Update: Winner of The Naughty List is Lisa Kessler!
The first round of the Brava/Romantic Times Writing With the Stars contest is up at the RT website. Each of the 10 contestants provided the first paragraph and the last line of her book. You can read them here and vote: http://www.rtbookreviews.com/content/writing-stars-vote-first-paragraph-and-last-line.
I’d like to say, “Well done, ladies!”
It’s a pity the judge for the first round, Sarah Wendell, didn’t feel the same. Let’s just say, she lived up to her reputation by providing rather biting comments. Personally, I read romance to enjoy, not to snipe, and I found all the entries very well done so I’d like to offer my feedback today.
Maeve Greyson, Eternity’s Mark. Wow, your first para certainly got me involved and curious, Maeve. Lots of tension and conflict, and I’m just dying to know who the “infernal woman” is. And your last line is classic romance.
Lisa Kesler, Moonlight. Your heroine intrigues me: she has spunk, and interesting taste in food. She’s going to be fun to get to know. In your last line, I don’t understand the reference to the Pack, but I’m sure I would if I’d read the book, so for me it delivers a lovely “happily ever after.”
Alannah Lynne, Last Call. Something’s obviously on this guy’s mind and I want to find out what it is. Nice action in that first para. The last line indicates to me he’s gone through a major character arc and dealt with some significant issues, and I love to see that in a romance.
Mari Manning, Daddy’s Girl. Your first para nicely sets up lots of conflict for the heroine, and makes me curious to see how it plays out – and who the hero is going to be. The last line has a nice tone, showing a lovely connection between the pair.
KC Klein, Dark Future. I like first person POV, and present tense – and talk about conflict. Lots of unanswered questions and I’d have to read on. Your last line is a nice contrast to the first para: she’s gone from feeling awful to feeling hopeful, and clearly he’s had something to do with it.
Dale Mayer, Tuesday’s Child. Hey, another BC girl. Way to go, Dale! This is a story that grips the reader by the throat. Very dramatic beginning; it sure makes me wonder what’s going on. And I like that the last line gives them a happily-ever-after that’s unique to them.
Diana Quincey, Seducing Charlotte. Well, that’s sure getting the story off with a bang! I can’t imagine anyone not reading past that first para. And the last sentence is a lovely romantic ending, quite a contrast to the opening of the story.
Madeline Smyth, Aliya Arabesque. All the mystery and romance of the desert. You definitely make me wonder what she’s doing there, and how things will play out between her and the Arab. A very appropriate and alpha male ending, too.
Meredith Simmons, Indentured Hearts. I’m guessing she’s rejecting the suitor her father wants her to marry, and that shows her spunkiness and sets up great conflict. I love the bit in the last sentence about the new woman in a new country – she’s obviously freed herself from paternal pressure.
Maria Zannini, Mistress of Stone. You’ve set up a fascinating heroine, and made me wonder if the captain is the hero. I’m guessing there’ll never be a dull moment with this heroine. An interesting ending – because it sounds more like a beginning than an end. Makes me curious.
Everyone’s first paragraphs set up intriguing situations and characters and each one made me want to read on. To me, that’s what a first para is supposed to do, so bravo, ladies! Your last lines give lovely romantic wrap-ups that are appropriate to your characters.
May the future hold more positive reviews than negative ones. And best of luck to all of you as you continue on in the Writing With the Stars contest.
And now, in the spirit of fairness, I’ll toss out my own work out for criticism. Here’s the opening para and final sentence from my latest release, “Tattoos and Mistletoe” in Brava’s holiday anthology, The Naughty List.
First para: Ten years ago, Charlie Coltrane left Whistler, British Columbia, taking only her ratty old backpack and the certainty that she’d never return. And now, here she was, back in the damned place, riding in a cab from the bus station to the B&B she’d inherited.
Last sentence: She went into his arms and tugged him onto the dance floor. “LJ, you’ve got the original Coltrane.”
Now it’s your turn. Want to critique me? Want to critique our contest entrants? Want to critique Sarah Wendell’s comments on the entries? Want to talk about what makes for a good critique or review? Have at it!
I’ll give a copy of The Naughty List to someone who comments—autographed by all three authors: Donna Kauffman, Cynthia Eden, and me.