In honor of #LOBOWEEK I held a Save El Lobo Writing Competition, which you can read about HERE. Sixteen AMAZING pieces were submitted to me over a week’s time. Three winners were chosen, as well as an honorable mention (it was that competitive!!) The contest was super short notice, but writers who love wolves rallied, and because I got a MATCHING DONOR, over $200.00 will be donated to Wolf Conservation Center! Woot!! In addition to the monetary donation, I purchased T-shirts for the contest winners and the judges from Wolf Conservation Center–proceeds from apparel sales are funneled back to WCC for an extra dose of support! Not only that, but those who won a shirt will be a walking advertisement for both Los Lobos and WCC. Woot Woot!!
To be 100% fair, I decided I couldn’t personally judge the entries, figuring I might know some of the writers–which I did. So I did a call-out for judges, and I got a huge response. I wish I could have accepted everyone who wanted to help judge, but I felt I only needed 3. Next contest … !
SAVE EL LOBO WRITING COMPETITION JUDGES
Although C. M. SAVAGE has always loved writing, her passion for animals led her to work with endangered Hawaiian birds, birds of prey and mammals after graduating from college. Once she became a mother though, she returned to her writing so she could stay at home with her girls. After about five years of writing in small increments, often late at night, she finished her debut novel, The Gardenia Curse (Oct. 2015, Saguaro Books). She is now working on the sequel. She lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and two daughters.
Her website is www.cmsavage.com–so please head over there and check out more about The Gardenia Curse!
CAMERON TABATABAIE is a Boston-based education enthusiast with a love of the natural world. Working to engender curiosity and passion. He writes articles related to the natural world for Medium, and you can find his blog here.
Our THIRD JUDGE is on the shy side and would prefer to remain anonymous, although she expressed that reading all the entries made her want to hang out with a wolf. So I think that’s pretty neat for the entrants to know and embodies the spirit of this contest!
SAVE EL LOBO WRITING COMPETITION WINNERS (in no particular order)
EYES OF GOLD FIRE
written by Mayumi
Up the mountain he’d tracked the pack, his breath turning to frost as soon as it escaped his mask. He’d glimpsed the pups – gray and brown puffs bounding across the snow – but pups weren’t his target.
Two years ago, his dad had seen the pack alphess, ghost-white and with eyes of gold fire. It had been on his last trip up the mountain, before the doctors had given their prognosis. There hadn’t been any trips after that. But he’d told Aksel about her, and Aksel had wanted to bring that wolf home, so his dad could look into her wild gaze one last time.
Lying behind his targeting sight, Aksel shifted on the frozen earth. He wished he were Harald back at the lodge, with the fire, bourbon, and his books—
The sight flickered, and Aksel stared. She was a hundred meters away, but her golden eyes latched on to his for a long heartbeat: ghostly, glowing, beautiful. Then, she started to move. He held his breath, steadied his aim, and took his shot.
His head was still full of the wolf’s gaze when he returned to the lodge. Harald greeted him with a drink and a query, to which Aksel answered, simply, “Got her.”
Harald gaped. “Yeah?”
Aksel pulled the proof from his pack: the vivid capture of that glorious white beast staring him down through his telescopic lens.
Harald smiled. “Your dad would be proud.”
Aksel smiled at the photo, too, for promises kept at last. “Thanks.”
Mayumi is a talented writer who blogs at Bonusparts. Stop by her site to read about her writing process
and to enjoy other samples of her amazing work.
EL CUENTO DE ABUELA (The Story of Grandmother)
written by Dana Sonnenschein
On cool mornings my grandma wraps herself in a shawl and walks out to find what’s changed overnight—I think she lives on saguaro and cholla flowers, prickly pears, piñon nuts. She keeps the silvery skins snakes shed when they grow and sews fans of the feathers she finds. Some people glimpse her and cross themselves as if she was a witch; others cross her path on purpose because they need a curandera’s spells. Mama sends me through the woods to bring her queso fresco and tortillas, or pan dulce, and leche. Abuela takes a few bites and tells me to drink the milk. Every year she gets smaller, browner, more wizened and wise.
“Abuela,” I call, and when she lifts the striped blanket across her doorway, I hug her. “Did you miss me?”
She shakes her head, smiles. A dry arroyo can go from sand to flood in a single storm, but she never cries, though her eyes go dark as thunderheads sometimes. Once she gave me a necklace of mouse bones, but Mama threw it away.
“I’d be lonely here.”
Abuela stirs the fire and says, “Oh child, no one is ever alone. Los lobos have returned to the mountains, and they sing. At night their eyes are green and blink out like fires. When they wake at dawn, they open golden ones.”
“How do you know, Abuela? Maybe you’re dreaming.”
Her laugh is dry as wind through pine branches. She tells me wolves don’t care about crossing borders. All you have to do is close your eyes and invite them in.
HOUR OF THE WOLF
written by Shakhzoda Vareberg
There was a myth once. It was an old myth, so old in fact that people weren’t sure if it was a true myth or someone’s dream.
It was possible that it was both.
The myth told of a goddess who descended down to Earth back when it was too big to have a name, too big and too unknown. For who could name something without having known its true extent?
And so she came to a nameless landscape. Nameless but not empty.
There were trees growing so tall, they seemed to be upholding the sky. There were rivers rushing so fast, they seemed to be racing time itself. There were canyons so vast, it seemed stars could fit in their chasms. And there were creatures living and dying in an endless cycle of something divine and dreadful.
When the goddess came, she wasn’t alone. With her was another being, not a god or a goddess, but an animal so magnificent that for a moment the world stopped breathing. Time sputtered, as if to relive the moment it met the noble green eyes, speckled with yellow suns and azure freedom.
Then the animal’s paws met the ground and the enchantment of the moment exploded into a million smithereens of light and wolves, as later they came to be called, spread out, howling, to conquer the nameless planet.
It was a myth that was older than the name of the Earth, you see. It was a dream that time smiled upon. And so it was remembered and forgotten and remembered again as the hour of the wolf.
Shahkzoda blogs at PlatinumWriter where she shares book reviews, stories, and writing tips.
written by Marya Miller
Dinah Fullerton lay at the foot of the cliff, thinking about wolves.
She was thinking about wolves because there was one staring at her now.
What did she know about them? That her Anishinabe aunt called Wolf ‘pathfinder’ and said it was the brother of Nanabozho; that she was badly injured and therefore a natural meal for a hungry pack; that the Park had canceled public wolf howls some years earlier, after the sad disappearance of the Source Lake pack.
There were not supposed to be wolves in the Park: Yet there it was, staring at her with yellow eyes.
The animal’s body language was not aggressive. It suddenly turned and trotted away.
A wave of pain took her, and she drifted into something that wasn’t quite sleep. Once she opened her eyes to see the young Eastern wolf on top of the cliff above. Dinah laughed, and thought there were worse ways to go than becoming Wolf Dinner and giving back to the Park she loved – though she hoped they would wait until she was dead.
Time passed. No wolves came, but lights woke her, bobbing along the narrow trail. Soon she was being airlifted to the local hospital, her ordeal almost over.
Her wildlife biologist savior came to see her, a few days later, waving away her thanks.
“Nobody knew you were missing,” he admitted. “It was the oddest coincidence: I picked up a Source Lake pack microchip transponder signal and found you, just as the signal disappeared…”
Marya says about her piece: “The Eastern wolf in my story is a real species, and the Source Lake pack was a real pack too. It has virtually vanished from Algonquin Provincial Park, in northern Ontario. When I was with the Ministry of Natural Resources in the eighties, I used to keep up with all the latest data on the Source Lake pack, and had several sightings of them. I am especially happy that my story not only honors their memory, but is in a small way helping El Lobo avoid a similar disappearance.”
Marya blogs HERE please stop by to say hi!
I hope you enjoyed reading these winning entries. Please take a moment to visit the sites of the winners and judges and give them a shout-out, or feel free to leave a comment below (along with your pizza).