Tag Archives: romance

Crossroads

After writing and publishing for over 25 years, I am at a crossroads.

Romance or mystery?

Screenplay or graphic novel?

Self-publish or traditionally publish?

Self-produce a movie or sell an option through an agent?

Upon professional advice, I have made some changes:

1. Given up my Facebook Fan page
2. Queried the top 5 publishers on my bucket list
3. Bought Final Draft to write a screenplay and a graphic novel
4. Solicited my favorite movie production company
5. Read the classics I was not assigned in school

I spent the majority of my summer in a rented space rewriting THE DIVORCE PLANNER on spec. For those not in the publishing business, “on spec” means the editor is interested in the concept but not the execution of a story and will not commit to a contract until the story delivers. Now I am waiting to see whether or not my rewrite results in a written contract to publish the story.

After warning my fans that I would be moving to this website for news and updates, I said goodbye to 10 years on Facebook. That doesn’t bode well if I ever want a job in marketing, but it does give me peace of mind after my business consultation.

Why a business consultation? Because writing for publication is a business. It needs to be profitable. The IRS can deem my writing a hobby if I fail to make the numbers that result in a tax bracket that pays them each year. And, after the time I have invested, I owed it to myself to see what I can do to maximize my potential before I decide to pursue other interests.

Right now, I do not want to commit to another writing project. During my morning runs, a story idea is developing. I have written the synopsis down. But I have not opened up a blank page to write the first chapter.

Why?

Because I need this time to breathe and wonder before I plunge back into the writing waters and swim to another shore.

Burger Queen

They sat in a booth in a fifties diner after a long drive from Sacramento. It was a locally owned joint with charming black and white checkered linoleum floors and red leather bar stools and framed photographs of the Rat Pack and James Dean on the walls.

“How do you like the food?” the cook asked.

She stared at her hamburger. “It’s not what I thought I ordered,” she said, feeling ashamed.

The cook checked her tab and confirmed she had ordered the hamburger with barbecue sauce and onion rings. “I can make you another one,” the cook said.

“I only need a half,” she said, pointing to her half eaten burger.

“I’ll make you another one,” the cook insisted.

When the cook returned to the kitchen, she sat up straighter. “Mikey would be proud of me,” she said. “I stood up for myself when I usually don’t say anything.”

Her boyfriend frowned. “What’s going on with you and Mikey?”

She sat back, as if pressed against a wall. Her eyes widened with fear and confusion. “He’s coaching me on how to be more confident,” she said.

Her boyfriend stared at her, his frown deepening.

She continued. “He could tell I was unhappy. He had a heart-to-heart with me. He said I was worth being someone’s wife and that if that’s not what you wanted it was okay but that I needed to leave you because I’m not getting any younger.”

His face darkened.

“He was just trying to build up my confidence.”

He glanced away.

“I shouldn’t have told you,” she said.

He turned back to her, his eyes flashing. “No, I asked you to tell me,” he said.

“But you’re angry.”

“I’m not angry.”

The cook returned with her hamburger. She took a bite and smiled. “It’s perfect,” she said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” the cook said.

It felt good to be heard. It felt even better to have received exactly what she had asked for, even if it was only a hamburger.

Wish for The End

Make a Wish
Ideals, dreams, and wishes are not just for children

It’s been almost four months since I started writing my next novel, an anti-romance.

During this time, I’ve spent almost a month in the middle slogging through the difficult challenges and complications that culminate in the story’s climax.

I’m moving through the last 100 pages, eager to reach the denouncement, yet intuitively knowing there must be one last plot twist before the story wraps up and everyone lives unhappily ever after (since it’s an anti-romance).

What I’ve discovered so far is that dreams and wishes plague our psyche, both individually and as a culture. Those dreams and wishes, once thwarted, lead us to make decisions out of desperation to save what we cannot bear to lose — our illusions of whatever it is that will make us happy and fulfilled human beings.

Writing an anti-romance, while wonderfully pragmatic, challenges me to uncover the ways in which we unconsciously live out our desires to the detriment of ourselves and the ones we love the most.

I’m looking forward to that final plot twist and that unhappy ending, which may not be as unhappy as I originally envisioned. Only 25,000 more words will tell.

The Next Project

During my book tour, people asked, “What’s your next project?” I was honest, bouncing around some ideas I had and my conflicted feelings about committing to a larger work before I was ready.

Now that the tour has ended, I’ve painted a few paintings and written a few poems but again I wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself, “What’s your next project?”

I’ve thought about the thriller I need to rewrite, the one that was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the one in which I didn’t know how to proceed but now have the knowledge to continue. I’ve also thought about the romance I need to edit, the one that every editor and agent said was a solid idea, poorly executed. Could I work on that?

And then there is the exhaustion that comes after one projected has ended. How much time do you allow yourself before apathy creeps in and takes hold? Is one week enough? One month? Or do I need more time to recover?

I don’t have any answers to any of these questions, only more questions upon questions. That’s why I wake up every night and wonder how I will begin. That’s why I try to go back to sleep, to dream and rest and find that sense of sanity I lost when I was writing, promoting, and traveling.

And that’s how stories always begin. When I am not looking for that next project, the project seems to find me. It starts as one word, then another, until I have another manuscript unfolding in my hands. That’s when I’ll look up and say, “I know what my next project is.”

The Gift of Reading

Although my short story collection, The Human Act and Other Stories, will not be released from All Things That Matter Press in time for the 2012 holiday shopping season, three new short stories are available for purchase, either as gifts for your favorite reader or as a treat for yourself.

An all-time reader favorite with over 800 buys during its initial release, “Sex and Four Sisters,” chronicles the unexpected twists and turns our sexuality influences our lives.

“Your Eyes” is a romantic short story about first loves, midlife crises, and the surprising discoveries we make once we face the mistakes of our past.

Want a taste of what’s coming in my short story collection? “All We Need Is a Little Magic” is the follow up story to “Hope in the Laundry Room,” which is featured in The Human Act and Other Stories.

Jia Blossoms

Jia plugged her iPod into the auxiliary jack of her Toyota Prius and listened to John Lennon sing, “Imagine,” as she drove up the hill to the back parking lot of Namaste Cafe where she worked as a waitress. Stepping outside into the blazing heat of another summer afternoon, she grabbed her thermal lunch bag and crumpled issue of Mother Jones and locked her car door.

“Excuse me.”

Jia glanced up into the dark brown eyes of a young man with disheveled blond hair. He was dressed in a frayed gray top and loose khaki shorts. A broken bicycle inner tube hung over one of his shoulders; a lumpy backpack against the other. Don’t look at homeless people, her father had warned her. They only want something for nothing. Just look away, pretend they don’t exist.

When the stranger stepped closer, Jia could smell grease and dumpster trash emanating from his bronze skin. She wasn’t sure if he was homeless or drunk or just in need of help. But she could not look away. She could not pretend he did not exist.

“Can I get a ride to the Pedaler Shop?” he asked. “It’s down Mendocino on College, about a mile or two from here. I need to fix my bike.” He lifted the broken inner tube for emphasis.

Jia’s gaze wandered from the man to the bike leaning against the willow tree next to the dumpster in the parking lot. The man followed her gaze, saying, “Yep, that’s my bike. I popped a tire going through a construction site.”

In a world of Jerry Springer, date rape, and online sexual predators, it was no wonder Jia heard her father’s voice: Don’t talk to strangers. They are dangerous. You could end up dead. But Jia suspected this man was as harmless as the bird with a broken wing she nursed back to health several months ago. Twirling her keys between her fingers, she said, “I have to start work in fifteen minutes.”

“If we leave now, you’ll be back in ten.”

Jia popped the trunk, and the stranger quickly dismantled his bike. It fit perfectly.

“My name is PAL.” The stranger extended his hand. “That’s short for Paul Alexander Loreau.”

“Jia,” she said, accepting his hand. “It means beautiful in Chinese.”

PAL studied her for a moment. “Your parents named you appropriately.”

Jia felt the blood rush to her cheeks.

Without hesitating, Jia unlocked the doors. She tried to keep her eyes in front of her as she drove, not on PAL who sat beside her with his elbow leaning out the window. A warm breeze ruffled her hair. She welcomed the distraction. Pausing at a stop light, she could feel PAL’s curious gaze traveling the curves of her body before resting on the blue river of veins on the back of her yellow hand where her mother’s wedding ring circled her third finger. “You’re married,” PAL said.

Jia felt no need to correct him. She didn’t open up to anyone, not even strangers. But she struggled to focus on the road. Her thoughts kept returning to the stranger sitting beside her. She had an odd desire to tug him into her arms and kiss his tight mouth until his lips blossomed. She had been alone for so long, she could not remember the last time someone had noticed her. In her head, she heard her father say, He could be tricking you. You could get mugged. Then what would you do? No money, no car. You’d be lucky if he left you alive.

Pulling into the parking lot of the Pedaler Shop, Jia pointed to her watch. “I can’t stay.” But what she wanted to say was, I can’t go.

“I don’t expect you to be late for work on my behalf.” PAL reached into his backpack and pulled out a wadded ten dollar bill. “For gas,” he said.

Jia lifted her hand and shook her head, but PAL unzipped her purse and tucked the ten dollar bill inside.

“It’s my gift.” He waved good-bye before carrying his bike into the air-conditioned store.

My father’s wrong, she thought. He didn’t hurt me. She reached into her purse with a trembling hand and retrieved the crumpled ten dollar bill. For a moment, she stared at the rip in the center of the bill just below Hamilton’s face. She smiled with conviction. He did not want something for nothing.

The clock on the dash changed to 2:57 pm. Three minutes before her shift started.

Jia zipped up her purse and backed out of the parking lot and merged with traffic. Although PAL was gone, she could still smell him sitting beside her. She rolled down her window, hoping the warm breeze would erase the smell. But the wind acted like a whisk in a bowl, beating up and blending the mixture of grease and perspiration and desire. Jia turned around at the nearest intersection and headed back to the Pedaler Shop. She parked her car and stepped into the air-conditioned store. PAL was standing between aisles of bikes waiting for the technician to fit his tire with a new inner tube.

He glanced up, startled to see her.

“I’m not married,” Jia said. “The ring was my mother’s. I wear it to feel safe.”

A slow smile spread across PAL’s face. “What are you doing for dinner?” he asked.

“Having it with you,” she said.

If you enjoyed this short story, you will love my upcoming short story collection, The Human Act and Other Stories from All Things That Matter Press. To be notified of the release date, visit my Fan Page or post a comment below.