Tuesday, September 18, 2012

21 First Lines Rewrite Contest with Agent Natalie Lakosil

I'm very excited to announce an agent-judged contest and a great learning opportunity with a fantastic agent who is willing to give us all a big chunk of her time. Say thank you to the fabulous Natalie Fischer Lakosil from the Laura Bradford Agency, everyone!

And Now for the Contest

Ideally, the first few lines tell us a lot about the book we are about to read. They are our invitation to go on an adventure, a thrill ride, a steamy romp of a romance. They are also part of our bargain with our readers, our way of saying: this is what kind of a book I'm going to offer you. In last week's post, I went through some great tips about concept from some of my favorite craft book authors, and one of the best tips is to get your concept on the page as fast as you can.

In that spirit, let's give it a try. How well can you convey a concept in just the opening lines of a book?

But in case you think that's too easy--here's the kicker. You have to start with one of the ten books Natalie and I have chosen, and then twist it from one genre to another. If it's a paranormal, twist it into horror, or comedy, or a spy thriller, whatever. Change up the beginning and have some fun with it. See how creative you can be!

You have a week to get your entries in. Just put them here in the comments on this post. Come on, be brave! We'll post the winner in two weeks, and I have a prize pack of the whole Amanda Hocking TRYLLE trilogy for the winner. (See the bottom of the post for blurbs and covers! Amana is an indie sensation who sold millions of copies worldwide before being scooped up by St. Martin's Griffin because she knows how to hook a reader and twist a concept. (MANY thanks to St. Martin's for the prize pack!)


Eligible Books

What's Left of Me, Kat Zhang, Dystopian
"Addie and I were born into the same body, our souls' ghostly fingers entwined before we gasped our very first breath. Our earliest years together were also our happiest. Then came the worries--the tightness around our parents' mouths, the frowns lining our kindergarten teacher's forehead, the question everyone whispered when they thought we couldn't hear."

Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake, Paranormal
"The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway—no pun intended.

So is the loose and faded leather coat, though not as much that as the sideburns. And the way he keeps nodding and flicking his Zippo open and closed in rhythm with his head."

The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater, Fantasy
"It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn sea is all the colors of the night: dark blue and black and brown. I watch the ever-changing patterns in the sand as it’s pummeled by countless hooves."

The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson, Contemporary Romance w/ Elements of Magical Realism
"Gram is worried about me. It’s not just because my sister Bailey died four weeks ago, or because my mother hasn’t contacted me in sixteen years, or even because suddenly all I think about is sex. She is worried about me because one of her houseplants has spots."

Divergent, Veronica Roth, Dystopian
"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."

The Wood Queen, Karen Mahoney, Fantasy/Paranormal
"Donna sat up straight in her chair and tried not to look as though the last half-hour hadn't already nailed up her coffin good and tight. Listening to Simon Gaunt drone on as he listed her 'crimes' was almost as bad as being forced to listen to a lecture on Hermetic literature.

Almost."

Happy Families, Tanita S. Davis, Contemporary/GLBT
"The Surge of chattering, pointing, gawking people pours into the massive auditorium, and I feel a shiver crawl up my arms. Rather than stand here, watching the watchers, I'm going to do some torchwork.

There's a table set up at the back of mu booth, covered with a square of galvenized metal and lit with a desk lamp."

The Sharp Time, Mary O'Connell, Contemporary
"Anyone can tell that the pretentious ass who runs the Pale Circus fancies himself an artiste of sorts: a purveyor of poplin and mohair, an architect of nostalgia. A man of his station can't be bothered with the workaday minutiae of references and social security numbers, and so instead of regular xeroxed job application, he gives me a Big Chief tablet and a handful of pastel-colored pencils.

'I want to know who you are ... your essence ..., your, your thing ...,' he says, his voice cryptic, trailing off."
(Don't Expect Magic, Kathy McCullough, Fantasy/Paranormal)
"Of course I'm cursed with the most uncomfortable seat on the plane. The cushion's deflated in this bizarrely lopsided way, like somebody with one butt cheek exponentially bigger than the other sat there before me and crushed it. My overhead light's burned out and the bald guy in front of me dropped his diet Dr Pepper, splashing sticky soda all over my backpack, which I had wedged under the seat."

Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore, Fantasy
"When he grabs Mama’s wrist and yanks her toward the wall-hanging like that, it must hurt. Mama doesn't cry out. She tries to hide her pain from him, but she looks back at me, and in her face, she shows everything she feels."


About Natalie

Natalie is an agent and Laura’s assistant at the Bradford Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. After nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a brief dabble in writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune, Natalie joined the Bradford Agency in February of 2011.
Her interests include talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook.

Her specialty is commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), upmarket women’s fiction and select nonfiction. Specific likes include historical, multi-cultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, good grammar, and fantastical, engaging and sexy plots.

Agency Website: http://www.bradfordlit.com/about/natalie-fischer-lakosil/
Blog: www.adventuresinagentland.blogspot.com
Twitter @Natalie_Lakosil


Prizes


SWITCHED

by Amanda Hocking


When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

Wendy's about to journey into a magical world she never knew existed, one that's both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she's meant to become.



TORN

by Amanda Hocking


When Wendy Everly first discovered the truth about herself--that she's a changeling switched at birth--she knew her life would never be the same. Now she's about to learn that there's more to the story.... Wendy shares a closer connection to her Vittra rivals than she ever imagined--and they'll stop at nothing to lure her to their side. With the threat of war looming, her only hope of saving the Trylle is to master her magical powers and marry an equally powerful royal. But that means walking away from Finn, her handsome bodyguard who's strictly off-limits...and Loki, a Vittra prince with whom she shares a growing attraction.

Torn between her heart and her people, between love and duty, Wendy must decide her fate. If she makes the wrong choice, she could lose everything--and everybody--she's ever wanted...in both worlds.

ASCEND

by Amanda Hocking


Wendy Everly is facing an impossible choice. The only way to save the Trylle from their deadliest enemy is by sacrificing herself. If she doesn’t surrender to the Vittra, her people will be thrust into a brutal war against an unbeatable foe. But how can Wendy leave all her friends behind…even if it’s the only way to save them?

The stakes have never been higher, because her kingdom isn’t the only thing she stands to lose. After falling for both Finn and Loki, she’s about to make the ultimate choice…who to love forever. One guy has finally proven to be the love of her life—and now all their lives might be coming to an end.

Everything has been leading to this moment. The future of her entire world rests in her hands—if she’s ready to fight for it.



21 comments:

  1. Yeah, so Natalie is just awesome! I'll tweet for you.

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  2. So cool! Thanks for this opportunity!

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  3. "It is the first day of November and so, today, I find a body washed up on the shore.

    Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn sea is all the colors of the night: dark blue and black and brown, just like the bruises around the dead woman's neck. I examine the patterns in the sand around her where it’s pummeled by countless hooves."

    Apologies to Maggie Stiefvater... I loved this book BTW.

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  4. YA contemporary, with apologies in advance:

    It is the first day of April, and so, today, someone will be seriously perturbed.

    Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn sea serves as the perfect misdirection. I laugh as I watch my arch-nemesis flee like the frightened bully she is, pummeled by countless swoops of my dragon kite.

    "April fools and no givsies backsies!". Sometimes friendship begins with a dash of state-sanctioned revenge.

    :)

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  5. P. S. It is set in Australia where it is autumn in April and I blame auto-correct for the superfluous period.

    :)

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    Replies
    1. YA Contemporary - Humor (with much love to Anna Dressed in Blood and Kendare Blake)

      The grease slicked hair is a dead giveaway – no pun intended. So is the loose and faded leather coat, though not as much as the sideburns. When he walks past me in the hallway, it’s obvious the freshmen doing make-up really had a field day with this guy’s face. And the way he keeps nodding and flicking his Zippo open and closed in rhythm with his head makes it clear that Ralph is getting way too into this year’s musical. I roll my eyes – whoever had the idea to mix "Grease" with zombies really should have thought that one through a little more.
      **caught a typo so I edited haha**

      Delete
  7. Very cool contest!! Should be fun :)

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  8. YA Urban Fantasy

    There is only one mirror in my house, hiding behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. My mother forces me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day she renews the mind-binding spell. She doesn't know that I chanted the counter-charm in my room this morning.

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  9. Lilah Rune September 18, 2012 8:30 PM PST

    YA Thriller/Paranormal

    There are thousands of mirrors in my house. Every surface is covered so I see myself everywhere I turn and do not know which is the real me. My guardian said this is for my protection.

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  10. Divergent twisted from Dystopian to Paranormal

    There is only one mirror in my house. It's stationed in the center of our living room and covered by a delicate gold fabric. My mother forces me to stand in front of this mirror every morning. She wants to know what the day will bring. She wants to know if this will be the day my father returns from the war.

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  11. Couldn't resist throwing one in myself. Natalie, feel free to ignore me. And yes, aplogies to Mary O'Connell, because this is most assuredly not what she had in mind.

    From contemporary to paranormal Zombie dystopian:

    "Anyone can tell that the pretentious ass who runs the Pale Circus fancies himself an artiste of sorts: a purveyor of magic and parts, an architect of reconstruction. A man of his station can't be bothered with the workaday minutiae of worker zombies, and so instead of standard models with two arms, two legs, and two pale, dull-witted eyes, he gives me a Big Chief tablet and a handful of pastel-colored pencils.

    'I want to know who you need ... the essential roles and duties ..., your, dream helpmate ...,' he says, his voice cryptic, trailing off."

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  12. my apologies to Karen Mahoney
    YA Contemporary

    Haylee sat up straight in her chair and tried not to look as though the last half-hour hadn't already bored her to tears. Listening to Simon Cowell drone on in the backgound as Mom listed her 'crimes' was almost as bad as being forced to listen to a lecture on the American Idol winners starting with Kelly Clarkson.

    Almost.

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  13. What's Left of Me-Twisted from Dystopian to Paranormal

    “Addie and I were born in the same body, two souls fighting for the power of one mind.” In the beginning, I was okay with following her lead. Doing the “right” thing seemed to get the most praise and the most smiles. It was about the sixth year that I began getting restless and came to understand what my purpose was. Addie was our vessel’s conscience; she orchestrated pure thoughts and voice of reason. I, on the under hand was temptation. Sure, at first it felt awful, placing bad thoughts into our vessels mind, but the more she resisted because of the help she was receiving from Addie, the more determined I became. When she tripped that dorky snot nosed kid in the hallway, I couldn’t have been prouder. Seeing frowns on the parent’s faces and disgust on the happy-go-lucky yahoo of a kindergarten teacher made my powers stronger. Addie believes she is going to help me see the era of my ways but I’m happy with my role. It’s Addie I feel sorry for, I got this kid right where she needs to be and I can assure you she’s going dark.

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  14. Many apologies to Veronica Roth.
    Divergent twisted to YA Paranormal.

    There is one mirror in my house. It is sealed behind a padlocked panel in the hallway upstairs. My mother insists I stand in front of it on the second day of every twelfth month. My birthday. The day she asks me if I still see the angels behind me in the glass.

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  15. Many apologies to Veronica Roth.
    Divergent twisted to YA Historical Humor

    There is one mirror in the house. It is in the king and queen's sleeping chambers. The queen insists I clean it each morning and bring it out so she can fawn over her appearance. If not for her clothes and made-up face, she is rather hideous to look upon. Every day, I expect the mirror to break when it reflects her. It never does.

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  16. This is fun.

    Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
    Paranormal Twisted to YA Humorous Fantasy/Adventure Story

    Everybody at Riverside knows each other from like the day they were born and here I come, Mr. Newb, who lives in a spook house. Yeah, that’s gonna win me friends real fast. Plus, I don’t exactly look like everyone else here. My wiry curls need to be tamed or I’d look like a stainless steel pot scrubber, thus copious amounts of hair gel. My grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway—no pun intended.

    Some guys look like TV models, every hair in perfect place like Tony Stark. Others have hair down to their shoulders, like girls, but they’re no girls. They wear leather jackets like Ghost Rider.
    I fall somewhere in-between the preppies and the jackets, more like Clark Kent in board shorts, right down to the long sideburns and thick black-framed glasses. Only my faded leather jacket is so loose it looks like I could hide Superman’s cape inside.

    And I pretend to be cool, nodding and flicking my Zippo lighter open and closed in rhythm with my head as I walk through the school parking lot, but if any of these guys ask for a light I’m dead, either that, or I’ll be spending eighth period in the cafeteria dumpster, my role of comic book superhero wannabe ending in tomato-splattered garbage, my own personal kryptonite.

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  17. Okay, here's The Sky is Everywhere - paranormal.

    The thick, sweet smell of Bailey’s Irish Crème seeps into the air like I could stick out my tongue and take a lick. Her favorite drink. Plants by the window shudder, their leaves twitching as her spirit passes. I shrink into my bed and leave one eye cracked. The night shimmers.

    I swear she reads my diary when I’m at school. I whisper, “No way, Gram. Nothing you can say will make me change my mind.”

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  18. DARK MOON
    YA Historical Fantasy

    The grime-covered girl lay on a dusty night road, fingers grappling at her bodice as though struggling to break its hold—to breathe.

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  19. YA Fantasy to YA Paranormal. Scorpio races.

    It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will undie.

    Even under the brightest sun, the frigid autumn Sea of Death is the color of deep, rich blood. I watch the ever-changing patterns in the clouds as it's pummeled by translucent, ghostly hooves.

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  20. My thanks to Maggie Stiefvater: The Scorpio Races, Fantasy transformed into MG sci-fi

    It is the first day of November and so, today, my new telescope is going to arrive, or someone will die.

    Even through the brightest sunlight, the myriad of different coloured stars is visible on a clear night: blue, bluish white, white, yellowish, white-yellow, orange, red and brown. With my new telescope, I'll watch as the motion of Earth, and its atmosphere, bends the rays of light from each star into ever-changing patterns in the sky.

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Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)