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Take My Advice (my article in Booksbywomen)

February 23, 2021 | By Marti Leimbach | Reply



I remember as a child my mother listing a whole bunch of first lines from bestselling books.

“The primroses were over,” she announced theatrically, referring to the opening to Watership Down. 

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” she said, quoting from Anna Karenina. I thought she’d come up with this idea herself, so I asked, “Are we unhappy in our own way?”

She dragged deeply from her cigarette, exhaled, then swatted at the smoke. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

I held out an ashtray for the length of ash bowing down from her cigarette and she dutifully tapped. 

“Mother, I don’t know what you are saying,” I admitted.

“Bestsellers,” she said by way of explanation. “You need a great first line.”

My mother, a journalist, spent her life at the typewriter, so her advice on writing felt credible.  I nodded, believing her when she said that bestsellers required a single mesmerizing first line that signalled an unaccountable genius that would bring readers to their knees….

Full article here: Advice on Writing Advice


original artwork for this post by Shon Ejai, on pixabay

Find out What’s Haunting Me (a Caroline Leavitt Interview)

Every writer wants to be interviewed by Caroline Leavitt. This New York Times bestselling author is a great friend to other authors, always interviewing them, asking them interesting questions and being basically the nicest human in the world. So, of course, I was thrilled when Caroline wanted to read DRAGONFLY GIRL and ask me some questions!

Here’s the beginning of the chat with a link if you want to skip ahead to Caroline’s great blog and read it all there!


A YA that celebrates science! Marti Leimbach talks about DRAGONFLY GIRL, a heroine who finds the cure for death and what was obsessing her in the writing.

What is more exciting than a YA novel about science featuring a science-loving girl who has found the cure for death? Called a YA thriller for people who loved The Queen’s Gambit (and who didn’t, I ask you?) Dragonfly Girl makes the astonishing, the magical, seem possible. School Library Journal calls it “thrilling, with a heroine to root for.”

I first heard about Marti Leimbach because she wrote the international bestseller, DYING YOUNG, which was made into a blockbuster movie. She’s also the author of The Man From Saigon and Daniel Isn’t Talking, and she is a core tutor at oxford University’s creative writing program.  Also, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention RATS: Marti breeds them as part of the National Fancy Rat Society. But most importantly to me, Marti and I became friends and I adore her. Thank you so much, Marti for writing something for my Nothing is Cancelled Book Tour blog.

What was haunting you in writing this book? Like my 17-year old heroine, Kira, in Dragonfly Girl, I like reading science research papers. I worry a little that whatever medical treatment I learn about won’t arrive soon enough for me, or be affordable. So I read these papers with a mixture of hope and dread, certain that I or someone dear to me might die of something that, in the near future, will be totally treatable. 

Still under the general heading of “haunting” let’s add….read more here