Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In Search of a Great Opening

My guest on “Chatting with Chase” this month was Leigh Michaels, author of 75+ romance books and On Writing Romance, her recent release from Writer’s Digest Books. (You can catch her interview here if you missed it). During the interview, Leigh read opening paragraphs that had been submitted prior to the show and critiqued them on the air.

Well, since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about openings. And my struggle with my to-be-revised-for-the-hundredth-time opening to Running Away has provided me with … what, class? … Right! Yet another procrastination opportunity. For now, I must stop working on my book and go comb my personal romance library for other author’s books that contain openings that I like.

Here are some of the favorites I’ve (re-)discovered ….

“How can you tell it’s a scrotum?” Reggie turned the page sideways, then a full 180 degrees, then back to what she assumed was the original orientation.Delicious, by Jami Alden

This immediately grabbed my attention, making me wonder why Reggie can’t tell it’s a scrotum from whatever she’s looking at, why she’s looking at it to begin with, and where the story’s going to go from here.

One moment he was a faceless stranger standing on a Mexican street corner; the next he was opening the passenger side door and sliding into the rented orange Volkswagon Rabbit beside her.Wild Orchids, by Karen Robards

Need I say more? Who wouldn’t be hooked, wanting to read on to see what this stranger is going to do to the heroine? Ms. Robards has led me to suspect an adventure will follow (and it does).

AN ENORMOUS .357 MAGNUM, AIMED POINT-BLANK BETWEEN her eyes – that was Gus Featherstone’s first clue that something had gone awry with her plans. The second was the black ski mask the gunman wore and the terrifying glint in his dark eyes. Apparently she should have been more specific when she arranged to have herself kidnapped.Blush, by Suzanne Forster

Similar to Wild Orchids, I’ve got another potential ‘kidnap’ tale here. (Oh goody!) But not only am I thrown into the midst of the action, Ms. Forster has given me the premise for the whole book in that last sentence. And since it’s such a unique premise, I can’t wait to read on.

The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today, have I seen a head in a roasting pan. But here are forty of them, one per pan, resting face-up on what looks to be a small pet-food bowl … - Stiff, by Mary Roach

I was hooked on Stiff from the back cover blurb but when I started reading this paragraph, I knew I had to buy the book. As if a book on dead bodies and what happens to them wasn’t compelling enough, after reading this, I knew I wasn’t going to get a clinical discussion or a bunch of mundane facts.

A woman didn’t have to stand on the corner to become a prostitute. All women at some point in their lives have exchanged pussy for goods and services. The best tricksters could barter for homes, cars, diamonds, furs, and enough cash to maintain a five-figure bank account. The unsophisticated females, oblivious to how much men would pay to bust a nut or have their dicks sucked, were happy with a movie, a meal, and a few lies about how much the man loved her … - Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This, by Mary B. Morrison

Whoa. This is real, raw. What has made this woman become so jaded? I’m ready to read on to find out. And then, when I realize it’s a guy thinking this, I’m doubly intrigued.

So, I’ve shared a few of my favorites. Comments? Thoughts? What's your favorite opening paragraph from a book?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Antonio Banderas Wants to Be My Friend!

Imagine that Antonio Banderas asked to be your friend. Wouldn’t your heart skip a beat? Wouldn’t your breath catch in your throat? Wouldn’t you become the living embodiment of every cliché ever written in a bad romance novel?

Well, that’s what I became this morning when I got the news. Oh. My. God. The Antonio Banderas wants to be my friend!

And then, reality swirled through my body.

I frowned.

What were the odds of the Antonio Banderas being logged onto MySpace, checking out my profile, and inviting me to be his friend? Even I, not always the quickest one to jump to obvious conclusions, knew the answer to this one:

Slim. Incredibly, impossibly, slim.

So …while it’s not quite the same, I am honored that an Antonio Banderas fan wants to be my friend. Hey, six degrees of separation and all that. It’s only a matter of time before Antonio, himself -- right after Oprah -- comes knocking.

After that bit of good news, I left the house and my neighbor stopped me, handing me a box. Once again, that heart-skipping-a-beat-breath-catching-thing happened.

Only, this time, it was real.

For as I ripped open the box, copies of my very own book, with my very own name on it stared back at me. I was looking at real, live editor copies of my book, Sex Lounge, which won’t be out until May 2007!

Which means, it’s real. Now that I feel it in my hot little hands, I really do have a book coming out. Woo-hoo!

And the good news just keeps coming. I got my first published Sex Lounge review from Joyfully Reviewed:

"The sexual tension in Sex Lounge was enough to make me sweat. More than once my heart rate sped up in time with Nichole’s as Derek’s sensual and sinful seduction began. I enjoyed watching these two characters fall for each other.

Sex Lounge was truly a delight to read. I became as obsessed with reading Sex Lounge as Nichole was obsessed with Derek. Unable to put the book down, I read it completely and totally in one sitting. One long, steamy sitting. Rachelle Chase has my attention with this release and I would love reading more from her." ~Talia, Joyfully Reviewed

So was your day as good as mine? Did Antonio Banderas invite you to be his friend?

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

An Excellent Excuse to 'Procrastinate"

This week, when I entered Starbucks, procrastination was far from my mind. Instead, I was praying that their holiday drink – a double tall Gingerbread Latte with whip – could be found four months post-holiday.

The coffee gods were smiling upon me. So as I waited impatiently to gulp calories that were destined for my hips, my eyes traveled the store restlessly.

Until my gaze landed on the book display nearby.

The featured book sported a photograph cover with green grass that was almost neon in its intensity and a dirt road the color of nutmeg. This background was soothing – but the stark image of the 10- year old(?) boy was not, for as he walked along this picturesque road in tattered flip-flops that matched the green grass, a bayonet rested against his hip while he carried a grenade on his shoulders.

So I picked up A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah and began reading the inside cover flap…

...THIS IS HOW WARS ARE BEING FOUGHT NOW: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice—

"Rachelle," announced the barrista, interrupting me.

I ignored him, my attention focused on the book.

In more than fifty violent conflicts worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers—


I suppressed a sigh.

"Your double tall Gingerbread Latte with whip is ready."

Yeah, yeah. All right, already.

I took my drink and grabbed a seat, deciding that my office teammates could survive a bit longer without me. I returned my gaze to the book.

Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What does war look like through the eyes of a child?

I do not know. I barely comprehend what it looks like through the eyes of an adult.

How does one become a killer?

I do not know. The thought of children forced to kill is unthinkable.

How does one stop?

I do not know. I’m still trying to grasp how one starts.

And so, for the next 24-hours – on my BART train ride to work, my walk to and from BART, my Starbucks coffee runs, and before I went to sleep at night – my mind was obsessed with Mr. Beah’s life. The neon book cover beckoned to me, refusing to release me until I finished it.

Which surprised me, as I oftentimes read to escape to a world of fantasy.

Beah’s book is a journey into harsh reality. Yet, despite this, his straight-forward style, his matter-of-fact tone, interspersed with lyrical phrases, kept me turning pages. As horror after horror was heaped on him, I wondered how he would go on, how he would survive it. When good finally happened, I wondered how he was going to be able to accept it. Sometimes I smiled, occasionally I chuckled, many times I cried, but always I was awestruck. His survival is miraculous – and the man he has grown up to be, astounding.

The book - his words - are still with me. I highly recommend this book!

Have any of you read it?

Labels: , ,