Author Guest Post
Writers: Beware of Angels
"Fiction is about stuff that's screwed up."
- Nancy Kress
Many years ago, in a strange and barren world before our novel, Wanting Rita, laptops, iPads, cell phones and DVDs, where pop hits included Muskrat Love, I Can't Smile Without You, and Beat It!, I stood on the cusp of a new life, on the edge of a swimming pool, at a Milwaukee Holiday Inn. I stared into the emerald water, sniffing chlorine and watching bikinied girls, bouncing kids and a silly yellow butterfly navigate the currents of an erratic wind. I was shirtless, wearing gold running shorts and sucking on a Certs.
My father's recent words of advice, imparted during my last visit to Cincinnati, reverberated back on me like body odor in a locker room.
"Son, you can't play the Guitorgan the rest of your life. You need a profession. And anyway, what the hell is a Guitorgan?"
I explained it again, with renewed enthusiasm, defending my ridiculous life with verve and a fine choice of words. "It's a guitar that, when you flip a switch, it sounds like a Hammond B-3 organ and a guitar." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oPOBrwR2I8
Unimpressed, without blinking, he repeated. "Doug, you need a profession, for crying out loud."
King Arthur yanked a sword from a big rock and viola! he was on his way to big and better things. Don Quixote charged after windmills and wound up with beautiful Dulcinea and a loyal friend, Sancho. Luke Skywalker had a really lousy father, but as a result, he became a great Jedi Knight and a hero who broke box office records.
At the Holiday Inn pool on that hot August day, I contemplated what action I could take - like the heroes of old - that would propel me onto my own life's path of satisfying, lucrative work. And, I was running out of time: I had to play my Guitorgan in the Safari Lounge in less than two hours.
So, I looked for a sign, just like some of those Biblical people had done - and they always seemed to find them! I searched heaven and earth. I saw a fat kid eating an ice cream cone that was rapidly melting and streaming down his stubby fingers. A yapping dog leaped and danced.
A light bulb went on. Ice cream: something in the fast food profession? Dog: a veterinarian? Dog trainer? Dancer? What kind of dancer? Broadway? Disco? Modern? Or was the dancing dog just a Zen thing? Like, life is a dance, be happy with whatever you're doing?
A tall, exotic blond passed - her red one-piece swimming suit oh so tight and stingy. She gave me a cold, quizzical glance. I got the message: don't get distracted by frivolity or loose living: Be serious. I knotted my brow, found a soda and candy machine and wandered about, with a can of Coke in one hand and a delicious Snickers in the other.
Not feeling that gut-wrenching certainty - that intuitive spark of bliss - that dramatic tug-that-big-sword-from-the-rock kind of hit, I looked skyward - to the heavens for a sign.
There it was! The sign I'd been searching for. A little orange biplane was sputtering across the endless blue sky - its tail writing out words in big smoky white letters, surely a sign from the heavens that all the angels had taken some time off from their busy schedules to bring me a personal message in my time of need:
SHOP AT HARDY'S
I stared at the foaming words, expanding and quivering across the heavens. I gazed with a solemn intensity and did not see SHOP AT HARDY'S - SALE. I saw the words: BE A WRITER ... BE A WRITER AND NOTHING BUT A WRITER!
Suddenly, the world lost its dissonance and became melodic. I sucked down the rest of my Coke and shoved int he last quarter piece of the Snickers. I chewed victoriously.
At that moment, I knew - without a doubt - that my life's calling was to become a writer. What a glorious resolution to indecision and doubt. What a bell-ringing, stupendous idea! What a happy, prosperous future lay out before me - and all I had to do was follow that yellow brick road until I found the wizard of literary fame and fortune!
I should have seen it a long time ago. After all, I wrote short stories in high school and college, didn't I? Yes, of course. Remember the story about the guy who lost his gold Cross pen? He couldn't find it anywhere! What a plot device! And what about the bookish fellow who loved science fiction? What a good read that was! He met a pretty girl at a bus stop who looked at him strangely. She turned out to be an alien froma distant planet. Actually, I believe I wrote the phrase "she was from a far, distant planet, out in the middle of nowhere," because it was pretty far out there.
I read books too. I loved reading mysteries and biographies, best sellers and literary fiction. I wanted to begin my writing career that instant - that very lustrous moment! Not a second longer, did I want to wait. But I'd have to wait. The Guitorgan and the Safari Lounge awaited.
During the evening of Neil Diamond, John Denver and Paul Simon melodies, I tinkered with ideas and themes for the great American novel - the book that would shoot me straight to the top of the best seller list. I explored catchy titles:
THE DINER DIARIES
A MORBID RESTITUTION
ALL THE DEAD LONG NIGHT
THE FABULOUS DETECTIVE
THE KILLERS OF KILDAIRE
DEATH IS A LOW MEAN DOG
The ideas were pouring out of me. I was on fire, spinning out audacious plots, invective characters and clever dialogue. I couldn't wait to finish the night of song so I could dive into my sterling new career as a professional wordsmith.
After work, I rushed back to my red and orange room, found some hotel stationary, snatched up a pencil and began to write my first - and surely one of the greatest - American novels.
I eagerly put pencil to paper ... and waited ... and waited. A strange feeling of numbness slowly pervaded my body, like a cold liquid. My eyes grew heavy, my arm and fingers tense. Thoughts and ideas tangled. Imagination withered. Confusion reigned.
Strangely, my hands wouldn't move. I grew sleepy and lethargic.
"I'm just tired," I said aloud. "Just need a few hours of sleep."
My head dropped to the faux oak desk and I fell asleep.
At some point, deep into the night, I climbed into bed. I had a striking dream. A beautiful shimmering angel appeared and handed me a luminous golden scroll with some writing on it.
"It's a title," she said, beaming. "The title for your first book. Your breakthrough novel!"
"For me?" I asked, amazed and delighted.
"Yes. Just for you," she said, well, angelically. "You will be beloved all over the world because of this title."
I unraveled the scroll and read the title, astounded and overwhelmed. I suddenly awoke with a start in my darkened room. I snatched a pad and pencil, scribbled down the title and fell back into a sound sleep.
The next morning I awakened fresh and revived. Suddenly, I remembered the dream, the angel and the piece of paper. But I couldn't remember the title. I anxiously reached for the pad. This was it! The title! A title from the angels - a sure sign that even the angels were with me. How could I possibly lose?
I lifted up on my elbows, focused, and read the title.
YOU BIG GUN YA!
My eyes widened, incredulous. My disappointed lips repeated it several times in a kind of desperation, in an endless variation of pitch, volume and gesticulation, praying that my eyes were playing tricks on me. Surely, if I focused hard enough, allowed the title to steep or ferment or, what was the word? Congeal! Yeah, if I just allowed it to congeal, it would reveal some kind of an eccentric, poetic, modernistic kind of ... I strained, stretched and scratched. If I just allowed it to ... YOU BIG GUN YA?!
I grew ill, lethargic and defeated. I sank a little and let the harsh reality of it wash over me in degrees of a creeping depression. I closed my eyes. I crumbled the paper - ripped it and flung it away. The better angels of my dreams had just shafted me! I lay back, lacing my hands behind my head: this writing thing was not going to be easy.
Nancy Kress said it best. "Fiction is about stuff that's screwed up." So now, Elyse and I just put characters and plot in play and just screw things up.
Copyright 2012 Elyse Douglas
About The Authors:
Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia University. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. She and her husband, Douglas Pennington, have completed three novels: The Astrologer's Daughter, Wanting Rita and a Christmas novel to be released later this year.
Douglas grew up in a family where music and astrology were second and third languages. He attended the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and played the piano professionally for many years. With his wife, Elyse, he has helped to pen The Astrologer's Daughter and Wanting Rita.
When asked how they write a novel together, Doug often answers, “Well… If Elyse is dismissive and quietly pacing, then I know something’s not working. If I’m defensive, dramatic and defiant, then I know Elyse will soon be scowling and quietly pacing. We remind ourselves of Rita and Alan James in our novel, Wanting Rita. How the books get finished, I don’t know.”
Elyse Douglas live in New York City.
Elyse Douglas' Wanting Rita Virtual Book Tour Page On Pump Up Your Book!
Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway
Win A Kindle Fire!
Elyse Douglas will be giving away a Kindle Fire during her July and August virtual book tour campaign for Wanting Rita.
Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour.
This Kindle Fire promotion will run from July 2 – August 24. Winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on August 25, 2012.
Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.
Elyse Douglas' Wanting Rita Virtual Book Tour Page On Pump Up Your Book!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wanting Rita Book Trailer
Published By: Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Format: eBook - 261 pages / Kindle - 471 KB / Nook - 1 MB
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Wanting Rita
BARNES & NOBLE
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the authors in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.
When his high school sweetheart experiences a devastating tragedy, Dr. Alan Lincoln reluctantly returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to see her. It’s been 15 years. Rita was a small town beauty queen—his first love whom he has never forgotten. He was a nerd from a wealthy family. Her family was poor. They formed a strong connection during their senior year, but Rita married someone else, and the marriage ended tragically.
Alan’s marriage of three years is disintegrating, and he sees in Rita the chance to begin again with the true love of his life. Rita has been mentally and emotionally shattered, but she reaches out to Alan and fights to build a new life with him. During a passionate summer, however, the past and present converge and threaten their rekindled love, as Alan and Rita must struggle with old ghosts and new secrets.
My Book Review:
You never forget your first love ...
Alan and Rita were high school sweethearts, but after high school graduation they went their separate ways. Fifteen years later, Alan returns to his hometown in Pennsylvania, and seeks out the woman he has always loved and never forgot. Will Alan and Rita have a second chance at renewing their love, or will the past and some dark secrets once again separate them for good? Will Alan always be just Wanting Rita ... or will he succeed in regaining her love forever?
Wanting Rita is a profound love story that reads like a modern day Romeo and Juliet, it will pull at your heartstrings. Written in a hauntingly beautiful style, the story is told in the first person narrative by our protagonist, Dr. Alan Lincoln, and alternates between the past and present time. The reader will be captivated as they follow along with Alan and Rita's love story. Rich in details and vivid descriptions, the story takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride where they will feel the full gamut of emotions. Their story is haunting, it is tender, it is moving ... it is an honest and real look into the dimensions, changes, and struggles in life and relationships ... it is one that will move your heart and soul.
Rita and Alan are realistic down-to-earth people whose complexities are intriguing and who are easy for the readers to relate to. You can't help but embrace their story, they pull you into their lives, and you will feel their emotions as they struggle through life's changes, and learn to deal with their love and relationship. Be sure to have tissues handy, you're going to need it!
Wanting Rita is an amazing story about true love and second chances. This emotionally charged and moving story will pull at your heartstrings, and will resonate with you long after the last page has been read.
RATING: 5 STARS *****