Authors!  Here’s a chance to show what you’ve got!  
Readers!  Connect with new voices! 
And Maybe Win a Fabulous Prize!

"New Fiction Engine is all about matching great books with readers who would totally stay up all night devouring them if they only knew they existed.  We want NFE to become a place where readers come looking for great writing, and where great writers come looking for readers.  With that in mind...

We’re playing the OPEN BOOK CHALLENGE!  An easy and fun way for authors to show off their work, and for readers to find something new they’ll love.”   

You can read all about the OBC HERE or just jump in and start playing right now. 


Welcome to the Open Book Challenge!  From June 25th-July 26th, and through several thrilling rounds of play, the Open Book Challenge will be hosted by... me, Stephen T. Harper, author of the book up there in the top right corner, and now, rather suddenly, gameshow host.

Before we kick off Round 1, don’t forget there is a FABULOUS PRIZE at stake - a $25 Gift Certificate from Amazon - and you'll need to register for the game to be eligible to win.  Don’t worry, it’s as easy as following this blog (actually, it IS following this blog). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All set?  Okay, good.

I’m going to walk us through game play (it’s very easy), but if you want a full explanation and all the details, click that link above or the Open Book Game tab at the top of the blog.

If you are still here and ready to play, lets go.

The scene:  You are a Book Lover who just picked up a book you never heard of.  First sentence is intriguing.  First paragraph too.  But a great read must be great all the way through, on every page, even a random one.   Open a book anywhere and start reading.  You don’t know the characters, but can you see what’s happening?  Can you feel it?  Do you want to read more?   

Let’s see...


Using a pair of dice and the honor system... the randomly selected page number is... 257.

Now I’m looking on page 257 of “King’s X” (a digital file)... now I'm selecting the best paragraph... copy and paste... and...

"De Buci’s body hung in the desert air for a moment before toppling like felled living wood into the sand.  St. Ives stood at the ready, his sword stained at its heart by a swath of fresh crimson.  He returned his stare to the center of his enemy’s chest, unmoved but for the prickling flesh at the back of his neck."

Now it’s your turn.  You are an Author and we are Book Lovers looking for something awesome.  Go to your book, (published, unpublished, work in progress, it doesn’t matter, just show us what you’ve got!) turn to page 257* and give us the best paragraph you see in the comments section below.

Readers, you don’t need to have written a book to play.  Comment on what you see and and you score points toward the Fabulous Prize.  (Be nice, it takes a bit of courage to post).

*If your book has fewer than 257 pages, use page 157.  Or 57.  Or 7.  The point is to honor the element of randomness, it doesn’t matter how long the work is.  

Ready?  Set?  Go!


  1. My entry, the first paragraph from page 257 of "High on a Mountain":

    Latharn sloshed more whisky into his glass. He was halfway into the beckoning land of forgetfulness when he heard someone call a greeting. He frowned, wondering vaguely who it could be. Catriona shuffled to the door, muttering under her breath.

  2. Excellent Tommie Lyn. I see drama, tension, characters with a relationship... And someone’s behind the door. Intriguing.

    Well played! I wish you could get extra credit for going first. :) -STH

  3. My entry, the last paragraph from page 157 of "Freedom's Sword":

    Andrew motioned to Hamish. "Have Iain and Rorie hand off their animals as soon as we're through the barbican. Pretend they need to piss... They must be next to the stairs and take out those crossbowmen when I give the cry."

  4. Ah... the game is afoot! The historical fiction of J.R. Tomlin has joined the struggle! Tough to beat.... tough to beat.

    Welcome JRT - STH

  5. From the Novel "Bright Horizons" page 157

    “Kinsey, I’m about to head to a battle 117 light-years away, onboard a ship that costs close to a trillion dollars to construct, right?”
    “Yes sir.”
    “So why am I focused on when I will have my mortgage burning ceremony?”
    “Sounds like you have your priorities in the right place, sir.”
    Kyle smiled at that answer. It sounded to him like advice he frequently gave and rarely took.

  6. Perfect Wilson. Sorry about the mix up on the other page, totally our fault. We’ve added a link to this page after the rules.

    Great work. Exactly the right way to use dialogue for your paragraph. Keeping it to one moment. Well done.

  7. From my novel Shadows Deep (Shadows #2) that I'm currently touring:

    It was the burning sensation of warmth on her hand that brought her back to Mikel, who had taken her hand in his and was kissing the top of it. She tried to snatch her hand away, but he held it fast. His gaze was intense. "Until we meet again, dear one."

  8. Fun idea...

    From my novella, "An Echo Through the Trees", page 57:

    "His taut shoulders made his hands shake, throwing his concentration off and wracking his ability to aim. Snowflakes began to whirl about now, cutting into the number of trees he could see in the far distance. For an instant, the sky worried him, but no, he was too close to give up now."

  9. My entry, from the last paragraph from page 7 of "Fallen Leaves":

    It was a bitter drive across town to Great-Gran’s house. Mom tried to assist Gran out of the car, but Gran shrugged her off with a curt, “I’m fine.” We watched in silence as Gran stalked up the flaking cement steps. Without one backward glance, she went inside and slammed the front door, making the brass knocker bounce.

  10. From my post-apocalyptic novella "Left Behind", page 79.

    Wherever Daedric is, he is freezing. He left his sleeping bag draped over Isaac and me as we slept this morning. This was Daedric’s final gift. If he makes it to the cabin, he’s going to discover he made a huge mistake offering to help me find Isaac. That’s a big if.

  11. From my romantic suspense, "Deadly Addiction", page 257:

    Hearing the screech of the door opening at the top of the stairs, Chaz froze. His fingers twitched, but instead of grabbing his SW99, he pressed his hands against the surface of the desk. No way was he going to go for his weapon first and look like a pussy.

  12. Just got back form lunch and I see the game is picking up!

    @Cege very hot. Not necessarily sure what genre, but it's very appropriate for Romance Week at NFE. :)

    @MGalloway. Love that title!

    @ Rachel What did they do to Great-Gran?!!?

    @ T.S. That’s quite a situation brewing there,but... page 79? Might have to get a ruling from the judges on that. ;)


    1. If you want to find out what they did, Fallen Leaves will be available free for two days next week: July 3rd and 4th. ;)

      (Hope it's okay to mention that here!)

    2. Cool Rachel! And absolutely it’s okay! Thanks for letting us know :)

  13. Ah... while I was typing we heard from Kristine Cayne. This is "the goods” folks. In fact, there is Kristine Cayne post coming up later this week on the main blog!

    Thanks for playing Kristine :)

  14. From the novel "The Life and Times of Car Johnson" - page 157

    The only insult comic I could find was some drunk on a street corner, and he took his job way too seriously for my tastes. And his insults weren’t even all that good, just slurred rants about passerby’s choice in footwear. After a few more random insults, I decided that maybe my search for an insult comic would be more fruitful at a comedy club and not random street corners. After going to Cal’s Comedy Club, I found a few insults comics, but they were nothing to write home about. Where were the yo mamma jokes?

  15. From Land Without Evil pg. 257

    He took her hand and felt a gentle squeeze from her in answer to his grasp. Together, they looked up at the spray of stars shimmering in the sky, then looked down, his gaze meeting hers. Her big brown eyes looked soft and inviting beneath the questions he saw in them.

  16. Hamelin's Child, page 7

    The first time he’d come home drunk, he’d been sixteen and the atmosphere at home had been frosty to say the least; the episode had culminated in his father taking him to one side and having a man-to-man talk with him. As he’d had a God-awful hangover at the time, Michael hadn’t paid too much attention, until his father started on the things-you-should-know-about-sex lecture – then he had to try hard not to laugh. Dad meant well, but Michael hadn’t the heart to tell the man that he’d actually lost his virginity to one of Kate’s friends six months earlier.

  17. Evolving Environment: Dancing with Darwin, page 57

    She could see through the windshield of the truck that Santos now wore a mask. “I don't think so,” she was half talking to herself, reasoning things out. “Spores don’t normally travel far, anyway, and in moist air...” she was guessing but her guesses weren't based on nothing. She lost the thread of her thoughts when Bezarra turned and shot Santos in the head.

  18. Two Shadows - the inspirational story of one man's triumph over adversity (Memoir by Charlie Winger) page 7

    We were enterprising little snots and there wasn't a scheme we couldn't think up. We observed that a certain grocer stacked his empty pop bottles in a shed behind his store. We would get a cardboard box, load it up with as many empty bottles as we could carry, and then return them to the grocer for the deposit. He finally wised up to our game, banned us from his store, and locked up his shed.

  19. From page 157 of my young adult steampunk novel Manifest:

    Roland's words echoed through Alice's head as she fell asleep. The Ghost Machine demonstration could completely change his life if it went well. He would be assured entrance into the AAD Men, and in the course of a couple hours, Roland could become the next New Science sensation. That night Alice dreamed of seeing Roland's portrait on the front of the American Science Journal.

  20. First paragraph from the last page from Body Rentals: Tyrant:

    She couldn’t have known John was listening at the door. She was comfortable with John and in her excitement made a rookie mistake: talking about a sensitive story where others could hear her. She had no way of knowing she would do no research, Tim would review no video, no one would know of her suspicions. She also didn’t know her and her brother would leave their press positions to do documentary work in Africa. This future was decided the moment she indicated she had any idea what was going on. As she reentered the room she left John in, she was met by a hypodermic needle. As she started losing consciousness she was aware of John speaking to her, “You and Doctor Mann will get to know each other very well.” The world was black, she used her last grasp on consciousness to say the only thing she could think of at the moment: "Sic semper tyrannis”

    1. Ugh! Glaring grammatical error in that paragraph and no way to edit it! That's what I get for copying from an unedited manuscript.

  21. @Rebekah I am deeply curious why someone is walking the streets looking for insult comics. Very intriguing.

    @ Mathew That’s an interesting book. Like the cover too.

    @ Debbie sounds like a good character. A scamp.

    @ Chris - nice quick pace, action and a little plot reveal... a lot going on there (in very good way). Thanks.

    Winger - excellent. made me laugh too. That’s really what this game is supposed to uncover. That could have been page 1 too. Well done.

    1. He was insulted during his outdoor cow fetus tea party and figured it was because everyone there was insult comics. I mean, it's pretty obvious. ;)

    2. Ah... you’re right. That should have been obvious. I feel so dumb. - STH

  22. BTW - I hope you all are remembering to click the contest button. It’s not hard and nothing bad will happen (you’ll just be following this new, lonely, yet curiously handsome blog). That button thingy is the only thing keeping track of entries to win the gift certificate.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Sorry about that. Do-over!

    First paragraph from page 7 of Fragments (Out of Time #3):

    Every muscle in Simon’s body tensed as they neared the house. He felt like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Just the sight of Grey Hall made his entire being clench in preparation for some potential battle, some cutting remark, some painful disappointment. The past hung like an albatross around his neck. Molting.

  25. @ Beth - The Ghost Machine. That’s a pretty cool title right there.

    @Mark - Lots of drama and conflict there. But hold on, that’s the last page of the book? Isn’t that a spoiler then?

    1. My iPad does not like your blog. I wonder what that is all about?

      It is the first paragraph of the last page of the book. I am just following the rules of the game. I guess you will need to read the rest to find out who John and Teresa are...

  26. @ Monique, conflict, tension (literally:)), and a great image of a molting albatross. Love it!

    Not sure about that page 7 business, though. Might have to get a ruling on that. ;)

  27. As luck would have it, pg 157 is blank. Sooo, pg 57 In The Name of The Father

    John sat on the beach in front of Lizʼs house taunting the crab in a dance between his hand and the crabʼs speed. John sat perfectly still, his hand inches from the hole cocked upward in preparation for grabbing the crab the next time it ventured out. Catching ghost crabs had become a game for John, an exercise in patience and speed, concentration and calm. The crab emerged from the hole and stood pondering which direction to charge. In the instant it takes for a frog to catch a fly, John flicked his wrist forward, grabbed the crab and caged it between both hands. Its sharp pinchers snapped at Johnʼs palm, but he held it firm so it could not move enough to grab skin. When the squiggling inside his hands stopped, John slowly opened his fist and held the crab at eye level, staring directly into its black eyes that bulged from the top of its head - eyes, he knew, he could pop with a quick pinch of his fingers.

    1. Your excerpt is pretty intriguing. I love how you painted the scene and made a non-crab catcher such as myself feel like I was right there.

  28. @ Judi, I grew up on the water and we caught a lot of crabs in the summer. That last line about the eyes... it’s very true. I never did that to a crab, but I was always keenly aware that you could, which often gave me one of those nails-on-a-chalkboard kind of shivers. I just got that shiver again at the end of your paragraph. So, eww... but well done. Thanks.

  29. “Baby, I grew angrier with Garret, and it was all I could do to keep from belting him. I demanded to know who the hell that guy was. Nancy’s brother was the only answer Garret would give. He’s looking for all of us.”

  30. @Marianne That’s pretty intriguing. What’s the title?

    1. Thanks, the title is Gypsy Spirits.

  31. Oops! Sorry, I misread that. I'm going to blame my mild dyslexia, which caused me to type "milk dyslexia" right now. Here is page 57 of "Left Behind".

    I get a sudden sinking feeling that Isaac was never here. His arrival at the gift shop with Qiana and leaving was just a hallucination. I’m probably starving or near death inside the tiny cave where Mary got frostbite. Isaac is probably dead in the Salton Sea. I'm losing my mind.

  32. Page 105 of my book YA novel Inheritance, first paragraph picked by the "flip through the pages" method.

    Kimberly stood in the river, the water flowing gently past her waist. Sighing, she cupped some water in her hands and splashed it on her face. The water was ice-cold, but she found it quite comfortable. Tiny tendrils sprouted from Willow’s scabbard, languishing in the water’s current.

  33. From page 257 of the forthcoming print edition of Dead on Demand...

    "Edwin should have known it wouldn't be that easy.
    An invisible hand had Edwin's heart in a vice grip when he saw the darknet message light appear. He had thought it was over. Ellie was dead, and so were those who knew anything about him."

  34. From page 257 (paperback edition) of "Vaetra Unveiled"...

    Ebnik waved his arms around as he explained. "He knows how dangerous it is to drain someone to the point of exhaustion! It can cause long term damage! He's probably shortened the life of every woman in that village by now. This is the same kind of thing that got him expelled from the Archives in the first place."

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. The last paragraph on page 257 of my novel "Rhubarb":

    “It’s only a few more miles,” said Martin. What was he going to tell Rick when they got to Brixton? Martin couldn’t think of anything Lester wanted less than a PDA and a bunch of extra work. Lester probably kept a fifty-five-gallon drum of tar and a bag of feathers ready for salesmen who came ’round suggestin’ newfangled gadgets. There might even be a splintery rail and a couple of stout men at the ready. Martin wondered how quickly he could conjure up a convincing case of food poisoning, or Ebola.

  37. This is the first paraghraph on page 257 of WIP The Bringer Trilogy (Book 1):

    A grunt passes over his lips as we weave our way through the mix of weathered warehouses. We whip right, then left, curving around more paths as the buildings rise up on each side of us. Without warning I slam into the side panel when Ry cranks the car into a sharp right. We pass through a hall of rock and come out in an open arena within the mountain, natural walls all around us. The dodge pitches and spins in a duck tail, dirt and rock spraying against the mountain side. Finally, the car comes to a full stop in a cloud of dust and engine spur.

  38. This is from page 257 of my newly released book "Looking Through Blind Eyes"

    Just as Janie slid the door key into the lock of the front door, Rico turned the key to start the car. The next thing Janie knew she heard a deafening explosion, felt the heat from a fireball that shot nearly one hundred feet into the air, and felt herself being thrown into the railing of the front porch. All she could think of at this moment was to protect Daniella. For a brief moment she wasn’t sure what had happened. Her head was pounding and the ringing in her ears made those neighbors approaching her sound as if they were in a can. Janie slowly began to pull herself to her feet, still in a state of confusion as to what had just taken place. Daniella was screaming and crying in fear, clinging to her mother for comfort.

  39. The great work continues everybody! Thanks to all.

    @DebraKristi - Hey I know you:) Welcome and thanks for stopping in!

    @ReynaHawk - a random roll of the dice hits bomb going off in Rico’s car! Pretty cool... unless of course a car explodes on every page :) Nice work!

    Just a reminder to anyone interested in that Amazon gift card - you get 5 points from the counter-thingy for each day you leave a post (once per day). So come back, read the other posts (their really good!) and talk it up!

    The Challenge will be ongoing over the next several weeks, with more rounds (new page numbers) to come. Thanks again and keep the Page 257s coming! -STH

  40. Lucinda opened the bedroom door slowly, making sure his servants were not inside. Chad searched under his bed and under his clothing chest. Lucinda searched his private bathroom and the box was no where in sight. “It’s not in here. Where else can we look?”, Chad asked. “I don’t know where else to look. He wouldn’t hide it in her room. We can search the kitchen and the storage room. I know where there is a secret room. Let’s search in there.”

  41. So the Challenge has been going so well with so many great submissions we’ve been brainstorming a way to add a second prize, a reader voted prize for the best entry on top of the raffle. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to count votes. So keep submitting your page 257s and stay tuned.

    @ Tracy, don’t let them go into that secret room! The secret room is always where the trouble starts!


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