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Posts tagged with: hooks

Quick. What’s Your Story About?

With Nationals only ten weeks away, I thought I might address the subject of loglines and blurbs. (Ten week is not long. Trust me, especially during summer and when the kids are out of school.) Now is the time to think about them, so you can brand the log lines in your thoughts. You can even practice with checkout people while you shop for your conference essentials.

Recently, I worked on the blurb for my next book, releasing this summer, and for days I detested every line I’d written. I walked the floors, the dog, the mountain trails, trying to pen the right words. I took showers until my skin looked beyond a hundred and two years old. I pounded my head against the keyboard which caused some issues that required me to reboot. My failure to come up with the perfect words that would make a reader hit the buy button made me question the entire manuscript. And that sucked.

In order to keep from going insane, I stepped back, took a deep breath, and remembered the day the spark of an idea landed in the dry wheat field of my brain. It’s that flash and the excitement over meeting my sexy hero and sassy heroine and had me writing and laughing and sighing for months, that I needed to relive those moments. You only need to convey what will intrigue the reader, nothing more and nothing less, is what I reminded myself.

Then I sent it to friends (Thanks, Hope, Rita and Anne) along with permission to rip it apart. I found I wrote more of a one page synopsis than a blurb. (Have I mentioned I’ve written over a dozen blurbs for myself for other works? It’s not easy. It’s work.) So with their suggestions, I took what seemed to really work for my story and let the rest go bye bye.

It was after I finally wrote an exciting back-cover blurb, that I thought about my elevator line; a.k.a. elevator pitch, logline, ad copy, hook, etc. It’s the one or two lines I would recite if ever asked, “What is your new book about?” From past experience, I knew I would need to have this line, so why not whittle away now. So I did and came up with this paragraph.

In Perfect Play, when baseball’s superstar is named the sexiest sport’s man of the year, pressures become too great for him and he escapes to a small Vermont town where he meets a no nonsense woman who urges him to handle life and not let life handle him. Does he follow her advice, because she doesn’t seem to be handling her own life too well? (WC 62)

Now, I didn’t really care for two elements of this logline; using the title and ending with a question. Titles change, so including it is not necessary, IMHO. Some writers might disagree. And second, I think ending with a question is more of a back blurb element where the author has already answered questions and ends by asking the ultimate question. So with this in mind, some more whittling occurred.

When baseball’s superstar is named the sexiest man of the year, pressures become too great for him and he hides out in a small Vermont town where he meets a no nonsense woman who challenges him to handle life and not let life handle him. (WC 45)

The question I asked of myself now was, could I remember to say all of this while riding an elevator? Probably not. It would be better to cut the line down to the bones and use words that would lead to questions. And, to me, the lines sounded like many other lines I’ve heard before. My hero was really much different and more complex than the sexiest sports hero I portrayed here. So again, back to the keyboard.

I found I wanted to say more again, and then Rita Henuber called me for a chat of “Hey! What you doing?” and we got out our knives. (HINT: Never call a writer friend and ask that question unless you’re willing to brainstorm. Thanks, Rita.)

Our first attempt as we each picked out words from the prior pitch line.

Pressures become too great for a baseball star and he hides out in a small Vermont town where he meets a no nonsense woman who challenges him to handle life and not let life handle him. (WC 36)

And again changes. Why? It didn’t tell what kind of pressure my hero was under. I felt it was important to do so because I wanted to get away from the sexiest man theme. Also ‘too great’ and ‘hides out’ made him seem cowardly.  And Rita felt the ending was preachy. So she pushed me to dig into my heroine. Also does it really matter the small town is in Vermont? No.

Next attempt: Feeling career pressure, a baseball star disappears and holes up in a small town where he falls for a woman bent on saving everything but herself. (WC 26)

I liked that we used the word disappears. The word paints a better picture, but the question rose from whom did he disappear? Adding ‘the world’ in the next example tells us who and also puts my hero at conflict with my heroine, because her everything refers to her world.

Next attempt: Feeling career pressure a baseball idol escapes the world in a mountain village and falls for a self-sacrificing woman bent on saving everything but herself.  (WC 25)

There, we have it! We know who the hero and heroine are and we have GMC. But can we go shorter? Sure.

A baseball idol hiding from the world and encounters a woman bent on saving everything but herself. (WC 17)

I’m very happy to use either one of the last two lines. They’re both concise and written with colorful words that paint a picture and filled with facts that will prompt questions.

And if I’m asked to tell my book in six words, I’m ready. Baseball idol encounters die-heart world advocate.

Here are a few rules, I use when coming up with my loglines.

  1. A logline is the one or two sentence description of your story. It conveys your hero & heroine’s architype using a strong multi-faucet adjective. It shows the hero’s primal goal and it must cause our minds to run wild with potential and questions.
  2.  A logline is more than just content. There needs to be cadence and voice. It has to be short and snappy.
  3. In loglines, names are not important. Strong descriptive words are what you’re aiming for.

Keep in mind, if your logline is clear, concise and provocative, this will tell the agent or editor that your writing is also so. If it’s ambiguous, rambling and voiceless, the person you’re pitching to will only assume your writing is more of the same.

I hoped this helped someone, and if anyone has any other suggestions please share.

Autumn Jordon is an award-winning, sneaker wearing Ruby. She writes romantic suspense, romantic mystery, thrillers and romantic comedy.  Visit her www.autumnjordon.com and join her newsletter.

A Crash Course on Being a Hooker (Part II)

Last month, in my Crash Course on Being a Hooker Part I, I discussed the importance of using hooks in your writing. I promised to finish today with Part II—pointers on crafting that all important first page. Please, allow me to apologize in advance for how long this post is. My only excuse is these tips should help in polishing your Golden Heart entry so that it’s just as dynamic as the great openings we’ve seen this past week the Ruby’s Make it Golden contest

However, before you follow any of the 15 upcoming tips, my first piece of advice is to finish writing the damn book before you worry about how great your first page is. Many authors get so caught up in rewriting and polishing the opening to their book they spend a week crafting hooks and rewriting passages that might eventually need to be deleted or changed once the novel is finished. Anyone who’s ever written a complete book knows how often the story changes and how frequently the first scene needs to be reworked.

TIP 1  Have a specific purpose for choosing a particular style of opening for your book.

A Crash Course on Being a Hooker PART I

One might think standing on a corner to support my writing addiction for thirteen years helped make me a better hooker, but it really didn’t. Only writing every day did that. However, my part-time job as a crossing guard did provide lots of time to brainstorm. 🙂

It’s that time of year again, when hundreds of writers are finishing and polishing entries for RWA®’s Golden Heart® contest. As a seven-time finalist and two-time winner of the GHt® award, I’m frequently asked what elements I believe sets a winning contest entry apart from the rest. Naturally, my answer is, “Talented writing and an intriguing premise.” However, if you’ve ever judged the GH, you know there are lots of entries with those qualities that never make the cut.

To give a manuscript the best chance of becoming a finalist (or to be successful with readers once it’s published), I believe the most important thing is for an entry to make a good FIRST and LAST impression.

It only makes sense that a positive first impression will leave judges and readers anticipating an enjoyable read, and they will therefore be more forgiving if they find something slightly negative in your entry—whether it’s a typo, minor characterization flaw, or overuse of a purple word. As a result, it will take a much more glaring problem to change their opinion for the worse.

At the same time, if you have a typo in your first sentence the reverse will be true. The judge will probably start looking for additional problems, so creating a bad first impression can put an otherwise great entry at a big disadvantage.

This is why hooks are so important in writing contests and in attracting buyers for your book once it’s published. You need to snag the judge’s or reader’s interest from the beginning and continue reeling her in all the way to the end. Then finish with a great hook that will leave her with a positive overall opinion and screaming for more.

What’s a HOOK? a newbie might ask.

HooksA hook in publishing is anything that will catch a reader’s interest and lure her into—buying a book, reading it, continuing to read it, or buying the next book. Hooks are utilized as marketing tools, which can be anything from a high concept plot, a catchy title, a book cover, back cover blurb, to an author or reviewer’s endorsement.

Authors use hooks in their writing by including passages designed to grab the reader’s attention and keep him/her turning the pages. An effective hook will  attract, intrigue, and entertain by teasing the senses, adding humor or wit, raising questions (make the reader want to know more), or evoking emotion (shock, horror, compassion, the ability to relate, etc.) It should make the reader feel something or react.

A good opening hook should reflect the genre and subgenre and establish the tone of the book, which can be funny, thought-provoking, insightful, action-packed, suspenseful, spooky, dramatic, emotional or poignant, lyrical, reminiscent, or evocative. I’m sure there are other tones that escape me at the moment.

And lastly, an opening hook should foreshadow and set up reader expectations. This is how the author makes promises that had better be fulfilled by the end of the book, or he/she will end up with a lot of unhappy readers.

But wait!

Before writing that first compelling line to draw the reader in, you need to bait your FIRST hook. Real ‘hookers‘ use revealing clothing, make-up, and come-hither glances to tempt and attract men. (My alter-ego, L.L does that too, but we won’t discuss her.)

If you recall, I mentioned that, in the publishing industry, the bait or initial hooks for a book are very similar—a provocative title, an eye-catching cover, and a compelling back-cover blurb that leaves the consumer eager to read the novel. Unfortunately, in unpublished writing contests,  the author only has her title to lure the reader and make that first impression.

Think about it. What’s the first thing you do when you receive a group of entries to judge? If you’re like me, you scan the titles and probably start reading the most appealing one.

From my numerous years as a finalist, I recall several fellow GH sisters who I suspect had a slight edge in the Golden Heart because of their great titles. Here are several examples of those I found especially memorable:

The Naked Duke, by Sally McKenzie

His Majesty, the Prince of Toads, by Delle Jacobs

Claiming the Courtesan, by Anna Campbell

The Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans

First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones

A Most Improper Gentleman by Elisa Beatty

The Proper Miss’s Guide to Bad Behavior by Anne Barton

If you study RWA®’s Past GH Winners list,  you’ll see what I mean. You’ll notice most of the titles that won are highly  provocative, witty, humorous, emotional, or intriguing. That’s not to say they weren’t also damn good books, but so are a LOT of GH entries that never get nominated. By the way, most of these books were published with their original titles.

So before entering your manuscript in a contest (or submitting to an editor), find a group of creative people to help. Brainstorm together to come up with the best possible title for your book that is extra witty, cute, sexy, emotional, or whatever you would like to make it unique—with emphasis on the EXTRA. Titles need to be a little over-the-top to get attention. It’s best if they reflect the ‘high concept‘ of the book.

Here’s a funny story. My hubby and I were brainstorming titles with my CP and her spouse for her sci-fi romance that involves interplanetary travel. We came up with some real doozies. In the end, my hubby won the prize when he suggested the most unforgettable title of all. Starship Bootie Call. Unfortunately, the book isn’t a comedy so my CP couldn’t use it, but we still laugh about it. I still think we should collaborate and write a spoof with that title.

Okay, back to our crash course in hooking.

After you’ve come up with a title that will really grab the judge’s or reader’s attention, you need to really HOOK ‘ER—not just with the first line, but with the entire opening page. I always try to position a great hook in the very last line of the first page so the reader develops extra enthusiasm to continue reading. Once you’ve promised an entertaining story, you naturally need to deliver, but creating the anticipation of greatness is half the battle.

Come back next month for PART II of this Crash Course on Being a Hooker, which will offer tips on crafting that all important first page.

Now I have a favor to ask of you that will be a big help to me. A lot of my readers who loved The Parent Pact have been e-mailing me, requesting a story for three of the secondary characters in that book—Sabrina, Luke, and BJ (a/k/a Ben). I hope to release this “love triangle” novel by November, but I need a kick-butt title for it. I don’t want to use a Christmasy title because I’d like the option to market the the book the rest of the year with a matching non-holiday cover, much like I have with No Exchanges, No Returns. In November, that cover will go back to red and green and the baby will be wearing a Santa hat again.

I have a couple of good ideas what to call my next release, but I won’t share them because I don’t want to  send you down the same  track my train of thought is already running on. Here’s the high concept, blurb, and cover to fire your creative process. Please feel free to comment on each other’s suggestions if you think one is particularly good. And keep in mind my author brand is Steamy Heartwarming Romantic Fun!

On her wedding night, Sabrina will share the bridal suite

with one of her brother’s best friends.  Which one?  She has no idea.Who's the Groom Background

Sabrina Fitzpatrick helped plan her dream wedding last year—for her brother and his wife. Now, she wants her own Christmas Eve ceremony. She’s tired of waiting for commitment-phobe, Detective Luke Marino, to realize she’s been crazy about him since puberty. Consequently, when Luke’s billionaire friend asks her to marry him, she’s compelled to accept BJ Elliott’s proposal, especially after he suggests their impending marriage might induce his idiot pal to finally step forward. Unfortunately, a week later, adrenaline-junkie Luke risks his life again and ends up temporarily confined to a wheelchair.

BJ would love to give Sabrina an unforgettable wedding night, but he fears she’ll never be happy with him if she doesn’t resolve her feelings for his buddy, first. Therefore, even knowing he could lose her, BJ persuades her to become Luke’s live-in nurse—offering her one last chance to convince the man she loves to take BJ’s place at the altar (which BJ doubts his friend will ever do). If nothing else, he hopes Love’em and Leave’em Luke can convince Sabrina he’ll make a lousy husband.

Luke has two secrets not even his best friends know. The first is he aches for Sabrina with every fiber of his being. The second is he loves her enough to spare her the heartbreak that being his wife would undoubtedly entail. Much to Luke’s dismay, his resolve to resist his buddy’s fiancée is tested after Sabrina steps in as his nurse and starts prancing around in nothing but his threadbare T-shirt. If he surrenders to her seduction, it may destroy his relationship with BJ. And, worse still, if he gets a taste of loving Sabrina, how can he ever stand by and let her marry his friend?

I can’t wait to read all of  your ideas. On Sunday night, I’ll do a random drawing from all of the suggestions and the winner will win a digital copy of my box set containing The Memory of You and A Little Bit of Deja Vu, which are the Prequel and Book One from my Return to Redemption Series. If I decide to use your inspired suggestion for my new book, I’ll send you a free digital advance copy of Sabrina’s story right before it’s released.

Laurie Kellogg is a two-time winner and seven-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® award, the winner of Pacific Northwest Writers Association® Zola award, and a Romantic Times® American Title I finalist. She began writing to avoid housework and has since resorted to naming the dust-bunnies multiplying as fast as real rabbits while she plots love stories that are Steamy, Heartwarming, Romantic Fun! Laurie also writes red-hot romantic comedies under L.L. Kellogg, which she’s branded as A Little Naughty and a Lot of Fun!

Guest Valerie Bowman: Writing to Hooks

Hello Rubies and Friends,

Thank you so much for having me today. I’m Valerie Bowman, a 2011 Golden Heart finalist in the Regency category and I’m here to celebrate my debut (and GH-finaling manuscript) SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT which is in stores (and online) now.

I thought long and hard about what I could offer the Rubies. I discarded a variety of craft topics that I decided were too elementary for such an esteemed group of writers. I settled upon a technique that I think made all the difference in taking my manuscript from good to SOLD.

That technique is writing TO hooks.

I did not invent this concept and I wish I could remember where I read or heard about it, so that I might give due credit, but alas, I cannot. The concept itself, however, was something that really stuck with me, and in case some of you haven’t heard of it yet, I’d like to share it with you.

As writers we’re all told to end our chapters on hooks. Hooks, of course, being something that leaves the reader wanting more, hopefully unable to put the book down and moving on to the next chapter because she just can’t wait to see what happens next. So, we all know we must end with a hook but what about writing TO a hook? In other words, create a hook and make your chapter shorter on purpose to get there faster.

Consider it this way, instead of writing and writing and at the end of 20 pages (or however long your chapters are), you start thinking of how you’re going to wrap it up to hook the reader, come up with the hook first and get to it faster.

More hooks, more often = more pages turning.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop given by RWA Nora Roberts’ Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Brenda Jackson. Ms. Jackson likened the hook to how soap operas always end on Friday with something that makes you anxiously wait all weekend to see how it turns out. Exactly!

This technique, adding more hooks, writing to hooks, greatly increased my pacing and (I think) keeps the pages of my books turning. The more I write, the better (I think) I’m becoming at this and now my chapters are about 5 pages long (yes, some are longer if the scene/mood/moment calls for it, but when I plot out my chapters before I begin (ok, so I’m a plotter) I give myself 5-8 pages per chapter and the closer I am to 5, the happier I am. Why? Because at the end of five pages, there is a hook! And a hook means pages turn, turn, turn.

I think it also provides the added benefit of providing more conflict because a hook usually involves conflict of some sort, does it not?

Ok, so in theory this sounds good, no? But how do you come up with that many hooks? Well, for this I must give all credit to author Joan Johnston and her workshop Writing the Unputdownable Novel. I’ve listened to it multiple times on the RWA conference CDs and I highly recommend it. She provides a list of eight types of hooks and explains how to employ them. In addition to the RWA National Conference CDs, I believe Ms. Johnston also offers the workshop for sale online for $3.99. Google it. I highly recommend it.

So, if you don’t already naturally do this, I challenge you. Think about how you can add more hooks to your manuscript. How can you write TO hooks? It just may be that little added umph that puts your story over the top.

What do you think about this concept? Does it sound like something that could work for you?

Valerie will be giving away a an autographed copy of Secrets of a Wedding Night and a 10-page critique from her agent, Kevan Lyon, for the another lucky winner!

Valerie Bowman writes Regency-set historical romance novels with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging storylines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands! Publishers Weekly calls Secrets of a Wedding Night, an “enchanting, engaging debut that will have readers seeking future installments” and Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “This fast-paced, charming debut, sparkling with witty dialogue and engaging characters, marks Bowman for stardom.” Booklist gave it a starred review!

Valerie lives in Jacksonville, FL with her rascally dog, Roo. You can find Valerie on the web at www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Buy Links for Secrets of a Wedding Night: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books a Million

 

10/15/12 Update: Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented! Greta and T Ferrera each won a copy of SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT. Barbara Bettis won the critique from Kevan Lyon. (Look for an email from Valerie or Anne soon.) Congrats!!!

Make It Golden Contest – Post Your Entries!

THE THIRD ANNUAL MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST OPENS RIGHT NOW!

The MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. We all know how important a strong opening line is in grabbing the attention of Golden Heart judges, and this contest is a great chance to test yours out!

Check out the past Make It Golden contests here.

Just post your romance manuscript’s first fifty words (with the word ENTRY in all caps at the top),  and you’re in the running to win the grand prize: having the Rubies pay your $50 Golden Heart entry fee!  (Full prize list and complete rules follow below).

Anyone eligible to enter the 2013 Golden Heart (see RWA’s rules here) is eligible to enter (except Rubies, of course), and the best part is, there’s no entry fee. It’s COMPLETELY FREE to enter, but only the FIRST ONE HUNDRED ENTRIES CAN QUALIFY, so don’t delay!

PRIZES:

FIRST PRIZE: $50 Golden Heart entry fee paid for you by the Rubies

SECOND PRIZE: A 25-page critique (any genre) from RITA Award winning author (and most excellent Ruby) Darynda Jones

THIRD PRIZE: A beautiful Ruby Slipper Ring Holder to remind you that you’re not alone on the yellow brick road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFFICIAL RULES — PLEASE READ CAREFULLY:

  • Finalists and winners from last year are welcome to enter again, BUT ALL ENTRIES MUST BE NEW!
  • We will only accept the first 100 entries.
  • Due to the entry cap, only ONE entry per person will be accepted for this year’s contest. This means even if you are planning on entering more than one manuscript in the Golden Heart, or write under multiple pen names, you will have to choose which manuscript you want to enter. We want to be fair to all participants and give everyone an equal opportunity to participate.
  • Starting at 12:01 a.m. on September 24th (that’s right now!), entrants will post the opening of their manuscript, 50 words MAXIMUM, in the comments box. Start by typing the word ENTRY in all caps so we don’t miss it. Please do not leave us hanging in the middle of a sentence! Find a good stopping hook (at 50 words or less) and use that. PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A CHANGE FROM LAST YEAR’S RULES where we were only accepting the first line.
  • The word ENTRY does NOT count towards your 50 word limit. This is just so we can identify it as an ‘official’ entry.
  • Any entries that violate these rules (go over the 50 word limit, do not start with the word ENTRY, or more than one entry from the same person) will result in being disqualified.

Ten finalists will be listed on the blog at 12:01 a.m. EST on Monday, October 3rdENTRANTS SHOULD CHECK THE RUBY BLOG AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ON OCTOBER 3rd TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE FINALED. It is entirely the entrant’s responsibility to check the blog to see if he or she is a finalist.

The ten chosen finalists will have the rest of the day, until 12 midnight EST on October 3rd (in other words, almost 24 hours), to post an expanded entry, starting with that fabulous 50-word opening, and continuing with the next consecutive lines up to a MAXIMUM TOTAL of 250 words. (Really, a maximum of 250. Any more than that, and we have to disqualify the entry.) Again type ENTRY in caps at the top and post your expanded entry.

The three winners will be announced on the blog October 8th.

 

Announcement: The Third Annual ‘Make it Golden’ Contest!

ARE YOU READY?

The Rubies have TWO big events coming up and you don’t want to miss out on either one of them!

First, on September 21st, it’s the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog’s THIRD birthday bash, and once again, we’re putting on a huge celebration where WE’LL be giving away the gifts! Books, critiques, gift cards — I guarantee you do NOT want to miss this!

The second date to mark on your calendar is SEPTEMBER 24th, when the Rubies will be hosting their third annual MAKE IT GOLDEN contest.

As you may remember from previous years, the MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden Heart Contest–the contest that brought the Ruby Sisters together when we were finalists together in 2009.

We all know how important a strong opening line is in grabbing the attention of Golden Heart judges, and this contest is a great chance to test yours out!

Check out the 2011 finalists here.

PRIZES:

First Prize: Golden Heart Entry Fee
Second Prize: Critique of first 25 pages (any genre) by RITA Award Winning Author (and our very own fab Ruby) Darynda Jones
Third Prize: A beautiful Ruby Slipper Ring Holder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFFICIAL RULES:

  • Anyone eligible to enter the 2013 Golden Heart (see RWA’s rules here) is eligible to enter (though, of course, Rubies are not eligible), and the best part is, there’s no entry fee. In other words, it’s FREE!!
  • Finalists and winners from last year are welcome to enter again, BUT ALL ENTRIES MUST BE NEW!
  • We will accept the first 100 entries.
  • Due to the entry cap, only ONE entry per person will be accepted for this year’s contest. This means even if you are planning on entering more than one manuscript in the Golden Heart, or write under multiple pen names, you will have to choose which manuscript you want to enter. We want to be fair to all participants and give everyone an equal opportunity to participate.
  • Starting at 12:01 a.m. on September 24th, entrants will post the opening of their manuscript, 50 words MAXIMUM, in the comments box. Start by typing the word ENTRY in all caps so we don’t miss it. Please do not leave us hanging in the middle of a sentence! Find a good stopping hook (at 50 words or less) and use that. PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A CHANGE FROM LAST YEAR’S RULES where we were only accepting the first line.
  • Any entries that violate these rules (go over the 50 word limit, do not start with the word ENTRY, or more than one entry from the same person) will result in that entry being disqualified.

Ten finalists will be listed on the blog at 12:01 a.m. EST on Monday, October 3rd. ENTRANTS SHOULD CHECK THE RUBY BLOG AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ON OCTOBER 3rd TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE FINALED. It is entirely the entrant’s responsibility to check the blog to see if he or she is a finalist.

The ten chosen finalists will have the rest of the day, until 12 midnight EST on October 3rd (in other words, almost 24 hours), to post an expanded entry, starting with that fabulous opening, and continuing with the next consecutive lines up to a MAXIMUM TOTAL of 250 words. (Really, a maximum of 250. Any more than that, and we have to disqualify the entry.) Again type ENTRY in caps and post, your expanded entry (max. 250 words).

The three winners will be announced on the blog October 8th.

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER:

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21st: The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Birthday Bash!
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th: Starting at 12:01 a.m., we will accept the first one hundred entries for the contest.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 3rd: Ten finalists will be announced on the Ruby blog.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 8th: WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

We are so excited for both our Birthday Bash and our Make it Golden Contest and hope you’ll join us on the blog for these amazing events!

Make It Golden Contest – Winners Announced!

Wow, finalists—you made this hard for us!!!

First, we asked for attention-grabbing opening lines, and got 100 outstanding candidates.

Then the Rubies narrowed the list to their favorite ten, and the authors had one day to give us more of the opening: a maximum of 250 words.

The entries lived up to the promise of their first lines: we were hooked, and wished we could read more of every one!

But in the end, we had to pick just three—not an easy task.  The polls kept shifting through the weekend, and in the end, TWO were tied for third place.  Which means we’ve got FOUR winners!

The two Third Place winners get a ruby-slipper journal to pen even more fabulous romance novel openings. Our Second Place winner gets a $20 bookstore gift certificate (Amazon or Barnes & Noble, winner’s choice):

And our First Place winner gets the Grand Prize: the Rubies pay the author’s Golden Heart entry fee!

And as good as our First Place winner is, that’s a perfect fit, since we think this author (not to mention the rest of our top ten!) should be entering the Golden Heart prontissimo….

For maximum suspense, the winners are announced from Third Place to First….after the jump.

Make It Golden Contest – Finalists Announced!

Holy guacamole—what fabulous first lines!!

The Rubies read them all, and were amazed by the variety and creative awesomeness; we’re dying to know what happens next in all these stories!!!

Thanks to the power of voting, we did manage to narrow the field down from ONE HUNDRED to only ten.  Well, actually eleven, because voting was super-tight, and we had a four-way tie for the last three places.

Even with that extra finalist, it truly pained us to leave so many fabulous entries behind—we’d love to read expanded versions of every single one, and can’t wait to see those sentences opening your published books!

For today, though, only ten (or, okay, actually eleven) can return to the field of battle.

The Top-Ten Top-Eleven First Round Finalists will appear (in RANDOM ORDER) when you click on the double arrow button below.

If you see your first line, that’s your cue to enter your EXPANDED entry in one of the Comments boxes below today’s post. Include your first line again, then the following few sentences until you reach a *maximum* of 250 total words. Please put the word ENTRY in all caps at the top again (and, no, that doesn’t count as one of your 250 words). Remember, if you go over 250 words, you’re disqualified, so COUNT CAREFULLY!!

Expanded entries must be entered by MIDNIGHT EDT on September 27 to qualify for the final round.

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered!!!

DRUMROLL PLEASE!!!!! THE TOP TEN FIRST-ROUND FINALISTS ARE:

Make It Golden Contest – Post Your Entries!

The Second Annual MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST opens right now!!

The MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden Heart Contest. We all know how important a strong opening line is in grabbing the attention of Golden Heart judges, and this contest is a great chance to test yours out!

Check out the wonderful and hilarious 2010 finalists here.

Just post your romance manuscript’s first line today as a comment (with the word ENTRY in all caps at the top),  and you’re in the running to win the grand prize: having the Rubies pay your $50 Golden Heart entry fee. And don’t forget the nearly infinite honor and glory! (Full prize list and complete rules follow below).

Anyone eligible to enter the 2012 Golden Heart (see RWA’s rules here) is eligible to enter (except Rubies, of course), and the best part is, there’s no entry fee. It’s COMPLETELY FREE to enter, but only the FIRST ONE HUNDRED ENTRIES CAN QUALIFY, so don’t dawdle!! Multiple entries by the same author are fine, but no repeats of entries that were finalists last year.

Even though they can’t enter the contest, Rubies are welcome to post first lines just ’cause it would be fun to see them!

UPDATE 7:30 p.m. EST: WOW!!! What an amazing day, and what amazing opening lines!!  We’re definitely over 100 entries now, so the contest is CLOSED!  (We have to go through and count carefully and eliminate any entries disqualified for being more than one sentence…when that’s done, we’ll let you know where the cut-off came).  Now for the really hard part: trying to decide on our top ten!! Thanks to all who entered!

PRIZES:

FIRST PLACE: $50 Golden Heart entry fee paid for you by the Rubies!!

SECOND PLACE: $20 Amazon gift certificate

THIRD PLACE: a glittering Ruby Slipper journal

 

Official Rules of the Make It Golden Contest – READ CAREFULLY:

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday September 23, we will accept one hundred entries for the contest, each containing the FIRST line of the entrant’s romance manuscript.

Submit your entry via the “comment” box on the blog, typing in the word ENTRY in all caps at the top so we won’t miss it.

There is no entry fee. Anyone eligible to enter RWA’s Golden Heart Contest (except Rubies) is eligible to enter MAKE IT GOLDEN.

We will close to entries at midnight EST September 23 (in other words, the window is roughly 24 hours). Any entries that include words past the end of that first sentence, or any entries posted after midnight will (sadly) be disqualified.

The Sisters will read the first lines and choose ten finalists.

Ten finalists will be listed on the blog at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday September 27th. ENTRANTS SHOULD CHECK THE RUBY BLOG AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ON TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 27 TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE FINALED. It is entirely the entrant’s responsibility to check the blog to see if he or she is a finalist.

The ten chosen finalists will have the rest of the day, until 12 midnight EST on September 27 (in other words, almost 24 hours), to post an expanded entry, starting with that fabulous first sentence, and continuing with the next consecutive lines up to a MAXIMUM TOTAL of 250 words. (Really, a maximum of 250. Any more than that, and we have to disqualify the entry.) Again type ENTRY in caps and post, along with your first sentence, the expanded entry.

The three winners will be announced on the blog October 3rd.

MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST – Update Announcement!!

Yes, Loyal Readers, it’s nearly the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog’s SECOND birthday, and we’re celebrating big-time all along the yellow brick road! Our official Birthday Bash is on September 21st, and just like last year, WE’LL be the ones giving away the gifts! Be sure to grab a glass of virtual champagne and join us for the festivities!!

Then, on September 23rd, we’ll be repeating our MAKE IT GOLDEN CONTEST , and giving all of you a terrific chance to shine (plus have a chance to earn more great prizes!!)

As you may remember from last year, the MAKE IT GOLDEN contest is designed for unpublished authors who are polishing up their entries for RWA’s Golden Heart Contest–the contest that brought the Ruby Sisters together when we were finalists together in 2009.

We all know how important a strong opening line is in grabbing the attention of Golden Heart judges, and this contest is a great chance to test yours out!

Check out the wonderful and hilarious 2010 finalists here.  (And may we point out–with a lovely little glow of pride–that finalist Arlene Hittle did indeed go on to be named a finalist in Golden Heart 2011.)

Finalists and winners from last year are welcome to enter again, BUT ALL ENTRIES MUST BE NEW!!

PRIZES:

FIRST PLACE: $50 Golden Heart entry fee paid for you by the Rubies!!

SECOND PLACE: $20 Amazon gift certificate

THIRD PLACE: a glittering Ruby Slipper journal

Anyone eligible to enter the 2012 Golden Heart (see RWA’s rules here) is eligible to enter (though, of course, Rubies are not eligible), and the best part is, there’s no entry fee.

In other words, it’s FREE!!

All you need to do to enter is follow the official rules, below:

Official Rules of the Make It Golden Contest – READ CAREFULLY:

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday September 23, we will accept one hundred entries for the contest, each containing the FIRST line of the entrant’s romance manuscript.

Submit your entry via the “comment” box on the blog, typing in the word ENTRY in all caps at the top so we won’t miss it.

There is no entry fee.

We will close to entries at midnight the same day. Any entries that include words past the end of that first sentence, or any entries posted after midnight will (sadly) be disqualified.

ONLY NEW ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. NO REPEATS FROM LAST YEAR, PLEASE!!!

The Sisters will read the first lines and choose ten finalists.

Ten finalists will be listed on the blog at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday September 27th. ENTRANTS SHOULD CHECK THE RUBY BLOG AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE ON TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 27 TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE FINALED. It is entirely the entrant’s responsibility to check the blog to see if he or she is a finalist.

The ten chosen finalists will have the rest of the day, until 12 midnight EST on September 27 (in other words, almost 24 hours), to post an expanded entry, starting with that fabulous first sentence, and continuing with the next consecutive lines up to a MAXIMUM TOTAL of 250 words. (Really, a maximum of 250. Any more than that, and we have to disqualify the entry.) Again type ENTRY in caps and post, along with your first sentence, the expanded entry.

The three winners will be announced on the blog October 3rd.

______________________________________________________________

In other news, Loyal Readers, here’s some more trivia about the Rubies that you just might want to have handy during our Birthday Bash on September 21:

3 Rubies have fallen out of speeding cars.  

Sara Ramsey worked in India

Louisa Cornell is a retired opera singer and sang for Luciano Pavarotti.

Hope Ramsay’s books are set in a small town in South Carolina.

Ruby Beth Langston is a veteran.

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