Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Contemporary Romance Winner . . . and the Historical Romance Contest!

We were back to a multitude of entries in the contemporary romance contest, so Jessica and I had fairly different lists of our favorites. That said, we were still able to agree on one clear winner.

Congratulations to . . .

Anonymous 5:20 am—Fractured

The dead don’t always stay dead.

Claire stood on the street corner waiting for the lights to change, staring across the road into the eyes of her late husband. Perhaps her mind was playing tricks, or perhaps he was only a rare carbon copy, but she knew it was Steve the way she knew it was lunchtime.

She was certain of two other things -- no one would believe her, and if she took her eyes off him he would vanish into the crowd before she could glance back. It was always like this.

Jessica: I think contemporary romance is a difficult category to judge in 100 words. Unlike some of the “hookier” genres it’s not the type of book to typically grab you in such a short amount of time. Because of that I’m depending on something to hook me in and the voice more than anything else. This definitely had voice. I like this voice a lot, the feelings it evokes, and of course I love the setup. Because of the category I’m assuming the husband is not a ghost, but you never know, do you? I also like the opening line: “The dead don’t always stay dead” has so many possibilities.

Kim: Great opening line. It piques my interest right off the bat. And I love “. . . she knew it was Steve the way she knew it was lunchtime.” It’s instinctual . . . almost a biological response. She was so close to this man that her body can clearly identify him. What’s great about this excerpt is that it doesn’t only make me want to know what’s going to happen next, it makes me intensely curious about what has already happened.

Great work, Anonymous! When you’re ready for your critique, please send your query letter, synopsis, and first chapter via the blog e-mail link.

And the runner-up is . . .

When I was girl, I pretended to be Scarlett O’Hara. That I grew up to be Belle Watling is no one’s fault but my own.

Ten years ago I convinced myself Belle got the better deal, but now I know the truth. Only spoiled, little rich things get tomorrow; us working girls are stuck with today. And today for me consisted of another two hour trick with an out-of-town businessman.

“Good evening, Sugar,” I said to the doorman as I entered the hotel lobby.

He hates it when I call him Sugar.

Jessica: The first line really grabs me. While I don’t think all contemporary romance needs to be Southern, there’s something about that traditional Southern woman that makes contemporary romance. Maybe it’s the romance of the South itself. And you can’t beat her turning tricks and taunting them by calling them Sugar. This grabbed my attention and left me wanting to read more.

Kim: I think what I liked about this excerpt is that the first few lines immediately let me relate to the character. We all wanted to be a princess or a movie star or a Scarlett O’Hara when we were little girls. I immediately felt a connection to Belle. Then I learned that she’s a prostitute, and it kind of took me aback. That life certainly is a far cry from her childhood dreams. Instead of passing judgment on her occupation, though, I sympathize with her. I don’t know for sure that Belle is going to be the heroine of the romance, but I have to admit that I’m intrigued by the notion. After all . . . I still love Pretty Woman, even if I have seen it more than twenty times. . . .

Nicely done, Christy!

Tomorrow, Jessica and I will discuss our honorable mention picks.


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, March 14th, 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. Keep an eye out for your category!