Winners of the First How To Think Sideways Anthology Contest #fiction #writing

My fabulous How To Think Sideways Boot Camp moderators came up with the following wonderful idea, here quoted from Katharina Gerlach’s post on the forum:

I have been thinking about an anthology with the best stories from Holly’s students for a while. Now, I contacted Holly and she agrees that this is a good idea. Since she’s momentarily extremely busy with setting up the new site-software, I will be in charge for a while.

The rules are as follows:

  • Holly set the theme. It is The Adventure of Creating
  • Every student of Holly (Short Courses, HTTS, HtRYN, HtWAS) can enter his/her best story.
    Any story may not be longer than 2500 words max.
  • You can choose the genre (disclaimer: since Holly hasn’t had time to approve a genre-list yet, we might not accept some genres. This is Holly’s choice)

This was a no-entry-fee anthology. I wrote a foreword, judged the entries, and set aside money for the prizes:

  • $100 for first place
  • $50 each for second and third places.

Katharina (Cat-Gerlach on the boards) did the cover art and the award images, which winners can use on the covers for their stories or story anthologies, as well as on their websites.


The anthology will be published on the 24th of July 2013.

I judged the entries, and it took me three rounds of judging, with the first round judged on a point system in which each story could earn points for Characters, Conflict, Setting, Twist, Theme, and Technique.

I’ll note that the thirty-five stories chosen by the editors were sent to me in “blind” format—in other words, I had no idea who had written them—and about two thirds of the entries were only a point or two away from perfect scores by the time I’d finished my first round. The editors, Cat-Gerlach, Texanne, Pearannoyed, and Marti-V, had done a magnificent job of choosing from the many, many stories submitted.

The following stories had perfect scores in the first round:

  • After the Fire – Zoe Cannon: Enraptured
  • Hitting the High Notes – S.J. Driscoll: sapphire
  • Innocence – S.J. Driscoll: sapphire
  • Knitting – Debbie Zubrick: WhatsForDinner
  • Restoration – Rabia Gale: Lady Q
  • Spoilers – Laura Thurston: Artemis
  • The Cafe – Faith Boughan: dark_phoenix
  • The Definition of a Superhero – Taven Moore: TamiMoore
  • The Forest King – Amanda Tompkins: Green_Eyes
  • The Wish – Martha Verlander: marti-v
  • West’s Prelude – Molly Felder: felderm
  • Whisper – Michele Zugnoni: mnzugnoni

These twelve stories went on to the second round, where I judged by the subjective test of “greatest relevance to anthology theme.”

The following five stories made it into the third round of judging:

  • Hitting the High Notes – S.J. Driscoll: sapphire
  • Innocence – S.J. Driscoll: sapphire
  • Restoration – Rabia Gale: Lady Q
  • The Definition of a Superhero – Taven Moore: TamiMoore
  • Whisper – Michele Zugnoni: mnzugnoni

I loved all five of these stories. Any one could have been the first-place story based on quality and entertainment value. However, as part of the contest rules, I’d decided that the first place story should have the first story slot, the second place story should have the coveted “anchor” spot at the end of the anthology, and the third-place story would have the slot right after the contest winner.

The job of the first story in an anthology is to bring in the reader.

The job of the second story in an anthology is to give a reader an idea of the range of tone and content within the rest of the anthology.

And the job of the anchor (or final story) is to convince the reader that he wants the NEXT anthology in the series.

Based on that, I read through the final five stories several times, having a hell of a time deciding. I finally got there, though. Here, in reverse order, are the honorable mentions and the winners.

  • Honorable Mention: Hitting the High Notes – S.J. Driscoll: sapphire
  • Honorable Mention: Innocence – S.J. Driscoll: sapphire
  • Third Place: Whisper – Michele Zugnoni: mnzugnoni
  • Second Place: The Definition of a Superhero – Taven Moore: TamiMoore
  • First Place: Restoration – Rabia Gale: Lady Q

Winners will receive their prizes via PayPal. You’ll be privately contacted by me before I send your prizes so I can confirm your PayPal address.

Finally, there is no guarantee that there will be a second anthology:

Authors will be paid pro-rata for their stories out of sales.

I donated the prizes out of my own pocket, so the anthology doesn’t have to earn that back first.

But the anthology does have to gain enough of a readership to make the amount of work it took to create it worthwhile for the writers and moderators involved, in terms of both public exposure of their work, and to a somewhat lesser extent, financially.

If you would like to participate in a similar anthology contest next year, or to support continuing HTTS Boot Camp anthologies, please purchase The Adventure Of Creation: Think Sideways Writers Anthology when it comes out on July 24th. And please pass on the word to fellow readers.

I’ll send a reminder with links when it goes live.

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6 responses to “Winners of the First How To Think Sideways Anthology Contest #fiction #writing”

  1. Holly Lisle Avatar
    Holly Lisle

    I checked on the 24th and couldn’t find it ANYWHERE. Got stampeded yesterday by a mistake I made for the HTRYN launch in the new classroom, so didn’t get the chance to check.

    Checking now.

  2. Ann Avatar

    And then I hopped on over to Amazon and there it was. Yay!

  3. shawna Avatar

    It’s July 24th…?

    Who, me? Hovering? No, no, no, not at all. 🙂

    1. Ann Avatar

      Me too! (and me three, the voices in my head say)

  4. Kim Borwick Avatar
    Kim Borwick

    Congratulations to the winners and all the participants for a job well done. I look forward to reading your stories!

  5. Felicia Avatar

    Congratulations to the winners and everyone else that was mentioned in this thread. Can’t wait to read everyone’s stories 🙂

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