‘A long time ago, when life was tolerable, almost good, he had two cats that kept him company. How old was he? Seven? Eight? Before his father began to question the worth of his existence. Back then, presumably, he was cute, almost as cute as the tabbies. He never knew what happened to them but they disappeared, both of them, all of a sudden, and he was left only with an inconsolable sadness.’
Almost a year ago, I read the above excerpt for the first time and wondered what the hell I was going to do with it.
It is a snippet from Curtis Bausse‘s novel One Green Bottle, and it was also the prompt for the author’s first Book a Break Short Story Competition. Curtis was very flexible with the guidelines, encouraging writers to use the prompt as they saw fit, whether it be as a loose starting point or the anchoring substance of their story.
I likely read that excerpt over fifty times when thinking of something to write and during the writing process. There was so much to pick out from just those seven sentences, but the focus was always on the cats. I ended up sticking quite close to the prompt and just about got my entry submitted before time was up.
A few weeks later the winning entry and runner-up were announced, and I was honestly flabbergasted to see that I had come runner-up. If I remember correctly, I was stuck in a loop of saying ‘Oh-my-God’ to myself and re-checking Curtis’ blog in case I had imagined it all.
There were many competently written and imaginative entries, and so, after some months of revisions and proof-reading, 21 short stories that were submitted to the competition have been compiled and are ready for reading in Cat Tales. To have my piece published among other works from writers like myself who are just starting out and writers who are experienced in their craft is truly wonderful – about as wonderful as the feelings of a cat sleeping in your lap, if you want a simile.
Speaking of cats, your mind can be at ease if you buy and read Cat Tales, as the money earned from the anthology goes not to us writers but to two charities, Cats Protection and Against Malaria Foundation.
Cat Tales is available in print and as an ebook on Amazon. There are a range of writing styles and themes in this anthology, stories that are dark and stories that are wild, cats that were always there and cats that perhaps never were.
So, I am published and contributing to two good causes! And it began with seven sentences, which for me have been a lesson in not putting yourself down. Curtis himself expressed surprise over the number of entries to the competition, expecting maybe around 10 entries but receiving 75! And as for myself, I had hardly expected to be noticed let alone awarded runner-up.
I would finally like to express my thanks to Curtis Bausse for running this competition and for heading the production and publication process of the anthology, to Atthys Gage who read and judged all the competition entries and to all the writers who submitted and contributed to the anthology.