Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Lines and First Bites

I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading of first lines lately. I have taken several workshops on Beginnings including Hooks, Lines and Sinkers with Lynette Labelle, Great Beginnings with Lynn Kerstan, and others. At a Margie Lawson workshop last month she spent time sighting examples of well-written first lines.

We all know how important that first line is to hook your potential reader, agent or editor, so I have become a collector of inspiring first lines.

And in keeping with the theme of this blog, my quest for publication and my quest to get to my wedding weight, I realized that first lines are a lot like first bites. The more delicious they are, the more I want. At least with books I can satisfy the craving without gaining weight.

I also read recently that all the taste of food is held in the first three bites. The idea being I should be able to stop after those three bites. Not as easy as it sounds.

Luckily with a tantalizing first line, first paragraph, and first page I don’t have to stop. I can keep reading, just as the author enticed me to.

So here are some samples of my favorite first lines. I hope they inspire you too.

Risk,Dick Francis
Thursday, March 17, I spent the morning in anxiety, the afternoon in ecstasy, and the evening unconscious.

Ten Big Ones,Janet Evanovich (2004)
The way I see it, life is a jelly doughnut.  You don’t really know what it’s about until you bite into it.  And then, just when you decide it’s good, you drop a big glob of jelly on your best T-shirt.

(I had to add two more bites (I mean lines) because they were so delicious.)

Lord Dragoner’s Wife, Lynn Kerstan
19 June, 1814
The house at Clichy, old and somewhat dilapidated, did not look to be the residence of the woman who had all of Paris at her feet.

Going Overboard, Christina Skye
Carolina Sullivan needed a man’s body desperately.

Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby
They had flown from England to Minneapolis to look at a toilet.

Fear No Evil by Allison Brennan (2007)
The sick and depraved had voted: death by stabbing.

Dangerous Deceptions, Lynn Kerstan
Jarrett, Lord Dering, rode his astonishing good luck the way he rode an enthusiastic woman.

Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler (2001)
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

The Spiral Path, Mary Jo Putney (2002)
The trouble with reality was that it was so dammed real.

Feel free to comment on your feelings concerning first lines and first bites.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sluggish Metabolism and Sleepy Muse

I know that to reach my two goals of being published and being at my wedding weight, I’m going to have to be disciplined. Saying NO to addictive (to me) carbs and NO to (watching the food channel) makes me soooooo hungry (go figure). I also know that if I keep doing certain positive behaviors, like getting on that treadmill every day. Like writing some new and fresh writing everyday, that after 21 days (or so) the positive behavior should become a positive habit.

So has this been happening for me? In some ways -- yes. But some days, getting on that treadmill is just as hard as day one. And facing the keyboard and my WIP is even harder than the first day.
So I have a developed a Plan B. Mix it up. Change things around.
Write in the evenings instead of first thing in the morning some days. Walk outside instead of on the treadmill some days. Try yoga. Write at the library. You get the idea.

But nowhere does my lifestyle require mixing it up more than my diet.

My body is extremely adaptive. I blame my ancestors for this. I can try to tell myself that it is a good thing my body can sustain itself on less calories than most. I would have survived the famines of yesteryear. But today, there is no famine. And this ability of my body to adapt and live on less is not so welcome.
So, when the scale gets stuck -- Plan B. I mix up the number of calories I have on different days. I mix up the types of foods I eat on certain days. I even mix up the times I eat. I know I need to keep my metabolism guessing.

And I have found that I need to keep my writing motivation and my muse guessing too. Instead of working away on first draft for months until completed. Or revisions for weeks until I know the text by heart, I now mix it up. A little of this, a little of that. Some revision today. Some first draft. Some plotting on a new idea. How about a little work on a short story? I know other writers who play with different genres to keep the motivation from stagnating and muse from hiding.

Now I don’t let this mixing it up stall me into never finishing anything. As I get close to completion I will put the other projects aside and finish. I enjoy that sense of completion, even if it’s just one step of a project. But then when I am done with that step, or get stuck, Plan B - mix it up again.

My Plan B may not work for everyone, but it seems to be working for both my weight loss and my writing.

How about you? Do you mix it up and how?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's All About the Baby Steps

My Road to Publication has not been a simple, straight line.  And neither has my road to weight loss.  As you know these are my two goals.

But today, in the spirit of celebrating all the small victories on the way to dreams,  I present the link to my first published piece.

Even though it is only a magazine.  Online.  And for kids.  I was paid!

As was stressed in the movie  What About Bob  it's all about the baby steps.  So hopefully this is the first  of many successful baby steps on the way to my publication goal.

I owe it all to what I've learned through RWA, FFNP, Savvy Authors, Children's Writers, Just Write and the many, many blogs, links, chats and forums I've visited.

So thank you everyone.  Have a glass of bubbly with me.

Mine will be diet soda.  After all I'm still working on my other goal, getting to my wedding weight.

Feel free to comment on your baby steps, your small victories, and even how you celebrate.