Being Stuck is the Beginning

Like most writers, my first thought of being stuck is always in relation to my work, though this past year is one of the first times’s I’ve ever had writers’ block, because it’s basically been a very tough year emotionally, so I am learning to think of being stuck differently. Like writers, I have a lot of unfinished stories, most have been tucked away because I had other more pressing projects, or the energy just wasn’t there for them at the time. Some get finished, some don’t. Others have evolved into something else entirely or have been cannibalized by still other stories. Even if I am stuck in some part of a story with a plot logjam, almost always a good long walk will help me figure out what to do to move forward.

 

There are a thousand other ways to be stuck that don’t involve writing, and hat got me thinking about the anatomy of stuck. Just exactly what does it mean to be stuck? Stuck is the starting place for a lot of great novels. When I got to thinking about it, it seems to me that stuck is the starting place for most archetypal stories. It certainly is the starting place of the hero’s journey, which is the ultimate story plot, because stuck is quite possibly the scariest place of all — standing on a cliff with toes curled over the edge oblivious to the peril.

 

Stuck often takes the form of the perfect life, the ideal happy-ever-after being lived out day to day. While in the real world, that may be what we dream of and hope for, in fiction, there’s the reason why the happy ending is, in fact, the end of the story. What comes after the happy ending, from a reader’s perspective, is boring.

 

The subtext of happy ever after beginnings is “hold on to your hats, shit’s about to get real.” Our hero or heroine is stuck, and they are about to get unstuck in a really brutal, horrible way. In happy at the beginning stories, spouses die, are murdered, run off with someone else, kids are kidnapped or killed, great wealth is suddenly lost, in fact everything that matters is lost. That shattering point of becoming unstuck is where the story really begins. It is the being kicked out of Eden that we readers have been waiting for. Living the good life does not make for interesting reading unless maybe in a how-to book.

 

The second kind of stuck in story happens when the main character is truly stuck in a rut, same old same old, bored now, want out. This kind of stuck involves the hero or heroine of the story wishing something would change, wishing they were anywhere or anyone else. They are waiting, desperately waiting, for their life to begin. The story starts when they get their wish, and it turns out to be way more of a challenge than they bargained for. They are well on the path to discovery and adventure that will change them forever, if it doesn’t kill them first. It’s only at that point we readers have a story worth reading. And that’s the point at which we writers strive to make readers willing and happy to take that leap with our characters.

 

Whether the character is happy with his life and then loses everything or is bored with his life and then has change thrust upon him, the story can now begin. Enter chaos!

 

While stuck is the jumping-off place from which the real story begins, once that happens, it’s chaos that rules the day. Nothing is easy, nothing is orderly, nothing is safe. The driving force of the story is the mess that keeps getting messier and messier until the hero or heroine muddles their way through and out on the other side to their happy ever after, or at least their happy for now. At that point, there are two choices for the writer. Either consider the tale finished and write THE END, or make a sequel that tears away the stuckness of a happy ever after and cast the poor hapless character back into chaos for round two.

 

I wonder sometimes if, for the “bored now” characters, stuck is hard to endure because stuck isn’t the natural state of things.  For those characters basking in their happy lives, there’s always a neurotic dose of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Either way, stuck doesn’t last because life is in flux, and everything about it is in
motion. Nothing stands still for very long. The journey is cyclical, not static, and moving from stillness into chaos and back again is as much the shape of our natural journey as it is the shape of an interesting story. That being the case, it’s not surprising that readers love to live that journey vicariously, magnified, larger than life. And we writers love to write it for the very same reason. We see ourselves in that cycle, and on some level, even from the safe distance of story, we feel right at home.

 

My Favourite Reads by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby

I am an avid reader. As a child I loved all the usual classics. I remember aged eleven getting a hardback copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and spending all Christmas with my head in the book. Needless to say I still have that book.

I was also horse mad as a child and loved all Ruby Ferguson’s horsey books – not that I had a horse! I remember a rainy caravan holiday curled up with Jill’s Gymkhana! It took me to a world where I could use my imagination and live vicariously through the main character. I was desperate to be Jill.

I first got hooked on crime novels as a teenager with Agatha Christie. For me she will always be the queen of crime. I have every Miss Marple and Poirot book she wrote – more than one copy in some instances as I love the old 1930’s covers. I also have some really nice hardback copies too. I have read and reread them over the years. Some are so old and battered the spines are falling apart but I can’t throw them away.

I like all types of crime books including historical, police procedural, psychological thrillers and who dunnits but I have one or two favourite authors I go back to time and time again. In particular I like C J Sansom’s Shardlake series. His detective is a likeable hunchback who lurks about Tudor England solving murders. With remarkable ease Sansom weaves together a cast of characters and knits his murder story into a vivid tapestry of historical happenings. His attention to detail and research has kept me gripped through all seven of the tomes.

Another favourite author is the Peter James’s “Dead” series. All fifteen of them! Again he has a very likeable Detective in Roy Grace. He’s not tortured and full of angst as is so often the case, but is sensitive, believable and effective.

I also have a fondness for Donna Leon. Her books are set in Venice and are very evocative. Her sense of place makes me feel as though I’m there walking around the city with the gorgeous Commissario Brunetti, her lovely detective.

***

Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer were my first taste of historical fiction and although a recent reread showed them to have not quite stood the test of time I will always remember them fondly. Thomas Hardy also made an early impression. As a teenager I adored The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. I have recently reread Tess many times and loved it just the same. The writing, though very descriptive, is wonderful.

I have read most of Philippa Gregory’s books including the Wideacre sagas which are so different to her Tudor novels (of which The Other Boleyn Girl was a highlight). I also like Marina Fiorato’s writing. The Glass Blowers of Murano and the Crimson and The Bone are particular favourites of hers. Books such as these which are historical and crime are a perfect choice for me. Another classic which took the author, Michel Faber, twenty years to write is The Crimson Petal and the White. Racy but the book remains with me years after reading it.

And then there is my all time favourite read which has everything in one package – well twelve packages to be fair. The Poldark sagas by Winston Graham have it all: romance, crime, history and a beautifully depicted Cornwall – not to mention glorious writing. The characters just leap from the page, the writing is poetic yet accessible.

The central character of Ross Poldark is complicated and flawed – he’s not a hero but a “real” man who makes mistakes and frustrates his wife whilst trying to navigate his way through hard times and difficult situations. He has his own moral compass and is not above breaking the rules when he thinks the laws are unjust. Yet it is the love affair between Ross and Demelza that stands out; it is so beautifully written. Some of the trials and tribulations the couple experience in their marriage are the same as everyone else’s and that’s what makes it so special. Their marriage is relatable and real.

Winston Graham wrote about what he knew- Demelza is supposed to be based on his wife. He lived close by the old tin and copper mines. To a large extent Cornwall, where he lived for a large part of his life, is as much a character as his cast. Graham’s historical accuracy is outstanding and lifts the books from good to great in my opinion. From the opening prologue to the last page of book twelve I have been emotionally attached to the character’s lives, following their stories through the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows. I have read all the books at least three times and the first three volumes more than that.

Graham has the knack of making the ordinary extraordinary. Recently I joined an on line Poldark book discussion group where fans of the books look more closely at the text and talk about the finer points. I’m so at home there! I really enjoy debating the various nuances of Winston Graham’s wonderful writing.

From the other on line Poldark addicts I found that as much as twenty percent of the first book, Ross Poldark, was edited out when it was released in paperback. There are copies of the unedited Ward Lock versions available but they often sell for over a thousand pounds! I can’t justify paying so much for a book, though I was sorely tempted. Then I was sent a link by a Danish member showing there was an unedited copy on Canadian Amazon. It was a House of Stratus version for sale – not as collectable as the Ward Lock, but much cheaper than any I had seen before. I managed to buy it for forty pounds. So now I am in the process of going through the paperback alongside the unedited version and reading whole passages that I’ve never read before. Fabulous. Yes, dear reader I am obsessed!

The Poldark saga is one of those books that when I can’t find something I want to read I go back to time and time again and always find something new and refreshing to discover. They are my comfort blanket. They also inspired me to write a saga of my own. The first is called My Constant Lady and is set in 1765 on the North East coast. It features a romance between Gabriel Reynolds, a shipping magnate and Eleanor Barker a woman with strong opinions. The story is set against a backdrop of shipping and moves between Whitby and Alnmouth. The first book in the series will be available as an eBook and paperback in early 2020.

 

Never the TwainNever the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.

The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.

Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.

But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?

April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?

Available from:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2mbA6hp
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2ksAaZI

Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.

Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!

Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.

When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.

Find her on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook , Pinterest or Web.

 

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Taking a Pole

Most of you know by now that I’m having a masochistic love affair with a sadistic metal pole. This has been going on for two and a half years now, and my husband is okay with it, in fact, he rather likes it. It’s been a long, hard, and bruising journey to get where I am now, and while I know I’ve come a long way in an sport/art not usually frequented by women of a certain age, I have a long way to go and every bit of it a challenge. You can see the beginnings of my pole journey here.

This summer I took part in a photo shoot and just recently got my photos back. I’m very pleased with the end results, so I thought I’d share them with you today. I’m also including a few photos from the early days for comparison.

 

 

I feel like I’ve come a good ways since those first classes.

 

 

It’s been a bruising and sometimes difficult journey, but always exciting.

 

 

 

And nasty bruises still happen, though not as bad. Oh, this one was from my first class ever.

 

 

It’s good to look back and see results from all of the hard work.

 

 

From this ….

 

 

To this. While I’m pleased with the results, two and a half years is just long enough to give me a good taste of just how far I still have to go. Truly, the journey is only beginning.

One of these days I might get brave enough to post a video.

 

Slaves to Desire by Eli Gilić (@GilicEli), published by Sinful Press (@SinfulPress)—Just 99c/p Throughout October!

Slaves to Desire by Eli Gilić is a unique, beautifully written erotic short story collection that deftly weaves fact and fiction. Originally published in Serbian, Sinful Press is over the moon to present the English language version of this amazing collection in both digital and print. To celebrate, we are making the ebook version available for just 99p/99c throughout October.

Blurb:

Charles Baudelaire, Rasputin, Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Ophelia, Fyodor Dostoevsky, George Sand, Frederic Chopin, Vincent Van Gogh, Antonin Artaud, Maria Izquierdo, James Joyce, Federico Garcia Lorka, Salvador Dali.

Can Rasputin find redemption through the sins of others? What awaits Anna Karenina on the other side? Does passion still flow through the veins of the lovers from Verona? Can Hamlet and Ophelia escape their fate? Is Van Gogh’s loneliness a blessing or a curse? And can Dali dispel Lorca’s fear.

Eli Gilić deftly weaves fact and fiction to bring some of the world’s great writers, literary characters, artists and composers to life as they reach the heights of passion and the depths of despair in this mesmerising erotic short story collection.

Sales links:

Amazon

Apple iBooks

Google Play

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

*****

Excerpt from ‘Lovers in the Land of Peyote’ (María Izquierdo and Antonin Artaud), Slaves to Desire:

They brought him half-dead on a donkey, took him to his room, laid his feverish body on the bed and left me alone with him. I was terror-stricken as I listened to his frantic screams and incoherent ravings about virgins and donkeys. I wiped his burning forehead for hours and tried to reach him. He writhed, flailed his arms and legs, and I had to avoid blows carefully.

My strength was dissolving when Antonin suddenly stilled. I feared the worst, but he opened his eyes. Delirium had passed. His eyes were bright and curious. Such relief overcame me that I kissed him without thinking. I poured all the love that was burning in my heart into that kiss. I realised what I had done only when he returned my kiss. But there was no reason for anxiety because Antonin was overcome by desire just like me. He kissed me feverishly, as if to compensate for all the months of restraint. A surge of happiness flooded me. I quickly took off my robe and pulled Antonin’s pants down his legs.

Antonin just looked at me with mild disbelief. Fearing that he would pull away and say that we shouldn’t, I quickly settled above him before he had a chance to object. I had to feel him at least once. I think my heart would have broken if I didn’t manoeuvre him into me.

I looked him in the eye as I slowly descended on his hard manhood, choking from inexplicable joy. It seemed like I was becoming whole because he was filling me. I lacked something essential before Antonin entered my life just as my body had missed something vital before I felt him inside me. When I came down completely, I stilled to interpret his look. But I saw nothing except great love and total abandonment. As if to encourage me, Antonin grabbed me by the hips and began lifting and lowering me. I started moving and together we found the rhythm of lovers. Our bodies moved as if of their own will, as if saying something to each other with those feverish movements. Movements as old as the world, yet completely new, full of mysterious meaning known only to us. Faster, feverishly, marvellously coordinated as if our bodies had already done that in another world and time and we were only repeating what was carved in our hearts and bodies.

Antonin was moaning uncontrollably while rapidly raising his pelvis to meet my frenzied descents. Strangled sounds were escaping my throat, my insides were tightening from pleasure. The pressure was becoming unbearable, almost agonising. And then a miraculous burst, spasms that brought immense delight. The relief was so strong that I collapsed on him. Antonin hugged me tightly and jerked a few more times before freezing and crying out.

I sat up and showered his face with kisses, crying and laughing at the same time, mad from the rush of giddy joy.

*****

Author Bio:

Eli Gilić is a writer and translator from Serbia who has spent much of her career translating best-selling novels for the Serbian market. She has also penned an erotic cookbook called Eat, Tease and Please.

Eli lives near a forest in Serbia with her three four-legged friends, and she spends her free time growing organic food, climbing mountains and jumping from waterfalls.

Slaves to Desire is her first short story collection, and it was originally published by Laguna, the biggest publisher in Serbia, before being translated into English for Sinful Press.

Sale blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Our Own Private Identity Crises

Some of you may recall that while I was on holiday in the States this summer, I ran a series of posts called, “first in series.” They were little posts about the first books in each of the series I’d written as well as a spicy excerpt. Well, I’m over first books now. Time to move on to second. This little post and excerpt is from Identity Crisis, the second book in the Executive Decisions series.

 

 

I’m sure we’ve all undergone some sort of identity crisis at some point in our lives, and let’s face it, in the world in which we live, we’re always juggling roles. We all wear lots of hats, and some of those hats are drastically different. For those of us who are writers, we can add to that identity crisis the identities of all of our characters, with whom we live twenty-four seven when we’re writing. For us, it sometimes gets a bit confusing as to who’s real and who isn’t. I doubt if I’m the first writer to fall in love with one of her characters. For those of us who are avid readers, who doesn’t want to crawl inside their favourite characters and embrace them and embody them and live out their adventure – especially when there’s hot romance involved and the hero is larger than life, sexy, flawed and in need of a heroine to make it all better?

Isn’t that a big part of what makes reading so wonderful?

Since writers are also readers, that means we’ve got LOTS of possibilities. Our imaginations allow us to be so many different people in so many different situations. With Identity Crisis, which is book two of the Executive Decisions trilogy, I wanted to play around with the idea of all the people who live inside each of us, and I wanted to seriously up the ante.

Garrett Thorne has a unique identity crisis. Garrett writes very popular romance novels, but he doesn’t write them under his own name. He writes them as Tess Delaney and, because Garrett is very good at keeping his secret life secret, every reader of romance is speculating wildly about the mysterious, reclusive Tess Delaney, who no one has ever seen. Everyone, however, has seen business tycoon, Ellison Thorne’s, bad-boy younger brother, Garrett, and everyone is convinced of what a ne’er do-well he is.

Garrett okay with that. It covers his romance-writing tracks nicely, and he manages to juggle living as two people very well until Tess Delaney is nominated for the coveted Golden Kiss Award for romance writing, and suddenly there’s a real threat that Tess’s true identity will be discovered. That kind of exposure, Garrett doesn’t want, so against his better judgement, and because he has little choice, he hires PR person extraordinaire, Kendra Davis to play the role of Tess Delaney for the ceremony. But Kendra’s identity crisis is even bigger than Garrett’s. Throw in a stalker and a love-hate relationship sizzling enough to set the whole Northwest Coast on fire, and let the adventure begin!

Identity Crisis Blurb:
PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

 

Identity Crisis Excerpt:
She cocked her head and looked at him in a way that made him think she was expecting to find something, something he was hiding. But just when he was beginning to feel defensive, she shoved her iPad back into her bag and stood. ‘Alright then. That’s all I need today.’

‘Wait a minute.’ He said following her to the door. ‘Don’t we need to … I don’t know … Practice? I mean I barely know you and you said we need to be comfortable with each other.’

She turned so quickly he nearly ran into her. ‘You don’t have to be comfortable with Kendra Davis, Garret. You have to be comfortable with Tess Delaney, and I promise you will be.’ She looked up at him with a smile that might have been teasing, might have been a smirk. Whichever it was, the small alcove where they now stood suddenly seemed even tighter fitting than it actually was. ‘If it’ll help,’ she said, ‘you can kiss me good-bye.’

‘That’s not very professional,’ he managed, feeling like the breath had been squeezed out of him as he fumbled to help her into her jacket.

Her smile was warm, reassuring. ‘Actually, in our case it’s very professional.’ She rose on her toes and brushed a kiss across his lips. ‘Very professional, indeed.’
And before she could pull away he scooped her into his arms, feeling her little gasp of surprise as he took her mouth. What had only been intended to show her he was up for it, very quickly changed to something else, and suddenly they were clawing at each other, hands grabbing collars and hair and anything else to get closer to each other. Clothing brushed against clothing until friction mounted and body heat radiated through. And God, her mouth was sweeter than anything, full lips so soft one second and so hard and demanding the next, parted to allow him access to her tongue and her hard pallet, to her warm humid breath coming faster and faster as her fist clenched in his hair and her own tongue battled for supremacy. And her body, Jesus, her body was hard pressed and tight and mounded and undulating and he’d never felt so much fire just beneath the surface.

But she was Kendra Davis. And just when he was ready to scoop her up and carry her off to his bedroom. Just when he was ready to hold her captive there for the next three of four or more hours, she stepped back with a little sigh and caught her breath. She raised a hand to her lips, almost but not quite covering her teasing smile and said. ‘You get an A Plus for practice, Garrett Thorne. You just convinced the hell out of me.’ Still breathing hard, she ran a hand through his hair, brushed a quick kiss across his lips and let herself out, leaving him leaning against the wall barely able to stand. For the very first time, he allowed himself to think that not only might they be able to pull this whole charade off, but he might actually enjoy it.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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