~ Guest Post by Becky Monson
Every once in a while I get a review of my book that says it was predictable. Um… yah. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t all chick-lit predictable?
Essentially, there’s a formula for chick-lit. It varies from book to book and writer to writer, but it basically stays the same. There’s the heroine/hero, there’s the love interest, there’s the drama, and then there’s the happily ever after.
I wonder in their remarks that it was predictable, were they looking for something unpredictable? Maybe a not-so-happily-ever-after? Let me tell you what would happen if I wrote a book with a not-so-happy ending. Ten percent of my readers would think “huh, that’s different”, and the other ninety percent would throw the book across the room (unless it was on their kindle, and then they would very gently, but sternly, delete it from their files, never to be seen or read again).
I also wonder, if by unpredictable, are they looking for something more realistic? Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read, I’m not looking for “real”. I have enough “real” in my everyday life. When I read, I’m looking for an escape - a way to go on vacation, without actually having to go on vacation. So for me, I like the predictable. I look forward to it. I know that when I open Sophie Kinsella’s newest novel that there will be a happy ending and that makes me want to read it.
After all, isn’t the joy in the journey? How will they get from A to B? How will the love blossom? How will they work through whatever drama will be thrown their way?
So is chick-lit predictable? Yes. And I would like to keep it that way, thank you very much. If you are looking for something less predictable, might I suggest a mystery, or a biography. Perhaps a dystopian novel would do the trick (I’ve thrown a few of those across the room). But let’s keep chick-lit the way it was meant to be: predictably lovely.
By day, Becky Monson is a mother to three young children, and a wife. By night, she escapes with reading books and writing. In her debut novel, Becky uses humor and true-life experiences to bring her characters to life. She loves all things chick-lit (movies, books, etc.), and wishes she had a British accent. She has recently given up Diet Coke for the fiftieth time and is hopeful this time will last... but it probably won't.
Becky runs a large on-line book club called "This Chick Reads". Check it out on Facebook!
To find out more of what Becky is up to, check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeckyMonsonBuy her book:ON AMAZONON BARNES & NOBLE
Guest Post by Helen Carey
I was talking to an elderly lady yesterday who complemented me on the accuracy of my wartime novels. ‘It must have been especially hard for you to get them right,’ she said. ‘As you weren’t there at the time.’ And that made me start thinking about how ‘right’ historical novels ever really are.
Clearly all historical fiction is fabricated in some way. Hilary Mantel was not present in the Tudor court (as far as we know), nor did Steven Saylor ever don a toga and wander the streets of ancient Rome. Mary Renault was never pally with Alexander the Great, and I wasn’t even a twinkle in my mother’s eye during the Second World War.
So would it have made any marked difference to my novels if I could
remember cowering under a Morrison shelter as a child?
Personal memories are clearly useful, but we also all know that memory can be faulty. People often ‘remember’ things that other people have told them, or that they have read about. Our recollections are always in some way overlaid by our own ‘world view’. My sister’s memories of our childhood often don’t correspond with my own (I’m quite sure I never pretended to be a puppy living in the wardrobe!) I have equally found in my own research that people’s retrospective view often varies wildly from letters and diaries written at the time. For example, the post war mantra of ‘We all pulled together’ sits oddly with numerous diary gripes about petty theft, looting and prejudice.
Received wisdom and the wisdom of hindsight is often a problem for historical novelists. I believe that a crucial part of the writer’s job is to re-explore the era and to re-examine what people really were
feeling, thinking and doing at the time the novel is set. The most effective way to do this is to study the history, investigate different reports of specific events, read diaries, letters, magazines, newspapers, listen to old radio shows (I still giggle at the idea of the indefatigable Sandy Macpherson and his everlasting organ!), and yes, if possible, to talk to people who were there.
When you pull all this information together you get a real feel for the specific era you are writing about, but of course, even then, it is still only background material. The key skill of any successful novelist is the ability to create three dimensional, empathetic characters and to weave them into a plot which will not only transport readers to the time and place of the story but will also give them a compelling reading experience.
So, yes, when writing any type of fiction it’s clearly vital to get it as ‘right’ as is humanly possible, but I don’t believe it’s necessary to have ‘been there at the time’ in order to create a sense of authenticity. If that was the case the number of historical novels on our shelves would be very limited – and science fiction novels nonexistent!Visit this author to read posts like this and much more!http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk http://helencareybooks.wordpress.com http://www.twitter.com/helencareybooks
-- Guest Post by Jane Cable
“She didn’t want to go to a place that he hadn’t marked, just as she couldn’t throw away the tubs of play dough still pitted with his fingers.”
The moment she read those words I knew that Madeleine Reiss would win the competition; standing in the TV studio, lights as heavy for rehearsal as they would be for the real thing, some of the tension drained from me. There was a sense of disappointment, yes, but no shame at being beaten by a more accomplished writer – even in front of 10 million viewers.
In 2011 the UK’s most popular afternoon TV programme, The Alan Titchmarsh Show, launched a competition to find a new novelist. The prize was a deal with Harper Collins and almost 1,000 writers entered. In the studio for the finals were the winners of each of the four televised heats; historical, thriller, women’s fiction and suspense & crime.
My book, The Cheesemaker’s House, had won the suspense & crime category and Madeleine’s, then called Brancaster, now published as Someone to Watch Over Me, women’s fiction. In reality the genres could have been reversed – in fact maybe they should have been; my book is romance-suspense whereas Madeleine’s is definitely the other way around. I thought perhaps hers was considered women’s fiction because of the way she describes almost everything her heroine is wearing but the author’s own view is because it’s “a bit of a sob-fest”.
Now that Someone to Watch Over Me has been published and The Cheesemaker’s House will be joining it in the bookstores very shortly I find it interesting to compare the two. Both grip you from the first few chapters; both deal with coming to terms with loss and the spirit world; both evoke strong images of the English countryside and both have moments of laugh-out-loud humour. The competition’s organisers had surely separated them to ensure that two of the strongest entries had a chance of reaching the showcase final.
The actual stories are very different, but also the way in which they are told. Madeleine describes everything in the most entrancing detail, leaving the reader in no doubt about where they are and what the characters are seeing. My own writing is spare, economical, offering the reader just enough to move the story on. Madeleine creates tension by chopping the narrative from one character to another; for me it’s done by taking the tunnel-vision of only the heroine’s viewpoint.
One thing I am sure about is, however different the books, the same readers are going to enjoy them. Readers who are bored by predictable boy-meets-girl romances and frustrated by many publishers’ reluctance to bring out cross-genre novels that can’t be easily categorised. I’m sure it’s no co-incidence that both have achieved publication not through the slush-pile, but through success in competition.
About the Blogger/Author
Jane Cable was born in Wales but now lives in the south of England. She has been writing for her own amusement for all her life but her success in The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition made her take her hobby seriously. After years in business she is continually surprised and delighted by the warmth and co-operation she finds among fellow writers.
Both Madeleine and Jane are keen to work with book groups to make sure they get the most out of their experiences of their novels. The Cheesemaker’s House
is published by Matador. The e-book will be available from 19th August and the paperback from 1st October. Find out more from Jane’s website: www.janecable.com
or through The Cheesemaker’s House
--Guest Post by Meredith Bond
I love antagonists. I love to think about what makes them tick. What makes them do what they do? It’s the antagonist’s job to stop the hero from doing what they want to do, or getting what they need to get. Anyone can be an antagonist – the sweetest, most wonderful little, old grandmother could be a child’s antagonist if what the child wants is a cookie, and she’s not letting him have one because there’s only half an hour until dinner.
The most fun and wonderful antagonists are those who are just plain mean. All right, those who are nasty and cruel and heartless are fun too, but they’ve got to be mean, at least to my mind. But they can’t just be mean for being mean’s sake. They’ve got to be mean for a reason. They’ve got to have a really good reason for being that nasty to my hero (whom I love – always).
Not only do villains need a good reason to be mean, but they’ve got to have what one of my writing students called “fuzzy socks” (I love that term, and I use it all the time now). “Fuzzy socks” is that wonderful feeling get on the coldest day of winter when you snuggle up with a pair of warm, fuzzy socks on your feet. You feel good. You feel warm and comforted. Everybody has that warm, comforting, wonderful part to their personality. Yes, everybody! Even the meanest, nastiest, most cruel villain. At some point in his life, he was loved or he loved someone – even if it was just his mother for the first few moments after his birth before she left him in a dumpster. It’s those “fuzzy socks” which I like to discover within my antagonists.
In my novel, Magic in the Storm, the villain is my hero’s mother, Tatiana – yes, his own mother who wanted to kill him just moments after his birth! Why? Because he was male, and she was expecting a girl. His father saves him, but his mother hates him and is horribly cruel to him throughout the poor guy’s childhood. But what made her so mean? And what are her “fuzzy socks”? Where is the good in this villain? That’s what I set out to find when I began writing Storm on the Horizon.
It’s the story of Tatiana as a young woman, and how she meets and falls in love the man who becomes her husband (the one who later saves his son from her wrath when he was born the wrong sex). We get to see who Tatiana is, what she’s like, and we get a glimpse of how she became the woman she is in Magic in the Storm.
Do you ever wonder what makes a villain who they are, or why they do all the horrible things they do? Have you ever tried looking for someone’s “fuzzy socks”?
Storm on the Horizon is currently free at Amazon, Apple ibooks, All Romance ebooks, Kobo and Smashwords. Magic in the Storm is available everywhere.
Meredith Bond is an award-winning author of a series of traditionally published Regency romances and indie-published paranormal romances. Her paranormal romances include Magic In The Storm, Storm on the Horizon, and "In A Beginning" (in the anthology Tales From The Mist). Her traditional Regencies include The Merry Men Quartet of which An Exotic Heir will be republished in March, 2013. Meredith also teaches writing. If you want a taste of her class, Chapter One is available at your favorite e-retailer.
Want to know more? Come visit Meredith at her website, www.meredithbond.com or chat with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/meredithbondfan) or Twitter (@merrybond).
I've been writing fanfiction for as long as I can remember. I've also heard of tons of hate towards fanfiction for about as long.
For me, fanfiction was one of those things that first opened me up to writing longer stories. Up until that point I had written plenty of things but nothing quite felt right and I didn't feel like I was improving just writing what was in me at that time. I stepped into fanfiction without too much interest but I steadily grew to love it, posting very frequently on the most popular fanfiction website online, www.fanfiction.net
Since I loved writing fanfiction and, to me, that was what mattered, I was generally oblivious to the hate plenty of published authors had towards fanfiction. As I began to take notice of it I was still very much comfortable in the fanfiction world, as well as easing into writing novel-length stories of my own, and had a growing resentment for those authors that were insistent that they did not want fanfictions of their works written.
That resentment is still there, I'll admit; I find it really selfish almost. But I have to admit that as time has gone on I've become to understand their feelings also. To an extent only, of course.
My characters are like my babies; my plots come about through the nurturing of my babies. Of course I don't want someone to come along, snatch them up, send their lives to hell and take credit for it. At the same time, fanfiction is fanfiction. It's in a place where it is often very clearly marked as 'fanfiction' so if you don't like it, don't read it. I would hate to see my characters interpreted the wrong way, or have changes made to them that I would hate. Then again I can always choose not to read something; that's good enough for me. Sort of like 'out of sight, out of mind'.
The authors that don't want to see their characters ruined have fair concerns in mind. I recently read a fanfiction of one of my favourite manga series. In this fanfiction, one of the lead characters was suddenly a woman who had apparently been disguised as a man for the whole series, and all because the fan wanted to play true love to one of the characters. That was horrid!
The authors who think fanfiction writers are going to get any monetary payment off of their hard work need a reality check. When posting on a fanfiction site you are inadvertently stating that this is not your universe and these are not your characters, so what's the problem? None of them really do it for any monetary profit; I know I certainly didn't!
Over the years I've seen and felt so many advantages to writing fanfictions and I think they're advantages that make a lot of authors' arguments moot.
George R.R Martin states that writing fanfiction is the 'lazy way out' of writing. I don't believe that this is so; I believe that it provides plenty of opportunities for a writer to try something that is a bit out of the box for them, in something that they don't have to commit as much time to but still give fresh ideas to possibilities.
I personally have always written original works and always written fanfictions on the side. For me, a fanfiction is a fun opportunity to try something that I wouldn't normally work with but I have the added challenge of trying to keep things in the fanfiction as close to the reality of the original series. My intentions would never be to change the entire series, but rather to tackle something that the original author may not have had enough time to flesh out.
Stephenie Meyer, writer of the Twilight series, doesn't hate fanfiction and doesn't forbid people from writing it but it does
frustrate her. She says that based on the amount of talent, time and energy that some writers put into fanfictions they should probably be spending it on writing their own novels and getting them published. Fair enough. She's not wrong. It's complicated but, for example, let us say that an author wrote out a great little story that inspired me to think 'I would love to write those two characters in this sort of situation', and invent a scenario that the two characters undoubtedly encountered but was not shown in the book. To recreate those characters and give them the same background in order to run your little experimentation then you're almost plagiarising, are you not? So why not do this with fanfiction, in which you are clearly stating that the original background story and characters are not yours at all and take no credit for it?
Recently I thought two characters were extremely interesting, had a difficult and almost peculiar relationship with each other and had backgrounds that would cause them plenty of problems. I was intrigued by a scenario that they were obviously going to be in but that was kept out of the original story. I then wrote fanfictions for that because it was far more honest to do that than to recreate them almost exactly identical, because one little change would ruin everything, and technically plagiarise work.
As previously said there are also numerous other appealing factors of fanfiction. I love to write oneshots! It's the only time when I can write anything in short! My own novels become novels almost because I have so much to do and go on about that they become that length! Oneshots are fun and creative ways of working with someone else's characters, write an interesting little story and do all that without having to explain absolutely everything!
Also, I find it increasingly perfect practice that helps me keep characters in
character! Never do you have to be more careful about the way you portray a character in a scenario than when you're playing around with someone else's characters! No doubt it is frustrating to read characters that are absolutely nothing like their original and so I always aim to keep the characters in character! After all, nothing turns me, and a lot of other readers and writers, off more than seeing 'OOC' (out of character) written in a story summary. I think it's far worse when a writer knows that the character is OOC and they still insist on posting it. If you're not going to remain true to the characters themselves at least, why post it? Why write it at all? It's alright if your interpretation is different, but it has got to be understandable also.
After all this, I'm simply saying that I can understand why people, authors especially, have quite some hate towards fanfictions. Really, I do! But it's not all bad either and my position on it hasn't changed in about 8 or 9 years and, to be honest, I don't think it's going to change any time soon.
So, what is your stance on fanfiction? Do you read it, write it or both?
ABOUT THIS BLOGGER & HER BOOKS
Kyra Gregory was born and raised on the tiny island of Malta where she balances her life between her obligations and her passion for writing. She is only just dipping her feet into the publishing world but has been writing for over nine years and with a variety of genres already under her belt.
Visit the author at her site HERE
~Guest Post by Adm Sidwell
Today, TSR would like to welcome Adam Sidwell to the blog to share his 10 favorite YA Characters! Enjoy!
The BFG: I love him because he's a big friendly giant and he talks such gobbleygook all the time. His language is fascinating.
Dumbledore: He's always got a plan, and he's one of those guys you can trust. He's the most powerful wizard!
Willy Wonka: He's smarter than he looks, and there's real sorrow inside his jovial heart. But he's created happiness anyway.
Grandpa Smedry from Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians: He's an old crazy man, just like I'd like to be when I'm old enough to get away with it.
Arthur Dent: Sure, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is not strictly MG or YA, but this guy is one cool frood. His buddy Zaphod is a little too crazy to take sides with, but Arthur is indeed sincere when he gets sucked out of the airlock.
The Giant Peach: It sounds so delicious.
Jacob Black: I know this is more teeny bopper YA, but this guy turns into a werewolf, and 3 people have independently told me I look like him. (I'm not sure which form they were talking about).
Tom Sawyer: He faked his own death just for the fun of it (like Tupac) and he always has schemes for getting himself out of (or into) a jam.
Butler: He's so loyal to Artemis Fowl, he has even given his life to save him on more than one occasion. Lucky for Artemis, he's a Jimminy Cricket to Artemis' tiny conscience.
Taran: The main character from the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. He's a boy who goes on a fantastic adventure in a fantasy world. My first real fantasy book. I'll never forget it.
About The Author
Author Adam Sidwell
In between books, Adam Glendon Sidwell uses the power of computers to make monsters, robots and zombies come to life for blockbuster movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Transformers and Tron. After spending countless hours in front of a keyboard meticulously adjusting tentacles, calibrating hydraulics, and brushing monkey fur, he is delighted at the prospect of modifying his creations with the flick of a few deftly placed adjectives. He’s been eating food since age 7, so feels very qualified to write this book. He once showed a famous movie star where the bathroom was. Adam currently lives in Los Angeles, where he can’t wait to fall into the sea.Website Twitter FacebookPurchase The Buttersmith's Gold
~Guest Post by Heather Massey
Science Fiction Romance: A Frontier of New Adventures
Science fiction romance has been gaining speed in the past decade, but like an attic treasure, its true value has yet to be discovered in greater numbers. But what is it, exactly?
Sci-fi romance features a love story occurring in a technology-based setting and has a Happily Ever After. It's the intersection of when two people (or three in some cases) of any gender and sexual orientation fall in love and are impacted in some way by science.
Think about the time when online dating services became a reality, and people met and fell in love using that technology. Science fiction romance stories are kind of like that, only set in a futuristic or alternate world.
The SF to romance ratio varies across stories, which means readers can find the SF-romance combinations best suited to their tastes. Here are a few elements you'll generally discover in a science fiction romance:
* A predominate theme of love against the odds
* Scientific wonders/alternate worlds
* Dual-heroic journey (i.e., both the hero and heroine save the day)
* Variety of romance fantasies
* Progressive elements (includes sexual equality; heroines with agency; extraordinary heroines)
* Cerebral adventures (i.e., technology related thematic content)
* Female gaze/neutral gaze (i.e., the text focuses on issues important to women and couples)
* Alternate (non-heteronormative) romances
* Subversive, edgy stories and the potential for pushing even more boundaries
Science fiction romance is also like Ben & Jerry's
ice cream (which is to say, yum!). It's a niche subgenre serving adventurous readers who enjoy romance, which is traditionally character-driven, combined with a scientific "sense of wonder." The hybrid possibilities are endless.
For one thing, you'll meet a variety of characters in science fiction romance. They include bounty hunters, scientists, starship captains, aliens, soldiers, spies, hackers, and even futuristic royalty. The beauty of this subgenre is that either gender can inhabit these roles. Recommended reads: FINDERS KEEPERS (Linnea Sinclair); THE OUTBACK STARS (Sandra McDonald); GHOST PLANET (Sharon Lynn Fisher); MOONSTRUCK (Susan Grant); METAL REIGN (Nathalie Gray); CAUGHT IN AMBER (Cathy Pegau); NIGHTS OF STEEL (Nico Rosso)
There are multiple settings to choose from as well. Space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk, near-future, and superhuman are at your service. As a result, each romance has its own unique flavor. Recommended reads: RIVETED (Meljean Brook); UNNACCEPTABLE RISK (Jeanette Grey); TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN (Gini Koch); ENEMY WITHIN (Marcella Burnard); PHOENIX RISING (Corrina Lawson); THE KEY (Pauline Baird Jones)
Sci-fi romance delivers a number of romance fantasies. Frequently, the stories explore the concept of the "Other," specifically the idea of meeting and falling in love with someone different from ourselves. It's an entertaining way to glom social commentary about romantic love. Recommended reads: STELLARNET REBEL (J.L. Hilton); ON WINGS, RISING (Ann Somerville); THE SPIRAL PATH (Lisa Paitz Spindler); THE PHOENIX CODE (Catherine Asaro); BODY ELECTRIC (Susan Squires)
A couple's sexual journey is another area science fiction romance explores. This may be the boldest one of all because as much as non-romantic SF tackles the "What if…?" question, it pales in comparison to how often science fiction romance poses the very same question in the context of romance and the development of a couple's physical, erotic bond. Recommended reads: CLAIMINGS, TAILS, AND OTHER ALIEN ARTIFACTS (Lyn Gala); SILVER BOUND (Ella Drake); REFUGEES ON URLOON (Melisse Aires); A GIFT FOR BOGGLE (P.J. Schnyder); THE ANTAREN AFFAIR (Erica Anderson); ADVENTURESSES (Angelia Sparrow); IN ENEMY HANDS (K.S. Augustin)
Science fiction romance is alive and well in other mediums, such as film. Here's a short list to get you started:
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
TIME AFTER TIME
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
And nothing beats the MASS EFFECT space opera videogame series for a "choose your own romantic adventure"!
If you're new to science fiction romance, first of all, welcome! I run a blog called The Galaxy Express
and it's a gateway site devoted to this subgenre. In fact, you can access 40 titles that are available for free or for the bargain price of 99 cents
. (In the interest of full disclosure, three of the titles are mine). The variety is such that chances are high you'll find a sci-fi romance up your alley.
Thanks for visiting me here at The Serious Reader. Happy reading!
About The Author
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express
. Additionally, she writes about SFR at Heroes and Heartbreakers
as well as the Coffee Time Romance Steampunk Romance Page
She’s also an author in this subgenre. Her stories will entertain you with fantastical settings, larger-than-life characters, timeless romance, and rollicking action. So sit back, relax, and pour yourself a cup of space java as the stories unfold. You deserve it.
When Heather’s not reading or writing, she’s watching cult films and enjoying the company of her husband and daughter. To learn more about her work, visit heathermassey.com
Connect with me:
Facebook: Heather Massey - Science Fiction Romance Author
By Alicia J. Love
Young Adult Fiction has always brought us wonder, imagination, and magic. Whether the books are about struggling teens trying to find themselves or young people with special powers and magnificent destinies, young adult fiction is a wonderful way to open yourself up to the possibilities and impossibilities in the world.
Young adult fiction is not just for the young, or even just for the young at heart. Young adult fiction is a great way to reintroduce those caught up in the chaos of adulthood back into the wonder and innocence that was our childhood.
As an adult, stress, responsibilities, and chaos are simply a part of our daily lives. Why not sit down with a good book and lose ourselves in a land of discovery, magic, and imagination? Young adult fiction can take us away from the woes of the modern world and into the past, the present, or even the future. It can show us the powers of witches and wizards or even take us on a journey across the stars. No matter what age you are or your situation, you could benefit from reading a young adult fiction novel.
These books tell us stories of friendships and first loves, and what is was like to see and experience things for the first time. It is a great way to jump back into that innocence, to realize how hard the simple things used to be and learn to appreciate things more. A good book can teach us about the meaning of friendship, something most of us forget after a few years on our own.
When I was writing my first novel, REINCARNATION, which will be released soon, I had to look into my past a relive some of the best feelings in my life. I took bits and pieces of my first love, a connection which was so strong I don't think I will ever top it. I remembered how gullible I was and how much my life was filled with wonder. I remembered how, as a child, I truly believed that magic was real and that I had a great destiny. During the process of writing REINCARNATION, I think I was the most inspired since grade school. Young adult fiction really can bring back the best of our childhoods and make us believe again.Young adult fiction can show you how to love again, rekindle the old flames of youth in your heart, and you can learn from them, learn things over again that you thought you already knew. The next time you are at the bookstore, the library, or browsing on your kindle, see if there is anything that might strike a fire inside you once more.Alicia J. Love is a new author of the Young Adult SciFi/Fantasy book series The Seven Uniters. The series follows a young woman who has an absolutely magnificent destiny. For more information about her and her upcoming series, check out AliciaJLove.com. Also, follow her Twitter account: @AliciaJLove7 and check her out on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AliciaJLove7
-- by Jams N. Roses
For most readers, choosing what to read next is a pleasure, and not a chore. You have the choice of reading the latest book from a favourite author, the next in a series maybe, or trying something new and reading a recommendation from a friend, perhaps in a genre that you’d otherwise not have given a chance.
As a writer, deciding what to write isn’t always as pleasant or as easy an experience.
Charts will tell you that romance novels and thrillers are always popular, people love them, but then with all the other writers in those genres, is there any more room for little old me? With all the other stories already told involving love affairs, broken hearts, and races to save the day, can I bring anything new to the table?
Maybe I should write about what I know? That’s age old advice for new writers so there must be some truth to it. But what is it that I know, that others need or want to read about? Why is my life or opinion so interesting?
I am a listener, a watcher, a thinker, and I notice things that others don’t because I see them through my own eyes, I’ve lived through situations that others haven’t. This is my skill; this is what I bring to the table.
I have friends who can walk into a bar, spark a conversation with anybody and talk absolute nonsense on any subject, whether they are clued up on it or just ‘blagging’ their way through. I’m the quiet guy who doesn’t speak until spoken to directly, and even then I stutter and grow red on the cheeks. Maybe after a couple of pints of ‘confidence’ I can stick my neck on the line and start a conversation with new friends or near-strangers, but only once the barriers have been broken down already. I believe the qualities that abandon me in social situations actually leave me better equipped in other ways.
I am a listener, a watcher and a thinker, but I am also shy and timid, which means I need a medium to express my views, my thoughts and my humor. Cue the pen and paper or the laptop… I’ve got something to say.
After completing two novels, I must admit that I still have trouble committing to a genre, other than contemporary fiction, which is such a large umbrella it would be hard not to stand under it.
I write about life.
It could be my life, the life of a friend or the man in front of me at the desk of the job office. I am a fiction writer, but my writing is always born from something I have seen, heard or read about. A seed has been planted and blossomed into a character or plot that can then be built upon, added to and grown into a delicate, multi-layered web of stories, situations and personalities.
I do write about what I know, subjects I’ve touched upon are deceit, failure, crime, fortune, violence, hate, fear, addiction and of course, love. Are these the ingredients to an interesting life? Yes, but it’s sometimes painful too, and sometimes extremely exciting, and very often funny. All of which would explain why my books contain romance and thrills and mystery and crime and drama.
I may not always be able to pigeon-hole my work, this may limit the number of people willing to give up their valuable time and read my books, but I have finally found my voice, even if it lay silent on a page or screen. Happily, reviews so far for both novels have been favorable, so I feel following my heart and writing what I feel has been the correct decision.
Now, where to start with book number three?
Titles By This Author
Life, much like writing, is a learning process. With each hiccup, each triumph, and each failure we become better, or at least that's the hope. Of course, a reader should never notice the struggle in the writing, and if they do, then perhaps the writer has not learned enough. Perhaps they are not quite doing their job. Life, on the other hand, is a bit different. Often people see our struggles before we can see them ourselves. I can particularly relate to that, but in my writing it is harder to ignore the truth. I recently decided to put my current work-in-progress on the back burner and start something new. I found a story that I am falling in love with. I've started writing it with relative ease and excitement, something that was missing from my previous project. I'm sure that I will return to the other manuscript, but for now, I'm doing what works. And so, I decided to share. It may not be the most riveting, heart palpitating scene, but I see where it is going. And it's good.
**Please keep in mind this is a rough draft, has not been looked at by an editor, or anyone other than the author for that matter. This work is not yet titled. **
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This is a work of fiction. All characters, places, events, and incidents are fictitious and products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental. Copyright © 2013 by T.M. Souders
SCENE 1 - The Glover's Cove Saga
The humidity cloaked Bertha’s skin. Her tank top and jean cut-offs stuck to her as she ran through the back-end of Glover’s Cove, with her best friend, Dawn, just a few paces behind her. The one hundred fifty acres extended clear into the woods and tree lines west of the property that bordered Lake Erie, settling into a small inlet. The family name, the property dubbed a little slice of heaven by locals, and that small arm of water gave the well-known residence the name Glover’s Cove.
Bertha stumbled over a large tree root of an ancient maple, nearly falling before catching herself and regaining her balance. Without missing a step, she paused, tore off her wedges and threw them behind her while Dawn struggled to keep up. Her laughter carried through the trees, while her feet thumped over the bare earth. Her heart pounded hard in her chest, and her lungs screamed, but her legs moved faster yet, the muscles tightening and burning as she sprinted. A breeze tickled her skin, setting it on edge. The scent of fresh water and silt filled her nose as she pumped her arms. Just another couple yards and she would break through the thick trees into a sun-dappled clearing, where water met land. She was almost there.
“Bertie Glover, you dirty beast you! You run like a boy!” Dawn shouted from behind her. But her friend’s epithets were of no use because she made the last leap over a fallen Oak, like a gazelle in the wild, landing on her bare feet and onto a mossy knoll. The tell-tale snapping of branches and rustling of leaves signaled Dawn’s approach. She had to hurry.
Bertha tore down her shorts in one clean swoop, kicking them off into the grass and leaving behind her tiny lace panties—the ones she hid from her parents in the back of her sock drawer. She may have been eighteen, but there were still some things better kept private . She took another step toward the water, while reaching up over her head and tearing her multi-colored tank top off first, then her bra. She paid no mind to where they landed as she threw them. In the next second, she leapt forward, her arms out in front of her, waiting and wanting the fresh, cool water to wash over her. And in the moments before she hit the water, she heard Dawn yell, “You dirty bitch! You’re faster than a fucking cheetah.”
The warmth of the water glided over Bertha’s skin like silk. She extended her arms, until they nearly touched her head, and drew them back in tandem with the movement of her legs, like a frog. A trail of bubbles followed her as she slowly exhausted all of the air in her lungs. The run there had tired her and in only seconds—much too soon—Bertha rose to the surface panting. She turned around, treading water, and spotted Dawn, all graceful arms, long neck, and blonde hair, piled high on her head, slowly swimming toward her. Laughter rose from the back of Bertha’s throat as she took in Dawn’s annoyed expression.
Dawn came to a stop three feet in front of her. “God, do you have to turn everything into a competition? We can’t just have a nice walk down to the lake. No, we have to sprint down and make it a race.”
Bertha screwed up her face and stuck out her tongue. “I can’t help it I’m faster.”
“Ha! Right. Faster, brighter, smarter, prettier, better built. Does the list ever end?”
Bertha cocked her head. “You have better breasts than me.” She nodded in the direction of Dawn’s ta-ta’s.
Dawn, always one to succumb to flattery, assessed Bertha with her scrupulous brown eyes, as if searching for sincerity before accepting the compliment. “Better? Yours are twice as big.”
“Twice as big, yes, but too big. Yours are perfect and round like little melons. They’ll be perky far longer than mine will. When I’m fifty and they’re down to my waist, yours will still be right up in your chest where they belong.” Bertha kept a straight face, knowing that this would appease the vain part of her friend.
Dawn pursed her lips and, after a moment, said. “Next time, I’m just gonna take my good ‘ol time and walk. Or better yet, turn back around and go get an ice cream or root beer float at Peach’s. Teach you a lesson. You’ll be waitin’ here all day, maybe even thinking I twisted my ankle somewhere back in those trees. Then you’ll have to come searching for me in your birthday suit. Maybe I’ll really teach you a lesson and send Randy Pheeny out here, tell him you had some trouble.” Dawn chuckled before her laughter turned into a rip-roaring keening. Tears pooled in her eyes as she continued. “Then he’ll come out here searching, trying to come to your rescue like he does, and lo and behold, imagine his surprise when he finds you wandering the grass, naked as a Jay.” Tipping her head back, Dawn’s laughter erupted once more through the inlet.
Bertha glared at her, but a hint of a smile played on the corners of her mouth. “You’re so loud, all you’d have to do is yell from here and he’d come runnin’. No need to go searching for him.” In one quick movement, Bertha moved her arm and hand like a paddle and doused Dawn’s jubilant face with lake water, wetting some of her precious Goldilocks. Knowing better, Bertha quickly turned and retreated, swimming away as fast as she could amidst her laughter.
Muttered curses trailed behind her. In seconds, Bertha knew that Dawn, a much faster swimmer, would be at her heels. She swam to the other side of the inlet, where it was shallow enough to stand, and sure enough, Dawn caught up to her just as her feet reached the muddy bank. Bertha took purchase on the earth and moved her arms in the water as hard as she could. But Dawn grabbed her through the deluge of water and dragged her in, splashing her at the same time. Bertha stood through a torrent of coughing and fought back. Both women grabbed at each other’s arms, splashing and pushing all the while laughing and choking through the spray of lake water. They finished in a fit of concession, both of them screaming “Truce,” and moved to the edge of the bank. They crawled out of the water and sat back on the silt, dangling their legs in the water and exposing their pale breasts and bellies to the warmth of the afternoon sun. The preening of a nearby seagull filled the silence in the cove, intermingling with only the sounds of the women’s breathing.
“Holy shi—Oh my God, I’m sorry.” A deep voice called out from behind them. With a shriek, Dawn threw herself back in the water. Bertha turned to see a young man of about twenty-something, standing a few feet from the tree line. He turned his face, which took on a deep shade of scarlet, and stuttered his continued apologies, as his eyes darted from Bertha back to the side again.
Bertha couldn’t help it. She tipped her head to the sky, her long, wet hair tickling the middle of her back as she laughed.
“Bertie, get in here!” Dawn’s shrill voice yelled.
Bertha glanced back at the young man and took in his profile—tall and lean, but with a hint of muscle hidden beneath his beige pants and t-shirt. “You kno, if you’re that embarrassed and shocked by what you’ve seen, you should be keeping your eyes completely averted.”
The man ran a hand through his short blonde hair, then over his face. “You’re right. I am so sorry,” he said, waving one hand toward her, the other still over his face and covering his eyes.
“You know, this is private property!” Dawn yelled.
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m new to town, and I started taking a walk. I was just sightseeing. I must have gotten turned around.”
Bertha, always a bold person, and not one to squelch away from anything life had to offer, stood up and placed her hands on her hips. The weight of her large breasts, and the feel of the air over her bare, damp skin, made her only that much more aware of her current disposition. But something about the man’s complete and utter embarrassment left her wanting to shock him further.
“Well?” she asked. Her toes sunk into the mud, further grounding her in place. From behind her, she heard Dawn’s pleas to hide in the water. She could see the man’s restraint, as if he was forcing himself to keep his gaze away from her. After no answer, she asked again. “Well, what do you think of the view? It’s beautiful out here, don’t ya think?”
This mustn’t have been what the young man expected from her because his head whipped in her direction. “Yes, quite beautiful,” he said.
Bertha chuckled and raised one brow in question, before jumping back into the lake and disappearing beneath the murky waters.