I never expected it to happen.
I love books. All readers do.
Why do we love books? Content? Companionship? That and more. I love the color and feel of the cover, the binding, the smell of the paper...it all matters to me. When I think of books I've enjoyed, I remember the weight of the book and how it fit into my hands; the size and arrangement of the type, the paragraphs and white space; the choice of paper—white or cream, smooth or napped. And don't forget the age of the book—that fresh, new-ink smell versus that of an aged, fragile page. For me, it all fits inextricably into the experience and the event of reading.
How could I ever even consider giving up the pleasure of holding the book in my hands?
My bookcases overflowed, the shelving in the garage bowed under the burden of books, and still more books were packed and stacked in boxes. More and more, instead of buying new ones, I re-read the books I already had—and it wasn’t a happy situation because I knew I was missing many wonderful new reading adventures. Books that I did purchase, I tried to pass on to others, but I love my books and most started new stacks on all available surfaces. By now, you’re probably envisioning some bibliophile version of Hoarders. It wasn’t that bad, but my dear husband puts up with a lot. Even so, is it sufficient motivation for me to substitute a slim, hard piece of plastic for my beloved books? Not likely.
Despite my love of the print book, the eReader wave was hard to ignore, so I purchased a couple of PDF books for my computer. The PDFs were lovely and it was handy to be able to enlarge the font, but I couldn’t get comfy reading that way. When the computer was on my lap, I felt like I should be working on my WIP. Plus, trying to read in bed while holding the laptop above my face was very awkward. <Just kidding about that.> So, I continued to stick with print.
It was writing, not reading, that led me to the eReader. I was looking for a way to work on my writing when I couldn't be on the computer. In the past, I had sometimes carried a paper draft with me, but that’s rarely convenient and eats up a lot of paper and ink. With the eReader I could continue to proof my work-in-progress when called away. It has proved a valuable aid. Reviewing the draft on paper, via e-format, or using TextAloud (or similar software) and listening to it on your IPod, is a great way to spot problem passages, missed opportunities and errors. It all contributes to a better book. For any new or aspiring writers—I highly recommend using both audio and visual methods for editing and proofing.
I carry a purse large enough to accommodate my Kindle and it stays there no matter where I go. Now, when I'm waiting at an appointment, or dealing with an unexpected delay, I no longer tap my feet and drum my fingers impatiently because I didn’t bring a book along. Instead, I pull out my Kindle and re-visit old friends, enjoy a new read, or work on my writing. It’s a win for everyone. With my eReader, waiting becomes an opportunity instead of wasted time.
The eReader is marvelous, but it’s an addition, not a replacement.
Those shelved books, stacked books and boxed books are still in my house. They aren’t going anywhere, but the population growth has slowed and I can still read whatever I want, plus get in some editing and proofreading.
Grace, thank you for sharing your thoughts on eReaders. I can totally agree with your sentiments on this subject. I love paperback and hardback books and never wanted to jump on the eBook bandwagon. Now that I have a Kindle I love it. As I've mentioned here in previous posts and comments, I love that I can read review PDF copies on my Kindle and not have to read them on the laptop anymore...much more convenient and I love all the free eBooks that are offered for eReaders.
I write. It would be lovely to write all day, every day. Maybe. On the other hand, a lot of inspiration comes to us when we aren't looking for it or expecting it. I’m fortunate to have a great day job. I save my evenings and weekends for that cherished writing time.
After my day job is done, I fire up my laptop. It can be difficult to get into writing mode. Usually, I have to work my way into it, forcing myself to write words—just words. They don't have to be brilliant and many times I don't have a clue what comes next. I throw the words out and some of them stick. Many will be deleted. But pushing past that barrier and sliding into writing mode, is the hardest part. Once I'm putting words on the screen, the story starts moving. When I hit the writing groove where the words flow and it all seems so simple and obvious—there is nowhere and nothing more invigorating and relaxing than that special place.
One of the extra special benefits of writing is that we can set a story in a place we want to visit, or somewhere to which we'd like to return. That was especially true of BEACH RENTAL. I had enjoyed a marvelous trip to Emerald Isle, North Carolina and writing BEACH RENTAL was like going back for an extended stay. Wonderfully relaxing.
Agree wholeheartedly with that. I also have to make myself sit down to write sometimes even if the words coming out are not so great. I love it when the good writing starts to flow. What is your preferred type of book to read for leisure?
It depends upon my mood. Sometimes I want to visit dear old friends and I'll dig out my comfort reads. Those are the books that I return to year after year. Among them are mostly out of print historical romances, and some others that never seem to go out of print like Victoria Holt and Daphne Du Maurier. Sometimes, I'm in a different mood and I turn to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Their characters are vivid and the plots are complicated and unexpected. Characters, sometimes your favorites, die along the way, but in one way or the other, good always triumphs. I need that reassuring ending. Also, I enjoy Karen White's southern fiction and Sue Grafton's mysteries. Occasionally, I read non-fiction—perhaps a writing craft book, a grammar book, something historical or biographical or a topic related to the human condition. I just finished Trudy Harris' Glimpses of Heaven. I read it on Kindle and shed more than a few tears in various waiting rooms around town.
What is your all-time favorite movie and why?
One all-time favorite movie? I struggled with this question and I don't think I can name just one, all-time, always-and-forever favorite because it depends on my mood or on the part of my psyche needs comforting or feeding. That's why we have favorites, right? Whether it’s a movie or book, we favor the ones that meet our emotional needs. That said, there are three at the top of my list.
Make that four.
Today, August Rush is my favorite. Secondhand Lions is another movie I always stop to watch when I find it on TV. Both stories are sweet sentimental tales with suspense and peril and hope threaded throughout. I love the happily-ever-after endings and I shed happy tears.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is one of my favorites. I love the book, too. Lonesome Dove also makes me cry, but the tears come from the heartbreak throughout the book, but most especially during the last third. On the other hand, some parts are laugh-out-loud funny. Lonesome Dove is strong and deep in characterization, rich in setting, perfect in plot—every detail is a gem. The actual ending is happy for some of the characters—well, not exactly happy, but showing signs of hope despite the tragedies. Lonesome Dove is a movie/story about how you don't usually get what you want, but if you're lucky you get what you need and find a way to persevere despite the hardships. It's about the triumph that makes the tragedies not in vain.
I can't leave Gone With the Wind out of the list of favorites. Movie and book. I read it as a teenager and when I hit the last page and realized there was no happily-ever-after ending, I cried for a week. For the hopelessness of it, I think. It all seemed a waste. Now, as a writer, I believe it was the heroine’s character arc that was the problem. In my opinion, Scarlett's character didn't finish its arc. Throughout the book she responded to events and even gained insights into what she wanted, but while the other characters experienced profound change and self-realization, Scarlett didn't. And that's okay—that's Scarlett. Her arc stopped short because that was her character. But without the full arc, satisfaction and HEA are lacking both for the heroine and the reader.
HEA for me, please—or, at least, the suggestion of a possibility of future happiness. That’s what I like and that’s what I write.The movie version of Gone With the Wind implies the potential for a happier ending. When Scarlett says 'Tomorrow is another day," looking at her you can believe she's still planning on that happy ending and I find that more encouraging than the book's ending (the same, but without the Vivian Leigh visual). I love the movie and the book, but I want a happy ending.
I write fiction with romance, suspense and inspiration, always with a strong heroine at its heart—with a happily-ever-after ending—most of the time.
All great movie favorites. I loved August Rush and Secondhand Lions...Gone With the Wind, too. I saw the TV miniseries, Scarlett and liked how that had a happy ending. I agree with you on the HEA endings...love them, too.
Beach Rental, will be available July 2011 in both eformat and print. I hope you’ll enjoy Juli’s story and I promise a HEA ending—mostly.
On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, in the small town of Emerald Isle…
Juli Cooke, hard-working and getting nowhere fast, marries a dying man, Ben Bradshaw, for a financial settlement, not expecting he will set her on a journey of hope and love. The journey brings her to Luke Winters, a local art dealer, but Luke resents the woman who married his sick friend and warns her not to hurt Ben—and he’s watching to make sure she doesn’t.
Until Ben dies and the stakes change.
Framed by the timelessness of the Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue of the beach sky, Juli struggles against her past, the opposition of Ben’s and Luke’s families, and even the living reminder of her marriage—to build a future with hope and perhaps to find the love of her life—if she can survive the danger from her past.
Sounds very interesting. Going on my TBR list. Love the cover, too. Where can people find you online for more info about you and your books?
Grace, thank you so much for stopping by The Mustard Seed today. I enjoyed chatting with you and I just want to remind everyone that if they'd like to enter for a chance to win an eBook or print copy of Beach Rental, to please comment on this blog post and be sure to leave an email address on the contact form.
If you'd like to read an excerpt of Beach Rental, click on the "Read More" link below.
Juli held Ben’s hand self-consciously. She’d certainly done tougher, more embarrassing work in her life. Her part in this was simple and with the ocean breeze gently brushing her hair and toying with her skirt, the working conditions were exquisite.
She looked at the guests, at the pastor, and told herself this was merely another kind of temporary work. Juli focused on the silky coolness of the damp sand beneath her bare feet.
She’d take it one day at a time.
Ben’s friend, Maia, had given her a posy of daisies and baby’s breath to hold. Tiny green stems and leaves peeked from within the frothy white.
Juli was glad to have Maia at her side even if she was more of a stranger than Ben. At least, Maia was friendly. Luke Winters wasn’t. He was Ben’s cousin and closest friend. He was also the tall, aloof man at the party the night she’d met Ben. She’d recognized his arrogant face immediately.
Luke stood near Ben scowling like a bad omen personified. She’d been invisible to him at the party, but now, she was squarely in his sights. Ben’s hand was steady in her clasp and reassured her. If Ben was aware of the negative waves of emotions coming their way he chose not to acknowledge them.
Juli ignored Luke. She never deliberately tried to give offense, but neither would she beg for anyone’s approval.
The pastor’s voice brought her back to the task at hand.
“Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?”
“Yes.” A gust of wind snatched the word away from her lips. She spoke again, more forcefully, defiantly, “yes.”
“Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife? For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?”
“I do.” He said it strongly not letting the wind or the roar of the ocean overpower his affirmation, as if denying reality the chance to diminish his happiness.
A short distance down the beach, with waves churning around their knees and thighs, two darkly tanned men worked together casting a large red net fastened to a frame. They hefted the straight ends together out of the water and it billowed, catching the wind before they bent in unison, dropping it back down into the rushing waves. She admired the grace of their actions in unison.
She squeezed Ben’s hand. Together was a new concept for her. Ben returned the squeeze and met her eyes. Today his skin was flushed. From the sun or from the nuptials? His face showed happiness with a hint of apprehension in the set of his lips.
The warmth of his touch pulled her from her thoughts. She gasped as Ben slipped the gold wedding band, then an engagement ring onto her finger. The engagement ring was unexpected.
The diamond glittered with captured light and the gold had a shiny, new sheen.
Juli heard, “I now pronounce…” and anxiety rushed through her, but there was no invitation to the groom to kiss his bride.
This was a tremendous leap for both of them, but what was the risk? The pre-nup was the safety net and time was on her side. She knew empathy wasn’t her strong point, but she could be kind to a dying man.
“Allow me to be the first to congratulate you, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Daniel Bradshaw.” The pastor extended his hand and they shook in turn.
Maia said, “Ben and Juli, stay where you are. Stand close together and smile.” She was grinning broadly and holding a camera in front of her face.
They obeyed as she snapped a few photos. Then the pastor took one of Ben and Juli with Maia and Luke on either side—the entire bridal party.
Ben’s sister, Adela, did not attend, but Luke represented the official family displeasure. He offered congratulations with a dour expression.
“Juli. Best wishes.” He barely brushed her outstretched hand with his own.
She stared into his eyes, refusing to release him gracefully, angry that in his world she was invisible, or if visible, then unwelcome. He broke away, but not before the amber lights in his eyes flashed, warning her of his suppressed anger.
Luke took Ben’s hand and wrapped one arm around his shoulders, pulling him in for a quick hug without a word said. She had the distinct impression many words had already been shared privately and Ben had moved forward regardless of his family’s feelings on the matter.
There was no reception following the ceremony. They moved together, a small group of conflicted well-wishers, across the soft mounds of warm sand and up the rough, weathered steps to the wooden dunes crossover leading to Ben’s home.
Three stories of duplex, named Sea Green Glory, rose on pilings above an open parking area directly below. The homes on the oceanfront had names. Most were weekly rentals that ran from weekend to weekend. There were only a few hotels in Emerald Isle. Most were further down the island in the Atlantic Beach area and near the bridge to Morehead City.
The crossover ended at the porch on the main living level. Luke, Maia and the pastor headed for the stairs to go below to the parking area, but paused to look back.
Maia’s round cheeks dimpled in a kind smile. She looked especially petite and sweet, overshadowed by Luke’s stern demeanor. She waggled her fingers in a goodbye wave. Luke touched Maia’s arm and they left.
Ben turned to face his bride. “Are you regretting our agreement?”
Was she? A reasonable woman, certainly a woman with money and family, would never have agreed to his proposal. But a woman who was on her own, who’d grown up in a succession of foster homes and who understood cash, not dreams, fueled life—that woman might accept it, and had done so.
What had Ben purchased? He deserved better than a hardboiled cynic. Juli smoothed the sharp edges from her manner and adopted a softer attitude.
“Regret? No. It feels strange. Unreal.”
“No wonder. We moved quickly.”
“You moved quickly. I now understand what being ‘swept off my feet’ feels like.” They’d met a week ago. How had a man as mild-mannered as Ben managed to find a fiancé, get the pre-nup drawn up, and arranged a wedding on the beach, however small, within four days?
“I have a surprise for you.” He escorted her to a chair beside the round white patio table. “Sit here. I’ll be right back.”
There were faint noises coming from the far side of the wooden partition as, only a few feet away, the renters on the other side of the duplex packed up. They’d leave first thing in the morning. That half would be re-occupied when the new renters arrived later in the afternoon. Ben lived in his half, the western side, year-round.
The waves rolled in, gulls squawked and scavenged from the few beach-goers, and she, Julianne Cooke Bradshaw, sat on her new porch and wondered how long her marriage would last.