1. It happened as the third of them started on her.
She didn’t understand why, she had long since given up fighting them. Lying there exhausted and bloody and in such pain that all she could do was pray for survival.
I picked this entry for several reasons. First of all, I have no idea what “it” is. What happened? She gave up fighting them? This is unclear. Also, grammatically, this is weak. There shouldn’t be a comma after why. And the last sentence is awkwardly constructed.
2. And then she smelled it!
She struggled to get up, but her knees buckled and she slid to the floor, inhaling the acrid odor that grew stronger with each labored breath. Trying not to panic, she turned to the front door, but everything was a blur.
I’m not really a formal member of the “you-can’t-start-a-sentence-with-a-conjunction” police, but in this case, I’m calling citizen’s arrest. If there had been a sentence, any sentence, in front of this, maybe it would have worked for me. But as it is, it doesn’t.
3. Edward Sarkins placed his rough, ashy hand on the counter of his small booth. I handed the old peddler the ten gold coins a customer had stolen from him two days ago. Thanks to my rare “gift”, that thieving prick would never know who had kicked his sorry ass.
This left me with too many questions. Not questions that made me want to read further, but questions like: Why is she/he calling the old peddler a thieving prick? What, you didn’t mean the old peddler? Well, that’s how it reads to me. And what is the gift? Giving back the ten gold coins? It’s not really a gift, if the peddler already owned them, and it’s not really nice to kick old people’s asses.
It’s just too confusing.
4. “Oh my God,” Clea cried, staring down at the telephone receiver. Horror crawled down her spine like cold fingers; Xander Valente was back!
The man she’d falsely promised to love, honour and cherish, the man she’d been forced into marrying had returned to Australia.
This one was just plain too melodramatic a start for me. It reads like the old historicals, but she’s on the phone, so it’s not that. Between the melodrama and my inability to feel her “horror,” this one didn’t stick out for me.
5. “Run that by me again, and try not to sound like you’ve lost your mind.” Miranda Corbett glanced to the scant outfit clutched in the crazy man’s hand, then again met his gaze. A minor technicality and a stroke of bad luck, the crazy man was the police captain and her boss.
Poor construction was the death of this entry, at least for me. It was intriguing enough as far as making me want to read more, but not when I have to stop and go, “huh?” Miranda should be glancing “at” the “scanty” outfit. Her gaze might go “to” his face from the scanty outfit. But we didn’t see it start with the man. And the last sentence just sent up red flags all over. It just kept stopping me. I’d suggest: “The fact the crazy man was the police captain—and her boss—was both a stroke of bad luck, and a minor technicality.”
Thank you judge #4!