golden donut short story contest


The rules were simple. Write a complete story based on the photo above. The trick? The story must be exactly 200 words. Not 201. Not 199.

The Golden Donut contest attracts writers from all across the world, and to win is a true accomplishment.

This year we were extremely pleased and honored to have Michael Cudlitz, star of The Walking Dead, Southland, and Band of Brothers, join us to announce the winner of the 2014 contest. So, without further adieu, here’s Michael…



Rick McMahan



Jill strode down the darkened hall, her hollow footfalls in sync with the words drifting to her.


The training room door was open, a weak light escaping.


Every CPR mannequin was strewn across the floor like he had tried each one before settling on the smallest.


Kneeling, Ray was pushing on the dummy’s chest. His t-shirt was soaked through with sweat.

“Partner,” she said.

He looked up at her, but she knew he was looking through her at the memory. Dispatch sent them to a nice neighborhood with manicured yards and kids playing. A worried employer called when a female employee never showed for work. Jill found the woman’s body on the bed. A baby was never mentioned. Ray found one floating in the tub.

“Roll call’s in ten, partner.”

More than sweat glistened on his face. Standing, he turned away to pull on his uniform shirt.

Post-partum depression. A fancy word for a mother drowning her kid before suiciding herself.  It took Jill and three EMTs to pull Ray away from the baby’s blue lips.

“Next time if I try harder, Maybe I can save him.” Ray’s voice tight. “I was just practicing.”

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So many names

Well, day one of the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy has finally arrived, and the excitement that comes along with this event has already begun filling the hotel hallways.

WPA staff arrived yesterday and hit the ground running at full speed. We met with the hotel staff to be sure we were all on the same page, and then we rolled up our sleeves to begin the dirty work.

First came the mind-numbing task of figuring out the true identities of our attending “recruits” so we could match name tags with t-shirts, meals, and workshops. Believe me, it was like sorting through a list of names at an undercover cop convention. So many pen names that don’t match payment receipts that don’t match registration records…and on it went.

Do you, the reader, realize that some of your favorite authors have three or four names?

Sally Jones is really Mary Smith, but she writes as Barbara Barbaro for series “A”, and she writes cozies as Queenie O’Berry. And she uses Rebecca Reuben for her romantic suspense books. However, Sally/Barbara/Queenie/Rebecca’s birth name is actually William Jenkins.

Yes, your favorite romance author, Sally Jones is a MAN. A man who’s WPA payment receipts don’t match the name on the registration form, and neither match the…well, you get the idea.

Anyway, we finally sorted it all out last night, working until midnight.

But, if you, Sally Jones/William Jenkins, discover the t-shirt in your event bag is sewn to fit someone with curves a bit different than your own, well, don’t blame us. Blame one of your secret identities.


It’s going to be a fantastic weekend. See you there!

golden donut short story contest


The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to continue the Golden Donut short story contest in 2014. The rules are simple—write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). The image in the photograph MUST be the main subject of the story. We will not provide clues as to the subject matter of the image, or where the shot was taken. That is for you and your imagination to decide. Remember, though, what you see in the image absolutely MUST be the main subject of your tale.

*Again, the photo above absolutely MUST be the main focus of the story, not just a mere mention within the text.

All stories are to be polished and complete, meaning they must have a beginning, middle, and a twisted surprise ending. Again, all stories must be exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199! So read the word count rules carefully. Over the years, we’ve seen some excellent tales disqualified due to an incorrect word count.

All entries will be screened by a panel of readers who will select their twelve favorite stories and then forward their picks to the contest judge, Sara Gruen (author of Water For Elephants). All decisions are final and may not be contested or appealed. After reviewing each of the entries, the judge will notify the Writers’ Police Academy of the winner’s name. While the winner will be announced at the WPA banquet, the winner need not be present to win. The contest is open to everyone, not just WPA attendees.

The contest winner will receive the prestigious Golden Donut Award.

Submission Guidelines:

Please read carefully!

All submissions MUST be submitted electronically via email to Write Golden Donut 2014 in the subject line.

Click the link below to complete the entry registration form and follow the posted instructions. Entry fee details are there as well.

Golden Donut Short Story Contest

Please include your story within the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened.

 Additionally, a twenty-five dollar ($25) entry fee must be submitted via Paypal BEFORE the entry is emailed.

Contest opens on Sunday June 1, 2014 (Please do not send any entries before this date).

Submission Deadline: Midnight Friday August 1, 2014 (the precise point in time between 11:59 pm 8-1 and 12:01 am 8-2).

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified. You will not receive notice of disqualification. Please be sure your word count is accurate and that all words are counted.

– Hyphenated words, for the purpose of this contest, will be counted as two words, or three, etc., depending upon how many words make up the hyphenated phrase/word. Contractions will be counted as two words (it’s, don’t, etc.).

– Every single word will be counted as a word. This includes: “a,” “and,” and “the.” To be very clear…if it’s a word, count it. If it’s part of dialog and you think it may be a word, count it. If it’s a stand-alone letter or group of letters, count it as a word. If it’s a number, count it as a word. If the number would include a hyphen if written out as a word, then count it as a hyphenated word.

– Entries submitted after the August 1st deadline will NOT be judged.

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified.

No refunds for any reason!

Again, all entry fees and stories must be received on or prior to August 1, 2014. No exceptions. There is normally a mountain of entries, therefore, it is a time-consuming process for the judges. We need time to process the entries and to have the award properly engraved and shipped to the WPA.

– Be sure to include your name, address, email address, telephone number(s), and title of your story in an opening paragraph above your story. Then, please include your story, headed by the title.

– There is a $25 entry fee, payable via Paypal. Entries received without the appropriate entry fee will be excluded from the contest. No refunds.

– Each author may submit up to three entries. Each entry must be accompanied by the corresponding entry fee ($25 per story).

– Each author can enter up to three stories. But each individual entry must be accompanied by its own $25 entry fee. (One entry = $25. Three entries = $75, etc.) You must indicate how many stories you plan to submit when you register.

– By submitting an entry to this contest authors agree to allow The Graveyard Shift/Lee Lofland, the Writers’ Police Academy, Sisters in Crime, and affiliates to publish/reprint the story as a part of The Graveyard Shift blog and/or as advertisement for the Writers’ Police Academy or Sisters in Crime, or in other publications and media, including, but not limited to, books, magazines, newspaper, blogs, ebooks, online outlets, etc. *Sisters in Crime is not a part of the Writers’ Police Academy.

*All rights to all work/short story shall remain the property of the author. The Writers’ Police Academy reserves the right to exclude or delete any entry without cause, reason, or explanation.

– ABSOLUTELY NO profanity or erotica.

– No refunds. Proceeds go to the Writers’ Police Academy fund to benefit the GTCC criminal justice foundation.

Please send questions to Lee Lofland at lofland32@msn(dot)com

So there you have it. Now get busy and take us on a journey that’d scare the pants off Poe himself. Did Gepetto create an army of zombie-kid robots? Has Chucky assembled his cousins to take over the planet? Only you know, and you have only 200 words to tell the entire twisted story.

Good luck!

*     *     *

We are extremely pleased to announce that the judge for the 2014 Golden Donut Short Story Contest is one of the great storytellers of our time, Sara Gruen.

Sara’s works include Water for Elephants, Ape House, and Riding Lessons.

New Picture (2)

 Sara Gruen