February, 2010

Friday Funnies – Job Resumes

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Well, it’s time for the Friday Funnies.  Today’s is from employers that have been kind enough to post what they found on resumes.  Enjoy!
“I always tell people to include their relocation details up top of their résumé and I received one that read, ‘Researching condoms in the local Washington, DC area’.” –Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended
“One of the weirdest résumés I ever received was from someone who had a statement at the top about how dependable he was and then a doodle of him on a skateboard.” 
— Huhman
“I once received a résumé with three pages worth of résumé packed onto one page by putting it in 7 point font. You needed a microscope to read it.” 
–Huhman
“People have sent me résumés with the words ‘fast paced’ spelled incorrectly. I have seen ‘face paced,’ ‘fast paised’ and my favorite one of all times, ‘fast paste’.” 
— Abby Kohut, president and staffing consultant at Staffing Symphony, LLC
“Some people do not know how to abbreviate ‘assistant.’ You really should not be abbreviating titles (or much else) on your résumé. To me, it indicates laziness in that you don’t want to spend the time typing the extra letters. But if you’re going to abbreviate ‘assistant,’ please use ‘Asst’ not ‘Ass’.” 
— Kohut
“I once reviewed a résumé that was handwritten on lined yellow paper. One of the jobs was listed as ‘Central Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA,’ and the description of the job was, ‘I’m not authorized to divulge the nature of my job duties while in the employ of the CIA’.” 
–Sue Thompson, The Potentialist at Set Free Life Seminars LLC
“I once had a candidate for a marketing assistant position who had worked in a supermarket very early in his career and, for that job; he listed as one of his responsibilities, ‘cut the cheese’.” 
— Anonymous hiring manager at a large staffing firm
“A coffee stain. Yes, I once received a résumé with a partial coffee cup ring stain on it. I believe I used the résumé as a coaster.” 
— Patrick Scullin, founding partner and executive creative director for Ames Scullin O’Haire Inc.
“Dirt. The résumé was intentionally smeared with mud. I don’t recall what the intent was. I immediately threw it away.” 
— Scullin
“A résumé from a part-time model. Included with her résumé was a 4×6 card showing her in various poses and at the bottom it read ‘good hands.’ She was applying for a corporate position.” 
— Cathleen Faerber, The Wellesley Group, Inc.
“The gentleman that included his picture (not a flattering one) and the declaration that he was single and lived with his mother — this was disclosed right under his picture and was the initial comment on his résumé prior to any career objective or work information.” 
Faerber
“Under ‘reason for leaving’ [the applicant] stated ‘threat of death’.” 
— Faerber
“It seems that my credentials would be a good fit for what you are looking to accomplish, however, I don’t wish to make a career of it.” 
— Michael Becce, CEO of MRB Public Relations Inc.
“I think the goofiest thing I saw on a résumé was a person who listed one of their special skills as Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. They were applying for an accounting position, so it makes absolutely no sense why they would have that on there.” 
–Sky Opila, online résumé service BriteTab.com
“The other one was a gentleman who put his marital status as ‘single, but looking’ on the résumé! I don’t understand what these folks were thinking…” — Opila
“I think I was fired because my previous employer was racist.” 
— Laura Koelling, HR department for a catering company in St. Louis
“I left when I filed workman’s comp against my employer. It just got too complicated.” 
Koelling
“I didn’t like working at the strip club because I felt exposed.” 
— Koelling
“The résumé said ‘ecxellent attention to detail.’ Yes, ‘excellent’ was misspelled!” — Molly Wendell, a job-networking expert and author of “The New Job Search”
“Some applicants gave me too much information in the name of their résumé. For example, ‘LizSmithCorrectedRésumé’ [What if I preferred the incorrect version?] or ‘Moms Résumé.’ [Hey Mom … are your kids returning the favor for all of the homework you did for them in school? Are you going to have them do your job for you once you’re hired as well?]” 
— Wendell
“Excellent composer of song lyrics.” 
— Isabel Huntsman, Seneschal Advisors, LLC
“Hobbies: Sleeping, etc., etc.” 
— Carrie Rocha, www.pocketyourdollars.com
“An e-mail address: pinkpoodle@…com (How seriously can you take this person? How professional does this e-mail look if used on our behalf?)” 
— Kitty Werner, Chair, Central Vermont Crime Stoppers
“A résumé that included drawings of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, then when we called the applicant in for an interview, his twin brother came as well. They had duplicate résumés and showed the same portfolio of work.” 
— David Langton – Principal, Langton Cherubino Group, Ltd.
“[The applicant] had blank spots on his cover letter and résumé that he filled in by hand. He had whited out info – like the ‘To’ and ‘Objective’ and hand wrote info for the current job.” 
— Anonymous
“‘I have never trapped a man.’ A woman offered this as evidence of good character.” 
— Robert Dagnall, ResumeGuru.com
“Personal accomplishments: Getting back together with my boyfriend upon his release from prison.” 
— Dagnall
“And here’s a new favorite that arrived in my mailbox this morning as part of someone’s e-mail signature: ‘I am the Master, and Technology my Slave.'” — Dagnall
“Number of grandchildren.” 
— Ty Mays, Owner of Perfect Pitch Public Relations
“Homecoming king.” 
— Mays

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Tip Thursday: 10 tips for Fiction Writers

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Here’s just a few tips I’ve used that have been beneficial to me.  It’s probably close to essential for me actually and I’d like to think that it’s probably close to that for all fiction writers out there.

  • Start With a Seed
  • Most, if not all, of my books are simply a product of asking the question, “What if…?”  That’s all it usually takes and then let your imagination run wild.  There are no constraints in fiction, except the ones you put on yourself, so start tiny and work big. 

  • Let the Story Tell Itself
  • Think of yourself as only the narrator of someone else’s life.  In the newage sense of the word, your “channeling” someone else’s reality and cataloging what happens.  It’s okay to plot, but don’t get so caught up in your outline that your not letting the characters be themselves.  

  • Use Realistic Characters and Dialogue
  • This is accomplished through many different approaches.  As a writer, you must learn to hone your powers of observation and watch people and how they interact.  Research can come in a variety of forms, from reading other authors to watching movies as well.  Keen observation skills and personal experience will help guide you through this aspect of fiction writing.

  • Write What You Know
  • This is a well-known mantra for fiction writers, yet many fail to adhere to this simple principle of fiction writing.  When you write about things you know and experiences you’ve had, the writing is easier to read and comes across as more authentic.  Another thing is to write in the genre you read.  Don’t start writing Sci-Fi if you’ve never and have no interest in seeing Star Trek(or any other Science Fiction staple).  

  • Become a “shut in”
  • When you’re ready to start, find a place away from distraction  If you are planning on writing a long work of fiction, you will essentially be “living in the story.”  Be prepared to shut yourself in as you work on bringing your tale to life.  Turn the phones off, as well as the Internet.  Let your significant others know you’ll be unavailable from this time to this time.  If you have kids, this will be a bit harder, but it can be done.

  • Keep Moving Forward
  • Don’t get caught up in the past; keep writing each day without taking time to go back and reread.  You’ll have time to fix everything later.  Even if you only spend 10 or 15 minutes everyday writing, it’ll keep you on the right track and stave off writer’s block.  

  • Put it Away When You’re Finished
  • When you’re finished, put it away.  Shove it in a drawer, ignore the file on your harddrive.  Whatever it takes to let it sit and settle for awhile.  I usually send mine to a critique partner and it can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 months to get your ms back, so you’ll have a decent length of time between the finish and the revisions.  In the meantime…

  • Start a New Project
  • Get started right away on a new WIP to increase the space between you and your previous work.  This will help you to come back with a new perspective and keep your productivity level high in the process.  Not to mention keeping your creative juices flowing.

  • Return to Your Finished Product
  • After some time has passed, pull out your manuscript and read the piece with a pair of fresh eyes.  Chances are you will find ways to improve upon and revise the story to make it flow more smoothly.  Sometimes it will unfortunately mean rewriting it.  As what happened to me with my first, FALLEN.  I went back with fresh eyes and realized how horrible it was.  Now I’ve rewritten it, given it a new title and it’s MUCH better than it was.  

  • Revise and Edit
  • Cuts will have to be made and the revision process can be time consuming, but will help out when you’re ready to share your work with at least 5 beta readers.  Make sure that you polish your work as much as possible before giving it out to others for their opinions.  Eliminating clutter and proofreading errors will help to get honest feedback without trivial details getting in the way.  Keep in mind though, that no matter how well you edit, there will always be something you miss and don’t let it fluster you.  No one is perfect.


    I hope these 10 tips helped and gave you a little insight on how I do my writing process.  How do you write?  Is there something you do that I didn’t mention?  Go ahead and post your answers in the comments section.



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    Writer Wednesday- Interview with Fantasy Writer MJ Heiser

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                                  (Bio and photo courtesy of her publisher, Canonbridge.)

              





    Today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing a good friend of mine, fellow inkslinger and wonderful fantasy novelist, MJ Heiser.  
           BIO:  MJ Heiser was born in the Philippines to an American Navy Mormon and a Filipina Catholic.  She came to the United States as a baby, started reading at the age of three and began to write at the age of 12.  Educated in San Antonio, Texas, MJ is an avid student of religion, politics, anthropology and technological gadgetry.  She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and their menagerie of pets and electronic devices.  Apart from writing, she spends her time walking, plotting, being silly, eating sushi and trying to not trip over something.  Her first book in the Chronicles of Jaenrye series is Corona, published first in eReader format in February 2010 by Canonbridge LLC.
    JSFirst of all, thank you for joining me today.  What have been the most rewarding aspects of being a writer?
    MH:  The most rewarding thing for me is the realization that I could be good at something, even if I was born with an atrocious singing voice.  That’s a traumatic thing to realize as a little kid born into a family of musicians.  
    JS:  The most challenging?
    MH:  I have a fragile ego, so being told my work isn’t good enough for anyone is brutal.  Fortunately, I’ve also learned to take it as much-needed guidance and a refreshing breath of honesty; after all, your friends are conditioned to tell you what you want to hear, right?
    JS:  What would you say are the most important qualities one needs to possess in order to make a living as a writer?
    MH:  Stubbornness, and the ability to hear the small voice of your story calling to you .
    JS:  Why do you write?
    MH:  Because it makes me feel good . . .it puts me in touch with something that I imagine is outside of myself, a river of creative thought and urge that runs through each of us.  Every now and then I dip my ladle into that stream and pull out a sip of Wonder.
    JS:  What’s a typical day like for you?
    MH:  Long.  Frustrating.  I have a full-time job as a claims examiner, then I come home to run a house full of dogs and cats.  –No, they’re not charity cases, but I’m childless, and they’re my little Surrogates.  All I want to do is plot my stories and write them, but real life has a habit of delaying gratification.
    JS:  Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you work through it?
    MH:  Unlike most writers, I don’t really hate writer’s block.  I think there are times it comes up for practical reasons — like, maybe you need a reminder of how much you love to write, and only by depriving you of the ability can you fully appreciate it.  Sometimes also it’s used to divert you from a bad story idea, or a good story idea executed badly.  Most of the time, writer’s block is specific to one story, and can be overcome by stepping away from that story for a bit and working on an intriguing new one.  When you finally return to the blocked story, you can probably see why you got blocked in the first place.  😉
    JS:  How long does it generally take to write one of your novels?
    MH:  Oh, there are no generalities when it comes to what I write.  My first (and worst) novel took 10 years.  (See what I mean about listening to the writer’s block?)  CORONA took 5.5 weeks for the first draft.  CANTICLE, the prequel, is almost a year in progress.  Seriously, it’s just all over the place.
    JS:  What’s your favorite quotation?
    MH:  Sadly, it’s from an anonymous source:  “Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music.”  A lot of people attribute it to George Carlin, but sadly, it’s not his.
    JS:  What are you working on now?
    MH:  CANTICLE, the 2nd (or 1st, depending on how you look at it) in the Chronicles of Jaenrye (pronounced “JANE-RYE”).  Sheesh, she’s a true labor of love.  CORONA was a blast to write, but CANTICLE is, I think, maybe just that much outside my skill set.  I’m learning as I go. 
    JS:   What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions aspiring novelists have of the writer’s life?
    MH:  That it has to be lonely.  I know I thought all writers were forced to write alone and figure it out alone, but in this day and age, with Twitter and Facebook and WEbook, there is simply no need to be alone anymore.  Besides, writers are my favorite kind of people; they’re just like me!  🙂
    JS:  What advice would you impart to these aspiring novelists?
    MH:  Don’t suffer; there’s no need.  Don’t hide your babies; that’s not the point of writing.  Get out there, make your work available to review, and push, push, push.  This dream doesn’t come true on its own. 
    JS:  Where did the inspiration for CORONA come from?
    MH:  Some of the aspects of CORONA (the Travellers, for instance) have been in my head since I was a kid.  The story itself started with Father Rey, who was inspired by Father Oliver O’Grady, a pedophile priest who was shuffled by the church from one small California town to another when his abuses were discovered.  I sucked this guy into Jaenrye to find a way to make him pay for what he did.  Then, since I was controlling the story anyway, I made the control a little more…transparent. 
    JS:  What do you hope your readers take away after they’re done reading?
    MH:  Never, EVER give up on your opportunity to make it right with yourself.  If you ever feel a tinge of regret or failure, address it head on; become the hero you promised yourself you’d be when you grew up.  It’s never too late.
    JS:  Tell me a little about CORONA.
    MH:  CORONA is my one breathless moment, the story that made me laugh and cry as I wrote it, the one I made my truest writer’s promise to.  I promised I would not abandon it and let it be forgotten.  That story truly took my breath away, and she deserved my full attention.
    JS:  Thanks for doing this interview with me MJ, it’s been a real pleasure having known you and reading CORONA.  I can’t wait for its sequel(prequel) to be released.  Now I have just one last question. If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?
    MH:  From what I can tell — yes.  🙂
             Thanks again for joining me folks for my very first author interview!  Next week I’ll be interviewing S.S. Michaels AKA @slushpilehero for all you twitter followers.  
            
             If you are interested in doing an interview with me, please email me at J.Souders (@) jasouders (.) com.  

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    Teaser Tuesday: SPIRIT DETECTIVE

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    Here’s the first chapter of my current WIP, tentatively titled SPIRIT DETECTIVE.  I started it a while ago, but put it off to the side to write MIRROR, but it’s calling to me again so I thought I’d pull it out and see what people thought.  It’s rough as it only has the bare minimum of editing done, but hopefully that won’t detract.


    Blurb:  I don’t have a blurb yet.  Sorry.  


    My heart accelerated in my chest as I stood looking at the abandoned house in front of me. Simply put, it was falling apart.  Most of the windows were broken, their dark depths imploring me to follow my instincts and leave.  The paint was peeling and chipping, revealing the termite riddled wood beneath it.  The once white porch sagged and groaned under my feet, begging me to leave.  The door was broken and tilted at an odd angle, leaving the house open to the elements.  The ripped screen door squealed as it opened as if some unseen person was inviting me in.
                Just step in Rowena, I told myself with a quick glance over my shoulders.  My best friend, Lucas stood at the end of the cracked sidewalk where the squeaky gate for the splintered picket fence opened and shut with the wind.
                He grinned at me, brushing back a stray blonde hair the wind had blown into his eyes.  “If you’re scared, Ro, just say so.  We’ll go home.”
                With a growl, I yelled back, “I’m not scared.”  The one remaining shutter slapped against the house, causing me to jump.  Luke barked out a laugh and I straightened my shoulders and turned to face the house again. 
                It’s just a house. It’s just a house, I repeated like a chant in my head as I stepped toward the gaping hole that was the front door.  The wind blew through the house, causing a sound like a moan to emit from it and me to stop in my tracks as my heart jumped into my throat.
                My hand trembled as I reached for the knob.  Why am I doing this again?  Oh yeah, that stupid ten-dollar bet, a bet I’d made on a dare. 
                Luke and I had been sitting outside on my front porch, drinking soda and playing truth or dare, but–because we knew everything about each other–it was more along the lines of dare or dare.  He’d dared me to spend an hour at the abandoned house and bet me ten dollars I couldn’t do it. I’d, of course, taken it. 
                If it had been just the ten dollars I’d have backed up and gone back home, laughing, but it wasn’t.  There was a much more important thing on the line than just a measly ten dollars.  My pride. 
                I’d never welched on a bet, or chickened out from a dare.  I wasn’t planning on starting now.
                With a deep breath, I pushed aside the tilted door and jumped when the last rusted hinge broke and the door feel into the house and crashed to the floor. 
                “Well, geez, Ro.  Why don’t you just wake the dead while you’re at it?” Luke called, his voice laughing at me.
                “Very funny,” I yelled over my shoulder and winced when my voice echoed throughout the house.
                Taking a minute to let my heart settle again, I looked around inside. I’d never seen it before. If you took the outside into consideration, the inside looked pretty good.  If you didn’t take into count the spider webs and dust that covered every square inch I could see.
                With another deep breath, I took the first step through the doorway and then stopped to turn around.  “I’m in.  Start the clock.”
                “Got it,” Luke called back and even through the howling wind I could hear the beep that symbolized the start of my hour. 
                Well, I’m in.  Now what? I’ve got a whole hour to kill. Might as well explore. 
                The house was three stories and I decided to start on it and then work my way down.  A house this old had to have something interesting in it. The dust on the floor was so thick I left footprints in it with each step.
                It had been abandoned for as long as I could remember, but my mom and her Bunko buddies talked often about the Mooney Mansion.  It had been the first house in Seminole County in the late 1800s.  The Mooney’s had had a whole plantation of celery, hundreds of acres, but when they died, the children had sold off the land an acre at a time until only the land surrounding the home was left.  Eventually the house was sold off to pay the taxes.
                Since then, the house had been bought and sold numerous times, no one staying longer than five years; earning it it’s haunted house title. 
                It didn’t appear too scary, now that I was inside.  In fact, the inside looked pretty darn good.  The staircase creaked slightly with each step, but the wood appeared to be in good shape and the carpet was only slightly threadbare.
    At the landing for the second floor, a mouse scurried in front of me, squeaking at me as if yelling at me for ruining it’s nighttime stroll.  I slapped a hand across my mouth to block the little yelp that tried to escape and continued on up to the third floor, trailing my hand along the surprisingly smooth banister. 
    A shiver racked my body as a breeze blew through the hall and I frowned as I wondered where it had come from.  There weren’t any windows and the doors to the rooms were all shut. 
    I paused.  Which way should I go?  Left? Or right?  After a quick game of “Eeny Meeny Miney Moe,” I went left.
    A feeling of unease settled in my belly almost immediately as I walked to the room at the end of the hall. Whatever was in that room I was sure I didn’t want to know about, but I was still strangely pulled to it.
                A flash of memory came to me as my hand wrapped around the crystal doorknob. 
                My mom and her friend Kate had been sitting outside on the front porch of my home the summer after I’d turned five.  They were both sipping their tea and gossiping about neighborhood news and almost daily pastime.
                “Did you hear about the old Mooney place?” my mom had asked, her face showing the hope and excitement it always did when she was sure she had something juicy to tell.
                “No.  I thought that young couple bought it a few months back, but they’ve never done anything with it,” Kate replied, sipping her tea.
                My mom beamed.  “No, and they won’t.  The woman was staying there about a week ago trying to decide on paint samples while her husband went to get food.  Well, she went to one of the rooms on the third floor, but the door was locked.”
                Kate sniffed and then winked at me.  “Well, couldn’t she get a key?”
                My mom rolled her eyes.  “Kate.  The doors don’t lock.  Not the bedroom doors.”
                “Oh.”
                “So, anyway, thinking the door was just stuck, she rammed the door with her shoulder and the door opened as easy as you please.”
                Kate shrugged.  “Maybe she just didn’t push hard enough the first time.”  She smiled down at me and then, when she was sure my mom wasn’t looking, slipped me a piece of toffee she had hidden in her skirt pocket.
                I took it with a smile and carefully unwrapped it, hoping my mom wouldn’t hear the telltale crinkle of the wrapper.
                My mom still looking away from us said, “Maybe, but when she stepped into the room you’ll never believe what she saw.”
                Kate rolled her eyes at me, causing me to giggle.  “What?
                “Well,” my mom said, leaning forward toward Kate, dragging out the story, “she opened the door and on the walls, written in blood, were words.”
                I choked on the piece of candy, and Kate gave me a few thumps on the back to dislodge it, while she laughed.  “Oh, come on, Lynn.  You don’t really believe that, do you?”
                My mom laughed and shook her head.  “No, of course not, but she did.  Screamed like the devil himself had visited her and ran straight out of the house.  When her husband came to get her, she demanded they leave right then and there.  Don’t know if he saw it, but they left that night, leaving everything they had there.  ”
               
                Another cold chill shook my body as I turned the knob easily in my hand and stepped into the room with my eyes closed.  I was sure this was the room they were talking about.  Why else would I have been drawn to it?
                A voice in my head told me to turn around and wait for the remaining minutes downstairs, but despite being scared out of my mind I was insanely curious.  Would there be words written on the walls?
                The minute I stepped through a breeze blew through and slammed the door shut, causing me to jump and yelp again.  My eyes flew open and I took a relieved breath.  The room was empty, minus a few stray pieces of furniture.
                The room was large, especially for a home as old as it was.  The wallpaper was torn, almost shredded in places, showing the slat walls behind it.  In the corner was a trunk.  I wandered around the room, tracing my fingers over the wall, half hoping to find a switch that would open a secret door. 
                I paused when I got to the trunk and then, wanting a closer look, knelt in front of it, my hands shook for some unknown reason as I touched it.  It was metal and had strange symbols etched onto its black sides. There were three locks in the front that prevented me from opening it, each lock in the shape of a skull.
    In the hopes of finding the key, I searched the room oblivious to the time. I noticed a roll-top desk on the wall by the door and slid the top up and searched the drawers. When my fingers probed the middle drawer, they found a hole only big enough for my finger.  I slipped it in and pulled up, revealing a secret space.  Cautiously, I slid my hand in the space and felt something cold and metal brush against my fingers.
    When I pulled it out, it was a strange looking skeleton key, which matched the chest.  I rushed over to it and slipped the key in the middle lock, smiling when I heard a soft click. Excited, I unlocked the remaining two locks and pushed open the lid, revealing a trunk full of old clothes. 
    The smell of lavender permeated my nose as I pulled each article out.  This was so cool.  These clothes had to be hundreds of years old.  The little white muslin I’d just pulled out had to be from the Victorian era at least.  The high-neck and sweeping skirt proved it. 
    I don’t know how long I spent going through the chest before I found a leather-bound book and wooden box.
    I opened the wooden box first and pulled out a necklace.  The charm on the end of it was three triangles interconnected within a circle.  With a shrug, I slipped the leather cord around my neck, letting the symbol rest between my breasts. 
    The book was the only thing left, so I flipped through it. 
    “It’s just a bunch of mumble jumble,” I said in disgust. I flipped to the first page and tried figuring out what it said.  Thinking maybe it would make more sense I read it aloud, stumbling over the handwritten words.
    være på vakt forbannelsen av gudene
    snakker ikke ordene nedenfor
    skjenket på deg øyet av tre.
    The minute I finished, a bright light filled the room, blinding me. And I started screaming as a searing, shocking pain ran through my head, as if I’d been struck by lighting.   

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    Hooks in Books or The first line phenomenon.

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    Can you tell me which books these first lines are from (no cheating now.  The answers will be given at the bottom of the post)?

    Call me Ishmael.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

    The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.

    You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. 

    As I’ve been reading and rating a lot of “First Pages” on Webook, I’ve noticed several things.  There are a lot of great sounding books, but their first pages do nothing for the book.  In my quest for a dream agent, I’ve come to find that THE most important thing you can do is make your first page(really your first line) exciting.  You have to hook ’em.  Whether it be your readers or your publisher/agent.

    While that doesn’t mean you have to have the character in imminent peril if that isn’t what your book is about, but it does mean making it interesting.  And it has to make the “reader” ask a question.  There has to be a reason to keep reading.

    Whenever I go into a bookstore there are three things that have to be done before I pick up a book I’ve never heard of before.  The cover has to be good, then the back cover blurb has to be exciting, and then I read the first page.  Now while, I may buy a book anyway, if I don’t like one of the three, the biggest determining factor is that first line and then the first page.

    If I don’t like the first line, I probably will read on to see if it gets better, but after the first page if I still don’t like it, or it doesn’t give me a reason to keep reading, why should I?

    Of course, for every rule there are exceptions.  Take Twilight, for example, I only bought it because my friend said I should, so I did.  I HATED, and still do, the first three chapters, but since I bought it, I forced myself to keep reading and I got hooked on the story and finished the rest of the series over the weekend.  So, had I applied my rule, I would have missed out on a great story.  Now I won’t debate with people about how good or bad Twilight is.  I have my own issues with it, but the truth is it’s a best-seller and there’s a reason for it, probably because she’s so good with the emotional aspects of her books.

    Now how do we get to that all important part of this ramble.  How do we make sure that our first line is great?

    1. Sentence Style.  Basically what this means is that the sentence must be concise.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be long, but it needs to make sense.  It definitely needs to be structured correctly so that the reader doesn’t feel as if it’s a mouthful.
    2. It should make the reader ask a question.  Basically this part is your hook.  This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the very first sentence, but if not it needs to be in the first paragraph.  Give your reader a reason to keep reading.  Let it be a hint of what’s to come and set the tone for the book.  If it’s a comedy, open with something funny.  If it’s a horror, something scary, etc.
    3. It needs to be relevant.  Since this line sets the tone for the rest of the book, don’t just add in something that sounds interesting or funny, but has nothing to do with the story.  It’ll only cause your readers to stop reading that much faster.  Readers are smart, they’ll figure it out.
    4. It needs to allow for setup.  You shouldn’t toss your readers in the middle of a scene where no one knows what’s going on.  It’s distracting, chaotic, and of course another reason not to keep going.  People don’t like feeling confused.  They want to feel like they’ve got a good handle on something before they continue.

    ‘Call Me Ishmael’ – Moby Dick, and is one of the most famous in American Literature.

    ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ – Cheeky set up, this one: Pride and Prejudice.

    ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’– Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. One of those long sentences he’s famous for, but as you can see it follows almost every step to the T.


    ‘The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.’ — Nathanael West Miss Lonelyhearts.  An interesting set up that almost begs you to keep reading to find out what’s going on.  


    ‘You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.’ — Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Maybe not the most grammatically correct first sentence, but it sets the tone nicely for the rest of the book.  


    Did you get them all?  I’m sure you did.  Enjoy the rest of Monday and I’ll see you tomorrow with another Teaser Tuesday.  And don’t forget to check out my new feature Writer Wednesday where I’ll interview someone from the publishing industry.  This week is a very special guest.  One of my friends and an awesome Epic fantasy novelist,  MJ Heiser.  She’ll be talking about her debut novel, Corona, and will offer her advice to newbie and aspiring writers.  



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