Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wanting Rita by Elyse Douglas (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Kindle Fire Giveaway)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book reviews welcomes Elyse Douglas, authors of Wanting Rita!

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."

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:


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 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.


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

Book Review

Wanting Rita by Elyse Douglas
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

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.

Book Description:

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.

Book Excerpt:

“She’ll be there, Alan,” Mrs. Fitzgerald said, in a quiet, hopeful voice. “She’ll be at Jack’s Diner. She’s been working there for a month now. It…well, it would just be a good thing…a nice thing if you could…” Her voice trailed off, then grew weak and brittle. “You’re the only person she’s asked about. But… you must be so busy. I mean, I know doctors are always busy. Of course, you’re busy, but… Well, if you could just go and see her…”

Then there was desperation. “I’m sorry to call you at your office, but I just thought…well, if she saw some old friends. She needs to…get out and…”

I’d heard that voice frequently working in the ER during my residency. A voice stripped of pride by a mounting panic.

“She’ll be so glad to see you again, Alan. I just know it. She was always so fond of you, you know.”

Just as I was about to end the conversation, she broke down, repeating the story of Rita’s tragedy in deep sighs and choking sobs. I waited, impatiently. She rambled and paused, hoping for a response. I didn’t offer any, so she continued on with a weepy intensity, with anger, remorse, and an occasional hacking cough. I listened coolly, aloof, frequently checking my watch. I was already behind. Patients were complaining to reception. I had mountains of paperwork to do and I hadn’t eaten lunch.

Mrs. Fitzgerald persisted, with surging emotion. Her pace became a desperate sprint to the finish line, jumping from self-pity to scorn, to cursing, to rage. She trampled on all my efforts to cut her off. So I waited for the end of emotion; for the end of her confessions; for the shattered voice that finally fell into a withering and feeble “Oh, God… please go see Rita… Please…”

I wasn’t moved in that hollow silence. My heart contracted with an icy chill—with the rush of unwanted memories. I wasn’t even moved when she timidly called my name to see if I was still there.

“Yes… I’m here, Mrs. Fitzgerald, but I have to go now. Thank you for calling.”

I hung up, abruptly, without another word. I wanted to erase her—erase the entire population of Hartsfield, Pennsylvania—from my mind.

I’d already heard the story. My sister, Judy, had called eight months before, stunned, teary and grateful to share. Two hours later, an old friend from high school, whom I hadn’t heard from in six years, called me stammering, shocked, and depressed. Then my father had called, using cold, sharp words. “They were trash. Didn’t you date that girl a couple of times? What was her name… Rita?”

It had briefly hit the national news, I was told, although I didn’t see it because I was in Barbados on vacation when it happened. Of course it upset me. It would upset anyone, but I had never been particularly fond of Mrs. Fitzgerald when I was a kid. And when I was a kid living in Hartsfield, she’d never been particularly fond of me. But then, with few exceptions, nobody was. Except Rita. Rita, at least for a fleeting miraculous time, had been fond of me. Perhaps, she had even loved me. And I, without a doubt—any doubt—had loved her.

In the last two years of high school, Rita had blazed with a beauty and magnetism that burned through a crowd like wildfire. She possessed a kind of languid rapture and soft exotic glow that I compared to the starlets of the 1940’s and 50’s; that mysterious mixture of fire and ice that arrested the eyes and heart in a breathless expectation. She was art, with her refined aristocratic nose, long chiseled neck, and voice like pure unraveling silk. Her lips were red, full, and often parted, as if in want of a kiss, though there was no pretension in this. At least, I never thought so.

She was full-figured and statuesque, with honey blond hair that fell in waves over thin ivory shoulders, in a longing, really—in a natural invitation to touch and caress. And she moved in an easy rhythm, as if hearing distant pagan music, with a gentle sway of her hips that sent ripples of fervent pleasure through any gathering of guys, and a humid jealousy through any crowd of gals.

Rita had been the town treasure. The prom queen. The beauty queen. The trophy. Men with cigars on the Courthouse steps jerked nods of agreement that Hartsfield could produce more than just thermal underwear. They produced Rita Fitzgerald: beauty, talent and personality. She’d go somewhere, New York, LA, and become somebody, and they’d be the proud town fathers who had supported her, nurtured her and helped her along. She could sing and dance, and she wrote poems and short stories that were published in the local paper. She was even going to write a novel about Hartsfield. For weeks after this fact was published in the Sunday paper, I observed that teachers, neighbors and town folk all had broader smiles, softer dispositions and kind words, where few had been offered before.

Whenever she had shined her large sea-blue eyes on me, I saw tenderness, wonder and intelligence; and when she took me into them, fully, and held me for a time, I felt primitive and exalted. During those rare moments when Rita and I had been close and I felt her soft breath on my cheek or in my ear, and whenever she leaned into me and I smelled the spring scent of her and looked into her blue eyes, wide with magic, I saw them break into prisms of fire so magnificent that I often went dumb and silent with desire for her.

As I stared vacantly ahead at the garish neon lights of Jack’s Diner, I felt the rise of apprehension and dread. Surely Rita had changed. Had the tragedy blunted her beauty and zest for life? Did I really want to see her defeated and small, working as a waitress at Jack’s Diner? Did she really want to see me?

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.



  1. I do think they could be soul mates, it's like the saying "if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it was meant to be"
    My mother had a similar experience, after divorcing from my father she ended up marrying her high school sweetheart :) Soul mates??

    1. Hi Rachel! Thank you for stopping by and leaving that wonderful comment! :)

  2. WANTING RITA was based on two girls Douglas had dated: one in high school and one in college: the high school prom queen was quiet and intelligent and came from a difficult family background. He met the other girl during his freshman year in college. She was volatile, smart and talented. Both girls struggled to overcome many emotional demons. Douglas did not keep in touch with them but learned, recently, that one now owns a restaurant in a rather large city and has three kids. Brava!

    1. Hi Elyse & Douglas! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host your virtual book tour event for Wanting Rita, it was a poignant love story. Thank you for sharing what the book was based on with us! :)