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Flash: The Amores

(Original picture no longer available as the blog it came from is no longer online)

Arms, warfare, violence – I was winding up to produce a                    Regular epic, with verse-form to match –
Hexameter, naturally. But Cupid (they say) with a snicker                  Lopped off one foot from each alternate line.
“Nasty young brat,” I told him, “whom made you Inspector of Metres?     We poets come under the Muses, …. – Ovid (translated by Peter Green)

****

“we’re not your mob …” The young beatnik continued urgently, never grokking when The Amores switched from high poetry to erotic love imagery.

Theodore looked at Nika. The young-looking brunette had put her hand over her mouth when the pretender had stepped up to the mike. A regular like themselves, they knew the boy never wrote his own poetry, and barely understood anyone else’s. Nika’s hand was now sideways so she could bite the fleshy part to keep from laughing. Or moaning in pain.

It would be rude to laugh. Moaning in pain would be worse.

you can’t keep your arrows idle – They’re so hot.” Emotive angry rage shot the lines into the crowd.

Coffee snorted out of Theo’s nose. Wiping his greying beard with a napkin, he hid his moving lips behind the cloth. “Can it get any worse?”

Nika left off from gnawing her hand. “I’m waiting for ‘I’m no sexual circus rider’.”

“Zeus and Mercury, that is part of the first poem, isn’t it?”

A giggle-moan of confirmation escaped Nika as she went back to biting her olive-skinned hand.

Eventually the torture, or comedy routine, depending on one’s love of poetry and toleration of youth, came to an end.

Theodore had gone earlier in the evening with one of his limericks. The earnest creative writing crew from the local college never knew how to deal with them. The short poems were always clever, requiring a deeper understanding of English which the children treasured. But the rhymes, however good they were, were still limericks, an affront to their lofty art. Since he was a best-selling author who often spoke on campus, they silently drank their coffee and clapped politely when their professor nodded permission.

The two stayed through last call at the coffee house and the final poem. Two poets continued to show promise, one from the college who somehow was not being stifled by the esteemed professor, and a high schooler who was out way too late on a school night.

Poetry readings were Tuesday. The coffee house had various musicians come in over the weekend. The guitarist on Sunday was the best of that mediocre lot. Nika didn’t have a vested interest in them, so they rarely attended the performances.

Tossing a fifty onto the table to cover drinks and an inflated tip for the hard working waitress who would get nothing from the students, the two left.

“I think I should underwrite a book for Sindee and one for Hampus too.” Theodore commented as they walked hand-in-hand through the quiet parking lot to their truck.

Nika considered, her wide hips swaying to brush Theodore’s long legs. They had the money to spare. “Hampus, definitely, needs to be removed from the cutting machine before his creativity is crushed. … Sindee, hmmm, she’s local. I may be able to inspire her directly.”

Startled, Theo pointed out. “She is still a little young for that in this culture.”

“It’s no always about sex. … Although the child is a dark desire to drink.”

Theo leaned against his truck. He ran a finger across his lover’s lips.

Nika opened her mouth to let the finger enter. Closing her plump lips, she swirled her tongue around the finger. Theo slowly slipped the finger out, hissing as Nika lightly closed her teeth around the end just before he pulled out completely.

Groaning, Theo slipped his hands into the back pockets of Nika’s jeans and grounded his arousal into his personal inspiration. “But it is about sex between us at least, my love.”

“Always, my favorite wordshaper.”

Theodore drowned Nika in a kiss, before the female pulled away to whisper the closing lines of The Amores, Book 1 properly. Theodore knew it was coming. The Muse had to heal the affront to the poem she had nurtured in Ovid.

ergo etiam cum me supremus adederit ignis, vivam, parsque mei multa superstes erig.” The words steamed between them, promising Theo an immortality unique among the mortals the Muses chose.

So when the final flames have devoured my body, I shall survive, and my better part live on.”

(words 742 – Published as part of the Breathless Press Sunday Fun and on my blog on 9/17/2013; Republished 2/14/2016)

Passages of The Amores, Book 1 come from Ovid,the Erotic Poems: The Amores, The Art of Love, Cures for Love, On FacialTreatment for Ladies, translated with an introduction and notes by Peter Green. Published by Penguin Books in 1982. A copy can be purchased at Amazon, but clicking on book description.

Latin version from http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/ovid/ovid.amor1.shtml.

Editing Rant: Beginnings

Determining the proper place to start the story...

Image acquired without permission from Castlegate Press 2014 posting

The image above is from a post by Suzanne Hartmann, one of the co-founders of Castlegate Press, for a July 6, 2014 posting entitiled “Where Does the Story Start?”.

Starting a Story

One of the toughest parts of writing is figuring where your story starts. When initially writing, just write it out because often you don’t know where the story will start until you know where it ends and what happens inbetween.

Then come back to the beginning. The common agreement in 2016 is the story should start when the main character’s life begins to change. That rarely is when they are waking up or walking through a door – usually it is something like “The front door no longer had a doornob.” …

Some famous opening lines include:

Lord of the Rings “When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

Pride and Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

The Stranger ” Mother died today.”

Metamorphosis “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

***

So a romance book I was editing started with three pages of exposition, describing the hero of the romance (the Point-of-View (POV)/narrator) leaving home, finding an apartment, finding a roomie, job hunting, and interviewing. Eventually we reach the point of the hero meeting his two possible love interests on a bus.

While his life was undergoing massive changes from the moment he left home until he got on the bus and met the love interests, none of that had anything to do with the plot. It was background. The job hunting, which took an entire page, ended with “I sat down, and he hired me.” (Actually it was “I sat down, and hired me” … but that is a different editing rant entirely.) The job is never mentioned again. The roomie is mentioned once, as a ride to the party and could have easily been included at the time of getting the ride. In fact two pages are dedicated to it when the ride is given because the roomie took his time getting ready. The parents are never mentioned except to leave home.

Half of the first chapter, close to 2,000 words, needed to be chopped. Nothing in those pages had ANY impact on the plot, romance, or character development. Maybe the job interview could have shown something about the hero’s character, but it was only “I sat down, and he hired me.” after the page of dead-end job hunting. At only 20,000 words this chop was a huge hit to the manuscript. (The first 10% of the length – this percentage is important so keep it in mind as we continue.)

And the manuscript should have never gotten to me in that form. One of content editing’s job is to define where the story starts, not line editing. All of that should have been decided long before it hit my desk. I should note this book was PREVIOUSLY self-published and I was reading it in relation to a reprint. So this story was already out there in the sales world and the author was wondering why he was getting no sales when he contacted me.

The reason? The romance story did not start with the romance, but a long backstory reading like a coming-of-age story – readers reviewing the 10% sample on Amazon received a false impression. Chuck the first part of the manuscript and have the beginning of the romance at the beginning of the story and suddenly readers know they have an interesting story with two possible love interests. Who is our hero going to end up with and is the romance going to break the friendship between the women? Much more interesting than a dead-end apartment with a dead-end job after leaving home and taking a couple of classes at the community college to get ahead.

Remember the start of the story is what most readers are seeing when trying to decide to put out their hard-earned money. Start the story when life gets interesting for the character.

A couple genre examples: For quest fantasy, start with why the character is willing to go on a quest. For military sci-fi, why the character is going to join the military. What had made the character’s life go off the rails so they are open to change?

Well, that is the editing rant about beginnings.

WRITING EXERCISE: For your work in-progress (WIP), review and see if the book would feel different if you add another chapter in front adding the day before to your story – then see what would happen if you just eliminate the first chapter. How would these changes impact your story?

READING EXERCISE: Have you ever read a book which seemed to start in the wrong place and you felt the first chapter or two were fillers? How about a book where you struggled through the first chapter not sure what is happening because not enough information was given i.e. the story started too late and you didn’t get time to be introduced to the changes?

Flash: Provisionally

Pink Rose Petals Stock Photo

Image courtesy of gt_pann at FreeDigitialPhotos.net

“Honey, why are you home so early?” the words drifted through the house. The stairs creaked as she went upstairs. Opening a door, Cheryl stopped midway through having discovered Joe on the bed.

His upper torso was bare, and the lower half of his body neatly covered by a folded and tucked blanket. His arms were stretched above him. Scattered around him was rose petals.

“What on earth are you doing?” she asked.

“Apologizing” said the contrite man. Cheryl’s lips twitched.

“Really?” She dropped her purse on the dresser. “Having sex seems to be more a reward to you, not an apology to me.”

“You say I never let you have control.” He rattled the handcuffs attached to the scroll metal headboard. “You have it.”

“Oh, my.” She couldn’t keep a grin from spreading across her face. She was quite cross with him, but the combination of romance and humor was chipping away at the peeve. “And just where is the key?”

He nodded to the nightstand, out of his reach. Beside the key was a sweating bottle of champagne, carefully placed on a doily. Points for finding the doilies.

“So you can’t escape without my help.” A teasing warmth edged into her voice.

Fright flickered in his eyes a second. “Yes dear. …. I totally have trust in you.”

She started unbuttoning her shirt. “And you can’t get out of that bed at all.”

“No, you will have to do everything.” Joe’s eyes watched hungrily as Cheryl shimmied out of her slacks and department store underwear.

She climbed on the bed in a kneeling position and slowly knee-walked up his body, taking a little extra time to drag her clit over the tenting blanket. Settling herself over his penis, she reached behind her back and released her bra. Cheryl fell forward to land on her hands, with a nipple hovering inches away from Joe’s mouth. “Oh, I don’t plan to do much. You haven’t properly sucked my breasts since we started having sex. Start making up for lost time.”

Joe moved his head up and his tongue flicked over tip before him. The stimulus made her moan and lean further forward – placing the entire nipple within reach. He inhaled, drawing the areola fully into his mouth. He suckled and swirled his tongue around the sensitive area. Her hips started shifting back and forth, trying to get her pussy closer to his hardening cock.

Suddenly she reared back and panted a couple of seconds. His eyes watched her as she got herself under control. Joe bucked a couple of time to indicate what he would like to do next.

A self-assured smile took over the woman’s face as she ground down until the man stopped moving. “Other side.” She directed as she fell forward again, her generous right breast falling within reach.

He licked and suckled. Releasing the nipple, he blew cool air across the flesh then drew the tit back in. Back and forth between the two breasts he went, while the blanket separating the nether parts dampened with her arousal. Her grinding hips eventually moved the cloth below his cock.

“What the?” she asked looking down. A necklace had been draped loosely around his penis – now not as loose as when originally placed there. She wiggled down to rest her ass his knees to get a better look.

After rediscovering multi-syllable words, Joe explained “Your present. Thought you would unwrap it sooner.”

She unwound the gold chain until the butterfly charm made of gemstones rested in her palm. “It’s beautiful.”

She lifted her arms to hook the necklace behind her nape, displaying her aroused breasts proudly. Rubbing her weeping slit up his leg, she crawled until she was face to face with Joe. The necklace brushed his chin. Staring into his eyes, she reached behind, grabbing his dick, and slowly back down again until he was lodged within her channel. She pushed herself up; her slickness sliding her completely down so her asscheeks rested on his balls. Cheryl then raised herself up on her knees and lowered herself again.

Again and again, until her entire body was jiggling. A scream escaped Cheryl and she collapsed onto Joe’s chest. The random squeezes of her vagina kept Joe hard, but didn’t push him over the edge as Cheryl’s breathing returned to normal. Rolling over to one side, Cheryl’s hand started drifting over Joe’s chest and abs.

“So, presents, flowers, champagne and sex. When’s dinner?”

“Reservations at Andina’s tomorrow. Sorry but my mom couldn’t take the kids tonight.” Joe looked hopeful. “So I am forgiven for forgetting our anniversary was Tuesday?”

Turning to get the key from the nightstand, Cheryl answered “Provisionally.” She unlocked the handcuffs, but immediately closed them around his left wrist and the headboard again, leaving only his right hand free. “Let’s see how tomorrow goes.”

She put the key back in its place. “In the meantime, you need to kiss my ass some more.” Presenting the ass she wanted to be kissed. The maneuver crushed some of the rose petals, releasing a light perfume.

(words 848 – first publication 12/19/2012; republished in new format on 2/7/2016)

Other Cool Blogs: Magical Words January 26, 2016

This week’s “other cool blogs” is another Magical Words author. You may know him as D.B. Jackson of the Thieftaker series (historical urban fantasy) or as David B. Coe  of Blood of the Southlands series. Either way the man writes some pretty amazing stuff, all character driven. And he obsesses about POV. Stories are viewed by the reader from the narrator’s Point of View (POV); usually the POV character is the hero or heroine of the book in genre fiction.

The January 26, 2016 blog, The Power of Secrets, is about … secrets (shhhh). Read the blog – link here: http://www.magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/quick-tip-tuesday-the-power-of-secrets/ 

WRITING EXERCISE: Create a secret for your present WIP.

For Honestly, Troy, the hero, has a lot of secrets. Some get revealed in the story, some get only partially revealed, and some never are shown but are driving him.

The most obvious of the revealed secrets is his amputee. Initially he hides everything under clothes and mannerisms. As he gets to know Kassandra, he shows more and more of this weakness.

The partially revealed secret is his present government work. He does translations. But for whom and why? … and what is he translating?

A secret I never shared with the reader since the POV character, Kassandra, did not learn about it during the story is how Troy’s mother died. Yet the secret drove him to quit school and join the military and even now drives several of his decisions. The reason he won’t let the pain control him lies with what happened to his mother.

YOUR TURN
If you are a writer, what secret does your characters have and how does it shape them? Are you going to reveal this to your audience or keep it a secret.

READING EXERCISE: If you are a reader, what is a secret in a recent story you read? How did it drive the plot?