Sneak Off and Read: Lines about NICKNAMES, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about NICKNAMES for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


“Don’t tell me they have you working with Jonathan,” Miller said.

Laura bobbed her head and hiccupped. “Jonath-It.”

Claire Gem


With all this drama percolating, you’d think the others would stay quiet. No such luck! Mama Bear had to step up and protect her Goldilocks from the Big, Bad Photographer.

Joanne Guidoccio


“Pete’s right.” Geoffrey referred to his wife Patrice by her nickname, as always.

Jeannie Hall


“Now, cowboy? Now I’m old and wise and know better than to turn down a good offer.”

Kathryn Jane


She turned, staring straight at me with that fiery spirit still there in those deep brown eyes. “I said some things never change.”

Miss fancy pants had no clue what she was talking about.

Sharp Blades (work in progress)


“Princess” might be her name, but Jerrod always thought of her as “Dust Mop.” After she greeted him with her usual yips and tail wags, Jerrod leaned over and rubbed her behind the ears before he scooped her up for the obligatory kisses.

Marsha West


Juliet ran as the other kids chanted, “Come here, piggy piggy. Juliet Porcelet. Who lives in a toilet.”

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


“Hi, beautiful.” Remembering the zesty burger topping and its effects on morning breath, I surreptitiously covered my mouth. “Hi ya, cowboy. What ‘cha doin’?”

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


Dani hurried to comply, aware of her teammate’s propensity for speed. “He’s still hung up on her. It’s as obvious as the hook on Dodger’s nose.”

Jacquie Biggar
Tempted by Mr. Wrong (work in progress)


You are my Jeva, Quin – my healer. Because of you I know what love is.

Sam Bradley w/a McKenna Sinclair


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The Right Opening

Have you ever experienced the tyranny of the blank page?

If you’re nodding in agreement, you are in good company. In fact, I believe every writer—from beginner to published—has experienced those feelings of doubt and apprehension, especially at the start of a new manuscript. That’s when gremlin thoughts are most powerful.

In this post, I will offer several suggestions on how to squash those gremlins and start writing the first page of your next manuscript.

First, I will dispel  three popular rules:

rule #1–Start with a bang

Some writers believe the first page needs drama: a passionate argument between two people or a man running out of a burning house. One problem: the reader is not yet invested in the characters. The two people arguing could be murderers, and the man running out of the burning house could be a burglar. The reader needs to know more about the characters and their motivations before the drama occurs.

rule #2Start at the beginning

You can use a prologue to cut forward to later events or recall much earlier events. A three- to five-page prologue that introduces the crime or dead body can whet the reader’s appetite for more details. This works well with mysteries and thrillers.

rule #3Never start with dialogue

Used effectively, dialogue can establish the writer’s or protagonist’s voice. This will quickly draw the reader  into the writer’s world

So, what should the “right opening” accomplish?

Very simply, the first sentence needs to draw the reader’s attention to the next sentence and the rest of the first paragraph. And so on. That first sentence does not have to be loud or flashy…only intriguing.

five “Intriguing” examples:

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 1984 by George Orwell.

“They shoot the white girl first.” Paradise by Toni Morrison

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.” Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If you’re struggling with “intriguing,” start with a simple sentence, and use the rest of the paragraph to follow up with details.

five examples of the “Simple” Approach:

“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

“It was love at first sight.” Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

“We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.” The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

“Nothing happens the way you plan it.” The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

“When he was nearly thirteen my  brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Hard-to-read and grammatically incorrect sentences can turn off readers, agents, and publishers.  But sometimes they work!  (English majors and editors–start cringing!)

Two examples of  the “Breaking the Rules and Getting Away with It” approach:

“You better not never tell nobody but God.” The Color Purple by Alice Walker

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

More tips…

  • Think of opening lines and paragraphs as introductions to new people. You probably wouldn’t be interested in getting to know a person who immediately launches into a monologue about her divorce, her latest car accident, or upcoming surgery. Instead, you want to learn just enough about the person so that you can have a pleasant conversation.
  • Gently lead the reader into the rest of the paragraph and the next page. The reader doesn’t have to fall in love with that first sentence, but she needs to be curious enough to keep reading.
  • Leave the reader with unanswered questions. She should be asking the question “Why” as she reads that first chapter. Why did those characters fall in love? Why did that murder happen?
  • Introduce character goals and motivations early. This creates a sense of direction that guides the reader through the novel.
  • Reread your favorite novels and critically analyze the opening sentences and paragraphs. Ask yourself what intrigued you as a reader and then apply the same approach to your own writing.
  • Keep in mind that the first chapter of a novel is the most heavily revised section of the book. You don’t have to get it right the first time.

Here’s the first page from my new release…

He couldn’t believe he was following his wife’s advice. After twelve years of paying lip service to deep yoga breaths, mindfulness, and all the other New Age crap she espoused, he had finally found a use for it. His midnight run usually sorted out all the stress, but tonight was different. He still couldn’t shake the venom that had been directed his way.

To make matters worse, it had come from eight women, eight very different and very annoying women. He had bedded four, but right now he couldn’t imagine having sex with any of them. As for the untouched four, well, only one interested him, and it had nothing to do with her feminine wiles and everything to do with her healthy bank account.

He would have to take something to get through the night, something a lot stronger than his wife’s herbal teas. The remnants of an old Percocet prescription came to mind. Two capsules might do the trick. The thought of a panacea, albeit a chemical one, calmed his racing thoughts. A good night’s sleep would make a world of difference. And tomorrow, he would sort it out.

The light patter of feet distracted him. Definitely a woman’s gait. Her breath was even, neither shallow nor panting. Younger, maybe in her thirties. His pulse quickened, and a smile spread over his features. A welcome distraction. Just what he needed to erase the built-up stress. To hell with deep breathing, affirmations, and Percocet.

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about WORDS OF ENDEARMENT, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about WORDS OF ENDEARMENT for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


Tears sparkled on Maddie’s eyelashes. “I love that boy so much. He reminds me of my Joseph.” She smiled. “He’s just as stubborn.”

Jacquie Biggar
Hold ‘Em


“You are incredibly beautiful, Zoe Anderson. I’m honored you’re sharing your lovely body with me.”

Claire Gem


“I can’t stop thinking about you,” he whispered as he explored me with his tongue, caressing me, exciting me, removing my clothes, making me lose control as he led me away from the kitchen.

Joanne Guidoccio


But he kept his distance until she was inside and rolled down the window. Then he leaned in and planted a hot kiss on her before saying in a soft voice, “Drive safe, baby.”

Kathryn Jane


“Babe, I missed you so much.” Her eyes filled with worry, and he hated that he’d put that look there. “I am so sorry for hurting you.”

A Twisted Fate (work in progress)


“Mom, don’t try to talk. I love you.” Ah, sweet. Sometimes grown kids don’t use those words to their parents.

Marsha West


Rafe took her shoulders, pulling her close until their foreheads touched. “Breathe, sweetheart. Just breathe.”

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


“How are your pogo skills, beautiful?” “I can manage just fine. And stop calling me beautiful.”

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about the topic DREAM, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about the topic DREAM for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


Ben cleared a path to the hostess station where Daniel stood, wearing a dark blue suit, a red-striped tie, and a 100-watt smile. He looked…magnificent. His eyes gleamed with hopes and dreams.

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


“See? He’s gentle as a lamb.”
Some Lamb. The Sheep in her dreams didn’t blow smoke out their nostrils.

Jacquie Biggar
Hold ‘Em


I have no regrets. None at all. It’s my money and I love helping people reach their dreams.

Joanne Guidoccio


Dusty wondered if she’d been dreaming. But the rifle was balanced in her right hand, and the binocs hung from a strap in her left.

Kathryn Jane


Never in my wildest dreams would have guessed I’d be just like the other players, a divorced dad who was lucky to get sporadic phone conversations, facetime, and quick visits between home games with my daughter.

Sharp Blades (work in progress)


Even after drinking a half-bottle of wine for release, dreadful dreams disturbed her sleep. Sometimes she woke up screaming.

Marsha West


Her hands fisted against his hard chest. In her daydreams, this confrontation between them had been cold and bitter and ragged. She’d never expected to have this conversation in solemn, quiet darkness.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


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Older Characters

What do I mean by those words? For some people, 35 is older. I’m sorry, I really have a hard time wrapping my mature mind around that concept. 40? Yeah, I can go there. Except I was really in my prime during my 40s and 50’s. I ran for the school board for the first time when I was 40. (and lost–not fun, but ran again when I was 44 and won. Much more fun. 😊)

IMG_3312 kids hate this pic.:)

I was in my 50’s when I went back to school to get principal certification. And I didn’t begin writing until I was in my 60’s. Maybe I’m just a late bloomer? Well, yeah pretty sure. But I’d argue age and our perception of age has changed. Even for women.

Women in the real world anyway, perhaps not in Hollywood. But the last I checked, I don’t live there. 😉

I write romances with heroes and heroines in their 40-s and 50’s. Second chance love, but always with danger thrown in. My tag line is “Romance, Suspense, Second Chances. Experience Required.” My stories almost always have the parents of the main characters in them, too, as supporting characters, so folks in their 70’s. I like the generational thing.

I remember attending my first RWA convention. It was in Dallas, and I’d just retired from being an elementary school principal. I went not knowing a soul, not even belonging to a local chapter. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. One of the sessions was put on by Harlequin, I think, and they were touting their new line of romance with older characters. I can’t remember its clever name, but I do remember thinking, Yea! There’s a place for me. LOL Remember, I was very green.

I didn’t even know that I don’t write category romance. I believe that line fell by the wayside. But as we’ve all grown older (a thing, if we’re lucky. we do), the idea of reading about folks who are closer to our own age falling in love and solving problems and getting into scrapes and getting out of them has grown in popularity.

On Facebook, I belong to a group for writers of Seasoned Romance. I understand at RWA this summer there will be a panel on this subject as there was at the recent RT conference.

This makes me happy. Partly because maybe there will be more readers for my books, but also because there will be more books for me to read.IMG_3926

My husband read a recent NY Times article about the importance of reading and raising kids to be productive adults. The author accepted a challenge to read 100 books a year—of all kinds. He and his wife challenged their teenagers to accept the challenge. They haven’t yet made it, but that’s one of those goals that even if you don’t make it, you accomplish a whole lot with the attempt.

I confess to not reading a wide variety of books, but even when I was laid up all last summer with my broken ankle resting above my heart, I didn’t read 100 books in that year. That’s a huge goal, but a worthwhile one for a person of any age to set.

So, where do you fall in your reading? Only read books with younger heroes and heroines? Do you read multiple genres? How about the number. Are you in the 100 Club?  Love to hear from you.

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines about the topic WISH, #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines about the topic WISH for a great start to the week. Enjoy!


Sharon WrayLeaving the square, Nate kept to the dark edges when his cell buzzed again. A text message from Pete which left Nate wishing his heart would give up and stop beating.

Sharon Wray
When Next We Meet (work in progress)


“Don’t need your help, lamebrain. I can manage just fine. And stop calling me beautiful.”

Vicki Batman
Raving Beauty” from Just You and Me set


The kids love Doctor Barnes, he makes them laugh. I wish you could hear it, Ray. They make my heart happy.

Jacquie Biggar


Laura wished now she had something she could share with Miller to offer him some comfort. But she had nothing.

Claire Gem


How I wished he could get back into bed with me. But I knew he had a responsibility to be at the murder scene.

Joanne Guidoccio


She peeled off her clothes, crawled in, and instantly wished the room would stop spinning.

Kathryn Jane


I wanted to remember everything from this moment for when I returned home. I wished I could somehow slow down the clock, anything to drag this night out longer.
Follow Me (work in progress)


“I do wish you could see your way clear to give Jill another chance, Son. I’m afraid she may need our help.”

Marsha West


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Smiles are free!

 

Or should be. A smile doesn’t have to be earned. Oh yes, some people make you work for them, but really? Why?

When a random smile can change someone’s day, why would anyone be stingy?

A few days ago, I happened to be sitting in a hospital’s physiotherapy gym, where several people were going through the exercises assigned to them, and one lady was learning how to take hard, hard steps with a walker. I was watching her progress and silently rooting for her–when I was supposed to be chatting with someone else–and when the lady with the walker looked up, I smiled in encouragement.

What had been a dour, or possibly sad face to that point suddenly lit up with a beautiful smile. She’s a stranger, one I’ll never likely see again, but my smile moved her, and hers moved me, and it cost neither one of us anything.

And it lasts. I’m smiling now as I write this, and I hope thinking of that moment brightens her day once in a while too.

So smile. It’s free, and they are so darned worth the tiny effort required!

And there’s a bonus too… when you smile, you can’t help but feel better, no matter how your day is going!


head shot from RWA14Kathryn Jane has yet another new book about to hit the shelves, this one is a Women’s Fiction, with twists and turns that will keep you turning pages and cheering for the characters while they pull themselves up by the boot straps…and the ending will make you cry happy tears!


KathrynJane_IntoTheSunrise_2500px

Soul-destroying questions and equally stunning answers have Dusty digging deeper than she ever thought possible, and when she discovers her Self in an entirely foreign landscape, she begins anew, more determined than ever to achieve her lifelong dream.

From shattered dreams to incredible joy.

To get the Special early-bird price of 2.99, just hop over to my website and sign up for the email newsletter, and you’ll receive a heads up when  the pre-order option becomes available.