Friday, March 11, 2011

First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition First Place Winner 1

 Now that we  have an (appropriately) good, strong March blizzard roaring outside, I would like to thank everyone who participated and just say that I was very impressed with everyone's pieces.  I hope everyone will join us, once again next year at the same time.

I was glad that I didn't have to pick the winner as it would have been a difficult decision to make! I once again must thank our very generous judges for all their time and effort!

Now that you have had time to enjoy and peruse our second and third place winner's entries, it is time to announce our first place winner for the First Annual Cabin Fever Writing Competition. Anyone that has had a previous opportunity to read her work will agree that she continually amazes us with her writing.

Our inaugural first place winner for this year is none other than Cathy Webster Olliffe!! 

A witty and talented Canadian writer, Cathy Webster Olliffe hearkens from the "boonies" (as she puts it) of Bracebridge, Ontario.  She lives near the incredibly beautiful and scenic Muskoka River in a very old and authentic  log cabin!  Who better suited to a cabin fever competition than her?  Besides being a talented writer and blogger, she is also a graphic artist. You can read her blog called  "Life on the Muskoka River" at her site:

I was alternately, claustrophobic and despairing when I read her piece.   Now that I have been able to distance myself a little, I know that our judges have chosen well.  Her piece literally made me feel as though I was suffocating.

Our judges remarked that Cathy's piece was the "Perfect embodiment of the theme!  -so tight in the narrative - with regards to information - yet sylistic elements still present in spite of conciseness -  well thought out and paced - dramatic!"

Here is her winning piece:

One, two, three, four, five, six.
Six paces wide.
He turned in the corner and started counting out the depth.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.  Almost ten.
A black rectangular box.
A coffin with a bunk bed, a sleeping bag, a few provisions and an
unknown quantity of oxygen.
Buck flopped down on the bunk and tried to relax, mindful of the
limited air supply.  It was tough not to be agitated, though, when you
were on a mountainside in a trapper's cabin, buried under an
He was the trapper.  This was his cabin.  He'd built it out of logs thirty
years ago.
Thirty years.  Six paces wide.  Ten paces long.
The numbers piled up in his head.  He was obsessing on them, he
knew, but he couldn't help it.  He wasn't sure how long he'd been
trapped in the cabin, but it was at least a day.
Twenty-four hours.  Thirty years.  Six paces. Ten paces.
How long before the air ran out?  Another hour?  Another day?  How
long before they found his body?  Spring?  Summer?  This year? Next
So much to count.
He leapt to his feet and paced.

Congratulations, Cathy!  I will be sending out your prize sometime this week.  Here is a sneak peak of a couple of your goodies:

Congratulations, Cathy!
Included in your prize is a pair of vibrant red (honestly they are - they just don't look that way in the earrings from Jeannine Elder from Neepawa and of course, a Timmy's card to help make it through those long winter days.  There are also a couple of other small surprises coming your way, as well.


  1. WOO HOO! I am SO excited - when I started reading down and saw my name I actually started to cry ... oh, and then I was high-fiving hubby all over the house. Er, cabin. Thank you so, so much! I never in a million years thought I'd win this. oxoxooxxo
    (OH! Those earrings look fabulous and I'm a Timmy's girl from WAAAAAY back!)

  2. What a great story. You can feel the fear creeping into it as he paces. The repetition of the numbers is a nice method of getting that across. Congrats, Cathy!

    And a huge thank you to our host for throwing such a great cabin fever challenge.

  3. What an incredibly effective piece! I found myself trying to limit my oxygen as I read it. I particularly liked "a coffin with a bunk bed". Congrats on a well deserved win!

  4. Wooohooo Cathy! Great story and perfect for the theme. Congratulations on the win!

  5. Cathy Webster is a fine poet, and this is a poem which does its job so well. I need air!

    Congrats to Cathy and the talented Laurita, too.

  6. Cathy - your win is well-deserved. Great job.

    Laurita, I totally agree with you about the fear creeping in, it really got under my skin. And you are welcome.

    Barb, it's ok to breathe now!

    I agree, it really is a great story, Harry.

    Cathy is truly a fine poet and it's ok if you breathe now too, Lou!

  7. That's a good sketch of claustrophobia. You want to yell at the guy: 'Hey, lie down and try not to breathe so hard!'

  8. Mark - you are so right about that!