Hi Marian- thanks for having me today. I see you are listed on Savvy Authors as an aspiring author. With a book coming out soon you need to update that. Jake makes you an AUTHOR. Congratulations.
My topic today is ---Whoever said love was easy? That's a prompt line for a flash fiction group I belong to, a line to be included in a very short (flash) story. The phrase of course is meant to be cynical, but I don't know- it seems to me love is very easy and wonderful. It's the relationship you build once you're in love that takes some work. Not in the beginning of course, that's stars in the eyes time. Sunny skies and happy days. So, where does the cynicism come in?
I'm not trying to do a psychological analysis here. More a literary metaphor one might say. It's the cynicism that draws us to a sweet romance novel, the seeking for that perfect happy ending. The knowledge we all share that our love is not always the wonderful dream we might wish it to be. I have a book coming out about older lovers, in which a character says, "Love is like a blanket. It keeps you warm at night." The heroine, in the passion of her first love, is horrified to hear her friend would settle for that, but her friend, a woman of the world, has come to value the feeling with her new lover. The book is titled appropriately, "A Blanket for Her Heart."
When I tell people I write romance it's not uncommon to get a little bit of snob reaction, as if I were somehow inferior. Or crazy. That crazy bit may be because I'm a guy, but I know other authors get the snob reaction. My answer is always- why not write romance? Everybody loves a love story. Why not a happy ending?
That's a very simple answer, but love stories aren't always easy, whether you're living one or writing one. And, real life or fiction, it's the little things that make a difference. It's not quite the same in both cases though and the trick for a writer is knowing the difference. Novels deal in trials and tribulations leading to a happy ending when the hero and heroine fall in love. That's when real-life begins. Hmm- is that a basis for a story? Life and love after the happy ending?Romance novels aren't easy to write, despite the opinion of some literary critics. Yeah, some get published when they shouldn't-bad writing and all that. But the good ones, the ones by authors like Kristan Higgins and Jennifer Crusie, they are really special. I often wondered, as I learned to write, what made them so good. Don't tell anyone- I think I know. It's those little things again. How an author presents a character who struggles with issues of separation, commitment, or whatever is so important. The character should be both sympathetic and heroic - the trick is to get the balance right. Too much struggle and the character becomes depressing, not enough and she's superficial. Too heroic and she seems blasé or unbelievable, too wimpy and she's a dud. So, it's the little things that make a difference, just as in real love. A word here and a word there, a look, a touch, or a smile makes the magic sparkle.
A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL blurb
When some creep plasters nude photos of Diane's kid sister on the internet, Diane plans a little revenge: seduce the guy until his clothes come off and take his picture. Then it's blackmail time. But has she targeted the wrong guy?
Brian's no stranger to the wiles of beautiful women. Most want him for his money, but Diane has a different objective: to trash his reputation. Furious, Brian resolves to teach her a lesson… until he learns the truth and loses his heart to this daring woman. But to win her trust and convince her he's not the villain, he has to best her at her own game.
'"Hi beautiful. Waiting for somebody?"
She had watched him approach and wondered if he'd try to hit on her. He was a good-looking guy, with a smile that could light up the bar. Was he the right one though?
She sent him her best smile. "Sort of, but then again…"
"Ah, well, may I?" he asked, pointing to the empty chair across the table.
"Actually, that depends." He was tall and dark and handsome, but he had a bit of a beard. Not a bushy one, more like a country music singer's, small and close trimmed. That didn't quite fit Jessie's description, but he could have grown it in the last two weeks.
He grinned. "You’re waiting for someone special?"
She sighed. How many times had this happened? "I am sort of, but I haven't met him yet. I'm kind of on a blind date, you know?"
"That lets me out then," he said easily, "I'm nobody's blind date tonight."
"Oh, too bad. What’s your name?"
"Jason. But if your guy stands you up give a wave. I'll be around."
Diane smiled again, silently regretting her mission of the moment. He was cute. If only the timing were different. Not tonight, though. She watched him weave his way between the tables to join two other guys. Dumb—she could have gotten his phone number for future reference. Who was she kidding? Things never worked out easily for her, though if she could do this tonight she could probably make anything work.
The bar of the Hotel Lauren was crowded with people, the noise of conversation and clinking glasses almost drowning out the piano player in the corner. Diane let her eyes wander over the place again, taking in the warm wood paneling of the walls and the paintings that adorned them. Unusual decoration for a bar. Prints by Renoir, Matisse, and other Impressionists made the place look a little bit like an art museum. Somebody in charge liked fine art. Or else they were trying to impress.
The place was cozy though, more homey than anything else. The chairs were comfortable and candles glowed on the tables, but the room wasn't dark the way some bars were. Not that she hung out in bars a lot. Actually, she didn't care for them very much; which was probably why she almost never met any hot guys.
She tugged at the hem of her dress and pulled the strap up higher on her shoulder. Again. Why had she bought such a skimpy dress? The black sheath was tighter than her skin, way too short, and way too low in back. And in front. She'd never revealed so much cleavage in her life. But, if you were going to seduce a man, prim and proper wasn't likely to get you anywhere. Whatever, she was totally uncomfortable. Jessie better appreciate this someday.
Her sister's humiliation would end tonight—or maybe tomorrow—once the creep understood what she'd do to him.
That was if she found him, and could seduce him and get the pictures she needed without her boobs falling out of the stupid dress before she finished. And if she got away from him in one piece. Five foot seven if she stretched a bit, with long dark hair and hazel eyes, her one hundred and thirty-six pounds of woman would be no match for a big man who wanted to grab her. Strong and healthy she was, but if he tried to hurt her she might end up in serious trouble. Everything would be fine, though. She was going to help her little sister. On the other hand, she could wave to Mr. Jason Whoever and forget the whole thing.
She studied a new guy as he entered the bar. With his dark, thick hair, broad shoulders, and that fabulous chiseled chin, he was one good looking guy. No beard, clean-shaven; he fit Jessie's description of the creep to a T.
If only Jessie had come with her tonight. All she had to do was identify the guy. After that she could have ducked out and left the rest of the deal to Diane. But of course, Jessie was working nights again this week and neither of them could afford to give up a paycheck. And little sister wanted to forget the whole thing. Just turn her life upside down and let the creep humiliate her without even trying to fight back. Of course, if anyone but her big sister tried to help she might even listen. Jessie acted like such a rebellious teenager sometimes. Well, someday she’d grow up, hopefully, and in the meantime someone had to protect her.
Diane sighed. She'd already picked the wrong guy twice this evening. If she approached every guy in sight someone might take her for a hooker trying to heat up a little business. The bartender had already given her the eye. Apparently, the man took a serious interest in the posh reputation of the hotel. Hah. The creep she was looking for could give him an earful on that score.
This new guy looked like he knew his way around the place. He said something to the pretty young waitress and drew a laugh. Pleased with himself apparently, he smiled as he greeted Mr. Worrywart Bartender, who was setting a drink on the bar as if he'd expected the guy.
The creep lived in the hotel. The staff seemed to know Mr. Handsome, so that fit. He had to be Mr. Brian Smith. What a shame. A guy who looked like he did should be a dream. Not a pervert.
Trembling with excitement and more than a touch of fear, she downed a hefty gulp of wine and almost choked. Her throat was as tight as the stupid dress. Palms suddenly slippery with sweat, she set the wine down before she dropped the glass. If she were going to go through with this, it was time to move.
She gave one last tug at the dress. Abandoning the Chardonnay, she began to drift through the crowd, heading for the empty bar stool next to Mr. Creep.
"Is this taken?" she asked, struggling to keep her voice from breaking. Cool, Diane, the secret word is cool. You have to come across as sexy-sultry, not a ditzy drip.
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A LITTLE BIT OF BLACKMAIL - ebook
A BLANKET FOR HER HEART- print
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