Thursday, April 24, 2008

The first paragraph contest thread

This is the place to post your first paragraphs involving the five previously announced words!

Contest prizes will be as follows:
  • One copy of THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE by Nathalie Mallet
  • One copy of WASTELANDS edited by John Joseph Adams
  • One copy of THE MIRRORED HEAVENS by David J. Williams (see note below)
  • Three copies of OFF LIMITS by Jordan Summers
  • Three copies of the ARC for THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS by James Dashner
What does this mean in terms of prizes? It means that the top three paragraphs will each win a copy of OFF LIMITS and THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS. Then, starting from the first place winner (we're going from first place to third place here), you'll have a choice of one of the first three books, with the first place winner getting to pick first. Then the second place winner will get to pick their book, and finally, the third place winner gets whichever book is left. You should note that I haven't received my agent copies of THE MIRRORED HEAVENS yet, as it doesn't come out until May, so if you win and pick that book, you may have to wait a bit.

I'll mail all books Media Mail in the United States, and whatever the cheapest option is for me, internationally. People from all over the world are welcome to enter this contest.

If you are posting anonymously, please either sign your name or give a "handle", so I know who to contact, if you win. I'll be checking the comments periodically throughout the day, so do not worry if your paragraph does not appear immediately. Submissions are open from 12:15 pm EDT on April 24th until 12:15 pm EDT on April 25th. After that, I'll close the comments for the post.

So, show me your writing skills, people. =)

25 comments:

Kristine Overbrook said...

The kerfuffle below would wake the dead. Mary rose from her desk, the joints of her hands creaking with arthritis as they smoothed her wimple. She cared not a whit for such jejune disturbances, as they interrupted her work so nearly completed. Leaning on the sill to peer out into the courtyard below, she adjusted her lenticular glasses and readied herself to scold the participants. Flabbergasted at what could only be the cause of the commotion, she grabbed her skirts and shuffled as fast as possible out the door.

Rachel said...

It was ill luck, then, some cruel kerfuffle of the fates that Sarah was given to the stoic sisters of the abbey. In any other land she would have been declared divine in her own right, but her pious mother, flabbergasted by the supernatural beauty she had carried lenticular in own spotty belly, declared the baby a child of temptation and was glad to be rid of her. Though they saved her from abandonment, the sisters of the abbey served young Sarah no better. As soon as she could walk she climbed the fences and had the run of the hills, more wildcat than girl. Every time she was caught, the Mother Superior would punish her with chores and starvation, hoping that hardship would tame what temper could not. But Sarah did all that was asked with the same beautiful indifference she had for everything else. She slept through mass when she could be made to go, wore her robes tied up around her knees, and cared not a whit for her wimple. By her seventh birthday, it was clear she would never be a nun.

Walter said...

I cocked the gun. At this point I’d normally exhibit some restraint, maybe until after the auditorium cleared of potential witnesses for the prosecution, but I wasn’t feeling very restraint-ish at the time. Seriously, this guy was making me want to do the job for free. Who knew that a British comedian could be so mind numbingly dull? Four hours of kerfuffle this and wimple whit that. Absolutely flabbergasted me. Crap. I’d been there so long I was starting to think like my target. Shooting him from where I sat in the fifteenth row wouldn’t be too hard, I reasoned, as he was shaped like a lenticular dirigible attached to an open helium tank. Crap. Lenticular dirigible. I checked to make sure I’d chambered a round.

Shelley said...

It was impossible to read her face, which was odd considering it was starkly framed by a wimple and stripped naked, not a whit of artifice. Still those who knew her would tell you such a lack of mask is the greatest disguise of all. No vanity to underline a vulnerability, no clue to be gained by the shade of lipstick or the amount of mascara. She met big and small controversies with the same glazed gray eyes, avoided getting into a kerfuffle over anything as it would reveal too much. Here was a woman of God who gave nothing of herself, her view of heaven a lenticular pinhole, dutiful and joyless. But even she could not hide that she was
flabbergasted by the sight of the priest in a speedo.

annathepiper said...

The kerfuffle didn't need much to start; such things never did. All it took was one snide whisper of "halfbreed" into her ear, and Merrodrie was up and out of her seat at the long lenticular table, tackling the high-born initiate whose features shifted rapidly from insouciance to shock at her charge. Flabbergasted faces all over the refectory whipped in her direction, but Merrodrie cared not a whit--not until a thundering voice cut her off in the middle of going for her fellow initiate's throat. Abbess Rechiel came striding towards the both of them as she bellowed for the fighting to cease, her immaculate wimple a veritable crown of wrath above her infuriated eyes.

Teri (bretonfam@comcast.net) said...

It was a very big day. Edda was in a kerfuffle, her mind a disheveled mess; not at all like usual. Divorced now two years, today was the grand opening of Her Handiwork, a yarn shop-cum-café, and hopefully prayerfully pleadingly NOT another addition to the statistics on small business failure. For weeks, she had been stocking and shelving and cleaning and forgetting things and remembering things and, well, trying to convince Bobby G. that this venture would NOT bring them to need the mercy of strangers. At the front door, with the CLOSED sign still pointing out, stood her first customer, peering through the oval stained glass door window. Sister Amelia looked like a hobbit in a wimpled habit: about 5 feet tall, a hundred and fifty pounds, Mediterranean-brown skin, inch-thick glasses and a look like she was trying to read biblical Greek written on the face of who- or whatever she was looking at. Bobby G. hated all of the nuns in the convent across the street, and this one in particular, and wasn’t ashamed of it a whit. For herself, Edda knew that even lenticular perfection would only get Sister Amelia to about 20% sightfulness—huge in comparison to her comprehension of life beneath the heavens—and felt only compassion. As she simultaneously reached to flip the sign to OPEN, turn the door knob, and put on her storekeeper face, Edda was flabbergasted to see her SECOND-ever customer, standing just behind and to one side of the hobbit-nun, holding her face up and closing her eyes to catch the morning sun like she was channeling the Holy Spirit directly: none other than Edda's washed-her-out-of-my-hair-FOR-GOOD, six foot tall, non-identical twin, Emma-the-Mean.

Beki (i_digress@earthlink.net) said...

To be perfect honest, she was a bit flabbergasted. Who uses a word like “lenticular” anyway? What in the hell does “lenticular” even mean? She looked it up, and she still wasn’t sure. She was sure, however, that it wasn’t something you called somebody. It would be like calling them “wide.” Or “bumpy.” Or … “lenticular.” Lentil-like? Seriously? She looked that one up, too. Legumes of some sort, the dictionary said. Weren’t legumes beans? He thought she looked bean-like? Where did he get off saying something like that to her? And hiding behind a world like “lenticular” … what a puss. Her grandmother wore a wimple, for God’s sake; and she’d had more balls than to lob her insults from behind a thesaurus. Heavy. Big-boned. Chunky. Fat. Her brother called her “rotund” once. He’d also called her “fluffy.” That was her personal, all-time favorite: fluffy. But she’d lost forty-three pounds since then, so where in the hell did he get off saying something like, “That dress makes you look a bit lenticular, Judith.” Well, screw him and his highfalutin insults. He didn’t have a whit of taste anyway, and he wasn’t any smarter than she was, either. She’d used the word “kerfuffle” just last week. And she could use it in a sentence, too: “It will cause quite a kerfuffle when they find his body in the freezer for calling her lenticular.”

Natalie said...

Half the audience sat flabbergasted as Kira took her place on stage. It had been rumored for months that the pregnant teen would be playing Mary in the church Christmas pageant. The kerfuffle over its blasphemous nature caused most to assume that Reverend Spinner, who controlled every whit of the parish’s dealings, would never allow such a thing. But there Kira sat in the makeshift stable, shawl squaring her face off like a wimple, in all her lenticular glory.

Michael said...

Charles didn’t care a whit that his master believed the veil would damage the lenticular focus of every practitioner within a hundred miles. The entire point of layering a wimple across the ley interstice was to alter the perception of the viewers. They could send a memo out on the listserv to warn everyone. Of course, if some dried up old stick of a sorcerer forgot his email, there’d be a kerfuffle for sure. That left it up to Charles to find a way to harmonize the wimple to exclude the diabolical oculus while preserving mortals too crotchety to keep up with modern technology. Flabbergasted at the rigidity of his elder’s, he opened the files on his handheld computer once more, to check the calculations for any possible method he’d overlooked.

Your tour guide said...

“I was flabbergasted!” the Senator proclaimed to a staring crowd that was more bulging, lenticular eyeballs than actual bodies. I stood behind them, arms crossed, leaning against someone else’s media van: Channel 5, Action! Action! Action! News, or something like that. The Senator dragged a hand over his thin gray hair, then pounded a wrinkled fist on the podium, shaking the mics pinned to the front. “We’ll all get through this kerfluffle!” The crowd looked at one another, collectively rolling those hard-boiled-egg eyes. I knew he’d gotten the word wrong – it’s kerfuffle, no extra “l” – but no one cared a whit about what he was saying. They were waiting for his next meticulously planned, yet ultimately ineffective, wimple.

Author comment: the most common use of "wimple" appears to be the head-scarf thing. Merriam Webster does say that in Scottish dialect, a wimple is also a bend in a river or a road, or a "crafty turn."

Love the blog and the contest!

Scott said...

Kudrun tugged her wimple around her lenticular cheeks. Still flabbergasted that she'd burned the diligrout and lost the birds for the uzzle-pye, she ignored the kerfuffle outside. How could anybody give a whit, or even a tittle, about the tournament at a time like this, with that Thing lurking deep beneath the castle halls?

Kaz Augustin said...

The kerfuffle began soon after I renewed my acquaintance with Larry the Rat. I had dressed in the brushed titanium wimple of the Sisters of the Eternal Black Hole, and moved up to his unsuspecting form steadily, under the guise of collecting alms. The sneak never knew what hit him, although I did. Luckily some other group at the bar had just finished their Relativity Shears, and their lenticular intoxicant chamber was empty. The cylinder slipped easily into my passing hand, although it wouldn't have mattered a whit whether they noticed that piece of pilfering or not -- I was in no mood to be my usual subtle self. Larry, after he recovered from the blow, was beyond flabbergasted, his mind punched into a space at least two parallel universes away. I wasn't too surprised. After all, he thought I was dead, roasted into carbon fragments too small to detect. And all because of a little piece of advice he'd let slip from those unrestrained yet knowledgeable lips of his.

rosbak said...

Tess was still talking. "...and then there was this giant kerfuffle over this lenticular lens he wanted you to view his art through so the two of them started fighting, right, and Andrew got all fla-," she stopped and tried again, "fels-," she stopped again.

"Flabbergasted?" I offered.

"What? No, flustered," Tess said, as if I should have known that from context or something. "Anyway, because Simone doesn't have a whit of sense, she started ranting about how the whole thing was going to look like a wimple through that lens, and...."

I tuned her out, devoting my attention to my danish.

Ryan Field said...

At nine o’clock in the morning, the Philadelphia International Airport was fairly busy. The long brown corridors were packed with people, there were long lines at the newsstands, and the food courts were all lit up and ready to serve. Betty Culp took a deep breath and smiled. She was flabbergasted when it occurred to her that she was far enough away from all this kerfuffle, at the back end of the airport standing near an older woman telling a total stranger about her new hobby that required lenticular printing, to take a deep breath and inhale the freshly showered, spicy aroma of the hot young guy standing in front of her. Betty smiled and nodded to a nun who passed by in full habit, wimple and all, and then looked down at the guy’s long, lean legs. She pressed her lips together as if she were about to whistle. They were all boarding a flight to Kearney, Nebraska, and there weren’t many people going there that day. She could see that most of the people on the flight were business travelers: they were all carrying briefcases, light and simple, to their destinations. And the hot guy in front of her, a young man in his early thirties, with a sexy whit of dark hair below his bottom lip, and wide, solid shoulders, was rocking on the balls of his feet as he inched toward the gate. He kept fidgeting with a thick, gold wedding band on his right hand as if it either hurt, or itched, his ring finger.

Quantum Iris said...

The ring of steel on steel reverberated through the space station, the oily-tasting air brought back memories of my night with him, and the lenticular truss carried the sounds of the comings and goings through my hands as I grasped its steel. Perched above the kerfuffle of his officers on the floor far below, shouting orders and moving troops, Sr. Katherine’s wimple was limp in my hand as I perched above the soldiers, praying that I would not be discovered. I held the wimple ignoring the disgusting object wrapped inside, flabbergasted that it all now came down to me. Sister Katherine trusted me to do my duty, and I didn’t know how, for she gave me not one whit of help. I eyed the storage cases on the other side of the truss, pinning all my hopes on the contents within.

Annmarie (Annmariemcl -at- hotmail -dot- com) said...

It’s Halloween, and once again, my husband, Mark, and I have been invited to an adults-only costume party at his boss’ house in Bronxville. I say “house,” but it’s an imitation Frank Gehry mansion, tastefully decorated with suspension lighting, lenticular wall décor, and European bathroom fixtures that make you afraid to touch anything. After last Halloween, I didn’t think we’d ever be invited back. The party was almost over when an argument erupted between Mark and Carl, the guy I was dating when I met Mark and who, unfortunately, is now married to one of his co-workers. I don’t care a whit for Carl any more. (I told Mark as much two weeks after we met, after we’d already slept together ten times or so.) But anytime Mark and Carl are in the same room, they can’t help getting into some kind of kerfuffle, whether it be about the Knicks, Bloomberg’s no-smoking policy, or me. This time, it was about me, and so I escaped into the 20-square-foot bathroom to primp my costume and adjust my she-devil horns. I waited what seemed like an appropriate amount of time for the scuffle to blow over (it usually lasts seven minutes, tops), but when I emerged, I saw that everyone around me was flabbergasted. Mark had Carl pinned against the fireplace – which cackled in full blaze – and was in his face, shouting, “What did you say about my wife? Say it again, buddy,” he taunted, his thick hands tight around Carl’s scrawny neck. “Why don’t you say it again?” I pulled Mark off Carl by digging my French tips deep into his arms, but not before Mark gave Carl one last shove. I dragged him out of the house with my apologies to his boss, Arthur, who appeared mildly amused. I swiftly ushered Mark into the passenger seat of our Audi, and then kissed him madly, scarcely able to restrain myself from stripping him right there. I drove home as fast as I could without being ticketed, and we went straight up to bed. Afterwards, I asked him what Carl had done. Mark didn’t want to tell me. But I kept bugging him, and he wanted to sleep, so finally he admitted, “He said you were the hottest babe he’d ever bagged.” Wow. I was impressed with myself. “So next year you’re wearing a wimple,” he said.

I sat up straight in bed. “A what?”

“A wimple. You know, like on a medieval handmaiden.”

“I’m not going dressed as a handmaiden!” I shouted.

“I’ll be your well-heeled master. It’ll be funny.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I reminded him. “You’ll never set foot in that house again, after tonight.”

“We’ll see. Arthur always loves a good fight.”

Mark promises that he and Carl will just argue about the Knicks tonight, like usual. Ha, I said to myself. Not if I have anything to do with it.

Carolyn B said...

I didn't care a whit about the kerfuffle going on in the bar around me. It was the usual Friday night brouhaha. But I was flabbergasted when a nun waded into the fray, her face twisted into a scowl under her demure wimple. When I caught a glimpse of a lenticular tattoo on her muscular forearm, the hair on the back of my neck prickled with instant alarm. Frozen, I watched the nun drag Benny from the fight and hustle him out the front door. I followed them, carefully, from a distance, even though every bone in my body was telling me to run like hell in the opposite direction.

LeeAnn Flowers said...

He didn’t care one whit that his world was ending. The lenticular cloud in the distance was the trademark of a plasma bomb detonation, but it didn’t scare him. His life had ended last week when his wife had been killed, her death barely a wimple in the greater catastrophe. The riots, which had been written off in the media as a localized kerfuffle, were just the last step in a downward spiral of what passed for civilization on this forsaken planet. The ineffectual government leaders were flabbergasted by the demise of the society they still uselessly touted. None of that mattered, however, as the man stepped forward toward the end of the world.

leesmiley said...

Henry's pitch struck the batter's helmet and the kerfuffle began. To either side, he could see both teams leaving their dugouts and charging toward him. Strong hands planted in the small of his back, pushing him forward, bending his body into a lenticular shape as he protested being moved into the fray. Ahead of him, the massive hitter stood waiting, caring not a whit about the mass of combatants merging between them. Only when Henry, flabbergasted at his own foolish daring, felt the muscular arm circle his head like a wimple did he understand what an ass-kicking he was about to receive.

ikmar said...

“…proved to be a lenticular cavity…” The professor’s voice continued to drone. “…adjacent to an ornamental wimple…” Every nasal word amplified my irritation and my anticipation. “…Professor Scott was flabbergasted. It was quite the archeological kerfuffle…” What an arrogant arse. “…we laughed at his intellectual whit, i.e. w-h-i-t…” I couldn’t wait to kill him.

Jill said...

Oh, that man. That insufferable, impossible, not-quite-flesh-and-blood man. Just because he was my muse and my main character, Eric thought he had the right to get all possessive and sabotage my dates. He couldn't appear to the men I went out with -- I was the only person who could see him, and he looked unreal even to me, as blurry and indistinct as one of those cheap lenticular holograms from a box of Cracker Jacks -- but he could still cause plenty of trouble. Men who dated me tripped over their own feet, spilled their drinks, dropped their keys in the gutter. If I hadn't known Eric was to blame, I would've thought myself a klutz magnet. He did it because he didn't want my personal life to get in the way of the stories I wrote for him, although I liked to hope he was also a little jealous. When I confronted him, he blinked at me over the rims of his reading spectacles, pretended to be flabbergasted, and demanded to know why I'd make such a kerfuffle -- spending seven years with a grumpy Englishman as a muse had taught me to expect such terminology -- over a few little accidents. "And is it my fault," he said, "that you're courted by such unfortunate oafs? Really, Lucy. You'll put up with nearly anything for a whit of affection, won't you?"

"Oh!" I stamped my foot; it was a reaction he inspired often. "You don't give up, do you? I might as well go ahead and become a nun until I finish writing your books!"

"I'll be sure to pick you up a wimple next time I'm out," he said dryly, returning to his newspaper.

Jessica said...

Lenticular clouds form at the peak of the mountain on the first warm day of winter. I can’t see the skiers but they’re there, unrelenting, as usual. I sigh and resign myself to the house arrest Mom has inflicted on me today. There’s a crash in the kitchen and I scurry toward what will surely be a mess for me to clean up. Perching on his chubby knees is three year old Brady, wearing Mom’s floral apron as a wimple and attacking pots and the good glass mixing bowls and with utensils! Again and again the whisk and the wooden spoon rain blows upon the kitchenware, clanking out a rough, arrhythmic beat. I am flabbergasted by this kitchen kerfuffle, though truly I shouldn’t be surprised. The child has gotten into Mom’s baking supplies and when he sees me rushing toward him, he grins and waves the dirty spoon in greeting. A whit of melted milk chocolate is flung toward me and I dart left just in time, scooping up Brady and confiscating his drum sticks in one motion.

Richmond Writer said...

The lenticular of her eyes stood out because the charcoal wimple framed her death mask. Sandra cared not a whit for the kerfuffle caused by the child's murder but her partner was flabbergasted by the Sin Eater's rejoicing.

tina said...

Sister Josie was flabbergasted. The lenticular cloud had not moved one whit from its morning position in the green beeches. She grabbed her Superior's notebook, scribbling with thick lead. "Pink...seems solid." She raised the 'scope, peered into the heart of the beech. "Approximately four feet across...fingerlike tips extruding all the way to Sister Anne's soda bottle birdhouse."

Hannah burst into the makeshift observatory, her wimple sliding as she skidded around the door. "Ooh," she moaned. "Come quick, Jo. There's an army of yellow bats in the kitchen. No one knows where they come from but they're divebombing Annie's sugar bin and everything's in a right kerfuffle."


Hee. Fun contest, Jenny! :) tina (codex)

BJ (bjmuntain@sasktel.net) said...

The water rippled, spreading outward in all directions, shining in the sun. When the rippling turned into a lenticular wimple, though, Annie was flabbergasted. Not until the two majestic heads rose from their sea-borne lair did she realize what the kerfuffle had been. Suddenly, she was just a whit worried that her rock might have caused some damage, especially since one of the big red eyes on the left head seemed somewhat redder and angrier than the others.