Guest Post

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 is rolling right along . . .

cj Sez:  I was privileged to participate in a Young Authors Conference on Saturday at the Mobile Regional Library and had some wonderful conversations with young readers and authors-waiting-to-be-published. The thing I emphasized is the thing I work hardest on: Opening lines, opening paragraphs, opening pages.

Stephen King is quoted as saying when he works on a first draft, he doesn’t “get scientific about it,” he just writes. But…”there’s one thing I’m sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.” He sometimes works months on his opening. 

The need for an inviting opening is true for all authors and all genres. My handout for these aspiring authors included the following examples:

Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life - James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
Chapter One: I’m Rafe Khatchadorian, Tragic Hero  It feels as honest as the day is crummy that I begin this tale of total desperation and woe with me, my pukey sister, Georgia, and Leonardo the Silent sitting like rotting sardines in the back of a Hills Village Police Department cruiser.  

Secret Agent 6th Grader - Marcus Emerson  My head was spinning, and I had no idea where I was. All I knew for sure was that I was sitting on a chair in a dark room. It was cold, and I could hear water dripping from somewhere behind me. Plus my socks were wet.  

Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick  Something hit Ben Wilson and he opened his eyes. The wolves had been chasing him again and his heart was pounding. He sat up in the dark room and rubbed his arm. He picked up the shoe his cousin had thrown at him and dropped it on the floor. 

Dolbin School for the Extraordinary - Martin Tiller It was a Tuesday in late March, and it was the last day Jake Cooper was considered a normal person. He was skinny, had jet black hair and was a little tall for a fourth-grader.  

The idea is to start your story where the action begins. Hook your reader with an action-oriented opening that invites the reader to wonder what’s next. It doesn’t have to be a murder. Sassy dialogue, an intriguing scene description, even a phone call can work, but it must be something that gets your story off and running.

In her award-winning novel, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor puts her story into motion with eight innocuous words: “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.” If you’ve read the story, you know how meaningful that line turns out to be.

The first line of a story tells the reader what kind of book it is and what your author voice sounds like. It may or may not get you an agent or publisher, but you can be pretty sure your submission won’t instantly end up in the slush pile.

Mark your calendars to stop by the ebook launch of The Posse on Facebook, Wednesday, March 15, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. CST.

Follow this link to come by:  

I’m scheduled to be on tap from 9 to 10 p.m., but I’ll be popping in and out during the whole session.

Drop in, and leave a comment to be eligible for a prize. There will be wonderful prizes.
And if you sign up for my newsletter during my scheduled time on Facebook, I’ll gift you one of my ebooks.

If you have an urge to "like" something right now, like our FB page at

And, and . . . The Posse ebook is available now for an introductory price of 99 cents at

Is tax season giving you the shivers?
Author Kaye George has once again posted tax info to inform all you writers that you CAN deduct expensesand for many, many years. Below is a link to her post which also includes a link to changes for this year.

Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
California Kisses 10-book publishers bundle on Amazon 99 cents
Bad Day at Round Rock” a short story in  The Posse, a Western anthology of tales of action, romance, myth and truth.   


  1. I was excited that one of my students won a recent young authors contest and two state awards for poetry. These functions are very important for our children.

  2. Congratulations to your student! Wonderful affirmation of author talent.

  3. Thanks for the link to my blog, cj!

  4. You're welcome, Kaye. Your insights are much appreciated, and thanks for stopping by.


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