March 28, 2006

B4B Winners (A Letter from Sarah Smiley)

Let's let Sarah talk--- I'll tell you a coupla things at the end:

Dear Bloggers:

My husband just came home from a morning flight and found me sitting at the computer like this: hunched over, a hand to my mouth, and laughing with dried-up tears on my face.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

I had just finished reading the seven finalists for B4B, and in a matter of thirty minutes had gone from laughing to crying to laughing again.

Are you people trying to kill me?

The submissions were fantastic, making my job that much more difficult. I read and re-read them several times over, convinced I'd never narrow it down to just three.

But Joshilyn told me the rules, and I'm not one to break the rules (ahem, stop laughing if you've already read GOING OVERBOARD), so here goes --

"The Military" by Excruciating Minutiae

An exquisite look at a sister's farewell to her soldier brother. I love how this author puts us right into the action. A true snippet of life. Brilliant. I was hooked from the very first paragraph. The vision of the author's mom standing on the driveway, watching the car drive away, made me tear up. And then, when the sister says her "goodbye" in the parking lot, the water droplets finally spilled over my lids and onto my cheeks.

The author's use of dialogue makes this piece stand out. Her pacing and tempo truly set the mood and make the reader feel a part of the scene.

So much is written about husbands and wives and mothers and fathers saying goodbye to their service-member loved ones. I was intrigued by the fresh angle to those painful farewells.

"Field Marshall Mom" by Cynical Optimism

Oh, my boys will not like that I've read this little gem. Great advice for "single moms" who juggle all the balls while their husbands are deployed. The satire on "Field Marshall" as Mom had me giggling several times. Great use of humor without being too cynical. Ah, cynical optimism!

Sometimes it is hard to "complain" with humor without making the reader think, "Oh get over it!" Field Marshall Mom walks that delicate balance of poking fun at ourselves without irritating others.

I especially love Rule #2 and its consequence. I can just see my boys getting down to their Superman skivvies before realizing I wasn't joking. But then, on second thought, they might actually like that. Oh well.

"Grandpa Gilles" by Wilson World

OK, this piece took me from tears to chills. I honestly had goosebumps at the end. As a columnist myself, I appreciate the author's full-circle ending and the powerful message it makes.

Beyond the beauty of this prose, however, is the very important message about war and life and death. Too often we overlook the risks our loved ones make when they commit themselves to the armed services. Thank you for the reminder.

"Grandpa Gilles" has beauty all throughout, but the power punch is the ending, with its reflections on "luck." Oh, and the picture is obviously a nice added touch. Good for you, Wilson World, for keeping all your loved one's sacrifices alive.

So there you have it, my tortuous selection. And I only say tortuous because all of them were good.

For those of you who did not win, hopefully you will check out my book Going Overboard or my column ( anyway. Overboard is not just for military wives. Far from it. In fact, I wrote it for civilians because my soapbox is this: your husband doesn't have to be physically deployed to go through the things I did in my memoir. There are plenty of men who are mentally checked out of their marriages. And that's what Overboard is about -- surviving marriage.

Happy writings!
Sarah Smiley,

Congrats to all of you entered and saved B4B----this was an amazining month. Wilson World will get a new Perma Link in the B4B Winner's section of my links page (which won't be done until Scott gets back in town....look for it over the weekend.) Also a signed copy of Sarah's book:


Let me just say this --- I think the LINKS section should be retroactive as far as FtKudzu is concerned, but maybe not extend back into Zero Boss territory as his archives are down. SO, If you won first place in B4B HERE and want to be included on the links, then shoot me an e-mail. This qualifies you also to be a B4B special guest blogger... BUT you have to retire from B4B and let some other glory hound soak up the rays of the massive fame and immense wealth that invariably follow a B4B win.

Posted by joshilyn at March 28, 2006 7:35 AM

Great choices, Sarah! And I know EXACTLY how hard it had to be to narrow down those seven to just three.

Posted by: DebR at March 28, 2006 10:15 AM

Thanks for the 2nd place and the lovely comments, Sarah! This month's topic was a lot of fun.

Oh... and Rule #2 is the best. Just last night we had a discussion about how the school rules mention what you CANNOT wear to school. There is officially no mention of what you MUST wear - so technically, it's entirely legal to go to school "nekkid".

Posted by: dragonfly at March 28, 2006 10:18 AM

Thank you for the 1st place ( did i really just get to say that outloud?)

I am honoured to be included in the Perma Link section, and I can't wait to read Sarah's book.

It is funny, I have always wanted to enter, but never took the chance because of the HUGE-BESTEST- WONDERFUL talent of all of those who had entered.

Congrats to all of the seven finalists, to the 2nd and 3rd place winners, and to all of the writers who took the time to submit.

Posted by: kim at March 28, 2006 10:48 AM

Congrats to all winners and finalists!


Posted by: Edgy Mama at March 28, 2006 4:54 PM

Thank you, both Deb and Sarah. I was so glad to be able to remember that morning and to share it with everyone. I will be sure to check out Sarah's book - it sounds like a great read. Thanks again for 3rd place and your kind review of my submission.

Posted by: Amy at March 28, 2006 6:18 PM

WhoooHooooo - congrats to Kim!!!

Posted by: AGK at March 29, 2006 4:22 PM

I am anxiously awaiting the announcement of the next contest!


Posted by: Hannah at April 2, 2006 5:01 PM