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Finalists – 2017 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge

All that’s left is to select the winner. Choose from these entries and vote in the poll at the end of this post for one entry you think is best.

Time to announce our finalists!

First I want to give special thanks to all who entered this year’s winter writing challenge and all who gave their feedback in the preliminary round.

© Adina Nani | Dreamstime Stock Photos

We had three entries that received a high number of thumbs up, and a number of others in double digits. Clearly there was a lot to like in these submissions. I hope the writing challenge has encouraged and inspired writers to continue developing their storytelling skills.

As always, we’ve selected the top three, based on visitor responses over these past two weeks. So here, in alphabetical order by last name, are your 2017 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge finalists:

  • Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • Liv K. Fisher
  • Jenelle Schmidt.

All that’s left is to select the winner, and that’s in your hands. Choose from these finalists and vote in the poll at the end of this post for one entry you think is best.

The entry receiving the most votes will be the winner, and the author will receive a $25 e-gift card from either Amazon or B&N. (In case of a tie, I’ll draw for the winner).

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

And now the finalists’ entries:

By Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. Not the sleet pounding his eyes, not the wind loosening his nail-tearing grip on the rock face, and certainly not the wails of the loser dangling one-armed below him.

Trey was deadweight from the start, in Kendall’s opinion – he’d told the others – and if he fell, the team would only be stronger for having been weeded. They’d been told the challenges couldn’t be completed without teamwork, but Kendall didn’t believe that. So far he’d completed each physical challenge alone, and while the sorting puzzle initially stumped him, once he’d seen how Liz organized the others, he’d managed to work a good bit on his own. They’d insisted he help them, but what if one of them made a critical mistake? Working alone, he shared neither risk nor credit.

He knew the looks the other teams gave him – not grateful, not exactly, but faintly pleased. Like they were glad he worked alone. Just showed how they underestimated him.

He would beat them all in the end.

Trey shrieked, swinging over the chasm, scraping for toeholds.

“Kendall!” Liz ordered through the sleet. “Help him!”

She hung about twelve feet above Kendall, clinging like lichen. Ordering him, as if she were in charge. Kendall’s frustration and disdain burst free again. “We can’t lose the time!”

“Kendall, go back for him!”

A fist-sized stone broke loose in his hand but his toehold saved him. He observed the stone and realized, I could end this argument. Without Trey, there’d be less deadweight.

He twisted to judge the necessary arc. Trey’s eyes stretched in comprehending horror.

A scrape of stone interrupted Kendall as Liz half-climbed, half-slid down the face – directly above him, against all protocol. “What are you doing?!”

Her eyes sparked against his. “Weeding.”

She kicked into Kendall’s face, tearing him free from his climb.

– – – – –

By Liv K. Fisher

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny… even if his destiny was a chicken pot pie.

It was all quite embarrassing, really. Kendall hadn’t *wanted* to enter an eating competition. But his mother had demanded it. Apparently, being a part of the galaxy’s lowest social class meant placing oneself against those of the like.

The wealthy, cyborg judge would watch, amused, as each citizen stuffed their face, and the person who appeared most desperate would win a six-month supply of food. This happened twice every year. Twice, every year, and it was broadcast—live—on television. And Kendall hated it.

– – – – –

By Jenelle Schmidt

Kendall didn’t care if the other candidates thought he was power-hungry—nothing could stop him from going after his destiny. He wasn’t sure what his destiny was, but it was certain it would never happen if he was not chosen as the apprentice of the Royal Wizard Oolumph. He didn’t particularly like Wizard Oolumph. The man had been staying at the inn for the past few days and was generally impatient and disagreeable, but Kendall could think of no better way to be available for destiny to find him. Surely destiny could not miss a wizard’s apprentice! Not like it could if he remained a lowly stable-boy for the local inn.

The morning of the audition was cold. Foggy breath steamed about the candidates’ faces as they waited in line. The audition swept past in a blur that Kendall could barely remember once it was over.

It felt like hours before the announcement was made.

Kendall’s spirits sank as the name was announced. It wasn’t his. Kendall could not bear to watch the winner. Disheartened, he shuffled back to the stables behind the inn. He would be sure to find a sympathetic ear in his friend and fellow stable-boy, Bernard. However, upon arriving at the stable, Kendall could not find Bernard anywhere.

“Ah, you’re back,” the innkeeper said, seeing Kendall’s face poke around the doorway.

“Where’s Bernard?” Kendall asked glumly.

“Ah, young Bernard,” the innkeeper ran a calloused hand through his hair. “That was something else. While you were off at the auditions, Sir Andrew rode through in a great hurry. He needed a page for an important mission he is undertaking for King Sebastian. Was willing to pay good money to buy an apprentice’s time. Bernard was the only one around, and though I hated the thought of potentially losing both of you, I couldn’t deny the boy his destiny.”

– – – – –

Be sure to share this post and poll with your friends and family, your Google+ circles and your Pinterest people, your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. The more voters, the better.

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.

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Julie D

Interesting how all the top entries went for humor. I was hoping for one or two of the more serious/high stakes ones.

Jenelle Schmidt

Laura’s isn’t exactly humorous… creepy and spine-tingling, with perhaps a dark twist of irony, but not “funny ha ha.”