Sunday, July 25, 2010

Excerpt from "A Novel Romance"

Dr. Lionel Pettigrew is the epitome of the absent minded professor. A true genius, he's been a college professor since he was 17. Arista Lockhart doesn't think she's smart, but she takes the job as his research assistant because she's desperate to get out of town after her most recent boyfriend has dumped her for not one, but three women. Their first meeting doesn't go all that well....

Dr. Lionel Pettigrew approached the metal detector with caution, alarm & foreboding. It never failed. He could empty his pockets, divest his person of any kind of metal, and still have the damn thing go off. Why did they need metal detectors in his office building anyway? It was a college campus, for god sake, not a war zone.

He put his personal possessions on the table, laptop and cellphone out. His belt was off, loose pants hanging helplessly from his narrow hips. Keys, change, wallet, even his shoes....

The guard saw him and frowned. Lionel bit back on his diatribe when the man shuffled his feet, mumbling.

“What?” Lionel's voice was somewhat high for a man – a fact he'd lived with since puberty.

“Sunglasses, Dr. P.”

“Oh.” He snatched them off, putting them in the tray.

He walked through the detector. It beeped. Frustrated, he stepped back, held out his arms and waited for them to run the body scanner over him. He'd missed a dime. A stinking dime! Fuming, he passed through the detector again. This time he was clear.

“Need a coin pouch,” the guard said quietly.

“Thanks for the tip.” He handed the guard the offending dime. “Why don't you hold it for me.”

“Sure thing. That and a fiver, I can do lattes at Starbucks.”

A guard with a sarcastic sense of humor. Oh, joy.

Gathering his belongings,Lionel hobbled to the nearest bench and flopped down. He was fuming by this time. He'd already been in and out of the building four times and had at least that many more trips to make. None of his classes were in the same building as his office and today was also chocked full of conferences. He had more of the same for the rest of the week. The department was under review.

“Dr. P.” The guard said politely. He held up Lionel's glasses.

“Thanks. Sorry. It's been a long one.”

“Doc, I know you hate this thing. Makes me feel bad every time you have to come through. It's for your own safety.”

“Yes, I know. Apologies all round. I'm being a stupid donkey.” That was the closest he ever came to swearing in public, though he often indulged in his office.

“Guy's got to be a dumb ass once in awhile or what fun's life, right?”

Lionel smiled, putting away his sunglasses as he tossed his long, straight bangs out of his face. Maybe he'd get a crew cut or shave himself bald like the guard. He never seemed to get around to it, which was why his hair was always too long and getting in the way.

“I'll be back,” he said in a very poor imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He entered the sanctity of his office, sighing happily as he leaned against the closed door. It took a few moments to realize he wasn't alone after all. Someone was sitting in a chair in front of his desk. He stared, mouth agape.

“I let myself in,” she said quietly. “I'm sorry. Your assistant said it was okay.”

“Assistant?”

“The girl out front when I got here. She said you were in a meeting and I should have a seat.”

Jackie – pretending to be his grad assistant again. Wishful thinking on her part. She was an idiot who thought that flaunting her tits would get her through his class.

“Did you need to see me?” He wandered in the general direction of his cluttered desk, setting things in random spots as he passed.

“I'm your new research assistant,” she said quietly. “Arista Lockhart.” She leaned across the desk, her hand extended.

Lionel, whose right hand was still full, handed her the object instead of shaking her hand. Arista gazed at his left shoe with a puzzled frown. He took the shoe, dropping it on the floor beside his desk. He rubbed his hand on the seat of his brown corduroy pants, and took her hand.

“Research assistant? I've got one of those?”

“Don't you?”

“I didn't think so. But they could have given me one and not told me. Or they could have told me....” His voice trailed off uncomfortably. “And your name is?”

“Arista,” she pronounced slowly. “Lockhart.”

“Like the small spikes on grain,” he said with a grin.

“I'm sorry?”

“Your name. The little spikes on wheat – they're called Arista. Or some kinds of insect antennae.... Uh....”

She gave him a very puzzled frown. “If you say so.”

“So, research – um – assistant?” He cleared his throat, frowning.

“Doctor Murphy said it was all arranged. You requested an assistant? I thought the other girl might be.”

“No. She wouldn't know how to go about research. Do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Know how to research?”

“Depends on the subject, but yes, I'm fairly proficient. I'm here to learn how to do it better.” A strained smile pasted itself on her lips. “Doctor Murphy had the impression it was imperative that I start immediately.”

“Oh! Oh. I wonder when I requested you.”

“Less than three weeks ago. You walked in, told him you needed a research assistant immediately and left. He got me as fast as he could....”

“Oh. How odd. I wonder what I was thinking?”

“But you do need me?”

“I'm sure I do. I must, if I asked for you.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Pettigrew.”

“Doctor,” he corrected.

“What?”

“Doctor Pettigrew. Not – not Mister. Doctor.”

She tried very hard not to roll her eyes. She almost succeeded. “Right. We need to talk about what my duties are.”

“I'll have to figure that out, Miss... Um....” The scent of her perfume had finally drifted over to his sensitive nostrils. It was sweet, sultry, enticing – a little spicy. He was finding it very hard to concentrate.

“Lockhart. Are you okay? You seem really distracted.”

“I'm fine. Just fine Miss – Miss Lockhart,” he said slowly and deliberately. “I have to figure out what I needed you for, then I can tell you what I want.”

“Are you always like this?”

“Like what?” He gathered up a handful of loose papers, trying to stack them. He failed, scattering them all over the floor.

Miss Lockhart rose, gathering the papers on her side of the desk. Her skirt was short, but not alarmingly so. It was soft, dark chocolate fabric that clung to her hips, flaring at her knees. Her long legs were shapely, encased in some sort of patterned tights. Her top was a rich, rose pink with a high neck and long sleeves. A matching brown jacket was draped over the back of her chair.

Lionel took all this in as she picked up papers. He fumbled awhile with those on his side of the desk, wondering who she was and where she came from.

“I bet if you told me what projects you're working on, we could figure out what you need me for.” Her voice was slightly muffled because she faced away from him, still picking up his papers.

She grabbed the last page from the floor. Straightening up, she went through them, putting them in order. Fortunately, they seemed to be numbered. Lionel didn't realize he was staring until her eyes met his with an unnerving, withering glare.

“They match your skirt,” he babbled, not realizing he'd said it aloud.

“Excuse me?”

“Your – um – your eyes.” He cleared his throat again. “Match.” He waved his hand between his eyes and his pants, indicating they matched her skirt.

She cut her eyes at him suspiciously. What's with this guy? Is he retarded or what?

“Your project,” she said patiently.

“I – I'm between projects at the – at the moment.” Dammit! He thought he'd conquered that stammer. Indulging in mental profanity, he cleared his throat again.

“Oh! I remembered!” He rushed to his desk, slopping coffee. He set it on the corner of his desk as he went through a pile of papers, mumbling to himself. “It's here somewhere. Little paper, yellow.”

Arista watched him dig as she found paper towels and cleaned up his coffee trail.

“Ah ha!” He held up a small piece of paper, pink, that was stuck to a sticky note, yellow. “This is why I need you.” He handed her the paper.

Arista took the paper with curiosity. His handwriting was small, cramped, precise and impossible to read. It took a moment to realize that was because it was in a language she didn't know.

“I don't understand.”

“Oh.... No, of course not. Sorry.” He took it from her, frowning. “It's in Norwegian?”

“You need it translated? I could run it by the foreign language department.”

“No. I know what it says. I just forgot. Now why would that be important?” He tapped the paper against his lips, frowning.

He was so absorbed in his thoughts, he completely forgot Arista. She wiped his coffee cup, setting it back down near his hand. He took a sip and sat, staring into space, still tapping and muttering. She took a seat, watching him.

He's either brilliant or retarded. Whatever, he's gorgeous!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Kind of Writer Are You?

I've posted about this before, but I think it's worth repeating. Beginning writers get bombarded with materials telling them how to write – or more precisely, how not to write. The fact is, there is no perfect, magic formula that works for everyone.

Some how to authors will say it is mandatory to know the outcome of the story before beginning. They will also demand that the author outline everything. I read such an article when I was a fairly inexperienced writer. I was shocked - actually, horrified might describe it better.

I don't outline – not anything. Outlines are things English teachers demand for term papers. (I know, because I used to be an English teacher.) I outline after the paper is written – and only because it's required.

I don't know the ending of my story before I begin. I don't know the middle either. In fact, if I have a structure in mind, chances are good that the story will bog down and not go anywhere. I make notes, jot down ideas, talk about problem passages with my husband (who is not a writer, but has some good ideas) and eventually I get the story finished.

What kind of writer are you? Are the mathematically precise type who organizes, outlines, knows the entire story before you begin? Or are you an organic writer who gets an idea for a story, a starting sentence, a glimmer of a conflict and runs with it? These are the extremes, there is plenty of middle ground. Where are you?

I'd love to hear from you. Please write a comment below! ~Dellani

Dellani Oakes is an author with Second Wind Publishing. She is also a blog talk radio host for Robin Falls Kids and Red River Writers. Listen for Dellani every 1st Monday at 4:00 PM (EST) and every 4th Wednesday at 1:00 PM (EST) on Blog Talk Radio!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Tangled Web - Excerpt

Zoe Hamilton, owner of a small day spa, thinks her life is pretty good. She's got a thriving business and good friends - the only dark spot is the lack of a man to share it with. However, once she meets Rhett Archer, her life takes a sudden change. Her business is robbed, then burns to the ground and someone is stalking her. Her friend Roger, a police officer, and Rhett vow to protect her. In this scene, she's at her mother's home when shots are fired outside & a couple of police officers are hit, apparently by rubber bullets. Roger goes out to investigate.

Roger was puzzled by the apparent lack of deadly force. If this woman wanted to kill Rhett, she certainly wasn't going about it very systematically. He had been less concerned about his own safety and more worried about Zoe, taking chances himself more than once. The mystery woman wanted something else. Before they could stop her, they had to figure out her motivation.

The search of the woods around the Hamilton home produced little. There was an area that was somewhat tamped down, a few twigs broken, enough physical evidence to indicate that someone had waited there. However, she left nothing behind. Roger stood looking at the small area begging it to reveal a secret – something, anything!

Talk to me, dammit! Tell me what you want! His cell phone rang. His personal phone, not the one he used for work. The number was blocked. Thinking it was the typical marketing call, he almost didn't answer, but something made him slide the phone open.

"Catch me if you can, baby." The woman's sultry voice sent a shiver of fear down his spine.

"What do you want? Maybe we can negotiate."

"What I want you can't give me," she said. "Although you're a pretty one, I'll give you that. Prettier than Rhett. But he's the one that rocks her world, isn't he? She couldn't even wait a whole day without bedding him. Bites hard, doesn't it? Knowing you're the lesser man in her eyes?"

"Lady, you aren't going to play me that way. I'm more than enough man for you or anyone else. What do you want? If I can't give it to you, who can?"

"You're too young for me anyway, sweetie, but you're dreamy. I'd have loved you in my younger days. You're the kind of man who'd get a girl in trouble just by looking at her. I always had a thing for handsome, well built, dark haired men. " She proceeded to talk dirty to him, making him shiver at the thought of what she could do to him if he let her. It was agonizing.

"I assume by now you've found my little nest? Great spot, isn't it? I like the irony of the grassy knoll."

"I'm still waiting to hear what you want, baby."

"Impatient, aren't you? He was impatient too. But it doesn't matter. I caught up with him in the end and I'll get what I want eventually."

"That being?"

"Oh, didn't I say? Tell Rhett, I want his father."

"His father's dead, lady. He died ten years ago."

"Did he? Did he really? Be very sure of your facts before you make blanket statements like that, lover. Those presumed dead often find a way to come back. And back they come. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, 'The reports of my death...."

"....have been greatly exaggerated.' Yeah. So?"

"So, who else is missing and presumed dead? You've so many to choose from. Think carefully, handsome boy. You'll miss me if you don't. Meanwhile, I'm going to go somewhere safe and fantasize about you. Does that excite you?"

"About as much as a tazer to the balls, baby."

A vicious laugh echoed from the phone as she hung up. Was it his imagination, or did he still hear the laughter in the woods? No, he was sure! Following the sound as it faded away, he ran deeper into the woods. A late model, blue Ford disappeared around a curve in the makeshift road. He couldn't see the license plate, but did call in a description of the car. An evidence team could look at the area more closely, but he really doubted they would find anything. Whoever she was, she was smart – smarter than he was, and knew how the police worked.

She had let something slip, though he was sure it was on purpose, she was thought to be dead. How many people in this fiasco of a case were supposed to be dead? Heading back to Zoe's, he started ticking them off on his fingers.

There was Zoe's real father, Patterson. He was dead – most definitely. Roger had witnessed part of the autopsy. If he was faking, he did a damn convincing job. There was Zoe's adoptive dad, Tab Hamilton. He was also dead.

Rhett's mother was dead, he told Roger that himself. Had he seen her die? What about her body? He hated to ask those questions, but he would if he had to. His father was dead, or was supposed to be. That was another thing the mystery woman had told him. What was it she said? Those presumed dead often find a way to come back. And back they come.

Was she Rhett's mother bent on revenge? It seemed impossible. Was there another woman in all this? If so, who? What could she want and why? If she was Rhett's mom, why would she want to kill his father? Confusion wrapped itself around him. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was missing a simple, vital clue.

I've Won An Award!


I recently won the Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you Jo Linsdell-Feliciani for choosing my blog for this wonderful award! I'm very flattered and thrilled. This is my first award and I hope it won't be my last.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Character Interview - Matilda Dulac from "The Lone Wolf"

Last week, I posted an interview with Wil VanLipsig - the Lone Wolf. Now I'm posting an interview with his female counterpart, the love of his life, aptly nicknamed "Romance". Matilda Dulac isn't a push over. She's her own woman, strong, confident, up to the challenge of loving Wil and fighting by his side.

Dellani: What is your story?
Matilda: My story is found in “The Lone Wolf”

D: Who are you?
M: My name is Matilda Dulac. I'm the eldest daughter of Edmund and Mary Dulac.

D: Where do you live?
M: Wow, that's a little complicated. I was born on the planet Saltulle. The most infamous planet in the galaxy. The Mining Guild blew it up 10 years ago. Now, I live on board a small mining ship.

D: Are you the hero of your own story?
M: I don't know. Depends on your definition of hero, I suppose.

D: What is your problem in the story?
M: Most of my problems are caused by Commandant John Riley. He's psychotic & wants to murder the man I love and take over the Mining Guild.

D: Do you embrace conflict?
M: I suppose that would depend on what the conflict is. I don't run away, anyhow.

D: How do you see yourself?
M: I'm very independent, confident, focused on my career. I'd like more out of life, but for now, it's enough – mostly.

D: How do your friends see you?
M: The few that I have see me very much as I see myself.

D: How do your enemies see you?
M: I hope I don't have any of those.

D: Do you have a hero?
M: My old man is my hero. He knows more about mining than anyone else I know.

D: Do you have a goal?
M: I'd like to be the fourth female Captain in the history of the Mining Guild.

D: What are your achievements?
M: I joined the Mining Guild when I was 16 and made foreman faster than anyone in the history of Saltulle. After leaving there, my career took off even faster. I'm the youngest female Commander in the Mining Guild and I'd like to become a Captain.

D: Do you have any special strengths?
M: I'm smart and I'm quick to learn. I'm not afraid to take risks and try new things. I believe in myself and that confidence influences everything I do.

D: Do you have any special weaknesses?
M: I'm afraid someday I'll fail and that it will be astronomically disproportionate to my success.

D: What do you need?
M: I need more out of life than I've had so far. I need to be loved for who I am.

D: What do you believe?
M: I'm a little embarrassed to say that I believe in love at first sight.

D: What makes you happy?
M: Wil makes me happy.

D: What are you afraid of?
M: I'm afraid that somehow Riley will be successful and take Wil away from me.

D: What makes you angry?
M: John Riley makes me angry. The old weasel is slick and has stayed a step ahead of us. He's a snake and nothing would make me happier than killing him with my bare hands.

D: What do you regret?
M: I regret that I didn't marry Bobby when I had the chance. He died thinking I didn't love him.

D: What, if anything, haunts you?
M: Seeing Bobby's face as he fell into that bottomless hole. I watched him fall and couldn't do anything. I have nightmares sometimes about falling – forever.

D: Are you lucky?
M: Some people would say that I am. I think of myself as getting what I want because I'm focused and determined.

D: Have you ever failed at anything
M: You're kidding right? All the time.

D: Has anyone ever failed you?
M: Yeah, when Wil gave up and left 10 years ago. That hurt so much, I made myself forget him.

D: Have you ever failed anyone?
M: I failed Bobby. I couldn't save him.....

D: Do you like remembering your childhood?
M: I don't know how my mom did it, but she made growing up in a hellhole a wonderful experience. I had a great childhood and I hope when I have kids I can do the same for them.

D: Did you get along with your parents?
M: My folks are the most incredible people I know. Even if they weren't my parents, I'd be friends with them.

D: What in your past would you like to forget?
M: The way I felt when Wil left me and the look on Bobby's face when he realized he was going to die.

D: Who was your first love?
M: I fell in love with Wil when I was a girl. But he left. I fell in love with Bobby after that.

D: Was there a major turning point in your life?
M: When Wil walked onto the mining station and I saw him again after 10 years.

D: What is your favorite scent? Why?
M: Wil. I used to think he wore cologne, but it's just him. It's the most erotic scent I know.

D: Name five items in your purse, briefcase, or pockets.
M: I believe in traveling light. However, I'll always have my watch and my communicator wherever I go. If I'm going out in a hostile environment, I'll have my stasuit, water and food.

D: If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?
M: Women don't like me much for some reason. I think I intimidate them. If I had to be stuck with anyone, I'd like it to be Wil. He's interesting, intelligent, funny and knows more about survival than anyone else I know. He's also dead sexy.

D: How do you envision your future?
M: I hope we have children one day – and a quiet life somewhere.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Nine Questions to Ask Your Character

Writer's Digest recently published these nine questions for an author to use to get to know their characters better. I decided to use it to interview a few of mine. I've done interviews before, but these questions were different and I was anxious to learn their responses.

Below is an interview with the main character of my upcoming sci-fi novel, The Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig is a genetically enhanced super soldier. After living an artificially extended life, he's somewhat jaded and cynical.


Dellani: How do you learn best?

Wil:I learn best by doing. I've always been a hands on learner. The things I learn quickest & remember best are things I learned that way.

Dellani: How open are you to new ideas and information?

Wil: In my line of work I can't survive without innovation and information. A good commander plans for every contingency. Without information, I can't do that. I use the tools best suited to the job. Without new ideas & equipment, I'm screwed before I get started.

Dellani: When you walk into a party, what do you notice first?

Wil: I process everything more or less simultaneously. However, most important – how many exits besides the way I came in? Next – number of people and level of threat each presents. After that, I usually plan how I'd take them down and prioritize the order I'd take them on. I rarely eat in a crowd. It's too easy for someone to slip you something. Unless I bring my own, I don't drink either. No such thing as being too paranoid.

Dellani: Is one sense more highly developed than another?

Wil: All my senses are highly developed. What I didn't have already, the Marine Corps doctors enhanced. One thing I've noticed though, I have a very sophisticated sense of smell. I can filter out extraneous scents and follow one specific one. Your perfume is intoxicating, by the way.

Dellani: Do you usually notice problems around you?

Wil: Baby, I'm usually the one causing the problems around me. If it's one not of my making, I analyze and deal with it quickly and efficiently. I abhor chaos.

Dellani: Would you say you are an optimist or a pessimist?

Wil: People will tell you I'm a pessimist. Piss on that! I'm a realist. After all the shit I've seen in my life, I'm probably willing to think the worst of everything and everyone. If that makes me a pessimist, so be it. That glass half full crap is bullshit.

Dellani: Are you more interested in the past, the future or living now?

Wil: Since the past and the now affect my future, I'm looking at all three. I'm one of those rare individuals who sees the long term big picture. I can assess the consequences of my actions as well as everyone elses'. I have to know what to expect and what my team can do. That means knowing what they've done in the past because that affects the now – and that affects the future of whether we live or die.

Dellani: How do you decide if you can trust someone?

Wil: I don't trust easily. It has to be earned over time. There are only a handful of people in this life that I trust and most of them earned it by walking through hell with me.

Dellani: Are you a deliberate, careful speaker, or do you talk without thinking first?

Wil: Depends on the circumstances. Mostly I think about what I'm going to say very carefully. Words carry weight and should be used sparingly. I used to be very impulsive and said what I thought. After nearly getting myself killed a few times, I learned. From time to time I slip up.

First Meeting from Sea of Destiny

Kyle Scott is a young widower with three children. His wife died about a year ago from ovarian cancer. Stressed out and depressed, he'...