Monday, March 11, 2013

First Paragraph Contest!

Did someone say contest? Why, yes, I did!

To celebrate Foreward Literary (that just launched on March 5, 2013!), I thought how fun it would be to celebrate with non other than a contest! And because I LOVE first paragraph contests, I thought we could do just that.


So without further ado, I reveal to you the prizes!

There will be TWO GRAND PRIZE WINNERS who will receive one of the following…


1) The opportunity to have fifty pages and a synopsis considered by, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreward Literary
, whose clients include, Vivi Barnes, Cecily White, and many other wonderful authors!!

2) The opportunity to have a query and ten pages critiqued by none other than super agent, Gordon Warnock of Foreward Literary, whose clients include Tanya Chernov, Kelly Davio, and MariNaomi!

Contest opens today (March 11, 2013 at 9am EST), but please read the rules carefully before posting your entry.

1) Please post your first PARAGRAPH (that you have made all the shiny and will only POST ONCE) of any work-in-progress in the comments under this post. The deadline will be exactly a week from when this was posted.  

2) I will then read through all the entries and pick twelve winners.

3) Being the wonderfully supportive group of writers that you are will then come back and pick two out of the twelve entries that tickles your fancy and vote below in the comments of that post.

4) Don’t forget to leave your name and email if you decide to post anonymously.

5) Remember this is for fun and we encourage nothing but hugs, kisses, and fluffy kittens.

6) Spreading the word about the contest is strongly encouraged because all writers deserve the chance to show off their gorgeous first paragraphs.


 About the two fabulous agents of Foreward Literary...

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg started her literary career as assistant to Laurie McLean in early 2012. By April Pam was promoted to Associate Agent at Larsen Pomada. In January of 2013 after selling twenty-one books in her first year of agenting Pam was promoted to agent. When Laurie McLean mentioned creating Foreword, Pam jumped at the chance to follow her mentor and create a new agency together.
 
Pam blogs at bookalicio.us, bookalicious.org, and Brazen Reads. She partners her blogs with her local bookseller Hicklebee’s where magic happens daily.
 
Pam grew up on a sleepy little Podunk town in Virginia. She’s lived in the UK, several US states, and now resides in the Bay Area of California. She has two kids, two dogs, two guinea pigs, but only one husband. You can find her mostly on Twitter where she wastes copious amounts of time. 

Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Foreword Literary, bringing years of experience as a senior literary agent, marketing director and editor for independent publishers, freelance publishing consultant, and college-level writing tutor. He frequently teaches workshops and gives keynote speeches at conferences and MFA programs nationwide. He is an honors graduate of CSUS with a B.A. in Creative and Professional Writing.

With a zest for fresh, new voices and a deep love of the classics, Gordon actively seeks out both the timely and the timeless. In that spirit, he establishes involved, long-term working relationships with talented and dedicated authors of many genres. You can also follow Gordon on Twitter here.

 
GOOD LUCK and may the best paragraph win! I’m looking forward to reading all the entries!

86 comments:

  1. Maybe that day at the assembly I just felt like arguing. Like, there was some part of me that needed to fight with someone... and win. Not because they let me, but because I wore them down and proved them wrong. I'm not normally like that. I hate confrontation – to the point where I can’t even watch reality TV. And it’s not even the drink throwing and hair pulling that bothers me so much. It’s those civilized “let’s talk” lunches that start with air kisses and inevitably end with back-handed well wishes and a vague threat. “You know what, Nadia? We’re just very different people, and I wish you the best of luck in figuring out exactly who you are. Just stay out of my business, and I’ll stay out of yours.” But you know that Nadia isn’t going to just go home, change into a pair of sweats and read a self-help book. Or discover her passion for candle making and spend all of her free time crafting homemade Christmas presents. You know it’s just the beginning. There will be so many more air-kiss-vague-threat lunches. And things are only going to get worse for Nadia. My palms get clammy thinking about it. - Jenessa Connor jenessa.connor@gmail.com

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  2. Asher ran his thumb across the blade. It was sharp. Really sharp. The light reflected off the edge and the steel sliced right through it. He smiled. Even the light didn’t stand a chance against the weapon in his hand. His eyes narrowed and he leaned in for the attack. His heart pounded in his chest. He raised the blade and took a deep breath.

    Brooks Benjamin
    cbrooks.benjamin@gmail.com

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  3. Thick pillows of smoke stung her eyes and invaded her lungs as she collapsed against her bedroom door in a coughing fit. Each convulsion ripped through her chest and throat until taking the faintest of breaths felt like swallowing glass. Pushing open the door, Max was hit with a waft of clean air that provided only temporary relief. She darted to the nearest window and threw it open, taking in deep, agonizing lungfuls of the humid night air.

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    Replies
    1. msaundersrr(at)gmail(dot)com (I'm not anonymous, but I just wanted to be certain)

      Delete
  4. Overhead, the sky is sparkling. The hills crest right below the moon and the tableau would be breathtaking. However, as I wade through corpses, I am not interested in scenery. My quiver is by my side, but I am plucking arrows from the dead. This is not a time for waste. I was once the type of person who was impressed by starlight, the type of person who would dance beneath glass ceilings and let the world swim in its loveliness. The sky reminds me of the parties we used to throw, but now, instead of harps and satisfied laughter, all I hear is screaming.

    tclark7744@gmail.com

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  5. Molly Louise Bilinski
    mlbilinski@yahoo.com

    He’d almost forgotten what the damn place looked like. The hardwood floors had seen their fair share of wear and tear, and the kitchen island wasn’t quite level, but it was his. Theirs, really, his and Topher’s. If Topher ever got there. Damn idiot was driving all the way from Indiana, and Matt sat in an empty apartment drinking a beer, waiting.

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  6. Want to know why I hate Tuesday, December eighteenth? It’s the day my mother died. You’d think an only child without a father would get a premonition about something as horrendous as her own mother dying. But I didn’t. No goose bumps. No sinking sensation of doom, or being orphaned, not even chills. No idea whatsoever until four-thirty that afternoon. That’s when Mom came home and told me.

    Holly
    hgirlla at yahoo dot com
    Thanks Naomi for the great contest!

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  7. Noon was long gone when the first gust of northern wind pressed against the bakery rooftop and squeezed its way down the cramped flue. The embers, brushed to the corner of the great masonry oven, jumped to life as the wind swept past, spitting out several halfhearted flames. Rhona watched from her seat at the bakery counter. The flames twisted and writhed angrily as if to chide the breeze for waking them, and she beheld them enchanted. A moment passed, the flames settled, and the spell broke.

    Carrie L McRae
    carrie.l.mcrae@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. India is not the spiritual home of wishy-washy mantras and life affirming experiences. It is the home of more than one billion people, who work their sun-burnt broken backs raw to keep their families fed and alive. Dreams lie dormant in tired eyes that only dare to sparkle and shine in the confines of a cinema, where Bollywood heroes preach the religion of love dishonestly. The nation survives between shots of morning chai and moist parathas, alive on meagre earnings and hopes that are as momentary as electrical impulses between every cell and synapse. But the colours, the red of the tikka, the rainbow of the rangoli patterns, the faded jades of sweaty sarees, the hues of dust on bright orange temples or mint green mosques; yes, the colours were a defiance to the fate that had doomed them to their brown skins and the poverty induced prejudice that came with it. Sakeena Ghulam, wry, young, poor, a basket of heavy washed clothes on one hip and a hand-decorated earthen pot on the other, belonged to those colours.

    Azra Limbada
    az_limbada@hotmail.com

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  9. Early morning, July 11 2012. I am standing on the deck of an antiquated steamship, tasting the salty drops of the Atlantic Ocean on my lips. The cold rust under my bare feet feels strangely comforting. There was no time to grab my shoes or anything else for that matter. Closing my eyes, I think back to how all of this happened, how it all went...Wrong.

    J. McKay
    s23200392 at gmail.com

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  10. "I see it! I just have to go a little higher! Hold on!" Raina shifted her grip a few inches to the left and tapped one of the ropey branches with her toe to test its strength. The dead wood was becoming flaky and brittle, but weaker boughs had held her weight before. With a firm grip on the tree's trunk, she chanced the move. The crumbling tree swayed and shed a rainfall of dead leaves, but the branch held.

    Charlotte Ashley
    charlotte@once-and-future.com

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  11. Harrison entered a room where time either stalled or fell into reverse. Dust drifted around him with hardly a ray of sunlight seeping through window slits in the walls. He had been there only once before when he was seven years old. Broken doors hardly stood straight on rusted hinges. Wooden splinters littered the carpeted floor. The shattered remains of chairs crumbled under the weight of his feet. He dragged his heels along the ground disturbing fallen pieces of his past.

    Ariel Marie McManus
    amm34311@marymount.edu

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  12. “One shot to the head is all it’ll take.”
    Tobin lifted himself slowly to his hands and knees as pain racked through his tired and beaten body. He glared through his one good eye at his attacker, its silhouette inhuman and ominous. Tobin wasn’t afraid of death, and was already all too familiar with its work. “Just do it already.” Ice cold air plumed his words into a thin vapor before him.

    Kim Harnes
    kimharnes@gmail.com

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  13. We don’t choose who saves us. Sometimes it’s that one teacher, who never says much, but who catches you smoking in the bathroom and simply opens a window. Sometimes it’s that librarian, who lets you linger after closing while she clears up. Very rarely, it’s someone who intends to kill you.

    Sabrina Marchal
    marchalsabrina@hotmail.com

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  14. I had a focus-on-nothing stare going out the window when our caravan finally pulled in to the Ventura County Fairgrounds. All the big rigs and ticking diesel motor homes kicked up an enormous mass of chalky dust that glowed in our headlights, ghostly against the pre-dawn sky. The cloud faded, revealing a large bird perched on the ground in front of us. A falcon. Its silver-white feathers glistened and its eyes reflected the light back; greenish sequins that raised goose bumps on my arms. I’ve never been a fan of falcons. Actually, all birds of prey gross me out. Mind-tapping a bird of prey was like stepping into a gory dream full of soft fleshy things like eyeballs and intestines. No, give me someone’s pet canary or parakeet any day of the week. Birds of prey were just nasty.

    Corinne O'Flynn
    oflynn@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Deep in the steamy Amazonian rain forest of Brazil, a baby blue and gold macaw trembled as he woke up to the sounds of the jungle. Outside his secret nest in a hollow palm tree stump, Chico could hear buzzing and hissing, howling and growling, flapping and tapping, chittering and chattering.

    Sandra Hoover
    wrightin@aol.com

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  16. When they gave me away to Uncle Dell he said this forest, this here part of the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, is where I’ll meet my future and my past. I told him that made no kind of sense. Told him I didn’t want to be here. Told him I didn’t want to be no traditional Cherokee like him. He crossed his arms.

    Linda Boyden
    lboyden@charter.net

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  17. I cry before the first note even comes out of my mouth. This cast, well, we’ve become a family over the past four months. Lots of cast dinners and inside jokes. Another show, another family. It’s the same pattern every time. RENT is such an emotional show to begin with, that it forces you to bond with the cast. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to put on an authentic show. After tonight, it’s just over. It’s naïve to believe that we’ll all keep in touch. Sure, it starts out with regular Facebook messages and tweets, the occasional get together. But it eventually it fizzles to nothing. And then you almost forget that the family even existed.

    Marisa Kanter
    marisakanter@aol.com

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  18. The essence that was Terry stirred in the darkness, hovering in the rafters, still connected to his corpse by a thick silver cord. He was between the worlds, one foot in and one foot out. His thoughts were scattered but his mind was still aware. He was waking, it was because of her. He could sense she was drawing near. Terry willed himself to become more present in the here and now, but images of his death kept pounding in on him. He pushed them away… and instead focused on the girl.

    Kelly McDonald
    gitcheygitcheygoo at hotmail dot com

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  19. “But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.” –Shakespeare

    If I had only remembered to connect the extra red wire, I wouldn't be here right now. I’d be somewhere else. I’m not sure where but just not here writing in this godforsaken journal every freaking day. I say freaking now because Dr. Lansing doesn't like it when I swear. He says it’s not nice, but then I tell him it’s not nice to lose your daddy at the age of thirteen either, but it still happens, don’t it? He never likes being wrong, but at least that shut him up for awhile.

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  22. “What is that smell?” I mumbled, stepping out of my car in front of an old country inn. The beauty of the weathered, three-story house did not match the horrendous odor surrounding it. While I admired the long wrap-around porch, the smell of the cow manure assaulted my senses, making me gag. I couldn’t help but pinch my nose against the stench. Being a city girl, I wasn’t used to it. If being in the middle of the sticks meant that I could finally become a professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the nation, then this was what I had to do. Sticksville was my next big stepping stone - well, more like a hurdle. And a sanctuary from him.

    Jennifer C. McDowell
    jennifercrawfordmcdowell@gmail.com

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  23. On Saturday mornings, people line Garfield Street just to get in the door of the Apollo Cake Factory. Dad bought the squat stucco and brick building for Mom before I was born, and I pretty much grew up within these creamy pumpkin walls, warm lights, and coffee and sugar scented air. My mother is certain that the cure for all emotional ailments is a slice of cake. And, usually, she’s right. But that was before this summer, before my life ended.

    dkeratsis at gmail dot com

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  24. Some kids nobody wants and that’s the truth. When you’re that kid, even the adults that are nice to you don’t want you. Your foster parents might be good or they might be bad, but either way they don’t want to keep you. The social workers are mostly nice but they’re also tired and worried and they feel guilty all the time, especially about kids like you, because they don’t want you either but they feel like they should. Everybody wants babies– I mean people really really want babies-- then they kind of want toddlers and they’ll settle for little kids and older than that forget it. That’s how I learned about irony. Irony is when nobody wants you because you’re old enough to know nobody wants you and they’re afraid that anyone who knows they aren’t wanted has to have problems. Except that if that’s true, and they wanted you, you might not have problems, right?

    E.A. Winslow
    lizwinslow@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Garn. No last name, just Garn and I am a professional story narrator. Modesty prevents me from saying which works I have narrated. However, I can promise you have heard them before. I live by one simple creed and one miniscule rule. My creed is honesty at all times. Thus if I say it happened, it happened. My eensy-weensy rule should be easy to follow. When I am narrating, it is your duty as the reader to pay attention to whatever I have to say. Shall we begin?

    raballard@mchsi.com

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  26. It kind of snuck up on him, like the ocean, because he sure as shit didn’t plan it. He didn’t know anyone who planned something like that. Especially not something like that.

    chavnora67@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. The fire dragon trundled toward me through the crowded street. Smoke curled from the incense protruding from its long, thin body like thousands of spines on some mystical porcupine. Sweat poured down the faces and backs of every spectator. The fire dragon wound back and forth through the streets, faster and faster, dancing to the beat of drums. A wave of cheers rippled through the crowd each time it came near. The drums rattled the high-rises, the dragon danced, and the pavement shuddered under our feet. As the rumble reached a crescendo, the men carrying the dragon pulled off the sticks of incense and passed them to the crowd. Within seconds, the fire dragon dispersed into a thousand tiny sparks in the night.

    Shannon Young
    snyoung88@gmail.com
    http://shannonyoungwriter.com

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  28. Lies. A drop of sweat trickles down the back of my neck, begging me to reach back and brush it away. I ignore it, continuing to punch the stuffed sack hanging in front of me, imagining all the lies anyone has ever told me stitched into the rough material. My knuckles ache. I tighten my fists and keep pounding, losing myself in the rhythmic thump, thump, thump of my punches meeting the cloth. Nothing matters anymore. I’m so tired of lies and hidden truths, disguised by fancy words and fake smiles. I hate them all. Hate them, hate them, hate them.

    Hadiyah Stephens
    hadiyah.stephens@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. It is pitch black. I am a wandering getting nowhere, and yet I do not stop walking. I am surrounded by the suffocating darkness holding me in. There is no light, no exit. I am in the abyss of shadows, and there is no way out. What have I done to deserve this fate? What have I done to be brought here to wander aimlessly, wandering farther into the darkness, losing the little strand of hope that keeps me together. I must find my way out. I must learn why this has happened to me. Why did I have to suffer here? Was I a murderer? Was I a madman who haunted and hunted people, leaving them at night to wonder if they would be my next prey? This wandering, suffocation of hope, this darkness..... I would not wish this on my greatest enemy. I would prefer to give them a swift death compared to this torture and suffering.

    magor11@aol.com

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  30. Success is a bitch goddess, the half-breed product of a one-night stand between an abusive mother and an alcoholic dad. Success is capricious, unpredictable. Even if you catch her fickle eye for a moment, who knows how long it will rest on you? You can't please her all the time, no matter how good a girl you are: so showing her how hard you've worked is worthless. Irrelevant. A waste of time. Success is a beast—Fata Morgana disguised as an elephant, tromping around and wrecking everything in sight. But I've figured her out. Finally. Took me long enough.

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  31. I hate myself being this way. For so long, I have believed in something that isn't real. That doesn't exist. I have allowed myself to depend on these things, these trivial, short-lived things, for happiness. A fleeting moment of happiness. Then it's gone. I have allowed myself to become so wrapped up in folly, living by proxy, existing only to experience these fairy tales that I so adored, that I have forgotten everything. I hate myself being this way.
    _______________________________________________________
    Wisteria Birch (that's my penname):
    asisterinzion@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. "True love," the goblin whispered.
    "Truuuuuue love," the sylph replied as she blew past in the breeze.
    Every shadow on the block was packed with the creatures that hid just beyond the sight of mortal man. Banshees hovered over a kishi, stroking its handsome head with their tattered shrouds. Sprites wriggled between the clawed feet of rakshasas. Bluecaps and menehune peeked up from storm drains, and the clear eyes of a siren looked out from a puddle. The humans' date was coming to an end, the time for true love's first kiss. There was no magic greater; they all wanted to taste it.

    Jeff Provine
    jeffprovine@gmail.com

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  33. I already had leopard spots on my neck and two peacock feathers growing from behind my ears. That was enough animalia for me. I liked my human body. I was one of the last in my whole town. I still had most of my flesh and bones.

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  34. Awesome’s head bounced off the platform, then rolled across the polished floor. “Someone stop me!” Awesome shouted. “I’m getting dizzy.” The Fa Fa Fashion Store rolled past, turning and spinning around her. Spring dresses and swimsuits became a whirl of colors streaking before Awesome’s eyes. “Help me! Look out for my face!” And with a touch of a plastic foot on her plastic curls, she stopped. Her small mannequin’s head looked up at her hero. “Oh no,” she groaned. Not Ispy, he would tease her for weeks.

    yvonvonon(at)hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. I stand at the foot of the hospital bed. Smells of alcoholic disinfectant and hospital meals flood my nose, making me cringe. Mom lies on the metal bed, using all her energy just to breathe. I come closer, and clutch her hand. She looks at me, and for a moment I see a little happiness that reminds me of my ever smiling mother. Then the spark is gone as she coughs violently, spitting blood onto her hospital gown. I cry out, and in a matter of seconds Dad and Mother Godfrey, my nanny, rush to her side. Dad says something I cannot make out to Mother Godfrey, who then carries me into her arms, murmuring into my ear. I don't listen, because I'm too shocked to see Mom so ill, so pale. She gives me a weak smile, her deathly face ashen and ghostly I barely remember the pinks, and opens her mouth to say something.

    Deena Zaheer (deenazaheer@hotmail.my)
    From work in progress Beside The Cinders

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  36. Mandy Matteo was going to make a wish and that bummed me out. I’d granted hundred of wishes over the years and normally it’s all groovy. A job is a job and few of them ever fazed me. But I knew exactly what would happen with this wish. This one would turn my world inside out too. Bring the biggest of my regrets up from the depths.

    Shawn@Shawn-McGuire.com

    ReplyDelete
  37. She certainly knew the rules. She knew them. She did not like them. She hated them. She gazed with longing at the ripe greenberries plump on the vines twining around the Bubble Up Well. If only. If. If. Such and so. An idea struck her. Greenberry vines grew thicker down in the gorsegully. She swivelled her head quickly, side to side, darted her dark eyes all around. Nobody. Nobody watched her. Clonk. She dropped the ceremonial goblet where she stood, abandoning her duty, and fled to the gorsegully. Gasp and thrill, she flung herself out of sight. She rolled low to the ground in the shelter of vines and bushes. She hid. She plucked handfuls of greenberries and smashed them in her pale blue fists. She rubbed her hands together, staining them green. Her black of black hair jiggled and her shoulders shook. She strained to hold back her laughter. Her straightly efficient black bangs, glued into place with honeymist every morning by her mother, bent awry, as always, back into a hanging tangle of black moon slivers. She wiped her hands on her yellow tunic, greening it green. She smashed berries on her yellow satin sash. She rubbed the green mush into her goldyellow pantaloons. She stained the yellow ribbons tied at her knees. She stained her white silkstrand stockings. Green. Green. Green. Green was her favorite color. She hated yellow with a fair deep passion. She grubbed herself green in the gorsegully, and sat satisfied. Who was she? Why did she like green? Why did she hate yellow?

    Steve Shilstone
    bymywell at hotmail dot com

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  40. Clunk, clunk--clink, clink--ting, ting, ting . . . a hundred sailboats dotted the harbor.
    Clunk, clunk--clink, clink--ting, ting, ting . . . the music of their cables and chains echoed into the bedroom of a seaside cottage. Before sunrise, Father’s gruff voice interrupted the early morning melody, “Nathaniel get up, it’s time to go.” Nathaniel stuffed the blue shell his mother had left for him into his pocket, and tramped downstairs to obey his father.
    sherrymosio@comcast.net

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  41. Tan’eth lay full length on the sun-warmed hillside, using her gleaning sack as a pillow, and reckoned the distance between her left foot and her right. Surely the chains will be no shorter than this, she thought. She slowly inched her feet apart along the grass. Perhaps this long. Or even this. Tan’eth tried to picture the length of her mother’s chains, the links that bound ankle to ankle, and the rhythm of her gait as the chains went slack and taut, slack and taut, with each step. No, not quite this long. She nudged her heels closer together.
    Amanda P. Avallone
    amanda@bluwillows.com

    ReplyDelete
  42. As soon as the front doors slid open, I fully expected my nose hairs to disintegrate from the sharp smell of pee and Lysol. After all, that's how I remembered it from when I visited my Grandma in one of these places. God was that depressing. Sad and lonely faces in all stages of decay, slumped over in wheelchairs or forever condemned to hospital beds while staring off into space. And they were the lucky ones. Give me a semi-truck going eighty miles an hour coming straight at me any day of the week.
    Jennifer Kirkeby
    jenk4@comcast.net

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  44. It shouldn’t have taken a jolt in an electric chair to make me realize I’m not a Bob. You’d think I’d have figured it out before. I’m not stupid. Really. Some people say I’m gifted. I hate that word. They might as well draw a bulls-eye on my forehead with pink glitter paint. Anyway, I’d gotten into the habit of ignoring my name, Fred. It was like background noise. Or, like the jets that flew over our last house ten times a day. They were there, but I didn’t notice them anymore.

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    Replies
    1. Montana in A Minor
      By Elaine Russell


      Chapter 1. Subito Forzando

      Two days, 16 hours, and 46 minutes until my flight to London. And my 17th birthday in Paris. Oh yes, Paris. Meanwhile I’m surrounded by my 9-year-olds cello students squeaking their way through French Folkdances for the hundredth time--okay, only the fifth--as my overloaded brain somersaults down my to-do list:
      1. Final lesson with Mrs. Stanislavsky to go over Saint-Saens cello concerto.
      2. Pick up extra strings, rosin and another copy of the score
      3. Banish Jordon from my thoughts. Sigh
      4. Begin learning Saint-Saens--my entire future depends on it.
      5. Study for history final.
      6. Breathe, relax. Forget Jordon exists.
      7. Buy DVD Yoga for Stress Reduction
      8. Get my students through their performance tomorrow night.
      9. Erase Jordon from my memory!
      10. Pack for Europe. Luckily, I’ll be 5,000 miles away from Jordon.

      Delete
    2. Shelly Steig and Shawn Macquire

      Delete
  45. I remember blowing out the candles on my birthday cake and wishing for the latest, greatest stereoscopic microscope, but apparently that translated into “please give me the worst first day of junior high in history” in birthday-fairy language.

    (Thank you!! Will tweet this. :) )

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  46. I fumbled for the phone, struggling to open my eyes. It wasn't there. I raced from one room to the next, panic setting it, but everything was different; no phone and a stranger's house. When I woke, I realized that the phone was beside me on the nightstand, in my own room; right where it should be. But, the ringing was real, pungent even. A quick glance at the clock told me that it was 2:15am. My breath caught as the voice on the other end delivered a message that plays in every parent's nightmare. "There's been an accident.... your daughter .... hospital". Just enough detail to stop my heart......nothing more. The rest is a blur. The twenty miles it took to get to the hospital, the dubious answers from stoic people in uniforms and white coats, the crying from teenagers I've never met, words like "coma", "head injury", "we just don't know", all of it; cryptic pieces that didn't fit, stringing along for days. I have a new understanding of the term crisis mode; the mechanical, step by step operation of surviving when surviving is the only option; when necessity mandates moving time forward, only because going back is impossible.

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  47. Nicodemus walked swiftly down the vast hall, shielding the light his small candle was emitting. He prayed that no one had seen him, but knew the odds were not in his favor. The only thing he could do was act quickly. The castle was freezing. He pulled his robes more tightly around himself as he fumbled for the keys.

    Elena Jacob
    jacob.elena[at]gmail.com :D

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  48. The unbelievably minute glass slippers shatter against the floor after the reoccurring fighting between me and the man of my dreams. It’s only been a year and already I want to leave. The castle is like a ribbon, tying up the air and freedom tighter and tighter until it will get to me. And it finally has. I stare at him and calmly walk out, only to break into a run because of the hundreds of stairs that will slow me down if I walk. I hear him call after me, calling me my false name, Cinderella. It’s never been my real name. If he knew that, I wouldn’t be running to find my true meaning in life other than take etiquette lessons and be seen and not heard. I finally reach the main doorway. I listen to the sound of his footsteps hurry down the stairs. I turn around, smiling, and call out, “It was never Cinderella!” I move closer to the door and slide through part way. “It was always Ella! Always!”

    Angelica M. Figueroa
    email: bentobox23@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  49. I know I wasn’t dreaming. You don’t get to keep bits from your dreams. I’ve still got the bit of paper with the message on it. And the ink stains are still on my elbow – and, come to think of it, my finger is still a bit sore. So it must have happened. I really, actually, truthfully had a proper adventure. But if I can hardly believe it, then nobody else will believe a word of it. Who cares? I’ve got to keep it all secret, anyway.

    S MacBrayne
    seana.macbrayne@rocketmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. For the crew of the sorry ship Sea Slug, life was lousy. Gutbucket Gus was cold and cranky. Crow’s Nest Calhoun was nearsighted and nasty. Squid-eye Sally was mad at the world. Nobody liked them. Truth be told, they didn’t even like each other, and they had nary a friend on the seven seas.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Untitled YA Western

    The first thing I thought when I saw Jackson Holmes was, “I hate you and I want to kill your father.”

    Thankfully those words didn’t pass my lips.

    The second thing I thought was, “My, but you are devilishly handsome.”

    Unfortunately those words did pass my lips.

    Even more unfortunate, I was disguised as a man which packed an extra layer of humiliation to the whole thing.

    marytframe@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  52. When Gil and Lew came to my dorm room with the idea of stealing the physics final, I normally wouldn’t have considered such a dumbass move. It wasn’t that I had any moral objections to cheating or stealing. An “A” in one class, even Jeffrey Taylor’s, just wasn’t worth the risk of getting kicked out of prep school.

    ReplyDelete
  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  54. Spilling from a darkened airport corridor into the light of day, a suffocating heat and stench promptly take me hostage in a culture half a world away from my own. From the dusty, dirty path that lies before me, deformed brown bodies swoop in upon me, grasping for alms with desperate hands. They are like broken dolls with missing eyes, arms and legs, discarded at the side of the road. No one wants to play with them anymore.

    Jill Proctor
    harmonee@cox.net

    ReplyDelete
  55. The traitor wasn't especially tall, so he had to rise up onto his toes to check the furthest corner of the overhead compartment for explosives. The flight offered open seating, making it nearly impossible that someone could have guessed where to lay a trap for him that wouldn't frag 116 other travelers in the bargain. But then, the traitor had built a substantial career in the field of “nearly impossible” things. They were rarely as unlikely as most people chose to believe.

    Matt Farley
    farleymatt@gmail.com

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  56. She doesn't look like she needs this job as much as I do. How can she? Look at her clothes. She's wearing a perfectly ironed black suit, crisp white shirt and polished black five-inch heels that make her legs look like candy sticks. How can someone who has the time and money to make themselves look that good need a job as much as me? And why on earth does she want to be someone's secretary? She doesn't look like she takes orders. 

    Saima Khalid
    saimakhalid1991@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  57. Billie's "gaydar" had gone off as soon as she'd watched her hop on the bus in her jean jacket and brown boots. Who even wore jean jackets anymore? This immediately intrigued her. This girl wore loose brown pants, a loose green shirt under her jacket, and her long, red hair fell loose around her shoulders. She looked as if she'd hopped right out of the 1970's onto this bus. And her smirk, the pack of cigarettes she held in her hand, the careless way she fell into the side-facing seat at the front of the bus, all of these had Billie curious for some reason.

    Andrea Kline
    ankline00@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  58. Taking in a slow breath, Liko crouched in the doorway and slowly made her way towards the edge to peek out. The door was in the back of the ambassador’s briefing room, one of three, all with hanging beads in front of them instead of doors.

    Ellie
    Elliemoreton@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. I didn’t know if I’d fallen asleep or how long I’d been lying there next to the large base of the wind chime, but an odd noise shook me back to reality. It was this little scratchy sound, like a mouse digging through a pile of fallen autumn leaves, or maybe the sound of a raccoon searching through the bushes for a tasty snack? Sitting up, I looked around to see if I could tell where the scritching was coming from. The last thing I wanted right now was for some crazed squirrel, bunny rabbit or college student to attack me or something. As my older brother kept telling me, “you’re eleven and living on a college campus now. You need to be vigilant.” Who even knew what that meant?

    Lara C.
    lursin@yahoo.com

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  60. I woke with my throat tight and and my head cluttered with vacant recollections of a night of unrest. I was in a bitter-numb state, not wanting to lay there anymore, yet not wanting to drag my sleep-heavy body out of bed. But I did. I wavered over to my cracked open window, blue gossamer curtains still damp with night, and looked out. I wasn’t really looking, though. Instead I was weighted with the dread of facing, for the third time, the anniversary of the day we got news that Dad had died. I did my best to tell myself that it would affect me differently this year. I told myself that the tears wouldn’t be so furious and overcoming, starting and stopping without warning. This year I would go to school. I would try to forget the pain.

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  61. A raging torrent was what some would have called this level of precipitation. Actually, in the last few minutes, the downpour had easily surpassed any whimsical label. What Dakota Winslow did know was that she would rather be curled up in a comfortable chair with a book than trying to drive in this wet insanity. As if heeding those thoughts, the noisy drum of raindrops on the windshield dwindled to a smattering patter, then, finally, ceased altogether.

    Lisa F
    txfrostbite@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  62. “Nothing to say?” I waited for a reply, but heard only a drip of spring water marking time in our secret cave. I let out a huff. “You’re so stubborn. How old are you anyway? A hundred? A thousand? A million years old? I’d kick your salt and pepper granite body out of this cave and roll you off the mountain, if I could. But that won’t happen. How much do you weigh? Ten tons? Twenty?” I groaned. “It doesn’t matter. You’re just a stupid granite boulder.” I softened my voice to a whisper. “Besides, yesterday changed everything.” I picked up a dirt clod and threw it hard against the cave wall.

    Rick Rowe
    rick@rickrowe.net

    ReplyDelete
  63. Something was different. At first glance, Honna appeared just as she always had - short, feral curls framed her narrow face and dense, bushy brows threatened to swallow her features whole. But, in the weeks since her mother’s death, the reflection in the mirror was harder. Older. Brittle. And the shadows that had taken up residence around her eyes did seem to swallow her other features. However, if she looked hard enough and turned her cheek to just the right angle, she could see her mother’s reflection. The slope of her nose Honna had inherited. There. The bow of her lips that mimicked her mother’s exactly. There. It was all she had left.

    ReplyDelete
  64. If my Uncle Levi’s car creeps down the driveway, it will mean they’ve found Mom and Dad. Nobody knows where I’m hiding to watch for his car. Even though Nana still calls it the chicken shed, there haven’t been chickens here as long as I can remember. There’s only a dirt floor and Papa’s old car, a big, white Buick with fuzzy dark red seats that spark if you slide across them. Wooden planks on all sides. Darkness and the smell of seeds or hay or corn. Something the chickens used to eat. If I bend down just a little bit, I can see outside through a hole in the wood: the driveway, the apple tree, and the curve of the road with fields on both sides. Green and slippery in the rain. Soon Nana will start calling for me. She will have my blue jacket over her arm. Luke, Luke she will say, stretching out my name. The same way she calls Calico if he hasn’t shown up for his dinner, when the saucer of cream is waiting for him with skin forming over the top. Protection against what’s coming.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Evan pulled a paperback book from his back pocket before going into the stall that had a big OUT OF ORDER sign on the door. The toilet itself was blocked off with a board so it made an okay place to sit and read. He was reading The Martian Chronicles for the thousandth time when he heard the door open and froze. Voices made him aware he was no longer alone in the bathroom. "I gotta take a piss," said a voice Evan knew well. One of the prime bullies. El Primo Bully himself. Or EPB as Evan called him. Winchester Barrett, the third. His father owned the biggest factory in three counties and EPB never let anyone forget it. Evan didn’t want EPB to notice him so he kept quiet and pulled his feet up so he sat cross-legged on the board.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Who would be calling so early in the morning except some damned telemarketer? I’m already running late and the phone has been ringing on and off for the last twenty minutes. I hurriedly grab the receiver from the cradle, struggle to button my blouse, put on my heels, and balance the receiver between my chin and shoulder. Somehow I manage to mumble, “Please stop calling my number! It is on the do not call list. Thank you.” Then, I ask myself, "Why do I bother being so polite?"


    Judes37@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  68. When the air raid siren began its plaintive wail, the sky above Laidy was the deep, thick navy of the pre-dawn hour. She took careful steps around scrub bushes that grew tight in the rocky soil outside the boundaries of Taremu. The only light came from the twin moons, Terra and Serra, hanging the sky as if by a thousand hooks and fishing line, casting a generous glow and eerie shadows across the land. No clouds filtered their light or Laidy’s view of the stars, whose names she once knew but no longer did. She relied instead on her son’s love of all things galactic whenever she needed to know her place within the heavens.

    leah.rhyne@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  69. No one expects to be duped by the beggar boy with tears welling in his faraway, milky eyes, looking for his lost sister. While Olek distracts the unsuspecting merchant woman with his well practiced act, I strike like a viper, quickly swiping a trinket or bauble from the wares strewn across the counter and slip it into my hip bag. This time I spy a bracelet made of several delicate golden charms linked together. It should be enough to trade for a plump bag of potatoes in the next town. Then, turning on a theatrical smile, I shout my brother’s name and run towards him with open arms. Grabbing his hand, I apologize to the lady and lead Olek away in haste before she notices the empty spot on her table.

    Kara Seal
    kara.seal@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  70. For the contest, are we posting the opening paragraph from our pieces or a paragraph of our choosing? And about how long we winners get before they have to send in their pages?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be best to post a paragraph of a completed piece or one you already have close to completion with a query. The agents will be looking at the work of the two winners after the contest has ended. Thank you and best of luck!

      Delete
  71. I think I just burned my eyebrows off. I squint an eye open
    and watch the flaming jar roll out the open shed door. It
    leaves a hot trail of burning sparks. Epic! How did ceramics
    glaze blow up like that?

    Noel E. Olson
    RNEOLSON@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  72. Elizabeth Hutchinson never realized she was being tracked since birth. It wasn’t until the day an owl rested outside her window that there was evidence to the contrary. The blue of her eyes seemed to reflect off the dawning sky, staring at the perched bird. The owl stood without flinching as the warmth of her fiancé’s body pushed against her. She couldn’t help but gaze upon the crisp earth-toned leaves slowly drifting back and forth in the breeze. The delicate detail of the owl’s feathers drew her focus from the warm hand pushing the cotton of her nightgown up around her waist. Gusts of fall barely swayed the animal from its perch. Elizabeth closed her eyes as the tips of Dominic’s fingers brushed her inner thigh, sliding the lace thong from her moist skin. Inhaling she opened her eyes to the frozen owl still perched beyond the window.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I have rules. Made them up myself. My rules guarantee I’m nowhere in sight when a cardboard cutout of Lady Gaga appears in the principal’s shower, or cotton balls freeze overnight on my science teacher’s car. Last fall, when water bombs pelted the girls’ lavatory, I sat in the cafeteria scarfing down onion rings like any other innocent sixth grader. Yep, when I follow Alex’s Awesome Pranking Rules, I’m usually last possible suspect and the last one laughing. At least, that’s how things used to work, before summer break. Now my pranking rules have me swimming in oceans of trouble. Not the . . . “You’ve lost TV privileges for a week, young man!” . . . kind of trouble. More like the . . . “International criminal wanted for: Jewelry Theft, Grave Robbing, Possessing a Weapon of Mass Destruction, Causing a Public Stink, Committing Murder!” . . . kind of trouble.

    Heather Ross
    brd@xmission.com

    ReplyDelete
  74. When Mei's mother died, 47 cats attended her funeral. Family and friends were there too, of course, and Mother's colleagues from Chinatown's Cat Clinic. But it was mostly American shorthairs and a handful of more exotic breeds. Chartreux, Manx, Siamese. The Sphinx even made it. The cats came in carriers, a few on leashes. During the service, they sat and slept and slinked under chairs. The Persian groomed. The Sphinx gazed. In the mortuary’s eerie glow, the cats’ pupils narrowed into tiny exclamation points. And, as Mei’s eyes followed them back to the body, they went liquid, leaking salty tears. How could Mother leave like this? And, today, of all days...

    Ashley Walker
    ashley.walker@mindspring.com

    ReplyDelete
  75. An Accident Waiting To Happen

    Shreveport was balmy and wet in the spring time, it always soaked you to the bone when the humidity was in the nineties. Chance grunted at the red light as he waited impatiently in his Jeep for the signal to turn to green. Youree Drive and 70th Street was always busy at five pm with the rush hour craziness of people on a war path to get home. It was a Friday, which made it even worse, because everyone was looking forward to escaping from the drone of their workweek and all wanting to get on with their weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Eighth Dwarf

      Fed up with cleaning for seven brothers who burped, farted, and refused to wash, Helpful jumped at the chance when a beautiful queen offered her a job cleaning her castle. With dreams of an easier life, the dwarf hastily scribbled a note to her brothers working in the mine: "I'm sick of cleaning your dirty stuff. You never help me, and I've had enough." As she rode off in an expensive carriage, Helpful figured she was getting the better part of the deal. "How hard can it be serving one queen?"

      Kelley Welykholowa
      wildwatergirl@hotmail.com

      Delete
  76. Shanghai 1940s

    TODAY the proclamation went up. Today, I won’t run home. Today, I wish I could go anywhere but home.

    Adrienne Tropp
    artropp@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  77. Falling flat on her face was not how Julianne had planned to make her first impression at her new job. She blinked at the pair of dark leather loafers and casual black corduroy pants that instantly appeared a few inches from her nose. And then she closed her eyes and cursed under her breath.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Falling flat on her face was not how Julianne had planned to make her first impression at her new job. She blinked at the pair of dark leather loafers and casual black corduroy pants that instantly appeared a few inches from her nose. And then she closed her eyes and cursed under her breath.


    Joelle Martin ms.joellemartin@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  79. Girl, you always have the BEST ideas! (No, this isn't a paragraph entry, LOL, just a hug)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Vivi, you are the best!! Hugs right back :)

      Delete