Friday Fiction – “A Man and His Phone” Part 5

“A Man and His Phone” – Part 5

Jane’s sometimes boyfriend, Chris, is playing hard to get. Tentative plans to get together have ended in a tense phone call and Chris has powered off his phone. Jane has recruited her friend, Adrienne, to drive down to Chris’s apartment to see what’s what. They spot his car, so he must still be inside the high rise. Adrienne convinces Jane to wait in the lobby while she investigates. When an elevator ride to the eighth floor puts her face to face with a dark-eyed charmer, Adrienne may finally understand why Jane is such pushover for Chris.

Now you’re set – I hope you enjoy!


Image: Wikimedia Commons

“You look a little familiar,” he said. “I’m Chris, have we met?”

Adrienne stood frozen in the elevator. Chris put out his arm to stop the doors from closing and she thought he looked quite gallant doing so. He made no move to enter and instead, she stepped out into the hallway.

As the elevator doors closed behind her, Adrienne stood frozen in an internal panic, unsure of how to answer Chris’s question. They hadn’t really met. She’d only seen him from a distance at Zadar’s. She’d better not tell him her name. Jane could very easily have mentioned her to Chris.

“Uh, not sure,” she stammered. How was she going to explain herself? But Adrienne had been in a fix or two in her twenty-something life and her mind went to work quickly. She’d have to keep her eyes averted, though. She could feel his power sensors trying to lock in on her.

Chris grinned. He already liked this girl. She was confident and nervous at the same time. He swore he’d seen her before, and recently too, but he didn’t want to push it. There was no telling where that might have been and, if had seen her before, it would all come out eventually.

“Well, maybe not,” he answered, letting it drop.

Adrienne knew she had to come up with something fast. Nerves, shmerves, she had to invent a destination. “Well, I should get going. My friend is waiting for me.” That was sort of true, she told herself.

“Oh?” Chris had lived on the eighth floor for several years. It was a high rise, yes, but there were only ten apartments on each floor and he was on a hello basis with all of his neighbors. Like a card counter at a blackjack table, Chris calculated the possibilities. He was almost certain his new friend would not be hitting the dance floor with the O’Brien sisters who were well into their 80s, or with the workaholic engineer who only took time off to get new batteries for his graphing calculator. That left the newlyweds, the first-year med students who were never home, the lady with the cats and the four tenants down the hall whose average age was about fifty-two.

“Which apartment? He asked.

Adrienne did a quick scan of the apartment numbers in her line of vision as Chris watched in amusement. Down the hall were 808 and 810. What if she named his apartment number? She would have to make a wild guess and hope for the best.

“She’s in 803,” Adrienne said with authority.

Ah, yes, I know that one. “Here, I’ll show you the way,” he offered, and they began to walk towards the cat lady’s apartment. This was going to be fun.

She hesitated. “Oh, thanks anyway, I’m sure I can find it myself.” Adrienne’s phone began to vibrate again. It was Jane, of course, most likely frantic about the lack of updates. Adrienne always told Jane she was a hoverer, but this helicopter was coming in at just the right time.

She turned to Chris, scrunched her shoulders in exaggerated apology and said, “Oh, gee, sorry, I have to take this.”

Chris couldn’t help but smile. He’d give her this victory. Adrienne had no idea who she was up against. When it came to levels of play, Chris had surpassed All-Star and Super Star and was firmly established in the Hall of Fame.

“Of course,” he answered. “I have to grab something in my apartment anyway. Then I’m heading out.”

Adrienne held the phone to her ear and looked at Chris with faked distraction. Her nanosecond call with Jane had ended, with Jane commanding her to get down to the lobby right away. Unsure of how to make the break, she lifted her chin in Chris’s direction.

“Thanks,” she mouthed in pretend appreciation and turned. The relief she felt was short lived, however, because a fast exit was a must. If she could only find the door to the stairwell, she might be able to get to the lobby and out of the building before he did. Oh if only she was wearing sensible shoes.

Thank you for reading – come back next week!

Click here to catch up with all the episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction – “A Man and His Phone” Part 4

“A Man and His Phone” – Part 4

Welcome to Friday Fiction! If you are just jumping into this dating saga, “A Man and His Phone,” here’s a rundown of what’s happening:

Jane is in a twenty-something predicament. Her sometimes boyfriend, Chris, likes his own space and is in no hurry to change his life. Tentative plans to get together have ended in a tense phone call and Chris has powered off his phone. Meanwhile, Jane is determined to make something happen. She’s recruited her friend, Adrienne, to drive with her down to Chris’s apartment and see if he’s still home. What they do then is anyone’s guess!

Now you’re set – read on!


Image: Wikimedia Commons

I-295 S was jammed with cars and Jane and Adrienne were in the middle of the mess.

“Where on earth is everyone going tonight?” Adrienne asked the air. It was pushing eight o’clock and she was itching to go to Karma. She didn’t want to miss her chance to find the guy she’d met last night. Who knew how long it would be before he noticed someone else? She flipped down the visor and checked her hair in the mirror.

“Relax, Adrienne. We have plenty of time. And besides, if we get to Chris’s apartment too early, I won’t be sure if he’s in for the night.”

“Okay, that’s just stupid, Jane. In for the night? How old are you? I only saw Chris from a distance at Zadar’s, but he didn’t look like a guy who pays attention to the clock!” Adrienne flipped up the visor in frustration.

Jane’s thumb was nervously tapping the steering wheel. “Whatever, okay? Let’s just get down there and see what happens. Maybe we’ll see him leave, then we can follow him!”

“Yeah? I don’t think so, Jane. You talked me into a drive-by, not a pursuit. I have my own chase planned.”

Traffic started to move. Jane pressed the accelerator. “Finally!” she exclaimed

“See? There’s his car. He’s still home. I knew it!”

“Okay, so what? You know this is stupid, Jane.” Adrienne checked her phone. Felicia and her friends were out to eat and would meet her at Karma. b there by 10, she tapped in her message.

“Let’s park and go in. I know how to get buzzed into the building. We’ll wait for a group and roll in with them. Then we’ll go up to his floor and check out his apartment from the hall.”

This might have been Jane’s plan, but Adrienne knew she had to take the reins if she had any hope of Karma by 10 o’clock.

“Look, I have an idea,” she said as they walked to the high-rise. “Let’s get inside, then I’ll take the elevator up to Chris’s floor. I’ll see what’s what. You stay in the lobby and I’ll text you when I know something.”

“But I want to see for myself,” Jane complained.

“See what?” Adrienne answered. “A door?”

“Well, I was thinking I would try to look under it. Maybe I could see some feet moving around or hear some music.”

“No, I’ll go up alone. What floor?”

Adrienne stood alone in the elevator and pulled at the hem of her dress. It was a great dress for dancing, but maybe not for espionage. She’d already decided she would not be peering under Chris’s door. She slipped her phone into the discreet pocket sewn flat into her dress and thanked the dress designer gods for thinking of all a woman’s needs. The elevator pinged and opened on the eighth floor. Adrienne fluffed her hair and looked straight into a pair of amused dark eyes.

“Oh, well hello there,” he smiled and looked her up and down. “If you’re looking for a dance floor, you may need to get onto the Ben Franklin first.”

Adrienne was not the type to get flustered, yet she could feel a drip of sweat trickle down her back.

“Yes, well maybe I will,” she answered. Somewhat lame, but she was holding her own. The charmer smiled.

“You look a little familiar,” he said. “I’m Chris, have we met?”

Adrienne stood frozen in the elevator. Chris put out his arm to stop the doors from closing and she thought he looked quite gallant doing so. He made no move to enter and so instead, she stepped out into the hallway. She could feel her phone vibrate. Jane, most likely, anxious for a report. But the update would have to wait…

Thank you for reading – come back next week!


Click here to catch up with all the episodes of A Man and His Phone.


Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction – “A Man and His Phone” – Part 3

“A Man and His Phone” – Part 3

Welcome to Friday Fiction! If you stopped in the last two Fridays, you may have read Parts 1 and 2 of “A Man and His Phone.” If not, here’s a rundown of what’s happening:

Jane is in a twenty-something predicament. She has a sometimes boyfriend who likes his own space. But Jane wants more. Chris is in no hurry to change his life. He’s planted on his couch, drinking some beers and watching ESPN. Maybe he’ll go out, maybe he won’t. But he has no interest in making plans with Jane tonight. After a tense call with her, Chris has powered off his phone. Meanwhile, Jane is determined to make something happen. His phone may be off, but that’s not going to stop her.

Now you’re set – I hope you enjoy!


Image: Wikimedia Commons

“Let’s do a drive-by,” she said. “I’ll pick you up in a half hour and we can drive over there and see if his car is still in the parking lot.”

Adrienne was usually game for this kind of thing, but tonight she had plans to go out dancing with the girls from the apartment across the hall. Now Jane was on the phone and obsessing over this Chris guy. Maybe Adrienne could get her to go out with them and forget about Chris.

“Jane, you know I like to spy as much as you do, but I’m going dancing at Karma tonight with Felicia and her roommate. You should come with us instead.”

Jane was in no mood for dancing. She was furious with Chris and wanted to make sure he was still in his apartment. Let him sit there and drink beer all night, but he’d better not go out. If he did, she was going to find out. What she’d do then, who knew? She would figure that out if she had to.

“Look, we can drive over there first and then maybe I’ll go to Karma with you. Or, I can take you there to meet your friends.”

Adrienne stalled. She had met someone last night at the dance club and wanted to get back there tonight to see if he’d show up. She was pretty sure he would, based on the dancing they’d done the night before.

“Jane, doesn’t Chris live practically in Philly? That’s an hour from here! Just come with us and forget about him.”

“No, I can’t. I need to know if he’s still in his apartment.”

“What good is that going to do? And how are you going to find that out? Doesn’t he live in a high-rise?”

“Well yes, but I know where he parks his car. We can drive to his apartment building, see if his car is there. If it is, maybe someone can buzz us in to get up to his floor. If I hear music and see a light under the door, then I’ll know for sure if he’s home.”

“Jane, that’s madness. Even I can see how stupid your plan is. What if his car isn’t there? What are you going to do then? And what if he went out and someone else drove? And even if he is there, what are you going to do? He could be getting ready to go out. You have no control over this.”

“Adrienne, he blew me off last week and said he was tired. But you saw him at Zadar’s. He certainly didn’t look tired there. And tonight he didn’t want to make plans. I need to know what’s happening. I’ll feel better if I know he’s just stewing in his apartment, alone. Please come with me. I promise I’ll make it up to you. It’s only seven right now. We have plenty of time to get down there and back before you go out.”

Just barely, thought Adrienne. She didn’t want anyone else moving in on this guy she’d met. But she had her share of obsessions, so she couldn’t really judge. Still, this sounded like a terrible idea and she was itching to find that guy. Things had gotten pretty intense with him…

“Okay, Jane. It’s a horrible idea, but okay. Come over now, we’ll drive to Pennsauken, see if Chris is there. And Jane, wear something hot, okay? Don’t show up at my door in jeans and sneakers because I’m dragging you Karma after this.”

Thank you for reading – come back next week for Part 4!

Click here to catch up with all the episodes of A Man and His Phone.


Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction – “A Man and His Phone” Part 1

“A Man and His Phone”
Part 1

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chris sat in his apartment reading. It was Saturday. Music was on. Playing loudly. He was reading a book about the Civil War. He liked to listen to loud music when he read. It was the perfect atmosphere for him and always had been. It did not distract him. It allowed him to escape into a different world. He was relaxed. It was getting to be time for dinner, but he was in no hurry, would figure that out later.

His cell phone was on the kitchen table. During the day, he would occasionally check for missed calls. He didn’t like running to a ringing phone so the sound was always off. He’d set it to vibrate. But he rarely paid attention to it and he almost never made calls. Now it vibrated as he sat across the room, at a safe distance. This time he just didn’t hear it. He continued to read and listen to music.

Jane had been trying to call him. She didn’t have a good reason, but she wanted to talk to him. She wanted to feel reassured that everything was good between them. She had not seen him or talked to him since the night at Club Zadar’s. They’d had plans that night but he’d blown her off, saying he was tired and then there he was, out with friends, flirting with women at the bar. She had given him a few days and still had not heard from him. When Jane felt uneasy, she jumped from one thing to the next. She could not focus until that one thing was settled.

Jane wanted to be settled, as in married with a couple kids. She envied that life. But she was so far from having any kind of life besides a working one. She could not imagine how she could get there. At twenty-five, with nothing going on, she was beginning to realize that she had a long way to go.

She checked her phone. Nothing, no call, no text. What was she thinking? Chris never texted. She knew he hated being tied to a device, but she could always hope. And he occasionally surprised her by doing something out of character. He had emailed her now and again and she loved reading them. She clung to that idea. Maybe Chris had sent her one. Nothing. Late Saturday afternoon, almost night. She had no plans. She thought about calling friends, decided against it. She decided to wait. “Maybe Chris is busy right now, but he’s getting ready to call me as soon as he’s finished whatever it is he’s doing,” Jane thought. She knew how ridiculous that sounded, even in her head. She didn’t care. She continued with this exercise. “It’s 5:30. He’s probably waiting until 6:00 to call me. I’ll wait until then. If he’s sent me an email, I’ll call him. Maybe he’ll call me while I’m checking my email. Then I won’t have to call him. If he hasn’t sent me an email, I’ll decide at 6:00 whether I’ll call him or not.”

Chris was oblivious to this. He had no idea that Jane even thought this way. He would probably be horrified to know it. He was sitting in his apartment, reading his book, listening to music. He was thinking about nothing else except the words he was reading. He was not thinking about what he would do after he finished reading. He didn’t even know how long he would be reading. When he finished, would probably think about dinner. Maybe after that, he would think about what he might do that night.

When Chris did stop reading, he got up and turned off the music. He looked at the clock. 6:17. Then he grabbed a beer out of the refrigerator and headed back to the living room. Seeing his cell on the table, though, he stopped and picked it up. He pressed the home button and saw that he had two missed calls. Jane.

Jane. “She’s probably already made plans by now,” he thought. “If she calls again, I’ll see if she wants to do something.” He put the cell back on the table, then sat on his couch and took a drink from his beer. He would have been more comfortable had he not checked his phone and seen that Jane had called. He had not planned on calling her, but maybe he would have. Now he would not. He finished his beer and got up for another one. When he sat down this time, he turned on the television. Flipping through the stations, he settled on ESPN.

His phone vibrated and this time he heard the sound. But Chris was so comfortable on his couch. The highlights from last night’s Sixers game were just coming on…

Click here to read all the episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Thank you for reading.


Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction – Future So Bright

“Future So Bright”

“I’m twenty-seven,” she answered. Jane was at the age of confidence. Twenty-seven was a good age to be. She had already accomplished a great deal for her age. She had finished her education, was well-paid in her job.

And she felt strong and, if not beautiful, pretty good-looking, above average at least, she reasoned. She worked out. She was a runner, specifically, but also took aerobics classes at a gym. Her clothes fit her well and she felt good about the choice she had made that night: her favorite black top and tapered pants, flat shoes that came to a sharp point at the toe. Jane was not a trendy dresser, but she paid attention to the styles and allowed herself these shoes with the points. She liked having a certain surprise factor in her ensembles, something a person might not notice at first or second glance, but would be pleased to see upon further inspection.

So she didn’t mind when someone asked her how old she was because she wanted to tell people, “Yes, look at me, over here!”

And she didn’t mind revealing her age on this night because she had already figured that the man she was talking to was probably the same age. In fact, he was twenty-eight, which he told her once he knew her age. “Well, that’s good,” she thought. “I wouldn’t want to be older.”

He smiled at her as she looked at him, and she smiled too. It was natural. She liked him already. He was dark and mysterious looking. She looked across the room for her friend.

“Want to dance?” he asked her.

He didn’t know this, but Jane loved to dance. He had no idea what he was in for…

Thank you for reading!


Copyright © 2018 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Calmer Secrets by Jennifer Kelland Perry


Calmer Secrets
by
Jennifer Kelland Perry

Rating:

Samantha and Veronica Cross had to start fresh when they moved with their mother Darlene from Newfoundland’s Calmer Cove to St. John’s.  Attending a new high school and making friends were their first challenges and soon they discovered the charms of Ben Swift, a handsome local boy with his own troubles.  As the sisters rivaled for his attention, jealousy and misunderstandings threw the Cross family off balance into a spiral of disaster.

Calmer Girls is Perry’s first coming-of-age novel about the Cross sisters.  Calmer Secrets picks up in 1998, four years later.  If they thought the teenage years were turbulent, they are now learning that relationships in their twenties can be just as complicated.

Veronica is a single mom to three-year-old Henry and Samantha is an art student at Grenfell, seven hours away.  Their old friend Ben may be far away at the moment, but he’s on the minds of both girls, for different reasons, and it will be a long time before the sisters forget what happened.  Veronica copes by finding, then quickly discarding boyfriends.  And while on break, Samantha takes up with her old friend, Kalen O’Dea.  He’s charming and gorgeous, and fronts a popular cover band in town, but there’s something puzzling about his behavior.  Veronica warns her, but who is she to give advice?

The real elephant in the room, however, is Darlene’s drinking.  She’s met a new man, Cash, who owns the Bambury Tavern and the two work side-by-side.  He’s a great guy, but can he see the problem?  How long can the family look the other way? In addition, painful secrets about the Calmer sisters’ past are coming to the surface. Are these secrets best confronted or pushed back down?

Calmer Secrets is an excellent story about the difficult and unsettled years that are the twenties.  As with all quality writing, Perry’s storytelling flair is enhanced by her descriptive talent.  Reading about St. John’s makes me want to move there and, thanks to Perry’s introductions, I feel like I already have some friends in town.  As with Calmer Girls, Calmer Secrets includes many enjoyable and relatable details about the 1990s, as well as local customs, foods and phrases, giving the Calmer series a unique brand.  In addition, Perry integrates themes of family, friendship, love and second chances, giving the reader a great deal to think about afterwards.  I especially enjoyed seeing her characters transform and step up when they are needed most. And an extra treat are the quotes from classic literature at the beginning of each chapter, a smart detail that ties her story to larger ideas.  I’m looking forward to reading more about the Calmer sisters!

I recommend Calmer Secrets to all readers who like realistic stories about family and community in a friendly and colorful setting.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


Click here for a review of Calmer Girls.

 

Author interview – Tracy Ewens

Tracy Ewens
Tracy Ewens

I recently had a chance to interview Tracy Ewens about her latest book, Premiere. I’ve always been very interested in how writers develop characters and plots and Tracy has graciously and openly answered all my detailed questions – so thanks, Tracy, for such a wonderful interview!

BCM: Congratulations on the publication of Premiere, your second novel! I really enjoyed reading the ARC you sent me. Tell me how readers can purchase your book.

TE: Thank you, Barb. Premiere: A Love Story is now available through amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats. It will be available in print through other retailers in a few weeks, and finally in NOOK format early next year.

Premiere is currently available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com.
Premiere is currently available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com.

BCM: And tell me about the Goodreads giveaway!

TE: I did this with Catalina Kiss and it was great fun. From 10/18 until 11/18, Goodreads members can enter to win one of five free copies of Premiere. Goodreads randomly selects five people and then I sign and send the books to them. I’ve opened it up to the UK and Australia for this book.

BCM: So, how was the process the second time around? Easier, more difficult? Were there different roadblocks?

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!
I also enjoyed reading Tracy’s first love story!

TE: Premiere was more difficult than Catalina Kiss because when I wrote Catalina Kiss I really had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I was just happy to write and Catalina Kiss was such a simple story. Once I was finished with it, I wanted to do more, expand what I could write about and create characters with a bit more going on. That is easier said than done.

The story for Premiere came quickly, but the characters were challenging. There were periods when I didn’t like either one of them. I wanted them to grow up, or stop whining, but it took me a while to figure out how to fix them. I think Premiere was more difficult because I wanted more, more of a story, so it pushed me. I feel like each story does that, moves me forward as a writer. I’m enjoying that process.

BCM: And how long did it take you to get from the first page to today?

TE: I finished Premiere about 3 months after Catalina Kiss came out, so 2013. It was edited once and then I sat with it. No one wanted to publish it, so I reworked it here and there, gave up on it at least half a dozen times. About six months ago, I found Maya Rock and she was the editor I needed. She asked the hard questions and helped me find a story that was clear and that I was proud to tell.

Until the second edit, Premiere was…fuzzy. There were some parts that just lost me and I knew they would lose readers, but I wasn’t sure how to fix them. I was too close. Maya came in and said, “Yeah, you can delete this,” or “I don’t understand why he would do this. Make sure that’s clear.” She was a fantastic resource.

Steven King once said, “kill your darlings” in reference to being able to edit and slash things that, no matter how much you love them, are not working. I struggled with exactly that while writing Premiere. So, to answer your question Premiere took about four months to write and over a year to edit and publish.

BCM: I like how you linked Premiere to Catalina Kiss. You don’t have to read the first to enjoy the second, but it was nice for me to have that connection. Do you think you will continue to write stories which include a little bit of Samantha’s family history?

TE: Premiere is the first in a four book A Love Story Series. Candidate is Grady’s story. It will have bits of Sam and Peter and of course their families. The third book will about Grady’s bitchy sister, Kara, and Logan who is a chef. The final book in the series takes place in Pasadena and Bodega Bay, which is another area of California that I love. The last book will be about Logan’s brother.

So, not so much Sam’s family history, but there will be pieces and characters from other books throughout the series. None of them will need to be read in order, but as you mentioned, it will be fun to spot the references.

BCM: Premiere is a modern story about a romance that sparks between your two main characters, Samantha and Peter, great friends growing up, and then it gets complicated. Which was more fun to write about, the conflicts or the romance between these characters?

TE: Both. I really enjoy a great fight and the tender revealing parts of making up. There’s honesty on both sides. People tend to reveal things in anger and then stretch where they are willing to go for reconciliation.

Sam and Peter have a history that I love. I think it really grounds their relationship and maybe helps explain why they put up with each other during certain parts of the story. It also explains why certain things hit them harder than say, a couple just getting to know each other. The history also creates some lovely moments romantically for them too.

There’s a part in the book where Sam recognizes what a rare thing it is to know a man and also remember him as the boy getting his first bike. When two characters are that connected, I think it adds something to the romance. It allows for laughter and genuineness that I really enjoyed writing.

BCM: You mentioned in our last interview that when you were writing Premiere, you created Peter’s character first. I think readers often assume that modern romance stories are mostly about the female character, but Peter’s character is very developed, and really expresses the twenty-something male mind. Which character was easier to write about, Samantha or Peter?

TE: Peter and I had a really tough time in the beginning and throughout the first set of revisions. He’s a complicated character and his first incarnation was super angsty. He was annoying and hadn’t really come into himself. I found myself wondering why the hell he came back at all if he still couldn’t get his act together. So, he took time, but I loved him by the final draft. It’s important for me that my men have dimension, that they are human beings and not simply a set of rippling abs. Peter grew into a really lovely, fumbling, damaged soul.

Samantha took some time too. I needed her to have a backbone and something to lose if she let Peter back in. At the same time, I wanted her to be vulnerable and loving. She comes from a great home and being a failed actress is always a touch dramatic. My editor still thinks she “cries an awful lot.” She’s solid, weighted in her family and deeply in love with Peter.

BCM: And so for you as a writer, does the character idea come first and then the plot, or do you develop both at the same time?

TE: The characters and the general place come first. I’m inspired by places. So, for Premiere, I had Peter and Sam in the room with me and I knew we were talking about a second chance and most of it would take place in a theatre. I always knew that theatre would be the Pasadena Playhouse.

The conflict arrives once I put them in the space, or figure out their backstory. Before the actual plotting begins, I have my ending. I always need to have some idea how the story ends, so I know where I’m taking these people.

The middle is the adventure; I’m often not sure what will pop up in the middle because it’s really driven by the characters.

BCM: In Premiere, you raise a sticky question that applies to all fiction writers. As a playwright, Peter’s best material comes from his own painful and very personal experiences. And Samantha and the rest of Peter’s friends and family have to deal with their personal lives being put up on stage for all to see. I think all writers do this to varying extents. Is it easy to remove yourself from your characters and give them attributes that don’t directly reflect your own experiences? How do you deal with ideas that come from your own experiences and put them into fiction?

TE: That’s a great question. I don’t see my characters as any one person in his or her entirety, but there are pieces of people I know, or have known, in my characters. The characteristics are usually jumbled and often pop up in the weirdest places.

For example, Grady says, “Progress, not perfection.” That is a phrase my mom’s husband uses all the time. Grady is nothing like her husband, but that phrase, that life philosophy, fits Grady, so it worked for the character. Gil, her husband, will recognize the phrase, but he certainly won’t think Grady is modeled after him. Another one is the breakfast that Peter eats every morning. It’s a breakfast my friend used to eat. I liked it because it seems so over the top to add all of that to Raisin Bran. It’s a quirk that works for Peter, but again, he’s nothing like my friend.

I’m a bit of a quirk collector, so those are usually things people in my real life will recognize, but my characters are always fiction. I have some people that I would love to directly translate to fiction, but I’m not sure I could do that. Knowing people is a bit of a confidence that shouldn’t be violated. If people let you in on a level that you could develop a character, I think that’s sacred and should be protected.

It speaks to Peter’s self centeredness that he doesn’t work harder to mask his characters or thinks nothing of sharing Sam with an audience of strangers. In his defense, the love scene is abstract, but it’s still a violation. It’s the only way he knows how to relate, or communicate for that matter, so it works for the character.

BCM: In our last interview, you named An Affair to Remember as one of your favorite movies, so that made it fun for me when Samantha and Peter watch this and one of Peter’s favorites, Some Kind of Wonderful, on their special movie date. How do details like this make it into your writing? Is it planned or more spontaneous?

TE: They are spontaneous. I’m not always sure where they come from. I was writing that scene and I wanted something that reflected the difference between Sam and Peter. Those two movies and specifically the two scenes noted in the book came to mind. I think if I had tried to plan it I would have messed it up, over thought it. When I’m open and my writing is flowing, the details are there, they appear. It’s one of my favorite parts about being a writer.   I sometimes feel as if I have this buried treasure of things, events, people, conversations that I discover each time I allow myself the creative space.

BCM: Tell me about the Pasadena Playhouse. As soon as my review of Premiere went online, they followed me on Twitter! How did you choose that playhouse to be Premiere’s venue?

TE: They followed you…Yay! I love Pasadena and the Playhouse has an energy, a history, which I have always found fascinating. It’s a gem and has not always had an easy run. It seemed the perfect place to put two people in need of strength. The Playhouse is a survivor. She adapts and moves forward.

I liked that structural image for this story. There’s also a connection to the community that I’m not sure many theatres have. Since Premiere is so centered around home and community, it seemed like the perfect place.

BCM: So, as you mentioned, your next book, Candidate, is about Grady, another major character in Premiere. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

TE: Yes, Candidate is Grady’s story. The first draft will be finished 11/21/14. I have to say that I love him. I mean, I always love the characters I’m working on, but Grady is something special. He’s the charmer, the smartass, in Premiere. I wanted to explore that and he certainly opens up into so much more in Candidate. Grady is the senator’s son. He’s the definition of privileged and a bit wild, at least on the surface. His father is running for re-election and hires a PR firm to help him with the youth vote, make him more relevant.

Kate works for the PR firm. She is from a cop’s family. Very grounded and two years divorced from a cop. Candidate is about appearances, keeping them up and discovering what often lies beneath. We see a little more of Grady’s bitchy sister, Kara, in Candidate as a lead into the third book, Al dente: A Love Story. Candidate travels to Washington DC and San Francisco with plenty of time in Pasadena and Los Angeles. There’s a definite clash of collars, blue and white, in Candidate.

BCM: I’d love to hear about what you do to give your writing polish. Do you go to writing workshops or trade ideas and advice with other writers?

TE: I’m super boring in this area. I write alone. I don’t have a writer’s group and I don’t really attend workshops yet. I have this weird sense that I’m always new, starting out, and not quite ready for “real writer” stuff. I’m not great at sharing my work before it’s done, or while I’m in the process. I don’t really want anyone’s opinion at that point.

Once I’ve finished the journey, I do ask for people to read and comment. I now work with two editors and a small group of people that I share my work with prior to publication. My advice to other writers is always, do what works for you. Writing feels very personal for me and I think processes can be, and should be, as unique as the people trying to share their stories.

BCM: Have you ever tried writing short fiction? Do you have any other projects in the works?

TE: I have never tried writing short fiction, but I do have a lot of fun on yeahwrite.me. They give a micro fiction prompt every week where the writer needs to tell a story in exactly 42 words. I tend to be very wordy, so these weekly exercises in brevity are great for me.

I’m currently finishing up Candidate before it goes to my editor for a first read through and I’m always blogging, although I’ve been in and out of the laundry room lately. It’s hard to keep both going when I’m trying to finish a manuscript.

BCM: Thank you so much, Tracy, for taking time to do this interview. Best wishes to you!

TE: It is always lovely to be asked. Thank you for everything, Barb.

Make sure you check out Tracy’s blog at  http://fromthelaundryroom.com/

…and her website:  http://tracyewens.com/

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