Hooked? – 2

Here are three more books and their opening lines.

Assuming the book is in a genre that might interest you, do you want to continue reading after the first lines? The authors hope so. What do you think? Are you interested enough to turn the page?

1. Grumpy Old Menopause by Carol E. Wyer

Have you started to write post-it notes with your kids’ names on them? Do you need to change your underwear after every time you sneeze? Guess it’s time to read this book then.

….  It’ll help you get through “that” time of your life with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. (Yeah right!)

GOM High Resolution Cover

 

http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/books/select/Grumpy_Old_Menopause.html

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2. Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot

The lights were so bright, brighter than the strongest spotlight Honor had ever stood under. They were coming from all directions. Right. Left. Overhead. The crowd was roaring, clapping, stamping their feet, dancing. They moved like a sea, swaying, bobbing, rising up and falling back in time to the music. This was what she’d dreamed of since she was a little girl.

Made in Nashville

 http://smarturl.it/buymadeinnashville

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3. Kurinji Flowers by Clare Flynn

The beginning of July, and the sky was the colour of a dirty pigeon. 1936 had been a terrible year; dull, grey days, abnormally cool and unremittingly miserable. At least, that’s how I remember it.   

Kurinji Flowers LARGE EBOOK

 

amazon.com

 

Hooked? – 1

Here are three books and their opening lines.

Do you want to read more after you read the first lines? The authors hope so. What do you think? Are you interested enough to turn the page?

1. Dead Wood by Chris Longmuir

Last night, when the dark was at its blackest, something had nipped at her fingers. She’d wriggled them and it had moved away, slithering into the unknown, no doubt waiting for another opportunity.  (Dead Wood – Chris Longmuir)

DeadWood-AMAZON

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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 2. Wall Walker by Janice E. Eberhardt

Viola Rasmussen gazed transfixed into her electron microscope, counting softly to herself, “…fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight. Hmm.”

She looked over at the geneticist working nearby. “Hey Jackson, how old was this person before he died?”

Jackson checked the background screen on his computer, “Um, looks like he was fifty-eight. Are you onto anything with that?”

Viola looked back into her microscope to verify the sample gene bearing fifty-eight concentric circles. “Holy moly!” she whispered to herself. “Not particularly,” she lied. “It’s just nice to know a little bit more about the body one’s slicing and dicing in the name of science, you know?” she continued in a slightly distracted but conversational tone as she rapidly copied the research data onto her com device.

WallWalker3D

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/473063

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3. Coffee, Tea, the Gypsy and Me by Caroline James

Jo’s romance with the gypsy began with his first kiss. She never forgot it...

CTTGM_CarolineJames_cover JPEG

 

UK – Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me… eBook: Caroline James: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

USA – Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me… – Kindle edition by Caroline James. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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First Lines – First Impressions

Have you heard the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, so it is with books.

Writing a book is a challenge, but getting people to read it can be even more difficult. It is the author’s job to turn that novel into a page turner. First, though, he has to get someone to start reading. The first page of a book can snag a reader’s interest or have him slap it shut and toss it away, never to be opened again.

A good book will hook the reader on the first page. An excellent book will hook the reader in the first paragraph, or even the first sentence. Authors must not underestimate the importance of that opening line. It is worth spending a lot of time on, if it means getting it right.

What should a first line, or at least a first paragraph, do?

Make the reader:

  • wonder what’s going on
  • wonder what happened and why
  • want to know what will happen next
  • want to know how the situation will be resolved
  • want to turn the page and read more.

The writer has only a few words to convince the reader that his book is worth reading. Please have a look at these opening lines and decide whether you would want to continue reading the book.

1. I knew I must have the wrong address. He was absolutely stunning. My heart fluttered and thudded frantically. Heat rose to my face. I ducked my head in embarrassment, but couldn’t keep my eyes off him. (The Wind Weeps – Anneli Purchase)

2 .I was born twice: first as a girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. (Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides)

3. Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. (Moby Dick – Herman Melville)

4. On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. Bridge. He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. (Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

5. They say ignorance is bliss. I can vouch for that. My life was humming along just fine until I received that letter. Afterwards, nothing was the same. (Orion’s Gift – Anneli Purchase)

6. Men’s voices, harsh and abrupt, sent a stab of fear through her. She peered cautiously up an alleyway towards the town square. (Julia’s Violinist – Anneli Purchase)

So, for the authors out there, you see that we have our work cut out for us. Let’s shine up our opening pages. Isn’t it worth doing after spending so much time writing a whole book?

 

Writing Groups

My guest today is Darlene Jones, author of five “must read” books. Darlene is an excellent critic and editor for those who need advice in the structure of their novels. Please feel free to contact her through her web page which is listed at the bottom of the page.

For the writers out there who don’t belong to a writing group, Darlene has offered to share her thoughts to help you decide whether you should join one. Each group is slightly different with its own strengths and weaknesses, but after reading this, you may have a better idea of what to look for in a writing group.

Here is Darlene.Darlene - beach [1][2]

Why join a writing group?

Chances are, if you’re a newcomer to writing, you won’t be admitted to a group of experienced writers. They are looking for colleagues who are equally experienced and talented to help them hone their writing skills.

Your only option then, is to join a group of fellow beginners. They may know a little more than you. Then again they may not. So what’s the benefit?

I joined one such group early in my writing career. We were all eager to write that blockbuster novel. With initial guidance from the leader of another group that had been operating for some time, we set the parameters of our monthly meetings.

  • Each member would read two to three pages of their work in progress. The others would take notes and then, one at a time, make their comments. Once they had spoken, they were to remain silent.
  • The one who read was also held to a vow of silence. They were not expected to comment or try to defend what they had written. They were to take note of the comments and accept or reject as they chose. The final decision on their writing was theirs alone.

How could a bunch of amateurs be of any help in the above described scenario? Amazingly we all learned a tremendous amount. After all, we were avid lifelong readers. We knew what we liked, what flowed smoothly, what jarred. A couple of members were conversant with proper grammar and punctuation and willingly helped with that aspect of our writing. A bonus with this particular group was that every member genuinely wanted to help the others and that desire shone through as honest comments were made with no malice.

With the second group I joined, each member emailed their piece of writing ahead of time so that we could print it out, read it, and make notes. At the meeting the author read his or her piece before we critiqued. Listening often afforded a new perspective on the piece and we added more notes. Then we each commented verbally and passed our copies to the author.

The method worked well, but this group wasn’t quite so pleasant. Some members asked pertinent and insightful questions and offered constructive criticism. A couple of members were spiteful, making harsh comments. One, who was far from being a professional writer, told me I wasn’t learning. That was my last evening with that group.

I’ve moved on to work with a writing partner, but would happily join another critiquing group. Why? A group forces you to write to have something ready for the meeting, and to polish what you have written to present your best possible work. A group offers insights that you don’t see yourself as you are too close to the work.

And, most importantly, a group offers encouragement and camaraderie in this quest for the blockbuster that will hopefully come one day.

*****

 If you want a treat, check out these books by Darlene Jones:

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Find out more about Darlene at http://www.emandyves.com

Why not tell us about your experiences with a writing group. Was it a good thing? Tell us how? Does your group do anything special you’d like to share? Please leave a comment and tell us.

 

Publication Mania

Publication Mania

One of the saddest things I see among beginning writers is their burning need to publish before their work is ready. For many writers in the early days of their career, publication at this stage often comes at the expense of their reputation as a good author.

Writers’ groups, for all their many good deeds, are sometimes gathering places for pompous snobs. I want to be clear that I am not down on writing groups. Far from it. The writing group I belonged to for several years involved a wonderful collection of writers who brought a variety of skills and experience, and who wrote in many different genres. The majority of the members were down-to-earth and extremely helpful to new writers.  However, my writing group also happened to have several authors whose agenda included basking in the prestige of “being published” rather than first concentrating on producing their best work or helping their colleagues.

Many beginning writers are particularly desperate to get their work out there for the public. They hear published authors going on and on about sales and book signings and reviews they’ve received, flaunting their “published” status as if they were royalty. Speaking of which, their “royalties” are often a mere pittance. Beginning writers can’t always see the truth beyond the veneer of big talk, and they become infected with the desire to publish at all costs — all costs except one; that of hiring a good copy-editor.

copy-editing

Why Should I Care?

Besides being a writer myself, I do a lot of freelance copy-editing and so, as I read, I often see work that is prematurely published. I believe that if you publish your writing (that is, put it out there for the world to see and read), it should be as good as you can make it with as few errors as possible.

One writer told me, “I don’t care if it has a few mistakes. I just want to get it published.” I cringed. She wanted the free copy-editing I offered her just to help her out, but she didn’t feel that she needed to make any changes or corrections. She was convinced that her writing was excellent. In fact, it was quite poor and needed a fair bit of work. This woman was an extreme case, displaying slovenly writing habits and a poor attitude. Most writers care a lot more about the quality of their work.

I understand that the cost of having work copy-edited can be onerous for some, especially when they have not yet made their millions on that bestselling novel, but an investment in a good copy-editing job will be worthwhile in the long run. The copy-editor spends many, many hours reading, correcting, and making suggestions for improvements to the author’s work. Unlike reading for pleasure, copy-editing involves careful scrutiny to find grammar, punctuation, and word usage problems. The job comes with a lot of responsibility.

In order to be  good copy-editors, we have to be a bit pedantic. I try not to overlook even the smallest of errors. For me, it is precisely because I care about writing so much, that I can do a good job of copy-editing.

What Does the Reader Look for?

When I am choosing a novel to read for pleasure, like most readers, I go to the first few pages of the paperback or the e-book sample to look for certain indicators of the writing quality. I want to be “hooked” on the first page. I do not want to read about scenery as the character drives by in a car. Nor do I want him to wake up to an alarm clock, or look out a window at the view with the description following. I don’t want to read about the character’s dream either.

I look for the first instances of dialogue to give me an idea of the author’s skill in writing it. If a large variety of dialogue tags are used (responded, replied, answered, retorted, inquired) rather than “said” and “asked,” I lose interest, as this indicates either a very dated writing style or an inexperienced writer.

If I see a pattern developing where, after each bit of dialogue, the speaker is doing something (for example, “Wait for me,” John said, turning around to grab his suitcase), especially if it uses an “ing” word, for me that is often the book’s death knell.

Incorrect usage of words makes me shudder. I cringe when I see “lay” and “lie” misused. I’m sure many readers feel the same when they see the wrong word used.

If you are a writer, a good copy-editor can save you from yourself. DON’T publish that book yet! Get it copy-edited properly and then you don’t have to worry about mistakes in your book, and tarnish your reputation forever.

Anneli[7]

If you are in the market for a good copy-editor, please contact me. I will do three pages of copy-editing for you for free and you can decide whether this is what you need for your novel, or article, or whatever form your writing takes.

 To find out more about me, please visit my website at:   http://anneli-purchase.com

Anneli Purchase

***** I also do e-book formatting. *****

Absent Fathers

My guest today is Carol Balawyder of Montreal. I’ve invited her to tell us about one of her new novels, “Getting to Mr. Right.”

carol balawyder

One of the underlying themes of Getting to Mr. Right is the absent father. The main protagonist, Campbell Jones, has done much research on the topic and is convinced that her father’s abandonment is to blame for her being “unlucky in love.” In this scene she meets her father at the Museum of Contemporary Art which is hosting a photo exhibit by the Brazilian artist, Vik Muniz.

Excerpt:
Sitting there, she became a girl of nine or ten again, feeling the weight of rejection. “Why didn’t you come all those times you said you would?” she blurted out before she lost her courage. When her father gave her a puzzled look, she continued, “When I was younger, you promised to take me out and never showed up. So many times.”
Her father sat next to her and patted her knee. “I don’t know why, Cambie. I guess I was too busy.”
“You really hurt me,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “But let’s put this behind us. It was such a long time ago.” He patted her knee once more, as if that could pacify her.
She held back from saying, “You ruined my life,” unwilling to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he’d had that kind of power over her.
“Isn’t that painting of Marilyn Monroe divine?” he said.

Marilyn Monroe

All her life she’d struggled to show her father that she was worthy of his love. What about him? Was he worthy of hers? Had he ever given her the protection and support a daughter needed from her father? Had he ever been there for her in times of need?
It suddenly became clear to her. Maybe she had subconsciously wanted to validate the conclusions of her research. Girls abandoned by their fathers have difficulty developing meaningful relationships as adults. But she hadn’t been wrong about her father. She had not imagined his disregard and lack of concern for her.
Maybe the research was right – that such a background kept women from fulfilling relationships. But did that doom them to a dismal future? There was a missing link. That was, what do you do once you realize you lack your father’s love and support?

Getting to mr right

Getting To Mr. Right is available on Amazon both as an e-book and paperback. Just click on the link:

amazon.com