Look at Ada write.
Author Ada Austen, writer of Romance novels, blogs her love to you.
The following is an excerpt from Boardwalk Ice, coming in Summer 2021.
Belladonna had a gift. It was a secret gift that she knew, instinctively, was something to be held tight inside. It wasn’t a treasure to show to the world, like a diamond ring on your finger, like something her mother would flash around. This was a gift to keep in a box, buried in a hiding place so remote that you only went to it, you only opened that door to where it was, maybe once a year.
She chose her birthday as the day to go there. People made way for you on your birthday. They offered you a little more slack on that day. Plus, in a practical way, as a kid, it was an easy day to remember.
On her eleventh birthday, her father, who was just recently home from years in prison, was waiting for her at the kitchen table.
“Happy birthday,” he said. “You’re not going to school today, I’m taking you to the track with me.”
The cigarette smoke from both her mother and father’s spaces was joining above the table, in the grimy kitchen light. Her mother said nothing. Belladonna stood still, watching the smoke, wondering what plan these two little minds had come up with together. She already felt so much older than them.
“Go ahead and eat. Races don’t start till one.”
It was a big plan, for their little minds, she could sense that. He was nervous. He flitted around the kitchen, as she ate the toast she’d made. He made phone calls in the bedroom and would return to the kitchen after each one, his puffs getting faster, his body rocking with nicotine and nerves.
It made her feel nervous too, but she knew how to hide the feelings.
She quietly followed him from the car and was surprised when he led her far from the grandstand, where they had parked, to enter an area marked Stables - Staff Only.
“I’m gonna take you to meet a horse,” he said, still walking quickly. “You like horses, right? Every little girl likes horses, right?”
“I don’t know any horses.”
“I’m gonna take you to meet one. One special one. You’ll get to pet him.”
“Can I ride him?”
He laughed. “No way. Not this horse. I just want you to pet him.”
Her eyes darted to his face. Did he know, her special gift? How would he know?
“Aw, here you are.” Her father walked up to a short man in a shiny jacket. “How ya doin’ today?
Feelin’ lucky today, or what?”
They shook hands. The man in the shiny jacket looked at her slyly.
“This is my daughter, Belladonna. Bella, shake hands with this man, his name is Mr. Shorty.”
She kept her hands in her pockets and stared at the man who reached out to her. He laughed nervously like he wasn’t use to kids. He withdrew his arm.
“Hey kid,” he said.
“Bella, shake hands with him.” Her father was frowning.
“It’s my birthday,” she said to the man.
She heard her father exhale but chose to not look at his face.
“Yeah? Your birthday? How old are you now?”
“Eleven? Seven Eleven. Lucky numbers. Eleven is a lucky number.”
“What do you know about luck?”
Both of the men laughed.
“Shake his hand. Maybe you’ll find out what he knows about luck.”
There was a mad edge to his tone that caused her to reach out her hand. Mr. Shorty took it, exaggerating the shaking. Slowly their two arms pumped in the air as he stared into her eyes.
He didn’t know anything about luck.
“Now, come here. Pet this horse here, this is Catch The Wind. Isn’t he a beauty? Pet him, here.”
She moved to the horse. She’d never been up close to a horse before. Before she touched him, she asked him, inside, if it was okay. His big eyes said yes, it’s okay. She touched him like she’d seen how people do on TV. Immediately, she felt his drive, his hunger, his energy. It was barely containable.
Her father put his arm around her and leaned down to whisper in her ear.
“I think the horse will win if this idiot doesn’t hold him back.”
Her father laughed nervously.
He turned to the jockey. “Just let him go, full out. Can you do that?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’ve got to do that. Right? You got the word. Don’t worry about the others. Just let him go. That’s the order.”
“I’m suppose to believe the Boss got an eleven-year-old girl calling the shots, now?”
“No, no. The word was given before we came. It’s her birthday. I just let her come, that’s all. The order is don’t hold back. Let the others hold back.”
The man nodded. Belladonna held her father’s hand as they walked away. She turned and saw the man staring at her.
Her father was walking quickly and breathing heavy, looking straight ahead. She had to run to keep up. She could feel his nervousness. It was so strong. Fear. This was real fear. But she could feel something else, too, something much stronger.
She tugged on his arm, looking up. “Stop! Stop!”
“Come on. I’ve got to get the bets in.”
She tugged again. “Stop!”
He stopped. “What?”
“Don’t worry so much! Don’t be afraid! It’s ..”
He bent down, looking into her face.
“It’s your lucky day, Daddy.”
The relief he felt hit them both, hard. He smiled like she’d never seen him smile before.
The warmth of his hug surprised her. She felt loved? Deep down, she knew it was his luck she felt, not his love. They were both four letter words. She could choose to confuse them if she wanted. It was her right. It was her life. It was her gift to herself on her birthday.
Copyright 2018 Ada Austen. All rights reserved.
Beautiful books has a link up for authors participating right now in the NanoWriMo.org challenge, to give an update on the status of their novel writing. (Nanowrimo is a yearly challenge to write a complete novel, or 50,000 words of one, during the month of November.) So here's my post on answering their questions, regarding the novel I'm writing called Better Late than Never, second (but standalone) novel in the Native Romance Series.
Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
My mental state is awesome! I'm feeling energetic and excited. This is only day 3, but everything is going better than I expected. The story is flowing out of me, writing itself. I suppose it's because I kept it bottled up for a few weeks, waiting for November. This is the first NaNoWriMo I've done and I think the technique is a good fit for me.
What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
It felt right to be back in Jersey. Standing here near the cold Atlantic, he breathed in the smell of the sea. It was so powerful, the salted air, the loud crashing surf, the relentless shrieks of gulls that flew around him as he stood facing East assaulted all his senses. This place made you prove yourself. He knew it could sense the fear from you. It was just like Carrie, and he was ready for it. He was determined. This time he was going to find a place here, a place to belong. This time, he was going to take it head on. He was going to take her head on. She might have scared him down to his cowboy boots once, but he was just a boy then. Now he was a man, left his boots and hat behind and he was determined to win her over on her own turf – her own beach, her own Jersey Shore.
Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
The man in the above paragraph - our hero - Manny Chattoche. He is the son of the hero in my novel Helping Each Other. So, he comes from a good family. I'm falling in love with him.
What do you love about your novel so far?
I'm allowing myself to write about my true love, which is the ocean beaches where I live. It's a strong presence in the story. I'm a Jersey Girl and so is my heroine.
Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
It was not hilarious, at all. I could not get my novel document opened yesterday. I spent the whole morning trying to get Siri to help me. There's something really odd talking to Siri. I feel like I'm talking to a toddler, rephrasing my requests again and again. I was very proud of myself, how patient I was with her. Finally, I realized I needed to update my LibreOffice app. No thanks to Siri! It was a walk on the beach that helped.
What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
I like writing the beginning, where all the characters are introduced and we get a sense of the story to come. It's like setting out on a journey.
What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best?
No music or radio, I need to hear the voices in my head. I try to write my word count first thing in the morning. When I need a break I take my dog to walk with me at the beach. I try not to think of anything, it's like meditation. When I come home, it never fails, I'm refreshed and ready to write more. Regarding snacks, remember this is November 3rd. I ate way too much Halloween candy on day 1 and 2. Now, I am so sick of it, there's a huge bowl near me and...I've only had 2 pieces today.
How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
I prefer a Batcave. I am actually in the kitchen or on my back porch, weather permitting though. There are incredible colors of Autumn in the trees right now, but I'm staring at the screen instead.
What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
Is this hard? No, this is not hard. I think about all the time I have wasted on social media and realize I'd rather be digging up the stories I hold inside, rather than scrolling posts for hours until my eyes bleed.
What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
1. Leave your fears at the door. Tell them you'll come back for them another day, after the final draft.
2. Write towards a bigger purpose, make the world a better place, because your novel is in it. If just one person is inspired, then mission accomplished.
3. Just do it. Now is the time.
The current political mess clearly shows one single truth we should all be able to agree upon - truth is in the eye of the beholder. One side can't even see the truth the other side sees so clearly. How did we get here? Most important, no matter the election outcome, how can we move on to a better society?
As a writer, I see a need for communication. At the root of communication there must be trust. How do we get there, to a place where we can trust each other? Well, think about it. How did you learn to trust anyone? It is usually through experience, right? One of the main gifts of fiction is allowing the reader to experience something they have never experienced in reality.
So, writers have an opportunity to expose their readers to other viewpoints, lifestyles and cultures. Are you doing this? This is my call for action to writers, to communicate, to enable respect and understanding. Of course we must try hard to write on what we know and not reinforce stereotypes.
We all have different approaches and formats for our fiction. For me, the choice is to write novels that share multi-cultural romances. This is because I believe the ultimate sign of peace is love, respect and trust between two people of two different cultures. That's my higher goal in writing and my daily sense of purpose. Keeping that in mind makes it easier for me to face this land of misunderstanding and write in the midst of mistrust.
Please let me know, do you believe your work is serving to change the world in some small way? Thank you for your thoughts and thank you for your writing. The world needs your book, the world is waiting!
I am prepping for NaNoWriMo 2016. This, in English, means I have joined thousands of authors around the world to prepare to write a novel, start to finish, during the month of November. Read more about this yearly challenge at the National Novel Writing Month website - nanowrimo.org
Here's a list of 5 how-to write a novel books I found helpful while writing my first novel, Helping Each Other - a Native Romance and a few that I purchased to prepare for my second novel. I'm sharing the list here in hopes it will help some of my fellow participants in this exciting challenge.
My problem with many how-to books is that they are too often written by someone who is an expert in writing how-to books - not in the actual field. Well, there's no question Stephen King knows how to write a novel. Here he shares his writing habits and motivation. It is a classic, must read for all aspiring writers and an interesting read for his fans in general.
Subtitled as the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days, I just had to buy this when I saw it last month. It looks perfect for the NanoWriMo challenge. There are guides and worksheets and even a 30 day calender to help pace and ensure you are covering the essentials. Prep work includes the usual character sketching, 3 Acts, etc. I especially like the Setting Goals and Trusting Yourself chapters. As in this quote - "The first step in choosing the right project is to figure out who you are as a writer and what kind of project you want to work on. This means figuring out what you're most passionate about and working that passion into your story.."
Robyn Carr, author of gazillions of books, is definitely an expert on how to write popular fiction. This book stresses the requirements of genre fiction. It goes into detail on exactly how to show instead of tell what you need to in each scene. I would not attempt to ever write a novel without this guide by my side.
I bought this book recently and haven't even finished it. There is so much material, with practice exercises, that it feels like a graduate level course in writing. This book defines the 3 Act novel concept very well. My favorite exercise was to brainstorm what do you want the reader to have experienced by the end of each act. This is really helping me define my book on a higher level, knowing what the purpose of various scenes will be.
Romance novels are a special genre. This book is a great guide (and one of the few) to the unique challenges of writing a romance. It breaks down the formula and the types of scenes that are found in every romance novel. Romances are all about the characters and this steps you through creating strong characters. It even shows how subplots are managed.
Let me know in the comments below if this list helps you and if you have any favorites to add to it. Good luck on writing your novel! #nanowrimo