Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Thriller/Suspense Winner . . . and the Women's Fiction Contest!

It became clear in the thriller/suspense contest that some of the contestants are either not really reading the rules or choosing not to follow them. Unfortunately, this caused a bit of a problem for Jessica and me when we judged the contest.

We went through and made our list of top picks. We agreed on three entries. Then I decided to check the word count. To this point, we’d been trusting that everyone was abiding by the rules. We hadn’t been militant about checking it. But when it became clear that other commenters were noticing the length, we decided we needed to look into it. Unfortunately, two of the three contestants disqualified themselves by going over the 100 words, so this made picking the winner a no-brainer. If it came down to just two or three extra words, we may have let it slide (after all, we’re English/Journalism majors . . . we can sympathize with the mathematically challenged), but both were over by more than 15 words. We just couldn’t ignore that, and to be honest we were disappointed and irritated. Due to that situation, there isn’t a runner-up for the category. Honorable mentions will be featured tomorrow.

So congratulations to Spyscribbler for a great entry — and for actually following the rules!
Spyscribbler — For Love or Country

I sometimes imagine things had ended differently. I imagine the special smile he gave me, the way he always knew when I slipped into a room. I imagine the way he undressed me, his hands just grazing my skin, his eyes gazing at me in wonder, as if surprised I was his.

I was only ever partly his.

It started the way it ended, with the door of my apartment crashing open. The man looked angry enough to kill, but his gun was still a bulge under his jacket.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

But I knew. I already knew.


Jessica’s thoughts: What a great setup. I like the comparison to ending the way it began and I really like the last line. This is a lead-in that wants you to read more because there’s so much left to discover. Who is it and in what direction is this story going? It’s rare that I think first person works in thrillers, so even I was surprised by my own reaction to this.

Kim’s thoughts: I really liked how the opening changed from this warm nostalgic feeling to something much more chilling. The narrator, herself, is intriguing. Why was she only “partly his”? Was there someone else? Did she have any love for the man she’s remembering? Or did she just have a physical relationship with him? And who’s at the door? How will all of it connect? I’m eager to learn the answers!

Spyscribbler, when you’re ready for your critique, please send your query letter, synopsis, and first chapter to the e-mail link on the blog. Congrats again!

TODAY IS THE WOMEN’S FICTION CONTEST!!! Both historical and contemporary entries will be accepted, but the focus of the story needs to deal with women’s issues and appeal to a female audience.

Here are the rules — READ THEM!
1. We’ll only accept entries that are posted in the comments section of this blog article. No e-mailed entries will be considered.

2. Include your title and the first 100 words of your book. Now, we’re not saying to leave us hanging mid-sentence here. Stop wherever the previous sentence ends, but do not exceed 100 words.

3. The same work cannot be entered in more than one genre. If you think your book straddles more than one genre, you’ll have to pick one. We will, however, accept multiple works from the same author in the same or different categories.

4. Once the material is entered, it’s your final entry. We won’t allow revised versions of the same work.

5. We’re accepting excerpts of both finished and unfinished works.

6. The deadline is tomorrow, March 28th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.


And in case you’ve forgotten, the prize is a critique of the query letter, synopsis, and first chapter of the winning entry! The winner will e-mail us the additional material and we’ll provide our notes privately, not on the blog. We will, however, discuss what we liked about each winning 100-word entry on the blog, and will pull out a few honorable mentions to highlight other excerpts that came close and why.

We’ll post the winners in a few days and then move on to the next genre. Keep an eye out for your category!

147 comments:

leesmiley said...

Congrats, Natasha! I have to say that, aside from my own entry, I also liked yours the best. I'd certainly keep reading.

Nadine said...

Love Undelivered

Mark Newman lifted his hardhat and wiped the sweat that had formed on his forehead from the heat of the mid-day sun. Even though he was the foreman in charge of the demolition, with every swing of the wrecking ball he felt he was destroying his family’s heritage.

“Again!” The pear shaped ball swung at the post office as portions of the structure collapsed without a fight. The second floor offices were now visible without a front wall, ironically resembling mail slots.

Shirley said...

Title: Stolen

This man barely resembled his father. The impersonal bleep of machines interspersed labored breaths. Sparse lashes on hollowed cheeks rendered Mac fragile.

He woke, looked at Jack and shuddered. “Dammit Winton. Can’t a man die in peace?”

Ice trickled down Jack’s spine. “Winton?”

“Your father.”

Jack frowned. Was this a sick joke?

“I’m not your father.” Mac’s words held surprising strength, his gaze lucid.

“Then who..?” Jack barely restrained from shaking the old buzzard.

“Winton Malone.”

Jack wanted to grab that scrawny neck and squeeze. Hard. Then the silence registered.

How like Mac, deliver a bombshell on his dying breath.

Kalynne Pudner said...

ALL BUT DISSERTATION

As youngest daughter, the one whose marriage would have been last on Mrs. Bennet’s agenda, Lydia has "cut in line" for parental attention by planning to summer in Brighton. Jane and Elizabeth's disapproval is thus attributed to envy. Narcissistic as any teen today, Lydia Bennet is a twit.

The tone and vocabulary of that last clause wasn’t going to fly with her director, truth notwithstanding. Lydia Bennet highlighted it, rapping “Del.” And the irony! Whatever possessed her to accept a marriage proposal from a med student named Andrew Bennet after submitting a dissertation proposal entitled “Jane Austen and Sibling Rivalry”?

Shirley said...

Title: With This Ring…


Amy Kerrigan struggled to remain calm. One glance at her estranged husband made that almost impossible.

Although no longer the shy, insecure girl who came to Darkhaven as Brody’s bride, Amy feared the impending meeting. It lay over her head like the sword of Damocles.

Up ahead was Gaelen’s house, nestled in its grove of oaks.

The car turned into the avenue. The last leaves of autumn clung to the trees. Fallen leaves lay in mouldering heaps against the railings, and beneath the sod, bulbs waited for spring.

As did the malevolent secrets of Darkhaven.

Amy shivered, suddenly very afraid.

Steve Axelrod said...

Just Like in the Movies


Rachel Scanlon stood on Broadway and Ninety-first Street, without a single key in her pocket. She had severed all her ties with the city; there wasn't a door in all five boroughs that she could open. Her life there was extinct--her job in her father's theatrical office, a set of stale friendships and a love affair that should have ended months before. Her furniture had been scattered among her friends, her books had been boxed and sent on to Stacey Clark in Playa Del Rey.

Christina said...

In Between Goodbyes

The New Yorker code reads “don't look each other in the eye, it’s dangerous,” but the well-dressed redhead making her way uptown from Chelsea violated, as always, all the codes. Hope not only made eye contact, she ran around frantically with a street a grocery cart, gathering all of the woman’s possessions before they flew away in the February gale. Then they shared a pastry and a smile as they huddled against an upscale coffee shop in the icy morning blast. It was her usual prelude to an afternoon of gluing sequins on tits.

Gillian said...

Worlds touch

"My life has two anchors," thought Priscilla. "Celia and chocolate." She pondered as she trudged. "My life. My daughter. My chocolate."

On reflection, she wasn't sure about her daughter.

Priscilla lived in a green tourist-town in the Blue Mountains. A nice stroll and she could talk to the Three Sisters. She did that sometimes, when no-one was watching. She would walk as if fitness were her only concern, breathing deeply to fill her lungs with the fragranced air, and she would address the great rocks across from her as if she had known them forever.

spyscribbler said...

Wow, thank you! So many of the thriller entries were good, I can't begin to imagine which ones the other two entries might be. This contest has made me excited for what we could see in the genre in years to come!

Thanks again!

Heather Wardell said...

"Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many"

I stared at the seven men of my supposed dreams. Of my nightmares, more like, and theirs too by the stunned faces staring back at me. The hotel ballroom's walls closed in and a wave of dizziness shuddered through my body.

The show's host said, "What's wrong, Princess?", the overdone innocence in his voice making it clear: this was no accident.

My mind swirled with scrambled thoughts and emotions. Knowing how many eyes, electronic and otherwise, were studying my every move and reaction silenced me as effectively as a hand over my mouth. I struggled for words, but none came.

Heather Wardell said...

"Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo"

Ian and I looked at each other across his suitcases. I couldn't remember the last time there'd been nothing, physical or otherwise, separating us. Always the distance now.

"Well, I should get in there," he said. "The security check will take ages."

I nodded. "You're sure you have everything?"

"I hope so." He paused as if considering what he had to bring, then said, "I'll miss you, Candice."

"I... I'll miss you too," I said, tears rising at the realization that we were both embarrassed to admit to even this much emotion. How had we lost each other so completely?

Julie Weathers said...

Flight To Freedom On A Forklift

The beginning of the end came in a spent Retin A tube. I picked up the spatula and scraped it so flat the edges were razor sharp. Then, like a skilled surgeon, I dug out the final remnants with an X-acto knife.

Thirty-four years of marriage should end with an explosion. A sultry mistress arriving on my doorstep. A note that Don has run away with his best friend to form HoH, Husbands of Husbands, a new male liberation organization. Something besides the tube of wrinkle cream's soft burp as it surrendered to emptiness.

Mark Terry said...

Congrats, SS!

Aimless Writer said...

Yay Spy! Can't wait to read the book! WhoooHoooo!

Julie Weathers said...

A Mother's Heart

He should be a tiny bundle, sleeping safe between my breasts, as light as a feather and innocent as an angel's kiss. Tiny fingers intertwined in my hair. Lips curling up into a soft smile.

Instead, he towers over me. Black hair curls at his throat above the brown army tee-shirt. The uniform makes him look older than his twenty-one years. He's been a soldier for four years and yet my mind still has problems comprehending that even when I see him in the camouflage, which is supposed to protect him.

We both know it doesn't.

Julie Weathers said...

Spyscribbler, congratulations. It was a stellar entry and very deserving.

I have to say I am so disappointed about the runners up, though. How frustrating for the writers to get this close and not make it.

One of the hard facts of life. Rules aren't always made to be broken.

And, once again thanks to Kim and Jessica for doing this. This has been a Herculean task.

Gail said...

Troy

Tall, dark and country lifted the Braves cap to run fingers through thick locks. Silver peppered temples gave him an air confidence as he confirmed her original diagnosis. “Yes ma’am. Magneto failure. This bird ain’t goin’ up.”

His pronouncement wasn’t news. She’d said the same five minutes ago. Controlling frustration she nodded. A male his age in this shape lit up her internal danger meter and the warning pegged past caution. He moved with the grace of a body build to be a weapon. This was no country boy who thought a plane worked a lot like a tractor.

Rodney said...

When Hearts Cry Out ( Women’s Fiction)

Trudy Hale had watched seventy-four-year-old Liz McCall circle the parking lot six times.

“Mornin’ Liz. You doin’ okay?”

“Fair to middlin’.” Liz patted the sides of her sprayed stiff hair, the color of which resembled an uncirculated silver dollar. “I swear . . . some of those fools must’ve gotten their driver’s license out of a box of Cracker Jacks.”

Trudy pointed to an empty parking place only feet away from the salon. “Why didn’t you take that spot?”

“Shit. Do you really think I’d park my Cadillac next to that big old bucket that Vivian’s husband is driving?”

Christa M. Miller said...

Congrats, Natasha! I am thrilled for you (no pun intended)!

Roberta said...

Title: Mi Casa

One glance at the next table and I knew there had to be more than seven sins. I saw the devil dancing in his dark eyes and read 'Raul' on his name badge.

On his way out of the restaurant, he dropped his business card in front of me, licked his lips, and whispered, “You're an angel.”

As Raul sauntered away, I understood a thin line exists between heaven and hell.

Chicki said...

Hot Fun in the Summertime

I don’t know what possessed me to want to do this again. Seven of us were staying this time – four women and three men. No couples -- just friends. Living with six other people for two months is just asking for drama, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend the summer writing by the ocean. I stepped out of the car and inhaled the sea air, struck by how great the house with a bright border of red tiger lilies outlining the wrap-around porch.

Vivi Alden said...

Title: Finding Pepper Ann


If it weren’t for Celine Dion, I never would have been awake to see my father die.

I'd dozed off, curled up in the rocking chair next to his bed when a tinny, piercing rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” came screaming into the room. Dazed, I jumped to my feet and inadvertently answered the phone. It took a few seconds of the droning dial tone in my ear before I realize the sound was coming from the room next door. I hung up the receiver and looked down to see my father’s crystal blue eyes shining up at me.

Anonymous said...

TITLE CHANGES

My first clue was the weak insincere smile she gave me when I entered the room. We sat across the desk from one another and for the thirty millionth time, I was glad that my mother taught me to look people directly in the eye. It usually made them nervous when they were feeding you garbage and calling it sushi.

“Listen, I just wanted to bring you up to speed on what’s going on.” The nearly nothing smile faded.

Denise slid a single piece of paper from a manilla folder and placed it on the desk between the two of us.

Caren Crane said...

Tiara Wars

Katie Warren's husband Larry haunted her garden.
With the North Carolina June suffocating her like a magnolia-scented blanket, she could almost see his grass-stained Topsiders and white lawyer's ankles peering at her from behind the hedge as they had the day he died.
Despite the "Southern Living" layout potential around her, the memory of Larry's legs sucked the joy right out of her retreat. Which only fueled her anger at him.
A burst of "Für Elise" sent her pruning shears flying. She fished the phone from her pocket.
"Mom," Callista barked. "Where are you? I've been waiting 15 minutes already."

Anonymous said...

Title: Day of Life
Author: Marcille Sibley

In the NICU, we call the day an infant is born day of life one. Sadly, some of my patients don’t make it to day of life two.


DAY OF LIFE ONE

Lee Attworth:
When she sees me, Nola’s eyes flash for a nanosecond. But what I see in them, I cannot decipher. Is it lust or disdain? We’ve been involved now, off and on, for over a year. I wish I could get her alone so I could ask what happened last night, but first, I have responsibilities to face, sick babies to see, and orders to write.

Anonymous said...

Loveland

Jackdaw isn’t going to make it. I can tell by the way the first jump unseats him. The big white bull lands and then gathers underneath him like a kid playing leapfrog. Jackdaw curls forward and whips the air with his right hand, but his butt slides off-center. Thirty yards away in the bleachers, I involuntarily scoot sideways—as if it would do any good. The bull springs out from under Jackdaw and then arches its back, gyrating its hind end like a mother flipping covers over a bed.

Jackdaw is tossed wide off the bull’s back.

Tamara

Amie Stuart said...

WOOT!!!!!!!! GO SPY GO!

Anonymous said...

Title: For Sparta

A.Genova

Where could she hide this time? Twilight approached and with it her last chance. The old cypress tree? Melaina hesitated. She would have to be strong and swift to reach it before he saw her. It was a good distance away and uphill. But he would never suspect it.

A tingle crawled through her belly as Nikolaos shouted from far down the slope, “Melaina, where are you?” and laughed. Then his voice turned harsh. “You can’t hide from me forever!”

She took a breath and sprinted. The parched grass crunched and tickled under her bare feet. Tonight, I can.

Edie said...

Congratulations, Natasha! Well-deserved. I love your entry!

Joanie said...

Best Year of My Life

After twenty years, my husband should know that when I want help I specifically say, “Please help me.” The artisan lamp now resembled razor-edged confetti on the concrete floor, conscripted to death when Charlie moved the still-laden table to save me the trouble of unloading it. Only necessary because depression pushed him to remove the carpeting when I’d left for a meeting. I tasted sarcasm, dying to ask him when I’d asked for help. But I didn’t. That would have meant arguing, and arguing strengthens his depression and weakens my soul.

If happiness came easily, we would all have it.

HollyD said...

Title: Grace's Second Chance

“Look, you have insurance and nobody got hurt. I’m sure your husband won’t be too pissed off. So could you please stop crying?”

“You think I’m crying because of what my husband might say?”

“Ugh, yeah.”

“Well, I’m not. My husband of 15 years ran off with all of our money and a slut from his office. For the last two weeks I have been turned down for every job I’ve applied for. I have four kids, a cat, a dog, and 4 hermit crabs depending on me, and now this.”

“Wow, you look great. You really have four kids?

Josephine Damian said...

Way to go, Spy! May this much deserved win lead to bigger and better things for you.

HollyD said...

Title: Love Returns

It was Saturday morning, late in September. According to the calendar autumn was a few days old. It was Emily Daniels’ favorite time of year. It was also her birthday. The high school senior was now 18 years old and pregnant. She had driven into Cincinnati yesterday and purchased a home pregnancy test. This morning she had woke up early and read the directions very carefully. She had never been very good at taking tests, but she had wanted do this one right. Two pink lines. The first time Emily aced a test and it had to be this one.

Anonymous said...

title: revealing gigi

There are many silences.

There is the sort created by standing perfectly still in an uninhabited space under a huge sky. That silence is riveting; a surreal sensation of wishing the moment would not ever end because somehow the lack of sound brings a brief moment of understanding.

Then there is the kind of peace in those small quiet moments. Just pockets void of dissonance that allow my brain to process the day.

Finally, there is the awkward variety. It springs up between two people who have said far too much, for too long, with words that meant nothing at all.

HollyD said...

Title: Tracy's Treasure

“I hate Mondays.” Tracy Sullivan said to herself.

It was 7:30 in the morning and she wished she hadn’t gotten out of bed. She had burned herself with the curling iron, pulled a button off of her only silk blouse, and spilled coffee on her briefcase. She put on her coat, grabbed her keys, her purse, and her now dry briefcase and walked out the door. She yelled goodbye over her shoulder to Reno, her feline roommate and closed the front door. She walked towards her car and stopped.


“How the hell did I get four flat tires?”

Anonymous said...

Falling Like Figs
by W.C.

Montgomery, Alabama 1951

Ten years before her kiss would seal a man’s death, Maribelle Hamlin Thomas sat on a small hillside beneath a grouping of large fig trees loaded with fruit.

To Maribelle’s back was her family residence. Beyond the house were acres of untilled soil that had once yielded crops rich enough to sustain one of the largest plantations in the South. The fields now sprouted cotton as wild as honeysuckle; bolls of white opened to the clear sky.

The scent of summer sweetened the air, and the vigor of youth roared inside her.

Anonymous said...

Alabama Creeper
by W.C.

Some people are just happier dead.

“Beverly Ann!” Aunt Rhonda shouted at me.

It’s true. Gramma started chain smoking the day she read about lung cancer in Life magazine. She refused to wear her glasses when she drove, even though she couldn’t tell Lawrence Welk from a cello without them. She said her children were worthless, Alabama was the armpit of the South, and after having spent her life sweltering in heat, hell would feel like Casey’s Ice House & Fish Market, and probably wouldn’t smell half as bad.

Anonymous said...

Title:Seven Down

Miami’s humid heat smacked me in the face. Dad was circling the terminal in his Taurus. Brakes screeching, he cut off a shuttle and pulled over.

“Selma! You’re finally here.” Big hug, a few surreptitious tears.

“Sandra,” I reminded him. I’d changed my name long ago, in college.

After we loaded the car, he lurched out into traffic.

“So, Dad, who’s not talking to who?” Without this information, I’d be safer crossing a minefield blindfolded than entering the lobby of his high-rise.

“Everyone’s mad at Bella, as usual. Speaking of which, I have something very important to tell you.”

Kristi26 said...

UNFORGIVEN (working title)

She couldn’t hide forever. He would find her soon.
“Abby!” Brody bellowed. He was getting closer to the room at the end of the hallway.
Abby inched back against the wall under the bed, her breathing too loud. Her right eye felt like it was swelling already. She touched it gingerly and winced at the pain. If only she’d kept her mouth shut. None of this would have happened. He always told her how she pushed his buttons, brought it all on herself.
“Abby!” Brody screamed again. Maybe she should just come out of hiding. It would be easier that way.

Caren Crane said...

Kick Start


I thought I was too smart, too hip, too careful selecting a life partner to end up a thirty-nine year-old cliché. Which proves how profound my delusions were.

First came denial.

"You can't leave, we have children," I said. Seemed logical to my panicked brain at the time.

Second came bargaining.


"Mark's starting college and the girls aren't even obnoxious yet. They need you."

I'd seen the look in Rick's eyes before. In criminal court he used that steely determination to his advantage. But I'd never seen him turn lawyer on me.

Vicki said...

Woot SS!! So excited for you! I loved the entry and can't wait to read more.

The last line Rocked!

Anonymous said...

Kick Punch Breathe
by E. Lynd

I actually met Mac at the supermarket, so there goes any justification for disdain at my mother picking up men there. Still. This is hardly the same thing. For one, we weren’t lingering over a dish of chana masala, but in the regular, non-fragrant American supermarket, looking at boxes of blueberry muffin mix, which is about as un-Indian as you can get if you think about it. I had my hand on a box of Jiffy—it was cheap—and heard this deep, lilting voice warn, “I wouldn’t.”

Anonymous said...

The Seven Man Itch

Ray lay stretched out on the queen sized bed, a white sheet covering him from the waist down, sleeping the sleep of the not-yet-busted, but that would end soon. Very soon.

I stood at the foot of the bed, debating whether to sneak back out to 7-11 and get a gallon of gas while rage and hurt boiled to an acidy peak in my stomach.

His...companion, a skinny girl with cocoa skin and stretch marks on her hip, lay curled up at his side. In my spot.

Anonymous said...

Going Greek

When I said the words until death do us part, I meant them.

But nobody told me divorce is exactly like death. It’s just that, instead of your life flashing before your eyes seconds before you snuff it, your life plays out for months…like a bad dream you can’t wake up from. And inevitably, you find yourself looking for the clues you missed in real time.

You relive the moment when you stood outside the chapel in your wedding dress and wondered whether cold feet meant something other than that it was 40 degrees and you were wearing sandals.

Rachel Glass said...

Chicks Dig The Accent

“He-hem.”

I looked up.

“Molly Ivers, you’re on,” Professor Sullivan’s polished London accent woke me like good coffee.

“Yes, sir.” My mind far from presenting, I felt guilty about breaking up with Sean, wondering if I’d done the right thing.

Keeping my eyes focused on the podium as I headed towards it, I reminded myself how close I was to graduating and leaving this hick town.

It’s the only thing a woman can do when shops close at six, and the regular cashier at your Walmart looks like MacGuyver – saving the world with a mullet, duct tape and a stapler.

NJHall said...

Shades of Beige

Be quiet. Don’t move. Take up as little space as possible. Blend. Be the perfect shade of beige. He might not notice you when he comes back.

Megan listened to her son’s laughter from the other end of the apartment. He was playing with a monster. She couldn’t wait any longer. She wouldn’t allow Logan to grow up believing it was normal to inflict pain one minute and squeal with joy the next. She had to prove she was stronger than her mother had been.

One more night. Just one more night. Tomorrow morning I’ll do it.

cgparker said...

BLUER THAN THE HEAVENS

Chapel Hill, NC 1863

Mama locked herself in her room the day the Federal Army began their occupation of our campus. Papa yelled at her door that General Harland was expected for super and she had three hours to make herself presentable. But Mama said she’d rather dine with the devil himself than to welcome a Yankee into her home. Shortly thereafter, Papa called me into his office and insisted I act as hostess in Mama’s place.

And so by presiding over that timeless tradition of hospitality extended and hospitality accepted, I became the downfall of two men.

Jeannie Ruesch said...

Title: Petals of the Rose

The measured clip of her heels was a familiar sound. The aroma of disinfectant and pumped-in air conditioning filled her lungs. The sterile white walls were as familiar as home --more so, according to Nate. But as Dr. Danielle Stevens strode down the hallway, she sucked in deep breaths to calm sudden nerves. In all the scenarios she’d imagined seeing Melanie again this had never been an option.

Danielle was a pediatric cardiologist. She may have wished a number of things upon her former best friend’s head, but needing her expertise...

No, this was never — never — one of them.

lainey bancroft said...

Title: Willow Landing

Willow Ames officially declared Wednesday shit day. It wasn’t a calculated decision—few decisions in her life had been—more the result of the municipality she and Al moved to when the kids were toddlers. In Beamsville, garbage and recycle got collected midweek. Willow figured if she had to haul around bug-infested pop cans and rain-sodden newspaper, she might as well do the other dirty chores, too.
Time for Wednesday’s soul-searching questions. Paper or plastic in the recycle? What could she make for dinner that would survive in the microwave until Al turned up? Lately, was only Wednesday shitty?

Shalanna said...

TITLE: LITTLE RITUALS

My life is filled with little rituals. I don't know when or how I invented them; I don't always rationally believe they work.

Everyone knocks on wood and avoids the thirteenth floor. Who doesn't cross her fingers now and then? But the most powerful rite is more abstract: do something selfless, something selfish, then a random, anonymous act of kindness. In that order. Within a span of forty-eight hours.

Since we buried Cheryl three weeks ago, I haven't been controlling myself very well, so I turned to ritual to give me control.

This is the charm that heals, I hope.

Anonymous said...

TITLE: THE LEFTOVERS WASTELAND

"Lane-eeeey." Rachel's whine floats up to the attic, where I'm crouched in terror. "Hurry! We need that cauldron for the witches' brew. This stuff's really HOT, I mean COLD."

I peer around our duplex's dark garret, but don't see any cauldron. I hate the dark. Why am I up here slapping at authentic spiderwebs? We ought to be holding the Halloween party up here instead of decking the apartment with webbed cotton and plastic insects.

Rachel should be doing this, but she's already in her Belly Dancing Queen costume and has her rubbergloved hands full of dry ice.

Anonymous said...

ANTE UP THE GRIND


"Well, well, Stinky, you entered a thriller submission without me."

My writing partner nodded, shamefaced.

"I don't want to mention numbers, but this makes how many thumbs down?"

"Don't be a killjoy. Explain women's fiction. It's next."

"You desperate or somethin'? Our writing is kaput."

"Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Never mind, let's get this over."

"Look, there's the agency, so shut up and do as you're told."

"Are you forgetting the last time we did this? We wound up hogtied in a car trunk."

"Oh come on, you're not still mad about that?"

Amy Kinzer said...

Redux - Women's Fiction

He’s killing my flowers.

The flowers are the centerpiece of my meticulously cared for artwork. I planted the flowerbed last year, desert flowers, easy enough to care for, but they do need some care. What’s so hard about a little yard work?

And I swear, I’m not stalking my ex-husband. Just because I’m circling the street he lives on doesn’t mean anything. I just need to check on the house.

I look around the neighborhood. It’s nine o’clock on Monday morning and the street is deserted.

Anonymous said...

THE MIDDLEPAUSE REPORT

Claire lay unconscious on an oak pew, deep in the shadows of the St. Anselm University Church. Chocolate matted her frizzy hair. Her stained apron stank of wet dog.

"One, two, three, testing." The music leader set up a microphone to the side of the altar, then conferred with Father Raines, the young Jesuit priest.

Outside, students hurried through the coastal fog toward the church, kicking up the acrid dust of early autumn in Northern California. The bell struck nine. The few stragglers jogged past the towering oak and ran up the tile steps.

Anonymous said...

FRIENDS AND HYSTERICS

Six days after her hospital adventure, Sinead waited in a drab basement office. She rooted around in her shapeless bag for acetaminophen. A bottle of Benedryl and a warm cheese stick rolled out, nothing remotely helpful for her throbbing head. The hospital IV had screwed up her blood pressure, and now she was getting a headache, too. Lovely.

Sinead shoved everything back in her bag and sighed. She noticed a tray on the side table. Her throat tickled, but she didn't want to risk a drink from that dusty pitcher. She slipped off her clog and rubbed her aching foot.

Anonymous said...

YOUR NEXT BIG THING

Think back to a point in time—your memory morphs. Or so they say. Sands shift, new castles form. Something like that.

But I don’t buy it.

I still see that morning in August so clearly, you can’t tell me my memory’s changed. The workers heaving up the “Sam Levine’s Dental Spa” sign in their thick-soled boots. Sam smiling at me, not a full smile, just enough to get his dimples going. Infectious. Candy.

No shifting sands have re-worked my memory of that time, a week before my first day of work at the university.

Anonymous said...

AN OFFBEAT ALLIANCE

I sank into my office chair, picked up my nameplate, and smiled. MALIA AGBAYANI, Director of Development. Yes. Exactly according to the Plan. Finally, after eighteen years of school and four years of shared cubicles, I had arrived. My own big office at Ignatius University, my alma mater.

Director.

Nothing like that new-job buzz. When new is new.

When my MBA friend, Janeen, heard I’d accepted the offer at Ignatius, she teased, “You’re gonna work for the Pope?”

Come on. Like I’d work for the man who appointed a condom committee. But I could work for the Jesuits.

Anonymous said...

From Lonnie
Title: Finding Jayne

The dirty underwear, socks, and pants splattering the kitchen floor and countertops made me feel like I was in a three-dimensional Jackson Pollack painting. After five years of managing properties, this kind of mess didn’t surprise me. That isn’t to say it didn’t frustrate me, particularly as it was the first apartment I had shown to my prospective tenants. Their frozen expressions reminded me that seeing people’s messes isn’t something that everyone is accustomed to.

Over the years as a rental agent and property manager I’ve had no choice but to become desensitized to the oddities I’ve walked in on.

Anonymous said...

From Lonnie
Title: Housebound

The red digital numbers on the kitchen clock followed Maggie, as if they were tapping her shoulder with each passing minute. Seventeen minutes late, already. She left the kitchen, but the living room offered no escape. Now the numbers on the VCR clock were staring her down, glowing and marking the progression of time.

Everyone else on the block was home already. The McCormick’s had just pulled into the driveway next door, and Mr. and Mrs. Hebert, across the street, had been home all day. Cars passed out front, but there was no white Chevy Cavalier and, therefore, no Ray.

MG Braden said...

Title: Return to Me

The rain came down in a torrent. A staccato drip and splash were indicative of the the overflowing gutter right above the window. Kaity watched as the water made a hole in the dirt of the window box, and splashed mud up on the glass. She gripped her coffee mug tighter, trying to make its warmth penetrate her cold fingers. She was always cold these days. And always watching out the window. Looking for someone who would never come.

"Mommy? Please don't cry anymore." Small arms wound around one of her legs, holding tight.

kelley said...

The Joys of Matyrdom

They always blame the mother. But then, their main concern isn’t fairness, and it sure as hell isn’t mercy, either. And truly, why should it be? Doctors are in the business of deciphering the hard why’s of it all. There’s no room for intention, for motivation, for explanation. For kindness. If I happened to be crucified in that process, well, so be it. I can accept that fact. It doesn’t mean they’re not bastards for it, though.

“Bastards.”

He sat across from me, his face strained and worried.

“Don’t say that.”

I ignored him and picked at my fingernails.

Amie Stuart said...

Did LaGringa's cat enter? LOL

Vivi Alden said...

Title: Preggo

Jeremy asked me to marry him approximately three minutes after I threw up on his brand new leather jacket. I should have taken that as a red flag.

I was crouched into a ball with my face resting against a toilet bowl when it happened. I still remember looking around, quite sure that fourth martini was now causing me to hear voices. “What was that?”

“What?”

“I just heard a voice ask me to marry them.”

He gave me that look. “That was me, dumbass.”

Red flag #2. Man who just proposed thinks you’re a dumbass.

Heidi said...

Congrats Spyscribbler! A great entry!

This one stood out to me as well, partly because it started with suspense, but not with immediate death and terror. It didn't set out to repulse me, but drag me in.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

I wasn’t sure at which point I’d be crossing that line I promised Daddy I never would. When I picked up the envelope of crisp hundred dollar bills off her desk? Or when I stuffed it in my pocket. Maybe when I walked out the door with it, onto my new life; when I was officially stealing Marcy’s dream and replacing it with mine.
I liked the heft of those forty bills in my hand. Brand new from the bank. I fanned them out like a poker hand. Daddy always liked new money. “It ain’t stealing, Noreen,” he’d tell me.

Heidi said...

(I realized there are glaring grammatical errors in this; they are intentional)

Title: IF THE MOCKINGBIRD WON"T SING

I’m no killer, but if I was, my family would say my MO is death by breakfast.

At Travis’s mid-life physical, his doctor informed us my daily sausage gravy on biscuits was drivin’ him to an early grave, claiming Travis’s LDL was higher than a crackhead. I said if a crackhead had my sausage gravy he’d give up the crack and rather die of plugged arteries. He didn’t laugh. We switched to cereal.

When Logan developed a propensity for up-chucking, his pediatrician pointed to the milk on his Cocoa Crispies. Who the Sam Hill is allergic to milk?

Anonymous said...

"Due to that situation, there isn’t a runner-up for the category."

You could pick a runnerup from the 'legal' entries.

Anonymous said...

The Mean Queen, Dethroned.

The newspaper fluttered from my hands and I dropped the vase. Damn. A Waterford. His smile taunted me from the front page. “Local Developer Brings on Investors.” I took a ragged breath, the kind that turns into a cry if you let it, and ripped his picture in half. And then again and again until I held a handful of confetti. I marched to the bathroom, dumped it in the toilet, emptied my bladder for good measure, and flushed my husband away. I returned to my packing. He’d given me two months to get out after I got my diagnosis.

Jessica said...

The Other Side of Love

My love affair with Andrew—all right, so it wasn’t exactly an “affair,” per se, and “love,” well, that’s entirely a matter of opinion. Maybe it was more of an infatuation, magnified to the 17th power, or perhaps it was a romantic endeavor gone terribly awry and intensified well beyond what it should have been.

Maybe it was just the heartbreak of losing a first love. I don’t know. All I know is that it had been five and a half months since Andrew and I had ended, and still, every minute, I ached for him.

Marianne Harden said...

Congrats, Spyscribbler. ‘I was only ever partly his.’ Loved the line before it was chosen. Very emotive.

charles gramlich: “One naturally makes assumptions.” Laughed aloud at that one. Hope you make honorable mention.

Susan Lohrer said...

Title: Over the Edge

On the brink of her first date in over a year, anxiety paralyzed Kat. Maybe dating her boss wasn’t such a hot idea.
But Peter wasn’t anything like Evan.
She summoned her most stunning smile and with a few determined steps, reached the door and swept it open.
Her sister, reeking of whiskey, staggered past her into her apartment.
“Gonna crash here.” Lacy flopped face-first onto the couch, a twig tangled in her hair like a tarnished halo.
“Tell me you didn’t drive like this.” Visions of metal wreckage careened through Kat’s mind, and she searched Lacy’s face for cuts.

Kierah Jane Reilly said...

A Hundred Little Paths

Avery Elliot rubbed her temples as she headed to her bathroom in search of a Motrin. She struggled to open the economy-sized bottle before popping two pills in her mouth, even though the label recommended only one. The sour aftertaste left a sweetness compared to the predictable throbbing that continued behind her left eye.

She looked at her pale reflection in the mirror, unhappy with the familiar face that stared back at her.

The face that knew too much.

She couldn't meet the disappointed and judgmental eyes that frowned back at her and was forced to look away.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

PIECES OF PEARL

Pearl looked out the upstairs window. The backyard stretched before her, ending at a row of trees. Their leaves still clung to the bright greenery of spring, not yet ready to release it for the lushness of the coming summer. She caught flashes of blue, the lake winking at her through eyelashes of brown branches.

Grunting, she pushed up the window. It rose with an angry squeal. Pearl dropped to her knees, putting her face to the screen, letting her eyes cross against the grain. She inhaled, savoring the fresh, sweet air of cut grass and possibilities.

Anonymous said...

AUthor: Loni LuAnn
Title: Cats Don't Leave You

"What was that smell?" thought Emily vonHuufer. Yesterday's trash, or just my career rotting out from underneath me? Thom & I argued that it would come to this -- tell the truth, and the whole truth, or suffer the consequences. Well, I guess these are the consequences. Can't wait for the suffering. And damn Thom for always being right. The FCC is going to eat me alive.

Anonymous said...

Lifeline

I decided I didn’t believe in lifelines when a palm reader in Tampa refused to read mine. She frowned and pushed my hand aside. “Too short,” she said, pushing my money back toward me. “I don’t deliver that kind of news.” I rolled my eyes and left.
But I reconsidered the possibility, looking down at my bloody body on the gurney, putting out a flat heart rate. “Damn,” said the tired young doctor. He sighed. “I’ll call it. Time of death, 4:20 pm.” I died on August 9th. 34 years old. I studied my palm. That is a short lifeline.

Anonymous said...

Title: Cooked

“Smile for the camera,” Hannah’s soon-to-be ex hissed over a huge wedge of pie.

Right. No matter how hard she tried to manipulate her frozen facial muscles, all she managed was to bare her teeth in a grimace. Even her well-loved studio set kitchen and the familiar faces of the production staff provided no comfort as they taped her—their—farewell show.

“Divorced?” the studio manager had gasped a week ago. “Sorry. We want a married couple cooking show.” Boom—another door slammed shut.

Cinnamon and cloves perfumed the air. Hannah closed her eyes and made a vow. She would be back.

Jael said...

SIMMER

Bad things come in threes. Ruben leaves me. My parents die. And then there’s the funeral.

Other people wouldn’t say those last two things are different. For me they are.

I’m bad at crowds, or crowds are bad at me, or something. People are hard. I have to find ways to calm myself down when there’s too much attention. When I was little I’d think about drumbeats. When people asked me private questions or measured me or stood too close, I’d play music in my head. No notes, never notes. Just drumbeats.

Now instead I think of food.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm Not Having Fun Yet

Words are disappearing. There’s a chunk of words I can’t see, and it’s the part where Jamie warns Claire he can’t be gentle. Damn. I needed that part. I tossed the book on the floor and closed my eyes; a flashing light danced in the darkness. A migraine on my kid-free day off. I lay back to wait it out.
The phone rang. Perfect.
“Do you have Cilantro?”
“Laurie?”
“I’ve already been to the store twice. Who eats Mexican soup, anyway? How’s the entree?”
I sat up and my head spun. I forgot about the dinner party. At my house.

Anonymous said...

Sleeping With The Enemy

Why did I think moving to Colorado would help?
The disturbing question reverberated in Ana's mind as she stared at the magical glimmering nightscape across Fort Collins. From the window of the children's ward in Poudre Valley Hospital, she watched dozens of tiny flickering lights mimic the stars in the night sky. A wonderful sight for those into wonder. A curse for Ana who no longer wondered about much of anything.
But it was past time to worry about why she'd come so she freed herself from her constant depressing thoughts. Time for the girl's medication.
Get on with it, Ana.

(writing as Pat Dale)

Karen Duvall said...

The Pole Dancer

"Would you look at that?" Sally clicked YouTube's replay button on the computer screen. "Ballet sure has changed since I was a girl."

The cat on the chair lifted her furry head and winked sleepy eyes at her master.

Sally gazed at the tutu-wearing dancer who had traded ballet slippers for a pole. The lithe young girl arched her back and twirled upside down with her legs wrapped around the slender rod of metal.

Sally pinched an inch of flab from her middle-aged middle. Her doctor did say she should exercise more and dancing burned a lot of calories.

TerryV said...

Princess In Steel Toed Boots

Pepper dropped her hammer onto the scarred workbench. Pulling the neckline of her tee-shirt to meet her hairline, she blotted the stream of sweat running in her eyes. Sweating was better than not in the one hundred and two degree heat.
“Mom, Mom!” James burst through the door. “Terror Williams is sitting on a dead guy.”
“What?” Pepper froze. She replayed his words. Once. Then again. A dead man? No. There couldn’t be. Why would there be? Damn! She hobbled for the door as fast as her braced knee allowed.
“Terror didn’t kill him!” James grabbed her elbow.

Julianne Douglas said...

Title: Still Life, With Flowers

The afternoon sun sliced the room like scissors through cellophane, exploding against the laminated flipchart in a blast of white light. Elaine shielded her face with an out-turned palm. "The slats," she interrupted. "Excuse me, Mr. Severson. The slats." She jerked herself to her feet. Wadded tissues tumbled from her purse like confused sheep. She herded them under the chair with her toe and navigated around the artificial ficus to the window. The room smelled fusty, like last week’s forgotten bagel. She muted the glare with a twist of the dowel, then reached beneath the blinds to raise the sash.

Marianne Harden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Title: They Are Everyone
The voices and laughter enticed her but at the threshold she hesitated, tentative about entering this room of strangers. Maybe she'd fit in, considering how she seemed to be a stranger to herself lately, feeling unfettered from all that was familiar.

In the room sunlight settled on a circle of chairs; one was occupied by a young woman with a baby on her lap. In a corner two friends were talking, their heads bent toward each other. Beside a refreshment table women stood chatting, some standing silent, sipping from Styrofoam cups. She took a step toward them and then stopped.

Anonymous said...

She sensed something in his mood when he walked into the kitchen. She was chopping vegetables for a stir fry, lulled by the monotony of the task. Hanna, who sat at the table ostensibly doing homework, was entertaining her with a monologue on her expectations of university life. Abby was only half listening when a gust of fresh air announced Peter’s arrival, disturbing the calmness in which she and Hanna were immersed. She responded to his greeting and became acutely aware of an anxiety that simmered beneath his cheerful entry.

Sarahlynn said...

The Really Good Guy

Mark’s fingers clenched, tightening in her long, curly hair. His thighs contracted against the steering wheel, the soles of his feet pressed down into the floor, his back arched, and his head pressed back against the headrest.

He couldn’t have told you her name, the color of that hair, or where they were.

Then the moment passed, and he remembered who he was, who she was, where they were, and he realized that he needed to get home. An hour ago, if not sooner, and it was at least a 30 minute drive back out to the suburbs.

Joan G said...

The Mudskipper Symphony

This was the plan: I would win back Sam, the man I had loved for the past three years. Then! I’d drop him like a box of stale Lucky Charms, and escape to Ireland, finally free of my obsession.

This is what happened instead: Sam used me for sex and I went off to Ireland in tears. One month later I found myself still completely in love with him and also going to bear his child. Time for Plan B. No, not that Plan B. Too late for that too.

Kim Lionetti said...

Anon 2:24 --

In most cases (except the historical contest -- where each of us felt very strongly about our own individual selections), the winner and runner-up had made it to both of our lists. Since Jessica and I didn't agree on any of the other picks in this category, we're only listing honorable mentions.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I forgot the title. Here it is again:

Title - Arms Too Full

She sensed something in his mood when he walked into the kitchen. She was chopping vegetables for a stir fry, lulled by the monotony of the task. Hanna, who sat at the table ostensibly doing homework, was entertaining her with a monologue on her expectations of university life. Abby was only half listening when a gust of fresh air announced Peter’s arrival, disturbing the calmness in which she and Hanna were immersed. She responded to his greeting and became acutely aware of an anxiety that simmered beneath his cheerful entry.

Anonymous said...

The Devil In Her

It happened when I least expected it. I was running my three-mile, my thighs pure lactic acid, when there was a twist in my gut—a scent I’d never smelled before. My mind rolled a filmstrip of scenes. In them, Rod was happier than I’d ever seen him, even at the beginning when no one else existed.

Questions ate at me. What could I do differently? Better? Maybe I should have dropped these ten pounds long ago?

I pictured his smile from breakfast this morning and it annoyed me. I started to think Lorena Bobbit got a raw deal.

Anonymous said...

Cecilly On The Loose

It was just a little accident. It could happen to anyone.

Anyone.

My nose is fine. Really. It only hurts because when I opened my closet just now, all my shoes came crashing down on me and a stiletto-heel clipped the space between my eyes. Not to worry. When I touch it there’s hardly a speck of blood.

Mustn’t dwell.

Mustn’t curse either because I’ll flush and my cheeks will stay red for hours, then everyone will know I ran around all morning and tried on different outfits. So not cool when you’re starting a new job.

Anonymous said...

I see, Kim. (Anon 2:24 here). Thanks.

Anonymous said...

TOUGHER AT NIGHT

The tavern was hot as an incubator and so was he. But I wasn’t here to meet anyone, so I blew him off and strode to the bar. He followed me. First with his eyes—gray lightning that once would have struck me numb, now the effect only annoyed me. Then with his stride, stalking and mean.

I flung the bartender a ten. “Bloody Mary.”

Gray Eyes lowered in beside me. "Bloody Mary," he drawled in a Scots accent, catching me off-guard.

God. Did he really his think his ploy of sexy accent and identical drinks would get him laid?

Sharon Davidson said...

Title: Love Me Tender
by Sharon Davidson

“Hello. My name is Roslyn O’Dell. DOCTOR Roslyn O’Dell. As Doug said in his introduction, I am going to be the Assistant Head Trainer for this football team. It is both an honor and a privilege to be here, working with you.”

She looked out at the sea of faces. There were over a hundred men at this meeting, the first day of mini camp for the Lexington Mountaineers. These men, who averaged 200-300 pounds, would be intimidating to a normal woman of her stature. However, with five older brothers who were all athletes, she was not intimidated.

Shirley said...

Spyscribbler.

An excellent entry and a well deserved win.

I'm itching to read the rest of it now.

One could almost imagine Daphne du Maurier penning those lines.
Last night I dreamed I was at Manderlay...

Anonymous said...

Fish Out Of Water


“Ma’am, you’re gonna have to leave.”

I smile at Bernie Luster, director of Fish Out of Water. He probably hasn’t had his coffee yet.

“People! I said fresh meat. Fresh, young meat like the Olsons or Avril. Jays-us! Do I gotta bust a vein to get my point across? No old chicks!”

I race after him, my heels clacking on the cement. “Excuse me, sir, but you know what they say, forty’s the new twenty.”

He whips around, framing my face, then stares at my cleavage. “Christ, those look illegal. Where’d you get ‘em? Argentina? Slovenia? What?”

“Downtown Boston, actually.”

Kelly said...

The day I fell down the stairs was the best day of my life.
I know that sounds weird. Of course, I didn’t realize that right away.
Our life is crazy, but the week that led up to my fall was a week from hell. A stressed-out, stretched-thin, head-banging week from hell. That morning, when I got peanut butter on the sleeve of my blouse in the usual rush to make lunches, find homework and pack bags, I swallowed a scream and rushed upstairs to change.
The last two light bulbs popped in the upstairs hall. Shit! I cursed my husband in the dark.

Kelly said...

I'm sorry, I too forgot the title!

Here it is again:

Saving Grace

The day I fell down the stairs was the best day of my life.
I know that sounds weird. Of course, I didn’t realize that right away.
Our life is crazy, but the week that led up to my fall was a week from hell. A stressed-out, stretched-thin, head-banging week from hell. That morning, when I got peanut butter on the sleeve of my blouse in the usual rush to make lunches, find homework and pack bags, I swallowed a scream and rushed upstairs to change.
The last two light bulbs popped in the upstairs hall. Shit! I cursed my husband in the dark.

Anonymous said...

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT by Milka

"I need your help," I said breathlessly. "I'm going to propose to Robert."

Savannah gave me a wry glance from over her sunglasses. "Isn't that his job?"

"Why wait?" I said with an exaggerated flourish. "We both know we want to get married."

"You don't think he'll mind?"

"I know it's untraditional, but I really feel this is the right step." I nodded with certainty. Proposing to my boyfriend would prove how I felt about him. It would demonstrate how love transformed a cautious lawyer into a passionate romantic.

I was only stymied by the logistics of a female proposal.

Serenissima said...

CRANING

If I gained weight, I’d limit my choices in the romance and career departments. Every extra inch around my waist would increase the chance of heart attack, sleep apnea, diabetes and dementia. But Captain Crunch is the food of the Gods. So at least I’d be heaven-bound when I croaked -- unwed, drowsy, destitute and babbling.

With a sigh, I chose the skim milk.

I was halfway through the bowl when fire engines shrieked to a stop next door. I loaded my spoon, savoring the sugary crunch as I ran outside.

Anonymous said...

Saving the Orchids

Ravensclaw, Virginia--June 7, 1923

They say people dream in black and white. Not so with me. My nightmares are a green as thick as pea soup.

Over the past four months I’ve resided in a windowless cell. Doc assures me the blank walls will clear my mind to an empty canvas.
What are they planning to paint? Or worse … what do they hope to erase?

I won’t forget. I know what I saw; and I know what I did.

Momma used to say, “Jenni, self-pity is leftover pride served up cold by the devil’s hand.”

That’s my name. Jenni. Jenni Sweet. And I am an Orchid.

Judith Natelli McLaughlin said...

You Got Friend

Cheri arrived at work sweaty and breathless from the walk. She pushed the vagrant strands of wet, brown hair off her round face and tucked them behind her ears. There weren't many, but nonetheless, they were bothersome, being the only ones to escape from her baby pink barrettes. Without thought, she tapped her right foot five times before using it to push open the store's door. Every day the glass swung freely, but not today. Confused, Cheri looked up then down. That's when she spied it. "A package?" she said. She began to tremble. "It's got my name on it."

Anonymous said...

What About Baby?

"You're pregnant."
Doina Marks stared dumbfounded at Doctor Peters, her energy drained slowly from her as tears welled in her eyes. Pregnant. Joy and sorrow warred within her, the battle of her emotions finally numbing her.
"Are you sure?" They'd tried so many times and the embryo never took. Why now?
Doctor Peters nodded sadly. "I know this is hard for you. If you want to terminate -"
She shook her head, a hand gently touching her flat stomach. "No way."
"I know you weren't prepared to keep the baby. Under the circumstances I think we should discuss your options."

HollyD said...

Title: Kim's Mistake

“What the hell did you hit him with?”

“My shoe.”

“Your shoe? Damn it Callie, you can’t kill someone with a shoe.”

“Hello, they’re Prada.”

“Just stay right there.”

Kim Murphy walked across the room and stopped in front of the chair.

“Tell me again what happened?”

“I told you, he was sitting in that chair when I got home. I took off my shoe and hit him in the back of the head and ran over to your place.”

“Then you don’t know how he got the hole in his chest?”

judith natelli mclaughlin said...

The Jane Asher Factor

"Okay, so are you guys ready for this one?" Mary Grace said, filling her eyes with the loud reds and yellows that splashed the restaurant's walls, before leaning deep into the table she shared with her friends.

"Is it gossip?" Jules said, taking a gulp of her Margarita. "I love gossip."

"Ready?" Annie said, shoving a hunk of nachos in her mouth. "Ready for what?" Cheese sputtered across the table when she spoke.

"My news. My big news. The reason I called this meeting tonight!"

"Sorry Mary Grace," Annie said, still playing with her nachos. "What's your news?"

Anonymous said...

IMPERFECT

Auschwitz-Birkenau, October, 1944

Shayna Wolinsky curled up in a tight ball and bit her lip to keep from screaming. She’d soaked through her miserable shift, and the blood wouldn’t stop.

“We need to get you help,” Feyge whispered.

Shayna shook her head. “The matron will take me to the medical barracks. You must help me hide.”
No one ever came back from the medical barracks. Another cramp seized her.

“I don’t understand,” Feyge whispered. “Nobody’s had a period in months. Now you get one, and it’s so bad.”

Shayna hadn’t told her friend of the rape. She’d been so ashamed.

HollyD said...

Dear Kim and Jessica,

I entered four entries in this category. I just noticed that I had already entered two of the entries in previous categories.

Please remove:

Love Returns and Tracy's Treasure

I am very sorry for the mix up.

Sincerely,

HollyD

judith natelli mclaughlin said...

This Moment

Prologue

I am no one you’re supposed to know, but someone you easily could have met. My name is Ryan McGuire. I've never thought of myself as a particularly special person; I’ve been lucky, yes, but special, no. What's the difference, you wonder? Well, in my personal dictionary, one I’ve spent years alphabetizing in the annals of my brain, I’ve always thought that to be lucky is to have good things befall you. But the things that do are out of your control, like winning the trifecta at the track or being born with good looks.

Rita said...

Lost Mountain

Flat on her back in hard packed snow, Claudia Kelly struggled to see. Harsh rays of sun shot in her eyes. She squinted.

Something above her cast a shadow. Through fading splotches of green and black, a face hovered close to hers.

She blinked hard, and her vision cleared. Her breath caught in shock as she found herself staring into a man’s eyes. Soft and brown, with a cast of gold, like candlelight reflected in whiskey—never, ever, had she seen such eyes.

“Are you...all right?” His accented English faltered. Sun streamed from behind him as his eyes searched hers.

Rita said...

Borrowed Tango


He couldn't die, not tonight, not ever. Not the man who loved her from the beginning, the man who taught her to dance, the man she'd waltzed with time after time, the man who meant more than any other. He couldn’t. Not her father.


Francine Wentworth stared at her parents’ wedding picture. Her throat constricted and her sight blurred. Suddenly, there was nothing but music—no glass-walled office, no ballroom, no dance trophies on the étagère. From the next room strains of Strauss floated in, but the rise and fall of the violins spiraled into a music of pain.

Tara said...

Above Average Girl

The average American woman is 5’4”, 164 pounds and wears a size 14. Let’s just say that I’m above average—and I’m not talking about my height. I didn’t start out this way, mind you. At birth, I was actually below average. And I didn’t catch up real quick either. It took a combination of factors to bring me to my above average status. Genetics, environment, economic class and emotional health all contributed to my current dress size.
Genetics cannot be described as an “exact” science. DNA is combined randomly. So, while my siblings are almost six feet tall, I was dealt a much shorter chromosome.

Please forgive the 106 words, the last sentence is a long one. :-)

Irene said...

The Lady Intelligencer

Katherine always wished to say no to the insinuating whelp, no matter what the request. Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, perched in the chair by Katherine’s seat, one elaborately gartered leg balanced on top of the other, bending over to the Countess with the air of one who knew his great value as one of the Queen’s frequent favorites..
Normally, the strapping man spent his time, when not trying to influence the Queen and the members of the Privy Council, flirting with the young attractive maids of the court or practicing his gallantry on bored widows.

Anonymous said...

"So, while my siblings are almost six feet tall, I was dealt a much shorter chromosome.

Please forgive the 106 words, the last sentence is a long one. :-)"

If you change last sentence to:

While my siblings are six feet, I was dealt a shorter chromosome.

...you're down to 102.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The Least of Men

It was no great sacrifice for Alice Gibbs to walk out into the snowy darkness that night. Truth be told, she hadn’t planned on leaving. Methodically, she washed up the supper dishes and set her husband’s untouched plate on the back porch, wrapping it in an oilcloth to keep the cats away. John had not returned from hunting, and she knew he had squirreled himself away somewhere for the night, hoping the morning would bring the soft sounds of a buck and the promise of meat they so desperately needed.
She had not wanted him to go.

Anonymous said...

Title: Stella June

Stella showed up on a Sunday. I remember exactly the time and place she entered my life and for years afterwards would wonder if she had any inkling of the damage she would cause. Tired and worn from one of Granddaddy’s sermons, legendary in our county for their length and fervor, I didn’t know who she was at first. Having never seen my mama, I only knew that this strange woman was the cause of the greatest spectacle Sparta had ever seen since the youngest Hyde child blew up the local bakery with an M-80 and his daddy’s shotgun. But this was different.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Heidi Dawning

“Doug, I just don’t think it’s a good idea, budget-wise. I know Heidi thinks what she’s advocating makes sense, but it will put us fiscally in the hole halfway through the year. How would you justify that at town meetings?”

Advocating? Advocate this, pinhead. Heidi forced her fingers to remain laced loosely on her desk. The Town Engineer’s desk. She wanted to strangle Mike - he was making them both look like idiots.

Doug Thiebault turned away from her senior engineer, the florid skin of his neck pressing over a starched collar. “Heidi?” The one word was steeped in irritation.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Spyscribbler! Although I don't read your genre, I very much enjoy your voice. You have tremendous talent.

I must say I am disappointed the rest of us - who followed the specified guidelines - were deemed unworthy of runner-up status. For some reason, it feels more insulting under those circumstances to have not been chosen...failed by irritation. Sigh. Live and learn.

(She stands back up, dusts off, and moves forward.)

Good luck to those entering this next contest.

Anonymous said...

Sitting in a rented car, Melanie Hudson observed the little girl from less than a mile away, justifying the reason for kidnapping her. It was more like borrowing anyway, because in the end, it would be for the child’s own good. Anyone who cared about children would see it this way. It was obvious.
Melanie would teach her parents a lesson. She realized her knuckles were getting numb and released them from the grip of the steering wheel. Flexing her fingers back and forth she watched as the child played hopscotch along the edge of a desolate slab of cement.

Julie Weathers said...

"For some reason, it feels more insulting under those circumstances to have not been chosen...failed by irritation. Sigh. Live and learn."

*Shrugs* There can be only one, as Duncan says.

I didn't think Dancing Horses would do much when I entered it. I hadn't really planned on entering it at all, but I figured it wouldn't hurt.

I'm planning on going to the Surrey, BC Writer's Conference in October with Paladin's Pride. I stink at titles, queries, blurbs and all other things right, light and tight. Thinking about speaking to an agent makes me want to barf.

I look at these contests and discussions on the agent blogs as rehearsal. Hopefully, I will be over my stage fright by October.

Christine said...

Taken

No one expects criminal activity in a library. While traveling on business he found a myriad of places to keep up with his various responsibilities, legal and otherwise. Libraries were his favorite.

He worked at a table, papers spread out before him, laptop open. He'd been working for awhile when he looked up and laid eyes on her for the first time.

A woman stood in the New Books section, reading the back of a book, lost in thought. Curly dark red hair framed her face and fell onto her shoulders. The expressions on her face intrigued him.

Cujo said...

The Comedy of Her Errors

She'd nicknamed him mountain man, because he was so grizzly looking with his full beard, the raccoon like circles under his blue eyes and bad breath. He was always pushing a cart full of discarded plastic soda bottles in plastic bags. When she got so broke and depressed that she had to sleep on the streets, he’d taken care of her. But she only knew him by the street name he went by, Perez.

“Did you know he was one of the ten richest men in the world?” her sister asked.

No, she didn’t. Damn.
Well, there’s always tic-tacs.

Anonymous said...

Teaching Celebrity

Like any respectable fine artist, I had taken a solemn oath. Starve to death before ever resorting to the classroom. I’d even considered having “Teaching is the artist’s vampire” tattooed on my arm.

Yet here I sat in my beat up Civic, parked next to the formidable brick façade of Woodbridge Academy. The school that just last week was plastered all over the cover of Star Magazine because one of its celebrity students had been busted with a bag of pot at the tender age of twelve.

Teach or move back with my psycho parents. What a choice.

Miss Sharp said...

IN TESSA

Tessa stopped listening after Papa said that liars go to hell, and her eyes grew wide with dismay.

Had he not told Mother yesterday that he had broken a jar by dropping it, when Tessa had seen him throw it against the barn door? He had, indeed he had!

Thinking of how Papa might look in hell, Tessa gulped back a sob.

Days later he left the farm, shovel on his shoulder, to help dig the ditch that would become the Erie Canal, and Mother said she was worried about malaria, because the swamps were rife with mosquitoes.

Anonymous said...

Title: Marcel Uncorked

A long time ago, I shared my bed with Zack in a room scenting of iris. And then, no sooner did my eyes close and he bent forward to kiss me, another man showed up. He appeared as imperceptibly as wine decanting in a room. And his name was Marcel.

A ménage a trois, you might think. But not anywhere near as sexy as that. Much more turmoiled.

Life offers up strange bedfellows, my grandmother Hannah always used to say. Whether they were alive or not was the question.

And another thing.

A long time ago, I was really unhappy.

Ty said...

TITLE: When Rain Falls

Candace Johnson expected to catch someone in the act. Ignoring the menu in her hands, she observed the people at the other tables. The lunch hour in full swing, her table was located in the middle of the restaurant, with various conversations rising up and down in volume around her. She didn’t recognize anyone, nor did she notice anyone looking in her direction. Her tired eyes fell back on the menu.

Just one night.

If she could finally sleep in peace, she wouldn’t be feeling paranoid right now. Almost forty years old and still anxious about the bogeyman visiting her dreams.

Jill James said...

Plain Jane Goes Wild

Jane Ryan gently placed the phone on the counter, tidied her already neat hair, and screamed at the top of her lungs, “I am the rock between the fruit loops.”

Her anger rose like an imminent eruption of Mount St. Helens. Lee press-on nails popped as her fingertips bit into the granite countertop, ricocheting off the wall and cabinet front to become deadly plastic ammunition.

Why did she let her mother do this to her, every . . . single . . . time they talked?

Anonymous said...

A NEW STORY FOR O

"If there are two kinds of women like Jackie O said; those who want power in the world and those who want power in bed; it might explain my split personality." Carly took a gulp of her too hot latte, side stepping a woman slowly pushing a stroller through the lobby of the office tower.
She jammed a hand into the closing doors of the elevator, smiled sweetly at an older woman leaning back to avoid the coffee cup, winked at Blushing Bobby the gofer, and stopped on the threshold.
“You’re sex crazy,” Jillian offered.
“And a bitch?”

Travis Erwin said...

Ain't Life Grand


Angela Ross slowed her beat-up Datsun to a crawl. Wind tugged at the duct tape on the top of the passenger window. Only a couple miles of barren highway, and acres of rangeland, separated Angela from her old hometown. The sight ruined the tranquil, peach-hued sunrise.

What she wouldn’t give to turn the car around and disappear again.

This time forever.

From this distance, the towering grain elevator loomed over the trees and smaller buildings like an over-sized tombstone. Yep, from this vantage point the entire community of Grand, Texas looked exactly like a giant grave.

Travis Erwin said...

The Dark Side of Luck


Click, clack. Click, clack.

The gurney’s wheels ticked across the sterile tile floor. Rolling death. Three years at Heritage Nursing home, and Destiny Holt had yet learned to cope with the regular sight of patients leaving for good, beneath a stiff-white sheet.

Click, clack. Click, clack.

The men from the funeral home rounded the corner with Mrs. Gershwitz’s body. Destiny thought of the two blue-eyed little girls who smiled down from a frame beside the woman’s bed. Working nights, Destiny rarely met the residents families, but she knew them just the same. She'd heard all the stories.

Anonymous said...

Nature Girl

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be thirty-seven. 37. Wow! Some people even say I look 20, but we won’t go there because that was a really bad time for me. Anyway, I’m okay with being another year older. It’s not an issue.

Really.

Just because I’m playing R.E.M.’s Green and standing in front of my mirror, drawing circles around the gaggles of cellulite that have metastasized on my butt, doesn’t mean I’m not handling this thing in a healthful and accepting manner. Everyone ages. I get that and cannot understand why some women make such a big fuss about it.

Bonnie said...

THE HOT AND THE BOTHERED

Hyacinth sashayed through the cocktail party, intent on her target. She raised the gun and without hesitating for an instant, pulled the trigger. Brock fell back against the curio cabinet behind him and slid to the floor. He placed a weak hand on his chest, looked down to see the blood, and then up at Hyacinth.

“But I loved you,” he whispered as the screen faded to black.

“NOOOO!” I raced to the television and touched the screen as a commercial for toilet-bowl cleanser played beneath my fingertips. “Why? Why are you doing this to him?”

Anonymous said...

Carry Me Away
Author: Robb

Thank goodness they finally painted the walls a different color in here. Pale green wouldn’t have been my first choice, but it beat hell out of the stark white from before. It didn’t hurt so much to open my eyes this time, but my throat hurt. I didn’t think I should try talking yet, but I could swallow so I knew they’d taken the tube out. That was a good sign – I hoped.

I traced the different color tubes from my arm to the bags hanging overhead, like following a road map, trying to find which highway goes to what city.

Anonymous said...

Hannah's Voice
Author: Robb

“Pancakes.”

With that one word, I broke my silence of a dozen years.

“I said I want the goddamn pancakes.”

Finally, I got what I really wanted. Not the pancakes, but some silence. Everyone else shut up. Finally.

I didn’t decide to stop talking forever, or even for twelve years. I just chose not to speak at a moment in time. Sometimes decisions have a way of forging your future, setting a path before you that you must travel, even if you’re only six years old when you make the choice.

#

“Hannah, did you clean your room?”

Ana said...

THE DIVINE SECRETS OF THE 100-WORD SISTERHOOD

It had seemed so easy: Buy the soul of literary agent Kim Faust with one hundred words of brain-tickling delicious darkness, and a year later, Mama would be watching me on Oprah.

Mama always said I had more talent than sense. It might explain why I forgot Microsoft’s word count feature. But my pounding heart was disrupting the library when I finished my entry, and the librarian started showing off her NRA pin. I panicked. And I clicked “publish”.

I would be a better writer today if I’d learned to hook an agent in 100 words back then. I hope Mama’s proud anyway.

(No, not a serious entry, and I don't think I was one of the guilty. But I thought we could all use the laugh!)

NJHall said...

Lie Beside the Road

Charlotte sliced open the last piece of mail catching a whiff of mildew. A tattered piece of flannel fell out. Her breath caught as she reached for the fabric. Even before her fingers touched the cloth, she knew from what it had been torn. Thirty-seven years earlier, the fleece had been larger, a little boy’s security blanket. The now dried rust spots had been bright red. Wet.

The phone rang. Charlotte jumped and shoved the tainted fabric in her pocket before answering.

“Where the hell is my son?” Lily screamed. The anger in her daughter’s voice exploded through the receiver.

NJHall said...

Six Grains of Rice

Summer 1967
“Holly! Mommy needs help,” Martha sniffled.

Holly pushed back the sheet, swung her feet to the cracked linoleum and faced the twins huddled together wide eyed and furiously sucking their thumbs.

“It’ll be okay,” Holly promised. “Go back to sleep.” She tucked in the five-year-olds with a thread bare blanket. Two of her other siblings stared from their top bunks. Only Diane, hearing aid lying on the bureau, snored through the frantic pleas of their mother coming from the kitchen.

Holly’s eyes traveled to a thin line of yellow light snaking beneath the closed door. Her stomach tightened.

Julie Weathers said...

Sorry, Ana. I couldn't resist. Well, I could have, but I didn't. No offense, Jessica and Kim, just having fun.

The Wedding

The 100-Word Sisterhood had grown beyond anything Ana could imagine when she started it.

Women accustomed to flowery passages learned to cut their prose until they turned from lush bushes to single stalks with one or two extraordinary blooms. It could just as well have been called The Sisterhood of the Orchid.

Ana was the official at the first Sisterhood wedding, where each person spoke only one hundred words.

Ana asked Trudy if she took Ted to be her lawful wedded husband.

"Objection," someone shouted, waving a calculator in the air. "She's already over. She can't say, 'I do.'"

Anonymous said...

OPEN TRAIL

Uvalde County
Texas, 1870

I can do this.

Feeling the horse shift underneath me, I tightened my hold on the saddle.

As long as I didn’t fall off.

A better life, free of my husband awaited me in Abilene so why did I feel like I was sneaking off in the night? Letting the horse slide into the flow of lumbering steers I felt the tears on my cheeks. A red sun streaked the eastern sky and I watched as wave after wave of black horns moved towards it. Taking a deep breath I fanned out my skirts and followed.

Anonymous said...

...And on that 100 word limit, does the title count as part of the holy hundred?

NJHall said...

Visions of Tommy


In the summer of my fiftieth year, I climbed the oak in our yard. An hour after my ascent, Stan drove down the driveway, parked the car and entered the house. A few seconds later he emerged holding the note I had left.

I’M IN THE TREE BY THE GARDEN.

“Bad day, Diane?” he asked loosening his necktie. He squinted up at me.

I shrugged.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I shrugged again.

“Well. I guess this means I’m making supper. How long do you plan to be in the tree?” Stan asked with a bemused look on his face.

Kim Lionetti said...

Title doesn't count.

Elvy said...

Love On a Half Shell

Whoever built our beach house must have scavenged its parts because nothing matches. The bathroom door, which is heavy enough to have come from a medieval castle, makes a hell of a noise slamming up against the bathroom wall in front of me.
It doesn’t matter though. I can barely hear the door because Torey, framed in the doorway, is screaming, “What do you mean, leaving us alone until eight o’clock at night? What the hell are we supposed to do all day? I left messages at your job and called your cell a million times, where were you?”

Anonymous said...

"...And on that 100 word limit, does the title count as part of the holy hundred?"

Since the title doesn't count, does the city, state, and date setup count? Or is it just the body of the actual story itself?

BTW, thanks so much for doing this! We all appreciate it, and don't mean to ever sound ungrateful. We know this is above and beyond what most agents will do! You guys are class acts.

Katrina Stonoff said...

East of Jesus


He looked dead, but Grace Hackett had fantasized her husband's death so many times she couldn't trust her eyes.

Howard lay in his La-Z-Boy with the footrest extended and a Dukes of Hazzard rerun blaring on television. His hand was stretched out, palm up, but the remote had fallen to the floor. His mouth gaped open, which wasn't too surprising since he was a chronic snorer. His eyes were open also though, and glazed over, and that was a bit surprising.

Grace dropped the groceries. He didn't move. "Um ... Howard?" She cleared her throat. "Are you asleep?"