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First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: Closer to the Heart

I couldn’t resist including one of my favorite fantasy author’s novels. I’ve read most of Mercedes Lackey’s books, as have both my daughters. While they were teenagers, I think we passed her novels around the way we passed the chips and salsa. She is a master at creating believable fantasy worlds, and her world of Valdemar long stays in my mind, decades after reading dozens of her novels those many years ago.

Lackey has a very distinct, simple storytelling style, and does a great job at getting into character.  I thought Closer to the Heart would be a nice first-page example from this prolific author.

So let’s jump in, and then we’ll use my first-page checklist to examine what elements she’s nailed on this first page.

Note this is book 2 in one of her (many) series, and as we discussed in last week’s post, it’s important in a series to ensure new readers won’t have trouble getting into the story, as well as avoid too much “catching up” and telling what’s happened before the present action of the new installment. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Adventuress

Today, for our first-page analysis, we’re going to look at The Adventuress by Tasha Alexander. This novel is the tenth installment in a historical mystery series. Reminiscent of Raybourn’s Lady Julia series, Alexander’s series introduces a widowed, precocious Victorian lady-sleuth who finds love and romance and displays her sharp sleuthing skills with each novel.

Emily and husband, Colin, have come to the French Riviera for what should be a joyous occasion—the engagement party of her lifelong friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, and Amity Wells, an American heiress. But the merrymaking is cut short with the shocking death of one of the party in an apparent suicide. Not convinced by the coroner’s verdict, Emily must employ all of her investigative skills to discover the truth and avert another tragedy.

Opening Pages of Series

While it can be presumed that most readers of a series have read some or all of the previous novels and know the characters, writers should keep in mind that some readers won’t have. Which means those opening pages should be easy for anyone to understand and follow (I’ll soon be doing some posts on writing a series and what’s important to know).

On occasion, I’ve started to read a novel that was part of a series (not the first book) and found it too hard to make sense of. Frustrated, and unwilling to put out the effort to stick with the story (in hopes everything would soon be made clear) or go find the first book and read that before resuming, I give up. Continue Reading…

First Pages of Best-Selling Novels: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

In this post we’re continuing our look at best-seller first pages. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto By Mitch Albom is in the Religious/Inspirational category and rides high on the best-seller lists.

With a clever, catchy concept, this novel takes readers on a journey through the life of Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.

But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis, and even KISS. Continue Reading…

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