Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Killer First Lines

I'm in the middle of editing my latest project, a YA paranormal tentatively titled UNLEASHED. I've enjoyed working on it and I feel I've got the basic structure down, the tension-filled first chapter, the relateable hero, the page-turning chapter endings, etc..

But what I don't have is a great first sentence. As it is now, it reads: "Claire opened the door to Bodian Dynamics, ignoring the puff of cold, chemical-smelling air, and walked inside to a pale green lobby." Boring! And too long for my taste. 

I'm in the camp that a novel's first sentence sets the tone for the entire story, and I love authors who pay special attention to this. I'll still read and enjoy books that don't do this, but I really appreciate the ones who take the time to tell me something in that one opening sentence.

A couple of my favorite first liners are:

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife." The Graveyard Book.

"Where's Papa going with that axe?" Charlotte's Web.

I looked back at a few of my first sentences from previous projects and this is what I found:

"I always knew my father was a monster, but watching him torture someone other than me made me ill." The Devil's Fool. I like this one.

"Lucien stood, head tilted upwards in the center of a long alleyway between two abandoned warehouses." The Devil's Angel. I don't like this one. Needs work.

"My name is Mommy." Confessions of a Cereal Mother. Not bad. 

Now share some of your first liners. Do you like them? Do they need work?

More about first liners can be found on literary agent, Mary Kole's blog or in this article written by Christopher Jackson.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Angelfall and Rednecks

The lucky winner of Angelfall is Jessica! I don't have your email address, but I'll hunt you down through your blog, or you can contact me if you see this first.

Next up, a good author friend of mine is having a giveaway on her blog for a romance anthology. Go check it out HERE. All you have to do is comment on your best/worst redneck romance experience.

Mine? The one that came to mind was when I first started dating my husband. He wrote me the sweetest love letter on a torn-out page of the phone book. I memorized that letter.

A few months later, I was rocking out to this sweet cassette tape I just bought - Firehouse. Man, was I cool. Anyway, one particular song jogged a memory. I pressed rewind, pressed play and listened again.

Turns out I already knew the lyrics. Every single word. My terribly romantic husband had copied them. Plagiarizing criminal. I was so turned on.

So who's the redneck?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another giveaway - Angelfall

Like most of you, I read a lot. My favorite books are ones that are written so well, the structure so tight,  I feel my own writings are strengthened just from reading them.  Sometimes this can be difficult to find in a young adult book.

But I just discovered one. And I am so excited.

It's called ANGELFALL by Susan Ee. It's an apocalyptic Angel book, which so isn't my type of story, especially after reading Hush, Hush, Fallen and The Mortal Instrument series.

But Angelfall is different. It has a kick-butt female heroine who makes logical choices and isn't obsessed with the "man" in her life. That doesn't mean the book lacks any heat, though. Quite the opposite, but it's not the focus of the story.

What I loved about this book is the tension. It's expressed in every chapter, if not on every page. The author pushed her main character to the extreme, always increasing the stakes. Because of this, the book is a page turner. There are some horribly wonderful parts that shocked me much like the book Hunger Games did, but didn't take me over the edge to where I might be offended. You'll know what I'm talking about when you read the book.

And now's your chance. I'm giving away either an eBook or paper copy, which ever you'd like. All you have to do is:

1. Be a follower of this blog.
2. Comment below with your email address

That's it! Contest ends on midnight of the 23rd. That's one week from today. Good luck! This book is a must read!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where are the Great Thinkers?

First up, the winner of Fury by Elizabeth Miles goes to Christine Bails. Congratulations!

Next on the agenda, I want to discuss a book I should have read years ago, but never got around to it. I recently finished it and wanted to share my thoughts. It's East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

What an amazing read. I love books that make me think and make me question what type of person I am and hope to become. It wasn't a plot driven book, so was slow at times, but the author developed such interesting characters that I couldn't stop reading.

The narrator, a relative to the main characters, wrote from a Christian perspective and contended that every human since the beginning of time has struggled with the choice between good and evil. The narrator writes that each person, when looking back on his or her life, “will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

The book reminded me of other great books written by C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, T.S. Elliot, Mary Shelley, George Orwell, Ayn Rand, Robert Louis Stevenson, Poe and others. If it were possible, I would love to go back in time and sit with these Great Thinkers who seemed to understand man better than anyone.

Are there men like this today? I wonder about this. It seems there are more people shouting opinions than calmly discussing today's issues. But maybe it takes time for a Great Thinker to be identified. Or maybe they are here, but we can't recognize them because they are too familiar. They are tweeting, blogging, lecturing, touring. Because they seem so in our face, we tune them out. Or maybe with all of our technology we're just not as smart as we used to be.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Elizabeth Miles FURY interview and giveaway

I was so excited to chat with Elizabeth Miles, author of FURY, a wonderfully dark book with scandal, intrigue, and whispered secrets. The second book in the series, ENVY, will be available 9/4.

After the interview leave a comment for a chance to win FURY. And if you Tweet or Facebook this link, you'll get another entry. Just say which you did. Contest ends on midnight, May 10th.

Without further adieu, please meet Elizabeth Miles.

1. What is your favorite scene in your book FURY?
I really enjoyed writing the action-packed scene that takes place in Boston. Most of the book takes place in Ascension, a moody, made-up town in Southern Maine. Having lived in Boston (and Cambridge, and Somerville) myself, it was fun to explore a different setting -- and to give my protagonists a new place to play. Plus, that chapter gives us a glimpse into Em and JD's chemistry...and I'm a sucker for romance.

2. Weirdest idea for a novel?
On my Facebook feed earlier, someone was talking about the anthropomorphization of objects -- a boy who was turned into a button, for example, and told his story from the button-perspective. How about a novel narrated by a STOP sign? Would love to hear your readers' ideas in the comments. (I bet the stop sign near my touristy rental home in Maine has some amazing stories to tell. I think it's a great idea!)

3. Favorite TV show?
This is hard. I really love a lot of TV shows (in fact, I far prefer TV series' to movies!). Recent faves include Game of Thrones and Friday Night Lights; all-time obsessions include Deadwood, Veronica Mars, and....yes, I'll admit it: Beverly Hills, 90210!

4. Do you find reading as enjoyable as you did before you became a writer?
As an only child who grew up surrounded by books, I will always love to read. I'll admit that the demon voices of comparison occasionally ruin my reading experience ("how does this writer make it look so easy??" "why didn't I think of this wonderful and gripping plot??" blah blah blah), but in general I do find reading as enjoyable, relaxing, transformative, and illuminating as ever.

5. What do you and fellow author Lauren Oliver chat about when you think no one is listening?
Boys. Well, these days we are both seriously involved with *men*, so I guess the subject matter has shifted slightly. But our conversations at 29 are similar to the ones we had at 15 -- they often veer toward the complicated relationship stuff, the ugly and beautiful parts of being in love. That or food. We both really love cooking, eating, and talking about food.

6. What writing advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time five years?
How about three pieces of advice?
1) Read. Read so much, of all different genres. Absorb. Dissect. Learn.
2) Be okay with feeling terrible -- sometimes. You will write crap. That's okay. Trust yourself (and your editors/crit group/beta readers) enough to know that a first draft is just a starting point.
3) Start writing NOW. Don't be scared. Stop putting things off.
(I wrote some more writing tips at my blog last year: http://www.elizabethmilesbooks.com/2011/11/top-five-writing-tips-or-out-list.html.)

Thank you for joining us today, Elizabeth! It has been an honor.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A New Adventure

I am moving. Again. But, like when I moved to Maine, I am looking forward to the adventure. I love meeting new people and being in new places. This time I will be in Rhode Island.

Some of you may remember my moving problems I had when I moved from Idaho to Maine. Quick recap - the moving company who was to deliver all of our belongings "went out of business" and ending up dumping everything we own in a storage facility near our home in Idaho, yet they still took our $5000. And that's where our stuff sits today. We can't afford to have it shipped out, starving author and all. :) 

Anyway, we were fortunate that our house in Maine was furnished so it wasn't a huge issue until now. We have nothing. It's like we are newly married except worse becuase at least when we got married we were given a lot of things like cleaning supplies, appliances, towels, etc. I thought about getting married again. Maybe those who came to our wedding the first time won't remember that we're already married?

Actually it was kind of fun starting over. My husband and I went shopping this last weekend looking for one deal after another. Cheap became our motto. No point buying nice things when we have a warehouse of nice things...back in Idaho. We managed to find bigger items, dressers, beds and couches at flea markets and garage sales. This week I will focus on the little things.

So here's my question. Where can I get the most bang for my buck for all the little crap? I don't have time to do the garage sale thing again. I was thinking Ikea?