Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

LIFPC Update #3: Come for the Contest, Stay for the The Hills References (er, I mean, stay for the publishing advice)

You may be surprised and/or heartened to know that I am still completely ready for the challenge of choosing finalists out of the, um, lots of entries in the Largely Indispensable First Paragraph Challenge. I'll have you know I have only broken down in tears once in the last few days (that was when I woke up to 47 e-mails and a corresponding number of new entries). But then I remembered that we're not even a close to a billion entries! 500? Pshaw! I've done worse.

Meanwhile, May Vanderbilt of Good Girl Lit has not yet threatened to back out of judging the contest (I think that may have something to do with the fact that she apparently hasn't checked the number of entries). She wrote me this morning:

"I'm getting so excited about judging the first paragraph contest. You're still giving me a bottle of bourbon for helping you, right? Do you think you should pass along that anyone using the words "plethora" or "veritable cornucopia" will automatically shoot to the top of my list? Also please tell the entrants that I have a big thing for unique adverbs like coquettishly, quaintly, and pallidly. Oh, and do I get the bourbon after services are rendered...or during the judging?"

Shhh... let's not tell her how many entries there are until after I've given her bourbon. A veritable cornucopia of bourbon.

Please continue to enter, and remember to enter in the comments section of the original post.

So as a result of the contest there are lots of new faces around these parts, and I hope you will pull up a chair and stay awhile. The regular commenters are very friendly, and they don't even mind when I talk about The Hills (Heidi to Spencer this week: "It's called a job, you should try it sometime." DIS.) when I'm supposed to be giving publishing advice. Please click around the archives, subscribe, and stick around!

Remember, you have until Thursday night to enter! Thanks everybody!


emilyofnewmoon said...

Hey there, I came on over after lots of absolutewrite browsing... hoping to drop in more frequently! Great Site!

WendyNYC said...

You HAVE to be kidding me about the adjective comment. All I hear is "Cut your adjectives, Wendy! Use simple words! No one cares how you did on the SATs!" I edited a nice, fat one out of my paragraph entry.

Ah, put perhaps Good Girl Lit is being facetious. (Or, perhaps, I actually do overuse adjectives.)

Don't you mock me.

Nathan Bransford said...

Wendy NYC-

Honestly I coquettishly have to pleasantly say that I verily think May is totally kidding.

WendyNYC said...

Whew! I was going to have to pick them all off the floor and stuff them back in my WIP.

InterestedBystander said...

Might I totally unsolicitedly suggest that next time you brutally and ruthlessly limit each entrant to solely one entry?

Because shouldn't a writer be able to perspicaciously choose which paragraph he or she has painstakingly written would most propitiously represent his or her ouevre?

Roxan said...

I have to agree with the last comment about the number of paragraphs.
If there's no interest with the first paragraph, I doubt more would change that. Then again, the first paragraph could be the best part of the entire works.

Derek said...

But who can resist a plethora of pinatas?

Marina said...

I love "Verily" and use it constantly, incessantly--a plethora of verilys is like an endless supply of Sweetarts. You can never have just one.

cyn said...

nathan, i've heard you mention ANTM but never see you comment on it. are you watching this season??

Nathan Bransford said...


Oh yes. I've been watching, but have been rendered speechless by what were unquestionably the worst makeovers in ANTM history. I don't even know what to say.

Dr. Dume said...

Oh, I knew I should have entered that WIP called 'A Plethora of Veritable Cornucopias'.

Fie and forsooth, I have verily missed my chance. I am but a dastardly poltroon with scant understanding of the wants of the readership. A pox on my keyboard, and fiddlesticks to my screen.

Where's the pickle jar? I feel a bout of comfort eating coming on...

mkcbunny said...

Hi Nathan,

Thanks again for the contest.

I recall a comment or ten after the last competition about the number of first lines involving death. This round seems to have even more. Perhaps a few seemingly "live" openers really were about that vampire in the basement. Dead, dying, and undead main characters, plus funerals, murder, corpses ... We seem to be a death-obsessed crew.

Is this death rate comparable to what you see in your usual query basket? Is it a trend? Or perhaps your blog audience skews toward a particular tone or genre? Just curious as to how our batch meshes with what you normally get.



mkcbunny said...

I didn't mean to duplicate the end of that previous post, but I'm happy to thank you twice, thrice, hundreds of times for what is sure to be a very long judging process. I haven't even caught up with today's yet.

Ello said...


You mentioned that runner ups will win a prize too? Out of curiousity, how many runner ups will you have? And if they are getting query critiques, would you mind asking if they would let you do it on your blog so we can all benefit? Would be really fascinating since we are seeing first paragraphs anyway and it could keep take care of several blog posts for you too.

Just a thought! HOpe you are hanging in there!

Sara said...

entry #2

Everyone always stares. I guess they're just curious about what happened, but it still hurts to be different. After many months of being stuck in a hospital bed, I've decided that everyone has scars. Some are just tucked away on the inside. My childhood ended the summer I turned twelve years old. It's funny how nobody ever tells you that bad things can happen to kids too. But here a year later I am reminded of that every day.

Morgan St. John said...

Uh, Hi there... You should know, I've given you a forced appearance on my blog for the Thursday Thirteen. *clearing throat*

I only report what I know, of course...and that's not much.

Really liked the Good Girl Lit blog. Really, really... :D Made my post on a non writing forum that has some writers on it a bit more acceptable... LOL, wow, that's complicated. And TOTALLY secret codish, don't you think? No, you have no time to think.

Just ignore me.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Ooo, Ello, Good questions!!

Nathan Bransford said...


I agree that Ello left some good questions. And let me answer them as clearly as I can.

1. You mentioned that runner ups will win a prize too? Out of curiousity, how many runner ups will you have?

I have no idea.

2. And if they are getting query critiques, would you mind asking if they would let you do it on your blog so we can all benefit?

I will do so if I feel that the query critique will benefit the blog community. Oftentimes my advice is banal, like, clean up the language, personalize, or don't tell me about your hang nail, but other times I feel the critique will help elucidate a broader point. So I guess the answer to this is we'll see.

Nathan Bransford said...


I feel like the incidences of death on the blog are actually disproportionately more common than my query inbox. I think this is because my regular blog readers tend to skew toward fantasy/urban fantasy, but as you can see from my query stats, I get queries pretty evenly spread from quite a few different genres.

ORION said...

I have to drink copious amounts of bourbon just to make it through the first 50. Hey. Can't you market this as a free form anthology?

Do you think the serial scrubber will make an appearance?

Roxan said...

There does seem to be quite a few about death, including my own. The question is what makes one different from the others.

Other Lisa said...

A veritable plethora of paragraphs.

I just wanted to say that.

BookEnds, LLC said...


500+ entries. Holy Crap! I admire your bravery, strength, and ability to drink lots of bourbon.

I'm very behind on my Hills watching so thanks for the updates. Why haven't you commented on Elodie's sweet DIS of Heidi? So now you know how far behind I am.

Good luck on the LIFPC! I am afraid for you.


Chris Redding said...

I don't watch the Hills because I don't watch much TV. Not a snob thing, just a time thing
anyway. I'm a regular reader, but not a poster.
But you guys are way too funy.

Jude said...

Great contest. Have entered via your myspace page!

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

530 so far and still climbing!!!

Bless your heart!! Long night ahead for May and Nathan.

Anonymous said...

Spontaneous outburst: I LOVE THIS BLOG!

Precie said...

Already I'm in awe of you and May. My head spins as I try to work through all these very different openings. Sooooo many of them are sooooo good for vastly different reasons. I don't envy your work ahead, but I deeply appreciate it!

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks, Jessica! And yes, Elodie's dis of Heidi was pretty spectacular, made all the more so because Heidi really didn't see it coming.

As for the contest, bourbon is my only hope.

cyn said...

nathan, you mean it's not cool that salecia looks like tootie after her makeover? haha! you're right. i do love ANTM. the dra-ma, the bad makeovers! if only i could write a novel as deep and exciting. 8)

~Nancy said...

Do you think the serial scrubber will make an appearance?


Snarkalicious! ;-)

Topher1961 said...

From Rita Skeeter's Guide to Wizards in Love

It was one of those nights when the coquettishly waxing moon was almost full and neither one of us could sleep. My lover kept turning, each time pulling the covers off of me, and I had to rely on our pre-sleep bourbon to keep me warm. We’d had a fight just before bed—a plethora of bad breath, bad words, and bad feeling. He still insists he’s not gay, that he just likes to have sex with men because it’s rougher. And there’s a veritable cornucopia of men willing to have sex with him. I liked that first idea, that we weren’t gay, we just liked the sex. I mean, I didn’t want to be an outcast. Yet I found that I not only like the sex. I, quaintly, liked Grindelwald. Loved Grindelwald if that was possible in the little bit of time we’d known each other. That night, though, I finally had had enough of the charade and climbed out of bed, planning to sleep on the couch. “Albus,” Grindelwald called. Where are you going?

Kimberli said...

"Please click around the archives, subscribe, and stick around!"

Wellll...I have been around, on mute. You know, like a submarine that goes "all silent" when they don't want another sub to know they're sniffing around? Your blog is feeding into my igoogle and my Yahoo 360 page, and I check it frequently. In fact, the "should I use a rhetorical question in my query?" post started a nice discussion on one of my writers' list several months ago. So while I'm bothering to write to confess I'm part of your silent audience, I'll take the time to say, "hey, thanks for the great advice."

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