The rules were simple—write a complete story about the photograph below, using exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199. Precisely 200 words.

Writers from around the world accepted this challenging assignment, sending us a mountain of entries. Then our team of screeners/pre-judges whittled those short stories down to a list of twelve well-told tales.

The top dozen stories were then sent to our renowned contest judge, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense novels, Brenda Novak.

Brenda Novak

Brenda then read each of the stories and subsequently selected a winner and runners up.

Congratulations to everyone for jobs well done!

 

 

 

Here are the top twelve entries, starting with the contest winner, Frank Cook!

Remember, the focus of each story was based on the photo below.
So, without further ado …

2018 Golden Donut Shot Story photo prompt

1st Place

Frank Cook

The Last Look Back

“I show it to all my clients,” Karen told the woman standing in her office. “In the background you see a dead and decaying forest, then this old rickety bridge leading across to this side. I call it, ‘The Last Look Back.’”

The woman shrugged. “I don’t get it.”

“My clients come to me with, how should I put it? ‘Disappointing marriages.’ I make things better. I point to this photo. It represents what they had. A once young and caring relationship that has grown old and dry. And this old bridge,” Karen confided. “It represents their fear of crossing into the future. Can they trust their emotions? Their own decisions? Will they be ok?”

Karen smiled. “It is my job to bring them out of that forest and across that dangerous bridge. This photo is the last time they ever need look back on their past.”

The woman nodded and felt for something in her jacket pocket. “On the other side of that bridge,” she pointed. “And a little bit into that forest. We found six decomposed bodies there this morning.” She pulled a badge from her pocket. “Including your husband you reported missing.”

* * *

 

2nd Place

Ry Brooks

Bridge to Nowhere

I am an old footbridge, and in my time I have experienced some things. When I was young, many traveled over me. Sometimes, children tossed pebbles to watch them fall. Once in awhile, young lovers hugged, gazing at the rocks and rushing river below. Those were good times.

Lately, most people use the highway bridge downriver, and it has been lonely. Six daytimes ago, I had visitors, a man and a woman, but they were arguing, and I was glad they hurried across. They came back two nights past, and this time they were quiet. The man was carrying the woman, which at first I thought was considerate. But he laid her down, in the middle of my span, and then something terrible happened. The man dropped her body into the rushing torrent below and ran away. I felt anger at my powerlessness then, and wondered what could be done.

Tonight he is back, running from pursuers, and I am ready. He is almost half way across – there, I snapped my rusted support cables, right in the middle. It will also be my end, but after all, I am old and the man will not be missed.

* * *

 

3rd Place

Nana Herron

The Open Road

“FIVE!”

That voice. His voice. Echoed throughout the valley. Time was running out.

“FOUR!”

I was thumbing a ride when a pickup truck blew past me and stopped. The driver rolled down the window and smiled. “Didn’t yer mama ever tell you not to hitchhike?”

She had. I got in anyway.

“THREE!”

“The open road ain’t safe for a pretty, young thing like you.”

“I’m not scared.” I shivered.

“You should be.” He laughed.

“TWO!”

When the truck stopped, I ran. Brambles cut my legs. Branches slapped my face.

I hid. Had I been here before? If only I could remember…

“ONE! COME OUT, COME OUT, WHEREVER YOU ARE!”

The game was on.

I ran. My lungs burned as the old bridge appeared. Just a few more steps…

“FREEZE!”

A shot rang out. I halted.

The bridge swayed and creaked as he approached.

When he lunged, I ducked. A scream pierced the valley.

SILENCE.

I looked down the hole at his twisted body and laughed. “Didn’t yer mama ever tell you not to pick up hitchhikers?”

My work here was done. The open road beckoned, and I was itching to hitch another ride.


And, rounding out the top twelve, in no particular order, were …

 

Entry #30-Vinnie Hansen

Bridging the Gaps

The bridge swayed. Mark’s stomach lurched. White knuckles gripped the cable. “I never thought you’d come back here.” He shouted over the noisy river rush.

“What about you?” Erin’s face turned up, gorgeous green eyes searching his. “Samantha was your friend, too.”

Friend. Erin’s tone made Mark avert his eyes toward the trees. “But you were actually here, Erin. How awful.”

Erin sidled closer and wrapped an arm around him. “The scene of the crime.”

“Crime?” Sammi had acted impulsively the newspaper said, standing on the rail, leaning far out, blonde hair whipping, breathing in the ozone. Alive. “It was a horrible accident.”

His heart pounded. Erin had been the newspaper’s source. What was she telling him?

Hardness in Erin’s jacket pressed Mark’s side.

 In the distance, the bridge dumped into a dark hole in the forest. Sammi’s spirit had exerted a force, drawing Mark from Erin. His wife. A rock below had crushed Sammi’s skull. “Sammi was a mistake.”

“Yes,” Erin murmured.

He pivoted toward her. “You knew?”

She nodded.

He gulped. “But it was an accident?”

“A terrible accident.”

Erin backed away and pulled out a hammer.

The truth hit home with a thud.

***

 

Chelle Martin

Over the River and Through the Woods 

“Team Building” day consisted of hiking Black Bear Mountain and promised scenic views from a rustic footbridge. And possibly bears.

Before we’d gone ten yards, I became a mosquito magnet. Moreover, my boss and “teammate” insisted I carry his backpack due to his bad back.

We brought up the rear of six pairs, stopping frequently so John could check for landmarks, and I could gasp for air.

“The footbridge should be just ahead. Give me my roast beef.”

I pulled a sandwich from his pack and handed it to him. The smell wafted heavily on the humid air. “Aren’t you afraid of bears?”

He waved me off.

Out of sight, I called up an app on my phone. Once we resumed hiking, I hit play and John sprinted ahead at the sound of a growling grizzly.

I laughed until I cried, when a text came in.

AVOID FOOT BRIDGE. BEARS IN AREA.

“John! Wait!” The backpacks slowed me down. I arrived as John encountered a bear on the other side of the footbridge.

I hated to admit it, but the Black Bear Mountain brochure was right. The view really was spectacular.

* * *

 

Kathy McIntosh

Bridging Fear

It was not the same bridge. Totally different construction. My brain registered that fact, but the fear that lay deep in my bones and muscles rose unbridled by reality.

Home lay across that bridge. Home, peace, and Grandma’s peach cobbler. Downstream the pond waited for me, cool and refreshing. Ready for me to jump in naked, washing away the pain and soothing the scars.

My brain knew that. Knew that beyond that bridge I’d soon be enveloped in the love of my children and my husband. I knew how sturdy that bridge was, how it could support all of us and all the food we could tote. I smiled, remembering how we pondered each purchase, determining if it was worth the haul across the bridge and up the hill beyond.

That other bridge had been longer, stronger, built from concrete, built to last. Until an IED had destroyed it and most of my squad. Since that day I had been unable to cross bridges.

A cold, wet nose pressed against my fist and a soft, warm body leaned into my side.

“I can do this.” I stepped onto the wooden planks, my dog beside me.

* * *

 

Rick McMahan

GRUFF

“Billy?”

“Yes, little one.”

“I’m scared,” she whispered.

“No one is going to hurt you.”  My large hand gripped her small one tightly as we moved on the swaying bridge.   Her palm was soft. Her bones delicate.

“Promise?”

Looking down, I gave her my best toothy smile. “I promise.”

The planks groaned under our footfalls.

Glancing back over my shoulder, I could barely make out the three filled sleeping bags at the edge of the trees in the dying embers of the camp fire. The fourth bag was empty.

My feet picked up speed, urging us both forward.

“They will come for me,” she hissed defiantly.  “They’ll take me back.”

I didn’t answer her.

The cold river rushing below masked the pounding of my heart.

In the moonlight, I watched her free hand dance across the rough hewn railing. Her manicured nails were painted a fierce pink.

“They were a nice family,” my sister said.

“I know.”

My free hand hung down at my side. I still clutched the sharp knife. As we walked, I imagined I could hear every time a droplet of coppery blood fell from my blade and spattered the bridge.

“They were.”

* * *

 

Janice Peacock

Plundered

Tillie bolted across the rickety footbridge, a drawstring bag of gold slung across her back.

“Do you think we lost him?” Sue called to her sister, not slowing to look back.

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. Keep running!” Tillie replied.

Halfway across the bridge, Tillie’s foot caught on a rotten plank, and she fell hard. Sue caught up with her, gasping for breath. Cannonball Churchill clomped after them, his black boots shaking the bridge with each step. The pirate wanted his gold back and wasn’t going to let a couple of girls outsmart him.

“Sorry we stole from you, sir,” Tillie shouted as she tied the sack to the bridge’s railing. The girls took off for the safety of the forest.

Cannonball stopped to untie the bag, his large hands struggling with the knots. The rotten planks creaked beneath the pirate’s feet and splintered. As his legs broke through the boards, he grasped at the wood crumbling around him. Plunging into the churning river below, he was whisked down to the sea.

Avoiding the bridge’s hole, Tillie tiptoed to the sack, untied it, and ran. Girls are much lighter—and much trickier—than pirates.

* * *

 

Michale Rigg

The Pack

Walking on the wooden suspension bridge over Benson Creek in the pre-dawn chill, Thomas counted each plank. Stopping at seventy-five, he turned toward his colleague, Hidalgo.

“Here,” Thomas said, “put ‘em here. Set ‘em at eight hundred.”

Hidalgo placed three homemade contact-mines on the decking. “Why eight hundred? Pack mules weigh a lot more, especially loaded with gold.”

“Not taking chances.” Thomas paused. “This job means I can move my family to town. They deserve the best.” He smiled. “My boys are working on their Orienteering Merit Badges today.”

“But what if someone—”

“Been watching. Company goons will arrive in about an hour to search for wires and dynamite. This early, there shouldn’t be any foot traffic. Besides, it would take a large group walking together to detonate these beauties.”

The duo camouflaged the devices and hid to await their prey. Shortly, just as the guards arrived, a group of young men dressed in khaki and green started onto the span marching in double-column, like an infantry platoon. Scouts.

Thomas jumped up and screamed. “Stop!” His face went numb.

As the explosions echoed through the valley, Thomas slumped to the ground and wept.

* * *

 

Crystal Smith

Moonshine

The world looks different when you’re hanging upside down by your ankles.

If Carl hadn’t been so obsessed with authenticity, he wouldn’t be in this situation.  He was building the wine list for his farm-to-table restaurant and heard rumors that a whiskey called Lone Bridge was the smoothest.  So Carl headed into the sticks of Georgia to look for the distillery’s secret location.  He didn’t know the liquor business was just a front for the owner’s gun running operation.  When Carl got halfway across the bridge, he was met by a group of men carrying rifles.

“I think we caught us a spy.  Who you working for, boy?”

“No one.  I’m a chef.”  That drew laughter and earned him a few punches.

“Don’t that sound fancy.”

They held him and searched his belongings.  Carl spotted a flask in the leader’s pocket and fear gave way to curiosity.  “Can I have a sip of that?”

“Why not?”  He tipped the flask to Carl’s mouth.  “Good, ain’t it?”

Carl nodded as the men lifted him over the side of the bridge.  Smoky with hint of spice.  It really would have been perfect.

* * *

 

Vicki Tharp

Redeemed

The Drako moons rose high as Coolidge dangled by his legs beneath the rickety suspension bridge. Sweat stung his eyes, and his abdominal muscles burned as he swung up and caught a guidewire with his left hand.

In his right, the remote activated blasting caps.

“Easy,” Holden called out from below.

“Shut it,” Coolidge said, too focused on the job to slap any heat behind it.

“Remember what happened last time?”

Why wouldn’t Holden let it go? “Nothing happened.”

“Exactly. Get this right, or we’re all dead.”

Coolidge attached the caps to the explosives. He panted through the strain on his core, completing the connections, and syncing his quantum controller. “It’s right.”

Finally.

His redemption.

The ground shook as the platoon of Dragoons broke through the trees and stormed toward the bridge.

“Let’s go!” Holden panicked and squeezed off three rounds from his CytoBlaster. A Dragoon vaporized. Then another.

Coolidge fast-roped down under a barrage of return fire. They scrambled over the muddy bank, ducking behind cover. Coolidge energized his wrist-mounted detonator. He hesitated.

“What’s wrong?”

Blood pounded behind Coolidge’s eardrums. His throat went disaster-dry. “I can’t remember the passcode.”

* * *

 

64-Susan Vojtik

One Step

She stared at the end of the bridge. Home lay at the end. The little cabin behind the trees. Her husband waited there for her. He was angry with her again. This time it was dinner. Too hot or too cold or too spicy. Too something, for sure. He had yelled at her, beat her and then got drunk. And then he fell asleep. And she had walked down the bridge.

He had woken up a few minutes ago. She could hear him calling her as she stood on the bridge. The bridge that would lead her home or to freedom. He never allowed her to be on the bridge. She was excited and scared. The bridge meant freedom. Or home. But, freedom… He would take her to bed and punish her. The last time he did that, she lost the baby.

He called her again and she turned around. And took one step. Off the edge of that broken bridge, many hundreds of feet above the ground. And, as she took that step, she wondered if they would think he had pushed her off the bridge and would punish him. And then she didn’t care anymore.

 

 

Have you sent your story? Well, you’d better hurry because Tami Hoag—THE Tami Hoag—is anxious to read them.

Oh, you didn’t know?

Yes, she truly is the contest judge for this fun and challenging contest, with fantastic prizes for the winner.

Definitely. Having Tami Hoag read your work is super cool!

Okay, here are the details …

Golden Donut Short Story Contest

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to continue this fun contest in 2018. The rules are simple—write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). The image in the photograph MUST be the main subject of the story. We will not provide clues as to the subject matter of the image, or where the shot was taken. That is for you and your imagination to decide. Remember, though, what you see in the image absolutely MUST be the MAIN subject of your tale.

*Again, the photo above absolutely MUST be the main focus of the story, not just a mere mention within the text.

All stories are to be polished and complete, meaning they must have a beginning, middle, and a twisted surprise ending. Again, all stories must be exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199! So read the word count rules carefully. Over the years, we’ve seen some excellent tales disqualified due to an incorrect word count.

The Golden Donut contest is judged blindly, meaning each entry is assigned a number prior to sending it to the judges. Therefore, judges do not see the writers’ names.

All entries will be screened by a panel of readers who will select their twelve favorite stories and then forward their picks to the 2018 contest judge. All decisions are final and may not be contested or appealed. After reviewing each of the entries, the judge will notify the Writers’ Police Academy of the winning entry. While the winner will be announced at the WPA banquet, the winner need not be present to win. The contest is open to everyone, not just WPA attendees.

The contest winner receives the prestigious Golden Donut Award AND free registration to a 2019 WPA event!

Submission Guidelines:

Please read carefully!

All submissions MUST be submitted electronically via email to 2018goldendonut@gmail.com. Write Golden Donut 2018 in the subject line.

 ** Click the link below to enter **

Golden Donut Short Story Contest

Please include your story within the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened.

 Additionally, a twenty-five dollar ($25) entry fee must be submitted via Paypal PRIOR TO emailing the entry. In other words, click the link to register your entry and then follow the directions listed. Next, submit your payment (Paypal link is on the entry form), and THEN email your story(s). You do not need a Paypal account to enter.

Contest opens on February 18, 2018 (Please do not send any entries before this date).

Submission Deadline: Midnight (EST) July 1, 2018

Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified. You will not receive notice of disqualification. Please be sure your word count is accurate and that all words are counted.

Hyphenated words, for the purpose of this contest, will be counted as two words, or three, etc., depending upon how many words make up the hyphenated phrase/word. Contractions will be counted as two words (it’s, don’t, etc.).

Every single word will be counted as a word. This includes: “a,” “and,” and “the.” To be very clear…if it’s a word, count it. If it’s part of dialog and you think it may be a word, count it. If it’s a stand-alone letter or group of letters, count it as a word. If it’s a number, count it as a word. If the number would include a hyphen if written out as a word, then count it as a hyphenated word. Social media and texting abbreviations will be counted as individual words. For example: OMG = three words. LMAO = four words. 2Nite = one word (tonight). AIAMU = five words (Am I a monkeys uncle). TCIC = 4 words (This contest is cool).

– Entries submitted after the July 1, 2018 (midnight EST) deadline will NOT be judged.

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified.

No refunds for any reason!

Again, all entry fees and stories must be received on or prior to July 1, 2018. No exceptions. There is normally a mountain of entries, therefore, it is a time-consuming process for the judges. We need time to process the entries and to have the award properly engraved and shipped to the WPA.

  • Be sure to include your name, address, email address, telephone number(s), and title of your story in an opening paragraph above your story. Then, please include your story, headed by the title.
  • There is a $25 entry fee, payable via Paypal. Entries received without the appropriate entry fee will be excluded from the contest. No refunds.
  • Each author may submit up to three entries. Each entry must be accompanied by the corresponding entry fee ($25 per story).
  •  Each author may enter up to three stories. But each individual entry must be accompanied by its own $25 entry fee. (One entry = $25. Three entries = $75, etc.) You must indicate how many stories you plan to submit when you register.

By submitting an entry to this contest authors agree to allow The Graveyard Shift/Lee Lofland, the Writers’ Police Academy and/or affiliates to publish/reprint the story as a part of The Graveyard Shift blog and/or as advertisement for the Writers’ Police Academy or in other publications and media, including, but not limited to, Writers’ Police Academy books, magazines, newspaper, blogs, ebooks, online outlets, etc.

*The Writers’ Police Academy reserves the right to exclude or delete any entry without cause, reason, or explanation.

– ABSOLUTELY NO profanity, erotica, or the promotion of a specific hot-button agenda, including but not limited to politics of any type and/or racial issues. 

Please send questions to Lee Lofland at lofland32@msn(dot)com

So there you have it. Now get busy and take us on a journey that’d scare the pants off Poe himself.

Good luck!

WritersPoliceAcademy.com

Okay writers, it’s time to sharpen the pencils and get busy studying the above image and then assembling a grouping of words that’ll knock the socks off our mega-famous judge, Tami Hoag.

Yes, you heard me, Tami Hoag—THE Tami Hoag—will read the top twelve entries and then select the winning story. The contest winner, of course, receives a slew of cool prizes including the coveted Golden Donut Award!

Here’s what you need to do to get your writing in front of one of the world’s top authors (sorry for the small font—the graphic is a photo).

This is a fun contest!

Since the graphic above is a photo, the embedded links are not active. Here are the links listed within the newsletter, in their order of appearance in the piece.

  1. Click HERE for a link to more details and contest rules.
  2. If you’d like to be a first-round judge, email us at 2018goldendonut@gmail.com.
  3. Don’t forget to tell your friends who are figuring out how to budget for conferences this year that Sisters in Crime is once again offering a $150 registration scholarship to all SinC members attending the Writers’ Police Academy for the first time.
  4. If you need help with your travel arrangements, feel free to contact Darek Jarmola, the agent who handles arrangements for our guest speakers and experts. Derek is well versed in transportation options for Green Bay, Wisconsin. He can be reached at Darek@authenticeurope.com or by phoning 918-214-4582.

Tami Hoag – Writers’ Police Academy firing range

 

Tami after performing a PIT maneuver at the driving track. Intense action, and FUN! – Writers’ Police Academy

TamiHoag.com


There is still time to sign up for the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. HURRY!

Again, If you’ve ever wanted to attend the WPA, I STRONGLY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY urge you to do so this year. Openings are available … this year. Could be your last chance. I’m just saying …

WritersPoliceAcademy.com

 

Each year the Writers’ Police Academy features a fun writing contest called The Golden Donut Short Story contest. We provide a photo prompt and writers must use it as the theme of their stories. The catch? Each tale must be exactly 200 words.

The concept of flash fiction is not new, of course, but the way this contest came about was, well, here’s how I arrived at the decision to include the contest as part of the thrilling WPA.

This was the time before cellphones, social media, and TV remotes

As a child, I read everything and anything I could get my hands on, from Superman comics to Poe. And, as a result, I often wrote silly little stories and even made a few attempts at poetry. But, as time passed, writing faded out of the picture as my focus turned to police work. I never stopped reading, though. Book after book after book. I loved libraries and book stores. I loved the smell of both new and old books. And I was never very far away from something to read. Running radar … sure, there was a book nearby for the slow times. Working graveyard shift … I had to have something to keep me awake during the times when drunks and robbers slept. Fishing … well, those sly rascals aren’t always biting.

Fast Forward to Shortly After Leaving Police Work (Retirement is Boring)

I wanted to write because I had so many stories to tell. And then I saw it … a writers group for beginners. No experience needed. So I signed up (this was 10 years ago, or more) and it wasn’t long before we were hard at work writing short stories. The instructor, though, added a twist to our assignments. He wanted us to write a complete story in exactly 200 words (now you know where I got the idea for the WPA 200 word story contest).

To write a complete story in 200 words was a tough task, especially for someone like me who’d never written anything worthwhile with the exception of a few hundred traffic tickets and thousands of police reports. The assignment was indeed challenging, and fun. And, later, we had to do the same in just 50 words.

I kept my first story as a reminder of the beginning. And, for fun, I thought I’d post it here today. What about you? How early in life did you know you wanted to write? Do you ever re-visit your early work?

Anyway, here you go … my first official attempt at writing. It’s called Economic Downturn. Remember, it’s an unedited first attempt/draft written 10 years ago. So a bit of pity for me is fine … 🙂

Economic Downturn

Moments ago, the palette of reds, oranges and purples streaking the horizon gave way to night’s inky blackness. The sun had surrendered its position to a heavy and swollen harvest moon. Milky light pushed its way through the tired oak’s twisted and knobby branches.

A cold puff of wind shoved and swirled ribbon-like waves of dried leaves along the cracked asphalt street. They made clicking, ticking sounds as they tumbled and danced along the cold and lonely tarmac.

As he looked towards the sounds, an icy chill swept over his jacket-less frame. Turning toward the house where his wife lay sleeping, he saw the once toothy Halloween jack-o-lantern. It had begun to rot and its sagging, twisted grin mocked him.

Time was slowing and sounds were disappearing as the big limb groaned from the stress of the foreign weight. The thick rope tightened still more as the massive tree pulled him upward against gravity.

His feet came to rest two inches above the cool earth, and the crumpled lay-off notice he had clutched so tightly fluttered to the ground.

His last breath gently floated skyward to mingle with the autumn air.

He wondered if she would miss him.

golden donut short story contest

2011-09-24_09-40-42_246

The rules were simple. Write a complete story based on the photo above. The trick? The story must be exactly 200 words. Not 201. Not 199.

The Golden Donut contest attracts writers from all across the world, and to win is a true accomplishment.

This year we were extremely pleased and honored to have Michael Cudlitz, star of The Walking Dead, Southland, and Band of Brothers, join us to announce the winner of the 2014 contest. So, without further adieu, here’s Michael…

 

photo_1

Rick McMahan

PRACTICE

One

Jill strode down the darkened hall, her hollow footfalls in sync with the words drifting to her.

Two.

The training room door was open, a weak light escaping.

Three.

Every CPR mannequin was strewn across the floor like he had tried each one before settling on the smallest.

Breathe.

Kneeling, Ray was pushing on the dummy’s chest. His t-shirt was soaked through with sweat.

“Partner,” she said.

He looked up at her, but she knew he was looking through her at the memory. Dispatch sent them to a nice neighborhood with manicured yards and kids playing. A worried employer called when a female employee never showed for work. Jill found the woman’s body on the bed. A baby was never mentioned. Ray found one floating in the tub.

“Roll call’s in ten, partner.”

More than sweat glistened on his face. Standing, he turned away to pull on his uniform shirt.

Post-partum depression. A fancy word for a mother drowning her kid before suiciding herself.  It took Jill and three EMTs to pull Ray away from the baby’s blue lips.

“Next time if I try harder, Maybe I can save him.” Ray’s voice tight. “I was just practicing.”

position: absolute; opacity: 1; z-index: 8675309; display: none; cursor: pointer; top: 36px; left: 20px;”>Save

So many names

Well, day one of the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy has finally arrived, and the excitement that comes along with this event has already begun filling the hotel hallways.

WPA staff arrived yesterday and hit the ground running at full speed. We met with the hotel staff to be sure we were all on the same page, and then we rolled up our sleeves to begin the dirty work.

First came the mind-numbing task of figuring out the true identities of our attending “recruits” so we could match name tags with t-shirts, meals, and workshops. Believe me, it was like sorting through a list of names at an undercover cop convention. So many pen names that don’t match payment receipts that don’t match registration records…and on it went.

Do you, the reader, realize that some of your favorite authors have three or four names?

Sally Jones is really Mary Smith, but she writes as Barbara Barbaro for series “A”, and she writes cozies as Queenie O’Berry. And she uses Rebecca Reuben for her romantic suspense books. However, Sally/Barbara/Queenie/Rebecca’s birth name is actually William Jenkins.

Yes, your favorite romance author, Sally Jones is a MAN. A man who’s WPA payment receipts don’t match the name on the registration form, and neither match the…well, you get the idea.

Anyway, we finally sorted it all out last night, working until midnight.

But, if you, Sally Jones/William Jenkins, discover the t-shirt in your event bag is sewn to fit someone with curves a bit different than your own, well, don’t blame us. Blame one of your secret identities.

2013-09-06_20-33-06_432

It’s going to be a fantastic weekend. See you there!

golden donut short story contest

2011-09-24_09-40-42_246

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to continue the Golden Donut short story contest in 2014. The rules are simple—write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). The image in the photograph MUST be the main subject of the story. We will not provide clues as to the subject matter of the image, or where the shot was taken. That is for you and your imagination to decide. Remember, though, what you see in the image absolutely MUST be the main subject of your tale.

*Again, the photo above absolutely MUST be the main focus of the story, not just a mere mention within the text.

All stories are to be polished and complete, meaning they must have a beginning, middle, and a twisted surprise ending. Again, all stories must be exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199! So read the word count rules carefully. Over the years, we’ve seen some excellent tales disqualified due to an incorrect word count.

All entries will be screened by a panel of readers who will select their twelve favorite stories and then forward their picks to the contest judge, Sara Gruen (author of Water For Elephants). All decisions are final and may not be contested or appealed. After reviewing each of the entries, the judge will notify the Writers’ Police Academy of the winner’s name. While the winner will be announced at the WPA banquet, the winner need not be present to win. The contest is open to everyone, not just WPA attendees.

The contest winner will receive the prestigious Golden Donut Award.

Submission Guidelines:

Please read carefully!

All submissions MUST be submitted electronically via email to 2014golddonut@gmail.com. Write Golden Donut 2014 in the subject line.

Click the link below to complete the entry registration form and follow the posted instructions. Entry fee details are there as well.

Golden Donut Short Story Contest

Please include your story within the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened.

 Additionally, a twenty-five dollar ($25) entry fee must be submitted via Paypal BEFORE the entry is emailed.

Contest opens on Sunday June 1, 2014 (Please do not send any entries before this date).

Submission Deadline: Midnight Friday August 1, 2014 (the precise point in time between 11:59 pm 8-1 and 12:01 am 8-2).

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified. You will not receive notice of disqualification. Please be sure your word count is accurate and that all words are counted.

– Hyphenated words, for the purpose of this contest, will be counted as two words, or three, etc., depending upon how many words make up the hyphenated phrase/word. Contractions will be counted as two words (it’s, don’t, etc.).

– Every single word will be counted as a word. This includes: “a,” “and,” and “the.” To be very clear…if it’s a word, count it. If it’s part of dialog and you think it may be a word, count it. If it’s a stand-alone letter or group of letters, count it as a word. If it’s a number, count it as a word. If the number would include a hyphen if written out as a word, then count it as a hyphenated word.

– Entries submitted after the August 1st deadline will NOT be judged.

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified.

No refunds for any reason!

Again, all entry fees and stories must be received on or prior to August 1, 2014. No exceptions. There is normally a mountain of entries, therefore, it is a time-consuming process for the judges. We need time to process the entries and to have the award properly engraved and shipped to the WPA.

– Be sure to include your name, address, email address, telephone number(s), and title of your story in an opening paragraph above your story. Then, please include your story, headed by the title.

– There is a $25 entry fee, payable via Paypal. Entries received without the appropriate entry fee will be excluded from the contest. No refunds.

– Each author may submit up to three entries. Each entry must be accompanied by the corresponding entry fee ($25 per story).

– Each author can enter up to three stories. But each individual entry must be accompanied by its own $25 entry fee. (One entry = $25. Three entries = $75, etc.) You must indicate how many stories you plan to submit when you register.

– By submitting an entry to this contest authors agree to allow The Graveyard Shift/Lee Lofland, the Writers’ Police Academy, Sisters in Crime, and affiliates to publish/reprint the story as a part of The Graveyard Shift blog and/or as advertisement for the Writers’ Police Academy or Sisters in Crime, or in other publications and media, including, but not limited to, books, magazines, newspaper, blogs, ebooks, online outlets, etc. *Sisters in Crime is not a part of the Writers’ Police Academy.

*All rights to all work/short story shall remain the property of the author. The Writers’ Police Academy reserves the right to exclude or delete any entry without cause, reason, or explanation.

– ABSOLUTELY NO profanity or erotica.

– No refunds. Proceeds go to the Writers’ Police Academy fund to benefit the GTCC criminal justice foundation.

Please send questions to Lee Lofland at lofland32@msn(dot)com

So there you have it. Now get busy and take us on a journey that’d scare the pants off Poe himself. Did Gepetto create an army of zombie-kid robots? Has Chucky assembled his cousins to take over the planet? Only you know, and you have only 200 words to tell the entire twisted story.

Good luck!

*     *     *

We are extremely pleased to announce that the judge for the 2014 Golden Donut Short Story Contest is one of the great storytellers of our time, Sara Gruen.

Sara’s works include Water for Elephants, Ape House, and Riding Lessons.

New Picture (2)

 Sara Gruen