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!)
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.
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.(Don't Expect Magic, Kathy McCullough, Fantasy/Paranormal)
'I want to know who you are ... your essence ..., your, your thing ...,' he says, his voice cryptic, trailing off."
"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."
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/
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.
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.
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.