Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What makes a great first page? Plus other helpful advice from author Marcy Hatch


Only six days until the release of The Summer of Crossing Lines! You can help celebrate by downloading my previous ebook release, The Boy Who Loved Fire, for only $.99 from any retailer. The Kindle version is here.

Today we have the kind and talented Marcy Hatch, author of West of Paradise, here to share a little about her own publishing journey.

First, a look at West of Paradise:

When Jack McCabe gets the opportunity to go back in time, he jumps; it's the adventure he's always dreamed of--until he meets a beautiful but deadly train robber. Katherine Kennedy can't believe an ignorant bounty hunter has mistaken her for a criminal--until she sees the picture, which looks exactly like her. Neither of them imagines how the past has a way of catching up with the present. Set in the old west, this is a tale of mistaken identity, romance, and murder.

Fun, right? And now some Q and A with author Marcy Hatch.

1) You’ve teamed up with Dianne Salerni to offer critiques of first pages for other writers. We all feel the pressure of getting that first page just right. Can you tell us what you’ve learned from these first impressions? What makes a great first page?

For me, a great first page has to have at least one character I can immediately connect with. Give me a reason to care about what happens and I’ll gladly turn the page.

2) Your debut novel, West of Paradise, was published with WiDo Publishing. Can you tell us a bit about how you connected with them, and what it was like working with a small publisher?

WiDo was one of the first small publishers I queried and the first to get back to me. I liked how excited the acquisition editor was about my story. She was also very up front about the changes I would need to make, which I appreciated. I also loved my editor, Amie McCracken (www.amiemccracken) and even though she made me cut my share of darlings; I know she made West of Paradise a hundred times better for it.

3) West of Paradise is a time-traveler western/romance. What inspired you to write such a story?

The book that comes to mind is A knight in Shining Armor by Jude Derveraux. I loved that book so bad I wanted to write something like it. I also wanted to have a famous event tie in to my story and Tombstone fit the bill. It was fun to research.

4) Any advice you can offer other writers about writing, submissions, publishing, and perseverance?

My number one piece of advice is to write as much as possible, even if it isn’t a story. Write about your day or a time you were stuck or in love or your first kiss. Every bit of writing is practice and all our experiences are grist for the mill.

Second piece of advice is to read as much as possible because only by reading do we discover what is good and who we want to emulate. 


As for submissions and publishing…ugh. Some people get lucky and it happens easily for them, but there are so many more of us who only succeed through sheer persistence. It can be a long road and I’ve only just begun what I hope to be a long career. 

Marcy, thanks so much for sharing advice about first pages, writing, and publishing.

Friends, how do you define a great first page? Have you read West of Paradise? What do you think about Marcy's advice for writing and publishing?

From Marcy: My grandfather was a storyteller, and I like to think I got the gene. I started telling stories as a kid when I shared a room with my little sister. At night I’d offer her three titles from which to choose, and then make up a story on the spot, using the chosen title as a guide. Later this progressed to written stories, then typed, and finally – an actual manuscript. Along the way I had the help of some great teachers (Mr. Wallace, Mr. Bouchard, and Mr. Elliott) and some fabulous writers, most of whom I met through blogging. I live in the lovely Midcoast area of Maine with my goofy lab, Jonah, and four cats. I currently blog at www.mainewords.blogspot.com about a variety of subjects, including writing, zombies, Skyrim, books, birds, and history. 

29 comments:

  1. I've been following Marcy and Dianne's first page critiques for a while and it helps to see what a good first page looks like.
    Small publishers rock. I follow WiDo's owner, Karen, and she has a real passion for her authors.

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    1. Alex, it really is amazing how reading other first pages helps us too. We get so engrossed in our own projects and it's sometimes tough to be subjective. It's cool that Dianne and Marcy do these critiques.

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    2. I love doing the first page critiques; they're a lot of fun!

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  2. it was nice reading Marcy's answers!

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    1. I know, right? It's fun to see how authors came up their stories, and how they remain inspired. Thanks for the visit, Dez!

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  3. I've wanted to read this book since A to Z. I'm putting it on my Kindle to read when I'm traveling this fall.

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    1. Oooh, good idea, Susan! I hope you enjoy Marcy's book.

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  4. I really enjoyed West of Paradise! It's a great story :)
    Those first pages can really pull you in & Dianne & Marcy always give great advice!

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it and yes, a lot of those first pages make me wish I had more to read!

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    2. Jemi, I love their first impressions posts. So much we can all learn!

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  5. I love reading about how to make our books better. I also believe that writing something every day really does help~!

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  6. West of Paradise sounds like a blast! Ah, the challenge of the first pages. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  7. I've read WEST OF PARADISE and I thought it was great fun. I loved the time travel twist. And I'm with Marcy, write as much as you can regardless of what it is. Just keep at it! As for reading, aren't we lucky that is how we get to learn our craft?

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    1. Thanks Liza - and yes! We are very lucky that reading books is how we learn our craft!

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  8. Thank you Julie for having me over :)

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  9. I agree about having a character to connect with right away. The inciting incident can come later, but I need to care about who that happens to before it happens. Good grief! Does what I wrote make sense? I need a vacation. But I enjoyed your post today.

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  10. Good interview, ladies! I've read and thoroughly enjoyed both of your books, and am looking forward to reading your next ones, too.

    As for first pages, I once read an anecdote about a screenwriter who was telling a producer about his latest work. He says it starts out with a car speeding through a rainy night, screeching around a corner, and then plunging off a cliff, where it bursts into flames. The screenwriter says, "It'll grab the audience right from the start." The producer disagreed. He said for a scene of that sort to interest him, he first had to know who was in the car.

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  11. I love time-travels and westerns, this is right up my alley!! Thanks!!

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