About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

The First Line

SONY DSCSince our theme this month is Firsts, I thought I’d write about first lines of books. To me, the first line of a story is like meeting you, the reader, for the very first time. More often than not you will have read the back matter, which may have been written by me, someone else, or a group of marketing professionals. You might have admired the cover, and that tempted you. Covers aren’t usually made by the author, but by a graphic artist. Whatever way it happens, the first line of the story is the first building block for your reading relationship with me, the author. It’s when things get real.

It’s essential that the first line makes you want to keep reading. It needs to spark your curiosity. With any luck, the first line will make you think, OMG! Who? What? Where? Why? I have to know! And you keep reading, turning those pages until the very end.

This holds true whether an author writes historical, inspirational, rom coms, or time travels. The first line should fit the world the author has created and capture the tone of their work.

I write contemporary romance with romantic suspense elements, and I admit to being surprised when I typed the first lines from my series together. They really do fit the tone of my books. Here they are:

Winning this might keep him alive. – Slide Job

Death lingered quietly in the dark, dressed in worn blue jeans. – Beyond the Winner’s Circle

Would he die today, or tomorrow? – Running Three Wide

I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t add the first lines from some of my favorite reads. Here they are in no particular order:

Most people don’t stare at the scars. – Burnt Offerings, Laurell K. Hamilton

Caught in the crosshairs of wind above the Bitterroots, the jump ship fought to find its stream. – Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts

They had betrayed her with a promise of the sea. – My Heart Stood Still, Lynn Kurland

Although in different genres, each first line is tempting. I can’t wait to dig in and find out the rest of the story.

What about you? Do you have a favorite first line?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

First Adventures

I’ve always been a practical person. Okay. Sort of… No, not really. In the earlier years of my life, I used to indulge myself in eating and trying new foods, shopping for everything unnecessary, and spoiling myself with as many books as I can fill my house with (Good thing for e-readers!). I had hobbies, I had great friends, and I was never bored. I worked, I wrote, I went to school. I kept busy and I had more than others, so I should be happy, right?

But life became so unfulfilling… Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t spoiled. I worked hard for everything I wanted, but nothing seemed good enough. I realized it was time to move on…

Time for an adventure.

What did I do?DSC00745

I packed all my belongings, quit my present day job, dumped my boyfriend at the time (Trust me, it was time. Four years with the same man with no future was definitely a good motivator.) and moved out of New York.

Where did I go?

Hawaii! My very first adventure.

For a girl who has never left home, change seemed to be the enemy but I was ready to have some fun! I saw the opportunity and I took it. How could I turn it down? Adventures come in many shapes and sizes.

The first time I stepped foot off the plane, all I could think about was “the air smelling so soapy and why was everyone just smiling?”

I was almost tempted to get back on the plane, but I wasn’t ready to give up.

Everything was a change. The pacing in life was worse…

My first instance with bringing my New York road rage to Hawaii taught me a lesson. There’s no need to rush anywhere. It’s okay to drive 25 mph on a 65 mph highway. It’s okay to take walks to work even if it takes an hour. It’s okay to sit all day at the beach and just watch the blue water or count fish in the Harbor. Or spot men in trees…. I had all the time in the world to do as I pleased. And I got to write, write, and write! I found the chance to concentrate on something I totally wanted. Who would have thought?

I learned so much on my adventure. Not only about the culture, the land, the fabulous food, and the people, I learned about me.

It’s an adventure I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What was your first adventure?

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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

First Rejection

No, no, no…I’m not talking about my first crush in elementary school that crossed his eyes and ran the other direction when I professed my true love. Although I have to say that it could’ve been worse if I hadn’t watched, with my tender heart in pieces, as he slid to a stop and ran into the monkey bars. My best friend’s giggles quickly helped to start the healing process as the teacher picked gravel out of his elbows. My true love today, besides family and friends, would be my stories. Every hurt, joy, stress I feel is woven into my writing. It can get pretty emotional and I sometimes feel the torture I put my characters through. My contemporary stories focus on real life drama and intense relationships in small town America. Rugged cowboys, oh my, and the strong women that fight back when life tries to buck and bully them. And with as much emotion as I put into my stories, can you imagine the anxiety I felt when I first submitted my work to a critique group, and then the pain when the first response was a woman blasting me with tons of red ink? I actually considered quitting as I’m sure many others have done after rejection knocked them for a loop. But I have been truly blessed with my current critique partners, and even a few from the past. They steer me in the right direction with constructive criticism and have taught me so much along the way. They cheer me on and supply chocolate and hugs when I get shot down.

The reason rejections are felt more strongly than normal is because writing is  personal. My stories are something I put my heart into and when they’re rejected, I tend to take it personally. It’s hard not to. I’ve been writing for publication for almost seven years now and received my first rejection letter within three months of submitting. That is a quick response considering I know several writers that have been waiting a year, or two, for an editor to respond. They say that no news is good news. Really? Hand me a silver bucket I can throw up in from the overwhelming anxiety every time the phone rings or bings with notification that I have an email.

I have to admit though, my first editor rejection was a good one as far as rejections go. It was a revise and resubmit. The story was ultimately rejected but the process wasn’t as heartbreaking as I’ve been through since. I think the worst I’ve received was a form letter that they just plugged my name into the greeting. A critique partner received one with her name but the wrong manuscript title. The hard part about those types of rejections is not knowing if you even had a chance. Is there something you need to change or did you just get the wrong editor/agent on the wrong day? When you are receiving multiple rejections, examine the rejection letters (or critiques) and see if you can find common suggestions, mistakes. Do you feel as though you can make the changes without losing your voice?

There are plenty of authors with success stories out there with bestselling books on the market that are proud of the hundreds of rejection letters before they found the one editor, or agent, that led them to success. My first rejection was hard to swallow though I’m sure it could’ve been much worse. I find encouragement when I’m down by reading about how other authors have struggled but they kept plugging away and persevered. My post today sounds like it’s geared more toward the writer, but anyone can apply this post to something they really want to accomplish. Make positive changes if needed, but don’t give up if you really want something. Success is always the best revenge.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Chelle Sandell

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Unforgettable First Dates

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Conflict is one of the things that makes a novel worth reading. So first dates in romance novels usually end up being messy and complicated. The encounters are typically full of trouble, while somehow affirming that the couple is meant to be together despite all obstacles. In Canyon Walls, my characters’ first date involves star gazing–surrounded by a camp full of teenagers.

On one of my own first dates, my date was driving me to dinner when I reached under the seat of his truck and instead of moving the seat back, I sliced my finger open on a piece of metal. It was one of those crazy wounds that wouldn’t stop bleeding.

I was mortified.

My date drove down the interstate as I searched for a fast-food napkin or anything I could put on my finger to stop the bleeding. Before I knew what was happening, my good-looking date had pulled up his dress shirt, held out the bottom of his white undershirt, and stuck my bleeding finger in it. It was incredibly sweet, but it wasn’t the first impression I’d hoped to make.

He exited the highway, changed out of his undershirt and into his dress shirt, and left me in the truck as he went into a store. He bought me a box of bandages and antibacterial cream. The gesture was far more romantic than flowers.

I still have a scar–right beside the finger where I wear the wedding ring he gave me. It’s a daily reminder of our wonderful and never-boring romance.

The secret of a great first date isn’t about the right restaurant or the most romantic location; it’s about sharing it with the right person.

What was your most memorable first date?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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