It’s taken me two full weeks to get round to judging #Lippie. I’m kind of sorry, not sorry, because I wanted to wait until I had the time to read all the entries in one sitting and to really figure out what I loved about each one. Because god, there was a lot of great writing submitted.
I should say, before I start with what I loved, that the comments on the entries are in no particular order (they’re linked by theme), with the exception of the final five. Although there’s only one prize this time round, there were loads of entries that deserved to be commended and I couldn’t get it down to three, so, yeah, one winner and four runners up.
Two themes that I found particularly interesting came through in a lot of the entries. Lots of the stories dealt with reinventing yourself, which is, after all, the huge joy of lipstick. Brave by @TomWatched was one such example, with the added benefit of great dialogue. @RiaRestrepo also did a fab job of it in Kinda Sexy, where she wrote a great, modern version of Girl Power (yes, I did like the Spice Girls), which also has room for a very hot man. Finally, there was Fanfare by @IAmAnnaSky, which did a beautiful job of combining the will to recreate yourself after a relationship ends with the sometimes huge appeal of being lost in the crowd. Plus, it had the wonderful line ‘She tastes sweet and sour.’
When characters weren’t reinventing themselves, they were generally superbly strong nonetheless. @cherrytartblog’s Flamingos and wolves (yes, she drew a particularly short straw in the lipstick name game) has a heroine with serious attitude. I adored her! @Mollysdailykiss gave us a similarly sassy FMC in On Hold, as well as a lovely bit of alleyway action, which is one of my favourite things. And talking of my favourite things, @Mandapen used remarkably few words to tap into all my kinks and left me lusting for some bruises. Dancing cropped up twice, in @Innocentlb’s Impassioned and Flat Out Fabulous by @Katya_Harris – the first of these saw a narrator who gets lost in the music only to leave me wistful for the girl he misses out on in doing so, and the latter an epic female character who’s so into her dancing she doesn’t need anyone else to make this a really hot story. There was also a lovely bit of character detail in @CollaredMom’s Politely Pink, where the female character says ‘he knew I hated pink’ and the themes of both pinkness and politeness carry the whole way through the story, too. In Dubonnet, by Robert S, the female character wasn’t typical of erotic fiction, which always pleases me, and the male character liked her imperfections, such as her selfies. The sense of place was really well portrayed in this one, too.
Costa Chic by @GoodnightAngela genuinely had me wondering where the story was going. The same was true at the start of @BilliousOne’s Runway Hit, which I expected to be about fashion but actually turned out to be set at an airport. I liked how the arrivals and departures of the planes gave the whole thing a sense of fleetingness, which was the other theme that came up multiple times. I loved too, how the heroine left the hotel after the scene. The sense of fleetingness was also my favourite thing about Peter Stone’s Real Redhead.
Several of the stories had wonderful multi-sensory details, like Lipstick Color by @cammiesonfloor, whose heroine is left with a ‘grotesque, clownish smile (I also loved the line ‘more like the “O” she wanted than a plea’) , Peach Blossom by @Juniper3Glasgow (‘She can still smell the outside on her’), which also had a beautifully balanced and healthy relationship between the characters, and Creme in your Coffee by @fdotleonora (‘[she] could not help but notice that the lipstick was the exact color as her nipples’), which takes an everyday scenario and makes it hot as, well, coffee.
Although @VidaBailey2’s non-fiction piece Cosmo was sad in places (‘…no one knew how to make me come’), it’s ultimately very uplifting, not least due to the description of ‘happy, heavy cock.’ @VenaRamphal’s No Persistence here was equally a bittersweet combination of fun and sadness, with the added twist of being told from the perspective of the actual lipstick! Sexy, too…
Syrup by @AbsolutelyRuby is not sad, but it is bloody dark, and was so powerfully written, I found myself holding my breath for the first few paragraphs. It also had a very cool male character, this time because he didn’t always know what he was doing, which, while terrifying, also strikes me as very true to life. BDSM is also handled well in @StellaKiink’s See Sheer, which reminded me just how wonderfully calm it can make you feel.
In Lady Danger by @Mansplanation, it’s the dialogue – ‘Am I your King,’ I ask her, pinning her down by the throat,’ contrasting wonderfully with ‘Tilt your head my queen.’ Somehow, it’s so powerful it also makes the ending even more of a surprise. Rebel by @loucheasfuck had the beautiful line ‘she’s hit a rich seam’ as well as very powerful repetition – ‘And her. And her.’
This brings us to the top five. The runners up, again in no particular order, were @Girlonthenet, with Sin, @19Syllables, with Cockney, @JillyBoyd, with Hot Tahiti and @Octogirlscares with Saigon Summer. I went to a writing talk recently where the speaker talked about the writer needing to take full responsibility for the imagery they create, and not leave the reader to have to fill in the gaps, and Girlonthenet certainly does this. ‘Each detail pulses with raw, bright colour’ she says, in the story, and then she totally follows through, writing in a way that allows us to experience all of this raw, bright colour for ourselves.
Cockney is similarly vivid, while less graphic, and does a masterful job of mixing the everyday with the seriously hot. In the comments on this story, Girlonthenet said ‘I think I have a proper kink for anticipation, and unrequited lust, and this captured that *ache* so beautifully,’ and I can’t really express it better myself…
The other two runners up both deal with trauma, although in very different ways. In Hot Tahiti, Jilly deftly pulls off writing about death while keeping an immense sense of life in her piece, which is bloody tricky to do, and she has a wonderfully strong male narrator whose self-assurance allows him to say things like ‘She was never too much,’ which utterly delighted me. @Octogirlscares went braver still, using Saigon Summer to write about the horrors of the Vietnam war. The main character in this appeared so vividly to me I felt I’d met or seen her somewhere, and I was just astounded by the author’s courage is using something as frivolous as a lipstick name to inspire something so powerfully bleak.
And so, all that’s left is to announce the winner: Myth, by @DarkJezebelle. With both this and Girlonthenet’s piece making the top five, it would seem that cheating is quietly one of my kinks, but what I really loved about this piece was that it wove lipstick in, but did it in a way that made it utterly crucial to the story, and the strong, short but confident voice that @DarkJezebelle maintains throughout. I was a also a sucker for the way the paranoia builds over the course of the piece, and the fantastic imagery, such as ‘Or was it left there, around the base, where I’d struggled to breathe, eager to impress a new lover.’
So, that’s it. Thanks to you all for joining in and helping me raise cash for Refuge, and huge congratulations to @DarkJezebelle – drop me an email or DM with your mailing address and I’ll get your prize sent out asap!