Excerpt - According to Plan

The sound of balls being racked floated up the stairs. Tank had gone for it. I knew he would. This was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel, he wouldn’t know what hit him. Feeling smug, I went into the kitchen and prepared the drinks.
I estimated an ounce of rum for each drink and poured it over ice cubes, followed by some cola. For extra insurance, I threw another splash of rum into Tank’s glass.
I rummaged through my medicine cabinet and found the sleeping pills Polly had given me, and shook out two little blue capsules. They were kind of small and Tank was pretty big, so I added one more. Three should keep him out of the way until I was safely in the air, enjoying an in-flight beverage. After breaking them open, I poured the powder into his glass and threw the tiny casings in the garbage.
It took only a few seconds to stir the dark liquid before heading downstairs and hand Tank his before placing mine on the bar behind him. I walked over to the wall-mounted rack and grabbed my cue stick. Confidence surged through me.
“Here’s to me kicking your ass.” I tapped my glass against his and watched him take a nice long drink. I hid a smile against my glass and enjoyed a sip too. It tasted good. Tasted like victory.
Tank placed his drink on the bar and walked over to the table. He lined up his shot and with a quick, powerful hit, two balls sank.
Lucky break.
He moved around the table, analyzing all angles, and then sank one, two, three balls in a row. Impressed, I sipped my rum. Two of his balls were left on the table when he missed his fourth shot.
My turn.
With a slight shrug, he turned to face me. “Let’s see what you got, darlin'.”
“Ha. What I got is a can of whoop ass I’m about to open up on you. Stand aside.”

I chalked my cue stick while I walked around, checking out the lay of the table. Now, I was pretty good at pool; I had to be. In my line of work, you hung out at bars and pool halls, talking to people, and I’d picked up a few tricks. So I made some fancy bank shots; double backs and sank four in a row.
My fifth shot was near impossible, so as a nasty treat, I tapped my ball which left the white cue ball tucked behind it. The only way he could make the shot was by hitting the cue ball all the way down the length of the table, strike a precise, exact location and roll back, just kissing his ball to go into the pocket.
Laughing outright I said, “Let’s see you get out of this one, big boy.” I toasted him with my drink again.
“I’ve gotten in and out of tighter spots than this. You should know.” A wolfish grin crossed his lips.
Oh boy. Normal Tank was dangerous, but playful Tank was lethal and that special tingle zinged straight to my core again.
He threw back about half his rum, put down the glass and lined up his shot. Slow and deliberate he pulled the cue stick back—looked directly at my left breast—licked his lips, and made the freaking shot!
I levelled a narrow glance at him. How long would it take for those pills to kick in? He was making some pretty impressive shots, and if he won I’d have to remove a piece of clothing. Mentally I did a quick calculation of what I was wearing. Not enough. I had on a pair of jeans, tee shirt, underwear and my watch. Maybe he’d let me take off the watch.

Nah, this was Tank, it would be clothing.
Standing rules between Tank and I are this: in strip poker or in this instance strip pool, we played best of three. When one person lost two matches, the game was called and the winner got whatever he, or she, wanted.
He dropped his seventh ball no problem and my eyes widened as he called and pocketed the eight ball, back left corner.
Uh oh. There were still three of my balls on the table.
Grabbing the hem of my shirt, I started to remove it. Tank would get an eyeful of the girls while I played. Hopefully, he’d be off balance for the next round.
  A tap on my arm and I looked down. Tank’s cue stick rested on my forearm and I followed the smooth line of the glossy stick until my gaze reached his face. Amusement shone out of his eyes as he shook his head and with the cue stick, pointed to my jeans. I should have known. Tank has always been an ass man.

Goals, Motivation & Conflict

I attended a workshop a few weekends ago where the guest speaker was Debra Dixon, and we focused on Goals, Motivation and Conflict. In this post, I’d like to share with you the Goals of Shelby and Tank, my two protagonists from According to Plan.
Goals External and Internal

Shelby’s External Goals
Goal #1 – She wants to build her business. Her boyfriend and partner, Tank, left her a year ago, and she’s had to forge ahead on her own.
Goal #2 – Find missing person Harrison Grant.
Goal #3 – Don’t let Tank know what she’s doing and find Harrison before he does
Tank’s External Goals
Goal #1 – Keep Shelby safe from an underworld crime boss who would kill Shelby if he knew Tank loved her
Goal #2 – Find the ‘Big Boss’ and wrap up a case he’s been working on for over seven years
Goal #3 – Shhhh… That’s a secret which I can’t disclose because you have to read the book. ;)
Shelby’s Internal Goals
Goal #1 – Move on in her life without Tank
Goal #2 – Stop reacting to Tank’s kisses, which take her knees out from under her. But he kisses soooooo good.
Goal #3 – Once again – secret…. Can’t blow the big finale.
Tank’s Internal Goal
Goal #1 – Tell Shelby he never cheated and never stopped loving her.
Tank pretty much only has one internal goal this whole story. Tell Shelby he loves her and break down the walls she’s erected between them. Not to take anything away from Shelby. She’s guarded around him for a reason. Near the end of the story there is another internal goal for Tank, but you know the drill… Secret!

Writing Skills

To be, or not to be - that is the passive verb. *sigh* Forgive me William for abusing your most famous quote, but I was thinking about why are there so many rules about writing?

You must avoid starting all your sentences with the dreaded pronoun. He entered the room. She smiled at him. They kissed.

Okay. I'll concede this to my creative writing teacher (CWT). The above would bore the socks off me. Score is one - nothing for CWT.

The other buzz phrase is writing E-prime. Avoiding the dreaded 'to be' verbs.

The cake was made with lots of sugar, should be written - The cake tasted sweet. Or, the building was tall, should be - The building appeared to reach into the clouds.

Rats. Score is now two - nothing for CWT.

Next on the avoid list is "that". Now that I know that you shouldn't use the word that, I 'Control F' my document to find that word.

That was easy... No wait.

Learning to write in a more succinct and focused manner proved to be an easy task.

Pondering The Muse

Where do ideas come from? How do you choose the names of your characters? Do you write about people you know? These are valid questions and sometimes as a writer you scratch your head and shrug. “I dunno. Thought about it while I ate my cereal in the morning.”

Creativity springs from the strangest of catalysts. For me, According to Plan started as a story about a young woman who inherits a mirror from her late Aunt Tillie, and a handsome Scottish Laird from fourteenth century Scotland is trapped inside. It’s up to our heroine, Rowena, to release him from his centuries old prison.

How in the world did I go from Rowena and Liam to Shelby and Tank? Good question. First let’s deal with Rowena.

It all started with a conversation flitting through my head where Rowena received a phone call from an annoying nerdy neighbour – Regis. It went like this.

“Yo, Roe.”
I hated Roe. Made me think of salmon swimming upstream to lay their gooey eggs.

For some obscure reason when I began writing the whole scene, Rowena didn’t flow off my tongue the way I thought it should. This frustrated me, because I sooooo wanted to use that line from the above dialogue. Alas, Rowena was scrapped. All good workshops will tell you - be prepared to cut your little darlings - and cut I did. Under protest I might add.

Next one up: Liam. I loved the name Liam and the character I wrote. Such a cheeky bugger. Liam watched my newly named character Shelby getting down and dirty with her boyfriend, and then informed her she should call him out of the mirror, and he’d satisfy all her desires. The sexual tension increased between the two of them.

Who was Shelby having sex with? A shady boyfriend I introduced as Tank, who dropped by regularly for a little sumthin, sumthin. The action between Shelby and Tank was hot, hot, hot, hot, HOT! By the end of the manuscript Tank had taken over completely, and Liam wound up as the secondary character. When he finally escaped the mirror, Shelby was well and truly spoken for. Too bad, because in my mind, Liam is devastatingly handsome, and deserves his own story. Hmmm…..

The final straw for poor Liam was when an editor rejected this manuscript, and told me to cut Liam out completely. He was too big of a distraction and I should concentrate on the love story between Shelby and Tank. Which I did. This same editor loved Liam as much as I and she also told me he deserved his own story. Maybe one day…

Through all of this the main plot, which involved Shelby trying to find the same missing person as Tank, never changed. With my convoluted wanderings, I created a love story I hope the reader will enjoy, and when they finish the book, feel like they’ve met two people who could be good friends in real life.

Rock Diva Blog Tour

The blog tour continues, and Thursday, September 8's stop will bring us to a blog which piqued my interest by name alone  ~ Naughty In the Back Seat.

Now all of you know I believe Some Things Are Meant to be Naughty, so how could I NOT include a stop where interesting things could happen between strangers?

Prickles of excitement are running up and down my arms just thinking about this.