First up a warm welcome to all our newcomers: Mel Watts, Jess Grimmonds, Laurence Deam and Saskia Griffiths, and special shout outs to Debb Bouch and Disapol Savetsila, who scored really well, closely missing out on the top three.

This time around we tried a different judging method. In the past, judges were asked to score each author out of ten, using decimal places if they liked. We’ve changed that up so now judges rank each story by preference, starting with 1. That means, like golf, the author with the lowest score wins.

In third place is Ingrid Coram’s Separation. Ingrid has featured on our last two short lists and scored highly in both, so keep an eye for Ingrid in future short lists.

Second place went to Arizona Red, by Nat Happe. Nat won last time round so it’s no surprises to see her up the top again.  Who could deny a story with phrases like “Gripping the bar like religion” and “But for now? Well, for now she’s snug tight in a cubicle next to a man who wears his socks around the office all proud and comfortable”

But onto our winner, a first timer to Needle In The Hay. The award asked for stories that reflected rural life and it’s relationship to metropolitan living. Rather then chose an idyllic farmhouse or untouched landscape, our winner set their story at a bus terminal exchange occupied by dealers, cops, ‘derros‘, with a scattering of ‘smart kids‘ who ‘clutch text books with barcodes and tattered novels.

Our winner this week is The Bus Stop by Sara Gates.

Congratulations Sara!

Coming up next we have the CLIMATE FICTION AWARD. There’s still a little over a week to get your entry in, so get writing.

Also, we’ll be dropping our new look website sometime next week. Stay tuned :)