Saturday Distractions

Day three of no laptop/computer and so far, I’m still… sane. Well, maybe I was a bit cranky last night but it helps to have an iPad and a few wireless keyboards to make sure you still hit that word count each day.

Right now, I should be writing but it’s a steamy sex scene and being constantly surrounded by family members as I try to write on my iPad in the kitchen is not as easy as I thought it would be. And with LilDude constantly coming over to “check the time” right when I’m writing those four-letter words becomes, shall we say, awkward.

And so I’m distracting myself with Instagram. Probably a bit too much because now I’ve probably spent two hours looking at all the pictures and videos of the current muse/inspiration who I had hoped to limit to stock photos like I always do, that way, he remains something I’d create in my head.

Only he’s such a charismatic performer to boot (not just a model but an actor and singer, too) and so he’s quite active on Instagram and today, he popped up in a private message responding to a comment I made on his IG story after he emerged from one of his boxing workouts with a cut under his eye and I had responded with a “hope your eye is okay.” I actually don’t expect responses when I do that because I kinda don’t respond to all my IG story comments myself (sorry).

That was probably a week ago and I had completely forgotten all about it but when he messaged me back, I was working on that steamy scene and I just had to drop everything. And since he can only speak Russian and Spanish, I ended up with a crash course in Spanish which was good because I’ve only been half-heartedly studying it for decades since when my grandparents spoke it whenever they’d get really exasperated with us and I always wanted to know what they were saying. Unfortunately, when you don’t practice something regularly, you forget and today, my Spanish got a workout.

Poco a poco, he said and damn, is he right. When I got confused between “soy” and “estoy” as a variation of “I am,” he said I was correct the first time. He said he liked the way I used his images for my naughty pen name’s IG (unfortunately, this is not related to my Liz Durano IG). It helps that he’s also so gorgeous and sexy and… well, come to think of it, I need to get back to writing that sexy scene again. Sarah and Benny are waiting!

You Do You, Liz

believe

Yesterday I thought I was on a roll. I had written 1700 words of the new story even amidst the craziness that comes after Christmas. I had my heroine, filled with so much angst I thought I’d hit the jackpot. Woohoo! I was writing my stories again.

Then I went to bed and woke up and realized I wrote utter crap. No wonder even my hero wasn’t so thrilled that I’d brought in this new girl in all her angst-filled glory and (inside my head) he gave me the side-eye as if saying, seriously? 

And so I’m starting over.

After all, with the new year coming in three days, I need to tackle the house first. Tidy up for a change, eliminate clutter and do the laundry. Oh, and donate stuff we don’t use anymore so we’ll have more room.

Today, I also sat down with the kiddo and we talked about what we wanted for the new year. A new home. One that’s big enough for all of us, not a tiny home where we can barely move (But it’s in California where everything is too expensive! It’s right across the street from the Thai restaurant! Walking distance to the kid’s school Blah blah blah). But no matter what, we need a bigger house, maybe an apartment or a townhouse because I can’t be bothered with the upkeep of a yard anymore.

So I’ll probably come up with a dream board where we can cut out pictures from magazines of the things we’d like for 2018 and post them on there as a reminder that we’ve got something to work towards. The kid did say something about me writing more books so I’ll make sure to add that in there, too.

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This shot has nothing to do with dreams but I thought the composition was really nice. Photo from Unsplash.

Speaking of dreams, I was reading a fellow author’s newsletter about how she’s dialing down her writing because her last two releases were disappointing. So I took a peek at those last two releases she was disappointed about and realized that with those rankings, those would be the best months for me.

Then I wondered if maybe my dreams just weren’t big enough. Are my dreams so small that what she considered a disappointment was my measure of success?

And then I remembered a mantra that I’ve been seeing lately…

you-do-you

So I’m doing me. After all, everyone else is taken.

 

Just As Beautiful (A Short Story)

Now that I’ve recovered from the consequences of high expectations (last post), I’m returning to the things that make me happy and that’s writing stories and being inspired by beautiful people (beautiful both on the inside and the outside). Thank you so much for your kind message, Dacia. This one’s for you.

The late Anton Yelchin was the muse for this story when I wrote it three years ago.

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They said he was only after one thing, and that after he’d get it from me, he’d forget me. And so after it happened, I stayed away, kept to myself, and minded my own business.

But now he was doing his first big show, showcasing the latest fashion by the city’s most successful designers, modeled by the city’s most beautiful people – and I wanted to be there. My brother, Mick, was the official photographer. And after he sent his assistant home because the guy caught chicken pox, I became his unofficial assistant. So I helped Mick lug the heavy equipment from the car to the Magnolia Ballroom, trying hard not to be noticed in my t-shirt and jeans, a baseball cap pulled down to cover my eyes.

After everything was in place, I found a chair at the back of the ballroom and sat down. They were deep in dress rehearsals and everyone was there – the make-up artists, the hairdressers, the assistants and even the assistants’ assistants gathered around the designers and their models, making sure not a hair was out of place, their make-up perfect.

With my brother settled on his platform in front of the stage, my work was done. The next time I’d need to actually do some work would be to help him pack the equipment and stuff all of them in the car till tomorrow when we’d do it all over again for the big show.

And so, armed with a slice of pizza in one hand and bottle of water in the other, I leaned back against the chair and watched the first run of the show.

I had never been one that people called pretty right off the bat. The best they usually could say about me at first glance was you’ve got a great smile. Or you actually have beautiful eyes if one took the time to look.

But with Trevor, it was different. One didn’t need to look hard to see that he was beautiful. He was tall, with dark hair and a gorgeous smile. With his deep blue eyes, all he had to do was blink – simply because humans had to – and women swooned. Men, too.

I met Trevor that semester. He sat behind me in Sociology, and we barely exchanged more than brief hellos. But when everyone had to pair up for a presentation on culture and socialization, he tapped my shoulder and asked me if I wanted to be his partner. For the next month, we buried ourselves in research books and online articles to better understand the subject at hand. Soon, we were lying on the rooftop of my apartment building where I lived with Mick, trying to spot the constellations and telling stories about ourselves.

Then two months later, out on that same rooftop, Trevor kissed me.

It was at the apartment that Trevor was “discovered” by one of Mick’s fashion designer friends. Two weeks later, after we did our presentation in front of the class (we received an A), Trevor officially signed on to become a model for some big-name agency.

That’s when everyone told me that the only reason Trevor had picked me to be his sociology partner was so he’d get a chance to meet my brother – and maybe get discovered. They said that Trevor had never really loved me, even though he said he did. I still had his letter in my pocket, sent after I broke up with him, the stationary worn out from being repeatedly taken out, opened and read.

I love you, he wrote. I think we have something good going, and I really believe we can still keep going – but only if you want to. But if you believe the lies that people are saying, about why I’m with you, then you don’t know me at all. Wasn’t it you who told me to accept the modeling offer?

But how could Trevor love me when he was now surrounded by such beautiful people, I thought, as I watched him saunter onstage. They must have taught him how to walk like a model. They must have drilled it into him how to swagger like a man who knew he had the goods, and that he could deliver them all. I watched him scan the non-existent audience in front of him, his gaze passing over me like I wasn’t there.

He really did forget me, I thought then, my appetite suddenly gone.

I must have sat there for some time, lost in thought, for the next thing I knew, the rehearsal was over and Trevor was sitting next to me. He was no longer wearing one of the designer suits he’d been modeling earlier. Instead, he was wearing the usual white t-shirt and jeans he always wore to school (it drove the girls crazy and he must have known it).

“You’re a sight for sore eyes,” he said, grinning. “Mick said he had a surprise for me and I sure hope he meant you.”

I turned to look for Mick, who must have needed my help in packing everything up, but there was someone there already, helping him load equipment on the cart.

“Mick said I could drive you home,” Trevor added as Mick waved at us. “We need to talk.”

“I look horrible,” I said, feeling self-conscious and realizing that I was still holding the slice of pizza in my hand. “You looked amazing out there.”

He shrugged. “Meh, it’s alright. It’s really not my thing, but I figure, you only live once. I might as well give it a try, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, you should.”

“You gonna eat that?” He asked, looking at my pizza.

I shook my head and handed it to him. Trevor ate it in four bites, brushing his hands against his jeans when he discovered I didn’t have any napkins.

“I don’t want to be starving all the time,” he said. “And this modeling business makes you hungry, that’s for sure.”

“Aren’t you having fun?”

“Only with you around,” he said. “Other than that, it’s actually boring.”

“Oh, stop it, Trev,” I chided. “You’ve got all those beautiful people surrounding you. Why on earth would you choose to spend it here, with plain ol’ me?”

Trevor leaned forward, and I could smell the scent of his cologne. He never used to wear cologne, I thought. But maybe all models wore cologne.

“Because ‘plain ol’ you’ is who I want,” he said, his expression serious. “I meant it when I said that I liked you, that I love -”

“But you could have anyone on that stage -”

“Didn’t you just hear me?” He said. “Stop listening to what everyone says about why I chose you as my partner in Sociology – that I did it so that I could get discovered by some talent agent, or whatever else they say I did it for. That’s baloney.”

“Then why did you choose me?”

“Because you’re beautiful, that’s why,” he said as I rolled my eyes. “I mean, you did help me get an A in Sociology -”

I fake-punched him in the arm, both of us laughing as he continued. “- but I always thought you were cute. Why do you think I sat behind you, one row away?”

Someone was calling him, telling him they were headed to the hotel bar for some drinks and that he should come along. Trevor waved them off and turned back to look at me.

“Why don’t you go with them?” I asked.

“Because I’m with you,” he said, grinning. Then he stood up and offered me his hand. I took it, allowing him to help me up from the chair.

“Where are we going?” I asked as he led me outside to the hallway. We headed for the stairs that led to the side of the building.

“To look at the stars,” he said. “Wanna come?”

Twenty minutes later, Trevor and I were lying on the hotel lawn looking up at the stars. He was holding my hand, and soon, he turned towards me and kissed me.

“Why me?” I asked.

“Why not?” Trevor said. “You’re beautiful. You’re kind. You’re funny.”

“You’re more beautiful.”

“You’re so hung up on that. There’s more to life than this, you know,” he said, his hand circling his face. “One day I won’t look like this anymore, and what then?”

“Life goes on,” I said.

“Exactly. And what matters is in here,” Trevor gently tapped the middle of my chest. “Well, there are other things, too…but you know what I mean.”

I smiled as I looked at his blue eyes. Suddenly, I realized that I did know what he meant, about what really mattered. And that was what I loved most about Trevor – that he truly was beautiful. Inside – and out.

And when he kissed me again, I realized that he was right.

I was just as beautiful, too.

A Writer’s Muse

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From Lang Leav 

Of all my heroes, Dax Drexel is the top readers’ favorite over any other character I’ve written before. He’s a master carpenter and woodworker with a show room on Seventh Avenue, thanks to his father’s business acumen. He’s blue-collar, rough around the edges, and fun in a wholesome, non-drama way like the rest of my heroes. It makes him my one true muse, one who came to me formed, not because I wanted him that way but in response to a heroine I’d written first.

Unplanned and organic. Unexpected yet perfectly timed in his arrival–and departure.

What about you? How does the Muse come to you? Planned? Unplanned? Plotted? Or does he/she the type who runs with scissors?

Tied to You #MusicMonday

I’ve got a few posts coming up but first, this is one of the songs that is not letting go of me this morning. It usually means a story’s coming up from characters already set inside my head (side characters, usually) even though I am writing (or trying to write) a new story under a pen name that is supposed to be hotter than my usual.

But that’s before my usual takes over and here it is. Brendan James is the singer-songwriter whose songs inspired Everything She Ever Wanted. And turns out he’s inspiring the next book, too, if this earworm thingy keeps going on…

Revisiting Old Muses

Before I learned all about the alleged importance of writing to market, I wrote from the heart.  I still do although it usually starts as a tug of war inside my head that goes like this:

Business me: Write to market.

Creative me: NO!

Business me: It’s what people want. More sex. More sizzle. More… whatever the market wants.  Maybe whips and chains.

Creative me: No, I want to write about love and pain and trust.

Business me: Write to the darn market anyway.

Creative me: Whatever.

Luckily, the creative part of me wins during the writing phase, leaving the business me to scramble on how to market the finished book to the public.  But this isn’t the point of this post.

I found a few of my older trailer videos back when I was posting most of my stories on Wattpad (and then unpublished when I started self-publishing for real) and one of them is finally coming out of the shadows in a contemporary romance box set that launches in May.

In His Heart first started out as a 50K word romantic suspense novel but I saw major problems with it when I wrote it – like how on earth did I make Hermosa Beach PD look so bad? I lived one block away from the station and they were good people – the ones I knew.

So I knew I had to change a few things like focus mainly on the romance and cut back on the suspense part but I wasn’t ready to read the whole piece all over again when I had another novel to get ready at the same time this novella was due for the box set.

Thank goodness for book trailers because it turns out I made one for In His Heart.  And the inspiration for my two characters, Josh and Livvie, are there along with the original blurb and the mood I wanted to convey. Rose Leslie and Nicolai Coster-Waldau are perfect, and even though I no longer use actors to imagine characters, Rose and Nicolai are the only ones I see in my head for California surfer-detective Josh and feisty Cali girl, Livvy.

Disclaimer: All images of the actors belong to their respective owners.