Desire and Social Distance

To have someone understand your mind
is a different kind of intimacy.

Elena di Marco is in deep trouble. Writing under the pen name Vivica Valentine and plagued with unshakeable writer’s block, she avoids her editor’s emails and braces herself for disaster. Her publisher is going to rescind her advance unless she achieves the impossible and finishes her book on deadline. Things couldn’t possibly be worse—until she discovers that the professor she has loved in secret for twenty years has inherited the press that is publishing her book. He takes a personal interest in her project, and makes it abundantly clear that his rules and deadlines will be enforced.

Greyson Jameson’s life as a creative writing professor was interrupted by his father’s sudden death three years ago, leaving Greyson to take the reins on the publishing house his father founded. With his two teen children at home and struggling with the quarantine, and his opioid-addicted wife missing for the third year and presumed dead, Greyson struggles to fill the shoes of a man he loathed. But all that changes when he discovers that one of his star authors at his press, Vivica Valentine, is in fact his former creative writing student from twenty years ago—a student with whom he had been secretly infatuated. He is eager to slip back into professor mode to mold and discipline her in ways she hadn’t been ready for before.

But when shadows from their pasts come calling unexpectedly, throwing both their lives into turmoil and threatening the worlds they have created for themselves, Elena and Greyson must make a decision that will forever alter their futures and force them to face their most formidable opponent yet. Can love truly triumph over physical and emotional distance, or will their story end in disaster?

My Lightning Survivor Story

Bizarre but true fact about me: I was struck by lightning when I was 7 years old. I was on the back porch of my parents’ house enjoying my favorite kind of weather—a thunderstorm. I remember it vividly. I was eating a creamsicle and watching the dripping eaves and smelling the petrichor when suddenly I felt a searing pain and heard a deafening pop and was thrown off the porch into the sopping grass. It was instant—it happened within a blink. One second I was on the porch, the next second I was sprawled on the wet lawn, my creamsicle a few yards in front of me. I don’t know how I was able to understand what happened so quickly, but I immediately knew, and through my sudden, wracking sobs I screamed to my mother inside, “I got struck by lightning!” She rushed me to the ER, where they examined me and tested me for internal organ damage. Luckily, there was none. All the evidence present was a big black mark where the bolt had entered my shoulder, and my right big toe was black from where it had exited. The doctor told me the voltage had traveled down the right side of my body, bypassing my chest cavity & thereby sparing my life. He said had I not been wearing rubber-soled flip flops I’d have lost my toe. The last thing I recall the ER doc saying to me was, “You have survived Thor’s thunderbolt. You are destined for great things.”

What’s a totally bizarre but true fact about you?

Mood Boards as Writing Tools

A lot of authors use implements to assist them in the creation of their books. While music is not something I utilize for writing, visuals totally are. I make mood boards for my characters, settings, and for the book itself. I even use stock photos that closely resemble my characters in the profiles I outline for them. For a word-slinger, I’m awfully visual. What tools & implements do you use to help you visualize your creations?


Show Don’t Tell – What That Really Means

You always hear writers give this advice. “Show, don’t tell.” But what the hell does that really mean, anyway? Nobody has ever given me a clear explanation. But I did figure it out by myself, and here’s the best way I know how to explain it: using dialogue tags.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs. –Stephen King

If you’ve read King’s On Writing, you’ll recognize that witticism. It’s also true. And that’s because using adverbial dialogue tags is bad writing. For example:

“Put the phone down now,” Alicia said menacingly.

As King puts it in On Writing, “who farted, right?” We don’t want to be told that Alicia’s tone was menacing; we want to be shown. So how would we do that? Instead, we might write:

“Put the phone down. Now,” Alicia said.

That little pause afforded by the period imbues her statement with a hint of malice, a bit of a threat, which shows the reader how Alicia is feeling about what she is saying, which construes her emotions better than an adverbial dialogue tag appended to the end. Or we might change the verbiage to imply urgency:

“Drop the phone! Now!” Alicia said.

Or if we’re trying to denote a threat, perhaps:

“If you’re smart, you’ll put the phone down. Now,” Alicia said.

There’s no need to add that she said it “menacingly,” because the words themselves are menacing.

That’s it. That’s showing instead of telling. Simple, right? What’s the best or worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?

How I Know I’m a Writer #001

Am I insane? Tell me other writers do this so we can be insane together.

Reason No. 001: I’ll see a cute guy, and instead of approaching him, I’ll sink deep into imaginative thought, and five minutes later–after he’s long gone–catch myself concluding my summation of the entire hypothetical relationship, like, “We’d realize we only stayed together for the kids.” Am I insane? Tell me other writers do this, so we can be insane together.

Do you have any writerly quirks? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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