The voting ended and the results are in . . . but, before I present the winner — if you haven’t yet done so and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS POST for context. Otherwise, dear reader, skip this post as the awards will be meaningless to you. Well, OK, they’re probably only of importance to the writers. Still, award-winning fiction is (maybe) worth reading.

The results below are based on 19 votes (out of 121 total views). I had warned the writers who contributed their stories that my 1,500 followers are mostly no-show and fewer than 1% engage with the blog.

I was encouraged by the nearly double the number of votes of the first challenge, but discouraged by the drop in participation. The first challenge had fewer views but higher participation in voting (20%). This challenge had more than twice the views but only 16% participation. What do it mean? I don’t know.

So, what are the results?

This post contains three Christmas short stories. Two are from twin brothers and one is from me but they are presented anonymously so as to not bias the readers. Sorry it’s up so late; it was supposed to go live at noon but stuff intervened.

As you might remember, we did this once before and we’re repeating the challenge. This time, with a Christmas theme.

Please encourage friends to read and vote (share the link to this post). Also, if you happen to recognize which story belongs to which writer, try with all your might to vote on merit only. We’re trying to avoid making this a popularity contest (says the guy who’s not very popular).

Whereas before we had a word limit, this is a bit less structured because . . . well, there’s no other way to say it; some people can’t follow rules.

What we ended up with is a short story/poem, a medium story, and a longer story.

By the way, I’ve had an earworm for a few days now and I hope if I can pass it on to my readers, it will finally leave me alone. So, here goes . . .

This post is about the three writers (Perry, Gary, and me) providing critiques both for the stories of the other writers and their own submission.

If you haven’t read the stories, this won’t make much sense and since we only had ten votes, there are mighty few who will find this post of interest (if any).

I’ll start by saying none of us are professionals. Gary has a literary degree but what he provided is more along the line of notes than critique. Perry is still swimming in the pool of his glory, and I hold little expertise other than knowing what I like.

There’s another elephant in the room . . . we aren’t the readers who voted on the stories. We don’t know why they liked one story over the other. That’s who we should be asking, but even then, people reach opinions at a subconscious level and when asked, they retrofit reasons to justify their decisions.

Instead, you’ll get us, writers, saying why we like our story over the others. Oh, yeah, and throw something out about each other’s stories.

The voting ended and the results are in . . . but, before I present the winner, if you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS POST for context. Otherwise, dear reader, skip this post as the awards will be meaningless to you.

These results below are based on 10 votes (out of 50 views). I had warned the writers who contributed their stories that my 1,500 followers are mostly no-show and fewer than 1% engage with the blog.

Still, it was a better turnout (both in views and in voting) than any of my writing efforts alone.

So, how did it go?

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS POST and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you’re associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

This is the last appeal, I promise, and here we go with more of my old photos reprocessed with Topaz Sharpen AI, Adjust AI, and Skylum Aurora HDR 2019.

This next photo was an interesting sight to behold . . . these Texas Longhorns were being unloaded from a carrier and released onto a grazing field. I missed capturing the part where they ran through the gate and dispersed onto the field; they seem happy to fatten up for the sake of future hamburgers. 

This guy kept circling above them, probably hoping for one of them to suffer a heart attack or accidentally — and fatally — stab a companion with them long and deadly looking horns . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

I’m sounding like a one-trick pony . . .

But with less hair and no tail.

The thing is, I got to looking at my old photos and got hooked on reprocessing them with Topaz Sharpen AI, Adjust AI, and Skylum Aurora HDR 2019. So, here are a few more . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

And that’s enough of that . . .

The following photos are the rest of the photos I had processed a few days ago. I posted the first set yesterday. Some of these photos show different poses of the same subjects . . .

And some are new subjects . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are professionally associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge for our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

And that’s enough of that . . .

I’ve got this itch, you see . . . no, nothing medical. I have lots of pretty good photos (my opinion and not necessarily shared by the public) going back to 2002, when I purchased my first digital camera, the Nikon D100.

I’ve recently mentioned processing tools have exponentially improved since then and that has me looking back at photos I like but were marred by bad lighting, limited equipment, user error, and limited operator skills. Many of these I’ve already published here or on Smugmug, but always with the disclaimer and apology for the poor quality.

Well, I’m going back and revisiting some of these and processing them in Topaz Sharpen AI, Topaz Adjust AI, Skylum Luminar 4, and Skylum Aurora HDR.

For instance, this cardinal was photographed through a double-pane plate window at my Franklin (Michigan) home . . .

Prior versions have always been “soft” and somewhat unsatisfactory to my critical eye.

Twenty-three visitors viewed the 1500 words challenge post but only two voted. I mean, I get it; it was a holiday. An eating holiday, at that. In retrospect, that wasn’t what one might call good timing. Same for today; people immersed in a spending frenzy aren’t likely to spend their break reading stories and pondering on the relative merits of the narratives before casting a vote.

Still, them Readers Awards won’t mean much if there are no actual readers voting. So, if you can muster the physical and mental energy for it, please read the short stories and cast your vote before noon, December 4th. 

At 1,500 words, reading each story should take no more than seven minutes to read and I realize that’s a huge time commitment in these days of near-instant gratification.

And that’s enough of that . . .

Today’s post is about an old hawk. Not age-wise old; photo old, as in 2012. This was a rare capture for me; a hawk who dropped from above onto a random spot in the snow. I missed the actual moment, but I have the aftermath . . .

*** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING ***

The stories below contain subjects and scenes and stuff that might not be suitable for all age groups or sensitivities. Proceed at your own risk.

*** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING ***

For them who don’t read (or pay attention to what I write), this post contains three short stories of approximately 1500 words each. Two are from two twin brothers and one is from me but they are presented anonymously so as to not bias the readers.

Speaking of readers, I’m asking readers to read the three stories and vote for your favorite. I’m trying to get an actual judge to make the call as to best story but I plan a Reader’s Choice award and that’s where you, the readers come in. There will be a survey at the end of the post.

Edited to Add: please encourage friends to read and vote (share the link to this post). Also, if you happen to recognize which story belongs to which writer, try with all your might to vote on merit only. We’re trying to avoid making this a popularity contest (says the guy who’s not very popular).

So, here’s the set-up . . . one of the challenge participants is a teacher and he asked his 8th-grade class to come up with a few ending paragraphs or sentences for a story. We, the writers can choose any of the ending sentences and come up with a story getting us there. Whichever we choose — we can choose any we like — it must be the last words of the story.

So, here’s what the kids came up with: