Friday, April 19, 2013

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Q is for Quicksand!

One of the hardest things about writing a novel is that tricky little thing called "hooking" the reader. Some say you should hook them in the first chapter... some say the first page... some even say the first line! This introduces today's letter - Q for quicksand. Yes, you should hook a reader's interest, but in one line? In one page? I've read too many first chapters of popular books that don't hook me at all. I broke a lot of these rules with Chasing Forever Down because the real "hook" doesn't come until the end of the first chapter, which I'm going to share with you today. Hopefully the ending of my first chapter is strong enough to "suck in" a few readers, leaving them trapped in quicksand and desperately trying to crawl out so they can read the rest of this book! ;)
Previously in chapter one, the MC Haley left a boring corporate party to hang out with this super-cool college-aged guy with great taste in music. But he disappears after that night, and she's on a mission to track him down. Here's how it plays out...

I recount pieces of last night for Mom when I get home, leaving out the part where I snuck off with a stranger, and drill her on the families with college-aged sons. She digs out the last edition of the “corporate yearbook” and wishes me luck on finding him. Even if he’s in this book, it’s five years old and may fail me. Still, this is my only option right now. As I thumb the pages, I realize the A’s are unpromising, full of daughters and much older children. The B’s provide the same results until page twenty-seven. Burks.
He’s not the same disheveled emo-boy-wannabe from last night. He’s well dressed. And blonde. But his face is the same, down to the cheekbones and his jaw line and the way his smile does that crooked thing where it’s a little higher on the left side than the right.

I fold the corner of the page and slam the book shut. I can’t get downstairs fast enough to ask my mom. She’s standing at the stove when I burst into the kitchen.

“What do you know about the Burks family?” I ask.

I drop the book onto the table and flip back to their page, hoping the visual aid may help Mom with details other than what company the family owns or how big their house is. She doesn’t walk over to the table, though. A reminiscent gaze sweeps her face, and she says, “Oh, they’re nice people.”

That tells me nothing. “What about their son, Spencer?”

She turns toward me, sad-eyed and nostalgic. “Spence,” she says. “They always called him Spence.”

“It’s him,” I say, pointing at his picture. “This is the guy from last night.”

This gets her to the table. She stares at the picture for what feels like too long, and I wait for her to say something, anything.

“Sweetie, there’s no way the guy you met was Spence Burks,” she finally says.

I shake my head. “I’m a thousand percent sure it was him.”

Mom shakes her head back. “It’s impossible, Haley. He died three years ago.”

And here's a little secret... Mark your calendar! This book is going to be free on Amazon next Thursday-Friday!

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