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Friday, November 07, 2008

Writing with Brenda Novak

It was a dark and stormy night…

How many of you have heard about the various “first line” contests that are out there? Some offer prizes for those who come up with the best first line. Others reward those who create the worst (the popular Bulwar/Lytton Fiction Contest sponsored by San Jose State ’s English Department is one of these--and offers $250 to the winner). Regardless of whether they’re looking for the best line or the worst, I’m always tempted to enter. The bigger contests I’ve seen, at least the ones that offer amazing prizes, usually require new writing (a short story or whatever). With my deadlines, my on-line auction for diabetes research (which I’m already organizing for 2009), and my five kids, three of which are currently in the midst of volleyball/soccer season, I can’t even consider taking the time to prepare something for submission. But one line? Hey, anyone can take a few seconds to come up with a good—or bad as the case may be--opener.

So…since it’s just after the elections, and I’m tired of all the rhetoric we’ve been fed, and the angst over the economy, and the onslaught of telephone solicitors telling me the world will come to an end if I don't vote a certain way, it’s time to have some fun, and I’m hoping to do that by sponsoring my own mini version of the Bulwar/Lytton contest.

To give you proper incentive to put your most clever foot forward, I’m going to give the winner a $50 gift certificate he or she can spend at my 2009 On-line Auction for Diabetes Research! There will be at least 1600 items in the auction, many of which you can’t find anywhere else, including rare, autorgraphed books, incredible gift baskets, one-of-a-kind experiences, jewelry, autographed sports paraphernalia, gift certificates to Borders/Waldenbooks, and much, much more. We have 350 items already listed and will be gathering at least another thousand between now and May 1st, when the auction opens at www.brendanovak.com (you can visit there today to see what we have already).

How does this contest work? Submit the absolute worst first line for a romance novel (or any romance subgenre) you can think of. Post it here and I’ll choose a winner at the end of the day.

To get everyone started, I thought I’d list some of the past winners of the Bulwer/Lytton Contest (aka Dark and Stormy Night Contest).

10. “As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break win in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.”

9. “Just beyond the Narrows , the river widens.”

8. “With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.”

7. “Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: ‘Andre creep. Andre creep. Andre creep.’”

6. “Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.”

5. “Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store.”

4. “ Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.”

3. “Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.”

2. “Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death—in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.”

1. “The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, ‘You lied!’”

Okay, start noodling… Maybe this will get you ready to enter the real thing and we’ll soon have an official Bulwar/Lytton winner in our midst!

Happy writing—Brenda Novak
The Last Stand…Where Victims Fight Back


Sally Painter said...

Wonderful interview. Brenda's books are so fantastic!

Congrats Four Ladies Reading! The Romance Vixens, Sally Painter and Ciana Stone, have nominated you for the I LOVE YOUR BLOG AWARD! We think your blog is so cool. Details follow in an email.

Livia said...

Uh Oh! I know some ladies that will lovwe this, let me go let them know. Great post!


Debora Hosey said...

Lady Genevieve, sure the downpour had dampened her muslin morning dress as it was clinging to her voluptuous curves and revealing her turgid nipples standing at rigid attention in doorway draft just inside the library, shook her raven tresses loose from the bonnet as raindrops spattered onto the tattered copy of THE VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN on the table and determined that she would seduce Charles and become his next duchess though she looked nothing like his adored foxhounds with her dark hair and rabbit teeth and knew nothing about horses or estate manangement or cared a fig about his mother or sister or the mad wife locked in the attic driven insane by his use of snuff and prattle about corn laws and out of work soldiers and she wondered if it would take an Act of Parliament to rid him of duchess number one or could he install her at Bedlam?

Deb Hosey who had fun dashsing this off here at work!

kimmyl said...

I have some:

"His flatulence reared up like a proud stallion."

'Miss Savannah, is there room for both of us in that hoop skirt?' Chandler mocked with a slight bow and a sweep of his top hat."

BrendaNovak said...

LOL Hey, you guys are good! Any one else want to try before we pick a winner?

ForstRose said...

Francesca glared at Jean Marc wondering if he would ever realize that his last note to her should never have been sent and his comments only turned her heart even colder towards him.


Martha A. said...

Hmmm, this is harder than it sounds! I am not very good!

Jean Pierre knew he was a smelly man, but Andrea always said "A man should smell like he has been working."


Her flat face met his pointed nose as their gazes struck one another in the damp hall. "It was love" Ella dreamily thought

Martha A. said...

I forgot to post my email on that one

Janna said...

"Trent gazed longingly at Victoria's shining, golden tresses that sparkled in the moonlight as they rippled and waved, until he realized that the origin of that beautiful hair was her nose.

ryanx6 at msn dot com

Jessi said...

Whoops! I think I posted this to the wrong spot the first time.

With legs that ended at her ears, eyes as wide as tea saucers and lips fuller than my grandma's cookie jar on Sunday afternoon, I knew I was taking the Case of the Missing Acrylic Nail even if the dame wouldn't've shown up with the Priceless Pickle.