Another quick note about writing, since that’s what I’m spending all my free time on right now. One of the hardest things, for me, is staying in character. It is very easy for me to conceive of ideas, plot points, twists and turns, but staying in character is difficult. When you are writing in first person, how your character acts and reacts is what drives your plot. Getting out of character can ruin a scene.
Destinee is an optimist. She is a bright girl with a low-level education, whose vocabulary and speech patterns are a mix of small town Alabama and national pageant interview training. She hasn’t read many of the Classics, but she is very well read when it comes to current events, and she would surprise you with her knowledge of geography and politics. She absolutely cannot work higher math, but she is a savvy business woman and keeps her own accounting. She is incredibly confident in the way of professional athletes, in that she can strike out in a major way, then get up again swinging without losing her sense of value or worrying that she’s not good at her game. She looks at the world through the eye of a coach, but she is not critical until it comes to mean people. And, she is completely independent, but wants to be close to home. She has chosen to live next door to her family because she loves them, not because she’s afraid to be without them.
Destinee is very different from me. I am cautiously optimistic, at best. I am well educated, but I have not spent nearly enough time on anything of real importance. I am not an entrepreneur. I do not have the same kind of confidence. I am not fearless. I prefer bagels to bikinis.
When writing in first person for Destinee, it is easy to project my own ways onto her. I spent a couple of hours writing a scene, but it just wasn’t feeling right. I finished it out, slept on it, and woke up realizing the problem was that Destinee wasn’t acting like herself. She was acting like me.
Where Destinee should have taken a few seconds to assess her situation, then taken full control of it (because she’s Destinee Faith Miller, ya’ll), she had assessed the situation and allowed it to consume her, never acting, only reacting.
If you slap me, I will gape at you and wonder why you hit me, and I will worry that if I slap you back, you’ll slap me again and it will hurt worse, and I will try to figure out how to get away from you without any more handprints on my face.
If you slap Destinee, she’ll slap you back harder and tear out a hank of your hair for good measure.
So, if I write into my personal comfort zone, the scene veers off in the wrong direction, changing the course of the entire novel–and that’s why I needed to rewrite so much.
The thing about writing is that you never really know what you know, or what you don’t know until you start trying to put it down on paper. I think the funniest thing is finding out what you do know. What bits and pieces of information have settled into the grooves of your brain, collecting dust for years until you suddenly you find yourself recollecting it in the heat of the writing moment. I was having some of those moments last night.
I tore up nearly 20 pages of work to revamp my opening last night, only to realize it isn’t my opening at all. It’s somewhere closer to the middle. I had to rewrite a lot of Telling with some Showing. I can say, “Bobbie’s mother-in-law thought she dressed poorly,” and that tells you something. Or, I can say, “Margaret Clayton eyed Bobbie’s get-up with an expression of fearful disgust that I only ever saw when my mother was cleaning out Rusty’s pockets before doing laundry. And even then, there was some fondness in her eyes. Mrs. Clayton? I had a feeling Bobbie could trade in her Target for Talbot’s and the only softening in her future mother-in-law’s gaze would be for the brand tag sewn into her shirt back.” That shows you a lot of things.
If I just tell you something, you have to trust my word and that’s that. But if I show you the picture of something, you are allowed to infer and draw your own conclusions. If I do it properly, you enjoy it more. If I do it properly, I’ve given you a wider view of the character’s world. If I don’t do it properly, you just get a lot of strawberry scented elegance, and I do try to avoid that.
And that’s why I had to tear up 20 pages. I spent 20 pages telling you things I should have shown you. That’s good, though. I mean, you need to know just why Mushroom and Cockatoo made Bobbie cry, and how that came to be, or else when it comes time to start pointing fingers at murderers, you aren’t going to care.
I am very excited to announce that TIARA TROUBLE and I will be at the Boston Book Festival at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts on October 19, 2013.
I’ve never been to Boston, so I am doubly excited to visit. And triple-y excited to get to see Boston in October! Trees! Colors! Harbors that taste like tea!
Most, I am excited to start promoting TIARA TROUBLE. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on a copy, and let me know what you think of Destinee and her Dolls, Tishelle and her Divas, and the mystery murderer and his/her motives.
Growing up, I spent many, many happy hours going through the novels on my grandmother’s bookshelf. Her two literary passions were True Crime and Romance, and I read them all–covertly. My mother preferred that I not read romance.
To this day, my favorite of the stories was a book called THE CHADWICK RING, by Julia Jeffries. It was absolutely a guilty pleasure with an innocent, intelligent heroine struggling to find her place in a man’s world. When I signed up to read THE RELUCTANT BRIDE for Beverly Eikli’s book tour, I was just hoping to enjoy her latest romance novel. I was not expecting to be swept up into the giggly, giddy delight I used to feel when I would sneak another historical romance out of Grandma’s bookshelf–but I did!
THE RELUCTANT BRIDE has everything a romance novel should. You have your damsel in distress, your strapping-but-scarred hero, a rogue, a marriage of convenience, misunderstandings and drama, with the additional interest and intrigue of espionage and family secrets that threaten to ruin everything–seriously, if you like romance, this one will have you squirming happily. Eikli has a wonderful command of the narrative, and she builds a fully fleshed reality for her characters. I think she’s written a novel that will stand against the best of them, and it is as memorable as the one that has stuck with me since I was about 10 years old.
Scroll to read an excerpt below Beverly’s bio, a find out how to win a gift card giveaway from Beverly.
I’m giving this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances published by Pan Macmillan Momentum, Robert Hale, Ellora’s Cave and Total-e-Bound. Recently she won UK Women’s Fiction publisher Choc-Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition with her suspenseful, spy-based Regency Romance The Reluctant Bride.
She’s been shortlisted twice for a Romance Readers of Australia Award in the Favourite Historical category — in 2011 for A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.
Beverley wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
After throwing in her job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.
Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.
She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.
Beverley won the Choc Lit Search for an Australian Star competition with The Reluctant Bride.
Shortlisted for the 2012 Australian Romance Readers Award for her novel Rake’s Honour
Finalist in the 2011 Australian Romance Readers Awards for her novel A Little Deception.
An excerpt from THE RELUCTANT BRIDE
Angus and Emily, newly married, have just been visited unexpectedly by Angus’s brother and his unsuitable consort. Emily, embarrassed by her highly pregnant state and knowing it will cause gossip amongst Angus’s family, reacts in this scene to her husband’s apologies for the situation Emily has just confronted.
With deliberate care Emily set down the plates once more and turned to look at her husband through narrowed eyes.
‘For contaminating me with a lady of dubious repute? But Angus, how much worse a contaminant would I have been had you not married me?’ She patted her swollen belly. ‘You’d be apologising to your brother. A fallen woman—’
‘Don’t speak like that.’ His wide-set eyes burned with undeserved defence of her. ‘Men’s impulses can be ungovernable, but ladies do not suffer such … urges … You were … taken advantage of.’
Emily stared at him. She sucked in a long, quavering breath as her simmering anger came finally to the boil. Is that what he believed? That she was insensible to passion? And that was a good thing?
‘What would you say if I told you that my impulses were every bit as ungovernable as Jack’s?’ She could barely control her anger sufficiently to speak. For days she had forced her feelings into the background, using the same emotional device against her unwanted husband as she had when her father insulted her, shutting out the hurt by erecting a barrier as impenetrable as steel.
Now, feeling surged through her, blackening her vision and causing her to sway. She put her hand on the back of the sofa to steady herself.
Angus stood awkwardly by the door, as if unsure whether to move closer to support her, or beat a tactful retreat.
Emily glared at him. ‘What if I told you that I was so consumed by passion in Jack’s arms I would not have heeded the Blessed Virgin Mary cautioning me against the temptations of the flesh?’ She tried to regulate her breathing, but the rage was clawing its way further up her body, threatening to make her its puppet. She, who never lost her temper. ‘I loved Jack. I was his slave in passion, every bit as culpable as he. If you are so concerned for virtue, spare your condemnation of innocent Miss Galway. You need only cast your eyes upon your wife to be singed by my sin. There! I have confessed my true nature. Whatever you thought of me before, you cannot but think worse of me now.’ She registered the horror in his eyes and was glad for it. Much better that she banish any pretence between them.
She’d never expressed anger as poisonous as this. At first it frightened her, then it sent exhilaration pulsing through her. Her love for Jack had been cut off at the root. Now hatred filled her veins, making her feel alive again. ‘And so you know, I care nothing for your opinion,’ she added.
She managed to remain upright, though her vision came in waves. She could feel her strength leaving her, but she had to spit out the truth so he’d have no illusions as to the kind of woman he’d married. A woman no good man deserved.
‘You married me because you needed a wife. I married you so I could keep my child. We made a contract. My body is yours to do with as you please, but that is all you will ever have. My thoughts, my feelings, my love will be forever out of bounds to you.’
Beverley will award a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Drema J. Reed: I was a nurse for 45 years working in ERs and disaster relief. Retired and was at loose ends so I sat down and wrote my first book KILLER IMAGE. I am attending Portland State University right now in my senior year working for a degree in Anthro/Archaeology and I love it. I live in Portland, Oregon near kids, grandkids and lots of friends.
TOL: Where do you find your characters for your books?
DJR: My books contain characters of people I went to school with some 50+ years ago. Me and three of my best friends retired (in the book) and decided to open an art gallery. In the first book, we find a dead body in our back room and head off into an adventure that pits us against a jaded police detective and a bunch of terrorists who were responsible for the bombing of the Al-Khobar Towars in Saudi Arabia.
The second book KILLER GENES centers on the kidnapping of a young man who is working for a gene research company and is kidnapped by people in the Pharmaceutical Company who are trying to stop a discovery that would cut into their profits big time.
The main characters are myself (D.J. Kelley, my three friends Nita Marie Bates, Jo Murphy, and Bobbie Sichel with appearances of other characters based on members of our high school class.
TOL: I love that you’ve created an alternate reality, where you get to live out your fantasies at a safe distance from any real danger! What got you started?
DJR: I started writing out of boredom and decided I would create a comedic piece, just for myself and a few close friends, with no intent to be published. I really love a good laugh.
My ideas are taken from actual situations that have occurred and embossed with comedy and characterizations of my friends. The main character in the book I have based on myself and my “little voice” which is me to a T.
TOL: What’s been your biggest learning experience as you’ve published your books?
DJR: My biggest learning experience was to realize other people think what I write is funny–which it is intended to be–and not to let your ego get involved in your books. Some people like them, some don’t. So What??
TOL: What’s next for you?
DJR: I have completed the first two books of the series, the second being KILLER GENES, and am almost finished with #3, the title of which has yet to be determined.
TOL: Do you have any advice for up and coming authors?
DJR: As for advice, I would just say “do it” because you never know what might happen. My first book languished in my computer for over four years before another writer friend of mine read it and encouraged me to have it published. My daughter-in-law who has written 25 published books, explained to me that I was a writer rof “Cozy Mysteries” and to go on line and see what came up. Cozy Cat Press was the first in line so I sent my book as Pat requested and she liked it. Before I knew it, I was a published author. Will wonders never cease!!
TOL: Drema, thank you so much for joining us at The Outside Lane.