And the Five Finalists are:

August 14, 2006 | Karin's Blog | 29 comments

Drum roll please:

1.After all this time, it was finally happening–that quiet, maddening tumble into insanity.

Annie closed her eyes, fully expecting that when she opened them, the man sitting at her kitchen table–the man who looked like Joel, but couldn’t be Joel–would be gone.

Unfortunately, when she looked again, he was still there. Joel with hair as dark as sin and eyes of the devil. Eyes that were watching her with a mixture of amusement and sadness.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered, curling her fingers around the edge of the counter so she wouldn’t fall over. She had to be seeing things, because this really wasn’t happening.

Joel DeLuca wasn’t sitting in her kitchen, because…

Because Joel DeLuca was dead.

2. The alley stretched ahead, dark and ominous…yet Antoinette moved forward, one deliberate step after another. Perspiration beading on her upper lip, she ran a hand across her face to wipe it away before the saltiness slipped unwelcome to the corners of her mouth.

Damn this heat.

Sweat trickled down her back, robbing her of more precious moisture and she tugged the damp t-shirt away from her sticky skin. “Found it yet?” Nici’s voice buzzed through the comms headset attached to her ear.

“No,” she whispered.

“Intel just in has him entering a nightclub on the other side of town about twenty minutes ago,” Nici said.

After following his trail across three states, she’d hate to lose it now.

“We’re running out of time,” she said looking up at the dark starless sky, or at least the strip of it she could see between the impoverished Liberty City buildings.

3. Somewhere between Heaven and Hell, Nick Winters decided to live. There was something about lying in a pool of his own blood that made him think God wasn’t finished with him yet. Maybe it was the floating sensation of hanging on then getting go, or the woman.

Nick had pulled her from the wreckage and now, lying on the soaked ground, he watched as both cars disappeared into the Cumberland River below.

Blood filled his right eye as the scene blurred, the storm a chaotic buzzing. Nick reached for her hand as labored breaths merged and formed, linking two spirits, while she beckoned him to come and play.

“Am I dying?” she gasped, dispelling the image of a far more beautiful world and slamming him back into his pain-soaked body.

He shifted his leg and felt the fires of hell, but leaning into her faint, whispered breath he managed, “You gotta stay with me…help will come.”

Gathering her close, he blinked against the rain’s gray lashing, while his sins paraded across the river, some bold and some hidden beneath layers of deception.

4. I am justice.

I am vengeance.

Is there any difference?

The whimpers, the cries—those I could have ignored. Along

Telegraph Avenue

, where I live and work, the façade of students, tourists, and alt-trendy shops never quite hides the muck of the city. If you want to see it, the pain and squalor are evident in the drug litter kicked to the gutters and in the stench of every urine-coated doorway. If you want to see it.

Personally, I prefer to ignore it.

And perhaps if I were normal—a sane, ordinary twenty-two-year-old, hurrying to class, wrapped up in thoughts of dorm life, young-whatever politics, or the whims of professorial opinion—I would succeed.

5. Men lie.

As a dues-paying member of the species, House depended on this fact, subscribed to it—gloried in it.

They lie about who they are, what they do, and how much liquor they can handle. About their women, their prowess, their dicks. How big, how long, how thick, and how much coochie it’s conquered on the playing field.

But just this once, on this very special occasion, House discovered his friends had not lied to him.

Leyla Cheval was every bit as hauntingly beautiful as they’d claimed.

She wore wire-rimmed glasses, ruddy-red lipstick, and she’d come to save him from sin.

So naturally he hardened the moment he saw her, determined to have her and offer as much of his salvation as she could swallow.

Congradulations!! Whoo Hoo! Throwing confetti!!!! Ladies, prepare your best first ten pages beginning with your first lines. I’m not sure if Lauren wants them via snail mail or email (she’ll let me know),but either way the entries will go through me to her, markedUrgent READ NOW!!!

Congrats again, and thank you so much everyone for participating. Kensington editor, Hilary Sares will be judging the next First Line Contest in January. But stay tuned here for some good stuff on the horizon.

I have a group question for you all tomorrw, and would love any and all input.

I will keep you all posted on how our finalists fair with Lauren McKenna at Pocket.

Take care, and good luck finalists!





  1. Tracey

    OMG OMG OMG I Can’t believe it. I want to thank you Karin for this oppurtunity. You are fabulous. To all the other finalists – woo hoo. And to all the other entrants – I have enjoyed reading them and think you are all winners. OMG now I have to go to work.

    Happy Writing

  2. Poppy

    Ditto on the “OMG OMG OMG.” Wow. Thank you so much, Karin!

  3. Karin

    Congrats Tracey and Poppy. I wish you both a sale.

  4. Amanda Murphy

    Congratulations to the finalists. Good luck with the editor. Congratulations to Karin for a well-run contest with an awesome prize.

  5. LaDonna

    WHOOT!!!!! I’m so excited to final, Karin! This has been a great opportunity and learning experience. Good luck to my compadres. I enjoyed reading your lines, and will buy your books! WOW, OMG, is right! lol. Maybe we’ll go down in history as KARIN’S GIRLS.

  6. Shannon

    Major congrats Poppy! I love your work! It’s only a matter of time:)

  7. Cece

    *happybuttwiggle* OMG COngrats ladies! that’s fabulous!

  8. Karin

    KARIN’s GIRLS. I love it, LaDonna.
    Raising my Starbucks in a toast! Here’s to a sale!

  9. LaDonna

    Styrofoam-to-styrofoam… here here!

  10. Edie Ramer

    Congratulations to the finalists! This was a terrific contest, and you kept us in suspense up to the end, Karin!

  11. Liz Lipperman

    Ditto what Edie said. Hoping all of you impress the socks off Lauren. Karin, BTW, I read your story in HARD STUFF. I shouldn’t have done that with my hubby out of town!! Hot stuff!I enjoyed it so much I wished it had been a complete book. Guess I’ll just have to wait on GGGB.

  12. Linda

    Congrats everyone! And Karin, thanks for holding this contest — it was soooo much fun. You’re the best!

    To the five finalists, best of luck! Fingers crossed for you!

  13. Karin

    lol, Liz, there should be another warning: Do Not Read Alone. Glad you enjoyed it, though. 😉
    Thank you, Linda. I was very happy on many levels to have this contest. I was very surprised how attached I became to everyone through their lines and getting to know so many of you over the weeks in the comments. I want to keep the comraderie going. It was a double edged sword for me on Mondays. When I posted the finalists this afternoon, I got all emotional. Go figure.

  14. Tracey

    I am amazed – to have been culled out on the first round and only got back in on a second chance – I can’t believe I actually made the finals. Especially since there were so many excellent entries.

    Again – well done girls. I’ll be proud to be a KARIN’S GIRL.

  15. Theresa

    Congratulations to the finalists.

    I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that your ten pages are going to lead to requests for more and eventual sales.

    And karin, this contest was fabluous. I can’t wait for the one you’ve got scheduled in January.


  16. Michelle Diener

    Congratulations, those who got through. It was a fun ride all the way to the end. And like Theresa, I hope that something good comes of your submissions to Pocket. Go get ’em!

  17. raine

    I’ve been one of the quiet ones comment-wise, but I have followed every move of this contest from the beginning. Great stuff. 🙂

    I just wanted to congratulate everyone, and to add that quite a few of my favs didn’t make it to the finals–but that just goes to prove how subjective this biz is.

    Thanks so much, Karin! It’s been a real roller-coaster ride!
    (now…where’s my dramamine?)

  18. Candice

    Again, a quiet one comment-wise, but now I’m confused. If Tracey was culled, why is she back and a finalist?

  19. May

    Congrats everybody!

  20. Lee Lopez

    Wow, I can see why their finalists. They are so good…Congrats all….Really, really good work…


  21. Karin

    You must have come in later in the game, Candice. After the first round there were several entries who made it that didn’t post, because it was the first round, I allowed the ones who were culled to come back for a second chance. Tracey made the cut.

  22. Rhonda

    Congrats to the finalists – what great entries!!

  23. Sandra Barkevich

    Oh! This is sooooo exciting! Congratulations to the finalists. And more importantly, congratulations to Karin for a very successful contest. Great job! Please thank all of the judges. They had a tough job. And a big thanks goes out to you for coordinating this fantastic event. I can’t wait till the next one.

    Good luck, Ladies.
    Sandy 🙂

  24. Candice

    Thanks, Karin. I think I started reading on the third round, so I did miss that.

    What happens if one of the finalists doesn’t submit her ten pages? Will you go to one of the other people who got cut?

  25. Karin

    That is what I did the first time, then it got too confusing, because then the judges would have to reevaluate and well, after the first time, (and luckily it happend in the first round)it drove me crazy, so I said that was the first and last time. So next contest, if you snooze you lose. Now if say we’re down to the next round of 10 entries and only 9 post, then the judge has only to cull 4. I want to keep the rounds even.

  26. Candice

    But what if one of your five finalists from this round doesn’t submit her ten pages? Will you only send four finalists’ work to the judge, or will one of the five who got cut in the last round get to send her ten pages?

    Candice (who will definitely enter next time!)

  27. Karin

    Oops, sorry, missed that question. Yes, I have the tallied scores, and the next in line would be invited to submit so there will be 5 to go to Lauren.

  28. Candice

    Ah, thanks. That makes sense. 🙂

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