Sunday, December 4, 2016

How to Hook your Readers with the First Sentence



I read to escape reality. What about you? 

I love getting lost in another world and meeting new people. I can’t help but fall in love with the main love interests in the books I read (Four, is my favorite). I often find myself thinking about these characters as if they're real people I know. I wonder what they could be up to now… weeks after I’ve read the story. 

Don’t get me wrong, not all books leave this lasting impression on me. But oh my when one does… I can’t even begin to explain the emotions. How can anyone hate reading? 

I actually have the answer to that question. They haven’t found their book. I honestly believe there's a book for everyone. And I truly believe some books were not made for certain people. I’ve even told people who asked to read one of my books, “Oh, it’s not right for you.” – Disclaimer: I’ve only said this to people I know well. And I still admonish them to purchase it for someone else they know who loves to read. 

One of the methods I employ to see if I’ll like a book is, reading the first paragraph. Yes. That’s right. I read the first paragraph. If there’s something good in the first few sentences, I’ll continue on. If not, I put the book down. The only time I make an exception is when I already love the author’s other works. 

I know that what I’m suggesting is a tall order. But grabbing the reader’s attention on page one, paragraph one is possible. What am I looking for in those first couple of sentence? What is it about that first word, sentence, paragraph, that makes you feel you can’t put the story down?  While there is no scientific method for hooking a reader, there are some tricks you can employ to aid in your readers being unable to put your book down. 

One specific tool you can use: Mystery.

I want to feel like something is going on and I need to find out what. I want to feel like I’m going to miss out on something big if I don’t keep reading. I want that first page to produce a slew of questions that forces me to keep reading. 

Mystery. That’s it in a nutshell. Instinctively, we're all nosy. We all want to know the why, the how, the when, and the where… Reading a great opening hook should make you salivate for the rest of the story, not feel tired, and put the book down. 

Here are some of my favorite opening lines from YA books (I write YA so I always refer to YA): 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman – “Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.” --- What snow? What is ‘it’? An accident? Did someone get hurt? Who got hurt? Did they die? 

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi – “I’ve been locked up for 264 days.” – Who locked you up? Why have you been locked up so long? Where are you locked up? Where are your parents? What did you do? 

Divergent by Veronica Roth – “There is one mirror in my house.” – Why is there one mirror in your house? Why is this something that is important? Where is this mirror? Where are the other mirrors? Is it bad for you took look in the mirror? Why would it be bad to do that? 

Witch and Wizard The Gift by James Patterson – “Listen to me.” – Are you in danger? Why should I listen to you? What’s about to happen? Is something bad about to happen? 

Finding Me by Dawn Brazil  - “One of the weirdest days of my existence began with a kiss.” – Why is the day so weird? Why did the day start with a kiss? Was the kiss weird? Who did you kiss? Why did you use the word, existence? 

Mass Hysteria (unpublished) by Dawn Brazil – “I time my laugh so it sounds just right rolling from my lips.” Are you forcing a laugh? Why are you forcing a laugh? Do you not feel comfortable where you’re at? Are you trying to impress someone? Are you not comfortable in your own skin? Do you often pretend? 

Do you see the questions produced from just one sentence from every book? Just think if I had used the first paragraphs. If you can do this with your opening line then I think you're on to something. Maybe you have questions raised but are they the right questions. Evaluate your opening line and see if it stands up to the test before you give it to readers. 



Read a book. Have a great day and smile. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

CRAFTING A KILLER OPENING TO YOUR NOVEL



As I revise my current Work in Progress, I’m paying close attention to the first ten pages. Why? Most agents I’ve looked up want to see the first ten pages – some want more. There’s one big agent I have my heart set on – she wants ten. The drafting process isn't hard for me. I'm not a complete pantser. I outline every story beforehand but I deviate from the outline as I go. 

Revising and editing, however, is hard for me. As it probably is for every writer that is willing to put in the work to craft a story that is worth 6 hours (or more) of your reader's time.  

What am I doing to ensure those first pages are written as tight and clean as possible? What am I doing to ensure there is enough in these pages to keep her reading? What am I doing to ensure she feels that all-important connection to my main character?



Here’s a list things I’ve done to improve my manuscript with the above key elements in mind:

Start with a hook – a hook doesn’t have to be gimmicky. It has to draw the reader in. It has to make a statement that this story is worth reading. It has to make the reader want to read on. It has to make them ask a question – Why did that happen? How did that happen? When did that happen? What just happened? If you can do that, you’ve hooked the reader.

Introduce your main character- in the first ten pages your reader should have an understanding of who your MC is. They might not know everything there is about the character (they should NOT know everything about the character at this point. It’s too soon) but they should have a sense of who this person is and whether they like them or can root for them in the story.  – A quick aside – The reader does not have to like your main character but they do have to root for the main character. If they are unable to root for them to win, there is no investment in the story. They won’t care if you have Samantha get hit by an Ice Cream truck and lose both her legs while crossing the street. They’ll shrug at best and at worst, they’ll put your book down.

Present a problem – if you haven’t hinted at some type of drama in the first ten pages, I won’t keep reading. I need to know that something is going to happen to this person that I really like and I want to see how this person solves/or comes through it. You don’t have to present every issue in the first ten pages though. But you must show the reader that not all is perfect in the MC’s world.

Show, Don’t tell – I know this piece of advice is everywhere. But it is the absolute truth. Nothing pulls me out of a story quicker than the author talking to me. Let the characters move the story forward with dialogue. There’s going to be times when you have to tell and not show but choose those instances wisely. Engage the five senses in your scenes to help with the showing.

No info dumping - There shouldn’t be huge chunks of prose about what happened before the story started. Or don’t try to explain who a character is through giant clumps of exposition. Weave the backstory into the manuscript organically – through dialogue, or character action. I know this can be difficult, especially for fantasy and science fiction writers, because you have to build worlds and explain how those worlds work. I know. I write Young Adult science fiction and fantasy. If I can do it, you can to.


This list isn’t all encompassing. There are other things to look for but these are the key elements I’m looking to hone. These are the things I’ve been working to perfect in my manuscript. I’ll dive into each area in depth in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.



Have a great day. Read a book and smile!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

THE FIRST TEN PAGES




I've been doing a lot of thinking about my current WIP. Thinking about how I would like to publish it. Do I really want to go the route of self-publishing again. I could look for another publisher. But what if they fold like my last one? The questions are endless.

So, for the first time in a long time, I'm thinking about re-entering the slush pile. I literally just heard someone groan. Or maybe that was me. Yeah, it's not the nicest of thoughts I've had regarding this book. But its probably one I've been entertaining the most these days. It's not a terrible thing to get an agent and work with a publisher. Nope. Not at all. It's the sting of rejection that I'm not looking forward to.

Why would I give up the creative freedom I have as an Indie author? Why would I want the tense restrictions that come with this type of publication? Will I be okay with not publishing for two or more years? The questions are truly endless but the answer is simple. I'm struggling doing it alone.

Okay, so to be fair, I didn't exactly do it on my own. I had a cover designer - who I had to pay. I had an editor - who I still have to pay. I have marketing expenses that I have to pay for... I think it's sinking in now. Right? It was all too much. With very little in return. I. Need. Help.





So, I'm at the point where I'm seriously considering the slush pile. If I find an agent, I might land a big publisher. I know it's a long shot. If it doesn't pan out, I'll self publish the book. No harm, no foul.

See the thing is, I really love this book. This is the first book I ever wrote. I let it sit for years and worked on other things. But these characters are with me. I love their story. It deserves more recognition than my pocket book and time will allow.

So, yeah, I have a few agents I'm going to query. What are they looking for: the first 10 pages.



My next post will discuss what I've done to whip my 10 pages (and entire novel) into shape. I better get to it.




Have a great day! Read a book and laugh.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Study, Study, Study, and then Study More



I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today. Until I started writing. And thinking. It’s been a while since I updated the blog but I’ve been keeping busy. And that’s what I’m going to talk about.

I’m in the throes of some heavy editing. The story is a YA sci-fi and there’s a ton of romance. Honestly, I cringe when I write romance. It’s hard for me. I always think it sounds cheesy. So how do I combat the uneasy feeling that creeps across me whenever I have to write a kissing scene? I study. A lot.

I scour the Internet for hours on end looking for information about my current lovey dovey topic. Yeah, right. I don’t have time to do that. And if your schedule is like mine, you don’t either. So what do I do?
I use Pinterest.



There are literally thousands of articles on Pinterest about the craft of writing. But it’s not just ‘this is how you write your book.’ Nope. There’s some extremely detailed articles. Here’s just a sampling of some of the things I’ve researched and found multiple articles on:

  • How to make the reader cry?  --- Yes, I want my readers to bawl when one of my MC’s die
  • How to write for the YA audience?  -- Uh, because I write YA.
  • Writing the first kiss? ---in a YA story this is uber important (in most stories, actually)
  • How to revise like a pro?  ---- I took my current WIP from past tense to present. I. Wanted. To. Die. Never again… unless I absolutely have to.
  • How to structure scenes? ---- Of course, because everything has to flow. Right?

  
It is so important to continue to learn your craft and then evolve. Never lose the thirst for knowledge. There is always room for improvement... {insert another inspirational quote here}

What’s your go to site for writer related information? If you don’t already follow me, you should be. I’m pinning away as Dawn Brazil. Follow me. 




Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Average Daydreamer by Anita Kovacevic



THE BLURB

Priscilla is happy being a successful, single, business woman. Or is she?
With her best friend's wedding approaching, she finds herself constantly daydreaming about romance with perfect men - doctors, firemen, secret agents, sexy chefs. Aiming for perfection, she tries to ignore an ordinary guy she sees every day and makes her feel... something.

When perfection finally comes, she finds herself torn between her dreams and the reality. Perhaps dreamy perfection is just not something that ticks all her boxes. Are couples supposed to be perfect or are average relationships the stuff of life?

SNEAK PEEK from Chapter 1 – NO BORDERS


'Bam!'

A bomb goes off near the hospital shelter and I cover my ears with blood-crusted hands. It doesn't deafen the noise of the battle, but it comforts me for a second. I peek through a crevice on the heavy metal door. I manage to discern Dr Bronson's silhouette through the flashes of guns, fire blazing around and clouds of wind-swept ashes masking the horrors of war. 

His muscular torso rises from a pile of smouldering planks, piles of broken furniture pieces, and dead bodies.

The other nurses and the children behind me are all crouching in the farthest corner, crying and comforting each other, already giving up on Dr Bronson. But I know he'll make it! 
I watch as he rises from the tragic scene like a phoenix. He starts to move towards the shelter. Towards me! I know he knows I will not give up on him. He knows I'll wait. We've been through so much these past few months in Medics without Borders, and we rely on each other without reserve. 
His strong arms are tired but he still manages to pick up and carry a child, a wounded boy, dodging bullets and moving towards me, unswayed. 

Ten steps more… seven steps… 

Guns blaze again, louder than before. He falls! Half-blinded by the flash, I see him falter. My heart feels as if a samurai sword slashed it in two… I hear nothing else. My breathing gets so loud and deep that it muffles the war and the nurses who are trying to hold me back.
My hands open the shelter door and I run outside, desperate and fearless with love. 
Dr Bronson's body lies on the ground, lifeless and not moving, like an impenetrable shield over the child's body. 

My heart skips a beat, but then I hear a faint breath.

Dr Bronson lifts his head and our eyes lock. Oh relief!

When our arms intertwine, our breathing is in sync. He rises, resting on my shoulder for support. His leg is badly injured, but he still won't leave the boy. Together, we carry the child back to safety, through the wind-swept ashes and the mind-numbing noise…

***
Three months later, in our beach lodge on a secluded tropical isle, I place the breakfast tray on the white bedstand. He is still sleeping, arms stretched across both pillows, face rested and his full lips forming a sexy smile. 

My Dr Bronson!

Ocean waves gently caress the sandy shore as I remove the immaculate, semi-transparent curtains from the wall-to-wall windows.

I hear his breathing change. His husky voice calls to me.

'Good morning, Mrs Bronson!'

I turn around, proud and in love, my bare feet savouring the deep, fluffy white carpet. 
Oh what a heavenly man! And all mine. 

He stretches like a powerful tiger across the white sheets and his naked body makes me tremble. The mischief in his eyes is irresistible! My lips quiver and my knees feel like jelly. My thumb strokes the wedding ring from the inside of my palm.

I smile, conveying to him everything he already knows and feels himself, and more. My throat goes dry as I feel myself pulled to his muscular torso like a magnet. 

He taps the bed gently. My tongue draws a wet layer over my lips. 

I can't wait. I step forward and…

'Thump,' I fell from the tram seat, my face gluing itself flat on the floor, next to a set of smelly, overworn sneakers, my hands too busy clutching on to my purse instead of protecting the face.
Reality check! A major one! 

I spit the filth and drool from my mouth, and struggled to unglue my forehead from the floor.

Where to Purchase

The eBook and paperback have been published via Lulu.com:



About the Author

Anita Kovacevic is a multi genre author and teacher. She teaches English as a second language and is a firm believer in storytelling. All of her children's books (Winky's Colours, The Good Pirate and Mimi Finds Her Magic) contain positive messages for children and adults who read with them. As a member of an international teaching community, Anita has also contributed to the worldwide charity anti-bullying e-book Inner Giant, which features some of her YA short stories, essays, illustrations and poems.

Anita also writes adult fiction. Her novella The Threshold is available on major purchase sites, and her story contributions are featured in these anthologies: Awethology Light, The December Awethology and Twisted Tales. 

Working on several children's stories, and editing her adult novels and stories, she always has several projects on the go. She interviews authors and reviews books of various genres on her WordPress blog. In her free time, she loves reading, writing songs, drawing and, as her son eloquently puts it, 'creating stuff from nothing'. Anita lives with her husband and two children in Croatia.

Contact links:



TWITTER @Anitas_haven 

INSTAGRAM anitas.haven

LuLu 

Blog 


Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Double Cover Reveal: Enlighten Me and Becoming Me (Part 2)

I know what you're here for...

And here is the cover for Enlighten Me

































And here is the cover for Becoming Me... 





Both covers were designed by Yosbe of Yosbe Designs. I love them so much!!! Look for both books on July 28th. 


Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Double Cover Reveal: Enlighten Me and Becoming Me (Part 1)



I know most authors will scour the internet for blogs and other authors to help them host a reveal party. They spend hours...weeks, dedicated to revealing the cover of their books to the public. 


I know. I was one of those authors once upon a time. 

It can take weeks to set them up and be just as hurtful as submitting to the slush pile. You enter into the whole rejection situation again because not everyone cares about revealing the cover to your new book. Some blogs won't even reply with a yes or no. And I understand why they don't when they receive 300 requests in one day. They have to manage their time, too.

Am I saying this because I'm bitter. Absolutely not. I've consciously chosen to forego all the hoopla with my reveal because I personally don't have time for it. I work full time and have a family to attend to. I have to be wise with my time. It's a precious commodity. 

Truthfully though, at first, I was ashamed. I felt like I was doing this all wrong. Everyone has official cover reveals. Right? They contact those event sites and hire them to do all the work. They make a big fuss, do Thunder Clap promotions, and all that to announce they have a book releasing soon.

Well, I decided to go against tradition. I'm not hiring anyone to do anything. I'm not rich and I'd rather invest my money into the cover themselves, or the editing, or the formatting. Sure, I know that eventually, I'll spend money on some form of marketing (I've actually got a written plan) but I just don't feel like it's necessary to do so now. 

Sometimes, people in this industry can be bullies. They bully authors into believing their books, their life's work, will not be successful unless they do XYZ like everyone else. Listen up authors, you don't have to conform to be successful. Do what you want. 

Think out of the box. The most successful authors are probably those that take risk and go against the grain anyway. 

I think the biggest reason I've decided against all that is, I want to write. I love it so much. This passion that explodes out of me and makes me crazy gets put off constantly. You know when I'm at my craziest? When I can't do what I love. I want to write. I'm a writer. But every time I get pulled away from writing to work on the business side it sucks. Yes, I know that's just par for the course with Indie Authors. Maybe if my books start to earn well, I'll start to contact a site to host an event for me. Until then...

I'll reveal both covers tomorrow here at my blog. 


Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Trailer for Finding Me




Yay! I'm so excited to share my book trailer for Finding Me with everyone. I created it myself and I must admit it was incredibly time consuming. I hope everyone likes this because I don't think I can make another one. I have a new profound respect for people that do this. It was time consuming and more than once I wanted to throw my keyboard across the room. 

But I didn't. I survived and hopefully, someone will appreciate the hard work I put into this. Or just say they do out of sympathy. 




Finding Me can be purchased at:

Amazon 
Barnes and Noble
I Tunes
Kobo 


Have a good day. Read a book and laugh! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth


I loved this book.

I've owned this book for years and have over looked it countless times in pursuit of other reads. I'm not entirely certain what caused me to pick it up this time but I'm thrilled that I did. It had languished untouched on my bookshelf for far too long.

This story grabbed my attention from page one and never let up.

It is told from the 1st person perspective of Mary. Okay, if I had to complain about anything, it was the main characters name. It was so plain. But then again, the story is a Dystopian and the village that the main character lives in is overtly religious. So, maybe, it was planned that way by the author. Aside from the name, I can't find one negative criticism of the story.

The pacing, plot, romance...all are treated equally well. It was a quick read... because I had to find out what was happening. There is a bit of a love triangle but it is not the typical triangle. I didn't throw the book across the room in frustration at this one. You'll just have to read to find out what I mean because I'm not divulging any key details.

One thing, in particular, that stood out to me was the main love interest. I love the treatment of this character by the author. It was refreshing and made me rethink how I had written a character in one of my Works in Progress.

The book is YA dystopian/fantasy and I think it will appeal to many readers. I highly recommend it!


Have a great day. Read a book and smile.


Friday, June 24, 2016

My Top Five YA Reads of All Time



I love to read. I know, tell you something you didn't know. 

I've read far and wide but continually return to one specific type of book: Young Adult. I love the fresh experiences, the angst of first love, and I can forgive the MC's stupidity because she/he doesn't know better yet. 

I sat down to rank my fav books and this was incredibly difficult. But not impossible. So, the first book on this list is, as I write this post, my fav YA book of all time. They are listed below in order of how awesome they are (at least to me). Be warned, this is not a popularity generated list. These are my personal favorites: 


Fire Country by  David Estes 

This is one of the most original stories I’ve ever read. I tell people about it whenever they ask me about a book to read that's YA. This entire series by Estes is brilliant but this book, in particular, is absolutely awesome. The characters are each unique, the plot is outstanding (keeping me on the edge until the very end). The book is written in a future dystopian society that uses words much different than us. I found myself saying the words in my every day speech. This is without a doubt my favorite book of all time. I laughed, wanted to cry, and jumped for joy… Yeah, it was really that great.

Mara Dyer Trilogy  Michelle Hodkin 

Yes, I meant to write the entire trilogy. It’s rare that I absolutely love each book in a series so much. This. Trilogy. Is. The. One. It has all of the things I love in the books I read: memorable characters, an intriguing plot, and an ending that you can't predict but love so much you wish you had written it. This is the true story of Mara Dyer – but wait, that’s not her real name. You’re given that at the beginning of the first book and the riddles just keep piling up. You get answers, then more questions abound. It’s confusing and frustrating and I loved every agonizing moment that I tried to figure out what was Mara’s deal. It didn’t hurt that Noah, the love interest, was written as equally intriguing as Mara and swoon worthy.

Shatter Me by  Tahereh Mafi  

This book was poetic. I loved how the author crossed out words to show how the main character, Juliet, would say one thing but think something else altogether. I loved her way around words, she phrased things in new and exciting ways…not using old clichés. I fell in love with Adam just as Juliet did… and then… I won’t spoil it but if you haven’t read this story, shame on you. 

Hollowland by  Amanda Hocking 

This book was action from the beginning to the end. I read this it many years ago and every couple of months I check to see if there is a third book. There isn’t as I write this post. I enjoyed the fast pace of the story, I loved the main character. She was totally kickin butt – zombie butt that is.


The Super Villain Handbook  by King Oblivion 


Oh gosh, what can I say about this book. It’s a joke, and informative, and a real villain handbook all in one. I can’t properly describe it except to say that no, it’s not a novel. Each chapter is packed with info on different types of villains. Anything you ever wanted to know about them are in this book…and I do mean anything. But most importantly, it’s written hilariously.

What's your favorite YA read? Did you hate any on this list? 






Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.