Monday, September 18, 2017

The First Line of The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Writing Desk
Rachel Hauck
from Zondervan // HarperCollins

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a new captivating novel of secrets, romance, and two women bound together across time by a shared dream.

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

The First Line of The Writing Desk


I’m a first line junkie because they can say so much about a story and draw a reader in. Hint at success and failure, of the protagonist’s wound or fear. A first line can represent the overall theme of a book.

My protagonist, Tenley Roth, is a novelist who had surprising and instant success with her first novel. As the story opens, she’s on her way to accept a prestigious literary award. Yet, she’s struggling with her second novel and fears she’s a complete fraud.

Instead of feeling honored and special as she heads to a rooftop venue in midtown Manhattan, she battles fear.

Here’s the first line of The Writing Desk:
This should be her night of triumph.
Let’s break down those first seven words.

This should be... The first half of the sentence speaks of Tenley’s expectations about herself and her career. Winning a coveted award should make her the queen of her world. But there’s no crown. Only worry. She’s nervous and jittery, wondering when the publishing community will discover she’s a poser.

...her night of triumph.

The second half hints that something good is going on. This woman isn’t just living A typical life, but owning some corner of her world. She’s achieving, winning, succeeding.

This should be her night of triumph.

The sentence raises questions for the readers. If it’s her night of triumph, why is there a sense of dread or disappointment? What’s wrong? Was it because of her own failings or someone else’s? If it’s not her night of triumph, then what kind of night is it? Is she sick? Lost? Fired? Did she worked long and hard for a promotion only to discover another took her place?

The reader must go on to find the answers!

A first line should raise questions, hint at what the protagonist wants and set the stage for the overall story.

Will Tenley Roth ever be triumphant?

How did I come up with this line?

I do a lot of character work before I start writing. I ask myself the questions I’ve posed here. What does Tenley want? What’s her goal? What is her wound, lie, and fear? Her secret desire?

As I develop the characters, the external plot becomes a little more clear. (If you can call mud clear.) I envision large plot stepping stones that might move my character through the story. I dream up problems, obstacles, and romantic interests.

I do this for all of my point of view (POV) characters. So when I introduce each one into the story, I craft an opening line to set the stage for the character’s journey.

Of course, the opening line for the entire book should reflect its theme and draw in the readers.

This should be her night of triumph.

The line came to me as I considered Tenley and the journey ahead. I love that it hints at a problem. Often I don’t know the first line until the book has been written and rewritten. I may tweak it a half dozen times through the writing process.

I landed on this particular opening line when I realized the book was about overcoming, about turning failures into successes. Failure is not what sinks us, it’s believing we cannot succeed.

I imagined myself, and most readers, relating to the notion that every once in awhile, a grey cloud hangs over our success, excitement, or a happiness. That’s Tenley in the opening scene. A grey cloud shadowing her success and, in many ways, that same struggle follows the rest of the characters telling the story.

So that’s my first line.

About the Author



Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist.

Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower.


Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Writing Desk—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
If a genie offered to grant you 20 wishes, what are some things you would wish for that aren't significant enough to use up your initial 3 wishes on?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Rachel and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Nice weather for everyone in every geographical location (dependent on their preference, of course), the ability to speed through traffic when I'm running late, and the safety of never getting lost when I'm in a foreign environment.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Zondervan!
Giveaway ends October 2nd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!