Monday, May 27, 2013
The Write Stuff
Chloe sucked furiously on the cap of her ballpoint and glowered at the ruled page that was supposed to have words on it. Its pristine blankness continued to defy her. She fortified herself with another slug of her mint coffee (with its generous head of whipped cream), set the tip of the pen to the paper, and ordered the magic to happen.
Nothing. All the words, all the plots, all the ideas in her head jammed up like a case of literary constipation and refused to come out. Only two words made it out of her subconscious and into her surface thoughts. These were nyah nyah.
C’mon, she prodded the recalcitrant words, help me out here. She’d done everything she could think of. She was sitting in a coffee shop and drinking coffee with a pen and a spiral notebook, just like a real writer was supposed to. It had worked for J. K. Rowling when she was writing her Harry Potter books. Who was Chloe Stevens to argue with the success of Harry Potter?
Maybe she should have used a legal pad. Hadn’t John Grisham written his first bestsellers on a legal pad?
Her other talisman, a copy of Tempest Arouz’s latest bestseller, sat at her right hand. Tempest wrote erotic M/M, whereas Chloe aspired to mild-to-tame M/F, but the paperback was proof it could be done, and done well enough to make a modest living on. Since Chloe’s last layoff, any kind of living at all topped Chloe’s list of priorities. Her aging Honda wasn’t big enough to live in, even by starving artist standards.
The “About the Author” page said Tempest lived here in Talbot’s Peak. Maybe she wrote her books here. Chloe glanced around hopefully at the other customers of Java Joe’s, but so far all were male. Maybe Tempest wrote in a lofty penthouse with a spectacular view of the mountains. The crisp Montana air had yet to prove conducive to creativity, but Chloe was determined to stick with it.
If all else failed, she could go crawling to the local newspaper and beg for a job, even though print journalism wasn’t the most stable of career choices right now. Her last two jobs had downsized her out the door after three years and two years, respectively. With unemployment running out, Chloe decided what the hell, time to become a romance novelist, like she’d always wanted. Now if only the words would cooperate.
Characters, that’s what she needed. Story follows the characters. She took another, closer look at her fellow caffeine addicts. Maybe the hero of her first bestseller was sitting here at Java Joe’s.
But not that guy. The huge, pallid man with the Russian accent would never make it as a romance hero by anybody’s standards. Too darn scary. Bad guy, maybe. The ruthless head of a vampire flock who threatened to make the heroine his bride. Perfect. Now all she needed was a damsel in need of some serious rescuing, and a man capable of performing same.
Or men. The two cowboys seated over by the window fit the hero bill quite nicely. Both were tall and broad-shouldered and majorly cute, and filled out their jeans in all the ways a romance hero was supposed to. The one was blond, the other sort of reddish-brown. Brownie had a deeper voice than Blondie. She couldn’t see what color their eyes were. Chloe shrugged. She was in charge of this story. She could give them whatever color eyes she wanted.
She glanced at the cover of Tempest’s paperback, which featured two hot cowboys, then back to the real deal by the window. Chloe had never tried to write a ménage before. Maybe now was the time. Menages were huge on the market right now, especially paranormals. Maybe the cowboys were vampires too. But good vampires. They only drank cow blood. Her heroine, whatever her name ended up being, would fall for them head over stiletto heels. After they rescued her from the bad vampire. And had hot animal sex.
Chloe took one last preparatory slug from her mug and started writing.
# # #
“That she over there,” Dale muttered to Ewan. “The one with the pen and the notebook. Is she looking at us?”
“Can you blame her?” Ewan slicked back his blond hair and licked his lips. “Two handsome dogs like us? I’ll bet she’s plotting to get herself into our Levis even as we speak.”
Dale forced himself not to turn around. Apes in general didn’t bother him. Apes with pen and paper or other recording devices, that was a whole other deal. “Her scent says she’s human.”
“Even better. Human shes don’t give a whiff for rank. They’ll put out for anything.”
“What do you suppose she’s writing?”
“A love letter to me. ‘Oh, Ewan, my heart pounds with unending lust for your irresistibly hot good looks.’ What? Chicks are into love letters.”
“She doesn’t even know you. If she did, she’d be writing a restraining order.”
“You’re just jealous of my luck with the ladies.”
Dale Hancock snorted. Ewan came from back East, and was rumored to have more than a dollop of coyote in his suspect DNA. He’d adapted to the Montana lifestyle with no trouble, and looked more like a cowboy than native-born Dale. So far Dale’s blood connection to the ruling pack hadn’t gotten him squat, shes or otherwise. Just patrol duty from second—or was it third?—cousin Dante.
And standing orders to keep an eye out for any humans acting suspiciously. Such as the tasty bit at the table back there, studying everybody in the coffee shop and jotting notes.
“I’m going to sneak a peak at that notebook,” he decided. “Get over there and distract her.”
“What? Why me?”
“Because the ladies love you so much. Go. And try not to get any coffee tossed in your face this time.”
“Watch the master in action,” Ewan said. He got up and ambled over to the human’s table. Dale sat by, legs tensed to move, and hoped she was just some innocent ape and not another hunter or something. The last thing they needed in Talbot’s Peak was any more bad press.