of death what dreams may come…”