Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Opening Pages (While We Wait For Amazon To Quit Shooting Themselves In Foot)

STATUS: It’s 7 pm so I’m ready to head out the door and to home.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SAILING by Christoper Cross

Since I’ve been obsessively checking about every hour, the answer is no, the links to my Macmillan client books have not been turned back on. In talking with an editor at Macmillan this afternoon, she said she had no new news to report. Nor had John Sargent made another company-wide announcement. I hope for news tomorrow.

However, I did derive lots of enjoyment out of reading John Scalzi’s posting on the issue.

Meanwhile while we wait for Amazon to get head out of sphincter since they are throwing a tantrum over earning more money rather than less with the Agency commission model, I figured I’d jump back into our opening pages discussion.

Today’s entry is, thankfully, from a non-Macmillan author whose trade paperback edition just released this week.

Now please remember that when I share opening pages, I’m not sharing the polished final pages one will find in the published novel. I’m sharing the opening pages as I received them upon first submission when I requested the full manuscript. Sometimes that changes for final publication, sometimes not.

I’m going to have a blast with today’s entry. As most agents will tell you, it’s usually a waste of time for a writer to include a prologue when submitting sample pages. The prologue usually has a different voice or approach then the rest of the novel and is often a bad barometer of how the manuscript will unfold.

Not so in the case of Brooke Taylor’s UNDONE. This is an excellent example of how a prologue can completely set the tone. In fact, it can give you chills as a dark prelude of what’s to come. It can completely nail character. In this instance, for our narrator and for her best friend who is the driving force in the novel despite not being there for more than the first third of the work.

In fact, Jay Asher, NYT bestselling author for 13 REASONS WHY calls UNDONE, “A beautifully intense story. Brooke Taylor hooked me with the very first line and never let go.”

As to that very first line, I have to agree with Jay. And I’m sharing it with you right here.


Prologue:
My best friend Kori came with a warning label—a black t-shirt that read: “Don’t believe everything you hear about me.” I was staring openly. Gaping. Gawking my geeky little eighth grade eyes out. I’d expected the bathroom to be empty when I charged in with blue dye from an ill-fated lab experiment soaking through my Ruby Gloom t-shirt. I never expected Kori Kitzler to be standing there, tapping a cigarette out of a red and white box and asking me if I had a light.
My mouth dropped wide open. I don’t know which startled me more— that she really thought I smoked (At school!) or that she was actually speaking to me. From the moment Kori had transformed herself from squeaky-clean cheerleader-wannabe seventh grader to I-puke-cheerleaders-for-breakfast eighth grader, I was fascinated in her beyond any sane boundary.

I looked away, down, my eyes stalling on the warning stretched across her larger-than-most chest. I’d heard a lot of things about her. I’d heard that before school even started, she’d already had oral with half the junior high football team. I’d heard she dropped E with high school boys and had a three-way with two college guys. I’d heard she cracked a Tiffany lamp over Chelsea Westad’s brother’s skull just because he told her she couldn’t smoke pot in their house. I’d heard she threw up on the arresting officer and had lesbian sex while in the holding tank. I’d heard that while the rest of our class was singing Kumbaya and making really crappy jewelry at summer camp, she was pretending to dry out in rehab. And I’d believed it all.

In response to her smirk, I braved direct eye contact. In the almost black of her eyes—like two shots of espresso, just as dark and just as deceptively calm—I expected to see my fascination for her spat back at me. But I didn’t. Under lazy, half-moon lids, her eyes were soothing, almost hypnotic. And in them I saw a serrated edge that offered its own version of protection and danger.

“You don’t know it now.” She paused to take a drag (she had a light after all). “But you and I are connected.” She held the cigarette out for me. As I took it, a seductive curl of smoke rose up like a ghost between us. “We’re more alike than you think.”

Hooked? Then let’s make a statement. Buy this book today but let’s not buy it from Amazon. I’d like to suggest Powell’s—a wonderful independent bookstore with a fabulous online presence. They even do free shipping!