Axe to Grind 2021 – Contest Results
Judging a writing contest is a privilege I take seriously, having entered so many contests over the years myself. When David sends me the shortlisted stories, I print all of them out and spread them across my kitchen table like a wonderful meal. I read them, walk away, come back, and read them again. I arrange them in a certain order, sleep on it, read them once more, and sometimes change my mind. Throughout the process I ask myself why a particular story is or isn't working for me.
Choosing the top three is never easy, but I've come to trust this process. Over time, the top three make themselves known. This year, they are:
1) Fair Warning by Sarah Collins Honenberger—a haunting story that crept up on me and held me in its grip. The author has a fine eye for detail and creates a protagonist with a convincing sense of desperation that powers her through the story.
Click here to read Fair Warning
2) Lacuna by Chris Barkley—I loved the imaginative energy of this story, the larger-than-life main character, and the premise of that all-important word that informs a life.
Click here to read Lacuna
3) You've Matched by Katie Bowers—the charming narrator of this story won my heart. There's a raw honesty to Piran that I found very authentic.
Click here to read You've Matched
Kudos to everyone who submitted their work. It was a pleasure to read so many great submissions.
—Michelle Barker, Darling Axe senior editor and award-winning author