I sent The Hardest Cut in with another story (you could enter more than one) and they selected the other as one of the twenty-five or so stories that were selected. But the other story was pretty crappy and I can’t be bothered putting it here. The only reason I can think of why The Hardest Cut wasn’t selected is because of the subject material.
A couple of years later I wrote Temptation for the same contest, but it closed before I had finished. I’ve revised it and fleshed it out a little more.
The Death of Marsden came about at a time when I was scouring the internet, looking for material on writing. I came across a site, belonging to a local writer, with a couple of short stories on it. I had just begun to write short stories (the SF variety) with the naive idea of getting them published in the professional magazines as a way of kick-starting my writing career — it took a pile of rejections to get that dumb idea out of my head.
Anyway, this writer had some university training in creative writing and yet her stories bemused me. One had parallel narratives for two women, but there was no plot — the women pondered the ups and downs of their lives as they went about their daily lives and passed each other like ships in the night, not meeting or acknowledging the other.
The second was about a model who marries her photographer and pines to be an artist like him. She grows more distraught, as the years pass and she raises a family, to the point where she is on the brink of leaving her husband and family ... and then the climax is sidestepped straight into the denouement. She had tried it and it didn’t work, so she opened a shop and was happy at last. It left me feeling cheated, after reading all the way through the rambling prose. Both stories got me to thinking if I could do any better and I came up with Death of Marsden.