Friday, March 27, 2009

First Lines

How important is the first line of a book? What does it take to craft a must-read-the-rest-of-this excellent opening in a novel? I want to learn.

I am currently reading Long Gone Daddy by Helen Hemphill which opens with “The first time I met my grandfather, he was laid up on a porcelain prep table at the Hamilton-Johnson Funeral Home.” There’s no way I can stop reading after that first line!

My all-time favorite first line in a novel is from The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck: “If your teacher has to die, August isn’t a bad time of the year for it.”

I want to know: Do some writers naturally have the first line talent or can this skill be taught? Does it come easily or does it take weeks of tweaking to refine a novel’s opening line into a fantastic first line?

Do you have any tips on creating first lines? Any favorite first lines to share?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tea at the Hermitage Hotel

I am a big fan of afternoon tea. Last week, DH and I had tea at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. Before our visit, the Hermitage Hotel brought two facts to my mind: #1: the Olsen twins celebrated their birthday at the hotel last year during a trip to the Bonnaroo Music Festival and #2: the hotel has a famous men’s bathroom voted “America’s Best Restroom” in 2008. Women sneak into the Art-Deco themed restroom downstairs when the coast is clear just to see it. And yes, so did I. Now I know the hotel is also known for its afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea at the Hermitage is on the “125 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die” list compiled by the Nashville Scene. The Parker family, being transplants to Nashville for only a year and a half now, are working down the list to get to know our new town. Plus, we really like lists.

A few facts about the Hermitage Hotel:
Named after Andrew Jackson’s estate, the Hermitage.
Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel.
Visitors have included presidents, actors, and gangsters.
Both pro & anti-suffrage activists met here.
They serve a very fine cup of tea!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spellcheck is My Friend

Yesterday I took a spelling challenge on my friend, Kit Wilkinson’s blog. I thought I was an excellent speller. Let’s just say I’m glad it wasn’t a real test to see whether I will be allowed to continue to write novels.

It was a test on the 25 most commonly misspelled words, so I guess I’m not alone. Last week on this blog, I mentioned my appreciation of index cards. Now I must add spellcheck. And my dictionary. And my thesaurus.

Are you a good speller? Want to find out? If so, click here. How did you do?