And Here We Are at Last

Okay–this has been one very long contest, but Ann Dee, Kyra and I have seen some great pieces go through the last few weeks.
Today, we find out our final three.
But let’s see who our judge is.

Dunh dunh dunh dunh dunh duuuuuuuunh!
(That was a band playing)

Alane Ferguson, who won the Edgar with her first YA mystery novel, and who has been nominated for the Edgar a million and one times, guest-judged for us.

Here’s a little about my fabulous friend:

Alane Ferguson attended the University of Utah and Westminster College where she studied journalism. Later, Alane became interested in writing for children, mostly, she says, to follow the example of her mother, successful author Gloria Skurzynski. Her mother has written over fifty-seven books for children, while Alane is currently completing her thirty-second. Alane and her mother co-authored a series for National Geographic. Their novel, WOLF STALKER, was the first work of fiction National Geographic had published in its as of then 109 year history. WOLF STALKER was nominated for the 1998 Mystery Writer’s of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award and the newest and 13th book in the series, NIGHT OF THE BLACK BEAR, was launched in spring of 2007. A recipient of the 1990 Edgar Allan Poe Award as well as the Belgium’s Children’s Choice Award for her young adult novel SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE, Alane was also a nominee for her third young-adult mystery, POISON. She received a 2007 Edgar nomination for her young adult novel, THE CHRISTOPHER KILLER, the first in the Sleuth Forensic Mystery series, which include:THE CHRISTOPHER KILLER, THE ANGEL OF DEATH, THE CIRCLE OF BLOOD and THE DYING BREATH with another couple of books forthcoming. Alane won the Children’s Crown Classic Award for CRICKET AND THE CRACKERBOX KID, the American Bookseller’s Association’s “Pick of the List” for her picture book entitled THAT NEW PET, and has been on numerous ALA Recommended Books for Reluctant Young Readers and Young Adult’s Choice list.

Alane has a keen eye. We have been friends for about 19 years. She is a hard worker. She loves people. She is a fabby plotter (I spoke to her on the phone yesterday and she told me [in passing] she gave a now award-winning Utah author the plot to her then-failing novel). She is good-hearted and always, always thinking of those who cannot take care of themselves.

Here’s what she said about the entries:

This was soooo hard, because, remarkably, every one of these writers is amazing. Anyway, if I were there to nudge the writers, I would have only one piece of advice, and that would be to watch how many characters each of these authors dump into the first-chapter pot – they needed to slow down a beat and let me, the reader, understand their protagonists, which in turn allows the setup to breathe a bit more. Too many initial characters ‘spoils’ the broth, so to speak. And I, the Simon Cowell of the critique world, do not say these people are uber-talented lightly. Congratulations are due all around for a job very well done!

So, our final three are:
Sandy Stevens
Mary Multnomah

Miss Scarlett in the Library with the Candlestick–congrats on making is so far! You may continue play on the Play at Home side of things.

And here is your final challenge.
We wanted to write up a contest that would take you a couple of weeks to finish, giving you several challenges, not unlike Project Runway.
However, Ann Dee and I have decided otherwise.

Your challenge for today is two-fold, as you must do some serious homework in order to complete this task.


Now here’s what we want.
Your whole novel written in 99 words.
Yes, the whole thing.

Here’s what Wikipedia says, in part, about flash fiction: Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity.

Of course, you will need to do some real research yourself (though Ann Dee will give you three hints tomorrow) on just what Flash Fiction is.

A Few More Suggestions

* Here’s the deal. We are asking something VERY hard from you, but knowing what your novel is REALLY about should help you rewrite and make your book even better.
* Once I asked Patricia MacLachlan how she made SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL so perfect and she said, “I took out every word that didn’t matter.”
* There is a strong beginning, a rise in action and a true ending in all fiction. You already have your elements, right? You know the whole thing. Now you must take the best words and tell the most important parts in a very short manner.

Don’t forget the RULES:
Use a new name, but don’t tell anyone that name until after the judging is over.
The contest closes at five (5) pm on Thursday (yes, you get an extra day), April 5, 2012.

Remember, you may vote for two (2) people.
Judging will be on Friday and will close at midnight.

In one week–NEXT MONDAY–we will announce the two winners who will have the first few pages of their novels reviewed by Steve Fraser of Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York.



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17 responses to “And Here We Are at Last

  1. rbs

    WoW! I love this challenge. And although I dropped out after I missed a deadline – inadvertently – I plan to play around with all the challenges over spring break and post them on my blog.

    I have experimented with 50-word and 100-word fiction and found it is the BEST exercise in word choice EVER. Although all your word limits have forced participants to practice that skill.

    Again, you are the best, and I can’t wait for WIFYR (I pronounce it WI (with a long i sound) FIRE!) I haven’t registered yet as I am not sure which class is best for dystopian efforts – any advice?

    Hugs from R.

  2. Cheryl

    At last! When people ask if I’ve finished my novel I can say YES! hee hee hee

  3. Yay for Alane! My daughters and I love her Christopher Killer/forensic mysteries. I was hoping she would be the judge. Alane is going to be at our Boise Conference on April 20-21, 2012.

  4. Estee

    I have a couple of questions.
    1) Does this have to be a novel we have already written?
    If yes, does this have to be THE novel we used as our first 150?

    2) Is it possible that our heads might explode while doing this?
    If yes, will we be DQed if our head explodes?

    • CLW

      Use the novel that you are going to have Steve read the bit from–if you win.


      If your head explodes, and if I love your book, may I have it as my own?

  5. What the….? You people are evil.


    *scooping myself off the floor*

    I don’t know if I can do this.

  6. Monelle

    I’m just super relieved that this week’s challenge isn’t to finish/solve the mystery from last week. 🙂


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