Monday, April 12, 2010

Winners of hte Visual Arts Junction "Bedtime Story" Writer's Contest

Winners of the Visual Arts Junction “Bedtime Story” Writer’s Contest
By Aggie Villanueva

Bedtime Story by Aggie Villanueva

We have two wonderful winning entries for you.

Salvatore Buttaci won the Professional Category with Donny’s Friend.

Lubna Kably won the Amateur Category with Paint my Dreams.
The Wining Writers Receive all These Great Prizes

* You will be interviewed by Nanci Arvizu on her live internet radio show Page Readers. Please contact Nanci to set up your date through the Send Message link on her show page.
* The paperbook mystery, The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, by New Mexico’s premier author Michael Orenduff. The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras recently won the Eppie Award as the Mystery eBook of the Year. Michael even has the Governor of NM commenting on his Pot Thief murder mystery series. This Prize available worldwide. The book will be shipped where ever the winner lives. Please email the author to give him your shipping details.
* A downloadable version of Aggie Villanueva’s critically acclaimed Biblical novel, Rightfully Mine. Aggie will email you the code for the free download, available in 10 formats for viewing on almost any e-reader.
* One 8X10 print of the photo art that inspired contest winner on Kodak Professional Endura Supra Matte, Bedtime Story by Aggie Villanueva, known as the Grandma Moses of the American Southwest and respresented in Gallery across the nation, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. (shipped within the USA only.) Please email Aggie with your shipping address.
* The winner gains double exposure on Aggie Villanueva’s two sites, and a post on the blogs of our prestigious panel of judges. Plus, and this is a huge plus, every one of our contest supporters (and this list is constantly growing. (See below) will also post your winning entry. See our sponsor list below. You’ll be read by thousands.
* Winners receive two comments from each judge, what they like about your entry, and what could be improved. Please see the fine print at the bottom of this post.

Professional Category: Donny’s Friend by Salvatore Buttaci

Salvatore Butacci

If Donny could’ve somehow unraveled the wires in his brain so that thinking came easily, he would have eventually forgiven them.

All those barren years they had prayed for a child, until finally in disgust Donny’s father had decided, “No more prayers. What’s meant to be will be. No more knocking at Heaven’s door.” If Donny could have, he would have taken pity on the two of them: his proud, exasperated father and his brokenhearted mother.

“Keep this up, Tina, and I’ll get on the horn and call the ones in the long white coats and let them haul your skinny ass out of here!” Then, realizing his cruelty, waved his hand as if to erase the threat, and said, “I’m sorry, Tina, but you’ve got to pull your pretty self together. No kid? Okay, we live with it. We still have you and me, right?”

And Tina smiled at Milt, but they both knew it was insincere.

Autism. Donny at three. The pediatrician explaining how it wasn’t the end of the world, but the diagnosis fell on Donny’s parents like a ton of lost dreams.

Donny sat still on the white table. When Tina walked over to the table and affectionately squeezed him, he did not react. His brown eyes scanned the room, jumping from the desk to the ceiling to the doctor to his parents to the white walls hardly visible behind the twenty or so framed degrees and awards that told the story of Dr. Peterson’s career. What those eyes saw never made it back to Donny’s tangled-up brain.

Dr. Peterson explained autism to them, but neither was listening. All those years waiting. Then this. It wasn’t fair. But what was even less fair came later. Milt and Tina gave Donny hardly any attention. He could not speak except for grunting whatever he was feeling but could not communicate. It especially unnerved his father while his mother would try to speak over those sounds till it got so that Milt did more and more overtime at work, not for extra money but for some quiet peace.

Most of Donny’s grunts were responses to the stuffed bunny Donny’s Aunt Meg had brought him, the one that suddenly one day had come to life. “A troll in the woods knew some magic, so I asked him to change my cotton stuffings to flesh and organs, let blood run through my veins. You know, be alive! And that little man made me real.”

Bunny paused and said, “Hey, care to be my friend?” Donny grunted, then held the white bunny against his chest, and grunted some more. “Yeah, kid, I know what you mean. Humans ain’t big on listening. Things turn sour, they give up. But you and me, we got each other now.”

Without knowing why his eyes were filling up with wetness, Donny brushed the beads away and grunted. “Oh, that?” said his only friend. “They call them ‘tears.’ It just means you’re one happy little boy!”

Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer who plies his craft everyday. His work has appeared widely. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award. His collection of 164 short-fiction stories, Flashing My Shorts, is available from All That Matters Press or from He lives with his wife, Sharon, in West Virginia.

NOTE FROM SALVATORE: Aggie, the good news of my contest win comes on the same day I will be taping an interview on our local NBC-TV station to run this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. here in southern West Virginia. The show is called “In Focus” and I will get the opportunity to speak about my writings, especially about my new book Flashing My Shorts.

Judge Lillie Ammann
What I like about your entry: The ending is a great twist and evokes emotion.

What could be improved: The first part of the story might be improved by changing some passive sentences to active.

Judge Aggie Villanueva
What I like about your entry: Excellent opening line. I enjoyed how Donny’s life parralelled that of The Velveteen Rabbit story. Loved your twist of clich├ęs, to bring back reader attention, such as: fell on Donny’s parents like a ton of lost dreams.

What could be improved: Could eliminate the paragraph of Donny sitting on the doctors table looking around, in order to use those words to go more into Donny’s salvation: the velveteen rabbit.

Judge Cindy Bauer
What I like about your entry: I really liked how the stuffed animal was able to capture the attention of the boy with autism, though nothing else could reach him. It shows that while the disease is usually dibilitating, the cause and treatments are still left with much to discover as it shows the brain does function in some degree at a somewhat normal capacity and that perhaps, if explored more, each particular case could be treated focusing on the particulars that seem to reach out and touch that particular child, thus opening many new doors for both the child and the parents.

What could be improved: I was confused about the conversation the stuffed animal was having with the young boy. Was the animal speaking to him when no one else was around or was it within the realm of the boy’s mind, showing potential for imagination. I would’ve liked to have seen a different approach to that segment of the story so the reader is clear.

Judge Nanci Arvizu
What I like about your entry: I’m a big fan of stories that are similar to the classics, but instead take us down a different path. This is similar to the story of The Velveteen Rabbit (although it’s been awhile since I’ve read it), yet with its modern tale with autism.

What could be improved: Add in a little more about Donny and his new friends relationship
Amateur Category: Paint my Dreams by Lubna Kably

Lubna Kably

Ann’s eyes sparkled when she saw this book lying on a corner table in the attic. What was next to it? It looked like a magic lamp. A few other interesting bric-a-bracs lay scattered around.

Ann inched closer towards the table. Her grandmother had recently expired and she had accompanied her mother to this rambling old house. The assets were to be divided and the house sold.

She could hear Uncle Neil and Mama arguing again. Ignoring the shrill voices emanating from the living room downstairs, she looked closely at the book cover. “The Velveteen Rabbit”, it read. Ann always wanted a pet rabbit, but they lived in a tiny cramped flat in a crowded city. A rabbit will not be happy in a tiny cage, her mother had patiently explained, over and over again. Yet, whenever she passed a pet shop, Ann could not help halting, even if, to just peer through the windows.

Ann dusted the book and opened it. The childish scrawl on the front page was faint with age, perhaps it said: Hazel. “Oh, this is Granny’s book”, said Ann to no one in particular. Hugging the book tightly to her chest, she ran downstairs. “Mama, Mama, I want to keep this book”, she pleaded. Uncle Neil roughly pulled the book from her, flipped open the pages, said it was a worthless piece of junk and that she could have it. Mama had smiled and told her to run out and play.

Back home, tucked in bed, Ann began to read the book. It was about a toy rabbit who wanted to be a real rabbit and whose wish came true. “I wish my wish would come true, Mama”, she said, as her mother kissed her goodnight and switched off the lights.

Ann was lonely. Her mother caught up in her work and household chores was never around. She used to meet her father over weekends, but now he had moved away to another city. Phone calls from him were getting less frequent. A silent tear rolled down Ann’s cheek as she fell asleep.

The days rolled on, the book lay on a shelf, quite forgotten. Till one day, Mama told her that they were moving to a large house in the suburbs. Some art which Granny had in her house had fetched a good price. Ann didn’t then know what art was, she didn’t care. She was so excited about the move.

She remembered that she had rubbed hard on the magic lamp in the attic and had made a wish – for a fluffy white rabbit. Her pet rabbit – Velveteen and she would now play in the front yard of their new home.

Today, twenty odd years later, as a struggling artist, holding a temporary part time job to make ends meet, Ann looks back on the day she walked into the dusty attic. She knows there is no place for pessimistic disbelief in her life.

“You need to tread on the path of wonder, joy and trust and you don’t need a magic lamp to achieve your dreams”, she tells her friends. She knows that someday soon she will be a success and she heads back to her tiny studio to paint her dreams.

Lubna Kably is based in the busy city of Mumbai, India. While she is a number cruncher by profession, she loves writing – especially travelogues which appear occasionally on various portals. One of her submissions was accepted by Traveler’s Tales in their compilation of funny gut-busting misadventures: The Thong Also Rises. She is currently experimenting with Haiku and this is her first attempt at writing something unrelated to travel or taxes.

Judge Lillie Ammann
What I like about your entry: Great storyline that entertains and inspires.

What could be improved: The story could be improved by using more conversational wording and avoiding stilted phrases such as “recently expired.”

Judge Aggie Villanueva
What I like about your entry: I like the symmetry of the story’s tie-in of the title and opening with the closing. A big chunk of the Ann’s life is revealed in very few words, her dreams, the divorce, her greedy uncle, going from poverty to comfortable middle class. Good use of the economy of words.

What could be improved: Don’t repeat information for the reader. Such as, “She could hear Uncle Neil and Mama arguing again. Ignoring the shrill voices emanating from the living room downstairs…” You could eliminate the first sentence and readers would still know there was an argument over money going on between the adults. Tie up the loose end of what happened with her dad and how that ties into her optimism 20 years later.

Judge Cindy Bauer
What I like about your entry: Shows much potential; suits the picture used for the contest; would like to read more – grabbed me right away and that’s difficult to do in a short story!

What could be improved: Dislike the use of the word “expired”, though I know it is commonly used in the health field. Prefer “gone to live with our Lord” or something along those lines. Passed away would be okay, too.

Judge Nanci Arvizu
What I like about your entry: As a believer in the power of positive thinking and dreaming big, the author is obviously writing from her heart.

What could be improved: The writer is so talented, I think the word count is what held her back from telling more of her story. I’m betting she could turn this story into a novella! .

The Fine Print: You must respond within 5 days of the date on your winning email announcement. If you do not reply to your winning email announcement within that time limit, your prizes will be assigned to the second place entrant. The judges’ critiques are confined to short comments; no in depth critique/editing. No editing has been done to the entries. Entrants will be automatically added to the Visual Arts Junction newsletter. You many unsubscribe at any time. All rights to the Bedtime Story image remain with the creator, Aggie Villanueva.

VAJ Writing Contests Sponsors

1. Visual Arts Junction:
2. Rightfully Mine
3. Carol Langstroth: The Frontpage
4. Linda Yezak: 777 Peppermint Place
5. Cindy Bauer: Authors Resources
6. Nanci Arvizu, Page Readers:
7. Nanci’s Thoughts
8. Lillie Ammann
9. Kim McDougall, Blazing Trailers:
10. Melinda Elmore, Pen to Paper:
11. Fran Lewis
12. Fran Lewis
13. Amber Rigby Grosjean blog:
14. D.K. Christi , Consultant and Author:
15. Jhonny Thermidor, Unexplored Oceans of Wisdom:
16. Robert Appleton: Mercurial Times
17. Chelle Cordero’s Promo Page:
18. Abe F. March:
19. Paidra’s Pen:
20. Sandra Kay’s Musings:
21. Jo Fulkerson: Writer’s Life
22. Elena Dorothy Bowman, Book Blog:
23. Hank Quense:
24. Mark Stephen Levy, Overland:
25. Jay Heinlein Publishing Professional:
26. J. Michael Orenduff, Pot Thief series:
27. Yolanthaiti Harrison-Pace YOLANTHAITI
28. Maggie Ball, Magdalena Ball:

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Visual Arts Junction’s Writer’s Contest: Bedtime Story
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