And the Winners Are…

Posted: December 30th, 2013 under ARC, contest.

We had seventeen entries at the end, after I found John McDonald’s in the moderation queue.    Alas for what I said in the comments to the previous post, I don’t really use hamsters to generate random numbers, and I used an online random number generator instead.    I wish I had seventeen ARCs to hand out, because, folks, every one of you wrote something that made me chuckle, or cry, or just sit there feeling Paksworld around me.    So in the midnight dark, I decided that three ARCs would find a new home in this thing.I had just done the random number thing last night when I checked email again and saw the notice that John’s entry was in moderation.  So I ignored those results and ran the random number thing again this morning, with 17 rather than 16.   (And yes, after another check just in case the internet, not the individual, had held something up and its time-stamp qualified it.)  For those interested in the process, I ran it three times, once for each copy, against the full list of 17.

So, ahem, here are the winners, in order of their place on the list, not the order in which the numbers came up:  #1 Lise, #6 Nadine Barter Bowles, #11 Daniel Glover.  (And yes, I ran it a few more times to be sure it wasn’t just adding 5 each time, and it wasn’t.   It was a random apparent regularity.)

Winners, please email me with the address at which you receive packages in the next 48 hours.     I would like to mail these out by the end of the week, and if I don’t get response from one of you (or one of you doesn’t want the ARC) then I’ll run another random number thingie and hand it to someone else.

The rest of you–THANK YOU for a wonderful set of Midwinter Tales.    I think there needs to be a little collection–and if you contributors agree, then I need to talk to my agent about giving formal permission for a few things that were used from the Paksworld books (character names of important characters, for instance) and we will need to see how many of you want your contribution in something more formal than a blogsite group or a privately distributed chapbook.  (This could also allow the multiple contributions to be included.)


  • Comment by Lise — December 30, 2013 @ 9:42 am


    I am so excited!!!

  • Comment by Mette — December 30, 2013 @ 10:18 am


    Congratulations to the winners, it was well-deserved. And a happy new year to all.

  • Comment by Linda — December 30, 2013 @ 11:31 am


    Indeed, congratulations one and all and thank you for the opportunity to let us play in Paksworld, Elizabeth. Not being faced with sword fights or recalcitrant elves made it more pleasant writing than I’m sure than some of your visits there must be.

    I’m curious about other folks choices. I wrote bits of a few others stories … from the point of view of a peasant woman on the Verrakai estate pre-Dorrin, and another with Kolya (musing on Stammel, dragons, and apples, but I don’t know enough about her religious background to imagine the meditations of one of the tree shepherds’ flock). I considered Arvid but decided that someone who hears Gird would not be a good choice at all.

    Being a person who does nonfiction writing, usually based on historic research or travel, I found myself thrilled that Kindle’s search capacity allowed me to check details, just as I would usually do.

    Did anyone else find the process interesting?

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — December 30, 2013 @ 11:54 am


    The three orcs from my story will come looking for you.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — December 30, 2013 @ 11:59 am


    I won! Wow. Been a while. We had large group activities years back where I won stuff four out of six times in two years amongst the whole V.P. unit. Everyone was trying to sit by me after the first couple — especially when they kept coming. I’ll be sending my address a bit later–after lunch.

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 30, 2013 @ 12:48 pm


    Jonathan: Poor orcs. They are not prepared for what they will find. Like the Lost Boys, they haven’t had a proper mother, have they?

    “You can’t come in the house with dirty feet like that. There’s a hose–wash them off and I’ll bring you a towel to wipe them dry. Now wash your hands–right there, the laundry sink. Now straight through to the kitchen. You’ll sit here, and you’ll sit there, and you over there…Of course the knives are blunt. They’re for the table, not the stable. Hands in your laps, please, until I have the food on the table. No one knows how to say grace? Bow your head, then and I’ll teach you…no, I’m not going to cut your heads off while they’re bowed in prayer. I’m not that kind of person.

    “Here’s some for you, and you, and you. Chew with your mouth closed, please. By the way, I know a dentist who could do something about those teeth. No, don’t wipe your mouth on your dirty arm. Use the napkin; that’s what it’s for. Yes, I know you like your meat rotten, but try *this*–it’s got some good spices in it–see? ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE and sit up straight. Never mind showing off your cusswords to me, sonny…that isn’t a patch on Master Gunnery Sergeant [redcated]. He could make the paint peel off the wall in paisley patterns. All you did was blacken the tablecloth–which I expect you to wash, bleach, and iron, by the way. Why yes, didn’t your writer tell you I spend three years active duty in the Marines? You’ll get dessert when you’ve finished your vegetables–and you, if you throw food on the floor again, you’ll be eating off it. Without dessert.

    “That’s better. Now, who wants apple crumble and who wants pumpkin pie? Two pumpkin pie, one apple crumble…there you are. Yes, of course these forks are smaller, they’re dessert forks. No, you may NOT pick up the whole pie and shove it in your face. Where were you raised, in a…oh, sorry. Of course, you were raised in a lair. Well, in this house, we do not pick up whole pies and shove them in our faces. Use your fork properly, or you won’t get a second slice. And you–a fork is not a toothpick.

    “Finished? Excellent. You–start the hot water in the sink. This one, here. You, stack the silverware here–no, you’re not taking it home, that was my grandmother’s. Bigger than I am and twice as mean. And you, scrape the leftover–oh, there isn’t any–well, then you stack the plates GENTLY on the counter. Let’s see those hands. Good heavens–I didn’t realize–Well, the hot water and soap will get the dirt out from under even those nails. You wash–GENTLY, any breakage will come out of your allowance–and you rinse, and you…no, wait, we need to work on your nails a little more. I think the hoof nippers should about deal with them, or maybe the wire cutters…”

    Poor, poor orcs. And that’s before they meet my husband.

  • Comment by John McDonald — December 30, 2013 @ 1:41 pm


    Elizabeth: I would to see something like that happen.

    Linda: Yep, I found the whole thing intriguing, especially the glimpse into just how my mind works. Mine was based working midnight shifts as a Marine MP with a K9 partner. She and I had many interesting nights together. And last week, while walking my rather frisky 3 year old German Shepherd late in the evening, we had a power blip in the neighborhood. No moon, just the starlight outlining the houses.

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 30, 2013 @ 2:21 pm


    John: I really loved your story. Esp. recognizing part of the source material…unclesamstiredchild, yes. And the dog felt real.

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 30, 2013 @ 2:30 pm


    Everybody: I have had a conversation with my agent and it’s clear I didn’t do my due diligence at the start. Apologies, but there’s probably paperwork coming down the line. Or at least something. Right now, however, I have paperwork to get to the post office before it closes, and I have a hunter coming in about a half hour who wants to try out a fancy electronic lure his son gave him and maybe reduce the coyote population.

    Hold any enthusiasm (other than those who won their ARCs) until later.

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — December 30, 2013 @ 2:36 pm


    Very good on the orcs – I don’t think that anyone has written how these miserable creatures actually manage to have offspring. Most writings have them inherently evil but is it nature or nurture?

    Everyone have a very safe new years.

  • Comment by Fred — December 30, 2013 @ 3:54 pm



    First, I join my voice to the chorus of many voices saying “thank you” for providing this ARC writing challenge – as with Peter and Gareth, I haven’t written anything that wasn’t non-fiction since high school (and that was longer ago than I care to think!)

    I was glad that you made it a random selection for the ARCs, rather than a judgement call. After reading Mette’s first submission and Lise’s second submission, I would have gotten cold feet and probably not sent anything in, if it had been based on the quality of the story.

    One of the results was an increased admiration for how you can “stay” in Paksworld for so long. It was remarkably difficult for me not to slip into my everyday idiom – and I didn’t entirely succeed. (“For example” just doesn’t fit the narration from any point of view, but it’s a phrase I personally use daily). One of the things which really irritates me in fantasy or historical fiction is when the author takes twentieth-century mindset, world-view, morals, and even language, and dresses it up in a medieval monk’s robe – it just rings so very false. Aa tip of the hat to you for avoiding that trap!

    It was very interesting having the experience of the story twisting and turning under me, as if it had a mind of its own. Once it started going, it went off in a direction I hadn’t planned. Then it was a matter of, “what kind of horse is this, anyway?” I let it go its own way, but at the end if it hadn’t been something I liked, I would just have let it drop.

    I don’t know whether you saw it or not, but there’s a study about reading fiction. From the abstract, “Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said… ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’ ” (Source: ) I thought of one of your earlier blog entries about writing when I saw it.

    One final question: many of the songs quoted in the Paksworld stories are only “quoted” in part. Do you know the full lyrics to the ones given in part? The ARC contest got me thinking about Paksworld music, and getting curious about how it might sound.

    Finally, a wish to you and the entire community for a healthy, prosperous, and blessed New Year!


  • Comment by GinnyW — December 30, 2013 @ 4:09 pm


    I am green with envy for the winners, but I must say THANK YOU for this opportunity to play in the sandbox. Also many thanks to all those who contributed stories. I loved checking in and hearing a new perspective.

    I am glad that I am not an orc in your house. I am also glad that no orcs are visiting at my house. Happy New Year to all.

  • Comment by ellen — December 30, 2013 @ 5:44 pm


    @6 love the story about the orcs at your place 🙂 Really annoyed at myself for forgetting to submit my story in the excitement of having my sister over from Holland and spending Christmas with my family…:-(

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 30, 2013 @ 6:34 pm


    Jonathan: I suspect that every writer’s orcs are different in terms of being self-sustaining populations or created (or bred or decanted or whatever) by their maker. I’ve never specified the way the orc populations on Paksworld reproduce, if they do. They are thicker in areas where something else evil hangs out (be it an evil deity or evil follower of a deity or a daskdraudigs.) As with dwarf and gnome sex, though, I really don’t want to get into how they do it if they do it.

    Fred: I love the way you describe a story coming alive while you were writing it. Stories do have minds of their own (or, a part of your mind you weren’t aware of has a mind of its own) and you were wise to let it go where it wanted to. I had not seen the study you cited and will go through it carefully–sounds very interesting and certainly parallels my experience as a reader.

    GinnyW: I’m glad I don’t have orcs in my house in reality. Imagining them here was…quite an interesting few minutes. But earlier today a fencing/writing friend was posting about how she dealt with her sisters’ and nieces’ unruly children and that plus a few military experiences and the time I was a graduate assistant faced with a couple of angry gang members in a science program for barrio kids who wanted to rough up another professor for having dissed their professor gave me the approach. (I didn’t like the other professor either–he was an asshat from NYC who embraced those parts of Texan culture he wanted to–like the blonde-big-hair goat-roper gal in his class. We had to share a lab and some lab equipment with him until the new research center got up to full speed. Of course he shouldn’t have been canoodling with a student. And we should not have had to share a Mettler balance with him. But such is life, and I talked the two ringleaders down from their “We gonna get that [string of Spanish, some of which I didn’t know but didn’t need to know…)” (See, I keep telling people I’m nice, sweet, harmless old gray-haired lady…this is proof, right?) I’m glad you’re not an orc in my house, but if you were, you’d have been provided a tasty, hearty meal, with dessert, and you might even find you liked having clean fingernails.

  • Comment by pjm — December 30, 2013 @ 7:08 pm


    Elizabeth, I am disappointed about the hamsters! It reminded me there is an Internet standard for networking by carrier pigeons.

    Congrats to all on a marvellous collection of stories. I really enjoyed all of them.


  • Comment by Daniel Glover — December 30, 2013 @ 7:25 pm


    I too, hadn’t done any creative writing that was so “public” though I’ve done some since college but not much. And, like some of the others, mine started getting away from where I’d thought I was going to have it go, but it did turn out OK for only one draft. It’d be nice to flesh out the child’s and the High Marshal’s back stories. But that’s for another ARC contest (or not).

  • Comment by AThornton — December 30, 2013 @ 9:23 pm


    Congratulations to John McDonald!

    And a Thank You for all who contributed. I enjoyed reading the tales.

  • Comment by Iphinome — December 30, 2013 @ 9:56 pm


    Does this mean I could write one of the other ideas I had?

  • Comment by Gareth — December 31, 2013 @ 6:42 am


    Another huge thanks to Elizabeth for letting us play, and awesome wonderment at the submissions.
    The nearest I’ve got to writing anything for very many years has been inventing verbally stories our children when they were younger.

    I’ve never really understood how verbal narrative story just doesn’t work if you literally transcribe the story, but reading a book aloud does work. I think you have to add subtle clues about the environment that in a verbal story are picked up non-verbally – mean from the way things are said not from the actual words. How do you get the words to spring off the page in the right tone of voice without cluttering the page with ‘stage directions’.

    Happy new year’s eve to everyone!

  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — December 31, 2013 @ 11:07 am


    Great fun, great writing and great wishes for a happy, prosperous New Year to you and to Paksworld.

  • Comment by Annabel — December 31, 2013 @ 11:44 am


    I thoroughly enjoyed writing the bit I did, even though it was very much off the top of my head. I did have another couple of ideas, but they were very clichéd, and I’m not sufficiently convinced of my skill as a fiction writer to make them sound fresh and new.

  • Comment by Richard — December 31, 2013 @ 5:07 pm


    Apologies first for not joining in the fun, not even with a deliberately late submission. (I knew Stammel needed remembering by the villagers he saved, but that was done for me.) After going away I’d a post-Christmas reaction I’m only now back up to speed from. Not that I could have matched some of the labors of love that were posted. I’ve admired the quality of writing yes, but over and above that the characters created (or getting to know a character we’d already met and are fond of) and made real to readers.

    Digression – Today I caught up online with a Christmas Day radio broadcast I’d missed (being otherwise occupied) of a recorded concert. One highlight for me was “While Shepherds Watched” but sung to the Ilkley Moor tune, and another was the 12 Days of Christmas with partial verses – no repeating of the gifts – interspersed with a reading of imagined letters from the recipient, 11 of them increasingly exasperated, then on the twelfth day one from her solicitor (US translation: lawyer). I’d heard this before but don’t know who wrote it. Digression over.

    Ginny, at least this means you can still join in the speculation games the coming few months.

    Jenn, your side comment #40 in the contest topic: if you really mean sunset before 5.30pm as opposed to 15.30 then I say “Southerner”, your day being longer than mine, though not by much. (My official times for sunrise and sunset today were 8.11 and 15.59, and Scotland’s day is shorter still). But -25C as you mentioned in the yarn topic: wow! I hope you’ve had low humidity and no wind.

    On how Paksworld evolved life when it has Moon but no moon (pardon me), let us remember it had the First Singer. Maybe dragons nudged things a bit too (I’m thinking more of the one Ker met in Judgment), or Sertig even.

    Wickersham’s Conscience, your story entry: have you read Dream’s Quarry by any chance? I never got round to reviewing it in the autumn but it does give us a glimpse of the Horse Nomads (and of what it signifies when Saben mentioned his uncle’s family dancing to Guthlac).

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — December 31, 2013 @ 10:21 pm


    Just found out my number popped out of the random number generator. YIPEE!
    Thank you to Elizabeth for the contest and to the community for all the stories and comments.
    I’ve always been impressed with Master Oakhollow and his talk with Paks about the nature of “courage”. That and life events were bubbling in the pot when I chose to write from the POV of the ordinary folk who grow the crops, shear the sheep, knit the socks, raise the kinder, and meet each sunrising with courage.

    May the New Year bring blessings to all of us.

  • Comment by Richard — January 2, 2014 @ 4:40 am


    Linda, the ritual words Estil spoke, they ring so true.

  • Comment by Linda — January 3, 2014 @ 11:27 am


    Not my words, the ritual words were in one of the books … I’ve forgotten which, sorry to say, tho I can back track to find out.

    I was flipping back and forth between all the books with the “search function” of Kindle trying to tease out all references to Midwinter. I then checked all the references to Estil so that nothing I wrote would conflict with what we already have read about her… and her family and the background of various characters and events.

    Being about her age, living in a rural area where one is close to nature, and being responsible (at times) for the day to day health and well being of others, I have felt a great kinship with her.

  • Comment by Lise — January 3, 2014 @ 12:36 pm


    The ritual words are from Divided Allegiance, when Paks is celebrating Midwinter at Fin Panir.

  • Comment by Jenn — January 3, 2014 @ 2:05 pm


    Finally got to the library.

    Happy new year to all and congrats to all the winners.

  • Comment by GinnyW — January 4, 2014 @ 12:18 pm


    I would have liked to read your contribution. The radio broadcast sounds wonderful, is it online? I hope you have a good New Year, without post-holiday reactions.

    Thanks for the reference. I thought it sounded familiar.

  • Comment by Richard — January 4, 2014 @ 1:16 pm


    sorry, the broadcast was on Classic FM ( where “Listen Again” only goes back one week, so the Christmas concert (from Liverpool) must have gone by now.

    I saw the New Year in at home with a few sips of whisky and was up in plenty of time for the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna on the BBC (first half radio, second television, with some accompanying ballet performances – what extraordinary mock-Scottish costumes for the second one).

    I have now done something else about Midwinter – more an essay than a story – and put it on the end of the “Last Day to Enter” thread.

    since I hadn’t remembered where the ritual words came from – perhaps because they weren’t set out as a verse there, doing so yourself was a good idea – you were right to include them; it did me good to read them again and it has done me good too to be reminded how much I forget. Thank you.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — January 4, 2014 @ 5:35 pm


    Just a quick post to say it’s arrived safe and sound. Just in time for the governor’s closing most of the state on Monday due to the extreme cold–been twenty years since that last happened. So if I didn’t have to go in to work I’d have something to read all day. (I’ll still be reading it half the day.)

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