The Importance of First Lines

The somber group of men sat in a large room that rested far belowground, accessed by only a single, high-speed elevator.

David Baldacci

In case you missed it, I really like first lines. There is such a graveness and beauty about their importance. Some readers judge a book by those first lines instead of by its cover. Imagine, a stranger picks up your novel in a bookstore, reads the first few lines, and crinkles their nose as they place it back in the shelf…what a nightmare!

Baldacci, David. Saving Faith. New York: Warner, 1999. Print.

Tinker Bell and Coffee

“I’m sorry,” Gwen said.

“No. It isn’t your fault.” She followed Gwen back to the nightstand where they resumed their original seating arrangement. “I’m frightened by the fact that someone could do this to you.”

“Why? Who am I? I wasn’t a fairy too, was I?”

The fairy laughed so hard that she would’ve fallen off her perch on the alarm clock if it wasn’t for the fact that she had wings.

Although she suspected that she was being laughed at, Gwen couldn’t help but smile at seeing the small creature happy for the first time. “I’ll take that as a no then.”

Tressa sighed, wiping tears of mirth out of her eyes. “You were never a fairy, but you do have magic. A great deal of it.”

It was Gwen’s turn to laugh, but more in disbelief that anything. She was the opposite of magical. “I need to call my boss before they mark me down as absent.”

“Alright.”

“Could you maybe go to the kitchen or something? Do you know how to turn on a coffee pot?”

“Yes,” Tressa said, “I’ll go start your coffee for you.”

“Thanks.”

~~~~

When Gwen got to the kitchen, the fairy was just sitting there in front of her Keurig with her hands on her hips, looking as if she were insulted by the thing. “What are you doing?”

“I can’t figure out how to work this thing. Too many buttons.”

“That’s fine. I can do it myself, anyways,” Gwen.

“But I wanted to help,” Tressa said, continuing to stare at the coffee machine and crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“Here. Like this.” Gwen showed her which buttons to push and how to put it in a new coffee pod.

“Oh.” She scrunched her face up. “These things used to be easier.”

“I actually think this one is easier.” Gwen grabbed her container of chocolate caramel creamer, her current fix, out of the fridge. “Do you drink coffee?”

“Sometimes.”

“Well, do you want some now?”

“I don’t think you have a coffee mug my size,” Tressa said.

Gwen pursed her lips and leaned against the corner as the pot gurgled and steamed fresh coffee into a mug behind her. “I actually think I might.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. My mom just sent me my old dollhouse the other week. Weird how good her timing was, right?”

The fairy just smiled at her.

Gwen went to the living room and started digging through a slightly dust covered box. “Unless you had something to do with it?”

“What makes you think that?”

“You’re magic, right?” Gwen rinsed out the tiny coffee cup before using an eye dropper to put some coffee from her own mug into it.

“Well, yes.” Tressa accepted the tiny mug from her. “But we can’t do everything. Each of us has different abilities.”

“Like Tinker Bell and her friends?”

Tressa gave her a blank stare, slowly putting the mug down on the table beside her.

Gwen raised her eyebrows at her expectantly.

“No. We are not related Disney’s recreation of fairies.”

“Well…” Gwen blushed. “It’s not like I have much else to go off of here.”

“Well, I don’t appreciate being compared to a cartoon.”

Gwen took a drink of her coffee, staring into the swirls of a little too much creamer. “You still haven’t told me why you’re here.”

The fairy sighed. “I don’t know how you’ll react.”

Gwen grabbed a different mug out of the cabinet; it was one the sort that you would see in old tea parties on little saucers while the ladies ate their cucumber sandwiches. She sat down at the kitchen table and put the cup upside down in front of her.

After studying the obvious makeshift chair for a few moments, Tressa gently landed on it. Her feet didn’t touch the ground, instead they swung back and forth, her heels gently tapping the porcelain covered in blue flowers.

“I’m listening.”

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Stephen King

Partly because I haven’t started reading this book yet, and partly because I love beginnings of novels, here are some words from the beginning of Stephen King’s novel The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I. I have yet to read anything by King and I’ve been intrigued by him for a while now, so I thought it was about time to delve into his work.

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

~Stephen King

Are you interested in this story? I am. Who are the man in black and the gunslinger? Why is the gunslinger chasing him? And why are they in the desert? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to go read now.

King, Stephen. The Gunslinger. New York, NY: New American Library, 1988. Print.

Black Sails (2014 -)

Here’s the post that I promised to give you yesterday. I’m sorry that I didn’t actually get it to you until this morning. I can guarantee that there will be a weekly quote later today because I just finished typing it up and scheduling it for later.

Rating: 4

Ever since the creators of Black Sails started releasing previews, my fiance and one of his best friends have both been super excited about it.

But Kevin was also shocked and disappointed that I, an English major, have never read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which Black Sails is a prequel to. I informed him that I haven’t the time or money to read all the books in the world (although I’d love to), and he said it was a children’s classic. But an adventure book centered around pirates isn’t typically directed at little girls. I plan on downloading it on my Nook and reading it soon in my wealth of free time (sarcasm sign).

I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to watch this particular show with Kevin, but I wound up watching the first episode with him on Saturday night at 8 pm.

Since Black Sails is on Starz, there is the expected language, bloody violence, and nudity. I don’t find these things necessary and they can make me uncomfortable, which is why I gave this show a 4. I’m not trying to say that explicit show or movies are bad–every artist has the right to express themselves–it just isn’t my favorite thing. Also, this is probably a show that you don’t want your children watching.

SPOILER ALERT

In the first episode, we meet Captain Flint (played by Toby Stephens) and his pirate crew as they’re attacking a cargo ship.

Two men on said ship are hiding below decks–the cook (played by Joe Vaz) and John Silver (played by Luke Arnold). The two get in a fight over something that the cook is attempting to keep a tight hold of and John Silver winds up killing the man. When the pirates find him, he claims to be the cook, so Gates (Flint’s First Mate, played by Mark Ryan) accepts John Silver as a new member of their crew. Considering the fact that John Silver isn’t actually a cook, the audience is left wondering how the coward will pull it off.

But there’s more interesting drama aboard Captain Flint’s ship to distract us form something as minimal as a floundering cook. Flint has been in the pursuit of a large treasure for months. This is a prize that would surely excite any pirate, but Flint hasn’t told anyone besides Gates what he’s doing. Uneasiness and mutiny grows among Flint’s crewmen.

The ship docks in order to sell what little they’ve stolen from their last attack to Flint’s backer, Eleanor Guthrie (played by Hannah New). Gates frantically works his connections in the game of pirate politics to try to keep Flint in his current position of captain while Flint himself goes off to talk to an aristocrat to help me find his treasure.

At the end of the episode, everyone is back aboard the pirate ship. Gates’ schemes have fallen through and Flint faces a vote that won’t be in his favor. Will he be able to talk his way out of this one?

You’ll have to watch the episode to find out!

Written Word

The greatest force that the written word alone can exercise is its ability to inflame one’s mind, one’s heart, one’s conscience into action–good or bad–without raising a voice, using physical coercion, or public embarrassment.

~From O.A. Battista’s “Quotoons: A Speaker’s Dictionary

This is the only quote on writing I could find in this book that boasts “Almost 5,000 Entries” on its cover. This book of “epigrams” is designed to “provide speech and conversation sparklers for any occasion.” While skimming through this book (I haven’t read it in entirety yet) something, other than the lack of writing quotes and what seemed to be an abundance of sexist quotes, bothered me.

Why didn’t Battista include the names of the people who spoke these quotes? Does the fact that he didn’t bother anybody else?

Battista, O.A. Quotoons: A Speaker’s Dictionary. Toronto: Academic Press Canada Limited, 1977. Print.

Writing Prompt #4

Today’s Writing Prompt is:

your favorite shape

My Response to Last Week’s Prompt:

Untitled

It’s vibrant pop of red
is so startling that, at least
at first, I’m so in awe
that I can’t identify what it is.
Once I do, what hope the little
bird brings..such vivacious life
in such a small thing
amidst the barren white
of cruel, crusty snow and ice.
Little male red birds and
female brown birds fighting
for warmth in a bush full
of tight red berries
bouncing into the snow as if
they were as startled as I was
by the birds’ sudden appearance.

Silence

I hear a lot of people say that the fear of death and the feat of public speaking are two of the main fears in my generation, but I disagree. I think it’s the fear of silence. We refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phones, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are. We fear silence like it’s an invisible monster, gnawing us, ripping us open, and showing us our dissatisfaction. Silence is terrifying.

~Jefferson Bethke, from “Jesus > Religion”

Bethke, Jefferson. Jesus > Religion. Nashville: Nelson Books, 2013. Print.