Thursday, December 15, 2011

News Day and Winning Entries

Happy Thursday, guys! Today's news day, which is always fun because I love getting a peek at where everyone is in their writing journey.

Becki Badger says: I completed a whole first draft in just THREE days!  Granted, it's only 20,000 words or so, but still!  :)  Now on to revisions!!!

Congratulations, Becki!

If you have news you'd like to share - getting an article published, starting your first novel, taking that brave step of joining a critique group - email me at Stephanie(at) and put NEWS DAY in the subject line.

And these people have news too. These are a few of the winning entries from the 265 word free write. Amazing stuff. Happy reading!

By Gillian Adams, First Place

They were coming.
Gundhrold peered into the moonless dark, wings ruffling in the chilling breeze.  Distant howls echoed to the beat of thundering hooves and clinking armor.  Distant, but drawing nearer.
Foul murderers.  His claws dug into the wet bark of the limb.  Dark sap bubbled out of the long scratches.  A fresh scent hovered around him, strange amidst the eerie screams born upon the wind.  He studied the russet sap staining his claws.  Like blood.  His claws would be covered in that crimson hue before the night was done.
Gundhrold clacked his beak impatiently.  He sought to pierce the heaviness of the woods with his gaze.  Where was she?
A twig snapped in the depths of the forest; a branch rustled.  He tensed, tilting forward and raising his wings for flight.  Soft footsteps on damp leaves, a shuddering breath, and then a whispered voice spoke from the shadows.  “Gundhrold?  Are you here?”
At last.  Dropping from the limb, Gundhrold spread his wings and glided to the forest floor.  He landed without a noise, catlike on the ground, before a woman closely hooded and cloaked.  “Lady Auna, you are late.”
The woman started, then breathed a sigh of relief.  “Oh, it’s you.”
“Did you expect another, Songkeeper?”
“Do not call me that,” Auna hissed.  “I have been followed.”  She pushed her hood back, revealing eyes sparked with urgency beneath a flood of dark hair.  “There is no time.  They are coming.”

The judge says: I love the creativity of this point-of-view, the danger and high stakes apparent from the get-go. Vivid writing and an intriguing plot!

By Helga Oskarsdottir, First Place

She stumbled on the hem of her dress as the guards pulled her along the dim hallway. The knight stormed ahead of them and slammed the great doors open.  “I found her, my lord.” The knight bowed and gestured as the guards pushed her into the room. She let her feet buckle beneath her and fell in a heap to the floor. She padded her skirts and sighed with relieve. The box was save. She squeezed her eyes until they were brimming with tears and looked up.   “Papa”. She saw disappointment cross over his face.   “Please excuse us, Knight Rowley,” the Lord of Silverwind said and crossed over to her. She scrambled to her feet and threw herself into his arms.   “Oh papa, they came out of nowhere and grabbed me. Thank the goddess for Knight Rowley.” She sobbed into his shirt. She heard the doors close behind her. Her father grabbed her shoulders and drew her away.   “You can cut the act, Elina,” he looked at her with his stern eyes, “I know you planned this.” She pouted and crossed her arms.   “I will not marry him.” The Lord of Silverwind slumped into the great chair and massaged the bridge of his nose.   “I know you are too young to understand the importance of this betrothal, my little silverwing, but could you try to be a little civil. Earl Drowley is not a bad man.”  “Oh yes he is,” Elina cut him off, “I saw him once beat his horse.”

By Katy McCurdy, Second Place

Wulf had always been vigilant, never caught unaware.Until now.He’d lingered at the village too long, growing lax with the routine of normal life. And now, in consequence of his carelessness, here he was.He glanced at the men riding on either side of him—they stared straight ahead. He flexed his arms, straining the leather straps that bound his wrists behind his back. They didn’t budge. A low, frustrated growl vibrated the back of his throat. Focus, Wulf. You were trained for this. Wait for the opportunity.A large castle appeared from behind a veil of trees. He hadn’t lived in Trinovia long, but knew the castle must belong to one of the dukes of the land. ‘Twas too grand for anyone else. But why would a duke want him, of all people? And why by force?The group of riders passed beneath the gate and halted in the courtyard. One of the men fisted a handful of his tunic and yanked him off his mount. Another prodded his back with the hilt of a dagger, urging him forward. They reached a door that led into a large, long corridor stretching both ways. They turned right. No one spoke. In fact, no words had been spoken since they captured him the day before. Wulf wasn’t the type to plead or ask questions, and the men hadn’t offered anything. Which suited him fine. Now that they had arrived, all would soon be explained. And he would take appropriate action.True, they’d taken his sword and bow. Removed all his daggers. But they’d missed one.
The judge says: Excellent writing and feel. I love the play of tension and silence, that sense of something to come, and the knowledge we’re left with, that Wulf has an ace—or a dagger, anyway—up his sleeve.

By Cosette Russell, Second Place

A drop of liquid fire, the sun sank to hide beyond the mountains just as the last angry glow faded from the ring of hot steel.  Evangeline watched the steam dance off the water's surface just long enough to cool the piece, then hung the tongs on their peg and inspected her work.  Marcello would have been proud of his daughter, she thought.   It wasn’t a difficult piece, not by far. The real challenge always reared its head when  the people came to her for weapons-- when the men were away, and the monsters took advantage of them.  Then was the time her skills were truly called upon, and then was the time she could never use them properly. Nothing could overcome her fear of the monsters.   They never appeared in daylight, and never sent spies ahead.  But they always, always came when the army left for battle.  Their cleverness and cowardice was the perfect scheme.   On a dusky evening such as this, it was only a matter of time.   Wrapping the bridle ring in a clean cloth, she peered out the window into the silent village.  The restless people had finished their business early today in anticipation of the night's terrors.   "Evangeline!" Andrew burst through the door.  "I've found a way!"    Her brother's comrades jostled each other behind him, all dressed in their newly earned battle armor.  The light of the forge only added to the dangerous excitement in his eyes.  "We're going out after them."   Evangeline froze.  "After the monsters?"

The judge says: This writing is beautiful! It flows nicely. The description is very good. I can imagine all the details with ease. I like the way it starts out in a calm sort of way, but finishes with a good deal of tension and unanswered questions. 

By Emma King, Third Place

She rushed down the vacant streets, dodging between buildings. Adrenaline always kicked in after dusk, giving her the speed she needed to get back to her alley. The wind howled behind her, screaming for blood. She pushed her legs harder, while consistently attempting to slow her heartbeat.      There it was, just around the corner. Home. Something blurred in the pursuing wind, and she could barely make out the forms of humans. These wind-spirits wanted her, but even the air they were riding was not quick enough to grasp their unfortunate target.      She dived into the alley, landing head-first into her hay bed. She stood quickly, her hair ruffled with pieces of hay sticking out at odd angles. She stuck her tongue out at the now-rampaging spirits, not caring for maturity. She was only five years old.      On a normal day, the wind spirits would get bored and leave her be. That night, however, they banged against her protective border. Something cracked, and her eyes widened.      The girl turned toward the back of the alley. How could she be so stupid? She chose an alley with no escape route! The back consisted of a ten-foot-tall brick wall, impossible to climb.      With one sharp inhalation of air, she began sprinting toward it. Her defensive border shattered behind, allowing the spirits into her home.      Every step brought her closer to death. The wall was approaching, doubling in size as she neared it. With only two feet to go, she hurled her body upward in a desperate effort to save herself.
The judge says: So intriguing, with wind spirits! I’m also a sucker for heroes/heroines who are children, but smarter and more capable than they should be. Well done with solid writing.

By Nicole Goddard, Third Place

Insects crawled beneath him at impressive speeds, zooming back and forth on swift legs. No, not insects, he absently reminded himself. Cars. People. He liked to think of each car as a little universe. From the outside, they were just metal boxes. But there were people inside, little lives and little worlds that zoomed below and they looked like insects. “What are you waiting for?” He started at the unexpected voice behind him and whirled around. A man stood before him, hands casually stuffed deep in his pockets, leaning against the door that led off the roof and down the stairwell, back into the building below.“What?” he demanded, uncomprehending. He could have sworn he had locked that door. He wasn’t supposed to be interrupted.“What are you waiting for?” the man repeated slowly. Sad grey eyes roved across the rooftop, taking in his place on the ledge, and then moving up towards the sky.“I’m not waiting for anything.” The man snorted.“We’re all waiting for something,” he said softly. “I’ve been waiting for today. Clearly you have as well. Probably for some time now.” He sighed and came to stand on the ledge.  “The name’s David, by the way. I feel like whenever one jumps off a roof with someone, one should definitely know the name of the person jumping off the roof with them.”

The judge says: The description used here to describe the cars and people is awesome! Not only does it resonate with me, it creates a sense of being an “outsider”, which is what you were going for, I think. I love the unexpectedness of the other person on the roof, and the calm way the person introduces himself. These opening sentences are just enough to pique my interest. 


  1. Oh, my, my! All of these comments grabbed me by the throat and shook me until I'd read the last word! Such awesome entries!

    If I picked up a book and read those opening lines, Gillian, I'd buy it in a heartbeat! :)

    Helga, I love the names you used and the "cut the act" line. :)

    Katy, I'm really curious about what happens next. Wulf sounds so incredible.

    Cosette, I can only echo the judge. This writing is beautiful. It ebbs and flows like a mountain stream. :)

    Emma, wow. Wind-spirits?! Wow.

    Nicole, that last line is haunting.

    And congratulations, Becki!

  2. Sweet! These are awesome. And holy cow Becki, in three days??? Even for twenty-thousand words, those are some productive days!

    You say these are "some" of the, are you posting all of them, or just a few? (Did you get my email with the okay to post the entry in the blog?) Just wondering. Thanks!

  3. Haha. Thanks girls. It helps when you have a ton of time on your hands. :)

  4. Yikes, Jessica! How embarrassing! I thought I included everyone who said yes. I'll get your entry up in another post, okay?

  5. Alright! Thank you so much! It's no problem, and I'm glad I asked. :)