The Summer of Black

Between writing Episode One of my crime noir serial, The Awakening of Kenny Black, and preparing my short story collection, Fell on Black Days, for publication, it truly has been the Summer of Black for me. Here’s a brief update on these projects and more:

Kenny Back cover true black 4 - 150 - 6x9If you’ve been reading about Kenny Black’s adventures on this website, you may not be surprised to learn that Kenny’s a little exhausted, both mentally and physically. While he’s taking some time to get his shit together in preparation for Episode Two, I’ll be combining the Episode One chapters, making some much needed edits, and preparing to publish the premiere episode on Kindle. If you haven’t caught up yet, you can read the Episode One chapters here: The Awakening of Kenny Black – Episode One.

The other reason for Kenny’s break is that I’ve been busy preparing Fell on Black Days for publication. The official release date is Tuesday, September 2nd and there was plenty to do to keep things on schedule. Eight copies are available on Goodreads as part of a book giveaway. The promotion will go through August 26th, so if you haven’t yet, head out there and sign up for your chance at a free copy: Fell on Black Days Goodreads giveaway.

This past week I’ve received some prerelease copies and am extremely happy with the final product. I can’t wait until copies 10448219_851014618266741_1280269086621435909_nwill be available to the public. In the meantime, a free preview of Black Days is still available on NoiseTrade Books. It contains four of the collection’s stories that will give you a good sample of the overall collection: NoiseTrade Preview

Last bit of news I wanted to share is that War Kids author, H. J. Lawson, recently interviewed me for her Indie Journey Interviews series. If you want to peek inside the mind of a deranged author like me, read on: The Indie Journey Interview of Jeff Swesky

 

8 Copies of “Fell on Black Days” are Available for a Goodreads Book Giveaway!

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Fell on Black Days by Jeff Swesky

Fell on Black Days

by Jeff Swesky

Giveaway ends August 26, 2014.

See the giveaway details
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Death of a Character – Part 5

This is the continuation of my series about removing a character named Heather from my novel, Such a Dreamer, during rewrites. You can read the previous post here.

In this fifth and final installment of “Death of a Character,” Heather and Dane go their separate ways:

~

Heather would be moving to California with or without Dane. That fact alone was enough to hurt him. He knew he had to stay. It’s where his future awaited. He knew it as much as she knew her future was in California. So, they both had their minds set…but it didn’t make it easy. One thing they both agreed upon was that both of their journeys would involve many great sacrifices. And even if they were truly soul mates, separating was the only sensible thing to do.

bedOddly, the next few weeks before Heather left, were not awkward. She stayed at the apartment most of the time. Dane helped her pack and prepare for the trip. They still enjoyed their time together, and continued to make love, even more passionately than before. Many times during those weeks, Dane wondered if declaring his love for her would have changed anything. Or if her confession of love for him would have made a difference. All that time they were together in a numb, shared union of bliss, and they never used the simple phrase: “I love you.”

Why is that? Dane wondered. Are we too young, too scared, too unsure about our future?

Her parents wanted to take her to the airport, so there would be no Casablanca goodbyes. Those last moments before she left seemed to Dane like the Mexican standoff at the O.K. Corral. Each of them waiting for the other to change their mind.

She wore a bright, lime green shirt with snug white shorts. Her hair was held back with a new white scrunchy. The vivid colors she wore contrasted the tense atmosphere controlled by their torn, confused desires.

After a long, timeless embrace, they forced smiles upon their faces. Smiles countered with watery eyes. She promised to write and keep in touch. He told her to call him when she got settled in.

She agreed and said, “I’ll be seeing you.”

To which, Dane replied, “Take care of yourself.”

She gave him a quick kiss, turned, and walked out of his life.

Just like they never said “I love you,” they never said “Goodbye” either. Dane wondered if it was to protect a pathway back to each other. A “Goodbye” would have seemed too painful and permanent.

Dane stood at his window and watched her walk to her car. For some reason, he could not find the strength to escort her down and see her off like he should have. Again, it would feel too permanent. All of his losses seemed permanent.

After her car pulled away, Dane retreated back to their bed, pulled the blankets over his head and stayed there most of the day, his face buried in her pillow inhaling the remnants of the Channel perfume and scented shampoo she used. The following day was much the same, a day off spent wallowing in self-pity as he explored the rest of the bed sheets for scents of Heather. Her body lotion, her hand cream, and the incredible natural scent her body emitted. If only he could bottle it up, he could keep her with him. She never really needed the help of perfumes or sprays—her God-created aroma drove Dane fucking wild.

He went to work in a zombie state. His nights were miserable, lonely exorcisms of the memories of making love to her. In the mornings between the state of being asleep and fully awake, Dane would often dream or fantasize of her, masturbating to her fleeting fragrances, and, once spent, he would come to the full and conscious realization that she was gone.

He knew Heather’s aroma would eventually fade away completely, but more than three weeks had passed before he finally forced himself to wash those sheets. By that time, their texture became something like cardboard and Dane developed a rash. The chore of washing them was more than doing laundry, it represented something far more significant. Dane had to wash Heather from his mind and move on. At least that’s what he needed others to believe.

He continued to find reminders of Heather like the rare abandoned article of her clothing he would stumble across and press against his face hoping to reinvigorate his soul. The buried photo or memorabilia of their time together he would uncover and then reminisce over.

Hell, he still found strands of her long, silky brown hair jammed deep in the bristles of a hairbrush or curled between kitchen appliances or hidden under a rug. Dane did not attempt to dispose of them, he left them there, hoping that maybe she would someday come back to gather them up herself.

Death of a Character – Part 4

This is the continuation of my series about removing a character named Heather from my novel, Such a Dreamer, during rewrites. You can read the previous post here.

In this segment, Heather hits Dane with some big news. News that will force him to make a major decision about his future, and his future with Heather:

~

One day in the middle of April, as another long humid summer loomed ahead, Heather told Dane to relax after work while she prepared dinner. She nervously lit candles on their little square dining room table and then served him some white wine.

table setting 1“Wow, what’s the special occasion?” he asked, but she brushed it off and told him that she just wanted to prepare a nice dinner. Being out in the heat a good portion of the day, playing softball with the girls, Dane’s hunger was ravenous. But he took his time eating, chewing his food carefully, acting like a gentleman and savoring the taste to show his appreciation for the well-prepared meal. For some reason, he felt it was going to be a special night.

“Dane?” she asked.

“What is it, sweetheart?”

“I really don’t know how to break this to you….”

She retrieved an envelope from her purse, pulled out a letter, opened it, and handed it to Dane. He looked at it for a long time. Reading it, re-reading it, trying to make sense of it.

He knew one of Heather’s strongest ambitions was to get the kind of college education that would allow her to help a lot of people. And she wasn’t the type of woman who would try to do it—she would simply do it. He’d failed to realize that her ambition—which he admired—somehow outweighed her ability to be the most compassionate woman he had come to know.

After spending a year at Graymont, Heather was ready to move on with her plans to reach her dreams. Dane knew that Graymont was a valuable experience to her, but he also realized that with her intelligence, she felt a need to acquire a more formal education.

And now Dane held her acceptance letter with a partial academic scholarship for the University of California. She had always wanted to return back home and possibly go to school there.

“You applied here?” Dane asked somewhat confused.

“Yeah.”

“When?”

“Earlier this year.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t want to upset you—I … I didn’t even think I would be accepted, or if I would even go if I was. Really my parents talked me into it—they practically applied for me. And…and…after thinking about it, I realized that I do want to go.”

“Well, hell…I…uh…I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am happy for you…I know you want to continue school, you’ve even mentioned California once or twice in passing, but I didn’t really…I thought you would end up going to school here.”

“I kno-ow,” she said almost wincing, waiting for Dane’s next reply.

“So what’s this mean…I mean, what am I supposed to make of this?”

“I was hoping that…you would go with me?”

“What? And do what?”

“You’ll find a job. Maybe you’ll even decide to go to school too. Don’t you want to build a future together?”

“Well, yeah, but I figured we would discuss it in detail first.”

“I’m sorry, honey. But come with me, and we’ll figure it all out. It’s not like you haven’t got up and left before. It would be like a fresh start all over again, but with me.”

“How soon do you have to leave?”

“Very soon. I plan to take some classes during the summer semester. And have time to find a good part-time job before the fall semester.”

“Jesus Christ! I’m supposed to make this major decision overnight? I-I…no. I’m not ready to leave. I feel in my heart I’m where I need to be. That I have a purpose here and, and that I have work yet to do here. I feel at home. And I want you to be part of that home too. But I’m not ready to get up and go anywhere, Heather. I’m simply not ready.”

“Dane, Graymont is just Graymont. There are places exactly like this and in more need than Graymont over in Oakland and all over California, and to decide—”

“I’m not going to California, Heather.”

“Don’t you love me?”

Dane paused for longer than he cared to admit. “I don’t know.”

Death of a Character – Part 3

This is the continuation of my series about removing a character named Heather from my novel, Such a Dreamer, during rewrites. You can read the previous post here.

I really like this next deleted scene, because it’s the first big indication that there’s trouble in paradise. Dane wants to keep his past a secret, especially from the one person he should be able to confide in:

~

Dane felt content about how things were shaping up for him in South Florida. If he could save moments in life, to restore and relive an experience or sensation all over again, this would be one of them. He lay in bed next to Heather, neither wearing more than the folds of their bedsheets¸ after a torrid post-work lovemaking session.

bed,black,,,white,couple,girl,,,guy,holding,sleeping-930e8c23bd4b9c852ed236ced6a5b3ca_hHer legs were arched over his waist so their union formed an imperfect letter “X.” Dane had to look over his shoulder to see her face. Yeah, he thought, this is nice. Comfortable and serene. Simply enjoying the moment, the closeness. Dane caressed her legs, her thighs, sometimes slipping his hand a little higher above her hips to her abs and navel. He looked at her face—her eyes were shut. Her closed-mouth smile revealed of state pure bliss.

Heather sighed, breathed in slowly and said, “Dane…why don’t you ever talk about your past or your parents?”

“It’s ancient history. Not worth discussing.”

Dane turned his head in the other direction and began to massage her calves, her feet.

“Will you ever talk about these things with me? You know all about my past.”

“That’s different.”

“How?” she asked, beginning to raise her voice.

“It just is. Look—you had a normal childhood with caring, well-adjusted parents, who put their children first. And it’s wonderful that you did—I would talk about it too if it was me. But my childhood wasn’t the same. Every memory is painful. I want you to see me for who I am now, not where I came from.”

“But who you are is part of where you came from, honey. How could it not be? This mysterious part of you that you keep bottled up needs to be uncorked if we’re ever going to advance our relationship.”

Dane let go of Heather and lay back in bed, looking at the ceiling. “I…I just can’t talk about it right now. It’s hard for you to understand, I guess. But I need you to try.”

“No, what I don’t understand is how you refuse to open up to me about your past, but you have no problems discussing it with Sarah!”

Dane whirled his head toward Heather. “Huh?”

“That’s right, Dane. I took a break today when you two were having your lunch at the picnic table. I came outside, but your backs were to me, so you didn’t see me coming. I was going to join you for a few minutes, but as I got closer it seemed you two were in the middle of a serious conversation. So I stopped and began to turn around, when I heard you talk about your mom. I know I shouldn’t have, but I listened for a minute. You talked about her death; her unfortunate—”

“Shut up!” Dane said now pointing a finger in Heather’s face. “Just keep quiet about that—that wasn’t meant for you to hear.”

Heather stared at him with contempt, and then sprung off the bed, throwing some clothes on. “Oh, but it’s fine for that slut Sarah to hear, huh, Dane? What else do you share with her, huh? Your cock too?!”

“No, of course not! You don’t understand. We come from similar places—”

“And that’s the reason why you can talk to her and not with your girlfriend? That’s a bunch of bullshit, Dane!”

“Where are you going?”

“Over to my loving parents home. Is that okay with you?”

“And that’s why I can’t talk to you about it. Look at you already rubbing it in my face—”

“That’s not what I’m doing—”

“Oh, yes you are. Sarah wouldn’t do that, because she knows what it’s like. You don’t! You couldn’t begin to understand! You and your precious upbringing. That’s why I don’t want you to know all the gritty details. Mom’s death was only a small part of the truth. If you know everything, I’ll feel like I lost what I gained when you came into my life. A chance to start over.”

“But you can’t have secrets from your girlfriend and live in some fantasy life, Dane!”

The argument went on and on, and Dane realized that this would not be a memory he would want to pull up frequently and relive after all. No, this would definitely be one he would want to forget. When the fight ended, Heather grabbed a few things and left the apartment.

“Fell on Black Days” Preview Available on NoiseTrade!

NoiseTrade is a relatively new service that helps to connect musicians with potential fans. By giving NoiseTrade a portion of their music to make available as a free download, the musician or band will receive new exposure, email addresses for those who have downloaded the music, and 80% of all tips that downloaders have donated to the artist (NoiseTrade keeps 20%.) Tips are not required, but encouraged.

I’m a big fan of NoiseTrade and have been since discovering the site a couple years ago. I stumbled across some great new music and artists there. I downloaded and fell in love with an EP by a new band called The Lumineers. This was well before their catchy “Ho Hey” was upon everyone’s lips. I’m sure that NoiseTrade had a hand in the band’s overnight success.

Fell on Black Days - cover - 72 - border -WEBSITEA couple months ago, when NoiseTrade announced they were expanding their service to include books and authors, I became eager to participate. Since I had already planned to publish my collection of short stories, titled Fell on Black Days, in print later this year, I thought their service would be a great way to experiment with marketing. This past Sunday, I made a free preview of my collection available on NoiseTrade. The preview contains four stories that I feel embody the full spirit of my complete collection.

The download is free, so I hope you’ll check it out. No account is required either. You only need to supply an email address and a zip code to receive your free download. Here’s the link: http://books.noisetrade.com/jeffswesky/fell-on-black-days-noisetrade

If the link doesn’t work for some reason, just go to the Book section of Noisetrade.com and you’ll find Fell on Black Days – NoiseTrade Exclusive under the “New & Notable” section on the main page.

Enjoy the read!

Death of a Character – Part 2

As promised, I’m continuing my tribute to Heather, the character I had erased during a heavy revision of my coming-of-age novel, Such A Dreamer. If you missed the initial post, you can view it here: Death of a Character.

The second deleted scene between Dane and Heather is when they first get to know each other over a lunch break at work. In this excerpt, Dane begins to discuss why he’s passionate about social work. He shares a story with Heather that is personal to me. Personal because I had witnessed the event he shares when I was in my early 20’s. The memory has stayed with me and still moves me when I think about it, so I hope you’ll get something out of it too:

~

Outside on a picnic bench, they shared cold cuts and potato salad…

“Have you always wanted to work at a place like this or would you rather do landscaping?” Heather asked.

Dane laughed, replaying the morning’s encounter in his head.

“I wanted to do something positive, and this job kind of fell into my lap.”

8066120-beautiful-girl-sits-on-bench-against-summer-nature“That’s the whole story?” Heather asked with a laugh.

Dane thought it over and a memory came to him. Maybe not the real reason or the full reason, but definitely part of the reason he wanted to work at a place like Graymont. He took another look into those brown comforting eyes and believed he could trust her.

“Okay, maybe not the whole story.” He laughed now. “While in high school, I was a volunteer for a walk hosted by The American Cancer Society. Before the actual walk, when people were socializing and visiting the different booths and tables of information, I walked by this group of people who all seemed to be in good spirits and were smothering this little girl with love. The girl couldn’t have been more than six years old, yet her head was bald from chemotherapy.”

Heather’s smile faded and her eyes narrowed. She listened intently.

“She must not have been in pain at the time, because she was smiling from ear to ear. She was so beautiful; bald head and all. She wore this cute little white sundress with little pink bows all over it.

“I stood there admiring all of the attention and affection this group gave to her. It filled my heart with warmth, I guess.

“Two men walked up and stopped beside me. One of them approached a member of the girl’s family and said, ‘Such a beautiful child. She seems to be doing well today.’

“A man from the group who must’ve been her father said, ‘The doctor told us there’s nothing else we can do for Annabelle. It’s only a matter of time, Frank.’ It was obvious that this man—the father?—tried to keep his composure and be strong for the family. ‘It’s only a matter of time,’ he said again.

“The other man said, ‘Ohhh Jim, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say.’

“Just then, this frail little child looked at me—right at me—and gave me the biggest, friendliest smile you could possibly imagine. I take that back, I don’t think it’s possible to imagine a smile so genuine,” Dane said looking down and shaking his head. “Then she held her right hand up and waved her little fingers at me.”

Dane smiled, remembering how adorable she’d been. “I returned the smile and wave, then gave a general nod to the rest of the family and people surrounding her. Then I turned and walked away…quickly. I had to because…I lost it and began to cry. And I didn’t want little Annabelle to notice. So, I walked out into the park and sat alone for a while.

“That poor little girl would never ride a bike, drive a car, graduate from high school, have a boyfriend—none of it. And…and I really hated God at the time. Hell, in my life, those things were a given—everyone had a chance to do them. But … you know, now I pay attention to everyone’s lives or at least I try to. I want to help in any way I can, so people don’t have to suffer and instead make the most of their lives. And I’ll never forget that little girl.”

Heather dabbed tears from the corners of her eyes with a napkin.

Dane turned his head and looked away for a moment. What he couldn’t tell Heather was how he had actually envied the little girl. She was filled with joy and was surrounded by her loved one’s who showered her with affection. The love…he could actually feel it emanating from her family. Annabelle had experienced a deeper love and bond than most people will never come close to experiencing in their lifetimes. That is what Dane envied, because he didn’t believe that he could allow anyone close enough to love him so intensely.

 

Beware of Rip Tides

Beware of Rip Tides is a short story I had penned a few years back as a departure from some of my more serious literary works. I had set out to write a fun story with slapstick (and slightly naughty) humor that takes place on a beach. I’ve performed it at several readings and it’s never failed to pull laughs from the crowd. So, to warm your winter bones with a sunny beach setting and hopefully give you a few laughs as well, I hereby present Beware of Rip Tides:

Beautiful beach and seaOn a blue-skied, warm summer day, I found myself sprawled out on a lawn chair during a rare visit to the beach. Upon my arrival, I avoided the wild packs of obnoxious tourists, and secured a nice clearing near a lifeguard’s booth to establish my perimeter. Since I had been baking in the sun for nearly an hour, sweating like a boxer in the tenth round of a championship bout, I got up and made my way toward the rolling waves of the ocean.

rip_currentThe cold water shocked me at first, and I tip-toed in baby step after baby step until I waded in past my waistline. By then the cold ceased to bother me. It felt refreshing. I swam about, dodging waves from time to time, until the water was to my chest. Just as I turned to watch the surfers and body borders ride the waves, I felt a pull on my body. Then I remembered the warnings of rip tides. It didn’t feel too strong, but I began to swim a little closer to shore. Suddenly I felt a strange, yet freeing sensation as if my body became lighter, shedding itself of some unwanted burden.

My swim trunks.

I had wanted to replace them for years. Recently the drawstring came out in the dryer, and I was unable to feed it back into the waistline. But the waistband was elastic and fit snug enough, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

missing_swim_trunks_7625Until now.

I stopped and frantically felt around the water hoping to snatch a piece of the fabric. I searched the water and sand with my legs, feet, and toes while junior and his two nutty pals swam freely, probably wondering what I was so damn worried about.

I had plenty to worry about. My swim trunks had vanished, sucked out to sea by deadly rip tides. And I floated in the middle of the ocean, naked and alone. Not a sole on the entire beach who even knew me.

Shit.

I tried not to panic. I thought, maybe if I find large clumps of seaweed, I can use them to cover up long enough to run to my spot and retrieve a towel. If I do it fast enough, I may not even attract that much attention. But there hadn’t been any recent storms; the waters and beach were seaweed free.

Just then, when I thought I’d have to stay in the ocean until late at night when the beach 41dKONe8kHLwas dark and vacant, I saw the lifeguard look my way. My instincts took over and I waved my arms back-and-forth. The binoculars went up, so I waved my arms again. I tried to think of how I could articulate that I needed a towel or something to cover up with, when she, yes a woman, leapt from the chair and rushed toward the water. Don’t know how it slipped my mind since I had only been staring at her from my chair less than ten minutes ago, but she was a young woman, a very attractive young woman. Her long brown hair, back in a ponytail, bounced from side-to-side, and something else of hers was bouncing up and down.

Good Lord, they were bountiful and magnificent.

But the toned and well-proportioned lifeguard’s best feature was her legs, and I am definitely a leg man. They were long, tan, and strong. I wanted to spread butter on those legs, dash them with salt, and eat them like corn on the cob!

She launched into the water with a light splash. And as she swam toward me at an alarming speed, those powerful legs propelling her through the water like a dolphin, I worked on my game plan. But she didn’t stop short, she swam all the way until nearly smashing into me. She grabbed me from behind and jammed the red flotation device into my midsection, knocking the wind from my lungs. I couldn’t breathe, let alone talk. I couldn’t let her know why I flagged her down.

baywatch3“I got you,” she said and squeezed me against her body, those lovely lung companions of hers pressed firmly against my upper back, and instantly, I became aroused. In fact, as she began swimming us in, my stiff appendage probably created resistance slowing our advance. I looked down and noticed that it began to break the water’s surface like the periscope of a submarine.

“Wait,” I yelled when I regained my breath, but I caught a mouthful of salt water and began to choke. And for some reason, maybe the sun and adrenaline, or maybe just being in the buff in public, junior stood tall and proud like an attentive soldier waiting to be pinned with a metal.

Soon my legs scraped against the sand, and the lifeguard dragged me until I cleared the water.  A crowd of people had gathered. They hovered over me and . . . began to laugh.

“Mommy, he’s naked!”

“Hey, dude’s got a boner!”

My savior pulled the floatation device from my grasp, and said, “What the—?! You little pervert!” I looked up to see the floatation device swinging toward my face.

When I regained my senses, the crowd had grown. They giggled, took pictures, recorded video, while junior remained upright like the mast of a marooned sailboat.

“This is going be awesome on YouTube!”

“Hey, she went to call the cops on you, boner dude.”  Already, I heard the sirens.

beach copI got up and ran back to my beach chair while cameras continued to snap away, video zoomed in on my pale white ass. As soon as I wrapped the towel around my waist and secured it, still pitching a tent, a Police SUV pulled up.

“Hands on your head,” a large cop shouted, one hand near his holster in case I was going to make a move. Another officer got out from the other side. “What’s under the towel?”

“What do you think? Nothing but me,” I said.

“Why you sick, streaking pervert. I oughta bash your face in. There are children around!”

“It’s not how it looks.”

“Well you can explain that downtown.” Finally, junior’s ego began to deflate. “On your knees and turn around, you piece of shit.” He slapped the cuffs on my wrists. “Do you have any idea what the penalties are for exposing yourself and conducting a sex act in pubic?”

I could hardly wait to find out.

Copyright © 2010 by Jeff Swesky

Death of a Character

I’m not sure if “Death of a Character” is the proper title for this post or not. It’s more like a “travel back in a time machine to change the course of events so that a character will never be born in the first place” kind of death. In this case, the character being wiped out is a young woman by the name of Heather.

big fun 2After completing the first revision of Such a Dreamer (my “twelve year novel”,) I handed it over to a peer whose opinion I trust greatly. After reading my manuscript, she pointed out that my protagonist Dane’s relationship with Heather in the first act seems unnecessary, slows the pace of the story, and overcomplicates the plot. Especially since Heather is not Dane’s true love interest in Dreamer.

When writers are so attached to a project and have been working on it for so long, it can be difficult for us to see the obvious issues even though they practically shoot out in our face like an impressive 3D effect at an IMAX theater. It’s like we forgot to put on the 3D glasses when the movie screen instructed us to do so. That’s why writers need early readers to help us find such problems. They act as our 3D glasses.

After processing my peer’s critique, I knew she was spot on. The relationship with Heather crippled my novel. She acted as a red herring in a literary novel that already has plenty of heavy subject matter. She ran interference, delaying Dane from the start of his hero’s journey and also gave the reader a false sense of who Dane was during the early stages of the novel.

So, Heather had to go. She needed to be obliterated, wiped from existence.

Not that it was an easy task; in fact, I’m still in the middle of such efforts. There are scenes, dialogue, and narration between the pair that I simply love. Most of Part I (first act) had to be re-written and a good portion of Part II needs to be altered too, which I’m currently doing. Voids need to be filled in. Then I’ll need to make sure I clean up any additional references or scenes involving Heather throughout the rest of the manuscript.

But soon, Heather will be all but a distant memory in the Such a Dreamer world.

However, since I’m still fond of their now defunct relationship, I’ve decided to post excerpts from the “deleted scenes.” I hope they stand alone as enjoyable chunks of literature. Hopefully, they will give you a sense of who Dane is and what he stands for while also giving you a glimpse of what the core of Such a Dreamer is all about.

In this first scene, the original Chapter 2, Dane meets Heather:

~

Outside of Graymont Sutter’s Home, Dane paused to wipe his forehead with the back of his gloved hand. He assessed the progress of his landscaping task, and realized he had a long ways to go. He only wore shorts and work boots, but it did little to combat the extreme humidity of South Florida. Streams of sweat rolled the length of his bulging pectoral and abdominal muscles. And to think—summer had only begun.

His thick arms and shoulders, slick with perspiration, thrust the shovel again and again into the clay-like earth. He stomped his foot on the back of the blade for deeper insertion, and to let out a little aggression. Look at me, Mom—saving the world one shovelful at a time. How pathetic.

He felt someone watching and turned. A beautiful, young woman, wearing black skintight aerobic clothing and tennis shoes without socks, stood about ten feet behind him. Her eyes locked on Dane and she gave a flirty smile with her girl-next-door appearance. He smiled back while trying to wipe the sweat from his eyes. Before he could say anything she turned and walked around the corner of the building. A ponytail of straight brown hair swaying between her shoulder blades is the last thing he saw.

Dane resumed plunging the shovel into the earth and ripping away the dirt. Kinda rude, he thought. At least stick around long enough for a proper introduction. I mean, really, what kind of wom

A strong burst of water doused him from behind. He whirled around in dismay to discover the mysterious girl with a garden hose and a mischievous grin.

“Was I sweating that bad?” he asked as she finished with the hose down.

“Bad enough,” she answered with a wide, glorious smile.

Her smile could make the paralyzed walk again. She also had magical brown eyes, so clear he sensed a deep display of compassion behind them. If her smile could cure paralysis then her mystical eyes could raise the dead.

She put the hose down and approached Dane with a towel. He stood there dripping, speechless like some damn smitten fool. She wrapped the towel around his shoulders and began to slowly pat him down. Her hands explored the firmness of his muscles while drying him off. She leaned close to his body. Nearly hugging him as she continued to soak up the beads of water from his skin. A kind yet sensual gesture.

“I’m—” he began.

“Dane, right? Guy told me about you.”

“Is that so?”

“It is.” She flashed her gorgeous smile again as her eyes pierced his.

“And you are?”

“Heather.” She stepped back so they could shake hands. “I’ll be helping you to run some of the outdoor activities for the girls.”

“It’ll be nice working with someone who takes time to notice the little things. Like when a co-worker is about to topple from heat exhaustion.”

They both laughed.

“Well, I’ll let you get back to it.” She nodded to the dug-up ground below. “Seems that you have a lot more to do.” She snatched the towel back and flipped it over her right shoulder. “See ya around.” She turned and walked away.

 

RIP-tombstone

Heather so-and-so

     (2000 – 2014)

Recharged and Ready for a Creative 2014!

2014-bullseyeWhether it was noticeable to you or not, I took 2013 off from writing and creative projects…almost completely. An entire year passed without me really focusing on anything in the creative realm. Sure, I’d participated in some local chapter meetings and open readings, attended the FWA conference, published a special edition version of The American Scream, and did some minor editing and a handful of blogs and tweets, but that was about it.

Entering 2013, I was burnt out. I’d taken on too much. Aside from my personal writing projects, I was involved in joint writing efforts, ghostwriting projects, pagination work, speaking engagements, and helped to run a writing/critique group. Not to mention all of the social networking, website updates, and communications to coincide with these projects. On top of that, I was very busy and stressed at my day job, often working extreme amounts of overtime. I had my share of those 70+ hour work weeks.

For 2013, I decided to back out of all writing projects, including my own. Sure, there were some hurt feelings here and there, but I knew it was the best thing to do for my well-being, as well as for my long-term writing plans.

2013 involved a lot of change for me. I had committed to a relationship, moved approximately 1,300 miles north, and invested in a whole new wardrobe (after 19 years in Florida, I was ill-prepared for a true northern winter experience.) It also involved some personal and emotional change, like maturity and growth. Forgiving and understanding.

Creativity wasn’t part of all that change…other than the lack of it. Yet I wasn’t upset or bothered by this realization. I kept telling myself, When I’m ready, I’ll start writing again. And despite what some may claim this lack of writing didn’t make me any less of a writer. It made me one who was out of practice and in need of a long break.

migoals-2014-diary-goals-quoteAs 2014 approached, my creative desires began to return. I found new excitement for a couple of my unfinished/shelved works. A creative exuberance formed that I hadn’t felt in years. I began to formulate writing goals for 2014, which I’m going to share with you now. I plan to write for at least one hour every day, six days a week. And possibly more importantly, I plan to read some form of literature every day, whether it’s only for ten minutes or ten hours. The commitment to reading is something that I’ve gotten away from in recent years, and is a practice that I miss, especially since it’s always improved and/or supported my writing in one way or another.

I have some additional, more specific, writing goals as to which projects I’m going to work on and when I plan to complete them, but I’ll spare you those details for now. Whether you’re a writer or not, I hope you’ve set your own personal and professional goals for 2014. I wish you the best of luck in reaching them! Happy New Year!!