Friday, September 30, 2011

From The Ashes

This is a small flavor of the next novel I plan to work on titled, FROM THE ASHES. (I don't think it's going to be an actual insert in the book, but it's a glimpse of what I'd like to work on)



            “Doctor, I think I have a problem.”          
Dr. Rosenbaum takes my statement in stride, waving an elegant hand towards her fainting chair. I raise a brow at the lounge. How apropos for a shrink to have a fainting chair.
Dr. Rosenbaum closes the door behind me and I settle my purse beside the chair before sitting down, my shoulders stiff against the seat back.
“Clara, tell me,” Dr. Rosenbaum starts. “What is this problem you think you have?”  She sits in a chair across from me, her notepad lying across her lap. Her long cardigan opens to reveal a sharp blouse and a knee-length pencil skirt; her inquisitive eyes framed by rimless glasses.
I clear my throat. “I think I’m too obsessive.”
There’s a long silence before she says, “Go on.”
At the command, the words rush out all at once. “There’s a guy—tall, handsome, quiet. He’s…well, he’s young.”
One perfectly trimmed brow rises. “And I presume you’re attracted?”                 
“Very…” I say in a quiet whisper.
Her pencil scribbles across her notepad. “Please continue.”
My palms scrape across my jeans, aware of the clamminess; embarrassment and shame filling me.
“Clara, why don’t you get more comfortable. It will help you gather your thoughts more clearly and completely.”
I nod, not really hearing her, but complying anyway. I lay down. The fainting chair is comfortable. The muscles along my neck and shoulders seem to loosen.
“I met him a week ago,” I say. “He’s a student of one of my friends—a professor at the University of—”
“You don’t have to be too specific if you don’t want to,” Dr. Rosenbaum inserts.
I nod, happy to be released from giving explicit details. “Anyway, my friend introduces me. The kid is young, maybe six years younger. But god he’s gorgeous—exotic really. Clearly the quiet, brooding type. The kind of guy a girl would give everything to and get nothing but neglect from.” I small chuckle escapes me.
“Why do you think you’re attracted? Obsessed—as you say—if you believe he’ll hurt you?”
“God, I don’t even know. My hormones lately—off the charts.”
“Crushes aren’t bad, Clara. They’re healthy. Your body’s urges are natural.”
Natural—yeah sure. Can’t get the kid out of my head—not natural at all.
“So listen,” I say, desperation creeping into my voice. “Tell me to lay off. Tell me he’s going to be nothing but another disappointment—another heartache. And that maybe it'll drive me crazy, crazy enough to want to hurt him back.” 
“Clara, that’s not what I’m here for. And you don’t know that he’ll hurt you.”
I turn to look at her. “I DO know. He won’t know how to treat me. He won’t know…that I’m different.”
Dr. Rosenbaum sighs. “And why do you think you’re different? You can’t live your life afraid all the time. It’s okay to take risks. Rejection is as much a part of life as is victory and acceptance. We’ve gone over this before.”
I absorb this for a second. “Thanks, Dr. Rosenbaum.”

My knuckles rap lightly against the door and I brush my hair back for the hundredth time.
“Yeah?” asks a voice from the other side.
“It’s Clara. Can I come in?”
The door unlocks, opening to frame the tall figure that’s been haunting my dreams for the past several days.
“Hey,” he says, lips smiling uncertainly.
“Hey,” I say back. “Busy?”
His face remains stoic. The door opens wider. “Come in.”
I smile with relief, walking in and taking in the dorm-style room. The door shuts and I swivel to face him. 
Those mesmerizing eyes look down at me. “What’s up?”
The room suddenly feels hot, small and claustrophobic. I can tell he’s nervous too, but I can’t back out now. I need to get him out of my system. Just one night.
“I’ve been thinking of you,” I say quietly. Oh god, I should leave now. Let him go. Forget him. 
He swallows, eyes shifting away from me. 
A brazenness that feels too good overwhelms me, and I walk up to him. The temptation too strong to fight. 
“Clara,” he says, his voice hoarse.
But Clara is gone, replaced instead by the obsession. “Shhh…” I close the distance between us, the hunger filling me, stemming from somewhere deep.
Indecision crosses his face, but something in him changes. His chest rises. And then he steps into me, taking me into his arms before capturing me in his mouth.
I hadn’t expected this. I pull away. “You shouldn’t have done that,” I say between ragged breaths. I’ve crossed the line now and can no longer turn back. 
The change begins, starting in my chest, tensing every muscle in my body. “Because, my lovely boy, you’ve released something terrible.”
“What?” He frowns. He sees it now. My eyes, I know, have gone from blue to ink-black.
The fear molds his perfect face, reflecting back in his exotic, almond-shaped eyes. 
The obsession overtakes me, swallows me whole; fills me deep until I’m drunk with it. And the vortex opens, devouring his beauty—his essence. I take his stunned form into my arms, gripping him with the strength of a god; stripping him bare as the obsession captures him. “You’re all mine,” the being within me says, inhaling his soul until nothing is left...but ashes. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prompt: Playing with Fire

I've never used writing prompts before (a prompt is a creative tool to help get your juices flowing). 
Holy crap are they fun!

Here's the one I chose: 


Rules: You come across a pack of matches that sets off a series of uncanny events. Start your story with “My mother always told me not to play with fire.” End it with “And that’s how I ended up in the middle of nowhere—naked.”


My mother always told me not to play with fire. “You’ll get burned,” she always said. But the thing about metaphorical fires is that sometimes the flame isn’t always easy to spot. Flames can be so tricky.

I’m on a bench with my back to the 100 foot Ferris Wheel that is turning round and round dozens of people wanting to glimpse with their girlfriends, boyfriends, fianc├ęs, lovers—what-have-you—the immaculate view of the beach and the setting sun, painting the sky a heartsick blush.

I shouldn’t be here. The place where I’m reminded of her the most. Except I couldn’t find myself wanting to be anywhere else. I toss the silver coin in the air, catching and then slapping it over the top of my hand, taking me back to that moment I want to forget.

“Heads, I win. Tails you lose,” Lea says.

“Why do you get to pick?” The grin on my face widens.

The background of the dawning sky illuminates her perfect figure. Her hair whisks wildly from the ocean breeze. “Because you don’t even want to play. So what does it matter that I get to pick, huh?” She pokes me in the chest, a teasing smile stretching her lips into a beguiling cupids bow.

My eyes are drawn to those lips, imagining what they’d feel like pressed up against mine.

“Fine. Heads you win. Tails I…wait a second.”

But the coin is already in the air. She catches it, holding it tightly within a small-balled fist, and hides it behind her back. “Nuh-uh. Admit it, you want me to win.”

I move to reach behind her, the muscles in my stomach clenching when her hand moves further away, forcing me to close the distance between us. “Heads you win. Tails I win,” I say, gazing down at those large chocolate-brown eyes. “Now show me.”

Her brow quirks again, and I don’t miss her gaze lingering on my lips. I lean in, the tightness in my stomach now in my chest.

She pulls back, opening her palm between us. “Heads,” she whispers. “I win.”

The flare of disappointment hits me. Until her words sink in. “No. No. No. You weren’t supposed to win.” My arms rise up, waving her advance, her eyes full of victory—full of mischief.

“Take em’ off buddy. That was deal.”

I turn around, disbelief and exhilaration filling me. “No way. I’m not doing it!”


I swivel to face her. “Am not.”

Hands on her hips, she says, “Prove it.”



“You first.” I throw the challenge back at her.

Her shoulders stiffen and I think that maybe our little game is over. I’ve disappointed her.

Her delicate hands rise to the collar of her cardigan, and slowly she reveals the curve of one slim shoulder.

The flame reignites.

She quirks a brow as if to say, “Your turn.”

I unbutton my shirt, forcing myself to go slow, enjoying the sight of her catching her breath, and her cheeks flushing.

We play this game until we’re both left in nothing but our underwear.

“Okay,” she says arms tightly covering her bare chest. “I close my eyes and you close yours. And then, we’ll take the last bit off at the same time.”

I nod willing to agree to anything just to get to the part where I most want to be.

My eyes close, my fingers going beneath my waistband, yanking my boxers down and kicking them in her direction. I laugh.

She doesn’t laugh back.

“Hey, I hope your silence means you’re naked.” Nothing answers me. Frowning, I open my eyes, seeing nothing but the expanse of the ocean and the long stretch of beach beneath my feet.
My clothes are gone. And so are my keys and wallet. “You’ve got to be shitting me.”

The only sense of dignity the minx left me was the coin. Heads. I lose.

And that’s how I ended up in the middle of nowhere—naked.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Deafening Hug - in "How Not to Write a Novel"

I couldn't NOT share this. I was giggling so much tears sprang to my eyes.

In How Not to Write a Novel we learn many lessons. One that stood out to me the other day is known as The Deafening Hug. In this, as a writer, we need to be careful of creating an unintended love interest.

Author Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman point out three versions. I'll highlight two of the most  hilarious:

1. The Mayfly Fatale: A new character is described as a "handsome, muscular man with raven hair and a cheeky grin" or "a lissome blonde bombshell in a tight tank top." The reader immediately thinks this is a love/sex interest. While real life is full of attractive people who--let's face it--never look at you twice, protagonists live in a charmed world where it is assumed that all the attractive people they notice are already halfway to the boudoir.

And my favorite (having skipped the second version:

3. We're Going to Need a Bigger Closet: Male friends hug, toast their friendship, and later stumble drunkenly to sleep in the cabin's one bed. The reader is way ahead of you--they are secretly gay, and nothing you say later is going to change his mind. if you do not intend them to be secretly gay, let Alan sleep on the couch.

LOL. Yes. You heard me. I laughed out loud--really. The above pointers are so true!  Real life depictions can take stories in a different direction than intended. I think one of the biggest things I've learned from all of this is that writing what you see, hear, feel, in real life, needs to be carefully thought through.

Happy writing...

Travel Season

Ahhh, I'm a couple weeks into my busiest season at work. The weeks are flying by, goodbyes are being said to summer interns, and the luggage has been pulled out. I'm excited, elated, nervous, and anxious all at the same time.

I returned from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last Friday, a little doozy of a 3 day trip. The mid-west has some funky weather. My body decided it already had enough and I fought my first head-cold of the season. Fun.

There are some new features on blogspot, which I was very happy to discover and add. I hope to spend more time writing in snapshots and posting more. Although, the goal right now is to spend less time writing other things, when I should be focusing on finishing the edits on Violet Storm.

It's such a painful process, I can't even tell you. My how-to books have been eye-opening experiences and I'm continuously learning about the art and craft of writing. It's certainly not easy. Even when you feel like you're a natural. It's disheartening at times, but mostly it's challenging and rewarding.

I'm off to Toronto, Canada on Monday to visit the University of Waterloo and then U of Toronto, staying the weekend to enjoy the city. It's not snow season yet, so the trip will be amazing.

The edits on Violet Storm are coming along. I'm up to chapter 3 now. It's morphing into something I can't believe actually came from me. I don't know if I've ever felt this proud about anything I've ever done. More to come!

I've added Chapters 1 and 2 into their own separate pages, so you can review my editorial progress.
Thanks for visiting!