Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so thrilled to have this guest return to Escape With Dollycas. We learned in her previous guest post she had a little trouble at first defining her writing genre but she sure has that down pat now. She also has ventured into the thriller category with Mortal Deception and will soon be adding a paranormal series. She is one busy lady and I am so happy she could take time today to drop by and visit. She needs our opinion on a very important issue. I know you will all take some time to help her out. Please help me welcome Liz Lipperman.
First of all, it’s a pleasure to be back with Dollycas and all you readers. I decided to go right to the horse’s mouth (I can see my editor cringing at that cliché!) A while back I posed a question on Mysteries and Margaritas where I blog with four other authors, and I got the writer’s perspective. Now I’d like to find out what you voracious readers like to see when you open up a book.
In case you don’t know, I sold book 4 in my mystery series with a title and a one line blurb. Here’s the blurb for CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER.
When an international playboy ends up dead at the International Italian Festival, and Alex’s sister is accused of the murder, Jordan and the motley crew of neighbors hatch a plan that leads to the Godfather himself knocking at her door.
Okay, that’s what I had to work with. Knowing where to begin has always been a problem for me. In the past, I’ve struggled with wanting to put in too much back story too soon, but I think I have finally killed that demon. I write mysteries, so I know the first three chapters are set up.
In Beef Stolen-Off, there was no question in my mind where I should start. I wanted my heroine to go the Cattleman’s Ball where I introduce all the new characters. The lead in for this is Jordan talking with the Empire Apartments gang (recurring characters) about her assignment. I’m always so conflicted about how much I need to retell about the main characters. On one hand, I hate to bore those who already know these characters, but on the other, I have to assume some people are reading this book without having first read Liver Let Die. (What are you waiting on??)
In Murder for the Halibut, book 3, the setting is a culinary contest on a cruise ship. (Think Top Chef meets my Clueless Cook.) I went back and forth as to where to actually start the story. Should I put them walking onto the ship? What about starting out with the first competition which I called the Greased Lightning Elimination Round?
I finally settled on a scene on a fishing boat the day before the cruise when my heroine and the contestants spend the day drinking, eating, and trying to get bonus points by catching enough fish to feed the judges and 25 tasters in the elimination round. Of course, with contestants who will do anything to win the prize, all is fair in love and cooking competitions, and somebody ends up with a huge saltwater fish hook in his thumb. Did I mention booze plays a big part in the fishing trip?
Which brings me back to my original thought about where I should start book 4. There are several ways to start a novel. Here are a few of them with a made-up example.
1. Open with narrative.
The Texas heat burned down on the plains with the vengeance of Satan himself.
2. Open with dialogue
“Damn, it’s hotter than hell today.”
3. Open with action.
She grabbed her arm as a bullet pierced her shoulder, and she fell to the drought-hardened ground, feeling the heat of the Texas sun caking the blood as it ran down her arm.
Okay, I know these are lame examples, but you get the point. Although my writing style is to start with action, I have used every one of these in my books. The second one below is the first book of my new Dead Sister Talking Mystery Series coming from Midnight Ink next summer.
Liver Let Die– Single white female stuck in a dead-end job, looking for tall dark rich guy… (Narrative)
HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE—The first wave of light-headedness hit like an out-of-control hangover when she leaned forward to put the half-empty glass on the coffee table. (Action, albeit not much!!)
Murder for the Halibut — Whose hair-brained idea was this, anyway? (Dialogue)
I believe first lines are so important I change mine at least five or six times before I settle on one. I’m thinking for my new story I should open with my heroine Jordan meeting her love interest’s sister and mother for the first time. Maybe something like.
“So you’re the girl Alex has been shacking up with.”
Just kidding. These are cozies, remember??
Anyway, I’m really curious what you like to read right out of the box when you start a new novel. Narrative, dialogue, or action? Does the genre make a difference to you? Is that first line really important to you? Have you ever passed on a book after reading that line at the bookstore? I’ve decided I’m going to take your responses and write a post for my group blog. Writers are always interested in reader preferences. So, bring it on.
O.K. the second line in Beef Stolen-Off “What? That old bat kicked the bucket?” and we are off on another adventure with Jordan McAllister. It doesn’t matter how Liz starts the book because so are off on a amazing trip.
Liz, I hope you will visit again soon and often. You always make us smile!!! or laugh or have soda shoot out of our noses. (Well me anyway, when reading about the duck in the first book.)
Now be sure to answer Liz’s question!!!
Bonus Entries in the giveaway for comments!!
(A Clueless Cook Mystery)
2nd in Series
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Ben Perini
Cover Design by Sarah Oberrender
Jordan McAllister is the food columnist for the Ranchero Globe even though she is a pretty clueless cook.
She may not know much about cuts of beef but Lucas Santana, cattle baron, thinks her column may help boost beef sales so he invites her to the Cattlemen’s Ball. He even sets her up with a date for the evening. Unfortunately she doesn’t get to know him very well. Shortly after the dinner starts he starts to sweat and have trouble breathing. She winds up at the emergency room where she finds her date was dead on arrival.
It is not long before she realizes his death was no accident. She decides it is up to her to take the bull by the horns and lasso up the killer.
This release date of this book couldn’t have been planned better. The tv show Dallas is back on the air and in the very second episode the Ewings are at the Cattlemen’s Ball. I didn’t see Jordan hanging around but it sure wasn’t hard to imagine that a murder could occur there. The author tells me there was no coordination between the show and this book release, just a happy coincidence.
This installment really has the Big Texas feel. Hunky cowboys, huge ranches, and of course Texas BBQ. The new characters in this book were so well defined it was hard to believe we just met them. The Empire Apartments gang was back in full glory and we even got to spend some time with Jordan’s brother, Danny. Jordan’s love life was kind of hit or miss in this installment. Hard when the guy you want to get to know so much better has a job that can need him in an instant and keep him away for weeks. Jordan also finally makes a friend at the paper.
The mystery is USDA Prime as well. Plenty of diversions to keep the reader on their toes. We learn a bit about cattle raising too, some of it hair raising as well.
Marbled through the entire mystery are touches of humor I have come to expect from Liz Lipperman. She has the gift are creating sassy dialogue, unique observations and circumstances that can make you laugh out loud. In this edition, the brother/sister pranks and commentary were so entertaining.
This series is absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait until Murder for the Halibut comes out December 31, 2012. For now be sure to get your hands on Beef Stolen-Off today!!
About Liz Lipperman
Liz Lipperman writes mysteries to die for. Beef Stolen-Off is the second book of her Clueless Cook Series about a wannabe sports reporter who ends up writing the culinary column at a small town newspaper in Texas despite the fact that she can’t cook a lick. Her Romantic Mystery, Mortal Deception, written as Lizbeth Lipperman, is available now at Amazon and she’s just sold a paranormal series titled A Dead Sister Talking Mysteries Series to Midnight Ink. The first book, HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, also written as Lizbeth Lipperman, will release in May 2013. SHATTERED DREAMS, a Romantic Suspense will be available in the Fall. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her grandchildren and watching any and all sports.You can find her here.
Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!
U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.
Answer Liz’s question for 5 Bonus Entries !
If you publicize the giveaway anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End August 1, 2012 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
Click Here For Entry Form
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Comments on “Cozy Wednesday with Author Liz Lipperman (Giveaway too!)”
I love when a book grabs my attention and I can’t put it down. I don’t necessarily look for something specific in the first line, but like to have some action in the first few pages or at least a hint of some action. I did read Liver Let Die and really enjoyed it! I can’t wait to read about Jordan’s next adventure.
Kelly, thanks for your comment. I guess no matter what kind of line you start with, the rest of the story has to measure up. Hope you enjoy BSO.
I agree with Kelly- as long as the book grabs my attention within the first few pages, I’m good to go. When my attention is gotten and I can’t put the book down, I loose myself in the story and will sit and read a book through to the end. It isn’t necessarily the narrative, dialogue or action. I love multiple genre’s of books- amateur sleuth, mystery, suspense, thriller, christian romance, historical romance- but my absolute favorite is amateur sleuth. In bookstores, I usually read the back cover of the book- if my attention is grabbed there, then I’ll buy the book. I never actually read anything on the inside of the book or even open the book until I get home and comfortable so I can read it. I also agree with Liz, it doesn’t matter what kind of line you start with, the rest of the story does indeed have to measure up. Looking forward to reading Liver Let Die as well as Beef Stolen Off- I have added both to my TBR list. 🙂
I’m grinning from ear to ear that you’re going to test drive me, Amanda!! Hope you like my style. And thanks for you input. My writer friends will love this, although truthfully, we all know we have to keep you readers turning the pages one way or another or you won’t come back.
I do really love a catchy first line, it draws me in. I have not passed on a book based on the first line alone, but I have passed on one when the first page didn’t draw me in. I can sometimes tell in that first page whether the book will interest me or not (mostly that is in the writing style). I really enjoyed Liver Let Die and look forward to the rest of the books in the series!
Christine, you sound like an agent/editor. We know when we send something off, we only have that first page to impress. As a reader myself, I can’t say that I’ve passed on a first line, but I have bought a book that I might have been on the fence about because of it. Hey, thanks for the comment and for liking LLD.
While I do enjoy a good first line, I’ve read plenty of great novels with okay first lines, so they’re not essential to me. Some books even take 10, 20, or 50 pages to finally get good. I mostly like the language of a book. If the language is engaging, it makes everything much better. Characters and plots that aren’t that well-developed find improvement if the language is intriguing. For me the language is more important than action or dialogue, and in fact too much of both of those can make a book a little boring, though they make it faster to read through.
Now that’s something I would never expect–that too much dialogue and action could make a book boring. I am just the opposite. When I read a book and there is too much prose and descriptive writing, I wanna scream, “Dammit! Kill somebody or blow something up!!” Consequently, writing descriptions is my weakest point, and my books are dialogue/action heavy. I love it that there are different strokes for different folks, though. Thanks, Chris, for that intriguing comment.
I have found that my favorite first lines are usually a very descriptive narrative. I like for the first page to set the tone of the story- mystery, romance, comedy- and I usually decide within the first 10 pages if I am going to keep reading.
April, it sounds like you like the setup to come quickly. I agree with that, but as an author, sometimes we have to “paint the picture” as my sister would say. What I like to do is throw in a thought provoking line, then make the reader wait a few pages to really get it. Thanks for commenting.
I don’t have a preference as to how a book should start except that the first few lines really need to catch my attention. That would probably be done easiest thru an action scene but narrative and dialogue could and have, done it also. I know that’s really no help when it comes to writing those first few lines. I just know that if a book doesn’t seem to hold promise for me within the first chapter or so (I make myself give it at least that much.), I put it down or remove it from my Kindle, and go on to the next. There are so many seemingly good stories out there that I just don’t want to spend my time on something that isn’t strong right from the start.
Mary Ann, your take on it seems to be the one that’s been expressed by most of the commenters. It doesn’t matter how you start a book, you’d better keep it interesting. I have never been able to read Leon Uris because it takes him 50-100 pages to interest me. I know I have missed out on wonderful books because of it. Thank heavens for movies!! And here’s a first line from MORTAL DECEPTION, my Romantic Thriller, for you to contemplate. I was asked if it could be used in a help book for writers of mysteries and of course, I said yes. See what you think of the internal dialogue. Does it make you want to read more?
Before the night ends, I’m going to have sex with a total stranger!
My preference varies. I love a snappy line of dialogue to open things up…but I also like a great description and exposition. I truly enjoyed Liver Let Die and look forward to reading the next in teh series-as well as your other ventures!
Ah, Kat, I want to kiss you!! Thanks for those nice words. Several of the reviews I’ve gotten so far have indicated that although the reviewer liked LIVER LET DIE, they liked BEEF STOLEN-OFF more. Of course, I love them both since I am so vested in the characters.
I usually prefer narrative or dialogue. I don’t really like action start off with because I feel like it has to build from there and sometimes it doesn’t live up to expectations.
When choosing a book, I first go with the visual appeal of the cover. If I don’t like it, I don’t even bother. If I do like it, I’ll read the synopsis to decide whether I think I’ll like the story.
Ashley @ Dr. Pepper Diva
Another interesting observation. I never thought about the fact that the dialogue has to live up to its expectations. And I agree the cover is really important. Thanks for the comment, Ashley.
The cover and title caught my attention instantly. I like good plots and lively characters or those books that have a narrative and slowly build to a climax. I am a bookaholic! Your interview was great. I have “Liver Let Die”on my to read list I thank you for the chance to win your fab book!
Thanks, Cyndee. I just watched an online version of The Chew on ABC and they talked about 4 mystery novels with culinary catchy names. BEEF STOLEN-OFF was one of them, They were kinda making fun of the titles, but hey, I was on national TV.
Thanks for your comment.
I have no preference on the first line but like when it grabs my attention! When I next look up I’m at least several chapters into a great read.
What a fun interview.
I love a book like that, too, Karen, and hope you’ll say that about mine after you read them. Thanks for that comment.
I like the first line to grab my attention usually with something a little quirky since I like the quirkiness of cozies.
Sue, cozies are definitely quirky and that first line is so important. Thanks for the comment.
I am more of visual person. So what caught my eye was the book cover. Love the cover.
Thanks, Kiki. Berkley did a nice job with it. I think they did a nice job with the cover for MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT, too. You can see that on my website. www,lizlipperman.com
Thanks for your nice comment.
I don’t have a preference as long as it catches me. I love being drawn in on that first page but it wouldn’t be fair to the author not to keep going if I were not. I’ve read some wonderful books that took me a whole chapter before it hooked me.
Mamabunny, I wish everyone thought like you. sometimes the setup takes a little more time but when done right, it can be awesome. Thanks for commenting. (I recognize that name from other blogs.)
Great examples of opening lines. I’m not sure which I prefer to hook me into a novel. I suppose it depends on the genre. What I don’t like is information dumps at the beginning. I persevered with the Zoo Keeper’s wife and waded through 59 pages of dry info. only because we had chosen it for a book club read. I was glad I stuck with it in the end but probably wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t been the chosen book for that month. I think cozies tend to generally draw you in quicker.
I have no real preference. Some books start our really good and strong and they draw you in right away that you cant stop reading. Others give abit of the story background first then they reel you in. But if by the middle of the book it doesnt catch my attention I really dont feel like finishing the book – tho I always do cause who knows maybe the ending is a big surprise.
I generally like books that start out with either a very witty conversation, or a lot of action. Books that start out with lots of description tend to be too slow and tedious.
I like a good eye-catching narrative. Something to draw me in. It doesn’t matter the genre although there are a few I won’t touch. And, I really don’t care for too much unnecessary description. It slows books down and puts me to sleep.
I love to be drawn right in, but I could never give upon a book.I love to read and give the book a deeper look at least past the first few chapters to see if I like it,
I love starting off with dialogue. That way, you are plunged into the story and every word is important! I don’t like long descriptive beginnings. I want to get started. LOL
I do have an affinity for first lines. P&P being one of the best, of course! That said, if I really think about it, perhaps narrative would have a slight edge over the other two, but really, as long as it’s a good one, well thought out, I’ll stick with it!
Genre is somewhat important since there are genres I will never read under any circumstances. I don’t read the first sentence to figure out if I would like it. I read the summary. So summary is the most important in my decision followed closely by genre.
I base my selection of books on the summary ( and the cover of the book usually catches my eye also).. =)
No matter what genre Im reading,..I prefer dialogue with a little action to draw me into the story of the book. The first line is not what I base the book on, and Ive never turned away from a book based on the first sentence.
Anyway, I’m really curious what you like to read right out of the box when you start a new novel. Narrative, dialogue, or action?
I don’t have any sort of preference on how the book opens as long as it draws my attention.
Does the genre make a difference to you?
Genre is not super important to me either because I will typically read just about anything I can get my hands on. I enjoy a good book in any form.
Is that first line really important to you?
I do believe that the first line is pretty important as it’s the first thing the readers will see and it’s designed to introduce you the plot and draw you in.
Have you ever passed on a book after reading that line at the bookstore?
I can’t say that I’ve ever passed on a book because of the first line. I really do try to give all books a fair chance. I can usually tell if I’m going to like the book after the first chapter though.
Looking forward to reading your book!
I read all genres and like books to start with a little narrative to set things up and then go into action or dialogue. The first line is not critical for me but the story has to catch my attention in the first chapter or two. I’ve never passed on a book after reading the first line in a bookstore but I may pass on it after reading the blurb on the back if it doesn’t sound interesting to me. Great questions! I look forward to reading your book!
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