Week 5 Finalist

TITLE: The Candy Land Con
AUTHOR: Carly Carson
CATEGORY: Contemporary Romance

Frugal Freddie Finds his Floozy.

The bold headline taunted Amy as she threw the Cherry Creek Chronicle onto the gleaming black granite counter.

“Nothing like being a rich old man to attract the bimbos,” she snapped to her brother, Connor, as he strolled into the kitchen, yawning. His rumpled brown hair and dark-shadowed eyes attested to a sleepless night.

“What are you doing at home, Amy?” Connor walked over to the coffee pot and splashed the cinnamon scented brew into a mug. “I thought you left last night right after work for that crime scene course in Princeton?”

“Yeah, I figured you thought the house was empty when I heard the racket coming from your room.” Amy smirked at her older brother, pleased to be doing the teasing for a change. “Found yourself a hot one, huh?”

“You shouldn’t eavesdrop.” He held the coffee mug up to take a big gulp, but Amy saw the tinge of red high on his cheekbones.

“Huh! They probably heard you down at the fire house.”

“Enough!” he growled. “Pretend you’re my sister and you have no interest in my sex life.”

“Okay.” Amy assumed a look of innocence. “I’ll totally forget I heard her say she wanted you to do her in every room in the house, in the pool and on the hood of your Porsche.”

“Jealous, huh?” He opened the fridge, disappearing from her sight.

“Of yet another of your one-night stands? Not likely.” Amy picked up the newspaper and snapped it open. “The one I’m jealous of is Freddie’s floozy. I had to spend all day down at the station yesterday listening to the guys yammer about this bombshell Barbie who’s blown into town. They’re going to be some disappointed to hear Freddie’s already staked a claim. She must be quite the gold-digger, heading straight for him.”

“You’re making a lot of assumptions there.” Connor thumped a box of eggs down on the counter.

“It’s right here in black and white.” Amy pointed to the crumpled newspaper. “She arrived in town on the bus from Philadelphia, caused a mini-sensation down at the bus depot, and was last spotted turning into the pink and white gates of Freddie’s Marshmallow Mansion.”

“How’d the boys hear all about her, then?” Connor cracked eggs into a stainless steel bowl.

“Apparently she swanned all over town first, tossing her red hair and shaking her surgically-enhanced boobs, looking for the old guy. We’ll probably never hear the end of it, especially if she’s going to shack up with ole Freddie.”

“Just because a person goes to Freddie’s house, that doesn’t mean they intend to, as you so elegantly put it, shack up with him.” He whipped the eggs around in the bowl as if he were chasing a dervish.

“Come on, Connor. Freddie always has a bimbo in residence. It’s been a month since the last one disappeared without a trace. He’s due for another.”

Connor glanced over at her. “I guess your heartthrob of the month spent too much time raving about this woman, huh?”

“I don’t care.” Amy picked up the newspaper again so she didn’t have to meet his gaze. “It’s going to be harder on you. She’s apparently quite the looker. But if she takes Freddie’s side in our not-so-friendly neighborhood feud, you’ll never get to first base with her.”

“Damn it, Amy, there is no feud.” Connor rummaged noisily for a spatula as his eggs began to sizzle. “That was between Freddie and our father and now that Dad’s gone, it’s finished.”

“Then why is Freddie’s turreted Victorian still decorated like a reject from the Candy Land game? He just had those gates repainted last spring. You know he started that color scheme thing to annoy Dad.”

“Give it up, Amy. You know we need to be friends with Freddie if we’re ever going to find out what happened to Dad. Also, I have to tell you—” Connor broke off as the sharp click-clack of stiletto heels sounded on the stairs.

“Wha—” Amy felt her jaw drop as a tall, shapely redhead sashayed into the doorway. Her artfully tousled hair flirted with a deep cleavage that was barely contained within a gold lame halter-top. Four-inch kitten mules extended her long, jeans-clad legs into infinity. She leaned one naked shoulder against the doorframe and winked at Connor.

“The boobs,” she said, “are real.”

“Wha—” Amy still couldn’t speak. Her brother never let a woman spend the night.

“He hasn’t done me yet in every room,” the woman drawled. “But he’s done me enough that I can’t just walk away.”

“Belinda!” The spatula clanged onto the stove as Connor dropped it and strode over to the woman. “This is my sister. Let’s not play kiss and tell in front of her.”

Amy stared at her brother for a moment before her attention snapped back to the woman. “But who are you?”

“Haven’t you guessed?” She smiled. “I’m Freddie’s floozy.”


Great dialogue between Amy and her brother, Connor. I can tell that they are close and like each other. And, speaking of dialogue, I like the way you seamlessly wove in details the reader needs to know – Amy’s occupation, the feud between Freddie and her father, the mystery around her missing father – without is sounding like it was added for the reader. Instead, it feels like a natural part of the conversation — natural conversation that is not aimless chatter. Everything they discuss reveals something to the reader, gives insight into the characters, and moves the story forward. So, great use of dialogue.

And, what a fun story! I love “the Floozy’s” entrance – and can see and feel Amy’s shock. I was shocked, too, as I did not see that one coming. While I have don’t have an idea yet of who the hero will be, I’m intrigued enough to keep reading, trusting that he’ll be introduced soon. Great job, Carly!


25 responses

11 02 2009
Chase the Dream Writers Contest

[…] Week 5 Finalist Week 5 Mini-Critique Winner […]

11 02 2009

Carly, when I was reading the entries this week, I laughed all the way through your first scene — and when Bombshell Barbie turned out to be a delightful woman with a sense of humor, I was even more tickled. Great dialogue — it’s impressive how much you’ve showed us about these characters, their history, their emotions, and their problems just in what they say. I’d love to read more.

11 02 2009
Carly Carson

Rachelle and Leigh,

Thank you so much! I just discovered this and what a nice surprise. I do like to write dialogue, so it’s interesting to me that you both mentioned that.

Well, I’m thrilled. Nothing more to say

Thanks, Carly

11 02 2009

I’m so jealous of snappy dialogue that flows like this! Awesome opening!

“The boobs are real” *snicker*

11 02 2009
Pat Toenjes

Hi Carly,

Everytime I read more of your writing it shows me how to make it seamless, and as has been said, make it feel right and not contrived. Congratulations!


12 02 2009
Julie Trevelyan

I like the brother-sister repartee. Congratulations on being a finalist!

13 02 2009
Darlene Torday

Great beginning, with nice pacing that grabs this reader’s attention so I want to keep reading.

13 02 2009
Carly Carson

Thanks for all the feedback, folks.

And thanks to Leigh and Rachelle for offering this opportunity.


15 02 2009

Great! I hope Belinda & Amy team up to work on the mystery. What fun that would be!

16 02 2009

This is really fantastic!! I’d love to read the rest of this book?!

17 02 2009
Carly Carson

Nichole, it would be my pleasure to put the book in your hands!

Greta, they are both strong women so that would be fun!

Julie, Thanks, I have 2 great brothers myself.

Darlene, Pacing is so important, but you have to leave stuff you love on the cutting room floor, right?

Pat, you are so sweet.

And for my fellow finalist Jeannie, I love your hero already!

Thanks to everyone esp. Leigh and Rachelle.


4 03 2009
Theresa Stevens

Very snappy, bright, and fun. I really enjoyed this excerpt! I don’t have a real clear sense of where it’s going, but I trust the author enough to want to follow along and see what happens. There’s a lot competing for my attention — family dynamics, a possible mystery, a feuding neighbor — and it’s all presented in an easy-to-follow and very fun way. Good job!

Good luck!

6 03 2009
Laura Bradford

Snap! I like where the sample ends and I like the repartee between Amy and her brother. The dialogue is nicely done altogether. Is Amy the heroine of the story? That was what I’d initially thought, but then Belinda stole the scene. When Amy is making such sweeping judgements about Freddie’s Floozy, I thought it cast Amy in a bit of a negative light (which can be an issue if she is the heroine), but I think Belinda’s entrance makes her seem less like she is a judging gossip and more like she has foot-in-mouth disease.

I was a bit lost when it came to the material about the feud and the Candyland mansion, which seemed somewhat forced into the narrative…jarring and out of place. And what DID happen to dad? By the end of the sample, I am not entirely sure what the major conflict of the story is yet, but I assume that all will become clearer later. Still, this piece was fun to read and I definitely wanted to turn the page to learn more about the characters. Nice job!

7 03 2009
Carly Carson

Thanks, Theresa for reading all these entries and for the feedback. I appreciate it very much.


7 03 2009
Carly Carson


Thank you also for participating. All of the advice is helpful to me.


8 03 2009
Raelene Gorlinsky

I loved the dialogue between brother and sister, it comes across as so natural for siblings.

The timeline confused me. It read like she heard Connor with his girlfriend when she arrived this morning, but then she is surprised the woman is still there. So did Amy come back to the house last night and hear them? And I guessed who the woman would be on the first page, so the impact of her appearance was weakened.

A fuss over the color of a house seems a rather week conflict, and it is unclear whether their father is missing or dead. Which both lessened and increased my interest in continuing to read.

10 03 2009
Faith Black

This is so much fun. There’s a lot of sass in the dialogue and it reads really naturally. Amy’s judgments didn’t bother me in a heroine as presumably her jumping to conclusions is a character flaw she’ll need to work on overcoming over the course of the book perhaps. The reveal of the floozy was handled really well and I didn’t see that coming at all. Well done.

10 03 2009
Carly Carson

Raelene Gorlinsky,

Thank you for the comments. I love getting all the feedback.


11 03 2009
Carly Carson

Faith Black,

Thank you for commenting on the entry. I’m learning a lot.


16 03 2009
Elaine English

Great scene! Great dialogue between two very believable characters. I love the way you took the reader and Amy through all of this and then dropped the bombshell. It was very unexpected and very clever. You’ve set up several potential plot threads and I’m really curious to see how they develop. Good job and a great opening.

17 03 2009
Katie Gilligan

You’ve got a natural way with your characterization of Amy and Connor–very witty, but not over-written. I like their playfulness and it sets up their natural character emotions very well. I was a bit confused with all the attention over Belinda–why would a newspaper cover that? Is their town that insular? If so, it might be worth mentioning–to explain that if anyone new came into the area it’s not unusual for it to make the news. It sounds like there will lots of drama to come–I hope the writing stays witty and light, it works very well here.

19 03 2009
Carly Carson

Elaine English,

Thank you for participating in this contest and for your comments. I’m especially pleased that you saw the seeds of all my plot branches in there.

Thanks for the feedback.


19 03 2009
Carly Carson

Katie Gilligan,

Thanks for the comments. It’s always helpful to see where a reader is confused, and I’ll fix that.

Thanks for participating in this contest.


20 03 2009
Megan McKeever

Great scene, strong opening. To be honest, I was a little scquicked out by the sister talking to her brother about his sex life, though. Otherwise, I laughed throughout and really enjoyed this!

21 03 2009
Carly Carson

Megan McKeever,

Thank you for participating in this contest, and for the comments. I’m learning a lot!


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