New 3-Sentence Contest: “Best Excerpt, All Genres”

Last weekend, I promised you a new contest. Here’s your chance to show off your best writing. To enter, all you need is three dynamite sentences.

Contest 3 sentences pickedOur first contest for 2014 is “Best Excerpt, All Genres.” So this first round is open to almost everyone. We’re really going to mix things up this time, which should be interesting.

We’ll have lovely medals for our contest finalists, as well as some sponsor-supplied cash prizes.

You don’t have to pay to enter. Instead, I’ll be looking for your help with spreading the word and choosing our finalists. More on that in a minute.

Please note: We are now closed to new entries. Additional comments and feedback are still welcome for our 3-sentence entries. Thank you all!  ~Jim * 2-17-14

First, let’s recap the “why bother?” inquiry.

In my preview post, I offered this response to the question, what value is there in pitting excerpts of just three sentences against each other?

I propose that this competition holds enormous value for our writers. How many sentences do you read on a book cover’s blurb before you make your purchase decision? If you open a novel, how far do you have to read before you “know” this is a book you’ll buy?

Three sentences can carry great power in their presentation.

In non-fiction, the power of three sentences is legion. Many persuasive NF books include two or three sentences as an appended part of the title itself.

Great blog posts rely on the draw of those first three sentences to convince readers to keep reading. And in a sales letter, long form or short, if the first three sentences suck then little else matters; the letter will fail to deliver.

So that’s the “why” part. Now let’s get down to “how” this will work.

This writing contest is open to all SoWrite site members. If you aren’t already on the list, you can sign up using the blue box, below. That’s how I’ll know who you are and how to contact you if you are a finalist.

To enter, you’ll submit your three-sentences here on this page, using the Comments section. You are welcome to include a title for your entry.

Note: Please be certain that you own the copyright for your entry or entries! If you haven’t entered one of these contests before, please consult the complete rules.

Acceptable entries include three sentences pulled from:

  • Newly-written material
  • In-progress works of all sorts
  • Poetry (use the “/” for each line)
  • Short stories and flash fiction
  • Novels and novellas
  • Non-fiction blog posts, articles, essays, and full-length books
  • Sales and marketing materials, including landing pages (etc.)

You may enter up to three times, each from a different source.

Note: Your entered sentences do not need to appear consecutively in your source work.

Conditions apply:

 As “payment” for your entry, I ask that you share this contest with your networks, via whatever social media you prefer (Twitter, G+, Facebook, Pinterest, and others). Tag me if you can, and I’ll play along. (Check my Social buttons, top/right of any page on-site.)

You will also help choose our finalists!

Your opinions will form part of our judging formula (approximately 1/3). How? I’d like you to add your rating to at least 3 other entries. You’re welcome to say whatever you like (within reason — I retain edit powers!), but please be sure to add your rating, on this scale:

  • The scale is a range of 1 to 10
  • “1” is the lowest, a rating of “ho hum”
  • “5” is a neutral rating of “acceptable but not exceptional”
  • “7” equals “excellent”
  • “8” would be “outstanding”
  • “9” should be reserved for “amazing”
  • “10” will only be conferred as the highest possible praise (don’t give 3 “10”s!)
  • Your first priority will be to rate any unrated entries, rather than add to existing ratings.
  • You will not rate your own entry! (had to make that clear)

If you have any questions about this new twist in our judging, please ask me via email or other private messaging — or use our SoWrite Facebook writers’ group.

Deadline for all entries: Sunday, February 16 at 11:59 pm EST  (now closed to entries)

Finalists will be chosen during the week beginning Feb 16, and announced on Sat, Feb 22.

Here’s the link to Saturday’s announcement of finalists:

 Here’s the twist:

Finalists will each be asked to submit up to three more sentences directly related to their entries.

Judging among our three finalists will begin anew, based on their total of up to six sentences each.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, March 1 by 7 pm EST.

Cash prizes will be determined by the number of total entries. Minimum prize purse is $25 total, courtesy of Mandy’s Pages (thank you, Mandy!).

Are you ready? Do you have three awesome sentences from your arsenal to enter in the fray?

See my sample entry for style guidelines.

Don’t forget to Share! Use the buttons provided below, or copy and paste the contest link as needed:

Important: Please be sure to Subscribe to Comments for this post, so you will be an active participant in the contest!

With grateful thanks to our charter site and contest sponsor:
Mandy's Pages content website


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  1. My Entry Title:
    This is my first sentence. And this is sentence number two. Here’s the third and final sentence.

    • Here’s my rating for this goofy entry: Not so hot. Rating = “3” (sorry!)

      • Oh, Jimmy, Jim, Jimmy. I do so wish your qualifiers for ratings could be a bit more objective. IMO ‘outstanding’ is superior to ‘amazing’. One’s individual perceptions could easily cause an ‘excellent’ piece to become a ‘not so hot’ entry based on personal experience. For example, I’ve encountered several amazingly bad stories. Due to such trauma, I suspect ‘amazing’ has a negative’ connotation for someone. Yes, as Carole King once said, “It’s too late baby,” for this contest. But, for future reference, maybe you could consider concrete rather than abstract qualifiers. If not, would you think about adding more details to your word for each rating?
        Example: Excellent=very good, better than most writers but you can do even better, Outstanding=just below the best possible rating, above excellent, keep pushing. Highest=most superior, even if Martin Luther King Jr, the Dalai Lama, and Gandhi combined their efforts, they couldn’t achieve this level. Stuff like that.

        • can’t delete. but please do. I will repost on writing group page

        • Kae Bender says

          I totally agree with PJ. A more detailed and exacting standard would really help guide the ratings. I found myself being quite subjective and even inconsistent between entries, influenced both by personal taste and experience and by the ratings of previous reviewers.

          • I’m fine with what you’ve described, Kae:

            “influenced both by personal taste and experience and by the ratings of previous reviewers” is perfectly okay. I’m not asking our contestant-reviewers to make the final determination for this contest, only to help choose our finalists — serving as about 1/3 of the judging.

            I want you all to have fun with this, and not to feel too inhibited or constricted to simply offer your subjective opinion. I have a different standard for our contest judges, behind the curtain. 🙂

        • Don’t make me come over there, PJ! 🙂

          I think we all understand the concept of a sliding scale as I’ve defined it. I’m happy to let our contestants decide from there how to apply that scale to their rating opinions. What I did not want was for a rating of “5” to be “wow, this sure does suck, but not as bad as a ‘4’ sucks…” Are you with me on that approach? Hope so!

    • Contestants: If you need a TYPO FIX just let me know.

      If you don’t know how to find me, check the “Let’s Talk” link in the header bar. ~Jim

    • ENTRY >> This is part of a potential blurb for the book I started on my blog: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

      When sixteen-year-old Cleopatra Stevens watched one of her teacher’s die in the middle of a lecture, she thought she had seen the worst of the virus.. She was wrong. Now she has to do whatever it takes to survive in a world dominated by zombies.

    • Actually I found it funny. 5.

  2. ENTRY >> “My Native Spirit, Speaking Today” (provisional title, travel narrative essay)

    The name of our country, in our language, is Hellas, not Greece; the latter is the appellation adopted by our Roman conquerors, many centuries ago. Hel-las, literally, means “the land of sun and stone.” But, how could the occasional visitor know how it is to be caught between these dazzling rocks and the hard place of people’s perceptions – and misconceptions – about us?

  3. ENTRY >> Excerpts from Visible To All [Edited by Jim Bessey, 2/2, 6:40 pm]

    1) She always thought it unfair that men can ride comfortably astride, while females were expected to put themselves in danger by un-naturally hooking one leg over the horn of the saddle and contorting their bodies.
    2) As they walked back towards the gathering, the Russian General relates some history of the Prague Castle art collection; “About eight hundred years ago Prague frequently flooded so they filled in over the houses and buildings with post-war rubbish and soil, approximately twenty-two feet and the city was then rebuilt on top.
    3) When Sydney’s hand touches Armine’s she begins to feel lightheaded and her peripheral vision darkens, like she is in a tunnel…a tunnel that ends in another time, far into the future.

  4. ENTRY >> The first three sentences of a flash fiction story: “A Spirited Request”:

    I’ve never been much good at paperwork, so when the dude with the big scythe came by with that huge form to fill out I just sloughed him off. Colossal mistake . . . I figured I had all of eternity, right? What was the rush?

  5. (Please excuse the typo above)
    Excerpt #2 from Visible To All
    As they walked back towards the gathering, the Russian General relates some history of the Prague Castle are collection; “About eight hundres years ago Prague frequently flooded so they filled in over the houses and buildings with post-war rubbish and soil, approximately twenty-two feet and the city was then rebuilt on top

    PLEASE DISREGARD THIS ENTRY, folks. [Edited by Jim, 2/2, 6:40 pm]

  6. Lori Thatcher says

    ENTRY >> First three sentences of a short story, work in progress.

    Wheels lost traction in soft sand and the little red Nissan faltered as it entered the water, coming to a stop with waves barely lapping the hood. The engine died with a sputter and the windshield wipers slapped the gathering raindrops once, twice, before freezing in the middle of a stroke. It wasn’t at all what Harry had planned and as he stared dumbly through the windshield, he thought, “This is going to be a slow suicide indeed.”

  7. ENTRY >> Entry two from another flash fiction “Off the Wall”

    “Pushed, I tell you . . . pushed!”
    “Calm down Mr. Dumpty . . . Let’s take it from the beginning.”

  8. ENTRY >> And finally from my current WIP – Argentum:

    “Hey, Popgoes! Come back! Drat, better get after him. Good day sir!” and with that the Great Bobbert ran off through the park in pursuit of his weasel.

  9. ENTRY >> An excerpt from a novel “From Raggs The Bent Man (w.i.p.)

    “I loved your mother, lad, she was a dear saint, –no less than a perfect saint, and she was a good woman, you can be proud of her, lad, she saved my worthless life– this is between you and me, ‘tis nothing for gentle folk or nasty hags with broomsticks-up-their arses and wagging tongues to know.”
    The Parson was getting too close to say anything else. I nodded and watched her wipe a tear from her cheek.

  10. ENTRY >>
    It was a horrible thing to say, but the best thing that ever happened to Briana was her Great-Aunt Eliza Sheffield dying and subsequently leaving all her worldly possessions to her estranged niece.
    This was an aunt Briana barely knew and only just remembered ever meeting her when prompted by the lawyer who had been searching tirelessly to find the last remaining relation of this poor old lady.
    Tears welled in Briana’s enormous, dark brown eyes as she listened to the portly lawyer —Ronald Crafton was his name– seated behind a disorganized desk which was simultaneously impressive in size yet beat up and shabby looking; the kind you’d find in a second hand shop or tucked into the corner of an old, musty attic.

  11. ENTRY >>
    He snorted, stretched one arm, and woke, looked around the room, nearly closed his eyes, then spied me and froze, wary, head cocked, slowly retrieving his wig.
    A funny thought came to me that I should say, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings…” but I wasn’t sure that would set with him, and I dared not smile.
    I held up both hands, instead, the universal sign of good intentions, but he did not relax.

  12. 5

  13. ENTRY >>
    The softness in her eyes from years of life’s experiences graced her face as she gazed longingly into the horizon. She was about to make her journey home; one that she intended to for many years, but only now felt was the right time. 120-year old Amelia closed the diary that she held so dear all these years wishing that Elaina could see how priceless her gift had been.

  14. ENTRY >> entry # 2, an excerpt from ‘The Rupaloo Boy’ a short story

    “I shall not marry the rich or the handsome if they are also stupid” said the young maiden, watching the parade of suitors pass by their poor hovel, staring at her in awe, and leaving gifts of flowers, food, and silk to bribe the father for her hand.

    “Choose well” said her grandmother haughtily, “Marry rich, for if you choose a poor man, you shall be required to bear his children, do his laundry, bathe him, and cook food for your chosen burden daily without complaint; you may not have food, and it shall be forever, without thanks.”

    “ If I receive no thanks, cruel remarks, no kindness, little respect or impolite talk from the one chosen, I shall never adorn his bed no matter how rich he may be, my grandmother!”

  15. ENTRY >> #2 from me:

    His gray hair and receding hairline seemed out of place with the way his muscles rippled, as he eased himself into the lounge chair he’d erected in the sand, and adjusted his silk swim trunks. His arms, legs, and chest bore the tawny hue and slick sheen of a professional tanner. He settled himself, facing the lake and the scorching afternoon sun, eyes shut, so, we women stopped watching him and slowly followed our children into the ice-cold water.

  16. ENTRY >> This is an excerpt from “How to become a warrior woman” post on my blog, it describes a kingdow ruled by women on another reality/dimension:

    A woman in Anurin worths more than a normal man, and all its social life is regulated by rigid laws where a man has no chance but to stay in second place and serve to the community, his mistress owner or if he is fortunate enough, to his wife. A woman can have several husbands, and her only limit would be how wealthy she is. Because, due to the rigid laws of Anurin, a woman who cannot afford the maintenance of her husbands would fall into social dishonor and would loose all her properties, men included.

    • 5

    • 5.

    • I say 5 There are ESL issues.

      • Could you be so kind to tell me what is ESL?

        • ESL means English as second language. Perhaps some phasing or words were not used properly or not translated well and therefore misunderstood.

        • Carlos, is English your second language? (ESL) You do very well! I see Glory explained what ESL is already. Writing in English as a second language is tough, I ADMIRE anyone who speaks a different language and bravely writes in English–English has a lot of strange structures and at times, unusually difficult word usage. Keep at it, you’re doing well!

        • Actually, given how well you write, I thought it was the average American writing. My hubby is Guatemalan. He speaks English fluently, but he can’t write at all. So I can appreciate the skills you have for writing in English. 🙂

          • Thanks a lot to all of you, I’ve never seen that “where” instead of “were”, I misspeled that. When you’ve said I had ESL issues, I felt as if I had some kind of weird disease, lol. Yes, you’ve got the eye, and once again I felt like the rabbit caught by the hawk from a mile away! I must accept I’m guilty, English is my second language. But receiving an honorable “average american” plus a 5, I think is quite acceptable, but the main goal is that you enjoy what I write. So, besides this great contest from Jim Bessey, if any of you would like to read my posts and read something weird or bizarre, just let me know. I’m here to improve in this great sowrite community, and to spread my stories to the world!!!

          • I think you are doing a wonderful job. I will have to check out some of your writing. Can you send me a link to some of your stuff, if it’s online? I would be happy to take a look at it. By the way, where are you from world-wise?

          • If Jim allow us to, here’s the link:
            Try to start the story of Tales on a near world since the beggining, you can find other cool stories there. Don’t worry, I’m already prepared for you to slaughter my grammar. But please, enjoy the stories!

          • I took a peek and suggested some minor improvements in one of your posts. I think it would be easier to suggest improvements via email. Public suggestions can be embarrassing. Feel free to email me if you’d like. And be warned, I don’t have much free time. I am currently editing two of my books (getting them ready for submission), studying for school, and writing for my blog. So, my visits to your site and any help that I can supply is going to be a little limited and random. 🙂

    • Kae Bender says

      Yes, I’m afraid the English needs quite a bit of grammatical polishing, including to make the final thought actually a sentence — though, Carlos, the “where” is perfectly correctly used. Given your language challenges, I’ll evaluate only on the content and concept rather than the grammar, which I’ll expect you to work on. I like the Amazonian twist to put women in the power position, and I’d be interested to find out how you see their community standards playing out. Given your description of the law, it definitely seems to have interesting potential, and for that I give a 6.

      • Thank you Kae, you’re so kind, the amazonian women, whose name are “Anurins”, are characters from a book named “Rainbow” that I’ve already written, but that I need to get it translated. Meanwhile, I’ve been posting some descriptions of the characters in my blog which you can currently read on the link I posted. Thanks again for the 6!

    • I can’t decide if the idea is intriguing or a simplistic version of a present day stereotypical patriarchal society with the roles flipped. In any case, the challenge of writing in English distracts from the content. Once the translation is smooth this could prove to be an interesting story. I just can’t tell at this point. I’d give it a 5 with the potential of a higher rating once it is effectively translated.

      • Thanks PY, these warrior women life is not as simplistic as it looks in the three sentences. By example they sail ships in the air, giraffes are sacred for them and they have energy arrows and bombs. They live in Anuc, a territory with diferent lands and cities generally ruled by men. Both fight against monsters from the kingdom of darkness like werewolves and some others.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      It’s intriguing to see gender roles reversed, but the mistakes with grammar are costly, making it hard to follow. Of course, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I grew up speaking English and I can’t tell you how much time I spend editing out my own errors.

  17. ENTRY >> Excerpt from “The Time I Didn’t Fall Apart” (magazine article)

    I knew I had to go home for this reunion.

    I had moved twenty-plus times as a military kid, so “home” was a nebulous concept, but this little town in Missouri was the before-and-after of all the wandering: the place I had come as a newborn and the place I left after high school.

    My parents, who had recently moved their nest to another state, were returning to see my grandmother and called back their three baby birds.

    • For those who are curious, the rest of the article is at:

    • I say 7

    • 8.

    • Lori Thatcher says

      8 Great!

    • Kae Bender says

      Perhaps this rating goes beyond the contest expectations, but the link invites expansion. Your chosen excerpt benignly sets the stage for the reunion but, with the title for context, begs the question as to the circumstances and why you might and didn’t fall apart. Perhaps it was cheating to read the article, but after checking it out, I still wondered why you chose this nebulous 3 sentence section from the middle; in fact, the entire article left me still wondering at your choice. Your panic, your jagged grief, your quest for closure, and your 3 sentence selection all seem still to continue the pattern; rather than a conclusion, the whole story gives the impression you’re still trying not to fall apart. These 3 sentences are well-constructed, clear, and, with the title for context, intriguing. After considering it all, I’m still left wondering. So if an excerpt is supposed to pull the reader in, this has succeeded nobly. For the sentences themselves, I’d give a 6; with the title, I’ll give it an 8 for its promise of more than meets the eye; for its conclusion, I’d give only a 5.

    • I want to know more about this “return of the prodigal” trip! 8

    • Just my opinion, but more active voice would pick up the pace. Plus, the whole nest/bird thing seems a little cheesy. But I’m sure others like it. Just not my taste. You managed to get a large amount of info in three sentences! I’d offer a 6.

    • I like this a lot. 7

    • Tamara Narayan says

      The first sentence wasn’t an attention-grabber for me. A reunion is a well-used story device, so if your going to go with it you have to come out swinging. The last reunion story I read was about a group of seven friends who come back to their home town to destroy a child-killing, shape-shifting monster from outer space. (Oh man, I need to get to a library and stop rereading Stephen King. Is there a support group?) Anyway, I did like the imagery of the baby birds returning to their nest.

  18. ENTRY >> This is a part from the “Tales of a new world” story which you can find in my blog:

    “Gal went with him unsure if he was going the right way. Borg took him a few streets from the point they’ve met into a third floor appartment, which smelled terribly as if it hadn’t been opened for ages, its light was yellow and despairing, only a few rays from the sun entered from a large but narrow dirty vent window. It was small for the quantity of people in there, about forty whom where listening to their enthusiastic guru, who was speaking about the end of both worlds and the prophecy fullfilment.”

    • You’re doing fine, Carlos. I meant to point out another error: the “quantity” of people’ is really a misused word too, it should be ‘number’ of people. A ‘quantity’ refer to a collective homogenous entity, like an ‘amount’ of something you can’t count . An example, a ‘quantity of peanut butter’. There cannot be a “number of peanut butter”. –but there can be ‘a number of peanuts” ( ie. individual peanuts that can be counted )
      People now tend to use “less” and “fewer” incorrectly in the same way, for example, there cannot be “fewer peanut butter” in a jar, —-but there certainly can be “less peanut butter”. “:D
      Keep at it, Carlos “:)

    • 6

    • Kae Bender says

      Ignoring the grammar ills and the run-on (second) sentence, this description is really good. For more effect in the story, you might want to “show not tell” how the guru was enthusiastic and actually quote his speech. For purposes of a 3-sentence excerpt, though, the summary was intriguing. 6

    • * JIM,* this is an added note
      my comment on the use of “where” and “were” in Carlos’ entry was contradicted which must have been confusing for Carlos, who is struggling with ESL.

      I wish to point out once again, in THIS particular usage, ‘WHERE’ is used incorrectly. This quote following is directly from Carlos’ entry, and clearly, in this sentence, ‘where’ should be ‘were’

      ” It was small for the quantity of people in there, about forty whom where listening to their enthusiastic guru, who was speaking about the end of both worlds and the prophecy fullfilment.”

      “WHERE” is a description of a location. “…WERE listening” would be the correct usage.

      “Where they WERE listening ” would also be correct, but ‘whom’ would become redundant.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      Things get interesting in the last sentence with “both worlds” and “prophesy fullfilment”. Keep working on the grammar.

  19. I say 5 Here’s a good example, Carlos of ‘sound-alike’ words , you used “where” but meant “were”. Keep at it, you can DO it “:)

  20. Kae Bender says

    ENTRY >> [From an essay, I guess you could call it, for a forum I’m in.]

    What I’ve realized as I look at Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy is that as long as the suffering is a private shame, it can remain invisible (and certainly there are many forces today reinforcing too much private shame). As long as we can reduce the crisis to statistics, it isn’t human. The problem doesn’t become real until it becomes viscerally visible, until we can cringe at the photos of abuse, until we can empathize with the masses of humanity being dehumanized, until we meet the specter of devastation face to face and it touches our hearts and tears a rip in the fabric of denial and forces us to see through to the painful ugly truth.

  21. ENTRY >> Here is my entry number 3 , an excerpt from “From Raggs, the Bent Man”

    “Aye, that you did, Mary Flannigan, you should be holding that wagging tongue before the devil himself gets hold of it and pulls you down into the pit!”
    “No fear of that, Parson, me tongue moves too fast to be caught, even by the devil himself!”
    “Aye, that may be true in your case” he said, smiling fiercely.

    • I’ll give it a 6 – would have been a 7, but the “fiercely” at the end bothers me a little. Not sure how you would “smile fiercely”!

      • 7

      • Debbie, ‘smiling fiercely’ can be observed easily by observing humanity very carefully: have you ever heard of the common saying “grin and bear it?”
        “Smiling fiercely” is a forced smile. Somewhat akin to a ‘forced smile’ or a smile ‘donated’ because it is ‘expected’, but a question of sincerity of the smile is raised. Similarly, it may be a smile offered in undeclared tolerance of an individual’s conduct, or in some instances, hypocrisy in agreeing with “borderline” conduct or language.

        • Interesting explanation of “smiling fiercely” and if I were familiar with the concept that might have made the passage more interesting for me — but I’m not and so instead it seemed confusing; but that is of course out of context of the rest of the story, so I hope you have been filling in clues as the story moves along so that those of us who were confused could have deduced the intent.

          • Well, isn’t that the point? There is little to be gleaned from 3 sentences. They either grab you or they don’t, encourage you to read on, bore you so you’re indifferent to continuing or repulsed enough that you’d never read another word written by said author, but we shouldn’t judge the entire work merely on those first lines. At least I don’t.

    • Kae Bender says

      Yes, the fierce smile detracts from an otherwise nicely constructed exchange. Nonetheless, I’ll give the fierce smile the benefit of possible plot-intention and award a 7.

    • PJ Yusten replies [edited by Jim on Wed 2-12)

      I like the fierce image with the smile. It gives the character more depth making me more curious about him and his intentions. A parson can turn to the dark side. I am not sure why but I keep wanting the ‘himself’ to be ‘hisself’ from one of these characters. I do not know their backgrounds but maybe Mary isn’t formally educated and would use that word? Or, maybe I am not even making sense. That does happens once in a while. I’ll say 7. If only I could get a ‘hisself’ an 8 would be more appropriate. Actually, I’d prefer a 7.5 if that is a possibility.

    • I like the conversation and immediately wonder who is the protagonist in this dialogue and the history between them. I’m confused about the genre – not sure if I would read the story in full. Nice job. 7

    • melindaclayton says

      I love this! It made me smile and wonder what happens next. 8.

    • 6

    • melindaclayton says

      Made me smile – a definite 7. 🙂

    • Tamara Narayan says

      Clever dialogue, but what horrible, disgusting thing did she say to inspire this conversation? Why wasn’t that part of the three sentences?

  22. ENTRY >> W.I.P. from memoir titled “Government Cheese and other Tasty Treats” or “Cemetery! All Your Horses Are Dead”

    After it dropped out of the haymow door onto the ground, Grandpa stomped out of the barn, picked up the demon and went to work beating its brains out—if snakes have any brains. Snapping the big bull snake like a whip against metal and wood, Grandpa Bill kept whacking it over and over again against the bars of the pasture gate until the snake’s mushy head just dangled like a popped balloon. I hate, hate any kind of snake but, somehow, I almost felt sorry for this guy who gave his life defending a stupid bale of hay.

    • I say 7 , life demonstrated and also a compassion for life in any form, nice combo, PJ

    • Wow, what an intense antipathy for that poor snake. Grandpa certainly has issues. I, too, have no real love for snakes, but that seemed excessive and inhumane. Still, I have to assume there is a point in the memoir that requires us to know this about both you and grampa, so I’ll give it an 8 for its cringe-worthiness.

    • I’ve seen a lot of snakes, killed several, and never did one go this peaceable. They always fight. Was it already dead when Grandpa snapped it like a whip? Hope so, or else there is a fact mistake, I think.
      And a snake defending a bale of hay is confusing.
      However, I would think maybe I don’t know something here, and would read on, which is the point of the first three sentences, right? Therefore, you have succeeded that way.
      7.5, until I’ve read the rest. 😉

      • Katharine, this chapter features my great grandfather who followed expectations for gender roles of the 1950s. He couldn’t/wouldn’t ever have admitted to fear of a snake. He was in the haymow of the barn throwing hay bales out for the cattle. Snakes often lurked in bales of hay. This one struck out at Grandpa when he pulled the bale off the stack taking him completely by surprise. They were both startled. The bull snake actually bit him on the hand.
        Still recovering from the unexpected attack, Grandpa was cursing (a few new words for me) and very, very angry. He stomped down on the snake’s head kicking it out the haymow door where it dropped to the ground below. So, no it was not ‘all the way’ dead but ‘mostly dead’ as Billy Crystal would say in the Princess Bride. The initial battle was over before the three sentence scene started.
        Grandpa chose overkill (I think) directing his anger toward this critter as a way to erase his fear w/o showing his vulnerability. Typically, he was a gentle but stubborn old fart. I was about 5-6 years old and I’d never seen him this angry and I’d never seen him afraid of anything. At the end of the day after supper, we (my aunt and I) crawled up on either arm of his old overstuffed chair and listened to his embellished version of his encounter with this bull snake. Both he and my grandfather were natural born story tellers. Hopefully, that helps it make a little more sense to you.

    • Snakes don’t bother me (then again I haven’t had the bejesus scare of encountering one in a hayloft) Chances are my gut reaction would have been similar – it’s either me or him ! 7.5 from me on the raw emotion behind it.

    • I was able to completely visualize the scene, PJ, bravo! Yes, raw emotion, vivid action, and compassion. An 8.

    • P.J., I live in the country and understand this passage. I had a friend once (she died) whose husband usually killed the snakes in their pond who tried to steal her ducks’ eggs and babies. He gave her a scythe to use when he wasn’t there (she was under five feet). On her first snake kill, she said she hit the snake once and chopped its head off, but she was so angry at it she kept striking it. Probably forty times in all. As she came to herself again she said, “I could hear myself going ‘Unh! Unh! Unh!’ every time I hit the thing, and I thought, ‘This is how people come to stab other people forty or fifty times.'” 8

    • Tamara Narayan says

      This was one of my top 11 picks. I hate, hate snakes too. Might want to put italics on that second hate to make sure the reader doesn’t consider it a typo and watch that “again against” in the middle of the entry, it reads funny. A strong piece, visually. I enjoyed it.

  23. I like the fierce image with the smile. It gives the character more depth making me more curious about him and his intentions. A parson can turn to the dark side. I am not sure why but I keep wanting the ‘himself’ to be ‘hisself’ from one of these characters. I do not know their backgrounds but maybe Mary isn’t formally educated and would use that word? Or, maybe I am not even making sense. That does happens once in a while. I’ll say 7. If only I could get a ‘hisself’ an 8 would be more appropriate. Actually, I’d prefer a 7.5 if that is a possibility.

  24. ENTRY >> Work in progress equine fiction set in the world of 3 Day Event Riding. The opening sentences from the prologue:

    “And now to the next item on the agenda,” declared the Chairman of the board. As he looked up, pretentiously surveying the crowd , the 53 year-old retired Chief Executive Officer carefully removed his spectacles from his ruddy face. Reaching inside his Dubarry jacket for his eye-glasses case, he continued, “the matter of Rachel Porter and equine ownership transfer of Calm Before the Storm”.

    • I’ve always loved horses so the subject interests me. Equine fiction is a new term to me but images of Pegasus and unicorns keep galloping around in my head! After attempting to read many times, the errors in mechanics continue to be a distraction. If the mistakes were fixed, I’d read further to find out why ownership of the horse is controversial. Without the errors, I’d give it a 5-higher if I had a better grasp on content.
      If the chairman is ‘pretentiously surveying the crowd,’ is he pretentious? Does he consider Rachel to be pretentious? Why would he take off his glasses and put them away if he is proceeding with an ownership transfer?

    • I saw the ‘spectacles’ and wondered about the ‘eye-glasses’ case. Inconsistent? I say 5

    • 6

    • Tamara Narayan says

      When ‘the’ appears before the title, you don’t capitalize, so use “the chairman of the board” in the first sentence. Since the interesting part is the ownership of the horse, I wonder why that was the third sentence chosen instead of the first.

  25. Happy Midweek, awesome contestants! Here’s an update for all of you:

    I’ve gone back through all of your entries, and added the word “ENTRY” in bold, to make it easier for everyone to find entries among the ratings and conversations.

    Have each of you rated at least 3 other entries? If you haven’t yet, please dig in! 🙂
    Please pay special attention to those entries that have not yet received multiple ratings or discussion.

    To those of you who’ve rated more than 3, and offered detailed feedback — THANK YOU!
    I’m so excited to see writers taking extra time to offer constructive criticism and analysis.

    For all of our contestants:

    • Do you need a typo fixed? PM me or leave a reply to your own entry; I’ll find it!
    • Want to go back and add the link to your source work? Add a reply to your entry and offer your readers the link, as some contestants have already done.
    • Did you only submit a single entry? Don’t hesitate to add two more from other sources. Mix genres if you like. Maybe you have a great short story or essay that could use some exposure and feedback. Bring it!

    Please don’t forget to share this contest (and your entry!) with your social network — thanks! The deadline approaches.

  26. This is Cherry Kelly’s entry, brought over from the other contest post:

    ENTRY >>
    I met a man named Goose,/ Who was heavy and wore a burnoose.
    He went on a diet / Which was quite a riot
    And now his burnoose is too loose.

  27. Where, oh where did the entries go?

    • All of the entries are all marked with ENTRY >> , Raymond. And, except for this wonky last batch, each entry also has a hazy blue background, instead of the white background for subsequent replies.

  28. This is my last entry taken from a nightmare sequence in my portfolio.
    ENTRY >>
    “Eva naughty. Me naughty,” the tattered little toddler whimpered in the filthy closet corner as she winced from the sting of the soaked dirty diaper reminding Eva a big girl must make it to the potty on time if she wants to eat. A cockroach crawled into the feast on her stained bottom as a bony little finger mixed seeping blood with the tiny tears she tasted for her last supper.

    • OMGosh! Wow, I feel this child’s pain. Very good job with this PJ. This is definitely an 8 in my eyes. The description couldn’t be more, well, descriptive. Thank you so much for tearing my heart out just before bedtime. 🙁

      • Sorry, Dawn. I have problems sleeping and often have nightmares. When I write it down and add to the nightmare, I can release it from my head and transfer it to the paper. It’s strange but becoming a grandmother somehow made me more ‘aware’ or ‘sensitive’- I don’t know how to describe it. But, I try to avoid reading articles or listening to news about a parent chaining up a child or starving a child or anything about child neglect or abuse. It’s too difficult for me to let it go. I can’t ‘look the other way’. Don’t know if that makes any sense to you but I don’t set around and invent these sickening scenes – not consciously anyway!
        Thank you for the honest comments.

        • I completely understand. If you read Danny’s Grace, you would see what I mean. It’s full of scenes that I really hate thinking about. Unfortunately, the kids that these things happen to can’t turn it off.

    • melindaclayton says

      Ouch! I can definitely see this scene. 8

    • This scene almost turned my stomach. There can never be any excuse for child abuse. Don’t get me started on this subject. Well written, PJ — I say 8

    • I, too, give it an 8, and I’m glad you can write out your nightmares. I just wake up in a sweat and don’t go back to sleep.

    • I agree with everyone that child abuse is totally wrong.
      However, I had real trouble grasping the meaning of the last sentence, picturing what exactly you were describing. This is my third day trying to figure it out. I would have read on, of course. This is a subject no one could feel right about ignoring, but I’m thinking: Whose bony finger? Why blood? She ate blood and tears for supper? She’s sampling from her diaper? Or there is blood in the diaper and whoever’s bony fingers are there? Or…
      Probably she wiping tears off a bloodied cheek? Hope so! But the writing doesn’t flow.

      • It’s the two-year-old’s bony finger. Prior to these sentences the reader knows the mother knocked Eva down as she tried to climb on to the toilet. The fall broke open a gash on the side of her head. After she was tossed into the closet (a common occurrence) the toddler is lying on her side and her tears drip into the blood. She licks the blood from her finger because she’s barely two and she probably hasn’t eaten recently. The mother is potty training her by withholding food if she has an accident.
        Deciding not to include the most sickening part of this story, I skipped the next sentence when the mother’s drunken boyfriend is turning the door handle.
        I thought I’d painted a fairly graphic picture for the reader but obviously I was mistaken. Sorry there was so much confusion. I appreciate your comments. That’s what is helpful about constructive criticism. What I thought was “tightening up” content was actually taking out details needed for understanding.

    • This entry is one of our four Finalists! 🙂

    • Tamara Narayan says

      This blew me away. Finalist.

  29. ENTRY >> “The lost island” (WIP, travel writing)

    My brain was struggling to process the intricate sculpture of interpenetrating fluid volumes, in which the doorstep of a house was an extension of the next one’s balcony, while both were the extension of a third one’s rooftop – and all this being replicated ad infinitum, with minor variations, with strangely twisted staircases and doors opening on invisible steps, level upon level upon level with their boundaries inextricably intertwined.

    A tightly woven fabric of miniature buildings; an ensemble that could easily compete with (dare I say, even surpassed?) the illustrations of those intricate “impossible constructions” in the paintings of M.C. Escher — there it was, hanging over the precipice with a seemingly effortless grace whose perfection took my breath away. Then, the sun sunk into the sea, and the vertiginous lines of the village emerged, elaborately lit, out of the blackness engulfing the rocks.

    • These are very long sentences. I found it a little difficult to follow and otherwise beautiful descriptions began to lose me in the process. I think this has great potential. Personally, I need to see whoever is giving the description take a couple more breaths in the description. I would give it a five unless it was broken down a little bit more to make it easier for the reader to follow. (coming from a slow-minded person. :-))

    • Beautiful descriptions, probably better edited to shorten the sentences. I say 6

    • 6

    • Tamara Narayan says

      This piece demonstrates a strong talent, but I have to admit, the length and complexity of the sentences made it hard to follow. You’ve created the literary equivalent of an Escher picture! (And maybe that was the point.)

  30. ENTRY “Roots” (WIP, travel + local culture)

    The young man who entered, accompanied by a gust of cold air, seemed somehow familiar. The mischievous sparkle in his eyes, combined with the badly-concealed smiles of my hosts, suggested that they were all expecting something from me – obviously, a recollection buried in the mists of those fifteen-plus years of my absence. Impossible.

    • I like the contrast in sentence length. I do not follow why a ‘sparkle in his eyes’ and ‘badly-concealed smiles’ means there were ‘expecting something’. I would probably read more to find out. I’d give it a 5.5 at t his point. I like the image of the recollection being ‘buried in the mists’.

    • The sentence structure repeats itself: man plus cold air, sparkle plus smiles. Otherwise I really want to know more. 6.

    • I say 6

    • 6

    • Tamara Narayan says

      I’m confused on the point of view or what’s going on. In the first sentence, a young man enters the room, and then the people of the room expect some reaction from “me”, the narrator who has been away for fifteen years. I guess I thought it was the young man in the first sentence who was returning, but no, it must be the narrator. Arggh. The quality of writing is good: mischievous sparkle, badly concealed smiles, buried in the mists. Nice turns of phrase throughout.

  31. melindaclayton says

    ENTRY >> Really great entries! I’m almost afraid to post mine. This is from Appalachian Justice:

    “I paced to the window, opened the shutter, and looked out into the night. The pain I felt was nigh unbearable; I will admit that. I couldn’t say nothin’ to Corinne, couldn’t speak through that pain, couldn’t breathe with it sittin’ on my chest the way it was.”

  32. ENTRY >>
    My index finger reached for the photo and ran down Danny’s arm, then, as if involuntarily, I picked it up and hurled it towards the fireplace. It hit the mantle, bouncing off and glass shattered in tiny fragments on the floor. Cleaning it up will have to wait.

    • This is an excerpt from the sequel to Danny’s Grace. It is not nearly done yet, but, here is a small snippet of it. It may be titled Rush to the Altar.

    • It would make more sense to me if you called it a framed photo or used another reference to indicate glass is involved. Otherwise, I picture a paper photo you pick up and toss so it’s fluttering in the air instead of shattering. I like the tender image of a finger running down Danny’s arm contrasted with the angry tone of throwing and shattering.
      In the second sentence the word ‘and’ slows down the action. You might consider trying a simile to appeal to the senses or compare the broken glass to the relationship. Just an idea. I feel like the last sentence isn’t needed. You could split one of the other sentences into two sentences instead. These are all picky small things. I really like the images you created. But, I think you can make it even stronger by helping the reader visually create more details of the scene. I say it’s a 6 at this point. I would want to read more.

      • Thank you for the ideas PJ. I thought about the glass thing only after I posted it. 🙂 As for the last sentence, there is more to the story and there is a reason she thinks it. It has everything to do with her mental state, not as stable as everyone thinks she is. (With just three sentences, it is hard to see the rest of the story surrounding it that makes it all make sense).

    • 5

    • It didn’t take any quantum leap of imagination to understand the photo was framed and covered in glass. I would probably use ” bounced off, glass shattering” I say 7

    • Tamara Narayan says

      I did get a bit lost in the first sentence thinking the character reached for the photo then hit an actual person’s arm (maybe someone sitting next to her) instead of the arm being in the picture. I’d definitely go with “bounced off”, and I wonder why the third sentence isn’t “would have to wait”. If it’s interior dialogue, italics would be an option.

  33. ENTRY >> This is from “Danny’s Grace”

    I felt the sting before his hand made contact with my face. I appreciate you telling me to look up. I wouldn’t have wanted to have missed such an epic moment.

  34. ENTRY >>
    He tackled her just shy of the end of the tree line. He was furious and he planned to make her pay double the price for her efforts to escape. When he ripped off her shirt, she screamed for help.

  35. ENTRY >> First entry:

    If you get me, you get a bonus. […] There is a wall inside me that you cannot pass, even if you wanted the best for me. […] I need someone who can take me by the hand, walk me to the wall and give me a leg up, so that I can start climbing.

  36. ENTRY >> Second entry:

    The heaviest thing is their heads on her shoulder. As much as their muscles shrink and their bones crumble, their heads are heavy with thoughts and memories and fear, and their foreheads’ sweat leaves marks on her uniform. Some start walking again, when they can hold up their heads by themselves.

  37. ENTRY >> Third entry:

    He knows he cannot really look for the boy. Those children tend to appear out of the blue, they materialize behind you and are suddenly there to ask you for money or steal your phone or crack a joke. They do not come from somewhere.

  38. ENTRY >> Entry #2. From a blog post, “Zigzag”.


    Once a month or so, a tiny pinpoint of light appears in the center of my field of vision. If I’m watching TV or driving in the car, I don’t notice it at first, but if I’m staring at a blank page or even the blank computer screen, I see it right away. I yell to my husband to help me find the misplaced Advil, since the sooner I take them, the less time I’ll lose to this migraine.

  39. melindaclayton says

    ENTRY >> Squeezing one in under the deadline. This one is from Entangled Thorns.

    “Tell me this: When a person is done living, what’s crazy about dying? I lost my Junior a year ago last month, and I lost my children too many years ago to count. I have outlived and outlasted anyone or anything I ever cared about, and I am finished; there ain’t nothing weak about that.”

  40. ENTRY >> #3

    His first ever draw on burning tobacco made him cough and gag, as he had never done before. He didn’t know because they’d made it look so easy, and now they laughed at him. He doubled over from coughing, hands on his knees, looking at his dirty tennis shoes, feeling his failure.

  41. ENTRY >> Source: my WIP ‘Beach Pole 67.’

    She looked at them, her eyes getting moist, and started singing, softly: ‘And then you came and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like “I love you”.’ Frank Sinatra would have been proud. Then, as the shell of her tough girl attitude finally shattered to reveal the true Sabrina, she burst into tears.

    • I offer 5, thinking the first sentence could be a lot more powerful with revision.

    • Tamara Narayan says

      The emotional rollercoaster for Sabrina is strong. Perhaps if we had an inkling who she was singing to and/or what’s happening in their relationship it would be stronger.

      • Short version: There hasn’t been any love in Sabrina’s life for years, then she meets two people who are obviously made for one another, and befriends them. After a while she shares with them the dark secret of her past, which explains the absence of love. She sings that one line because (1) it perfectly matches her feelings and (b) she’s a Sinatra fan.

        Long version: er… wait for the book to be published. :–)

        It’s not just a rollercoaster for her, BTW—got a blurred vision myself when I wrote (an reread) that scene…

  42. ENTRY >> Opening lines of an as yet untitled (and far from finished) WIP.

    Completely ignoring the fact that I’m a writer, at the same time holding on to her prejudices about people with autism, my psychologist claims I live in a world of my own because I spend at least eight hours a day at my computer, my tool of the trade. It’s like saying a taxi driver lives in a world of his own because he spends eight hours a day driving his taxi around town. With a world view like hers, I dare say that I’m not the one here whose body and mind live on two separate planets.

  43. ENTRY >> Excerpt from murder mystery WIP:

    Funeral for a Hero

    Justine was a beautiful grieving widow; she was all in black, from her simple pumps to the black netting covering her head, and though her face was shielded by the veil, I could see how pale was her face, how swollen her eyes, how trembly her chin, though her crying was silent. Owen, bless him, held his mommy’s hand and patted her arm, even though the little guy seemed overwhelmed with all the flowers looking like a gigantic Hawaiian shirt, the American flag hugging the bronze casket, the mournful music. When Justine turned to him and handed him the flag, he looked up at her with his solemn blue eyes so like his daddy’s that it hurt my heart to look at him, and said in his whisper-soft four-year-old voice, “I’ll take care of you, Mommy.”

  44. ENTRY >>
    Entry #2: from “Pass or Fail? A Teacher’s First Year”

    Rising about six inches out of his chair, the principal placed both hands on the desk as he said, “You have had a Special Education class?” I was startled, to say the least. He was not a large man (I suppose at the time I believed all principals were big, tough men), but he had a commanding presence.

  45. Jennifer Rodriguez says

    ENTRY >>
    Once again, it started. That burning desire in her throat she knew she couldn’t control but had promised herself so many times that she would. She stared wistfully out her window, across the street at the convenience store where dangerous “salvation” sat, waiting for her on a cold refrigerator shelf.

  46. ENTRY >> Entry #3. The beginning lines of a short story.

    I chopped the olives coarsely, added them to the simmering sauce, and turned the other burner on high. Slut’s spaghetti would be good enough for him tonight. The coroner would probably find the remnants in his stomach.

  47. ENTRY >>
    (Sales page) Title: How I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up

    I’m a late bloomer.
    I’ve worked as a university classroom teacher; I’ve taught hands on photography; I’ve taught English as a second language, which turned into a multi-cultural adventure; I’ve created and written numerous newsletters and news releases, in English and in other languages; I’ve had a big red V on my forehead for Volunteer; I’ve been chosen as president or secretary of many organizations; I’ve sung in symphony choruses; I’ve played piano and led the music at church; I’ve performed and sung in plays to raise money for charity; I’ve made money selling photo albums; I’ve sold native plants at a nursery; and…
    At age 58, I discovered what I had been working toward all those years.

    • melindaclayton says

      LOL, Mary Alice, you deserve some sort of bonus for squeezing the most into three sentences! 6

    • That’s a lot of information in a continuous sentence, and well done, so I say 7

    • Tamara Narayan says

      This impressive list does a good job giving us info. about the character’s past and interests, and it’s done in a way that illustrates the character’s voice, but having to judge in a contest, I’m afraid all I’ve got is a list. I wish the concluding sentence had been something stronger.

  48. Can someone please tell me how to opt out of email notifications. Not that I don’t want to be sociable, but my inbox has been getting flooded all day. 🙂 Thank you to anyone who can help me out with that.

    • melindaclayton says

      I set mine so they’re all contained in one “folder” as they arrive. I want to periodically check in, but like you, I was getting flooded!

      • Thank you, Melinda. I didn’t know you could do that. I just set it up, so I hope it works.

      • In theory, if you leave the first notification available in your inbox (rather than deleting it), all subsequent replies should “pile on” to that first message. However, that might not work for all mail systems. I like your folder idea, Melinda! You used “rules” for incoming mail, right?

  49. ENTRY >>
    Entry #1 >>> from Girls on Fire a romantic comedy starring three women in their sixties and their “loves.”

    Old knob and tube wiring smoldered into flame blasting a hole-in-the-wall where Trixie plugged in her iron. Fred left the blame and devastation behind, and moved on to a new wife, his fifth. Six months of arguing with the insurance company, living in a hotel suite, and losing all their belongings awakened Trixie’s dormant longing for someone to love and comfort her.

  50. melindaclayton says

    ENTRY >>
    Yay! There’s still time! Okay, last entry of mine, from Blessed Are the Wholly Broken:

    “For weeks I sat at the defense table, my mouth dry, my eyes drier, and listened to the horror of my crime. The carefully prepared defense of my actions crumbled away like so much dust in the wind, blown apart by my own behavior. By the end, even I knew I was a monster, not for the reasons they cited—not because I had killed my wife—but because I didn’t save her sooner.”

  51. Alexandra Heep says

    ENTRY >>

    From “A Heep’s Tale” Opening paragraph, Chapter 3 (Against All Odds). Work in progress, never to be finished it seems.

    Ominous clouds are building outside her window. The wind is picking up in gusts, whipping the branches around in a haunting melody, with rolling thunder playing the rhythm section. Static energy is caressing her like an unwanted lover, right down to the tips of her long hair.

    • I like the personified static energy image but much of the description is too abstract (in my head, that is). I get the impression something evil or dark is going to happen due to words like ‘ominous’ and ‘haunting,’ but then it hints of sexual tension. Not sure ‘gusts, whipping the branches’ would sound like a ‘haunting melody’. Wouldn’t wind gusts cause branches to crack or make harsh noises? Maybe this is the next 50 Shades of Grey and I missed out. It does make me think of romance novels. I’d want to read more. I’ll rate it a 6.

    • Sorry don’t like this one so much. Too many cliches. 4

    • Tamara Narayan says

      Nice description of storm, but yeah, storms are over-used to convey dread and/or anticipation.

  52. ENTRY >> This excerpt is taken from a review of foods offered at the state fair. ENTRY # 2 from PJ

    On the 100th anniversary of the Iowa State Fair’s infamous butter cow sculpture, food vendors will introduce the mother of all calorie-laden, hot-grease-drenched, edible items yet to be impaled. A fitting tribute, a honey battered hunk of butter sacrifices itself for a second soaking into the hot splattery deep fryer grease, creating . . . voila! Deep fried butter on a stick! Yet to be categorized into a food group, the first 100 deep fried butter on a stick purchases come with an extra-large bonus T-shirt boasting, “I went to the Iowa State Fair and all I got was diabetes!”

  53. Jaw dropping oily prose. The questionable “impaled” gets you a 7.

  54. Hi PJ, I can certainly visualize the sculpture based on your description. I think you meant “voila” instead of “viola”? I disconnected on the last sentence as I felt it was inappropriate humour – my best friend’s son was diagnosed with diabetes – nobody knew what was wrong with him (he was quite ill). After diagnosis the medical team said his organs were shutting down, hence the illness. He was very lucky to survive. He’s now insulin dependent. I would score a 6.5 on the article concept and topic (assuming the food review would also be accompanied with lots of visuals from the event?).

  55. Again, wondered about the ‘impaled’ (?) I say 7

  56. Please scroll UP to see additional new entries!

    I’m not sure what happened, but PJ’s earlier entry seems to have pinned itself to the bottom of the comments thread, which is weird and so far unfixable.

  57. PJ I wanted to add a postscript to your Butter Cow entry: I was so intrigued by the description that I looked it up and used this and from the Iowa State Fair website to do a Toastmaster’s speech! My audience LOVED it.

  58. Tamara Narayan says

    I don’t know where this comment will land so, just for the record, it’s about the Iowa State Fair Deep-Fried Butter Extravaganza.

    Wow, this is revolting. And I mean that in a good way. This was one of my top 11 picks.

  59. Aw yes. I forget everyone isn’t an Iowa State Fair groupie where over 50 foods are served on a stick. Lettuce salad, chocolate coated bacon-it all must be on a stick as in the object gets a sharp object shoved in its mass (impaled). Okay, it’s a reach. 🙂

  60. Carole, My grandfather and my mother were diabetic so obviously I didn’t intend to offend anyone. Quite bluntly, many of those with Type II diabetes are overweight or have an unhealthy diet; even if it wasn’t the case I believe we can find humor in almost any topic. Poor taste? Maybe. Some physical problems can be controlled, others can’t. I laugh at ‘flaws’ in myself on a regular basis. I suffer from depression-make jokes about it all the time. I have had problems battling my weight all my life. I find humor in the situation. My youngest daughter has brain cancer (she has a deep sense of faith, by the way). She will be the first to make a joke about it. She’s quite humorous. I guess if she’s not offended no one else should be, either. To be truthful, if we were all careful not to say anything considered offensive to anyone, I don’t know what material comedians would use. Religion, sex, drugs, music, fashion, guns, jobs, sexual orientation, status, poverty-every topic imaginable is most likely offensive to someone somewhere.
    As a journalism major and advocate of free speech, free press and free expression, I suppose I often sound crude to other people. Others may offend me as well. I guess that’s why we all have our own taste in writing, film, books-whatever the case. I am sorry you were offended but I don’t apologize for the material. The T-shirt is a top seller so some one thinks it’s funny. I’ll stick with my usual philosophy. My friends, relatives and those who know me understand my intentions. The rest of those who tend to judge me? Eff’em if they can’t take a joke.
    BTW, thanks for pointing out the typo. I’ll ask Jim to fix it. Also, thanks for rating my entry. I have simply avoided a few I didn’t want to deal with; your approach is much more direct and productive. I appreciate your honesty.
    And, yes there were several photos and comments from patrons on the new foods on a stick at the fair.

  61. Now it makes sense, at first I thought you might have been meaning ‘inhaled’ if you get it, that’s a tongue-in-cheek description of “consuming EVERYTHING in sight.”

  62. Cut it with the apostrophes. “Gets” is plural, no apostrophe. It’s ONLY mean It is, and is never used before a noun. Sorry, I have to edit as I read.

  63. I don’t think the last sentence is debasing for diabetes-suffering people; to me, it sounds like a black-humored way to stress the link between all this fat consumed and the gravity of the disease. I won’t rate this one though — grease and fat make me shudder, and I won’t be very objective, LoL.

  64. Hi PJ, I said “disconnected” not “offended” … I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s medical condition and truly wish the best for her and all of the loving people who surround her. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideals — respectfully, Carole.

  65. This was a report, right? These things happened, shirts and all, right? I appreciate reporting that goes beyond the routine and includes a slight twist of irony or any other signs of life. Reminds me of Paul Harvey or Baxter Black, a bit. And Iowegians are a complex bunch, eating dietary recommendations for after-dinner mints. (Married one.)
    Perhaps one punctuation change: “deep-fried-butter-on-a-stick purchases” ? Lotsa hyphens in this piece, but maybe they’re all necessary…

  66. Thanks for your reply and kind words. My daughter has a deep sense of faith and a great attitude. I lack her strength but admire her refusal to allow her illness to control her life. I’m sorry I was defensive in my reply; it wasn’t necessary. I know there was no ill intent.

  67. Carol, I wrote a note but it seems to be hiding.

  68. Jim, Maybe it’s just me (okay, most likely) but I cannot find my third entry at all. Fess up guys. Who has hexed my entry? lol
    I just want to make sure it exists prior to final deadline. Thanks.

  69. Yup. You found it. Thanks! Just no comments yet so I must have overlooked it.

  70. UPDATE on Comments glitch:

    Hi friends,
    We have A LOT of new entries, but they are appearing above this disjointed thread section (all of which somehow “replies” to PJ’s earlier entry).

    Please SCROLL UP and look for blue-background comments with the bold ENTRY >> label. If you are subscribed to Comments here, you’ll see notifications of these in your inbox, and can use the email links to easily find them.

    Please accept my apology: I don’t have any reliable method for fixing this comment-replies glitch. Actually, I’m afraid I’d break something by trying! 🙂

  71. Jim, I’m brand new to the contest so may be doing something wrong. I posted an entry a bit earlier but it hasn’t shown up. Did I need to share and ink ‘before’ I posted? Because I did that afterward. All of my comments are showing up just fine. I read your note about where things are posting, but I still don’t see it. Thanks!

  72. Hi friends,

    Although the entry deadline is now behind us, please don’t hesitate to add your feedback and ratings to existing entries. You’ve all done a wonderful job reading critically and offering constructive comments. Thank you!

  73. I’ll check into it for you, Janet.
    You don’t need to do anything special to make entries show up. I’m not that crafty at Coding! 😉

  74. Just throwing this out there for our contestant-raters, strictly optional —

    Do you have a favorite among our entries, just one?
    We’ve seen a few almost-reluctant “8”s. Do we have ANY “9”s or “10”s? Looking back on these, would any of you like to select one among them all as your top choice? 🙂

  75. I’ll announce our Finalists shortly.

    Reviewing the judging numbers and discussion right now. Please stay tuned. Thanks!

  76. A quick note about your ratings and feedback for entries:

    >> Your ratings HELPED to determine which entries would finish in the top 10, for final judging. Our goal was that at least ONE of the reader favorites was included in the judges’ choice of finalists.
    >> Lower ratings by contestants DID NOT eliminate entries from contention. We have two contest judges who read your entries first while ignoring reader feedback.
    >> Lack of or low quantity of reader feedback and ratings DID NOT factor into our two judges’ initial entry rankings. See my second note, just above.

  77. Our FOUR finalists (yup!) are, in ALPHABETICAL ORDER by author surname:

    * Kae Bender — for “What I’ve realized…
    * Melinda Clayton — for “For weeks I…
    * Nyaran — for “He knows he…
    * PJ Yusten — for “‘Eva naughty. Me…’

    I’ve edited the entry quotes, above, so that they now link to each entry.

    I’ll notify each of these contestants via email, too, in preparation for the final round of judging.

    Thank you ALL for your incredible entries!

  78. Please CLICK HERE to see the preview announcement of winners on the Finalists Post, in Comments. ~Jim

  79. Kae Bender says

    Thanks judges; thanks readers for the feedback; thanks Jim for running such an interesting exercise. It’s been an experience for sure! Kae

  80. Sweet. Thumbs up for the good ole’ Butter Cow!


  1. […] This is a writing contest that is being held by a good friend of mine. If you are interested in posting an excerpt of three lines just for fun, please check it out. Rules and thread for the contest are here. […]

  2. […] This contest is now in progress: […]

  3. […] PJ Yusten — for “‘Eva naughty. Me…’“ […]

  4. […] judges also explained that when our finalists added more sentences to their original 3-sentence excerpts — again, exactly as the rules provided — that changed the entire running […]

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