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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)

TITLE: Searching for Happily Ever After
By Jan Ackerson


Once upon a time—everyone’s story begins that way. It was happily ever after that wasn’t happening for me, and I was beginning to despair.

“You need to take charge of your life, Goldie,” said my friend Gretel over a snack of jam tarts and toffee. “You doubt your every move—where would Hansel and I be now if we were so wishy-washy? I’ll tell you where—in that hag’s stewpot!” She was mumbling through her tarts, but I had to agree—I lacked confidence.

My other friend, Red, nodded as she filled a basket with sweets. She must have noticed how my eyes widened. “They’re for granny, Goldie, don’t look so disapproving. And Gretel’s right, you’re a shrinking violet. You need confidence, if you’re going to outwit a wolf.”

“Or a witch,” said Gretel unnecessarily.

I sighed. They’d been prattling about their scary encounters for years. Unfortunately, no such adventures had ever come my way. Maybe I was lacking some trait that would attract excitement. “Well, what do you suggest?”

Red and Gretel exchanged meaningful glances, but since Gretel was munching toffee, Red spoke. “You need a mentor—someone who’ll give you that extra boost of confidence. And we know just the person!” She reached into her cape and produced a business card.

Mary Q. Contrary—Life Coach.

So I found myself, two days later, strolling through the forest with a mentor. “Goldie,” Mary said, “it’s not just your lack of confidence. You’re making the wrong decisions, and what’s worse, you’re making them timidly. You need boldness, girl!”

I stepped carefully over a twig. “What do you mean?”

“Stop here for a moment.” Mary pointed through a sunlit opening in the trees. “See that little cottage? If you were here by yourself, what would you do?”

“Just keep walking, I guess.”

“Then that’s what we won’t do! C’mon, Goldie!” Mary grabbed my hand, pulled me toward the cottage, and pounded on the door. No answer.

“Let’s go,” I begged, tugging on Mary’s sleeve.

“Oh, you want to go? Then we’re going in.” She opened the door and pulled me inside. “What do you see, Goldie?”

“They’re coming back soon…look, there’s breakfast on the table. Let’s go.”

“No, Goldie. Honestly, be adventurous! Go on, taste it!”

I stared at the bowls on the table—filled with some lumpy, grayish substance—and shuddered. But Mary pushed me forward. I sampled from the largest bowl. “Ewww! Too hot!” Really, it was positively steaming.

“Try another.”

The medium-sized bowl was cold as ice. But the smallest bowl was warm and surprisingly sweet. With Mary’s urging, I ate it all, while ignoring an itchy feeling that what I was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong.

“Can we please go?” I was terrified that the owners would walk in any moment.

Mary simply urged me into the next room. “Not yet. Let’s talk a bit about what just happened. Sit!”

There were three chairs; I took the closest. It was huge, made of branches lashed together, and uncomfortably hard. Mary settled into a cushy chair covered in velvet and started to lecture me on self-confidence, self-esteem, self-selfishness. A twig poked my back; I moved to the smallest chair…and crashed to the floor, scattering splinters everywhere.

“Mary, let’s get out of here,” I gasped, rubbing my bruised bottom.

“There you go again, Scaredypants. Boldness, remember? What’s behind that door?” She hoisted me off the floor and dragged me to the next room. We saw three beds there, and everything in me screamed go home, but I asked myself: what would Mary do? I’d learned a lesson from the chairs, and headed for the middle bed, but Mary shook her head. “Don’t be defeated by the broken chair, Goldie. Go for the small bed.” Surprisingly, it was soft and comfortable. I shut out the warning voices and closed my eyes…

…only to be awakened by a feeling that someone was watching me. I squinted into the afternoon sun; there was a man in silhouette. Mary had disappeared. The man grinned and perched on the nearby bed. “Am I disturbing your sleep?”

I stammered, rendered speechless by embarrassment—and by his stunning brown eyes. “I…I…”

He extended a hand. “I’m Benjamin Behr. My aunt and uncle called me when they saw their cottage was broken into. You don’t look too dangerous, though…what are you doing here?”

He laughed through my entire explanation, and we’ve been laughing together ever since. I’ll let you write the last sentence of my story.

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This article has been read 1350 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter07/12/07
Oh no, Goldie - don't do it! Don't have Mary Q Contrary as a life coach! Oh, well I know it's worked out happily ever after for you, but really! And Benjamin Behr - where do you get your ideas from? Great reading.
TJ Nickel07/12/07
Loved the early hook. The creativity with the characters was delightful. The life coach and the ending give glimpses of an author's reality shining through the clouds of fantasy and fiction; nice layering. I'm 50/50 on the last sentence, but maybe there's something I'm missing there. Overall, what a great read!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/12/07
A delight, for sure!
Lynda Schultz 07/12/07
Here's creative genuis at work. I loved it, though I too, am not sure about the last line.
Elizabeth Baize07/12/07
How creative and cleverly woven together. I loved the new twist on an old tale, and how you included other characters from different fairy tales. I 'm quite positive about the last line myself. :-)
Dee Yoder 07/12/07
Fun, fun, fun! I smiled through the whole adventure. I love Mary Q. Contrary and what a life coach she turned out to be! (I can only think of one ending sentence that would fit the story...) Thanks for a delightful read.
Leigh MacKelvey07/12/07
A creative Master at work! Wow! I loved the character names, ( Behr, he-he) and I am astounded at the ideas you came up with. Write more of these, please.
Janice Cartwright07/12/07
I think I needed the light touch of your fairy tale after so many tear eliciting stories. I too found myself asking the question, how in the world did you come up with such a creative idea? Wonderful story and change of pace.
Pat Guy 07/12/07
This is ingenious. I loved the place where Goldie carefully stepped over the twig, and the confidence you show by actually using the "confidence" - and making it work. ;)

Wow. I LOVED this story. It was fun because it was so clever and creative.

Ingenious ...
Sharlyn Guthrie07/12/07
Enjoyable interactions between familiar characters, (although maybe not as well-known as I thought!)

I started scratching my head at the last sentence, but then suddenly recalled the first line and laughed out loud. Very clever and fun.

Catrina Bradley 07/13/07
I can only add to the praises you've already received. LOVED it! And I'm pretty sure of the last line. :)
Catrina Bradley 07/13/07
I forgot to say, the title drew me to this story first - it's very similar to the title of my pastors recent sermon. Way different message tho. :)
Dixie Phillips07/13/07
I am speechless! Such a unique entry and sheer delight. I can visualize this in a "drama" format with a ministry bent. Can you imagine the biblical principles that could be taught using Goldie as an example? The humor would open up hearts and the truths would convict those same hearts. I'd love to see what you could do with some of the familiar Mother Goose characters. Humpty Dumpty would never be the same after your "pen" got through with him. Call me a dreamer but I think you could have a book filled with skits along this line. And when you do... remember I told you so. **grin**
Lynda Lee Schab 07/14/07
Holy comments, Batman! And it's only been two days! Well, I can certainly see why. This is a true Master's piece. Wonderfully creative and entertaining. Bravo!
william price07/15/07
Not much to say here but extremely creative and superbly done. I enjoyed the read. God bless.
dub W07/16/07
Very creative parody.
Sheri Gordon07/16/07
This is so funny. I love the personalities you gave to the fairytale characters. You had me chuckling from the very beginning. Great story.
Jacquelyn Horne07/17/07
Cute twist on these children's stories.
Mariane Holbrook 07/17/07
Nice job. Kudos.
Patty Wysong07/17/07
So fun! I loved it. I especially liked when Goldie carefully stepped over a twig. :D
Benjamin Graber07/17/07
I LOVE it!!! So creative!!! You've got my vote... :-)
Loren T. Lowery07/17/07
Just leave it to those "life coaches" to leave at just he right moment. This feel-good, didactic story brought a smile to my face. Unique blend of the familiar with the contemporary...and it all does end happily every after. Maybe life coaches aren't that bad after all.
Sara Harricharan 07/17/07
I'm still laughing...it was that good! I love the ending especially the "Behr"! How cute and fun. This definitely speaks of confidence. I like how Mary just 'took charge' and kept going, this reminded me a little of that red riding hood movie, but it was pretty good!
Joy Faire Stewart07/17/07

This was so much fun to read. I love the way the characters are brought to life.
Joanne Sher 07/17/07
Your stories always seem to be so fun to WRITE - I can just see you giggling as you come up with these things. I just ADORED this.
Sally Hanan07/17/07
Very creative and funny; hehehe, life coach :D
Edy T Johnson 07/17/07
I love everything you write (including your comments on my stories--thanks so much!). This is a most clever story. And, your title is a definite clue (giveaway?) for the last line of the story! Thank you for a fun read.
Kristen Hester07/17/07
Oh this is sooooo good. You are a master with words. Each character has such a clear, fun voice. Great! Bravo!
Linda Watson Owen07/17/07
Oh, friend, you've nailed it again with this witty, creative, funny tale! I'm still laughing too because I've had the 'help' of a few Mary Q. Contrarys in my life! Perish the thought! LOL! But it all ends as it should, doesn't it! The last line?...dum, dum, da-dum, dum, dum, da-dum...I now pro... ;-)
joe hodson07/18/07
Great job! Very creative! I loved your characters. You did a great job with them. And "Self-selfishness" was a good one. I seem to suffer from that a lot.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 07/18/07
To have friends is to be a friend -
To have comments you should comment
You are very generous in your time and talents to others and you deserve all the wonderful comments for such a fun fun entry.
If they go for Shrek the 4th you should offer your senario!
Or maybe it's time for the women of Fairy Tale Land to take over and do their own show!
Brenda Welc07/18/07
Great story-tellin'. This a piece to be proud of for sure!
Melanie Kerr 07/18/07
I was worried about the bears! Thanks for a happy ending!
Maxx .07/18/07
Dittos ... I won't even say more than that. This is a serious job well done, as everyone else has mentioned. A contender!
Janice Fitzpatrick07/18/07
HAAAAA! How delightful! Love it Love it!This is such a cute twist! I think you've outdone yourself!Amazing job hon!Keep it up! Janice
Seema Bagai 07/19/07
This is hilarious! Enjoyed every sentence crafted by a talented writer.