Monday, June 30, 2014

2nd Annual First Paragraph Contest!

Today marks the day of the 2ND ANNUAL FIRST PARAGRAPH CONTEST!

Last year we had some amazing entries and everyone that entered made it SO HARD to pick just two. So this year is going to be even harder because we will have just ONE winner. Like one person will get the gold! 


Like this guy:




Or like this girl:




Contest opens today (June 30th, 2014 at 11am (PDT), 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 Monday (July 7, 2014 at 5pm (PDT). 

2) I will then read through all the entries and pick TEN winners and post their entries. At this point, I'd love to see all your comments on who you would like to vote for, even though we have judges. 

3) The awesome Josh and Tracey Adams of Adams Literary will then pick only ONE from the ten (which I will announce as soon as they choose). 

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, as always.

Like this guy:



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


The Gold: A.K.A the Prize

The winner will receive a query edit by none other than the fabulous Tracey Adams! And some wonderful books on writing that will come to a mail box near you, from me!

Our First Paragraph Judges

Josh Adams


Josh Adams, together with his wife Tracey, runs Adams Literary. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Business School—where he studied finance and accounting, and was awarded the Abe Shuchman Memorial Award in Marketing—Josh spent more than a decade in publishing and media before bringing his editorial and business backgrounds together as a literary agent.

A media management specialist, he led teams of creative and business professionals in developing the editorial strategy and positioning of several national publications, and directed the marketing and brand strategy of many well-known international companies as a consultant.

In his free time, Josh enjoys practicing Taekwondo with Tracey and their daughters, and is working toward his third-degree black belt.

Tracey Adams


Tracey Adams co-founded Adams Literary in 2004, after nearly a decade with literary agencies Writers House and McIntosh & Otis, where she was the head of the children's department. Prior to becoming an agent, she worked in the marketing and editorial departments of Greenwillow Books and Margaret K. McElderry Books.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Tracey speaks frequently about her profession and the children's book industry at conferences across the country. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Association of Author Representatives (AAR), and a founding member of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA) chapter in Charlotte, NC.

In her spare time, Tracey enjoys Taekwondo, kickboxing, and test-marketing children's books with her two daughters.








38 comments:

  1. If I were Ellen Rodman instead of Mary Reynolds, I’d be the kind of girl that gets off on putting check marks in perfectly square little boxes drawn in the left hand margin of my notebook. The boxes would line up one beneath the other in a straight column without depending on the red perpendicular stripe. Each check would shine as an accomplishment, a thing I controlled and managed. Shit, I’d even give myself a gold star when I got to the bottom of a page to commemorate all the things I’d done.
    But I’ve never been a list girl…more of a fly by the seat of my pants and hope there wasn’t a split in the ass of my jeans girl. I got by…it wasn’t pretty…more of a well-maintained chaos…I did my best though…I had good reason to always try.

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  2. Dreams are like sunsets, beautiful and fleeting. I often wonder what kind of sunset I’d create if I could control it. The colours I’d choose. The balance. The flow. And if it were mine, maybe I’d make it last all day. But then again, there's not much point to that. Like dreams, perhaps a sunset’s beauty walks hand in hand with its brevity.

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  3. I fly across the stage, heart racing, light spilling around me. There’s a deafening monotone buzz in my ear, preventing me from hearing the music. I feel myself slow down, feeling as if I’m dragging myself through honey and mud. It’s like I can’t control my body anymore. Everything around me continues, while I am forced to move in slow motion. The buzz gets louder and louder, causing spots in my vision as it burrows deep within my brain. My heart thumps as my throat clamps, right as I’m about to shout for help. In the next instant, the stage disappears. The orchestra disappears. The lights dim. I can barely make out the flashing of police lights, alternating red, white, and blue. But my eyes close as I feel the world come out from under me. I am alone in the darkness right before I feel myself fall down, hitting the hard ground beneath me.

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  4. The blast concussion hit Roth in the chest as he felt Sophia’s tiny hand ripped from his grasp. Another bright ball of fire missed them by inches when it slammed into the building, Sophia’s scream propelled him into action. Roth lifted himself on all fours, he gasped for air as he tried to shake away the stars hovering at the edge of his consciousness. The smell of acrid smoke filled his nose as he attempted to bring the world into focus. The screams of the injured soon replaced the ringing in his ears as he tried to make out the scene in front of him.

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  5. “I can’t,” I whisper-hiss through the all-encompassing suck of the venue – cigarette smoke choked with BO twisting like a wraith through the Christmas lights that festoon the wall, draped over a stuffed Marlin that looks like it has never been in the sea. A tumble of kids all trying to sit on the same (likely) bedbug-infested couch eye me and my bandmate Sarah through the gathering indoor fog. The pathetic little throng of moshers has long since stopped throwing themselves against each other like spastic molecules and are now gaping up at us, the sad state of punk kid dental hygiene on full display. A shard of wood from my splintering drumsticks digs into my clenched palms and sweat runs down my face; my hands shake like I’m trying to execute some kind of crazy too-fast paradiddle.

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  7. The book had changed again. At first it had been little things: the verdant shade of a tunic turned inky black, the snarling wolf on one page jumped to the next, a Cyclops eye closed and then opened again. And then the writing itself started morphing. One day the thin script described the anatomy of a pixie wing with painstaking clarity, and the next day the narrative turned cruelly clinical, explaining a dissection of their tiny insect-like bodies, supplying generous detail about their guts splayed out on a wooden slab. I could have dealt with the illuminations shifting. I could have ignored that, chalked it up to stress. Graduate school was not for the feint-hearted. A lot of late nights reading ancient Celtic histories, about bloodlines and battles. A lot of memorizing Old Irish irregular verbs, their forms and their tenses. I could have ignored the pictures. But when the text started changing, I was pissed. I didn’t have time to go insane. I had to start working on my Master’s thesis. I wanted to apply for a grant to go to Ireland. I had things to do. And what’s worse, shifting, changing text made it hard to transcribe old manuscripts, which is what I had been tasked to do this afternoon by my advisor, Dr. Forrester.

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  8. If I stood four paces to the left of the Clancey's warped steps, angled my neck up and cupped my hands around my eyes, all I could see was blue sky and the tops of the aspen trees. No four-story clapboard houses. No dusty streets or wooden walkways. No chicken coops.

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    Replies
    1. Just wanted to say I love your entry! Big lesson in contests being subjective for me, because honestly, if I'd been picking, you would have had first place. Looks like it leads to a great story. :)

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  9. I’d still be standing on the other side of the fence if Jake hadn’t raced out of his doghouse, begging me to open the gate. Well, that and the fact that I was out of clean underwear. After retrieving our key hidden under the rock, my trembling hand froze in front of the keyhole. Jake barked with anticipation, prancing back and forth behind me. I pushed the key into the hole and twisted it, shivering when I heard the familiar click of the deadbolt retracting. I put my hand on the doorknob but couldn’t bring myself to open the door.

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  10. Peter Harper never got picked for anything. Mr. Hayes, his gym teacher, had to force teams to take Peter in the dreadful dodgeball draft every Friday. Miss Taylor, his math teacher, ignored Peter, even when he raised his hand and made primate sounds to get her attention. Neil, his foster dad, didn’t take Peter to “Take Your Son to Work Day” because he said Peter wasn’t technically his son, and his boss wouldn’t allow it. So, when Peter’s sister, Sally, decided to wander into traffic in pursuit of her precious baseball, Peter picked himself to save her and become a famous hero.

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  11. You must never tell anyone what you’re about to read (or smell), but most importantly, what you may find. That’s right "may." More about that later, Kid. If you should make it at least halfway through this tale, and if you even dare to finish it, than you must open yourself to the impossible and maybe even to the extraordinary. To everything that you thought would never happen—that maybe, all of those everythings out there could happen. However—and listen up, Kid--once you acknowledge these possibilities, you are forever sworn to secrecy. In short, you’ve made a pact with us—a promise with The Mostly Mutts Club. An agreement that only exists between dogs (and, at times, a few cats and maybe an occasional field mouse and that one mangy, snaggle-toothed possum), but only with a few select and privileged children. For now, anyway...

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  12. It began with the fireflies, as magic often does. Jenny was in the field behind her grandparents’ house with her younger brother, chasing fireflies. She spied a good one, low-flying and lackadaisical, and followed it past the shed and into the darkening woods.

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  13. My family is a bunch of monsters. I’m not trying to be mean but facts are facts and when I say my family is a bunch of monsters it’s not like they do a lot of horrible things, they’re literally monsters. My mommy is a mummy; her family comes from ancient Egypt. My dad is a werewolf and when I say werewolf I mean a hairy, scary, howl-at-the-moon werewolf. I also have an older brother and younger sister. My brother is a shape-shifter, meaning he can take the form of anything or anyone he wants to be. My sister is a scrawny little skeleton, all bones and nothing else. So you are probably wondering what I am? I am a girl, an ordinary, everyday normal girl. If you haven’t guessed it by now, my parents adopted me when I was a baby. My name is Olivia Boogieman.

    eswheeler1992(at)yahoo.com

    E.S. Wheeler

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  14. I was really good at stealing fresh fruit at the Farmer's Market. Not too bad at stealing dog food from the Super Pet store. But when it came to trying to swipe a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter from Mr. Wu's corner market, I flat out stunk at the job. My plan was simple. I figured I'd just wrap my jacket around the first fresh meal I'd had in two days and then hightail it out of the store, hoping Max would buy me a good head start. One look at him was usually enough to make most people back up a step or two.

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  15. Silence fell in a slow crash as I pulled away from the keys, the final chords of my newest song slipping away. Morning sunlight bathed the piano and made its edges soft. I slid a hand across the lip of the key bed, loving how the worn wood didn’t shine with the threat of reflection. The threat of monsters.

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  16. “Zia Lydia overdosed this morning, Mariella.”
    I’m a linguistics minor; I know nearly every word in the dictionary. I don’t recognize these, at least not in a sentence. These aren’t words that belong together.

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  17. You’d think here in the hospital I wouldn’t stand out. Everyone has something going on, even if it’s a good thing like a new baby. But nope, no way. Here I am in a wheelchair, being wheeled to Dad’s car even though there is no reason I can’t walk except for stupid hospital rules, and my freakdom still stands out. So what if I’ve got glasses being held on by a thick elastic band? So what if the glasses have hearing aids on the stems? So what if I just have holes where my ears are supposed to be? It’s not like my skin is green slimy scales, or I’ve got three heads. Even though the 900 year old man pushing my wheelchair could win a contest for world’s oldest human, and on top of that he is wearing bright plaid pants, it’s me that gets noticed.

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  18. Eiofe Flanagan, I bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me. Any more than I expected to be waking up thinking about you. Fact is, ten months ago, if anyone had told me you'd be the one person in our class I couldn’t stop thinking about, I would have said, who?

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  19. Naomi, thanks for the contest. I currently have two WIPs that I alternate between. Can I enter more than one entry?

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    1. Hi YA Writer! It'd be best just to post one since I already set it up in the rules that way. Thank you for entering, I can't wait to read the one you pick :) Best of luck!

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  20. Jansen leaned over and to kiss Tara's slender, pale lips. "Wake up, it's time to go to work." She grabbed the big feather pillow in the middle of the headboard and pulled it down over her face, pressing it hard against her mouth to muffle her outburst, "NOT YET, I JUST FELL ASLEEP!" She slowly rolled over and cracked her tired eyes to see the warm sunlight dancing through the curtains as if to perform privately for her. She let out a loud sigh as she pulled herself off of the soft billows of the feather bed and put her feet on the area rug that covered the beautiful oak hardwood floor that went throughout the house. Walking over to the large antique armoire, carved with a Celtic design around the frame, and the Jansen's family crest on the door, she opened the bottom drawer and grabbed the extra set of clothes that she leaves there for just such occasions and went into the bathroom to shower.

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  21. I hide the scissors and the red shoebox on the top shelf in my closet. The obituaries can wait. Outside my dirty bedroom window, the Kansas sun is barely coming up. I wonder at the promises the sky holds for me today. Ages ago—in quiet cemeteries, one grave for every town I’ve ever lived, like a trail of stepping stones leading me back to the first death: Mom.

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  22. The last time I asked about joining one of Judd Grawl’s rift expeditions, Mum banned me from mentioning it until I turned thirty. So the fact that, a month later, I was getting my way without asking seemed... what shall we call it? Suspect.

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  23. As Dad drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, the fog crept across San Francisco devouring its edges. The tops of the skyscrapers were visible, but the lower buildings were hidden under the thick layer of gray. Mom, Dad and possibly Colby, wouldn’t even notice if that fog came right into our car and swallowed me up too.

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  24. Last night, someone accused Gabbie Vanhout of having sex with Mr. Stevenson. It allegedly happened backstage after the drama club meeting on Thursday. Gabbie always has hair that looks like she stuck her finger in an electrical socket before coming to first period. She wears steel-toed combat boots, all black clothes, and barely speaks to anyone. There are rumors she drank bleach after taking finals last year. It’s all over Trumbullconfessional.com. It’s an anonymous gossip site made by a couple of seniors from back when the Internet was still dial-up. Mostly it’s just bullshit posts about people looking to score drugs, find the latest party, or just spread lies. But sometimes you hit confessional gold.

    whitegirlsonbookcovers@gmail.com

    Courtney

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  25. The first time I met Jeremy Davis he didn't break my heart—he broke my rib, and that was close enough. The second time, he totaled my boyfriend's truck and dislocated my shoulder. So I'm not going to lie, when I saw him a third time, I almost ducked away and let Brittany take my place in the kissing booth. But I had to know, so I kissed him. The silence that surrounded us was worth it—even when his braces caught my lip and his tongue tried to find mine. Not that I let him. But I had to give him props for trying.

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  26. Screams erupted from the televid. I slipped into our room at Relocation Bunker Number Four and closed the door. My eight-year-old brother sat on his bed, brown eyes focused on the small screen hanging from the wall. He resembled our Dad so much it hurt to look at him. There wasn’t a speck of Mom’s pale, Norwegian heritage in Joe. With my almond skin, gray eyes, and dark, curly hair, I was a mix of both.

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  27. Maxwell ignored the NO TRESPASSING signs on the edge of the property, though it would be harder to ignore the high-voltage fence enclosing it. He scrambled forward and dropped to his knees about a foot shy of the perimeter. Moisture soaked his cargo pants with the scent of wet grass and dirt. The chilled night bit at his exposed skin as he shrugged off his leather jacket. He eyed the area in front of him, searching for the faint shimmer of the otherwise invisible barrier, listening for the telltale hum of power.

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  28. The only thing reeking worse than my mojo-bag was the team on the field, and that was sayin’ something considering our rusted scrap-heap of a ‘football stadium’ sat in the middle of a salt marsh. Some called it ‘character,’ but Mama always said about Caledonia: she hadn’t seen so many half-collapsed and boarded up buildings since she’d fled Tehran in ‘79.

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  29. Colton ditched me for his girlfriend when we got to the party. I pulled down the service trail we used to sneak into the beach at Hanna Park, with my headlights on to keep from scraping my car on the palmettos. She dragged my best friend out the second he opened the door, and they disappeared before I cut the engine. I stuffed down the burn of abandonment. Now I had to show up alone. People always invited me to these parties, but I figured it’s because my liver’s shot, and I came in handy as a designated driver.

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  30. It was on the morning of my second day of school when I first ran into Cassandra Alyssa Green.
    Unfortunately, ran into is the correct term.Well, she probably would describe it as a mauling or some kind of vicious attack, depending on how dramatic she was feeling at the time. If she had enough time to re-tell the story, she’d spin it into some kind of dramatic yarn, that made me look like a violent villain, and her a hospitalized angel.
    The truth is, naturally, much more mundane.

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  33. Bette Midler’s face yelled at Allan from the phone screen, “listen Allan, listen to me.” The LSD-laced blue sugar cube he ingested earlier was hitting him hard. “Experience the Divine” blasted on the massive Fender speakers connected to his iPhone for about an hour, with commercials. The beloved 80’s singer screeched at him with the grace of sexagenarian working at a local government permit office. He eventually jumped out of his chair and attempted to silence her with his fingers. It failed, and she might have bitten him. After every song in the album played three more times, the music stopped. Silence reigned for a few blissful minutes - until he heard a door open. He was squatting on a century old mill, so he wasn't expecting visitors. Discombobulated and brash, he tapped on a Top 40 playlist, pumped up the volume and hoped it randomly picked something with Pitbull. “That should scare them,” he said to his cat Nix. Instead of a ubiquitous Pitbull song, Spotify played the Icona Pop bubblegum techno beat, “I love it.”

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  34. I swear: I did not mean to set the squirrel on fire.

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  35. Molly Ming always knew she was extraordinary. Not the leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound extraordinary, but the fascinating-workings-of-the-human-mind kind of extraordinary. Like the spider in the corner of the school bus window, weaving together complicated patterns of thin silk to create something beautiful. Molly planted her feet on the ground to brace her body for the lurch of the bus over the train tracks. She was almost home. The train whistled in the distance, at the same time the bus clanked and coughed. A black cloud of smoke filled the air as the bus shuddered to a stop right in the middle of the tracks. Kids started to shriek, panicking as they all surged toward the doors, spilling out like ants under attack. The train whistled louder…. longer….screaming at them to get out of the way. Molly, caught in the crowd moving toward the door, turned her head in time to see the train barreling down the track, sparks flying as the brakes tried desperately to do their job.

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  36. Mike pulled his attention from his math homework to watch half his fifth grade class run around the soccer field like superheated atoms. So far, the negatively-charged, sixth-grade molecule known as “Brutus” hadn’t swooped in to repel the particles like an electric bowling ball. If Brutus didn’t aim for the easy target of the soccer field, he was probably searching for Mike. According to The List of Chumps to be Pounded After School, today was hang-Mike-like-a-piñata Wednesday. Failing to call Brutus, the biggest sixth-grader at Evanston Grade School, by his self-chosen nickname broke Chump Rule #1. Mike blew that the first day of fifth grade. On the second, he sat in Brutus’s swing. His name had topped The List ever since.

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