Friday, December 10, 2010

The rest of Chapter 20 and Chapter 21 beginnings

Thanks for your feedback on yesterday's post. I'm glad you all felt it was pivotal. Leesie's poem to finish off Chapter 20 ended up being kind of short, and I needed to keep writing so you get a double dose tonight. Michael's dive log starts off Chapter 21.

Happy weekend! See you on Monday.



I want to steal the keys,
the car, and run,
but Michael makes me go with him.
I sit in the back of the makeshift
dive classroom, with my head
buried in my arms, resting
on the folding table and listen
to pens scratch and Michael’s voice
teach dive physics—one atmosphere,
two atmospheres, three atmospheres,

I’m angry—want to hate him,
but his voice feeds my weakness,
my wanting, my love, my desire.
I dream his body, his hands on mine.
No retreat.
Only surrender.

It’s a relief to cool
down in the pool
after lunch, swim laps
with his students,
help them and win
a smile from Michael.

A smile that says,
I love you,
I want you—
just do this one thing.

I shake my head.
No, Michael, no.



Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/17
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            After a long afternoon of back-to-back pool sessions, I hustle Leesie back up to the apartment. “We need to hurry.” The president guy’s wife said we could see him at seven. It’s almost six. She said the church is close to the grocery store heading out of Georgetown—about forty-five minutes drive. Funny. I must have driven by it a hundred times and not noticed.
            “You can’t make me go.” Leesie stomps across the apartment into her and Alex’s room and slams the door.
            I’m on her heels. “Please, babe,” I croon into the door. I try the knob—not locked. I push open the door. What the heck. Gabriel’s always in their. Why not me?
            She’s sitting, scowling on her bed. “You can’t make me tell him anything.”
            “If you won’t”—I close the door behind me so the entire apartment full of tired dive guides won’t hear all our personal business—“I will. I need help.”
            “Divine intervention?”
            “Whatever it takes.”
            “I don’t want to talk to a stranger.”
            I sit next to her on the bed. “What you and I want”—I put my hand on her knee—“is massively irrelevant.”
            “You still want—?” She glances down at the bed.
            “That’s what I’ve always wanted. You know that. I don’t believe any of this stuff.”
            “But you do. So it’s important. More important  than what I want.”
            She rests her head on my shoulder. “This is useless. Believe me. He’ll just shake his head and show me the door.”
            “I don’t think so.” I put my arm around her. “I’ve got a feeling—”
            She sits up, ducks my arm. “That’s rich. You’re getting revelation these days?”
            I hate that tone in her voice and the look she gives me. I look down, find her hand, grasp it in mine. “It’s just something in my gut that says we need to do this. Please, get ready.”
            “What do I get if I go? It’s going to be so humiliating.”
            I press her hand. “You’re wrong.”
            “Want to bet?” She makes a sound half-way between a snort and a laugh.
            “Sure.” I lean forward and kiss her forehead. “If it will get you in the shower.”
            She kisses me. “You could get me in the shower.”
            “Freak, you’re wicked.”
            “You love it.” Her lips are on mine again.  
            I want to lie down with her in that bed and forget all about that guy at the church, but I disentangle myself and stand up. “What’s the bet?”
            She runs her hands over the sheets. “If I’m right, we come back her and lock Alex and Gabriel out of the room.” She wrinkles up her nose. “No. Not here. If I’m right, we find a dark, lonely beach.”
            “And if I’m right?”
            “We’ll get married tomorrow.”
            I take her hand and pull her to her feet. “If I’m right—getting married?” I start to lose it and have to turn away from her. “You might not want to anymore.”
            She hugs me from behind. “Nothing can ever make me not want to marry you.”
            I turn around and clutch both of her hands in both of mine. “We both know that’s not true.”
            “You’re going to risk us”—light plays on my diamond on her finger, mesmerizing us both—“for a stupid feeling in your gut?”
            “Here’s the bet.” I kiss her one more time. “If I’m right tonight, babe, you gotta call your parents.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chapter 20 - The Scene

Every novel I write seems to have a big, pivotal scene that haunts me for weeks, months--even years. It comes floating into my brain and I scribble it over and over and over again. I don't even know how many times I wrote this scene. It ended so many different ways. I rewrote it again today--without even looking back at my early attempts. They didn't fit anymore. But those early drafts got me all the way here and to this version of CAYMAN SUMMER's big scene.

I always wonder if these scenes that were so important to me in developing the novel feel as important to the readers. Does this seem pivotal? Or has every step been pivotal? Writing a novel this way feels kind of episodic, but when I go back and revise I need to look at overall story arc and make sure the intensity grows. This book has been uber intense from the first chapter. I don't know if I can or want to change that. But I need to try to build from there. Slacking off for a few chapters of relative calm helps achieve that. I'm tempted to stop and spend the next several weeks revising, but I'm as driven as you all are to get the first draft of the novel down on paper, so I won't leave you hanging here. More tomorrow. I promise.



Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/17
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            I’m lying on my cot in the living room trying not to wake up. I dozed again after everyone left for the 8 AM dive. I’m teaching at ten. Get to sleep in.
            The scent and sizzle of bacon Leesie’s frying up in the kitchen seems worth opening my eyes for.
            “Hey, sleepyhead.” She’s upbeat this morning. “You want some of this?”
            I sit up, rub sleep gunk out of my eye corners. “You know I do.”
            “Get over here and earn it then.”
            I stumble through the chaos of all the guys beds and crap to the kitchenette where she’s working in front of the stove. She’s wearing bikini bottoms and a tiny tank top. “You’re looking good this morning.” I hope she didn’t wear that in front of the rest of the guys.
            She tosses me a glance over her shoulder and sees that I can’t take my eyes of her butt. She giggles. “You’re a mess.”
            “Are you going to feed me like this every morning after we’re married?” I rest my hands on her hip bones and kiss her neck.
            She tilts her head to one side, and I keep moving my lips along her neck and shoulder.
            “Naw—I’ll put you on tofu—don’t want you getting fat.”
            My hands drift to her stomach. “You’re in no danger of that.” I close my eyes—caress her skin—enjoy the subtle changes I discover. “You taste good, too.” I chew on her neck some more.
            “That’s the bacon.”
            Banter. That’s all I get from her the past couple days. She won’t be serious—won’t accept the news we got from Stan for what’s worth—won’t call her parents—won’t let me. She’s still the guiltiest person in the universe. Won’t let it go. Blames herself even more now. I’m not sure what to try next.
            Freak. I sucked too long on her neck. I rub the ugly red spot. “Sorry, babe.” I kiss it.
            She reaches back and strokes my cheek. “I’m a marked woman now.”
            “I didn’t mean to.”
            She turns a piece of bacon over with a fork. “Mean the next one or you don’t get breakfast.”
            She holds a crispy piece of bacon up and wafts it close to my nose. “Get to work.”
            I catch her mood. What will it hurt? “Okay. Okay.” I rub her bare shoulders and plant a kiss in the middle of her back. “Where do you want it?”
            She tips her head the other way and points to the spot where her neck and shoulder meet. “Let’s see how long you can hold your breath.”
            I laugh, hug her from behind, and start my free dive breathing cycles.
            “Stop stalling.”
             I blow air out all over her neck.
            She wriggles with pleasure.
            I inhale, inhale, pack it and then slowly, gently I place my lips back on her skin.
            She melts into me.
            My hands go back to her supple stomach. She feels so good. My lips suck harder and harder on her soft skin. She reaches up with one hand and combs her fingers through my hair, turns off the stove top and pushes the frying pan off the heat with the other.
            She’s got both hands in my hair now—won’t let me stop sucking on her neck. Not like I want to. I close my eyes. Immerse in the moment. My hands stroke her stomach with more and more intensity, drift to her ribs, higher—
            I touched her.
            I dart away from her and stare at my hands. “I’m sorry, babe. Forgive me. I’m sorry.”
            She slumps over the stove. “Did I gross you out that much?”
            “What? Stop it. That’s stupid. I just made you sin.”
            She turns around. “Come back.” She laughs. “Let’s sin some more.”
            “Be serious. What do we do now?”
            “Whatever you want.”
            “I mean to fix it.”
            “Don’t bother. Nothing can fix me.”
            “I’m calling your dad.” I head for my cell phone, but she gets there first.
            She backs away, clutching the cell phone to her chest. “You’re so not calling my dad.”
            I close my eyes—can’t look at her another second, or I’ll be all over her—try hard to think. What do we do? There’s something important I can’t quite remember. The red face of the president guy from her church back home—Jaron’s dad, no less—forms in my brain. I remember how angry I was when she told me she talked to him after our break him—told him about that night after the dance down by the pig barn when I marked up her stomach like I just stained her neck. “How about we call your president guy, then?”
            “Jaron’s dad? I’m not confessing to him.”
            My eyes open. I step towards her with my hand out for the phone. “But this wasn’t just making out or giving you a hickey. I crossed the line. Major sin—that’s what you used to call it.”
            “It doesn’t matter any more. Why don’t you believe me?” She puts the phone behind her back.
            “Because I’m still listening to the old Leesie.”
            “Don’t—she lost.”
            “Let’s find her. Please. Can Jaron’s dad help?”
            She scowls. “I don’t live there anymore. He’s not my branch president.”
            “Is there one here?”
            I pick up my laptop, flip it open, type, “Mormons in Grand Cayman” in the Google box. Yes. “Look, babe.”
            She won’t.
            There’s a picture of a small, gray boxy church with an unmistakable Mormon steeple. And a phone number.
            I snag Leesie’s phone out of her room. Dial. Get somebody’s wife.
            But she says he’ll be at the church tonight.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Second half of Chapter 19

Today's post is dedicated to Myrrhaya who spent her birthday waiting for it. Happy Birthday!

I'm sorry I'm late. I strained my back yesterday and couldn't move much today. Or think. But rest and Ibuprofen have done wonders, so here's today's post and then I'll return to lying flat on my back. I also struggled with how to write this scene. I know I promised you a Michael dive log, but this had to be from Leesie. And the next scene must, must, must be from Michael, so we've got another poem today. You'll notice I don't follow a strict rotation, giving everyone equal time. I try to share it out, but I'm the first one to jump on fellow authors for POV cop out--moving to another character's POV or skipping the scene altogether if it's too emotionally difficult--so I'm hyper about doing it myself. This needed to be from Leesie.

Tomorrow I promise a long, long dive log from Michael.

POEM # ??, ICE

Michael’s on the balcony,
checking email before
he has to head out.
I fiddle with French toast,
pout, not going with,
the boat’s full.

We’re out of eggs now,
bread, butter and bacon.
A walk to the store.
An hour on the beach
to work my tan
and Alex’s free weights.

“Leese, there’s news.”
His voice finds me,
draws me to him.
“From who?”
He closes up his laptop.
“Stan the Man.”
His wizardly lawyer—
mine now, too.

Fright grips me
like all of the sudden
I grip Michael’s arm.
My stomach turns upside
down and a cold chill
in my veins makes
all my healed hurts
pulse together with pain.
“What?” Is all I can mumble.
Manslaughter? Vehicular homicide?
Reckless endangerment?
Will there be a trial or will
I just go to prison?

Michael trades me for the computer
on his lap, barricades
me in his arms. I take cover
in his the soft cotton T-shirt
hiding his chest.
He strokes my head. “Good news.”
“Do the police want me back?”
“Stan can deal with the trial
without my presence?”
“What trial?”
“Just tell me the charges.”
“Driving too fast for conditions.
He already paid the fine.”
I close my eyes tight and my hands
ball up with bits of his shirt caught in them.
“You’re lying. Tell me the truth.”

He kisses the scars on the back of my left hand.
“There was ice on the road.”
I sit up and concentrate on his deep gray eyes.
He presses his face alongside mine.
“The police say that’s why you crashed.”

“Ice?” I pull away from his tenderness.
My face knits into confusion.
“We were fighting—
like I told you—an awful fight—the worst.
I lost control. That’s why
we crashed. It’s my fault.
I killed him.
Not the ice.”
His hands cup my face.
“I believe you, babe. I do.
But there was ice
on the highway, too.”

My eyes blink and I shiver.
“All hail—the Ice Queen cometh.”
Bitterness drips from my lips.

“Hush, babe. Don’t.”
He presses my head back down
to his chest. Holds me tight.
“Let’s call your dad tonight.
It’s time to mend more than
broken bones.”
“No.” I curl close to him,
trying to steal the warmth
from his body.
“Think about it.”
He cradles me, kisses me,
leaves me gripped
tight in a fetal prison
on the chaise lounge
contemplating the possibilities
of ice.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leesie and Kim Chat to open Chapter 19

It's so beautiful in AZ today. Sunny and 75 F. Perfect. Makes it hard to settle down inside and write. I need to find me a good writing spot outside, so I can enjoy it all!

It took me most of the day, but I finally did get this written. It's a Kim and Leesie chat--mostly drooling. But it does advance the timeline. The next scene is from Michael and we get an important new revelation. Watch for that tomorrow.



Kimbo69 says:  Where have you been?
Leesie327 says:  Diving every day.
Kimbo69 says: Doesn’t it scare you?
Leesie327 says:  Not anymore. I love it. I love it. I love it.
Kimbo69 says:  You love it?
Leesie327 says:  I’m totally certified now and I love it.
Kimbo69 says: Are you sure you didn’t mean certifiable?
Leesie327 says: I love it.
Kimbo69 says: What’s the appeal?
Leesie327 says: Michael in a wetsuit.
Kimbo69 says: Doesn’t impress me. I’m into skin myself.
Leesie327 says: Work with me, my friend. I’m doing the best with what he’ll give me. I especially love it in between dives when he peels his wetsuit half-off and lets it hang around his waist.
Kimbo69 says: Hmmm…the best of both worlds.
Leesie327 says: Sigh.
Kimbo69 says:  You go diving every day just to see him in a wetsuit? That sounds like too much work. Doesn’t he walk around the apartment in boxers—a swimsuit at least?
Leesie327 says:  Rarely shirtless.
Kimbo69 says:  Too much temptation?
Leesie327 says:  The rest of the guys do.
Kimbo69 says:  Massive skin alert. Can I come visit?
Leesie327 says:  It makes me nervous.
Kimbo69 says:  Overheated.
Leesie327 says: Maybe that’s it. Gabriel’s the worst.
Kimbo69 says: I thought they were all hot.
Leesie327 says: He’s the only Speedo king.
Kimbo69 says: Pictures, girl. I need pictures.
Leesie327 says: Mark wouldn’t care?
Kimbo69 says: You should see what he looks at. No, you shouldn’t. It’s gross.
Leesie327 says: Well….my new phone does have a camera.
Kimbo69 says: Yes! Promise?
Leesie327 says: It shouldn’t be hard. He’s always in our room.
Kimbo69 says:  Lucky Alex.
Leesie327 says:  When they want to be alone, Alex shuts the door, and Michael and I get out of the apartment.
Kimbo69 says: Michael’s a prude?
Leesie327 says: He doesn’t want me around their influence. But Gabriel barges in every morning to wake Alex up. I’ve got zero privacy.
Kimbo69 says:  Privacy is highly over-rated. You’ll get used to not having it.
Leesie327 says: I can’t say anything to Alex. She’s so happy. And Gabriel’s too romantic for words. Yesterday, he brought her breakfast in bed and called her “mi cielo.”
Kimbo69 says: What does that mean?
Leesie327 says: That’s what Alex said. And he murmured in that sexy accent of his, “There is no English for this. It means you are my heaven. Being with you is like being in heaven.”
Kimbo69 says: You should write that down.
Leesie327 says: I just did.
Kimbo69 says: How did Alex react to that?
Leesie327 says: I had to leave the room quickly.
Kimbo69 says: What about Seth and Dani?
Leesie327 says: Don’t see them much. They have to work all the time. And when they get off, they go into town to drink.
Kimbo69 says: I thought he drank because she left him.
Leesie327 says: Me, too. Now they hit the bars because she’s back.
Kimbo69 says:  Maybe he just drinks.
Leesie327 says: You’re so perceptive.
Kimbo69 says: What’s your plan—now that you’re no longer handicapped.
Leesie327 says: Keep diving.
Kimbo69 says: That’s it?
Leesie327 says: That’s about all I can handle. Dive with Michael. Every day.
Kimbo69 says: You can’t do that forever.
Leesie327 says: I can try.

Monday, December 6, 2010

103? Who-hoo! Hope you love the rest of Chapter 18

Whoa. Look at that! We broke a hundred over the weekend. Thanks, everybody for spreading the word. Thanks for all the comments, too. Keep them coming. Remember, every one means another entry in the big giveaway at the end of the book.

I got some more good news. Thanks to all of you, UNBROKEN CONNECTION and SING ME TO SLEEP both received enough nominations to become official Whitney Award Nominees. Now it's up to the judges to decide if they are good enough to be finalists. I'll let you know if I get good news.

Thanks for all the comments over the weekend. I'm glad you liked that last scene in Michael's POV. I just felt it worked better that way.

So, here, to brighten up your Monday is a mesmerizing (well, I intend it to be mesmerizing someday) diving scene. Losing my editor and having Razorbill reject Michael and Leesie's continued journey was painful, but here is a silver lining. I don't have to fight with anyone every time I want to include a diving scene. My editor--probably for the best--made me cut most of the gazillion dive scenes I wrote for TAKEN BY STORM. I had to fight for the scenes we left in and heavily revise them to make them more relevant.

I've learned not to overload the story with them, but here and there, I think they can be wonderfully romantic. So here's my cure for Monday Moodiness. Enjoy.

POEM # ??,

Water closes over my head.
My pulse rate triples.
Michael, his face inches
from mine as we sink
together, motions slow,
take it slow, slow, slow.

I swallow, and my ears pop
like we practiced yesterday
in the pool, swallow again.
No pinching my nose and blowing
like I learned with him back
in SLC in that pretty hotel pool—
he’s worried about pressure
on my weakened nose.

To avoid strain on my newly
healed collarbone, Michael
geared me up in the water,
kicking tanks and weights to where
I floated and gently wrapping me
in the complex web of equipment.

He motions, Okay?
I nod—remember to return
his signal, swallow again
and bump my leg into his
on purpose. 
Private lesson today.
No other students.
Just him and me, coral
and aqua water. Stray fish
staring at me like I’m an alien.

Alex with her students stir
up the sand on the other side
of the boat.

I’m in a new world with
Michael—his world
where my heart races
and I want to kick free
and swim for blue skies,
his world where his bubbles
breaking around me calm
my soul enough to pass off
skills kneeling in the sand,
wetsuited knees touching,
gauges checked, masks cleared,
air supply recovered, buddy

Buoyancy balanced, he
leads me on a swim around
that wipes away the last wisps
of fear with wonder.
Is this really just under the surface?
Or did he transport me?
Am I on the moon? Mars? Venus?
A purplish world where
large flat fans screen the water
in lazy rhythm, fantastical formations
top every choral head.
A kingdom of tiny bright subjects
whiz in and out of their intricate
castles. Yellow. Blue. Black. Orange.
Vivid in tubular rays descending
from our own bright sun,
revealing their hidden playground.

Too soon we’re on the surface.
Too soon Michael unsnaps my B.C.
and unsnugs the Velcro cumber bun.
Too soon he boosts me back into the boat.
Too soon he reads the delight
in my face.

“Can we go again?”
I’m dying for another taste
of this mystery he loves so much.

He crushes me close, wipes a tear
from his eye before it can fall.
“Sure, babe.” He whispers,
“I love you.”
I blink, sniff, and manage to say,
“I know,” before his lips
take my breath away.