We had a number of high quality entries in this category. In one sense, that's a good thing; the judges like reading good stories. Problem is, it makes it tough to choose a winner. It's a shame we can only reward one of these talented writers.
But, after a certain amount of agony, we've come to a decision.
The winning entry is smooth and polished. One judge said: "Kept captivated me from the first sentence. Well-drawn characters and an intriguing plot drew me in and delivered on the promise of an interesting story." The other judge agreed, adding, "Its Christian message is natural and unforced." (Note: whether the story is intended for a Christian or secular audience is not a factor in the judging, as is evidenced by the number of secular stories that have been winners. However, when the Entry Form indicates it's Christian fiction, we love it when the spiritual element is well done.)
The fact is, this story is well done in every respect. Kudos to Sally Bradley of Louisburg, Kansas, for her winning entry, Kept. She's now eligible to move into the final round.
You'll see what the judges were talking about when you read the entry: