Over at Dear Author, Jane is taking requests from readers (and authors) on What’s Not Being Published that You Want to Read
There are a number a really good suggestions, and for any author who wonders where the idea for their next great novel might come from (not just in the romance genre) this wish list may be just the thing. I had fun matching up what I’m either currently working on or have already released with many of the requests.
I got pretty close with RUSH. But perhaps other novels like QUEENSREALM, Gaijin, and Valerius Rex might be of interest for those who requested more Scifi and historical romance with diverse characters.
Oops! I can’t forget JUKEBOX Volume One, since its set during the racial upheaval of the 60s, and features a male lead who goes from being a Rockabilly singer to a Blue Eyed Soul Man. Eli Burr pairs with the daughter of rights activist, and they become the first interracial male/female duo in Pop music. While Eli has to hide his sexual orientation once he becomes a teen idol, the female lead ends up getting death threats and has the pressure of representing her race in a positive light, because that was VERY important back then.
Dare to go There:
I’ve put up a couple of brief excerpts tonight, where the stories start with uncomfortable scenes. I don’t want to say much more than that, but the excerpts are from the ebook novellas The Player and Love and Baseball.
Both ebooks are contemporary romances. Here’s how Love and Baseball starts:
They called it a Ghetto Blast, and the frat house hosts were wearing afro wigs, holding beer and giving each other fake gang signals. Some were even posing for pictures, calling out to one another and those entering the house with “fo shizzle, my nizzle.”
A few girls had small cushions strapped to their behinds while Sir Mix A lot’s “Baby Got Back” played way too many decibels high. The boisterous crowd pushed Lexie Faison into the living room, sweeping her into the stereotypical madness. Putting her own feelings aside, Lexie made her way through the maze of bodies, asking if anyone had seen a girl named Analise. She got a number of curious stares, trading surprised looks with boys who’d come to the classes they shared wearing socks and sandals, easy going smiles, and who’d hold doors open for her. They always seemed friendly enough. Now she saw them in a whole different light.
“Hey, way cool dreads. They almost look real . . .” the voice behind her tapered off, even though the guy kept picking up strands of her twisty braids, expecting Lexie to say it was a wig. When she turned to face him he realized his mistake.
“Aw man! We got a real live hood rat up in here!” he hollered, throwing up his hands and freezing in an exaggerated old skol pose. “YEAH BOIIIII!!”
Lexie want to slap the smirk off his face. “You’re an asshole,” she hissed, knocking past him. Is this what Hailey wanted her to see? The frantic phone call from her roommate made no sense, but this was even crazier. And hurtful.
“Hey, aw come on baby! Me and you can win the twerking contest.” Rough hands circled her waist, and she got jerked back. But instead of her rear end slamming into his groin, she half turned, giving a vicious elbow to his junk.
Shock and pain had the drunken partygoer doubling over as he toppled into the crowd. Someone attempted to give her a high five, but she just glared at the afro wigged guy.
Copyrighted Material 2013
Here’s the beginning scene of The Player:
She’d seen quiet drunks, and she’d experienced loud, obnoxious drunks. But this guy was a stark raving lunatic on liquor. Harlow Jennings watched the star offensive center for the Raleigh Renegades stomp around the pool table, blaring obscenities into the faces of the startled players. One of the men simply conceded, putting his pool stick down as he gingerly stepped around Virgil “Ham” Fordham. All that got the man was a declaration from Virgil that he was a “pussy,” then Virgil spotted the drink glass the guy had left behind. It was a good thing the glass was almost empty. The bad part? It reminded Virgil of the Scotch and Soda he’d ordered that was mighty slow in coming. With smooth jazz playing on the sound system and the only bright light in the bar warmly bathing the pool table, regulars and newbies who’d just discovered the nightclub’s cozy, chic atmosphere watched in horror as Virgil beat his chest while screaming out the names of those on his squad who also needed to man-up. Yes, Virgil was every patron and bar employee’s nightmare.
Yomi was the server tonight, a nice college girl who didn’t need this shit. She’d expertly danced out of Virgil’s way when he tried to grapple her in his arms, as if his affection was something any woman should look forward to. Yomi practically ran into the bar top, looking at Harlow with pleading eyes. “He wants another, ASAP. And he said to put it on his tab.”
Harlow shook her head. “No, he’s had enough. Tell him I’m through serving him.”
Yomi blew a strand of her long bangs out of her eyes. “He’s gonna go ballistic.”
“I know that. I’d been hoping one of his teammates would talk some sense into him, but they all ended up leaving that idiot here. Just . . . just tell him I said the bar is off limits for him, and if he has any problems with it he needs to talk to me.”
Yomi made the sign of the cross, whispering for Harlow to pray for her. Then she headed to the back of the club where Virgil was straddled over the pool table, giving the thing a hump. After Yomi told him the bad news she wisely backed up, because Virgil’s muscular arms started swinging everywhere, along with a string of curse words. She looked at Harlow with a grimace, so Harlow nodded. It was their signal to have a cell phone handy in case the cops needed to be called. But neither woman expected Virgil to let out a roar as he tried to overturn the table.
“Get in the kitchen and call the cops!” Harlow screamed.
Fear stunned Yomi into stalling by the kitchen door, uncertain if she should leave. “But-”
“Just do it!” Harlow felt around for the baseball bat stashed behind the bar, but when Virgil came stumbling over she realized that wouldn’t be enough. Hitting him with a bat would be like flicking a toothpick at a rhino, especially with whatever else he was on. With a thick neck as wide as his shoulders, the Pro-Bowl player barreled straight into the bar itself, shaking the thing so much she thought it had been knocked a few inches back.
“You bitch. You black-” Between his spit and his lunging over the bar top to attack her, everyone in the club could hear his hateful words. Once he took another swipe at her Harlow felt well within her rights to crack him across the head. All these weeks of listening to his racist ass call out insults to anyone who didn’t look like him was more than enough to fuel her anger. Her first swing connected with his cheekbone. His howl of pain was genuine, but after collapsing to his knees he bounced back up, this time with one leg raised, determined to climb over the bar. Readying her second swing, she was aiming to do real damage since she’d already given him fair warning. When her bat got stopped in mid-air, she was pulled right along with it.
So focused on clobbering Virgil, she didn’t even realize another player had snuck up from the other end of the bar.
Yomi shrieked her name, saying she’d called the police. The guy now holding the bat didn’t take his eyes off Virgil, coolly saying that the police wouldn’t be necessary. With his free hand he yanked the linebacker off the top of the bar, giving Virgil one hell of a wedgie. The linesman ended up getting slammed to the floor, all the while hollering profanities and threatening to kill his own quarterback. When he rose the two men were nose to nose, but quarterback Kyle McClure never flinched. “You can either walk out that door or we’ll carry you out,” he said. “Either way, you’re leaving.”
Harlow didn’t recall seeing Kyle with the original group, but then she’d been so busy with drink orders the Queen of England could’ve come in without her noticing. Though she did recognize another member of the O line standing behind him.
Even with his long dreadlocks and just about every inch of his body tattooed, Darren Gillette was one of the sweetest men she’d ever met. He’d been in the place earlier, playing pool and joking around. “Play time’s over,” Darren now told him. “Me and Kyle are gonna make sure you get home in one piece.”
Virgil’s face was so red and shiny it reminded Harlow of a police siren. And his cheek was already starting to swell. Seems she’d done more damage to his face than first thought. “That nigger bitch hit me, she’s gonna pay,” he warned, aiming his finger and the only eye that wasn’t half shut at her.
It’s not like she hadn’t been called the N word before. By this time she had her jacket on. Inside her pocket was a knife, and she wasn’t afraid to use it.
“Apologize to the lady,” Darren said. “Because if you don’t, you can kiss your signing bonus goodbye ‘cause I’m gonna break both your legs.” The few stragglers watching this were shocked as shit to hear his demand. There was no way Virgil would agree. After a heart stopping stare down that seemed to go on forever, Virgil violently tore at his hair before shouting “Fuck!” up at the ceiling. Then he threw out an absolutely pitiful “sorry” over his shoulder, presumably directed at her.
Now that the ball was in Harlow’s court she let him have it. “Go fuck yourself, Virginia. You’re a racist pig who can’t handle his liquor and I wish you’d find another spot to terrorize. Grow up, douchebag.”
His already flushed face puffed up, along with his thick as a board neck, befitting one of his other nicknames, “Toad.” Harlow’s fingers tightened around her knife in case he lunged again. Both Darren and Kyle blocked him, with Darren shouting, “What?! What?! Like you didn’t deserve that?”
A couple of police officers came through the door, and even Ol’ Virgie pretended to sober up. Darren Gillette was mister smooth as he spoke with them. All Harlow heard was a whole lot of “Is there a problem officer?” and “We had a little misunderstanding, nothing serious.”
One of the cops zeroed in on Virgil’s face. “What happened?”
If looks could kill, Harlow would’ve been struck dead. Virgil’s glare swung from her to the officer as he mumbled about ramming into the men’s room wall on a bet. The cop didn’t appear convinced, asking if she had anything to add.
“No sir. It was a little wild in here before you guys came, but everything’s settled down. Like Mr. Gillette said, it was just a little misunderstanding. But I think now that the law is here, Mr. Fordham needs to know that first thing tomorrow morning I’m taking out a restraining order against him. I don’t want him anywhere near this club, ever again.”
Virgil grunted and rolled his eyes, as if the very idea of a bar not gifted by his presence was unthinkable. True to his nature, he offered a parting shot. “Sweetheart, by morning you’ll be out of a job. Especially once my lawyer calls your boss.”
With both palms on top of the bar, Harlow leaned forward to stare him down. “ Sweetheart, I am the boss. I OWN THIS PLACE.”
Copyrighted Material 2013
Okay, I posted these excerpts very late last night. But what I wanted to add, especially for anyone either beginning to write or wondering where I plan on going from here with these scenes, is that I did enjoy the challenge of putting these scenes first and foremost in a romance novel.
The end result is that like most of us, the heroines still have to go on with their lives, but how they move forward is central to the story. Another major goal was to make sure something like this doesn’t overpower the romance aspect of each book, but to retain the gravity of what it’s like to experience or either view this sort of thing.
Oh, and both scenes are loosely based on real life events, in case anyone is wondering. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here, but it’s my way of doing something a bit different in the romance genre. However its also important for new authors (of which I’m one) to realize that your “style” of writing, in addition to the subject matter may not appeal to some readers, should you “dare to go there.”
The more you write, the more refined your writing will become, and that’s the best advice I can give to a new author. Right now I’m enjoying mixing a bit of raw element with the rules of grammar and sentence structure, as that’s when my “voice” comes out.
So experiment, and find out what works best in your own writing. Are you bold, or do you enjoy creating quiet, nuanced scenes? Either one can be powerful and interesting in its own right.