Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Fork in the Road

So often, you hear or read a story where the most innocent decision can take someone down a road they never knew was before them. What happens then is sometimes pretty mainstream. Other times, it’s fantastical – think vampires and werewolves and faeries, Oh my! – and still other times, it will be a believable story, yet somehow unbelievable. Have I lost you completely?

It’s all right. I might not make much sense in this post. For one thing, I’m not writing on my usual day. For another thing, I’m going on holidays tomorrow, which is why I’m writing today instead. And…I’m there. Or maybe I’m past it already. I’ve made the decision and now I’m walking the road. πŸ™‚

In any case, I wanted to talk about how these simple decisions can change the course of a life – or when it comes to writing fiction – how they can change the course of a story. I sometimes try to start a story with an every day occurrence. Something like going to work, or stopping for coffee on the way. Maybe even going to the gym or doing the grocery shopping. Somehow, someone bumps into my protagonist, or someone drops something in their path. A conversation starts, phone numbers are exchanged, etc, etc. Or maybe someone decides to walk the five blocks to the gym instead of taking the bus. They come across a woman who dropped her purse, spilling its contents. Again, there’s some conversation and maybe even a phone call to follow up. Average, everyday occurrences right? Sometimes the decisions made are even more simple than that. Choosing to ignore a phone call or answer an email can change the course of your life too. Take my word on that one. πŸ˜‰

From those simple, everyday choices, the most amazing stories can spring up. What about the woman who could have said no to her cousin when he offered to take her to a hockey game, and the chance to meet a hockey player? πŸ˜‰ What about the writer who might have decided not to respond to that heated, angry email? What if they had made different choices? Well, the obvious answer is that I wouldn’t have ended up with those two stories.

So much of what I write is because I constantly ask, what if they did this? Or what if they didn’t. Even if it seems like the decision or change won’t affect things, I always wonder if I can make it a part of what happens next. And that becomes a part of what happens after that. And so on, and so forth. Before you know it, you’re in the midst of something amazing and there’s no tracing how it got to that point. Unless, of course, you return and reread the entire story.

I like thinking about how the simplest things can chance everything. It’s amazing to think that something you do every day can bring you to the person you’re meant to be with. Or stepping outside your comfort zone can introduce you to new friends you might have missed out on otherwise. I love knowing that taking the chance and sharing my work on Literotica all those years ago has led me to this point. πŸ™‚ By this point, I mean all you dozens of folks reading my blog and searching for my work on Lit. πŸ˜‰ And now is a good time to thank everyone who voted for me in the Literotica Reader’s Choice Awards this year. My story, chapter two of “A Feel for the Ice” was voted Top Romance story for 2010! So thank you very much for your support and votes.

Well, I made no promises for groundbreaking discoveries here today. I warned you at the beginning that my mind is elsewhere, already on vacation. Already well on my way down that path I mentioned before.

Wish me luck!

As always, take care and happy reading.

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What Would You Do?

I think I’ve mentioned before that I belong to a book club. Last month at our get-together, the selected book was “The White Masai” by Corine Hofmann. It’s the auto-biographical tale of a woman who travels to Kenya, falls in love at first sight with a Masai warrior, and turns her entire life upside-down to move there and marry him. I think I got six or seven chapters into it before I couldn’t read anymore. There were a few reasons I couldn’t get into this book.

One, I don’t really enjoy reading autobiographies or non-fiction at all, really. Two, I have a really hard time believing in the whole ‘love at first sight’ thing. I’ve heard people tell me that sort of thing has happened to them before and sometimes, it works out. That’s great! I just think those stories are the exception to the rule. Three, this woman was supposedly a smart, self-assured business owner on an adventurous vacation. And she gives it all up, throws it away, for a man she doesn’t know, someone she can’t even speak to because they don’t speak a common language, and someone who ultimately turns out to be the exact opposite of what she’d wanted in a husband.

Needless to say, it led to some very interesting discussion at our book club gathering. Some of the ladies in the group thought the strangest part was moving to another country to be with someone. Granted, we’re talking a difference not only of simple geography but an entire culture and way of living. It’s a little different than, say, a woman in London meeting and falling in love with a man in New York. Sure, it’s two countries, but at least the way of life is similar enough that it wouldn’t be such a shock for one or the other to move.

Like I said before, the thing I had the hardest time with was the love at first sight. I can completely understand someone meeting someone from a different country/city/continent and getting to know them, then falling in love and deciding to make those decisions after that. It’s not all that uncommon. In today’s digital and internet age, more and more people are meeting on-line, all over the world. Yes, more often than not, people restrict themselves to mingling with those in their own city.

In my usual, roundabout way, I wanted to ask just what someone might be willing to do for love, or for the love of their life. Would the average person uproot their life in order to move across the country or to a new continent to be with them? Would you?

Sometimes the biggest gesture or sacrifice you make for your partner doesn’t have to be moving to be with them. If you’re lucky, that’s not a decision you have to make. There are other difficult things to decide though. If your partner is allergic to animal fur, would you give up any hope of adopting that puppy you’d been eyeing? If you wanted to fly to Tahiti for a vacation, but your partner was deathly afraid of airplanes, would you plan a road trip across the country instead? If you wanted to see the latest romantic comedy this weekend, but your partner had their heart set on the latest superhero movie, what would you do?

All right, so not every decision is a big one. I think you get my meaning though. What exactly are you willing to give up or do for the one you love? It starts with small things like deciding what to do each weekend. As you grow closer and fall deeper in love, your decisions change to include things like furniture and mortgages, then children and retirement plans. Somewhere in there, really difficult choices have to be made about careers and school and sometimes where to live, as I’ve mentioned above.

I wonder about this in relation to my writing, of course. I always wonder how these situations could be written into a story and how plausible I can make them. In the world of my “Ice” stories, I think the sacrifices are obvious. A woman would have to be willing to give up seeing her partner every day or having him there for every important occasion. That does mean the man in those relationships is giving up the same thing. I think it would be hard to sustain a relationship like that and I applaud those that can make it work in the real world.

That’s not to say people who aren’t hockey players – or dating hockey players – don’t have to face similar choices. What about the man or woman who chooses a career that requires settling in a remote location? As their partner, would you pack up and move with them, giving up the conveniences of a big city, if that’s what you’d always been used to?

I’ve had to make difficult decisions in my relationships, and I’ve had my heart broken by someone else making those decisions as well. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be willing to face these tough choices again someday. Isn’t that what we all want anyway? In the end, don’t you want to have to make those sacrifices? Don’t you want to know you’d be making your partner happy because you decided to see the new superhero movie? πŸ™‚

So…in the end, what would you do for love? Or maybe the question should be, what wouldn’t you do for love?

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How to Make Apple Pie.

In Canada, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow. It’s a nice long weekend for me, no work until Tuesday. πŸ™‚ I’m spending the weekend at my family’s home. An aunt and uncle are here, visiting from Winnipeg, and we’ve all been spending the days and nights enjoying each other’s company.

Every year around this time, I do a weekend of baking. I bake during the rest of the year – cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc. – but earlier this week, a friend gave me a box of apples from the tree in his yard. So, yesterday, I baked apple pies.

Have you ever baked an apple pie? It’s really one of the most simple desserts to make. (Assuming you don’t make your own pastry, which I don’t. I just never learned.) It takes time, to peel, core and cut the apples, but in the end, it’s still a very basic recipe. I start by cooking all the apple slices in a big pot on the stove, with a random mixture of white and brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. I cook them until the apples are soft and the scent of the mixture is all I can smell. Then I scoop the apples into the pie crusts and bake until they’re done. See? Simple.

Yesterday, I started peeling the apples before noon and my nephew – he’s 3 – helped for a bit. By help, I mean that he told me which apple to peel next. πŸ˜‰ Once he was bored with that, I was on my own for a bit. Then my mom sat down to help me. I kept peeling while she started coring and cutting the apples in half. It didn’t take long to finish that bunch of apples between the two of us and a short while later, we had the fantastic smell of apples and cinnamon all through the house. When it came time for more apples and pies, my sister-in-law gave me the extra pot and tools I needed to cut down on my prep time. My aunt helped me with covering the pies once the crusts were filled. After all that, my mom kicked me out of the kitchen so that she could do the clean up with my aunt helping her.

Later, after dinner, I sat on the sofa with my family around me, and they were all eating the pie they said I’d baked and thanking me for the effort. I don’t know about that. I had help from everyone at some point or another. Tomorrow, I’ll be making a couple more pies, some tarts, and my dad will be making his favourite apple dessert, Apple Brown Betty. I’ll have the same people helping me and talking with me and laughing with me all day long.

Because it’s Thanksgiving, I guess I just wanted to let you all know what I’m thankful for. I am blessed to have the family that I do. I’m lucky that they’re so helpful and fun to spend time with. I’m thankful for them, end of story.

Do you really want to know how to make an apple pie? Take one box of apples, stir in a family’s love, bake until warm and golden, then serve with a smile.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Take care and happy reading.

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Oh, That’s So Romantic.

I’ve never really considered myself a romantic. I know it might seem strange considering what I write on a regular basis. In life though, I don’t feel all that romantic. Oh, I can recognize a romantic gesture when I see it, or when someone tells me about it. I’ll smile and say ‘aw’ but I don’t get all gooey inside because of it. I don’t know what it is. I’ll admit I’d love to be swept away, like everyone else. I guess it’s because I’ve never really been romanced like that, not like I write about anyway.

I do love to read romance and read different sub-genres of it, everything from plain old romance to action-adventure or fantasy and science fiction. I can appreciate what I read, though often it depends on my mood. I might get a few pages into a novel and toss it down in frustration because my mood just isn’t allowing for romance. Of course, in real life, I’m sure someone could romance me out of un-romantic moods. πŸ˜‰

It got me thinking this week about what different people might find romantic. Everyone is different. I’m a good example of someone who finds romance in the simplest of gestures. I never understood why grand, expensive gestures were considered romantic. To me, the smallest things touch my heart. A word, a picture, a caress. I love hockey, and I love the Flames, so someone reminding me of a game when I’ve forgotten because my life is going crazy is sweet. I spend most of my time hunched over a computer, so someone drawing me a bath and urging me to relax at the end of the day is very thoughtful. And someone holding my hand or kissing me senseless, for no reason at all, makes me weak in the knees.

I have a friend who told me her husband once brought home a pastry for her, a limited time treat from a local donut shop, because she loved them so much and they’re only available for a month or so at a time. I think that’s a very sweet gesture. I also know someone who’s planning to take his wife to the Bahamas for their wedding anniversary as a surprise. That’s also romantic, if a bit more expensive. πŸ™‚ I’m sure everyone has some tale of romance that’s unique and special. I love to hear those stories, even if I might not find the same thing romantic.

I do wonder sometimes if I’m getting the level of romance right in my stories. In my TAITS series, it’s difficult to add soft, quiet moments between the characters when there are car chases and death threats. πŸ™‚ I like to think I’ve struck a balance in those stories. The romantic moments for those characters are less about being soft and more about conveying a feeling with hot looks and quickies. There’s romance in those things too, don’t get me wrong. πŸ˜‰

In my “Ice” stories, I have a little more room to really let the sweet romance fly! Those stories focus more on the relationship, so there are no extenuating circumstances to distract them from each other. Well, at least, no car chases and death threats. πŸ™‚ I can get away with simple gestures like flowers delivered in a timely fashion, or a video message on a jumbotron at the hockey arena. OK, I know, that’s not a simple gesture. But it’s romantic, no? In my opinion, what makes a gesture or gift romantic is the thought behind it. If someone tried to put a message on a jumbotron for me, and have the camera on my face for my reaction, I’d be mortified and furious. But that’s just because I can’t stand being the center of attention. And yet, I wrote it into a story and I hope it worked. πŸ™‚

I sometimes wonder if I’m not putting enough romance into my stories. Or the wrong kind of romance. It reminds me of my entry about writing unique and intriguing sex scenes. When the moment gets built up so much, and a couple comes together, it’s difficult sometimes to create the right level of romance.

For example, in “Uncovering the Ice,” the two lead characters went through their relationship a little bit different from the norm. They were antagonistic at first, then sexy, then they finally met and got busy, and finally, they had their first date. Do you know how long I agonized over that date??? I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out some way for Sean to wow Vanessa that didn’t seem too over the top. In the end, I think I managed to give them a memorable but still realistic first date. I mean, sure, it’s not a date every guy could pull off but he had the lucky advantage of being a hockey player. πŸ™‚

I’m curious what you might find romantic. Did any of my scenarios strike a cord with you? Did you roll your eyes at other moments I’d written? Or does none of what happens in my stories come close to the most romantic thing you’ve ever experienced?

That’s it for this week, I think. I want to take a moment to remind you to head over to Literotica to vote on the Reader’s Choice Awards. I’m up for best Romance of the year and my good friend, PennLady, is up for Most Helpful Editor. I hope you’ll take a moment to cast your vote. The contest ends this coming Friday so every day, and every vote, counts!

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend – or had, depending on where in the world you are – and as always, take care and happy reading.

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