Thursday, March 29, 2012

Best Romance First Lines

As I work on rewriting my dreaded first chapter, I've struggled with my first page. Over and over, I've written those first paragraphs, and over and over I've erased them. How can I grab my readers interest? This is where my favorite authors come in. I've opened up my Kindle and reviewed their books...and reread my favorite first lines. I thought I'd share some with you as they are good reminders to me of what I want to do.

Every time the New England Patriots chalked one up in the win column, Kevin Kowalski got laid. - Undeniably Yours, Shannon Stacey

You got busy in the backseat of a '78 Ford Granand with Joseph Kowalski - only the most reclusive bestselling author since J.D. Salinger - and you don't think to tell me about it? -
Exclusively Yours, Shannon Stacey

One upon a time, Minerva Dobbs thought as she stood in the middle of a loud yuppie bar, the world was full of good men. -
Bet Me, Jennifer Crusie

I've never known anyone who was stood up for her own divorce before, Tina Savage told her sister. -
Getting Rid fo Bradley, Jennifer Crusie

There was nothing dignified about peeing on a stick. -
Unexpected Complication, Amy Knupp

Penny Jackson knew that it was probably wrong to be so excited to see her ex-husband come crawling back, but she was willing to live with the character flaw. Delicious, Susan Mallery

Why are these first lines good? It makes you want to read! But how do these authors do it? Do they work on them repeatedly or does it just come to them?

I continue to pound away at my keyboard, but I know I will get there. Just give me time....And for now, I will share my first paragraph. ******Drum roll please*****

Amanda’s priority for the evening did not include a night of playing hide-and-touch boy toys with her friends. However, her roommate’s birthday became somewhat of a ritual and she couldn’t back out. Plus, she had some exciting news to share.

There you have it!  It will probably change by tomorrow, but what do you think?

What are your favorite first lines?

Booking Through Thursday 3/29/12

Today is Booking Through Thursday. Each week a question related to reading is posted and bloggers answer on Thursdays. Click the link above to participate!

This week's question:
Are there any fictional characters whom you have emulated? What literary character do you feel is most like you personality-wise, and why?
What a difficult question! I often read books and wish I was like a character.  I mean, who doesn't want to be like Scarlett O'Hara? Or dare I say Katniss Everdeen?

One of my all-time favorite characters is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I love her feistiness and "pride." Despite her mother's need for her to marry, and the various proposals, she surges forward with the power and persistence of only marrying who she pleases. Thank God!

Then again, as I ponder, perhaps Elizabeth can be like me. I think of her quote: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”  I have to agree! Reading is my salvation! Now, if I could just work on that library.

But, I would have to say, I am most similar to Bridget in Bridget Jone's Diary. Doomed to be a little over weight, clumsy, and oh so sarcastic! I love her!

Happy reading!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday Tea 3/27/12

Tuesday's Tea - Grab a cup of tea (or coffee, or heck - a milkshake) and join me in book discussions or reviews. 

Today's review is about Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie.

Download book – Check
Read book – Check
Add Jennifer Crusie to one of my favorite author’s list – Check

My entire life, I have been a hard-core category romance reader. But, this past month I took a turn. Sure, I still love my Harlequin Super romance and Silhouette Special Edition authors, but move over cute and sweet Home and Family novels, and come to momma sassy and sexy contemporary romance! Jennifer Crusie has opened a new page in my romance reading era.

Jennifer Crusie has written contemporary romance for many years.  In fact, I picked up Crazy for You  in the past, but never kept reading (Why? I don't know.) After reading Bet Me over the weekend, I have found a new love for this funny author.

Bet Me is full of outrageous, but realistic characters. In fact, I’m not sure how Crusie keeps up with them all. No matter, all the characters are fantastic and have their own quirks. The female MC, Minerva, is an actuary who is known for being chubby. At first this threw me off, because most romance books are about skinny, size 2, good looking people. But, as I got to know Min, I learned that it was an even better reason to love her. The best part about Minerva was her sassy and sarcastic banter with the male MC, Cal. Cal is a good-looking player, who is not ready for commitment. He soon learns that he can’t stay away from Min, even when they both try their damndest to not see each other again.  Fate steps in and draws them together to form their own personal “fairytale.”  In the middle of all this destiny lays quirky characters that make me laugh and want to make friends with them myself.

All in all, I give Bet Me a 5*****, because there is nothing better than a page-turner with amusing characters, and a can’t- hide -from -love plot – even if Elvis Presley and Krispy Kreme is involved. 

Have you read Bet Me or other Jennifer Crusie books? I'm looking for my next to take on vacation with me. Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 3/25/12

Today is #sixsunday where published and non-published writers share six sentences from their work.  I will share 6 sentences from my finished Work-In-Progress Time Changes Everything. It's mighty hard to pick out six sentences, but here it goes.

Amanda kisses Jake to ward off her ex-boyfriend. Now Jake talks to her about it. 
       “I noticed you were a little afraid of him...” his smile grew, “...and that you like to kiss unsuspecting men.”

     “He’s intimidating. That’s all.” Amanda stepped away ignoring Jake’s last comment.

     Jake didn’t like the feeling of emptiness once she was out of his hold. Amanda rubbed her fingers on her forehead.

     She wasn’t going to admit that she liked that kiss. He wouldn’t let her forget.

Thanks for reading! To read Six Sentence Sunday from other writer's, click  the picture link at the top. Come back for more next week. See ya then!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunger Games and Hope

Yes! I admit it. I am a Hunger Games fanatic. Yes! I admit it. I am a middle-aged woman who screams at the sight of those cuties, Peeta and Gale. So what?

Are they beautiful or what?
I  began reading the trilogy in 2010, because as any good middle school teacher, I wanted to know what was "hot" in teenage reads. I read all the Harry Potter books and loved them, so I thought, "Hey, I can do the Hunger Games, too." Boy, am I glad. Suzanne Collins has done a fabulous job reigning in the teenagers. As with any book, the characters are what draw me in, and the main character, Katniss is someone to love. Her courage, her persistence, her drive. In the future, I hope I can write a story with a character as strong as she. In fact, I  plan on doing it.

Anyway, after finishing the books in December 2010, I heard there was a movie coming out. I always enjoy seeing books I've read on the bigscreen and comparing what I visualize in my head. In fact, there are many books that I have enjoyed and many others that I haven't, because nothing is better than what you visualize yourself. I hope I will create such fabulous stories that they'll all turn into blockbuster movies one day. Yeah, I could be the next Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steele.

Too many teenagers in the theatre!
Last night, I took my two oldest sons, a son's friend and hubby to the first night of the movie showing. We were excited. You could feel the energy in the theatre. It's been a long time since I saw a movie packed with crazed teenagers. You can see a perfect ecard at the right, which shows what I was feeling. Amidst the ooohs and aaaahs and sssshhhhhs and laughing, I enjoyed the film tremendously. Inside I wince at this statement because who has fun watching 12-18 year olds kill each other? Errrr.... I guess I do? Hubby said if he had to watch Science Fiction, he prefered to watch Men in Black. He just doesn't get it.

All in all, I'm happy I read the books, I'm happy that I saw the movie, and I'm happy I found these funnies to share with you. Enjoy!
Now that's motivation!
He can volunteer anytime.

How I'm feeling now that I turned 40!
Oh yeah.
My last Hunger Games hope is to be as funny as these picture.

May the odds be ever in my favor!

What do you think about The Hunger Games?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Lucky Meme

The Lucky 7 Meme

I was tagged by Chantel Rhondeau this week to participate in the Lucky 7 meme. The rules are:

  • Go to page 77 in current WIP
  • Go to line 7
  • Copy down the next 7 sentences and post them as they're written
  • Tag 7 other authors
  • Let them know
Background: Jake and Amanda go on their first "real" date together.

Everyone and everything around them disappeared as Amanda felt Jake’s breath in her ear, “Sorry about Ryan and Charisse. This really hasn’t gone as I planned.”
“Now I have you.” Amanda looked up into his eyes.
He held the small of her back with one hand and twirled her to face the opposite direction. They both chuckled and then danced to the music quietly.
“Remember when we danced at my homecoming seven years ago?" She smiled up at him. "All the girls were envious that I was with you.”
“Oh yeah. I was a freshman in college and you got stood up.” Jake winked.
Amanda winced. “Thanks for reminding me.”

I hope you enjoyed Jake and Amanda in Time Changes Everything. As you can see, they are rediscovering each other. More exceprts to come on 6 Sentence Sunday!

Check out these other romance writer's I know. I've personally read their work and don't think you want to miss reading their 7 lines! The first 5 are previous or current critique partners. The other two blogs are from favorite authors. Enjoy!

Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday

This is a weekly meme in which each week the HOST will ask a reading related question and we answer with our thoughts.

This week's question is: Ever read a book you thought you could have written better yourself?

My Answer: I have been an avid reader since I was a teenager. Honestly, I read several books a week, in between my full-time job, being a mom to three boys, and writing/editing schedule. With that in mind, of course there are those books where I think I could have written something differently. Maybe I think that a certain scene could go in another direction, or the end could have been happier (I like happy endings.) Most of the time, however, I have to respect the writer and the ideas he or she has offered. That's why I buy the book in the first place! Being a writer is hard stuff! Let's respect the writers and their words.

Here is a favorite quote that relates - Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

Keep that in mind when you want to change something next time. :)
Have a great Thursday!




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Me: A to Z


A   If you were an ANIMAL, what would you be? I'd be a cozy sloth. Yeah, yeah, I know. Who wants to be a sloth? Well, I do! There's nothing better than just hanging around and being comfortable. That is life! :)  
B   BOOKS: What's on your reading list? I read so much that my list changes every week. At the moment I have two books waiting for the weekend:

C   COMPULSIVE about anything? I don't think I would consider myself compulsive, although I do like to keep books, notebooks, papers, journals by my bed. It builds up and can cause a mess.
D   DREAMS - Do you ... dream in color? remember your dreams? keep a dream journal? I always dream! My favorite dreams are my stories. All my ideas come to me in dreams and if I really like them, I have to immediately write them down in one of those notebooks by my bed. If I don't write them, they could disappear! My favorite scenes of Time Changes Everything came to me when I was in 'dreamland.' Is it sad that my best ideas happen when I'm asleep?
E   EATING - what's your usual snack? They vary. Today I had a granola bar and an apple. Last week I was stuck eating greasy slices of pizza from the snack store at school. I'm not complaining...
Casting Crowns: One of my favorite bands
F   A ew of your FAVORITE Things My Kindle Fire, Music (especially Christian Music), playing piano, card/board games with my children
G   GIGGLES! What (or who) makes you laugh? Do you have a good sense of humor? The last time I laughed was at my husband. He is a silly, silly man and I love him for it! Thanks Rafael!
H   major HOT Button: Politics. I try to avoid this conversation with others, but I definitley have strong opinions about it. In fact, I was a Political Science major in college!
I   I am ______________ thankful for all that I have.
K   Also KNOWN As... Aliases? Screen names? A non de plume perhaps? Melinda Dozier is my pen name, although it is my born name - so it doesn't sound strange to me. When I was in trouble as a little girl, my momma and daddy called me 'Melinda Kay.'
L   I LOVE ...reading! Without it..... I don't want to even think about it.
M   How do you feel about MEETING people? Do it all the time? Rarely? Parties or 1-on-1? I am not really a people person.  I think many people might consider me stuck-up or uncaring, but actually I am just shy. I prefer to spend a weekend with my family and at home. It's the little things that make me happy.
N   What's the story of your NAME? were you named after anyone? Do you go by a nickname? Any aliases? My father wanted to call me Melinda and my mother liked Kay; hence, I became Melinda Kay. I really like my last name, Dozier, as it shows my cajun-Louisiana blood. My nickname has always been Mindy.
O   OBSERVANT - What's around you right now? What do you see? A classroom full of pencils, paper, notebooks, calendars, and the sound of laughing children outside the back door. After school hours are my favorite. It's quiet and I can actually get some work done!
P   Who are the special PEOPLE in your life? My boys - all 4 of them (including my husband)!
Q   Any Little QUIRKs About Yourself: I hate that I'm always biting my nails. Yuck! It looks so unattractive. I would never have my characters do that!
R   What do you like to do for RECREATION? Haha! Does reading count? I also enjoy watching movies, and traveling.
S   Do You SING in the Shower? In the car? For your friends? I have fun singing and embarrasing my pre-teen and teenager.
<>  <>  <> 
What is waiting for me now.
T   What's at the Top of your TO DO list?: Professional To-Do List: Grade student essays 
Personl To-Do List:  finish editing Time Changes Everything.
U   Any UNUSUAL Experiences: I think 'unusual' is all relative. Unusual to me could be normal to you. Know what I mean? I think my life experiences have been unusual in the fact that I moved from the country I love, the United States, to Central America. From that point on, my life was never the same. Being an ex-pat is bitter sweet.I love the US, but at the same time, I am proud to be a "chapina." :)
Hubby, Littlest and Me in Panama Rainforest
V   VEGAS, Vienna, Venice, Vladivostok... How far have you traveled? What's your favorite City? When I was 16, I lived in Paris, France for a month. It was fantastique! Now, I live in Guatemala, Central America, and I consider that far away. I enjoy visiting my sister-in-law in Panama. In fact, in two weeks I will be on a beach in Panama celebrating Easter vacation.
W   WINTER, Spring, Summer, Fall... What's your favorite season? What makes it sspecial? One thing I love about Guatemala is it's motto: Land of Eternal Spring. Spring is the best season of all! Lucky for me today is March 21, the first day of Spring.
X   EXes - Things You Don't Do Anymore (but did, once (would you, again?)) Sadly, I can't think of anything I gave up and would do again. How boring could I be? Let's pretend.... I would never ever go back and climb that 300-foot skyscraper. Although it was a thrill, it was too easy. next time I will face the 1,250-foot Empire State Building.
Y   Any secret/deep YEARNINGS? My most secret and deep yearning (although not so secret anymore) is to become a published writer. I am on my way!
Z   ZERO to ZENITH - Where are you in your life? Still growing? On an upward (or downward) curve? Just skating along? I just reached what I consider the mid-point of my life. Turning 40 was hard, but I know I still have much ahead of me. Being published is my first step into making my second-half of life grand!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Love Metaphors

Since I am an English teacher, I have the opportunity to teach writing to my students. I have a Writing Notebook I share with my students and require that each student keeps their own. Whatever assignment I give my students, I must do. In honor of this, I will share with you my Exploring a Love Metaphor assignment.

Love is an empty field with only one other person there.
     The one person is your soul mate.
     The field is empty as your heart until you see your true love who fills the space.
The image that came to mind when I wrote this metaphor is from the last scene in the latest movie-version of Pride and Prejudice, my all-time favorite romance. When Elizabeth Bennett takes a desperate walk outside and sees Mr. Darcy striding across the field in the early morning. You see the determination in his movements and the delight in her shocked expression when she recognizes him with the sunrise behind. Ah! Sigh! That is love!

Love is a new song playing on the radio for the first time.
     The excitemnet of hearing it swells up your heart.
        The enjoyment of dancing and singing along.
In the 80's, I was a big-time Duranie. If you are a child of the 70's, you must know what that means. Duran Duran encompassed my dreams, thoughts, and actions my entire early teenage years. When their new single, Notorious, hit the radio, I still remember screaming as if the world was about to end. Turning the humongous dial on my casette-tape/radio boombox, I danced around the room giddy with happiness. As Casey Kasem told the band's story afterwards, I jumped to my telephone to call my best friend so we could scream into eachother's ears. I will always remember Duran Duran and the LOVE I felt everytime I heard a new song.

By the way, the one on the right, John Taylor, was supposed to wait for me and marry me when I was legal.  Guess he didn't hear the news back then. :)

Love is counting your babies fingers and toes the minute after he's born.
      Touching this little baby and feeling them for the first time.
      Smiling down into his face, counting off 1-2-3-4-5
My mom's first memory of me as a baby was how she counted my fingers and toes, "to make sure they were all there." I always remembered that and when all three of my children were born, I counted each and everyone. There's nothing more special than holding your child in their first seconds of life. The only word I can use to describe this is LOVE. That overwhelming feeling that evades your body as you look down into that precious face. LOVE.

I invite you to write your own metaphors of love. It's quite fun once you get started. What do you compare love to? When do you feel love? One sentence is all you need! Now it's your turn.

Happy writing,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday 3/18/12

Here's my first chance of sharing Six Sentences from my Work-in-Progress: Time Changes Everything. This excerpt comes from Chapter 1 where the hero (Jake) and heroine (Amanda) meet up after seven years. 

Hope you enjoy!

Amanda’s world shrank to just the two of them. He pressed his body against her side, one arm along the back of the booth behind her head. Warmth seeped into her, melting every muscle.
He’d always been tall, but the wide shoulders next to her belonged to a man, not the teenager who’d broken her heart. His dark hair framed his chiseled face, which could have been carved by Michelangelo and he had a hint of a five o’clock shadow. His deep dark blue eyes soaked up every inch of Amanda’s body.

I'm a Writer!

Issac Asimov once said, "I write for the same reason I breathe- because if I didn't, I would die."

I have loved to write for as long as I can remember. And I would have to agree with Asimov. If I didn't write, I would shrivel up and fall to pieces. Even though I write, sharing my writing is a whole other story.

I wrote when I was a kid, but I was always too shy to share anything. I always had journals next to my bed, notebooks full of stories and poems and of course the inevitable diary. The first time I remember sharing my writing was in high school. I finally had  friend, Kris,  who liked to write too. We would sit together in our bedrooms and write paragraphs and paragraphs of stories. I remember handing her my notebook with my first romance story and waiting for her response. Surprisingly, she loved it! With her approval, I was motivated enough to write even more. However, I never shared with anyone else.

Of course, I made straight A's on my English papers in High School and College. But as far as my creative writing and sharing went, I was "in the closet," so to speak. Then I became an English teacher, of all things, and had to teach my students how to write! Actually, this is fun because I can open up with my students and every now and then I  share a poem or a few lines of my stories. I always do this with a beating heart and sweaty palms. Why am I nervous? I think... am I a worthy writer to share? 

Finally,  after having my third child in 2006, I decided it was time to step out and let the world see what I could do. I began my first complete full romance novel. I shared it with my sister who loved it and then joined a Critique group ( online. What a huge step! Every time I shared a chapter, I felt a huge weight on my shoulders. Would they think it was good? Do I sound ridiculous? Are they laughing at me?Am I nuts to think I am a writer? 

Well, guess what? I am! I have finally come to the conclusion that I am a writer! I'm proud to be one. Writing gives me a sense of purpose. It makes me whole. It is a huge part of me. Sharing is still a challenge, but I am out there and ready to be published.

Now I am on a new journey. Publishing. My first step.... this blog. I hope you find some joy in my musings and know that I love being a writer. It's been a part of my life since I could open a notebook. It's part of who I am.

Stephen King said, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

Here I am on that adventure!