Friday, December 14, 2007

Fill in the blank and win an ARC!

Every week from now until the end of January, I'll be giving away Advanced Reader Copies of my upcoming urban fantasy novel, Wicked Game (aka, the vampire DJ book, release date: May 13, 2008). Most will be simple drawings, but this week, the first two winners will have to work for it.

Ready? Here we go:

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Everyone knows the importance of a book's opening lines. Not only must they grab the reader, but they must indicate character, tone, and style.

It's a lot of pressure to lay on the shoulders of just a few words. Earlier this year I spent half a day rewriting the first three paragraphs of Wicked Game, then the rest of the day on the next two pages.

Here are the opening two paragraphs as originally submitted:

Family curses never die, they just get watered down. In Greek mythology, the Curse of the House of Atreus began with a guy making soup du jour out of his own son. But I’ll bet anything that generations later, the Curse only made the Atreus family forget to send each other birthday cards.

The Curse of the House of Griffin, whatever sinister form it may have taken in the Old World, has left me with a knack for the things I hate most: sales and marketing. I wish I had talent for singing or landscaping or alligator wrestling—anything that wouldn’t put me behind a desk in a straitjacket and pantyhose.

And here they are in the rewrite:

Family curses never die, they just mutate. In Greek mythology, the curse of the House of Atreus began with some smart-ass making soup du jour for the gods out of his own son’s meaty bits. Things went downhill from there. These days, though, the curse probably just makes the Atreus family forget to send each other birthday cards.

The curse of the House of Griffin, whatever sinister form it may have taken in the Old World, has left me with a gift for the persuasive arts. In the straight world, this means sales and marketing—or as I like to call it, S&M.

In her line edits, my editor changed the end of the first sentence back to "watered down." I thought "watered down" was an inherently weak image, so I changed it back to "mutate." (In effect, I stetted her stet.) But I wavered over it for a long time, because "watered down" has a slightly better rhythm.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: find me another word or phrase to end the sentence, "Family curses never die, they just________."

I'll choose two winners: Funniest and Most Appropriate (i.e., the one I'd actually consider using instead of "mutate"). No limit to the number of entries--give me as many choices as you can yank out of your pretty little brains. Winners will be chosen among the commenters on my jerismithready.com blog, my MySpace blog, and my LiveJournal.

Deadline for entries: Wednesday, December 19, noon EST.

Each winner will get an Advance Readers Copy of Wicked Game. On Page One they'll see something so forehead-slappingly painful/hilarious, they'll understand why this sentence is such a big deal.

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Now playing: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
via FoxyTunes

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17 Comments:

Family curses never die, they just fester like a gangrenous wound.

Posted by: Blogger Karen Duvall at 12/14/2007 2:04 PM

Family curses never die, they just degrade.

Family curses never die, they just subvert.

Family curses never die, they just corrupt.

Posted by: Blogger melissa at 12/14/2007 2:23 PM

Dangit, I thought "degrade" but someone used it already. xD

Family curses never die, they just decompose?

Family curses never die, they just deteriorate?

Family curses never die, they just get reduced to...?

Posted by: Anonymous Nozomi at 12/14/2007 4:27 PM

Family curses never die, they just sprout extra limbs.

Posted by: Blogger Andrew at 12/14/2007 5:11 PM

How about:

just get vacuous
just get vapid
just tend to get mundane
just get tempered down

Posted by: Blogger Pam P at 12/15/2007 1:54 AM

Family curses never die, they just wait to spring.

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 12/15/2007 8:02 AM

Family curses never die, they just scratch at the inside of their coffins.

Family curses never die, they just wander the countryside feasting on brains.

And a serious one:

Family curses never die, but they decompose just the same.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 12/15/2007 12:47 PM

Oh, heck, nozomi already used decompose. My bad.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 12/15/2007 12:47 PM

Family curses never die, they just keep us from getting close to anyone.

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 12/15/2007 1:04 PM

woopa forgot my name on that one LMBO. sabby

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 12/15/2007 1:05 PM

Dear Ms. Smith-Ready:

I would use Marx's line about the second Napolean. "Family curses repeat themselves, first as tragedy and then as farce."

or MacArthur:

Like old soldiers, family curses never die they just fade away.

Family curses never die they survive eternally as the diminishing echos of an original cacophcanous blast.

Family curses never die but their virulence decays in succeeding generations.

Family curses never die, but they inexorably diminish, so what started as "Hellfire and Damnation" survives, at most, as "Heck."

JJV (friend of Dave Slattery's whose blog sent me here)

Posted by: Anonymous jjv at 12/16/2007 3:01 PM

"Family curses never die, they just gets twisted"
"Family curses never die, they just shape-shift."

"Family curses never die, they just becomes dormant."

At least I have tried :)

Posted by: Blogger booklover at 12/16/2007 4:50 PM

Family curses never die, they just distort.

Family curses never die, they just make you wonder why the hell they end up so lame. I mean who one earth curses someone into being good an S&M , otherwise known as sales and marketing?

Family curses never die, they just make you good at the things you hate.

Posted by: Anonymous Stephanie Alexander at 12/18/2007 10:54 AM

Family curses never die, they just atrophy.

Family curses never die, they just call you on the phone right as you're sitting down to dinner.

Family curses never die, they just lurk in the shadows and ensnare the unwary.

"Family curses never die, they just --" I recall my uncle saying on his deathbed.

Posted by: Blogger Dave S. at 12/18/2007 3:05 PM

Ooh, I like atrophy. Nice one.

Family curses never die, they just dilute themselves.

Family curses never die, they just adapt.

... they just fine tune.

... they just revamp.

... they just diversify.

Posted by: Anonymous Jess at 12/18/2007 5:21 PM

Family curses never die, they just keep on going and going...
(from the engerizer bunny)

Family curses never die, they just warp

Family curses never die, they just dampen

Family curses never die, they just hurt

Posted by: Blogger Caffey at 12/19/2007 2:47 AM

Family curses never--URK!

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 12/19/2007 2:38 PM

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