Yo-Dawg First Page Challenge!

So, have you been on the edge of your seats waiting for results? You SHOULD be! This was a strong group of entries and I was quite impressed. Of course, that made it challenging to judge, but fun, too. Like last time, all of your entries were totally anonymous while I was reading them, so I chose my favorites without any names attached.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I want to showcase a few of these terrific Yo-Dawg Challenge First Page entries. You still have to wait until Wednesday to find out the winner, but I’m going to post three “honorable mentions” here today, and three more tomorrow. These are not ranked in any particular order, but they all ended up in the final running for #1 and I felt they deserved to be seen and read.

One more thing: I’m thinking of doing critiques on the blog of several of the First Page entries, as a sort of exercise and learning experience for all of us. Of course, I’d keep the authors’ names anonymous. Please email me if you’d like your entry critiqued on the blog (rg9663-yodawg@yahoo.com). I will choose a few out of those who email.

Now… enjoy these fun First Pages!

* Yo-Dawg Challenge Runners-Up *

Rebecca Luella Miller…………………………

Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled up everything. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not ungrateful, I’m really not.

Still, a walking-on-water or sight-for-the-blind kind of miracle wouldn’t have confounded my life as much as Meltun did.

Yes, Meltun is my miracle.

He showed up last March on one of those warmer than normal SoCal days.

I’d ditched work, partly to take advantage of L.A. perfection, but mostly because I needed time to plan my next move.

I shucked my suit in favor of shorts, put the top down on my Ford Mustang, and headed for Huntington Beach. The salty tang in the air and the cool breeze on my face were enough to make me wish I still owned a surfboard.

After parking in the deserted lot, I wadded onto the beach, past empty volleyball courts and vacant lifeguard stands. Near the waterline, a squawking seagull flapped out of my path. I plopped onto the warm, crusty sand just beyond the surge of white foam that paused and seeped away.

Leaning back on my elbows, I tipped my face to the sky. If Jen were here, she’d tell me to put on sunscreen, a nonessential for my coppery skin. I’d do it anyway because I loved her, but now part of me rejoiced at this chance for private rebellion.

And that’s when Meltun appeared. From the middle of the wave cresting in front of me, he stood up. Stood up! As if the force of receding water wasn’t dragging at him, threatening to knock him off his feet. As if the mountain curling overhead wouldn’t crush him the same way it ground shells to sand.

He flicked a three-fingered hand at me and called over the crush of the water. “So there you are, Daniel Greyson.”

Dan Eness…………………………

There are three Kates in this story and only one of us has a happy ending.

I met the second one first. I smashed into Jack Kate’s wheelchair at an Amnesty meeting in college. I was there for the food. He, apparently, cared about people. His haircut was ugly, but his face well hewn. That’s what I noticed first, but what I remember best about him were really puffy bags under a pair of coruscating light green eyes.

I even remember the very first thing he said to me, and I can’t even remember my social security number.

“Hi, clumsy. It costs three tickets for this ride.”

The third Kate was next, about (I’m not kidding) three weeks later, in the cafeteria. A dark haired girl — woman — whatever college kids are these days – had fallen asleep, alone, at one of the tables. Her tray cocked at an angle next to her resting head. Her face, half-obscured by the arm of her bulky sweater, looked a little like the Pillsbury Doughboy’s.

I picked my friends selfishly. I liked being friends with a guy in a wheelchair, because I wanted to be cool like that. Jack would kick my ass if I told him. If he could kick. I picked Kate Owens because the girl couldn’t stay awake. It’s hard to look lazy when your best friend is narcoleptic. Also, she was chubbier than me.

I liked our three-ness.

Before the Mormons, the tunnels, the stalker, the monkey bread and the mental hospital, our friendship was normal; as normal as those sparkling, thermonuclear college friendships get.

I, of course, am the first Kate, the one who gets the happy ending. No offense, but I think that if you still care what happened to us, you are nuts.

Timothy Fish…………………………

Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled up everything.

Ashley had everything she could want in life, a bed under the stars, a mother who never sent her to school and as much money as people would give them. Then came that Tuesday—a church day.

“Don’t dawdle!” Hannah, said, grabbing Ashley’s hand and pulling her along.

“These shoes are too small.”

“They’re supposed to be.”

“Can’t I at least take off the coat? It’s hot and it smells like rotten eggs.” Ashley flicked a small eggshell from her sleeve.

“Two more churches and then we’ll go home.”

They stopped in front of a sign that said, “Church Office.” Hannah pushed the button below another sign that read, “Ring bell.”

A middle-aged woman showed up a few moments later to unlock the door.

“Can I help you?”

“We don’t have very much money and my daughter needs clothes,” Hannah said. She pushed Ashley forward, so the odor would waft through the opening.

“We don’t keep money here, but if you don’t mind waiting, you can talk to our associate pastor. He’s in a meeting right now.”

Ashley took a step away from the door, thinking they would go to the next church, but Hannah said, “We’ll wait.”

They stepped through the door and the woman locked it behind them. Ashley wondered if it was to keep them in while she called the cops.

“This way,” the woman said and turned around.

They followed her down the hall and around the corner to another hall. It was lined with offices.

“You can, have a—” she began, but one of the doors opened and two men stepped out. One had money. Ashley could smell it and some of it would find its way into Hannah’s pocket before the…

*More First Pages Tuesday.*

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  2. Hipolito M. Wiseman on March 25, 2012 at 2:31 PM

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  3. Gabster on December 11, 2011 at 2:01 AM


    Great blog post, saw on…

  4. pixy on April 15, 2008 at 5:01 PM

    >Great stuff! Congrats guys!!!!

  5. Annie on April 14, 2008 at 9:00 PM

    >Great job! Tough work, Rachelle! Thanks for giving us all this forum to learn!

  6. Mark H. on April 14, 2008 at 8:53 AM

    >Wow, there are some talented writers hanging around here. Nice work, everyone.

  7. Marla Taviano on April 14, 2008 at 8:22 AM

    >Oooh, this feels like a pageant! You’re excited not to be a runner-up, because that means you could still WIN! But a little disappointed, because there’s a better chance that yours wasn’t good enough to make runner-up.

    Oh, the suspense.

  8. Catherine Downen on April 14, 2008 at 8:08 AM

    >Wow! Good job Rebecca, Dan, and Timothy. Way to leave us hanging, Timothy. Can’t wait for Tuesday’s batch!

  9. Melanie on April 14, 2008 at 12:00 AM

    >Great reads. Somebody figured out what to do with the three Kates. I want to know the rest of the stories.

  10. Ruthie on April 13, 2008 at 11:00 PM

    >Wow, loved them!

  11. Misti Sandefur, Novelist/Freelance Writer on April 13, 2008 at 8:05 PM

    >Wonderful stories! Can’t wait till Tuesday either, because ya left me hanging on that last one, and now I want to know what happens next. 😉

  12. Kim Kasch on April 13, 2008 at 7:34 PM

    >Those were good!

  13. Anonymous on April 13, 2008 at 6:09 PM

    >I enjoyed reading the three honorable mentions. They are awesome, intriquing and very creative. If these are honorable mentions then I know this had to be a very hard decision. I have learned something already. Well deserved to be mentioned. Can’t wait to see the others and (drum roll please) “THE WINNER”. 🙂