Monday, March 7, 2011

First 250 Word Contest

Today is the day when something exciting happens on my little blog. That's right. YOU have a chance of posting the first 250 words from the opening of your finished manuscript. Seriously!!! And then YOU get to have it judged by the wonderful Alyson Peterson (@Crzywritergrl), intern at Ayesha Pande Literary. I recently just interviewed the lovely Alyson and you can look at it here.

Alyson is the first to see the queries and your opening pages. And what's important about the opening pages? Well, that'd be the very first words written at the very beginning of the first page.

So let's see what you got.


1) To enter, you have to be a follower. I think that's only fair.

2) After you've done your bit of pushing the follow button, THEN you get to post the first 250 of your manuscript in the comment section below.

See pretty easy. I'm not a hard peep to please.

3) Oh..wait! I forgot. Please format your comment like this.

Name: Ebyss


First 250 words:

ie: It was a dark, stormy night. And so forth and so on.

Please don't stop midsentence though. It's okay to finish it.


The contest will end March 17th or I will close it when a total of 50 comments have been posted. We don't want to overwhelm Ms. Peterson.

When the contest ends, I will post each entry separately. That way we can go through the openings and make comments to each individual person about their opening. Only helpful comments please. No reason for rudeness.

Winners announced April 15th.

Prizes: 1st prize is a $20 B&N gift card.

2nd prize is a $15 B&N gift card.

3rd prize is a $10 B&N gift card.

I think that about sums it up. (Rules subject to change.)

Have fun and good luck.


  1. Oh, man, I was soooo excited ... until I read the US and Canada residents only. :(

  2. So was I until I read the part about finished. I'm only into chapter three.

  3. NAME: Kim Batchelor
    TITLE: The Mists of Na Crainn (Middle Grade)

    A sharp wind cut through the leaves above the girl’s head. Their shredded remnants bolted forward and so did she, running with her arms pulling at the air.

    “Lyric Doherty!”

    Had she truly heard her name being called? Lyric brushed the thought aside, ignored the call, and kept to the path. To stray meant more danger than to keep to the foot way she now traveled by memory.


    This time the voice certainly came from somewhere nearby. Lyric stopped, and only in stopping did she make out a slight glow on the ground just to the right of the path—a shimmer like water. The light from a single star illuminated that one spot.

    Lyric took a few more steps and slowly eased herself to her knees. Her eyes fixed on the small patch of grass. She stared a long while, or what seemed a long while. The dry foliage above her head thrashed against itself, sounding a familiar warning.
    Something is here, she thought. Her fingers quivered as she threaded them through the blades. The task required care, or otherwise whatever called her might slip away, as it sometimes did if she were too eager. The object might sink into the ground or dissolve into the air or… What’s this?

    A delicate silver spiral appeared in the center of the pool of light. Lyric opened her hand and gently lifted it to nestle just inside her palm, then placed it in her pocket. The grass returned to its forest-green hue as a churning cloud dimmed the light from above.

  4. Name: Angela

    Title: Envy (YA)

    First 250 Words:
    “You have got to be kidding me,” I whined to the tall mirror, pushing aside my bangs and squishing my face even closer to the glass just to verify what I saw. Sure enough, smack in the middle of my forehead, right between my eyebrows was the faintest indications of an oncoming breakout. And on my first day of senior year and at a new school no less. To be honest it formed a little line and what looked like a tilted L, slanting downward and pointing at my nose.

    Now I wasn’t usually vain or the type to flip out because I got one measly pimple, but it would have been nice to start my new school with a sparkling, fresh face. It was already bad enough that I was starting after the semester had at a teensy private high school where the student body totaled just under two-hundred. But it didn’t matter how many kids attended the school because there was this whole issue with me being socially retarded. L for loser.

    The uniforms weren’t terrible. My skirt was blue plaid and fell just above my knees and I had to pair it with a navy blue sweater vest that was made of something akin to wool and would have been massively scratchy if not for the capped-sleeve polo underneath. Thankfully, they didn’t expect us to wear knee-socks and saddle shoes. I don’t know of anybody who could rock that look and pull it off, but otherwise the look was complete prep-school cliché.

  5. Name: Amory David Day

    Title: Pills and Plastic (Literary Fiction)

    No one ever tells you how loud it is when you’re inside an ambulance. The sirens are blaring, and you’re at ground zero. Not to mention the EMTs are shouting at each other. Usually pleasant things like “his hearts about to stop! Can you find the Naloxone already?”

    Also, if you are in your early twenties, and you're in an ambulance with a heart that is about to crash, it’s usually safe to say that old age and natural causes are not phrases that come to mind.

    At sixteen I wanted to live forever, now, now I couldn’t care less if I made it one more minute.

    It’s really too early to tell you that, you don’t have the context yet. I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Kar Daniel Kellerman. Now I know what you’re thinking, who in their right mind names their kid Kar?

    Well, it was the eighties, Buddhism was hot, and anyone on Wall Street had to assuage their guilt for robbing the country blind somehow; there were worse ways than Buddhism, especially if you ignored the being poor part, but kept the authenticity you gained because it was eastern. I guess picking an eastern name for your kid was chic at the time.

    For me, it was just one more way for people to give me shit, but, alas, I digress. You’re probably wondering right about now how I ended up in an ambulance, screaming through the New York night like a modern day banshee, my fate resting on some underpaid and undertrained med school washout struggling to find the Naloxone.

  6. NAME: PK Hrezo

    TITLE: Starsong (YA contemp)

    I will flat out die of embarrassment if Tanner Westin sees my notebook.

    Victor is carrying it under his arm. He’s twice my size with a face like a puppy dog, and as Finlay High’s star defensive lineman, he has no trouble blocking my lunges.

    “Give it back!” I demand.

    He chuckles like it’s a sick game, stopping in his tracks and flipping my notebook out in front of me. My fingertips brush past the cover as he lifts it out of my reach again.

    If Victor wasn’t so big I’d kick his shins in. Instead, I wrap both my hands around his mega bicep and pull down as hard as I can. Victor just grins and heads right for Tanner, my body dangling like a flimsy paperdoll.

    We reach him huddled beside his Jeep with his buddies, looking oh-so-cool in his black skater tee. They gawk at us as we approach.

    I let go of Victor’s arm and drop to the ground.

    “Hey, Tanner, what’s up, my man?” Victor holds up a hand, waiting for contact.

    Tanner slaps Victor’s hand in his friendly guy way and flips his chin-length sandy hair to the side. “What’s up, bro?”

    “Just stumbled across some interesting info, thought you’d like to know. It’s about Pinks here …”

    Trying to be sly, I reach for the notebook again.

    Victor blocks me with ease, flipping the notebook from under his arm and handing it to Tanner.

    Tanner glances at me, his face baffled.

  7. Name: Pippa Jay

    Title: KEIR (Scifi Romance)

    First 250 words:
    In the darkness and the silence, the young man sat with his teeth gritted against the pains that racked his body. With each jagged breath he sought to shift his focus from the aching ribs that he was sure must be broken, making every movement a torture and a struggle. He tried not to feel the sharp stabbing in his head where his hair lay matted with blood against his skull. Knowing that he was running a fever, that he could be dying, he clenched his fists against the shaking in his body.
    Wordlessly he raged against the injustice of it all, as though the anger could keep his life burning but knowing that wasting his energy in this way only hastened the end. Even the tears that stung the cuts on his face were pointless, the symptoms of his own fear and resentment, that he should die young and alone in this place. He would have screamed his fury and terror if he had had the strength, if it would not have been such a futile protest.
    When the iron door clanged open against the stonework with a harsh sound and off-key echoes, he was slow to register the change. It seemed such a long, pointless way back through the pain to the here and now. By the time he had gathered his senses, the guards had slammed the door shut again to leave nothing but a draft of smoky air and the sounds of movement.

  8. Ebyss
    I have an agent!! so I won't post, but I just want to wish everyone good luck, and say, wow, what a generous offer you're providing.

  9. Name: Nancy S. Brandt
    Title: Sword & Illusion

    The bedchamber on the top floor of the mountain hermitage was dark and he was almost overwhelmed with the heavy odors of incense and lemon weed. Several Monks of the Tinaldor Order, charged with caring for the dying and unwanted, hovered around the opulent bed, praying and waving smoldering sticks over the woman lying there.

    Prince Varian, ruler of Tellan, entered the room and stared at the thin, weak figure who lay there.

    His illusory disguise slipped a little when he recognized the face of Princess Violetta Eugenia Francine. As grief and regret overwhelmed him, the minimal concentration required for the spell was disrupted a bit. Fortunately, the monks attending her were not looking in his direction when it happened.

    As far as they knew, he was Emory, Duke of Wellsbury, an elderly relative of Violetta's from Andarnnon.

    He grabbed the door frame to steady the trembling that shook him. The urge to turn and leave this place was strong, but he had to talk to her, had to find out why she'd left him, why she'd stayed away and let him think she'd died.

    Memories of seeing another wife, and an infant son, lying dead in their bed were still fresh in his mind and his heart ached to escape, but Varian wanted to be as strong as possible to hear whatever she had to say.

    He took a deep breath and pulled himself together.

    "I am gratified you came, Your Grace," Violetta said as he walked farther into the room.

  10. Have fun writers. Wish I could enter, but don't have something that's at this stage. Next time.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Name: Shreyonti Chakraborty

    Title: The Bestselling Hate Book

    Every minute I spent here was a nightmare but there was no way out. This was hell, my personal hell. Or maybe it could be called a factory. We, the students, were like cars coming down an assembly line, and our teachers opened our brains and poured in knowledge that would turn us into, well, a carbon copy of whoever it was that had come down this very assembly line about two minutes ago. I could call it hell or a factory or a centre for cruelty to children, but most people outside my little brain called it the coaching class.

    A coaching class is a specialty of India. Given how many types of tourism the Indian government promotes these days, I suggest they start ‘coaching class’ tourism as well and people like, say, Barack Obama can come to India for it. In that way, Obama wouldn’t have to worry about controlling outsourcing and Indians taking away all the jobs, because he would know exactly how Indians managed to do it. Here students like me came to study science. We studied it in school too, but here we came to study all the high-level stuff. We all had one aim- to get into Indian Institute of Technology. For those of us who had other dreams (like me), our parents had said, “Four years at IIT won’t hurt. You get a vocational degree and then you can do whatever you want”. How could they be so blind as to not see how bad those four years could be for us?

  13. Name: Violet Ingram
    Title: Death by High Heels

    Cops hate it when you vomit all over their crime scenes. That was a mistake I had no desire to make again. So as I fought the urge to hurl, it occurred to me that they probably weren’t going to be too thrilled that I had trampled all over this one. Well, crap. If only I hadn’t answered the door, I’d be eating dinner instead of standing in my neighbor’s apartment looking at a dead guy.

    I’d spent a hell of a lot of time at crime scenes lately. Even caused a couple I’d really like to forget. My name is Kimberly Murphy and I’m a private investigator. In my line of work I’ve seen plenty of weird things but this had to be one of the weirdest. The guy was just sitting there in the chair. It would have been okay if not for all the blood and his guts spilled onto his lap. I tore my eyes from him and asked the question I most wanted the answer to.

    “What the hell did you hit him with?”

    Lindsay glanced at floor. “My shoe.”

    “Damn it, Lindsay, you can’t kill someone with a shoe!”

    “Hello, they’re Via Spiga.”

    “Ugh.” I rolled my eyes. There was no way in hell she had done this kind of damage with a shoe. If she had, women would soon be saying goodbye to their much-beloved accessory. Men-even NRA members- would insist on an instant band of the deadly yet sexy weapon.

  14. Name: Jessie Harrell
    Title: DESTINED (YA)
    First 250:

    My forehead rested against the wooden shutters in my room as I searched for the courage to push them open. I knew what was waiting for me outside -- and gods -- I didn’t want to go through this again. But I had no choice.
    My admirers were waiting.
    “It’s time, Sadie.” Maia gave my shoulder a squeeze with her weathered hand. “Might as well get it over with.”
    She received my weakest smile in return. I stalled by fidgeting with the tendril of chestnut hair dangling by my cheek and adjusting my favorite silver headband. Not that I could improve on Maia’s hanidwork, but it bought me a few more seconds. Rubbing my glossed lips together, I smoothed out a fold in my tunic. “Fine,” I said. But agreeing to get on with it didn’t stop my hands from shaking.
    Maia backed away from the window, inching closer to the mahogany door. Preparing me to face the horde was one thing, but I didn’t allow anyone in my room when I was on display. Not Maia, not my parents, and certainly not my sisters.
    Flinging the shutters apart, I was blasted with sunlight and deafening cheers. I flinched before forcing myself to smile, in spite of being repulsed by the sound of my own name. The waiting crowd launched a shower of jewels that shot toward me like driving rain. The tokens sailed past my second-story window before plummeting back to the ground for our guards to collect. I used to love the gifts; now they terrified me.

  15. Name: Robin Weeks
    Title: GEAS (YA Urban Fantasy)
    First 250 (well, 259--you said we could finish the sentence) :) :

    Brina’s only warning was a light brush on her upper left wing. A second later, an elaborately folded magazine cover landed in her lap: a pterodactyl this time. Original. The complex folds obscured the picture, but Brina already knew that her face was lost somewhere inside. It had been taped to her locker (marked over with devil horns and a forked tail), stuck to the bathroom wall (with bat wings and fangs), and slipped inside her Biology book (with blacked out teeth and crossed eyes). It had been folded into airplanes and rolled into spit-wad shooters. It had been scribbled over with slurs of every kind. An anti-tribute to the school outcast.

    After the first ten, she’d stopped smiling and thanking the sender. After the first twenty, she’d stopped feeling sick every time and settled for numb. By 3:30, she had a collection of fifty or more. Us Magazine must be making a killing.

    Without taking her eyes off the stage, Moira reached over, snatched the newest offering, viciously crumpled it, and jammed it into her backpack with the rest of them.

    “Nice picture, freak,” hissed a voice behind them.

    Moira’s face hardened, but Brina shook her head. “Not worth it.”

    In the dim light of the high school auditorium, thirty minutes into auditions for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Brina was too nervous to care anymore. Moira flashed a one-finger salute to the rear, Brina sighed, and they both went back to watching the stage.

    Until the jerk behind them yanked on Brina’s glowing White wing, making her yelp.

  16. Name: Kay Bigelow
    Title: A New Woman Returns
    First 250

    “She’s coming our way.” Lieutenant Tai Mitchell whispered into her communicator as she spotted Svetlana Johannsen rounding the corner in front of them. Johannsen was the undercover cop acting as their decoy in this operation. “Stay alert. Paulson can’t be far away. We want him alive.”

    As if the entire scene were choreographed, David Paulson stepped out of a doorway. Tai swore to herself. How long had he been there? How had he gotten past her team? He was a man of many faces, and she barely recognized this one. Tai wasn’t sure how many disguises and aliases he had, but by her last count they numbered in the hundreds.

    Paulson had been killing women in her city for at least five years. The city’s women and the police department were desperate to get him off their streets and into custody. To that end, the department had assigned its best homicide detective to take him down. Tai was about to do just that.

    The police had never been this close to arresting Paulson. He was a clever killer and never left any forensic evidence at his crime scenes. He had only screwed up once and they had been able to put a name to the serial killer. This trap was elaborately laid and had taken months to execute. Tai could feel the excitement rising in her team as they watched the scene unfolding before them.

  17. Name: Leiann Bynum

    Title: Brothas Torn

    First 250 Words:
    “On the count of second-degree murder, we the jury find the defendant…guilty as charged.”


    There it was. The verdict that would determine my dad’s future. He was going to prison.

    My stomach felt like a dead weight had been dropped into it. I closed my eyes, wishing this was all a mistake. Wishing that at any moment the jury foreperson would yell, “Psych! We really found the defendant not guilty.”

    But, of course, she never did.

    Dad turned around to look at me sitting behind his seat. His dark brown face looked concerned. Funny, there he was wearing an orange jumpsuit, with a cop nearby ready to handcuff him, and he was concerned about me. It was his life that was practically over now. Although it felt like mine would be too.

    Dad turned back around to face the front. The judge, an old black man, was looking at him. “James Ahmir Taylor, the court has found you guilty of the crime. Your sentencing will be two weeks from today. Bailiff, take him away.” He rapped his gavel once to adjourn the trial.

    I jumped to my feet, swallowing repeatedly. I had told myself I wasn’t going to cry no matter what happened, but I could feel my eyes stinging. How embarrassing. Sixteen-year-old boys weren’t supposed to cry.

    Dad stood too and spun around to face me again. I leaned forward and threw my arms around his neck.

  18. Name: Debra K Turner
    Title: The Unshining Stars

    The piercing cry of a specterbird roused her from sleep. Reya pushed up on one elbow when it called again. She started to put two fingers to her throat in a warding gesture, but caught herself and clenched her hand into a fist. A specterbird was no more an omen of ill-fortune than any other night hunter. In fact, its voice had shredded her worried dreams.
    Reya sat up in bed with her arms around her knees and watched the dark sky outside the arrow slits shade to gray, trying to clear her mind. It didn’t work. A new purple tunic and gray trousers hung next to the water basin. She dressed, then twined her long hair into a single braid. A corner shelf near her bed held a vase of flowers and several small stones. A few petals had dropped from the purple starflowers. The stones looked dull in the growing light. She needed fresh blooms to honor her ancestors, needed an auspicious beginning.
    Reya took the stairs down to first floor in a light-footed hurry. At the bottom, she crossed the hall and peered into the great five-sided chamber at the center of Council House. A hint of sunlight slanted in from a glass ceiling dome to outline the edges of tables and chairs. The wall lamps were still dark. She was ahead of the lamplighters.
    Vendors were opening their doors up and down the broad hall behind her, one of five halls running along each side of the council chamber.

  19. Name: Michael A Tate
    Title: Bleed Well

    Fredrick dipped his clothes into the stream, letting the clean glacial water cleanse them of all traces of his deed. Next to him, a bloody rock sat immersed half-way into the mud, and Fredrick ran his hand gently over it. Touching the rock seemed to command him to look through the trees and into the distance where he saw, lying on the ground, a small corpse. Downstream, the water turned a light pink, a silent witness to his crime.
    The words ‘Evil’, ‘Destruction’, and ‘Sacrifice’ still echoed through his mind. Once more, he looked around to see if anybody followed him, but he was alone. “Evil...Destruction...Sacrifice...” Fredrick muttered in a gentle whisper, mimicking the phantom voices. As he looked down, his hands began shaking again. He clasped them together and thrust them into the icy water as he looked back up towards the corpse; his eyes locked onto it. Pulling his shirt out of the water, Fredrick threw it over his head and shivered as the wind whipped through the wet cloth. With the cold freeing his eyes from their frozen state, Fredrick turned around and ran down the mountain towards his home.
    A white plume of smoke drifted and danced above the kitchen as Fredrick arrived back in his village. The sun lit up the valley, and the smell of the fresh baked bread wafted into the huts lining the river. As if led by the smell, people began to make their way outside.

  20. argh--out of town for a week and missed this! But I queried these guys after that interview--LURVED~

    Best of luck to everyone (esp. the ones I know ;o)! Thanks, EL~ :o) <3

  21. NAME: jmanni32


    First 250 words:

    I woke to the coppery smell of blood and an overpowering hunger. My head burned intensely, shards of pain and heat engulfing me. My breath, short and raspy, choked its way from my lungs and up my throat. My nose burned with the smells of dirt and sweat and I was surrounded by total darkness. A helluva way to wake up.

    My burning headache was outweighed only by my growing hunger. It consumed my entire body, making my skin crawl. All I could think about was eating. But I wasn’t craving food.

    I was craving blood.

    The thought of it filled my mind like molten lava, sweeping in and burying all other thoughts and ideas and leaving me with an aching emptiness that only it could fill. I had to have it, and I had no idea why.

    What’s wrong with me? Am I seriously lying here thinking about blood? Have I totally lost my mind?

    All good questions that I had zero answers for. I couldn’t even stomach watching someone being killed in a horror movie. Just the idea of having my blood drawn at the doctor’s office caused me to break out in hives. So how in the world could I be actually considering drinking blood? I tried to push the overwhelming and totally disgusting thought of blood – and what I wanted to do with it – out of my mind and focus on figuring out where the hell I was.

    Freezing air swept over me, but somehow my body didn’t feel cold.

  22. Awesome contest. *ee*

    Name: Lori M. Lee

    On his thirteenth lap around the block, London Howell ripped off the advertisement stapled to his neighbor's fence. There were only so many times he could read about City of London tourism before he got irrationally paranoid.

    Dad used to say that naming him after the city they lived in had been a spur of the moment thing. To London, that meant Dad had looked around the hospital room, spotted a similar sign and thought, Sure, why not? He tried not to criticize. It could have been worse. He could be named Liverpool.

    Anyway, he would have taken a dozen dumb jokes about the Tower of London over sprinting through his neighborhood at midnight.

    He stopped to catch his breath beneath a lamppost, his hand braced against the cool iron. Groaning, he stretched out the cramp in his side. His mobile vibrated in his back pocket and, with a glance at the screen, he picked up.

    "You sound like a goat on the rack," Amun said in greeting.

    "How," London asked between breaths, "do you know what a tortured goat sounds like?" He shook out his legs, but it didn't help. Even running for two miles hadn't burned off the excess energy. Great. He considered just rolling into a ditch and staying there.

    "Animal Sacrifices Hour. Wednesday nights at eight. Bring your own blood bucket."

    "Brilliant mental image. Thanks."

    "Did running work?"

    "No." He didn't know what else to do. Insomnia alone he could probably endure.

  23. Name: Sherry

    Title: Beautifully Broken

    First 252 words:

    As long as I could remember, I’d heard whispering in the shadows--dark, twisting shapes that chilled my blood. Those black clouds flickered with images--black skin, red eyes, sharp claws. By day, they became timorous. By night, they unfurled from the darkness coalescing into small dark figures. Shades.

    For people like me sunlight meant the difference between life and death.

    During the day, I normally felt safe with the heat of the sun brushing my skin, so when they showed up this morning, my mind barely recognized the eerie, swooshing noises they made. I stared at the last line I’d written on my essay for English class, my pen hovering over the spiral notebook. On the floor near the desk lay my other half-hearted attempts.

    My head lifted slowly, a hint of chilling menace climbing my spine. My heart hammered. The desk lamp flickered. I jumped up, scanning all the dim corners of the room. My gut clenched tight. My skin prickled. I got down on my hands and knees to check under the bed. Nothing. The closet door stood open a crack. I wavered, shoulders hitching.

    Dragging myself to the closet, I pushed the door open with my bare foot. On tiptoes, I leaned over the threshold, and stretched to grasp the brass chain. The overhead light revealed nothing unusual. Only dirty laundry, metal hangers scattered on the floor, dusty board games on the shelf, fuzzy pink bunny slippers, and clothes hanging haphazardly.

    "Then why am I feeling so freaked?"