He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began. ~Leo Tolstoy

Friday, February 27, 2015

Excerpt Book III

I know the ink has hardly dried on Book II but this just came busting out of me for Book III. Thought I'd share. :)

I race down the Grand Couloir, in Courchevel, France. The icy wind slaps my cheeks as I slalom between jagged rocks, kicking up sprays of snow, faster and faster, down and down, until I’m nearly vertical. My heart pounds, my breath in my mask bellows like a charging boar. Adrenaline pumps in my veins instead of blood. 
The slope angles up. A cliff. I don’t turn, I hunch down and then there’s nothing beneath my skis and I’m flying…
…I’m flying, gliding, the nylon flaps above me. I grip the bar in a white-knuckled vise. The air is warm and the sky is gold and blue—twilight has fallen over Kahului. My glider dips and soars, and I feel the wind’s changes. I move with it, flying higher and higher, until the islands are puddles of sand wreathed in green.
I swoop low, curve up, nearly flip. I let loose a cry of triumph, and ride the edge of the current, higher still, until I can almost touch the sun, like Icarus, only I don’t burn. Not me. I soar.
And when I’m high enough, I drop the glider down into a nosedive, my harness straining until it breaks apart, the nylon tearing away, and it’s just me playing chicken with the ocean, and I will not blink first. I streak down, hands ready to cut the water like a knife. I’m diving…
…I’m diving off La Quebrada, Acapulco, one hundred and thirty-six feet high with five seconds of safe depth before the waves recede again. A three second journey, and I crow my triumph even as my heart plummets with me. My nerves are electric fear—that perfect sizzle that is nearly orgasmic, nearly unbearable.
The water rushes to meet me and I cut it perfectly, an arrow into the cool green-blue, down, down, where gold motes dance in the viridian infusion. I don’t stop, I don’t even slow. I can’t. Down deeper, and I begin to choke on my victory. My lungs constrict, my eardrums explode, and still I go down. The water is now dark green, now dark, now black. So deep. I can’t breathe. I can’t see. My head strikes the jagged teeth of the sea and all I know is pain…
…A scream tears out of my throat, one last scream, I think, before I drown in the black abyss. But no, I can’t breathe and then I can. I can scream, so I can breathe. I’m not submerged. I’m not lost in the deep. I’m in a bed, in New York City, my body covered in sweat, my hands clutching the sheets.
Relief sweeps through me like the adrenaline once did, and I open my eyes. But my eyes are already open. I’m no longer in the black deep but I’m just as blinded. Blind.
I’m blind.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What I Will and Won't Do as a Romance Novelist: A Handy List

1. No billionaire CEO's who are assholes/broken/tortured and who buy the heroine for the night--or longer--or in some other way make her "his." I have--and will again--have a rich guy now and then but he's not going to fit the mold as described above.

2. If the guy is an asshole in general, (H in my third book starts out as one) the h isn't going to be impressed. She will not be "intrigued" or seek to "fix" his asshole-ness. When he sees the error of his ways and ceases aforementioned asshole behavior, only then will the h give him a chance.

3. No covers featuring naked torsos. I'm a big believer in "never say never" but in this area, I'm going to go for a different, unified look for all my covers that eschews that trend. Hopefully this will make them stand out a bit.

4. Diversity. If the main characters aren't POC, then someone sure as shit will be, and not for the sake of being hip and cool--a white gal shoe-horning in some diversity to show how "open-minded" she is. The world is a big place filled with lots of different people. Therefore different people will show up in my books, in minor or major roles, in all races, creeds, and sexual orientations. It just makes sense.

5. Long stories. I don't/can't/find it impossible to keep it short. I like being submerged my worlds for a bit and I want to fill them out to make them as realistic as possible. So if you like short reads, my stuff probably isn't for you. (the exceptions being purposely short shorts or holiday novellas)

6. No insta-love. Insta-attraction, yes, but the real love takes time, even if the physical action gets going sooner.

7. Big, fat, over-the-top HEAs. Looks like each book's ending is going feature a proposal or wedding at some exotic local already referenced early in the book as a sort of clue. Love me some schmaltz and fluff, esp, if it took a long time for the characters to get there.

In no way do I mean to disparage authors who do or do not employ one or more of the above in their novels. To each her own. But the romance field is a big place and if I have to "market' or "brand" my stuff in some way, then this list is to that end.

I like good people. Good people who are doing the best they can. I like respect between the H and h. I like stories where the love is strong and sweet, and the sex hot but emotional as well, and I love building up to a (hopefully) satisfying relationship that the reader doesn't have to worry about later. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's Okay to Cry

Let's face it, publishing a book can really suck. I'm not limiting this statement to self-publishing; I'm sure that trad publishing has its moments of complete suckage, because ultimately it's not the final product nor the vehicle by which the book is birthed that can be painful, it's the entire process.

(Probably what I'm saying could apply to all forms of art but YMMV.)

Writing is a solitary endeavor. I don't know who said that first or in which precise order and word choice but the gist is the same. It's a lonely thing, to live within a laptop's screen and craft a world, and people it with characters who do, experience, and feel more than you do while you write them. And that's...okay. You expect that part to be lonely; in fact it probably should be. Best Writer's Group Ever member or not, you don't write by committee (or you shouldn't! Feedback is great up until the moment you subconsciously let your group write your story for you).  I get up at 5a.m. several times per week in order to achieve that solitude. But what I didn't realize is that the solitude extends beyond the initial butt-in-chair work.

You're on your own. Period.

That's not a self-pitying statement, by the way, despite the fact it smacked of that as I wrote it. It's just fact. And as with all facts, you can either choose to ignore it, deny it, fight it, or accept it. Over the course of publishing my first book, I've come face to face with it, and have chosen accept it. But until then, it's been a little bumpy.

Ignore It

You have a writer's group. You have beta-readers. You have your spouse, your friends, your mom, supporting you. You feel like you go into the process with an army at your back. Not necessarily (except for your mom) Because life. Because every one is writing their own stories and living their own dramas and they don't always conform to your schedule. You're left prodding, gently nudging, biting nails and sending tepid emails, trying not to sound like a beggar, wondering why on earth your masterpiece isn't Priority One in the lives of every person you've met, or ever made eye-contact with.

(Full disclosure, I almost deleted that above paragraph. For obvious reasons)

Secondly--and here's where the solitude really comes back--no one, and I mean NO ONE, understands what your art means to you like you do. No one. One careless comment--or god forbid, NO comments--and you can be sucked down in the vortex of bruised ego hell, a place that you find thoroughly ridiculous, even as you're dwelling in it. (It's like checking-in to a fleabag hotel and saying "This sucks...I'll only stay here a week. Or ten.")

You can have the most supportive, smartest, dedicated friends in the world (like I do) and it will never feel like enough. Never. Only you will know what it took to not only craft your baby, but to drop kick it into the world with the hopes and prayers it becomes the most popular kid in school, and not be tormented at recess or--worse--ignored completely. Only you--and other writers--know this, but other writers are too busy fretting over their own babies to worry about yours. The circle of solitude goes on, like the circle of life but without the uplifting African music and baby animals.

Deny, deny, deny...

This is where that endless hunger for feedback becomes needy. Instead of pleasantly ignoring the truth of your solitude, you deny it and start to DEMAND that the world acknowledge your work. Sometimes this pays off. You have to market the ever-loving fuck out of a book to get just a fraction of the world's eyeballs to find it. But the sales surge after a successful ad run flattens like a wave at low tide, and suddenly you're wondering what the hell everyone's problem is. How much money do I have to spend to make my 35 cents off a 99-cent book that took me a over a year to write?

Don't get me wrong; this isn't rational. The world owes you payback in direct proportion to the amount of hard work you give out. (E.L. James and the dude who raised $55K on a kickstarter for potato salad being the exception). It's a big world. You gotta do a lot of work and you do it alone.

Fight It

"Fighting it" is a machismo phrase for complaining. It's starting self-pitying, passive-aggressive Facebook posts and then deleting them--thank god--before hitting "post". It's blowing up at friends over something marginally related because that's easier than admitting that no one cares as much as you do.

And not to put to fine a point on it, people who love you DO care, just never as much as you. They don't, they never will, and they shouldn't have to, so stop fighting it.

Lastly, acceptance.
Ah, feels good, no?


It feels like the trudging goes on, the butt is in the chair, the next book written, or painting painted, or song practiced in the bedroom again and again. Because that is the ONLY thing you can do with your art. While only you will even know how much it means to you, it does mean something--quite a lot hopefully, and that makes all the other bullshit worth it. Keep doing it. Alone. Persevere. Never give up, never surrender.

But it's okay to cry a little bit along the way.