March 2002 = “Mr. Bones Speaks to the Bright Round Moon” wins Confluence Short Story Contest!

My short story, “Mr. Bones Speaks to the Bright Round Moon” has just won first place out of 74 entrants in the Confluence Short Story Contest.  I couldn’t be more thrilled! 

As for the genesis of “Mr. Bones Speaks to the Bright Round Moon”, and the details about the contest it won, it all started with a tree.  I knew that was what I wanted to write about.  There were no ideas about contests or magazines or anthologies, not even an idea about what genre the story would be.  I just wanted to write about this tree that stands in the middle of a cornfield in my hometown.  I came up with a yarn about some teenagers who use the tree as their secret drinking spot.  One of them climbs the tree all the way to the moon and never comes back down.

The story didn’t work.

Then I saw the guidelines for the Confluence Short Story Contest in the Horror Writers Association newsletter.  Confluence is a convention that takes place every summer in Pennsylvania, they focus on both science fiction and science reality.  The theme for their contest was “Well Met by Moonlight” and all entries had to have something to do with the moon.  I re-wrote my tree story, putting more emphasis on the teenager’s destination.  Why did the he want to climb to the moon?  What did the moon represent to him?

The story still didn’t work.

That was when I remembered that I prefer writing mysteries to other types of fiction.  I started thinking about the story from that perspective.  What about the teenager’s friends?  They were with him the night he went missing.  Would they be blamed for his disappearance?  How would the rest of this small town react?

The story finally worked.

I sent it in and it took first place.  I received a nice check and “Mr. Bones Speaks to the Bright Round Moon” will be published in the Confluence program book when the convention rolls around later this summer.