Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Largely Indispensable First Paragraph Challenge

UPDATE: TIME'S UP!! THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED

After the deluge I mean success of the Stupendously Ultimate First Line Challenge, and after seeing so many wonderful first lines, I couldn't help but wonder -- what came next??

Well. Now's your chance to fire off more than just a sentence. This week's contest is THE LARGELY INDISPENSABLE FIRST PARAGRAPH CHALLENGE!! (aka the sensation that's sweeping the nation) Who can write the best opening to a book EVER?

The guidelines (subject to change upon a whim):

1) All may participate. First paragraphs can be from your work in progress or one you made up solely for the purposes of the challenge. Your choice. Please limit yourself to three (3) entries.

2) Leave your first paragraph in the comments section. Paragraphs stretching on and on into infinity will be judged, well, not necessarily with impunity but definitely with hearty skepticism.

3) Entries may be made between now and Wednesday evening Pacific time. On Thursday nominees will be announced and voting will commence, and the winner will be announced on Monday.

4) After the fantastically generous help of Anne Dayton in the SUFLC, I've enlisted the other half of Good Girl Lit, May Vanderbilt, to help me judge this week's contest. (Because Good Girls make good judges.)

5) Spreading the word about the challenge by means of the Internet is encouraged. Let's make this one the most largely indispensible ever. 700 entries? 10,000? A BILLION? Bring it!! I'm ready.

6) Oh yes, and the prizes. The winner will receive a partial mansucript critique from yours truly and a copy of one of my client's books (your choice!). Runners-up will win, as always, my everlasting admiration and the satisfaction of a job well done. Oh, and a query critique as well. (yes, prizes for the runners-up! I've gone soft in my old age.)

Annnd that should cover it! Please keep checking back because new rules may be announced without notice.

Good luck! Only one paragraph can win. Who will it be?






633 comments:

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David said...

Similar swampage, with even longer entries!

Will Miss Snark have anything to say about this?

Nathan Bransford said...

david-

I'm ready. I think.

WendyNYC said...

I started stealing from my clients by accident. Most of them are wealthy. Really wealthy, I mean. They live in apartments worth well over 15 million dollars. And they paid cash. I love those online real estate sites; they reveal information no one would want their employees to know.

Current WIP

Jael said...

Dosha’s mother was a notorious womanizer. In 1970s Sedona she was both famous and infamous, and particularly well-known in the subset of lesbians who came together once a month to pound their own agave. It was a social event that only partly centered on making tequila. Other things were also made there, like mistakes, and progress, and obviously, love.

Gina Black said...

Every Monday at four o'clock I have a standing performance with a captive audience. I play Mila the Romanian Orphan transplanted to Beverly Hills: the Ultimate Outsider and Maladjusted Adolescent. Sometimes I prepare a monologue. Sometimes I just sit there and look sullen. In either case for $250 an hour Dr. Natalie Peters probes my psyche, and takes notes which I suspect find their way back to my adoptive mother.

Josephine Damian said...

Her children played pick up sticks in the next room as the fat man forced himself into her. It would end sooner, Sara knew if she moved or moaned; he’d mistake her cry of pain for pleasure, but she bit her lower lip. She chose to keep still.
What if her girls heard? She could hear her youngest say, “Six, seven, go to heaven.”

From my women's fiction, completed.

I'll try to work up the opening of my suspense thriller WIP by the Wed. deadline.

Good luck to everybody! Bless you Nathan! You are a brave soul for trying this again so soon after the last contest.

Jael said...

Last week you met the Devil, and she was a real bitch. You met at the Starbucks on Wisconsin, just up from the Cathedral. You like to read on the Cathedral steps. You like to feel the bulk of stone behind you. Not for any religious reason, you’re not religious. You don’t worship, although you’d like to think there’s something out there that plans. You just don’t know what it is. You have a lot of questions. You read for answers. Every day you make a small circle from your apartment to the Cathedral to the Cleveland Park Bookshop to Starbucks and back again. Your life is a block long and a block wide. That’s not exactly true. Your life is actually a foot long and a foot wide. Your life is all in your head.

Josephine Damian said...

"Will Miss Snark have anything to say about this?"

David, maybe if we all drink a glass of gin and set our hair on fire at exactly the same time, it'll send a collective karmic messaage and invoke her spirit.

D said...

"Make me somebody. Anybody. Someone other than who I am," this is what I tell Dr. Noname, my plastic surgeon. He doesn't acknowledge me. He clicks a mouse pointer, and grabs and drags. On the screen is a three-dimensional model of my face. Click, click; me with a longer, straighter nose; me with high cheekbones; a sturdier jaw. Thirty mouse clicks later, it's still me. I pay this man to hurt me.

My current WIP

David said...

josephine,

The gin part's okay, but I have too little hair left as it is to do the other part. :)

Josephine Damian said...

David, Maybe if we all fired a clue gun at the same time?

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

From the sleepy expressions plastered on the other dozen tweens standing outside the motel, it looked as if none of us got a wink of sleep. I sure didn’t.
The brochure for the Elsworth-Litton Foundation Camp for the Realization of Academic Perfection promised each lucky scholarship recipient his or her own private room a luxurious Chicagoland hotel for the entire eleven weeks of summer. The dilapidated hooker dispensary where the airport cabbies dumped us was neither a hotel nor was it luxurious. It wasn’t luxurious by my standards, and I live on a North Arkansas pig farm. The previous night a desk clerk pushed my room key and a towel to me in a safety drawer mounted beneath the Plexiglas safety window. I could only imagine what some of the erudite-looking city slicker kids thought of the advertising hoax. There may or may not have been some truth to the “Chicagoland” part of the brochure. We flew into O’Hare and we were, in fact, not afloat on Lake Michigan. It was land; land so far on the horizon of Chicago’s suburbs I could see no hint of the impressive Windy City skyline.

Words In, Words Out said...

She’s missing. It’s what the papers say. ‘Mother Still Missing After First Week’ are the bold letters of Sunday’s headline. Below it and in smaller type are the words ‘family holds onto hope’. There is a picture of me holding our daughter, Lilly. The space next to her where Emily should have been is empty. Lilly’s mouth is pulled up at the corners and looks strange, like she hadn’t been sure whether to smile or not. In the picture I’m behind her, my face blurry and unimportant. Only missing, not dead.

JAMR said...

Damned non-fiction -- Dita bet if they’d chosen a maudlin novel off of Oprah’s list, as they had every month in the three years they’d been meeting, their discussion never would have turned to murder. And no one would have died. Violently. But that was akin to wishing NASA had installed better foam insulation on the Columbia or that Florida elections officials had methodically tested their voting machines.

Mandy said...

In Anna Hickeringill's final year at the English boarding school her unknown parents had paid to raise her, a prim-faced instructor issued a stern warning. Unmarriageable women of little fortune and excess education had but two options: They could fear God and teach the next generation as governesses. Or--here, a dramatic pause, and a censorious frown--they would fall into the depths of immorality, forced to become soiled doves. Anna took Mrs. Davenport's counsel to heart. After all, she hated other women's children almost as much as she hated their husbands. At her teacher's urging, she listed her primary skills: Leading others astray. Embroidering. Convincing people to part with valuable pocket money.

green ray said...

THE SURPRISE ENDING

I've always known, ever since I was a little boy, that one day I would kill someone. I never told anyone this, however -- not even my mother -- or any of my psychiatrists. That's why I'm telling you now from this strange place in which I find myself. Such a very strange place; not at all what I expected. And what a surprise! Life is full of surprises, but death is full of certainty.

catH said...

In the Lady's temple long beams of late afternoon shadow contrasted against the sunlight that streamed in through the clerestory windows. Jaden shifted on his bench and pulled his thin robe close. Squadrons of cleaners were sweeping in with wide flat brooms, collecting the detritus of worship. One reached up reverently to lift the withered hothouse garlands from the Lady's plinth. The marble statue sat, content among the offerings strewn about her gargantuan feet. Jaden watched in lazy detachment, plaiting Kael's hair into tiny ebony whips, each as thin as a mouse's tail

Topher1961 said...

From Samuel's Dream, WIP

I’m resigned to being the brother of a martyr. Each anniversary the young reporters make their rounds, some with photographers, all with a camera, bent on asking me about our childhood, our parents, and oh, can they take a picture. I don’t harbor ill feelings towards the pen and pad folks, they’re performing a job, responding to their editors’ tickle files. And I like the company. Of course, it’s not me they want to celebrate, it’s my brother. Upon arrival, they take one look at me and clam up like baying dogs responding to a gunshot. They hide their surprise by studying non-existent notes or inquiring about the “availability” of a bathroom. “Mr. Smartt,” they say when they get up the nerve to glance at me again, “you look just like your brother.” After removing their glasses and wiping them with who knows what--their shirttails maybe--their eyes shift again, maybe roll at themselves as they realize they just stated the obvious and haven’t felt so incompetent since asking Al Gore who his father was.

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Kloski assured us he wouldn't go quietly, but when the time came he passively stuck his hands through the bars for the shackles just like all the others. He was an unpleasant man, a terrible neighbor if not the Satanic presence he claimed to be. Satan? No. Perhaps rather one of Scratch's licensed franchisees. Still it troubled my heart to see him escorted away. Washington was next. Then Creighton. Then me.

MBS said...

Lilly Goswell had not set out to fall in love. Not once. Not twice. Never mind three times! But, that is exactly what happened during her seventeenth year. The Unforgettable Year (for Lilly anyways...).

Colorado Writer said...

You know how sometimes you’ll ask your mama for some brand-new roller skates and she won’t say anything for a couple of minutes? She might roll her eyes, or at least sigh real loud, but that’s it. Then, because she didn’t say anything the first time, you ask for the roller skates again, and she starts hollering? Well. That happens to me almost every other day at my house, and I’m tired of it.

MBS said...

My Mom caught me reading today. For real. It was scary. Her eyes glazed over with... Yuck, is that what pride in your son looks like? And to top it all off, this silly hopeful smile spread across her face. Adult enthusiasm is always scary. I’ll have to be a closet reader.

Sandra Gail Lambert said...

Everything has a light around it. Fingers press into the clay, each one trailing a line of sparks into the half-built bowl. The work of muscles flattens the light along my arms and then throws it up into a second, flickering skin. Hands lay coils and a thumb smoothes the edges. The structure is disguised. Palms, outlined in flame, cup together and rub. From out of them drops the next perfect layer. I am the best. This is the moment. I can go higher, thinner. I can flare the top. Handles are possible. Anything I do will hold in the fire. I know it. Everything out of reach of my hands fades – the morning chatter of servants, the damp smell of the curing fire, the annoying whispers at my side. "Teacher, may I help you?" "She's becoming lost." Now the bowl is moving my hands. It pushes them apart and then together. It steadies the fingers of one hand as it pulls the other inside, widening to fit the shape of my fist. I can barely see. The light is all glints and shimmers and flashes as if it were the first sun after a storm. I don't need to see. Nothing can ruin this. Except the whispers. They are louder. "Let us take it." "Pull her away." "I'm sorry, teacher."

ejk said...

Willis laughs, so I punch him in the face. Maybe it’s a mistake, but it still feels good. Inside, I mean. The actual feeling of his teeth gauging into my knuckles is not pleasant. But it’s still worth it. That's the last time anyone will laugh at my fluffy Bunny slippers. Willis is an okay guy, though, so I help him to his feet. He's actually my best friend. Sort of.

V L Smith said...

He lay on the bench watching the traffic light change. Red. Green. Yellow. Red. It was the only light in the entire city that still worked. Maybe that’s why it held such a special fascination for him. It was one of a kind – just like him.

ejk said...

I was thirteen years old when I got kidnapped. According to the news, most kids who are abducted are taken by someone they know. It’s usually their scumbag dad or maybe their mom who’s just escaped from the insane asylum. But in my case, the abductors were just some guy with a huge mustache and a chick with an eye patch. And I’d never seen them before in my life.

trenchgold said...

Brother Jim shuffled his hands together, ready to baptize. He imagined a soft and wooly lamb. He ran his hands over her softness and his crotch tingled. Brother Jim stood at the center of the bridge and his stomach lurched as he peered below. The bridge, metal through and through, perched above the gorge. Slats of metal, the backbones of the bridge, ran the length of the ravine. Water gushed below, to the sea. Brother Jim spoke into Erin’s ear. “This is it my little lamb.” He was giddy; Brother Jim was doing God’s work - or so he thought. “Peace be with you,” he said. Brother Jim pushed Erin backwards off of the bridge. The water, like concrete, smashed her brain

original bran fan said...

Nathan--Dude, you shoulda made a word-count limit. Maybe it's not too late to change that rule?

Nathan Bransford said...

OBF-

I thought about it, but I didn't want to stand in the way of a budding Faulkner. I think it will be apparent whether a paragraph needs to be long, and so hopefully people will self-regulate if they hope to win.

ejk said...

“What are you doing with that?” I asked.
“I’m going to go kill our neighbor,” my brother said calmly as he carried the weed-whacker across our backyard.
I put down my box of poop and followed him. I just had to see this.

Sheri said...

I am not sure how many times a girl can be rejected before it actually makes her mental. Not the little crazy kind. I’m talking committable to an institution mental. The mental that keeps your parents up at night, wishing it wasn’t their kid mental! What? You think parents don’t have those kinds of thoughts? Think again. They might not say it to your face but when they think you have cried yourself to sleep and they are closed behind the door in a room above yours, connected by an air vent, they will. I know.

EQ said...

“Jim, this doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore,” I whispered. I was trying to stay still and quiet but my legs were sore from crouching. Orange security lights in the lumberyard shed an uncertain glow across piles of boards. We could see one guard walking through the corridors of wood. The plan was to head for the hole in the fence when the guard was out of sight. I wanted to forget all about stealing the wood, but I knew Jim wouldn’t change his mind so easily.

YA wip

V L Smith said...

He stared out the window at the pelting rain and cursed the day he was born. He had done the right thing, hadn’t he? After all, she was a vampire. He was a vampire hunter. He glanced over at the journal that she had given him just before he, well…He just never had one so willing. Why this one? Why was she different?

Thomas Kingsley Troupe said...

GOODHALO - WIP

It was the first time he’d seen a dead person brought back to life. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last. Pious Goodhalo ran through the cobble-stoned square, cursing his robes with every step. The meddlesome things were much too long and he had to hitch them up like some kind of woman. He was sure everyone in the market was watching him, and he was right. They were always watching him. Always comparing, always seeing if he could measure up. It seemed he never did.

emilyofnewmoon said...

It all started the day the lady out the back’s dog kissed Rebecca’s rabbit to death, and her Ma won the Lotto. Rebecca’s Ma, I mean. Not the lady’s. She’s, like, a hundred or something, so I doubt if she even has a Ma, not one that buys scratch cards anyway. But Rebecca’s Ma, she loves scratch cards, and quik pik, and all them things. At least, she used to love them. She doesn’t buy them any more. Winning the Lotto once caused her enough trouble. So she says anyway.

From WIP - part two of a three book MG series.

Miss Java said...

No one in their right mind had ever attacked the Shay Rol’dan. At least not until the day they attacked themselves.

Erik said...

It started as an uncomfortable feeling. Not really an event, but not quite a dream, the far off rumble snuck up gently. Popey didn’t wake up right away. Instead, he flinched over on his side and under his grass pillow and then flat on his front as if he was rolling to get away. But it didn’t work. The rumble finally got him.

Conduit said...

I was going to abstain from this one, but then I thought why not? So, here's entry number 1...

Maybe if he had one more drink they'd leave him alone. Gerry Fegan told himself that lie before every swallow. He chased the whiskey's burn with a cool, black mouthful of Guinness and placed the glass back on the table. Look up and they'll be gone, he thought.

Conduit said...

And entry number 2...

His hands just looked dirty to casual eyes, a slight darkening on the knuckles, a shadow on his palm. Bip pretended not to notice the policeman glance down at his fingers. He wanted to curl them inside his sleeves, but he left them on the table, the bruises like blood-blossoms beneath his skin.

Rhonda Stapleton said...

I'm in like Flynn. Here's mine:

Our tour guide was trying to kill us. A half dozen other American students and I were walking through the woods in the middle of very, very rural Japan for three hours, no end in sight. Maybe this was part of her evil plan. No one would be able to find our bodies. She was going to hack us to pieces and scatter our bones out for the woodland creatures to finish us off.

JaxPop said...

NB - Gone soft in your 'old age'??? Ya whippersnapper - Hey, you're bringin' it on yourself with these contests (mixed with the trip to NYC)!!! Good Luck Everyone - 'Specially you Nathan.

SzélsőFa said...

The hooting stopped. The claws tightened around the familiar branch. Floating with the fading breath of the night the owl had arrived safely back to the tree. The claws squeezed a bit more. It was time.

From WIP, called Copper Moon.
Very much in progress - the final version might contain something completely else :))))

Lauren J said...

Sura struck a match, mesmerized by the burst of flames and the smell of sulfur as it filled the small room. She lit the candles, waved her hands over the flames, covered her eyes and recited the ancient words. Opening her eyes, she looked out over the wooden table, at the family and friends gathered together. She sensed this would be their last celebration together. Her husband, Lieb, began to recite the familiar story of the exodus from Egypt as her youngest, Natan, nestled closer to her, resting his head on her arm. Sura gently stroked his head, praying with all her might that no harm should come to him.

Anne said...

Are you insane?

Lorelei said...

Candy Sakaida was a good kid. Really good. Too old for Jai Varent, of course. She was nearly two; walking and talking and way too set in the face. A year earlier and he might have been able to work with her. Adjust the shallow cheekbones, reel in the overbite, cook the sallow wash out of her skin. Or maybe curl the hair enough to pull off the Mediterranean thing. But now the shapers wouldn't work on her less elastic skull. He could still do the straight plastics work, but it'd never take her all the way. She'd grow up looking like her parents. Her mom cried when Varent told her that her kid would never make it in Hollywood.

Lorelei said...

David Lowell told his mum that having a seizure felt like falling asleep, even though he really didn’t know what falling asleep felt like; he never remembered. But his mum liked that sort of thing, something familiar but kind of pretty, and he knew it made her feel better. Like he wasn’t broken somehow. He first shared this false comparison on the morning he was released from hospital after the accident last summer, and he repeated it again this morning from his bed in the medical ward.

Mary said...

In the murky edges of Accra, along sandy roads that haven’t yet been tainted with asphalt or European cafés, where chickens and goats roam the streets with authority, Africa creeps in. Not far from the skyscrapers of the business district and the gated mansions of the elite, men crouch in crumbling doorways smoking cigarettes and women sweep the dirt paths. In those forgotten alleys we found a buvette where we could share a drink and whisper underneath the morning fog. The dank hotel room was too small a setting for such a conversation. The flowered curtains were too trite, the sagging mattress too obvious. This discussion was one that needed room to breathe. Air to force life into it.

Kaleb Nation said...

The night was cold and dead, and so felt Clarence’s heart. He dashed through the darkness, never stopping, always watchful for the men- every passing car making him leap back into the shadows of the trees lining the street. His form was hardly more than a shadow, sweating even in the chilling cold, his face unshaven and scarred. With every second that passed, he knew they were coming; and with every step, he knew they were gaining on him.

I already have an agent with this one, so I'm just in it for the free book and the 'everlasting admiration and the satisfaction of a job well done' :)

Josephine Damian said...

Give you one guess who I think is the best, so far.

*Shake my booty*
*Shake my booty*
*Wave flag of Ireland*

Ok, I'll stop now before Nathan admonishes me for cheering on a particualar person... I didn't name any names, though, now did I? :-)

Jane Smith said...

On Elizabeth’s tenth wedding anniversary her baby took her first few tottering steps; her little boy started school; and she saw her husband kissing another woman like she was the only precious thing left in his world.

(From my recently-completed second novel, currently out on submission here in the UK.)

Jane Smith said...

I can still remember the way the knife felt when I slid it in him. There was a soft, sucking resistance: a bump as the knife slid past his ribs. A serrated feeling, like cutting corrugated cardboard, although the knife was mostly smooth. And the sudden spurt of warmth as I pulled the knife out and his blood flowed over my hands. After, I sat with him and held his hand until he died. I thought it would be quick, but it seemed to take an hour or more. And all that time he lay on the ground with his blood spreading out around him and he watched me with his lovely brown eyes, and he tried to talk. He couldn’t, of course. He didn’t seem able to get enough air to make any proper sounds. I must have punctured a lung, I could hear air bubbling out from him somewhere, a wet, tiny, whistling sound down by his side. He moved his free hand, the one I was not holding. He didn’t have the strength even to lift his hand to his side: instead, he brushed it backwards and forwards on the ground, through the rubbish and the broken glass, as if he were trying to brush away the knife.

(This is from my third novel, which I'm working on now: it's perhaps a third done in first draft.)

C.J. said...

She loved the snow. For the tiny pieces of white brought a handle, or rather thousands of tiny handles. Each flake gave presence to the invisible that was already there, but could not be sensed. Riding on her motorcycle in the summer, she could, with effort, believe that she was cutting through the world, everything blurry and unnatural. But this snow, the first of the year, let her see the air separating before her. It allowed her eyes, rather than her mind, to tell her that she was riding in that delicate seam of inexistence. Like tracers hinted at the deadly stream of fellow bullets, so the snow uncloaked the air which was not merely the space between everything, but was comprised of very real and tangible substances: nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and here, in Kiev, Strontium-90 and Cesium-137.

From completed lit. fic. novella, "Flakes Bloom"

Jason said...

Lazy dreams were broken by a rough scream, and Simeon bolted up straight in bed. Abruptly, the scream ended, and in its wake the music the music of battle: steel blades striking wood and bone, shod hooves striking the earth, blood, and tears, and gasping breath. He leapt from the sheets and dashed to the corner where he’d left his sword. The only light was an orange tinge pushing in around the shuttered window. His hand grasped blindly before he felt the dry leather of the handle. Gripping it close he glided back to the bed. Diana was awake, propped up on an elbow, pulling the coarse cover over her breast. Her azure eyes scintillated with repressed panic.

A Writress said...

July
He does not know why he is here.
When he finds out, it will be too late.

2readornot said...

Darcy looked at the vine-covered, three-story school. Why couldn’t they have sent me to military school? Or even keep me at the local public high school? The trees arched overhead, sending the yellow light dancing around with the shadows of the leaves. Darcy put her hand on her stomach, grimacing. Why me? Two guys burst from around the corner of the school, the first laughing in short gasps. The other tried to grab him and missed. “Come on, Ben,” he said. “You can’t always win.” The leader, Ben, jumped to touch a leaf twirling in the breeze, his t-shirt rising and exposing a tan, muscular stomach. Of course, Darcy thought, beautiful building, gorgeous guys…I wanna go home.

NaNo novel...perhaps.

Helen said...

It was only when she saw these words written on the wall did Arney realize how much she’d been dreading them for the last three years. “Time to play,” announced the wall in lurid pink letters that smelled like cough syrup. Alone, the phrase wouldn’t be so bad, but the wall also said, “Happy Birthday!” And Arney felt her heart stop.

From my YA fantasy novel White King, Black Queen.

Thank you. I really love your contests, Mr. Bransford.

Spartezda said...

Thirty years ago, the moon finally hatched.

Megan said...

"Aren’t middle school guys supposed to be mature? Like, in the summer between fifth and sixth grade, aren’t their voices supposed to get a lot lower and their brains get a lot smarter? Because that’s kind of what I was expecting, but it’s not happening. If it was, there wouldn’t be a piece of gum lodged between my pony tail and the scruff of my neck."

Current WIP

Precie said...

From YA wip entitled "Tin Man" (yes, technically it's two paragraphs, but it's still shorter than other entries... okay?):

Dazed by the heat emanating from the lava river below, he shuffled across the narrow bridge. Once across, he paused to regain his equilibrium and examined the massive stone gates ahead. Flanked by searing falls, the gates promised the most magnificent treasure—and its most terrifying guardian. With his weapons loaded and his health at maximum, he was poised to face whatever unearthly menace awaited him on the other side.

The door bell rang, shattering Quentin's concentration.

Jess said...

Meritt sidled up to the case and held his breath so the glass wouldn’t fog. A little placard said the piece inside was on loan from Lord Tarlton’s private collection. When Meritt saw the smooth green stone inside, his face fell. That was it? That innocuous little disc had the power to make his dreams come true? Doubtful. There weren’t even any runes on it. Not that he would know what runes looked like. Meritt Slade, class act and foremost upright citizen, with the number one radio show in the city, didn’t deal with unseemly things like magic. Not if you asked him. ---

From urban fantasy WiP.

Heidi the Hick said...

Jenny is totally wasted, sprawled on the hood of the Caprice, blinking at the big black sparkling sky spinning above her. She’s been drunk often enough so far to know that she’s a happy drunk. Normally, anyways, she’s a happy drunk. She started off the evening by referring to my ex-boyfriend Marty as a big fucking goof, which didn’t stop her from taking a beer from him. Once she got going she picked up a few more beers, and her mouth got bigger, and she’s pretty damn lucky that she’s a girl and so far, even in 1988 when we’re supposed to be all liberated and equal, guys still have enough respect to not hit a girl.

(*apologies for the cussing. Them kids are waaay more foul mouthed than I am. Just so you know.)

Lauri Shaw said...

On the midnight of my twenty-first birthday, I am naked except for a pair of five-inch stilettos. I writhe and gyrate on a tiny stage in front of four or five smelly, leering men in a midtown Manhattan basement. The walls are mirrored. Through the mirrors’ film of smoke, grit, and sweaty fingerprints I can see my expression – it is the portrait of complacency, and doesn’t betray a thing.

My body is in one place. My mind is in another. Briefly it dawns on me that for the rest of my life, I will be able to call up this image at will. I consider the irony, and return to the act at hand.

Lauri Shaw said...

Some people have nightmares about showing up to work naked.

In my nightmares, what I am wearing is irrelevant.

A sweet dream is one in which I am blissfully unaware of my body.

Through the flimsy silk of a dream, maybe one of those sweet ones, I feel the harsh winter wind blowing on my face.

jjdebenedictis said...

Dang. I started my novel with dialogue. One paragraph=one sentence, and you've already seen my first line.

*pouts*

Nathan Bransford said...

jjbenedictis-

I won't be overly strict when a novel opens with dialogue, so feel free to enter.

Inept Time Traveler said...

“Moronic egotistical prig,” Ruth looked around for signs of surveillance. Not only did this empty hallway appear free of cameras and microphones, but she spotted the almost invisible gauze of a sound absorber glued to the black-walnut paneling. “Well, I guess a senate floor is the best place in the New Capitol Building to vent,” she muttered, then shifted the heavy black-leather folder with its bright-red TOP SECRET sticker to her other hand.

Precie said...

Nathan--Is it ok that I entered two paragraphs instead of one? Or am I disqualified?

Anonymous said...

ejk,

My opinion doesn't count for squat, but I vote for you already!!

Poop and a weed-whacker?! Sounds like my old neighborhood. God, I love these kids!!

Kimberly Lynn

Nathan Bransford said...

precie-

People should try to limit to one paragraph -- you're not disqualified, I'll just consider the sentence that comes after the first paragraph to be part of the first.

Merry Jelinek said...

"What do you think he's done now?" Jared asked in a low whisper.

Seth stepped from the branch and hovered there, staring down toward an array of colorful light twinkling deep within the forest. His iridescent blue wings beat out a rhythm in the night sky.

From my middle grade WIP.

Precie said...

THANK YOU!

I just can't bring myself to put them together, but that would be the right way for me to play.

And thanks for the opportunity. You and May are very, um, BRAVE.

julief said...

Oooooo, an entire paragraph! This could get very interesting. I'm already looking forward to all the entries. Good luck, everyone!
Okay, from my WIP currently called The Second Sin:

I let the smoke out of my mouth in bursts, so it looked like clouds as it diffused into the space in front of me. I ignored the dirty looks of a few pedestrians, who were offended by my public smoking, and remained tucked into my own thoughts. I absently pulled the cigarette back to the thin seam of my mouth and inhaled deeply, enjoying the feel of my nostrils expanding as much as the taste of the cigarette in the back of my mouth. I wished I could smoke something else, something that might lead me to a happier state of mind. On the nicotine, all I got was unwelcome reality. Which meant that I couldn’t keep Allie out of my head.

Tammie said...

To look at me, no one would know that the plink-plink-plink sound I was hearing in my head was the sound of that last thread we are often hanging by, splitting apart. I was trying to drown the sound out as I took tiny shuffled steps following the person in front of me to get out of the church now that the funeral was over. Wrapping my trench coat around me so that no one could see that I didn’t have a black outfit on I headed to my car. It wasn’t cold or rainy, just your average April day in Michigan, but I didn’t have that all reliable, good for any occasion, including funerals, little black dress. I just prayed I didn’t have a hot flash in the middle of the Pastor’s sermon, nothing like having a trench coat stick to the backside of your body. The Pastor said nice things about Lois, the lady who died. "It’s a beautiful day outside; you have better things you should be doing," the voice said in between the plinking sounds. But instead, I had wrapped myself in a coat and sat in a pew at 2:00 in the afternoon at a funeral of a lady whom I barely knew.

The Perfect Obit - Completed Women's Fiction

Abi said...

Lilia Loverly and Cassie Chalaine were laughing as they headed toward the kitchen of the Maple Hill Inn until they ran across Baby New Year holding a bloodied knife over the body of Father Time. Cassie screamed bloody murder and the tray of discarded champagne glasses Lilia was holding went crashing to the floor. Jay Roddey looked up in terror at the two women. His eyes glazed with fear, his body shaking, and the knife trembling in his hand.

twizzle said...

For the life of her, Mia couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t get her ass to fit into what were basically a pair of assless underwear. Technically, it shouldn’t even be possible. The thong underwear she’d pulled out of the smut shop’s bag was all of three strips of red elastic and a triangular patch of scarlet lace. The tag had even said “One Size Fits All” in the store. (Mia was sure of this. She’d discreetly checked.) But as she spun in the mirror, peering over her shoulder to get a better look, she realized that possible or not, the panties did not fit her ass. The thong underwear had disappeared somewhere into her nether regions, and now her plan was in complete shambles.

-"Crossing Off Elvis" humorous women's fic

twizzle said...

oops. typo. I pasted wrong. It's:

For the life of her, Mia couldn’t figure out why her ass wouldn't fit into what were basically a pair of assless underwear. Technically, it shouldn’t even be possible. The thong underwear she’d pulled out of the smut shop’s bag was all of three strips of red elastic and a triangular patch of scarlet lace. The tag had even said “One Size Fits All” in the store. (Mia was sure of this. She’d discreetly checked.) But as she spun in the mirror, peering over her shoulder to get a better look, she realized that possible or not, the panties did not fit her ass. The thong underwear had disappeared somewhere into her nether regions, and now her plan was in complete shambles.

-"Crossing Off Elvis" humorous women's fic

eric said...

There’s this girl I’ve never met that I know everything in the world about. Well, most everything. Not the big stuff, I guess. Like what she prayed about when she would cry at her bedside or whether she really believed those prayers might get answered. And I never knew all of the reasons for the crazy shit she did, but hey, who really does? I did know other stuff though. The real freaky-deaky shit. Like how she would crack open her father’s disposable razors with a pair of pliers she kept stashed behind her dresser and how she’d slice herself up. Sometimes I think she left her window blinds open that way just so somebody, anybody, me--a guy she never met--would know. Not that she was some kind of attention whore. Just about everybody is some kind of attention whore. Not Scissors, though. And I could testify in court to that, since, I’m like, some kind of authority on the girl.

Ello said...

Nathan,
You are one brave man!

I, Kawamoto Shiro, having reached my fortieth year, resolve to end my life upon the conclusion of my trial. This I vow to my mother, eager for news of my death to end her shame. I await a trial to punish me for actions taken in the name of our Tenno-heika, the Heavenly Sovereign. No mere mortal but a living god, to worship, to idolize, and to give up our lives for in the hopes of eternal glory. So we were taught and so we obeyed. And in his name, I have lost everything of value in this world but my own worthless life.
Nagasaki. August 9, 1945. My soul died that day. Thirty miles separated my fate from theirs. Thirty miles that can never be crossed again in this world. I have no more to live for. This all must end, but not yet.

Jess said...

Erk. My first entry should read "saw the green stone, his face fell." Note having the second "inside." Stupid enthusiasm. Here's entry two and then I'm done.

Anna Lowry didn’t see him step into the hallway until she had plowed into him and they crumbled together in a heap of limbs. She extracted herself gracelessly and sat on the floor scowling for a moment to get her bearings. Across the hall, Captain William Valentin did the same. Any hope Anna had of making it to the meeting on time left her when she noticed who it was. Valentin’s lip curled into a sneer. “Private, is there a reason you’re running through the halls like some animal?” --

Sci-fi novel, in revision

JoAnn Haberer said...

Agreeing to marry a dead guy was a bad decision from the get-go. No way to defend it, and I’m not going to feign ignorance of the possible consequences. But, to be fair, there was some dispute over whether he was really dead. And, when it looked certain that he was, I lost a toe. No getting that back.

Leann said...

If only the woman would die. Again.

green ray said...

(entry #2)

Most people think that all you really need is a good job. Why? Because most people need to make money. And most people have a work ethic: nine to five, five days a week. And it's best if you do your duty and go to work. And when the weekend comes, you can go out and party and get drunk and laid and have a swell time.

Gracie Chase said...

I couldn't take my eyes off the surgically-enhanced bubblehead hawking her herbal supplements. But let's face it. It was really hard to look away. Either all that silicone was going to fall out of her teeny-tiny tank top, or the balding, slightly paunchy guy in front of her was going to do a face plant right into the center of her highly expensive assets.
Whichever way it went, I didn't want to miss it.

Gracie Chase said...

(Entry # 2)

The loud voice of the TV announcer kicked the images of Hugh Jackman and George Clooney rubbing her feet in tandem (wearing nothing but a pair of harem pants and a turban – George in the pants, and Hugh in the turban, of course) straight out of Sophie Redmond’s dreams. "Haven't found that special someone yet? Isn't it time that you showed yourself and the world that you aren't destined for a life of lonely misery?" Sophie supposed Hugh and George didn’t count. She peered through the slit of one bleary eye at the TV, the only thing lighting up the cluttered mess of her living room. Yet another Friday night of falling asleep in front of the TV grading papers. She'd promised herself she’d stop that.

Eric said...

Wendell endured. Through an insufferably long and unredeemable workday he trudged. Driving toward home through stop-start traffic, he avoided focusing on the constipated misery of his daily tedium. Wendell tolerated his evening; screeching nasal voices faultfinding and bickering, preventing the mind-numbing TV from doing its job. He went to bed, not to sleep, as the day's demons cackled and swirled maniacally in his head, pummeling his sinuses, causing his eyes to pulse. At 12:01 AM, Wendell would endure no more – Wendell would live, and his life would begin immediately.

LizR said...

My two entries:

From Finding Rocket, YA WIP:
On a warm April morning when I was fourteen years old, I went from being the youngest of eight children, to being an only child. The funny thing is, nobody had to die for it to happen.

From Finders Keepers, YA WIP:
A discordant vibration hung for an instant in the steamy garage, and by the time it faded off I think we were all holding our breath. Cray, looking like he was trying hard not to kick something, let his Fender Stratocaster dangle from its strap and raked a hand through his damp hair. He took a single deep breath, let it out, and turned to glare at me. If I didn’t know my oldest brother almost as well as I know myself, I might have cringed. “This is the fourth time we’ve been through this,” he said, “and we’re playing it in two days. Now get it freaking right already!”

green ray said...

(entry #3 - thanks, Nathan!)

THE BOOK OF MIRACLES

If I’m still alive when I finish telling this tale, it’ll be a miracle. But how could I die in the telling it if I’ve already survived it? That, I guess, is the miracle; for in the telling it, I am truly living it.

Waylander said...

When I woke up there was a dead man looking at me. He doesn’t know he’s dead yet, but anyone who screws Big Tony’s fifteen year old daughter is dead, even if he’s still walking around in his underwear. Even if he’s my brother.

Arachne Jericho said...

Phineas Zene's landlady had given him the ultimatum that morning, and between being homeless and pawning his cello, he'd rather be dead.

Heather M. said...

Raquel frowned, rubbing her eye patch to alleviate a phantom itch. It was a bothersome reminder of who she was, and what she had to do. Without fail, it always struck at the most grueling, stressful moments--times when she had to take on the mantle of Atlas bearing his backbreaking planetary load.


Thanks for the contest, Nathan!

eric said...

Far up on a topmost shelf, behind an old and well-worn first edition of Huntley Mann’s The Fine Art of Miniatures and Doll Craft--long dusty since the tome’s contents had been learned by rote for so many years gone by now--there was concealed a small hole, just the size of a cufflink, precisely chiseled through the back of the bookshelf as if it were no more than perhaps a common knothole. Should it ever have been examined closely by human eyes, which it had not, it would’ve been discovered that the hole in question was no mere imperfection, however, as it clearly went further, disappearing into the wall beyond.

Karen Duvall said...

I stood on a wooden vegetable crate to reach the dust-caked window. I'd been standing there fifteen minutes, ever since the Jeep full of men had arrived. Only two men were visible now, the others dressed in military camouflage having slouched off into the bushes, believing themselves unseen. But I had seen them quite well. I noted each stitch on their clothing, every whisker on their unshaven faces, even the color of their bootlaces.

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy said...

First paragraph for the contest:

Haunted houses should not look this way, Lillian thought as she gazed up from the street at the setting of her mother’s nightmares and family stories. She expected creepy but this was no more than vintage wine, a dust covered bottle with a worn label. Although she had never seen it until today, this house was hers. The grandfather she had not met in life had left her this legacy, the house he called home for decades and a place she had never seen until today. She paused, observing each detail to form her first impression.

Joetowngirl said...

From a completed MS for the contest:


After forty-eight hours of relative safety, Katherine was reluctant to leave the bus. From the moment she climbed aboard in Hollywood, the Greyhound had cocooned her with anonymity. Danger from death threats seemed distant but it took an effort to step down at the station on School Street in Fayetteville. On the horizon, the landmark towers of Old Main on the University of Arkansas campus reared above the skyline, alien and unfamiliar after palm trees.

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy said...

You say I can have three entries...here's another:


Lake Taneycomo,
Rockaway Beach, Missouri
1924

A cool breeze rippled the surface of the lake as he walked across the dance pavilion toward her, different and dangerous, a leopard among paint ponies. Even his smell was raw and masculine, an intoxicating fragrance that combined bay rum with bathtub gin. He wasn’t smiling but his grey eyes burned with a living fire that ignited her senses into flame.

canajaneh said...

Hey Swifty! Yeah, you, the village lumpkin with the open gob and the doltish jaw who blundered into my quiet clearing and destroyed my peace. Get over here and let me take a good look at you. Don’t you dare turn around. I’m talking to you! Walk away, and chick you love will still call you a maggot, walk away and your hovel’s still a wreck. Moreover you’ll still be a brainless idiot and I can change all that. The arena of destiny has chosen you, aligned the planets and asked Fate to screw you over. Ah. I see a twinkle of interest in those beady little eyes. That’s it; sit. Here. Good boy.

midnight oil said...

The smell of iron made of blood and salt, was strong upon the breeze. The absence of the song of the morning birds went unnoticed. as the sun slowly peeked over the horizon at the edge of vision across the great water. The glory of light danced across the waves to crash against the breakers in a wondrous spray of liquid light. It continued its’ journey onto the rocky shores and safe harbor of Cryd. It climbed past docks and warehouses, past homes and shops to the center of the city. Here it found the great central spire of the Crystal Palace and burst into a shower of light cascading down into the city below. Then reluctantly it passed the city and out onto the grassy plains and beyond. Usually the sun would have found many people moving, already working, but today was the spring fest, no work for the hardy souls below, today the city slept late.

thought I would try

millhousethecat said...

“Wow, amazing.” Ben rarely reacted to a photo, or anything, really, so when he did, I snapped to attention as if a fire alarm had been triggered. "This guys looks like he could be your father."

Chris P. said...

Every night Grandma Mertie would tell me bedtime stories from the Bible. She’d talk about how Jesus loved me so much He died for me and I’d feel so warm and snug and loved, I’d glow like a summer firefly. But when she went downstairs, the dark voice came. “You’re no good, Athena,” it’d taunt me. “Do you really think God would die for you? What a worthless exchange.” I did my best to ignore the voice, but couldn’t. When I turned ten, I no longer believed Grandma Mertie. At thirteen, I stopped listening to her. By the time I reached sixteen, I’d proven the dark voice right.

Neptoon said...

Aloha,

Her woes began with the one infamous Eboy root...just the ONE LOUSY ROOT! But a five hundred year sentence, imposed by her own father...for one Eboy hallucination? Princess Beulah ve Flootnote's puberty years would be lost by the time she returned to her home planet. Beulah was pissed!

Kylie said...

Drake quickly scanned the crowd of people that had assembled outside the bank as they waited for him, the young magician, to do his trick. He knew the type of person to look for. Someone easy for Zeke to guilt or someone rebellious; someone strong; someone likely to help or easy to blackmail. His eyes caught those of a teenaged girl watching skeptically from the middle of the crowd, and Drake smiled. Good enough.

cyn said...

thanks for doing this, nathan!

...

The book lay heavy in Ai Ling’s lap. It measured three hand lengths long and two across, bound in a brocaded cover of rich crimson. Characters embroidered in gold read: The Book of Making. She didn’t want to open it.

...

fantasy set in the ancient kingdom of xia.

Anonymous said...

I’m in hell, thought Sarah. Who vacations in hell? It wasn’t actually hell, merely Sarasota in the midst of a summer Red Tide. The stench of rotting fish wafted across a swimming pool filled with demonic, screaming children. Sarah threw the newspaper down, unable to finish the article, “Single Moms Unite Around Common Sperm Donor.” Her lip curled in disgust at the picture of her own smiling face sandwiched between the eleven other moms. It was taken before they knew the truth about Donor 386, the father of each of their children; before they found out that he was a psychopath.

Thank you, Nathan!

R.C.

K.C. Shaw said...

Lark found Zida in the gutter, quite literally. It was pouring rain and Lark's foot plunked into a pool of water as she hurried home. If she hadn't stumbled, hadn't looked down in annoyance and seen the swirls of blood in the water, she might have passed Zida without noticing him at all.

Anne-Marie said...

She plunged her hands into the front pocket of her cut-off jeans, and gathered all the loose change and crumpled bills into a fist: all that remained from her birthday money was a meagre amount that, with some luck and persistence, might reduce her wish-list of albums by two titles. She ignored the new releases and best-seller racks, digging through alphabetical stacks for bargain prices of artists whose records she wanted to add to her considerable collection. Eddie Money stared back at her in mid-cigarette with pale eyes as his hair and scarf billowed out in soft seduction. “That’ll be me one day, Eddie,” she said to the cover. “Maybe with an old vest and jeans instead of that weaved jacket, but looking every bit the rock star you do.”

Sophie W. said...

Good luck with the judging, Nathan. :)

Oh no, it's some kind of infestation, Rosemary thought, prodding the ground with her boot. Next to the barn were several fist-sized holes, just big enough for rats, or worse, imps. She hated imps. They were always getting into the larder and causing a fuss.

Anne-Marie said...

Nathan,
you are one brave man!

jdevincent said...

Brandon Toler stared sideways at the three candles. Their small flames danced with imperceptible shifts of the air around them, flailing the walls and ceiling of his bedroom with stark shadows. He tried once again to move even a finger or a toe, but could not. The realization that he had become a prisoner in his own body made him scream again. HELP ME! SOMEONE PLEASE! OH DEAR GOD, DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN! But the screams that filled his mind would not come out of his mouth. He could barely draw breath, let alone push it back out with enough force to make sound. Nor could he raise his head when it had lolled over to one side. Whatever he had been injected with seemed to disconnect his muscles without affecting his consciousness. So, body immobile, head canted at a crazy angle and eyes swimming with tears that he couldn’t blink away, he sat in his armchair watching the candles. Ordinary, decorative little cylinders of wax-- that were about to become the untraceable instruments of his murder.

Current WIP

Anne-Marie said...

“I’ll be fine, really. I do this all the time.” She had waved Ivan off with those very words over forty minutes ago, sending him back to his suburban home at the wheel of his parents’ Country Squire station wagon with her usual nonchalance. Instead of hinting at the lateness of the hour and the long cross-town journey she faced, she had decided impulsively that a show of independence and strength would impress him. Now, at three-twenty in the morning, with her bladder full and her throat parched, and condemned to riding the all-night buses that serviced the city once the last subway had left, she questioned the wisdom of her choice.

Josephine Damian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tammie said...

He held my hand out to the side while the other rested on the small of my back. I felt comfortable; is that the right word? Are you suppose to feel comfortable while dancing? He was strong and confident in his moves but kept it simple. There would be no more talking about Donald or Sandra or the baby. It was clear how we both felt on those topics. We each thought the other was selling out.

Once A Year - wip women's fiction

Tom Burchfield said...

Sean Temkin stood in the sweet soaring memory of last night's dream: climbing a sheer granite cliff, not knowing where, not caring where, only that it was a thousand feet high and every climber's dream. Even now, hours later, he felt how his shoes smeared over the rough rounded rock, how the strain and pressure gathered in his muscle joints as he poised to spring across those deadly inches of open space, a second free in the void, before jamming his fingers perfectly into that sweet crack. Then his shoes smeared across the rock again, his knees and hips bracing for the next jump. Straining and leaping again, so close to being a bird, he almost wouldn't have minded missing the next hair-crack ledge, because then he would have been flying and it was only been a dream anyway--

madison clark said...

The darkness of the hold was closing in on me. Grabbing me and enfolding me within its dank, wet arms. Suffocating me slowly with its thick stench. And I was very likely never going to see the light of day again.

-Kelly M. said...

Completed manuscript:


I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born. Vividly. Waking up on a cold morgue table, surrounded by surgical instruments and autopsy paraphernalia, to the tune of the medical examiner's high-pitched shrieks of fright was an unforgettable experience.

Tom Burchfield said...

Oops forgot: that was from my WIP "The Vampire of Alpine Canyon."

Neptoon said...

Aloha,

entry number two...

Nathan, you kindly rejected my project when I was trying to describe it to you...before my query letter hooking attempt. So, I am thinking of writing a tale about finding an agent.

A finely woven hand basket with Mother Earth in the back seat, and piloted by an old long-haired Indian wearing surf trunks, pulls up before you. The Indian has been watching you for several moons, finding you witty, wise, and vibrant. He likes the way you get your messages and teachings across, using humor and cajolery. The old Indian tries to do the same with his own tales…just for sanity’s sake. He beckons you into the vehicle where a cone-shaped Princess with Marilyn Monroe lips gives you free vouchers for unlimited umbrella-ed libations and free surfing lessons for life in Hawaii, as she escorts you to the only empty seat. On the back of the seat the word Navigator is embroidered in Ghirardelli chocolates. Food for thought, in case this voyage is a long one…say twenty years or so. The Indian pilot has many words he would like you to help him spread…words to make you laugh, a couple to make you cry. The old Indian needs a guide. Oh, the irony!

Neptoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Other Lisa said...

Holy moly. A very distressing day here in Southern California as half the region is on fire, and I just now checked the blog and find...this!

115 comments already? Wow. Nathan, I admire your energy.

Just to be clear, that was not an entry.

Robert Benentt said...

The train came roaring up from the south and the west and turned the world into nothing but noise. The earth trembled as the wheels toiled forward, like the ground could not bear its advancement and longed to move away, yet could not. Along some stretches the train would shriek wildly, perhaps giving warning or perhaps reveling in its onslaught, like the entire machine was a rumbling bolt of lightning crashing down, attracted to some unknown place on the horizon by forces which it itself could barely understand, yet aching to strike.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Death stirs up all kinds of gumbo ya ya—most I’d rather forget. This fact became all too real for me at age seventeen, the start of summer break, 1982. I barely noticed the moisture from the grass of the cemetery lawn seeping through my black slacks to my knees. Mama had purchased the pants for a different occasion. Not this. Not death. Tears stained the silk shirt borrowed from my older sister, Bet. Mud from yesterday’s rain clung to the high-heeled shoes I’d worn only twice before. Earlier this morning, my cries had mixed with others who wept among the oaks. By noon, I mourned alone.

Jena said...

(Nathan -- I have an agent, but I want to play!)

Six weeks in the hospital after the accident, six more at home, going in daily for physical therapy ... let's just say it was a good thing my Glock was in the gun lockup at Ident, because if I went back home today and told Laurie I didn't get the OK to go back to work, it'd be a toss-up as to whether I blew my brains out or she did.

Neptoon said...

Aloha,

entry three...finding an agent...

Perched atop a one hump camel named Trodden, reading my 2007 Guide to Literary Agents, I traverse the Desert of Disgust and Discouragement when, cresting a dusty sand dune, I spy in the small valley below an oasis with palm tress and a shimmering pond of hope. Hanging from one of the trees is a neon sign flashing Agents-R-Us. Down Trodden and I go, finally stopping before a brightly colored tent with a stunning scantily clad brunette executing perfect pirouettes in the entrance. Next to her a midget bedecked in plaids, smoking a cigar, beckons me in. Dropping to the ground I take my career from my satchel, and enter the tent.

Katie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

Grrrr.... I accidentally hit post right after I accidentally deleted my last sentence! My brain hiccupped, I guess - twice! Anyway... here's my entry:

“What will we do?”
The weak and distraught voice of the infant’s nurse echoed through the stillness of the chamber once again. And once again, no one voiced an answer. Indeed, there was none to be given, at least by those present.

Katie said...

Entry #2:

At first, there was nothing but the sound of hesitant footsteps, the swish of a rope rubbing against the ground, and the steady run of water, like that of a man who has just stepped out of a stream. The footsteps tested the ground before each step, feeling for what could not be seen. On they came until finally, a small circle of light could be seen in the distance.

R.C. said...

Entry #2:

Penelope did not want to cry in front of her son. As they sat in the breakfast nook she felt the silence like a separate entity in the room, poking her in the ribs. Tell him. Tell him he has to go live with grandma. Then Ricky said, “I see a tree walking.” Penelope looked outside. The neighbors were landscaping and a worker carried a tall tree to the backyard, but you couldn’t see him because of the fence. Penelope laughed. The tears flowed freely as she laughed but it was okay, because she knew what she had to do. Grandma wasn’t going to ruin Ricky like she had every other kid in the family.

Thanks again,
R.C.

Miri said...

This is fabulous of you, Nathan. (But you really are a glutton for punishment.)

Two entries, but don't worry, they're on the short side.

Entry 1:

If anyone had noticed the two extra pairs of feet pounding down the sidewalk, they kept walking as though they hadn’t. If the runners wanted to move faster than the aerobic pace of foot traffic, they could just go around.

(current WiP)

Entry 2:

I wasn’t sure whether to hate my father, but I knew from the moment I first saw her that I would hate her for the rest of my life, and hers, too.

(old abandoned fairytale retelling)

My paragraphs are more like lines. Sigh.

Jenn said...

He never would get used to the taste of his own blood. Now, as it dripped into his mouth, Sebastian St. James also tasted sulfur and salt, and traces of the thick, heavy rubber from the boots of his latest tormentor. He would have smiled in half-hearted triumph that he was still conscious, if he could have forced his swollen lips into the right position. Instead, he sat against the wall of his cell, resigned to the nausea that swept him in heavy sheets as his body slowly put itself back together. One thing was for certain, though. He sure as hell missed Heaven.

McKoala said...

"700 entries? 10,000? A BILLION? Bring it!! I'm ready."

Oh my. You sure?

Christine said...

They sounded like children. Somehow that was the worst part. I'd seen movies where they made this guttural moaning sound and held out their arms, standard b-movie faire, but hearing them talk...I'm so sorry. Let me start at the beginning.

From my WIP short story, "The Birthday Present"

JJ Cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loquacious Me said...

There’s a certain sound the human head makes when it hits the trunk of a tree. Meatier than a “crack”, not quite as hollow as a “thunk”. It’s unmistakable. And when it’s my head, I tend to take offense. I leaned against said tree and glared at my opponent until my double vision resolved into properly single again. If looks could kill…well, my life would be a lot easier.

julief said...

Entry 2, from a currently abandoned WIP:

If Hart Reynolds was going to die in lime-green organza, she was going to look damn sexy doing it. She swiped at the sweat on her forehead with her left hand. Meanwhile, her right hand pulled the hem of the dress high up her thigh and Hart stuck her stocking-clad leg out provocatively. A bit degrading, true, but Hart was getting desperate.

Leah said...

"You were never meant to die here," he said.
Jessie Connell held back a sarcastic laugh as she glared at the disheveled recluse sitting in the near empty shed. She paced the floorboards, not taking her gaze off him. "Whatever, dude. You weren't a four year old girl left to rot in Death Valley."

From sci-fi WIP titled TIME SHIFTER.

Thanks Nathan!

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn didn't know very much about me. Actually, the girl knew surprisingly little, which was exactly what I needed in a friend. She didn't ask intrusive questions and I didn't have to lie or have my heart pound while I searched for acceptable answers. She wasn't into meaningful conversation and heartfelt talks. She was light, snappy, and never depressed. And most importantly, she wasn't my responsibility.

--CC (YA)

JoNightshade said...

First entry:

I was with Mama when she found the baby Jesus, so I can tell the story best. Of course it was winter in California, and the seas were angry, but we had gone to find seaweed, picking our way carefully down the cliffs beyond the sand dunes to the rocky beach below. I did not like the rocky beaches, because my shoes were thin and the larger pebbles bruised my feet. But Mama hurried on, wishing to get home before Papa arrived from town, and I slid down after.

Second entry:
Timothy Gordon is fifteen years old. On the morning of October second, which is in no way significantly different from any other day in his life, he wakes with a gasp, blankets tangled and sweaty around his ankles. He kicks free and staggers to the bathroom, pausing only long enough to ensure that his father is nowhere in sight before entering the hall. He makes it just in time.

Church Lady said...

Thanks for the contest! It's actually quite nice reading the paragraphs that go with the first lines from your previous contest.
***

Twelve-year-old Tony was well aware he lived in a putrid house. Life forced him to share his small and cramped dwelling with a rotten mother and father who insisted on being the boss of him. Also contaminating the house were four older sisters who tried to ruin his every waking moment: Theresa, Tiffany, Tina, and Tammy. Tony was the baby ‘T.’

Mrs. Revis said...

From my YA Fantasy THE RED THREAD:

The last thing Heath expected to see on the day he started his quest to save the Princess of Baloria was a teenaged girl sitting in the middle of the street, covered in mud, crying, and naked. Of course, it's not as if Chloe had expected a knight in shining armor. Then again, she'd never expected to be sucked out of her world and plopped naked into another one, either.

Heath stared.

Daddy's Money said...

It isn’t true that when our lives flash before our eyes that we recall every detail. At least, Calli didn’t. What she recalled were the highlights and turning points. The impacts. What she remembered most, and with greatest clarity, was how Levi had come into her life not once, but twice, and changed everything in it forever. How nothing would, or could, ever be the same again. What she discerned with crystal vision was the first day that the so-called impossible began to happen.


Thanks, Nathan. You're a brave soul.

PJ said...

Namori reached the top of the steps to the temple and nodded to the two empa who were guarding its doors. She gave them a smile she did not feel and walked past them. The men were turning most people away as the temple closed its doors to the general public just after dark. Exceptions were made for those with appointments and those the empa thought were special cases. As a gennara of the temple, Namori could come and go as she pleased.

--From a current WIP

Mrs. Revis said...

In order to help Nathan reach the one BILLION mark (said with an Austin Powers accent):

From my other YA Fantasy, BABBLETONGUE.

"I am not a cat," said the cat.

Mina Hawthorne dropped her book bag from numb fingers. A loud thud echoed on the metal second story landing. Moments ago, just as she'd been about to unlock her front door, her mind preoccupied with driver's ed, English homework, and how she was going to get through another 163 days at Olen High until summer break, Mina had said hello to the cat, just as she'd said hello to it a dozen times before.

It had never answered her before.

Teresa said...

Entry #1 completed - from the prologue

Seven year old Theodore was hiding again. He was always hiding from her, especially when she had been drinking. She was always mean to him and the drink, as she called it, only made her meaner. He was being as quiet as he could; not moving; trying not to breathe without making a sound. He didn't move at all from his hiding place in the basement of the house. There were so many things there that scared him but he also had many places to hide. He had picked a big wooden table to hide under. She had it covered with a big cloth for some reason. The cloth had not been there the last time he'd been in the basement. He didn't know what the table was for and he dared not ask for fear she would show him. He could hear her calling him, trying to find him. He heard things moving around above him inside the main part of the house, but he didn't dare come out from where he was hiding. She would hurt him again. He knew she would.

Southern Writer said...

Bobbie Jean’s eyes were two different colors. All her brother’s eyes were brown, but when Miss Omie was expecting Bobbie Jean, she wished for just one green-eyed baby girl, and that’s what she got. Bobbie Jean had one green eye, and one brown eye. She looked like Miss Omie, and they were as close as a mother and daughter could be. Bobbie Jean told her mother everything, and as often as not, Miss Omie would say in resignation, “Bobbie Jean, you know I don’t like it when you do that,” and that would be all. She went right ahead and did as she pleased anyway. If ever there was a real live Scarlett O’Hara, it was Bobbie Jean.

Bathtub Scribbler said...

I wonder where you are, and how you fill the hours. What is it like there? In my dreams, you sit on the step of an unpainted ramshackle porch, a guitar on your knee, a good floppy-eared dog at your feet. You are surrounded by old, black, blues-singing men, and you teach them a happy song. One looks up and says, "You all right, boy."

You smile, take your guitar, and start down the dusty road toward home, where you wait for me.

Enagwolo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enagwolo said...

Today, I met the cutest boy.

After a shitty day at school, I walked into my house to find him sitting at the dinning table, his fingernails between his teeth, and his eyes darting around the room at the rate of what looked like a million miles per hour.


Umm... the first paragraph was only a line long. So does this qualify? It's from the non-romantic YA novel I plan to write for Nano (called Today) but I just wrote this first er, paragraph for this :)

Miss Meliss said...

So here’s the thing about school officials. There’s a lot more of us students than there are of them. Now, don’t get me wrong. But when you’re in the middle of a super boring math class at 12:30 pm, gazing out the window, and everything goes pitch black outside, you’re going to ignore the announcement coming over the loudspeaker saying we can’t leave even though the freaking sun went out. You’re going to get up with the other thousand students in your school, ignore your teachers, and run like hell.

~ The Nosundays

Lupina said...

Even as the sergeant thwacked my head into the Velcro mask, I was regretting my decision to bring the corpse along to jail. Not that they’d find it. Uncle Ferd had taught me to use the Instant Mortician like a Class 3 undertaker, and no precinct this small could muster a corpuscle sweep. But even dessicated, compacted, flattened and sealed under my second scalp, Mercurio irritated the hell out of me.

Lill said...

From a ya wip...first sentence is chapter heading.

Pack the Ding-dongs, Aunt Tammy is dead.

Mom always says when you are taking a long road trip, you need lots of snacks. I think ear plugs and lots of deodorant are more important.

Dr. Dume said...

Oho. Three goes.

Here's one from the finished novel I'm currently shopping around:


Samuel Watson took a deep breath of the musty air. It smelled of old paper, worn leather bindings, dust, and money. A lot of money.

JaxPop said...

What the heck, may as well jump in. From completed YA - Title STILL being debated.....

Knowing he was about to die, weeks shy of turning sixteen, really sucked. Staring into the gaping jaws of the lunging shark less than three feet away guaranteed that death would be painful. It was a lousy way for a day of awesome waves, not to mention the perfect summer, to end. He should have listened to Kai.

Lill said...

From ya/upper mg wip.

It was nearly time for the coronation to begin, and Princess Bennie had her arms halfway up a cow’s arse…again.
“Pippa, you can’t expect me to let the poor creature die,” she said when she caught me glowering at her.

A Paperback Writer said...

Nathan, is this some bizarre and twisted ritual to conjure up Miss Snark from wherever she has gone? Sure, I miss her, too -- but I cannot believe the depths of your devotion to offer your soul in such a way as this!

Okay, even though only the few will bother to read this far down the list, here's my number one entry from a YA WIP:

Escalante, Utah. July. About 105 in the shade. You have to buy ice cream cones in cups if you want to eat the stuff before it runs all over your hand. You have to carry a bottle of water with you just to walk a block. You sweat through an average of three shirts per day -- even with the air conditioning going full blast. Really, it’s no place for a half-vampire who passes out in bright sunlight.

Dr. Dume said...

A second attempt, although this one finished short of 'real' novel size...

Jessica Chadwick lit the five tallow candles that marked the points of the star, within the circle she had cut into the dirt floor of her home. Their flickering light formed moving shadows that danced on the cracked stone walls. Smoke curled upwards, twisting in the rising warmth before escaping through the hole in the centre of the thatched roof. A shaft of moonlight speared through the hole, its path visible in the smoke-haze, its circular glow illuminating a patch of the floor.



The only other ones are WIP's and I'll leave those to fester for a while...

A Paperback Writer said...

Okey dokey, here's my entry #2, from a short story called "Up."

I swear I didn’t do nothin to make this happen! Nothin. An ya can’t tell me it didn’t happen cuz I know it did. I used ta believe in them fairytales an magic stuff even when I wuz a kid. Heck if I know what ta believe now. But I feel different. Real different. An I kinda like that.

Lupina said...

The blue-robed lady drifted through the picture window as if the glass had no right to exist, and then hovered resplendent over the maple coffee table. Carly could only gape. A shining something had just penetrated her triple thermopane like a cosmic ray, and now hung there in mid-air as if expecting Carly to pay homage.

(entry #2, from my unpublished novel The Blue Grasshopper Lady)

A Paperback Writer said...

And here's my entry #3, from a short story called "Mary's Back."

Three weeks after her own funeral, Mary dropped by my house for a visit. It was Saturday, and I’d been grading papers when the doorbell rang. There she was on the doorstep, smiling and holding the baby, just as she had a month before... before her sister Carolyn had called me from the hospital to tell me the pneumonia had taken her life.

writtenwyrdd said...

From a dark fantasy entitled "Cloak of Ombrus"

The street children huddled around the dying rat, and Martus the beggar boy poked it gingerly with a stick. The smell of sun-baked garbage, fish offal and human refuse was nothing compared to the odor of the pustulant creature's midsection, even from across the alley where Kayla sat, perched on the fishmonger's crates.

jjdebenedictis said...

(Fantasy)

"I can't help you--I can't even help myself. What am I supposed to do, hide you under my wimple?"

No, in your coach! The luggage compartment!

"My guards would find you! And--" Katirin bit down on her temper. She scanned the room, but the dormitory's beds continued to breathe the rhythms of sleep. "And what would that accomplish, except to make both our lives more miserable?"

EQ said...

entry #2

There it was again. A faint, off-key hum teased Kate’s brain. She slowed her pace to a jog and turned her head from side to side, searching for the source. The humming changed pitch and force to become an odd buzz that almost tickled.

paranormal thriller/romance

Anonymous said...

Yes, I must have found some good swimmers this time. No period for six weeks. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I'm knocked up. I’ve already started with the morning sickness but I’ll be able to hide that for a while. My aunt and my mother will be pissed when they find out I stopped taking my pills but I don’t like medication. I don’t feel alive when I have something foreign in my body. Ironic, right?

Anonymous said...

By the way the anonymous post above is me, Coll.

colleen@myartsite.com

EQ3 said...

You didn't say how long the book was supposed to be--so how about the opening paragraph of a picture book?


On Sunday afternoon, Nick and his Mom went to the park with David and his Dad. They played tag, firefighters and dinosaurs. When it was time to leave, David let Nick borrow his new blue dinosaur.
Nick promised he wouldn’t lose it.


Thanks for doing this---it was fun.

Marian Merritt said...

I’ve never considered myself a motorcycle mama, much less a menopausal motorcycle mama. But in this season of my life, that’s exactly what I am. Don’t worry. It’s not as scary as it sounds. There aren’t chains hanging from my belt. No cute tattoo. Now that would be scary. Because gravity is winning the saggy-skin war, a tattoo that started out as a perky little butterfly would soon morph into a wrinkled blob of color resembling a Shar-pei. No thanks. I don’t need any more reminders of the aging process.

Thanks, Nathan, this is fun!!

jjdebenedictis said...

Lupina, you rock. I love both your entries. Good luck in Nathan's contest!

Sarah Hina said...

When he told me he no longer loved me, I fell to my knees.

I know. Even I was conscious of caving to melodrama as I collapsed, in stages, toward the pea-puke paisley of the Berber carpet. An insensible stream of saliva blotted it darker as my mouth unhinged in a poor charade of the people I took care of at work. I eventually offered my forehead, like a fallen prayer, to the floor, and when my new roommate, smiley Selena, came in, that’s where she found me: nose to spit, prostrate with misery. She took the scene in, and since we didn’t have much to say to one another, just as efficiently turned round to leave. I never liked anyone so much in all my life.

Spartezda said...

Ooh, I like Lupina's first entry.

arbor16 said...

The day I learned that Richard Campden Dodge would be up for parole, I lied to my father. Not a big lie. And it wasn’t the first time.

Ozal said...

Entry #1 (Science Fiction)

When I saw my sister in the slag line, I didn’t do a damn thing. The shock worked in my favor, I think. When you’re in my position – nearing the end of a five year contract – you don’t see, hear, or notice anything. That much I’d learned. Five years in the Plant was at least sixty months too long.

arbor16 said...

I stared through the window at the miniature human on the other side. Mom had called less then an hour before to tell me I got the job.
“Butch, I’m so proud,” Mom said in her soft teacher voice.
Whoopie! What other self respecting sixteen year old guy would spend their summer singing Wheels on the Bus, eight hundred times, to preschoolers, unless they were desperate. Which I was.

Morgan St. John said...

The sheen of topaz liquid at the bottom of the glass moved with the trembling of her hand as she contemplated this new venture. Tipping back the shot glass, she gathered the last few drops of whiskey on her tongue. The burn she desired was absent as it coursed down her throat.

~~A work in progress

arbor16 said...

Two hundred and eighty-eight days after my father left I found the journal he gave me. In it, all I had written down were numbers. Sixty days since Mama quit smoking. Three days till Thanksgiving. Twenty-five days till Christmas break. Thirteen years till my little sister Katie was old enough to move out. But what I didn’t write, couldn’t write, was how I felt about my world crumbling before my eyes. I feel like I lost my best friend and my father. And he doesn’t want to hear about any of it.

Ozal said...

Entry #2 (Futuristic/SF)

The first time Rella was raped, she walked for three hours to find enough water to wash herself clean. It didn’t help; nor did the tears along the way. Then, partly because she hadn’t thought to take her meager stash with her, and partly because it was the only place she’d ever lived, she walked all the way back. This time, she didn’t cry.

Ozal said...

Entry #3 (Romantic Suspense)

Scrap metal. That’s what the small plane was. Kanazu Island had no more money for a new plane than many of its mainland African neighbors. Some long-ago deal allowing US scientists into the isolated Kanazu National Park had earned the tiny state its plane – and it must have been close to a museum piece even then. No wonder her brother had been drawn back to this place.txrsj

Morgan St. John said...

I was partnered with Matt for a science project in my senior year of high school--the skinny boy who sat in the back and had been in my class for only a year. His hair was brown and curly--long enough to touch his forehead and fall over the tops of his ears. His eyes were hazel with a rim of green. When I'd tripped on Barbara's trombone case early that year, I'd landed at his feet. He hadn't helped me up but instead had looked directly into my eyes...and winked.

~~~short story...like, really short. A prompt. :D This is fun, thanks Nathan. And thanks to Bria for alerting me.

Jordan said...

Have you ever fallen? Have you ever felt your stomach in your throat - jump in your throat - because you know there's nothing to stop you? You can imagine the air, rushing past you, a brutal still wind, howling in your ears. And below, it doesn't matter what's below, because it's too far down, you won't survive. I've been there in a dream, falling. And I've wanted to die, and dreamed of falling. And once, I fell, and I found I didn't want to die.

L.C.McCabe said...

Summer Solstice in the year 802

Ruggiero thought he heard his name being called. The young knight urged his steed through the bloodied battlefield. Reluctantly, the horse walked amongst piles of corpses, trying not to step on any limbs. Vultures and other carrion birds circled the air before landing and feasting on the dead. As Ruggiero came upon the source of the sound, he did not recognize the fallen soldier. It had merely been the incoherent utterances of a dying man. He watched spellbound as the fatally wounded man took his final breath and his eyes took on the vacant glassy stare of the dead. Ruggiero had killed many people in the last week’s worth of battles, but had never watched anyone die before, and it disturbed him.

Kimber An said...

Captain Olivia O’Keefe approached the rail overlooking the hangar of Skydock One orbiting Earth. A more casual visitor might have been in awe of the shimmering blue and white planet surrounded by infinite black space sparkling with stars. She hardly noticed it framed by the hangar’s energy shielding. Years of deep space exploration had not tainted Olivia’s appreciation for the divine beauty of her home planet. Surrounded by such advanced technology - hyperspace engines, holographic simulators, multi-phasic torpedoes, and the like - her thoughts were consumed at all times by the most basic of human instincts. She wanted a baby.

The Anti-Wife said...

From my WIP called “Nathan’s Nuts”

Nathan dropped his head to the desk covering his ears to muffle the incessant ‘donk’ of the e-mail notifier. Who knew there would be 1,236 responses in the first day of his latest contest? May Vanderbilt bailed on him 700 e-mails ago and no one else would return his calls. But Nathan had a plan and he was about to activate it – right after he found the valium.

JJ Cooper said...

Hi Nathan,

From my WIP 'Interrogated'.

Ice water hit, stinging Jay Ryan’s lips and cheeks. The bitter cold nipped through his naked body and forced air deep into his lungs. His heavy breaths vibrated his brain into action. Metal handcuffs dug into his wrists and kept him tethered to a metal chair. He opened his eyes to darkness. Blacked-out goggles stretched against his cheekbones, the thick elastic band tore at his hair. His ribs ached from a beating he couldn’t remember and his head pounded from too much whiskey.

JJ

Emily Ryan-Davis said...

“For a future god-king of Baltimore, I know remarkably few of my subjects,” Jody Brucks observed. He took a step toward rectifying the situation by visually acquainting himself with the tight little ass that belonged to a blonde pounding on one of the club’s two baby grands. The sway of her hips made his muscles tense. Her flirty dance begged him to pounce.

Dave F. said...

My Entry #1

When Patrick and I woke up last Friday, we never imagined that we would be Earth's first line of defense against an insidious alien plan to conquer the planet. Thoughts like that just never cross your mind on Friday mornings before coffee and tequila. But that was last Friday. Today, we're taking a well-earned sunner in Cabo.

Emily Ryan-Davis said...

Life inside a piano isn’t all knitting cobweb sweaters and napping. It’s dangerous. Every time a clumsy student flings himself at the bench and bangs on the ivories, just to see his fingers walk across the black and whites, I face death. The action’s unpredictable. If I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, I could lose my head.

Sara said...

Kicking at the cold dirt that had recently been dumped over her casket, I made myself the solemn vow that one day I would be everything that she hadn’t been. My face no longer held the pain, just pity. Pity, more for me than for her. I let out a roar of anger. It felt good.

Laurel Amberdine said...

Cordain Lambcatcher whittled at the stick the wisest ash had dropped on him this morning. A sudden wind gust tossed the great limbs above, making sharp bough shadows thrash wildly across the silver-rippling grass. Cordain looked up; clouds were mustering in the west. For now the sky above was clear, full of children flying spirals, and twirling in loops, and laughing. Their grounded parents called, but it was futile. Children fly because they’re too young to know they can’t.

Bee said...

From a WIP YA Fantasy...

There were seventeen wooden planks above our heads, and save for the small oil lamp at the back of the cramped cabinet, the gaps between each strip of dark wood were our only source of light. I was beyond sure that there was exactly seventeen--I had counted them a hundred and fifty-two times in an attempt not to faint or run blindly from the man at my feet. I held his hair back from his face as he bent over, his stomach emptying itself in disgusting sputters. My back was pressed up against the door to get as far away from him as I could. I had risked looking down once, and I wasn’t about to make the same mistake again.

(Thank you for doing this!)

Dave F. said...

My entry #2

"A world that speaks a hundred languages? Impossible I say, absolutely impossible!" The First Prothonotary of Capella, a habitable planet in the constellation Auriga, turned nearly backwards in his seat to speak. His potbelly -- exaggerated by his stick-like legs, emasculated torso, non-existent shoulders -- stuck out like a watermelon. As he gestured Julio and Linus ducked away from his long arms.

bria said...

The smell of burnt flesh lingered in the temple’s cool air, leaving Faela’s flesh itching where a branded circle should have marred her translucent skin. The sick, selfish feeling she experienced during each ceremony rose from the pit of her stomach, forcing her lungs to labor for air.

Jerry Allen said...

It has been 14 hours and 37 minutes since Jacob slashed his best friends' throat. He didnt want to do it, but he had to do it. He had to or die at the hands of the men who had ordered the hit. Now he sits and waits on the hitmen that he knows are coming for him for doing his second job in less than fifteen hours. Sure, his best friend is dead, but so are the three men who ordered the murder. It gave him comfort knowing that he did his job and got revenge for doing it at the same time.

Reid said...

On most days, someone walking past Skeeter Hopkins’ trailer home would be treated to nothing more than the smells of wet garbage and the sounds of Skeeter’s collection of ZZ Top records. Today, they were hearing the melodic strains of pure profane joy. “Holy shit! Holy fucking shit!” Skeeter was always a man of few words, especially the kind you can say in front of children. Given the right opportunity, he could really turn into a simpleton.

“Hol-ee shit,” he said quietly, slumping onto his favorite couch, the one that wasn’t on his lawn.

From The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape. Thanks for the opportunity!

Jenny Rappaport said...

Evie sat in the Garden of a Thousand Suns and waited to die. The air was full of the smell of lemons, as they ripened in the reflected heat, and the sweetness stank. Death wasn’t supposed to smell fresh and tangy; it was supposed to be ripe with decay and decadence, a carrion scent of decomposition and bloat, of the creatures that crawled into skin and flesh. But the priests had ordered her to wait, to quietly contemplate her fate, they said. That was a lie, if she’d ever heard one.

Reid said...

All told, it hadn’t been the most pleasant thousand years for Rahafir. He had stumbled out of the pearly gates, landed on Earth, and lived through some of the worst times since the dawn of man. Now, he felt sure some guy was trying to screw him on fixing his transmission. Would it ever end?

From The Angel's Club. Thanks again!

M. Alexander Austin said...

1) I stood on the edge of the sheer cliff and watched as the end came, a warm breeze and the touch of the fading light on my face. The bloated red sun was setting for the last time, looking like a shining sea of blood spanning the horizon to the west, the red desert far below, still shimmering with the heat of the day adding to the illusion. Ten of them stood in a loose line behind me, impassively watching, hands behind their back. They were in no hurry. They knew this was where and when it ended.

2) The nights are endless in this relentless war. Fear is our one constant. Fear of the Daemon, fear of the cold, of the hunger, the thirst, of the dark and unknown. Even sleep offers little comfort, the sleep-bound terrors seeming no less real than the ones we face waking. Some find solace in the drink that somehow remains plentiful despite shortages of all else. Others dream of an impossible life of peace within the warded walls of the Last Refuge, safe with their loved ones. Yet others find final peace in the quick embrace of a blade, escaping from this waking-nightmare through which we stumble, teetering on the edge of survival. Perhaps they are the wiser for it.

3) I came awake after a thousand years entombed to the smell of blood, brimstone, pungent herbs, the blood of a probably-virgin sacrafice, and the monotonous droning of a power-hungry lich, or mage, or conjurer, or overlord – whatever this one was calling himself. Like most of them, this one was caught up in a power trip, suddenly breaking from his incantations to raise his arms in the air and laugh like a maniac.
“Mahaha! I have summoned the Dark One, the Lord of Night!”
Ah, he was going to be one of those.

sue said...

A TIME TO RUN

The urge to run gripped my body with invisible chains that grew tighter with each second. My throat ached with pulsating nerves waiting to explode, but I couldn‘t move. This time more than my reputation was at stake; My future lies on the line, just like my chance of scoring this shot.

cs said...

ENTRY 2

A storm was swiftly brewing toward the small town of Danville, West Virginia. A town with only two exits; one leading in, the other one leaving . . . if you’re lucky enough to be leaving!

cs said...

Sometimes, all we have is the dark side.

“Scratch, scratch, scratch!” His desperate cry for help at low hanging windows and locked doors continues, but no one answers. No one dares! The creature he’d become terrified all who knew him. For now, he killed to survive. Living off the blood of the innocent in his search for the guilty.

Lisa E. Balvanz said...

Squinting through the dust and wind, Antony strained to see into the distance, looking for something that could mean he was not standing at the edge of the world. A gust of air threatened to push him forward. He thought he should take a step back from the ledge, back towards the safety of solid ground, but instead he remained where he was, his toes curled over the crumbling earth. Below him, all that could be seen were shadows, darker than night: the deep holes of nothingness, some called it.

PJ said...

Entry #2

From another WIP (SF):

"I know why you never married, Aunt Seleen."
Seleen looked up from her book to see her niece standing in the doorway. Her dress was mud-stained, her face dirty, and her hair in disarray. Nothing new or unusual about that, but what was new was the look in her eyes and the way she was holding her hand over her heart. Bettany knew something, or thought she did. Seleen closed her book and shifted in her large chair so she could readjust her cushion.

PJ said...

Aaaannd Entry #3:

From Savage Star, a SF WIP:

Isabelle pushed herself up off the deck. First on her feet, she looked around to check on the condition of her crew. Everyone on the bridge seemed shocked, but unharmed. She knew there would be injuries and possibly casualties among the rest of the crew, however. First she had to assess the damage and any possible danger. The alarm was still blaring all around them, and the lights, which had gone out so abruptly a few moments earlier, began to flicker back to life. Tugging her gray jacket back into place and raking a hand quickly through her short, dark hair, she waited for her pilot to return to his seat before moving over to stand by his console. Kyle Davis’ long thin fingers were already tapping rapidly at his keyboard; he paused only once to shove a lock of his sandy hair away from his face.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Thanks, Nathan, for letting us play.

#1 - Rosie was fourteen before her mother told her she had a grandmother living in the woods. She wasn't surprised Mum had waited this long to tell her. Mum was lovely, but she was very good at not talking about things.

#2 - Brian went to the same college his father and mother had, the same school that had awarded diplomas to his grandfather and great-grandfather. The school readied its students to exploit opportunity rather than create it, assuming that opportunity was just one of the things they'd never lack. Brian's assumptions about his future were similar, carefully instilled by the ancestors who had chosen which school he'd attend.

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