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Photo Contest 2024
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2023 Youth Writing Contest Winners
2023 Photography Contest Winners
2023 Adult Writing Contest Winners



2023 Writing Contest Winners!


Congratulations to all of this year's winners,
and many thanks to the generous sponsors
who made it all possible.

Make your plans to enter next year!


Special Category: Joan Barrett Roberts Village Lake Writers and Poets
"Magic Ozarks Moments"


1st

"Yesterday's Frog" by Nancy Hartney

2nd

"The Secret Ingredient" by Margarite Stever

3rd

"The Closest Spot" by Ron Smith

1st HM

"Wading Into Summer" by Marti Attoun

2nd HM

"Soul-Stirring Magic" by Billie Holladay Skelley



Humorous Short Piece — Sponsored by Russell Gayer

1st

"Ten Simple Steps to Housebreaking Your Cow" by David Harrison

2nd

"The Welcoming Wash" by Billie Holladay Skelley

3rd

"Mama's Cooking" by Alyssa Darby

HM

"Front Desk" by Susan Whitlock



Flash Fiction Story of exactly 100 words — Sponsored by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and Jan Fields

1st

"Thinkin' Bout It" by Michael Don Fess

2nd

"Still the Best" by Margarite Stever

3rd

"Neighbors" by Alyssa Darby

 


The judge mentioned that a lot of entrants did not follow the directions.



Inspirational Romance Story — Sponsored by Diane Yates

1st

"Joshua's Voice" by Susan Whitlock

2nd

"Gliding Toward Love" by Marti Attoun

3rd

"Snow Bound" by Joy Keeney

1st HM

"Patrece's High School Reunion" by Margarite Stever

2nd HM

"It's a God Thing" by Gary Rodgers

3rd HM

"A Knight in White Buckskin" by Sandy Jordan



"I didn't see that coming!" O'Henry Style Story — Sponsored by Ross Malone

1st

"Until Death, They Do Part" by Carolyn Hall

2nd

"Escape from Hell" by Gary Rodgers

3rd

"The Yarb Doctor's Magic" by Ron Smith

1st HM

"The Last Goodbye" by Rose Heaser

2nd HM

"Murder in the Fairy Garden" by Margarite Stever

3rd HM

"Rayna" by Lauri Mays



Western Short Story — Sponsored by Duke Pennell and Frontier Tales Ezine

1st

"The Bounty Hunter's Reward" by Kimberly Vernon

2nd

"More Than One Way to Skin a Cat" by Billie Holladay Skelley

3rd

"Mercy Ain't No Preacher" by Gary Rodgers



"Write the Old Stuff" Historical Fiction — Sponsored by Anonymous

1st

"The Rain Check" by Jan Morrill Vanek

2nd

"Soaring Like the Birds" by Billie Holladay Skelley

3rd

"Colors and Hues" by Sandy Jordan



Dear Folks — Sponsored by Richard and Bonnie Tesh

1st

"Dear Folks Back Home" by Alyssa Darby

2nd

"Letter from a Prodigal Son" by Ron Smith

3rd

"I Want to Return to My Ozarks Roots" by Diana West

HM

"Missing Home" by Linda Runnebaum

 

Judge's comment: I had a hard time choosing between 1st and 2nd. Both were excellent.



Magical Realism Story — Sponsored by Ronda Del Boccio

1st

"Living Stratoscope" by Susan Whitlock

2nd

"The Return" by Billie Holladay Skelley

3rd

"Where Dreams Go" by Linda Runnebaum



Romantic Adventure Short Story — Sponsored by Anonymous

1st

"Sealed with a Kiss" by Margarite Stever

2nd

"Big Macs and Cataracts" by Sandy Jordan

3rd

"Love at First Sight" by Rhonda Harvey



Juvenile Short Story-Fiction — Sponsored by Lindsey Hobson

1st

"Noah and the Snake Man" by Ron Smith

2nd

"The Grey Lady" by Billie Holladay Skelley

3rd

"Basketball, Bullies, and Broken Bones" by Kimberly Vernon



A Christmas Quandary — Sponsored by Michael Don Fess

1st

"Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive" by Billie Holladay Skelley

2nd

"Paying It Forward" by Sandy Jordan

3rd

"A Little White Lie for the Holidays" by Ron Smith

3rd

"Charlie Elf" by Gary Rodgers



Short Story set from 1400 to 1900. — Sponsored by Rose Heaser

1st

"A Good Indian" by Kimberly Vernon

2nd

"The Lincoln Contract" by Ron Smith

3rd

"Love for the Spinster" by Margarite Stever

HM

"Just Come Home" by Billie Holladay Skelley



Memoir & Creative Nonfiction — Sponsored by Brenda Black

1st

"The Fallen Soldier" by Kelly Kirby

2nd

"Baker Hotel Ghost Tour" by Lauri Mays

3rd

"Designated Driver" by Carolyn Hall

1st HM

"Adventures in Babysitting a Toddler" by Margarite Stever

2nd HM

"You're Not My Real Dad" by Gary Rodgers

3rd HM

"The Mane Event" by Billie Holladay Skelley;

 

Judge's remarks: Overall, a great representation of OWL talent.
1st Masterfully written, this poignant remembrance by a military photographer of a ceremony honoring fallen soldiers brought this former USAF journalist to tears.
2nd I loved this first-person tour of an old hotel in Texas and the author's description of the white-haired "caretaker." The old man's image mirrored the history of the hotel as much as the structure itself. Updated restoration news was appreciated, too.
3rd This beautifully written daughter's remembrance of her mother's health crisis reflects concern mitigated by love and faith in family, sprinkled with clues of character and culture in mentions of unlocked doors, wheat harvests and oatmeal cookies.
HM1 This is a heartwarming and vividly descriptive vignette of a grandmother's day with her grandson. Many of us can relate to every mood and incident.
HM2 This frank reflection on the challenges and rewards of becoming and being a foster or adoptive parent should be required reading for anyone considering. The writer shares initial misconceptions, frustrations throughout the years and the ultimate reward of being considered family.
HM3 I loved this light-hearted tale, though I was happily tricked by the somewhat mundane introduction, "I absolutely hated getting perms." Subsequent descriptive passages in the action-packed "escape" from the salon moved me quickly to the "mane event" by a double entendre describing the writer's appreciation for "all things natural."



Travel Article — Sponsored by Larry Wood

1st

"Fifty-Year-Old Dream Come True" by Kimberly Vernon

2nd

"Sail Away Down the Mighty Mississippi" by Billie Holladay Skelley

3rd

"US Marshals Museum Opens in Fort Smith" by Diana West

HM

"An Excellent Museum for Aviation and American History Buffs" by Margarite Stever



Humorous Anecdote Prize — Sponsored by John "Doc" by Crawford and Ronda Del Boccio

1st

"Lucky Me" by Alyssa Darby

2nd

"O Holy Date" by Marti Attoun

3rd

"Unfit Outfit" by Kimberly Vernon

1st HM

"A Slow Start" by Rose Heaser

2nd HM

"Talking to Mom" by Julie James

3rd HM

"Chester's Demise" by Rhonda Harvey

 

Judge's comment: The 1st place entry made me laugh so hard I woke up my dog.



Hometown Newspaper Column — Sponsored by Lonnie Whitaker

1st

"Way Down Yonder-Pawpaws" by Billie Holladay Skelley

2nd

"Interview with a Legend, a True Cowboy" by Joy Keeney

3rd

"Ball of All Dances, No Shoes Required" by Rhonda Harvey



Creative Nonfiction: My Favorite Hobby — Sponsored by Linda Apple

1st

"The Ultimate Ride" by Linda Runnebaum

2nd

"Tomatoes in July" by Ron Smith

3rd

"What I Learned About Writing from a Tai Chi Master" by Mary-Lane Kamberg

 

Judge's comments:
1st Place - This is creative nonfiction at its finest!
2nd Place - I loved the humor in this piece. As a gardener, I understood.
3rd Place - While this was not Creative Nonfiction, the concept was interesting and could be taught in a seminar!



Ozarks Article — Sponsored by Larry Wood

1st

"Two Bills and a Bathhouse" by Billie Holladay Skelley

2nd

"The Last of the Baldknobbers" by Ron Smith

3rd

"Dead Man's Creek" by Lea Ann Crisp



Growing Up Rural — Sponsored by Carolyn Hall

1st

"Counting Chickens" by Margarite Stever

2nd

"The Bench in Front of the Dime Store" by Ron Smith

3rd

"The Killing of the Fence Posts" by John "Doc" by Crawford



Crawford Poetry Prize — Sponsored by John "Doc" by Crawford

1st

"To Have Reined in Such a Force" by Alyssa Darby

2nd

"The Pirates of 1964" by Ron Smith

3rd

"A Neutral Life" by Billie Holladay Skelley

1st HM

"Under the Over" by Joy Keeney

2nd HM

"Blue and Green" by Farla Steele-Treat

3rd HM

"Miracles in Their Touch" by Sandy Jordan



Haiku — Sponsored by Jan Morrill Vanek

1st

"In the July Heat" by John "Doc" Crawford

2nd

"Bliss" by Linda Runnebaum

3rd

"Winter's Greeting" by Rhonda Harvey



Best First Page of a Fiction Book in Progress — Sponsored by Margarite Stever and Bonnie Tesh

1st

"Halloween in the Highlands" by Kelly Kirby

2nd

"Bloody Morning" by Mary-Lane Kamberg

3rd

"Finding Purpose" by Linda Runnebaum


Best Published Fiction Book of 2022 — Sponsored by Billie Holladay Skelley
Where Shadows Lie by Harold Pelton.

Best Published Nonfiction Book of 2022 — Sponsored by Veda Boyd Jones

Lady Rebels of Civil War Missouri by Larry Wood

See you at next year's OWLies!