Monday, May 27, 2013

Excerpt from Shannon's Hope

*Shannon is Ruby's niece, a pharmacist, a wife, a mother, and a step-mom. When her step daughter, Keisha, needs a place to live, Shannon is quick to volunteer their home, certain that with her help, Keisha can overcome her past issues with addiction and meet the potential Shannon has always seen in her.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter Five:

{Shannon arrives home from book group, after choosing next month's book on the fly. She's allowed Keisha to borrow her car to spend the evening with a friend.}

All the anxiety from the book group was finished and the pending discussion about the book I’d suggested was a month away. My two favorite men were in the other room and life was just good and calm and peaceful here. That’s why I’d wanted Keisha to come stay with us. I wanted her to feel the feeling I felt in our home. I wanted her to know what it was like to be a part of a family so that she could see a different, better future for herself. I spent a few minutes cleaning up the kitchen before John came in for a soda.
“I didn’t hear you come in,” he said, leaning down to kiss me as he passed me on his way to the fridge.
“I just got back,” I said, adding soap to the dishwasher.
“I was going to clean up,” he said, taking in the clean counters and sinks. Tonight was his night to do dinner and dishes.
“I really didn’t mind."
He leaned in and kissed me on the neck, making me smile. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I said, looking over my shoulder and giving him a flirty smile. “How was Landon’s game?”
“Great. He was two for three with his shots, and made both free throws. He’s come a long way.”
“I’m so glad,” I said as I rummaged in the fridge for a yogurt—Keisha ate two a day and I was having a hard time keeping up the supply. “I wish I’d been there. That’s the second game I’ve missed.” I didn’t say “Since Keisha had come,” but we both knew that’s what I meant.
“Where’s Keish?” John asked.
I paused for half a second, then kept any hesitation out of my voice when I spoke. “I let her borrow my car to meet up with a friend.”
“A friend?” John said, pulling up on the tab of his soda until it made the pop-hiss sound. He sipped the soda from the rim. “What friend?”
“Her name is Jessica, I guess they were in rehab together.”
Distrust pulled his eyebrows together. “She’s never said anything about Jessica.”
“I’m sure it’s fine. Jessica’s going to college; Keisha says she’s a good influence.” I turned my attention to pulling the foil top off the yogurt. “She’ll be back by 11:00.” I said the lie before I even realized I was doing it. I knew why I’d lied, though; because John would be in bed before 11:00 and I didn’t want him to know I’d allowed his daughter to stay out later than that without consulting him. My face went hot with the lie, though. It wasn’t like me to be dishonest.
“Hmmm,” he said before taking another drink. He looked at the clock on the stove. “I’ll wait up for her and make sure everything’s okay when she comes in.”
“Don’t do that,” I said quickly, finding a spoon in the drawer. “You don’t want her to think we’re checking up on her.”
“Why not?” he said as I took my first bite. We were both leaning against opposite counters. “She needs to be accountable, and know we’re paying attention.”
“She is accountable,” I said, waving my spoon through the air. “And this is the first time she’s asked for the car; we knew it would happen sooner or later. It’s okay. She needs to build herself a new life here, and that means we have to let go enough for her to do that. She’s with someone who’s clean and goal-oriented. Let’s not make too big a deal out of this.”
He was contemplative for a few more seconds, but then he gave me a playful smile. He reached across the space between us to grab my belt loop and pull me closer. I offered no resistance even though I almost dropped my spoon as I crossed the floor. “It’s good you’re here,” he said, putting his pop down on the counter behind him and placing both hands at my waist, moving my hips as though we were dancing. It was kinda sexy. “I’m always thinking the worst and you’re always willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.”
It felt good to have his compliments, or at least it would have felt good if I deserved them, but the lie I’d told sat heavy in my stomach. I did like seeing him softening toward this experience, though, and held on hard to that justification for what I’d done. I reached up and tapped him on the nose with my spoon. “If we don’t give her a chance to prove herself, she’ll never feel successful or know how strong she can be.”
John arched one eyebrow. “You don’t think keeping her locked up in a tower will help her prove her strength?”
I laughed. “Probably not.”
He leaned in and kissed me. I put my arms around his neck even though I was still holding my yogurt and spoon and kissed him back. “Thanks for loving my girl,” he whispered against my lips before pulling me into a hug.
His girl? Wasn’t she our girl?
John held me against him for a few seconds until Landon came in and made gagging sounds, then John dipped me and kissed me hard on the mouth, causing Landon to leave the room completely and me to drop my yogurt. He stood me back up, kissed me once more and helped me clean up the mess before returning to the game, leaving me with a smile and a reminder of why I’d married this wonderful man. He had always brought out the best in me and I liked to think I did the same for him. Especially with Keisha. I could tell him over and over again that he’d done the best he could at the time, but her drug issues had really done a number on his confidence as a father.
“It’s different this time,” I said to the cupboards and dishes hanging out with me in the kitchen. That was why I’d fudged on the curfew, because I needed things to be different and I could see how easy it would be for John to lose all hope. I could think of nothing worse than John giving up on her when she was unsteady on these new legs. So I would hold her hand through this, and hold John’s too and one day we’d all raise our hands triumphantly over our heads and know that we made it work. Keisha couldn’t do this without us, and John couldn’t support her without me. I would make this work. I had to.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing Round Robin

by Annette Lyon

If there's anything that writing something a extensive as the Newport Ladies Book Club has taught the four of  us, it's how to write differently. We've set aside our typical ways of writing and plotting and learned from each other as we've come up entirely new ways of writing as we've collaborated on the series.

The second set of books (about Shannon, Victoria, Ilana, and Ruby), are already written, and as Josi mentioned recently, some this set will have some changes, including titles that are more than the characters' names.

We're now in the stage of drafting the long-promised reunion book, which has been a total blast . . . in yet a totally different way.

Picture this: The reunion book (as yet untitled), will be written by all four series authors. And it will feature all eight book club members, showing  where they've traveled since we last saw them, and where they end up.

All in one book.

(Daunting, no? A little bit!)

I know that with Daisy and Paige not ending all tied up in pretty bows, readers are eager to learn where they end up. I have a feeling that when readers see the next set of books, they'll have similar questions about some of the other characters, too.

Because the reunion book is totally different than the series itself, we needed a new way of working on it.

We started out by meeting together one day and hammering out an outline that included the entire arc for each character and how the different characters interact and influence each other. The challenge: Finding a way to resolve all eight stories in a short space in a way that will feel organic and satisfying rather than overwhelming and chaotic to the reader.

By the end of that first day, we'd taken a ton of notes, and, I think, had a solid game plan for creating an awesome final volume.

Up next came actually writing the book, which is in progress but moving right along. The master file began with Heather as she began the book with a chapter about Athena. Then she passed it on to the next person, and the next, and the next, round-robin style. Each writer edits and comments on the chapters that came before to help polish them up and  maintain consistency in timeline and plot, and then they move forward with  drafting the next chapter of their character's story before passing the file on to the author in charge of the next chapter's main character.

Each chapter begins with the name of the character it focuses on, and those chapters are written by the same authors of the original books about those characters. (So I write the chapters about Paige and Ilana, and Josi writes about Daisy and Shannon, and so on.)

By the time we're done with the round-robin drafting phase, we should have a solid book that's already been revised on some level three or four times.

It's so much fun to be working on these stories, especially after looking back over the years and seeing what a long way this project has come, from a germ of an idea back in 2008 to a series that will have nine total volumes.

I am continually amazed at what we've accomplished working as a team, and with the reunion book, we're once again writing something unique in a way totally new to us.

I'm excited for the end product, and I'm positive readers will come away happy with where their favorite characters ended up!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cover Reveal: Shannon's Hope

With the second set of books in this series, the publisher has chosen to go a different direction with covers. Therefore, the look is different, but hopefully it will communicate the genre just as well. Click on the cover to read more about the book. The release date is set for the first week of July! Stay tuned for more details.