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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love Among the Lumber

Got this idea when I was shopping in Home Depot a few weeks ago and finally felt compelled to write it down. Gist of the story thus far: Arden Templeton is a secret shopper for Home Improvement Super Stores. She used the job to pay for college. Now, she's got her first college teaching job and attended a "meet and greet" party at the college president's house where she meets Jak Foster. Arden is more than a little bit drunk, so Jak makes sure she gets home safely. He can't drive standard, so pays a student to drive her home, where he meets up with her.

Arden made sure the car was locked, the alarm set, before trying to get to her porch. Strong hands caught her when she stumbled over the brick walk. Jak's scent filled her nostrils. So it had been him, not the honeysuckle. It was the sexiest scent she'd ever smelled. Sort of like honey, sunshine, spice and hot, sexy man.
Sex on a stick.
"Hm?"
"Shit, did I say that out loud?"
"Depends."
"On?"
"On if you were referring to me or the kid."
Arden giggled, collapsing in his arms. "You see anyone else here?"
"No...."
"Okay, then...."
Jak unlocked her front door, helping her to the living room to their left. Arden collapsed onto the couch, sinking into the soft cushions. Jak stood in front of her as if he didn't know how to continue. Arden patted the seat next to her.
"Have a seat. You've worked hard. You deserve it."
He chuckled seductively. "If I sit, I can't guarantee...." He inhaled sharply, rubbing his face with his palms. "You are—the most beautiful, exciting woman I've ever met, Arden. You take my breath away. And if I continue the way I want to...."
"If you continue the way you want to, I can still tell you no," she concluded, patting the seat again. "Sit down. We can talk a few minutes."
He sat very carefully on the opposite end of the couch. Arden laughed.
"I don't bite, Jak."
"I do," he said with a very serious tone. "Figuratively...."
"Not literally? Shit, I thought I'd met a genuine vampire."
He burst out laughing, rocking his head against the back of her chintz covered couch.
"If you don't bite, do you kiss? You know how, right? You're not simply this amazingly tantalizing package with nothing inside it, are you?"
He raised a curious eyebrow at the word 'package'. Deciding she didn't mean it the way he wanted to interpret it, he smiled, moving closer.
"I'm a tantalizing package, huh?"
Arden pushed at his face, laughing. "Well, that's certainly part of the tantalizing part... When we were dancing, you almost kissed me."
He nodded slowly, agreeing. "I did."
Arden grabbed his lapel, tugging him close. She closed her eyes, lifting her chin. Ready, she waited for him to make the next move. She didn't have long to wait. His breath was warm on her face and neck. Taking his time, he moved closer. His lips brushed her neck, his nose tickling the contours beneath her left ear.
She tilted her head, allowing him greater access. Jak spent a few more minutes kissing and nipping her ears and neck. She felt his fingers on either side of her face and finally, his lips descended on hers. Arden's head whirled as he kissed her. Heart fluttering, she opened her mouth to accommodate him. He captured her mouth with his, diving deeper. His passion took her by surprise. Arden drew away. Jak followed her lips, but she turned her face.
"What?" He was shocked by her response. "What'd I do?" He murmured, nuzzling her neck.
"Too much," she gasped.
He moved until his forehead met hers. Holding her face, he kissed her lightly. "I need to go. I didn't mean to scare you. Sometimes....when there's a strong attraction...."
"I know. I've never...."
"God, don't tell me you're a virgin!" He groaned.
"No! No. I've never kissed a man I hardly know."
He smiled, stroking the back of her head. "Then I guess we need to get to know each other. I'm gonna write down my number. When you're sober, call me."
"I will. I'll call you tomorrow."
"I'll be expecting it."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chatting with J. Conrad Guest

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?


I start with a protagonist and his conflict; most times I have the ending in mind and simply write to it, although often the ending is amended depending on what happens prior to my getting there. Everything before that -- the digressions, the journey -- are discoveries that, hopefully, translate as discovery for the reader. I’ve never written from an outline. I haven’t even tried to work from an outline; I feel it would be too restrictive to me.


What is your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain number of words each day?


Raymond Chandler, one of my favorite novelists, despite Faulkner (no stranger to drink himself, Faulkner butchered the screenplay for The Big Sleep) calling him a “world class drunk,” wrote Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off. My writing schedule is like that: the first sentence is magic, the second intimate, the third settles me in for the session, and after that it’s like taking the girl’s clothes off. I used to set a word count but learned to accept what comes. Some sessions produce more word count than others; but I focus on the content as my goal. Certain parts of the story are going to be more difficult to put down on paper than others. Some sessions result in 1,500 words, while others end with 4,000 words. I’m grateful for it all.


Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?


Oh, yes, I do. We laugh at our pets for being creatures of habit, but we are, too, if we’re honest. My morning sessions start with a pot of coffee and a trip to my humidor to select a cigar. (In the evening, substitute bourbon and beer for the coffee.) The cigar is all about the ritual -- selecting the right cigar to go with my mood, the time of day; taking it out of the cellophane, inhaling the fragrance of the wrapper, admiring the label, the workmanship (the better cigars are still handmade by someone with skilled hands in another culture thousands of miles away), snipping its head, lighting it, those first few draws, and watching the smoke infiltrate my den. The ritual helps get my creativity flowing.


Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?


Yes, my preference is for Sunday morning. I schedule my entire day around my session. During the week, in the evening, I’ll polish or edit what I wrote on Sunday; but sometimes, if I’m really humming along, I’ll push the story forward during the week. But it’s difficult to do that consistently with a day job, especially one that puts me in front of a laptop writing. Sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is switch on my own laptop and be creative.


What are you working on right now?


I just finished a major project -- A Retrospect in Death. It begins with a man’s death, and the reader is taken to the other side where the narrator encounters his higher self—the part of him that is immortal and is connected to the creator. The protagonist learns (much to his chagrin) that he must return to the lifecycle. But first he must be “debriefed” by his higher self, and so they set about discussing the man’s previous life -- in reverse chronological order: knowing the end but retracing the journey, searching for the breadcrumbs left along the way. I’m just now tinkering with a concept for my next novel, a period piece during the golden age of motor racing—the 1960s—with the Indianapolis 500 as the centerpiece.


What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?


When I started my first novel, nearly twenty years ago, the hardest part was sitting down to write the first sentence—even though I’d written it in my head several weeks previously. I was intimidated by the whole process and feared that I’d never complete it. I only talked about it to friends. Finally, someone asked me when I would stop talking and do something. It was the kick I needed to set pen to paper. Now, when I near the end of a project, I begin to worry about my next one. What’s the story? Who are my characters and what are their conflicts? How can I top my last novel? Today I find the revision process the most difficult part. I love polishing a text; but sometimes I get carried away with the tinkering. At that point I go back to the original draft and determine whether the tinkering adds something, some new dimension, or does it get in the way?


What is the easiest part of the writing process?


The late great sports writer Red Smith wrote Writing is easy. I just open a vein and bleed. Opening a vein is never easy, but it’s essential, in my opinion, to great writing. It separates the great writers from the mercenaries, who write simply for the masses, for profit. Unfortunately, that seems to go against what many creative writing courses are teaching young writers today. They’re told that they must allow the reader to experience the text in their own way. I understand that, but one must still lead the horse to the water. What if your reader has never experienced what you’re writing about? For example, I’ve never fathered children, so it does me little good to read about a character’s joy over holding his newborn son for the first time by writing, “He was proud.” I like metaphor and so I could relate to something like, “Holding his son for the first time he felt as if he’d just hit the walk-off homerun in the seventh game of the World Series.” Raymond Chandler was one of the greatest stylists ever to write, and I consider myself somewhat of a stylist, too. It comes natural to me. I love language, and to me how something is said is as important as what is said; yet sadly, the publishing industry seems to frown on anything that might take a reader out of the story. Well, commercials do that on TV; but it doesn’t lessen our enjoyment of our favorite shows, does it? If the industry is losing money, perhaps they should reconsider the cookie cutter mold stories they seem to want to publish.


Does writing come easy for you?


It comes a lot easier today than it did when I started twenty years ago! That’s a product of experience -- like an exercise routine, the first few workout sessions are difficult as your muscles rebel against the abuse you put them through. But in time, your body craves those workouts. Writing is like that for me. The more I do it the more I feel the need to do it. Raymond Chandler wrote Everything a writer learns about the art or craft of fiction takes just a little away from his need or desire to write at all. In the end he knows all the tricks and has nothing to say. I hope I never reach that end because every session is an adventure. I learn something about the craft of writing and, more importantly, about myself.


What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?


For me, the most essential quality of a good story is characters with whom I can connect. Finding a good story to write is easy; but writing about characters the reader cares about is more difficult. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most demented characters ever conceived, yet he was fascinating, a train wreck away from which we want to look but can’t.


Where can we learn more about your books?


My third novel, One Hot January, is soon to launch, through Second Wind Publishing. You can learn more about me and all my literary endeavors at my website.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

And Then The Werewolf Dialed In - Barry Eva

Back in February 2009, after appearing on a few radio shows, and with experience of running a couple of local TV shows narrating stories from my romance book as well as filming local karaoke, I thought… why not try your own radio show. Loving a good old “chin wag” as we say in England I thought it might be good fun, little did I know just how much.

Here we are almost two years later and over 270 shows later the show is still going strong, is proving more popular than I ever expected, and I love every minute of it…well almost.

My show I called “A Book and a Chat” which is basically what it is, anybody who knows me will tell you I am no literary chat person, I am not one who goes into styles of writing etc, I just love to sit and have a chat, learn something and hopefully have some fun at the same time. As the show description goes…

"A Book and a Chat" has proved a hugely popular radio program with people of all ages. With two hundred shows already recorded, Barry's format of "a chat over a cup of tea" has received nothing but rave reviews from guest and listeners alike. The writer of a successful young adult romance book "Across the Pond" Barry has himself appeared on a large number of radio and TV programs. "A Book and a Chat" is a program for writers and readers, not so much a literary show, more like... let’s sit around have a cup of tea and a few laughs." - Read what the guests are saying about the show athttp://storyheart52.wordpress.com/a-book-and-a-chat-blog-radio-show

I am very proud of the many, many comments I have received from guests, nearly all love the style and many have come back for a second third, fourth or even fifth time.

During the nearly three hundred shows I’ve learnt many things, met some wonderful people and laughed a lot. I can honestly say there has only been one show I struggled with, and that was one of the early shows when I had a guest who had written a book about banking and high finance. I asked him one question and then could not get a word in for the next 25 minutes not understanding half of what my guest was talking about.

I have had some very famous guests on the show during these last two years from Emmy award winners such as Louise Shaffer, to authors such as Steve Berry who have 72 million copies in print throughout the world. I love to involve the YA Bloggers, as I call them the “Sham Wow” of YA literature as they soak everything up. I have made it a point to include bloggers as guests on the show as well as many debut authors. After all they might be debut authors today but they could be the stars of tomorrow. Class of 2K10 YA debut authors were great and I already have several from Class of 2k11 signed up for the show.

There are a few drawbacks in having what sometimes has been five shows a week, the jokes and anecdotes tend to repeat themselves, but I always try and make the chat flow and love to laugh as anybody who has listened will tell you. Many guests are what can only be described as “scared” when they first call in and we chat before the show starts, but as I say to them, it’s honestly just a chat over a cup of tea (in my case English PG Tips), and so many have told me afterwards how much they enjoyed the easy going format and style, that they were completely at ease.

One good sign as to how the show is being enjoyed is the way the time seems to rush by for all over them, this I very soon realized and started running some 1hr specials, which again people have enjoyed.

I have in the last two years covered subjects from abuse to life coaching, from Picture books to historical fiction. I have within three days covered a multi-million selling author such as Steve Berry, to William Link whose name might not be one you remember straight away until you realize he and his late writing partner wrote all the Colombo series, Murder She wrote and so much more. To be followed by a local author who had written some small books of stories about famous horses which were being sold on local “tack” shops.

I love the various styles that can appear on the show, learning about people’s fights over illness and abuse, historical novels about periods in history, Leaning about floods, disasters, love and laughter, the eclectic mix of shows not only keeps me looking forward each week to the next show but I hope my listeners as well. I have made many friends along the way learned many things, about the art of writing as well as telling a good story.

Along the way I have come up with this parallel universe theory, which has become a pet theory of mine.

I think there is this parallel universe where all these stories are situated, all us writers are is the conduit that allows the stories to be share din our world. Ask almost any author and they will tell you that no matter how much you outline or plan the story, the characters come along that were not even thought of, and take over the story, you get led down different paths not even thought about as the story develops. When you have completed the novel, and look back on it, often you can’t even remember writing some of it, let alone using some of the language and words which you’d never use. Yes... the parallel universe writes story for you… well that’s my slightly tongue in cheek theory.

As you can imagine I’ve had some shows that have ended up more like a comedy show, while others have brought tears to many a listener. One that will always stand out for me, was back in November of 2009. My guest was M.M Anderson and we were talking about her book “Werewolf Dreams”. There is an option and for people to dial into the show to chat to my guest themselves, and on this day a call came in to my switchboard, that as a show host you are able to control. I opened the phone connection and asked who wanted to talk to M.M. Anderson. All I got in response was some growling a cross between a dog and Chewbacca; yes a werewolf had dialed in to the show. My guest thought it might be one of her children and threats were made, but on checking the number it was from a totally different state.

So from Werewolf’s to film stars, multi selling authors to ones with their first book, abuse to humor, peoples to pets, tears to laugher I’ve seen had them all on A Book and a Chat” and hope to have many more over the shows yet to come. I guess a few new one liners are required, and you never know, perhaps I’ll even have another call from a werewolf.

Up and coming shows:

Jan 29th Sat

Louise Shaffer -1hr

Feb 1st

Stephanie Vlahov

Feb 3rd

Tim Vandehay & Annie Greer

Feb 5th Sat

Kathy Bell (Regression etc)

Feb 8th

TBA

Feb 10th

DCS

Feb 12th Sat

Shannon Delany

Feb 15th

Becky Due

Feb 17th

NO SHOW

Feb 19th Sat

Jenne Helderman

Feb 22nd

Rose A Valenta

Feb 24th

Dr Kent Gustavson

Feb 26th Sat

Carole Estby Dagg 1hr -2K11

Mar 1st

Amy Mittelman

Mar 3rd

Fran Lewis

Mar 5th Sat

Bettina Restrepo - 1hr 2K11

Mar 8th

Jeff Sherratt

Mar 10th

Sue Ann Jaffarian

Mar 12th Sat

Hannah Dennison

Mar 15th

Joel Fox

Mar 17th

Sebastian Stuart

Mar 19th Sat

Kristina McMorris

Mar 22nd

Alfred Wellnitz -

Mar 23rd

John Ames

Mar 24th

Cynthia Kocialski

Mar 26th Sat

PUYB

Mar 29th

Kent Gustavson ??

Mar 31st

Renne Hand



Barry Eva (Storyheart)
Author of "Across the Pond"

Check out my new radio show blog:

Radio Blog: http://abookandachat.blogspot.com
Humor Blog: http://laughithoughtmytrouserswouldneverdry.blogspot.com
Across the Pond Blog: http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com

Blog Talk Radio Show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Across-the-Pond
Book Site: http://across-t-pond.com
Amazon Reviews: http://tinyurl.com/o7sokp
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2hn1q0DZ34