Headline: Launch Pad Category Winner Surprises Everyone, Even the Judges

It’s not as if we had nothing to choose from.
Remember last month, when I said the number of entries in the Women’s
Fiction/Contemporary Fiction category broke all records? Well, the Middle
Grade/Young Adult category took it a step farther and gave us our highest
number yet. And, like last month, several were quite good.
One entry was in a format I personally had
never heard of before: a novel in verse. I asked everyone involved with this category if we should accept it, and the general response was a shrug. “Sure.
Wouldn’t hurt to take a look at it.”
Well, the judges looked at it.  And it blew them away.
One said: “Well-executed and masterfully done. The author took on a challenge that I haven’t seen managed since Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Though written in verse as a series of poems, the story immediately draws in its reader and makes you root for its protagonist. I don’t ordinarily enjoy novels in verse, but this work was so engaging, I couldn’t stop talking about it for several days after reading it.”
The other judge weighed in: “I had to Google ‘novel in verse’ to make sure the genre existed.  Once I found the writer stood on firm ground, I decided to give it a try. I was amazed. Ordinarily, I don’t read poetry. But this sucked me right in. Its sparse, well-chosen wording painted the story so clearly, it was almost like watching a movie. The writer has a real gift.”
You’ve got to see it to believe it. We’re delighted
to share with you the first 4000 words of Skating on Thin Ice by Janine Yordy of Huntersville, North
Skating on Thin Ice
Ever hear how bad things happen in threes?
I never used to believe in that stuff
It used to seem silly.
Hocus Pocus
Flakey flim flam.
But like I said
It used to.
Skating is my life
Figure skating that is.
On skates I glide and float,
Graceful and strong.
Off skates? 
We’ll get to that later.
But just know
I. Love. Skating.
I practice and practice
And practice.
Every morning, every afternoon
Every day.
Well not Sunday,
but you get the picture.
But today’s competition’s got me
Not a good combo on skinny metal blades
Spinning through the air
Hoping to land like a feather, a butterfly
Not fall like…
Like I think I’m about to.
Flowers are supposed to bloom
in the ground
Or possibly stuck in a vase
Safely growing smiles of celebration,
Not this time.
These flowers are a ginormous.
Created by mom
and some cruel,
A headpiece
for me to wear
on my head
while I skate!
These flowers are heavy,
Not me.
I want to run away from the giant flowers
But mom looks so happy
Like she’s my fairy godmother
turning me,
her only child,
into a pretty princess.
I am Rapunzel
in the skating competition
my flowered, bunned-up hair
will not help me escape.
Where is a prince when you need one?
Dad stands stiffly,
still reeking from his last smoke.
At least it wasn’t a drink
He can’t help my head trauma.
“Knock ‘em dead,” he says,
or else, is what I hear.
He is not
my hair prince.
Mom attacks me,
and my dirty blonde pony tail,
with her proud smile
and her bobby pins.
When my “do”
is done,
she is hugging me safe,
loving me,
no matter
“Oh Sara,” she swoons,
 “you look beautiful. 
Good luck!”
I soak up her sweetness,
squeezing her tight.
Cause I will need more than luck,
I’ll need a hedge trimmer for these flowers
And my nerves.
Perfect hair
Perfect dress
Perfect annoyingness.
Heidi started at the rink last fall
showing off with super speed
solid jumps
and stuck up self.
Blonde braids, whizzing by me,
sucking attention from Cathy,
My coach
My hero.
It was mom’s turn to find an activity for
(You know, bluebirds?
Like the kindergarteny version of girl scouts?)
She picked skating,
and Cathy
was our coach.
All my little bluebird friends
bored, frozen, ready for snacks,
flew the coop.
But I was already caught .
Cathy’s quick, shiny blades
her hook,
the promise of golden medals,
her bait.
Cathy mesmerized me.
My six year old blue eyes
glued on her
flowing skirt, flying jumps
Superwoman on ice.
When she suggested more lessons,
Mom agreed ,
I did a dance of joy,
I was sure
with Cathy, my guide
and the rest is history
Ever feel like you’re losing something?
Like you know
things have changed
something’s different
But you can’t quite
put your finger on it…
or her.
All the other skaters get along.
Even though sometimes
We compete against each other,
We’re sort of a team.
Millions of days together
Zillions of falls
Through first places
Last places.
Locker room laughs.
But not with Heidi.
She doesn’t want in on
“our team”
“Our team”
isn’t good enough
for her.
Laces: tight.
Dress: sparkled.
Coach: Good lucked.
Hair: gardened
Nerves: (normally under control)
As I skate to my place
All eyes are on me.
Beady eyes, hoping I’ll fall eyes,
Don’t you have something better to do people!!
Judges sit along the side,
Ready to catch my mistakes, mis-steps,
No pressure though right?!
Just another program…
Picture them in their underwear…
Whose brilliant idea was that anyway?
I mean, we’re in a sub-zero ice rink
What crazed loon would be in their underwear?
Uh oh
Here we go.
When she’s not writing fiction that takes you out of this world, Yvonne Anderson administers our Launch Pad contest. Interested in participating? This year’s event is entering the last lap, but we’re still taking submissions in the Contemporary Romance category UNTIL MIDNIGHT TONIGHT (September 10), and in the final category, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, until October 10.
Did you miss the deadline for your category? Keep checking with us, because we anticipate doing the contest again next year.
For complete details, click on the Launch Pad Contest tab.
Think you don’t like sci-fi? Think again! Check out Yvonne’s Gateway to Gannah series. Book 1, The Story in the Stars, is an ACFW Carol Award finalist this year in the Speculative Fiction category. Book 2, Words in the Wind, released August 1.