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.
TODAY IS THE HISTORICAL ROMANCE CONTEST!
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!
Title: Men who Command
Katherine Massey glanced at her husband, who had thrown the letter into the fireplace with unusual vehemence. The scrap of parchment flared up, then buckled under the heat of flames.
"Tell him I said: No."
Captain Farrier, who had waited by the door with strict decorum, nodded and strode away.
"What was the message?" Katherine asked.
"No concern of yours."
Even in good temper, Sir Thomas Massey could not be called a handsome man. Now, with his pinched features scrunched up in anger, he reminded Katherine of a dead rat, flesh collapsing under dull fur.
Title: The Ruby Brooch
Weary of the war that waged in her mind, Kitherina MacKlenna surrendered to her inner voice and funneled the sleeping pills back into the pocket of her breeches. In a show of unbroken will, she stepped up on the rock fence then leaped onto the back of the stallion. Stormy danced sideways as she settled herself and grabbed a hank of mane. Flattening her chest against his neck, she raced bareback across the black plank fenced pasture. The Kentucky farm had been in the family for over two hundred years. By a quirk of fate, she was the last MacKlenna.
Title: The Healer
Northern Cumbria, April 1402
"RUN!" Lynelle Fenwick shouted as the horn signaling danger blasted from the keep.
Men and women paused to grab sickles and hoes before fleeing the field. Lynelle's chest constricted at the delay. Valuable the tools may be, but they could be replaced. Once a life was lost, it could never be restored. Lynelle knew this to be true, for she was guilty of stealing not one life, but two.
With the field abandoned, Lynelle clutched her burden, lifted her skirts and ran as if the Devil were at her heels.
In The Night
A human scent stirred the air. Etienne Ferveur, Marquis de Lupiscoeur, halted. His muscles tensed for a fight as he crouched low to the ground eyes scanning for the source of the disturbance.
A break in the pond’s surface drew his attention. Ripples fanned in the human’s wake and a female emerged, moving toward the water’s edge. Her rosy flesh was visible from shoulders down the length of her back.
Her naked beauty blazed a golden hue under the cresting sun, beckoning him to step forward. He took two steps and stopped.
What could he possibly want with a human?
Joceline Montrose closed the door to her bedchamber and walked straight into the last person she wanted to see. Strong arms reached out to steady her from teetering backwards.
“Nicholas,” she acknowledged with a nod, unwilling to lift her face to his until she reined in her discomposure… and her yearning.
Still, desire brushed along her senses, making her body come to life with his touch. She wanted to sway into his firm hold, needing any contact she could get. Need for this particular wolf was dangerous and would either heal her or be her demise.
Those entries stood out as memorable to me, too! Congrats to the winners!
Dreams in Green
K. D. Fisk
Caithness region Scotland, 1415
Helen Gunn heard the bar slide over the heavy oak door. She couldn’t stop shaking as she huddled against the round pine headboard of the straw-stuffed bed. Dugald Keith’s clipped words still rang through her ears. He was going to make her his wife. She pinched her eyes closed and her knees drew up, tucked against her soar heaving chest. Her arms clamped around her legs as she began a slow rock back and forth.
There wasn’t an inch of her that didn’t ache from Dugald’s cruelty. The world was a wicked, evil place and Dugald Keith a prince of pain.
Title: Atrocity Gods
He didn’t bother knocking. He knew he wasn't welcome. He walked into the oceanfront bungalow, his usual confident swagger left behind in the warm, clear night.
Pausing in shadow, he took a moment to rethink his reason for being there. Against the waves’ dull lapping, was the sound of water in full boil on a gas stove and the quiet ching of delicate service. Her footsteps were almost inaudible.
He wished someone would see him as an intruder and telephone the police. All this might prove avoidable were he in custody.
As I Wait For You
From the time she was eight years and seven months old, Adeline was known an “old soul.” She had fathomless brown eyes that encouraged people to confide hopes, dreams and sorrows they’d never imagined sharing with anyone. At such times, the little girl would look up with her head tilted to the side and her hands clasped neatly in her lap, the consummate listener.
But this quality, rare and worthwhile as it was, wasn’t what made her so special. For Adeline had a secret of her own, one she never shared, not with anyone. Her secret wasn’t the kind one could share; it was unbelievable.
Adeline, you see, wasn’t really a child, although she'd been one another lifetime ago.
When he was done, she’d be the greatest whore in all Christendom.
If they’d been in London, her body would have already been sold to the highest bidder in the Marriage Mart. He’d have to dower her for some chinless earl to take his pleasure in her innocence. Since London was out of the question, a ton marriage not on her horizon, there was no better man than he to teach her. She was destined to be a prim little prude if he didn’t intervene.
And she might prove more capable than her mother in providing him with an heir.
Title:Mistress by Midnight
Laurette knew what she must do. Again. Had known even before her baby brother had fallen so firmly into the Marquess of Conover’s clutches.
To be fair, perhaps Charles had not so much fallen as thrown himself headfirst into Con’s way. Charles had been as heedless as she herself had been a decade ago. She was not immune even now to Con’s inconvenient presence across ballrooms and card tables. She had shown him the elegant line of her back, but could feel the heat of his piercing black gaze straight through to her tattered stays on more than one occasion.
Prayers of the Faithful
Claire refused to raise her eyes. The stiff material of her underskirt impressed its weave into the raw skin of her knees. But the rawness was not unpleasant; it was a caress. An opportunity to show her love, a token of her Father’s love for her. And of her earthly father’s as well, though he was earthly no more. The plainsong of mourning – her mother’s broken, coughing sobs, wrought as much of fear as of sorrow; her sisters’ whimpering and hiccuping (only Adele was old enough to recognize their new position); the servants’ rhythmic moaning – her own private Vespers.
TITLE: Confessions of a teenage cavegirl.
Grog is so dreamy with his protruding forehead; hairy back and prehistoric charm it makes me wish he would just grab me by the hair and drag me to the prom. He is strong, athletic and popular and for the second year in a row, he is the captain of both the hunting and gathering teams. The only problem is Grog doesn’t know I exist, we spent a whole semester in art class next to each other drawing pictures of woolly mammoths on the cave walls and not once did he talk to me.
FOR MERCY'S SAKE
“Do you prefer blondes or brunettes?” Anna Sinclair scrutinized the stubble-faced man behind the desk. “I have several friends who would love an introduction.” She backed toward the fireplace seeking warmth. A wicked smile crossed her lips as twenty-five-year-old, Daniel Mercy hesitated then flicked a glance above his ledger and shook his head. Tilting her chin, she tapped her finger against her cheek. “Maybe it’s redheads that draw your attention.” A log split through, spraying sparks around the hearth, and she hopped to the side, brushing embers from her long skirt.
Eyes On Me
It was just a whisper said into the wind, something not meant to be heard, but Lucia had heard it. She had heard it, and when she did, wished that she was deaf.
The man tapped his cane in an impatient manner, lips curled into a supercilious sneer, as he watched her pull out the small vial from the depths of her cloak pocket.
“Hurry up. I haven’t got all night.”
Kiss Me Sweet
October 15, 1819
The Honorable Sophie Crewe was a murderer.
Not by intention or anything of that sort. But she was a murderess, all the same.
“Sophie…? Is he…dead?”
Her younger brother’s white face, perhaps even paler than the dead man, appeared over her shoulder and with the strange sense that only people who were in trouble could possibly have, she noticed his freckles could practically jump out and bite an unsuspecting passerby on the nose. They were that noticeable.
Come With Me
There was something decidedly odd about the way the woman was walking.
Hips stuck out almost like the end of a battering ram, the breadth of her shoulders were quite formidable, and the Honorable Charlotte Penbridge was afraid to even talk to her.
Not that she was a mousy little Miss who was afraid of her shadow, no, most certainly not! If anything, Charlotte, otherwise known as Lottie among her confidants, was adventurous, almost to a fault. But there was something about the new upstairs maid, Brunhilda, that made her want to run in the opposite direction.
Lord Andrew's Match
London, Spring 1805
The clock struck midnight. Andrew Langdon, Earl of Traeton, lounged against one of the Marchioness of Kingsbury’s large Greek marble statues. He was unsure which mythological deity he happened to be offending. At this moment, he did not care. He perused the expanse of the grand ballroom as the orchestra tuned their instruments for the next dance. How on Earth had his brother talked him into this?
With an intent gaze, Andrew further scanned the crowd. He didn’t see his brother anywhere. Nicholas had thrown him to the wolves to fend for himself.
“And so, I am writing to say this one very simple sentence. Yes, I know that it’s quite sudden, and I fear that this letter will never find you. But if it should, would you, dear Miranda…
Would you be mine?
Would you marry me?”
It was hard to act like a distinguished history professor reading a letter like that in front of a classroom full of testosterone-driven men and a few academic female students who thought that tweed never went out of fashion, but I managed, with not even a blush or an embarrassing thought in my mind.
June 27, 1857 Satichura Ghat, Cawnpore, India
Who fired the first shot will forever remain a mystery. That one shot changed Margaret Wheelers life.
All around her the mostly Hindu rebels were massacring British Men. You could hear the battle cry ringing from Bank to Bank “Har-har Gange, Har har Mahadeo” they shouted and came raining down on the outnumbered British Men, Women and Children.
She could see her father, the great General Hugh Wheeler, already past his prime, but fighting bravely. She saw men being shot, being hacked to death, she saw her father fall.
The Lady Deceiver
Marga Linfrey, the alewife of Little Olmsley, pounded the dough on her table viciously -- far harder than she normally would.
“Better if it were a certain busybody miss,” she grumbled under her breath.
She rolled it fiercely, her thick arms lunging over the table. She scowled at every new 'recommendation' issued from the high, chirping voice in the larder. “No business of hers, for certes. Tell us how to breathe, if she could.”
“Mother!” whispered her mousy daughter. “She knows of these things. And she's the mistress…” She trailed off as her mother leveled a withering look her way.
Title: Trentwood's Orphan
Clouds, dark and thick, descend over Mary Winslow as she flees the manor house at Compton Beauchamp. Foul images repeat in a taunting loop and she cannot push them from her mind. Mary’s gloved hands shudder; her black walking skirts swirl around her rushing feet and she half-trips. The gravel drive crunches with each step until she slips through the high wrought-iron gate and out into the pale green English lane, where falling leaves spin and dance with a small eddy. She shoves her hands into her black muffle. Her lips press together against what she fears is a sob.
love the winner; The dead don't always stay dead. I would definitely grab this book up.
Question: Can the historical be time travel? Pick 'em up and throw them back to pre civil war?
Title: 'Til Dawn
“Beware you devil!” the warning wafted through the stone corridor behind him. “Devil, beware!”
Christen Everett had visited nearly every resident within Rainhill’s walls and despite is brother’s guarantee, there’d yet been a match of the description of the girl.
“The next patient here,” the solemn nun led them further down the narrow passageway, “is only known to us as Helias.”
“Unusual name.” He replied slowly, already bored of this goose hunt.
Sister Ana shot him an incensed glare as she fumbled with the large keyring. “Unusual is quite usual around here, Lord Barronton.”
Christen chuckled at his ridiculous alias.
Title: Reckless Liaisons
The horse’s hooves beat a clamorous tattoo against the cobbled streets, stirring the low fog that had settled like a blanket. Julia dug her heels into the stallion’s taut flesh, urging him faster still. With a grunt and a sharp exhalation of breath, he picked up speed, mane tossing in the wind, droplets of water splashing in his wake. She had no concern for the scandalous picture she painted, streaking through the outskirts of London on the giant black stallion, legs straddling either side of the beast as a man would ride. Haste had been far more important than modesty, and she hoped the cloak of night’s darkness would hide the inconspicuous nature of her dress. Her maid had borrowed the trousers and plain linen shirt from one of the stable hands. Her hair had been pulled back in a simple tie at the nape of her neck, and now strands of it came free, wrapped around her arms in stringy tendrils.
(copyright 2007, Kayleigh Jamison)
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman with unique abilities is quite often burned at the stake as a witch.
Ironically, Emmaline could have burned her assailant to a smear of ashes, if only she dared to use Nocturna Castle’s magic. Instead, she pried at the fingers squeezing her throat and clutched a silver candlestick against her skirts, waiting for the opportunity to bash in the man’s head.
I shan’t kill with magic ever again.
A blade glinted red in the banked fire’s glow. The mage began whispering guttural words that sliced her mind like broken glass.
Touch of Class
The first knock went ignored.
Madelyn Hamilton grimaced and raised her lavender gloved hand to knock a second time. She pounded harder.
Again the door did not open.
Madelyn lowered her parasol and closed it. She stepped down the two steps leading to the door and glanced up at the house. Shaking her head, she approached the door once more and raised her hand to knock a third time.
The door opened abruptly and her fist collided with a man’s chest.
[ Title: THE GREYSBROOKE GOVERNESS, Regency Historical (~1810) ]
Kathryn Dreyton wrenched her trunk out of the carriage and dropped it to the ground with a thump. The footman placed her other four trunks on the kerb and was nearly back in his seat before Kathryn dragged the last of her things to the front door.
The driver, clad in black livery, sat atop the carriage without a glance towards Kathryn. Had everyone in the world turned their back on her?
If only she hadn’t been foolish, she would never have been miles upon miles away from home, without a soul in the world who cared about her
Above The Vaulted Sky
The sky was endless blue, dotted by clotted cream clouds drifting in the breeze. Not the type of weather he expected on the day of his death. Then, he’d always been a romantic sort, prone to imaginative flights of fancy as a boy. In his childish reckonings, gloom and rain escorted him into the hereafter –it was only fitting.
Best not think of childhood. It wouldn’t do to cry.
He looked into the cheerful heavens; would that he conceived such an end for himself. No. It was unimaginable. One never casts themselves the villain in their own play.
Title: The Wellspring at Bromley
"Do you need anything else, sir?"
Ignoring the unopened note from Gladstone on his clerk’s tray, Jeremy Trumbull stared at the other missive he'd received. The one that had made his heart stop.
"You should check in at Hawkins' Infirmary, Harley Street. That is where your wife was taken after her accident. You have received your last warning."
He took a ragged breath.
"No, Smithson. I'm leaving on personal business now. That will be all."
Jeremy watched the man retreat, noted the shuffling gait, made a mental note to advertise for a younger clerk, then went quietly insane.
Title: Once Upon a Masquerade
There had to be more to than life than this.
Rebecca trudged up the last step, her basket, laden with a meal of ham and potatoes, biting into the crook of her arm. In some respects, she should feel blessed. Her savings afforded her a luxury or two, not that she felt secure enough to spend any of it. Still, she yearned for more than work and Sunday dinner to look forward to each week.
Summoning a cheerful smile, she entered her father's boarding house room. Inside, he stared out the window, his carpetbag clutched in one hand.
Title: Green Girl
Twig stirred at the rattle of the fishmonger’s cart going to the Norwich docks. “Mother o’ Jehosephat, not again,” she groaned.
“Gerroff you addle-beaked twit!”
“Addle beaked is it, old woman, and you with a nose like a radish?”
Seng and his wife, Moll, had a rancid habit of raising their voices loud enough to wake the whores in the brothel next door. Their strident bickering killed her dreams worse than cold water. “Huh, dreams,” she said. Her bed was a rope bin filled with straw above the horse pens. “So much for dancing with broad-shouldered lords,” she sighed.
The Protestant’s Gold
In France, the war between the Protestants and the Catholics was a long and bloody one. Near the end, when things were bleak, the Protestants gathered together a treasure, put it in an oaken chest, and buried it in Montchauvet, a village not far from the gates of Normandy.
Montchauvet was a busy village of over twenty-thousand souls. It had a charter, a mill, a leper colony, a nunnery, and twenty thousand souls who chose the wrong side of the war and supported the Protestants against the king.
It was folly.
Those were two great entries. I can easily see why they topped your lists.
After the Storm -
Miranda MacDonough shivered despite the bright sunshine that burned its way through the clouds earlier. The cold wind whipped wildly through the valley, rustled through the skirts of the female mourners.
Her eyes remained dry. She didn’t so much as flinch when rope squeaked, and the simple wood coffin slowly descended into the ground. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to cry, but her tears dried up entirely, leaving her with dry cheeks and a dead feeling inside.
Lost in the sight of the disappearing coffin, Miranda jumped, but gathered her wits just as quick, turning to Duncan Chadwick.
Title: The Duchess Competition
The belles of the Beau Monde had resorted to clumsiness in an effort to snag a ducal husband.
Tristan James Gatewick, the Duke of Shelbourne, conceded he’d contributed to this national disgrace. Ever since the gossip rags had declared him the most eligible bachelor in England, Tristan had rescued twenty-nine lace handkerchiefs, three kid gloves, and twelve fans.
If only it were possible to select one’s wife based on the inelegance of her fumbling, he’d have wedded and bedded the most inept candidate by now. Alas, even he wasn’t desperate enough to settle for Her Gracelessness.
Title: Mine Forever
Simon Harrington, Duke of Lindsey, needed a wife, or so his mother reminded him on numerous occasions. The Dallying Duke, which he had become known as, did not agree. He had a mother to pester him, a mistress to please him, well had a mistress to please him, until just recently when they parted company, and he was already considering his options for a new one. What did he need a wife for?
“You need an heir,” he quietly mimicked his mother’s constant high pitched reply.
“You need air, Your Grace?” Jennings, Simon’s valet, asked coming in the room.
Love's Wild Ride
western historical romance
There are certain things in life that every girl expects. No matter whom her parents might be or how much money they possessed, every girl comes to expect certain things. And for Anna, common courtesy was the foremost of her expectations.
Because she was expecting the courtesy of not having two grown men spitting dangerously close to her shoes.
She waved a hand in front of her face when the odor of the other two drifted past her. The courtesy of a bath, not even a full bath. Merely rinsing off the stench of three days worth of travel.
A Proper Seduction
Western historical romance
If there was one thing Mattie possessed, it was determination. That doggedness had, after all, given her the impetuous she had needed to seek a new life without her father or brothers knowledge.
That same quality was giving her the strength to pull her heavy trunk down the dusty street of Timberton as she tried to beat a hussy in a too tight and low cut dress to Mr. Holton.
She knew she and the other woman weren’t interested in the same job.
But Mattie had four older brothers, and if she knew nothing else she knew that if the scantily clad woman got to Mr. Holton first, he wasn’t going to spare a second glance for Mattie.
MON AMI L'ENNEMI
Marcelle dropped her needle and gazed at the bright sunshine spilling through the open door. "I detest sewing.”
Sophie blinked. “Are you going to leave like you did last time?”
“I would rather be at the trading post," Marcelle answered evenly, meeting the women's stares with defiance.
“Pour l'amour de Djeu,” snapped Yvette. “Trading is men’s business.”
Marcelle reached for her needle and jabbed her finger. “More redcoats have arrived at the garrison,” she said thoughtfully, squeezing her finger until a bright spot of blood appeared.
Yvette smirked. "Perhaps you should be with the men at the post after all."
Title:Shall We Dance
“I believe this room suits our purposes.”
The muffled male voice jolted Aria from her task. She glanced at the closed door of the study to ensure she had locked herself in and turned back to the ornate, medieval chest. Pushing the key a little farther into the lock, she wiggled it.
Drat! The darn thing wouldn’t budge. Sucking in a calming breath, Aria yanked the key out and tried again. The lock clanked against the chest and she stilled at the noise.
“Is someone in there?” the same voice asked through the door as the doorknob rattled.
July 31, 1909
Sunshine blazed through the grit-smeared train window into Jacoba DeGroot’s face. Distastefully, she patted a recurring dribble of perspiration with a lace-edged, now soggy handkerchief. The hanky was streaked with gray. She couldn’t help wondering if corresponding streaks patterned her face.
Could be, if she judged by the way the dark-skinned man standing two seat rows away in the crowded aisle was staring at her. Unless—a chill that did nothing to cool ran up her erect spine—unless he had been sent by her mother to take her home and he was only biding his time.
A Midseason Night's Folly
The morning of the highly anticipated eighteenth birthday of Millicent Armstrong—highly anticipated by her, not him—James Rutherford discovered too late that escorting her from the stables had been a monumental error in judgment.
It required only a stumble, a sharp tug on his arm, and he lay sprawled atop her, slender arms wrapped tightly about his neck.
He groaned, helpless, trapped.
This was the kind of temptation he could ill afford and had done his best to avoid as this day had closed in on him with the swiftness of the finest pair of blacks in full gallop.
Title: Earth’s Imagined Corners
Something was wrong with Father, Sara thought as she placed her knife and fork diagonally across her plate. He was being oversolicitous, and military men don’t kowtow, he often said.
“Chester has lots of ideas for improving the grocery business,” Sara’s father said. He gestured toward Chester, the man sitting on his right, his right-hand man. Sara tried to think of something to say. A new idea? From Chester, a man without an original idea in his head? “Chester, the Chinaman,” little sister Maisie called him because of the way he stooped and bobbed whenever their father entered the room.
Title: Forgotten Silences
Genre: Historical Paranormal
Melancholy. Melody. Separate words, separate meanings, united by a memory pressed upon my heart.
In our gardens, in the midst of hollyhocks taller than my five-year-old head, my mama used to sing to me. No more beautiful sound was there, than the melancholy melody of those notes, no more treasured sight than the diamonds of her soul as they rolled down young, flushed cheeks.
Now that she is gone and I am deaf, I am haunted by two regrets: that I didn’t memorize the intonation of her precious voice … and the eternal absence of song in my life.
Title: Forget Me Not
Clapping a hand over her mouth and nose, Evelyn paused in the doorway, hoping to stave the rush of nausea that threatened to spill her ham sandwich onto the newly scrubbed hospital floor. Despite the open windows in the ward, the smell of blood, urine, and illness remained trapped indoors by the humid, July air. The sick feeling abated within minutes, and Evelyn lowered her hand, resting it against the slight bulge protruding from her nurse’s uniform. A moment later she felt the baby respond to her touch. Ralph’s baby.
Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianius arrived in his home, formerly the home of Julius Caesar, and his whole body ached from the ride. His shoulders slumped, his body relaxing just a tiny bit, though not much was allowed under the metal armor that he wore.
His boots clanked together as he walked, echoing in the quiet house.
The last year, since Julius Caesar’s death, had been eventful and Octavian barely stayed in the beautiful villa that his predecessor called home. Now it was Octavian’s. Everything that was Julius Caesar’s was his.
Including the uproar of Rome.
Devonshire, England 1815
Cassandra Traeton flipped the pages of her journal, letting the soft ripples of water lap at her toes. Laying back with her knees propped up and the hem of her soft muslin of her skirts tucked about her waist, she basked in the sun’s midday warmth. A butterfly flitted about her head as birds chirped their cheerful songs.
“Tis a perfect day,” she murmured with a languid smile. It was a beautiful day to write. Whether it was its tranquil splendor or its turbulent waves during a storm, the lake always managed to inspire her.
Oops, the above entry is entitled "The Mischievous Marquess"
Her Lover's Keeper
Even after twenty years, London still stank. Diana Randall von Ulrich wrinkled her nose. The stench of urine and feces, of rotting corpses and food, and of innumerable fires belching their noxious coal fumes wafted into the hired coach as it lumbered through the slums clustered near the Thames.
She had never expected to return. After fifteen years of living in the sparkling splendor of Lake Como, she had stopped wishing to return. Had long ago stopped wishing she could erase the crime that had banished her from the bosom of her family and country.
A Dangerous Deception
The auditorium erupted into thundering applause. Kathryn Andrews took a deep breath and curtsied to the crowd. Shouts and whistles filled the air. Bouquets of flowers fell at her feet.
Despite the thunderous applause, panic began to arise in her breast. He would be waiting for her and it never ceased to vex him when she was late for their engagements. Kathryn exited the stage and wiped her wet palms down the front of her silk skirts. His proposal found itself at the fore of her thoughts. He had left her no other choice but to accept.
Good job and Congratulations to Anonymous and Christy!
They stood out to me also!
Historical Western Romance
(Denver Colorado, 1891)
Title: A Woman's Will
Charges pending. Must see you. Condition grave.
Erin's hands trembled as a tear of regret stained the telegram. Coercion or a sincere plea?
Handing the message to Julianna, she sat wearily at her dressing table.
"Are you going to him?"
Erin shook her head. "I can't."
"That night--the shooting. They were both just crazy with jealousy. In spite of his part in it, surely you don't doubt his love?"
"He said if I left him again, he'd have no reason to live. That's manipulation, not love."
Hardening her heart was the only way she could stay away this time.
We'll accept time travel, as long as most of the manuscript reads like a historical, not paranormal.
Title: A Most Wicked Devil
Nicholas Barrington, the seventh Duke of Ravenstone, feigned a look of utter boredom while he searched for any clue that would lead him to his prey.
Hidden menace lurked amidst the shrilling noise of twittering gossips and the breathless excitement of young ladies being wooed by potential suitors. Despite this, he saw nothing of any use on the faces of the gentlemen present. No sudden movements or nervous gestures to give away the identity of the one he sought.
The Cruel Game
“I hope you choke on your overfed vanity.” Lady Cristina Halden’s stomach turned as she said the words. Her gaze fixed on the gaslight just outside the hotel’s window. The warm summer evening had coughed up a sickly, yellow haze.
Lord Edward Bastion’s brows lifted his face into another insincere look of concern. “Temper, temper, my dear. You wouldn’t want to antagonize me so soon.”
She gripped her champagne glass, desperation curling her fingers. “This isn’t going to work. He won’t come.”
“Oh, he’ll come.” He snapped his snuff box shut with satisfaction. “For I can hardly resist you myself.”
Meg set the cloak next to her, smoothing down the rough patches that made the tattered garment whole once more. The piece may have been a bit frayed around the edges, but would keep someone warm.
The front doors burst open, banging against the wall. Meg’s heart jumped into her throat. A bitter gust of wind swept down the church aisle like an evil spirit invading the hallowed building.
From a white cloud of swirling snowflakes, a cloaked woman stepped into the church.
She slowly lifted her arm, her bare fingers out stretched. “Au secours.”
Her breathing was harsh in the quiet, an affront against the serene fall day.
She couldn’t keep going. The burn of her lungs would not allow it. But she couldn’t stop, she wouldn’t stop.
Her bag twisted, thumping against her leg and making her stumble. She dropped the luggage. Free of the extra weight, she was able to lift her skirts and hasten her speed. Why hadn’t she stolen a horse? At the very least, a pistol?
The stomp of horse’s hooves grew over the roar of blood in her ears.
He was gaining on her.
Title: The Devil of Jedburgh
There must have been a hundred of them. Black-hearted Kerrs with mud-streaked cheekbones, matted braids falling down naked chests dark from dirt and sun and hair. But the eyes! Black as night, black as their hearts, black as only the devil's beasts could be.
Breghan ran faster, tearing through the dense foliage with one dead certainty. If they caught her, all was lost. Every breath pained at her side, but sheer fear kept her going. She could hear them now, rapidly closing in. Their high-pitched grunt was neither human nor animal. Branches rustled at her left, then at her right.
1210, West Ireland
He thought it a fine night for a kidnapping.
Indigo-black with a sliver of moon, leaving him just enough light to see. Yes, it was a cold, dark night in Ireland, but not nearly so dark as his heart.
He spurred toward the cliffs, brine chasing down his lungs, and rode toward the abbey of Glenvalae. It was draped in shadow, and he listened for trouble, but the only stir came from the ocean below, the only sight, a ribbon of moonglow looping down from the vespers sky.
Indeed, it was a fine night for stealing a princess from her tower.
Title: My Heart Belongs To You
The masked man in black glanced her way. She held her breath as her heartbeat started a frantic rhythm. This was him...the very person she had come to seduce tonight.
Charlotte Hamilton’s palms moistened inside blood-red-gloves as she took deep breaths, hoping to calm her nerves. Amongst the couples crowding the ballroom, the mysterious man wearing black weaved around them, his cape flipping out from behind until he stood with a group of aristocrats.
The way he moved and tilted his head reminded Charlotte of yesteryear. Now after two years, she’d be able to confront her absentee husband.
And They Lived...
It was the usual wedding. Lords and ladies dressed in white and gold, a dashing prince, the bride was beautiful and they lived happily ever after. But then the wind blew the chapel doors open. Leaves and earth swirled around a man wearing some sort of dead animal on his massive shoulders. No tights for him, just raw muscled leg springing from leather boots, a dangling cod piece and his broadsword clanging against the floor. He cursed and then excused himself, realizing he was in a house of worship. Lust hit her full on, her nymph side kicking in.
Title: The Sweetest Temptation
Luscious, perfect breasts weighed in the palm of Trey Worthington’s hands. Just the right size for his mouth.
He swept his fingers across the rigid point straining against her bodice. With a heavy sigh, she closed her eyes and tilted her head back. The delicate skin at her throat beckoned him, so he didn’t disappoint his curiosity and dipped his head to sample. Drawing the tip of his tongue along her collarbone, he started the seduction.
Lady Margaret, the Earl of Grisham’s second daughter, had been an easy conquest.
Born the daughter of renowned Legionary Commander, Titus Claudius Britannica, and inheriting my mother’s dark hair, olive complexion, and unusually green eyes, from an early age I was considered both a great beauty, and a woman to be revered.
In truth I was more willful and headstrong than necessary but my doting father pandered to my every whim–be it weapons training, sailing, or horsemanship (my success in those masculine fields amused him) and I grew up fearless and confident. In retrospect my pride was succored by my father’s indulgences, and eventually the gods could no longer stomach my conceit.
Title: Huntress Of My Heart
Thieves came in many different forms.
Captain Barrington Winston had traveled the world enough times to spot a thief, and the pretty ones were the most dangerous. Just like the one he studied now. Slim, dressed in the plain brown rags the ruffians wore in Selcuk. The slip of a girl’s face held a look of innocence as she watched his shop.
The evening’s dim light didn’t allow him to see the color of her eyes, but they were wide and curious as they darted from person to person standing at his tent.
Title: Into The Sunset
“...And so, Miss Landon, it comes to this. If you want your father’s inheritance, you’ll have to prove that your half brother is alive.”
Katrina Landon stared at the solicitor sitting behind the oak desk as he drummed his fingers on the polished top, waiting for her answer. His tailored clothes and British accent explained his wealthy upbringing, and his degrading higher-than-thou attitude greatly offended her. But she’d been raised in the slums of Boston and was used to this treatment.
Her thoughts swam in confusion, and if not for her dear mother sitting beside her cradling her hand in comfort, Katrina’s mind would be ashes.
Title: Hellion's Haven
Fiona Graham lifted her head to the dark billows in the sky that threatened to unleash their fury. She inhaled the heavy scent of drenched earth and prayed to whatever saint chose to listen that this day rain would be the only thing soaking the ground.
A bevy of her father’s men rode fast on her heels. They, along with the quiver of arrows bouncing against her back and the sword at her side alleviated her taut nerves not at all. Yet she drove Larieen hard toward the lone tower where she hoped Feagan, her brother, remained hidden.
Title: Once A Lady
Dorothy Paxton narrowed her gaze at the filthy bastard on the other side of the bar, steadying her aim as she pointed the revolver at his forehead. Lifting his hands in surrender, sweat poured down his face. His knees wobbled and his teeth made a loud chatter.
The crowd in the saloon grew quiet. The tinkering on the piano stopped as all eyes focused on Dot and the man she’d just threatened.
“Now, now, ‘lil lady. There’s no need to get violent,” he said in a squeaky voice.
Licking her dry lips, she lowered the gun to his trousers.
A TRAITOR'S KISS
It was oddly hot for an April night, but Isabelle did not remove her sheets.
Outside an old man sung, disturbed only by a cart rolling down the pebbled road. She shivered as the voice filled her—a rich baritone hoarse from whiskey, raw from life.
She forced her breathing to remain even. She willed her hands to stop shaking. Slowly, she reached for the knife on her bedside table and gripped its ivory handle until her knuckles turned white.
There was no escape but through the narrow bedroom doorway, down the creaking staircase, into the room the intruder searched.
Congrats to the winners! I'm staying out of this 'un as it's not my area, but there are some great entries! Good luck everyone!
SPIES LIKE US
Hannah Walton was strongly considering a case of the vapors.
She'd never fainted once in her entire life of nineteen years, but perhaps it was time to try it. Nothing else she'd done had gotten a man's attention. And Lord Bradford, the man she had adored from afar over the past year, was heading straight toward her.
This could not be happening. With a quick glance over her shoulder, she realized that, yes, he did intend to speak with her. Her heart hammered with excitement and the prayer: Please, God, let him notice me.
Untitled (A Pirate's story)
The long, steel, black barrel of the gun pointed directly at her chest. The man holding the weapon kept his masked eyes leveled on her. The dingy brown cloth only hid the top part of his face, leaving her to focus on the nasty, evil curl to his lips.
Catherine Burwell gripped the folds of her skirts in her moist hands. The intense moment caused a cotton dryness to form in her throat, and she gulped.
She glanced at the quivering form of her maid standing beside her, then to Aunt Horace lying on the dirt beside their coach.
Title: The Guardian's Angel
Lady Anne Wharton squirmed against the threadbare bench of the coach. Each rut in the road forced her closer to a precarious situation. Under normal circumstances she would have traveled in finer luxury.
Today, however, she was in the care of her future husband’s burly guard. And today, she was not Lady Anne Wharton, but Amelia Cutstwald unwashed and dressed in rough homespun garments, which chafed areas best left unmentioned. And today, even though she was every inch a well-bred lady she very much felt like the harlot she was supposed to be.
The Earl's Companion
A beach holiday.
How pleasant. How relaxing. How pathetic.
Samantha Harcourt called it a holiday, beaming a bright smile on anyone foolish enough to ask, but she knew the truth: she was running. Making a futile attempt to escape death.
Futile if only because her funds would not last long, forcing her to return. To society. To drudgery. To polite smiles masking anger and despair.
For now, though, she forced her shoulders to drop. The empty train car left her quite alone. As she’d wanted. As she’d needed.
As if her thoughts conjured another, the door opened with a rattle.
Madeline Thorne was blessed with the kind of beauty that could, quite frankly, cause a man to overlook the fact that she was a complete bitch.
The only child of an impoverished country sir, she possessed (in abundance) two of the least attractive qualities in a future wife: she was spoiled and poor.
But she was very, very pretty.
“There is only one option for a lady such as she,” the Duke of Clarence lamented. Feeling quite charitable, he made her a proposition.
She slapped him.
Outraged, His Grace ruined her.
And she ruined him right back.
Title: An Incomparable Mistress
“I don’t want to go in there.”
Jocelyn grimaced at the building in front of them and glanced at her sister. "This is the only open establishment we've found.”
The one exception being the barely lit door they’d passed an hour before. Even the rats had kept their distance from that door, and Jocelyn wasn't about to tread where rats wouldn’t.
She peered through the dense fog that had set in around them, making visibility near impossible. Fingers of cold crawled over her skin, and she shivered in the damp air.
She had no idea where they were.
Title: The Merrow's Cloak
July 14, 1789
Silent in the recessed niche of the LaRoche courtyard where dusk’s shadows cooled the rococo sculptures and cobbled pavement, Genevieve concealed herself beneath the black cloak acquired only an hour before. She waited. The distinct clamor of hostile voices and a malevolent mob in the distance sounded over the small square where the cherubic fountain stood at its center. The stone seraphim smiled mockingly from their blissful, mythical world. Genevieve’s spirit shrunk from the violent tempest storming abroad, commoners releasing their bridled rage upon that harrowing symbol of utter dominance and cruelty—the Bastille.
Title: Tomorrow's Shadow
Massachusetts—July 31, 1680
Turtles never screamed.
Elias Bellingham couldn’t help but be grateful for this as his stomach caved with hunger. No telling how long he’d have to hide out here at the pond. Bad enough he had no pants and the grass needled his bared legs. He refused to bide the discomfort of starvation, too.
He needed sustenance. This guileless, buttoned-up reptile would do as good as anything. Had it been a rabbit, he would’ve had his whereabouts to worry for. Furry creatures didn’t consign to being skinned without a good hearty wail or two. But a turtle was a silent victim.
Title: Phantom Privateer
Chastity jogged to keep pace with the soldier who held her arm in a vice-like grip. She knew better than to argue with him; it hadn’t worked the past several times, she had no reason to think it would work now. When her captor pounded on the door of the mason house which had served as her prison for the past handful of months, she knew her plans had been foiled yet again.
The door opened and her father appeared, the normal look of worry not gracing his elegant features. His brows were furrowed, and his lips pursed.
Title: Moonlit Masquerade
Kieran stared coldly across the mahogany desk at the man who thought to make him marry. A strong man, about a score of years his senior and looking fit enough to carry out whatever threat he used. “You are underhanded, and I care not one whit for your tactics.” In the Marquis’s study, Kieran felt at a disadvantage. Waging war in the enemy's territory never ended well.
The Marquis chuckled at Kieran’s outrage as he poured himself a brandy. He held up the decanter in offering, but Kieran refused. “I am the underhanded one?”
Working Title: The House of Tigris
Not again she groaned. This was maddening. They’d been feverishly going at it for half the night, and still…was he demanding perfection from her?
She boldly dared to question. “Was it my technique?”
It couldn’t be. Perhaps it was his instrument of choice. “It wasn’t my technique” she pouted, refusing to believe the fault was hers. He circled her, pointing his sabre with one hand while slowly unbuttoning his shirt with the other. “Again” he said, this time softly. She was such an innocent about it all, mistakenly thinking he was agitated when he was clearly aroused.
Viscount Thomas Armstrong gave his head a hard shake. “You’d like me to do what?”
“Take Amelia under your care during—” Harold Bertram stopped to clear his throat before forging on, “my stay in America.”
Thomas suffered through the second such unsupportable request in as many days—this one even more painful than the last.
The prior day, a peer in the House of Lords had presented him with the kind of offer that sent honest men hurtling full-tilt down the unsavory road to perdition.
He hadn’t thought it could possibly get more unseemly than that.
He was wrong.
Title: Untitled Shoot 'Em Up Mystery
Riding into any town for something like this always rankled Whittaker Jessup, though part of the job was heading into towns where the lawmen had been shot down, run out, or just plain burned out. But this time, his nerves were on edge more than usual, and he glanced at the partner who rode alongside him, the focus of that unspoken worry.
They'd been riding the trails as partners, to his way of thinking, for nearly six months now, the longest he'd ever managed to keep a deputy. So far, he figured she suited just fine.
Title: Seeking Truth (1146 England)
His stallion’s hooves pounded like the beating of his heart as Lord Eaduin Kempe shook damp black hair from his eyes. A gentle spring rain fell. It felt like a driving storm; like the driving storm in his soul. The presence of his beloved foster mother blunted the emptiness of his keep, but if he lost Judith. . . Nay. He wouldn’t think on it. All had seemed normal with her, so well did she hide her pain. Was he blind? How could he have missed something of such import? Eaduin rode grimly, determined to find aid. Today.
FORGET ME KNOT
Tingles of awareness spread across Tory's scalp and edged down her spine, causing her to shiver in the overcrowded room. With a nonchalance she didn't feel, she lifted the glass of tepid punch to her lips as she scanned the ballroom for the source of her unease. Hundreds of candles sat lazily atop crystal chandeliers, casting a pleasant sunset glow over Lady Eversley's guests. Tory shuddered as she watched Lady Sheffield clutch her husband's arm with catlike tenacity while his ever-roaming regard trailed after a willowy beauty dressed in a shimmering teal evening gown.
We all know it's a hassle to run these contests, but thanks anyway.
Title: The Guardian
The door slammed and her heart dropped to her knees.
She was two minutes too late.
A venomous laugh erupted from his lips as he stepped between her and the bedroom door.
“So you think to escape me?”
Adriana Masters looked at the man who blocked her path. The ten-year-old girl she had been wanted to turn around, to hide, to do anything but confront the man who had been her guardian the last nine years. The young woman she had become stood her ground.
“You will always be mine,” Arthur Markham, the fifth Earl of Percy mocked her.
Neferu and her aunt were about to retire for the evening when the knocking began. It was a rather forceful, full-fisted pounding that resounded down the hall, making both ladies jump in their seats.
Aunt Teta clutched at her massive bosom through several layers of expensive wraps and shawls. “Brigands! Oh, Neferu, are we to be murdered in our own home?”
Neferu rolled her eyes towards the sky goddess Nut, “Because murdering brigands always knock first.”
Aunt Teta leveled a basilisk stare at Neferu and then motioned for their manservant to get the door.
Title: Night Music
No turning back now.
Hannah Forester gripped the edge of the seat, staring at the passing landscape from the coach window. Thornton Manor loomed in sight, and as the coach advanced closer, chills rushed up her spine testifying the manor held long hidden secrets...those she’d heard in whispered circles.
This was the place where to find answers about her father’s murder. She felt it in her heart.
Unfortunately, the only way to get inside the house was the prospect of marriage. Hannah would pretend to court the younger brother, Jonathan Thornton, because she didn’t intend to follow through with marriage.
Title: Surrender Your Heart
Rebecca O’Donnell blamed the mule.
The animal wasn’t named Pincher for nothing. Every time she walked in front of the animal, the ornery old cuss nipped at her. Today, Pincher’s teeth had caught the material at her shoulder and ripped her brown and gray gingham dress. Of course, Rebecca’s day hadn’t started out right to begin with when she woke up later than usual, but that blasted mule only added fire to her already stoked temper.
“Dagnamit.” She jumped out of the way when he tried to get a second bite. “You’ll not get another taste of me this morning.”
Title: Forever Kind Of Love
“Marry me. Be mine forever.”
Down on one knee, Christopher Morgan gazed into the wide brown eyes of the woman he’d given his heart to almost three months ago. Nervousness stirred in his chest, making it almost impossible to breathe. In his heart, he prayed nothing would go wrong.
The setting couldn’t have been more perfect--as if the Lord had a hand in it. Chris and Anna were alone in the parlor of her parent’s house and her servants were in other rooms. Anna stood in the sunlight as an angelic glow formed around her.
Title : Lost in Love
“You are planning to murder me, aren’t you?”
After a mere eighteen years of life, Adelaide Formsby-Smythe was to die a horrible death for asking the wrong question. To be more precise - for asking a man the wrong question.
Not the question about her imminent demise, which was asked simply in jest. At least she hoped it was. One glance at the man seated beside her on the high perch phaeton and she began to have her doubts. With those flashing eyes, stiff shoulders and the sound of his grinding teeth it was a certainty. He had “the look.”
Only in Your Arms (early Victorian)
Apollo Sutton, Marquess of Brentmuir, came awake to bright, summer sunlight streaming through the windows of his bedchamber—the curtains had curiously not been drawn—and to the piercing stabs of the pitchforks of the thousand tiny devils who had taken up residence inside his head. He groaned, pinching his eyes shut against the painful intrusion of light.
A slight, breathy snort to his right arrested him. He opened his eyes slowly, bracing for the agony that was certain to accompany visual perception. As he took in the sight of his naked, uncovered bedmate, three things became instantly clear.
Title: Aim For My Heart (Roaring 20's)
“I’m going to kill him with my bare hands,” Monica Lange raged in a mixture of anger and sorrow as she paced the floor in the parlor, clasping her beads against her throat. “When I finally meet the man who killed my stepfather, the only words that will come out of my mouth will be, ‘You are going to pay’. Then, when the murderer laughs in my face—” She paused and looked at her second-cousin, Anna. “I know he’ll laugh, but when he does, I’ll wrap my hands around his throat and strangle the life right out of him.”
Title : Dreams of Angels
“You will marry and produce an heir, you ungrateful bastard or I will throw you back into the gutter where I found you!”
His grandfather’s words still ringing in his ears, Sebastian Sherringdon descended the steps of the Mayfair townhouse. When he reached his waiting carriage, three identical sets of eyes grew wide at the sight of his split and bleeding lip.
His coachman and matching grooms were considered quite the most original set in the entire ton. Identical triplets dressed in identical liveries made them the object of pointed stares any time they appeared on the streets of London.
Savannah, Georgia, April 10, 1885
“Make them stop! Please, make them stop.” Blair Simmons moaned out of desperation when she made her way to the next ward. Packages of bandages were stacked in her arms as she followed behind the doctor, moving from patient to patient, seeing who was the worst and who needed the doctor the most. Unfortunately, the doctor was the only one in this hospital facility, so could only do a minimal job when it came to helping the bleeding and dying soldiers, both from the North and the South.
Title: The Assasin's Kiss
“There’s a woman here to see ya.”
Monk reluctantly dragged his attention away from the floor plan to Baron Harling’s London town home. Tom stood in the doorway to Monk’s study, his arms crossed over his massive chest, a ferocious scowl on his broad face.
“Some one asked to see me?”
No one outside of his immediate circle knew where he lived. Not since he’d broken ties with his old associates and bought this house under an assumed name. Monk got up from the overstuffed wingchair. Baroness Harling’s luscious collection of pearls would have to wait.
Title: Passion's Touch
Color drained from the young woman’s terror-stricken face. The masked bandit thrust the pistol to her temple. Her lips trembled. The blackguard tightened his arm around her neck, and she whimpered.
“Don’t come any closer, or I’ll shoot you, too,” the bandit yelled.
Nicholas Hawthorne stepped down from his coach, his gaze pinned to the struggling woman and the bandit holding her. The half-hidden moon couldn’t conceal the terror that must have taken place only minutes before Nick and his driver had arrived. Nick switched his attention to the lady’s companion lying unconscious next to her broken down coach.
Title : An Honorable Man
“Thirty-two is a dashed inconvenient age to die.”
Had the day not been one of singular solemnity, Harold Creighton would have laughed.
“Exactly what age is a convenient one to die, Tilly, old man?”
Poor Tildenbury’s nonplussed expression provoked quiet chuckles where his inane statement did not. It was a relief actually, and one he could be counted on to bring to the most serious and delicate of occasions.
Not that he ever did it intentionally. Tilly simply had a complete lack of subtlety that made everything he said completely inappropriate and more often than not, utterly ridiculous.
Title: Seeking Perfection (Western)
He spotted her. The woman who’d haunted his thoughts for the past twenty-seven days while playing havoc in his dreams for the past twenty-six nights. She was a pallor reflection of lust, too brilliant to be contrasted against the dark walls of this room yet too brittle to be allowed to grace the harsh sun. Yet here she was, his most severe fixation. And she was alone this time.
Brody McAllister scanned the room quickly, spotting the other porcelaneous women—her companions—preoccupied throughout the saloon. They were close, but not close enough to stop him.
Title : The Hedgehog
“There’s summat wrong a’ta house.”
Now there was an understatement and no mistake.
Monticourt Hall sat on the edge of crumbling cliffs, a stone gargoyle clinging to the land like some dying beast spat from the sea. It devoured all who entered and sucked the last drop of joy, laughter, and life out of them as surely as the worms in the grave. She hated the place.
Madeline Carston glanced up from her seat on the rickety gig. The old groom was right. With candlelight aglow in every window, the house took on the aspect of a smiling, hungry demon.
“Where are we going, Mama?”
Roan Gregory William Elliot plodded flat-footed beside his mother as fast as his five-year-old legs would carry him. His ankles ached with the pounding, but his excited heart jumped in his chest at this first outing with her.
“For my birthday, Mama? Are we going somewhere for my birthday?”
He’d be good and polite. He’d be quiet and not speak until she spoke to him. Just like Nurse said.
“Mama, why is Nurse crying?”
She gripped his wrist, quickened her pace, and scraped his knees along the rocks until he regained his balance.
BREATH OF HONOR
"Freddy," said the cool voice behind the library door, "if you don't unhand me this instant, I'll smack you."
Out in the corridor, Oliver Marshall halted. Long ago, he’d suffocated his tendency to charge ahead recklessly, buried it beneath sheaves of paper crossed with india-inked law hand.
"But I love you." The man's voice cracked on the last word. "Just--Ow! Just let me prove how much--hold still, damn you!"
This was no time for heroics; Oliver needed to consider his career. As he always did when forcing himself to deliberate, he began to count.
He reached one.
Before entering the bedchamber, Caroline Larchmont carefully considered the figure of her mother, the Dowager Duchess of Gloucester. The woman rested with the back of one hand on her brow and the other flung decorously across the covers, her face thin and pale. Until two years ago Caroline would have been sincerely concerned. Now she approached the seat next to the bed cautiously.
“Caroline. My dear child.” The weak, honeyed voice sent ripples of fear up Caroline’s back. She could be sure now this summons meant her mother had some odious plans in mind for her. “How are you?"
"Wild Texas Rose"
Texas - 1885
Trey Delaney stood amid the cinders next to the iron rails and watched the Southern Pacific fade into the shimmering heat veils on the horizon. What did he expect? That the train might suddenly throw on its brakes and start rolling backward because one last passenger had forgotten to get off?
He’d never been much of a praying kind of man. He figured divine intervention was reserved for those who were too helpless to help themselves, but as he’d watched the few passengers disembark at the depot a whispered, “Please, God,” slipped from his lips.
She hadn’t come.
“Pretend you are dead,” a deep voice said near her ear as she stepped from the back staircase.
Across the room, a furious pounding shook the only door of the inn’s private dining room.
“Drop to the floor. Now!” Strong hands gripped her arms and roughly shoved her down.
Her knees buckled, hitting cold stone. The force jolted her entire body, gnashing her teeth.
The door flew open, crashing against the wall as two men entered.
Men with pistols.
Alexandra Gaville hurriedly flattened to the pavers. The sudden smell of stale ale mixed with rotting meat filled her nostrils.
Title: Repeating History
I escaped before light the morning after Granddad’s funeral.
One of the hallmarks of civilization, as Dad would say, is a decent road. As I gunned my Harley out of Denver, I didn’t want to think about what he’d have to say when he found the note I’d left on the table in the entry hall, but it didn’t make any difference. I wasn’t going to not go, no matter how much he tried to lay down the law, and he’d spent hours giving it his best shot the night before.
It was the right thing to do.
“A quid says you won’t kiss the wench in the gray surge and mob cap,” Mr. Farr said laconically.
At the hint of a wager, Duncan, Lord Dunraven, bestirred himself. He pushed off the far wall of the assembly hall and looked about.
“A quid, you say?”
As the music for a reel ended, Mr. Farr jerked his prominent chin toward the door of the assembly hall. The dancers leaving the floor parted like the Red Sea, leaving a country chit and her equally rustic companion clearly visible.
A frock hung on her like something borrowed from an older sister.
Bonded Bride. (New Zealand 1865.)
Mist shrouded the ship’s deck, forming teardrops on shawls and greatcoats of assembled passengers. The harbor, placid now, was surrounded by bushclad hills wreathed in cotton wool.
Inside, Emily Kirk felt the acid burn of tears as she looked over the deck rail at the upturned faces as the gangplank lowered. Among that sea of humanity in this raw land, was her husband. The man Aunt Maude paid to marry her.
Was he old, or fat? Kind or cruel? Emily trembled. Not that it mattered. Whoever he was, he wasn’t Cousin Ethan, the man she loved.
THE MAKING OF JENNY KEEBLE
Gareth had lost himself in his naturalist’s journal. The pages were ivory with age and black with rough ink drawings. But in his mind’s eye, the spindly sketches transformed into verdant jungle foliage lit by the scarlet breasts of a family of jungle macaws.
Somewhere, his senses registered the rustle of paper, the play of light and shadow across the pages, and the draft of a door opening. Engrossed as he was in his work, Gareth had no attention to spare for the frivolous details of reality.
That, of course, had never stopped reality.
The Vatican, 1503
The stench of death filled Marcello DiAmante's nostrils, his stomach turning over in protest. The torch light flickered through the gallery storeroom., dimly illuminating the fresh corpse. Marcello glanced up at his companion, he could smell the Pope's fear.
"My friend, believe me when I tell you this is not what I brought you here to see." The Pope, Pius III, swept his arms across the area, indicating the priest's splayed body. "I do not know what evil dares to lurk in this holiest of places."
The two men knelt beside the twisted and badly beaten body, his throat cut.
[Title: The Lone Deceiver, Western]
Wanted, it read, dead or alive.
Adelaide McKay cringed at the ominous text—harsh words but a much harsher reality. Crumpling the warrant notice, she stuffed it into her back pocket. The brim of her weathered hat was kept low as she slowly waded her way against the undercurrent of bodies flocking to the center of the saloon.
No, not now, she warned as she felt the panic swell within her body. In the past, she had managed to stave off these attacks with deep, calm breaths; but now, every gulp of stagnant air only further tightened her throat.
The soles of his boots were roasting. He could feel it. He could smell it. That wasn't a problem; Ranulf wanted to die with warm feet. The problem was the fat bishop who waited for an answer like a dog waits for table scraps.
Life in return for loyalty.
For too many months Ranulf had watched as old friends were dragged off for execution. Death had become his only reliable companion. Death had become a friend.
“Sounds like a poor bargain to me.” He stamped one smoking boot on the stone floor. His feet were warm enough.
LADY OF CHOICE
“I will return to our homeland,” Lincoln declared, “with our records, and our family, intact. We have not touched English soil in over nine years. As my final decision, Malcolm, this is beyond contestation.”
Malcolm shook his head mournfully. “Oh, young master,” he said. “And if they keep the title from ye?”
Resolve coursed through his veins, warming his blood. He was going home, taking with him those closer than family. He would wring the last drop of respectability from the title of Viscount Sterling.
A curious, harsh smile twisted his lips. “I’d like to see them try.”
Rain pelted the hackney as the horses trodded through the mud and mire. Lady Victoria Lindsey, in a futile attempt at comfort, leaned against the hard seat of the cramped carriage. The strong winds rocked the coach with each gust. The moment Victoria became comfortable, another blast of air sent her reeling across the seat.
“You couldn’t have picked a better time to travel,” she grumbled to herself. But it was the only way. She needed to avenge her parents’ murder. They were gone forever, and the killer roamed the countryside a free man. Where was the justice in that?
Title: AN INCONVENIENT MARRIAGE
London, June 1815
Lady Amelia Staunton reread the letter in her hand. It was signed ‘Gaston d’Ambergris’ -- and it was complete rubbish. She tossed it into the flames.
Her friend Madeleine entered the sitting room. “Are you burning poor Gaston again?”
Amelia gestured at the stack of papers awaiting destruction. “I shouldn’t be called a writer. Gaston is a literary abomination.”
“The ton wouldn’t call you ‘the Unconquered’ either, if they saw you covered in ink and soot like a raving bluestocking,” Madeleine said playfully.
Amelia snorted. “I’d happily accept ‘Raving Bluestocking’ if they would let me sink gracefully into spinsterhood!”
Title: The Warrior's Legend
The grass grew quickly, trapping the tree branches. The forest beckoned to her. She heard her name in the wind, howling and shrieking. It was impossible to resist the pull of it. Though rooted to the spot, the forest still pulled her. Branches snapped in her face. Corivaine threw her arms up to protect herself. There was no getting away from it.
"Corivaine," the wind, her mother's voice, called to her. The sing song of her name seemed to quiet everything. She could no longer struggle with the long grass. Her hands felt bound over her head, somebody was there.
To Seduce A Scholar
Elliot Hardwicke’s quill hastened across the parchment. If p is prime, and a is any integer . . . Fermat’s theorem sang with glorious precision; the beginnings of order in a vastly chaotic discipline. True mastery of mathematics required unwavering dedication and brooked no interruptions—
“Cook cannot complete dinner preparations, my lord. There appears to be a dead body in the kitchen.”
—Although some statements might justify a momentary loss of concentration.
Elliot glanced up, lifting his pen. His butler’s enigmatic expression betrayed nothing, but then Mycroft’s stoicism was the stuff of legend.
“Whom did Cook poison this time?”
Title: Ravishing Seas
“For fare.” The gypsy slid the watch across his desk.
She had not remembered him, but he had recognized her instantly. She was still frocked in the heavy dungri and purple scarves; eyes hued similar to the amethyst baubles she’d once pandered.
Captain Cortland Buchanan’s jaw clenched as his body stiffened in irritation. The gall of this woman, bartering passage on his ship with his father’s watch—which she had lifted only hours ago.
Cortland stood, his hands clutching the desk in churning rage. “You are a stowaway on my ship and I have every intention of laying the nines.”
Unflappable (Working Title)
Prohibition Era Romance
The second Kathryn Nichols entered the speakeasy she knew she’d made a mistake. Then again, sneaking off to Chicago to visit her aunt hadn’t been one of her wisest decisions, either. She glanced around the smoke filled room, her nose twitching in irritation. When Aunt Beth said they were going out to dinner, she expected they’d be dining at some fancy restaurant downtown, not gallivanting around, visiting illegal establishments.
Aunt Beth’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “Katie, cheer up and have some fun.” She flashed Katherine a stern glare. “And don’t even think about calling me Aunt Beth.”
Thawing of the Duke
With his first step into the antechamber of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Lord Alexander Cartwright sensed something was amiss.
Men green about the gills never gave him pause. Certainly not in a situation such as this. It was to be expected. Endured. Indeed, it was looked upon with great compassion.
However, his friends were altogether a different matter. They’d walked—he stood corrected—vanquished this course years gone. Yet the two men stood stiffly erect, faces contorted as if awaiting the fatal plunge.
But oftentimes, men did confuse such gatherings. To many they were considered one and the same... funerals and weddings.
Title: A Scandlous Charade
February 1812 - London
This truly is a den of iniquity, Lucas Haslett thought to himself. One sleeping naked woman was draped across his lower torso, while another slept soundlessly, her head resting on his left shoulder. Luke was not sleeping; he was wide awake in the wee hours of the morning, staring at the crushed red velvet walls and what was left of some flickering candles.
Something in his life was most definitely missing. Unfortunately, that same thought seemed to creep into his mind at the most inopportune times over the last month or so.
Title: By Midnight
Cynthia Elling awoke mummified by a coarse linen sheet. She saw an unfamiliar room in the early morning light, no lumpy feather bed where her stepsisters should have been gently snoring away.
Her heart stopped. She was hungry. She was uncomfortable. She was married. Lying on his side beside her was Sir Harry Chalmers, naked as the day he was born, one arm flung carelessly across her breasts.
He brought her closer to him in his sleep, a lazy smile upon his lips---lips that so far hadn’t even kissed her, even when the vicar looked at them expectantly.
Title: The Accidental Duchess
June 1814 - Derbyshire
Olivia Danbury lay on the plush counterpane in her guest room, re-reading the last letter she’d received from her betrothed; which was quite a depressing thing to do really, as she had no idea when Philip would return to England.
Summer was Livvie’s favorite time of year, and she generally loved country house parties; but this one at Prestwick Chase had been tedious to say the least. She hated to admit that, as the host and hostess were her relations; but it was the truth
THE SEVENTH SON
“Doctor, thank God you’ve come,” Phillip said, hand extended. “Sebastian has been this way for over two days now. I realize we should have sent for you sooner, but we are a rather self-sufficient lot by nature. If it had only been a broken arm-“
“A gunshot wound,” Roane added.
“A knifing,” Cole offered.
“Or a simple bludgeoning, for the love of Mike,” Reginald muttered woefully. “Give me a cracked skull any day.”
“But a fever such as this…” Phillip finished, shaking his head. “We’ve done our best, but he’s definitively worse.”
As will you be, should he die.
Title: The Proposal
Charles hunched over his mahogany desk, absently rubbing his ink-stained fingers around his tired eyes, resulting in an inadvertent raccoon mask. He found this letter-writing devilish troubling. True, his aunts had each penned for him what they thought to be perfectly good letters of proposal to copy, but neither of them had struck him as remotely sincere or plausible. Ruth would know instanly that he hadn’t really longed for her this past decade while he got himself engaged to four other women. And he hadn’t even laid eyes on her since his aunts dragged him off to church last Easter.
Title: A Scandalous Wife
April 1812 – London
Robert Haslett, the Earl of Masten, glanced around his sister’s opulent ballroom and wondered, not for the first time that night, why he was there. These sorts of aimless functions were precisely why he spent most of his time in Dorset.
“Every year it gets worse and worse, Rob; and I get older and older, less able to tolerate her all together.” Chester Paddock, the Marquess of Bainbridge, complained as he ran a hand through his dark hair. Everyone else at the Hambly’s annual ball seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Title: A Scandalous Secret
July 1813 – Wiltshire
Chester Paddock, the Marquess of Bainbridge, hated weddings—particularly if his mother was present. But there he sat with his long legs stretched out in front of him and his arms folded across his chest at a torturous outdoor reception for his irresponsible cousin, Evan, and the poor girl who’d been compromised by the rogue—though no one knew that except for the family. Thank God the wine had been free-flowing. And Chet wasn’t the only one to indulge liberally with drink. The girl’s father was completely foxed.
Title: Tangle of Secrets
“Madam ... might I have a word?”
The parson’s wife looked round quickly. The churchyard’s grass had silenced the visitor’s approach, but still the unexpected address was less startling than the hollow quality of the voice. Maria Crane peered up anxiously from the rug where she sat with her infant daughter.
She recognized the newcomer instantly, by the haunted eyes. She had last seen them only a week before, also here in the churchyard--on the day they buried the schoolmaster and his tiny son … this woman’s son … or, buried what the fire had left of them.
Congratulations to the winner and runner up. Excellent choices.
To Vickie Dreiling, just glancing through the new entries while holding on the phone and I have to say I love this opening.
Probably not my place to say so, but I'd like to make a small comment. While the damsel in distress on a raging black stallion makes a dramtic picture, it isn't very practical.
Anyway, looking forward to reading more of these when I have more time.
Julie, are you living inside my head? I had the same thought about the girl on the stallion, and I also liked Vickie's the best! Congratulations to all of you though --- you are all so brave.
Charles Town, South Carolina
“Nay! I say you’ll not touch her!”
“She will die, man! Do you not understand?” The physician seized the other man by the arm. “Your wife will die, and her babe with her!”
“Nay! ’Tis nigh two days, now. It has to come soon – ”
“Did you not hear Mistress Randolph? The child is impacted – stuck – it cannot be born. You must let me help!”
“No! I’ll not have you go near her. I never gave leave to send for you.”
“Then thank God these midwives had the sense. Listen to them!”
Maggie Robinson - I really like your entries, especially Mistress by Midnight.
This is Anonymous at 9:02. Sadly, I see that my entry did not go through in time -- my internet connection clogged up just as I hit "publish". Not trying to sneak in late here. Obsequious apologies to all.
Kayleigh Jamison, I disagree with the earlier comments about your entry. Practicality has nothing to do with anything when you're trying to pull in a reader.
You captured my attention, made me feel what she felt with well placed sensory cues, and question her motivation for setting out bareback on a stallion in the throes of a wild storm.
I would read this book. She sounds like a head-strong character that isn't afraid to take chances.
Oh, but I did agree that Vickie Dreiling has a very interesting premise as well. Honestly, there are so many good entries, I would hate to have to pick only one.
Thank you for the compliment, Anon.
Practical? Of course not. Foolhardy and silly? Of course! That's the point. What would make her do something so ridiculous? Ah...but there's the question, isn't it?
It's my opinion that there should be elements of the fantasy in any romance novel, because I read them to be swept away into the story, out of my regular, boring life. Practicality doesn't really factor in. Those are my tastes, and since I write what I like, that's how I write.
I do appreciate your comment, Julie, though I am obviously biased against agreeing with it. It's further proof of the diversity of readership that every author faces. I'll never please everyone, nor do I want to because I think that would be quite boring. :)
Of course women galloping wildly away on raging black stallions is nothing new. I'm sure it still cuts a dramatic picture to some.
Unfortunately, a shod horse galloping on cobblestones is like a horse on ice.
As for the other black stallion entry, someone jumping on an unsuspecting horse's back would most likely result in the horse shying and the damsel in more distress.
However, we each have our own path and I wish you well.
Just a small point of interest for anyone who cares. True black horses are very rare.
Is this a crit session? No. As my mother says if you don't have anything nice to say....
Leave the girl and story alone. Even though I posted in historical I'm rooting Kayleigh just to shut the nay-sayers that have nothing better to do than put other people down.
I don’t see anywhere in Kayleigh’s entry where she specifies that the horse is shod. Could it be that this is a wild stallion and she’s somehow managed to be the only one to tame it? I don’t know, but it would shoot a hole through the ice-skating pony theory. And it would add another dimension to an already intriguing opening.
And as to the comment about the other “black” stallion entry, nowhere does the author, Kathy, specify that the horse is black. She describes the pasture as being enclosed in black plank. Maybe that’s where the confusion comes in. And as to jumping on its back unexpectedly, I get the feeling that this a practiced maneuver, considering the heroine knows the horse’s name (Stormy) and has to climb the fence to reach its bare back. I doubt a horse would be oblivious to that much movement going on around it.
Just my opinion.
"I don’t see anywhere in Kayleigh’s entry where she specifies that the horse is shod. Could it be that this is a wild stallion and she’s somehow managed to be the only one to tame it? I don’t know, but it would shoot a hole through the ice-skating pony theory. And it would add another dimension to an already intriguing opening."
Let me give you a little background. I come from a ranching family. I rode bucking horses, rodeo, for three years. I broke the colts on the ranch and broke my own horses later. The last horse I broke was a 16.1 hand stud and I rode him to work every day. I trained colts for one of the largest, then, racing Quarter Horse farms in the country. I presently own three studs (four until one of them twisted a gut and I put him down), two geldings and ten mares.
Could she miraculously be the only one to tame a large black stallion and make her escape on him? Possible. Anything is possible. If he has been tamed, he is most likely shod. Even if he hasn't been shod, horse hooves galloping across pavement, stones etc. are very dangerous. Yes, it would add to the tension, but in reality the horse would most likely be down shortly.
I'm not trying to be combative. I realize there is a niche for everyone and many people will find this very dramatic.
As to the other one, yes, my apologies. She didn't name the horse's color and I stand corrected. I think black stuck in my mind because I have never seen a black plank fence, but that is my mistake.
As I am a guest here, I will refrain from further comments on the subject of dramatic stallions.
I wish everyone much success.
A nod to Tiffany Kenzie for a fascinating opener.
*winks at Carol Spradling. Glad to see this appearing.
So many really wonderful starts. Good luck to all.
To Julie Weathers about Ms. Jamison's work and the side note about the black horses:
THIS IS FICTION. If it entices a reader to read on, and as long as she gets the facts of the time period correct who cares if the chick wants to ride naked or bareback or with bunny ears on a "rare" black horse. Its what the story called for and its what works for it. That your jumping in and saying something this ultra critical about details in a fictional story is preposterous for the simple fact that, once again its FICTION and the authors draws the world around their characters. The fantastic is what makes fiction so great. So Black horses are rare? good I'm glad they got a spotlight in a damn good book.
And I think this blog is a great idea and it has a LOT of wonderful and promising authors and stories started. Its people like Ms. Weathers that come in and try to break down those who have done what they are dreaming and destroy the purity of the concept. But you know what they say, those who cant do, critique. Not saying that Ms. Weathers can't do, but the fact that she hasn't posted here (or at least under her blog name) and finds the need to crit people says a lot.
bravo to all you guys that were cool enough to post your work. I commend you!
Of course women galloping wildly away on raging black stallions is nothing new. I'm sure it still cuts a dramatic picture to some.
Unfortunately, a shod horse galloping on cobblestones is like a horse on ice.
Well thank god for me I'm writing fiction and not a compendium on horses, eh? ;)
I, too, have a riding background actually. I rode dressage for a number of years competitively. But that's neither here nor there.
We each have our areas of expertise and our own backgrounds. Clearly my books (or at least this one) are not for you. That's okay!
Hey, what I find great about this is that out of 100+ entries, you zeroed in on mine, for better or for worse, and made others do the same.
I appreciate the well-wishes from others. Feedback is always a good thing.
"Hey, what I find great about this is that out of 100+ entries, you zeroed in on mine, for better or for worse, and made others do the same."
Not really. I "zeroed in" on two regarding stallions.
Some of the others I commented on just caught my eye and I haven't had time to read all of them yet so I'm sure others will as well.
As I said, there are many wonderful entries.
Good luck with your novel and your entry.
All right, Arcana and Above a Vaulted Sky dragging me in to their worlds.
Not sure I would read Confessions of a Teenage Cave Girl, but it has me laughing. Very imaginative and funny.
It will be interesting to see how the ladies manage to pick winners out of all of the very good openings.
Thanks to Julie W and others who liked my entry. You made my day! Kayleigh, I enjoyed your entry & all the others as well. Lots of talented writers here!
As for the great horse debate, I think we have bigger worries! Namely, our poor heroines' feet. Poor ladies, they have to totter on those cobbled streets in flimsy 19th century footwear. ;-)
Best wishes to everyone with your writing!
*Reposting this to correct typo.
Stella Price and Anon.
Actually, I wasn't putting anyone down. I commented on the practicality and then wished everyone well.
As we all know, bookstores are filled with a wide variety of books and genres so everyone can find what they enjoy. Some authors appreciate feedback, including mine, on things and others don't. Some authors research extensively and others are content to simply tell exciting tales. It doesn't make either method correct.
If my intent was to be disparaging, I probably would have posted anon as I do enjoy this site and don't wish to make enemies.
To fellow anons:
"Forgotten Silences--intriguing premise. Don't think I've ever seen a deaf protagonist in a paranormal historical romance. You've got my mind's wheels turning.
Also, "'Til Dawn"--having the opening scene in a sanitorium --brilliant and creepy...
And Erin McClune "The Cruel Game"--"The warm summer evening had coughed up a sickly, yellow haze", great imagery. And a captivating ending hook to the excerpt.
Great stuff everyone! I don't envy our generous judges!
“As the illegitimate daughter of an actor and a southern debutante, I can assure you Mr. Pinkerton, I’ve learned to fit into any situation.”
“Miss Simon, you come with high praise from our first female operative, Kate Warne.“ Mr. Pinkerton settled back in his chair, his gaze drifted from her mousey brown hair, over her plain face, and down her rounded figure. “Yes, I think you might fit in just nicely.”
Esther Mae smiled. Finally, her plainness would be an asset as well as the chameleon skills she’d inherited from a father she’d never met.
Julie Weathers - I found your comments both interesting and informative.
I think practicality is definitely an issue in fiction. If my response as a reader is "Sorry, not possible" then I'm likely to put the book down.
Of course, opinions about what is practical (and possible) may vary.
I agree with mpe... and I must say, it always annoys me when people defend blatant and pointless inaccuracies on the grounds that "it's just fiction" and "the average reader won't care". Well, fiction or not, the idea is to be plausible, isn't it? The thing is, if your details convince even the expert, that is bound to make your fiction more convincing to the non-experts as well. And it works the other way round too. Shoddy research shows, and a lack of plausibility is a legitimate criticism.
Not that I'm calling anybody's research shoddy here; the general issue just gets up my nose! And I don't think Julie Weathers was pointing things out to put anybody down either, but there you go.
But anyway... goodness. Regency is popular, isn't it?!
Anybody ever heard the phrase, "Flogging a dead horse?"
Can't we just all agree to disagree and let this horse rest in peace?
Maybe it's just a difference in fantasy readers vs. typical fiction readers. But I had no issues with the "practicality" of any of the entries.
Reading is subjective, as I'm sure every visitor to this blog can attest. I know I can, after sending out countless queries to agents--some of whom like my writing style and some of whom hate it.
I could understand the comments were this a critique blog. But it's a contest entry blog. It's not our place to post why something does or does not work for us. The judges will decide that for themselves.
If these brave souls posting their entries wanted feedback, they would have posted this elsewhere--on a critique site.
As stated so eloquently above, "If you can't say something nice ..."
Oh, and putting an "encouraging note to all" or a "to each their own" at the end of a critical spout does not--in my book--quantify as nice.
Oh, and as to the above word "quantify" I meant to say "qualify" as being nice.
I figured I'd better correct my faux paux before some of you start reaching for your red pens.
It's eight something in the morning. I just woke up. Bear with me.
Anon, you are absolutley right. Opinions and observations have no place here and I apologize for mentioning anything.
As to whether telling people they have done a good job...I'll stand by that.
Have a good day.
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