And the winner is…

Go Ahead!  Scroll down to the bottom. You know you want to.

But then come back to join me, won’t you?

First, let me get my angries out of the way. Someone anonymous left a comment after Tuesday’s announcement that implored those who had not voted to participate, and the comment was “yawn”.  I invite whoever that was to go be bored elsewhere. The crew at A Word with You Press, particularly Diana Diehl and my son Morgan Sully in Berlin went to extraordinary lengths to get us up and running when technical issues beyond our control interrupted the very smooth flow of this contest. How dare you belittle our efforts with such a stupid remark! Kindly fall on your own anonymous staff.

A Word with You Press is dedicated to nurturing a community of writers by creating a readership and forum where none existed. And we do this un-fucking-paid!  Why? Because all of us here  believe that writing–good writing– allows us to connect to our fellow beings, and the expression of thought and feeling, well articulated, is the great equalizer.Eventually, perhaps this year, our efforts will be rewarded and we can sustain ourselves through editing and publishing services, and by selling our own novels and those of others on our site, rather than me subsidizing this site by grueling, back-breaking labor.

Ok.  I feel better. Now down to business…

I am delighted to say that there were between sixty and seventy stories submitted to our contest, and a good number of them by people who have never been to our site before.  Our numbers can only increase with time, particularly given the quality of the writing that has been submitted to the site for on-line publication.

For reasons beyond my comprehension I did not shed a tear when my mother died, and yet, when our favorite collaborator Peggy Dobbs left us, I sobbed uncontrollably. She radiated goodness, and everyone who interacted on the site felt the same way, based on their comments when I posted the news that she left us for that great publishing house in the sky.

Our contest, THIS contest, was created in her honor, and I intend to make it an annual event.  Peggy never submitted any writing until she was 77, and I have no doubt that the writing, and sharing the writing with all of us, added wealth to her final three years on the planet. It is never too late to express yourself in the written word, and by so doing, expose your strengths and vulnerabilities to your fellow beings.  Simply put, we are family, and the bonds that we have created on-line are every bit as real as if they were formed across the dinner table. And so our prompt for the First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage was completely fitting: “I swear, it’s not too late.”  I want to thank Diana Diehl for coming up with the prompt.

Seven people advanced to the finals. The two leading stories ended up getting exactly the same number of votes before I weighed in, so, yeah, it all came down to me. Perhaps that is fitting.  I do my best to be very inclusive and deliberative, but in the end, I am the editor-in-chief. But do not accuse me of favoritism, because, quite honestly, everyone of the finalists has become my friend; some I have met in person, some only on-line but friends none-the-less.

The other five stories each received about the same number of votes, and comments are worthy for each of those stories.  I will take them in no particular order.

First, Miryam Howard wrote a very strong story and many of you urged that she become a finalist.  Miryam and her husband Brian, very much like Peggy Dobbs, radiate the kind of integrity that seems in such short supply. Miryam and Peggy became great friends and that love showed in Miryam’s entries.  Miryam was contestant number two, and her story title was “Helen.”  The most poignant line in her story?  “There was a sinking feeling of death gone awry, leaving behind a vaporous abyss of loss, that only God can heal.” Eventually, we all contemplate the abyss.  Thank you Miryam for your story, and for being my friend.

“Poetry, written intimacies, requiems to star fated launchings.  Her Princess lips on mine awakened me, her Sleeping Beauty.  Our beginning kiss labeled taboo, but by then, it was too late.”  Contestant number 6, who revealed that she was the authoress is Madame Parisianne Modert, whom I also came to meet in person when the towers were still in Oceanside. Everyone of us has benefited from her observations and comments on all the stories. Parisianne rather boldly let it be known that her own sexual oddesy has been far from mainstream. Her relationship experiences have dominated her writing, and I am longing for the time that she uses her considerable intellect to write about topics where gender is not a recurrent theme.

Contestant #3 was our token male, Mike Stang, who entered almost thirty of our contests (are we here to stay or what?) before he won a while back. I know everyone is persuaded that I am macho man, but his entry “Pop” made me weep.  Stang can do that, and with some consistency.  His story for our finals is called “Bess.”  Here is one take-away from that:

There are times encapsulated within our mortal lives when faith stretches too fine to escape the rim of the abyss.

“All it takes is Faith and Trust” was the story submitted by contestant #1, Claudia Barillas. Claudia left us for a while, and I can only hope that she is back to stay. I believe that she has a future as a writer, the tell-it-like-it-is kind. She is easily able to assimilate the persona of the characters she writes about when she strikes the keyboard.  This is the rarest of talents. You don’t know if it is Claudia, or her character speaking.  Isn’t that what all of us want to achieve in our writing?  I  just 250 words, she created a complete story, with an implied back story that had readers pulling for her.  She inspired a dialog of 33 comments to what she had written.  That says something.  Welcome back, Chuck.  You are not allowed to let loosing depress you, unless it results in more great writing efforts.  Your audience awaits.

Contestant # 7 is Stefanie Allison. Though a finalist, with $500 on the line, she cast her own votes for someone(s) other than herself. T’was a pity, because many people thought that she should be our winner. Stefani developed a very close and special relationship with Peggy, and references her freely in her entry “The Scrap-book”.  She was certainly the emotional favorite to win, for so clearly invoking the spirit of the contest and Peggy Dobbs in her final submission. All of us have watched Stefanie grow as a writer over the years, and this kind of development is exactly why A Word with You Press is such a gratifying endeavor for me. I fully expect Stefanie to acknowledge all of us when she saunters up to the podium someday to collect her Pulitzer. Read her entry, and understand what Peggy meant to all of us.

And then there were two:  Kristy Webster was contestant #4, with her story Mother Song, and Muscovite Elizabeth Sloan was contestant # 5 with Looking for Love.  I was sooooo hoping that one of them would be a clear favorite so that the burden of disappointing someone would not fall on my shoulders.  But honestly, every other vote that came in would edge one of them ahead.

I am sipping on Palouse Gold Mead, as I write. Produced here in Moscow. I know…get down to it!

Stephen King referred to himself as the Big Mac and Cheese of the literary world. A very satisfying read. Looking for Love was a delight to read. With the exception of Stefanie’s Scrapbook, all the final entries bordered on the melancholy. (Actually, forget the border!–they emigrated to somber-land!) Who of us was not surprised by the way Elizabeth’s story ended? And uplifted by it?  It reminds me of the story when John and Yoko met. It was Yoko’s gallery exhibit, and John Lennon climbed on top of a ladder to view something in the telescope that was dangling from the ceiling.  He expected something like “F*** You” but instead, the message was “Yes”.  Something so very positive.  Looking for Love was like that, and difficult to fault the writing.

And so ye of seductive–oops!– deductive  reasoning capacities have by now realized that the winner of The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest, and $500 is Kristy Webster, for her story “Mother Song.”  Within 250 words, we discover a woman who has found her power. Am I the only male who has found himself in those grains?  Those terrifying and miniscule worlds?

Kristy’s first story in our competition set the bar very high, and she did not disappoint us with her final entry.Kristy has originality, imagery, pathos, and a unique voice that deserves the reward of a broad audience.  Let’s all hope this helps launch a career, and that she remembers us!

Congratulations, Kristy Webster, winner of The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of -Passage Contest.

And thank you all for participating.  On behalf of Moi, Diana Diehl, Gary Clark, Derek Thompson, Ruth Joyce, Teri Rider, Billy Holder and Morgan Sully, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good write!

See you after the first of the year with a great new contest!

With love



58 thoughts on “And the winner is…

    • Glclark says:

      Congratulations to you, Madame. Your story was straight from the heart and it touched mine. Thank you for all your writing. I’ve become a huge fan.

      • Parisianne Modert says:

        Thank you Gary. A story not from the heart for me is ineffective, so I appreciate the nature of your praise most of all those which have been offered.

    • Kristy Webster says:

      Thank you so much Parisanne. You have been such a wonderful support to me and I am honored that you enjoyed my story as I did yours. Many blessings.

  1. Glclark says:

    Congratulations to all of you who wrote in the finals. As Thorn said, each story had its strength and it was truly a difficult decision. (Or he said something like that I think). Anyway – I’m glad I was just a voter and did not have to decide who was the winner. I’ve had to judge two contests in the years I’ve been here and it’s not easy.
    But as in all things competitive, there must be a winner and the well deserved and hard-earned laurel goes to Kristy. Congratulations, Kristy. Well done!

  2. Kristy Webster says:

    My son was using my computer while I cooked him dinner and then he handed it to me and said, “Mom, it’s after 6!” He knew the results would be posted tonight….First of all…!!!!!! WOW !!!!!!!! THANK YOU! It means so much to me that other contestants enjoyed and voted for my story. Thank you all so very much. I have been writing since I was 7 years old and entering contests since I was about eleven. I’ve entered several contests over the past couple of decades and though I’ve been a finalist in a couple, I have never won. But I’ve kept writing, submitting and hoping. This means a great deal to me and to my two boys. The best thing about reading this announcement was sharing it with my sons and having them express how proud they are of me. For any of you who are parents of two teenagers, you know just how special it is to finally “impress” them.
    I am incredibly grateful to the contestants and finalists of this contest. I had little hope for winning when I saw what I was up against! There are some very talented and admirable writers on this site, and I’m so happy to be back and reconnect with all of you, and meet new members and participants.
    Of course, I want to acknowledge Thorn and his wonderful staff. I know how hard the staff works and that it is a labor of love for them. Thorn, I’m glad you addressed the rude anon, because I found his/her comment very disrespectful…
    More than anything I hope Peggy would have agreed with your choice and I hope she is pleased with the results.
    I won’t go into details because this is a public forum, but my boys and I have been going through some very tough times the past few months and winning this contest is a win for the three of us because it gives us hopes that good things can still happen in our lives.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am humbled, I am honored and I am grateful. What a wonderful Christmas gift this is to me and my family.

    • Michael Stang says:

      Kirsty, I am so delighted that your truly talented efforts have taken you to be a winner. Please consider yourself “back” and never think of leaving. We are all enriched. A particularly hearty hi-ho that the 5 big ones will make a difference this holiday for you and your family. I have raised two of those rascals and your right, they are a tuff nut to crack. All in all, blessings (as Peg would say), I say you are a wonderful writer.

    • diana_SD says:

      Hey, you sons-of-Kristy! You’ve got a talented Mom! Keep telling her that and make her write more. Kristy, everyone has said it all, but you rock! Happy ho-ho-ho.

  3. Diane Cresswell says:

    Congratulations Kristy – and to everyone who skidded into the finals bringing out some incredible stories in limited words. This truly was an extremely hard decision even with us participating. I’m so glad to be a part of this family – meeting and gaining friends – who’d a thunk!!! Congratulations and a glass of bubbly for all.

  4. FJDagg says:

    Congratulations, Kristy! A well deserved-win. All of your stories were favorites of mine. Best wishes with your writing career, and with all else as well.

  5. Mike Casper says:

    KRISTY!!! Congratulations on winning Peggy’s purse! Your entries were excellent and I enjoyed them immensely. Way to go, you were the clear winner of my votes.
    With that said, you’re hereby disqualified from entering the next seven hundred (thousand) Thorn contests to let us mere mortals stand a chance of winning.
    All kidding aside, well done, you deserved it.
    Mike Casper

    • Kristy Webster says:

      Thank you for all the incredibly kind comments you have left for me throughout the contest, it has meant so much to me to have such support.

  6. elizabeth sloan says:

    Wonderful! My “second choice” as it were :). So proud to be up “against” and beside and together with fine writing. Congratulations Kristy, and I look forward to more of your words.

  7. Miryam says:

    It’s a wrap! I am very happy for you Kristy! And to everyone that has been a part of AWWYP! I have truly learned so much from you all. I know Peggy would be proud…

  8. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    Congratulations, Kristy. What an honor to have won the First Annual Peggy Dobbs Writing Competition! You would never have won had it not been for your outstanding entries.

  9. Kenneth Weene says:

    Bravo, a well written story indeed. And bravo to Thorn for his tireless efforts to stay warm in Moscow. I say he and his crew deserve a rousing cheer as does Kristy.

  10. diana_SD says:

    Congrats to Kristy, the winner, and to all the finalists. I hope that our other entrants are on here, too, because I want to thank everyone who sent in a story for helping to make A Word with You Press vibrant with reading styles. Competition can be daunting, but in the end, it forces us to keep improving our writing and honing our personal voices. Your voices all rang out loud and clear. Thank you, all. You are insprirations.

  11. diana_SD says:

    P.S. Don’t let the trolls get you down. They roam the Web like rogue coyotes, but that’s being unkind to coyotes. A good fly swatter is all we need for the yawners and dissers–and judicious use of the Delete function.

  12. Parisianne Modert says:

    My gratitude is extended to the staff of A Word With You Press for all of your hard work and patience with the challenges that the cyber age has brought, crashing at time all around us. I wish you every success in the business side of your efforts as well as these contests. I look forward to submitting again soon. Readers beware.

  13. Terrie Leigh Relf says:

    Congratulations! to the winner!
    On another note, I apologize to the group – and to Peggy – for not participating. . .
    Happy Holidays and New Year to everyone!

  14. KYLE Katz says:

    Congrats Kristy. Hope you and your boys do something really special this holiday season to celebrate your well deserved win. To all of the finalist and others who submitted stories may you continue to write like your hair is on fire!

    • Kristy Webster says:

      Thank you! The best part was seeing my sons beaming with pride for me. Not something that is common in my household…haha!

      • KYLE Katz says:

        Money can’t buy that! My 3 grand boys wrote some stories and did some drawings. I gave them all 1st place ribbons and medals as winners and critiques of what I loved about their stories. My 13 year old is a writer and was so proud I won a couple of years back. I was able to encourage his gift in that moment when we celebrated together. Now He’s much better than I am.(always was) Have fun with this. It’s your moment!

  15. Sheri Strobaugh says:

    Congratulations Kristy!!!! A well deserved win! All of the stories were excellent and tough to choose from. You all are winners as far as I am concerned. I hope you treat yourself to something special with the winning purse!
    Thorn – Thank you for addressing “yawn”. I felt so insulted and wanted to put my boxing gloves on!!!!!!

  16. Jodi DOBBS McDanal says:

    Kristy, congratulations on winning Mother’s contest!!! First of all, we are so proud that a contest would be done in her honor. Words can’t express how much we appreciate all of you and your love for Mother (Peggy). Right now, she is missed more than ever because Christmas Eve was her birthday! I can’t begin to tell you how she is missed……Daddy (Homer) too! As you can imagine, Christmas won’t be the same without them. I know my Mother, and right now she is so honored that Thorn would create a contest in her name…. she is in awe of all who put time and effort in writing a story to win a contest dedicated to her memory! I want to thank YOU and everyone else for taking the time to honor someone who was so special. I know you all miss her, but words can’t express the void felt around here without them! Happiness is knowing they are both with Him above and that’s all that really matters.

    THANK YOU again, all of you, who contributed to the contest. The DOBBS family loves you all!

    • Stars Fall On My Heart says:

      Thank you for allowing us to befriend your mother and in the process, becoming our friend yourself <3 And I got your card! Thank you so much! <3

    • Mac Eagan says:

      (By the way, I checked my notes and I switched Stefanie for Miryam but guessed all of the other authors correctly. That’s way better than I normally do.)

  17. Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    I’m late to the party again…that’s what happens when you show up Filipino time LOL

    First and most importantly: Kristy! CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a welcome back, huh? I hope the prize makes your Christmas a little merrier for you and your family!

    Secondly: thank you to everyone who even considered my entry for the winner! I’m honored that I have been chosen as a finalist again and I was up against stiff competition!

    Thirdly: In regards to the person who made the rude comment: Thorn, we’re stronger than that. We’ve fought to keep this page active for close to four years (yeah, I’ve been counting), and one stupid little comment isn’t going to make a dent in the force field that is our bond on this page. Onward and forward <3

    Fourthly: Thorn has outed the decision I made on the voting (did you just Thorn me?!). He's right; I didn't vote for myself. But that means the prize went to the rightful winner. And I don't regret my decision in the slightest.

    Ok, done tooting my horn(y). Merry Christmas everyone <3 I love you all <3

  18. Derek says:

    Congratulations to Kristy and congratulations to the whole A Word with You Press team for putting this together and breathing life into the site despite an attack or two of gremlins. (How many times – don’t get them too close to the pool!).

    We face 2014 as a stronger community, our pens poised over the blank page of the future. Let’s write an epic for ourselves.

  19. Eli Fang says:

    Clocking in late here – I was out of the country with scant internet for most of Dec, so unfortunately couldn’t take part in voting etc. Finally getting to read through the contest posts and just wanted to say great job to the finalists, and many congratulations to Kristy on her win – well deserved! A very happy and prosperous (what ever that means to you personally) to all participants and staff of AWWYP.

  20. Laura G says:

    Belated congratulations…Yours was a personal favorite. See my comments under your story and rest on your laurels for awhile!

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