First lines

The Atlantic posted an interesting article in which 22 authors talk about their favorite first lines of books. Eight of the authors queried are women, and only two of the favorite lines are by women, both cited by a woman author who cheated and responded with two favorites.

Despite these discouraging statistics, I plan to continue to write, even though I’m a woman myself.

It’s a scary thing to commit to your opening lines. I often use a paragraph that originally appeared further down in the the story, moving it to the start and revising to make it work. When I start a story, the first few paragraphs are usually just warm-up. Later I weave them into some exposition or discard them.
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A Summer Day

After feeding my daughter’s cat while she’s away, I drive another block to the beach to check “whether the ocean is still there.” That’s what I tell my grandson when he’s in the car with me. Cooper is seven-year-old serious and likes his world anchored to reality. When we see the waves curling in and swishing out, he is reassured and chides me for doubting the ocean’s predictability.

Performing the ritual alone on this bright July day, I breathe in the salty air and feast on the summertime sights of the beach. The clean line of the far-off horizon, the ocher-colored boulder a handful of children are climbing, the flapping of the Stars and Stripes on a far-away large rock reachable only at low tide.

Living “inland”—three miles from the water—I often forget the delicious liberating feeling of the beach. Of enjoying this triumvirate of water, sand, and sun. Summertime near the water gives you freedom to live in the moment all day long. Continue reading

I want my K sound back

Whatever has happened to the K sound that belongs in all those words with two Cs? On TV I hear it all the time: “accessorize” pronounced “assessorize,” “accelerate” pronounced “asselerate,” and many more. What”s next? “Access” pronounced “assess?” Wait, isn”t that a word already?acela

This mindless mispronunciation occurs when two C”s are followed by an E.

To avoid making this mistake yourself, remember this general pronunciation rule in English: C is soft before an E or I, hard (like K) before other letters. Like this: cent, cinema (soft), cat, cot, cut (hard).

Having two Cs doesn’t change this rule. In “accelerate,” the first C is hard because it is not followed by one of the two magic vowels. The second C is followed by E, so it is soft. In fact, that”s why there are two Cs. What a compact, elegant way to generate two sounds from one letter.

OK, so its a bit tricky. But still, if you”re on TV you should try to pronounce things properly.
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