/ / Articles

Final Vote – End Of The Year Winter Writing Challenge

The entry receiving the most votes will be the winner of the 2013 End Of The Year Winter Writing challenge, and the author will receive a $25 gift card from either Amazon or B&N.
| Dec 23, 2013 | 5 comments |

2013 Spec Faith Winter Writing ChallengeMerry Christmas!

At last we have the final entries for our 2013 End Of The Year Winter Writing Challenge. This time, please vote for only the one you think is the best. The entry receiving the most votes will be the winner, and the author will receive a $25 gift card from either Amazon or B&N.

Voting will last until midnight (Pacific time), Sunday, December 29.

You’ll note, there are five top entries instead of three. Because of the thumb glitch and the restart of the voting last Monday, we ended up with a tie. Once the thumbs were restored, however, it was apparent that the wisest way to go would be to incorporate the top three of both voting methods (wouldn’t it have been nice if they were identical? They were not).

So, without further comment, here are your top five entries.

– – – – –

Bethany J.
December 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm

All Gem wanted was a quiet night at home, but she’d been warned that upper-level sages would have to make sacrifices.

Blasted superstitions! She thumped her lexicon onto the table and skimmed the pages, pushing a frizz of hair behind her horns. Surely the book had a description of a storm-appeasing ritual she could muddle through – anything to prevent discovery now, right before her long-awaited opportunity.

“A quiet night at home? With a storm coming?” Farro chuckled from his armchair at the other side of the cave, his furred hooves crossed before the fire.

Gem glared. “You’re no help. If they realize I’m a fake, do you think they’ll let you go unscathed? Clearly we’re working together.”

Her fuzzy ears pricked to a distant sound – the clash of cymbals and wails of temple-satyrs audible over the howling wind. “Farro, they’re coming up the trail.”

He peeped through the curtains and looked impressed. “Fancy that.”

“I can’t do this,” Gem breathed. “What’ll happen now?”

“They’ll string you up. Food for the phoenixes.”

Despite his hyperbole, Gem’s heart jumped. She shook the lexicon at his suave figure. “They might! Even if we both escape with our heads…” Her mind rang with panic. “This will destroy any chance of infiltrating the academy and finding Mia. Please! Are you going to help me or not?”

– – – – –

December 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm

All Gem wanted was a quiet night at home, but she’d been warned that upper-level sages would have to make sacrifices.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured to her six month old son, “mama has to leave again.” Bouncing him gently, she carried him to the main room where Leif was building a fire.

He took one look at the flashing tattoo on her arm and resigned disappointment appeared in his eyes. He wiped soot from his hands onto to his tunic. “Hand him here,” he said.

Gem bent over to do so and took advantage of the closeness to kiss her husband. “I’ll be home by dawn.”

“That’s what you said last time.” He hadn’t turned away but he hadn’t kissed her back either. “You should send a message to your sister in case whatever crisis the Council is in takes longer. The bridge has to be finished before snow sets in, I can’t stay home tomorrow.”

“Very well.” She pulled free the black quartz marking her rank from within her robe. It swirled with red fire like her tattoo of summoning. She tossed the stone into the fire pit and the fire sparked blue-black. “Farewell.”

Icy cold enveloped her and then she stepped out of the Sacred Flames in the Council Hall into a puddle of blood.

– – – – –

Kessie Carroll
December 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm

All Gem wanted was a quiet night at home, but she’d been warned that upper-level sages would have to make sacrifices.

So when someone pounded on her front door at 2 AM, she rolled out of bed without even swearing. She grabbed her official black robe and pulled it over her pajamas, ran a hand through her bristly black hair, and rushed into the living room. “This had better be important.”

She peered through the door’s peephole. After all, this was Phoenix, Arizona, and there was no point in getting mugged.

A dragon stood on her apartment’s doorstep.

She heaved a sigh and closed her eyes, composing herself. At least it wasn’t a mugger. She pulled the door open.

A young man stood there, clad in a tattered t-shirt and denim shorts, despite the chilly desert wind. Heat rolled off his body, and his eyes glowed yellow. “Are you the Arch-Sage?”

Gem forced a polite smile. “Yes. How may I help you?”

The dragon-man grimaced. “My sister’s been kidnapped.”

– – – – –

Teddi Deppner
December 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

All Gem wanted was a quiet night at home, but she’d been warned that upper-level sages would have to make sacrifices. Nobody mentioned that the sage’s bond-vessel would be required to make them, too.

Gem sighed as she hurried to her master’s chamber door. Was this really better than living on the streets? Warm fireplace, thick blankets, stew in her belly, yes. Yes, it was. And it was definitely better than being burned at the stake.

She cleared the frown from her face and the irritation from her mind and knocked at the door, sending her thoughts past the door and into the mind of her master, Revick. Master, wake up. A messenger from the Council. Will you see him?

The Council! A sharp burst of fear, and then eagerness, poured into her from Revick. Already! Prepare yourself, girl. You must receive all that you feel from me without giving it away on your face. Do it right this time!

Yes, master. Gem sighed again.

A minute later, Revick swept from his room, smoothing the long folds of his robe and looking her over with narrowed eyes. He scowled. “I told you to cut your hair.”

“I was going to do it in the morning.”

“That does us no good if the Council sees you tonight!”

– – – – –

Mirtika (first entry)
December 7, 2013 at 4:04 am

All Gem wanted was a quiet night at home, but she’d been warned that upper-level sages would have to make sacrifices.

She’d given up hometown, first love, and fertility for rank. Now, her treasured privacy awaited death at the hands of this boy filthy as the gobgoats feasting on the trash heaps of Sagekeep. Standing outside her doorway, he disturbed her peace with defiant eyes.

“My new apprentice, you say?”

The Proctor of Wisehall nodded and shifted away from the youth rank with sweat and ill-repute, homeless since his master—a mid-level—went mad.

Gem initiated sagethought. Ponder: nature of event. Assessment: punishment, warning. Options: none but obedience.

She’d sworn to Mastermage that, in return for her unprecedented promotion, her upstart powers would sleep for six moons—a small sacrifice for a large reward.


Corrective: turn the tables. Method: misfit magic. Tool: the brat.

She’d use well the six months to shape him into her sharpest dagger. Gem prayed for the rumors to be true. Be ruinous, bedraggled boy.

“Apprentice Geeter, you enter only after I accept your vow to obey all I command, by mouth and by pen.”

The boy, crossing his bony arms in an unseemly fashion, smirked. “I vow nothin’. You got no choice but to be lettin’ me in, High One. Stuck with me, ain’t ya?”

– – – – –

Please share this finals poll with your friends and followers.

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Kessie Carroll

Ohhh, all the entries I really liked made it to the final round! Grats to everybody!

Leah Burchfiel
Leah Burchfiel

Aww, man. Maybe I could have gotten on the list if I had put in more wine slushies. *Talking* wine slushies, with best friends who are shapeshifting vampire were-deer who live undercover in human society as….shoot, lost my creative burst. Landscapers? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Car mechanics to atone for their unenlightened brethren’s habit of crossing the highways like toddlers on acid?


I found it. Yeah. Voted. Great story starters. would love to see these become full stories. Would make a great Anthology.


I wonder if there could be a spot on the website for people to post links to completed stories that started from these story challenges?

I’d definitely be interested in seeing full or extended versions but there really isn’t anywhere to communicate that right now.