Of course, I had to pick one story as winner-- so congratulations, Abigail, you won the top place for my very first writing contest! ;) I posted the story below, but you can find all the other entries (and my own story) here in this PDF file! :)
Winning Story: By A. Petersen
The children were screaming again. Kevin Williams could hear them. He always could. But this time they were getting louder…louder…they wouldn’t stop.
No…no…NO! He sucked in a breath and opened his eyes, breathing hard. He was still in a jail cell, a cold, lonely jail cell. His breath still came fast. He placed his hands on his knees and tried to remember to breathe.
Finally the calm was reaching his soul. He needed a drink. Surely that would take the pain away. It had been three days…or was it three weeks? He couldn’t remember. All he could remember was the screams, metal bending, loud screeches of tires grinding to a halt. His legs curled beneath him as his head hit his pillow, and he knew no more.
Aimee Wright watched as they lowered the casket into the ground, the casket that held her little sister, the little sister whose delighted giggle she would never hear again, the little sister who would never again annoy Aimee with her constant jabbering or whiny pleas. The thought sent a sob to her throat. The preacher was still speaking, but she couldn’t pay attention, couldn’t concentrate.
Why hadn’t God protected her little sister? And why did it have to be her? The drunk should pay for what he had done to her family. And he would; Aimee would make sure of that.
The funeral was finished and Aimee sat cross-legged on her bed, making tiny designs in the bedspread with her finger. Her Bible lay beside her where she had laid it when she got home. She reached over, running her thumb along the browned pages and thinking about the past week. Never once had she opened this book. A wave of guilt slammed into her. She had tried to convince herself she was just busy with the funeral, but maybe the real reason was that she was mad at God. Was it possible? She had always fancied herself as being close to God, but maybe she wasn’t at all. She ran her fingers along the old cover, remembering the long talks she used to have with God. She knew the real reason she was avoiding Him. It was because of her bitterness, bitterness against Him for letting the accident happen at all, bitterness against the drunk who lost control, slamming into the minivan carrying her sister and her friends that fateful Saturday night, the man who was left completely whole and unharmed, while her sister’s life had been cut short when she still had so much of it to live.
“Why, God?” she asked, for what felt like the trillionth time that day. She heard no audible answer, but somewhere from the deepest parts of her soul, she felt a barely detectable whisper. She glanced down at the book in her lap. Did God want her to read? Was he going to show her something? She fingered the pages again, then closed her eyes as she inserted her thumb among them.
Okay, God. Show me…please. I’m listening.
The Bible fell open on her lap, and she opened her eyes. The passage was 1 Peter 2. She ran her eyes down the page, and they fell on verse 21.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Follow his steps? Jesus had suffered much for her; she had known that since she was five. But had she ever really suffered for him? She glanced back down, and as she did, her eyes came to verse 22:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
How many times had she thought wicked things against her “persecutor”—the drunk who had murdered her sister? She gulped and continued reading.
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
As she read on, it talked of the suffering Jesus had endured on the cross for her. What she went through was small compared to that. If God was asking her to forgive Kevin Williams, then she could try, but only with God’s help. She jumped up and ran down the hall to the kitchen where her mother was sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee. Aimee leaned in the doorway and grinned—her first smile in a long time.
“Mom…I have an idea.”
“Williams, you have a visitor.”
Kevin groaned and sat up in bed. A visitor? Who could that be? No one cared about him. At that moment, a young girl—maybe fourteen or fifteen—stepped up to the bars. She held a book in her hand.
“Hi. My name is Aimee Wright…Sara’s big sister.”
His jaw dropped. This was her? The older sister of the little girl he had killed in a drunken stupor? What was she doing here? She looked extremely uncomfortable, but she held out to him the book she had been carrying. Not until he got it in his lap did he realize it was a Bible. Tears pricked his eyes, but he didn’t have time to cry; she was talking again.
“I don’t have much time, but I just wanted you to know that…” she hesitated, “that I forgive you.”
And with that she was gone.
She had done it. She had done the hardest thing she had ever done—forgiven her sister’s killer and shown Kevin Williams the love of Christ that he didn’t deserve—that she didn’t deserve. As she pushed open the door of the lobby leading out of the county jail, Aimee silently praised God for giving her the strength and courage to show the love of Christ to the young man. Maybe he would read the Bible—her Bible—and maybe one day he would come to Christ and know the love she now understood just a little bit better—the love that truly conquers all things.
Wasn't that wonderful? You did such a good job, Abigail! So now you all have to view the other stories-- everyone did a great job with the theme! (Except for me, lol. Mine was written rather lazily and is a bit silly. But oh well! haha) Also guys, I have to confess something... I actually am 145 words over the 1k I had put in the rules. Shocker, I know. I totally forgot about having that rule till I was writing this blog post up. Please extend some grace to me.... ;D
Book Club... So hey, y'all, what did you end up reading for your Book Club novel this month? The theme was: A strong love, but not romantic. How did you do? I read one novel thinking maybe it would fit in the category for me, but ended up deciding against it. So I chose Little Britches, Book One, which was actually one I had already read a long time ago when I was little. I loved the closeness between the main character Ralph and his father, but I also was pretty fond of the relationship between Ralph and his older sister Grace. I thought that though the sibling-love was pretty subtle and it never came out and said "I love my big sis" haha, you could tell they really cared about each other and were close. So how about you all? What book did you end up reading for February's theme?
Monthly Wrap-Up. sigh... I still haven't decided how I feel about this February. I think it was good. But yeah. Those goals. What did I say about sharing goals so you could see how bad I fail??
Writing: I had a goal of finishing The Needlemaker. I wasn't sure if that would be 20k or 40k or what. Let's just get this out in the open... I won't try to hide my failures. :P I only wrote 8,339 in that novel. Less than 10k! Ahhh so annoying. And no, it's not finished. I have made progress though at least, and I've got to say I'm pretty happy with the chapters I did write. They were pretty draining on me as an author (my poor characters!!) and I had the attack of the feels way more than is totally necessary. Which of course got in the way of writing. And then if it wasn't me sitting there thinking how full of emotions I was, it was me sitting there listening to my novel's playlist and conducting invisible orchestras. Pro writer me. *snorts*
Reading: My goal was 10 books. ahahahaha. Well I actually had a brain lapse, thought I had read a certain amount of books and only had to finish the two I was in the middle of that day to hit my goal. Yesterday. Turns out somewhere along the line I had miscalculated (trust me it's easy for me to do haha) and I was short one book. There wasn't any time left either, so I ended this month with 9 books. And yes, some of them were extremely short. (details details). They were:
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell -- 5 stars
The Treasure Hunt by Kate Willis -- 4 stars
War Room Strategies by Michelle Stimpson -- 4 stars
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -- 5 stars
The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea Cobb -- 3.5 stars
The Locked Cupboard by Amy LeFeuvre -- 4 stars
Hartly Manor by Amanda Tero -- 5 stars
The Prince and Betty by P.G. Wodehouse -- 4 stars
Little Britches (Book One) by Ralph Moody -- 4 stars
So yes. I thought (somehow) that I had 10 but nope. However, that said, I'm not too upset about how much I read. It's not too shabby, and at least I almost made my goal. By the way, if you want to read my reviews on these books, be sure to follow me on Goodreads! I was glad however that I made time to read-- I love love love reading but the busier I get with writing, blogging, and all the business aspects of stuff (not to mention life) the less I actually sit down to read, and it definitely comes in sporadic waves of how much I read. So it was nice getting back into the habit of reading at least a little bit daily.
Other Goals: Well, the 30 Amazon reviews for Jonas and Olivia wasn't really something I could do myself, and to be honest, I didn't do a lot of work towards trying to get folks to review it this month either, so shame on me. But I did get one more review this month. Not much, but let's be thankful, right! :)
My other goal was to get all the blog posts tagged properly for the new side-bar categories. And yes, I did do that early in this month so hooray!! :D
So this is a little questionnaire I made up for my Goodreads Book Club group (if you're not on there, what are you waiting for? lol) And I thought that it might be fun if I did it in my monthly wrap-up for you all! :D
1. What was the last book that made you cry?
I wanted to cry at the end of Little Britches but I was out in my dining room and I didn't want to scare the family. lol.
2. What was the last book that made you laugh?
Oh, The Prince and Betty for sure! :D
3. What was the last book you read in public?
I guess that would be Pride and Prejudice.
4. Where were you when you read your last book in public?
A cafe. (Same answers as a few weeks ago... yeah I haven't been reading out and about lately).
5. What was the last book that made you fall in love with a character?
Little Britches. Or Cranford. Or Pride and Prejudice. I love so many characters so easily lol!
6. Continuing with Q5, who was that character?
Father and his older sister Grace. Cranford = Captain Brown. Pride and Prejudice = Mr. Darcy, of course. And Elizabeth, Jane, Mr. Bingley, and Elizabeth's aunt Mrs. Gardiner! (Yay for Elizabeth's aunt, amiright?)
7. What was the last book you put in your TBR? (Goodreads or not)
Um... *checking* Strawberry Acres by Grace S. Richmond.
8. What was the last book you gave a review for?
The Prince and Betty, I think.
9. What was the last book by an indie author that you've read?
Little story Hartly Manor by Amanda Tero! :) (Go read it. It's so cute. so cute. And supporting indie authors is always great. ;))
10. What book are you really excited about reading next?
I really want to read Persuasion. Gotta finish Sense and Sensibility first though. But my TBR pile is kind of out of control, so there's lots I'm excited about. ;)
And some more randomness, once again in nice bullet points:
- How on earth we writers are supposed to go through some much emotional trauma (writing + reading) and still be a normal person is a mystery to me. If anyone knows, tell me in the comments. I'm just going to say writers were never meant to be normal, haha.
- Tiny bit from my writing this month: Kit remembered every moment he had clung to his honour. What a frail thing honour was when placed before court. What a frail thing it would be before God. There was nothing in Kit's life-- nothing-- that could be pleasing before the Creator of the Universe. Goodness...nobleness. It seemed so mediocre now. There were a great many men who carried goodness inside of them and not God. What difference did it make in Kit whether he was good or not? It wouldn't save him now. Yeah... let's just say these past few chapters have been so painful to write because I feel so bad for my characters. I'm sorry, Kit & Nan and everybody going through horrible things in my book, I really am....
- You know that moment when you're super excited about writing and you are so gung-ho about your book but you just can't find the motivation to sit down and write it all down? Yeah, that's been happening a lot with me lately. Too bad I couldn't just think the book into existence haha.
Ok so that's the scoop!
Question of the Day: Did you complete your goals this month? What books have you been reading recently? Are you a cry-er with books or dry-eyed? (If you want to know, I'm usually pretty dry eyed, except for some misty eyes sometimes. True crying over stories is super rare).
Oh, and hey! If you enjoyed the writing contest, or reading the stories, or just the blog in general, be awesome and share the link with your friends and family! ;) It's super easy to do, and you know the saying-- the more, the merrier! :D
Have a lovely day!
P.S. if you liked this post, you'll enjoy these! Check 'em out! :)
Top Books I read Ages 9-13
Pep Talk: Pushing Through the Mid-Way Blues
Sneak Peek at My NaNoWriMo Novel (The Needlemaker)