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Our 2007 First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Winners
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Sponsored by The Writing Show and Literary Market Place


First Prize:

Sarah Maurer of Jakarta, Indonesia for Letter to the World. “As part of her twelve-step recovery program, Peyton, an alcoholic American expatriate, must write a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of her wrongs, forcing her to delve into her complicated relationships with her selfish parents and two autistic brothers.”

  • $500
  • The two-volume print version of Literary Market Place (LMP)
  • Interview on The Writing Show.


Two $100 Second Prizes:

Gustavo Florentin of Old Bridge, NJ for In The Talons of the Condor. “When Roland Sabatini meets the beautiful Lourdes McCallum in the Amazon just before his final mission, the deadly commando must decide between redemption and justice.”

Lewis Reade of Whitstable, Kent, United Kingdom for The Mental Traveler. “When 23-year-old Stuart, an Anglo-Indian, finds himself at death's door in a Bengal hospital, he realises that his ‘pilgrimage’ to find the family he’d only ever seen in photographs will be harder than he expected."


Six Honorable Mentions:

C. Hope Clark of Chapin, South Carolina, for Hog-Tied. “An employee disappears, another commits suicide, and a hog farmer offers federal manager Carolina Slade a bribe bringing in the feds. A by-the-book bureaucrat reluctantly becomes a crime solver in this Southern mystery wrought with fraud, murder, kidnapping and a particularly attractive federal agent whose specialty is none other than agricultural crime.”

Rachel Levinson of Jamesburg, New Jersey for Ruining Ryan. “When naive romantic Ryan Marshall sets out to find happiness through love, he is met with an unrelenting succession of women who crush his innocence and destroy his hopeful spirit.”

Kristina Y. McMorris of Happy Valley, Oregon for Between the Lines. “Through a soul-bearing letter exchange during World War II, a woman masks her true identity to capture the heart of a soldier.”

Judith Mercado of West Palm Beach, Florida for The Old Prophet’s House. “When Charlyn Blake returns to her late grandfather’s church, she discovers that the new minister is the son of the man who seduced her when she was a teenager. Reverend Brian Dolatowski tries to enlist the unwilling Charlyn in tracking down the father he has never met.”

Jennifer J. Sowle of Traverse City, Michigan for Handstands in the Shallow End. “When Luanne Kilpi is fished from the Saginaw River, she has no idea how she got there. Her botched suicide sets off a chain of events that forces her into a mental institution where she connects with four other patients and their activist Lesbian therapist in a fight for their lives.”

Jean Tennant of Everly, Iowa for Red and the Wolfe. “When Riley Harrison travels to Minnesota to visit her grandmother, she falls prey to the charms of Aaron Wolfe, a handsome entrepreneur whose ambitions threaten her family’s property.” This is not the novel that Jean has been sharing with us on her reality show “Getting Published, with Jean Tennant.” That one is Karaoke Nights at the Twilight Lounge.


All Entrants Received:


What We Looked For


We searched for the world's most compelling first chapter of an unpublished novel and judged your writing on:

  1. Story. Is it a compelling read with a great hook? Are we engaged?
  2. Style. Is the writing smooth and tight, without awkward constructions, extraneous verbiage, and redundancies?
  3. Dialog. Is the dialog natural and does it move the story along?
  4. Character. Are the characters interesting? Do we care about them?
  5. Mechanics. Are grammar, spelling, and punctuation correct?



Popular crime fiction author C.J. Box and literary manager Candace Lake made up our celebrity panel selecting the winners from the judges' short-list.

C.J. Box


Our critiquing judges were:

  • Parris Afton Bonds
  • Bernadine Bowman
  • John Bryans
  • Micah Dubinko
  • Richard M. Garino
  • Mick Halpin
  • Robert Hood
  • Tom Occhipinti
  • Ann Paden
  • Paula Paul
  • Jill Ronsley
  • Karen Villanueva
  • Kaaron Warren.

Read more about our judges here

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to all who entered! Thanks, too, to Literary Market Place and all our judges for making the contest so successful!

Host: Paula B.
Date: November 15, 2007
Running time: 10:57
File size:  4 megabytes