25 First Sentences

If you’re a writer, you know how difficult it is to nail that elusive (and all-powerful) first line. Writing an entire book is often more enjoyable (and possibly easier) than coming up with that griping, you’ve GOT to read on sentence. Here are 25 first sentences from pretty amazing books that you can mull over this weekend. Recognize any of them? How does your first sentence compare? Does it set the tone of your novel?

First Sentence:

1. “So you want to know all about me.”

2. “He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”

3. “My mother used to tell me about the ocean.”

4. Daddy said, “Let mommy go first.”

5. “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”

6. “The ornate script on the board twisted in the candlelight, making the letters and numbers dance in my head.”

7. “The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”

8. “I wait. They keep us in the dark for so long that we lose sense of our eyelids.”

9. “There is one mirror in my house.”

10. “Janie Hannagan’s math book slips from her fingers.”

11. “Enders gave me the creeps.”

12. “I smile at myself, at the foolishness of my imagination.”

13. “I’ve been locked up for 264 days.”

14. “It is my first morning of high school.”

15. “The first time I died, I didn’t see God.”

16. “I used to be someone.”

17. “Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom.”

18. “A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories.”

19. “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.”

20. “It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure.”

21. “Sing, O Goddess, the anger of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”

22. “They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.””

23. “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.”

24. ““Where are you?” Aunt Hannah demanded as soon as Alex thumbed talk.”

25. “The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.”

Authors and titles:

1. Ellen Hopkins CRANK

2. James Dashner THE MAZE RUNNER

3. Carrie Ryan THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH

4. Beth Revis ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

5. Suzanne Collins THE HUNGER GAMES

6. Michelle Hodkin THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER

7. Scott Westerfeld  UGLIES

8. Lauren DeStefano WITHER

9. Veronica Roth DIVERGENT

10. Lisa McMann WAKE

11. Lissa Price STARTERS

12. Ally Condie MATCHED

13. Tahereh Mafi SHATTER ME

14. Laurie Halse Anderson SPEAK

15. Megan Miranda FRACTURE

16. Mary E. Pearson THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX

17. Rae Carson THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

18. Aldous Huxley BRAVE NEW WORLD

19. Jack Kerouac ON THE ROAD

20. Lauren Oliver DELIRIUM

21. Homer THE ILIAD

22. Veronica Rossi UNDER THE NEVER SKY

23. Orson Scott Card ENDER’S GAME

24. Ilsa J. Bick ASHES

25. Marissa Meyer CINDER

Say what? Publishing Terms Defined

Publishing has a lot of jargon we take for granted because we’re around it ALL the time. Over the weekend I was asked a few questions, so here are some definitions if you’re seeing things floating around twitter or the blogosphere and feel out of the loop…

Please note: This list isn’t all inclusive, so if there’s something you’re a little unsure of – or if there’s something you’d like to include – please ask or add it in the comments.

Agatha Awards = awards for mystery and crime writers who write via the same method as Agatha Christie (i.e. closed setting, no sex or violence, amateur detective).

ARC = Advanced Reader Copy. (These are used for book reviews.)

ALA = American Library Association (they have a GREAT annual conference)

Auction = when more than one publisher offer on the same project and bid against each other.

BEA = Book Expo of America (it’s like Disney World for new books, check the link out.)

Beta Reader = a person who reads your manuscript with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, etc.

Critique = in-depth feedback on areas where you can improve your manuscript.

Critique Partner = someone who you exchange manuscripts with to offer helpful feedback.

Edgar = Award given for the best in the mystery genre.

Elevator Pitch = is a short summary used to quickly and simply describe your book.

Full = when an agent requests your entire manuscript

Frankfurt = Frankfurt Book Fair aka the largest book and media fair in the world.

Hook = One sentence pitch on what your book is about. (The more gripping, the better.)

Hugo = Award given for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy novel from the previous year

MS = Abbreviation for manuscript

MWA = Mystery Writers of America

Nebula = award given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the previous year.

Partial = when an agent requests part of your manuscript. (Normally they will specify how many pages to send them. I.e. 50 pages.)

Pre-empt = a preemptive offer from a publisher. (Usually a large sum to avoid going to auction.)

Query Letter = a 3-5 paragraph business letter that introduces your book, a short author bio, and reason for contacting a particular literary agent. Normal length is 250-350 words. (check out QueryShark for excellent examples.)

RWA = Romance Writers of America

SCBWI = Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

SFWA = Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Sublist = submission list. (Your agent sends you a list of publishing houses/imprints that are currently considering your manuscript.)

Synopsis = extended summary of your book. (Including the ending.) (The best examples of summaries are on wikipedia for any given movie.) Usually range in length from 1-5 pages, single spaced. The tighter the better.)

WIP = Work In Progress

Great sites for writers to check out:

Absolute Write: A wonderful forum/community for writers at any stage in the game. Ask any writing/publishing question/share your work & find critique partners, and do research before querying agents here. (Not to mention meeting and hanging around with other amazing/knowledgeable writers.)

Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog: A fantastic resource for new agent alerts, and tips for EVERYTHING.

Hey, there’s a dead guy in the living room blog: I’m going to link you to my agent’s (Barbara Poelle) blogging days here. I may be biased, but I think reading through her blog archives is AMAZING.

Miss Snark: The mysterious secret agent who will live on in blogger history. She may not be blogging anymore, but there’s a WEALTH of information worth checking out.

Nathan Bransford: This former mega-agent’s (now author) blog is the guide to publishing BIBLE. Countless hours were spent there when I first started researching everything I could about publishing. It’s like the Holy Grail of the book world. Seriously.

Preditors and Editors: If there’s one site you add to your MUST list before querying, it’s this one. It’s a great resource for finding agents/agencies that are not scammers.

Pub Rants: Agent Kristin Nelson dishes on everything industry related. There are also some great examples of query letters that worked posted on the sidebar.

Publishers MarketPlace: I highly recommend that you get a subscription. Daily deals are posted as well as breaking industry news. I peruse my Pub Lunch every single day.

QueryShark: A phenomenal blog dedicated to the art of crafting a great query letter, run by super agent Janet Reid.

Query Tracker: Keep track of your query letters, search for agents who represent your genre, and hang around other writers in the query trenches. Another amazing site that has a forum where you can have your query letter critiqued by your peers.

Writer Beware: Is basically a watchdog blog for writers to avoid scammers and bad eggs. Highly recommended.

My Weekly Adventure: I’ve been interviewed!

Guys, I’ve been interviewed! The lovely Aryn of the SUPER awesome Weekly Adventure Blog asked me a bunch of questions about writing, querying, books, books, books, and TONS more fun stuff about the whole road-to-publishing journey.

If you’d like to check it out (please, please do! I will cuddle hug you forever:)) here is the link—> INTERVIEW

Here’s a little snippet from the Q&A:

WA: On your blog it reads, “Novelist by day… rogue foodie by night.” what is your very favorite style of food?

KM: Oh my gosh, how much time and space do we have? I love it all. I’m a huge fan of fusion food, so I’m always experimenting with bold flavors. I’m on a HUGE curry kick right now (I just made curry mashed potatoes), but I love Spanish, Dominican, Mexican, and Italian foods with unexpected flavor twists tossed in. (Like pairing Thai flavors with classic Italian.)

WA: Tell me about your current book project.

KM: The project that’s currently under consideration is a YA futuristic thriller. It’s set in NYC and is about a 16-year-old girl who’s unknowingly being turned into the ultimate biological weapon by a government obsessed with achieving genetic perfection. 

WA: What is your “dream” project?

KM: My dream project right now is some sort of YA light science fiction dealing with…. To read more check out the link! (EVIL, I KNOW. I HEART YOU.)

Hope you are having an amazing day! Can you believe it’s the second week of January already?! 

5 things you can be proud of RIGHT NOW

As writers we spend a lot of time inside of our heads. A LOT. I’d say we also spend a GREAT deal of time focused on the future. OMGGG when will I sign with an agent? When if ever please please please will I find an editor who wants to buy my book? What if no one thinks my manuscript is pretty? What if I get a kajillionmillionbillion sad faced reviews on Amazon/Goodreads/Barnes and Noble/and GAHHHHHHHH.

BREATHE.

No really, take a nice deep breath. Don’t focus on that stuff, focus on the here and now. Need a little help? Okay, here are some things you can be proud of RIGHT NOW:

1.) I’ve said this before a KAJILLION times, but it’s SO worth repeating. YOU WROTE A BOOK. OMGGGG. Do you have any idea how many people say they’re going to write a book one day, and NEVER ever ever ever ever do? You came up with a plot, a story arc, YOU KNOW WHAT A MACGUFFIN IS, you have amazingggg characters, and HOLY FREAKING MOLE you rewrote until your eyes bled 26 letters all over the page thousands of times. Be proud. No matter where you are in the publishing process, don’t ever forget that you wrote a book. You sat down late at night when everyone else was asleep. Maybe you wrote at the crack of dawn, when even the birds were too tired to get up. You sacrifice any and EVERY extra second in your day for this one dream. You’re my hero, so BE PROUD of yourself.

2.) You got a form rejection. How is THAT something to be proud of?!! Simple. You didn’t just talk about making your dreams happen, you went out there and you DID something about it. YOU WERE SO BRAVE FACED I WANT TO INTERWEBS HUG YOU SO BAD. You learned how to write a query letter. You researched agents, you boiled your plot down into 250-350 words INCLUDING your bio – holy crap you are a rock star. A form rejection, while it isn’t pleasant, means YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING. HUZZAH!!! You are wearing something that walks, talks, and looks a WHOLE lot like perseverance right now. So be proud.

3.) You got a partial or a full request. First of all YAYAYAYAYAYAYYYY high five! That feels AWESOME, doesn’t it? I mean, a real live literary agent saw something in YOUR query letter and was all, “OMGGG SEND ME THIS RIGHT THIS SECOND AS AN ATTACHED WORD DOCUMENT PREFERABLY. I HOPE TO GET BACK TO YOU IN 60-90 DAYS THANK YOU FOR THINKING OF ME…” SQUEE! Now do me a favor. Remember this feeling. Take it and squeeze the juice out of it and put it in a bottle to savor when you’re feeling down. Stop focusing on what happens next. The best thing I can tell you is this; you now have a 50-50 shot. It’s either going to be yes, or no. So breathe. SO MANY THINGS go on behind the scenes for why an agent may or may not take your project on. Be proud of how far you’ve come, and don’t forget that squishy feeling in the pit of your stomach and the triple beat of your heart slapping against your ribcage when you open that email and see a request. Allow yourself to feel proud, you accomplished something. You are so awesome.

4.) You have read every last book in your genre, your mother’s genre, your mother’s mother’s great Aunt Sissy’s genre and — holy crap that’s A LOT of reading. Why is this on the list? Reading is essential for writing. YOU are doing research, whether you think you are or not. How else will you know where your book fits into the market? Eat books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sprinkle stories on your ice-cream at night. Read read read read read as MUCH AS YOU CAN. Then write. Reading work that has been published helps get your brain into butt-kicking sharpness. PLUS, isn’t part of the reason you’re in this whole publishing game BECAUSE you heart books so much? So be proud of how much you read, no matter where it sits in the bookstore. If you like YA…YAY!!! Mysteries, thrillers, science fiction WHATTTT. (Sorry, I loves me some science fiction.) Ahem. Be proud of yourself for taking the time to read. YOU are working on your craft and that is DEFINITELY something to be proud of.

5.) You never give up. A rejection dings its nasty little head in your inbox, but you don’t even bat an eye. You take out your handy-dandy list of well researched agents and you carefully send out a personalized query in the rejections place. You don’t view rejection as a toxic dart being shot into your heart. You view it as it was intended; It’s nothing personal – you just weren’t a good fit with that agent for whatever reason. You are a professional, you are always kind and courteous – you bravely soldier on. YOU ARE SO ADORABLE AND AWESOME AND OMG KEEP GOING GOING GOING GOING. Because you are SO CLOSE, I can feel it. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GIVE UP. One day I’ll be reading your book, falling in love with your characters, and DYING for your next work to come out. Thank you in advance for all that you do. I am so very proud of you.

HAPPY MONDAY!!!

Brain Teaser Monday

Oh, the joys of Monday morning. To help my readers get their brains back in working order after the booze fest weekend, here are a few brain teasers. Holy helvetica, they never get old. Enjoy <33333’s!

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C34R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15. R3 P057 1F U C4N R35D 7H15

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Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs. 

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, t he olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rgh it pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs psas it on.

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Can you tell what this says?

There are nine people in this picture, can you spot them all?

Hmm. Pretty fracking amazing, right? I’m guessing if your brain can handle all that, those revisions/new project/query letter/synopsis/insert whatever you’re currently laboring over — should be a piece-o-(something fall-like and delicious)-cake. No? 🙂

Happy Monday!!!!! <333333

Show and Tell Friday: Show V. Tell

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
— William Faulkner

Show and Tell Friday: Show V. Tell and all that writing Hell made easy.

Chances are if you’re a writer you’ve heard the phrase ‘show don’t tell’ more times than you can count. If you’re anything like me, you probably want to bash your head against a solid surface. (Disclaimer, please don’t go around bashing your head. Your writing will not benefit from this. Keep writing. You’ll get it.)

Showing is probably the hardest thing to grasp…

…And just when you think you’ve finally got the concept down, a whole new Hell opens up. That’s right The Mid-Ground. That horrible little Purgatory where you’re half showing and half telling. Let me just say, there’s no place worse than Purgatory. Really. Being stuck in between is all kinds of ick.

But, luckily there are agents out there like the fabulous Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Lit. who offer up advice. Mighty fine advice too, might I add. So I’m going to share her post with you in case you missed it. It’s definitely worth looking at.

If you want the low down on showing click on the link HERE to be redirected to Mary’s blog. Go on and click it. Your writing and characters will thank you.

Happy Friday! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. See you back here on Monday. XO


The down and out? Never!

Photo by Kerri Maniscalco

(Repost)

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.”
-Joseph Conrad

And in case that failed, I included a picture for all you ‘visual’ learners. You’re welcome.