Special Delivery – Contest Results

I got shortlisted!


We would like to thank Judge Paul Beckman for his able assistance in selecting three top stories; and we are, as always, grateful to the 287 international writers who entered this contest.

Paul Beckman_contest judge Paul Beckman

First Prize: It Came in the Mail by Damhnait Monaghan
Second Prize: Princess Party by Jennifer Stuart
Third Prize: The Secret of the Snoring Time by Elizabeth Fisher

Judge: Paul Beckman
Theme: It Came in the Mail

FIRST PRIZE: It Came in the Mail by Damhnait Monaghan

Judge’s comments: “The reason I selected this story is that at no time did the author give in and let the reader know what it was that came in the mail. It’s hard to not sprinkle clues but this author pulled it off and finished with a perfect ending. Readers’ imaginations will take them from place to place deciding what came in the mail and that makes this a…

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Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

50 thoughts on “Special Delivery – Contest Results”

      1. Excuse me my friend but never forget these words. YOU ARE A PROPER WRITER. I shall sneak into your house and tattoo the tips of your fingers with this if you do not recall it! (I agree, the one who loves you being proud of you the most is the greatest boon and happiness and I’m so glad he is though he would be quiet mad not to be)

      2. He’s proud of me, even though I spend my life writing and don’t earn a penny, which looks like not earning recognition either. I’m proud he’s so broad-minded 🙂

      3. Remember most artists do not see wealth or even appreciation in their lifetime but if you plug away as you do, it will come to fruition and there are many ways it can, not just in the obvious, most of all you do what your soul needs you to do, you have your talent and you express it. This is more than most do and it is worth more than riches or even steady income. Not dismissing the value of earning and income but I do believe artists are exceptions to most rules and must follow their yen else they will always be dissatisfied and how can money ever fill the gap that grows when you are not creating if that is your role? I’m glad he’s broad-minded though I would say, he just knows and appreciates you and loves you for who you are, as anyone with an ounce of sense would.

      1. I can guess. But the background is that I worked at a terrible back-breaking job until the third child was born, while he worked on his thesis, then tried to find work. After being out of the circuit with child three, then four, then five, developing an incurable auto-immune condition in the meantime, I became unemployable. So, he literally does pay the bills. Now 🙂

      2. You have five children? Why did I think four…. mmmm damnable dyscalculia of mine! You developed a auto-immune condition? Which? Lupus? Sorry if that’s nosy I just am curious as I read a lot about those and see a rapid rise in them because of our food sources etc.

      3. I have Cold Agglutinin Disease. It’s rare and I only have a rather hazy idea about what it is. I think of it as having a broken thermostat—my body thinks it’s freezing when it’s really quite balmy. Can’t live in a cool climate anyway.

      4. I have NO idea what that is and now I’m fascinated! (I’m a bit of a geek about diseases and viruses on the side) so I’m going to be reading about it all day. That’s really interesting, so essentially the ‘cold’ part is literal and you get very cold? That’s crazy. I can see how that would be very dangerous. It must also cause a lot of pain for example if you got cold but your body did not tell you then you could potentially freeze or at very least get frostbite?

      5. That’s quite close to what happens. I have been known to get chilblains in August when we lived in Picardie! It means I have a permanent anemia because I destroy my own red blood corpuscles. The process accelerates as the temperature drops. It’s a completely lunatic sort of a disease.

      6. Oh no! Permanent anemia is NOT good you must be exhausted! I had it once and felt just terrible. Is there nothing they can do to help you at least with the anemia? I hope you are not vegetarian as I know that can exacerbate anemia (I am and I was told this) oh dear, it’s just ridiculous how many people have auto immune disorders, especially females, because we are sensitive to the world in a way men usually are not. Have you ever written about your disease? It is a thought isn’t it? Especially such a rare disease, I bet others have it and do not even know.

      7. We are more or less vegetarians and never eat red meat. It isn’t a carence of iron though, it’s a mechanical thing. The blood cells just ping and new ones have to be made very quickly to replace them, hence the anemia. There aren’t enough people who have the problem for there to be much research done on it. It took me 16 years to get a diagnosis, until I was treated by a university doctor who’d written his thesis on CAD. He’d never met anyone with it before!

      8. mmm ok so if it’s mechanical it doesn’t matter about the veggie thing (I’m veggie too but I wanted to check as I knew some of my friends had to go back to eating meat because of anemia but I understand what you mean) really so there aren’t enough people to even do research on? that’s insane to have a disease that is that rare, just makes me wonder so much. Where did you live before France? In Ireland or did you say England? Whereabouts? It really took 16 years? that is awful. Just awful. Yet I am glad they found out at all.

      9. It’s a rare disorder, probably about 120 people are registered with it annually in France, and of those, about 6 of us have an idiopathic condition ie the doctors have no idea what causes it. I’m one of the six. It’s difficult to diagnose so it’s not surprising it wasn’t picked up to begin with, but when they sent me to Saint Louis in Paris, they should have spotted it. There’s nothing to be done for it anyway, so I’m lucky to be living in a mild climate.

      10. Thanks 🙂 My comments on your blog aren’t getting through btw. It isn’t that I’m not commenting, but Akismet is sending my comments to spam again, I think. You might find something in your spam folder.

      11. Yes that happened to mine a couple of months back, thanks for letting me know I will go back and check I wonder why WP keeps doing that?

      12. So in the cases of non-idiopathic onset, what is typically the trigger or cause? If we know that, we may be able to ascertain what caused it within you? Gosh so you are one of six people in France (another poem) that’s both staggering and hard to fathom isn’t it? It is good as you live in a great climate and that makes a huge difference – and there was me set on convincing you to visit TX (tee hee) that would have been awful!

      13. It can be a symptom of several other diseases that affect the blood, but I’m clear. There’s no cause that they know of, it isn’t inherited either, it’s just one of life’s great mysteries. One that we could do without…

      14. I have in my head this idea that those with autoimmune disorders are somehow more connected to the world, hence their sensitivity and a vein bruised by the malcontent of nature angry with humanity for their clumsy footprints. In which case you are a child of the forest despite your illness, you are closer to the truth than most

      15. It’s certainly true that mental disorders are much more common in immigrant groups. Disorders because the heart can’t cope, I think. Autoimmune system malfunctioning is a similar thing maybe.

      16. Interesting. I haven’t read much about this, the idea though makes sense. Immigrant groups eat different food, they have lower incomes typically in the first generation and they’re subject to a harsher life with fewer support avenues and familiarity. I can see why this coupled with stress would hasten autoimmune disorders. I agree – malfunction is a bigger picture – if the heart is heavy for example. They say a woman is more likely to get breast cancer shortly after the death of a loved one than at any other time, that always struck me

      17. I remember sometime in the 90s when the troubles were settling down and the British were beginning to come to terms with the way they’d been treating the Irish for centuries, they carried out the first survey of the mental health of Irish immigrants—they weren’t covered by the race discrimination laws because the irish were not considered to be a different race—and found an appalling level of untreated disorders, particularly among single men.

      18. That’s hideous. What on earth possessed them to believe the Irish a different race? Oh I suppose I know the answer and yet, I rage against the disgusting beliefs of any inequality

      19. The English believed the Irish were subhuman degenerates when it suited them. When the black and Asian immigrant groups were protected by anti-discrimination laws, the Irish were excluded on the grounds that they weren’t a different race, therefore employers could legally put up signs on the door saying ‘No Irish’ and no action could be brought against them. Imagine a sign saying ‘No Arabs’ or ‘No Blacks’ .

      20. SICKENING more needs to be said of this revolting history, makes me ashamed just to imagine such depravity and they wonder why?

      21. I don’t believe people talk much about those talented folk who are unemployable through no fault of their own, and highly, highly skilled and highly, highly talented yet unable to fit into the shallow pond of ‘talent’ that is employable. It is something someone would do well to write on, as I know many who are extremely talented who experience this and it is really a whole swath of society often far above the average in terms of knowledge and ability, whom the job-market obviates.

      22. When I was just starting out, I was told I was over educated for the only jobs around. It’s a way of saying we don’t expect you’ll be staying with us very long so we’re not going to bother with you. Education in its own right isn’t valued too much. An employer doesn’t assume that because you have a brain you’d be able to learn the job. They’d rather take someone with the bit of paper that says they’ve already been trained to do that job, and no other. They won’t be getting uppity and leaving for something more interesting.

      23. Don’t you hate it when someone says you are over-educated for a job? And then there is this swath of underemployment that throws the numbers on true equality in the work place? It’s disgusting that they would EVER think oh you’re not staying long so we won’t invest in you. Who gives anyone the right to make that kind of judgement, especially as it is neither their business nor an accurate portrayal of the reasons you moved to France and stay in France. I moved to Canada for a year and had EXACTLY the same experience, I was told I was over-educated and yet the only jobs I was offered were deeply underemployed jobs, because they felt despite me going in as skilled worker category, that I was either not going to stay or that I had no right to take a job from a native-born. Which would be fine but for the visa quota that gave me the impression if they say they need skilled workers, there would be available jobs of that ilk rather than – no joke – working in a coffee shop. Sure, working in a coffee shop is fine if that’s what you do, but if you go to a country on the premise of a skilled worker visa that’s not your expectation yet they made us feel it was all we deserved or we were lucky to get anything. Like you I think until you travel and work in other countries you don’t realize this and how common place it is.

      24. Actually it also reminds me of what I was told pre-immigration to Canada which was, don’t move to Montreal or Quebec because they especially have that attitude, and moreover they have this weird tier system. I was told the first tier are Native Quebec Citizens whose family and names/titles have been there since inception. Second, others without the ‘right’ name but with the longevity, third, later immigrants only from the upper echlions in France, four, the other French. Five. Non-French. And those tiers really DID exist so much so that friends who did move to Montreal and Quebec soon found out, unless you were of that pedigree you got absolutely NOWHERE. It was one mistake I did not make though I made the over-all mistake of assuming if a country says it needs workers to move to it, that would mean they’d treat you right. I think there is a real disgust of immigrants in many countries and a resentment of them, this is true also in Australia of the English despite the fact that Australians can move around England on long-stay visas and the English cannot do so in Australia. If English do move to Australia they are resented for being the former colonists. I understand it but it’s petty considering when we talk about colonists we refer to a tiny minority and yet everyone is penalized for the history. I meant also to tell you yesterday I read something about ‘white slavery’ specific to Irish slavery and how the English treated the Irish and how the American’s then treated the Irish fleeing the potato famine. I meant to forward it to you but realized I don’t have your email.

  1. I trembled as I digested the story, how clever of you to capture the feeling of a child too big for silly games and unwanted gifts. I read it three times to be sure I hadn’t missed what was contained in the box. Excellently placed words, words to be proud of.

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