Once Upon a Time

There are any number of reasons why we choose the books that will land on our reading piles.  Personally, I love first lines.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night …

A great first line doesn’t guarantee that what follows will be a a great book, but it does make me optimistic. And although I’ve never actually bought a book because of an intriguing opening sentence, it helps.  A lot.  Because if I find myself intrigued by those very first words an author puts on the page, then I’m likely to read the first paragraph. Hum…still good?  Okay, now I’m in for at least another couple pages, at which point I’m most often ready to make the commitment as to whether said book is coming home with me, or maybe going into my online shopping cart for later.


“We can’t believe the house is on fire.”  That first line, from the novel, In Zanesville, caught my interest. (The second line is even better-It’s so embarassing first of all, and so dangerous second of all.)  It was enough to get me reading further, and then to buy the book. For an author, that’s pretty much the plan.

Yes, you’re absolutely right, a genius opening  line can go bad soon enough if the story falls apart at any point beyond that gorgeous First Line. But that’s a topic for another post. The focus here is the grand attempt to grow a beautiful garden from that first planted seed. It’s about a first line that catches attention and holds on. A line that at it’s best, intrigues, raises curiosity, sets  a mood, or is just quirky or odd enough that it’s impossible to resist.


 “Call me Ishmael,” sometimes we even know the first line better than the rest of the book. (Yes, yes, I know, something about a whale.)  For a reader, that’s the stuff that will help you win at Trivial Pursuit, but for a writer the goal is more about creating a story and characters that are recalled long after the last page is turned. And a stellar opening, is or course, pretty much the place to get it all started.


This is the opening of my debut novel:   “Maybe it’s the raw brilliance of the pale white moon suspended in a hard black sky that somehow makes everything about this night feel harsher”.   The Secret of Lies

This from my current WIP: Sometimes just looking at him breaks my heart.”   Untiltled

Okay, your turn. What’da’ya got? Come on, lets see your stuff ! If not your own, than something from the tip of someone else’s pen that you just happen to love like crazy.



You Are What You Read






This year it’s been long cold days without snow. Christmas has come and gone, and what remains is a New Year, New Plans & Goal’s, and oh yeah, a Gorgeous, teetering pile of shiny new books.

The gift of a book is a wonderful thing. An Amazon gift-card a delight. A used bookstore around the corner, a constant temptation…And so I present my newly acquired and beautiful pile.


*Are You There Blog, It’s Me Writer, by Kristen Lamb

*We Are Not Alone, The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, by Kristen Lamb

-As a regular reader of Kristen’s Blog, I expected her books would be the perfect companions to her online WANA course that I am currently taking (and LOVING), and I haven’t been disappointed. Kristen’s blog posts rate consistently high amongst my favorites, and her books are equally terrific. Humorous and incredibly wise. I’m nearly finished reading, Are you There Blog, and no question, I’m rating this a 5* book.

*Failing Forward, by John C. Maxwell

-This one was mentioned in Kristen’s book and easily piqued my interest. Click–into my Amazon cart it went.

*Uncertainty, Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance, by Jonathan Fields

-Gushingly recommended by a writer friend.

The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Edition, Second Catholic Edition, Ingnatius.

-Although I already own several different translations of The Holy Bible, I didn’t have this one, which is used by nearly everyone in my weekly Bible study. The Cadillac of Bibles, according to friends who own it.

Mother Teresa, No Greater Love , The Most Accessible and Inspirational Collection of Her teachings Ever Published

-An incredible human being. I’ve read excerpts of Mother Teresa’s writings here and there, and have always found myself to be deeply affected.  I found this book at the used book store and nearly gave myself wrist-lash, snatching this volume off the shelf.

Pope John Paul II, An Intimate Life, The Pope I Knew So Well, by Caroline Pigozzi

-Beautiful man and his writings are some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever read. Another “grab it off the shelf ” book.

Hudson Valley Ruins, Forgotten Landmarks of An American Landscape, by Rinaldi & Yasinaac

-Urban Exploration”, one of my guilty pleasures. I adore vintage architecture and abandoned buildings, and this book features properties in and around my hometown. (The background and header of this blog are in fact images I photographed while poking about one of the places featured in this very book. (Nuff said. As further information could lead to  incarceration.)

Fear, A Ghost Hunter’s Story, by Kriss Stephens

-True ghost stories–spooky!

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

-This novel was highly recommended by a reviewer who happened to write a gorgeous 5* review of my own novel, so I figured she has very good taste 🙂

In Zanesville, by Jo Ann Beard

-I caught a mention of this novel in a blog I was reading and something about it piqued my interest enough to pop over to read an excerpt on Amazon. After which I promptly “clicked” this volume into my cart.

Scout, Atticus & Boo, A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Mary McDonagh Murphy

-This was a gift from one of my children, who grew up knowing being lectured that To Kill a Mockingbird is her mother’s all time FAVORITE book. 


No question, the books I consume speak volumes (pun mostly intended) about the person I am. So what about you? If I crept into your house and looked at the tome nested next to the spare roll on the toilet tank, pursued the stack piled on the floor next to your bed, or clicked on your eReader, what I learn about you?