Though I miss the copious bribes offered me when i judged these contests myself, I do not miss the wrath of all those who actually submitted bribes only to discover that that they were out-bid by others. And so now these calamities must fall upon the shoulders of Stefanie Allison, who won our last contest, and as punishment, has had to judge The Victor Villasenor Third Annual First Sentence Contest.
And yet, as I read her pronouncement, I could not help but feel that she made each finalist feel like a winner. Here is what she has to say:
Good evening, literati!
I have awaited the finalists’ entries since Wednesday with the excitement of a little child going to Disneyland for the first time. I also foolishly thought that judging would be a piece of cake…or in today’s case, a piece of mini red velvet cupcake! I watched as many before me delivered their judgments as easily as handing out a cup of coffee…which I also know from experience is anything but easy!
What Thorn has been oh-so-painfully aware of for this contest is that in addition to the judge being female (mature woman, though? Extremely debatable.), ALL of the finalists are female! So let us bow our heads in acknowledgement that Thorn doesn’t get to pick the winner…while giggling under our breaths!
All jokes aside, let’s have a look at our finalists, in the order their entries were posted on the site:
- Liliana’s entry deals not only with the pain of separation of parent and child, but also with the pain of separation from a homeland. Extremely topical, yet done in a way that is not judgmental or hateful; rather, it is done with tender love and affection that can only exist between a parent and child—though the child is hardly a child anymore. Reminiscent of Victor Villaseñor’s Crazy Loco Love, this is a coming-of-age story that repeats itself, generation after generation.
- Terrie’s entry is one that inspires curiosity and that chuckle that bubbles out of us when we reach a literary blind curve that we should have known that was coming. The reader wonders, “Why? Why wouldn’t a mother be more concerned that her child is leaving? It doesn’t matter what age they are, she should be more emotional about it!” Except that her mother’s wisdom informs her that she is not ready to leave the nest—despite the reality that the family will be under more stress with a new addition. The mother does not react negatively or show intimidation by her child’s wisdom, but rather takes it in stride, touched by her daughter’s thoughtfulness. When we reach the end and see that her child is, in fact, a child, the mother’s apparent lack of concern is largely the opposite, we take no offense at the mother’s reaction, making the ending a pleasant, loving one.
- Last, though certainly not least, is Julie’s entry. In honor of Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini’s achievements and memory, we navigate through history to find a woman wanting and needing to rise above the world’s expectations of her as a woman. It is beyond breaking free of societal constraints; it is about making changes that affect humanity as we know it. Her desire to be more than just a wife and mother has positively changed the medical world, influencing medicine in present day. It would be easy to be wrapped up in the history, but Julie has humanized the experience by letting the reader into the home life that Rita lead, complete with a father not understanding her passion. You can’t help but feel good when you reach the ending…if you can, then at least feel thankful that Dr. Levi-Montalcini has done the things she did!
So before I announce the winner of this contest, let’s give all our finalists a big hand! Yes, right now. At your computer. No, I don’t care if you’re at Starbucks and the barista is shooting you a weird look!
But, as usual, there can only be one. I have two regulars and a newcomer that are awaiting my judgment.
I can honestly tell you, Liliana, that the fact that you made it as a finalist on your first run here should be something you must be proud of; it took me nearly three years to win a contest so the fact that you made it this far as a newbie commands the utmost respect! So pat yourself on the back and enjoy the ride here at A Word With You Press; I have a feeling we will be corresponding a lot more in time!
Terrie: your entry is reminiscent of many stories I have written with that surprise ending and that is definitely something that made a difference when I read your entry. Your talent of surprise is something to be proud of…and something I better start measuring up on!
Julie: your story touched me right from the start, then sucked me in like a black hole when I realized the complexity of your story; though coming-of-age stories are many, and will be many to follow after. Somehow, you have managed to weave historical fiction with the complexity of family life all within in a very short story. Though subjective, I risk my credibility to say your story has something special that made it sparkle.
So Julie, I have the great honor of crowning you our winner of “The Third Annual Victor Villaseñor First Sentence Contest”!
Congratulations to ALL our finalists for making this one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a writer!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to congratulate myself for actually being disciplined enough to stay in a chair (let alone think!) with a mini red velvet cupcake!