Tag Archives: Books

Guest Post


I’m super excited to announce that today I am guest posting about some books I’ve recently read at New York Times best selling author Lauren Willig‘s website. Willig authored the deliciously entertaining Pink Carnation series, which have been favorites of mine for many years. Thanks, Lauren for this opportunity!

Read my post on wifely books here.


Reading Slump


I find I write better when I’m reading good books. But lately I haven’t encountered any of those Magical Things.
I recently finished Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours which had a compelling plot line, but didn’t suck me in like her other novels The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton did. Too much unnecessary flowery prose and character sketches, and it took forever to get to the point. I’ve started a few other novels but never felt compelled enough by any of them to invest in finishing them.

Any suggestions? I like historical (but if it takes place in the 1960s onward I won’t touch it) novels with romantic elements. Also since I’m marrying a Spaniard in 4 months and 23 days, I’m interested in reading ones set in Spain. I just picked up The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner and I’m thinking some Carlos Ruiz Zafron would be good since he’s pretty highly acclaimed.

So yea, what do you say?


That Horrible Moment…


…when you read the second novel from an author you loved years ago and hate said second novel. Gahahdmrockwndcsndaaa!!

I read Anne Easter Smith’s A Rose for the Crown when I was about fifteen and could not put it down. Now being twenty-two I’m reading her second novel Daughter of York and am seriously struggling. I don’t know if it’s my changed/older perspective, the writing itself, the slow character and plot development, or the fact that I have a cold and am pumped full of NyQuil at the moment (which is undoubtedly playing a huge role. Btw, please attribute any spelling errors in this post to that fact) but I’m not into this novel. The age-old conundrum: Too much telling where I would enjoy more showing.

Example: A sentence reads “Edward reacted angrily,” and then launches into a description of his actions. So my question is, why include that sentence at all? His table-hurling, mug-smashing and insult-throwing would inform me of such an angry reaction without spelling it out so simply.

I also seriously dislike her overuse of the word “was.” It’s a fluff word and she’s got it printed about five times per page. “Margaret was perplexed.” “Margaret was elated.” “Margaret was devastated.” It points back to what I lamented in the previous paragraph: telling too much. I once had a writing instructor tell me that if you used “was” more than four times in a chapter, you used it too much and you had better think of more inventive descriptions of actions.

I’m not saying telling is an ineffective method of writing. At times it’s extremely useful, like of you’re relating backstory or action that took place far away from the central characters. But if you’re smack in the middle of the book where everything is happening to the characters at that moment, readers want to see it go down.

I guess all this ranting means I’ve been in the publishing world long enough to never be able to read without overly critical examinations ever again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and if any of you have read this book or this author, please share your sentiments.

NyQuil kicking in. Good night.


Dads and Doughnuts


Remember LAPTOP LIT MAG is here!! Check it!

Also Happy Birthday to my twin younger sibs. 16 today = driving. I’m a little nervous.

Yesterday, my former elementary school where my youngest sister currently attends, hosted the annual Scholastic Book Fair. If you follow the link and watch the kids in the video, imagine a 6-14 year old ginger kid who looked forward to this day of the school year more than the Christmas party free-for-all, field day, and summer vacation combined, and that kid would be me. Ok fine, take out the summer vacation, no kid is that nerdy that they enjoy something more than summer.

But I did adore the Book Fair. Each year, the gym transformed from a grungy place designed to torment children into the most magical place on earth. Tables literally overflowing with books. And what a variety! Clifford the Big Red Dog to Great Expectations. It was almost like heaven, but not quite, since I’m entirely convinced my heaven will look like my dearly departed local Borders. Each year, I collected my own money and parents’ spare change to wreak havoc on that place. No expense was spared (and still isn’t, whether it be print or Kindle format). I always returned to class with at least three plastic bags with book corners poking holes out of them.

It thrills me that nearly ten years after I’ve left the place, the tradition lives on. My sister – who doesn’t read much but likes buying things – gets to enjoy the same excitement I did. And the first step is owning the book. Once she has it and it’s hers she’s more likely to read it. It’s all about the encouragement.

Which is what is so fundamentally great about the Book Fair. It’s literally glorifying books right at the age where kids start idolizing things and creating their future life habits. If you present something as awesome to a kid when they are very young, odds are they will still think it’s awesome when they are older. Example – Rugrats cartoons. If you think about it, not really so great as far as concept, drawing, voices, everything else. But ask anyone who watched it when they were little and they will say something like, “Ahh, Rugrats. Good times. That was when cartoons were good, not like the stuff nowadays.” They’re really all on the same level, people, your perception is what has changed.

But something as broad as books don’t fade. There are too many different kids of books for people to be prejudiced against them as a whole. Reading is one of those things where – even if it takes you a while to get into it – once you find something you love and start reading it, you tend to not stop. Plus, you have to read to advance anywhere in this computer age anyway, so even if you don’t like reading, you’re reading this right now. Ha ha!

I digress.

This year, in order to foster more love of reading, the school did something so brilliant, I can’t even stand it. For the first half hour before school began they invited all Dads to join their kids at the Book Fair and offered them free doughnuts.

Wow. Kids spending time with Dads who probably work and don’t get to see their kids much during the week while eating scrumptious breakfast/desserts (how do you classify doughnuts really?) while also surrounded by thousands of books. I could almost cry at the beauty. Just by making the event something special consequently makes the kids remember their experience. And what was the factor that brought this experience about? BOOKS! Within that half-hour alone, the powers that be made $1,100. Yea that’s right. Put everyone in a good mood, make sure Dad is paying and the cash just can’t stop flowing.

My sister came home with about ten books. Five purchased with Dad and five when her class got to go down later that day for those whose Dads were not able to make it. She’s in fifth grade and returned with:

She loves dogs

And Phineas and Ferb.

All perfectly acceptable fifth grade reading level books. And I will deny this if you tell on me but sometimes I find myself watching Phineas and Ferb on my own, now that my soap opera has been cancelled. What? I never watched soaps or childish cartoons at nearly 22! Granted when I was in fifth grade, I came home from the Book Fair with the following:

Technically the love began in third grade, but I still dig these classics out. You can NEVER go wrong with Nancy Drew.

Not a lie. Fifth grade. Still have the copies. One is never to throw away books.

So my sister and I have different reading tastes. But we always knew this. I am the family reader, she is not. She may not be reading Pride and Prejudice but thanks to the Book Fair, she is still reading.

Had a request from Dear Friend Kristen, to update on my writing. Will do, but this post has gone on long enough, so next time.


Major Changes and a Big-Ass Book


So I  know my last few posts have not necessarily concerned writing per se, and the reason for that being, I have not written much in the past week. I’m working on that, but I’ve been stuck in a bit of a dry spell which is ironic since New York decided to honor all its residents of Irish decent and rain like freaking hell for two weeks straight. Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the green becoming greener since it really is my best color, however all the Yankee games have been messed up resulting in a 4 hour rain delay on the ONE DAY ALL SEASON I GOT TICKETS FOR MY WHOLE FAMILY!

Sorry, this event occurred a few days ago, but I’m still a bit bitter if you couldn’t tell.

Moving on the Relevant Topics, I believe I have discovered the Reason behind the Writing Rut: I’m sick of my story.

GASP! What did you say, Miss Rosemary? You are tired of Laura’s Letters, the one novel that has been with you the longest and features the imaginary man with whom you are passionately in love?

I am actually in love with this Real Man, but it brings back Horrid Memories of Embarrassment and I don't want to talk about it. Dear Friend Megan understands. Oh nights in Piccadilly ...

Well, yes quite frankly, I am. I’ve been focused on trying to finish this damn novel for so long that it’s all coming out forced. I’m forcing the story out, not letting it  force me to stay awake until four in the morning because it so desperately wants to be written. My slight affliction with OCD doesn’t help; it prevents me from skipping little not so exciting scenes in the middle and jumping to the very exciting scenes in the end which is turning all scenes into forced scenes. This thing would be finished if I wrote what popped into my head when it popped into my head. I also think my plots would not change as much if I just wrote them down already instead of waiting for them to come chronologically in the story. But no, I cannot allow myself to do that, that would make sense.

So, due to this … let’s call it a Predicament … I have decided that Major Changes must be implemented.

The First Change

Laura’s Letters is being put aside for the Time Being. This Time Being may last one day, it may last one month, it may last one year. The conclusion is, I have to stop thinking about it and let other characters steer me for a while. I have three novels complete which are in desperate need of Revision.

As soon as I get home from work today, I will take up the task of finishing typing Damn Brits (a title which I hate but cannot think of a replacement for at the moment). This novel I began exactly two years ago, started revising and never finished. It is set in London, a place I do love despite their Snow Inadequacies (I’m sorry British readers. I will never be over it. Never) but I had only visited for three days when I wrote the original manuscript. Two years later I have lived  in London. I know the great places. I know specific streets. I know the Underground lines. I’ve walked around the dodgy areas at night both completely clueless and completely pissed (both meanings of the term apply). What seems fake in the novel now, I can alter and authenticate.

The Second Change

When I do return to Laura’s Letters, I’m tackling it with a different approach. One of the other reasons this thing is not complete is that I have so much going on within it: two (possibly three) romances, brotherly tensions, mother-in-law problems, WWII, court intrigue, wealth vs. poverty, religious conflict, father/daughter struggles (for five different characters), kidnappings, maybe a death, 20th Century royalty, villains, heroes and ex-girlfriends to name a few. I’ve come to realize that this is going to be a Big-Ass Book. Like Margaret Mitchell or Diana Gabaldon big. I can’t decide if I want to cut it in pieces or leave it. The problem with breaking it up is, there’s no good place to cut it. The plots are very continuous and build too much to be fragmented. Big-Ass Book it is.

See? Big-Ass Book

This means that I have to keep my storylines straight. Since I don’t write first drafts on the computer, but rather in journals, this presents a problem when one storyline is progressing more than another. Fortunately, in addition to OCD, I am afflicted also with a disease known as Impulse Buying. Many of you may suffer from it as well, and you will know that once you see THE pair of shoes you just HAVE to have them. For me, it’s not shoes. It’s journals. I believe I bought over ten journals in three and a half months while traipsing around Europe. I had to ship them home so my bags would not be overweight (they were overweight anyway, but that fact is irrelevant).

So I have plenty of journals. The New Plan is to devote one journal to a specific storyline and combine them all later, rather than attempt to write the whole thing as it will appear in novel form. Thomas and Laura’s romance is the crux of it all, hence I will write their story first. This also includes her conflicting emotions about the family who abandoned her, trying to live peaceably with Thomas’s mother, adjusting to his wealthy circle and recovering from abuse she suffered as a child. That could possibly be enough for two journals of itself so Nathan’s struggle to best his brother and eventual romance with Gemma will be a separate one. Lance’s battle to stay alive on the battlefield and battle his as of yet unnamed ex for custody of their daughter gets one too. And the bad guys just get thrown in everywhere.

There you have it. Major Changes and a Big-Ass Book.

What do you do when you want to finish a story but just can’t? How do you keep your intertwining storylines straight?


Behold, Chapter One


First let me rant on the fact that even though I am not yet published I know for a fact that I write better than a Number One UK bestseller. I just finished Stolen by Lesley Pearse, and honestly wouldn’t have if I hadn’t paid nine pounds equals fourteen dollars for it.

Plot = decent. Intriguing at parts but predictable all the way through. No surprises.

Characters = awful. Completely flat with nothing interesting about them. Readers know what kind of people they are from the first page which I HATE. People change, make characters change a little, jeeze Louise. And on top of that, they weren’t even likable. Protagonist, way to sappy. Protagonist’s best friend, total bitch, right down to no sympathy for 9/11 victims. Oh and by the way, Lesley, gay best friends are more than people who care about girls and want to take them shopping and fix their hair and say “honey.” The main man also, when trying to be sincere, told the protag something along the lines of “it’s all about you, babe.” How insincere is that!?!?! It’s just a line!!!! Guys use it to pick up chicks and it gets thrown in trashy romance novels you read as a guilty pleasure!!!!! It doesn’t belong in a work of literature about a woman trying to rebuild her life after an abduction!!!!! I literally rolled my eyes when I read it.

Dialogue = good when it wasn’t being preachy, which was 73% of the time.

Writing in general = I’m livid. All telling and no showing. Like at all. Every crucial bit of information was exposed by characters remembering what happened. “And then she recalled being chased by a shark and feeling terribly scared. It was a horrifying thing to go through. She felt he wasn’t being sincere and was completely put off by his nature. She just felt he wasn’t really a good person.” – Disclaimer, not a real quote, I’m angrily paraphrasing.

GARAADFHSGHASJDJSFGH!

If you want a good book about a woman rebuilding her life after an abduction, check out Chevy Steven’s Still Missing. And no, I’m not a weirdo obssessed with abductions, I’m doing a little research for a story of my own.

Speaking of stories of my own, how about the excerpt I promised?

Well, here you are dear readers. Thank you for giving me over 10,000 hits. Remember I’m still trying to get on freshly pressed and gain a few more subscribers, so please pass me on!

Behold, a portion Chapter One of my favorite novel.

Taneia, 1943

He had a knife at her throat.
“Not a sound,” he hissed in her ear.
Laura clenched her jaw and nodded, heart hammering. She couldn’t see him. He stood behind her, one arm wrapped around her torso, pinning her arms to her sides, the other pressing the cool, sharp blade to her neck.
Shouting – Schelt shouting – replaced the awful gunfire outside. Moonlight peeked through the cracks in the wooden barn walls, casting eerie shadows on the walls. Voices and heavy footfalls approached. Her captor swore.
It was that profanity that triggered something in her brain. She understood him. He spoke Taneian, her language, not Schelt, the enemy’s tongue. He was a Taneian soldier left behind during the retreat.
He’d be killed if the Schelts found him.
“Trap door,” she rasped.
“I said be quiet!” His grip on her tightened.
“There’s a trap door under Bessie.”
“What?”
“The cow on the left. There’s a trap door under her stall. Opens to an extra storage room. You can hide.”
The barn doors creaked. A sliver of light spilled in and grew. Laura’s stomach plummeted. She had no desire to meet an armed Schelt soldier face to face.
Neither did her captor. He darted into Bessie’s stall, dragging her with him and groped around on the floor for the door. The prickly animal complied with people for once and shifted over. Before Laura had a chance to clamber down, he tossed her into the pitch darkness, leapt after her and closed them in. Bessie stomped above them. Her clunking almost drowned out the Schelts. Almost.
Barely able to see anything, Laura scooted back into a corner and hugged her knees to her chest. How had she gotten tangled into this mess? She’d been trudging home from the butcher’s when the fighting broke out. The Taneians – people who called the small island nation off the southwest coast of Ireland home – evidently unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow chuck the Schelts out of her small town, Titusville. Terrified a stray bullet would make her its target, she sprinted into the barn only to be grabbed from behind and threatened with a knife. Could she not have one moment of peace?
“Oh damn,” the man breathed.
“What?”
“They saw you come in.”
“So? I’m nothing to them, did they see you?”
“I don’t think so, but they’re looking for …” His sentence hung incomplete, straining the little room with whatever he refrained from saying.
“Looking for what?”
She heard him swallow his discomfort. “Female … companionship.”
He blood iced. She dug her fingernails into her elbows, willing herself to relax. They wouldn’t find her here. They wouldn’t.
“I will not let them touch you.”
The intense sincerity in his voice surprised her. What was she to him? Nothing. They did not know each other. For all she knew, he could be after the same thing the Schelts were. Yet the way he promised to protect her … the fervor in his voice made it sound like he’d known her all his life and would die before he allowed anyone near her.
That one sentence wholly comforted her. She knew she was safe with him. Now that he had dropped the knife of course.
***
“I think they’re gone,” Thomas told the girl a few minutes later. He could hardly see the slip of a thing, but he heard her breathing in the corner. Even breaths now, not ragged and sporadic ones like before.
“Good,” she replied. “Is it safe to come out, do you think?”
“No. They could be just outside.” He’d be staying in this blessed secret sanctuary for as long as possible to avoid capture. If the Schelts found him, the heir to the Taneian throne, cowering like the cornered rabbit he was they’d have a field day.
Then they’d kill him.
He leaned against the wall, heat from the woman warming his chilled body even though she sat as far away from him as the tiny space allowed. He closed his eyes, despair crashing over him like waves at his favorite ocean-side summer palace. He’d failed. His meticulously planned mission to liberate the occupied southern tip of his nation failed. He’d lost men. Too many good men had died for nothing; and now he, the embodiment of their hope, huddled in a spare storage room, abandoned on his own order to save more lives, only alive himself because of … of … he didn’t know her name.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to risk this for me.”
“I hardly had a choice with a knife pressed to my throat.”
“Touché. I’m Thomas.” Best omit the Crown Prince of Taneia that customarily accompanied his name. The less conspicuous he remained the better.
Besides, people in this town probably wouldn’t recognize him as the prince anyway. They isolated themselves, following many of their own laws, none of which contradicted royal law naturally, under their religious leader, the Shepherd. They paid their taxes and preferred to be left alone. No reports of abuse reached Rhocent, the capital city, save for Thomas’s mother’s accounts. All in all, they caused no trouble, content in their separateness.
But they were still his people. They were just as Taneian as he. That was what spurred his botched mission. He had a duty to protect all his citizens, especially from bloodthirsty Schelts who had thrown in their lot with that psychopath Hitler and his maniacal Germans …
“I’m Laura.”
“Thank you, Laura.”
“You’re on our side.”
He chuckled. “Yes, I’m on your side.”
They lapsed into uncomfortable silence. What else could he say? They’d be down here for at least another ten minutes; he refused to lift the trap door before then. He’d never realized how awkward it was to get to know someone in the dark.
As if she’d been thinking the same thing, he heard her shuffling around, hay swishing across the dirt floor and finally a metallic clank.
“Do you have a match? I found the oil lamp the Shepherd keeps down here.”
“I think so.” He fumbled in his pockets. No, the matchbook was in his pack. He shrugged it off and cried out, surprised at the searing pain in his side.
“Are you all right?”
Ears ringing and side burning, he grunted some kind of response. The pain brought back memory of a hand-to-hand combat. He’d won but not before the bastard got a good swipe at him with his bayonet. He grimaced. That’s why he was so cold. It had nothing to do with the chill in the air; he’d probably lost a great deal of blood by now. As if on cue, stars danced before his eyes like the ballerina he’d secretly been seeing after he found out about Maureen and the sailor. He leaned back against the wall, praying he wouldn’t pass out.
Warm hands cupped his face and guided him to the ground. “Relax,” a silky voice soothed. “You’ll be all right. Tell me where the matches are.”
Laura. That’s right, he was with the new woman Laura. And she needed matches for the lamp.
“Front pocket. First aid on … top in … the large one.”
In a few seconds she had the lamp lit. Thomas shut his eyes against the headache it triggered.
“Good Lord!” she exclaimed. “You need a doctor!”
“No doctor. They’ll find me. Stitch me.”
“But I can’t –”
“You have to.”
“I’m not a nurse.”
“You’re all I’ve got.”
“You need stitches.”
“There’s … sewing stuff for uniforms. It has to do.”
“Thomas –”
“Please, Laura.”
She hesitated, strangely quiet. Thomas almost thought something had happened to her until he heard her rustling in his pack.
“Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet. It’s going to hurt.”
“I’m a big boy.”

More next week!


Vicious Cycle


Step One

Rise from bed and determine to finish writing the scene one has been trying to write for the past two weeks. This is not to say one has not written at all in two weeks, just not as much as one would have liked.

Step Two

Shower. Now this may seem insignificant to The Plan Concerning Writing, but in fact it is not. For how can one write if one does not have the scene down pat in one’s head? Unpreparedness is unacceptable. Proper planning is essential for proper writing.

*Fine so I don’t really do much proper planning, but I do enact the scenes and conversations in my head while I am by myself in the shower or the car or whatever. The aloneness makes it easier for me to work through kinks and figure out  exactly where I want the story to go.*

Step Three

Go to work. A serious bump in the road to writing.

Step Four

Return home pumped from another hour and a half of internal planning via car ride. Totally ready to write this shiznit.

Step Five

Stare ineffectually at a blank page, urging and coaxing the words to no avail, only jotting a few and drawing very little personal satisfaction from them.

Step Six

Endeavor to find inspiration from veteran authors via one’s favorite books. Buryoneself in a world of another’s creation through their masterful words and pages.

Step Seven

Lose track of the time and fall asleep with book in hand.

Step Eight

Rise from bed …

*Note ~ The cycle can also occur in reverse when one is determined to finish reading a novel while engaged in an unofficial reading race with a best friend to finish an impeccable series first, only to be hindered by one’s own characters who will not leave one alone and insist on being written NOW. One loses the reading race but does not mind because of significant writing accomplishments.*


Three Things


First

Check it. Letter to a Young Writer from Kiki eons ago. Never got around to posting it because couldn’t think of good enough comments. Still haven’t but I want it out of my drafts box and think you could gain things from it.

Second

Book review. I haven’t done one of these in a while but I enjoyed this book so much that I have to. Be forewarned it’s not an easy read.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens is the story of Annie O’Sullivan, a Realtor whose life is brutally interrupted when she is abducted after one of her open houses. After a year of no contact with the outside world, she finds her way back home and struggles to piece her life back together, revealed through sessions with her psychiatrist.

My thoughts: an excellent read. Much of it was tough to get through because of the nature of the content. Though I flew through it, I had to read it in shifts. The gritty details make a reader cringe, but are not over the top. There is just enough to be chilling but not too many to be obscene or unbearable. The first person narrative shows much more of the internal struggle than would be revealed through third person. Annie’s regression then progression is perfectly paced and real. The characters are well developed and Stevens’ research into the human psyche is apparent. Additionally, issues of family, friends and tested relationships are fleshed out very well. Aside from the horrific experience, Annie also deals with normal problems.

But even more horrid was the possibility that someone might still be out to get her … It had me on the edge of my seat, tense and cheering for her the whole time.

Sorry for the brevity of the review, but I’m tired.

Third

WOAH! A movie about Facebook? I do find it ironic that the first thing I did when I found out was post the link to all my friends … on Facebook.


Sacttered Thoughts


As I was perusing your lovely pages, several thoughts came to mind. I will do my best to combine them into one or two coherent thoughts here.

First

I popped over to Judith’s page and found myself stunned that I had not yet purchased her book, The Thrall’s Tale. What? Why was that? The cover was beautiful, I’d been following her page for sometime, the story looked excellent and it was set in a time and place in which I myself am planning on setting a novel. Wow. What a miss on my part. Naturally I headed right over to Amazon and hit “PURCHASE NOW AND HURRY UP ABOUT IT! SEND IT TO ME ASAP! GO, GO, GO!”

Yes, I know there is no such button on Amazon, but that is the sort of feeling I get when the urge to buy a book overpowers me.

 After I wiped the sweat from my brow and breathed a heavy sigh of relief at having rectified the atrocity, I sat back and thought, “Miss Rosemary, you need to get published. Move your behind and get on that!”

Which turned my attention to Wounded Soldier and how decidedly NOT FINISHED it is. (Side note, I updated the chatper a little as per suggestions of June H. It’s is now shorter and can be read here.) I have worked out a reason as to why Candace should spurn Derek in the beginning and it’s a great reason … but it might be too intense for the rest of the novel. Aka, if I add it, the work as a whole needs SO MUCH MORE THAN I PLANNED! Damn it, I wanted to start querying before I jet off to London.

But, if I query prematurely, then I’ll just get rejected or (unlikely) publish something that could be way better or, (more likely) just have to work it in later at the behest of the publisher but this time with deadlines and pressure. No, better to do it now no matter how impatient I am.

A few blogs later led to my

Second

thought via Lua and a conversation with my mother. Lua’s most recent post talked about the pressures from family and friends to do something safe with your life. She even completed law school (you go girl!) before she realized how much it did not suit her and turned her attention to writing.

My mother’s conversation related to this because we were talking about what I would like to do with my life and graduate school and blah, blah, blah, excuse me Mom I have writing to do. I told her I want to get my MFA in creative writing and she said – “Well what are you going to do with that?” *See my interview from Thomas for my response if you have not yet here*

But really, who cares what I do with that MFA? I love it. If you love something enough, you’ll find some sort of employment withing that area. You’ll sniff it out like a bloodhound or it will just come to you. And you never know, while studying abroad I could meet a British lord, fall desperately in love, never have to work again and spend the rest of my days writing and singing in the family manor and not need employment. Stranger things have happened. My

Third

musing came from the other half of Mom’s discussion. We got to talking about writing and the fact that I (technically) have completed WS. She asked to read it.

Inside my head alarm bells clamored and sirens wailed and warnings yelled and I screamed “NO, NO, NO! NOT A CHANCE IN HELL!!!!!!!”

I actually said, “S-sure it’s in th-that binder over there.”

This brought me full circle to my first thought with a slight modification. What made me think that I was ready to publish if I was loath to let my own mother read my novel? How could I unleash it to the harsh winds and storms of the general populace when I wasn’t even willing to show it to Mom?

The answer is twofold. One – the first time I showed Mom something I wrote I was 12 and she hated it. She didn’t say that of course but I could tell. She’s not a literary person and didn’t feel the pull of it (not that it probably had much literary merit being that I wrote it at 12 but still, you get the point). And two – it’s just not ready yet.

As frustrating as it is to admit, the manuscript is not complete. It is in great need of  a great many additions and revisions before I can send it anywhere, even to my mother. Sigh. I may complain about this for a while and I apologize in advance because, the odds are it won’t get done any time soon. While I am dying to let it out, Candace and Derek aren’t filling my head now. Laura and Thomas are. And so divided loyalties plague me.

However will I proceed?

Well I won’t force anything, that’s for sure. If Laura and Thomas want to be written, then by God they will be written. Candace and Derek will let me know when it’s time for me to finish their story. Literary agents will always be out there whether I query next month or next year.

What about you? Do you ever get stuck with these dilemmas? Do certain characters bug you when you really want to be fleshing out different ones? Do you ever feel like querying when you really know you shouldn’t? Do you ever get nervous about others reading your work?


The Most Critical Piece


I care not what anyone says. The most essential part of your story is not your characters, your plot, your stunning scenes or any other of that sort of nonsense. No. The most critical piece to your story is your frist sentence.

That is correct. If you do not have a stellar first sentence, no one will read your story no matter how great the inner contents are. The fact of life is, people bore easily and if they are not entertained, they will put your book down to gather dust on the shelf, never to be opened again and adored by their eyes as is its due.

I am currently reading a book called “Hooked” but Les Edgerton. In this hysterical little thing the author describes the importance of having an exciting “hook” that will grab and keep the reader’s attention. The first sentence is key. The only other sentence that has close to the same importance is the last one. (For those who struggle with first chapters – I recommend this book).

Anyway, besides helping me craft my tale, this book got me thinking about first sentences. Some are great, some quite frankly, stink. The great ones throw you right into the action, the bad ones talk about things like the weather or make you roll your eyes. I have come up with a list.

BAD FIRST SENTENCES

  1. The moment he laid eyes on inmate #472825994, he became a prisoner of love.
  2. It was a dark and stormy night.
  3. His mind was like lightning, a quick flash followed be darkness.
  4. McMurphy hit the ground running like a bag filled with vegetable soup.
  5. On a nice day, a nice man and a nice woman sat on a nice bench in a nice park.
  6. The blood dripped from his nose like hot grease from a roasting bratwurst.
  7. Pants were for bankers or lawyers or Parliament. No, Adam would find his own way.
  8. He smelled rotting pork.
  9. The blue bottle fly performed long swooping wingovers above my coffee.
  10. Paul had athlete’s foot.

Really? Who came up with these? You are of course entitled to disagree, but some of these seriously made me LOL!

GOOD FIRST SENTENCES

  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of considerable fortune must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen
  2. He was so mean that whatever part of town he was standing in was the bad part of town. -Les Edgerson
  3. Scarlet O’Hara was not pretty. – Margaret Mitchell
  4. Elmer Gantry was drunk. – Sinclair Lewis
  5. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. – Anne Tyler
  6. You better not tell nobody but God. – Alice Walker
  7. Justice? You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. – William Gaddis
  8. Mother died today. – Albert Camus
  9. I am an invisible man. – Ralph Ellison
  10. You have 879 pages to go. – I have no idea

Feel free to disagree on the last one, but I thought it was brilliant in a funny way. All of these grasp the reader’s attention and refuse to let go. You get sucked in right away. Conflict, tension, humor. These sentences do not want to relinquish you. At that very first moment, you want to know more. It gives you just enough to leave you satisfied but still thirsty. Like a salad or an appetizer. You satiate some hunger, but still have plenty of room for and are in eager anticipation of the main course. And just to continue with this quirky little analoguy we’ll call the last sentence dessert.

Allow me a list of my own first sentences and see what you think!

  1. Damn. Another pothole. Didn’t professional drivers take courses in smooth driving? – BMK
  2. Widowed at seventeen. – Save Me a Seat
  3. Someone screamed. Then nothing. – Damn Brits

And my personal favorite at the moment:

     4. He had a knife to her throat. – Rescue Me

Creative Writing Goals

Rescue Me: Haven’t gotten anywhere, finish the third journal.

BMK: THINK OF A BETTER TITLE!!! (Help! Specifically biddie and Ralph who have read it in its entirety)

Damn Brits: Do something with it.


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