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Red Room's Scandalously Short Story Contest Winners

The results are in! After hundreds of entries, dozens of worthy semi- and semi-semi-finalists (and many more with moments of brilliance), and five finalists, Red Room is exceedingly proud to announce the final results of its Scandalously Short Story Contest!

Before we get to the winners, we want to reiterate that the judging process involved many people and not everyone saw all the entries. Editors divided up the entries to make sure each one got the attention it deserved, we each made lists of favorites, and advocated for our favorites. We honed the list down to ten semi-finalists, and our Editor-in-Chief, Red Room CEO Ivory Madison, picked five finalists out of the semi-finalists. From these five, Pulitzer-prize short-story writer and novelist Robert Olen Butler made the decision of who was awarded first, second, and third place, and which finalist received honorable mention. 


Sylvia Petter


Author Sylvia Petter writes of a man who is approached in a café by a mysterious woman in a burka who wants his used tea bag, in "The Burka." 





Kelly Luce

Member Kelly Luce writes symbolic stories about lonely women and their things; this time, a haunting and almost surreal story of a Japanese woman in mourning who takes refuge in the home of a widow-where she has a dream as lonely and grasping as her life, in "Reunion."  



Third Place 

Vincent Louis Carrella


Author Vincent Louis Carrella writes the haunting story of the life of an alcoholic ventriloquist and the puppets he loved and lived his life with, in "Magnifico."  Carrella's debut, Serpent Box: A Novel, was published by Harper/Perennial in 2008.



Second Place

Ibi Kaslik

Author Ibi Kaslik masters the realistic, rendering a portrait of a poor American girl neglected by her mother, struggling to make sense of her family and find her place among life's little kindnesses and cruelties in "Car Nights." Kaslik's second novel, The Angel Riots (2009, Penguin Canada), was nominated for the prestigious Ontario Trillium Award. 



And the First Place winner in Red Room's Scandalously Short Story Awards is...

Sandra A Jensen

Member Sandra A Jensen, who writes of a woman who is waiting for the man she loves, presumably married, to call over the holidays in "Christmas 1987."  While this is her first blog post on Red Room, Sandra's writing has been widely published in a number of literary journals and magazines. Her member bio lists the many awards for which she has been a finalist or received honorable mention. In addition to the books listed below, she will also receive a trophy—yes, a real, shiny trophy, suitable for any mantelpiece. Sincere congratulations to Sandra!

 Sandra's win—and the list of finalists in general—underscores a very important aspect of Red Room. Much of the best writing to be found here is posted by writers at every career level, from authors with many famous books to their name (or with just one or two books that aren't famous yet), to writers who have been published in journals and magazines, to aspirers who are just getting started with their writing dreams. The Red Room community supports every one of those dreams, and we're so pleased that through contests like this and our weekly blog topics, we can provide a forum for them to get the attention they need and deserve.

The three winners will receive three books by Red Room authors: 

Beautiful Soon Enough


 Margo Berdeshevsky's Beautiful Soon Enough (2009, University of Alabama Press) is a collection that captures the lives of twenty-three arresting women. Robert Olen Butler called it a "thrillingly cutting-edge work of photos and short short stories flowing together."




The White Road



Tania Hershman founded The Short Review, a short-story collection review website. Her debut collection, The White Road and Other Stories, was published in 2008 by Salt Publishing.




A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts


N.M. Kelby writes both nonfiction writers guides and fiction; her most recent book, 2009's ATravel Guide for Restless Hearts, collects stories "for those of us who suddenly find ourselves tourists in our own lives."




If you'd like to congratulate the winners, please do so here or in the comment section on their stories. If there was a story you would have selected as a winner, please go to that story and leave a comment for the author letting them know they were your favorite. One last, huge THANK YOU to every writer who entered the Scandalously Short Story Contest!

Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room  

17 Comment count
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Congratulations to all of

Congratulations to all of the winners. I have read a few of them and they are excellent choices. Good going, Vincent.

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Congrats guys!

I just wanted to offer my own kudos to all of the winners. There were definitely many excellent stories to choose from.

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Thank you....

Well, I'm stunned. I've had an increasing list of short listings but never a win. This will be my first! Thank you so much all of you who put this contest together and did the hard work of reading and judging. I'm honoured to be amongst such excellent talent. Congratulations everyone!

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Its a proud day on Red Room

I participated and that was the whole point. It was the best ideas to come from Red Room to create community spirit and bring to top of mind new people and old friends.

Congratulations to the winners and looking forward to another great idea from Red Room.

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Wonderful stories all, I'm sure, though I have managed to read just a few so far. Congrats to the winners.



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My sincere congratulations to Sandra, Ibi, Vincent and Kelly for their success. I was so proud to be on the same page with them and to be in the same Room with so many other terrific stories. Thank you also to all the readers in Red Room. This contest was just what I needed - 48 hours max to pen and edit a brand new story. I haven´t written anything brand new in ages. It feels so good to be writing again.

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Lovely Writers One and All

Congratulations winners! I'm glad I was not the guest judge.

Congratulations semi-finalists! I'm glad I was not one of the judges.

Congratulations participants! (I'm not patting myself on the back. Just speaking for the masses.)


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The Short Story

I so admire the person that can make the poem longer and the novel shorter. The short story is a novelist piece of poetic dimensions. Thank you all for making me a true believer that the story waiting to be told makes an experience, or a snapshot the third dimension of writing.

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May I quote you?


" .... the story waiting to be told makes an experience, or a snapshot the third dimension of writing."

 May I quote you? I´m giving a tiny flash fiction workshop in November in Vienna and I´d love to work with this sentence.


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The Short Story

Anyone that is up this late may indeed use my material. Yes you may quote me. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment. I'm glad you thought it worthy of a quote:)

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definitely quotable

That's a wonderful comment, Denise.

I always thought I was 'only' a novelist, until I had an "aha" moment in 2007 and wrote what I considered to be my first "real" short story. I literally had a visceral sensation, a taste in my mouth, when it was done. After this I put novel writing aside and concentrated on the short story - all in the 3 - 5K range. Never thought I could write flash fiction, it seemed to be so ridiculously hard... until I did a writing assignment to write a page a day - of anything, total rubbish if that's what came out, but non continuous (ie. each day was a new day, a new piece of writing). I did this for 2 months. In this process, to my great surprise, I came up with several short pieces in the flash range. Having the forced limitation of only writing a page seemed to have helped enormously.

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Well, I've written and published poetry and now my first novel is going to print. (Always thought I was 'only' a poet.)  Skipped the short story.  Wrote the poem, it was published.  Sat for two years.  Thought about it again and was going to write the short story but it just went on and on and became the novel.  I'll have to try again and maybe again and again.  Hmmm, looks like the short story can be done?  Thanks.

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The trophy!

I just wanted to say my trophy arrived! It's fabulous! I'll go and post pictures up in my profile. Thank you so much Red Room, my very first trophy ever.

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Fabulous, indeed!

Thanks for posting those photos, Sandra. It's also nice to see your lovely work space. I like the blue sky wall.

Huntington Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room

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Congratulations again. The trophy is truly a work of art. You need a trophy case. (Seriously.)

What I need is a picture of you with the trophy for motivation, I mean inspiration. I may have mentioned this in my "No Crying in Writing Blog."

Hold onto that trophy...do you have to pass the trophy along to next year's winner? Not that you would lose it, because you'd probably win again, but if you didn't win, and like I said, you probably would win, I have just the spot for the trophy.

I'm sure Red Room will provide another lovely trophy for the Second Annual Scandalously Short Short Story Contest.

Best to plan ahead.

Chop chop. 



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The trophy´s a beauty, Sandra. Now we need a pic of you with it.

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The Writer's Trophy
written for Sandra Jensen

Trophy is the pride
she feels
in her
and it is reflected
in cat's
and it is praised
in sound's

Objects of our
vision give
to all

but with or without the trophy
the fire inside still shines.-daw