Close – but no cigar!

The winner of the Best short story competition (which I told you about earlier in the year – here), has been announced.

It’s Brenda Reid with her story ‘Everything Included’, which is printed in this week’s bumper issue of Best magazine (22nd Dec).

They had over 800 entries. And guess who was runner-up? Little old me!

Brenda wins £1000 for coming first (Congratulations, Brenda – just in case you happen to see this!).

And what do I get? Nada, zilch, nichts, nothing! Ah, well. I get the ‘glory’, I suppose. And my story, ‘Green’, is also printed in that issue (page 86, if you’re just having a flick through, standing in the newsagents!).

I’m not sure though, whether coming second is actually worse than coming fifth or sixth (or not actually knowing you were ever that close), as I just keep looking at my empty bank balance and thinking about that £1000 that I almost won…!

I’m having an ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ moment. I’ve been placed in several writing competitions but I don’t think I’ve ever actually won one. Maybe that will all change in 2012?!

On a more positive note, I was very pleasantly surprised when I got the call from Best’s editor last week, not least because ‘Green’, my story is an old one, written several years ago and I really didn’t think it was Best’s cup of tea. BUT I sent it anyway, because I’d collected all the tokens and it was just about the only half-decent 1000-word story I had, which had never managed to find a ‘home’.

I also only posted my entry on the day before the competition closing date (I know – all the things I tell you not to do!), so I was half-expecting that it would have been disqualified for arriving too late.

I suppose the moral of the story is this: particularly when it comes to competitions, you never quite know what the judges will be looking for and sometimes that can work in your favour. So give it a go! Unless the entry fee is extortionate and you’ve written the story in five minutes (and therefore it’s not likely to be your best work), then what have you got to lose?

And if you do happen to read my story, ‘Green’ and wondered where I got the idea from, well, as far as I can remember, I decided to brainstorm a colour and see what I came up with. I chose green because it’s my favourite colour and it lead to that story. You could try doing something similar for red, blue, yellow, purple (other colours are available!). It’s amazing how many associations colours have, when you start thinking about it.

Right, now to get those Christmas cards written….

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34 Responses to Close – but no cigar!

  1. Julia says:

    Congratulations! Just a pity they didn’t give the winner slightly less, so you coud have had a little something.

  2. Congratulations on coming second – out of over 800 entries that’s really impressive. Shame you don’t get any cash though.

  3. Bill Chance says:

    Congratulations! I know the money sounds fantastic – but seeing your work in print will be a bigger reward in the long run.

  4. Tracy Fells says:

    Wow that’s brilliant news! Shame about 2nd prize not getting any dosh – some competitions are a little odd in this, but the end result is publication in a BIG magazine so celebrate that and tell everyone! Remember your story was picked 2nd out of 800 and that doesn’t happen every day.

  5. Keith Havers says:

    Congratulations, Helen.
    From one very jealous old man.

  6. That must be so frustrating to come second and get nothing. It seems to be more common with short story comps that the winner ‘gets it all’ and runners up get zilch (I’ve noticed that poetry comps seem to be more positive towards awarding merit prizes). They could at least give you a free subscription or something…

    Does this mean you wont be able to use the story for anything else?

    • Yes, now that it’s published, I can’t use the story for anything else (unless a magazine overseas wanted to use it – they do sometimes take stories that have already been published in the UK).
      I think, to be fair to Best, they didn’t actually say there was ever going to be a ‘runner-up’, so I suppose I should be lucky to at least get some recognition. If they’d stuck to just a winner, and nothing else, I’d never have known I was placed second. Presumably, there’s a third-placed person out there (and shortlisted writers) too – who’ll never know!

  7. Prue says:

    Congratulations for getting into print – that’s something. At least, it is when you’re like me and it doesn’t happen very often.
    Pity about that 1000 pounds. It’s a goodly sum.
    Don’t be too blue about it 😉

    • Prue – thanks for your congratulations. No, I’m fine about it. Not the end of the world, is it? The editor of Best did say to me that, if they reinstate their fiction (which, she said, they might do, on the back of the success of this competition), then there might be opportunities for me to be published with them ‘again’ (for money this time!!). So that’s something to keep me going.

  8. Sian says:

    Really like the story Helen! Brought the mag today and spotted it!! Well done!!

  9. Congratulations Helen, I would be over the moon if I was you. You could frame the story, and know that you were 2nd out of 800 is actually amazing! Well done.

  10. Congrats Helen – You’ve done really well considering all the entries. You go girl! Though I do understand missing out on the first prize by one place would be a bit of a bummer, but nonetheless.. how good are you! It was interesting to read about the story you entered, thanks for sharing that – very inspiring. x

  11. An absolutely fantastic achievement, Helen. It’s good exposure for you and something to add to your writing cv. Shame about the money- but take a moment to bask in the glory that us mere mortals can only dream about!

    • oooh *blushes*!! Thank you! My Mum read the story tonight (she has to, of course – it’s part of the job spec!) and she was really gushing about it! (She always says she likes the stories, of course, but this one seemed to strike a chord!). It really made her laugh, she said – bless her! If only our Mums could be the judges of competitions we enter – we’d win every time!

  12. Alice says:

    Congratulations 🙂 2nd out of 800+ is phenomenal!!

  13. Jenny Francis says:

    congratulations anyway. It`s a shame they did not give you something for a prize. Even ayears subscrition would have been nice. I was one of the 798 also rans. I thought they would have had more than 800 entry`s though. Will look forward to reading your story . I quite like Best as a magazine.

  14. womagwriter says:


    If Best reinstate fiction permanently you can put on your covering letter that you came second in their comp and maybe they’ll bump your stories to the top of the pile…

  15. Maggie May says:

    Coming second is brilliant news, and so much better than coming third, when you wouldn’t have even known about it. Well deserved.

  16. Keith Havers says:

    Just got Best today and read ‘Green’. It seems to me your story may have fitted several magazines’ criteria. I can’t remember the exact terms of the competition but maybe it’s still elligible to try at That’s Life! (Australia).

  17. Kath says:

    Loved your story, Helen. Well done! Just the type of quirky read I like. Best wishes kath

    • Thanks Kath! It is a bit quirky, isn’t it? I really didn’t think it would be Best’s type of thing – which just goes to show what I know!! Only entered it because I didn’t want to waste the tokens I’d collected.

  18. Suzanne says:

    Very well done, Helen. Second out of more than 800 is a huge achievement.


  19. Karen says:

    Congratulations Helen, I enjoyed reading your story 🙂

    Is it worth asking whether you’ll receive the normal publication fee for it? Seems wrong that you get nothing at all.

  20. Kath says:

    Hi Helen – have you – or anyone else – seen a copy of this weeks Best Magazine? In all our stores here in the North West there is only last weeks issue with your story which as I’ve said I enjoyed very much – very quirky.

    Best wishes Kath

    • Kathy – No, I’ve only seen the issue with Colleen on the front (the one with my story in). But there is another issue (out today?). I checked the Best Facebook page and it said “Just because we like you all so much, we’ve snuck in another issue of Best before Christmas. Enjoy and we wish all our fans a very Merry Christmas xx”. I hope you manage to find it in the shops tomorrow!


  21. Kath says:

    Thanks, Helen. I’ll look out for it. Hope you get a positive outcome to your query regarding your story, Green. Well done and all the very best for Christmas and the New Year.

    Good wishes, Kath

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