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Our Contest Winners

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With Writing Show Host, Paula B.


Host: Paula B
Date: September 4, 2006
Running time: 08:27
File size: 8 megabytes
Rating: G

Our first ever Writing Show contest is over, and it’s time to announce the winners. There are three prizes: a first prize of $150 and two second prizes of $50 each. Each of the winning entries is available as a PDF and also as an audio performance (mp3) by a professional actor. Both types of files are available on our Web site at Subscribers to our feed will automatically get the three winning audio peformances as separate mp3 files.

In addition, because we got so many great entries, I’ve decided to add four honorable mentions. Each of the honorable mentions is available as a PDF, linked from these show notes.

We were looking for the best first chapter of an unpublished novel. We evaluated the entries on the following five criteria:

  • Is it a compelling read with a great hook?
  • Is the writing smooth and flowing?
  • Is the dialog natural and does it move the story along?
  • Are grammar and punctuation correct?
  • Are the characters interesting?

Our nine judges were:

  • Book publicist Karen Villanueva
  • Author Harriet Smart
  • Guest host and book reviewer Mick Halpin, also known as Critical Mick
  • John Bryans, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at Information Today Books and Plexus Publishing
  • Georganna Hancock, who writes the fabulous blog Writer’s Edge
  • Alan Chaney, co-founder of The Writing Show
  • Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
  • Author Paula Paul
  • Author Micah Dubinko.

The judges agreed that it was very hard to narrow down their favorites to only three titles. Karen Villanueva said: “It was difficult to pick the top three, when many entries could have vied for the same ranking. I would encourage most of these writers to submit their works to every contest for which they qualify, and to research agents (you might use Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents). It was a pleasant surprise to see the high quality of so many of the submissions. My hearty congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions. Use these honors in your pitch letter to agents or publishers.”

Alan Chaney said: “I found it very difficult to decide. I had to adopt a number of different approaches before I could finally narrow it down to three. As far as I was concerned there were six or seven which had significant merit, and most of them were at least interesting ideas, although in some cases their execution needs some work.”


Our first prize goes to Gregory Huffstutter from California, USA for Katz Cradle. “In order to solve his partner’s murder, a homophobic rookie cop is forced to team up with a gay-rights activist.” Visit Gregory’s Web site at

Gregory’s story is read by Gord Mackenzie. Gord is a professional actor living in Windsor, Ontario and the co-founder of Actors Theatre of Windsor. He is also a regular contributor to Librivox, and you can find a listing of his free recordings at

Read Chapter 1 of Katz Cradle here

Download and listen to Katz Cradle mp3 here

Running time: 20:53
File size: 20 megabytes


We have two second prizes to award. The first goes to Scott Middlemist from Arizona, USA for Name Drop Zone. “A soldier returns to civilian life as an air traffic controller but snaps and causes a horrible crash. He is institutionalized and copes with debilitating nightmares and migraines by using an experimental drug. The drug opens a realm reserved for the dead where he tries to recover the pieces of his shattered soul.”

Scott’s chapter is read by Shane Young. Shane Young ( is a producer, engineer, and disc jockey at WFHB Community Radio in Bloomington, Indiana.

Read Chapter 1 of Name Drop Zone here

Download and listen to Name Drop Zone mp3 here

Running time: 18:25
File size: 18 megabytes

Our second second prize goes to Stacie Penney from Wisconsin, USA for Is There Life Out There? “A young widow returns to her Midwestern hometown to pick-up the fragments of her life.” The first chapter of Is There Life Out There? is called “Journey and Arrival.”

Stacie’s chapter is read by New York actress Kymm Zuckert, who describes herself as the most unsuccessful child actress of the 1970’s. She has been performing since the age of three , and has been working with Love Creek Productions since 1988, acting in and directing something over 100 plays with them over the past 18 years.

Kymm Zuckert

Read Chapter 1 of Is There Life Out There? here

Download and listen to Is There Life Out There? mp3 here

Running time: 15:50
File size: 16 megabytes


These chapters were very popular with our judges. Our honorable mentions go to:

Kent Blackwood from Alabama, USA for Everybody’s Fool. “This is the story of a young Marine who, after his parent’s deaths at the hands of a relative, struggles to decide whether to seek revenge or use the event to break completely free of his family.”

Read Chapter 1 of Everybody’s Fool here

John Ling from New Zealand for Righteous Fire. “When the favoured son of the Chang family dies, it is up to his outcast sister to unravel the truth.”

Read Chapter 1 of Righteous Fire here

Mark Leslie from Ontario, Canada for Morning Son. “A grieving man uncovers deeply buried family secrets on his quest to lay his father’s ashes and memory to rest!”

Read Chapter 1 of Morning Son here

Charleen Touchette and S. Barry Paisner from New Mexico, USA for Real and Fake Indians. “American Indian athletes Shonto Benally, Shane Yazzie, and Nadema MacCleod race against Maude Meanobee’s ring of artifact marketers to retrieve inscribed stones in an adventure that brings Indian Country to Washington, D.C.” The first chapter of Real and Fake Indians is called “Northern Arizona.”

Read Chapter 1 of Real and Fake Indians here

Congratulations to all our winners! And to those who didn’t win, there will be many next times, so please keep those entries coming.

Thanks again to all our judges for their hard work!

Please join us tomorrow for our visit with pro blogger Nick Wilson of as he explores options for monetizing your blog.

Thanks, as always, for listening to The Writing Show!

–Paula B.

2 Responses to “Podcast: Our Contest Winners”

  1. critical mick Says:

    What excellent performances by the actors! The tones, timbres and sound effects employed added a whole new dimension to these winning entries. Many thanks for the first-class listening experience! &:)

  2. Administrator Says:

    Aren’t they great? I’m sure you will be seeing more of Gord, Kymm, and Shane.

    Paula B.