Sunday Snippet #5 ~ Music For Her Soul

I’m testing out titles for the piece I’m revising this week. I have been working on this for nearly three months and I can finally see the end in sight. The novella tentatively entitled Music For Her Soul is an I/R romance that centers around Lena Spencer, a music instructor at a small private college, and Ethan Holden, a working musician. We meet this couple eight months after their break-up when Ethan is trying to win back Lena’s heart.

Here’s a peek into their story that takes place toward the middle of the book:

            Ethan’s voice cut through the damp curtain of fog that had draped around her. The last drowsy hours dissipated in the warmth of his voice and she was instantly awake.

            “I’ll stop by to check on you in a little while. Do you want me to bring you anything?”

            “You don’t…”

            “See you soon.”

            She bounded out of bed with more enthusiasm than her sluggish legs could handle and toddled toward the shower. He hadn’t asked if he could drop by to see her. He was coming. And she couldn’t wait.

            After her short stint in the hospital, he had visited her at least once a day, delivering one of Stella’s famous dishes so that she wouldn’t have to cook while she recovered. Until today, his visits had ended with a quick peck on the cheek. This morning, he had kissed and lingered and brought his mouth down to hers.

            His lips had trilled a moan across hers that tingled down to her tiptoes. There was nothing comparable with kissing a skilled trumpeter. She had wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him against her, anxious for any other vibrations his body could produce.

            Their daughter’s plaintive cries had torn him from her arms. Plummeting from the heights he taken her, she had grasped the edge of the table to keep from crashing to the floor. Only the promise that he would return had sustained her throughout the day.

            Stepping out of the shower, she made sure she was ready. She chose a simple black sundress, fluffed her curls around her face and added a dab of glossy plum shine to her lips. She decided against the Becca earrings glinting on her side table. There didn’t need to be any non-essentials separating them tonight. She had been missing him for far too long.

A Lover Of Words – Tragically Imbued

My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin. ~ Karl Kraus

Feeling Karl Kraus and his appreciation and defense of language this week as I muddle through rewrites and revisions. I have thoughts of being a writer, but I am certain that I am a lover of words and  phrases that wield the Power to pull you from singularity to plurality.

I found my love early in life with my grandmother who would often shout at me – “Ah mon beat you till you can’t walk!”

Now most would have shrunk in fear, I however was intrigued by this. Did my grandmother see herself as a Being so far removed from the human experience that she could render another incapable of movement with her bare hands?

As I grew older,  I found other phrases, words that struck a chord within me. Thought I’d share.

You’se something tuh make uh man forgit to git old and forgit tuh die.”  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Because to him, Janie is youthful Life unencumbered by regrets and the notion of the passage of Time is a conscious decision. Isn’t that what romance is about?

She picked up the gun that lay smoking in his hand / She said, Father please forgive me / I can’t make it without my man” as performed by Willie Nelson and Ray Charles

For her, there is no Life without him.

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”  ~ The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock  by T.S. Eliot

Mr. Eliot spoke to me across the generations and I answered, “Not I. Not I.”

Readers, what are those quotes and phrases that resonate within you? Writers, what are the words that inspire you on your journey?

Retooling My Writing Process

While revising my current work in progress, I typed the line – “the shallow scar curved from the corner of his heavily lashed lid and faded into his hairline, saving him from being artistically beautiful” 

Whoa! Ethan has a scar? When did he get a scar? Questions like these having been hampering my writing for the last three weeks. I have good days and then I have to start over when I get to one of these pesky questions and choices have to be made.

I came to the realization early last week that writing a longer work is different than writing a short story. (No duh? I’m can be slow sometimes.) When I write my short stories, I start with the characters and an idea of how their stories will progress. Then I write it. Then I revise it. Then I revise again. The entire process takes about two full weeks of writing two to three hours each day and eight hours on Saturday.

So along comes my current WIP and my process doesn’t work. There is no way I can be a pantser on this one. There are too many questions that need to be answered and finding literary devices to give the reader the answer without having each character spill their guts in a long monologue.

One idea I had was to start all over and outline the novella complete with character bios (I’d know how Ethan got his scar) and descriptions of each scene. But I’m stubborn and always want to go with my first idea, so I continue on for week three of rewrites. But next time, I’ll start with the outline!

I’ve found some books that have helped with outlining, so check them out if you are reconsidering your panster process:

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent

Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane

Happy Writing!

Snippet Sunday #4 – Work In Progress

After a great day of rewrites, I have worked through four chapters of my current untitled work in progress. I’ve reached 21, 000 words in total with a net goal of 20,000 words. A little scary that I only have a 1000 words to spare.

The main characters:

Lena Spencer – professor of music at small private college outside of Dallas

Ethan Holden – working musician

The basic story is that Ethan is trying to win back Lena, the mother of his daughter. In this scene, Lena has agreed to meet Ethan to help him with a project and he encounters her family first. It has little to do with being hot and sexy, but I like it.

Are you looking for Auntie?” Jasmine’s eyes blazed.

He nodded and glanced toward the back of the store. “She’s helping me with something.”

“Hmmm…so nice that an ex would do that.” Marian rolled the words out of her mouth in an barely veiled sneer. Juan Carlos just shifted in his seat and grumbled.

“Well…” he started but was interrupted by Jasmine.

“Well it’s strictly professional, mama. I mean Auntie seems really interested in that guy over there.” Ethan followed Jasmine’s waggling finger to a register tucked between two aisles.

A cashier leaned across the counter and smiled broadly at Lena. She held her head in a slight downward tilt. Was she smiling too? His stomach twisted into one of those knots that had become increasingly familiar over the past few weeks.

“Oh now, he’s cute.”

“Auntie is turning into one hot little mama, isn’t she Ethan?”

“Oh, oh, oh….” Marion snapped her fingers in front of her “…what’s that word? Is it a milk?”

“No, mama it’s…

Writing Music – Amy Winehouse

We only said good bye with words

I died a hundred times

You go back to her

And I go back to black

Need an angst filled moment, scene or chapter in your next project – listen to Amy Winehouse. Her voice and her songs are filled with deep despair and yet there is a desperate cling to hope.

Notice she said only with words. Meaningless utterances because there is something else that binds these two together for good or bad.

Are they the romance genre couple of the year? Probably not but, my favorite romances have a break-up that leaves me sad and cursing the H/h for their stupidity. How could they have thrown away something so wonderful?

I know their Happily Ever After is coming but it does nothing to lessen their pain or mine in the interim. A big thanks to those authors who write those heart wrenching boy loses girl moments now and I hope to join you soon!

Happy writing and reading!

The Color of Inspiration

Before I delve into why I write interracial romances, I would like to take a moment to share some interesting statistics on U. S. marriage as compiled in the June 2010 publication, Marrying Out, by Jeffrey S. Passel, Wendy Wang and Paul Taylor of the Pew Research Center (data based on 2008 findings).

Interracial Marriage –

In General: In 2008, 14.6% of new marriages were interracial or inter-ethnic.

By Race: 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 31% of Asians married someone of a different race.

By Gender: 22% of black males, 9% of black females, 40% of Asian females, 20% of Asian males married outside of their race (no significant gender findings by race were reported for whites and Hispanics).

So why do I write interracial romance?

For the 9%. 

As a young reader, my favorite authors were Beverly Cleary, Eudora Welty and any Harlequin Romance Author. As I grew older, I kept Ms. Welty and Harlequin close to my heart and my bedside table. As I started college and began to date, the Harlequins became a bit of a leap for me and I gave them up entirely. Then as a wife and mom, I came across a romance novel featuring a Black woman and a Black man.

Whoa! I can read romances about Black women? My passion for the genre was renewed. Then I discovered interracial romance and I was hooked again.

Reading and writing about a Love that is statistically rare has been a wonderful experience. Thank you to all the publishers and writers who forged into the genre with gusto and the readers who support them!

Okay off my soapbox and onto the giveaway…

Four randomly selected readers who comment on this post between May 6, 2012 and May 11, 2012 will receive a $5.00 Amazon electronic gift card and a free copy of either In The Moment or Calendar Girl. Winners will be announced on May 12, 2012.

Need a little help commenting? Here’s a question – 35% of Americans say that they personally know someone in an interracial marriage. Are you one of those? And how close is your relationship to the couple?

Good Luck Everyone!

Writing Music – Frank Sinatra

My writing music for the past few weeks has been sprinkled with the Big Band sound. After working through several character studies about the hero and heroine of my current work in progress, I’ve found that the characters speak more easily to me if Billie Holliday is in the background than when it’s Counting Crows.

I can understand their willingness to reveal their deep secrets when the right music is playing. I always get the feeling that my life is just beginning when I hear Frank Sinatra – no matter how old I am at the time.

I first heard Frank Sinatra as a freshman in college while standing on a friend’s balcony overlooking the crowded quad. A guy was sitting by himself and blasting Sinatra’s “My Way” while Ice Cube boomed around him. And I thought that is what I want to be. The one who is different. The yellow umbrella.

As I delved into all things Sinatra, I found my favorite song – That’s Life

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I’ve been up and down and over and out
But I know one thing:
Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

And there you are again…Happy Writing!