Monday, April 26, 2010

Hook, Line and Sinker Contest

Okay, first some exciting news. Mysteries and Margaritas is getting a new header, and it’s awesome. The four of us took pictures in various mystery-solving poses and our webmistress blended them together. Wait until you see it!!

To celebrate the new header and to promote a following to the blog, we are going to have an amazing contest where the first line of your story, the last line (hook) and the blurb will be judged. Here’s the schedule.

Monday, May 3rd
– Beginning at 8 AM Central (Texas time) the first fifty people who email me at with a first line will participate. Do not post on the blog as that will show your name.
At 5 PM Central time, the entries will be posted on the blog even if
we don’t get fifty of you to enter. At that time we will encourage any
reader to comment on what works for them and what doesn’t.

Thursday, May 6th – The thirty finalists will be announced after three judges (both unpubbed and pubbed) cull twenty entries.

Friday, May 7th - The thirty finalists will have until 5 PM Central time to send the last line of their first chapter (the hook) to me at

Monday, May 10th – I will post the thirty last lines.

Thursday, May 13th
– The ten finalists will be announced after three new judges (both pubbed and unpubbed) cull another twenty.

Friday, May 14th
– The ten finalists will have until 5 Pm Central time to send a blurb (3 line maximum) to me at to be judged by Christine Witthohn of Book Cents literary.

Monday, May 24th – Three winners will be announced. The first place winner will receive a beautiful Mysteries and Margaritas tote bag with the new header on it PLUS a first chapter critique by Christine. The 2nd and 3rd place winners will each get a M & M tote.

Here are the rules. NO exceptions. The first line and the last line can only be ONE line. Anything else will be disqualified. The same goes for the blurb. Anything over three lines will get culled automatically. Any entry that is posted to the blog and not sent to me so that I can remove your name will automatically be disqualified. The time limits will be strictly followed. Again, no exceptiopns.

How much does it cost? All you have to do is sign on to be a follower of Mysteries and Margaritas blog. Other than that, it’s free and a great chance to get your work on Christine’s desk.

The kicker is that we would encourage comments from the writers watching from the sidelines. Tell us what you like or dislike about the first line and what might make it stronger in your opinion. Snarky, disrespectful or just plain old mean comments will be deleted. Of course the contest is only for unpublished authors. Current Book Cents clients are also disqualified from entering, but we really would like your comments. Every writer loves feedback.

We’ll post more on Saturday, May 1st and you’ll be able to ask specific questions then. So all of you out there start honing up your first and last lines and your blurb. It’s a free chance to have your story land on an agent’s desk.

Another thing I want to mention. We are doing this with the blessings of my good friend, Karin Tabke,,who has a first line contest every year on her blog. Hopefully, she’ll add a few comments for you guys.

Addendum: Sheesh, Karin. I hate it when you're right. We have had a lively discussion among ourselves about what is unpubbed and what is not. Here's what we came up with. If you even got a penny for your work, M & M considers you pubbed. BUT - since an agent is the final judge, we decided to open this contest up to anyone who doesn't have an agent. Hope that clears things up. Also, don't forget, you have to sign up as a follower BEFORE you send me the entry or it will not count. One last thing, please hold off on sending your first line until 8 AM Monday morning. I had my first entry come through already and it's a good one. Too bad I'm not judging! I've emailed her to set her alarm to wake up and post first thing Monday morning.

Okay, that’s out of the way. I thought I’d spend a few minutes talking about first lines or hooks that really reeled you in. My all-time favorite is “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” The setting is 4 friends at the funeral of a fifth when this young lady comes up and asks this question. It is the last line of the Prologue from Lace by Shirley Conran.

The first line of my sperm story is “Before the night ended, Dani Perez would have sex with a perfect stranger.” Damn! I’m good!!LOL

Jump in here and tell me first or last lines that stand out for you. Yes, it could even be your own, but if you plan on entering the contest, I wouldn’t tip my hand.

Not first lines, but others that resonate with me are:

“Who are those guys?”
“I see dead people.”
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
“Make my day.”
“Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”

Okay, can you guys tell me where those are from? I know – way too easy.


Edie Ramer said...

What a great contest! I'll be following it.

I don't know the first line, though I feel I should, but I have the rest.

Sixth Sense, Casablanca, Dirty Harry (though I'm not sure is it was in the first or a sequel), and Gone With the Wind.

Liz Lipperman said...

Good job, Edie. If you choose not to enter the contest, I know your comments will be helpful to the entrants.

Okay, guys, where did the first line come from?

Lindsay said...

Now I'm officially a Follower to the blog.
I'm not much for contests but I think this one will be fun.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Brava! You Babes (and I use this term respectfully, as in 'Book Cents Babes') are brilliant!

Just for the record, here is my very unfavorite line, first or not: "Too many notes, my dear Mozart."

Yes, my dears, Franz Joseph did, indeed, say that to mois!

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Lindsay, thanks for signing up to be a follower. Aren't you pubbed? If so, that would disqualify you from entering, but your expertise comments would be appreciated.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mozart, I confess I had to revisit history (thank God for Wikipedia) to find out who Joseph Franz was. Did you take his advice?

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Hee hee you guys will LOVE the new look for the blog. It rocks! Rae Monet is truly fabulous.

And Christine is a gem for agreeing to do this, given how busy she is.

So buckle up and get those thinking caps on:-)

Kari Lee Townsend said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lindsay said...

I'm pubbed in short in the Operation:LOVE anthology and have a short e-book out.

Lindsay said...

In the rules you might want to clarify 'unpubblished'. Some contests consider pubbed in short as unpubbed. That was why I was interested in entering.
And some consider pubbed in any length as pubbed.

Lindsay said...

I'm not sure about the second quote but:
1-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
3- Casablanca
4-Dirty Harry
5-Gone with the Wind

I think #2 is from the original 'The Zombies'

Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: As always I love following your postings. Guys and gals, or Babes as we are fond of saying, this contest is going to rock! Get ready we want as many of you joining us as possible. PLUS want until you see our new banner and logo. This is truly fantastic. You're gonna want one of these babies on a tote bag. Truly.

Anita Clenney said...

Great idea for a contest. First lines can be so great. I'm looking forward to seeing the entries. I'm going to spread the word. And I can't wait to see the new picture.

Liz Lipperman said...

Okay, folks, due to the confusion, there is an addendum added to the original post. Anyone who isn't already agented can enter this contest. It opens it up to a lot of you now. Thanks, Lindsay, for bringing that to our attention.

And Edie got the first lines all right except number one, which Lindsay named - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Remember when they were on that ledge and Redford looks at Newman and says this?

I'm hoping you guys are not posting your first lines because you want to enter the contest. but what about some of you others out there?

Also, tell us some of your favorite first lines.

Karin* said...

Can't wait! I love the new look too!

Karin* Tabke

Nina Pierce said...

I love the new banner. You ladies (and your web mistress) did a great job.

Kat Sheridan said...

Love the new look, and the new banner is great! I imagine you had great fun getting the photos!

And the contest sounds like a blast (except for writing that blurb part. YIKES!)

Movie lines:
1. Butch Cassidy
2. Six Sense
3. Casablanca
4. Dirty Harry
5. Gone With the Wind

And my favorite opening line is from Rebecca - "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly again."

Liz Lipperman said...

Karin, thank for the great idea. I hope you'll be offering your sage advice to the contestants.

Thanks Anita and Nina. We are all from different sections of the US, so we had a blast sending pictures back and forth. Mary took three different sets!! (Okay, so did I!!)

Kat, your first lines are all correct. And I love the one from Rebeca. Thanks to all you guys for stopping by.

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Re Franz Joseph: Madame, I am Mozart! I take no one's advice when it comes to my music. (I was, however, highly influenced by the Master, Bach, and his Well-Tempered Klavier.)

And while I am here, may I just say that the new photo is superb!

VR Barkowski said...

Liz, are there any restrictions on genre, or is this specifically for mystery writers? Also, is it okay to do a little promo piece on my blog? Thanks.

Lindsay said...

So, since I'm not agented does that mean I can enter?

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Yay I can't believe it's up! You have no idea what we all went through to take pics that work...LOL, my neighbors think I'm nuts :-)

Lindsay said...

Actually, I just want to win one of those COOL new bags.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mozart, thank you for the compliment. Of course, you didn't take Franz's advice! You are the man!!

Lindsay, yes you can enter.

VR - absolutely talk this up on your blog. I'm heading over there now to check it out. And no restrictions on genre. Good writing is good writing.

Kari, I thought for sure I was going to jail. There were several pictures of me picking the lock. We always waited until the store closed, then we'd swoop in and take pictures.

Lindsay said...

Sorry. My Bad. I love the new masthead to the blog.

Charity Bradford said...

Found you through VR's blog. What a great contest and opportunity. I'll add it to my sidebar of contests and blogfests.

Now to go work on a 3 line blurb, just in case ;)

Liz Lipperman said...

Charity, glad you found us and thanks for helping to promote this. After this is all over, we need to figure out a way to add blogs we like on the sidebar.

Do get working on that blurb. I'm going to print a few as examples on Sunday, so check back. In the meantime, don't forget to sign on as a follower if you're gong to enter.

And good luck.

sarahjayne smythe said...

Thanks for such a great contest. I'm over here following from VR Barkowski's blog.

Katt said...

Okay, all signed up and the calendar marked with - set the alarm, must rise early here on the west coast! Love the picks by the way!

Claudia Ybarra said...

I am officially a follower! Can't wait to submit my first line :)

Claudia Ybarra said...

oopps. Don't know why my maiden name still shows up (it's changed on my profile), but it should read, Lefeve. So there's no confusion when I enter!!

BTW, I LOVE the new banner!

Liz Lipperman said...

Sarahjayne, Katt and Claudia, I'm looking forward to seeing your first lines.

A reminder. If you signed in as a follower and I can't identify your entry with the name you use (Ex - book lover) I have no recourse but to disqualify your entry. So, as an added precaution, when you send the first line, tell me what your sign in name is so there's no confusion.

Good luck.

Ooh! This is getting so exciting.

Lindsay said...

Always suspected it didn't take much to get you excited. But you're right, this is going to be a cool contest

Terri said...

Hook, Line & Sinker is the name of the contest the Hudson Valley Chapter of RWA has been running for 25years.
We realize we cannot prevent you from using the name for your contest but, to avoid confusion, we'd appreciate if you might consider choosing a different name in the future.
Our contest is the main way, aside from chapter dues, that our very small chapter, a not-for-profit organization, manages to stay afloat. It's also fairly well known among budding romance writers and publicized annually in Romance Writers Report, RWA's monthly magazine.
Please come visit our web site and check us out!
HVRWA President-Elect

Gin said...


I wouldn't worry too much about the name of the contest, as it can only bring new contestants to your well known yearly as a result, and from what I can understand, this is a blog promotion contest and not a yearly event. Having a cliche for a contest title does run the risk of doubling up for sure, (Abbreviations are bad too as our BBA RWA contest is one of two "BBA" contests through RWA. lol)but again, more paying players for your RWA group is good news! I would say, if these ladies change the name, it could actually be detrimental to possible new traffic for your chapter. Think of it: Anyone who likes this contest just might look for other single line contests. No? Eh. What do I know? LOL

If a name change does happen, might I suggest Snagged: Bait Us With Your Hook contest? lol Or Life Sentence, give us the sentence that could change your life, or... ohhh the possibilities are endless.

Fun, fun! I'll send a few people on over to try their hands at it.

Tons of hugs for the M&M mavens.

All my best,

Lindsay said...

And it's not like there charge to enter your contest. So really you're not taking money away from a chapter, you are promoting the blog.

Liz Lipperman said...

Terri, I sent you a private email yesterday,but you either didn't get it or chose not to reply. Since I really want you to know the story, I am repeating it here.

We are four mystery writers, all RWA members. This is a free, one-time contest meant only to increase traffic to our blog. I didn't realize there was already a contest with this name. Since we are judging a first line, a hook, and a blurb, the name seemed appropriate.

If after reading this, you still feel like we need to change the name, we will. However, it could be a great promo for your contest as we expect a lively response on Monday. We could really talk up your contest.

Let me know. As an added incentive, I am volunteering to be a judge for your contest.

Terri said...

Dear Liz:

I did not receive your email and only just now visited the site to see if there was any response to my post.

We certainly did not mean to ruffle so many feathers, just to express our concern and try to safeguard our chapter's interests.

We are not demanding that you change the name of your contest; we couldn't really do so in any case.

Just something to think about in the future.

Your suggestion to volunteer to judge our contest is a wonderful, gracious idea and I'd love to take you up on that. I will forward your email to our membership and contest coordinator.

Our contest deadline is 11/1 and entries go out to judges in November, should you wish to reconsider!

Liz Lipperman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz Lipperman said...

Okay, I had to delete the last comment because I didn't edit. Dumb!!

Okay, then it's final. We will stay with Hook,Line and Sinker and we'll provide a link to Hudson Valley's contest AND I will be judging! So, start getting those first three pages ready.

That, folks, is how everything should get resolved. Thanks to Terri and the Hudson Valley members for being so gracious. I hope they will come back on Monday and play with us because we're going to have fun.

Gin, you are such a sweetheart. Your substitute titles were great and I was all prepared to use one. I also love how you tried to defend us.

Lindsay, I appreciate your helpful comments, also, but as I said, calmer heads prevailed and I think we have a great solution. Now, I have to start talking up the REAL HL&S contest.

Wendy Marcus said...

Hello ladies!
I think you all handled a minor glitch superbly. I am thinking about my entry as we speak. We look forward to having you as a judge, Liz!
Wendy Marcus

Anonymous said...

I belong to HVRWA, the chapter that has had the "other" HL&S contest for over twenty years. In fact, I'm one of the founders of that group and still belong, although I'm in MI now, not NY. Your version of it is so totally different the name duplication really doesn't matter, and it was good of you to put a mention of us on your site. I'm an old bat now, but still writing. If interested, my web site is

Liz Lipperman said...

Wendy and Jane, thanks so much for commenting. I should have Googled the title when I came up with it. Gratefully, we have a happy ending.

I'm looking forward to seeing your first line, Wendy. Don't forget you have to sign on as a follower.

Jane- 80 books? Wow. If you're not agented, you can play, too, but if you are, we could really use your expertise to critique the entries.