2nd Runner-up: ‘All our Swains Commend Her’ by Mitchell J Toews
“What I thought the most while reading this one for the first time was: ‘This must have taken so long to write!’ Every sentence is packed with detail and not a word is spared. A highly skilled piece of writing with a lot to say about the way we live and how we treat one another. Can’t believe such a short piece of writing left me with such memorable characters and so much to think about!” — Raven Contest Judge Leo X Robertson
Part of my writing routine is to enter literary contests. It’s an imperfect venue but offers some advantages in the immense ocean of strung-together words that English-speaking creative writing is today, in the internet age. Plus, there are unique benefits to prizes, like… well, prizes!
Before I began publically calling myself a writer (and changed my signature from Mitch to Mitchell because it sounded sooo much more writerly) I had a hot streak going. I entered every “Send us a 100-word essay on what makes our spindrift calibrators the best in the market and win a free JUICER!” contest: that kind of thing. My pinnacle was winning a new Animal wristwatch when my piece about losing my last Animal watch in Jessica Lake took top honours.
Another unique benefit of story contests is the vanity aspect. Self-confidence, joh? Just like getting your essay pinned up on the bulletin board by Miss Hildebrand in Grade Four (see my C-V for details), I find an undeniable allure in “grabbing some podium.” (A phrase which sounds like something you’d get thrown out of a strip bar for doing.)
Anyway, as the universe’s lone marketing advocate for Mitchell J. Toews, Writer and Animal Watch Loser, I hereby announce that the aforementioned writer, MJT, has grabbed some PULP podium. (Again, I admit there’s something off about that would-be idiom. I’ll workshop it with the gang down at Animal.)
The podium—corvid podium, no less—is as follows:
The PULP Literature 2023 Raven Short Story Contest
Catriona Sandilands with ‘Revolutions’ WINNER
Alison Stevenson with ‘Foam’ 1st RUNNER UP
Mitchell Toews with ‘All Our Swains Commend Her’ 2nd RUNNER UP
Kevin Sandefur with ‘Marty’ Honourable Mention
Still here? You must be procrastinating about something. (I am one who knows.) Well, to enable your delay tactics, here is a list of my Greatest Hits from the literary contest and prize bandstand:
“So Are They All” — short story, Second Place in the Adult Fiction category of the Write on the Lake Contest, (Ca) 2016 ISSN: 1710-1239
“Fall from Grace” — short story, Honourable Mention in The Writers’ Workshop of Asheville Memoirs Contest, (US) 2016
“The Phage Match” — short story, Finalist in Broken Pencil’s (Ca) annual Deathmatch Contest, 2016
“Cave on a Cul-de-sac” — short story, Winner in The Hayward Fault Line—Doorknobs & Bodypaint Issue 93 Triannual Themed Flash Contest, (US) 2018
“I am Otter” — short story, CommuterLit (Ca), Runner-up in for Flash Fiction Feature, 2018
“Sweet Caporal at Dawn” — short story, nominated by Blank Spaces for a PUSHCART PRIZE, 2019
“Piece of My Heart” — a 750-word or less flash fiction was named “Editors’ Choice” in the 2020 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest from Pulp Literature Press (Ca)
“The Margin of the River” — short story, nominated by Blank Spaces for a PUSHCART PRIZE, 2020
“Fetch” — short story, one of 11 finalists in a national field of over 800 entries: The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers, (Ca), 2021
“Sweet Caporal” has been nominated by Rivanna Review, Charlottesville, Va. for a PUSHCART PRIZE, 2021
“The Rabid,” finalist in the 2022 PULP Literature Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest, (Ca)
The 2022 J. F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction (US). This open competition drew over 400 submissions from around the world from writers in all stages of career development. “The Spring Kid,” was one of 28 longlist finalists and later advanced to the shortlist.
“The Mighty Hartski”: 2022 longlist for the Humber Literary Review/Creative Nonfiction Collective Society (CNFC) Canada-wide CNF contest
“Winter in the Sandilands” was named to the longlist for the 2022 PULP Literature Hummingbird Flash Fiction Contest, (Ca) Mitchell’s story, “Luck!” was on the shortlist in this same contest.
Several of these award-winners (highlighted in the list above) will be part of the forthcoming 2023 short story collection from At Bay Press, “Pinching Zwieback: Made-up stories from the Darp”