A massive shortlist last week, with nine authors vying for top spot in a comp of romantic interludes, trysts, affairs, assassinations and assignations. And in the spirit of people coming together, there was more than one winner this week, but more on that later. First, let’s recap.
Paula M. Carlson kicked things off with Only When I Lose Myself, a bleary-eyed account of a passionate one-night stand.
On his way to the shower, Jory dials room service. His voice cracks, “Yeah, can I get some tea in 614, please? And a newspaper?” He drops his cloak behind him as he walks to the bathroom.
The fluorescent light blinds his weary, azure eyes. He steps into the shower. The heat reminds him of the club only hours before, packed with free spirits, lost souls, and those caught in between.
While Joanna Li returned to the shortlist after a brief hiatus with Jazz, artfully written in the second person, Joanna brings together syncopation and noir aesthetics in this musical encounter:
There’s a low hum on the pier, the soft lapping of waves on the hull of a moored boat, the murmured laughter from the cafes behind you, and it feels like the shuffling of the cinema audience, with muted phones and dropped popcorn. You’re on wide screen, big and awkward, and she’s the dazzling star, all soft smiles and curves…
Lydia Trethewey refused to let the brief stifle her creative streak, plugging us into the surreal Brain Strings & Concrete Pavers. Lydia has been our feature author for the last little while, and it’s easy to see why.
When I was a kid I always had this feeling, not quite a belief and not as solid as an idea, but some kind of innate visceral intuition that if somebody touched me they’d be able to see my thoughts. Like the physical connection of their fingertips on my body would open up a psychical passageway, and I’d become transparent. My brain knew this made no sense, but my skin believed it.
Charlie K Gorden took a different tack, dropping us defly indle middle of a dangerous liaison in the pulse quickening Life In A Moment.
The waiters bustled, the kitchen rang and the bartenders worked their magic, all under the watchful eye of a skinny, efficient Maître d’. Five people in the restaurant carried weapons, some expertly concealed, others easily spotted. Vanessa noticed these things, she was paid to.
While C.R. Gardner blended music & lyrics seamlessly into the action and drive of Rayvenn, Part 1 of A Dangerous Love.
Rayvenn jumped off the third floor balcony, the black coat swirling about her. She landed gracefully and began singing, “Hello, shooting-star again. I’m waiting for you. Let’s meet at night where the moon is beautiful…” as she walked to the Point, where she waited for Ulka as she had every year. Once again, he did not come.
It is worth mentioning that last week’s shortlist is part 1 in a 2 part competition, with part 2 due out on the 3rd of May. I’m glad that’s only a week away, as I’m excited to see the second half of Cam Dam’s sensual erotic thriller, Rain:
You push your way in, knocking me against the doorframe. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell is going on.”
Hands on hips, you watch me close the door and turn back at you. Has anyone told you how tasty you are looking like this?
Jeanette Stampone threw her hat into the ring with Perfect Strangers, a tale about the joy of escape and the pleasure of new faces… And new bodies.
“Good evening,” he said, holding out his hand. “I’m James.” His blue eyes twinkled; he oozed confidence and charm.
I shook his hand and smiled. “My name’s…”
He placed his fingers on my lips. “Don’t tell me your name. Just use that pretty mouth to kiss me if you want this.”
Amy Short brought us the sexually charged Vodka, as a couple reignites their passion for performance.
“Sing with me, James,” she said, her lips protruding into a saddening pout. She tried to walk seductively towards me, her hips swaying and booty shaking until she realised she was still on the chest; then wrapped in my arms as she avoided crashing face first into the carpet.
“We better be careful, we don’t want any late night accidents, do we?”
“Only if you’ve been a bad, bad boy,” she replied flirtatiously.
While Sophie Macdonald proved that attraction can be more than a brief moment, with The Pact, a heartfelt look at love that stands the test of time.
Lying under those starch white sheets, with tubes in your arms, and the machine making a noise that—if you were awake—I know you would say reminds you of the music we used to listen to when we met. Do you remember that rave in the woods? The lights lancing between the trees in time with the beat, and that incessant beeping noise over the top. Neither of us were into it. We both leant against trees, warm wine in hands, friends dancing like they were electrified whilst we barely moved. It’s like we were on a different rhythm; our own beat.
It’s said that good things always come in threes, and so it was this week, with a trio of winners for the Duets & Duvets Award Part 1. Please congratulate Charlie K Gorden, Lydia Trethewey & Sophie Macdonald!
It’s rare to see a tie for first place, but three winners is just unprecedented. Still, I think our judges got it right on the money, as separating these stories is like splitting hairs. So thank you too on judges for your well considered opinions and for volunteering your time to help us keep moving forward.
And speaking of moving forward, we now have a PayPal option for donating to our Campaign, for those who don’t feel like signing up to Patreon you can find PayPal subscriptions here. We’ll aggregate the pledges from both revenue streams for stretch goals to make life easier.
I’ve also added a new reward tier, so check that out at the Patreon Page. You’ll not only receive both monthly novellas and the chance to help design an award, but we’ll also throw in access to more feedback, a monthly reward that rolls over, meaning you could get a free novel manuscript edit in less than 12 months!
A big thanks to everyone who has already jumped in to support us. We’ve actually hit our first goal, which is why the ads are gone from the (new and improved) website. Coming up later in the week, release dates for new publications, new ‘Pay-what-you-like’ courses, and a Kickstarter Project for a limited edition release of a major collaboration. For now though, please enjoy this week’s shortlist, a trio of tasty morsels for the Less Is More Culinary Reality Award.