The! Winner! Is!
Please also allow me to extend another HUGE MASSIVE thanks to Holly, my illustrious co-judge and author of Nothing But Bonfires (you have checked it out and added it to your blog roll, right?), who took many, many hours out of her busy week to help co-judge the contest. And in fact, she was even kind enough to pass along a message to everyone:
Hi everyone, Holly here! I just wanted to introduce myself quickly and thank you all so much for your submissions.
When Nathan originally asked me to be a co-judge in his contest, I leaped at the chance---I mean, really, I think I said yes before he'd even finished asking the question.
"Are you sure you're up for it?" he said. "I mean, I'm not entirely confident you know what you're getting yourself in for. There are going to be quite a few entries, you know."
"Pshaw!" I replied. "Why do you think I wear such strong contact lenses? From reading too much, of course! I devour whole novels in a day! I eat anthologies of short stories for breakfast! I can read a few hundred first pages for your competition, Nathan, no sweat!"
Except it wasn't a few hundred, was it? It was 675. So, uh, thanks for that.
But the truth is, I had a blast. Honestly, I did. And in case there's any doubt in your mind, I absolutely, unequivocally, cross-my-heart-and-swear-on-a-stack-of-Hills-DVDs read every single entry. (No, seriously! As Spencer is my witness!)
And narrowing them down was hard. It was excruciatingly hard. I started by copying and pasting the ones I was immediately impressed with into a Word document I called FINALISTS. But then I had so many finalists that I had to start another document called FOR REAL FINALISTS. After that came FINALISTS! NO, SERIOUSLY THIS TIME, NO KIDDING, and in that document I had about 30 entries. I cut that down to 15. I cut that down to 10, and then I sent those 10 to Nathan, who sent me his 10 back in return. We found we had two in common, so we put those on the master list.
After that, it all got a little Sophie's Choice up in here. Of the two I eventually chose as my picks---Julianne's and Charlotte's, in case you're wondering---both were equally evocative, clever, and just plain well-written. (Both were also about funerals, in case you hadn't noticed, which prompted Nathan to email me and ask if everything was alright.) But the ones I had to leave behind broke my heart: the dead baby in Elladog's story, the twelve-year-old smart talker in Lincoln Highwayman's piece, the tarot card reader in Southern Writer's intro, the newly boob-jobbed protagonist on Len Joy's page. I wanted to bring them all with me onto the shortlist, and I'm hugely sorry that I couldn't.
So thank you to all of you for making my days (and my nights---my long, long nights) that little bit more interesting. Thank you for giving me some truly great stuff to read. Thank you for having the courage to enter the competition and the graciousness to congratulate your peers when it was over.
And now I think it's about time Nathan bought me a shot.
Nathan again. And yes, I definitely owe Holly a shot.
I'd also like to extend my own personal congratulations to the authors on my list of final 10 that barely missed the final 6: Eric ("Tweed & Scissors" -- almost completed the contest trifecta having made the finalists of two previous blog contests), Walter (the Generalissimo), LindaBudz (the Potato Baby Dare), Ally (the Brown Shoe Diaries), and Michael Reynolds (disappearing teacher). In case you're further curious, heather!anne! (soup can man) and kari (Possible Happiness) were on both Holly's and my lists of top 10, and after Holly chose Julianne and Charlotte I chose luc and terryd to round out the top six.
PENULTIMATE congratulations are in order to our wonderful finalists: Julianne, kari, Charlotte, terryd, and luc. (Please e-mail me to discuss your prizes.)
And the ULTIMATE GRAND PRIZE SUPER DELUXE WINNER IS... after 675 entries, many votes, a whole lot of comments, and one great week.... I'm pleased to announce that heather!anne! is the winner of the Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge!
Thanks again everyone, I hope you will stick around and continue to participate in the blog, and I'll be back later in the week with the usual blog programming.