Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Thriller/Suspense Winner . . . and the Women's Fiction Contest!

It became clear in the thriller/suspense contest that some of the contestants are either not really reading the rules or choosing not to follow them. Unfortunately, this caused a bit of a problem for Jessica and me when we judged the contest.

We went through and made our list of top picks. We agreed on three entries. Then I decided to check the word count. To this point, we’d been trusting that everyone was abiding by the rules. We hadn’t been militant about checking it. But when it became clear that other commenters were noticing the length, we decided we needed to look into it. Unfortunately, two of the three contestants disqualified themselves by going over the 100 words, so this made picking the winner a no-brainer. If it came down to just two or three extra words, we may have let it slide (after all, we’re English/Journalism majors . . . we can sympathize with the mathematically challenged), but both were over by more than 15 words. We just couldn’t ignore that, and to be honest we were disappointed and irritated. Due to that situation, there isn’t a runner-up for the category. Honorable mentions will be featured tomorrow.

So congratulations to Spyscribbler for a great entry — and for actually following the rules!

Spyscribbler — For Love or Country

I sometimes imagine things had ended differently. I imagine the special smile he gave me, the way he always knew when I slipped into a room. I imagine the way he undressed me, his hands just grazing my skin, his eyes gazing at me in wonder, as if surprised I was his.

I was only ever partly his.

It started the way it ended, with the door of my apartment crashing open. The man looked angry enough to kill, but his gun was still a bulge under his jacket.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

But I knew. I already knew.

Jessica’s thoughts: What a great setup. I like the comparison to ending the way it began and I really like the last line. This is a lead-in that wants you to read more because there’s so much left to discover. Who is it and in what direction is this story going? It’s rare that I think first person works in thrillers, so even I was surprised by my own reaction to this.

Kim’s thoughts: I really liked how the opening changed from this warm nostalgic feeling to something much more chilling. The narrator, herself, is intriguing. Why was she only “partly his”? Was there someone else? Did she have any love for the man she’s remembering? Or did she just have a physical relationship with him? And who’s at the door? How will all of it connect? I’m eager to learn the answers!

Spyscribbler, when you’re ready for your critique, please send your query letter, synopsis, and first chapter to the e-mail link on the blog. Congrats again!

TODAY IS THE WOMEN’S FICTION CONTEST!!! Both historical and contemporary entries will be accepted, but the focus of the story needs to deal with women’s issues and appeal to a female audience.

Here are the rules — READ THEM!
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 28th, 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!