Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Have a Winner . . . and Another Contest!

Well, it turns out that there was a very clear winner in the Mystery contest, because it was the only entry that both Jessica and I picked for our top 5! And the winner is . . .

Mark Terry, The Zombie Zoo

Samantha Black was dressed to kill. She liked that expression. Dressed to kill. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar, just another beautiful face in the crowd. She picked up her drink, a zombie, the club’s specialty, vodka and grapefruit juice, and made a modest toast to herself. She took a sip, intending to nurse it. She needed a clear head. She didn’t need the buzz. She already had one of her own making and it was better than alcohol. She smiled. The image in the mirror smiled back.
Jessica: I personally liked Mark’s entry because it’s just a great setup. From those 100 short words you get a great sense of voice and you are beyond curious. Is she literally dressed to kill? Who is this woman and what is she up to? Mark’s 100 words have me wanting to read more. Thanks!

Kim: I agree. I loved the voice in this excerpt. It pulls you in from the very first sentence or two. Plus, it’s a great mystery opening. Is she literally “dressed to kill”? The writing is very lean. Not a single wasted word.

Nice work, Mark! When you’re ready to send the query letter, synopsis, and first chapter of The Zombie Zoo for our critique, just send it through the blog e-mail link. We look forward to seeing more!

While it turned out that Jessica and I had pretty different tastes overall, we were able to pick one runner-up that made both of our radars.

The runner-up is:

Anonymous 10:34, Peripherals
It was gone.

He blinked a few times in case there was something wrong with his vision, but it didn’t change the fact that his body wasn’t where he left it.

He'd seen the sheet pulled over his face before he was yanked to the light so he knew he was supposed to be dead. What he didn't expect was to be kicked to the curb when he reached it.

His mother was waiting for him when he got there, arms crossed, a pissed look on her face, tapping her foot.
Jessica: I thought this was hysterical, and funny usually makes me want to read more. The general setup, someone being dead, isn’t completely new. I’ve seen that one before, but the mother at the other end, the pissed-off mother, is brilliant. I love this! I’m intrigued and would definitely want more.

Kim: Again, for me it’s the voice. Like Jessica said, a dead narrator isn’t uncharted territory, but the notion of “losing” his dead body and the eye-rolling dead mother was fun and intriguing. Plus, it’s succinct. No time’s wasted getting to the point. We learn a lot about the narrator in just a few sentences.

Beyond these two that we agreed upon, Jessica and I had very different lists of our favorites. I think each of us actually look for different qualities in those first pages. So tomorrow we’re going to talk about our honorable mentions. We each chose four more excerpts that really stood out for us. We’ll highlight those and tell you why we liked them.

Overall, we were really impressed with the quality of the writing in all of the entries. If your excerpt didn’t make it in our honorable mentions or top picks, please don’t be discouraged from querying us. Obviously, it’s tough to judge a complete book based on the first 100 words, and just because we didn’t select your work for the blog doesn’t mean you couldn’t grab our attention with your proposal or query letter.


Here are the rules:
1. We’ll only accept entries that are posted in the comments section of this blog article. No e-mailed entries will be considered.

2. Include your title and the first 100 words of your book. Now, we’re not saying to leave us hanging mid-sentence here. Stop wherever the previous sentence ends, but do not exceed 100 words.

3. The same work cannot be entered in more than one genre. If you think your book straddles more than one genre, you’ll have to pick one. We will, however, accept multiple works from the same author in the same or different categories.

4. Once the material is entered, it’s your final entry. We won’t allow revised versions of the same work.

5. We’re accepting excerpts of both finished and unfinished works.

6. The deadline is tomorrow, February 20th, at 9:00 a.m. EST.
And in case you’ve forgotten, the prize is a critique of the query letter, synopsis, and first chapter of the winning entry! The winner will e-mail us the additional material and we’ll provide our notes privately, not on the blog. We will, however, discuss what we liked about each winning 100-word entry on the blog, and will pull out a few honorable mentions to highlight other excerpts that came close and why.

We’ll post the winners in a few days and then move on to the next genre: Erotic Romance!