Fabulous First Lines

Fabulous First LinesThe other day, I was perusing my bookcase to decide which novel to read next. I have a stockpile from which to choose, but I was in an impatient, wow-me mood so I grabbed a few books off the shelf and simply read the first line. The first two were okay, but the third one grabbed my attention:

I cracked my first lock when I was three.

Immediately, I wanted to know who this teenager was that cracked locks so young and why that was important to her life story.

I got swept into this novel about a spy girl, ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway. It was a great read, and that first line promised a story and tone that the author delivered on the page.

In celebration of other fabulous first lines, I wanted to share a few from books I’ve recently read. Congrats to these authors on penning a great hook for their readers.

I woke up to the smell of Lysol and the end of the world. — TORN, Erica O’Rourke

Where is this girl? Why is she smelling Lysol? And why is it the end of the world? Is that figurative or literal? Clearly, I wanted to read on. (Actually, I read on through all three books in the series, TORN, TANGLED, and BOUND.)

She’s so lovely, so fragile. Those haunted eyes. Those rosebud lips . . . they’ll scream so prettily. — POISON PRINCESS, Kresley Cole

Creep a reader out, will ya? That certainly set the tone for something sinister to come. This line appears in the prologue, and the first chapter is quite different. But it sets the mood properly to let the reader know that this book will delve into dark places.

Trevor Dunham talked quite a bit about his man part just before he drowned. — THE LIFEBOAT CLIQUE, Kathy Parks

A blurb on the front promises that this is a “savagely funny book,” and that first line cracked me up immediately. As I was picking up books at the Houston Teen Book Con, this first line sold me and I immediately decided to purchase. Sure enough, the book had a great balance of heartache and humor that this first line captured perfectly.

We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake. — THIS DARK ENDEAVOR, Kenneth Oppel

What a perfect first line for the first book in the series The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Having read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a YA twist of the story, but I was eager to delve in when we started right away with “the monster.” (Who, by the way, is not Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein was the creator of the monster.)

All of these books turned out to be novels I would recommend.

What are some wonderful first lines from books you’ve recently read or picked up? Share your favorites!

High School Halls: Dating, Young Love, and Breaking Up

Teen Love
Remember Me (2010)

Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday and my High School Halls series. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome a guest to my blog to discuss high school dating, young love, and breaking up. Lydia Sharp is the author of the young adult romantic comedy novella, TWIN SENSE, now out from Musa Publishing’s Euterpe Imprint.

So Lydia, let’s talk about our young love first and then how things are today.

Parents often set rules for their kids dating. For me, I had to be sixteen years old, the guy had to call (because I wasn’t allowed to call boys unless they were at boyfriend status), and I had a curfew. What rules, if any, did you have for dating in high school?

My parents’ dating rules were very simple: don’t do it! Of course, I rebelled against that one, and I still think it was a stupid rule. Telling a teenager they aren’t allowed to be social and fall in love is like telling water it isn’t allowed to be wet.

Did you date a lot in high school? Or perhaps have a single long love during those teenage years?

No, I wouldn’t say I dated “a lot.” I was very very shy. But even so, boys were always giving me attention (which was not always a good thing, but we won’t discuss that today). When I was a sophomore, I met a guy who I still refer to as “my first love.” Unfortunately, I started seeing him at the same time I was dating someone else. He was “the other guy,” if you know what I mean. But we had to keep it secret and that was hard. Oh and did I mention the two of them were friends? That’s how we met, actually, we were all in the same circle of friends. I know, it sounds like something straight out of a YA rom-com. This stuff really happens!

Then in the middle of that school year my family moved away and the long-distance thing was even harder than keeping us a secret. We went from seeing each other every day at school to never seeing each other at all. I found out, through him and a few other close friends, that my boyfriend was with someone new only a week after I’d left. “The other guy” kept in contact through letters and phone calls (this was in the 90s; email was still new and texting didn’t exist) but we drifted apart, and after high school we both married other people. I’m not sorry for this, though. I love my husband more than I ever loved “the other guy.”

Do you remember your first kiss? What was wonderful or awful about that first kiss?

First kiss
Hunger Games (2012)

If you mean my first kiss ever, there isn’t much to tell. I was seven years old and did it on a dare. The boy in question ran away immediately afterwards. But if you mean my first *real* kiss, then…

Yes, I remember. It was very awkward. I didn’t know how to hold my head, or where to put my lips, or how much pressure to apply, and then there’s the whole tongue issue. I also felt like my nose was always getting in the way. I have a big Italian nose, but if my ancestors could kiss then darnit so could I. There’s so much to worry about, you can’t really enjoy it. But fortunately, most people get better with practice (same goes for sex). And even though it’s awkward and not as good as subsequent kisses, the thrill of a first kiss is almost wonderful enough to outweigh all of that. Almost.

A typical date was dinner and a movie, but sometimes a guy would get creative. Do you have any particularly memorable dating experiences from high school?

I never had the typical “dinner and a movie” date until after high school when I started dating my husband. During high school we mostly did stuff in groups. Not necessarily parties, just groups of about four or more. If we had the chance to sneak off alone, we would, but we couldn’t do much in the way of “going out places” because none of us had any money. We would go bowling (it’s cheap!) or hang out at a pool hall (also cheap!) or just crash at someone’s house (the cheapest of all!). We always had fun, but there is nothing really memorable about this. It’s just the way it was.

Sometimes young love is brushed off as being less important than adult love, but young hearts are passionate. And they break when a relationship comes to an end. Tell a story of how your best or worst handling of a break-up.

Let’s rewind back to when I was dating a guy and seeing his friend at the same time… when I found out he was with someone else almost immediately after I moved away, without so much as a phone call to tell me this himself, yeah, that hurt, even though I never truly loved him. There were times when I thought I loved him, though, and we did have a lot of fun together. We shared a lot of the same interests. He’d even given me a promise ring, and written me a goodbye poem that brought him to tears when he read it to me. I thought he loved me, so when I found out he didn’t, it was brutal.

I cried a lot, which also made me feel guilty because I was still keeping in regular contact with “the other guy.” Confusion, guilt, misery, and falling in love with someone else at the same time, do not make for a good emotional mix. On top of that, I was at a new school and extremely shy. I made no real friends until the following school year.

This was a very dark time for me, and I was only fifteen. So yeah, it does upset me when I hear adults say that teenagers are being overly dramatic when they get upset over a breakup. They obviously don’t remember or just never experienced it for themselves, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

Your own book is about dating, young love, and break-ups. Who are the main players in TWIN SENSE, and how is their world thrown off balance?

The four main characters are Kevin and Keith (identical twin brothers), and Layna and Sherri (the twins’ girlfriends). Layna is the main character; the story is told through her eyes and mind. Early on, Sherri breaks up with Keith, and Kevin tries to get closer to Layna by giving her a promise ring. Shortly afterward, Layna and Sherri start spending more time together and develop feelings for each other, so now Layna is torn between affections and both choices seem good. It’s a tough spot to be in.

There are also some other things in the story that directly relate to high school dating, and how ridiculous social expectations can be. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, though.

How did you get into the head of a teenager and how he/she would feel as their relationships change?

I do my best to draw on my own experiences and feelings from that time of life, and combine that with what I see in teens today. The rest is an unexplainable magic.

Why do you enjoy writing about young adult romance? What’s special about that time with romantic relationships?

Everything about being a teen is thrilling. You’re not really a kid anymore, and you’re still trying to figure out how to be an adult. Your hormones are on crack, but romance isn’t your only passion. You have plans to change the world because you’re still young enough to have the time and energy required to make it happen. You dream a lot. You fantasize. You’re scared and nervous one second, bold and courageous the next.

But my favorite thing is that the teen years can be where you experience real love for the first time. You will remember your first love for the rest of your life, even if you don’t stay together into adulthood. That person carries a piece of your heart with them forever, and you carry a piece of theirs. It’s a huge, delicate privilege, not to be taken lightly. And there are so many different ways people can find each other and fall in love, despite their relationship being tested. I just love creating stories that allow readers to enjoy that experience over and over and over again.

Thanks so much to Lydia Sharp for talking with us about dating, young love, and breaking up. Check out her book and share about your teen dating days in the comments!

Twin Sense: As girlfriends of the Taylor twins, Layna and Sherri have only been friends by association. But when Sherri breaks up with Keith (for real this time), and Kevin gives Layna a promise ring (whoa, what?), Layna’s whole world spins off balance. She avoids Kevin’s unwelcome pressure to commit by spending more time with Sherri.

Without the twins around, Layna and Sherri are tempted to go beyond friendship status. Then Keith tries to win Sherri back, and Kevin apologizes for rushing Layna. Now she’s stuck inside a double-trouble love quadrangle that has her reaching for the consolation cheesecake. The only way to sort out this mess is to make an impossible choice—between the one she wants and the other one she wants—or she might end up with no one.

Lydia Sharp is a novelist and short fiction author who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie. Then she got tired of finding sand in her clothes so she moved further inland, but she’ll always call Ohio home. Laughing is her favorite pastime. Kissing is a close second.

For Lydia’s published and upcoming fiction, click HERE.

Lydia is also a regular contributor to the Write It Sideways blog and the award-winning Writer Unboxed blog.



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Friday Fiction: Getting Hooked

If not for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Carolyn Keene, would I have become such an avid reader?  I don’t know.  But my memories of books as a young girl include hours delving into the lives of Laura in the Little House series and Girl Detective in the Nancy Drew series.  It was finding topics I liked and characters I could identify with that opened me up to the worlds that an author’s words create.

Whenever I hear a kid say that he doesn’t like reading, I think, “You just haven’t figured out what you like to read yet!”  Everyone agrees that the key to making a reader out of anybody is finding an author, a topic, or a genre that they enjoy.  If the successes of J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer have proved anything, it’s that kids and teens still enjoy reading if you give them something they like! 

Frankly, this is true with adults as well.  Sometimes, we think a reader is a person who picks up classic literature, current bestsellers, or book club selections. But people who visit bookstores (or download titles onto their ebook reader) might enjoy graphic novels, cookbooks, magazines, online newspapers, self-help books, thrillers, or romances.  The important thing is to get people reading!

We all started somewhere – often with a Dr. Seuss book or an Archie comic in hand.

A few of my own suggestions for getting kids to read these days:

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park (ages 4-8) – I admit to never having read a single Junie B. Jones book.  But I enjoy this author, and this series comes highly recommended by many of my friends with daughters.

The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne (ages 9-12) – I volunteered in my kids’ school library for two years, and these books were checked out all the time.  They are quick reads, but the author takes children through history in a fun way.

Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker (ages 9-12) – I fell in love with Clementine on page 1.  She’s a spunky elementary girl with excess energy, creative thinking, and a few stories to tell.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney (ages 9-12) – A combination of text and pictures, these books chronicle the life of a wimpy kid whose experiences are easily understood by most children.

The Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka (ages 9-12) – Boys in particular will love the adventures of three time-traveling friends and their humor.  Let’s just say that the first book includes a giant with giant-sized snot.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen (ages 9-12) – This is the hilarious tale of a young boy just trying to make a little extra money and finding himself an illustrious entrepreneur.

Piper Reed series by Kimberly Willis Holt (ages 9-12) – Both girls and boys will love this daughter of a Navy officer with two sisters, a dog, and a fresh perspective on childhood.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (ages 9-12) – Greek mythology can seem dull to most kids, until you read Riordan’s retelling of the Greek myths with teens as demigods. Then hold on for the fantastic ride!

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (ages 9 & up) – Yes, I would still recommend this series to any child who hasn’t read it.  I love how the author weaves the average challenges that all kids face in school with a wizarding world and the fight of good vs. evil.

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (ages 12 & up) – Tweens, teens, and adults will find these dystopian books to be page-turners. Collins creates an intriguing world and has us rooting for the main characters from the beginning and throughout.



What books got you reading as a child or an adult?  What books or series would you suggest to non-readers to get them hooked on reading?