Wednesday 10 December 2014

Blog Tour Guest Post & Giveaway - The Clock Strikes Midnight by Joan C. Curtis

The Clock Strikes at Midnight
by Joan C. Curtis

The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.

If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.

Hiding behind the fa├žade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.

Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years.

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First Sentences That Hook Readers

I respect the writer who can grab his or her readers in that very first sentence. Often I underline the first sentence just to see what hooked me. What is it about the first sentence that is so important? As writers, we know that publishers and agents rarely read past the first sentence. If that sentence does not grab, they go on to the next manuscript.
Here are some ways to grab your readers in the first sentence
1) Show place or character in a way that makes the reader want to read more.
2) Establish a plot point that makes the reader curious.
3) Write in the show not tell mode (although many of the older writers tell in the first sentence)
4) Surprise the reader.
Here's an example of a powerful first sentence. "I confess that when first I made the acquaintance with Charles Strickland, I never for a moment discerned that there was in him anything out of the ordinary."
Do you recognize that sentence? It's from Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham. Notice how the narrator intrigues us. As a reader I wonder who is this Charles Strickland who seemed ordinary but wasn't.
How about this one from a less famous author, "On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff's edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross."
My gosh, how powerful is that? What miracle? Cross? Has someone died? So many questions for the reader to ponder. This came from The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
This one goes a bit beyond the first sentence, but still hooked me. "A woman is sitting before an art nouveau vanity, brushing her hair in the mirror. It is, at least according to the police report, somewhere between midnight and three in the morning. . ." Yep, I was hooked. Notice how this one not only creates plot curiosity but also is written in the "show" not tell mode.
That came from Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian.
Here’s the first sentence in The Clock Strikes Midnight.
“It’s a fast growing tumor, Miss Knox,” Dr. Mills told Janie.
Did I grab you? Wanna read more?
About the Author
Joan Curtis authored four business books published by Praeger Press. She is also published numerous stories, including:

• Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar, Sea Oats Review, Winter, 2004
• A Memoir Of A Friend, Chicken Soup for the Working Woman’s Soul, 2003
and Flint River Review, 1996
• Jacque’s Story in From Eulogy to Joy, 2002
• The Roommate, Whispering Willow Mystery Magazine, April 1997
• A Special Sort of Stubbornness, Reader’s Digest, March 1997,
• My Father’s Final Gift, Reader Digest, November 1994

Her first place writing awards include : Best mystery manuscript in the Malice Domestic Grants competition, best proposal for a nonfiction piece in the Harriette Austin competition, and best story, Butterflies in a Strawberry Jar in the Cassell Network of Freelance Writer’s Association.

Other Books:
Hire Smart and Keep ‘Em: How to Interview Strategically Using POINT, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA 2012.

The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, Praeger Press, 2010, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA

Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplace, 2009, Praeger Press, an imprint of ABC-Clio, Santa Barbara, CA.

Strategic Interviewing: Skills for Savvy Executives, 2000 published by Quorum Books, Greenwood Press.

“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner.  She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.

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One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card.

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  1. love this post...thx u for hosting :)

  2. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

  3. Joan, I think first lines and first pages are important beyond any rational explanation. It was brought home to me by Scottish author and Whitbread winner Hugh Scott when he talked to my writers' club. His wonderful book, Why Weeps the Brogan is now out of print, I think, but its first page is what I aspire to every time I write a first page. My own fav of my own, if you follow, is "I trust, ma'am, you will not scream." anne stenhouse

    1. I love that first line, Anne. It definitely makes me want to keep reading. Bravo!

  4. I love the discussion of first lines. It's always interesting to see behind the curtain into the writer's thinking. Thanks!

  5. Hi Joan,

    One of my favorite first lines is from the story I just finished reading (not for the first time):

    "Marley was dead, to begin with."

    But then, what can you say, it's "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens. ;-)

    Have a great day! :-)

    1. Dickens was a master at first lines and cliff-hangers (the term came from Dickens--Pickwick Papers). He also has the very famous first line. "It was the best of times and the worst of times," from, of course the Tale of Two Cities.

      Having not read The Christmas Carol in a long time, I really appreciated this reminder of another great first line!

  6. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. I liked the guest post! Thanks!!

  8. I liked that it was both interesting and informative. I also liked the frankness specific to publishers many times not getting past the first sentence. I can relate to this as a reader as well.