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 Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in the hills of Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City, in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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 Clarissa Yip

Constantly on the run, Clarissa leads the life of adventure and mischief. When she's not getting herself in trouble, she's usually busy studying the art of eating and curling up with a good book or spending numerous hours reading and writing. It's really hard to find her in one place for too long...

First Kiss: Bliss or Miss?

Hi, all! Jennifer here. I’m so happy thrilled to introduce fellow Entangled Pub author Robin Bielman as our guest blogger today!

Robin has a new Bliss romance out called Kissing the Maid of Honor, so be sure to check it out as well as the bottom of this post to see her fun giveaway that will be going on next week!

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Hi everyone! I am so honored and delighted to be the first guest on Through Heart Shaped Glasses! Thanks so much to Jennifer and all the HSG gals for having me here today.

First Kiss: Bliss or Miss?

Since this is a month of firsts, I thought I’d talk about The First Kiss. That moment when you lean in, ready to lock lips with that special someone for the very first time ever. Your heart is racing, your stomach is quivering, your head is spinning. You make contact and then one of two things happens: you don’t ever want to stop or you can’t stop quickly enough.

My first kiss was a big ‘ol miss.  I’d been crushing on this boy forever. He was a black belt and one of the junior instructors at my younger brother’s karate studio. I’d go all the time to watch my brother just so I could secretly stare at this too-cute boy. He was sixteen and so cool, and I was fourteen and well, not. When he called me and asked me out, I thought I’d die. (This was also my very first date, and I had no idea he’d even noticed me.) He took me to the movies and held my hand the whole time. It was nice. It was sweet. On the drive back to my house, I started to get nervous, though. I wanted to kiss him. I really wanted to kiss him. But I was worried I’d do it all wrong.

Well, he walked me to my front door and I didn’t have time to get nervous because he proceeded to immediately shove his tongue down my throat. There was nothing romantic about it. Nothing sweet. The wet, sloppy assault had me reaching for the door handle and hurrying inside. Gross! I thought. And my image of this boy was forever ruined.

We never went out again. I ditched the karate studio for tennis and homework.

In my just-released novel, KISSING THE MAID OF HONOR, a first kiss plays an important role in the story. A fun role because it stirs up conflict. And desire. Wishes, too. Do I wish my first kiss had been bliss? Hmm… I’m not sure. I mean everything happens for a reason, right? I will say future kisses were much, much better.

What about you? Was your first kiss Bliss or Miss?

 

 

*Special note: Next week my publishing sister, Jennifer Shirk, and I are having some fun with our Bliss releases from Entangled Publishing. We’re hosting a Bliss Kiss War in honor of her book, KISSING KENDALL, and my book, KISSING THE MAID OF HONOR. We’ll be blogging, Facebooking, and giving away a $20 GC! We hope you’ll check it out!*

 

 

About KISSING THE MAID OF HONORKissingTheMaidofHonor_cover5 copy

Sela Sullivan is resolved to be the best maid of honor ever, even if it means tolerating the best man. Insufferable, too-handsome Luke Watters is not only the guy who humiliated her at a kissing booth in high school, but he also happens to be her best friend’s older brother. Positive he’s the same arrogant jock, Sela vows to focus on her duties and steer clear of the frustrating—and frustratingly tempting—Luke.

 

As a world-renowned extreme-sports photographer, Luke is used to undertaking life-risking adventures. But risking his heart for the beautiful Sela Sullivan, who clearly still hates him for his rejection all those years ago? He didn’t see that coming. Sela inspires a passion he’s never known, and the more time they spend together, the more he craves her. But can he prove to the maid of honor he’s become a man of honor?

BUY LINKS:

Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

iTunes:

Kobo:

 

Robin in velvet pastel haze 620About Robin Bielman… Robin Bielman lives in Southern California with her high school sweetheart husband, two sons, and crazy-cute mini Labradoodle, Harry Dresden. When not attached to her laptop, she can almost always be found with her nose in a book. She also loves to run, hike, and dip her toes in the ocean. Writing is a dream come true, and she still pinches herself to be sure it’s real.

She is also the author of Worth the Risk and Yours At Midnight from Entangled’s Ever After line. She loves to connect with readers. Visit her online:

Website/Blog: http://robinbielman.com

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/RobinBielman

Facebook: http://facebook.com/robinbielman or http://facebook.com/robinbielmanwriter

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/robinbielman

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

First Words…

Hi, I’m Nina Croft and for my first post on Through Heart-Shaped Glasses, I thought I would say a little about how I first started writing and my first book.

I didn’t write when I was younger; probably because I was too busy reading. Then, at the age of twenty-seven, I found myself living in a remote village on the banks of Lake Kariba in Zambia. And almost totally bookless.Lake Kariba at sunset

For the previous few years, I’d been working in London as an accountant. I was bored and restless (I wanted life to be more like the books I read!) and in desperate need of some sun and some excitement. So together with my brand new husband, I signed on with a charitable organization sending volunteers all over the world.

img016Lake Kariba is a man-made lake formed when the Zambezi River was dammed in the 1950s. We were working for a charity helping the people displaced when the dam was built and their homes flooded. They were subsistence farmers and fishermen, living in villages dotted along the edge of the lake, and much of my time was spent whizzing around in boats (dodging hippos and crocodiles!)

It was a stunningly beautiful place, but very remote, with no electricity, no TV, no internet and very limited access to books (and this was way before kindles!). For someone used to reading a book a day, it wasn’t long before I was suffering severe withdrawal symptoms.

Even food was a logistical nightmare. A boat ride away was a small supermarket. Unfortunately, it rarely stocked food; on a good day you could buy toilet rolls and toothpaste. We could order beef locally, but it tended to arrive still warm and with the hoof still attached—a little off-putting. Then there was the local dried fish—kapenta—the most disgustingly smelly stuff to ever come out of the water…

Obviously, I needed something to take my mind off the lack of food and books. What I did have was an extremely large laptop provided by the charity (and powered by a solar panel) and it occurred to me that my only solution was to write my own stories. And that started my first venture into writing and resulted in my first partial submission to Harlequin (several years later) called, The Best of Intentions. Sadly (but not surprisingly) it was rejected but with a very positive letter and a compliment slip for if I wanted to try again.

That was my first attempt at writing, but definitely not my last. So are there any major changes in your life that have made you take up something for the very first time?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

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 Chelle Sandell

Contemporary western romance author, Chelle Sandell, was born and raised in southern Oklahoma but has mostly traded her cowboy boots in for flip-flops. That is unless her cowboy feels the occasional need to go boot scootin' across a dance floor. A foodie at heart, leaning toward the sweet treats, you can find her in the kitchen experimenting on her family and friends. She lives out in the country with her very own cowboy, rowdy boys, Hank & Lilly (blue heeler cowdogs), rescue kitties, and a hungry opossum that loves to sneak up at night to eat the cat food on the back porch.

First Things First

Hi, all, Jennifer here!

I have to admit that in my personal life I’m very sensitive to order and having everything around me just so. No, I don’t have OCD. But I have joked on many occasions that I could quite possibly be borderline. Luckily, my family has learned to deal with it.

So it stands to reason, that in my writing life I like order, too. Our theme this month at the Heart-Shaped-Glasses blog is FIRSTS, so I thought I’d share what I like to do first when starting a new book.

When an idea first comes to me, it’s really vague. For example, in my recent novella, A LITTLE BIT CUPID, I knew I wanted to write about a woman who had never been in love and I also knew I wanted Cupid to help her find Mr. Right but have her want someone entirely different.

See? We’re talking really vague.

Before I can go any further with plotting, the first thing I need are NAMES.

Believe it or not, I can write without a working title, but I NEED NAMES for my characters or they just won’t feel real to me. Without a name, it would be like writing about a cardboard cutout figure. And I just can’t get into that.

So where do I start looking?

Actually, I have a nifty little Baby Name book called Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana: What to name your baby now. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it (even if you’re done having children of your own). It categorizes names for you, which makes it ever so convenient, especially if you’re looking for a masculine or feminine type name or maybe a good-girl name, or a no nonsense name, etc…

Once my characters are named, I’m good to go and I can then create my character profiles and then a brief story outline. See? Very orderly. But that’s me. I’m a first things first kind of girl. 🙂

How about you? What’s the FIRST thing you like to do when beginning a new story?

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.