You Asked For It...

At least someone did.

I've had a request for another writing contest!

Here are the details:You need to write a short story (100 words or less!) using these five words:


Bonus points if you can use this phrase: New Leaf

Post your story in the comments of this post by 11:59 pm on April 22nd.

What do you win?A pack of amazing spring New Leaf releases, including:


Your choice: either a first page critique or a query critique--good for you or a friend if you're feeling generous.

Can't wait to see what you come up with!

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ashland said...

@__ashland: to all my writer folks, need help thinking of 100-word story. #needideas #swiftly

@crittycatwrites: write a #haiku now, do your story tomorrow, watch me win instead

@laurelizabeth: death of a salesman —on #MARS !

@revoboulanger: my agent says not2 give out ideas

@ForewordLit: 100 words? we sell #novellas!

@__ashland: this the best u can come up with? #CrappyFriends

@laurelizabeth: maybe @brendadrake could help?

@brendadrake: not my contest, shame on you

@petejknapp: think movies — #ScannerDarkly meets #SoundofMusic

@__ashland: you guys r terrible

@NewLeafLiterary: I think this conversation's officially jumped the shark.

@Janet_Reid: did someone say #SHARK ? #JawsMusic #IWillEatYourSoul

Rebecca Sky said...

I press my nose to the glass and wag my behind like a puppy. People pass by thinking—Filthy. Scoundrel. Homeless. You’ve turned a new leaf, I remind myself. Besides, I’m too focused on the sausage display to give them what they want. (Something to complain about.) The memory of meat haunts my tongue. If I could just have one bite I’d let death take me.

As swift as I think it, death appears, a man with a net. I give my best fight as he drags me to his van. The amassing crowd thinks in unison—TO THE POUND.

Abrielle Sarah Fuerst said...

Dear Alexander,

Don’t forgive me. I might hate you.
I left the car in the driveway, keys on the dash. I left Regan at the movies. Because it was raining, you know?

I also left you. I think that’s the point I’m trying to make here.
Turned over a new leaf.
Married Carter.
Mea culpa.
[We fought. You said: life is too swift. I said: you’re afraid of death.
We were both wrong, by the way.]
I scanned your files after that. You’re too afraid of living, you know.

I kept the picture. Miss your smile.

All the best,

Carol said...

Mama used to call them “shivery days.” Days on the cusp of spring, when it seemed I could count every new leaf on a tree because there were so few.

That winter, Mama had a scan. There was a lump ... and no hope. I said I wouldn’t make it without her. She fought that harder than the cancer. Live! she demanded.

Death was swifter than the season’s change. By March, she was gone.

Mama had hung the moon. Had made all the shivery days golden.

I’d best keep my promise to her though: Let winter go, shivering. And live.

Unknown said...

The mail carrier came into New Leaf. His hair flowed like Fabio; muscles thrummed under a tight, tight shirt. All turned.


Interns raced.
The swift brunette won, her hand still gripping a shaft of blonde hair.

"Scan for bombs."

The package opened to a Query. For Joanna. Or, Suzie. Whomever.


Her name. A new kind of story for MG or NA, tells the tale of X, raised by wolves, suckled by Vampires on the planet Nonna where life was threatened by Hunger and the Number Four.

"Is this the best of it? Find us something fresh!"

cmboers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cmboers said...

"Ten-thousand, cash," the nameless voice rings in my head.

Her hips bobbed back and forth as she walks down the darkened street. I follow behind, but not too close. I scan my surroundings to be sure there are no witnesses.

I pause, I should turn around, I should give up this hunt. It was exhausting looking over my shoulder waiting to be caught. I could give it my all and turn over a new leaf.

No. I am the best. I won't get caught. I press on.

The element of surprise and swift death. My recipe for success.

JF said...

Death took him swiftly when the cars collided. The moment he died I was ripped to shreds; the best parts of me disintegrated.

I shifted my gaze around the cemetery, scanning for anyone who might try to kick me out. Night covered me like a blanket, but comfort was absent.

They all left when the sun set, but I couldn’t. So instead, I curled up on the freshly piled dirt and my fingers traced his name on the headstone.
The cold, still grave, tortured me with the new leaf death had turned.

Ashley said...

My protector looses an arrow.

The fight is swift, all three brigands laid flat in the dirt, claimed by death before I even think to unsheathe the knife secured with silk ribbon at my waist.

I see the concern in my protector’s eyes as they scan over me–he cares, though he conceals it well–and I do my best to hide the tremble in my hands.

“Come on,” I say, because we’re almost there.

The great tree looms ahead, just as I envisioned: completely barren save a single new leaf, tiny and frail but shining silver in the sunlight.

The Will to Write said...

Death was totally stalking me, and not in the corny Final Destination way. Last week, I flushed Jumbo the fish down the porcelain throne. I’d actually forgotten I had a fish, so it was a swift flush.

I’d decided to turn over a new leaf when it came to pets. But now, all of Porky the hamster was smeared across the tires of my boyfriend’s car.

I took in a deep breath as I formulated my plan. I’d quickly scan all the pet stores in town before my sister got home.

I’d find the best Porky double in the city.

Night Writer said...

He grabbed the belt loop of my pants and pulled me close. I didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I let them dangle limp at my sides.

His breath brushed my face and he moved in closer.

If I sucked at this I would die, and my tombstone would read: Death by First Kiss.

His gaze scanned my face, landing on my lips, and knocking all the air right out of me.

My mother always told me to try my best, so I’d turn this new leaf for her.

His lips came down swiftly.

Unknown said...

A gave a quick scan of the crowd, doing my best to keep my eyes above the necks of all the new frat pledges. These girls were putty in my hands. But I was turning over a new leaf, I was going to be a one women man.

I saw her approaching from across the crowd. I was a rookie when it came to being wrapped around a girl’s finger, but with her I was learning fast.

Then, signing his own death warrant, Henry Jenner slapped her ass.

With a swift blow to the jaw, the jackass hit the ground.

Unknown said...

A vibrant red leaf broke free from the maple and swirled to the ground, landing on a pile of its faded kin. A gentle start on the path to death and decay, Jennie thought. Apropos. She felt warm and safe sitting in her childhood windowsill. But the scan results were conclusive, all the doctors agreed. Her own journey started long ago at the end of a cigarette. This last leg would be swift; the best she could hope for a minimum of pain. A new leaf would bud next spring, but she wouldn’t be around to see it.

Unknown said...

The new leaf unfurled as it steeped. She poured the tea into a bone china cup engirdled with magnolia.

“The best brew is with loose leaves. Maintains all the flavor. Tea bags contain dust, the death of a good cup.”

She scanned the face of the gagged man.

“I could make this swift,” she said, running a finger along the cup handle.

“But, suffering enhances the flavor.”

She sipped.

“Once I am done with you, I will grind you to dust, stuff you into tea bags, and sell you to herbalists in Chinatown. Quality ingredients are hard to come by.”

Unknown said...

Of all the secret agents at Green Leaf, Jerry was the youngest. Sometimes he saved the world, but today he was climbing to save a cat in a tree. Boring, he thought, until the x-ray scan revealed a bomb inside. Better, now he must be swift. The cat jumped up a branch. Jerry followed. They came to the top and swayed. Jerry reached and grabbed the tail. The cat screeched and its claws dug in. Jerry grimaced but hung on tight. Dropping it meant sudden death. No longer bored, this assignment had became his best.

BethF said...

The music slowed and before I could scan the gymnasium for an exit, Will swiftly pulled me into his arms. My heart beat quickened. He was my best friend, and I knew all year that our relationship couldn’t change; it was graduation and we were turning two new leaves– going different directions.

I rested my head against his chest.

“Sarah,” he whispered. “I already miss you.”

As our bodies moved together, the thought of leaving him was like the kiss of death.

I sucked in a breath and looked up at him. “Stay.”

His lips pulled into a crooked grin.

Unknown said...

Death is never swift.
When the heart stops beating, it can take twenty seconds for the brain to get with the program. It took this guy fifteen. Once he finally stops twitching, I dump him by the diaper pail. His pockets are empty but I know who sent him. I scan the darkness outside the window, but all seems well in the sleepy little suburb. At best, I have three hours before they come looking. I scoop my squalling son into my arms, grab my purse, and then lock the door behind me. So much for turning a new leaf.

BethF said...

The music slowed and before I could scan the gymnasium for an exit, Will swiftly pulled me into his arms. My heartbeat quickened. He was my best friend, and I knew all year that our relationship couldn’t change; it was graduation and we were turning two new leaves– going different directions.

I rested my head against his chest.

“Sarah,” he whispered. “I already miss you.”

As our bodies moved together, the thought of leaving him was like the kiss of death.

I sucked in a breath and looked up at him. “Stay.”

His lips pulled into a crooked grin.

Rosie J. Pova said...

Sometimes what swift love interventions bring to your lonely roommate is death instead of a shiny new boyfriend. Rebecca learned that the hard way when she set me up on “the best date” with a psycho—a nice, charming, cold killer.
Sizzling hell, this isn’t the first time Rebecca’s good intentions have brought pain and destruction—she just makes all those stupid, insensitive mistakes that hurt people.
And right now, sitting on a pile of broken glass, I scan the icy walls of the New Leaf Purgatory and suddenly realize I might have done the same in my short life.

Anonymous said...

Yay! So happy we have this game on again!
Here we go:

A “scan”. That was all she’d been to him. The one he dated after he lost his job, and his wife left him for someone else. The one he’d used to amplify his confidence, and get connections into a better job. The one he looked through, took from, then discarded.

She didn’t see it coming, the swift blow to her heart, the old my-wife’s-back-but-you’re-the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-me tale.

The way he, doing the death dance now, didn’t see the poison coming.

“Sorry, Jim. Can’t pluck a new leaf with hands full of the old.”

Gwen Cole said...

All children dream of becoming something great when they’re older.

It always changes over time, with age and scanning the world from a different height each year.

But my dream never changed.

One dew covered morning when I was eleven, our best horse threw me during a riding lesson. Everything turned black—then I heard the voices. They promised a swift death if I chose it. Another voice told me to fight. Fight for my life and fight for my dream of going to the Olympics.

So I opened my eyes and fought.

Because what is life if you don’t?

Jay said...

My waddle down I-95 was the result of my busted Jimmy Choo. The death of my red pump was swift and justified. After I yelled at my date to pull over the car and let me out, I used all my strength to dent his door.


I got a couple good hits in before my shoe busted and he drove away.

Finding a date on eHarmony wasn’t the best idea for turning a new leaf, it was the worst.

I scanned the approaching cars for a ride, and a man. I preferred a German, with low mileage.

Brandon Alston said...
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Brandon Alston said...

The old man sings to his granddaughter.
Unseen, I watch from both a few feet and a world away.
He clutches his chest.
“What’s wrong?” the girl cries.
He slumps. She shakes him, wailing.
His death is swift.
Finally he sees me. Understands. He won’t make tomorrow’s heart scan. “I’m all Olivia’s got.”
“You’ve fulfilled your purpose,” I say. “A worldwide calamity will throw mankind into chaos. At thirty, Olivia founds an organization called A New Leaf promoting all the best ideals you’ve taught her. She’ll usher humanity into a new age.”
I take his hand.
We dance atop clouds.

Unknown said...

The pink NEW LEAF neon sign blinks on and off. I’d like to smash it to bits with my best throw but I don’t. Instead, I push the door all the way open. A bot with the name plate of SWIFT rolls over to me. “INSERT CARD HERE,” it says showing me a slot. I shove my card in and wait for the scan to finish. “APPROVED,” it says. “TAKE YOUR CARD.” When I reach for the card, a needle pricks my hand. I am surprised it happens without a warning. ‘REJUV COMPLETE,” it says. “DEATH IN 10..9..8...”

Alyssa Carlier said...

The fingerprint scan can’t detect blood, so the marble-tiled elevator whirs up.

Bribes took him to the fortieth floor. He was the best at treachery there—a bloodbath of double-crossing later, wits brought him to the fifty-seventh floor.

Not today. Today he’ll turn over a new leaf.

The elevator doors ping open on the hundred and tenth floor. He stands at the edge of the roof, caressing his slashed wrists. Up here, all the world seems insignificant. Bothersome.

Distant, compared to death whistling down on the swift wings of a Boeing 767. In the fire, he smiles.

Brig said...

‘What the hell is this noise?’ Dad asked, climbing in the truck.
He changed the station to some news broadcast. Death, death, taxes, death.

‘It’s not noise, it’s Taylor Swift’ I replied. I scanned my phone.
Judy had posted a new ‘leaf photo’, her naked self angled behind. She called it emotive art.
It was sad.

‘Let’s get ice cream’ he said.
We ate and he spoke, while I cried a lifetime of tears.

‘And I’ve never eaten ice cream since’.
My best friends are all crowded around.

‘Ok’ says Josie. She looks to Kate beside me.

‘Kate? Ice cream?’

Unknown said...

Who wishes someone "all the best" on a death notice? I gave the postcard a swift scan one more time but no, the words did not change.

"Your Uncle Al has passed away. All the best.
Aunt Chelsea."

Sent from her mansion in New Leaf. At least Uncle Al got to go in style. Not like the mansion. Swept into the ocean by an earthquake two days later.

All the best getting into heaven, Aunt Chelsea.

Kathleen B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathleen B said...

Shale crouched next to the wheel of one of the cars still parked outside Jay’s club. With swift hands, she readied her compound bow and took a moment to scan the dimly lit, almost deserted lot. Her mark should be exiting the building ahead shortly.

This time there would be no mistakes. She had vowed to turn over a new leaf and not screw up again. This bounty could refute her previous blunder and prove that she was the best.

Poised with an arrow knocked, she waited.

Death eventually claims all people, but tonight she was the messenger.

Shannon Renee said...

I died at fourteen.

It wasn't anything I planned, but it was all my fault. According to my best friend Callie my death wasn't just my fault -- it was my choice.

But she’s wrong.

You see, I never had a choice. Not when it came to Callie. So when fate stepped in offering me a way to save her, I took it.

She didn’t understand at first when her scan came back clean. Maybe she thought she’d turned over a new leaf.

The truth came later.

I wanted to explain myself, but their swift hands snatched me up too quickly.

Unknown said...

It was the best she’d ever done, her masterpiece.

Against the swift current of the author’s marketplace, everything else she’d ever done had fallen flat. All of it. Now, however, she’d finally turned over a new leaf. Yet, she just couldn’t bring herself to submit it. It was her ultimate labour of love, but the sinister blackness of doubt had soiled it, rendered her immovable. After her death, it was the only thing of value turned up by a scan of her life.

They published it posthumously, her masterpiece.

Unknown said...

I lean against my Camaro, Five Finger Death Punch raging from the speakers as she parks her new LEAF in front of the dorm. Fucking electric cars. Where's the fun in that? She climbs out, her gorgeous legs and damn fine ass heating my blood.

All my wet dreams as a teenager, the best anyway, started and ended with this girl.

She scans my pierced brow and ripped jeans before dismissing me. Christ on high, she doesn't even recognize me. That's about to change.

My grin is swift and full of promise, catching her off guard. “Hey, beautiful.”

Faydra said...

Beyond the haunting canopy of ficus looms the newly pink house. Outside, its owner hunches in her everyday uniform - yellow Bermuda shorts and, in spite of the death heat of summer, a fur coat - making swift shovel work, relocating plants. New leaves less startled by the rude movement than the day before.
She hoots a frantic hello, but I don’t slow my bike. Never mind my assignment - a dinner invitation in Mother’s best hand. She has not yet seen fur coats in July, scanned new paint and yard bruises.
Tearing paper, celebratory confetti in my wake, I form unspoken regrets.

Megan said...

My father told me mama’s death was swift. That before she could clutch her belly, cradling her insides as they oozed from her gut, she was gone.

When my father came home, his best clothes soiled by her blood, he didn’t have to tell me why he left her body in the street. It was the same death for all of our kind. We were illegals. A quick scan of his fake ID would give it away.

We were turning over a new leaf, he told me that night.

I never asked him why he had killed my mama.

Bekah said...

The steaming brew poured swiftly into the paper cup, splattering my hand with hot coffee. Cursing under my breath, I placed the cup in front of the man. “Anything else?”

He smirked. “I hear New Leaf CafĂ© has the best coffee in town? What else is good?”

“All of it.” I yawned, on the verge of rousing my morning death glare.

“Maybe you should try a muffin?”

I scanned his face when he pushed a muffin towards me. “I work-”

The man’s smile widened. “Or maybe you should marry me?” The muffin split in half and revealed a ring.


Unknown said...

It wasn't like she wanted to kill them. But death was all she could offer them - as their daughter.

They didn't quite deserve it, but at best they had been mediocre people. She'd try to make it swift.

She started mumbling. "Rock-a-bye, baby..."

Her throat constricted like the pastry bag she had used to decorate her father's last birthday cake.

"...cradle will rock-"

Suddenly she thought of A New Leaf; her mother reminded her of the character, Henrietta.

"...bough breaks-"

Wiping wrist over eye, she swung the rifle over to scan for another target.

"...cradle a-and all."

Lisa W said...

The halls were quiet and the classroom dark, one last scan of the perimeter and Celia Boyd could hide with her students on the floor. Moving with a swift efficiency she covered all the windows and locked the doors, comforting her students with a smile. New Leaf Elementary was a safe place, one of the best schools in the district, but it was vulnerable. As a teacher she stayed calm and refused to think about death or violence, this would be over in a minute.
The principal’s voice echoed through the speaker. “The lockdown drill is now over. Well done.”

Kat Waclawik said...

Blood doesn’t puddle after surgery. It smears. It’s a careless swipe across my sweat-drenched forehead, a spatter as I flick my gloves at the trash. I miss, of course. Another failure.

All I can do is remind myself of his scan. His death would have been cruel. Perhaps not so swift, but in a few months at best. The words echo in my mind, hollow and useless.

Outside the swinging doors, the hospital is alive with possibilities. With choices. With second chances. Not in here. No new leaf for my patient. My victim. And none for me.

J Lenni Dorner said...

In the forest of New Leaf, a swift death was the best an elf could hope to earn. The other options were enslavement, torture, or sun-ray collector. To outsiders, collecting the rays of sunlight was thought of as ideal- beautiful even! A quick scan of the burned elf bodies revealed the truth.
Today, at the funeral for Joyshynith's father (the last relative he had), The Masters ordered him to pick his fate in New Leaf. They never imagined Joyshynith's reply would be to toss their corpses into the same grave as his father. Thus began the New Leaf revolution.


Crystal said...

Laura sat down beside Emme. "Maybe it's all for the best."

Emme twirled a leaf that a fallen from the tree An incredulous laugh bubbled out. "Excuse me? Are you..." emotion flooded her. "Are you trying to say that my best friend's death was a good thing?"

A new leaf fell from the tree and Laura swiftly caught it with her hand in midair. Emme's breath caught in her throat as she scanned laura's hard face. Goose bumps pricked Emme's arms at her next thought. "What did you do to her?"

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

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