It took longer than planned, but here's what the world has been waiting for (and I'm not talking about the apocalypse): the judges' selections for the top 10 stories in the 2012 Creative Loafing Fiction Contest.
They are (in alphabetical order): “Cigar City Angel Dust”; “Death Roll”; “Euquerio”; “Fifteen Is the Dog”; “Finders and Seekers”; “It Invariably Happens Right Down the Street”; “The Prodigal Cigar”; “The Tabaquero's Squirrel”; “The War Is Over”; and “Ybor Noir.”
One of these stories has already been selected as the winner of the judges' prize, to be announced in the CL issue of January 3, 2013. But the winner of the readers' prize? That's up to you, and you can vote right now at cltampa.com/YborFiction; voting ends on Thursday Dec. 27 at 9 a.m.
The readers' choice winner will also be published in the Jan. 3 issue, and both winners will be invited to read at a public event on Sat. Jan. 12 at CL Space, Creative Loafing's events venue.
The theme of this year's competition was "Ybor Stories," and entrants were encouraged to interpret it any way they liked. Their stories could refer to Ybor past, present or future, or even to an Ybor that exists only in their imagination. Writers didn't even have to set their stories in Ybor, just so long as Ybor somehow informed the story.
The judges were Jeff Parker, head of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Tampa; Paul Guzzo, award-winning journalist and filmmaker and senior writer at Cigar City Magazine; and myself, editor in chief of CL. Authors' names were removed from the entries before the judges read them; the names have been removed from the entries for reader voting as well.
Enjoy, and commence the voting!