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Tmonique Stephens

My Sexy Saturday August 24, 2013

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Here’s an excerpt from EVERLASTING, the second novel

in my Descendants of Ra series

 

 

 

 

Strands of Reign’s long hair swept across his face, partially hiding his expression. Alexis brushed the wayward locks away. She skimmed her palm down his sculpted cheek and through his short beard. His eyes widened and…he stopped breathing. Amazed that she had actually caused a man to stop breathing at her mere touch, Alexis leaned in for a taste, that’s all she promised. One kiss to settle the heat stirring in her blood. Centimeters away from his lips, she paused, then drew away.

There’s a reason you’re celibate, Alexis. Too many relationships had soured quick and left her swearing off men for the past year. But if there was ever a reason to end her diet, Reign was it.

He waited. Not a muscle betrayed his emotions, yet a vein pulsed wildly at the base of his neck.

But he lied. What if you approach this logically? You want him. Your panties are sticking to you, you want him so bad. So have him. Leave your heart out of it. Hell, men do it. You can do it too. Screw him, let him work all your kinks out. Just don’t fall in love with him so when the shit hits the fan—

I won’t be the one cut by the blades. She pressed her lips to his.

Holy hell! Nothing had ever tasted so delicious, felt as delightful as his firm lips slanted across her mouth. His whiskers gently brushed her skin, heightening her senses. His scent, woodsy with a hint of musk, filled her lungs. She leaned into him, parted her lips, and licked the seam of his closed mouth. He shuddered, and his lips parted. His tongue darted inside her mouth and ignited her blood. He wanted her. She didn’t just feel in it in his touch, but knew it as if she were peeking into his soul.

They yanked apart, she panting while Reign inhaled sharply and exhaled deliberately. His pecs heaved as his gaze devoured her. Nothing made sense, not the heat surfing through her body or the hunger gnawing at her soul. Kissing Reign erased the presence of every man who had ever touched her. Flustered, she glanced down and saw her finger still pressed between his. 

He released her. She wiped away the smear of blood and found perfect new skin. “Okay, so how did you do that?” She held up the healed digit to his puzzled stare.

“I do not know.” His gaze shifted away.

He’s lying. Disappointment dissolved the lingering taste of him. Wow, that didn’t take long.

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My Sexy Saturday Post August 10, 2013

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This is a snippet of my WIP, Evermore, the third novel in my Descendants of Ra series. 

Meet Avery and Emeline!

A shift in the air alerted him that he was no longer alone. The hesitant whisper of feet gliding across the carpet revealed his intruder. Could he not have a moment alone? Maybe if he didn’t move she would go away and leave him to finish his repairing his wall. But her scent—a desert rose mix that promised a dangerous ride—tortured him.

Silence ensued, stretched painfully he had to opened one eye and peered at her. Pity welled in her startled eyes as she stared at his scars. He wanted neither.

“Leave. Now.”

Her gaze shot to his. Questions danced in her eyes. Questions he refused to answer. It would serve no purpose to spill his guts to a woman who saw him as less than. Her hand reached for him. Avery almost leaned into it, he craved her touch that much. But not while pity surfed in her hazel eyes. He’d have none of it.

“Don’t,” he snarled and grabbed her hand.

“It’s…”Her voice wavered.

He held his breath, waiting for her to finish her sentence with any of the words on his personal list: ugly, grotesque, monstrous.

“Beautiful.”

Huh? He hadn’t heard right.

“Your tattoo, it’s intricate and beautiful.” Her gaze caressed the swoops and swirls.

Suddenly, he wanted her to touch him, all of him, but that was not going to happen. “I did it to hide the scars. Didn’t work.” He’d never admitted that to anyone, even E.J.

Again, her hazel eyes filled with pity and her hand kept coming, as if he hadn’t ordered her not too. He was about to push her away when she veered to his face. His breath caught, stilled by the possibilities of the moment.

She traced his face with lazy fingers. Her almond-shaped eyes, fringed with long sooty lashes, were focused, intent on the torture she was inflicting on his flesh. A gleamed of interest sparked in their depths and a sultry smile tugged at the corners. Was he dreaming?

It had been more than twenty-four hours since he last closed his eyes for more than a few minutes. Dreams eluded him. Either he slept like the dead or nightmares chased him from a restful sleep. This was neither. This was a fantasy come true.

She touched at his arm and swept her thumb over the slight scar. “Your wound? It’s gone. Want to explain?”

He wanted to kiss her, part her soft pouty lips and taste her. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders. “Genetic anomaly. I heal fast.” He waited for more questions, but she cupped his face, rubbed her palm over his day old stubble. Desire stabbed his core, turning the darkness within him into a sea of need.

Take her. Take what you want. Spread her. Fuck her. Take. Take. The darkness whispered, taunted, and finally screamed. Avery balled his fists and kept them at his sides, anything to keep from humiliating himself. If only he could lock away his unending need for her, treat her as client and not the only woman who’d ever made his blood simmer.

If he could do that, then he could walk away, but a little bit of Emeline wouldn’t be enough. And if he couldn’t have it all, he’d rather have none. He had to leave.

I hoped you liked it. Be sure to get the Eternity and Everlasting before Evermore is released in 2014!

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My Sexy Saturday July 6, 2013

This is an excerpt from Everlasting, releasing July 15th.

LynnSexySaturday_buttonHis firm lips kissed the delicate spot above her collarbone. Did he know that would drive her crazy? She grabbed his broad shoulders. Her nipples tightened. Desire coiled low in her groin. His long, midnight hair brushed the back of her hand. She threaded her fingers through the silky strands and arched, bringing her nipples into contact with his hard pecs. Need shot through her.

His lips stroked up the column of her neck. She turned her head, giving him complete access to the sensitive skin. He chuckled, a deep, sensual sound that reverberated through her and made her want to hear him laugh.

A velvety touch circled the shell of her ear. She giggled and twisted her head to get away, bringing their lips within centimeters of contact. Would he finally kiss her? Through the fall of his hair, she glimpsed his eyes. Deep ocean blue. She struggled for air as she drowned in their watery depths.

His hands tightened on her bare hips. Her legs parted and slid up his muscular thighs. She was more than ready for him. He said her name. Whispered it. “Alexis. Wake up.”

Detective Alexis Lever shot straight up in her bed. Her breath hitched and her heart ran a marathon in her chest. 

Wow.

She’d dreamed of him before, but never so vividly. He was always shrouded. Shadows masked his face and a great distance separated them. Tonight, she felt his touch, glimpsed his face.

 

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COMING JULY 5TH

 

 

My Sexy Saturday Post

 

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Here are 7 sexy paragraphs from Everlasting, book 2 in my Egyptian God series. Coming soon.

 

For countries, for kings, and for emperors, he killed. To honor the Nicolis name, he killed. And to protect the one person he loved—his brother—he killed. Too many to count fell beneath his blade, but each victory came with a price.

Roman must return. Without his brother’s easy temperament to balance the darkness in Reign’s soul, the Vanquished ruled, and he would become a madman, no better than the beast he chased. Soon he would lose rational thought and descend into madness. He hadn’t traveled all this way to become the thing he would destroy. No. His fingers cracked the hard surface of the black ground, searching for earth to hold onto and center him. Sometimes touching the ground from which all things sought sustenance helped suppress the riot in his brain. But there was no dirt beneath the surface of this strange ground. An ashy, gray substance covered his fingers instead of fertile earth.

A distant whimper reached Reign and gave him the strength to turn his head a fraction. A woman stumbled from the house. She wobbled on unsteady legs. A wild, curly mass of hair obscured her view. She rested on one of the wooden columns. One wrong step and she’d trip on the scattered debris and tumble down the stairs. He had to get to her before she fell.

Fighting the invisible demons weighing him down, Reign forced himself to his knees. Then he crawled. With each step, the cries of the Vanquished lessened, replaced by calming silence. If he were pious, he would offer a prayer that she stay put until her reached her.

She pushed away from the column. Her knees buckled. Seconds before her skull would’ve smashed onto the ground, Reign materialized. He dove beneath her and absorbed the brunt of the fall.

Damn the gods. The feel of her solid form blasted through his petrified center. He hadn’t realized how much he missed this. Human contact. The simple act of touching and being touched. Warmth and the softness of a woman. So long denied, now he feasted.

He buried his face in her mass of curly hair and inhaled jasmine and honey. A moan ripe with longing ripped from his throat and he fitted her lush curves more intimately to him. She shivered and her breath curled in the air. Gently, he rolled and let her slide from his arms to her back. The pale glow of artificial light bathed her face and he forgot to breathe. Something so lovely couldn’t be real. Wasn’t real. Touching her shouldn’t be allowed.

Love of Mythology Giveaway Hop.

 

 

Welcome to the Love of Mythology Giveaway HopFTLOMBanner_zps33192fbd

ETERNITY is part of the giveaway!!

 

Why did I choose to write about the Egyptian Gods?

About five years ago, I decided I wanted to write a series. I’ve always loved paranormal romances, vampires, werewolves, the fey, shape shifters, novels about other worlds inhabited with different species. Naturally, I gravitated to what I enjoyed reading, but I was tired of the usual books populating the genre. Fangs, claws and fur, oh my. I considered writing about the Greek Gods, but I had recently started reading a popular series about the Greeks and I felt I had no new ideas to offer.

Then I thought of the Egyptian Gods. Ancient Egypt is one of the most well documented cultures. Although the Egyptian Gods have a wealth of history and folklore, there aren’t many fiction books about them. Their story remains untold.

With hundreds of deities to choose from, I settled on the four: Nu, mother of the pantheon. SET and Nephythys, estranged spouses and their unwanted son,  Anubis. I added two humans, twin brothers Roman and Reign. As their stories unfold, so does the treachery, avarice and lust of the Egyptians gods. I’m having a blast writing discovering these fascinating characters.

Eternity is a story of reincarnation and redemption. Roman Nicolis, a mercenary falls in love with the Elyssian, the wrong woman. He seduces her, taking her virginity and cursing them both. For two thousand years, Roman wanders the earth searching for the only woman he can love. Time and again, Roman finds her, only to lose her horribly. Now, in present day New York City, they meet again. And this is his last chance to get things right.

 

Eternity-Final242 (3) (480x640) (225x300)EXCERPT

Curled on his body in the middle of Central Park, Roman let Stella sleep. Holding her wasn’t a hardship as his mind wandered to the future, their future. Foolhardy, definitely, but what else could he do when he held the object of his obsession in his arms?

Remember your promise and let her go.

He stroked a wayward lock of hair behind her ear and slid his fingers down her silky cheek. She nuzzled him, turned her face into his palm and kissed him. Every noble intention evaporated like a bead of sizzling water in a hot skillet. Cock rock hard, he had to kiss her, feel her breath on his skin, in his body. In the deserted park, he needed her now.

The fine hairs on the back of his neck bristled. He froze. Battle instincts surged to the forefront, screaming for action, instead, he listened to the night surrounding him and waited. Though not a hub of wildlife, the creatures of Central Park were silent. They also waited. Somewhere, nearby, a predator stalked.

He nudged Stella. She stretched, making him aware of every curve and hollow she possessed, and purred, a sexy rumble deep in her throat. Before she could say a word, he cupped her head and pulled her into a quick kiss.

“Shhh, we’re in danger,” he whispered against her lips.

Her head popped up and she eased off him. In the gloom, her frightened eyes met his. “What?” She mouthed.

“We have to get out of here.”

Crouched low, he took her hand, together they crawled along next to the hedge. He looked over. His keen eyesight picked up nothing and no one. So why did the same excitement he used to get before a battle race through his veins? Stella squeezed his hand. Her wide eyes sent him a question he couldn’t answer.

He drew his gun from the small of his back and the silencer from his jacket pocket.

“Roman?” Her voice wavered.

He spared her a glance. “Whatever happens, do exactly as I say. Understand?”

Her head bobbed on her neck.

“Walk beside me, not in front or behind. Got it?”

Not far from the nearest road, they stuck to the trees and away from the open expanse of the Great Lawn.

Leaves crunched behind them. He’d never run from anything in his life. Even before the curse and his immortality, he stood his ground and killed everything in his path. Now, whatever stalked him, stalked her. His senses told him only one lurked in the darkness, but with Stella to protect, he couldn’t risk it.

The Delacorte amphitheater loomed ahead. He guided her into the shadows. Stationed behind a statue, he aimed and watched the route they had just taken. Stella clutched his jacket, her shivering body pressed close.

“Tell me.”

“There’s someone out there.”

“It could be anyone, ’kids maybe?”

“Maybe.” He agreed purely to reassure her. But as he spoke, one hundred yards away, something peeled away from the shadows of a large tree and charged.

“Stay.” He ordered. Through his jacket, her nails dug into his back. He pulled away, but she wouldn’t let go. He shrugged out of his jacket and advanced. She called to him, begging him to return, but the blood rushing in his ears drown out her voice. He rushed forward and focused on the attacking foe.

Wait. He skidded to a halt. He had a shot, but . . . something was wrong. The height was too short. Whoever ran toward him must be a child—or running on all fours. He squinted at the slice of darkness closing the distance between them. The tree coverage ended and speckled moonlight dotted the Great Lawn, uncovering the thing barreling forward. For a split second his mind tried to unravel the impossible nightmare quickly shrinking the distance, before he fired three shots between its widely spaced eyes. It roared and charged faster.

“Run, Stella!” He fired running back to the theater. She hadn’t listened. Instead of running away, she met him. He grabbed her hand and ran, but she couldn’t keep up and the thing behind them closed the distance.

“Is it him, The Strangler?” she shouted breathless.

They ran past The Preserve, rounded a column and then stopped. Shrouded in gloom, the outline of the pond appeared in front of the Belvedere Castle. He didn’t want her to see what chased them, but before he could stop her, she turned. Her scream pierced the night. Yards away, a bellow replied. He jerked her around and shoved. She stumbled and fell into the water.

“Go!” This time, she didn’t fight. For a second, he watched her swim. Then turned in time for claws to dig into his side.

 

WET N WILD BLOG HOP

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Keep with the wet and wild theme of the I’ve post a sexy shower scene from,

EVERLASTING, the second novel in my Descendants of Ra Egyptian God series.

Transfixed, Reign couldn’t take his gaze from her pert, coral tipped ample breasts which balanced above a narrow waist that flared to voluptuous hips and a fiery strip of hair shielding her core. Everywhere his gaze traveled, her curvaceous body took his control on a dangerous trip.

Water cascaded from an overhead spout, plastering her hair in coppery waves, and streaked down a body built for pleasure. She plucked a container off a shelf and poured a substance into her palms. Whimsical jasmine scented bubbles erupted wherever she touched. They glided down her breasts, playfully peek-a-booed with her rigid nipples, dipped into her bellybutton, curved over her hips, tangled in her nest, and finished the marathon by racing down her long, graceful legs. Gossamer suds clung to places he wanted to taste and touch, linger over, revere.

She lathered her rear, cupped and caressed her flesh.  Foam cloaked her, then sluiced off leaving behind perfect skin. He tried to close his eyes to keep from lunging forward and claiming what his body demanded, but he couldn’t deny himself this pleasure. He had to see.

Alexis stared at him. Beads of water clung to her lashes, making her eyes sparkle. He waited for her to order him away, something Nephythys would do. A sultry smile graced her pouty lips as she crooked a finger and ordered him near. Fully clothed, he stepped under the spray.

She giggled and laughed . . . at him. A tinkling sound filled with mirth that carved out a hollow space in his heart. He was about to escape as far away as the tether would allow when she plucked the soaked shirt from his chest and slipped her hand beneath. His skin sizzled where she caressed. Her other hand skimmed down to his crotch.

His world shifted from a dismal abyss to a carnival filled with carnal delights all centered on one woman.

“I want you naked. Now,” she demanded.

His throat dried and the barrier keeping her hand from his hard cock vanished. Her soft palm gripped him hard. Her thumb slid over the tip and spread his juices. Slack-jawed, the back of his head slammed into the wall. Ripples of pent-up passion spread from his cock outward to every part of his being. She cupped his tight balls. His breath became ragged, whizzing through his lungs, whistling through his clenched teeth. She stroked him; up, down, around. Pumping with a steady rhythm until thought ceased and his hips took over.

She stopped, though her hand still fisted around the base of his shaft. He throbbed.

Do not cease!

She stepped away leaving him bobbing in the air and desperate for her touch. Water dripped from the tip of her nose to her cleavage and trailed down her abdomen.

“Turn around.” She ordered.

As he turned, she squeezed a handful of thick liquid into her palm from the same container. Jasmine and honey filled the air and he recognized it as the unique smell he always associated with her.

“Arms up and on the wall . . . please.”

Curiosity aroused as much as his body, he leaned forward and complied. Soapy hands shocked his nerve endings as she glided up the center of his back, over his shoulders and up his arms as far as her hands could reach, then scratched her way back down. A groan rumbled from his throat and he arched into the sensation.

“You like?” Her breath fanned his skin.

“Yes.” He panted.

Alexis soaped his buttocks. She slipped a hand between his legs and stroked from his thigh to his ankle, switched to his other leg and slid back up.

Torture.

Never had a woman touched him so boldly.

“Now for your front.” She stepped back as he turned. Her gaze traveled over his body. Heat ignited in her eyes.  “Damn, you’re beautiful.”

Reign couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. He’d been called many things in his long life, but beautiful wasn’t on the list. For the first time, he was afraid. A woman had brought him low before, he couldn’t chance it, not again.

Fingers roamed his chest, teased his nipples, and eased down his abs. She took his hand and pulled him beneath the spray. On tip-toes, she leaned into him, her nipples pressed into him while her breast pillowed against his chest. Millimeters away from his lips, her tongue flicked out and licked his bottom lip.

“What are you waiting for?” Her belly brushed his arousal.

“You tease.” He didn’t recognize the strained voice that exited his mouth.

“Never about this.”

“You dangle what I want only to snatch it away the moment I reach for it.”

She grabbed his hands and forced him to her breasts. Her nipples pressed into his palms. Every muscle in him turned rigid. He crushed his lips to hers. She slid her hand up the back of his neck, slanted her lips across his, and drew his tongue into her mouth. Lost in the feel of her lush body and heady scent he wanted to lose himself in all she had to offer.

Reign yanked away. Rational thought was moments away from crumbling. “You don’t want this.”

“I do. I want you.”

Her slippery body drove him insane. And he adored it, loved that she made him want to commit a crime just to be near her, never wanted it to end.

Damnation. “. . . I won’t be gentle. I can’t. Not this time.” He hated that his voice trembled along with his body.

“I’m a big girl. I can handle you.”

Did you like it? Be sure to read Eternity, the first in the series before Everlasting’s release in August.

I’m giving away a copy of Eternity, print or ebook to a lucky commenter.

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Sneak Peek Sunday Cinco De Mayo! Villains Need Love Too.

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I’m continuing with the scene from last week.  Everlasting, is the second novel in my Egyptian God series.

 

 

SET, The God of All Evil, needs love and affection, just like a regular guy.

SET drew his expanded self together and calmed, reined in his darkness. Once composed, a tendril wrapped around her waist and dragged her limp body to the edge. He transformed from his preferred state to a more solid form, his dark swirling essences, momentarily trapped beneath a barrier of thin, translucent skin. He could be any-thing, male, female, or animal, but he made himself into a form he knew she would desire; a tall, muscular male. He looked down and studied his member jutting proudly forward. Cylindrical, the appendage had none of the features that completed the male anatomy. No sacs containing DNA, no veiny sinews, and no bulbous head with a slit opening.

Not his favorite form, he tolerated it for Nephythys. His gaseous state was much more functional. The boundaries of flesh disturbed him. Limited him. Made him vulnerable to all the vagaries humans suffered. Never would he bind himself into human form. She would have to accept this substitute.

SET spread her legs apart and studied her opening. Dry, no moisture wept for him. In his gaseous form, her arousal didn’t matter. He could penetrate every part of her body, simultaneously filling, repeatedly until all his frustrations were excised.  He touched the jutting part of him to her opening and felt her shriveled membranes brace. This will hurt, he thought with a cruel grin. His essences pulsed beneath the translucent skin, taking pleasure at the thought of her pain. But physical pain healed while a wounded heart festered.

Somewhere on the island, her spirit waited for his departure and the ritual cleansing to be completed. Once the Nulls removed all evidence of his presence, only then would she rejoin her body. Nothing of his visit would remain. Angry, he thrust inside and buried as deep as the appendage allowed. Something pricked his eyes, and a bead of moisture rolled down the slope of his face. He touched the strangeness, smoothed it between his fingers.

Tears. He jerked away from his wife and reverted to his gaseous state. This is why he never took the disgusting form. Quivering in annoyance—or maybe fright—he fled the destroyed room and ended up in the alcove.

Thank Ra she wasn’t here to witness the display. It would give her pleasure to see him so weak. Her laughter would ring in the council chamber. The God of Evil would not suffer humiliation. Agitated, he swirled about the room, brushing every surface, filling every microscopic crevice. He brushed something. The remnants of man.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Weekend Writing Warriors April 28, 2013

 

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Meet SET, The Egyptian God Of All Evil. One of the villains in Everlasting.

Though he is evil, he loves and seeks to be loved in return. Unfortunately, he wife’s love is reserved for another. 

SET wanted nothing more than to feel life in the body of his wife. A smoky tendril stretched out from his gaseous form and skimmed the empty shell she’d left him, but what a beautiful shell. Her dusty pink nipples topped globes of taunt flesh.  A flat abdomen led to trim hips and a smooth mons. If only her legs would willingly open, cradle him, welcome him into her dark recess and their sensual embrace.  Angry, he vibrated, and a jagged strike of red lightning flared in the center of his mass.

Per their agreement, for three millennia he abstained from enjoying carnal delights with his wife. At council meetings, her sparkling presence reminded him of what he didn’t have—never had.

Who is SET’s wife? Nephythys, The Goddess of The Dead. 

Everlasting, coming in June.

What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

This is reposted. Click link for original article.

What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents.

 

 

What NOT to Do When Beginning Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

photo by kirstyhall

GIVEAWAY: I am very excited to again give away a free book to a random commenter. The winner can choose either CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORMor the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS. Commenters must live in the US/Canada; comment within one week to win. Good luck!

In a previous Writer Unboxed column, I discussed the value ofstarting your story strong and how an “inside-out” approach to narrative action can help your case. But just as important as knowing what to do when beginning your novel is knowing what not to do.

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents. They’re the ones on the front lines — sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they’re the ones who can tell us which Chapter 1 approaches are overused and cliche, as well as which techniques just plain don’t work. Below find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see the first pages of a writer’s submission. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!

FALSE BEGINNINGS

“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter 1. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
– Cricket Freeman, The August Agency

“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”
– Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

IN SCIENCE FICTION

“A sci-fi novel that spends the first two pages describing the strange landscape.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

PROLOGUES

“I’m not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page 1 rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it.”
– Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”
– Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”
– Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

EXPOSITION/DESCRIPTION

“Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with an opening chapter is when an author features too much exposition – when they go beyond what is necessary for simply ‘setting the scene.’ I want to feel as if I’m in the hands of a master storyteller, and starting a story with long, flowery, overly-descriptive sentences (kind of like this one) makes the writer seem amateurish and the story contrived. Of course, an equally jarring beginning can be nearly as off-putting, and I hesitate to read on if I’m feeling disoriented by the fifth page. I enjoy when writers can find a good balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further.”
– Peter Miller, PMA Literary and Film Management

“The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

“I dislike endless ‘laundry list’ character descriptions. For example: ‘She had eyes the color of a summer sky and long blonde hair that fell in ringlets past her shoulders. Her petite nose was the perfect size for her heart-shaped face. Her azure dress—with the empire waist and long, tight sleeves—sported tiny pearl buttons down the bodice. Ivory lace peeked out of the hem in front, blah, blah.’ Who cares! Work it into the story.”
– Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

STARTING TOO SLOW

“Characters that are moving around doing little things, but essentially nothing. Washing dishes & thinking, staring out the window & thinking, tying shoes, thinking.”
– Dan Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t really like ‘first day of school’ beginnings, ‘from the beginning of time,’ or ‘once upon a time.’ Specifically, I dislike a Chapter 1 in which nothing happens.”
– Jessica Regel, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

IN CRIME FICTION

“Someone squinting into the sunlight with a hangover in a crime novel. Good grief — been done a million times.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

IN FANTASY

“Cliché openings in fantasy can include an opening scene set in a battle (and my peeve is that I don’t know any of the characters yet so why should I care about this battle) or with a pastoral scene where the protagonist is gathering herbs (I didn’t realize how common this is).”
– Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary

VOICE

“I know this may sound obvious, but too much ‘telling’ vs. ‘showing’ in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should present a compelling scene, not a road map for the rest of the book. The goal is to make the reader curious about your characters, fill their heads with questions that must be answered, not fill them in on exactly where, when, who and how.”
– Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency

“I hate reading purple prose – describing something so beautifully that has nothing to do with the actual story.”
– Cherry Weiner, Cherry Weiner Literary

“A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say ‘Open with a hook!’ to grab the reader. That’s true, but there’s a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that’s just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue.”
– Daniel Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t like an opening line that’s ‘My name is…,’ introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. There are far better ways in Chapter 1 to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader.”
– Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Sometimes a reasonably good writer will create an interesting character and describe him in a compelling way, but then he’ll turn out to be some unimportant bit player.”
– Ellen Pepus, Signature Literary Agency

IN ROMANCE

“In romance, I can’t stand this scenario: A woman is awakened to find a strange man in her bedroom—and then automatically finds him attractive. I’m sorry, but if I awoke to a strange man in my bedroom, I’d be reaching for a weapon—not admiring the view.”
– Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency

IN A CHRISTIAN NOVEL

“A rape scene in a Christian novel in the first chapter.”
– Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

CHARACTERS AND BACKSTORY

“I don’t like descriptions of the characters where writers make them too perfect. Heroines (and heroes) who are described physically as being virtually unflawed come across as unrelatable and boring. No ‘flowing, wind-swept golden locks’; no ‘eyes as blue as the sky’; no ‘willowy, perfect figures.’ ”
– Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

“Many writers express the character’s backstory before they get to the plot. Good writers will go back and cut that stuff out and get right to the plot. The character’s backstory stays with them—it’s in their DNA.”
– Adam Chromy, Movable Type Management

“I’m turned off when a writer feels the need to fill in all the backstory before starting the story; a story that opens on the protagonist’s mental reflection of their situation is a red flag.”
– Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

“One of the biggest problems is the ‘information dump’ in the first few pages, where the author is trying to tell us everything we supposedly need to know to understand the story. Getting to know characters in a story is like getting to know people in real life. You find out their personality and details of their life over time.”
– Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary

GIVEAWAY: I am very excited to again give away a free book to a random commenter. The winner can choose either CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM or the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS. Commenters must live in the US/Canada; comment within one week to win. Good luck!

 Have you read any story beginnings that didn’t sit well with you? We’d love to hear about it in comments!

Other posts by Chuck Sambuchino: