Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winners of the First Impressions Contest!

This morning I sat down at my laptop, brought up all the entries from my First Impressions contest, laughed, blushed, laughed and blushed some more, and tried to decide on only two winners. In the end, it came down, not to a question of how well the entries were written (for all the entries were well written), but simply for the unique twist the author of the pieces put on the them.

First off, the winner of the Non-Fiction Category is:

Josie Boyer!
This chick and myself are relatively "new friends", and now love each other to pieces, but the beginning of our acquaintance was inauspicious in the extreme. Not only had I not wrapped my head around what the blazes modest fashion was supposed to look like, but I find it hilarious to see how I came across to Josie at first! I received two entries into the non-fiction category, and they were both from people I love dearly dearly so it was a tough choice. But I chose Josie's because of the fact that, judging from our first year together, you would hardly have thought we were destined to be awesome friends.... :D I also chose it because in this piece Josie is Josie. She teases me, she's sarcastic, and she's spot-on. Enjoy.

Meeting Miss Rachel Heffington the romantic rose sniffer.

      If my memory serves me correctly, it was the month of October, in year of our Lord 2009. In the Cabin of the first most number. I was 16 years old, with a bit of a jaded and cynical outlook on life.

     I arrived customarily early in the day with the leadership. Hours ahead of the time most everyone else would arrive.  All present comrades deserting in the pursuance of their most beloved octagonal pit and game of bloody knuckles. I have never to this day liked Gaga, and could not be drawn in. I loitered about all by my lonesome waiting to find out which cabin to move my things into and sitting on a rock, staring off into space, kicking pebbles and large sprouted acorns in complete and utter boredom. Thus I sat, until the long awaited moment was upon me and they (the leadership) revealed the cabin to which I was assigned. I forthwith entered and assessed said cabin with a mischievous grin  and a glint in my eye at being the first one in there, and thusly having first pick. I selected the bunk of my choice with the very best lighting, (because bad lighting is a pet peeve of mine) and moved my junk in there! It was a bottom bunk, along side of the bunk in the very most back corner. Which would soon be Rachel's.

      The initial moment we met is regrettably cloudy... I believe it was in the same time frame that I was being questioned by curious people as to my thoughts behind the numerous safety pins displayed "creatively" on my blue jeans. I remember her standing there. A very sweet round face... innocent, dear and naive. Undamaged by the harshness of life, and by the way she talked...maybe a little ditsy? Taking me in through wide, searching, and somewhat squinty blue eyes and very round spectacles. She was wearing an ankle length purple (corduroy?) jumper and fall themed turtle neck. She explained with eloquent finesse to match my own, and a lop sided grin, that she had recently acquired the outfit as part of a new fall wardrobe. Listening intently as I endeavored to simultaneously entertain and explain that the reason for the safety pins... was simply because I had holes in my pants! Nervously calming my embarrassment and convincing everyone of my "cool as a cucumber confidence" as a smooth talking "creative type" Haaaa! It seems I was unsure if I liked her as I sized her up. She was a bit of a pansy.  But then... I was unsure if I liked anybody in that season of my life. I had not yet taken down the barricade that was around my heart.

      Every night I was subjected by the main body of my cabin to hear with contempt the conversations of these lame things...
•Sweethearts (the lack there of)
•Letter writing
•Dance cards
• Little woman
•Nancy Drew
•Tea Party's
•Tea cups
•Baking pies

       Massive annoyance... Massive!
       I wouldn't say at the time because all that sissy talk hurt my image as a tough chick... But it sparked my curiosity. My earlier question of "is she really a pansy?" Uh... Yep. That's for sure! Buuuuut... She was beginning to grow on me. You just can't dislike someone THAT endearing and genuine. Even if she wouldn't shut up about Scotsmen and musicals! But I didn't let her know that... I was as unfriendly I could get away with, holding her very much at bay while I analyzed her further from my very close perch. I envied her joyful and peaceful heart. And secretly admired her adeptness  at womanhood. She was like a healthy happy sunflower... While I was a angry little dandy lion. I did like her. Greatly wary though I was.

      At one point she handed me her note book and asked for my information... I had made a habit of being an impudent prankster and taking everything extremely literal. I returned to her a full sheet of paper with ALL of my information right down to eye color and hat size(and then some)! She just looked at me in shock and disbelief. :)

     I did not get to know her well and embrace our friendship until about two years later. So incredibly blessed am I to have her in my life!  Rachel Heffington: One of few who was among the earliest to win my trust. Instrumental in proving to me that there are friends worth having, loving, and dying for. She holds a lead role in my testimony.

      Meeting Rachel Heffington is one of the greatest gifts my Lord has given me. A most precious friendship. And it just keeps getting better with age!

    Four years later, now spiritually whole and restored by the blood and Mercy of Christ,
            Josie Boyer

Ah. I love ya', Joz. We are definitely an unlikely pair. :)

 Now for the winner of the Non-Fiction Category:

Katie Sebelko

What I loved about Katie's entry was the fact that she has never met me, and yet she pegged me, pretty much, down to the detail of my somewhat saucy replies in a conversation. I only hope I get to meet Katie in real life someday. :)

How I Met Rachel Heffington 
A Not-So Fictional Story in Three Part

By Katelyn Sabelko

Part I: The Empty Chair 

“March is fantastically cold, darling, don’t you think?”

“Fantastic,” I mumbled, “Is not at all how I’d begin to describe it.” 

“Oh, you’re a bore, Katie. A complete bore. There is much to said about March! The sun shines bright--like Mother’s jewel collection! Even you’ll have to admit to that.”

“I’ll admit to nothing.” 

Laughter filled my ears, lilting and free and full of indecorous snorts. I closed my eyes.

“Knock it off.”

“Um, pardon me?” 

I blinked. A waiter stared down at me through his smudged spectacles. 

“No! No, not you. Not you. It’s just... it’s just Eudora. You know.” I gestured to the chair beside me. The chair that was empty. “Yeah. Nevermind.” 

He set a mug of tea on my table and fled to the kitchen. 

“Thanks!” I called after him weakly. 

When they say writers are insane, they mean it. I can see them now, all covered in ink spots or riddled with carpal tunnel, chuckling softly. ‘Is it only now that she has come to realize this?’ That’s what they’re thinking. You know it is. The writers of the past, the future authors, the struggling-to-become-writers. They’re having a good ol’ laugh. 

And I took a sip of my tea.

“Katie!” A single word danced a thousand jigs into my melancholy thoughts. A single word, my name, uttered with all the warmth and joy of the sun itself. 

“Good heavens!” It couldn’t be her. But it was. “Good heavens! Rachel!”

Part II: The Chair is Empty No Longer 

“Rachel! Rachel Heffington!”

She beamed. “In the flesh!” 


She grinned. “We’ve established that.” 

“But... but... Rachel!” 

Now she bubbled into laughter. “Katie! Katie, Katie, Katie!” 

“You’re sitting in Eudora’s seat!”

“Oh, am I? I can move.” 

“No, no. I’ve had quite enough of her antics for one day. Quite enough.”

Rachel nodded. “I see.” And somehow I knew that she did.

With a smile that could melt even a Wisconsin winter, Rachel Heffington was sitting in Eudora’s chair, drinking tea. Rachel. Rachel Heffington. In the flesh.   

“I suppose you’re wondering how I came to be here,” she said. 

I was. 

“I’m here because you need me. I’m here because you’re not writing. I’m here because you’re sitting in a cafe, talking to an empty chair.” 

“Oh.” I could feel my cheeks burning. “You know about that?”

“Please,” she looked up at me over the top of her glasses. “Katie, you never blog. When you do you, you complain about not writing. This is hardly the way to run a writing blog, dear girl. Hardly.” 

I groaned, and slumped back into my chair. “I know.” 

“So, I have come to help you.” 

“You have?”

“Yes,” she chuckled, then cleared her throat. “Miss Katelyn Sabelko, I have come to help you out of your writing-slump.”

I sprang upright, “My fairy god...friend?” 

“You may call me whatever you wish, but we must get down to business. I don’t have much time.” 

I suppressed a cry of “... and defeat the huns!” and nodded soberly. 

She began right away. “How long have you been not-writing Lara’s Story?” 

“ARROW,” I breathed, “Arrow to the heart.”  

“Exactly: far too long. How long have you been only haltingly focused on Essie’s Adventures, your script?” 

I mumbled something that could have been “over six months” but let’s hope it wasn’t. 

“What about that Arthurian legend story you started? The one that betrayed your obsession for freckles?” 

“I gave up on that.”

Rachel took a sip of tea. When she spoke again, I believe she was trying to sound firm, but her adorable face quite reversed the effect. “Why aren’t you writing?”

A million excuses were on the tip of my tongue, and not a single one of them valid. “I don’t know.” 

“Are you afraid.”

I looked her squarely in the eyes. “Yes.”

“Dash your fears. You’ve absolutely nothing to be afraid of.”

She took another sip of tea, a rather long one. “Do you believe in your stories?”

I nodded.

“Believe in them more.”

I nodded again.

“Take the time to think, to plan. You know you can find time.” 

“We make time for the things most important to us,” I mused. “No matter how full our schedules, we make time.

Rachel smiled, her eyes small and bright. “Now you’re talking. However, merely conversing about dedication is one thing, applying it to your daily life is quite another.”

I groaned again. “Rachel, I’m doomed to be a failure.” 

She laughed gently, kindly. “No.” 

The March sun beamed through the window and settled on Rachel’s hair, brightening her entire countenance. She was radiant. She was confident. She was poised. She was kind. She was Rachel Heffington. 

Before I could stop myself, I demanded the secret to her success.

“That is why I’ve come, to tell you the secret.”

“Your secret?” 

“My secret, every aspiring writer’s secret, every published author’s secret.” 

She leaned forward, and I caught a glimmer of mischievous energy in her bright eyes. “Ready?”

She told me the secret. In unison we blinked, smiled, and filled the cafe with our laughter. 

Part III: Empty Again 

Rachel had gone. Eudora’s chair was empty once more. 

“Where will you go now?” I’d asked. 

“There are scores of struggling young writers that I’ve yet to visit this afternoon. And I’ve scheduled tea with Abigail Hartman and a long walk with Jenny Freitag. Mirriam Neal and I haven’t had an honest-to-goodness laugh in far too long...” She paused, “Or perhaps I’ll have a good chat with my characters in public.” 

I looked at her in surprise.

“Oh, Katie. We’re all mad here.” 

Her smile, her mischievous little eyes, lit up the room. Then she was gone. 

Now I stared at the chair, vacant as ever, and a smile pulled at the edges of my lips. Not a trace of morose emotion could I detect in my heart. Rachel had burst into the cafe on wisps of sunshine and left a warm glow in her wake. 

How in the world had she done that?

“Who cares how?” I whispered, running my fingers over the rim of my tea-mug. “She just did it. Why? Because she’s Rachel Heffington, that’s why.”

As I left the cafe, grinning from ear-to-ear, Rachel’s secret to writerly success rang through my mind: 

You must write. 


Both Katie and Josie will receive as their prizes a small, commissioned water-color painting from me! Girls, contact me about what you would like me to paint, and we can discuss the details.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Your entries were marvelous, and I enjoyed reading every one. :)


Carmel Elizabeth said...

Ahhh, these are splendid! I only wish I had remembered to enter this contest, but I know my work couldn't stand up to these. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. And I laughed at several points for this sheer adorableness of it all. :)


Elizabeth said...

Congrats, Josie and Katie! And Rachel, thanks for doing this, it was a lot of fun!

Esther Brooksmith (wisdomcreates) said...

Thank you, Rachel, Josie, and Katie! I enjoyed reading these pieces! :) And Rachel, I imagine you have dropped in on Katie and many others -- just as Katie described but through your blog instead of in a chair. The encouragement from the blog is a blessing to many.

Julia said...

AAaaaah, I loved both of these! So cute! :D They're very you, Rachel! :D Wish I had gotten around to entering... I may still, pshaw. :D Just for the fun of it. ;)

Joy said...

congrats to the winners! These are amazing :). Well done! I loved them =D