Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, June 4, 2010

The Finalists!!

Here! They! Are!

The Finalists in The ROCK PAPER TIGER Chase/Action Writing Contest Extravaganza!!

But first, as always this was such a difficult decision and there were many, many excellent entries. Thanks so much to everyone to participating, and one more big round of applause to Lisa Brackmann for the publication of ROCK PAPER TIGER! Honestly, if you read the first two pages of this book I don't know how you could possibly put it down. I dare you!!

These entries were quite tricky to read because even moreso than other stretches of a book, chase/action/suspense sequences drop you straight into the action. But there were some things that stood out in the ones I ended up selecting:

- Economy and Precision of Description - Action sequences tend to use fewer words to keep up the pace, which places an even higher premium of very very precise description.
- Vividness - It's always great when you both can picture what is happening and the stakes are very clear.
- Interesting setting - Chases are, at heart, a character moving through a space. If that space (i.e. the setting) is interesting the chase scene can really come alive.
- Characters reacting in unexpected fashion - It's not enough to simply show that someone is scared - how does this particular character act when they're scared?
- Originality - We've all seen and read hundreds if not thousands of chase scenes. It's tough to come up with something that feels wholly original, but people still manage to do it.

Some things I saw a lot of (which, don't get me wrong, aren't necessarily bad in context, just interesting to see what repeats):

- Lots of moments when things slow down, seem as if they're happening in slow motion, etc.
- Sighs of relief
- Characters filled with (or wide-eyed with) panic or terror

And one last thing on the precision: everyone check their adverbs and make sure they're very very necessary. I saw quite a few lines like "he froze suddenly." When you are using the word "freeze" with the connotation coming to a stop, is there any other way to "freeze" than suddenly? Freeze by definition means stopping suddenly. So you don't need the suddenly: you can just say "he froze."

TRANSITION!

Here are the honorable mentions, who are quite honorable indeed:

The Screaming Guppy
JohnO
T. Anne
Cyndi Tefft
Valerie Kemp

And now, before I announce the finalists, please remember the voting rules:

In order to vote for the winner, please leave a vote in the comments section of this post. You will have until approximately 4-5 PM Pacific time on Sunday to vote. Please do not e-mail me your vote.

Anonymous comments will be closed during the voting to diminish covert voting opportunities.

Also: Please do not campaign for yourself or for your favorites out there on the Internet. Let's keep this fair. Please remind friends of this as well.

The grand prize winner will be announced on Monday, followed by Last Week in Publishing. Page Critique Monday will be Page Critique Tuesday next week.

Drumroll........................

The five finalists are............

Josin L. McQuein!

There's a knock from outside the door, a set of very human knuckles rapping out a pre-arranged rhythm so we know it's safe. The last beep of the security code unlatches the door and we lurch forward as the one outside pulls Jonah into the hall by the wrist.

"Go."

Mr. Pace touches each shoulder, counting as we pass to make sure no one's forgotten. Tobias loops his hand back through the strap on my shoulder for the inspection, then grabs me around the waist again once we're clear.

"If we have to run, go limp," he says. "I can carry you faster than you can move on your own."

Before I can protest that I don't need to be carried, or that I don't trust him not to toss me aside and leave me here, Tobias stumbles forward from a sudden push at his back. The force ripples through our chain of hands. Elbows and knees hit hard on the ground, and the yelps that come after are followed by frantic shushing.

"They're through," Mr. Pace shouts behind us, but he isn't talking to us.

"Move! Move! Move!" A voice I finally recognize as Lt. Casey shouts and shoves our line again.

As soon as we hit the hall, everything falls apart. We've only ever marched in silence with no real sense of urgency or danger. Now we're a hive mind with a massive case of brain freeze. Total chaos - all the drills mean nothing.

Our lines break. What used to be our classroom erupts into the sound of shrieking, gunfire, and something that is in no way human.

I hit the floor with my hands over my ears, curled into a ball against the sound - the other side of my edge. Loud noises are overwhelming. For the first week, I couldn't handle light, either, because my eyes were still attuned to the Dark. That one's getting better, but the sounds still kill me.

"That's not what I meant by limp, Marina!"

Tobias is beside me, pulling me up by one arm. The next thing I know, we're racing toward the shelter beyond the maze of hallways. Well, he's racing, I'm being dragged - gaining speed is hard after getting shot in the leg, even when the wound's had a few weeks to heal.

Good to his promise, Tobias has me off the ground before I can remind him that I can't move as fast as he can, and over his shoulder I watch what everyone else is trying to hide from.

Now I know why they tell people not to look back when they're running away.

Mr. Pace and Lt. Casey. Three others I can't name. They shoot at shadows in the dark, every round making them twist and jerk from the impact of the rifles hitting their shoulders. A flare illuminates the face of Honoria Whit with the odd bald "V" scarred into her hairline.

"Bring it down," she orders. "Collapse the doors!"


LGSmith!

I turned my horse around, ready to get the hell out of there, when a fourth grenade went off behind me, shaking my bones and teeth. I felt death claw at my back, and then the world went silent. Blades crossed in front of me, horses stumbled in a screen of smoke, men’s mouths shouted words, but I heard none of it. I was on the path to the afterlife. Death was the only explanation for why my vision had narrowed into a long dark tunnel. And then Lt. Daniels rode up beside me and screamed at me to ride for the trees.

“Go!” he ordered, pointing with his sword.

Delivered from deafness, I heard the word lift off his lips and realized I wasn’t dead. Not about to ignore him a second time, I prodded my horse through the drifting smoke to the line of oaks on the right, as the lieutenant slashed at one of the devils who tried to chase. My horse broke for the trees, galloping in a zigzagged pattern as she maneuvered the wood. I hugged her neck and held on, diving to avoid low branches. We made it about a quarter of a mile into the thick of the trees when I heard the pounding of hooves behind me. I risked a look and saw the lieutenant riding hard to catch up. Three attackers followed.

That’s when it ignited: the flash of defiance that rises up in me whenever danger chases me down. I don’t turn from the fight. I meet it head on like a rock in a river. Perhaps it is nothing more than foolhardy daring that will get me killed one day, but every muscle in my body made me pull up on the reins and turn my horse around to end this. With only a second of surprise on my side, I hugged my legs tight around my horse and nocked an arrow against the bowstring. Daniels ran his horse hard right, breaking from the enemy, and I caught the first rider right where his heart ought to be.

I quickly set another arrow and drew my bow, arms tensed against the strain of wood and sinew. Riders hurtled toward me. Daniels leaned left and I prepared to release when his horse suddenly lurched. Hit from behind by an arrow to her hindquarter, his horse went down, throwing Daniels to the ground. I never saw him get up, but there was no time to find him. The second rider flattened out on his horse and charged straight at me. But arrows are quicker than horses. I stuck him just below the ribs and he fell from his saddle into the sea of ferns.

I had killed two of the assassins, and if I could kill the third I might just get away with my life. But I had made a dangerous mistake. The third rider had already stopped twenty yards in front of me, aiming his arrow true.


Ryan Z Nock!

A gunshot explodes in the jungle night. Four men, rifles in hand, tromp out of the brush and into the headlights of our wrecked car. Gabi, already mostly hidden by the vehicle, ducks down and looks at me, but I try not to react, hoping the men might not have noticed her.

They certainly don’t look like the Amazonians I’d expect. Bare-chested, yes, and burnished bronze skin with multiple layers of stone- and metal-beaded necklaces, but they wear Hawaiian print shorts and brand-name basketball shoes.

The biggest of the group wears an old bluetooth earpiece, and he actions the bolt of his rifle, then levels it at me. Another spots Gabi and raises his rifle at her.

“Pare!” Gabi shouts. “Vamos dar-lhe o que quiser!”

The second rifleman yells to the bluetoothed leader. He in turn barks something at us.

“Não,” Gabi says. “Ele é um Americano.”

The bluetooth leader spits, then walks up and shoves me.

“Jaime,” Gabi says, “he says to do what they want, or they’ll shoot us.”

“What the fuck do they want?”

I hear a diesel engine approaching from up the road to the left. We all turn to look, and maybe a half mile away a white truck, trailer bed laden with lumber, takes a wide curve toward us. The natives start yelling.

Gabi says, “We have to go with them.”

“No.”

“They have guns!”

I glance back at the truck. It’ll be on us in less than a minute.

“We jump on the truck.”

“But-.”

“We can do this!”

Bluetooth steps up to grab me, and I bat his hand away. He yells, and the other three men take aim at me.

“Stop!” Gabi cries.

I creep toward the other side of the road, trying to use Bluetooth as cover against the firing squad. Bluetooth lunges after me. The truck begins blaring its horn, and the driver guns his engine.

Gabi breaks for the road, but one gunman grabs her hair and yanks her back. I take a step to help, but Bluetooth whips the barrel of his rifle at the side of my head. I duck, then grab the rifle, but he wrenches it out of my grip, and then smashes his elbow and the rifle stock into my face. My right eye goes blind with the hit, and headlights blind me from the left.

Bluetooth jumps back as the truck roars between us. I throw myself into a run down the road to the right. A rifle barks, his or one of the others I can’t tell, but the massive trailer blocks their view. I jump and grab at a yellow cable on the trailer bed, ram my foot onto a blurring piece of metal.

The retort of another rifle blasts in my ears. Pain sears in my hip, and wet heat smears across my thigh. I yell to Gabi, but I can hear her screams for help fading into the night as I’m carried away at forty miles an hour.


EternalOptimist!

“What is that?” Ceren asked, her voice squeaking with fear.

A blonde-furred Destroyer tumbled from the sky and slammed into the ground twenty paces down slope from them and tumbled toward the river. For a second it looked like it would roll right into the raging waters, but its impossibly muscled arms lashed out and dug its long, curved claws into the ground, gouging deep furrows and slowing its headlong rush just short of the bank.

The monster turned and fastened amber eyes on them. It opened its long snout and roared, showing a mouth full of sharp teeth.

An arrow slammed into the center of its chest.

“That’ll teach it,” Adalia said with a satisfied smile. But her smile faded when the Destroyer rose to its full twelve foot height and yanked the arrow out of its fur, apparently unharmed.

“We be in trouble,” Adalia said, but her hand never slowed. Even as she spoke, she drew another arrow, knocked it, and took aim.

The monster lunged down onto all four legs and charged, tearing at the earth in its hunger to reach them.

Ceren raised her sword, but her hand shook with terror. It’s not fair! A defiant spark blazed in her soul, driving the terror back. She hadn’t just survived death by a Makrasha to die by this horror.

Adalia let fly a second arrow and caught the monster mid-leap in the face, just missing the eye. The shaft grazed its head and deflected away, leaving a thin crimson scar.

“By Jagen, that aint right,” Adalia shouted, already drawing another arrow.

The monster barreled toward them, its terrifying gaze fixed on Adalia’s tiny form. Unfazed, she knocked another arrow. “See how ye like this,” she snarled, drawing the bow with a rock steady hand.

She would get only one more shot.

Then Nikias arrived.

A blur of blue flame, he intercepted the monster, slashing at its torso with the burning silvered blades of the Bladestaff.

The monster skidded to a halt and grasped at the puny human, but Nikias danced aside and slashed again, whooping like a lunatic. His blades sliced across the monster’s arms, cutting the thick hide but not penetrating into the dense muscle below. The fire racing the length of the blades seemed to have no effect on the monster.

It lunged at him, but again he danced aside, moving faster than anyone Ceren had ever seen. He twirled around behind the beast and stabbed at its back, but again did little more than slice the skin. The monster spun after him but he dodged its grasping claws and slashed again, and again.

The two lunged and ducked, slashed and clawed, spun and dodged in a deadly dance punctuated by the beast’s frustrated roaring and Nikias’ incessant whooping yells.

Then Nikias misjudged a dodge and instead of ducking under a huge arm, it clobbered him in the side of the head. He tumbled to the ground, and the monster pounced.


Bane of Anubis!

“Come on, Baby, let’s go.”

But her gaze, like mine, is fixed on the cave, on the dozen men dragging five large nets to the ledge. The gunship’s side doors open. Hooks are lowered, nets attached. The chopper lists beneath the weight, but soon the cargo’s loaded, still faintly glowing, and I’m absurdly reminded of chickens, even though I’ve never seen one get its head cut off.

Two other helicopters retrieve the soldiers. I watch until the last saunters aboard. No gurneys, no rush, nobody injured. Not a battle. A slaughter. As the two transports move away, my breaths come faster, sharper; my chest constricts.

“Let’s go,” I whisper.

I meant for us to retreat, to hide, but Baby rises up and launches herself over the mountaintop and at the nearest helicopter with a sky-shattering howl that reminds me of her parents. The gunship makes half a revolution toward us before being swallowed in a cone of ice.

Its blades grind to a halt. For a half moment it sits there, suspended in death. I’m close enough to see the soldier manning the side-door machine gun. He’s an ice statue, sculpted with mouth and eyes wide open, finger at the trigger.

A sudden intense sadness grips me as the frozen gunship plummets into the valley. Those men died because of me. Maybe I was a reluctant sympathizer before, but now I’m a full-fledged traitor who’s killed fathers, sons, brothers, husbands.

The missile shrieking toward us consumes my sorrow, sets my heart aflutter. Baby reels sideways and sends a funnel of liquid frost at the attacking gunship. Another missile races toward us from the left. Two from the right. Shrieking death everywhere. I glance back to see the first missile spin around.

Baby dives and the missiles follow. “Go cold!” I shout.

Her skin cools to frigid and her glow brightens to blinding. She dodges three more missiles, heads for the helicopter with the red dragon heads. Bullets zip everywhere, a swarm of metal locusts criss-crossing our path.

Baby bucks, bolts and swerves, always breathing her ice. Ten gunships become five. Missiles churn the mountainside, send fountains of rock and snow hundreds of feet skyward.

In the blizzard of destruction, I lose my orientation. Shadows in the flying detritus could be a thousand feet away or ten, enemies or flying boulders. I call out every blur, imagined or not, shouting against the thunder of war until my voice goes hoarse, my lungs grow tight, and my body burns cold fire.

The explosion hits us from below. Warmth and pain surge through me. Baby tumbles head over tail. My grip loosens, legs slip, head spins.

When my focus returns, Baby’s crashing into the mountain and I’m hundreds of feet in the air without a dragon.


Congratulations, everyone! And don't forget: Page Critique Monday will be Page Critique Tuesday next week.






186 comments:

PaintWithWords said...

Congrats everyone! Cyndi, you made honorable mention! How neat is that?

Thanks for a good time, Nathan!

xBecca
http://rebecca-hamilton.com

Josin L. McQuein said...

YAY!!!!

*does Snoopy dance*

Richard Levangie said...

Congratulations to everyone. It takes guts to put yourself out there.

Valerie Kemp said...

OMG! I was not expecting to see my name here! Thanks so much it truly is an honor to be mentioned among these finalists and to be chosen from over 500 entries!

Congrats to the winners!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Oops. I danced my vote right out of my post.

I vote Josin L. McQuein.

:-)

Simon C. Larter said...

Ooh! I totally get it. Action beats suspense any day of the week and twice on Sunday! These are all great, but I have to give the nod to Josin McQuein for the chaos of a group retreat. That was particularly well done!

PaintWithWords said...

I noticed the "go" and "stop" in the dialogue of the winning passages. They all seem like they would really appeal to a male audience too! Pretty neat! :)

Congrats again to everyone!

Onto my vote.

It's hard to choose one. Very different from the kind of content I'd spend my money on (Though, with as much as I spend on books each month I don't exactly have the pocket-depth to buy more lol)

I think of all those, Josin L. McQuein was easiest to read through.

None moved me *as a reader/buyer*, but they were all well-written. but Josin's held my interst most. A lot can be learned from the skill and technique of the honorable mentions and finalists listed here.

E. Tanguay said...

Josin L. McQuein

pensees said...

Wow, I am so flattered to have received honorable mention (particularly since I write love stories, not action)! Thanks, Nathan. You made my day!

The link doesn't work when I click on my name, BTW. :)

I will read through the finalists' entries and vote for my fave.

Cyndi Tefft

ctefft.blogspot.com

Nathan Bransford said...

pensees-

You sure the link doesn't work? It works for me. Blogger's a bit wonky with permalinks though.

Robert A Meacham said...

Congratulations to everyone. The read was well worth the time


Bane of Anubis, gets my vote.

Joyce said...

Congratulations everyone! These were all very well done, but the one that made me want to read more was Josin L. McQuein's.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Congratulations to the finalists and honorable mentions!

This was a great contest. I'll be back later with my vote after I've had a chance to sit down and read through them carefully.

Meredith said...

Congrats to all the finalists!

My vote goes to Josin.

Mesmerix said...

Nathan, thank you for doing all this work on such a contest!

Vote: Bane of Anubis

Kristi Helvig said...

Congrats to all the winners and honorable mentions - especially my blog Sister Valerie!

BradleeD said...

Congratulations to everyone. I vote for LGSmith.

Shelley Watters said...

Congrats to the finalists. I vote for LGSmith

Yon Saucy Wench said...

Congratulations to everyone, and especially the honorable mentions and finalists!

I like them all, but my vote is for Bane of Anubis.

a-r-williams said...

Congrats to all the winners and thanks for the contest, Nathan.

Adam Heine said...

Oh, wow. These are all so good! Congratulations to all the winners. You guys deserve it.

My vote goes to Josin. It reminded me of Aliens, and I really, really want to know what they're running from.

Bane, you're a close (CLOSEclose) second, and I want to read that dragon story.

abc said...

Wow, there is that Josin again! My vote goes to her. Congrats to all, though. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Ty said...

Vote: Bane of Anubis

Congrats everyone!

Jaimie said...

Josin L. McQuein

I liked the hand-holding stuff... made me feel like I was there, interacting with the elements, not an onlooker.

D. G. Hudson said...

Congrats to all the finalists and the honorable mentions. Out of all the entries, that's quite an accomplishment.

I'll enjoy reading these selections and voting before the deadline.

Thanks to all the entrants for sharing your work - there's a lot of talent simmering at this blog.

Good luck to the finalists!

pensees said...

Got it to work in IE (blogger bug, I s'pose). Thanks! *shy grin*

My vote is for Josin McQuein.

Sha Boland said...

Congrats to the 5 and 5

Loved yours, Cyndi!

My vote is for LG Smith

Melody (frmrly: Jane Harmony) said...

Voting for Josin L. McQuein!!! That was amazing. I want to read that book! Drew me in immediately and I wanted to 'turn the page'. :)

a-r-williams said...

Bane of Anubis

Mary McDonald said...

I'm not big on first person or present tense, so I'm voting for Eternal Optimist.

J. R. McLemore said...

Congratulations to the honorable mentions and finalists!

I liked the suspense of trying to find out what was chasing those fleeing in Josin's story. Also, there was good description among the chaos. I'm still curious as to what they were running from.

Awesome contest, Nathan. This blog gets better and better.

Luc2 said...

Congrats finalsist and honorable mentioned.

I vote for LGSmith!

mary said...

I didn't enter but very much enjoyed reading. Thank you to everyone who submitted and, in doing so, pasted your hearts on a page, then stood bravely aside while we read and reacted. My palms sweated with you :-).

My vote is for Josin. Anything I read which is promptly followed by purple flames of jealousy spitting acid from my eyes because I really, really, really wish I'd written it deserves a yes vote. Good luck, Josin.

Writers Block said...

I will have to vote for Josin L McQuein.

It sucks though, now I want to read the whole story.

Gerri said...

Nathan, at some point after the voting is closed, can I ask a couple questions about why you chose these particular scenes?

And a vote for EternalOptimist

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Congrats to the H.M's and finalist.

My vote goes to RYAN Z NOCK, well done!

thatedeguy said...

Josin L. McQuein

Although, for the record, I liked Cyndi's more than any of the finalists' stories. All very good though.

Unrepentant Escapist said...

EternalOptimist for me.

pensees said...

To Sha Boland and thatedeguy- Thanks, you guys! I'm flying high today! :)

Cyndi Tefft

Bane of Anubis said...

Wow. Thanks, Nathan for running this contest. This is better than a Lakers win, and I'm too thrilled to vote. Congratulations everyone else.

Matthew Rush said...

I vote for Josin.

Helen said...

LGSmith entry.

Carol Riggs said...

Gah! Too hard to pick a fave. All had compelling action. Super job, people!
Hey Nathan, is there any way of making Page Critique Day less dependent upon split seconds? Like, 3-5 people post during the SAME minute. Right at 9:59 or 10:00, for those last 2 contests. Seems if we're not manning the computer precisely at the correct nanosecond, we snooze-lose. Not sure what other option there is though, unless ya choose randomly (or otherwise) from the first dozen posted or something.

Naomi Westbrook said...

Congrats to all the winners. My vote is for Eternal Optimist.

Thermocline said...

Dragons fighting helicopters? What's not to love? Yes, please, Bane.

Richard Pieters said...

All good. Very good. HMs, too. I'm going to vote for Josin, but Bane (Baby) made it really hard.

Down the well said...

Whoa. Didn't expect that.

Congratulations to everyone. Well done.


AKA: LGSmith

Becca Rogers said...

Congrats to everyone!

My vote is for Josin. :)

Kam Oi Lee said...

Thank you Nathan for a great contest. Big congrats to the finalists & honorable mentions! My vote goes to Bane of Anubis.

K Hoss said...

Josin L. McQuein, hands down.

Other Lisa said...

Congratulations to everyone! I'm gonna brew another cup of coffee and enjoy these...

Tiff said...

LG Smith.

Lisa said...

I vote for LG Smith!

Suzie F. said...

Well done, everyone!

My vote goes to LGSmith.

Yours was the one entry in which I got pulled into the action without having to reread for meaning. I'd definitely read on!

The Screaming Guppy said...

Yay! Thanks for the Honorable Mention and the contest Nathan!

Congrats to all the other honorable mention and finalists -and good luck!

My vote is for Josin L. McQuein.

ryan field said...

They're all good.

But I'm going with Ryan Z Nock!

It felt exciting.

Brian said...

I vote for LGSmith!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Congrats, everyone!

chelle said...

Add another vote for Josin. I really want to know what happens next.

Susan said...

Bane of Anubis.

Barb said...

A vote for Bane of Anubis.

T. Anne said...

Awesome! Thanx for the nod Nathan!!! My vote is for Josin.

Rebecca said...

Ryan Z. Nock left me wanting more so my vote goes to him. Great job.

Bridget said...

I vote for Ryan Z Nock. These were good!

Ted said...

Wow, all great. I don't see any dropoff from the finalists to the runners up. Clearly, first-person narrative wins and present-tense prevails.

I vote for LG Smith by an eyelash over Josin McQuein, mainly because I think it's a little harder to write action in past tense.

Karla (Author K.L. Brady) said...

I liked Ryan's and LG's the best, but my vote goes to LGSmith.

Gretchen said...

LGSmith gets my vote. Nice work from everyone.

February Grace said...

Can't pick one from these...

Congratulations to everybody who is a finalist/honorable mention!

Kate said...

All are good but my vote is Bane of Anubis.

Elizabeth said...

My vote is for Josin L. McQuein. This one held my interest the most without being bogged down by confusion.

Jacqueline said...

Wow! Those are all very good. Congrats to all the finalists and the honourable mentions.

My vote is for the first one by Josin L. McQuein.

Rollie Raleigh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RaShelle said...

I vote Josin, although Nock was a close second.

Magdalena Munro said...

Considering I don't read action/suspense nor have I ever read a book about dragons, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the entry by Bane of Anubis. Wonderful wonderful use of words and to everyone else that made it to the top 10, cheerio! Well done!! That was all around so much fun and took me away from looking at resume's (kind of like query letters...lots and lots and lots of no's sadly) which came as a relief! Thanks Nathan and thanks to all those lovely wordsmiths~

Rollie Raleigh said...

I noted a greater than random number of first-person accounts in both the finalists and the runners-up. Does the personalization make the event more visceral?

Not being much of a fantasy fan and disliking gnomes, elves, dragons, and most denizens of such worlds, I surprise myself by voting for Bane of Anubis for the writing.
(corrected the name)

Felicity said...

My vote goes to Ryan Z Nock.

Pink said...

They were all awesome, but for my final vote: Ryan Z. Nock!

Mark said...

I have to go with Josin--especially in terms of suspense, though LG Smith was a close second.

Dan said...

Bane of Anubis!
Because it feels the least "written." The present tense (whether faux or not) works exceedingly well here. I think what Bransford points to as the good commonalities all remove the reader from the act of reading. There's no time to narrate internal stuff in an action sequence. Internal monologue (voice-over) makes us all too aware of the literary artiface mediating the action. Artiface should slip away during these times. Anubis piece is great reportage, without the clutter of the characters' thoughts.

Morgan Xavier said...

Loved them all :)

My vote is for Josin L. McQuein

Janet Johnson said...

Congrats everyone!

I vote Josin.

Marian Allen said...

Nathan, you set yourself a difficult task, winnowing out five finalists!

I have to go with LGSmith--I cared what happened in the story in general and to the character in particular from the first sentence, and didn't lose that connection once.

Mimi said...

Great job to all! My favorite was Josin McQ ... loved the ripples through the chain of hands. Honorable mention to Bane of anubis. Great visual of the frozen soldier.

alaskaravenclaw said...

They were all good; I vote for Josin L. McQuein.

Reason: Though I'm usually a big advocate of making sure the reader knows what's going on, in this instance knowing there was a threat and seeing people react to it without being sure what the threat was was extremely effective. My heart was in my mouth.

L. T. Host said...

Of course I'm voting for Bane! YAY BANE!!

helensayers said...

Cool; Baby's a dragon.

Bane of Anubis

L.J. Boldyrev said...

Congrats all! And good luck to the finalists!
I'm just going to brag now and say that Valerie Kemp is one of my lovely critique partners. So proud of you, Valerie!

Jan O'Hara (aka hope101) said...

Wow. A tough one. Nicely done, people!

My vote: Josin L. McQuein

swampfox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
swampfox said...

EternalOptimist gets my vote after reading them a second time.

John Brandstetter said...

My vote goes to LGSmith. This entry had my favorite lines: "I don’t turn from the fight. I meet it head on like a rock in a river."

D. G. Hudson said...

BANE of Anubis gets my vote. Dragons always get my attention.

Josin L. McQuein's action scene was intense -- especially when they all stumble. . .

These final entries were all well written and the writers deserve the praise they get.

Nathan - will you give us any details as to what made the difference when you announce the final winner?

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I vote for Bane!

Congrats to all! There's some fine craftmanship in these entries!

David Scott Banghart said...

I vote for Josin L. McQuein

Sarah W said...

These are really good--tough choice!

I hope to read the rest of these stories someday . . . but I have to go with Bane of Anubis here.

Ice dragons, helicopters, and the perils of airborne inertia? You got me!

Judith Mercado said...

Congratulations to all. My vote goes to Bane of Anubis!

the Amateur Book Blogger said...

Josin L. McQuein

Well done everyone.

Heidi J. Johns said...

Congrats to all! Great action scenes!

My vote goes to Bane of Anubis.

Well done!

Kristin Laughtin said...

These were all great examples of writing (although to be honest, I expected a little more action out of own or two of them). Congrats to all the finalists/honorable mentions!

My vote goes to Bane of Anubis.

Nathalie said...

Congrats to all. This was easy for me. Definitely Josin L. McQuein - I forgot I was reading just a short action scene by the time I got to the end and wanted more!!!

Bonnie Gorshe said...

We are probably choosing a favorite genre as much as anything, but my vote goes to Bane.

Valerie L Smith said...

Great selection to choose from but Bane of Anubis gets my vote.

Mark Siegal said...

Bane of Anubis. Congrats to everybody!

Jenny said...

Go Ryan Z Nock! I had a blast reading your entry.

Matthew Delman said...

Definitely one more vote for Bane -- easily one of the smoothest and most realistic-seeming dragon-rider action scenes I've seen/read in a long time.

Topaz Blue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suz said...

They were all smooth, easy to ready and incredibly engaging. My vote is for Bane of Anubis.

kidsbookjunky said...

Great contest Nathan!

My vote goes to Bane of Anubis, fantastic read!

Congrats to all the finalist and honorable mentions.

-Charlie Eve

justajo said...

I think I'll vote for Bane, though it's not easy. All good. Wish I could have entered mine but somehow the instructions on how to do so were confusing. The complaint of a tech-chalenged oldster.

intertribal said...

My vote => Bane of Anubis.

RJ Hipling said...

My vote goes to Josin L McQuein but Bane of Anubis comes a close 2nd.

Congrats to the honorable mentions and finalists. And shout outs to those who participated. In time, I will become as brave as you :)

Amanda Sablan said...

Congrats to everyone!

Although I really can't choose between all you guys...

rachelcapps said...

Congrats, winners! And honourable mentions - well done :)

My vote goes to Josin L. McQuein - I want to keep reading!

Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm going with Bane, but Josin is a close second!

BonSue Brandvik said...

They are all excellent, but I vote for Josin McQuein. The line about understanding why no one is supposed to look back when something is chasing was excellent and made me visualize what she might be seeing.

Having said that, I wouldn't be disappointed if any of these entries took the top prize! I want to read all of these stories.

Jolene said...

Bane of Anubis. Josin CLOSE. Both awesome reads.

Kiolia said...

Ryan Z Nock gets my vote.

wendy said...

Congrats everyone. You all did great :)

My vote goes to *Bane of Anubis* with Josin a close second.

Tom Mullin said...

LG Smith

Meghan said...

LGSmith

Melissa said...

Josin L. McQuein

Deepa said...

Congratulations to all the winners! and to Nathan who took the time and effort to read so many entries!!! Thanks Nathan!

My vote goes to - LGSmith!

Luke said...

I've got to know... how you read 220,000 words in one day.

Adele Richards said...

Josin! Gripping! I look forward to reading your books Josin x

Ann Patey said...

They are all very, very well written with lots of suspense. It was sooooo hard to choose but my vote goes to LGSmith. Well done to all the authors.

LG Smith

ljkuhnley said...

Bane of Anubis!

Eric said...

Congrats and well done to all.

Vote's for Bane.

Phyllis said...

Great reads, all of them. My vote goes to Bane of Anubis.

Lee said...

I'll go with Josin McQuien. I liked that it was less of a fight scene and more of a chase.

Phyllis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RosieC said...

Congrats to everyone! What a great contest. Thanks, Nathan!

My vote goes to RYAN Z NOCK!

Sheila said...

Congrats to all!

My vote goes to Bane.

Ryan Crafton said...

Vote: EternalOptimist!

Netti said...

Ryan Z. Nock

Jill Elizabeth said...

Josin McQuein.

I enjoyed all of the others as scenes, but Josin's made me want to know what the entire novel was about, what context the scene was part of.

altho BoN was a close runner-up for me.

Ann M said...

Great contest, and congrats to all the finalists!

It was difficult to vote for just one of these, as there were aspects of all the entries that I really enjoyed!!

But, I'm going to vote for: LGSmith because I understood the progress of action the best.

meredithmansfield said...

I vote for LGSmith

Renee Sweet said...

Well done, everyone!

I vote for Josin.

Mira said...

Oh goodness. Well, I've learned that not only is action something I can't write, but I can't evaluate it either.

They all look terrific to me. If I had to pick, it would be HM Valerie Kemp's, but I think that was because it was closest to my genres.....

And I don't want to vote for Josin or Bane just because I know and like them - that's not fair.

I honestly don't know, so I'm abstaining. I hope they all win!!!

J.J. Bennett said...

Yeah Bane!

Vote: Bane

Kyla said...

Bane of Anubis!

Melissa Pearl said...

Congratulations to all the finalists. Awesome work!
My faves were Bane of Anubis and Ryan Z Nock.

Great job everyone.

As always - amazing work reading all of these Nathan. You're a legend.

Bill Coon said...

Bane of Anubis!

great stories.

Linnea said...

Fun read. I vote for Eternal Optimist.

heather said...

Well, I finally put down my box of kleenex today(sniff). Thanks, Nathan, for all the hard work you put in on this contest. I can't imagine it was easy!

Congrats everyone, finalists and honorable mentions alike. It was awesome to get a peek into everyone's head like that. More more more!

And my vote goes to Josin L. McQuein. She had me at "Go."

Joshua Peacock said...

Bane of Anubis

j said...

Congratulations to everyone. My vote goes to LGSmith

Steppe said...

All five were flawlessly animated wordsmithing for pace and clarity so I went for the bias of immediately recognizable setting; as a jungle with banditos.

Vote
Ryan Z Nock!

Joan Kremer said...

Wow -- lots of good, intense writing there. But my vote is for:

Josin McQuein's scene

because of the originality of the writing and details.

Congratulations to all of the top 10, and to all who entered the contest.

Luisa Perkins said...

They were all good, but I vote for EternalOptimist.

EternalOptimist said...

Thank you so much! I am deeply honored to be chosen one of the finalists. I loved all of the other stories and look forward to reading the books when they're published.

Frank Morin
AKA: EternalOptimist

Patrice said...

Tough call! I go for Ryan Z Nock because it made me the scaredest of all of them!

Janalyn said...

Bane of Anubis.

Micky L. said...

Vote: Bane of Anubis.

Chris said...

Eternal Optimist

careann said...

Congrats to all the finalists. My vote goes to Bane of Anubis! I like its originality.

Carol J. Garvin

Leila said...

Congrats everyone!

It was hard to choose between Josin McQuein and Bane of Anubis, but I'm going with Josin.

Adrianne said...

Josin L. McQuein!

starduster said...

Ryan Z. Nock has my vote.

I clicked on Rock Paper Tiger and at Amazon read the first six pages of the novel. Very interesting although where the scene is set up (China) has got to be next door to hell. My grandson is part Chinese and his name is Chine.

The book is certain to be a best seller and I am sure a movie of it will follow. You chose well. Congratulations.

Slushpile Slut said...

Impressive entries!

I vote LGSmith...loved this line..."I meet it head on like a rock in a river."

Congrats to everyone :)

Brent said...

My vote: Bane of Anubis

Christina said...

Bane of Anubis (LGSmith a close 2nd).

Gina Frost said...

Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions! You all did an excellent job.

My vote, like so many others would have to go to Josin. I so want to read more and find out the reasons everything was happening.

Avi said...

Awesome reads - all of them.

My vote is for Ryan Z Nock

Shelli said...

Bane of Anubis has my vote, but Josin came in a very close second.

W.F. said...

Ryan Z. Nock

P. Helen said...

My vote is for Josin L. McQuein!

kathrynjankowski said...

Congrats to all.

My vote goes to Bane of Anubis!

Randy S said...

I vote for Ryan Z Nock.

Mel Skinner said...

LGSmith has my vote.


It was a tough choice, though.

Drachen said...

I have to say I'm a little annoyed that ALL of the ten finalists and honourable mentions were in the first half of the entries.

I think someone stopped reading at a certain point... Which is understandable, there was a huge flood of entries. But it would be nice to tell those who didn't make the cut for time reasons rather than quality reasons that their entry wasn't even judged.

By my calculation the odds of such a distribution happening by chance are about 1000:1 So... MAYBE it's a fluke. Not very likely though.

Ryan Z Nock said...

Clearly I should have put the command "Go!" in my excerpt. I would be getting more votes. ;)

I'll recuse myself from voting, but considering my last name, I must give credit to LGSmith for usage of the word that means putting an arrow to a bowstring.


Nathan, thanks for the contest. Now, everyone who hasn't yet voted, cast your vote for me! Go!

LJCohen said...

Ryan Z Nock, please!

(word verification: readcoun I wanted to add a "t" to the end. LOL)

Nathan Bransford said...

drachen-

I really read them all, and all you have to do is look at past contests (some of which had even more entries) to know that I don't stop reading at a certain point. I too noticed that the selections came in the first half, but these were really the ones I thought were the ten best.

wycen said...

I vote Ryan Z Nock.

Chuck H. said...

Congrats to all finalists and honorable mentions. Great Contest!!

Though I'm intrigued by a dragon shooting cold instead of heat and named Baby, I have to give this one to L G Smith.

Thanks Nathan.

Ted Brzinski said...

+1 for Ryan Nock

leorah said...

I vote Ryan Nock

P. Helen said...

My vote is for Josin L. McQuein!

PathRes said...

These are all great entries, but I'm placing my vote with Ryan Z Nock.

Sara Martin said...

I vote for Josin L McQuein. Well done!

Ishta Mercurio said...

These were good, but Bane of Anubis gets my vote. It flowed really well, left me wanting to read more, and didn't confuse me once.

Nice job, everyone! I've learned a lot from these examples.

Virginia McGarity said...

LGSmith!

Erica75 said...

Bane of Anubis

Valerie said...

This was really tough. I was torn between Josin and Bane but in the end I think I'm going to go with:

Bane of Anubis

They were all really great though!

Nathan Bransford said...

Voting time up! Winner announced on Monday.

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