Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hooky First Lines

Hi all! I was so excited when Jacquelyn asked me to come over here and guest blog! I'm a big fan of her books and am eagerly awaiting Elijah (and damned upset we have to wait so long for it).

My name is Anya Bast. I write for Ellora's Cave and Berkley Sensation. I also recently sold a book to Berkley Heat (whee!) and have a novella in a Harlequin Spice anthology coming out next year. I write paranormal romance and I tend to write it on the hot side. Hell, sometimes it's flat out flaming kinky. It just depends. My EC books tend to be the kinkier ones. My Elemental Witches series, just out from Berkley sensation are more "spicy" paranormal romance.

That's me….

Hi everyone reading Jacquelyn's blog! Nice to meet you!

I don't look like I write ménage a trois and BDSM romances, do I? I know. I look like I should be asking if you want to buy some Avon products, but what are you going to do? Born with dark, smoldering good looks, I was not. More your Betty as opposed to your Veronica.

I started writing when I was very young, but didn't turn out my first full length novel until I was twenty two. I finally sold a number of years later -- to two publishing houses in the same week. I live in the country, (where the buffaloes roam and, dude, I am not kidding about that), with my husband, our toddler daughter, eight cats, two rabbits and a dog. The strays see "sucker" written right across our foreheads.

But I digress….

For days I mulled over what I wanted to talk about. What would be of interest to both readers and writers? Hmmm… Should I talk about writing process? What is it like to go from being an ebook author to a mass market NY pubbed author? Should I talk about paranormal creatures and the readers who love them? How about graphic sex scenes and infusing emotions into them. I discarded every idea that came to me for one reason or another.

In the process, I picked up Jacob and read the first line. "How ridiculously simple it would be to cause them harm." What a great first line! Immediately you're wondering who this person is. Who do they wish to harm? It compels you to read the next sentence, then the next paragraph. It hooked me.

So I decided to write about first lines and how they can hook the reader. See? A good topic for readers and writers.

I always spend a lot of time on the first paragraphs of my books, especially the first line. It's probably the part of the book I agonize over the most because I know that often it's the readers first introduction to the story and determines whether or not they'll read on.

Here are some of the first lines from some of my books, in no particular order.

Witch Fire (Berkley Sensation, June 2007) -- "He looked like sin and seemed like salvation. Salvation for her sluggish libido, anyway."


Witch Blood (Berkley Sensation, coming March 2008) -- "How to Catch a Warlock 101. Isabelle could teach that class."


Water Crystal (Ellora's Cave, 2005, print, ebook) -- "Bianca sat on the floor of the crumbling building where she’d taken shelter. Her solar-powered lantern cast a dim light, bathing the bleached walls of the room in an eerie glow."


Whisper of the Blade (Ellora's Cave, 2007, ebook) -- "The blade could injure the wind itself."


Blood of the Damned (Ellora's Cave, 2006, print, ebook) -- "Jade’s heavy boots clanged on the metal walkway as she trekked across the heart of Harcourt Prison. All around her men stood at the bars of their cells catcalling and shouting obscenities."


Edge of Sweetness (Ellora's Cave, 2006, ebook) -- "Ben had never believed in fate or destiny, not love at first sight. Hell, he’d never even believed in love. Codependency, maybe, but not love. He thought it was a myth, love. Just some name people gave to lust on steroids."


Tempted by Two (Ellora's Cave, 2006, ebook) -- "Theo watched the glass slip from Miranda’s fingers and crash to the floor as the goblin walked into the restaurant."


Blood of any Angel (Ellora's Cave, 2005, print, ebook) -- "If only he could’ve fallen for a woman like that one."


Getting Slayed (Dreams of the Oasis 4, Ellora's Cave, 2006, print, ebook) -- "Still a virgin. Was I destined to remain a virgin for the rest of my pathetic, royal life?"


Winter Pleasures: The Capture (Ellora's Cave, 2004, print, ebook) -- "Sienne glanced up, then lowered her eyes as was proper, but in that moment she memorized the visage of the man who would be her temporary keeper."


Blood of the Raven (Ellora's Cave, 2005, print, ebook) -- “He can make you forget your own name in bed.”


Contest time!!! Okay, kiddies…. I'll give you until Wednesday, August 22 to respond to this post. Tell me what some of your favorite first lines from books are. Tell me about how you LOVE first lines, or maybe don't really pay attention to them at all. Write about anything having to do with the first line/first few paragraphs of a book that you care to discuss. If you have any questions for me, I'll take those as entries too.

On Wednesday I'll post the winner, but I'll do in the comments to this post ('cuz Jacquelyn will have wisely denied me access to her blog by then. Heh.)

You want to know what you're playing for? (Best Jeff Probst voice) An autographed copy of Witch Fire and some yummy surprise goodies to go with it. Ready…set…GO!


Valerie said...

Hi Anya!!

I'm a big fan of your books and yes, first lines are very important. What a great subject. I don't always remember them though, so I couldn't go pick some favs unless I start hunting through all the books on my shelf and on the lappy, believe me, that would take a long time...hehe!! One of my fav comic fantasy author, Terry Prachett has some good first lines....always get you

Just a minute, just need to dust them off a bit. Right now...

Corporal Carrot, Ankh-Morpork City Guard (Night Watch) sat down in his nightshirt, took up his pencil, sucked the end for a moment, and then wrote:

Dear Mume and Dad,

(Men At Arms)

or...The wind howled. Lightening stabbed at the earth erratically, like an inefficient assassin.

(Wyrd Sisters)

or even...Watch...This is space. Sometimes called the final frontier. (Except that of course you can't have a final frontier, because there'd be nothing for it to be a frontier to, but as frontiers go, it's pretty penultimate...)

(Moving Pictures)

This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn't pretend to answer all or any of these questions.

(Equal Rights)

Ok, I'll stop there...hehe!!


Anya Bast said...

Hi Valerie! Awesome first lines. I have couple of his books on my shelf and I really need to read them. I love the one from Moving Pictures. Heh.

~ Anya

Stella Price said...

Hey Anya!

Loved Witch Fire and i loved this post! Have a great Day hun!


Jacquelyn Frank said...

Hello Anya,

Your post rocks and I hope you have an awesome day on Jacquelyn's blog!


Meljprincess said...

Hi Anya!
Very familiar with you, your site, and books. *g* That's a great picture!
My favorite first line comes from a book called BLACK BODY by HC Turk. It is as follows: "When I slid in my baby slime between my supine mother's legs, I did not comprehend the expressions of her accompanying friends, did not understand that one was a crone, and two were hags."

Valerie said...

Oh, I think we're gonna see some great first lines here!!!!


Susan said...

This is the famous first line that came to mind as I was reading your post. It not in romance, but it's one that has stuck with me since High School...hehe we won't talk about how many years ago that was.

"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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.--A Tale of Two Cities by Charlse Dickens

That's one looong sentence and I never could get past that. Never was one for classic literature, but I can appreciate it.

AmyC said...

Hi Anya! First of all...I loved Witch Fire! And second...your covers for your witch series are awesome!!

I thought this was going to be a hard topic to reply to but I got to looking at my books and which ones drew me in the most and it was The Vampire Lestat!! He has some great opening lines!

From The Vampire Lestat ~ "I am the Vampire Lestat. I am Immortal. More or less.The light of the sun,the sustained heat of an intense fire-these thingsmight destroy me. But then again, they might not."

From Queen of the Damned ~ "I'm the Vampire Lestat.Remeber me? The Vampire who became a super rock star, the one who wrote the autobiography? The one with the Blonde hair and the gray eyes,and the insatiable desire for visibility and fame? You remember."

And last from Blood Canticle ~ "I want to be a saint. I want to save sould by the millions. I want to do good far and wide. I want to fight evil! I want my life sized statue in every church. I'm talking six feet tall, blond hair, blue eyes-."

I just love Lestat!! How can you not??? :)

I'm off to picnic with the family. I'm kinda gettin yelled here!! OOPS!! :)

Anya Bast said...

Hi Stella! Thank you. :)

Skylar -- Thanks for your help with the password. You rocked the blog yesterday!

Melj -- Oh, that one gave me shivers.

Susan -- It's one of those books that sticks with you forever too. There can be no doubt about why it's a classic.

Amyc -- I'm a big Lestat fan too. However my fav book of hers is definitely The Witching Hour. Great first lines. All of them compelling. Have a wonderful afternoon!

~ Anya

Suzette said...

I'm one of those people that really doesn't pay much attention to first lines. I'm usually hooked by the blurb or even in some cases just by the look of a cover. I may be in the minority

Valerie said...

I think, even sub-consciously those first lines hook you into the story. If I read a really good one...I usually stop a second and inwardly!!! Hehe!!!


Valerie said...

Oh, and how about this....I just got a copy of Jacquelyn's Gideon and the first line of the Prologue is...

The Vampire eyed the Demon before him with a lengthy, contemplative gaze of midnight blue.

Now that is classy...!!


Stephanie*magic* said...

Hello Anya! First I wanna say I love your books. The Embraced books are some of my favs.Your covers are amazing also!
I'm one of those people that doesnt really pay attention to the first lines.Its the book as a whole that gets me.There may be lines that really stand out to me though.One of those for me was in ,well,that would be a spoiler,lol!It was in one of Jacki's books though.
Thanks for stopping by Anya!What a fun blog!

Jeanette J said...

I can't remember any first memory is not as good as it used to be. I don't choose a book because of the first line usually. The description has to interest me

Anna said...

Hi Anya...
I just picked up Witch Fire, it was recommended to me. It's alway great to find Minnesota Authors.

Let see some of my favorite first lines:

Dead Until Dark- Charlaine Harris:
I'd been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked in the bar.

Moon Awakening- Lucy Monroe:
Millennia ago God created a race of people so fiece even their women were feared in battle.

Working For The Devil- Lilith Saintcrow: My working relationship with Lucifer began on a rainy Monday.

Stray- Rachel Vincent: The moment the door opened I knew an ass-kicking was inevitable. Wheather I'd be giving it or receiving it was still a bit of a mystery.

The Killing Dance- Laurell K. Hamilton: The most beautiful corpse I'd ever seen was sitting behind my desk. Jean-Claude's white shirt gleamed in the light from the desk lamp. A froth of lace spilled down the front, peeking from inside his black velvet jacket.


Tracy said...

Hey Anya! Thanks for stopping by to blog. :)

I really liked the first lines you posted from your books and honestly made me want to read all of them! :) You obviously know how to capture a reader right away!

I definitley agree - Jacki's first line in Gideon is awesome!

My most recent favorite first line/paragraph has to be from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Devil May Cry.

Some say it's a poison that infiltrates the soul and strips it bare. That its path only destroys the one who treads it.
But to others, it's mother's milk. It nourishes and thrives - gives them a reason to survive when they have nothing more to hold them to this world.

Have a great day!

Kortne said...

Hey Anya! Just Wanted 2 say i LOVED LOVED LOVED Witch Fire and cant wait for your second one!! Great blog to BTW. Great first lines that have keep me reading are >>.....(The Nymph King by Gena Showalter.. Upon awakening , Valerian, King of the Nymphs, untangled himself from the naked, slumbering women beside him only to discover his liegs were entwined with two other naked slumbering women.))..Kresley Cole. No rest for the wicked.(Two of my brothers are dead Sebastian worth though, staring up from the floor as he fought to keep from writhing in pain.)) Jeannette Walls The glass castle..(I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a dumpster.))

OK thats some of the books that I remembered!!


Serena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie said...

Wel, its almost 11pm here and I need to get off to work. Gotta big work week, but I'll pop in on Wednesday to see who won this fantastic prize!!!

Knighty knight!!


Serena said...

First lines, ah, those are truly the most difficult and sometimes awe-inspiring things. One that comes to mind immediately is: MY FATHER had a face that could stop a clock. (The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde) this makes you think so many things, he's ugly? Are you serious? You're talking about your father that way? How do you look? But when it's followed with...I don't mean that he's ugly or anything; it was a phrase the ChronoGuard used to describe someone who had the power to reduce time to an ultraslow trickle. Then you realize you are in for one heck of a ride.

Then there's the line: Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unreguarded yellow sun.

It's so good that it's used twice in the same series! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams. It's because of these two UK authors I am proud to say that my sanity ebbs and flows *grin*

Shari C said...

Hi Anya, Loved Witch Fire and looking forward to Witch Blood. Great reads!!

A couple of books I enjoyed the starts of were:
Werewolves--furry pains in the butt. Werecats-sneak, whisker-twitching manipulators. Werejerks-every freakin' loser with a 'were' in front of its name. This started A Taste of Darkness by Nina Bangs and caught my attention.
"What if I told you I had a fantasy?" was from Lover Revealed by J R Ward and my imagination went wild.
They were created, not born. They were trained, not raised. They weren't meant to be free, to laugh, to play or to love. They were men and women whose souls had been forged in the fires of hell started Megan's Mark by Lora Leigh and grabbed my attention.
I think first lines can definitely be important, but would not be the only reason I would purchase and read a book.

Kat said...

Hi Anya!!!!

I've got Witch Fire in my TBR pile and I've heard such wonderful things about it. I love the first line - can't wait to read it :)

I'm very big on first lines in books. A good opening line can catch my attention like nothing else.

Here's a few of my favorites off the top of my head:

Slow Burn by Julie Garwood - "Kate MacKenna's Wonderbra saved her life."

Montana Sky by Nora Roberts - "Being dead didn't make Jack Mercy less of a son of a bitch."

Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James - "The day the Scotsman came to Lady Feddrington's ball, Annabel's sister decided to give him her virtue, and Annabel decided not to give him her hand in marriage."

And the classic, which is always one of my favorites:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Have a great week!!!!

Anya Bast said...

Suzette -- Usually I read the blurb, then the first page or so. If both those hook me, it's a done deal.

Valerie -- That's another good one!

Stephanie -- Thank you!! I had a lot of fun writing the Embraced series.

Jeanette -- It's a combo deal for me blurb and first line. I almost never go by reviews since people's tastes vary so wildly.

Anna -- I'm a MN native. I grew up there. I don't live there anymore, but I still have friends up there! Those are some kick-ass first lines.

Tracy -- Oh, that one gave me shivers. It reminds me I need to pick that book up, too!

Serena -- The answer is 42. Oh, and don't forget your towel.

Kortne -- I have that book in my TBR pile even as we speak.

Shari -- I've seen Megan's Mark quoted a lot lately. That IS a great first line.

Kat -- "Kate MacKenna's Wonderbra saved her life." BWAH!!

Caffey said...

Hi Anya. Beautiful picture of you! I loved being able to see all the covers here and to think back on scenes and that like that stayed with me after reading these.

Too I love the cover for the second WITCH book. Looks fab!! I too heard that the DAMNED book is in print, yeah! More to add to the wishlist! :)

I don't recall first lines in books, but do know of Jane Austen has some beautiful ones and those I know are spoken of often. I love historicals, the culture, the rules, so when I read these first lines, i'm picturing them! I wished I did write some down as I read books. I think for me, its more of the opening of the book that pulls be into the story, not necessarily the first sentence. I have never really looked to that for me with a book. But I have read some quotes like I said about Jane Austen, that I loved after I read them as quote (which there can be great lines anywhere in the books, your books).
Here's some first lines of Jane Austen's books:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.
- Northanger Abbey

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
- Emma

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch-hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Barontage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; . . .
- Persuasion

CrystalG said...

I can't remember any great first lines but I do think that they draw you into the story.

Cosmo & J.J. said...

Those are some cool first lines, Anya. Made me go check out a few of my own.

You're right. The first line always hooks me--or not. I love your work. :)

CinnamonGirl said...

Hello, Anya! Great blog! I've developed such a huge TBR pile since joining Jacki's message board & getting so many great suggestions. Now, I will have to add you to my pile, as well. :) Everyone really loves your books, and you've chosen some great covers, as well as great first lines! I'll admit, I'm a VERY visual person - so, a cover's illustrations grab me, first; title, second; blurb, third; and first line/paragraph, finally. Yet, since I DO have SO many books waiting in my TBR pile, I decided to look through some and decide which ones I might choose to read, next, based SOLELY on their first lines. They are...drumroll please LOL...
1) "Shadow Touch," by Marjorie M. Liu: "Shortly before being shot in the back with a tranquilizer dart and dumped half-dazed on a stretcher, right before being stolen from the hospital by silent men in white coats, Elena Baxter stood at the end of a dying child's bed, her hand on a bare foot, and attempting to perform a miracle." Already, I like Elena, and I'm intrigued as to who has taken her & why.
2) "Slave to Sensation" by Nalini Singh: "In an effort to reduce the overwhelming incidence of insanity and serial killing in the Psy population, the Psy Council decided, in the year 1969, to instigate a rigorous program called Silence." It just sounds very unique & edgy right from the get-go.
I'll end with one of my favorite opening lines to one of my favorite stories of all time: "Old Marley was as dead as a doornail. . . this must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate." ~ A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
Again, I look forward to reading your books, Anya! All my best ~ Ness

Amy S. said...

This is a quote from one of my favorite books. I still remember it today. I read it when I was a teenager and I still love it.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

"When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."

Anya Bast said...

The winner of my contest -- drawn randomly by my husband (blame him, please) -- is Stephanie*magic* !!!

Congrats! :)

Can you please drop me an email with you mailing address?
Anyabast (at)

Thanks for posting, everyone. You all rock over here on Jacquelyn's blog!! (I would expect no less)

~ Anya Bast

Tracy said...

Congrats Steph!!

Valerie said...

Ooooh, big congrats!!!!


Susan said...

Woohoo Steph! Congrats!

Stephanie*magic* said...

OMG Amy just told me,lol!
Thanks so much Anya!I cant wait to read Witch Fire!


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