Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, February 8, 2013

The SUFPC No. 5 Finalists! (As introduced by the Dowager Countess)


Goodness me!

It pains me to have been forced to judge an affair as middle class as a first paragraph contest. Are we now to share our inner thoughts with one another in public? Are we all artists, running naked in the streets? How horrid.

Lord Bransford told me that the caliber of entries was the best he'd ever seen in any of his contests, but I found them all perfectly dreadful. If I had to choose a winner it would none of them. I would hate for people to be left with something as pointless as ambition.

However, Lord Bransford informed me that I must choose a selection of finalists, though why he didn't write a will with these instructions and leave them in the care of an unreliable heir I shall never know. All instructions of import should be argued over at great length over the course of many years. What else shall we aristocrats do with our time? Learn to cook?

There were many common threads in these entries, perhaps the most common of which is death in far too many forms. I am all-too-familiar with death having frequented the halls of Downton Abbey, where one must check one's pulse at regular intervals lest you realize you've been afflicted with a mysterious disease and perished before they could even put away the silverware. Luckily I shall outlive you all because you cannot kill the witty.

A weakness in many entries was an excess of chattiness, which I simply cannot abide. Save it for the gallows, where you shall doubtless end up with such excitable loose lips.

Another common trope was that if only the narrator had known what was about to happen then everything would have been quite different. Why yes, I do suppose that if one were a fortuneteller quite a bit about life would be rather different. But we don't walk around gazing into crystal balls, do we? Life is interesting enough as it is, one needn't be so surprised by it all.

Sighing, gasping, waking up, and looking into mirrors were all abundantly accounted for in these paragraphs. I began to wonder if I were reading descriptions of a typical morning for my granddaughter Lady Mary.

And dare I say there is much about England that is changing these days but I'm quite certain the definition of a "paragraph" has not changed. There were far too many revolutionaries who chose to ignore the strictures of the English language. I cannot abide revolutions, everyone winds up disappointed in the end.

Now, these are the honorable mentions, who will be allowed henceforce to bring me tea in the library, provided they are properly attired and have not engaged in any previous desultory behavior.

Matt Borgard
heatherkamins.com
T Aydelott
Liane
JDuncan
Kelly Johnson
Charlee Vale
Crafty Green Poet
Bryan Hilson
Cathrine Bock
harryipants
Joanna
Chad Sourbeer
Eva Natiello
Iliad fan
Irene Pozoukidis
Pamela

The instructions for voting is as follows. I argued with Lord Bransford that no women should be involved in something as sinister as voting, but he insisted that it be open to all. These are vulgar times indeed.

In order to vote for the winner, please leave a vote in the comments section of this post. You will have until Sunday, 7pm Eastern time to vote. Kindly do not e-mail Lord Bransford your vote (gracious me, what is "e-mail," is it some sort of ghastly dance?).

There shall be no campaigning in private or public for yourself or your favorites, and suspicious voting may result in disqualification. Participating in this entire exercise should well be grounds for disqualification, but I suppose it's far too late for that.

Anonymous commenting will be closed for the duration of the voting to ensure transparency. The winner shall be announced on Monday.

The eight finalists are...

Sue Curnow:

The Mazda hit ice. Carter cursed, fought for control, lost it in kaleidoscope swirls, and the vehicle hurtled down a steep bank, jamming Tori against seat and headrest. Terror strangled her heart, breath refused to come and let out her screams. Stillness as the car stopped, engine running, headlights shining on pristine snow. Relief caught laughter in Tori’s throat, until she realized where they’d ended up. The Coldwater River. Confirming her fears, ice cracked loud as a pistol shot. Carter undid his seatbelt. Tori depressed the button on hers. It refused to give despite her frantic efforts. Carter opened his door, got out the car, then bent to peer back in. “Goodbye, Tori,” he said.


Robert Wyatt:

One of the hoariest adages in booklore is that a tale should never commence with a description of the weather, but what is to be done if you wish to tell about a wraith found at your doorstep in the midst of an electrical snowstorm? Skip to the good, warm part in the middle? No. You must tell it as it was.


Crystal:

Peter had seen strangers in the road before, but there was something different about this man...something sinister. Most people passed on their way without a thought for what might lie on the opposite bank of the river that ran beside the road, but this man, in his tattered cloak that fluttered restlessly around him, stood bent and still. He seemed to be staring at a spot on the edge of the road, as if he knew that was where a bridge should begin.


Saille:

It was a good day until fire started falling out of the sky. The sun was just up, and the leading edge of the spring burn was behaving exactly as the kindlers had predicted, which was a relief, because this was Thus’s first year as an outrunner. Ahead, he could hear the high whistles of his herd of capas, and see their broad silver backs parting the grasses, leaving gleaming, vee-shaped wakes behind them. They moved toward the firebreak restively, but without panic. He supposed they must have grazed their way back across it in the night. It didn’t matter. This was the one day that Thus and the other stewards didn’t need to be responsible for their small allotments of the People’s larger herd. A capa could keep out of the way of fire more easily than the People, because capas weren’t responsible for putting it out. He still felt a wash of protectiveness, though. He’d delivered some of the young for the first time this year, turning their tapering heads and soft, wrinkled paws to lie correctly along the birth canal before drawing them, dark and shining, into the world, where the rhythm of their mothers’ hearts gave way to the susurration of the grasses.


elizabethmarianaranjo.com:

She was a striking girl, all shadow and stillness. Judith watched her carefully. Twenty years teaching middle school had taught her the subtler ways to approach them, the ones who wore solitude like a shell. If you look away, they disappear. But if you look too close, they withdraw. You have to learn to look sideways.


Todd Zuniga:

Delia walks over to the couch where I’m sitting, asks me, “Seriously, why’d you manslaughter your baby?” I tell her she already knows I don’t know. “Huh,” she considers as she crosses her arms. Her hair a tangle of grey curls. Maybe, maybe-not Delia has room to judge: she manslaughtered her mother, who was eighty-three.


Cheryl W.:

Time is a funny thing. People often discover this quite young. You can be in time, on time, buy time, waste time, but you can never trust time. Even though some folks will claim time’s on their side, or their ally is time, or they have time, time doesn’t know them from any other of the trillion souls that live and breathe upon the earth. Time is oblivious to us and likes it that way, thank you very much. “Time,” as most people know it, is purely a manmade manifestation of numbers on a watch or shadows on a sundial, even radioactive isotopes oscillating rain or shine, but Time itself is as elusive as the future to a dying man. We desperately seek to control it, manipulate it and force trains to run to it, but as we never understand from whence the universe came or where it’s going, we’re lost in contemplation of Time’s vagaries. For instance: the past can be as alive to a person as the present, seeming to exist as one within the eye of the observer, just as Einstein posited. To those who insist upon it, time - the present and the past - can be experienced simultaneously. Bartholomew Lewis was just such a man.


Chris Bailey:

I would have given Mom a good-bye hug, but StepThad’s arm rested across her shoulder. Like the two of them were glued together. Double hug or nothing.


Congratulations to everyone. God help the winners of this affair.






143 comments:

Jessie Oliveros said...

Elizabeth

Michelle B. said...

Absolutely love the paragraph from:
elizabethmarianaranjo.com

abc said...

I really love ROBERT WYATT'S!

LadySaotome said...

I like Crystal's paragraph!

tonyl said...

While the Dowager Countess rules, and all the entries are excellent, I think I'll cast my vote for Sue Curnow and her Mazda deathtrap.

And maybe I can prove I'm not a robot the first time...

MaryAnn Pope said...

Congrats to all the finalists!!

My vote goes to Sue Curnow.

Scott Springer said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Naomi Canale said...

Goodness me is right! Great work everyone!

I'm gonna go with Crystal :)

Bryan DeBusk said...

Robert Wyatt

Susanna Calkins said...

All great entries...good luck to all. Elizabeth gets my vote.

Michelle B. said...

I know it's on the honorable mention list, but had to mention how fantastic I thought Eva's entry was as well.

untitlement said...

My vote goes to elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Nate Wilson said...

I was sure more of the ones I'd earmarked would be among the finalists and HMs, yet the overlap was surprisingly small. Clearly, the Countess and I think quite differently.

That being said, with a nod to Elizabeth's, I'll cast my vote for Sue Curnow. She had me at "Goodbye, Tori."

Rocket City Rebel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
skywalker said...

elizabethmarianaranjo

Michelle Roberts said...

They were all good, but I have to vote for Sue Curnow.

Kim Woodruff said...

Chris Bailey

Rena J. Traxel said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Congrats to the finalists!

Nour said...

Robert Wyatt

NancyDS said...

My vote goes to Sue Curnow. Lots of good ones though.

David Daniel said...

Robert Wyatt, and congratulations to all the finalists!

Jennifer M said...

Elizabeth

You nailed the Dowager's voice. Loved it.

Rachel said...

my vote goes to Cheryl W!

Robena Grant said...

Congrats! everyone.
My fave: Elizabeth.

Zoe said...

I think i want to know more from sue curnow.

CourtLoveLeigh said...

I'm having trouble choosing one out of these 8. Commendable work on narrowing it down from over 800!

I vote for elizabethmarianaranjo.

Irene Pozoukidis said...

I definitely vote for:

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Maya Prasad said...

Oh my. The Dowager's introduction was awesome!

It's really hard to choose between them! They all had something that catches your attention. But my final vote is....

Robert Wyatt!!!!

Great voice!

Magdalena Munro said...

Robert Wyatt. Robert Wyatt. Robert Wyatt.

Since I didn't receive an honorable mention, I shall bring ye no tea Nathan!! HAHA..Awesome fun. I love these contests. Let's do it again!

Teresa Robeson said...

Gaaah...it's hard to choose, but I vote for Crystal's entry.

Kristan Hoffman said...

Oh man, it's a toss-up between Saille and Elizabeth, for me...

I'll go with Saille.

Donna said...

Robert Wyatt

Kelly Johnson said...

I vote for Sue. Really want to know what happens next!

Congrats to all the finalists!

ChrisC said...

Saille is the clear winner for me!!!

ddelano said...

Congratulations finalists! All these entries are terrific.
I love the voice in both Todd's and Robert's entry. But my vote goes to Elizabeth.

LSH said...

elizabethmarianaranjo Well done to all!

Zan Marie said...

This is Hard!!! Sue's Masda is second, but Chris Bailey is the best.

annikay said...

These are all amazing, but I'm tossing in my vote for Todd :).

Michael Miller, MSSA, LCSW, ABD said...

Robert Wyatt

Samantha Heath said...

Chris Bailey.

Jennifer Schubert said...

Robert Wyatt.

Shaunna said...

Chris Bailey

Matt Borgard said...

Chris Bailey is my pick, solely for StepThad.

Kate said...

Robert Wyatt

Breanna Teintze said...

Sallie!

cBock said...

Thanks so much for the honorable mention! Especially with it coming from the Dowager Countess. ;)

My vote goes to Chris Bailey!

Summer Ross said...

Robert Wyatt

J. M. Strother said...

My vote goes to Elizabeth Naranjo (elizabethmarianaranjo.com). Her paragraph is clear and concise with just a hint of suspense to keep me interested.
~jon

Marcy said...

Sue Curnow :) Congrats to you all!

Katie New said...

Cheryl W.

Tali Spencer said...

Sue Curnow. What a hook!

Haley said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

She gets my vote!

Remilda Graystone said...

I vote for Sue, although I loved Elizabeth's entry as well! Good luck to everyone!

Stephanie Garber said...

Sue Curnow!

All the paragraphs were really good, though!

R. A. Mare said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Stacy McKitrick said...

I liked Sue Curnrow's the best. I want to know more.

Sarah Brand said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

runnersami said...

Sue Curnow

Liane said...

Elizabeth, definitely! Although Robert and then Todd are my second and third picks!

Jason Shprintz said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com for sure!

Congratulations to everybody!

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

Saille

Jan said...

Robert Wyatt

Lauren Monahan said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com gets my vote!

DeniseO said...

Todd

Kristy Marie Feltenberger Gillespie said...

Sue Curnow!

Suzie F. said...

Well done, everyone! My vote is for
elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Teresa Richards said...

Cheryl W

smartins11 said...

Chris Bailey FTW.

Although I almost voted for elizabethmarianaranjo

Jean said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

caught my attention.
Congrats to all and good luck.

Karen Duvall said...

This is an incredible start. I want to read the whole book! :)

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Michelle Levy said...


elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Lexa Cain said...

Absolutely the best:
elizabethmarianaranjo.com:

Nomen Nescio said...

Cheryl W

Jemi Fraser said...

Really good stuff!

My vote to elizabethmarianaranjo.com

(chris at the end was a very close 2nd)

Gina Kiyuna said...

Sue Curnow

talesfromthemotherland.me said...

LOVE Elizabeth's! First choice for sure, though congratulations to all of the finalists. It must have been hard to choose. I wish I'd seen this in time! (she said, ego brimming... for a change). Good luck to all of them!

Deniz Bevan said...

Definitely elizabethmarianaranjo. I would read on for sure!

Moyrid said...

Chris Bailey

Kia Abdullah said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

I want to read more!

V. N. said...

Robert Wyatt!

(Miss Dowager, you're so funny!)
(OMG I hate these captcha, can anyone actually read them????)

Lucinda Daleo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucinda Daleo said...

My vote is for Sue Curnow

Tamara said...

Thanks nathan. Great contest!

My vote is for Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. I want to read her book! Plus her name sounds cool when you say it out loud.

Hollie Sessoms said...

I vote for Sue.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Robert Wyatt.

Though I was torn between that one and Sue Curnow's.

amber polo said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com:

Christine Tyler said...

elizabethmarianaranjo

Iliadfan said...

Thanks so much for the honorable mention!

Sue Curnow's such a close second for me, but I have to vote for...

Chris Bailey.

Kastie Pavlik said...

I'm torn between Sue and Crystal. <<_ I like the twist at the end of Sue's, but I'm really curious about the bridge and the sinister man.

Crystal

Kirsty said...

Elizabeth - wonderful

wendy said...

Nathan, your take on the Dowager Countess was sublime.

It's a toss up for me between Elizabeth, Cheryl and Crystal's excellent paragraphs. I'll go for Cheryl's work this time.

Sarah said...

Cheryl W. Though if I could vote twice I'd choose Robert Wyatt. Some excellent paragraphs. :-)

MRL said...

Robert Wyatt!

memoriesofchocolate said...

What fun! Robert Wyatt does it for me :)

Ariel said...

I vote for Saille!

Cynthia said...

All the finalists presented good stuff. I vote for Sue Curnow.



aereichert said...

I vote Saille!

Alex said...

Robert Wyatt!

Deborah Alys Carter said...

I want to read Robert Wyatt's book!

Blue said...

Torn between the Mazda and the girl, all shadow and stillness. Mazda grabs you with it's surprise twist, but I feel like the book by Elizabeth would end up being one of those little gems that stays with you long after the last page has been turned. I want to read the rest of it. So ELIZABETH MARIA NARANJO gets my vote. But they are all fantastic! ♥

davidburtonwriting said...

Crystal first
Wyatt second.

MET said...

Between Chris and Sue, but I vote for Sue. Congratulations to all!

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado said...

Chris Bailey gets my vote.

Angela @ HomegrownMom said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com
Kudos to you all, I was too chicken to even enter!
I read this whole post in a posh accent. Well done.

LA Janssen said...

Nice selection, congrats to all. My vote? elizabethmarianaranjo.com.

Tip of the hat to Chris Bailey.

Stephanie McGregor said...

I really like Saille's. They have my vote!

Mary said...

My vote goes to elizabethmarianaranjo.com.

Robert Wyatt was a close second, but Elizabeth pulled me a nidge better.

Cara M. said...

elizabethmarianaranjo

Lauren Kinney said...

I vote Robert Wyatt.

Pamela Young said...

Elizabeth

poetafiera said...

I vote for Sallie!

I am so intrigued by the herd of capas , the outrunners, and the Spring burn that I want to read more.

John Herres said...

In choosing one of the finalists, I would have to go with Cheryl W.

Anil Goel said...

Elizabeth!

Lauren B. said...

My vote is Chris Bailey. But congrats to all the finalists and honorable mentions!

I really don't know how Nathan chooses.

Margaret Welman Paez said...

Robert Wyatt.

Carolyn said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Gretchen said...

Elizabeth.

But that was tough to decide. Also, the Dowager Countess? Brilliant, Nathan! That must have been a blast to write.

Jess said...

Tally one up for Sue Curnow from me.

And congratulations to all the finalists!

River Byrnes said...

My first choice would be Cheryl, my second Elizabeth and my third, Robert.

Amy said...

Lots of great entries! My vote goes to Todd Zuniga.

Bill Az said...

Elizabeth

Katharine Manning said...

Elizabeth. Just fantastic.

Leila Rheaume said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

LindaBudz said...

So hard to pick just one, but I'm going to go with Robert Wyatt.

Dave Symonds said...

elizabethmarianaranjo

harryipants said...

Woohoo! We're all artists running naked in the street.
It was nice to be on the commended list, thank you.
I really loved a few that were on the commended list, moreso than some of the finalists.
But for me, without a doubt the best of the many hundreds of entries was Robert Wyatt's.
I really want to read that book.
Brilliant.

Heather Webb said...

All had a little pizazz--congrats to the finalists!

But my favorite was both lyrical and had a strong voice.

Robert Wyatt

T said...

Robert Wyatt

Carolyn Woulfe said...

Chris Bailey. Love it.

slhuang said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Rick Zubrycki said...

Robert Wyatt... Witty and fun!

Gypmar said...

Chris Bailey...there's nothing in the way of that voice.

c1c5d5fc-73c6-11e2-a146-000bcdcb471e said...

Well done all...but I care about Tori. And I think I dated Carter.
Sue Curnow gets my vote.

Mira said...

Loved your commentary, Nathan. Very clever. Loved how she kept urging people not to participate in the contest, ha, ha! :)

I haven't watched Downtown Abbey, but I really will have to!

So, I loved all of the entries, both the honorables and the finalists! Well done!

I had a tough time choosing, but I think I'm going with Crystal, although Todd was a very, very close runner up. Very hard to choose!

Congrats to everyone! :)

Marianne Gualtieri said...

elizabethmarianaranjo

Robin Connelly said...

Sue Curnow

maine character said...

I'm too late for my vote to count, but for me it's a toss-up between Robert's and Elizabeth's.

With special mention to Saille for the use of susurration.

Katchen said...

My favorite is
elizabethmarianaranjo.com:

Well done!

Katchen said...

My favorite is: elizabethmarianaranjo.com

Well done!

Durango Writer said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com:

heatherkamins.com said...

I vote for elizabethmarianaranjo.com.

(And thanks for the honorable mention!)

Cally Taylor said...

elizabethmarianaranjo.com:

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