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March 15, 2012

Blog: Liz Lipperman, Which One of You B***s is my Mother?


Wow! Is that a great line or what? It’s the first line of the Prologue for LACE by Shirley Conran. It’s been almost thirty years since I read the book, and it still has me in awe. My God! Who could stop reading after that? Here’s the blurb from Amazon.

Four elegant, successful, and sophisticated women in their forties are called to New York's Pierre Hotel to meet Lili -- a beautiful, young, and notoriously temperamental Hollywood movie star. None of the women knows exactly why she is there; each has a reason to hate Lili and each of them is astonished to see the others. They are old friends who share a guilty secret and who have for years been doing their best to keep that secret quiet. Their lives are changed forever, however, when Lili suddenly confronts them. When the women refuse to answer her, Lili proceeds to travel around the world through the playgrounds of the rich and famous, seeking to answer the question that has obsessed and almost destroyed her.

From Paris to London, from the boardroom to the bedroom, Lace takes the reader into the rarified world of five unforgettable women who are as beautiful, as complex and as strong as...lace.

I remember staying up half the night to find out the answer, but Ms. Conran didn’t make it easy. Chapter One began with the story of one of the women and moved on to each one as I hurried through the pages trying to find out which one had mothered this young woman. I wanted so desperately to cheat and skip ahead to the end, but I didn’t want to spoil it. The answer didn’t come until the last chapter. The book was made into a two-part miniseries in 1984, but it didn’t do it justice. The paperback is going for $29.42 right now on Amazon. Although Ms. Conran wrote several more good books, none of them even came close to her genius in LACE, IMHO.

Why am I bringing up a thirty year old book, you ask?

Because every time I come up with a hook for my chapter endings, I think about this line. I ask myself, “Is mine as good as hers?” Sometimes, I surprise myself with a really good one, but most of the time I have to go back to the drawing board and rethink things.

Most of you know I have just finished with book #3 of The Clueless Cook Series, and I’m ready to start book #4. I have been lollygagging because I can’t come up with the perfect place to start this one. I believe an awesome first line is the hook of the entire book. You either grab the reader with it …or you don’t.
I’m hopelessly stuck. Where is Shirley when you need her? (Probably across the pond since she’s a Brit.)

So, I need a little inspiration. Tell me some of the great first lines or hooks that have stayed in your mind long after you read the book. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have an ‘ah ha!” moment and can get started on CHICKEN CACCIA-KILLER before panic sets in. “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” won’t work in my cozy mystery!! Darn!


Brinda said...

That first line is hilarious! Great blog post. :)

Unknown said...

Well darn Liz. You've done two things to me (yes - "to" me) today. LOL. First, I really need to seek out that book and second, you have me checking out some fascinating guidance on Google for best first lines on Romantic Suspense novels. I love growing my craft and you just threw down the challenge to do just that. Hugs and thanks!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Wow, I read that book in the dark ages and didn't remember the line.

An oft quoted one is from Rebecca:

Last night, I dreamt of Manderly.

Good post!

Liz Lipperman said...

Brinda, I have to admit that I screwed up. It's the LAST line of the Prologue. Now how could I not read further?

Thanks for commenting. Love your name. What a great first name for an author!

Liz Lipperman said...

Karen, be prepared to fork out big bucks for it on Amazon. Maybe you can find a used one. I wish I had kept my copy. I may even have to invest in another. Hope it's as good as I remember.

As for great first lines, I'm reminded of Lisa Jackson's SHIVER.
She felt his breath.

OMG! I think I have a pretty good one in my RS on Amazon, MORTAL DECEPTION.
Before the night ended she would have sex with a perfect stranger.

I was contacted by Chris Roerden who wrote DON"T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY. (Excellent book, BTW.) Anyway, she asked if she could use that line in a revised edition of DMYM. Of course, I said, hell yes!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Vicki, that's a good first line, too. I think we should all work a little harder on our hooks. When I was able to judge contests (BD-before deadlines) that was one of the things I usually recommended to writers.It really makes a difference.

Now if only I could get J-Lo to read my story,.. She'd make the perfect main character!!

Anita Clenney said...

I love that line, Liz. I want to read the book now. :) Great lines are so awesome. I love your line, Before the night ended she would have sex with a perfect stranger. Kudos on having Chris Roerden ask to use it. I have DMYM.

Kathy Ivan said...

What a great post, Liz. I remember that line vividly, too.

I agree with you 100%. We need to have a great hook to keep the reader turning the page. There's nothing worse than finishing a chapter and being able to put the book down without a second thought.

Now I need to go back and read my WIP and see if I have some good hooks in their. LOL

Marilyn Sue Shank said...

Should have used that line for the title!


Loretta Wheeler said...

I absolutely LOVE all these first lines...but of course, their perfection has stricken me dumb. LOL I can't think of another one, except for... It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Great blog:) It made me take notes:)


Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Anita, thanks for stopping by. You have some pretty good first lines in your Highland Warrior books, too.

As for DMYM, I was flabbergasted when she emailed me and said she'd read the line on my website even before I published it. Of course, I sent her a copy. Just shows to go you.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kathy, your line in Desperate Choices is also pretty good.

She should have locked the door.

But I agree that we all could use a little extra attention on our hooks.

Liz Lipperman said...

LOL, Marilyn. It would have definitely been an eye-catcher. I can't wait for your book to come out and see if you have a good one. I'm sure you do.

Liz Lipperman said...

That's a classic, Lo. I'll bet you have one and aren't telling us. My first line in LIVER LET DIE is good, OMO.

..Single white female stuck in a dead end job looking for tall dark and rich .....

Then there's my line in BEEF STOLEN-OFF that could use some help.

"You're looking at the new permanent culinary reporter for the Ranchero Globe."

That one borders on sucking. LOL

Sometimes you just draw a blank.

Alisha said...

What a great post on hooks! Now I want to read that book! I'm going to think a lot harder about my hooks from now on! I'm anxious to hear what the Plotting Princesses come up with for your upcoming book...Which one of you B****s burnt my chicken?

Karilyn Bentley said...

Great post Liz! I love that line. And Alisha, I love your idea for Liz. LOL! I'm going to have to go find that book.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Alisha, that is PERFECT!!!

chris k said...

well - I vaguely remember the opening of the Linda Lael Miller series - was it Mckenzie? He needed a woman- bad. LOL.

I discovered the mystery writer Julia Spencer- Fleming because of a first line I read - It was a hell of a night to throw out a baby.

Turned out to be a great book/ series.

and yes- I agree Kathy's line - she should have locked the door was great.

I think my favorite firs line of my own writing was one I never got to keep- Some friendships are meant to last forever, even after death.

Now your first line on mortal deception grabbed me - first time I read the book I stayed up all night reading it.

this whole post makes me want to go home and open all my books and read the first lines- lol - unfortunately I have to finish working first!!

chris k said...

ROFL - I just read Alisha's first line for chicken catcha killer!!!

Liz you gotta use that somewhere!! -

Janice Seagraves said...

Maybe these will inspire you. The book that had the best first line was The Unexpected Dragon: My mother was a whore but I loved her.

Because of that line, I bought the book.

Here one from my first published book, Windswept Shores: If she had to spend one more day on this godforsaken island, she'd go stark raving mad.


Liz Lipperman said...

OMG Alisha, I love that line for my next book!! And I am so looking forward to plotting the book with the greatest plotters in the world. Can't wait.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kaitlyn, you and Alisha really do need to read the book if you haven;t. Of course, I read it so many years ago, it probably isnlt as good as I remember.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kaitlyn, you and Alisha really do need to read the book if you haven;t. Of course, I read it so many years ago, it probably isnlt as good as I remember.

Liz Lipperman said...

Chris, those are good first lines. Yours for the friends book was good, too. Why didn't you get to use it? I love that book.

As for MORTAL DECEPTION, I love it that I kept you up all night. I remember you saying you would eat the book if it didn't sell. You almost had to do that!! Thank God for Amazon!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Janice, I love that line. My question is did the book live up to the line?

Your line is pretty good, too.

And is it just me or are the spam words trying to make me pull out my hair tonight?

Liz said...

nothing like a KICK ASS hook is three?
I can't even think of one now but that was a fun trip down memory lane.
(and also inspires me to write better first lines)