I wanted to share a sample from “My Favorite Second Chance” – Book 2 in The Lake Effect Series.
His eyes skipped from one object to another as he drove down Interstate 35. Movement caught his eye. A pair of uncomfortably high heels kicked to the floorboards. He brought his attention back to the dark road, dotted with twinkling pairs of red eyes. The intensity of Gwenn’s anger with her mother was palpable, but he had no intention of pushing for details.
A single sheer, black stocking swung into view…a tantalizing ornament, dangling from the rear-view mirror. He glanced toward his passenger and saw one creamy, white thigh—newly exposed—and a second, being released from its thigh-high prison. He checked his mirror once and saw no one behind him. He pumped the brakes and slid the car off the road as fast as humanly possible. She needed to blow off some steam. Who was he to judge?
She snapped her freshly removed panties into his face and moaned.
He struggled to clear his vision of the lacey intrusion and leaned his seat back as far as it would go.
Gwenn climbed over the console as he finished unzipping his smooth, black trousers.
Her mouth felt hot and wet on his. The hunger in her kiss electrified his marrow. The chemistry had always been good, but this was a whole new level of molecular excitement.
He pulled her down hard and her pleasurable sigh cascaded over him. She tugged at his earlobe with her teeth and let her tongue trace the ridges of his ear.
This was better than any fantasy woman. This was his fiancée. His future.
He woke with a start.
A flaccid sliver of grey light had infiltrated the dank blackness. The comforting numbness in his right shoulder convinced him that he had survived the night. He listened carefully and played his second favorite game—how long until they got to his cell and tossed in what he had come to call “breakfast.”
A key twisted in the lock. The door screeched open, the light blinded his nocturnal eyes and a metal tray scraped across the filthy concrete floor.
His hand searched toward the sound. Treasure found, his fingers encircled the spoon handle.
Slowly, painfully he crawled to the corner and scratched a hatch mark on the wall as he recited his “sanity” mantra.
“I am Sergeant Steven Hays. Today is day 2,189 of my captivity. I am engaged to Gwenn Hutchinson and I will return to her. God. Country. Corps.”
Steven slid the bowl over and forced himself to consume the foul slop it contained. He was emaciated and his mouth burned from canker sores. One thought kept him alive—his last, sweet, searing memory of her. Gwenn was his guardian angel and he intended to live long enough to tell her.
Everything you never knew you wanted to know about Rue!
Q: Describe your desk.
A: My desk is my altar. A section of trinkets, mementos and inspirational sayings, help encourage and motivate me as I write. A copy of a special invocation to the Goddess of Skills—is part of my ritual of relaxing into my writing space and focusing on the day’s project. I have my stack of notes, printouts, pictures and any other research pertaining to the current project on my right (and it sometimes spills onto my left). I cannot begin without a dish of peanuts or almonds and a dish of dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. My office supply addiction requires a healthy supply of pens and a post it note dispenser—stocked with notes for posting. However, I would have to say that the things NOT on my desk are even more important. I do not have bills, To Do lists, business cards or my cell phone. My writing space is sacred, and when I sit down to write I have to minimize all potential distractions.
Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A: I grew up everywhere—Minnesota, Kansas, Massachusetts, Georgia, California and finally Arizona. I sometimes even got to revisit places, in fact there were a few rounders in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (MN). I would have to say that the nomadic lifestyle was hell as a child, but looking back I can appreciate all the nuggets I was able to collect for future stories. The reason I write fiction is simply because my entire life has been crammed full of experiences that are just too amazing to be true. The characters I create all have threads pulled from real people I encountered in my travels—yes, every one.
Q: When did you first start writing?
A: I wrote my first manifesto at age three; a letter begging my grandfather to stop smoking; to the small pink piece of stationary, I taped two dimes and a nickel—his reward for quitting. The entreaty was successful and the power of the pen was instilled in my soul. Throughout my life I have written unceasingly; journals, poems, short stories, screenplays, and articles for newspapers and magazines. My love of ink led me to pursue a B.A. in Journalism from Pepperdine University in California. I also suffer from a slight obsession with office supplies—mostly pens and fine paper.
Q: What’s the story behind your latest book?
A: At the time of this answer my latest book is Book 2 in The Lake Effect Series, “My Favorite Second Chance.” The story of the Hutchinson sisters is close to my heart. I have two brothers and a sister—I love them all, but my sister and I have a deep connection that deserved to be memorialized in print (or “e”). Now, just to be clear, the story is a vehicle to explore the unbreakable bonds of a sibling relationship in the face of serious family drama—but it is not “about” my sister or my family. I drew on decades of school, work and uncomfortable church-related interactions to create the characters in The Lake Effect Series.
Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: I was motivated to become an indie author because I love challenges. I started my own publishing company and forged ahead. I learned most of my publishing lessons the hard way, but I am also grateful to those who came before me and were kind enough to throw out a proverbial breadcrumb here or there. I write five to six days a week and I love it. I am not crazy about marketing, but I am told it is a necessary evil. :-) I plan to pay it forward whenever I can and to share the knowledge I glean along the way.
Q: What do your fans mean to you?
A: Fan = Reader.
Fans are the most important part of the entire process! If no ones reads (and enjoys) my books then the process would be far less rewarding. One of the best parts of writing about the characters in my head is to hear from a reader who enjoyed the book. I could write a stack of novels and put them on a shelf—but that’s not really the point. I want to share all these stories with other people. For someone to be called a “fan” I think that means that they would have to love the work and look forward to future novels I write—that is priceless.
Q: What are you working on next?
A: At the time of this answer I am approximately half way finished with Book 3 in The Lake Effect Series, “Finally My Favorite.” The next two projects on the slate are a standalone YA novel and an illustrated children’s book.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: I love writing, but working on “My Favorite Second Chance” did come with some moments of “freak out.” Reading helps me escape from reality and relieves stress, and with a teenager running around…I need relief! Books are my best friends!
Here are my all-time favorites:
10. Steven Pressfield
9. Sara Gruen
8. Michael Chabon
7. Gregory Maguire
5. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes
4. Yann Martel
3. J. R. R. Tolkien
2. Marian Keyes
1. Juliet Marillier
This list would be different if you asked me tomorrow. There are always new authors joining the fray, and I know working on the third book in The Lake Effect Series will have its share of ups and downs. Read! Read! Read!
Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A: Nothing. I hate getting out of bed. I am the human equivalent of Garfield. I hate mornings. Coffee is my avenging angel.
Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
A: I cook to relieve stress, and then I eat to forget about the stress I was trying to relieve. I also love movies, television and reading. I’m an old school book reader. I have an eReader, but I don’t love it. I like the smell and feel of a solid, page-filled book in my hands.
Q: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
A: Yes, it was a sad tale of a young girl hell bent on running away from home and going to the same school for two or three whole years. Tragically that epic piece of fiction was lost in one of my family’s MANY moves.
Thank you to Sparkle Book Tours for organizing and executing a wonderful
Cover Reveal on November 5, 2014.
The moment when you finish writing a book is transcendent. It only lasts a split second, but for that second all is right with the world. A tsunami of self-doubt and an avalanche of second-guessing immediately follow this feeling of perfection.
If you can project yourself into that frame of mind, you might also be able to imagine that it would be a bad time to encounter incompetence. In that fragile state of mind I am sure you would prefer interacting with people who take pride in their job, people who go the extra mile—people who know their ass from a hole in the ground.
I was not so fortunate.
After finishing the manuscript for “My Favorite Second Chance,” Book 2 in The Lake Effect Series, I had the terrible misfortune of encountering a few people who fell a good distance below the “A” for effort bar.
I am admittedly old-school when it comes to galleys for my beta readers. I must have hard copies. I do. Yes, it is archaic, but it is a fact. I like paper and red pens. This disorder requires me to utilize a copy center to duplicate and bind the manuscripts for delivery.
Gone are the days of pride in workmanship. If you were hired simply because you were the only one that passed the drug test—that does not inspire great confidence.
I walk in with my original manuscript. I am anxious, sweaty and suspicious. It is more stressful than leaving my firstborn at daycare for the first time. (Mommy loves you sweetie, I’m just saying it is difficult.)
Problem Number 1: Long line. The person at the front of the line is someone I don’t want to talk to right now. I have to busy myself with other items to avoid detection.
Problem Number 2: The copy clerk cannot perform mathematical calculations. I have 303 single-sided originals that I want copied to double-sided and spiral bound. (I know, but I like it!)
“My largest binding only takes 200 pages.”
“Yes. There are 303 copied to roughly 152. It will fit.”
Long pause. “It will be tight.”
“But it will fit.”
Problem Number 3: I purchased red pens and 10×13 envelopes, for the reader packets. The problem occurred at checkout. Please keep in mind I am purchasing two items, I am anxious and I do not want to make a new friend.
“Did you find everything OK?”
I would like to reply that if I did not find everything “OK” I would be asking how to locate the missing item, NOT checking out. I persevere toward courtesy. “Yes, thank you.”
Helpful checkout clerk, with strange hair ties, looks out the front window of the store. “Oh pick that up. Did you see that? His dog did his business right there and he didn’t clean it up.”
Alert the media. I definitely want to see fresh dog poop right now. I hold my tongue and ready my debit card for swiping.
“Not yet, I have to get all this in there first.”
All TWO of my items? How will you manage? I remain silent.
The machine displays the phrase, “Slide Card.”
“You can slide your card now.”
Now? Are you sure? If only I could read. Still keeping it all in my head.
Somehow I exit without murdering a single soul.
I return at the appointed time to collect my copy order.
Problem Number 4: The project is not ready. Let’s review the process. Lay pages in tray, press single-sided to double-sided picture, enter number of copies and press “Start.” Walk away. Apparently there was some grave error in the copying process and the middle section did not get copied double-sided and now the pages will not fit in the binding.
“She told you it would be tight, right?”
“Yes.” Seething venom boils in my veins.
“Can you come back in an hour, right before closing?”
“Of course. I do need them today.”
Now I am imagining an entire black market manuscript duplication ring. They are purposely delaying the project so they can make extra copies to send to their Book Dealer. I am physically sick to my stomach.
I return home and avoid sharp objects.
The alarm beeps and I race to the car to return to the scene of my torment.
“Oh, thanks for coming back.”
Did he somehow imagine, after our previous conversation, I would NOT come back?
“We have those books ready for you right here.”
He retrieves what can only be described as a large Happy Meal box, and deposits it on the counter.
I have to ask, “What happened to the pages that were copied incorrectly, the one-sided pages?”
“Oh we shredded those. It was easier to re-copy them.”
Doubt tugs at my heart. I wonder if the Book Dealer is watching me. “Oh good.”
The clerk extracts one book. “There, all double-sided. And it fit much better, too.”
He rings up my order, does not tell me to slide my card and I figure out how to pay—all by myself.
I open the Happy Meal box and I do not see my original manuscript. Panic seizes my brain. “Where is the original?”
“I think we were binding the original.”
“No. The original was one-sided, so that doesn’t make any SENSE.”
He searches the counters while I mentally restrain myself from leaping over the barrier and up-ending every trashcan in the copy center.
“Oh, here it is. She left it by the copy machine.”
I think I was only one quarter of a dumbass away from completely losing it—on this day.
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TTC Books And More – Promo & Book Soundtrack
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Welcome to another installment of the Writing Process Blog Hop! In case you don’t know, authors have been answering these same four questions about their writing process, and tagging others to play along. I was tagged by romance goddess Terri Osburn.
1. What am I working on right now?
I am happily working on the second book in my Lake Effect series which will start releasing in 2015. The series continues to call Duluth, Minnesota home of the Hutchinson girls, but this volume will bring readers on an adventure that promises to include Mexico, Germany and even California!
2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
There are so many talented writers and wonderful stories. It is a fantastic time to be a writer. One of the differences in my style of writing is the “journey.” My characters always end up traveling! I love to take small town characters and throw them into vastly different worlds. The change of geography always gives the character the opportunity to discover something new about herself.
I love humor and I think a lot of people use humor in their daily lives (to make friends, to cope with stress and sometimes to keep people at a distance). My novels will always contain humor.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I am well aware that a multitude of prejudice exists “It’s Not My Favorite” is my favorite for a number of reasons, but the most important one is its portrayal of the lesbian characters. There are two main characters, sisters, one gay and one straight. The beauty of the story is that it portrays them both with the same normal, human qualities. They both struggle, they both have relationship dramas, they both have issues with their parents and they both find a piece of success. I hope that the book will bridge the gap between LGBTQ romance/humor and Contemporary romance/humor. Rather than targeting LGBTQ, specifically, I feel this series can slip into the mainstream and allow a far wider audience to experience a character they might normally miss.
4. How does my writing process work?
I have to have a little dish of snacks near my laptop at all times. Current obsession is dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. Aside from the necessity of convenient “fuel,” I follow some Steps.
Step 1: I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the thing called writer’s block.
Step 2: I complete my research before I start writing, so I have the information I need at my fingertips.
Step 3: I complete my outline before I start writing, so I have a place to go if I start to lose my way. The outline begins as a series of 3 x 5 cards that I post on a big board. Once I feel like all the pieces are there, I can move the cards around to get the flow of the story. The outline is the “flow chart.”
Step 4: This is the most important Step. I create my writing schedule, I post it on my office door (for accountability) and I sit down and write every day. This is my favorite step. Finally the characters that have been bouncing around in my head get their chance to speak. They have a tendency to throw me an occasional curve ball — but that’s part of the excitement.
Everyone has their own magic formula – this is just the one that works for me.
The Blog Hop Continues…
Next Monday, check out Faith Andrews for a behind-the-scenes look at her writing processes!
Live theatrical event! One-man show!
‘I Sing Walt Whitman’ starring John Slade takes the stage at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Tuesday, July 29
Using a great writer’s own words in the tradition of Hal Holbrook’s “Mark Twain Tonight!” and Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson in “Belle of Amherst”, actor John Slade embodies another titan in American literature in “I Sing Walt Whitman!” The live, one-man show is coming to the Goldenstein Stage at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre for one performance only on Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m.
While Mark Twain was easily the funniest and Emily Dickinson the most enigmatic, Walt Whitman’s voice may well be the most inspiring. Whitman lived in an age even more politically and spiritually divided than our own. Yet even after witnessing the carnage of America’s civil war and the assassination of its greatest president, he never lost his optimism. Refreshingly free of the cynicism of our postmodern age, Whitman believed that “even a mouse is a miracle,” that love is the binding force of the Universe, and that human consciousness is “surely headed somewhere” and will only continue to evolve and awaken.
“I Sing Walt Whitman!” is part lecture, part stage show and part Chautauqua-tent revival meeting — where people can hear Brother Walt singing, chanting, and rapping his hopeful and startlingly modern world view. John’s script employs Whitman’s own delicious words to convey the poet’s hopeful message, and one of the unique features of this one-man concert play is that actor John Slade has actually set many of Whitman’s rolling verses to music!
Whitman called them his songs, and his poems recall the Songs of Solomon, gospel choirs, and the theatrical Italian operas that he loved. A century before Carl Sagan, Ken Wilber, and Barbara Marx-Hubbard, Walt Whitman was already teaching us to see the world through “evolutionary eyes.”
John Slade has a theatre arts professional for over 40 years. As a student at the University of Michigan, he wrote plays under the tutelage of Arthur Miller’s mentor, Dr. Kenneth Rowe, and four of his plays won national writing awards. With classmate Gilda Radner, he founded the East Bound Mound, a “floating repertory company” which juxtaposed drama, comedy and music and was, according to Radner, a forerunner of Saturday Night Live. He later graduated with high honors from the USC School of Theatre, received his teaching credential in English from LAUSD, and his masters in theatre education from Northern Colorado University.
By age 23 he was Artistic Director of the Gristmill Playhouse, a professional stock company in Andover, New Jersey, and was resident actor at Baltimore Center Stage. Since moving west, he has acted at theatres throughout Southern California, including the title role in Shakespeare’s King John, which won Dramalogue, Drama Circle and L.A. Weekly awards, and Satan in Vaclav Havel’s retelling of Faust, Temptation, at the Mark Taper Forum. He has twice played the redoubtable King Lear; Friar in Romeo and Juliet, Cassius in Julius Caesar and Prospero in the rock-and-roll Tempest parody, Return to the Forbidden Planet. He also played Clive Bell in Catherine Ann Jones’ On the Edge: The Last Days of Virginia Woolf at Theatre 150, and Scanlon in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Rubicon Theater. In addition to numerous guest star roles on network television during the era of “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law,” John has acted in such films as Slam Dance, Titanic and L.A. Confidential.
There will be one performance of “I Sing Walt Whitman!” on Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission and $13 for Film Festival members and students. All tickets include a meet-and-greet with John Slade as Walt Whitman in the lobby after the show.
Visit www.SedonaFilmFestival.org for tickets and performance information or call 928-282-1177. Both the Sedona International Film Festival Office and the Mary D. Fisher Theatre are located at 2030 W. SR 89A in West Sedona.