Columbus Invitational Arts Competition Literature Winners!

Columbus Invitational ArtsColumbus Creative Cooperative was proud to administrate the Literature Division of the 2012 Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

We are pleased to announce Paging Columbus as our grand champion!

Winter Break-In,” by Emily Taylor, represented Paging Columbus and won first place overall, as well as the award for Most Creative and the award for Most Depth.  Learn more about Paging Columbus and Emily Taylor, or read the story.

The Bull Race,” representing the Columbus Christian Writers’ Association won second place.

Affirmations,” representing Fiction Flurry, won third place overall, as well as the award for Best Technique and the Audience Favorite award.

Congratulations to our winners!  Thanks to all of the organizations that participated.  For a complete list of stories (and to read them) visit this link.

Awards Ceremony for Columbus Invitational Arts Competition Tonight!

Awards Ceremony

The awards ceremony for the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition is tonight (Thursday, 10/4) at the King Arts Complex.

Columbus Creative Cooperative was pleased to administrate the literature competition portion of the Invitational Arts Competition.  The winners of this category, along with the other categories, will be announced at this event!

The awards ceremony will begin at 6pm.  Get the details here.

To read the stories submitted for the literature division, click here.

Columbus Invitational Arts Competition Literature Division Voting Now Open!

The voting portion of the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition is now open for the literature division!

Columbus Creative Cooperative is proud to partner with this organization to present this content.

To cast your votes, view the scorecard.

The winner of the contest will be determined by the judges provided by the participating groups, but your votes will play an important role.

The competing stories are:

“William Meets Sally” – Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (read | vote)

“Leaving the Nest: Obnoxious Meets Nice” – Ohio Writers’ Guild (read | vote)

“Affirmations” – Fiction Flurry (read | vote)

“Winter Break-In” – Paging Columbus (read | vote)

“The Bull Race” – Columbus Christian Writers Association (read | vote)

“Heart of a Were” – Novels in Progress (read | vote)

Enjoy these stories provided by the Columbus writing community.  May the best organization win!

“Heart of a Were” – Rep. Novels in Progress – Cbus Inv. Arts Competition

This story was chosen by Novels in Progress to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

Heart of a Were

Strongheart surveyed the small valley before him lying under the clear moonlit sky. Something was amiss this night, something that made him edgy and nervous. His companion, Lightfoot, stood head up tasting the wind. Her fur, gray and brown and black, each hair tipped with a diamond of magic, brushed his muzzle as she passed him. Her warm scent distracted him from his surroundings.

They had been together for a year now, but only on the three nights of the full moon, and only when the moon shone bright and pure, and revealed by the absence clouds. What name she went by as a human remained a mystery to him – a mystery he knew he would one day have to solve so that they would be together in both worlds.

Strongheart first met Lightfoot on a night when he ran the ridges to the north of the farm. He caught her scent and went looking for her, angry his territory had been invaded. When he cornered her along a dried streambed, she snarled at him and snapped. Her lack of fear combined with her strength and splendor captivated him – so he let her live. Wolves mated for life. Yet, never during those moon times had she been in heat, so they had never become a true pair. Even so, he often speculated about her identity.

He truly wanted to know her as a human. As a wolf, he could read her emotions with a twitch of an ear, a flip of the tail, a turn of the head. His nose, always his nose, would tell him so much more – but not her daylight identity and not where she lived. Once he thought to give her his name by writing it on a piece of paper and taking it to her. It took all his concentration to force his wolf-self to carry it to their meeting place. She picked it up, dropped it, and left it there in the brush. After all, paper meant nothing to a wolf.

Strongheart had been turned at a very young age. He knew people thought being a werewolf cursed him forever. When he walked under the sun in the form of a young man, he understood that concept. Yet now when the darkness quivered with sound and taste, and more – smells, it wasn’t a curse, it was enlightenment. The ability to separate odors revealed the true difference between a man and a wolf; a man viewed the world through his eyes, while a wolf understood through his nose. Beyond that, the wolf’s freedom from the everyday human life and work served as a balm to his aching spirit.

His mother blamed herself for his change. Years before, he had read the diary she kept in her dresser drawer. She had been born to a poor family of strict values. When she had become pregnant at sixteen by a man who had drifted through her life like a brief summer storm, she refused to give up her child. Her family had turned her out into the world. Alone and without support, she wandered for awhile with him in tow. At last, she found a job as a groom for a farmer who kept draft horses and a few hunters for sport. She worked long hours. In return, the farmer let her have a small cottage as part of her wage. Summers weren’t bad but the trials of winter with the need for fuel and extra clothes were always a hardship.

On the autumn night his mother turned eighteen and was starved for laughter and music, she had bundled him in warm blankets on the bed and left him home alone while she took herself off to the pub down the road for an hour of light-hearted drinking and companionship.

He awoke to find a large furry face with yellow-green eyes peering at him. He remembered how he laughed when a puff of warm breath struck his face. He knew now the werewolf had teetered on the brink of killing him. If he struggled or screamed the wolf would have ripped his throat out. His laughter, on the contrary, must have stirred a paternal response. The werewolf licked his face. Then it nipped him just enough to break the skin…just enough to change his life forever.

“The Bull Race” – Rep. the Columbus Christian Writers Association – Cbus Inv. Arts Competition

This story was chosen by the Columbus Christian Writers Association to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

The Bull Race

I’d rather be fishing or swimming in the water hole right now than here in school. But Miss Beebe ain’t half bad for a teacher, and at least she didn’t laugh at me like my brothers when I said I wanted to be a newspaper man instead of a farmer. Miss Beebe says if I’m going be the next editor at The Banner, then I have to stop telling stories and start writing them. So she said to start a mini Banner right here in this booklet—and to please work on my grammar. Since editors start off with bylines (that’s just your full Christian name), guess I better introduce myself first off. I am Ebenezer Pierson Young. No one can handle that mouthful. One day my little sister blurted out “Ellzy,” and it stuck. Ellzy’s fine with me while I’m a kid, but when I’m editor of The Banner in a few years, I’ll make everyone call by my right and full byline.

My first assignment is to write about a friend. Now, The Banner did run a tiny story on my friend lasting two whole lines, but they didn’t tell it proper.

So say howdy to Seeley Simpkins. Seeley arrived here way back when in 1804, at the age of 9, he says. Came with his pa from Virginia. Right off, the squaws and papooses were tickled pink by the human lute. You see, Seeley can make the noise of anything—varmit, human, or otherwise. Pa says Seeley can out-whistle all creation and could probably convince a wolf to dance if he wanted to. Seeley will start a hoe-down if ya give him a grin’s reward. When there isn’t any trumpet or drum for musters, he’s called and no one knows the difference unless he’s standing in eye-shot range. Why, even Adjutant Stilley, reckoned the best judge of swell music in the country, said Seeley’s something special.

Seeley’s so good he’s called regular to hoe-downs, military get-ups and even races. He was a mite limited though ‘cause he had to go everywhere on foot. But the preacher solved that one Lord’s Day with Numbers 22:21: “And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.” Folks ‘round here quote it a little different: “And Seeley Simpkins went home from meeting, and saddled his bull, and went out whistling.”

You heard right. I said a bull. Normally, this ain’t such a good idea, but Seeley had raised him real gentle and he soon covered Seeley’s route and then some. I first seen him at Norton’s Mill, ‘cause Seeley and Pa get their grain done the same day. Now, Norton’s Mill has a good, flat piece out front. That’s where we usually hold all our races and picnics. It ain’t no high-class track, but we think it’s fine. Anyway, Seeley rides his bull in real slow, and leaves his grain at the mill for grinding, then walks ‘round town whistling and visiting while his bull follows right behind.

Well, sir, Seeley was taking one of his walks when Hugh Neal called out, “Hey, Seeley, your bull’s walking pretty slow! Must be tired. Ain’t he strong enough to carry a grown man more than a mile?”

Now, one of the first rules my Pa taught me was to never make fun of a man’s kinfolk nor his mount. I knew why when I saw Seeley’s face. He stopped so quickly his bull ran into him. Before he could open his mouth, Seeley was plumb lifted and set down a good two to three feet forward. Well, this set everyone to laughing except Seeley. And his bull, of course.

“Winter Break-In” – Rep. Paging Columbus – Cbus Inv. Arts Competition

This story is the grand champion of the 2012 Columbus Invitational Arts Competition!  Complete list of winners.

The story also won the award for Most Creative and Most Depth.

This story was chosen by Paging Columbus to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

Winter Break-in

By Emily Taylor (EmilyTaylor.org)

They were making it work for the winter, because having sunk their savings in the house, they couldn’t afford to stay anywhere else. Melanie put rubber strips along the bottoms of the doors and Garth shot foam insulation into the cold white walls, and the handyman came in to help them bleed the radiators. But on Wednesday night the boiler broke. It was so old that the parts were not made anymore. Now it was camping out cold, tent spread on a bald mountain. This was November, and the wind came in past the gnarled trees through the shuddering front windows. The residual heat left the house, floor by floor. They waited for the new boiler, eschewing space heaters, playing tough, congratulating each other for having the foresight to insulate the pipes.

Melanie and Garth had met on the internet like everybody else. Two divorced people living in apartments on the borders of nicer Brooklyn neighborhoods, children and spouses who had grown and left. When a few years passed, and enough of her things were at his old place, and enough of his were at her old place, Melanie and Garth decided to sell their places and buy a house together nowhere near a good school district. It was something they had both always wanted, to remake something from scratch. Phoenix from the ashes. We are the fixers, it would mean, we have fixed something and built a hearth in it.

A new-old house bought by a new-old couple in a new-old neighborhood in Brooklyn. The sort of neighborhood where houses like these were beginning to be renovated. The sort of neighborhood where owners of houses that were not being renovated had taken to sitting on stoops with broomsticks across their knees. Some of them planted “NOT for sale” signs in the ivy.

On Thursday, Melanie went down to the Goodwill store for wool blankets, searching for the rough ones with the long damp smells of old moss. She knew about those World War II army blankets from her father. He had lain beneath them, hoping that the heat from his own body would not fade in some forsaken winter field in France. Now her father lay under baby-blue cotton in a nursing home, complaining not of the cold, but of the boredom setting in every afternoon. As predictable as the tides.

Melanie and Garth slept Thursday and Friday night under the wool blankets over down comforters – a thick skin over softness. They each wore so many layers that when they undressed to have sex, she thought for a moment that Garth had lost weight. She wondered if he thought the same about her. After sex, and before their breathing evened, they put the bottom layers back on, and then their hats and gloves.

“We should get up,” she said on Saturday morning.

“We should,” he said. They lay there longer. On Saturdays they usually spent the entire day working on the house, instead of going to their jobs and spending a few hours on the house in the twilit evenings. She welcomed the weekends, felt her bones roll more easily in their sockets after a day’s work laying tile than a day’s work cramped behind a desk. Garth’s contracting job had him in his truck, driving to all corners of the city and beyond, and he was just as glad as she was to stay at home together, letting his partner field the phone calls and drive to the sites.

“Affirmations” – Rep. Fiction Flurry – Cbus Inv. Arts Competition

This story was chosen by Fiction Flurry to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

Affirmations

Libby lies flat on the plain white sheet. I have not yet grown accustomed to the steady whoosh and rhythmic ticking of machinery, the ventilator at the end of the bed doing the breathing faithfully for her. My fingers gently dance across the right side of her skull, the tiny new hairs there are scratchy against my palm. Her brown curls have been shaved completely off, but still, it’s quite an improvement over two weeks ago, when they were matted and thick with dried blood.

If she were to see herself now, she would say, “Oh, hell, Glenn, tell me again why you married me?”

I know this because it’s what she says on those mornings when she awakes and I am at home, and she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror over my bureau just across from our bed. Each time she asks, I think to myself because you have a funny, crooked little smile that reminds me of the Mona Lisa; because you are probably the worst cook, but the best pecan pie baker ever; because you love me and I have always known it just from the way you look at me. Yes, these are the things that I think, though now I can’t quite recall, when did I last say them out loud?

My cell rings and I check the caller ID. It’s the office. I know that it’s Martha on the other end. Martha, who’s like a second mother to me and who should have retired years ago, but who I rely upon beyond words. I must take this call – can’t afford to miss this call – so I flip open the phone and Martha connects me with the buyer in Shanghai. Martha has forwarded my presentation on to him. I usually prefer to meet with the client in person, but today, well, today requires special consideration. I dive in with my pitch, one that’s worked quite well for me through the years. It’s this success which allows me to believe that I’ve created quite a secure lifestyle for Libby and myself.

I look up at the clock on the wall opposite me. An hour has passed. It could be any other day of the week. I could be anywhere in the world. But it is not, and I am not. The whoosh and tick remind me, in a quiet, repetitive way that I’m standing in a room, in King’s Cross Hospital, keeping vigil over my wife.

I start to wrap up the call. “Yes, wonderful,” I say, “If you can please just send confirmation of that in writing to Martha, we can have the order ready for you by the end of the month.

“Yes, yes,” I say, “I’m quite sorry to have missed seeing you, too.” I have not told the executives in Shanghai about my wife’s accident, haven’t confided in anyone outside of the family and Martha, for that matter.

After I hang up, I notice I only have two bars left and I’m debating if I have time enough to dash out to our Lexus and get my charger or not. It was a gift, this car, from me to Libby for our anniversary last year. I remember thinking how safe it would keep Libby, protect her for me while I was gone. But this, well this has shattered that illusion completely. Besides, she insisted on driving her old VW Bug.

“It’s like an old friend, Glenn” she had said.

My thoughts are interrupted when a team in white tails barges in. Dr. Nagly reads from a portable computer screen, on it are the medical records that a nurse has pulled up for him.

“William Meets Sally” – Rep. Sisters In Crime Columbus, Ohio (SiCCO) – Cbus Inv. Arts Competition

This story was chosen by Sisters In Crime Columbus, Ohio (SiCCO) to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

William Meets Sally

William Jones was a plodding sort of man, going to his daily assignments, working on other people’s electrical problems, then home to his cold lunch meat sandwiches and CNN on TV every night. Every day was similar; every night the same. He was just treading water, living a life of stifling desperation, awash in a silent misery.

Things changed when he met Sally.

He’d gone to work in a house on the west side of town. The job was extensive; there was a need to rewire the old 1920’s house from basement to attic. John Bellars and his wife Marie told him that they were going away for a month during August and during that time he could have free run of the house with no interruptions. They hoped to have an entirely new electrical system in place when they returned.

“If you want to live in the house while we’re gone and you’re doing the work, feel free,” John told him. “You can use the spare room in the attic. There’s a bed and closet available. Then when you’re through, just keep the key until we’re home, and we’ll get it then.”

“I might do that,” William said, “It’ll save time and gasoline to just stay here.”

“And having someone in the house will give us a sense of security while we’re gone,” John assured him.

William went to his first day on the job feeling a little more optimistic than he usually felt when starting something new. He liked the idea of being able to live in the old house while doing the work. He preferred older houses and enjoyed the unique features of the work done by architects of days gone by. After moving his stuff into the attic room at 7:00 am, William made some coffee and began work in the basement. He’d been engrossed in his job for about an hour when he was startled by a voice behind him asking a question.

“Hi, Mister. Have you had your breakfast yet?”

Looking behind him, William saw a little girl of about seven years, who was holding a toasted egg sandwich in front of her; she appeared to be offering it to him.

“No,” he said, “I don’t eat breakfast.”

“My mom says that breakfast is very important. No day will go right without it. Here, take this, I made it for you.”

Not wanting to offend the child, William took the sandwich, muttering a thank you to her. She must have wandered in through a door he’d left unlocked. As soon as she went away, he’d make sure all the doors were locked so that wouldn’t happen again.

“Do you live near here?” he asked as he took a bite out of the sandwich. “This is very good,” he added in astonishment after the first bite.

“I live right here,” the girl said.

William thought, surely that can’t be true. As far as he knew, John and Marie Bellars had no children. They were in their fifties and this little girl was only around seven or eight years old. If she was their daughter she must have been a change of life baby.

“Who are your parents?” he asked

“My dad’s called John and my mother’s called Marie,” the girl said.

“What’s your last name?”

“Bellars.”

“Leaving the Nest: Obnoxious Meets Nice” – Rep. Ohio Writers’ Guild – Cbus Inv. Arts Competition

This story was chosen by the Ohio Writers’ Guild to represent their organization in the Columbus Invitational Arts Competition.

Leaving the Nest
Obnoxious Meets Nice

“This soup doesn’t taste good”. Terry slammed down his spoon. “Why did you make cabbage soup, Mom?” He got up from the table “You know I don’t like cabbage.” Mary Lynn’s adult son kicked back his chair, walked over to the sink and dumped his soup.

Mary Lynn’s face crumpled. He always liked my soup before he came home, she thought. He hasn’t looked for a job. He says he feels safe here with me. Mary Lynn tried to smile as she continued to eat her soup.

Terry went to the refrigerator and pulled out left-over meatloaf. “Why didn’t you serve this?” he grumbled as he threw the pan on the counter, got out bread and made two sandwiches.

Mary Lynn sighed. Meatloaf was to be tonight’s dinner, she thought. I have no more meat. He gets some money from the government, but he says it’s not much. If he would only contribute something to the household budget, it would help with groceries. He eats like a horse. I used to be proud of his size when he played football in high school. Now he just looks like a slob. Of course, I wouldn’t tell him. He’s served his country. I’m proud of my son.

Terry ate all of the meatloaf, downed a Coke and a bag of chips, burped loudly and shuffled out of the room.

The phone rang. Mary Lynn answered. “Hi, Mom, what’s that good for nothing brother of mine doing today? Has he swept the leaves from the roof yet?
Did he replace the overhead light bulb? Has he fixed the loose towel bar?”

Mary Lynn shook her head as if her daughter could see her. “No, but he will,” she said.

“I’m telling you, Mom, you need to kick him out right now,” Jessie said. “… before he becomes so entrenched that he can’t leave.”

“Where would he go? He doesn’t have a job.”

“Send him to a temp agency. Insist he get some type of job and move out.”

Mary Lynn switched the receiver to the other ear. “That’s easier said than done, dear.”

“He’s taking advantage of your retirement, Mom. You need time to do your own thing, not baby sit him. He’s still healthy, just lazy.”

Mary Lynn winced at that statement. If nothing else, she raised her children to be responsible. Terry was responsible, before he came back from Iraq. Now he said he was “readjusting”. His sister called it “mooching”.

“Don’t be too hard on him,” his mother said. “It takes time to readjust.”

“Well, he’s taken his time.” His sister added. “Tell him I’ll be over tomorrow at eight to take him for a job fair I just saw advertised on TV.”

“I don’t know about that. Are you sure it will work?” their mother said.

Columbus Invitational Arts Literature Competitors Announced

Eight Columbus writing groups will be participating in the 2012 Columbus Invitational Arts Literature Competition.

The following groups will be competing to become the 2012 Literature Division Champion:

Columbus Christian Writers Association
Fiction Flurry
The Franklinton Writers Group
Novels in Progress
Ohio Writers’ Guild
Paging Columbus
Sisters in Crime of Columbus, Ohio (SICCO)
Writers’ Ink

Congratulations to the groups that have been selected to compete!  Stay tuned to read their work and cast your votes (beginning circa August 15)!