All tagged First Lines

First Lines, 12/24/18

First lines of the novel, "An Imperfect Present," I'm too mired in festivities to write today:

"It was Christmas Eve — the last one they'd share, though it didn't seem possible at the time. Even as high school sweethearts, they'd always taken one another for granted.

Just past sundown, carolers arrived — their breath visible against the raw night. Paul and Maria stared out the window, but did not open the door.

The world, it felt, had been closing in on them…”

First Lines, 11/25/18

First lines of the political thriller I lacked the motivation to write today:

"One by one, the senators emerged from the SCIF, silently and seriously making their way down the halls of the Capitol building and out the front doors with a sense of urgency — an unmistakable conviction.

None stopped to speak with the accumulating hordes of reporters that had filled the Senate Reception Room and lined the Capitol steps…”

First Lines, 11/04/18

First lines of the novel I was unable to write today:

"The murder sent ripples of rumor through the tiny town. Marina's body, found on a Saturday morning in front of the drug store in the middle of Main Street, prompted whispered allegations and accusations — turning neighbors against one another, and quieting families at dinner tables…”

First Lines, 09/30/18

First lines of the true crime novel I'm too road-weary to write today:


It was hot and sticky, and smelled like hot garbage. It was late May in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and the whole town was on edge. Unspoken racial tensions ran high, stoked by the recent murder of Jessica Chambers, a 19-year-old former-cheerleader in rural Courtland, Mississippi…”

First Lines, 08/25/18

First lines of the novel I'm unable to write today:

"The old man stooped to pick up a handful of pine cones, pitched them into a large pail and reached for the Round-Up.

Slowly, carefully, he sprayed each weed that sprouted between the paving stones. Given more time — and if it were ten degrees cooler — he would have pulled them…”

First Lines, 07/08/18

First lines of the novel I am unable to write today: 

"Steam rose from the pavement in Echo Park, outside of El Chubasco. It was the sixth day of a heatwave, but that Sunday afternoon's clouds had finally delivered on their promise.

It didn't do much to cool things off, but brought with it the hope of cooler days. Ariana and Sonny stepped out of El Paisano into the stickiness of the evening, looking north, then south — taking in the emptiness of Sunset Blvd…”

First Lines, 06/12/18

First lines of the novel that debilitating pain left me unable to write today:

"He watched her, both of them sitting together on that wraparound porch in the sticky heat of an Alabama summer. Slowly, she sipped her lemonade, legs crossed on that wooden porch swing, expressing her innocence.

Like a character in a Faulkner novel, she batted her eyelashes in the shade of a 100-year-old front-yard oak, speaking only pleasantries — at first…”

First Lines, 06/11/18

First lines of the novel I was far too busy to write today:

"'Honey, just come to bed,' said Joan. 'You'll be more comfortable.'

It was nearly 4:30 a.m., and Bill had been writhing on the bedroom floor for hours. For the first time in weeks, he could feel the warm pain radiating from the bruises on his forearms, a hungry throbbing in his veins…”

First Lines, 06/10/18

First lines of the novel I'm in too much pain to write today:

"Tyler had always been an exceptional liar.

In fact, only his parents knew that his name was NOT Tyler — and they were both dead. (They weren't. They were retired, living in Pomona.)”

First Lines, 03/01/18

First lines of the novel I was unable to write today:

"She'd never been the jealous type. But, more and more, she found herself experiencing that unfamiliar, involuntary twinge. It wasn't about trust. She was jealous of the people who got to see her every day…”

First Lines, 02/27/18

First lines of the never-to-be-written novel I was far too busy to write today:

"He remembered a time when he was driven only by curiosity. Life, in the meantime, had seemed to answer all of its burning questions – all of them replaced in his head by presumptions.

Then she walked in. His curiosity was reborn…”

First Lines, 01/22/18

First lines of the novel I was unable to write today:

“She sat beside him, wondering why places seemed so much lovelier when one was alone. He navigated the narrow canyon's hairpin turns expertly, hugging the center line and wasting no time gazing at the mountain scenery.

She was wishing she was at the wheel. She'd drive much slower, watch for wildlife, stare across that canyon and stop to take pictures for her Instagram followers…”

First Lines, 01/20/18

First lines of the novel I was too ill to write today:

"Marina walked quickly down Poplar Lane toward her best friend's house, stopping every block or two to catch her breath and wipe the rain from her eyes.

The summer so far had been slow, bringing leisurely days and late nights laying under the stars — the two talking about boys who didn't know their names, concerts, and troubles at home. But Marina knew that this morning's news, now rippling through the quiet, Midwest town, would almost certainly change that…”

First Lines, 11/18/17

First lines of the novel I was too distracted to write today: 

"He painted, in the basement, as Ravel's 'Bolero' played loudly.

He slammed his brush against the canvas as his neighbor stomped upstairs, inadvertently keeping time with the cadence of the masterpiece…”

First Lines, 11/17/17

First lines of the novel I failed to write today:

"The faint smell of kerosene hung in the air. Robyn liked that smell.

She often lit that old Coleman lantern late at night, before curling up on the couch, waiting for him to get home from the bar. The light it cast on the outdated portrait of Pope John Paul II made her feel a tiny bit better. Safer…”

First Lines, 11/15/17

First lines of the novel I resisted the inclination to write today:

"This is not just another innocuous story about a boy who feels bad about a girl killing herself. The world has enough of those.

Claire Muñoz left no note. She didn't leave 13 cassette tapes, either. She didn't feel the need to explain herself, or her decision to take 60 tablets of Cyclobenzaprine on that Friday night…”

First Lines, 10/04/17

First lines of the novel I didn't write today:

”As a boy, he used to slip away for hours on end — through the thicket of cottonwoods and Russian Olives, down near the river. He'd sit on the sandy bank, pick at the half-shells of freshwater mollusks, and seek out stones flat enough for skipping.

He was good at skipping stones, but he kept practicing. He practiced like it was an Olympic sport, his path to fame and fortune…”

First Lines, 10/03/17

First lines of the novel I had neither the time nor the inclination to write today:

"Santiago had lived a very good life. Although he had twice been married (and twice-divorced), he'd never had children. Now, at 79, his modest apartment and simple furnishings would certainly never lead one to guess he had nearly half a million dollars in the bank.

'Compound interest,' he used to say. "The most powerful force on the planet." And then he'd wink…”

First Lines, 10/02/17

First lines of the novel that today's barrage of tragic news left me too grief-stricken to write today:

”He arose from his seat in the waiting room — a place near the window which, after all these months, he'd actually come to think of as his own. The sliding doors whooshed open quickly, silently, and his eyes struggled against the blinding noonlight.

The young doctor's words — and the uncomfortable, bad-news grimace he hadn't yet perfected — still echoed, or rippled, like shockwaves, like... like...”

First Lines, 07/04/17

First lines of the novel, “The World It Kills Softly,” which I won’t write today, as it’s Independence Day:

“She lost him on a Tuesday. Together, they had grown up sharing everything. They were Irish twins — born nearly exactly nine months apart. Together, they had perfected forgiveness. They had perfected dreaming, manufacturing lives intertwined, raising nieces and nephews as their own. They didn’t bicker; she couldn’t remember a single argument.

The Leukemia finally took him on that Tuesday night in April of her senior year, just a few short months after the diagnosis…”