To refresh all of your memories, I did not judge the entries. I read and enjoyed them all; but the final top picks were:
1. copy and pasted into Word documents (If I couldn't do that, I enlarged them on my computer and stood over my mom to be sure that she didn't peek at who wrote what. Not that she follows or knows any of you - well, except one entrant - but I said they'd be judged annonymously and dammit! I meant it!).
2. printed them out with no identifying characteristics (or see above)
3. handed them to my mom and paced eagerly as she SLOWLY read each of them (and in more than one case, read them about 5 times!)
So without further adieu...
Third prize - a beautiful leather writing journal, similar to this one
goes to Sher A Hart! Who knew my mom liked horror? Her entry "Christmas Passed" is a delightfully dark story about Santa in the hereafter, who knew ghosts believed in the power of believing?
Second prize (an E-reader cozy of the winners choice from ZiZi Rho Designs) is awarded to The Grumpy Bulldog with his heart wrenching "Blue Christmas" excerpt from his novel Where You Belong. I did not specify that entries had to be NEW work and so this totally qualifies. ;) Even though, SOME of you might not agree...my mom had the final word.
And last but certainly NOT least, First Prize ($25.00 Amazon Gift Card) is awarded to the Chubby Chatterbox's "Her Last Christmas"!!! My mom laughed out loud and turned to me and said, "That sounds like Aunt Verbal!" (which is EXACTLY what I thought when I read it.)
Now, in the spirit of all that is honest and right with this world; I'd like to disclose two things:
The first is that, in reality, Liz's entry "New Year Magic" was my mom's initial pick for the top spot. I say this because I feel she should get a big pat on the back for "winning"; but since she is my sis-in-law, I can't really have her winning my contest. So, kudos Liz!
Second is that I want to give a big shout out to:
Briane Pagel, you are a God among men. You are funny and clever and encouraging and smart and super awesome. Thank you for blogging about my contest, tweeting about my contest, nagging about my contest; and, generally getting all of the other entries in my contest. For you I would like to give the "Cheerleader of the Year" award. I just made it up and I don't have a cool badge for you to put on your blog page, but here is a picture for your award (any badge I created would have to include this picture!)
know that you make me laugh and I enjoy reading everything you write or tweet. Sorry you didn't win.
Michael Offutt, you have become someone I enjoy reading and learning from. I appreciate your support and encouragement and I really can't wait to read your book. I know you think most of your "followers" won't bother buying it, but I will be one of the first to download it when it becomes available in May of THIS YEAR! (Everyone else reading this, CLICK HERE NOW to find out more about Slipstream) Your snark leaves me LMAO almost every day, thank you for existing.
And, by the way, I still think your entry should be published as a children's story, it replaced "Twas the Night Before Christmas" this year in my house and all three kids sat still with rapt attention while I read it to them!
Now I need to know how to get the prizes to my winners. So, please email me with your address so that I can ship all this out, but Patrick you have to click on that link up there to visit ZiZi Rho's website and pick which cozy you want. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, thank you to all my entrants; I think everyone wrote an amazing story. I just wish I had all sorts of disposable income so that I could give everyone a prize!