Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, December 8, 2008

The 2nd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge

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

So. Last time we had a contest we had some problems because people were concerned with silly things like "rules" and "things Nathan promised" and "this blog isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on, and in fact, if you were printed on paper you wouldn't be worth the paper you were printed on either, Meanie McMeanieagent."

Let's be clear up front: this is a for-fun contest that I conduct in the free time that I normally spend bathing and attending to personal hygiene. Rules may be adjusted without notice, as I see fit, in ways in which you might find capricious, arbitrary, and possibly dangerous to the Baby Jesus. Let's be clear: no angst this time. You have been warned.

Are we having fun yet?

Now then! You remember how this works right?

1. Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of THIS POST. The deadline for entry is THURSDAY 4pm Pacific time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced on Friday, at which time you will exercise your democratic rights to choose a grand prize super awesome winner.

2. You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may.

3. Spreading word about the contest is strongly encouraged.

4. I will be sole judge this time. Bwa ha ha.

5. A word on word count: I am not imposing a word count on the paragraphs. However, a paragraph that is too long may lose points in the judge's eyes. Use your own discretion.

THE PRIZES: The grand prize super awesome winner of the SUFPCx2 will win their choice of a partial critique, query critique or 15 minute phone conversation in which we can discuss topics ranging from reality TV shows to, you know, publishing. Your choice. Runners up will receive query critiques and/or other agreed-upon prizes.

On with the show!






1364 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Nathan, do you have to be unagented to play?

Nathan Bransford said...

All may enter, although I wonder if agented and/or published authors should defer to the unpublished, who would gain more from the attention/prizes. I will leave it up to the agented/published though.

Don said...

After living the first fourteen years of his life in a Catholic orphanage, Emil faced his mother, Magda Hochová, for the first time. He would remember the smell of beer and sausage and the mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration at this late night meeting on a cold February night in Prague.

Philip McCord said...

Here's the first paragraph from my WIP novel titled "Brilliant Disguise":

Detective Thomas Marks caught his notepad just before the rogue wind took it from his dashboard. Smelled like rain. He missed the forecast earlier when the call came through interrupting the delicious sounding DJ, but he knew with the warm moist air and these winds that a tornado was damn near inevitable. Didn’t take a prophet. This was St. Louis. Stuff happens like that in the Midwest in the middle of summer. Out in the street the rookie cop finally finished talking to the lone witness and walked slowly toward Marks' car, scanning the area and kicking at small things on the ground. Marks rolled his eyes. Nice work, rookie, scramble the evidence. Then Marks half shrugged and shook his head. He knew there would be no evidence anyway.

Sherry Ficklin said...

The first paragraph of my YA Novel:


This must be what hell feels like, I thought, wiping my forehead with the back of my hand. I’d already given four years of my life to these people, you’d think a few more hours wouldn’t kill me, but I was beginning to wonder. Only in Colorado could a clear May morning hit 90 degrees. Sweat drenched through my bright orange graduation robe making me both sticky and slimy, an impressive combination.

Jessie said...

My first paragraph:

There was never a thought in anyone’s mind that today would be different than any other. Well, that was not entirely true. Dawson had hoped that today would be different, but the results were far from what he had expected.

Deborah said...

In the interest of conforming appropriately to whatever rules may be left after you threw most of them out...is a WIP still considered a WIP if it's finished, but currently going through the polishing stage?

William Womack said...

This is how quickly things changed. Mid-span on the Burnside bridge, the brooding fall morning collapsed into a furious winter squall. It bent hapless pedestrians into its fury, and sent a hitch juddering through the inbound traffic. Brake lights fanned across the bridge.

Crystal D said...

I've always wanted to enter this contest, but never had the courage to. Now I'm finally gonna give it a go. Here's the first paragraph from my completed, unpublished fantasy romance called Siren Chronicles.



Pearl walls resonated with cheers of unbridled joy. Banners of sea foam, marine and pearl draped the walls of this majestic castle.
Civilians and soldiers alike were celebrating this joyus day. Women gossiped merrily as men drank massive assumptions of ale.

“The Queen has born another child."

Nathan Bransford said...

Deborah-

I'm not picking nits.

D.A.A. Price (aka Elgin) said...

Chester Moops could recite the dates and days of events that had taken place ages ago. On that note he was like some kind of freaky humanoid database. Without hesitation he could spit out the exact date, day of the week, and number of days it had been since fear snuck in and began choking life from the hearts and minds of the good people in Bethlehem, Vermont.

Whirlochre said...

By the time Duane reached the railway bridge, he was already half drunk — mainly down the left hand side, as it happened. His right leg hadn’t a clue what his left leg was doing and his left leg didn’t know his right leg existed. So he stumbled along like a clown on a stilt.

The streets of Peevenham Regis spread out before him with all the promise of something that would probably never happen; the starting point of an invisible network to anywhere and everywhere he was almost certain to miss. Fate, though cruel sometimes, could only look on aghast as the sticky molecules of snot that made up his thoughts amassed themselves into a vast cumulo-numbus of misplaced determination, driving him on with the precision of a slug slipping down a plughole.

Eli Brown said...

When I was a lad, I would sometimes steal away from my father's house and follow the sandy banks of the Elbe to a small backwater a mile east of town, there to settle among mounds of wildflowers under the many trees growing along the water’s edge, and watch a man fish for eels in the shallows. I do not know the man's name, nor did I ever; all I did know was that he was one of the royal fishers in the employ of the Duke. The Duke had an insatiable taste for eels: boiled into soups, soused in brine and served with lemons, breaded and fried, smoked, jellied, grilled over open flames, or diced and baked inside game birds; there were few ways to prepare them that did not please the Duke's palate.

Kristan said...

Ooo, what fun! I think I started reading your blog just after all the hullabaloo of the last contest.

Anyway, my entry.

~~

In a few days, I will disappear. I have tried to deny, ignore, and stop this, but it is an inevitable fact. I am beginning to unravel. These frayed words are the last of the ties that bind me to this earth. When you finish reading, I will be gone.

Emily Ruth said...

Hm, I'll enter. Why not?

My vision strays to the white flower in my hand. I know it is dying, though it dies far too slow for me to see. In this way, it is like me. Maybe no one can tell, or maybe no one cares, though that is hard to believe. Father, Aunt Vee, and Reddy just have their own pain to deal with, along with everyone else in this world. They deal with theirs; I deal with mine. But sometimes I can’t deal.

Lula O said...

There’s nothing like waking up suddenly, in a cold sweat, in the middle of the night with a dead person on your mind. It doesn’t exactly calm one's nerves. A loud cracking sound had thrust me from the warm confines of my bed covers and I sat straight up with such force, my room spun like a top. My long hair, soaked with sweat was glued to my face. It took me a moment to orient myself to my surroundings and realize I was once again awake and among the living. Damn.

Deborah said...

Thanks, Nathan. I decided to submit the first para of an actual WIP anyway:

The soles of her boots slapped on the pavement in staccato rhythm, echoing in the silence. At this hour, the normally crowded sidewalk was deserted; even the late night bars of LoDo were closed. Up ahead, Autumn Moss could see the soft glow of lamplight from the windows of her loft penthouse. She quickened her pace, causing the fringe of her suede jacket to undulate in waves around her. This was her lucky jacket, she thought. As if to support this belief she caressed the thick roll of bills in her pocket. It was such easy money. She felt exhilarated and that always made her want a drink. Right now she wanted a drink badly. She told herself it was to celebrate, but she knew this wasn’t true. She wanted a drink every day and there usually wasn’t much to celebrate.

Haste yee back ;-) said...

Does it have to be the first paragraph? My first paragraph is very short... like.

"Son, you knew it was wrong!"

Nathan, that ain't much to go on! Pick-a-nit, please!

Haste yee back ;-)

Jill Wheeler said...

Whee!

Chloe opened her notebook, drew eighteen balloons across the top of the page, and lettered each one: "Happy birthday to you." Although there had been no Ferrari with a red bow waiting for her that morning, she did receive the best present she could ask for – an e-mail from her brother, Donnie, in Iraq.

Amber said...

From my WIP - a YA Fantasy. Complete bt going through polishing.

***

The narrow deer path stretched ahead as I crept along, searching for prey. A noise caught my attention, something rushed towards me from deeper in the forest. Silent, I grabbed an arrow and spun, bringing up my bow. A giant shadow raced between the pines and berry bushes. Tightening my grip, I held ready to loose the arrow. The shape crossed the ground at a speed that made my legs shake. It ran through a patch of sunlight and my breath came out in a whoosh. Huge, fierce, the silver and black dire-wolf raced closer. Her dark markings blended with the shadows, all but one flashing white paw. When she reached the path, I smiled at my best friend, Mearlyn, as she skidded to a stop.

Mark Terry said...

From my WIP aimed at middle grades:


The monster attacked me just a couple minutes past midnight. I was sneaking back home, cutting through an abandoned lot, when it jumped out of the shadows.

Julia Weston said...

Hi Nathan. Here's my first paragraph. Thanks for the chance...

A metallic clang jolted Lia out of her half-doze. She glanced around, vaguely embarrassed, and rubbed her arms as she reoriented herself. Multihued bars of morning light streamed down from the casement perched at the pinnacle of the temple wall. Standing at the pulpit, Father Chase wielded a rather large communion bell. Disapproval shadowed his lined face and his gaze moved from face to stagnant face as he tried to determine whether he had sufficiently jarred his wayward congregation.

Jill Wheeler said...

To clarify, "whee" was not part of the paragraph. My submission is the start of my WiP, DRAWN TO YOU, about a girl who can manipulate the future through her drawings.

Lehcarjt said...

“Your cat’s dead.”

Nicole Devaney paused with her hand on the latch of her mailbox. “Mrs. Cort?” she said to the vague figure shining a flashlight at her. It was Sunday. It was after nine P.M. The streetlight above them was out, even though Nicole had reported it to the homeowners’ association several times, and in the dark, Mrs. Cort looked like a shorter, grouchier Walter Matthau. Nicole wanted nothing more than to retrieve yesterday’s mail and fall face-first into bed. Besides, she didn’t own a cat.

Lady Glamis said...

Can we post the title of the work as well???

The Screaming Guppy said...

Thanks Nathan! Awesome idea. :) I have two WIP in progress right now, but one of them opens with a paragraph that's only two sentences! So I'll pick this one instead:


The air was stale, carrying a taste of a day old smoke and metal. Smoke, in space. Outside the pinhole window, the stars and blackness laughed. The filters were old here, no doubt predating new regulations and dodging inspection for decades. A rusty hum cantering in the rafters begged the question if the outpost’s guts had ever been cleansed. It was one of the many things that made it an ideal locale. The grit in the air, the texture, was reality; unlike the tasteless vacuum of galactic politics.

Wesley Allison said...

The asphalt was so hot that it was sticking to his boots as Sherriff Roger McClellan stepped up to the side of the silver Mercury Montego. He pulled his sunglasses to the end of his nose and looked in the back window on his way to the driver’s door. When he got there the window was still up. The driver, a balding man in his fifties, clearly didn’t want his chilled inside atmosphere dissipating into the 124 degree desert. McClellan pulled a pack of Juicy Fruit from his breast pocket, unwrapped a stick and stuck it in his mouth, and then slowly folded the foil wrapper in fourths, putting it and the package of gum back in his pocket. Lifting his knight stick from its holster, he gently tapped the driver side window. The window motor buzzed dully as the glass lowered.

Colorado Writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madeline said...

Man, it was Friday already---that afternoon Mr. Dubrovnev was going to post the basketball roster.

David Nickel squinted noncommittally, the early morning sun in his eyes. He was outside the gym, hanging around with Jared and Michael and breathing in the last bit of languid September air before first bell. More than happy to slouch against the wall with eyes drifting shut, imagining he might still have a chance. But Jared didn’t have a quiet morning bone in his body. He ran around scooping chunks of ashphalt from a crumbling pothole and banging them hard into the metal trash can next to the gym door. “So I’m saying. Dubrovnev won’t cut you just for that one thing.”

sannesi said...

Oh, these are always fun.

Anonymous said...

I ran for a lot of reasons. To keep in shape. To win races. To stay out of trouble. And sometimes I ran just for the heck of it. Today I followed the path by the river. It had enough inclines and twists to make any cross-country runner happy.


The first paragraph to my 10-41 David (a ya murder mystery)

WandaV in AL

Scott (Thinking Man) said...

My first paragraph:

Mitch Greenwood hovered inches above the prone, unconscious body of Jack Harden, fumbling with the sergeant’s shoulder strap and trying desperately to unhook a two-way radio microphone. “Give me that sum bitch,” Greenwood said in a semi-intoxicated slur, kicking Harden in the ribs. He pressed his unshaven cheek to the microphone and spittle began oozing from the side of his mouth as he tried hard to formulate a thought amid his increasing haze.

~michelle pendergrass said...

Seventeen bottles this year. Maker’s Mark. Six now sit on the top of my long-dead husband’s gravestone. A little altar. Three on one side, three on the other with a photograph of us in the middle. Us before Michael. The other eleven won’t all fit on the base of the monument, so I put them on the grass and they mock me like miniature versions of the bitches that huddled there when I buried him. A bottle starts to tilt, threatening to take the rest down. I grab it and drink, not a lot, but enough, then pour some onto the lilacs someone brought. After I replace the cap, because the cap must be replaced before throwing, I fire the bottle at his behemoth marble headstone and it explodes.

Eliza K. said...

I'll play for fun!

In the city, Boss is a man of girth, worth, and expensive shoes. Hand-crafted leather. Hand-hammered steel toes. Hand-stitched soles. The hands of the people help him stand, as he once put it between wisps of smoke. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Boss open his mouth without smoke trailing out. He's a demon too, in his own way. Not like me, of course, but still. I've seen him steal as many souls with only words.

Trampled Pixie said...

My sex life was just about dead…dead before it even had a chance to properly begin. There was still a pulse, last I checked, but I knew that the crows were beginning to circle, hovering patiently over the flailing hormonal urges, waiting for them to croak and be done with it so that the carrion feasting could begin. It was like menopause was a mere breath away, that point in any woman’s life where one inconvenience is replaced by another, and the reviews were mixed. The first option: about four painful, agonizing, raging days that struck every month like clockwork. The second option: hot flashes and absolute indifference that had no foreseeable ending. Was that Hugh Jackman that just walked by? Doesn’t matter. Either you’re hating him right now because he’s a man, or you’re more amused by the slew of evening game shows.

Marilyn Peake said...

Hi, Nathan,

I'm excited about this contest and admire your generosity. Do your co-workers know that you may be giving up bathing and personal hygiene for the duration of the contest? :) I'm going to organize my WIPs, and decide which to enter. I have only one question about the rules. When you say, "You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may", do you mean we may enter only one entry? I'm assuming you do.

Sasha said...

Here's the first paragraph of my YA WIP, GHOSTLY:

I had to be dreaming. I didn't know whether I wanted to believe I was seeing Carlson or not. He looked up from under those cute blond eyebrows with the stray hairs that stuck straight out from his forehead. His dark red, long-sleeved T-shirt wrinkled where he leaned against the wall's blue tiles. He didn't speak, but he kept staring at me. Whether I was dreaming or not, I had to say something. "You're in the women's bathroom," I told him. And then wanted to smack myself. There were a lot of things I'd wanted to say to my dead boyfriend over the past year, but that wasn't one of them.

Kathleen Peacock said...

Jasmine was nine when her Nana Bess told her a harsh truth. Child, Nana Bess said, you have my genes. Jasmine hadn’t understood, at first. She told her grandmother that she didn’t have any of her pants and offered to help find them. Nana Bess had laughed. Not those kinds of jeans, she said, I’m talking the kind of genes that make you up. Her Nana had gone on to say that everyone had hundreds of genes swirling through them. Some made you tall, some made you light or dark, and some made you round. Does that mean I’ll be fat like you and mama? Jasmine had wanted to know. When Nana Bess nodded, Jasmine slid from her lap and ran from the room.

Alicia said...

Nathan, this is a great idea!

On to the first paragraph.

____
My life seemed to be revolving around numbers more than usual. It was either that, or I’d just been more conscious of them. Age: twenty-five and some months. Height: five-foot-nine. Weight: one hundred and thirty-one pounds. Siblings: four. Ex-boyfriends: three. Best friends: Also, three. Roommates: one. Idiotic choices: well over twenty. Career paths: zero. Minutes until KaffeiNation closed: ten.

composing_lola said...

Jane sat at the foot of the great oak, her shoulders resting against its rough bark, bare legs draped across a thick root that had come nosing up through the soil. A fat black ant scurried up over her left knee and she smacked it away. Above her, drooping green tendrils of Spanish moss spilled down over the tree’s wide branches like the matted mane of a wild pony. The air was still and wet – thick, like the air in the bathroom after Jane’s older sister had taken a long shower, or in Gramma Hull’s kitchen after she’d been boiling lobsters.

This Is Fun said...

Something slithered through the trees at the edge of the orchard, a deeper shadow winding its way among those cast by the bare corpse-arm branches. Purple moonlight sparked off the trail of slime it left on the ridged tree bark. Slime like that which smeared the lace handkerchief in Genivra’s hand. It smelled of something wild and secret, and was warm to the touch; slightly oily.

This Is Fun said...

Oops, sorry. Mine is YA fantasy. If it matters.

Ann Victor said...

Really great entries so far! Well done to everyone brave enough to put their work up. I'm just a chicken. Cluck. Cluck.

Kait Nolan said...

The body was stuffed in the cabinet, lifeless eyes staring out of a face drawn into a permanent snarl. Marin stumbled backward, tripping and falling hard on her butt. She couldn’t breathe past the scream that tried to claw out of her throat. Wheezing, she stared at the thing, body grotesque and stiffened by rigor mortis, wedged right there between the roasting pan and the Pyrex baking dishes.

The Pearl Poet said...

“If you could have any super power, what would it be?”

I kept my nose in my Algebra book, trying desperately to ignore Aiden's question. It was a typical discussion; one that never resulted in a real conclusion. The three of us sat in Aiden's basement on our usual Friday night. The ceilings were low, covered in movie posters, and shaggy rainbow carpet lined the floor. The carpet was his parents way of remembering the seventies, but Aiden called it style. Um. Please. I tried to use the flashes of light illuminating from the TV screen to study, but failed miserably. We were watching Spider Man 3 for the billionth time. Okay, slight exaggeration. But when you can recite each line word for word, you’ve seen it one too many times...in my humble opinion.

R. Battles said...

Here's the first paragraph from my novel, "HEARTS, HEADS & BEDS, an erotic romance.

Listening to Jonathan Butler’s Head To Head CD while watching the brilliant colors the pine cones were producing in his fireplace, Roland took a sip of his vodka and tonic and recalled some of the women he had known on an intimate basis. His experiences included many men’s fantasies: a nurse, a topless dancer, two flight attendants, a trophy wife, a local on-air radio personality, and an executive he’d met on an MD80 during a business trip. Overall, his numbers were good, but they could be better. A man’s numbers can always be better.

Jeanne Ryan said...

The Sacred Chalice tumbled through the mist, its precious contents leaving behind a trail of scarlet drops that stained the air. Lucifer's throat convulsed, but it was too late. The transformation had begun and nothing in the Universe could stop it.

Maggie said...

Scared, but here goes:

Our trees were dying. Not the trees we'd planted that is, but the trees of the planet we inhabit. We brought the seeds for the orchards that seemed to go unaffected by this odd disease in the indigenous trees. But the planet needs those trees. It was obvious from the beginning signs of the trees becoming ill, that the planet suffered along with them. Trees which had once stood grand and strong with thick round branches full of leaves of every color were now withering. Their branches curled into twisted knots as though taken by arthritis. Where once lush moss grew blanketing their trunks, now lay frayed carpets of brown, flaking and crumbling to the ground.

AC said...

From my YA WIP:

Lottie Griffin didn’t look like a goal post.

At least, she’d never thought she looked like a goal post, but a cute guy cradling a football was barreling toward her anyway.
That was her last thought before they collided. He slammed into her and she landed in the grass with a heavy, unladylike grunt. When she opened her eyes, she was staring into a pair of the most beautiful baby blues she’d ever seen.
“Touchdown?” she asked weakly.

Hope B. said...

This is the first paragraph of the prologue for my finished novel entitled "No Life But This":
“What the hell?” He blinked and then took another look. His heart began to beat a little faster. He was standing on his back porch in his pajamas and robe. He didn’t know why he had decided to open the back door a few moments earlier. He was essentially a creature of habit, and he was not in the habit of opening his back door at 7:45 am., especially since the neighborhood had gone straight to hell over the years. Later, he would declare that it had been divine providence. He’d been on this earth for seventy-five years and as he had been known to tell his wife, his children, his friends and anyone else who would listen and listen often, not a whole lot shocked him. He was, however, at that particular moment, shocked. He took a third look because he was taking a lot of medication and he thought it just might be affecting him and also because the sight itself warranted a third look. The first thing he noticed was that she was a white woman. The second thing his brain processed was that she was wearing nothing more than a pale blue night gown. She wasn’t even wearing shoes. She was just standing there in the middle of his back yard in her night gown and bare feet. She was standing right next to his old and rather dilapidated, brown garage. On canvas, this picture would have been interesting perhaps even provocative, but in the reality of the cold, stark Chicago morning, the figure standing next to Willie Dee Jackson’s garage seemed surreal and nightmarish.

Thomas Mason said...

Looks like I'll be throwing my hat into the ring with my opening paragraph from my WIP "Feint Impressions".

~~~

The cold breeze blowing off San Francisco bay did not seem to affect the throngs of protestors located outside of San Quentin Penitentiary. They had been at many previous death penalty protests and had come prepared to chant and stand firm for hours. The hundreds gathered here now, lit mostly by candles, marched in place to keep their bodies warm. Every soul standing here tonight, protestors and supporters of the death penalty, along with reporters were waiting with baited breath for the arrival of the witnesses tonight. Only a few times in its history had San Quentin Penitentiary been such a hot bed of activity.

Pamela Davies said...

First paragraph

Still drunk from a three day binge, Bo Bodine stumbled out from under the oak and cypress canopy into the intense glare of the low-slung sun mumbling to himself incoherently. His dress pants, crumpled and askew and frayed at the cuffs, were wet and dirty and smelled of urine from a mishap at the head of the narrow, rutted trace where he’d pulled his pickup off the Smithy-Corcoran highway.

Iain H. McLean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Davidson said...

It starts with a shovel. Others tried with a palm. A forked stick. A hacking axe. A pick. They refined their tools. Stone for wood. Bronze for stone. Iron for bronze. Then steel. From steel they add the magic of steam. Of electricity. Of hydraulics and gasoline and Diesel fuel. But they always go back to the humble shovel. On this stage, a shovel of gold.

Lisa said...

OK, here's the first paragraph of my Napoleonic era historical novel, Echoes of the Drummer:

For the longest time, all William could recall was pain, pain and long periods of oblivion that would be shattered with nightmares filled with dying men, screaming horses, the stench of sweat and blood, and through it all, the screech of Highlanders pipes, skirling through the charge and demanding he rise and fight, and his attempts to do so brought him back to the pain with real screams and thrashing followed by the touch of cool hands and soft words and the dulling sweetness of opium and rum. To his dying day, he could abide the smell of neither.

CC said...

YA -- dystopian novel

The game was not going as planned. It was a short season, only five games compared to the seven they'd played last year. With only one stadium, the rotation of football, baseball, and soccer was now shared with wrestling teams. The Perimeters hoped that the variety would quell some of the riots. The stadium's three sides rocked in the freezing wind. Ten thousand feet stomped, thirsty, hungry, wanting entertainment, wanting, Alex Winter knew, as he lifted his head and panned the throngs, to kill someone.

Iain H. McLean said...

Right now, right here, I know two things: I am one of the luckiest guys alive, and, you make your own luck. Somewhere an old lady is feeding my black cat well enough to keep it well away from my beaten track. That doesn't stop my nerves from jangling this morning. I'm not used to feeling. Today is Friday. Eight days after I took control of me again. One week since I sat in Joel Katz's office. One week since I set out to meet Chip in Vegas. Six days since I met Samuel Macy. Today is the first day, for a long time, that I can remember feeling when I woke up. Feeling emotions. Feeling like Friday. I'm actually looking forward to the weekend. Smiling. I'm a big smiling freak amongst all these shadows.

green ray said...

JEWISH AMERICAN PRINCE

Had Peter Redman known what he was getting himself into, he never would have done it, I’m sure. I knew Peter briefly at a time when we both delivered food for Angels with Wings, a volunteer food organization. What follows is his story, and I feel privileged to have known him when I did. Whether he is still alive, I can’t say, but it’s my chance to recount his incredible tale so that there will be a public record of it, as inadequate as it might be. He jokingly called himself a Jewish American Prince once and I think it’s as good a title as any; so I’ll do my best to be faithful to Peter’s story, the story of a Jewish American Prince.

Miriam S.Forster said...

Okay, here's my entry: (YA fantasy)
__________________________________

Twelve days.... Twelve days...

The refrain pounded in Katrin Satogo's head as she stared up at the slate-gray of Beyond. Twelve days until the yearly Redeeming Ceremony, where the other girls from the Houses would be claimed by their Spokens or set up in a trade. Twelve days until she'd have to leave the Houses forever.

But where would she go?

hannah said...

The first paragraph of A La Mode, a YA.

We interrupt this story to bring you Valentine’s day. It’s snowing. Fuck. September, October, November, December, January, February--half a year since the boys left, and they only come home when they’re sick. I’m so goddamn lonely, at this point, that I’m willing to send a basket of dander-licious kittens to Charlie and a box of sugar to diabetic Josiah in hopes it’ll get them screwed up enough to high-tail it back to our little island. On Valentine’s day.

Kat Harris said...

I fought my soul’s toughest battles within earshot of the strangers who knew me best. Smiling for the cameras, pretending to be some rock ‘n’ roll beauty queen – it’s an empty endeavor when you’re frozen on the inside. Sometimes I wondered how I pulled off being Heather Montgomery when I felt so removed from myself. I mean, it's easy finding ecstasy in the mind-blowing release that occurs delivering aural sex to a sold-out arena of screaming fans, but long nights on a tour bus become even longer when you’re afraid of what your nightmares and drunken ramblings might reveal.

thejohnburke said...

Elenore.... I know how much you loathe that name, but rest assured, it’s the first and last time I’ll call you that here. I just wanted to put it out there once. Just say it once, your name, the one we gave you, so you’d know I was serious. I want you to hear all of this. I want you to know everything. I want to do something, if anything, right. Who knows how I’m going to accomplish such a task, considering how poor I've performed these past twenty-seven years. You know probably better than anyone. You are twenty-seven, right? Twenty-eight?

Eric said...

The old men were trading in their last days to raise up a new funeral parlor after the previous one had been burned to the ground. They were far too old and much too sick for the task, to be sure, so it was no mean stretch to say the labor was killing them. Quite literally. In fact, that’d been the gist of much morbid jest among certain, less respectable, townsfolk. The old men were quick to play deaf in those moments, however. They couldn’t afford to let such foolishness stay them. No time to dawdle while time dwindled. That had become their mantra.

David Russell Mosley said...

The First Paragraph of The History of Carlisle and Fay's Forest.

Alfred Stidolph was born and raised in a little village called Carlisle. His parents, however, Alex and Jessica, were not born and raised in Carlisle. They met there while on vacation. The fell in love, got married and had a child whom they named Alfred. Alex had been on a walking tour, a trip one takes by ones’ self where one parks a car at one end and then takes a train to the other and walks back, from Picston, about twenty miles north of Carlisle, to his home town of Cheshire, about fifteen miles south of Carlisle. Alex often took walking tours during the Summer, and this Summer was in no way different. He had heard about Carlisle on his previous walking tours and about some of the odd stories that come from there. Since Carlisle served as a somewhat halfway marker for his latest tour, he decided to stop by and see the town for himself. When he arrived he me Jessica and immediately fell in love. Jessica, on the other hand, had been traveling abroad in Ireland and wanted one last interesting stop before she went home. She had been told about Carlisle from a fisherman off the coast of Ireland. “If yer lookin’ fir interestin’, lass, I recommend the village of Carlisle. There’s an old man who lives there and tells stories about older days when elves and fairies were real,” the old fisherman told Jessica. After she heard this, her mind was made up. She had always found folklore interesting and this old man sounded like the perfect man to tell her folktales.

Marilyn Peake said...

First paragraph from my novel-in-progress, Gods in the Machine, futuristic science fiction involving politics, space aliens, and time travel:

Levana Anderson sipped her blue-white chocolate latte, holding the steaming porcelain cup firmly in her rounded hands. She peered through creamy white froth at the blue liquid. How did they do that, she wondered- -make the chocolate coffee blue? Levana’s gaze moved from the warm cup to a neon green button implanted in her black plastic restaurant table, stars shimmering within an ebony core. As she pushed the button, a cloth panel rose next to her with a whirring sound, revealing a large rectangular window. The psychologist set down her cup to more intently soak in the spectacular view. Earth was no more than a giant’s black dinner plate resting on a matching table, fluorescent sugar spilled across the darkened circle. Hours ago, night had fallen on the part of Earth linked to the Galaxy Garden Space Hotel in geosynchronous orbit. Levana could barely make out the dark rim of Earth, but the city lights popped brilliantly. Studying the stars thrown across the outdoor scape, the psychologist briefly wished she knew the constellations.

Kate said...

Jocelyn Davis stepped into the spot light and squinted out at the dark theater. Courtney’s voice cut through the darkness. “Alright Jocelyn, feel free to begin your monologue whenever you’re ready.” Courtney spoke in a Brooklyn accent. She did reside in New York City, but her cadence said more than her words. With every syllable she altered Courtney announced, “I’ve lived Broadway kid, so shut up and listen to me.”

Anonymous said...

Twenty Four Years Ago...

When the long black car parked in front of the church, something inside the little girl's body changed. She kept feeling like she should be looking for someone, like someone wanted to talk to her. Almost as if she willed it, the doors of that car opened up and some people got out. They were all wearing black clothes and they looked like a family. A mom, a dad and two brothers, but they didn't seem like a very happy family. They really seemed like a sad family. Just then, another black car stopped at the church, but this one was funny looking and the whole sad family just stood and watched it. The little girl strained her body to see the back of this car where a group of men now stood in front of a long door that one of them had opened. She tried, but she couldn't see what they saw. As if her body was leading her, she stood and went down the side porch steps to get closer to the car. "Somebody is waiting for me there, " she thought as she quickly crossed the street. By then, the men were carrying a shiny white box up the church steps and the sad family was following. She started to follow too, but the pretty girl at the bottom of the church steps wanted to say something to her.

Stephanie said...

It was happening again. Travis stared at her, lying next to him in bed, sleeping so peacefully. All was well in her world. As far as she was concerned, they were on the fast track to marriage, children, a two-story in the suburbs. He’d given her no reason to suspect otherwise. Until now. Now…everything would change.

Justus M. Bowman said...

Thanks for having the competition. Here's my first paragraph:


Binky woke up feeling exhausted, wanting nothing more than to turn over and fall asleep, but he needed to visit the hole-room. He got out of his bed, stretched to his full height of three and a half feet tall, and stumbled over to a luminous stone. Holding it in front of him, he opened his door and began walking down the hall of the village Retosi.

Anonymous said...

My first (gasp of anticipation) paragraph:

That morning, before Tyrell Spikes re-entered my life, I was rooting around in the center drawer of my desk, looking for the five hundred-count bottle of Advil. A stress headache was boring its way through my left temple, and I was praying that some over-the-counter pain killer would be the answer to my problem.

R.C. said...

Thank you, Nathan.

When Mr. Barker turned to the board, Davis Langton stood up and dropped his pants. The rows behind Davis got a clear view of his boxer shorts, covered with small hands raised in the one finger salute. Contagious giggles erupted from the back, but Jeremy Choice shook his head, wondering how a twelve-year old got underwear like that. He rolled his eyes just as Davis turned around to bask in his classmates’ approval. Davis’s scowl pierced Jeremy like one of his daily injections; it was a promise that the real pain would come later.

LawDog said...

The team moved swiftly and silently, feet gliding along the cobblestone. Four pairs of black military boots that made no sound against the cracked old brick. The street was empty, save a stray cat and the soft moonlight. And why shouldn’t it be, the man at the front thought. No one is expecting us. They won’t miss it until we’re long gone. They had left the black Humvee in the alley two blocks away from the church, a location that he had scouted out three days ago. Out of sight behind a trash dumpster.

John Rosevear said...

From "Strike Price", a novel-length mystery presently undergoing revision:

I had seen Lisa in a lot of interesting positions over the years, but lying dead in an alley was a new one.
She was on her back, looking like herself. That was sort of surprising, given that she had fallen fourteen stories onto pavement. One of her legs was twisted at an odd angle, and a small pool of blood was drying under her head. But her face was unmarked, almost serene. It was still Lisa. Or it had been.
Her eyes were closed. I was glad. Looking into those eyes had once been a high point of my days. I wanted to keep those memories as they were.

pseudosu said...

Dianna’d seen the neat young man holding the gun a soon as they walked in, standing in the shadows at the end of the hallway, but said nothing, assuming he was another of the not-really-there-people she called “Nots”. He cradled his gun hand gently in the other, like a precious terrifying thing somehow independent from him, and took one silent step forward. In the glow of the indirect lighting he took on odd Hitchcockian tones, vividly pallid.

High Desert Muse said...

The San Isidro church loomed a dark hulk against the gray sky. The moon and Venus hung just over the bell tower. Paul came at dawn. He watched the old men and women shuffle to early Mass, coats and scarves pulled tight against the sharp morning air. Six times the bell shattered the clear air. Six times the echo resounded off the mountains. And six times quivers pulsed up his spine.

cassie said...

“Aim for the Pacific Ocean,” Betty counsels, shoving a fistful of steel-point pub darts into my hand. A group of thirty writers stand blowing into our palms and gazing at a large U.S. map pasted on the side of the building at Wooster and Grand, the offices of BadMouth Magazine (“New York’s Premier Cultural Crap Detector”). It’s barely 10 degrees out, but we can’t wear gloves, not if we want to cradle the slick darts between our bare fingers for maximum aimability.

Sophie W. said...

I don't know whether I'm looking forward to hearing the winners or reading Nathan's "what have I gotten myself into" posts for the next week. :D

First para:

On the day of my father’s death, I sat up with Jenan and cried until the grey-green hours of morning. He rocked me, one hand cradling my head to his chest. Below us, the tide pulled away from the coast, and I felt that some part of me, some deep ocean inside, diminished along with it. Each drop of salt water I shed left to meet the bitter sea beyond my window.

Conduit said...

Good luck to everyone taking part - Nathan's contests are always fun and educational. :)

Natalie said...

Relax, I'm a Ninja:

According to my father, the first rule of ninjutsu is KISS: keep it simple, stupid. Of course, he’s says it all ninja-like, but that’s the gist. If you can walk down the street in normal clothes, there’s no need for black garb and grappling hooks. If you can kill a dude in two moves, don’t waste your time with three. And that’s why we run a karate school for all those little kids who get beat up at school—two ninjas hiding in the most obvious place, and the last spot anyone looks.

ellen-denham said...

From my fantasy novel, The Willow Maiden:

I do not know that I am the last, but I fear it. My roots grow deep, and surely I am now the most ancient living thing upon the earth. The weight of the years hangs heavy upon my boughs, and my branches are twisted with many sorrows. Yet I no longer grieve - rather, I watch and I wait. I endure.

Julie Butcher-Fedynich said...

The bomb shone with symmetric beauty. Red, white, yellow, and blue wires entwined through the C-4, the shapes almost geometric. Arturo focused on the colored lines. There had to be a pattern. If he snipped the wrong wire, Kansas City would explode. So would he, along with two million other people.

Jessica C Newhall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janelle said...

Jessica Romaine has her hair tied in a knot again. From my seat right behind her, I can see how the light blonde pieces spiral into and then fall out of the knot like a waterfall, and how it is all held together by a sharpened yellow pencil. This look – careless but cute – was the number one style for the second half of the year and my only problem with it is that it is often held together by a pencil or other writing instrument that is absolutely not meant to be in someone’s hair. There has to be some way it can be created with a simple pony-tail holder. Anyways, this knot replaced the Aquanet fan, although some people still don’t know that.

Julie said...

She thought it would hurt. Falling to earth. Seemed reasonable to think so. But as Ravyn’s body hurtled through time and space, slicing through endless layers of white energy and clouds of stardust, she couldn’t help but think that it was the most amazing, freakiest thing she’d ever experienced.

Anonymous said...

Paranormal Suspense

His head flew back as the woman’s hand connected. Laura could hear the slap even through the closed window. She winced in sympathy but she wasn’t surprised. She’d seen him with another woman in the house off and on all summer. Most men weren’t too clever when it came to cheating, but bringing his mistress home was in a class of stupidity all by itself.

Liz said...

A broadsword is a difficult thing to hide in a dress. Men wore their swords openly as a show of force, and the obvious threat of violence helped to keep the peace when tempers flared. For a woman to wear a sword, the effect was the opposite. More often than not, in the hands of a woman, the blade provoked confrontation – or so Gwendolyn had learned. Whenever she felt the need to carry her sword, she wore her cloak drawn tightly about her to conceal the weapon beneath its folds. A solitary stroll in the forest was certainly such an occasion. Not in the mood to invite death today, Gwendolyn pulled the edges of her cloak closely together as she paused to squint warily down the shaded path behind her.

Robena Grant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lou said...

The day of our first and only anniversary, I was standing by a window of our trailer. Flies were buzzing against the screen, and I stretched out my hand to them, wiggling my fingers. I wanted one to light on my arm 'cause I loved the way they tickled when they walked around. I loved them more than Mooch, in fact, which was kinda sad when I thought about it on this day that was supposed to be a happy day. And it was a happy day, I guess, but only 'cause I'd decided to kill him. Now I saw him through the window, lugging a jar sloshing with pink-colored detergent-water. It slopped over the edge and splattered his shoes.

Karen Duvall said...

Thick clouds of steam puffed out of manhole covers and sewer grates, making it extra hard for Henry to see while driving in the dark. The taxi's smudged headlamps didn't help. The radio sputtered and he reached outside the cab's window to give the bulky antenna another twist.

Raymond Terry said...

Moon Racer...That was what he said...Said?...No...that’s not exactly right. It was more like that was what he kept saying. Over and over...like it was some kind of goddamn meaningful mantra that might help his situation if he repeated it enough times, but nothing was going to help. It was done. He was done. This was the end off the line and I knew it even if he didn’t. yet.

dorkismo said...

I once attended this uppity little liberal-arts college where they held the usual film screenings every Friday night. Desperate to become an intellectual, which in those days meant learning French (especially phrases like film noir) and knowing all about European art and movies, I never missed these events and indeed, quickly learned to stop saying ‘movie,’ ever, and I would not put it past me even to have worn a beret, because I had bought one in Paris the summer before school started. So one night they showed The Seventh Seal, which is a really good movie, or film, despite its intimidatingly high reputation, and everyone sobbed buckets because the ending is so sad. The lights went up, and all of us Europeanized junior sophisticates were red-eyed and stricken-looking, and I felt so strongly that we were sharing the same powerful sensations of futility, and sadness, with a bleak, bleached-out bit of Scandinavian hope thrown in. It was a confederacy of deep-thinking, deep-feeling young people, who cared about truth and beauty and the life of the mind, and so forth! I was dazzled. How I wanted to be here, to be part of this. For them to think I was as detached and sardonic and not-quite-American as they. Probably I lit a cigarette, and readjusted my beret at a more serious angle.

Candace Isenhower said...

They walked in a single file, their footsteps echoing into silence as each cloaked figure ducked through the narrow archway. Candlelight bounced against the stone walls, revealing the ever present dampness of the chamber. Without a word, the scarlet robes formed a circle around the pit in the center of the room and waited, the air thick with the soot of a previous fire. When the circle was complete and all motion ceased, one stepped forward and opened his fist. Glittering black dust slipped through his fingers, dispersing into a stream as it fell into the pile of ashes.

Courtney said...

I could hear the roars somewhere deep within the cavernous textile plant. The angry wails shook the dusty floor beneath my shoes in empty, desolate echoes, announcing the Reaper’s presence below. I slipped two swords out from the sheaths strapped to my back and stepped silently down the darkened hall. The floor was littered with yellowing paper and nothing remained of the small industrial windows dotting the walls but jagged, broken glass. Sickly pale light from the street lamps lining the darkened streets outside streaked in through the shattered windows. Trash piled up against the walls covered with strips of peeling, decomposing paint. I stepped around everything, making no noise, but I knew the Reaper could feel me. My silence could not mask the energy rolling from me. Nothing could, and the Reaper was hungry for me.

Anonymous said...

...and yet again the depths of Nathan's madness knows no bounds but I dig it. Many thanks for the blog and contest.

First paragraph of my novel (Untitled).

The world is different now. What once was a time of wealth and security now is an unforgiveable Thunderdome world without heroes. I was born into this world like no other, a singular blue and brown eyed abnormality without equal—a Tetragametic Chimera with Heterochromia eyes. My mother had carried two fertilized eggs that should have become fraternal twins, one twin with blue eyes and the other with brown but our separate cells fused together inside her womb. Instead of the eggs connecting as one immediately, creating the more common Tetragametic Chimera anomaly, they formed independent of each other for the first seven days of gestation and then bonded into that rarest of rare miracle. It took God seven days to create the world and it took seven days to create what I am—two independent savant minds born inside one body, a single being with two completely different sets of DNA, one eye brown and the other eye blue—a twin inside a twin.

Morgan

Henri Stepsharp said...

I knew a man who claimed he was a time traveler and had witnessed my dénouement, as he called it. Yet he never once alluded to treason, to meat cleavers and severed thumbs, or even to any of the people I croaked. He'd probably say it wouldn't matter, that I wouldn't have believed him anyway, and the same events would have happened, anyway. Or maybe he'd feed me crap about time travel ethics. He might have at least warned me I'd have nightmares about coffins. Funny, I never did when I was robbing graves. The nightmares didn't begin until later, when I came here.

Sarah said...

Sandy popped open her trunk to place the bags of groceries inside only to find the body of her husband tied and gagged and at first glance dead. She had only left him 90 minutes earlier at home typing away at his laptop too busy to acknowledge her when she told him goodbye.

Your tour guide said...

Nathan:

If it's between a shower and reading my entry, please opt for the shower! Just laminate the entry and bring it in with you ;-)

From POWERLESS, a super-powers thriller:

There once was a girl and she was powerless. All her childhood the condition had been curled up inside her like some undiscovered star. Lately, though, she couldn't shake the feelng that it had collapsed into a black hole, its spinning darkness threatening to consume her by picking off pieces and swallowing them. She'd just turned thirteen, and puberty should have brought her some ability. Flying, maybe. Or pyrokinesis. Or even the whispers of telepathy. Something to crash the party with its troublemaking friends, acne and hormones. For an unlucky few like this girl, the hormones raged and the pimples sprang up, but a power did not. She was only beginning to understand that.

sraasch said...

96 comments already! Sheesh! Here's mine:

The entire crew swore Ikkin was an elf, but he never admitted to it. Just as they swore that Danny had killed her husband and joined the crew of the Rapid Meander to escape jail; that Arachne had been banished from her village because her skill at weaving was so fantastic the chief became jealous; that Peat had been cursed to never speak except to repeat what others had said because he had been a Persian duck thief. Or maybe a Chinese finger-trap artist. The rumors wavered from one to the other. But one thing was certain – Ikkin was an elf. Probably.

Madison said...

From 'The Inbetween'

Once, everything was normal. Dad turned on the coffee maker at six thirty every morning, Mom cleaned the bathtub on Thursdays, Luke and I fought over the last of the cereal at breakfast time. And the river wound its way past the house. Now nothing is normal. Dad doesn’t get up to turn on the coffee maker and Mom forgets to clean the tub. I don’t eat cereal anymore, and neither does Luke. The river still runs by but I don’t look at it, don’t find myself entranced by the way the color of the water mimics the hue of the sky.

BrettWRSmith said...

I'll be glad to enter!!

It didn’t matter how many times he put the card in the machine and punched the numbers. It just kept spitting it back out again with the same response: Insufficient Funds. Forrest Trapani crumpled the receipt (the fourth) in his fist and tapped the plastic casing of the ATM with his forehead. How could this have happened again? His shoulders fell as the card came back out and the machine beeped insistently.

Anonymous said...

Well, what the heck, why not? Looks like fun! This is from a WIP that began life as a short, by the by...

---------------------------

Jack bent his head against the wind and hurried down the street. He kept his nose pointed toward the bricked sidewalk, relying on the sounds of fellow travelers’ footsteps to tell him when to move out of the way. He saw nothing but his own shadow and heard nothing but a tinny ringing in his ears. His breath came in short bursts, and he clenched his fists in his pockets, willing himself to slow down, to walk more aimlessly. Still, he risked a glance back, unable to shake the expectation of unexpected danger. The sidewalk was mostly deserted. A few suburban moms darted in and out of the storefronts looking blowsy and harried, dragging their bored preschoolers behind them. Leaves tumbled down the picturesque small-town street, their dry, fragile edges blunted and broken by their wind-powered cartwheels. Nothing out of place here except Jack himself.

Sarah Heacox said...

Mountain-Boy loved nothing better than putting on his skis and doing backflips off the roof of his cabin into the soft snow below. But tonight he wasn't doing backflips. He was sitting on the roof leaning against the chimney hoping to see the Moon Bee. She only visited at night, and Mountain-Boy never knew when she would come. His skis lay abandoned in the snow beside him. He worried and drew doodles in the snow with his finger.

Robena Grant said...

The Blue Dolphin

"Jack. Catch."
Jack Davis glanced up at the perky gal who looked like a pixie. She seemed way too young to bartend, but he caught the bottle of Sam Adams that whizzed along the top of the polished bar. Janelle was good at her job, and smart. He'd watched her for the past hour. She knew everyone by their first name, and never asked a second time about their drink preference even it was a fancy mixed drink. He supposed small town bars were like that. He took a long swallow of the cold brew. In a while, he'd ask some casual questions about the gruesome murder.

Nikki Hootman said...

First paragraph of my work in progress. Unnamed.

There were no tears in Jana’s eyes as she watched Gareth’s coffin fall into the sky. Escape velocity on Callisto was so low the small rocket’s trail only blazed for a moment before it sputtered and died. Brief and brilliant as our love. She dared not project the thought; he wouldn’t have heard her anyway. Gareth had ever been blind to the single defining defect of her life. But he had known – and he had loved her anyway.

No more.

mscelina said...

This is the opening paragraph of my contemporary paranormal "Theatre of Seduction."

I’d never seen anything so spectacular and forgettable in my whole life. I’d felt the unusual lassitude creeping over me as the orchestra finished the overture and slipped into the misty music of the opening scene. The pageantry staggered me--the filmy beauty of the sets, the costumes, the performers—-and yet I couldn’t remember a single line or moment from the entire show. Emotion lingered there long enough for a whiff of the familiar, tickling feel of a sexual attraction that bordered on the urge of desperation, but never crossed into my consciousness. All I know is that I stumbled out onto the sidewalk with a thousand other people and all of us were in the same half-aroused, half-befuddled state. I couldn’t explain the feeling. I wasn’t entirely stupid. I’d had enough sense to grab my cell phone and videotape as much of the show as I could before the lassitude took over.I had two minutes and seventeen seconds, to be precise, of a show I couldn’t remember seeing.

RJM said...

The craving for salt hit him in the morning and prickled his mouth all afternoon. He scraped together a handful of change and headed outside. The curse had never stopped him from going outside, and it wouldn’t now. The only thing that stood between him and the salty bag of chips he craved was someone spotting him.

Chuck said...

MIRRORS OF NECESSITY: My Take on Robert Frost (A Portrait Memoir)

One summer morning in a suburban Boston cemetery in 1954, Robert Frost gave me his soul. Not that I, a six-year-old, knew he was the renowned poet Robert Lee Frost. That came later. Frost claimed he was a hobo, or as he put it, eyes at mischief, “. . . a hoe boy. A forest hoe boy -- from the city, most days. Depends how I feel. Other days, I’m a city hoe boy, from the woods!”

lynnrush said...

Shelby teetered on the bridge railing at her usual spot. In her left hand, she gripped a bottle of Jack Daniels while waving her other to maintain her balance. Reaching her favorite spot she plopped down on the cold, steel railing. She dangled her feet high above the rocky stream flowing beneath the bridge, and took a long drag on her cigarette.

Sengei Tawn said...

The flames burned high on the distant cliff spewing dark, oily smoke that lessened as the fire ran out of fuel and melting snow quelled the stubborn flames. Down below in the heavy mist, thick-needled branches shook high in a tree. A grunt and the sound of ripping material broke the silence. Suspended thus, Jiryn grabbed the line attached to the dragfall net and unbuckled herself. Branches snapped as her body was sieved through layers of boughs, spitting bits of green and brown. A muted thud sounded as she hit the ground, mercifully carpeted in a thick bed of needles and cones.

Crimogenic said...

Me loveth contests designed for writers. Here's the opening paragraph to my novel:

Katherine stood in the doorway watching the boy sleep. The soft glow of the nightlight beside his bed illuminated his face. Shadows encircled the rest of the room so that every corner housed a menacing veil. What or who could hide there, she did not know. With grace earned by practice, she quietly checked the window, ensuring that it was locked and underneath the bed and in the closet, finding both empty.

Christine said...

Children Of Avalon

King Arthur is dying, and with the death of his illegitimate son, Mordred, the royal line of Pendragon is broken forever. Warring against the very heart of nature—the sacred isle of Avalon, Mordred sealed his dismal fate, bringing death to himself by his father’s hand. The dark powers the boy wielded to make war on Camelot lay smashed amid the ruins, and Excalibur shines undimmed over the bloody field of battle.

Avily Jerome said...

Hey Nathan! Thanks for the contest!

Historical Romance.

Here you go!
***

The last stop. If she could make it through the next few minutes, she would be free.
Sucking in her breath, she willed her heart to slow.
A smile pasted on her face, she dismounted from her horse. She tied him to a tree far enough from the house that she hoped Tommy wouldn’t notice the bulging saddlebags or the rifle tucked under the strap.
Tommy shoveled manure in the yard by the barn. A grin spread across his freckled face when he saw her. “Mornin’, Lainey. What brings you out our direction?”
She choked back tears. If only she could say goodbye—but she couldn’t risk it. Couldn’t risk him convincing her to stay. “Hello, Tommy. I was just on my way back from town, and thought I’d swing by to say hello on my way.”
He took hold of her hand. “My house isn’t exactly on the way from town to your house.”
“I know. I just wanted to see you.” Leaving him behind without a word was the only way.
“That’s sweet,” Tommy grinned, placing a kiss on her cheek. “How is your mother?”
“She’s in no more pain.” The same lie she’d told all morning.

Jessica C Newhall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica C Newhall said...

First paragraph of my completed YA novel:
“Ow,” I suck in hard through clenched teeth as the needle slips smoothly through my skin.

Amy Nathan said...

I was getting dressed for my first date in 20 years at the same time my ex-husband was passing a kidney stone. Divine justice. For the first time I could remember, selfishness enveloped me. Tonight was not about Richard’s pain; it was about Richard’s pain not interfering with my plans. What if he had to go to the hospital? Who would watch the kids? What if the dog ran away during the confusion? I’d have to cancel my date, get in the car, pick up the kids, find the dog and maybe take the kids to visit Richard in the hospital. Worse, I will have shaved my legs for nothing.

Suzan Harden said...

I was too late. Again. The demon’s pheromones still clung to the air of the condo’s master bedroom, mixing with the metallic scent of her victim’s blood. I had missed her by five minutes at the most from the glistening scarlet color splashed all over the walls and furniture. A quick glance showed the window was closed and locked against the Houston humidity. She hadn’t gone out that way. I’d used the only elevator, which left the stairs. Dammit! If I had my team, the bitch wouldn’t have gotten away. New frustration added to the tension that knotted my shoulders.

danielgeilman said...

From WIP, Zero-Matter, a sci-fi thriller/mystery.

“Do it again! And this time do it right!” Dr. Marcus shouted into his microphone.
He was exhausted, worn down to the point of idiocy which for him still meant the genius realm, just not the very top of it. His eyes were rimmed with red, glasses discarded since he didn’t have the stamina to focus his sight any longer, tie pulled down loose with the top button of his shirt undone. The ends of his sleeves were rolled up twice with a fine layer of dirty sweat ringing the tips and his remaining hair stuck out in all directions from the sides of his head. I could see all this, see the drained expression on his face in the control room and knew I should have some compassion. He had been working for thirty-six hours straight, fueled by coffee and cigarettes. I knew I should probably give him a break but since he wasn’t giving me one, I went with what I was feeling.
“Forget it! I can’t do it and even if I could, I’m done!”

danielgeilman said...

From WIP, Zero-matter, a sci-fi thriller/mystery.

“Do it again! And this time do it right!” Dr. Marcus shouted into his microphone.
He was exhausted, worn down to the point of idiocy which for him still meant the genius realm, just not the very top of it. His eyes were rimmed with red, glasses discarded since he didn’t have the stamina to focus his sight any longer, tie pulled down loose with the top button of his shirt undone. The ends of his sleeves were rolled up twice with a fine layer of dirty sweat ringing the tips and his remaining hair stuck out in all directions from the sides of his head. I could see all this, see the drained expression on his face in the control room and knew I should have some compassion. He had been working for thirty-six hours straight, fueled by coffee and cigarettes. I knew I should probably give him a break but since he wasn’t giving me one, I went with what I was feeling.
“Forget it! I can’t do it and even if I could, I’m done!”

D. Robert Pease said...

First paragraph of a middle grade sci-fi WIP.

JJ felt the heat on the soles of his feet intensify, even as the ever-thinning air around him grew colder. His thermo-suit popped and rattled, and he was sure it would disintegrate before he tore free of earth’s gravity. Sam isn’t going to like this, he thought as he watched the blue sky above darken. He dared not look down; just the act of turning his head would send him careening off course and cause him to plummet back to the surface, eight miles below. Nevertheless, he knew he was still being followed. The blip on his heads-up display flashed a rhythmic red pulse. The beeping was slowing, so he had built some distance on the robot drones which pursued him, but they were still there, watching him rocket toward the blackness of space

Brianna said...

I was in my third week of a temping job on a corporate floor in a corporate building on 5th Avenue in New York City, which meant that I was: a) on first name basis with the permanent employees, b) already bored to tears of the permanent employees, c) doing shitty busy work for the permanent employees, and d) dangerously close to becoming, myself, a permanent employee.

Jeanie W said...

From my WIP, a MG urban fantasy (no title yet):

Duncan faced Electra’s burning glower without backing down. He wanted to shout, “Would you rather I’d kept us all in a condemned building?” But what would be the point of arguing? He had made the choice, and they had all acted on it. There was no turning back now. Electra’s mouth twisted into a snarl. Duncan knew the look: she was getting ready to spit verbal fire.

Jay said...

I'd seen death many times before, but to see a man hung against the wall like some bizarre ornament with his stomach ripped open and his eyes missing, I felt instantly sick. Looking at him reminded me of those surgery programmes, only this was too close and too real for comfort. This was savage and barbaric and even as I averted my eyes to the blood that pooled on the floor around his feet, that spattered the wall as though some mad painter had been let loose with a crate of Merlot, I was lost for words at the complete scene of carnage that some predatory killer had left behind them.

Reece Herring said...

The blades of Ceara’s wipers swished back and forth across her windshield splattering the continuous stream of snowflakes over the foggy pane. Curtains of lacy white billowed and blurred the night sky. She applied light pressure to the brake, and put her old Subaru into park on the side of the icy road. Bloody hell - she was lost. A venomous oath escaped her lips. She cursed herself and then cursed Shane harder. His blasted proposal had her in shreds. Her thoughts had been meandering in circles around issues of trust and marriage. And while her mind battled with internal dilemma’s, she realized with belated horror she’d lost her way.

Stina Rose said...

Deep in the cold, dark interior of the deserted castle a single torch cast an eerie glow as King Hendrik of Tussock paced like a caged lion. Impatience and determination marked his every move. He was an impressive creature of poise and power. Hendrik was a warrior, a man who conquered by force and saw his every will met with a single command.

Rene Sears said...

Thanks for doing this, Nathan!
--------------

Belaq Shandy wiped a hand across his face, the ridges of scar tissue catching his fingertips. It had been -- not a handsome face, no. It had been a passable face, once, such as wouldn’t frighten children. Perhaps even comely, when he smiled, which had been often in those days. That fox had long since left the coop, though, as she had reminded him.

Terri said...

First paragraph for 'Brethren Moon:"

------------------------

"This is hard for me to talk about. Secrets get comfortable in your soul, and don’t want you poking at them. It might be easier if there was some sort of Lycanthropy support group where I could stand up and say, ‘My name is Nathan, and I’m a werewolf.’ However, since there’s no such place; I’ll have to muddle through on my own. You asked to hear my story, and I promised to tell it to you. Grab your tea and get comfortable. This could take a while."

------------------

Terri

NJ said...

Six weeks before I left for boarding school, I said to my mother, “I dreamed I was standing the doorway of an airplane. We were up in the sky, and everybody was yelling ‘jump-jump-jump!’ But I didn’t have a parachute.”

Corinna Turner said...

Lady Serapia Ravena was very hungry. In fact, she was so hungry that most eleven year old girls of her rank would have been crying, having a tantrum, or fainting. Perhaps all three. Serapia wasn’t doing any of these things. Instead, she was thinking what to do about her hunger. It was the all-consuming thought with which she began each day, and the hunger was an ache that had rarely been fully satisfied at any point in the last three years.

Bryan Russell said...

It was a bag over her head. Gloria felt the cloth bag pressing against her face, and reaching up she realized that her hands were tied, and with this came a fuzzy sort of confusion, as for a moment these two facts seemed unconnected to her. She absorbed them as one might absorb the details of a film, through a passive acknowledgment. And she felt a vibration, too, the low hum of an engine parsed by erratic tremors. A sense of motion enveloped her and yet furthered her confusion, as she was lying quietly in a curled position, walls pressing in on her. She couldn't stretch her legs and something hard was pressing into her back, and in that moment her sense of dissociation vanished and she knew it truly was her own back, her own legs.

David Carroll said...

Zander focused on the weave of magic over the rooster’s vocal chords, tying the ends off very carefully. Normally, he wouldn’t take such extra precautions, but this was a special case. He didn’t want carelessness to ruin the reason for the message. He’d long ago made the rooster smarter than the average dog and given it the ability to fly. He was a faithful messenger who’d proven his ability to avoid attention from magicians and dragons alike. There would be plenty of people looking for magical messengers tonight, so using an owl or a raven was out of the question. This message, however, required a little more magic than most.

Jenn said...

The first paragraph of my in-progress novel, Things Between:

Four years should have been plenty of time to get over Miu, but when I saw her again, all I could think of was those legs.
Holy. Hell.
Everything else, every grudge I ever had against her, disappeared when I saw her sitting there with the sunlight beaming down, making her glow like Amaterasu emerging from the cave. Look, I’m not some sex-crazed maniac who goes through life led by my dick or anything, but I’m a guy and I’m human, so I’m not immune to stuff like that either. Sue me, I’m shallow and quite frankly, my ex-girlfriend is hot. So, while I should have been playing it cool, showing her just how well I took it when she dumped me on my ass, I ended up just standing there stammering and staring until Travis, the kid I’ve been mentoring with all my newfound wisdom, kicked me in the back of the ankle and brought me to my senses.

nibo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christi said...

This time, Jake dug the grave alone. A thin blanket wrapped around the boy’s body would serve as the coffin. He walked to the head of the grave and slowly, methodically, pounded in the wooden cross. The ground had claimed, and held, yet another victim.

Anonymous said...

From my paranormal YA project called The Tweed Coat:

It called to me the minute I entered the Village Thrift Shop. It was draped over a thread worn dressmaker’s form. It wasn’t my style; I’d have called it old lady looking. But this gray tweed coat was drawing me closer and closer. It had some sort of fur around its collar. I could see that it was the real thing --- black mink maybe? I abhorred fur and always vowed never to buy anything but synthetic furs, but I couldn’t stop moving towards it. My palm was outstretched and tingling in anticipation; ready to slide it from the form when a pushy lady with a cart filled to the brim squeezed by me. She looked me up and down and smiled, showing the few yellow teeth still not able to break loose of her gums.

“Too mature looking for you anyway.” She tossed the coat into her cart and rolled away.

coll

Rebecca H. said...

1st paragraph of my fantasy novel:

Moonlight streamed in from the open windows, illuminating the path in front of Fox. A glint of metal caught her eye, only serving to confirm her suspiscions. She was being followed, and unlike herself, her enemy was armed. Fox did not quicken her pace, but paused to sniff the air. Amorak. She could smell sandy sweat of the desert people two leagues away. And an Amorak meant one thing: poisoned weapons.

nibo said...

The first of the currently-being-rather-rewritten novel that is tentatively titled: "A Hero for Iolia"

Natasha Morgan was widely known as West Galen Academy's "Charity Case." The students, whom she tried to have as little to do with as possible, had reminded her of this fact nearly every single day. Unlike these affluent representatives of the four corners of the modern world, Tashi Morgan was without fortune, social standing, or even family. She had grown up as a ward of the state and was now under the temporary custody of Annemarie Wroth, Headmistress of West Galen Academy.

kathy said...

When Everett Cotton’s mother finally died, he knew he could pack his tuba and move to Maine. His tuba because he played it every night, and Maine because it seemed—to him—a place that had more air. And the only thing in the world he wanted—other than Eileen—was air enough to open the windows wide and play all afternoon without the basement neighbor banging on her ceiling with the broom.

Tracy said...

Thank you, Nathan. From a MG novel:

I didn’t exactly hate Wednesdays but I sure didn’t love them, either. Even when no fights broke out in the dining room and the toilet in the women’s restroom didn’t overflow, I couldn’t look Mom in the eye and tell her Wednesday was my favorite day of the week. How could it be? Wednesdays were dirty dishes and puddles of spilled coffee, arguments over the last slice of pecan pie, little kids crying and drunk guys mumbling to themselves. Stacking chairs, wiping down tablecloths, and sweeping the floors. Wednesdays meant hard work and not enough thank yous.

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

hold on...

does a line of dialogue count as a single paragraph?

Julie from Michigan said...

I refuse to be a chicken :P So here it is, the first paragraph of my speculative romance.
---------

Waves from gently rolling seas licked the wooden sides of the skiff as the old man rowed out from the island alone. The thick fog which had covered his flight from the island was gone, burned off by the warmth of the day. He was roughly a hundred yards out from the shore now. Far enough that concealment no longer mattered. The tang from the salted air was not the only thing that brought tears to his eyes.

FHansen said...

From my science fiction novel, FORGING TRUST:

THE HUMPED herbivores beat their hoofed feet against the grass-covered ground. They stampeded down the gentle slope of a rolling, green hill, making for the dense cover of the bluish-green forest. They were quite fast for moderate-sized beasts confined to the ground, but Varthikes was faster. His great, tanned wings folded back, carrying his golden-scaled body in a dive toward the herd. Golden, vertically-slit eyes locked on one of the trailing adults.

PatR said...

Sophie Collins swung into the spot labeled “Curbside Take-Out Only.” If removing her drunken mother from a restaurant didn’t qualify as Take-Out, what did?

ea monroe said...

Theo Thomas knew all about abandonment, bouncing around from place to place, orphanages and foster homes. Never settling. Somewhere out there, his mother existed. She was a numb spot in his heart, now. At least that’s what he always told himself. He lied.

Thanks for the opportunity.

Ashley D. said...

Bless you, Nathan, as you try to work through all these paragraphs!

Here is the first paragraph from my newest [untitled] YA-Fantasy WIP

---

Dorie sat at the desk in front of the single window in her bedroom. She stared out at the forest, her eyes burning after an hour of crying. The sun was nearly down, just a few wispy strokes of pink lingered in the sky above the dark treetops in the distance. Dorie glanced down at the drawing she had been working on. What started out as a landscape had ended up a chaotic mess of thick, angry lines, scribbled fiercely over the paper which was now splotched and soggy in places where her tears had landed. She crumpled the paper in her fist and threw it at the waste basket near her door. She missed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Hope this is as much fun as the last contest.

First paragraph, chapter 1 of a YA urban fantasy:

“And what does our illustrious police do?” The reporter’s voice murmured from the TV in the living room. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The second mutilation-murder this month leaves them twiddling their thumbs. I tell you a serial killer is escalating, and the Trebridge police do nothing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Hope this is as much fun as the last contest.

First paragraph, chapter 1 of a YA urban fantasy:

“And what does our illustrious police do?” The reporter’s voice murmured from the TV in the living room. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The second mutilation-murder this month leaves them twiddling their thumbs. I tell you a serial killer is escalating, and the Trebridge police do nothing.

Anonymous said...

The Ice House is a vodka bar on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown. Its insulated walls are coated with three feet of Canadian ice and the internal temperature hovers just above -5° C. Patrons are given sheepskin-lined jackets and mittens at the door, but Jack’s chest and arms have always done the trick for me. Until today.

Ray Wong said...

There are two kinds of people in this world. One can be thinking, feeling, sensing, judging, loving, full of hopes and fears and happiness and woes. Then there is me. Hello, my name is Adam. I was born without a brain.

DebraLSchubert said...

At the tender age of 10, I had an epiphany. On a beautiful, spring morning there was a knock on our front door. I opened it, shut it, locked it, and went running to my mom.
“Mom! Call the cops! The McDermotts are here! They want to kill me!”
“Oh, honey, don’t be silly. Let those nice boys in. They’re here to play a charity event I’m hosting tonight.”
Nice boys? This was proof my mom had never been a kid. Otherwise, she’d have known boys like Frankie who threw animals and rocks at oncoming traffic, and smashed bottles in the street saying things like, “insteada da street, dis coulda been yaw head!”

Steve Axelrod said...

From "Locals":

On a bright humid morning in June, a sixteen year old girl named Deborah Garrison stepped off the boat from Hyannis, walked ahead of her mother down into the crowded summer streets and set everything in motion. She didn’t seem special; just one more pretty girl on a summer island crowded with them. And she didn’t actually do anything; nothing that happened later was her fault. The simple, irreducible fact of her presence was enough. Even years later, the consequences and implications of Debbie’s arrival seem bizarre and implausible, far too much to balance on those thin sunburned shoulders. It was like setting off an avalanche with a sigh.

jchart said...

‘Jordan. Isn’t that a girl’s name?’ The words slipped out of her mouth before she even had time to think about what she was saying. Here was this quite cute guy actually talking to her and she was beginning their acquaintance by sounding like a bitch.

Writer Chick said...

“Come back here with my Louis Vuitton, you bastard.” I stood on the top step of the winding staircase, clutching a pair of golf shoes. His golf shoes. I’d snatched them from his closet in a vain attempt to slow him down.

mlh said...

Well, the first time I came to your blog was for the first, first paragraph contest. I would be remiss to not show up for this one.
**************

I hear it in the distance. A loud boom echoes off the cliff face behind me. The sky lights up, showing dark clouds disguised in the deep night. Metallic. The air has a metallic smell of new nails and fresh blood. I can taste it in layers over my tongue as the cold drops slide into my raspy throat. The rain tastes sweet. Yet I had hoped the clouds would wait before shedding off the excess pounds slowing them in their eastward marathon.

Jess Anastasi said...

Romantic Suspense manuscript:

Abby froze at the cold press of a gun’s muzzle at the back of her neck.
“I know who you are and I know what you’re doing here.”
Instead of instinctively tensing, Abby forced her body to relax. She raised her hands in the air signaling compliance, knowing that she could turn and reverse the situation in the blink of an eye if she had to. She was happy to let Louis think he was in control of the situation, especially if it got her the information she needed.

Mary Patricia Bird said...

The opening paragraph of my novel:

The fortune-teller studied the dark leaves at the bottom of the teacup as Eva squirmed in her creaky chair. When was she going to tell her something about herself that Pam, her best friend and roommate, didn’t know?

Laura said...

"Who's Ashley?"

An Again said...

The sidewalks were deserted—no one lived in this part of town, at least not legally, and though there were a few lights on here and there in the stone buildings, the work day was done. What would a cop think seeing such a large group of men go by? I actually looked around, hoping to see one and be put out of my misery. No police cruiser in sight; I sighed, and let the crowd carry me forward.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Freehold’s icy wind drove through Vick’s Agency-issue jacket and trousers as if the material were the filmiest lingerie, and she hunched her shoulders against the weather’s onslaught. She trudged up the deserted street, one gloved hand attempting to find further warmth in her pants pocket while the other held the strap of the rifle case slung across her back to prevent it from pummeling her spine with each step. The weapon’s weight was a comfort, like a dependable friend. Clouds from an impending snowstorm obscured the moon overhead, and she looked continuously from side to side, eyes analyzing shadows in alleys and doorways, and finding nothing more than rodents, bums, and unpleasant childhood memories.

Dara said...

The opening paragraph to my historical fiction novel, currently titled "Chrysanthemum Promise":

The brisk fall breeze blew throughout the small garden, bringing with it the promise of the long, cold, winter.
The winter of my life, young Sophie thought. A tiny cry came from her baby, as if sensing the despair of the moment.
“Hush, my little one,” she said. “No need to cry.” She rocked her daughter, trying to soothe her while wiping the tears from her own eyes.

Winterman said...

all right. screw it.

Here's the first line from my novel, TALESPIN. YA, I guess. Modern Fantasy.



"You can put down the cat," said a voice from the dark. "Or you can die. Your choice."

Weather said...

Here you are. I hope your eyes don't melt (more than they probably already have):

Shimo injected another shot of caffeine into his veins. He wanted more, but his stupid nuclear--a spindle-legged thing with eight eyes--watched him too closely. Meanwhile, bright lights flashed across the screen. Shimo took the game controller: hour twelve of his marathon had begun. Guradranian vampires had just invaded when his mother kicked in the door and, like a starch-stiff officer, marched in between Shimo and the game. Judging by the "I'll kill you" glare, it was time to put the controller down for a few minutes.

Dan said...

The alcohol rushes out of my body as my level of depression rises like an hourglass draining the fullness of one side to the other. My stomach turns with the horrible wreck I have made of myself from drinking whiskey and eating questionable amounts of food at three am while moving my mouth in a rush of explosive banter with strangers. It is Sunday, and the weekend has caught up to me. I will go through next week with the same intention I had the past hundred or so weekends: I will straighten out, I will not throw away hours of my life for an expensive bar tab and a thundering dehydrated headache. But when Friday again arrives, I find myself sliding my debit card and punching in the four numbers that define my status to purchase a cheap bottle of red wine in anticipation of something better. It never happens, though, and I am soon back at the crossroad I have been at on the previous Sunday morning. To get over this feeling I drink seemingly endless cups of coffee and numb myself to the one hundred channels I have paid for. But, as everyone knows, there is nothing on and I result to staring at the walls. Monday can’t come sooner as I wait for feeling (physically) better. Though, the emotional toll of grinding at Monday through Friday numbness causes me to slip deeper into a feeling of nostalgic yearning for Friday and Saturday nights.

Bryn said...

Just for the fun of piling on Nathan:

On death row you only got a few options for how to spend your time. Some guys get caught up in the legal stuff, trying to figure out how to avoid dying. A lotta guys get Jesus and spend all day reading the Bible and praying, but I don't go in for that. I didn't even bother to answer the letters I got from the death row fangirls. What kinda woman writes a love letter to some killer she never met? Creepy bitches looking for a cheap thrill. Mostly I read and listened to the radio when they let me have one. Did a whole buncha push-ups and sit-ups and pull-ups. Jerked off. Whatever I could do to kill time.

T.D. Newton said...

Hell, literally.
The vast expanse I found myself in was an utter and desolate wasteland. The only thing special about it was the incredible heat, despite the lack of any visible sun, laying obvious my new reality. As if I need a reminder about where I am. Looking at the other half-naked and similarly burning souls, it was still difficult to believe that this was where I'd ended up.

NRH said...

It began at 8:00 o’clock in the morning of the last Monday in May, when the widow Ms. Angela Gremore – owner of Gremore’s Grocery, A & M Hardware, and Riverrun Café – stood up at the pulpit in the Riverrun Hall and informed all in attendance that she would personally oversee the planning for the upcoming Finnish-American Folk Festival. Not a word was spoken in response. Ms. Gremore held the town of Riverrun firmly in the palm of her wrinkled hand, and this was not the first time she had squeezed her claw-like fingers inward upon its residents; but the Finnfest – now this was trespassing upon sacred ground.

Kevin said...

My mother was always losing things. When I was twelve, she lost my dead sister. She spent several years looking for her, but by the time she had lost Deja she was far too gone to realize there’s no finding the dead. Once you lose sight of them, they are gone forever.

slanderific said...

Jack pulls the car off the road about 100 yards from my parent’s old house out on Route 108. I’m thinking of how many times we’ve done something like this over the last four years in one of Jack's cars. There was the white Chevy Caprice era, the blue Camaro era, and the first BMW era. I guess that makes this the second BMW era.

Cam said...

Mental sleepwalking again. With the sureness of dumb logic I know that, physically speaking, I am in bed. And yet a significant chunk of my brain thinks I am someplace else, up and about this creaking, centuries-old house, wandering about like a mental case again, seeing things, hearing things, smelling things, even feeling things that in the waking hours do not exist. Freaking psycho.

Michael said...

The day Ultra-man saved the world still haunted Richard Steele. Reminders of it were everywhere from the billboards encouraging the citizens of Central City to thank their Hero in Red, to the Ultra-man shaped chicken nuggets at Burger Hut that kids relentlessly ate hoping that ingesting processed chicken meat in the shape of a super hero might give them super powers. Even at the office he couldn’t escape Ultra-man’s omnipresent intrusions into his life. Too often the watercooler talk veered away from the latest ballgame or television story line to the Indestructible Man’s latest heroics. The latest article in The City Voice by Erin Anderson, the unofficial expert on Ultra-man, would always cause a stir in the office. Even though Richard didn’t subscribe to the paper for the purpose of avoiding these articles, they always found him at work. And they always left him cold and bitter. Everything said about Ultra-man’s triumphs only reminded Richard more pointedly of the Hero in Red’s failure, of the day when Central City’s flawless protector let him down.

Cheryl said...

While I read, my husband watches the Military Channel, a show called, “The Greatest Helicopter Ever.” Some gadget is being tested in an abandoned field. The narrator growls only viewers with security clearance and Chuck Norris can watch. By the time the episode wraps, the testosterone level in our bedroom is so high, that I find I’ve grown a beard and a camouflage shirt. I bark at the dog to drop and give me twenty.

Nia said...

O.O :D First Paragraph:

I stirred around for those first five perfect seconds, when you can’t remember anything, and the only thing you have to worry about is getting up from the comfort of your mattress. Those five seconds ticked by far too quickly, and soon had me remembering the events from the night before.

^.^

Linda Adams said...

Here's the first paragraph from my urban fantasy, called "Magic Stud."

At three minutes after two o’clock, the assassin arrived at Taitte Elementary School in a black limousine and parked on the playground.

Inmodify said...

Billy Matherson was a special needs student. His particular area of need was discipline. He required disciplinary actions suited for a child several grades above the fourth. Several times a day he found a new and innovative way to require a paddling from Ms. Young.

veschwab said...

Oh dear, Nathan, what have you brought upon yourself?

Anonymous said...

The image blurred a little. Detective Alec Theron adjusted the focus, then zoomed in on the face. "That's DiGiaComo. I'd swear to it." He pushed the button, taking another picture.

Steff said...

First Paragraph of my WIP - tentatively titled 'Vampire-Slaying Death Metallers of the Apocalypse'



The world ended in a cacophony akin to a crappy Britney Spears song: a mishmash of humping noises and synthesized wah-wah sounds that couldn't finish too soon. In the dance club of the final days the lights went out and billions of hipsters wavered on the floor with no one to tell them what to believe in. And then came the fever and the storms and the angels of death, and everyone fell down.

Everyone except me. I am heavy metal, the beast that cannot die.

Anonymous said...

Here is the first paragraph of my completed romantic comedy, "Dealing with 'I Do'":

How am I supposed to plan this wedding? I’ve never gotten married before, but here I am, not only with a list a million miles long of work-related things I need to do, but with a monthly timetable of obligations, things that I have to do, or my own wedding will be a total flop. All I need is to screw up in front of my future mother-in-law; she already thinks I’m a complete moron.

Amy K. said...

From my novel SPIN:

Everyone has something to be ashamed of; you see them every day on reality TV, crying and confessing, while their cast mates sit slack jawed while the cameras roll. Me? I sold my soul for money. My knack for making anything sound good landed me a job as company spokesperson for the premiere financial institution on the West Coast. Spinning the worst financial crises bought me a Mercedes and a house behind a gate. Give me the worst corporate event you can think of and I’ll make it sound like afternoon tea. Lose some money? It’s an investment opportunity. CEO commits fraud? A misunderstanding of tax laws. My love for money has led me to do a lot of questionable things to get ahead in life and I’m about to do one more.

Brad Green said...

-----------------------------------
Years later, she still could not recall the name she'd been born into. Perhaps it started with an L or an E. Often, she considered it had been something exotic, like an X, but really, she knew it wasn't something like that. Just a vowel, some lower letter of no consequence. They called her Hazy, the people that had come through her window that night with muted whispers and flashlights, and they had taken her away from the family she can no longer remember, from the room that had been blue and the bed that was wide, the blanket bumpy with stuffed animals. She remembered the bed the most, and how the cold had gasped into her, rashing her with sudden goosebumps when they ripped the blankets away and wrapped her mouth with their leather palms. Their eyes had been bright and wide, frightened. Their fingers had been thick as mop handles, a little rough. Everything was a little rough in the middle of the night with the sheets torn back and cold let in and the moonlight flaring bright outside the dark square of the window. Two of them, she remembered. The one who whispered was taller, thicker. It was his palm clamped over her teeth. The other was slender, quiet. His were the eyes softened by fear. Hush, they told her. You'll be fine. You'll forget about this place. We need another. We need a little girl like you. We need you.

-----------------------------------

Julie said...

Hi Nathan, I linked the Contest in my LJ.

First paragraph is actually a journal entry prologue. The rest of the novel is written in a more normal tense.

We watch in dread as the sun sinks into the ground, shadows lengthening, night inexorably approaching. We embrace the dwindling rays of sun knowing they could be our last, knowing that we will soon go forth and fight the terrors of the night, the hunted becoming the hunters and that many of us will die as we try to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. That many of us will die trying to make the world safe again.

Mira said...

Thank you, Nathan, for the contest. Young adult:

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was an ordinary kingdom. Everything about this kingdom was ordinary. The hard-working and cheerful commoners were ordinary. The regal and majestic King and Queen were ordinary. Even the wicked witches and evil sorcerers were wicked and evil in ordinary ways. Yes, this was quite an ordinary kingdom, with one important exception. The princess of the kingdom was far from ordinary. That’s because she was extremely ugly. In fact, she was so ugly that many thought she was the ugliest princess in the land. And they were right. She WAS the ugliest princess in the land.

Anonymous said...

May I say, ouch?! Good luck, Nathan.

K. M. Walton said...

From my completed YA suspense novel...
Thanks, Nathan.

-----------------------------

Theodora sat in the principal’s office, again. Across from her sat Mr. Silver, in his dress shirt, tie and perfectly combed gray hair.
“Why did you do it?” Mr. Silver asked in a somewhat defeated tone. He seemed tired. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and middle finger and took a deep breath in. Theodora sat in silence staring at her band-aid covered fingertips and wished today wasn’t the day she chose to stop her bad habit. The words, “great timing” rolled around in her head.

Sasayra said...

How could she have not seen this coming? Well, in truth, she had seen it coming, she’d just averted her eyes. And now she was paying the price. Rolls of her own flesh puffing out between bands of leather, rope, and green garden twine repelled her, but she refused to look away, for once. This is what she had come to. This is what years of averting her eyes had done to her. Here she sat, on the eve of turning thirty, fat, naked, red and not nearly drunk enough to survive this night. Things had to change. She refused to spend the next thirty years tied naked to a damn ugly chair.

Dale said...

Mike stormed out of the house, over the back fence and into the bush, his home away from home. A sound pulled him up. Someone crying? He crept forward and as he rounded a ghost gum, the noise increased in intensity. In the hazy light, he squinted. A pile of orange and purple material shook with each sob. Mike grunted as a small head lifted out of the mound. A boy. The last thing he wanted to see was another kid. Mike wheeled around. If the kid was lost, he could find his own way home.

Frank Cole said...

Malcolm peered over his shoulder while wedging a crowbar into the door jam of the house. With the ease of someone who had done this many times before, he shifted his weight resulting in a solid crunch as the back door gave way. Resting the crowbar against the stoop, he motioned for his lookout, Spencer, to join him. They entered, hesitating momentarily in the doorway as an immediate wave of overwhelming odor flooded out from a dark kitchen. Malcolm removed a small comb from his pants pocket and casually stroked the teeth through his neatly trimmed goatee. Sighing with distaste, he surveyed the disheveled room. Stacks of old newspapers towered haphazardly against the side of a refrigerator. Plates, bowls and muffin tins overflowed from the kitchen sink. An undisturbed assembly line of ants worked their way in and out of a foul-smelling garbage heap cluttered with egg shells and Little Debbie snack wrappers.

Ezra Vancil said...

No one knew that Zola Piccolo had died that misty morning in the small stone apartment on Via Gombito. There were no reports in the Bergamo village paper or mourners to carry her body back to the place she was born. She had returned from Spain many years earlier and had forgotten she existed, becoming more transparent with each quiet day that passed, until she was no more. For years, ghost like figures wondered the narrow halls, on drafty wooden floors, searching for the once boisterous woman, but there was no remaining substance, nothing that eyes could see, only the quietness of her ways.

Kelly said...

I almost fell onto the trees. Katy and I were racing each other and I stopped so quickly that I pitched forward, twisting to the side to avoid landing on them. I ended up on my knees, like I was praying to the little evergreens. My Dad hadn’t finished planting them yet and left the baby trees along the perimeter of the grass. I wondered if they felt strange lying down like that, if they were yearning to take root, if they even knew they weren’t upright like they should be. “Do the trees know they’re lying down?” I asked Katy. I kicked the slops of mud off my shoes, preparing to run across the field again. Katy looked down at the trees and considered their wayward plight. “They’re too little to figure it out,” she said. “They probably think the sky moved.”

Michelle said...

"Another supernatural murder has been reported, this one in San Francisco, the werewolf city. The victim was Adam LeBron, age 38. This is the seventh murder of a supernatural in the last month. Authorities are not sure if the murders are linked-"

Ian O'Neill said...

Nathan, thanks for the opportunity. From (working title) Blood Drugged.

“Feedin’ or Fuckin’?”

Aimee, her slender, naked body glistening with sweat, teeth bared, cocked her head in a way that said, you know what he’s doing. She glanced over her shoulder into the room and Anthony followed her gaze to the bed. The sheets were in constant motion, moans and squeals easily floating to the door. As nervous as he was, Anthony smiled at his brother’s prowess. Maybe Max would be so happy and content that Anthony’s mistake wouldn’t matter that much. The door slammed and wiped the smirk from his face.

Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ Church said...

Twilight, and the air stank like trouble. A hot orange sun burrowed into the horizon as the truck swallowed the last of a fifty dollar bill; it was looking like dinner at the mission again. I paid the attendant in the tiny kiosk, noting the green Olds that swung slowly around the corner, heading east. Prowling; I knew the look. I tracked it as I climbed into the truck and coaxed it to life. Checked my mirrors; stalled. One minute. Two.

superwench83 said...

Wind wheezed behind Iona MacLeod as the Sea Wench Inn’s door banged open, the tang of salt and tar masking the stench of sweat and brine. The breeze crashed against her back, splaying her hair across her face. She turned to gaze outside as a man stepped through the open door. Behind him, palm trees thrashed in the gray distance. She wondered why he was out on such an evening.

AstonWest said...

It was the last time I’d ever accept a drink from an unfamiliar woman.

I squeezed my eyes tight in a futile attempt to shut out what little light entered. Nothing stopped the pain from slamming against the inside of my skull. I eased my eyelids open, remembering the last drink I’d had, which wouldn’t have done this much damage. She’d drugged me, there was no mistaking it.

Megoblocks said...

First paragraph, "Stoned", satire:

At 9:03, on a cold Tuesday morning, Alex would get his fifteen minutes of fame. In truth, his share would be closer to one minute; the orca would garner the other fourteen.

Anonymous said...

The little car shuddered and started up the long and winding grade as Rene downshifted and mashed the throttle. She was still mad but the blood wasn’t pounding in her ears now. The leather vest she wore was laced too tight. She had intended to be standing and fighting, not driving. Rene pulled at the laces with one hand but she had taken extra care that morning to make sure they wouldn’t come loose.

Thanks Nathan
AMH

Sassee B said...

Not my current project, but fun all the same! :)

*~*~*~*~*

My headache started with the first blast of plasma. It melted through my kitchen window at an angle, burnt a hole in the ceiling, and incinerated part of my down comforter. I rolled over and covered myself in the remaining sheets. A second blast destroyed my dresser, and then a third took out my mirror.

MoJo said...

I didn’t go into prostitution because I was desperate; I did it because I was bored: Bored of my hausfrau existence, bored of my husband both in bed and out, bored of my ingrate daughters who don’t (yet) understand what it means to be the sacrificial lamb in the nuclear family setup and that being a wife and mother can be its own category of prostitution. They will. And I’ll laugh.

Tommy Dean said...

Carol, through half-opened eyes, watches dust particles dance in the spectral light bursting through the mini-blinds. Its dance reminds her of hot ash floating above a camp fire. All that’s missing here is the hiss and pop.

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