Tellables is excited to announce our Holiday writing contest. As with our Halloween Writing Contest, we’re looking for stories we can publish in our “My Box of Chocolates” voice / audio experience on Amazon Alexa. We’re offering cash prizes!
First Prize of $100
Second Prize of $50
Third Prize of $25
Amazon Alexa – Why You May Want to Give It a Chance
We often hear authors say they don’t have a smart speaker and they don’t trust them. We understand. But smart speakers and voice assistants are growing tremendously popular. Now’s the time to begin experimenting with the possibilities.
You might have access to an Alexa-enabled device and not even know it. Alexa isn’t only available on an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show. You can access the Alexa voice assistant from most newer model Kindle Fire tablets, from your Fire TV, and from the Amazon Alexa or Amazon Shopping mobile app. The common requirement is that you need to be logged in with an Amazon account.
If you do have access to Alexa, try out our “My Box of Chocolates” voice app. Ask Alexa to “open My Box of Chocolates.” If that doesn’t work as expected, try saying “Alexa, enable My Box of Chocolates” first.
The My Box of Chocolates Voice App – Stories on Alexa
The stories we publish in our voice app are not “audio stories.” They are “conversational.” What’s special about these stories? See our blog post What’s a Conversational Story? for details.
Now, finally, on to our writing contest!
The Holiday Double Chocolate Writing Contest
The individual chocolate stories we publish in our voice app are “bite-sized,” with a maximum of 280 words. Sometimes, however, we publish stories in two parts. Part 1 and Part 2 are each represented in our virtual chocolate assortment by two pieces of the same type of candy. The listener needs to hear both candies in order to get the full story.
For the Holiday Writing Contest, we’re looking for two-part stories. Each part (piece!) should have a maximum of 280 words.
Each part should also be followed by a conversational component. If you’ve tried out the voice app, you’ll know that a conversational component consists of:
Alexa making a comment about the chocolatier’s story
Alexa asking the listener a question that can be answered with yes or no
If you prefer, the chocolatier herself or himself can be the one making the comment and asking the question. Just let us know in your submission if you’d like this to be the case.
A successful double chocolate story will most likely have these key ingredients:
The story describes some sort of unfolding action
Part 1 ends in a cliffhanger or entices the reader to immediately go to the second candy
Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off
Conversational components will add some spice and flavor to the story (perhaps through humor or by provoking warm thoughts!)
You can hear samples of two-part stories in previous chocolate assortments. Candies 5 & 6, and 11 & 12 in the current Halloween box, Assortment 11, are a good examples.
Sample Holiday-themed Double Chocolate Story
Part 1 – Creamy Referee Praline
Jessica came into my shop for two chocolate assortments to take to her parent’s house for Thanksgiving. Every year, she tells me how much her brother and father love my special holiday samplers. As I was ringing up the purchase, I noticed Jessica wasn’t her usual perky self. When I asked what was up, she admitted she almost dreaded going to her parents for Thanksgiving. Her father and brother didn’t see eye-to-eye on politics. Every year, one of them brought up politics at the dinner table and the inevitable arguments broke out. Jessica said that for a time, she’d tried to play referee. But these days it was impossible to bring people together. All she wanted to do was enjoy the turkey and cranberries, and savor her mom’s pumpkin pie. As I passed her the candy boxes in a bag, her face brightened. She admitted that this year, she had a plan. And it involved my chocolates. I was anxious to hear more, but she glanced at her watch and said she had to run. She promised to give me all the gooey details after the holiday. I wished her luck and as she left the shop, I couldn’t help wonder what she had up her sleeve.
Alexa’s comment: I can really feel for Jessica. I hope whatever she has planned ends up working out.
“Can You Relate” Type Question
Alexa’s question: Let me ask you. I’ve heard that since politics can be a sore subject, some families ban political discussions from the Thanksgiving table. Do you think that’s a good idea?
Listener says Yes:
Alexa’s response: I’d have to agree. I prefer avoiding confrontation whenever possible. Especially when eating large amounts of poultry.
Listener says No:
Alexa’s response: You must enjoy a good argument. Which means you’ll probably get a kick out of the rest of Jessica’s story.
“Anticipatory” Type Question
Alexa’s question: Let me ask you. I’m not sure what Jessica’s plan entails, but do you think she has a chance at stopping the political arguments at the Thanksgiving table?
Listener says Yes:
Alexa’s response: I’m hope you’re right. Chocolate can be a powerful incentive, so maybe it’ll work.
Listener says No:
Alexa’s response: Well, chocolate can be a powerful incentive. But I’m not sure if it’s powerful enough to stop family members from arguing over politics, especially when they’ve been doing it for years.
Part 2 – Creamy Referee Praline
Jessica was back in my shop today. I was anxious to hear how Thanksgiving dinner at her parent’s house had gone. She told me that as soon as everyone had sat down at the table, she’d put my holiday samplers in front of her brother and her father. Then she’d opened them up and let them both inhale the wonderful aroma of chocolate. She’d told them that every time either of them mentioned anything about politics, she’d remove one of the candies from their box and put it in a jar she had in front of her plate. Any candies that landed in the jar were going to the kids nextdoor. After less than five minutes, three chocolates had already landed in the jar. At that point in Jessica’s story, I figured her plan must have worked. I asked if her brother and father had finally stopped talking politics. But Jessica shook her head. Before dinner was over, every single chocolate had ended up in the jar. It turned out that her father and brother enjoyed arguing, more than they loved chocolate. I put a hand to my mouth in horror. But Jessica said she was ok with it. She’d found a reason to be truly thankful. Unlike so many other families, at least everyone in hers was still talking to one another.
Alexa’s comment: That’s not how I expected things to turn out, but I’m glad Jessica seemed to learn something positive about her family.
Alexa’s question: Do you think next year, when Jessica’s family argues over politics again, the arguments will bother her as much as they did this year?
Listener says Yes:
Alexa’s response:You may be right. Maybe she’ll come up with a different plan. I guess she needs to find something they like even way more than chocolate. Assuming that’s even possible.
Listener says No:
Alexa’s response: I have that feeling too. Maybe she’s come to terms with it. Anyway, I hope she’ll enjoy being with her family. Family is a wonderful thing.
No entry fee is required, and all rights in the story remain the property of the author.
By submitting to the contest, the author grants Tellables the right to publish the story in its voice app experiences, regardless of whether or not the story wins a prize.
All entries must be original works by the entrant, in English. Entries may not have been previously published in professional media.
To be eligible, entries must:
be “double chocolates” containing two-part stories, each part containing a maximum of 280 words
include a full conversational element at the end of each part (see examples above) (The conversational part does not count toward the 280 words. The 280 word max is just for the story itself).
include at least one scene that occurs in the fictional chocolate shop of one of the My Box of Chocolates chocolatiers
be written in the 1st person as if being told in casual conversation by a chocolatier
have a Holiday theme (any holiday occurring in any country between November and January 1st)
Each entrant may submit up to two double chocolate stories to the contest.
Each chocolate / story part requires a separate completed entry form. Mark each submission as Part 1 or Part 2 along with the chocolate name.