Tagged, but not bagged

When I heard that I’d been “tagged” by Jennifer Talty, my first thought was to check my big toe. I thought maybe I was making a guest appearance as a victim in one of her books. But, no, she was talking about “tag” as in a game. Here are the rules as posted on her blog [ http://jen-t.blogspot.com/ ]:

So what you do is grab the book closest to you, go to page 123, go down 5 sentences and post the next 3 sentences on your blog with name of author and title of book.

Right. Jen, that is way too much work. And you know damn well that I do not follow rules happily.

So you want to play? I can play. Ah, but you used five books instead of just one. How could I do less? I decided to use the last four books I checked out of the library — just today as a matter of fact — and the last one I purchased at the book store. And then I added one more. Just because.

When I opened up these books and checked page 123, sentences 6-8, I discovered several things: a) important plot stuff was given away; b) some of the sentences there were not appropriate for posting on this blog (hey, my mom sometimes reads this); and c) some of it was so out of context I’d have to quote huge chunks to avoid misrepresenting the work.

So I made up my own rules. What a surprise. And since I’ve been thinking about opening hooks lately, this was a good exercise. I decided to quote the first few sentences and the last few sentences of the first chapter. The words that hook you and the words that compel you to read the next chapter.

Here they are, in no particular order (any typos are my fault entirely and I apologize to the authors):

A Marked Man, by Stella Cameron

The moon was a thin white wafer with a big bite missing.

Walking silent streets at night–alone–could be a bad idea. Staying in bed, half awake, half asleep, sweat stinging your eyes, sticking hair to your face, while the monster panic ate you up could be a whole lot worse idea. Nothing bad ever happened around here anyway.


“Don’t jump,” a man said behind her.

Annie screamed. She screamed and shook her head, and staggered backward against him. Sweat stuck her clothes to her body. That woman she had seen in the nightmares was her, Annie. Premonitions, not nightmares. They were coming true. The gagging sounds she heard were her own.

“Annie, it’s me, Father Cyrus. People are lookin’ for you.”

Vicious Circle, by Robert Littell

The setting sun scored the navigator’s line between sky and sea, drawing blood, flinging long shadows inland on the flat Levantine coast. Flecks of last light chipped off the gold leaf of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Not far away, a panel truck with the hand painted logo “Kosher Pizza” and “We Deliver” written in Hebrew on both sides crawled along a street on the French Hill, a small Jewish neighborhood built on the north-eastern slope of Jerusalem after the Six Day War.


The men in the back seat exchanged looks. “What must we never forget?” Dror asked quietly.

Elihu could have been speaking to himself. “That we live in a corner of the planet where absolutely no one, least of all the hundred million Arabs around us, respects weakness. Which is why, when the last verse of the Pentateuch is read, we chant: Hazak, hazak, ve-nit’-hazak — Be strong, be strong, and we shall be strengthened.”

Mistral’s Kiss, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I dreamt of warm flesh and cookies. The sex I understood, but the cookies . . . Why cookies? Why not cake, or meat? But that’s what my subconscious chose as I dreamt. We were eating in the tiny kitchen of my Los Angeles apartment — an apartment I didn’t live in anymore, outside of dreams.


I drank from the horn and found it full of the sweetest mead I had ever drunk, thick with honey, and warm as if the heat of the summer itself slipped across my tongue, caressed my throat. I swallowed and it was more intoxicating than any mere drink.

Power is the most intoxicating drink of all.

Manhunting, by Jennifer Crusie

“Planning on jumping? I wouldn’t. Blood’s hell to get out of silk.”

“I’m just checking the weather,” Kate Svenson said patiently and continued to stare out her apartment window, knowing that Jessie would lose interest and go back to her newspaper if she ignored her long enough.


The phone rang again.

“Concentrate on getting married and resuming your regularly scheduled life,” Will said on his way back inside. “Who knows? Maybe this is your future bride calling right now.”

“Like hell,” Jake said and went back to the sunrise.

Harbingers, by F. Paul Wilson

“Hey, Jack, can I bother you a minute?”

Jack sat at his table in the rear of Julio’s. He looked up from his coffee and saw Timmy O’Brien, one of Julio’s regulars. A fiftyish guy, thin, hangdog face, watery eyes, and wearing a Hawaiian shirt in Janaury.


“No promises, Timmy, beyond making the calls. It’s a long shot.”

Timmy grabbed his hand and squeezed.

“I know, but you’re all I’ve got right now.”

Jack waved good-bye to Julio and stepped out into the cutting January wind.

Long shot? Who was he kidding? More like hitting a dime at a thousand yards with a Saturday night special.

Tangled Webs, by Katherine James

Eugenia Westbrook was more than a little put out, to put it mildly. She stared at her tightly knotted fist and the edges of the crushed note that stuck out from the sides. She didn’t see the wrinkled, age-spotted skin and had she noticed the slight tremor of her hand she would have attributed it to rage rather than age.


As she turned to leave the room, she couldn’t decide whether she was more offended by the implication than she was enraged by the not-so-subtle threat. It was time to consider her options and plan a course of action.

Whoever had chosen to poke this old, tired bear would do well to remember that she was, after all, still a bear.

So there you have it. That’s what I’ll be reading next. Do I recommend you read them too? Sure, why not? I certainly intend to do so, why shouldn’t you? Will they be any good? Will I recommend them after I read them? Well, I guess I could tell you that after I read them. Or you could read them and tell me what you think.

What have you read lately that you would recommend?

Oh, and Kari? I know a LOT about you, darlin’.


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19 responses to “Tagged, but not bagged

  1. Mary

    BCB spake thusly:

    Oh, and Kari? I know a LOT about you, darlin’.

    Mary mused Hmmmn… that name starts with a ‘K’… sounds like I’m safe and can wreak havoc on this blog with a will and a clear conscience…


  2. Jennifer Talty

    BCB – You crack me up! Good job. Love all the passages you picked.


  3. McB

    Too funny. You started your list with the new Stella Cameron which I have just started reading. What are the odds?


  4. me

    Coming in from the CB Bar and Grille, as promised. Not knowing your non-CB name, I think I know which one you’re talking about. (An author check at amazon.com helped.)
    Great excerpts, very descriptive. I like Eugenia. Sounds like she needs a shovel.


  5. orangehands


    yes, i loved your passage (i was looking for a large excerpt, missy). the first three lines hooked me. i want to know what’s on the note, how old she is, what she’s going to do, and so on. i wnat to know if she’s a kick-ass lady, cause she seems to be. you got me. NOW GIVE ME THE BOOK.



  6. Theresa

    Very sneaky.

    And, yes, I already want to know what’s going on, so you have hooked me.

    I won’t pester you though about when we’ll get to read the whole thing until I’m done with my *cough* wip. You have about a week. 🙂


  7. dee

    theresa said… “You have about a week”.

    Does that mean that she’s almost done with her wip? COOL!! More excerpts!!

    ANd BCB – You got me. I’m interested. I want MORE. So, you know, any time you need a ‘delta reader’ let me know!

    Question – Did you ever check into that Zona Rosa thing? I just got an e-mail about them having two retreats coming up, in NC. Interested?


  8. Kay T

    I like that Eugenia is ..ahem.. older. Of course we know that those age spots and trembling hands start younger and younger nowadays. Like 25 (watch out OH). Ha!


  9. Cary

    Ooooh. Quick, the boss is on vacation and the colleague is on the phone. Must sneak a peak at BCB’s excerpts….

    Wait – there’s a new Stella Cameron? What are the chances the colleague would notice if I left for a quick run to the bookstore?

    Ooooh. I love the Katherine James excerpt. I’ll have to look around for her book, too! Thanks, BCB! 😉

    Love the hook, BTW.


  10. Theresa

    Dee – not sure if I read your comment right, but you’re most likely not going to be interested in reading any excerpts from my wip (a.k.a. dissertation). Strictly non-fiction. Targeting a very limited audience.

    On the other hand, if you ever need a sleep aid, I could probably give you a chapter or two.

    BCB, I still have your questions saved! I haven’t forgotten.

    Darn. I’ve made a declaration on a public blog. Now I really have to finish it.


  11. bon cheri bomb

    Thanks to all of you for the very kind words. And yes, Kay T, Genie is definitely “older” — older even than my own mom. Um, not that my mom is old. Nope. Not old. I didn’t say that. But I love Genie and she is so fun to write. She is patterned very loosely after someone in particular, but in truth she is an amalgamation of every strong older woman I’ve known. And yes, she is very strong and feisty and manipulative and wryly funny and… well, you’ll see eventually.

    Dee: I haven’t had a chance to do that yet — it’s #117 on my “to do” list, which is really pretty high up, all things considered. I’ll get to it eventually. Retreat? Oh, you are so funny. If I could afford the time and expense, there is a long list of retreats…

    Theresa, it’s starting to look like my book might come out before you finish that dissertation… I haven’t forgotten my questions, either. Well, OK, I’ve forgotten a couple of them. Maybe. But I am still waiting to hear your answers — answers which, I am sure (since they were such excellent questions. ahem), will be incorporated into your very fine dissertation.

    OK, I’ve done it twice now and it still feels weird to comment here.


  12. Lou

    BcB – I’m definitely hooked! I also like (as does Kay T) that Eugenia is ‘older’, since I enjoy reading about tough old birds (being one myself, of course). Keep writing – looking forward to the book!


  13. Mary

    BCB, you are a tease. I seriously doubt that this is all you’ve written.

    Please, may I have some more?


  14. andi

    “Whoever had chosen to poke this old, tired bear would do well to remember that she was, after all, still a bear.” Really, really nice writing. Good character insight. I believe I like this and would like to read more, please. soon.


  15. orangehands

    *taps foot impatiently; hand held out, other hand on hip*

    ahem. i’m waiting for the book. and if not the book, another excerpt. a longer one. maybe, dear bob should i say, a whole chapter.

    so, just know, i am waiting. impatiently. *tap tap* you hooked me, now you have to give. any day now.


  16. orangehands

    theresa: can’t say i understood all of the article “Which Side are You on? Identifying Perspectives at the Document and Sentence Levels”, but the parts i did understand i liked and found interesting. good luck with the wip.


  17. orangehands

    *tap tap* and i’m still waiting…isn’t it nice to know someone cares? 🙂


  18. Margaret

    Yup, I like it. Yup, I want to read more.

    Book done yet? (ducking)


  19. orangehands



    BCB? i’m still waiting…