Friday, May 20, 2011

A Visit by Author Mary Hughes

Hello all! I am host to fellow author Mary Hughes as she continues with her blog tour for her new release, Biting Me Softly, which debuted on February 1, 2011. Her book was published by Samhain Publishing Ltd. and can be found in your local US bookstore in a paperback format.

Crafting the First Line

First, thanks so much to Amber for having me here today!
How do you pick a book to read? If it's not a favorite author, many readers scan the shelves (or eshelves). A cover/title combo catches her eye. She picks it up and the blurb looks interesting. She flips to page one to give it a try. And she reads the first line.
If it doesn't hold her interest―she'll put the book back. That first line is vital to keeping reader interest high. To do that, try paying attention to three things.
Impact. Hook. Voice.
Recently I won the DRB 1st Chapters Best First Line contest with the following line. Check it out for impact, hook and voice.
It’s a little-known fact that when vampires fly, they hog the window seats. (The Bite of Silence)
Impact is made quickly through what I call pepper words. These are words that bite a reader's imagination (like bite) or send it soaring (like princess). Swearing, sexual language, high concept words like murder are all examples of pepper words. They're great to use in an opening to grab the reader's attention, but one warning. Like pepper, these words can quickly dull the reader's pallet, so use sparingly.
Here are some other first lines. Note the pepper words. 

Officially the murder was SCH-1, but I called it the Case of the
Punctured Prick. (Bite My Fire) When I first clapped eyes on Logan, I thought, Hot damn. Look
what the Sex Fairy brung me! (Biting Me Softly)
Hook is done via a question the reader wants answered, or juxtaposing ideas or images in a way that sparks her interest. In Silence, the idea of vampires hogging sunny windows is deliciously contrary, as are the official and unofficial name for Fire's murder. In Softly the question is who is Logan and what does he look like, that “I” have such a strong reaction?
Voice is your own style. It's the way you put words together and make paragraphs and tell stories, the quality that stamps the writing as yours through and through.
That first line is vital, but the good news is, most readers will give an author a bit more than one line to hook them. You still need to pay attention to impact, hook and voice. Here's the rest of Biting Me Softly's first page. “I” is Liese, a St.-Pauli-Girl- Next-Door programmer.

It was eight p.m. Sunday night, and I was at work. I do computers for the Meiers Corners Blood Center. The staff is me, the executive director and a part-time nurse named Battle. I was the only one who worked insane hours, but I was new and still trying to prove myself.
I don’t know what made me look up. The cool March air, perhaps. Maybe the aroma wafting in, mystery and magic with overtones of raw sex.
Whatever it was, my eyes lifted and there he was, the most stunning male I’d ever seen. Smack-me-between-the-eyes gorgeous. Bright blond hair rippled to broad, muscular shoulders. Lean strength roped a long, lithe body. Laughter and intelligence sparked gold-flecked hazel eyes. Perfect lips curved in a smile so sensuous it made my innards go bang.
Then he opened his mouth and spoke. Talk about ruining perfection.
“Hello, gorgeous.” His tone was deep and lazy. “I want to speak to the computer man in charge.”
Right. Well that just spoiled everything, didn’t it?


Biting Me Softly is in bookstores around the US, and I’m celebrating by having a giveaway. Just comment on this post to enter. For a second chance, let me know the city or bookstore where you’ve seen Softly! Through April 22, 2011. --Adults only please. Winner will receive choice of Biting Me Softly in paperback (if US or Canada) or one of Bite My Fire, Biting Nixie, The Bite of Silence or Biting Me Softly in ebook.
Biting Me Softly He’s a candy box of sex appeal wrapped with a golden bow. She’s on a diet.
Blood, sex, violence. Blood, okay, but computer geek Liese Schmetterling had enough S&V when her cheating ex fired her. Now security expert—and lip-smacking gorgeous—Logan Steel saunters into her Blood Center, setting fire to her libido. And threatening her job.
Visions of pink slips dancing in her head, Liese tries to push Logan away without touching his jutting pecs...or ridged abs. Or petting the Vesuvius in his jeans. He’s hiding something, but it doesn’t seem to matter when his smiles stun her, his kisses crank her to broiling and his bites rocket her to heaven. Fangy bites which, if she weren’t grounded in science, would make her think ampire-Vay.
Centuries old and tragedy-scarred, Logan’s mission is to fortify the Blood Center’s electronic defenses against his nemesis, the leader of a rogue vampire gang. He’s ready for battle but not for Liese, who slips under his skin, laughs at his awful puns, charges beside him into dark, scary places—and tastes like his true love.
No matter how often Logan declares his love, Liese can’t bring herself to trust him. But when his archenemy comes after her, not trusting him may cost her life...
Warning: contains explicit vampire sex involving absurdly large male equipment (hey, they’re monsters), unbelievable stamina (just how long can he stay underwater in a hot tub?), hide-your-eyes violence and horrendously bad puns. And, just when you think it can’t get any worse, a computer geekette trying to play Mata Hari.
Check In Stock at Barnes and Noble 

Hugs from Hughes! Bestselling author Mary Hughes is a computer consultant, professional musician, and writer. At various points in her life she has taught Taekwondo, worked in the insurance industry, and studied religion. She is intensely interested in the origins of the universe. She has a wonderful husband (though happily-ever-after takes a lot of hard work) and two great kids. But she thinks that with all the advances in modern medicine, childbirth should be a lot less messy.
To learn more about Mary, please visit


  1. Mary,

    Good morning! (It's me again...your virtual stalker. Just remember, fans are a good thing! =D)

    When I'm browsing the book store, unless I'm looking for a specific author, the cover is the firt thing that catches my eye. Then I flip the book over to read the blurb (or inside cover). I'll only read the first paragraph of the book if there's not blurb (and that's if I'm in a particulary patient mood. No blurb, and I'll usually toss the book back on the shelf.)

    If the blurb doesn't interest me, I won't bother reading any of the book. Voice is everything. Humor is a plus. (You have both!) Call me picky, but after reading for so many years (and I read A LOT) I generally know whether I'll like the book from cover and blurb.

    So, that means I can't wait to read Biting Me Softly!


    teh cover is the first thing i look for. then i read the blurb but i want to know more about it so i usually go to the authors website and read an excerpt or the first chapter to see if i will really like it. if i am not real sure than i wont buy it. if i buy a book it is an investment and i usually really books that i have bought over and over again so it has to have a certain something in it. i do alot of research before i buy a book or get hooked on an author. i am hooked on your writing and series.
    deslauree3 at yahoo dot com

  3. I hate to admit it but the front cover and the back cover blurb are also for me the first things I look at.

    Your post was very helpful to me though Ms. Hughes because I hope to a writer myself someday, I have about this series and have been wanting to read it for awhile. I also love me some good humorous paranormal romance, it happens to be one of my favorite genres.

    Wishing good luck with the series! Not that you need it anything; if everything I've heard about you writing is true!

    Love the cover for Biting Me Softly by the way!

  4. I'm a blurb person. The cover is a bonus, but if the blurb doesn't grab me, then I'm off to another one.

    I saw it at B&N in Dallas (Northpark location)

  5. I am a blurb person too, then it's a peek at the excerpt. I can't even tell you how many stories I've passed on because the excerpt that the author chose to post was too descriptive and gave me no hint about the characters and their connection to each other.

    As a romance reader, some sexy dialogue helps a lot to give me a sense of the author's writing style, level of humor and that sexual chemistry, that puts a book on my favorite's shelf.

    Love your first lines, Mary, they always have me laughing.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  6. Hey Renee! My own V.S.? Yay, I feel like I've made it now :D I'm a cover-blurb person too, and I think your "voice is everything" really says it. Thanks for stopping by and your awesome comments!

    Hey Desi! I hadn't thought of checking out the author's website. That's a good step, because you're right, a book is an investment--not just money but time. Thanks for your Softly sighting and your wonderful comments!

    Hi Gabby! Thanks for stopping by and your kind words! I'm glad the post helped. Writing advice is like tailored clothes--not everything will fit, but the things that do will wear well. Warm wishes for your writing too!

    Hey, Harlie Reader! I always thought good blurbs were important but now I see they're vital. Thanks for your great comments, your sighting, and stopping by!

    Hey, Cathy! Oh, the excerpt, I'd forgotten that. I don't know how many times the blurb excited me and then the excerpt seemed to be written by someone else entirely! Dialog, humor and chemisty...essential. Thanks for reading, and the first-line love!

  7. As much as I admire a good first line, I usually pick a book by blurb. Having said that, you've inspired me to try harder with my first lines. Great post :)

  8. Hey Shelley! Good point, blurb first. Although the first-line ideas can apply to the blurb :) So what's a favorite first line from one of your wonderful hot romances?

  9. Thanks to everyone for reading, and your amazing, insightful comments!

    Many thanks to Amber for having me as a guest blogger at her wonderful Rambling's by Amber!

    And the winner of the Biting Me Softly In Stores giveaway, picked by random number, is Desi! Desi congratulations! Please email me at for your prize.

  10. Thank you, Mary, for being here. Your book sounds wonderful and I hope to read it soon. :)

    Thank you to everyone for stopping by!