How Should I Write My Book?

 

Red Maple - sig

 

There is so much writing advice out there. Tips and tricks, instruction and direction, ways to plot and ways to pants.

We want to read all that advice. It’s a conundrum. We can’t stop learning (and who would want to?) but we must, eventually, get on with it.

If I’m spending weeks (okay, months years) reading about how to write, I’m not writing. It’s really that simple.

Some will say it’s self-doubt. Some that it’s fear of failure (or success). Eh. It’s certainly possible.

I think part of it is “the writer’s mind”.

We want to educate ourselves on all sorts of things. We want to know what’s what with the age group we’re targeting – what our audience will respond to. Or learn as much as we can about the setting of our story. Or what the hospital procedure would be for our character who’s just been brought in with a knife wound.

Admittedly, there’s a bit of Am I doing this right? but that’s to be expected and, honestly, I’m not sure how much of that can be blamed on self-doubt. I guess it depends. Because “the writer’s mind” is a tricky thing.

Listen to yourself and your tone: How should I write my book?

That is kind of a huge question. It’s also an interesting one. How are you saying it? Why are you asking it?

That can be a self-doubter’s dream. It puts off the actual writing part of writing your book.

Is this a good opening? I like to just write but so-and-so says I should outline. I should really learn to outline. But I recently read that article about how to plot as a pantser. I should read that again. Or maybe I should listen to that podcast about…oh, yeah, that agent is having a Q&A on Twitter today! I should totally do that.

Then again, it’s smart. It gives you much-needed info about the process, category, and genre, among other things.

How many pages does a MG novel have to be? Can I use swears? Is kissing allowed for this age group? Actually…is this MG or YA?

These are valid questions. Definitely do some research. But, then, sit down and start typing. It might be a good idea to set aside a bit of time for even more research as the market changes or unexpected scenes pop up in your book. But don’t get sidetracked. I’ve noticed (from personal experience) writers love to read about writing, write about writing, and talk about writing.

That’s awesome. All of it. But we also need to write.

So, once you’ve read and learned and researched and read some more, the question How Should I Write My Book? is quite easily answered: Sit down and write.

 

Is this an issue for you? Do you put off your writing to read about writing?

 

Great Book for Writers…NaNo or Not

 

I’ve never written a book review on here before.

 

NaNoBook - sig

 

And I’m not going to.

I will say that this book is made of awesome.

I’m late to the party. I should have posted about No Plot? No Problem! in October before all you nutty NaNos took on the completely insane challenge of finishing a book in thirty days.

But I’m here now. Because I am having a problem. A writing problem. (I’ll post more about that later.)

So I was searching my bookshelves for some inspiration when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a marvelous book sat unread for two years! And in November, to boot. Before I write another word, let me say I have never participated in NaNoWriMo. And. Yet.

This is a stupendously marvelous writing book. Yup. It’s all that and a bag of chips.

Oh, no! Not (another) book about writing.

Well, technically, it is. Sort of. But not really. In other words, it’s not a “this is how you are supposed to write” book. It’s a cheerleader (with more clothes). A guide. A tiny, written friend with advice and support. Also, just enough writing tips and anecdotes for me to call it a writing book but not enough to drive you crazy or contradict all the other books you’ve read about how to write. It even offers to take your “Inner Editor” so you can write a shitty first draft that would “absolutely horrify it”.

The entire first part of the book contains tidbits of remarkable wisdom like “don’t write within view of a bed”, sections like “Eating Your Way to 50,000 Words” & “The Happy Side Effects of Limited Planning” (which appeals to me very much), along with tips like how to host a writing day:

Ask all attendees to turn off the ringers on their cell phones, and set a timer so everyone knows exactly when each session ends and the glorious break time begins. Should anyone continue to type after the alarm marking the end of the session sounds, chop off their fingers. Don’t be afraid to be a tyrant. (53)

And the excellent “law of exuberant imperfection”:

The first law of exuberant imperfection is essentially this: The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy. 

the older we get, the more scared we are to try new things. . . . what do we do when we have free time? The tried-and-true activities we’ve already perfected. Like talking on the phone. Or walking up and down stairs. Or getting drunk. . . . Exuberant imperfection allows you to circumvent those limiting feelings entirely. (32-33)

And this charming truth:

The universe loves novelists. During the novel-prep and book-writing period, you’ll watch, delighted, as the cosmos parts to reveal a rich vein of pilferable, copyright-free material explicitly for your noveling use. A couple will sit down next to you on the bus and proceed to have an argument. . . (72)

Right? Oh, man, I love when that happens. *sigh*

The second part is dedicated specifically to NaNo participants—broken down by weeks. Very helpful if you’re into that sort of thing. And more power to you. (Really. Love and respect to my fellow writers during this hectic Novembery time.)

Reading through this again made me realize two things. Three, actually. 1. Chris is funny. He is. 2. I’m not trying to crank out 50,000 words in a month and this book is still wonderful. 3. My husband has always supported my writing.

 

NaNo Book - sig

How cool is this?

 

You can get a copy here, if you so desire. But it’s different from mine because I have an old copy, as you can see from the inscription here, and Chris has made all sorts of shiny, new words for you.

Poetry is Every Day

 

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Although National Poetry Day is a British holiday, I am honoring it anyway. A bit late, too.

Poetry is so diverse. It can rhyme. It can flow and roll or it can punch you in the gut. It can make you cry or laugh. Or both.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

I can feel the rhythm as I read. And the words… Love. But who doesn’t love Robert’s stop in the woods that snowy eve? (Don’t answer that. If you don’t like this, I’d rather not know. I’m not sure we could be friends anymore.)

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Oh, how many times have I warned my son to beware the Jabberwock, I do not know. But he was reciting it at 4 years old. All chortling in his joy.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;

Let’s just bask in the beauty of these lines and not continue to the hateful fantasies Oberon plans to inflict upon Titania. Good times. Gotta love The Bard. (If anyone calls me on this being a play not a poem, I shall hex them with a ladybug infestation. You have been warned.)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Ah, Dylan. I’m raging, dude. I will not go gentle.

Okay, let’s get serious. Because poetry is serious. Actually, it’s not. It is what it is. People say they don’t “get” poetry. I get that. I used to say it. But poetry is what you make it. It’s what you take away from it.

Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Poe, Longfellow, Burns, Frost, Thomas, Browning…so many, many more. They each have touched me and changed me. It could be a single poem or a collection—doesn’t matter.

Emily Dickinson is the poet who has influenced me the most. Maybe because she’s awesome. Maybe because her words came along at the right time in my life to resonate deeply with me. I don’t know. But I have a book of her poetry with faded highlights from over twenty years ago. Those words are nostalgic and beautiful.

Sarah B Emily Poetry - sig

Poetry is everywhere.

It’s the clouds drifting through the sky, the squirrels scurrying up a pine tree, the leaves losing chlorophyll and blazing bright red, your morning coffee with steam swirling out of the mug, a hug from your child. It’s a book of words highlighted by your own hand twenty years earlier. Some writers can weave words so prettily it makes you cry. And I love them. But there are also words that fill your heart when you live in the moment.

Poetry is every day.

 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost
Jabberwoky – Lewis Carroll
Midsummer Night’s Dream / Act 2, Scene 1 – William Shakespeare
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas
This is my letter to the World – Emily Dickinson

 

My Sunday thoughts in…way over 200 words.

 

Letting Go of Social Media

 

Let go of social media?! Yes, I know. We can’t do that. We’re not allowed. As writers, we must be on all the social sites to build our platform and brand ourselves and whatnot. But I’m letting go. Does that mean I’ll have less success? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably. I’ll miss out on opportunities if nothing else.

I read this post by Lisa Reiter and it resonated with me. She talks about being busy and organizing her writing. Pfft. Who needs that? With two young kids, a husband, a house, a job, appointments, meetings, blah, blah, blah, I have all the time in the world to sit down (uninterrupted) and write.

As the saying goes, “If you do one thing, it’ll be your best. If you do two things, they’ll each have a bit of your intent to do your best but they won’t be your best. If you do ten things, they’ll suck.” Okay, that’s not at all how the saying goes and I’m not sure there’s a saying even remotely like that but you get my point. Hopefully.

If I do those ten things with a bag full of the fifty things I’m not doing sitting on top of my head, the ten things are going to really suck and I’ll wind up hurting my neck. Something’s got to give. And, if I look back and realize I haven’t sent anything in yet for my column this month or worked on my book or submitted anything to…anywhere, then social media has to go.

Okay, I’m not getting rid of social media entirely, I’m just attempting to stuff it into a box and shove it in the corner. Social media is a rope. (I’m going somewhere with this. I swear.) Instead of throwing the rope to the ground and leaving it unattended or allowing it to lasso me, I have to take control of it. “Letting go” of this rope means untangling myself from it so it doesn’t choke the life out of me but making sure it doesn’t get soaked and moldy in the rain. Hence, the box in the corner.

 

social media rope

The Rope of Social Media (A.K.A. A ball of string I found around the house)

The rope of social media shouldn’t be a noose, it should be a lifeline.

A connection to my audience, potential editors, agents, and other writers.

Lisa says in her post that she has set aside a day (one day!) a week that she calls her “Blog Admin Day”. In the post, she uses words like “addictive” and “compelled”. I feel like that sometimes.

Technically, she’s talking about blogging but I’m applying it to all social media. I don’t know if I can set aside one day to write my blog, read other blogs, comment, read litmags, research submission guidelines, catch up on my Twitter account… Seems a tall order. But I’ll try. Because I need the rest of the week to do that thing I love to do with words like putting them together and making cool sentences (and fragments). I need time to write. Also, I’m on call 24 hrs. a day as a mom so there’s that.

I’m going to attempt to organize my own Social Media Admin Day. Let’s be honest: Days. I think I need two. For now.

Interesting. I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago. This crisis isn’t new. Maybe it resonates with me because I’m going through it (again). Maybe more people are dealing with this. Maybe it’s the time of year. I don’t know. But I do know that many fellow bloggers, writer friends, and tweeps are deleting their accounts, taking breaks, or wondering out loud where they’re headed.

Two days for social media/blogging time didn’t work for me. And I have nothing inspirational to say. Just… You’re not alone.

How do you manage your social media? Do you read/comment on blogs? Do you have time to read anything else (poetry, short stories, books)? Do you have time to write (something other than your blog)?

 

First Lines: Epilogue

 

While cracking the covers of well-loved, read-only-once, and couldn’t-stand-this books for my First Lines series, I wondered…

How does this work? First lines, I mean. First paragraphs, sentences, pages. What are authors thinking?

I’ve got to kill it with this opening or else…

Or is it a little less sinister? Like, I want to hook the reader but, really, I’ve got a whole novel to show off my mad skills—the first page doesn’t have to be memorable, only the story does.

Or maybe simply: I suppose the beginning should be good but, eh, I like ‘She ate a piece of bread.’ and I’m keeping it.

The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world…how important are they?

Some books are so well-known that it doesn’t matter as much because, when you pick up Lord of the Rings, you know it’s going to be a fantasy. When you grab Hunger Games, you know it’s Dystopian. But authors generally don’t know their book will be famous when they write it. Well, excluding Stephen King.

Who? Exactly.

So, back to non-rock-star-authors. What are they feeling as they sit down to type that very first line? As a YA author, for instance, do they feel the need to bring readers into their world right away? Let them know the story won’t be taking place at South Mundane High School on Main Street?

Maybe it’s not the age group as much as the genre: dystopian, science fiction, fantasy… Or perhaps it’s not the age group or genre but the person writing the book. Rules, tips, and advice aside, writing is an individual sport.

Whatever the process, however the pages come about, I’m glad they do. Because I love reading them. How would I cope in a world without books? I don’t even want to think about it. It’s creepy. And wrong. Like a world without cheese.

So, while I’m obsessed with passionate about first lines, and while I collect them and read them over and over and write them down (or highlight them in e-books), I’ve read stunning first lines and hated the book. Also, I continue reading even if the first lines don’t knock it out of the park. After all, one of my favorite books of all time begins, “Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.”

 

First Lines CoN Epilogue

 

First Lines: Children’s Books

First Lines: Middle Grade

First Lines: Young Adult

First Lines: SABGUS (Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-Ups)

First Lines: Picture Books

 

First Lines: Picture Books

 

Another First Lines post which was surprisingly enjoyable to compile. Also, it was a bit nostalgic.

This one is dedicated to my friend and fellow blogger, Norah, who thought a First Lines: Picture Books would be a grand idea. And she was right.

Some will argue that first lines aren’t important in picture books. Eh. Maybe. I’m not sure. They are a hook just the same as any other but you don’t need to keep the reader’s attention as long. (Which is not the point of a hook anyway.) Either way, it was fun to flip through these beautifully illustrated stories to find first lines.

Have you read any of these to your children? Did you read any when you were a child?

 

“There was once a Velveteen Rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.”

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Illustrated by Robyn Officer

 

“The sun is tired. It goes down the sky into the drowsy hills. The sunflowers lean. They fall asleep to dream of tomorrow’s sun.”

The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

 

“No one ever came to Bear’s house. It had always been that way, and Bear was quite sure he didn’t like visitors. He even had a sign.”

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

 

“Once, in a beautiful, faraway land…that was, somehow, not so very far…a land where every stone was a teacher and every breeze a language, where every lake was a mirror and every tree a ladder to the stars, into this far and lovely land there fell…a truth.”

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Jon J Muth

 

“Once, long long ago…yet somehow, not so very long…when all the animals and rocks and winds and waters and trees and birds and fish and all the beings of the world could speak…and understand one another…there began…an argument.”

Old Turtle by Douglas Wood Illustrated by Cheng-Khee Chee

 

“Puff, the Magic Dragon, lived by the sea, and frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.”

Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow / Lenny Lipton Illustrated by Eric Puybaret

 

“At the edge of every day, the Night Eater ran behind the moon. And as he ran, the Night Eater gobbled up the darkness.”

The Night Eater by Ana Juan  

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live.”

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

 

“Tonight, when I looked under my bed for my monster, I found this note instead.

‘Gone fishing. Back in a week. – Gabe’”

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll Illustrated by Howard McWilliam

 

“There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind. Most people spent their time indoors. As you can imagine, it was a very dreary place.”

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

 

“Oscar loved his boy. He also loved stinky cat food for breakfast and crunchy cat food for dinner.”

Oscar and the Mooncats by Lynda Gene Rymond Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

 

“Over 100 years ago, as the stars swirled in the sky, as the Earth circled the sun, as the March winds blew through a little town by a river, a baby boy was born. His parents named him Albert.”

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

 

“It was autumn. In the hush of the forest a lone yellow leaf clung to the branch of a great oak tree.”

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

 

“Once there was a Little Rabbit who did not like himself. He had soft pink ears, bright red eyes, and a short, fluffy tail. He was a beautiful little rabbit. But he wanted to be anything except what he was.”

The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey Illustrated by Chris Santoro

 

“Imagine a place…

where you bend and sway, leap and land, right where a story begins.”

Imagine a Place by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a day…

when you can dive down through branches or swim up to the sun.”

Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves

 

“Imagine a night…

when snow white sheets grow crisp and cold, and someone whispers, ‘Follow me’.”

Imagine a Night by Sarah L. Thomson Illustrated by Rob Gonsalves


First Lines PictureBook

 

Next up:

First Lines: Epilogue

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-Ups (or SABGUS)

 

Another post in my First Lines series. Yes, it is here. Novels that are acceptable to discuss at dinner parties.

My choices for First Lines: SABGUS are varied. Please feel free to think of this post as a platter of fine cheeses. Some are light and spreadable, some are solid and must be sliced with a chainsaw. I don’t love all the cheeses. *gasp* What?!

It’s true.

In fact, I will be completely honest with you here and say that I haven’t even read some of these books. A few were taken from my TBR pile (which is not getting any smaller). Also, I raided my husband’s bookshelf to get some of these fabulous firsts and am not sorry one bit. They are marvelous, if not my particular cup of cocoa, and I had a splendid time reading through them. Some of these first lines, though, do belong to favorite books of mine and it was wonderful visiting them again.

For your dining pleasure, I bring you First Lines: SABGUS.

 

“I vaguely remember my schooldays. They were what was going on in the background while I was trying to listen to the Beatles.”

The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams

 

“Tap-dancing child abuser. That’s what the Sunday New York Times from March 8, 1993, had called Viva.”

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

 

“It’s morning. For now, night is over. It’s time for the bad news. I think of the bad news as a huge bird, with the wings of a crow and the face of my Grade Four schoolteacher, sparse bun, rancid teeth, wrinkly frown, pursed mouth and all, sailing around the world under cover of darkness, pleased to be the bearer of ill tidings, carrying a basket of rotten eggs, and knowing – as the sun comes up – exactly where to drop them. On me, for one.”

Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

 

“Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snails’ eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.”

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

 

“A smear of fresh blood has a metallic smell. It smells like freshly sheared copper.”

A Deadly Shade of Gold by John D. MacDonald

 

“My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin, ghosts who leave the mists just to visit her kitchen on Balboa Street in San Francisco.”

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

 

“The flash projected the outline of the hanged man onto the wall.”

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

 

“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling – a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension – becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.”

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

 

“Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

 

“My friend Patsy was telling me a story. ‘So I’m at the movie theater,’ she said, ‘and I’ve got my coat all neatly laid out against the back of my seat, when the guy comes along—’ And here I stopped her, because I’ve always wondered about this coat business. When I’m in a theater, I either fold mine in my lap or throw it over my armrest, but Patsy always spreads hers out, acting as if the seat back were cold, and she couldn’t possibly enjoy herself while it was suffering.”

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

 

“It is a relatively little-known fact that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead.”

The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris

 

“I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can’t wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.”

The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson

 

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

“In the world of humankind, the tides of power are turning… To me, the seasons of men go by in moments, but from time to time a flicker will attract my attention.”

Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley  

 

“On the day after my mother’s death, I returned to 83 Beals Street for the first time in fifteen years. I had stolen something from there when I was nine years old and kept it long after my reasons for holding on to it has lost their urgency.”

An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer  

 

“It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.”

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

 

 

First Lines SABGUS

 

Next up:

First Lines: Picture Books

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Young Adult Novels (YA)

 

Another First Lines post to feed my passion and your imagination.

So, I’ve shared some children’s and middle grade firsts with you.

Now.

The time has come, the blogger said, To talk of other things: Of love — and loss — and fantasy — Dystopia and kings! Yes, I’m talking YA. Hold on to your socks.

As you all know (since I’ve included this little tidbit about myself pretty much everywhere) I love YA.

Before you close this out, please give it a chance. The post, yes, sure, but the umbrella that all YA books are hanging out under. Interestingly enough, I’ve found that more adults refuse to read YA than they do middle grade or children’s books.

Conversations go something like this: “I’m not a teenager.” “I have no interest in reading about idiotic kids in high school, thank you very much.” “Why would grown-ups read this crap?”

Yes, they go something like that.

There is a lot of controversy over adults reading YA. Which, quite honestly, makes me wonder about the adults who spout off about this and, also, the price of potatoes in Jaipur.

Onward! First lines…

 

“I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.”

His Fair Assassin Book 1: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

 

“Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.”

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

 

“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.”

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

 

“In all the years I’d existed, I’d never expected to be free.”

The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

 

“Petunia was knitting some fingerless gloves to match her new red velvet cloak when the Wolves of Westfalian Woods attacked.”

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

 

“Every morning, the sun comes up and turns the earth red, and I think: This could be the day when everything changes. Maybe today the Society will fall.”

Matched Trilogy Book 3: Reached by Ally Condie

 

“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.”

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 

“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth

 

“They hung the Unregistereds in the old warehouse district; it was a public execution, so everyone went to see.”

Blood of Eden Book 1: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa


“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

 

 “Spring in the mountains of Morravik was a about as predictable as a tired two-years child in a house of wonders…”

The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede  

 

“Just so you know, when they say ‘Once upon a time’…they’re lying.”

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer
(I cheated on this one. Technically, this isn’t the first line of the novel but it’s the first line of the “Oliver” chapter—the main character of this book within a book)

 

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win.”

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 

“He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”
Book 1

“She spoke to him before the world fell apart.”
Book 2

“It was the smell that began to drive Thomas slightly mad.”
Book 3

Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

(James got a hat trick. I mean, really, he nailed every first line in each book of this trilogy.)

 

First Lines YA

 

Next up:

First Lines: Socially Acceptable Books for Grown-ups

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Middle Grade Books

 

Another First Lines post to feed my passion and your imagination. (I feel a bit like a literary Willy Wonka…)

Possibly this post will inspire you to sneak in a beach book or summer reading for your kids. ? Just a thought.

This is my middle grade book post. I admit I have a difficult time differentiating between children’s and MG. The Hobbit and Harry Potter are children’s. But so are Magic Tree House and Judy Moody. There are board books, picture books, readers, chapter books… This is a murky, grey area of writing and reading and marketing.

Anyhoo, these are the books I chose as middle grade, whether they are or not. There’s an overlap and I’m overlapping.

On to the first lines…

 

“Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped.”

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

 

“I know I’m not an ordinary ten-year-old kid. I mean, sure, I do ordinary things. I eat ice cream. I ride my bike. I play ball. I have an X-box. Stuff like that makes me ordinary, I guess. And I feel ordinary. Inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.”

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

 

“Carter here. Look, we don’t have time for long introductions. I need to tell this story quickly, or we’re all going to die.”

The Kane Chronicles Book 2: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan 

 

“Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day.”

The Heroes of Olympus Book 1: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan


“It is difficult to choose a new name for oneself. Even more difficult, I imagine, than choosing a name for a child, for one is confusingly intimate with oneself, whereas one is barely acquainted with a baby upon its arrival.”

An Enola Holmes Mystery: The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer

 

“You don’t just fall into supervillainy.”

Book 1: The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz 

 

“Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.”

Eragon by Christopher Paolini


“Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 

 

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

 

“The deputy told me to empty my pockets: two quarters, a penny, a stick of bubble gum, and a roll of grip tape for my skateboard. It was pitiful.”

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

 

“The day before Mrs. Starch vanished, her third-period biology students trudged silently, as always, into the classroom.”

Scat by Carl Hiaasen 


“We have not yet seen Tomorrow. We have not yet dared go there.”

How to Train Your Dragon Book 11: How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero by Cressida Cowell


First Lines Middle Grade

 

Next up:

First Lines: YA

As a reader (and a writer) how important are first lines to you?

 

First Lines: Children’s Books

 

I’m a sucker for firsts: first lines, first paragraphs, first pages.

I love them.

What do you think? The words that introduce you to a new character or bring you into a new world? As a reader (and a writer) how important are “firsts” to you?

They are essential for me, as both reader and writer. Also, I adore collecting them. They take up less space than Hummels and need no dusting.

There are so many. Far too many to post on a blog but I am going to share some favorites. Because. You are worth it. And this was such great fun to put together.

This is my children’s book post, as the title clearly states, but please, don’t turn your nose up at these. There will be no nose turning allowed. Children’s books aren’t just for children anymore. Well, with The Hobbit and Chronicles of Narnia, were they ever really just for kids?

Without further fuss delay ado…

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 

 

“I don’t trust Clive Fagenbush.

How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions? Besides, I’m beginning to suspect he’s up to something. What’s worse, I think he suspects I’m up to something. Which I usually am.”

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers 

 

“The woman smiled so politely that he felt offended.”

Pay It Forward (Young Readers Edition) by Catherine Ryan Hyde 

 

“The first thing many people do after getting out of bed is put on a pair of slippers. The first thing Pearl Petal did on that Friday morning was slip her feet into a pair of leprechaun shoes.”

The Imaginary Veterinary: Book 4 The Order of the Unicorn by Suzanne Selfors 


“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

“There are a lot of things that can hatch out of an egg. A chicken, for example. Or a dragon. And when the egg in question is the size of a pumpkin, and almost as orange, not to mention burning hot, you know that you’re far more likely to get a dragon than a chicken.”

Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George

 

“There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always.”

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

 

“There was only orange juice in the fridge. Nothing else that you could put on cereal, unless you think that ketchup or mayonnaise or pickle juice would be nice on your Toastios, which I do not, and neither did my little sister, although she has eaten some pretty weird things in her day, like mushrooms in chocolate.”

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman 

 

“If you believe that death is about to spring upon you at any moment, you won’t spend much time watching television.”

The Books of Elsewhere: Book 3 The Second Spy by Jacqueline West


“Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.”

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Book 1 Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede 

 

“The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.”

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

 

“It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon.”

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

 

First Lines_childrens books

 

Next up:

First Lines: MG & YA (*ahem* No nose turning.)

Do you have any favorite first lines from children’s books? Place some in the comments. I’d love to read them.