Look what I won in the Carolina Woman magazine 2023 writing contest for a short story I submitted! Actually, these candles and perfumes are what I picked to redeem my $300 gift card.
I’m not making this up (although I find my winning a writing contest hard to believe myself.) Here’s part of the email I received notifying me that “Good Night, Irene’ was selected as the First Prize winner!
Disclaimer: There is a Grand Prize Winner, so I’m actually second place. However, there were almost 100 entries in this no-fee-to-submit contest, so I’m still plenty proud of myself.
Before you search for the story, let me tell you a little bit about it. No spoilers, but a couple of the characters were inspired by my parents.
The title itself is the name of a folk song recorded by a group called the Weavers. Their version of “Good Night, Irene” was a #1 hit in 1950 and no doubt the one I heard my daddy singing around the house when I was a little girl.
My parents courted in the late 1940s, early 50s, and the descriptions of a young Irene and her husband Henry are based on these pictures I have of a young Inez and Paul (my parents), taken around that time.
Like the character Henry in the story, my father died young, at age 56, from a heart attack. Like Irene, my mother never remarried and lived to a ripe old age. A question posed at the end of “Good Night, Irene” addresses this age-at-death difference.
Or does it? If you read the story, look for a clue that maybe the final scene takes place only in Irene’s mind. Who knows?
“Good Night, Irene” is not, however, and I repeat NOT, a depiction of my parents’ lives. For one thing, my mother wasn’t a smoker. And I hope my sisters and I aren’t like Irene’s self-centered daughters. I simply used my parents’ pictures and when each died as a starting point for the action of the story.
Okay, I hope you’re intrigued and want to click on this link to Carolina Woman magazine where “Good Night, Irene” appears: http://www.carolinawoman.com/writing_winners2023.php
You’ll have to scroll past a short description of the contest and that pesky Grand Prize Winner to find me 🙂
If you read the story, let me know what you think.
I loved your story. The red-breasted hummingbird detail still sticks with me! It was like a glimpse of the 18-year-old Irene that had been and would be again. The story made me tear up, looking ahead to what might happen to me down the road. To feel 18 again is something to hope for! Great job, Patsy. You always have that down-home feeling in everything you write.
Thanks, Debbie. I liked that hummingbird detail myself. My mother did have a feeder right outside her den window, so I guess that’s where I got that image. Hope you enjoy your summer off!
Congratulations Patsy! I have always enjoyed your writing skills and after reading “Irene” you are selling yourself short in this email. Great story and you look so much like your mom. Enjoy your smelly rewards
Thanks, Jan. Glad you enjoyed the story. As far as selling myself short, I guess like many writers, I always feel I can do better. You wouldn’t believe how many times I revise just about everything I write!
Patsy: Really enjoyed your story. Very reminiscent of my Mom’s last moment…
Thanks, Steve. I’m glad the story struck a chord with you.