Tag Archive | writing romance

2016 A Good Year for Writing

Dellani Oakes with glasses2016 stunk in a lot of ways, not the least of which were all the deaths, both famous and not. Too many taken from us too soon. There was one respect in which 2016 was kind of all right. It’s a very personal way, not something that means much to anyone but me.

For several years, I’ve made a resolution to finish a book a month. This doesn’t mean that I start and finish the book in the same 30 day period (though I do that, too). This means that I take a book I’ve been working for awhile, maybe years, and I complete it. I’ve been making this same resolution for three years now, and I’ve just made it again. I don’t always meet this goal, but I feel that if I make a concerted effort and write constantly, I’m progressing well. Of course, the new goal becomes getting them publication ready—a longer and more complicated project. (And, let’s face it, a lot less fun)

In 2016, I managed to finish fourteen books! That’s better than one a month. There were a few months I didn’t complete something, but others where I did two or more. Please keep in mind, unless it states short story or novella, these are all books 50,000+ words. That includes the ones written in 5 – 10 days.

This years list includes:

January – Author of Love

February – Tarrah (a short story)

March – As yet untitled novella

April – Ranger’s Heart & When Tis Done

May – none finished as I was editing Room 103 for publication

June – How Far is Heaven, Sierra and Food Truck Hero (which was written in 6 days)

July – Raven Willoughby: Origins, Beach Bum, Alton & Velda and Game Junkies

August – He Needed Killin’ (written in 9 days)

September – none finished

October – none finished

November – So Much It Hurts (2016 NaNo, completed in 5 days)

December – none finished

Overall, not a bad year, though I did better in 2015 (25 books), but I consider anything 12 and over, a win. I finished 14 books in 2014 as well. Though I didn’t finish any books every month of the year, I started 4 new ones. I couldn’t seem to make up my mind how to finish them, but it gives me a goal for this year. Challenge accepted!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Something New – Part 33 (Again)

something new coverMy apologies that this part went up a month early. This is what happens when I work late at night. Clearly, that was a mistake!

Although the interview goes extremely well, Austin is so stunned and moved by Liz bringing some of the Magician’s Fund children on the show, he’s exhausted. Instead of going out to celebrate, he simply wants to go home.

“I know it would be fun to celebrate, but I honestly just want to go home and take a nap. That was emotionally draining.”

“Let’s plan on dinner,” Gordon suggested. “You can go home, relax and we’ll all meet up—where?”

“There’s a great restaurant in my building. Owen Rhys is the chef.”

“Sounds perfect,” Elaine agreed. “At eight?”

“I’ll call for a reservation,” Dwight said, taking out his phone. Moments later, he’d confirmed their reservation.

Stu dropped off Dwight and Austin at their building before heading to the Vogel Building. They went up the back elevator again.

“When did life get so bloody complicated?” Austin asked.

“About the time you got famous,” Dwight replied. “My phone is ringing like crazy.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Vibrate.” He pulled the phone out of his pants pocket, waving it around. “Only action I’m likely to get for awhile. Maybe I’ll just let it ring.” He winked and went home.

Austin started undressing as soon as he closed his door. He headed to the shower and let the hot water pound his back, unknotting his shoulders. Controlling his emotions had been exhausting. As much as he appreciated what Liz had done, it had brought all the horrors back. How he wished someone had done for him what he was doing for others. If he could save even one child or family from the fear and humiliation he’d felt, he would judge himself worthy.

He dressed in loose fitting jeans and ratty T-shirt. Walking around barefoot, he enjoyed the deep pile carpet. A lunch of Naomi and Dexter’s leftovers filled him up. He sipped a single beer and watched Farscape on DVD. He didn’t watch much television, but he loved to run marathons of favorite TV shows. He was deep into season one when someone knocked at his door. He paused the show and opened the door.

Liat stood there, grinning. “Mind if I join you?” She also was wearing jeans and a baggy shirt.

“Love for you to. I’ve been watching John Crichton whilst deciding whether or not to take a nap.”

“Can I interest you in something other than a nap?” She tugged his belt loops, pulling him close.

Austin smiled down at her, putting his hands on her waist. “I’d like that. I’d love to hope it involves getting naked.”

Liat playfully pushed him away. “I’ve known you since Thursday.”

“So, that’s a no.”

“That’s a be patient.”

Holding her waist, he walked backwards toward the couch. He sat down, pulling her down to straddle his lap.

“After all the sights I’ve shown you. Super novas in the beta quadrant.”

“That was just the light bulb going in one of the lamps.”

“Meteor shower in Sol Bea.”

“Styrofoam rocks hurled at us from the catwalk.”

“Bloody hell, I’m useless.”

“Almost entirely,” she replied, pushing him back against the couch.

“Well, the question burning in everyone’s mind, is this. How much of the last three days may we count as dates?”

She climbed off his lap, sitting close beside him. “Hmm. . . . We can count dinner the first night.”

“How about the snogging in my trailer.”

“Mm, no.”

“But I want to count it.”

“Why?”

“Because it was such fun. And now, may we include now?”

“Maybe. Depends upon what you want to do.”

“I’m a thirty-two year old man in a room with the most beautiful woman in the world. What do you think I want to do?” He loomed over her, his face mere inches from hers.

“Play Trivial Pursuit?”

“Not even close.” He smiled as his lips brushed her cheek.

“We’re having dinner with my parents soon.”

“And?” He nosed her hair, his tongue tickling her ear.

“And, if we do anything inappropriate—Daddy will know.”

He fell back, lying on the couch. “Dammit, that’s done it.”

“What?”

“The cock block I needed after the first time I kissed you. There it is. Your father will castrate me if I even think of shagging you.” He groaned, putting a pillow over his face. He pressed against it as if trying to suffocate himself.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Something New – Part 26

something new coverAfter the press conference, they have a lavish lunch at Sarducci’s restaurant. While they are there, Dwight gets a call from Babs, telling him they have been summoned to The Presence. Austin has no idea what that means, but it seems to awe the others.

Dwight tipped his head to Elaine.

She sighed, pushing them toward the door. “The Presence is what we call the God of Broadcasting in this city. He knows all, he sees all, he’s God.”

“Does this paragon have a name?”

“Yes,” Liat said. “I call him Daddy.”

They dragged a stunned Austin to the car. Stu sped along the streets, miraculously hitting green lights and minimal traffic. Though he asked many questions, Austin couldn’t get another word out of the women, Stu or Dwight. Resigned to the fact that he was being ignored, he settled back in his seat and closed his eyes. The car slowed, making a hard left turn. Austin woke. Liat handed him a breath mint. He popped it in his mouth before kissing her.

“Feel better now?”

“Little bit.”

“Good. You’ll need it.” She climbed out of the car.

Stu ushered them to the elevator and waited with them. “I’ll be waiting in the car,” he promised.

“Where are we?”

“The Vogel Building,” Liat replied.

“You’ve got a building—named after you?”

“Named after my great-grandfather.”

Liat pressed a section of wall and a sliver of wood slid back, revealing a single button. Elaine pushed it and the elevator rose rapidly, not stopping at any other floors.

When it reached its destination, the doors opened to a pink marble floored foyer. The walls were tooled bronze to about chest height, and creamy cloth above. On the left, wide steps led down to a lavish room with a black marble floor. There was a rectangular fireplace standing in the middle. The perimeter of the room consisted of gray leather couches. A padded lip ran around the fireplace, perfect for people to put up their feet.

To the right, a grand piano occupied a cozy nook. A panoramic view of the city filled the bowed glass windows. The room continued, but Austin didn’t have time to look at it all.

Elaine led them to the sitting area around the fireplace. They took seats in a tight cluster, except for Elaine, who sat directly opposite the steps. Moments later, a tall, dark haired man with broad shoulders and muscular chest, came to greet them. He trotted down the steps and stopped in front of Elaine, holding out his hands. She took them and he raised her to a standing position. His arms went around her waist, pulling her close, as he kissed her.

“Hello, darling,” she said with a smile. “How was Paris?”

“Boring. French.” He winked, patting her on the fanny. “You’ve had some excitement. Hello, Precious.” He greeted his daughter with a kiss and hug.

Austin and Dwight stood, waiting anxiously. Liat’s father was an intimidating man. He stood over six feet tall. His black hair was shot with silver, his blue eyes penetrating. His voice was a loud and rumbling baritone, laced with a distinctive Oxford accent.

“You’ve studied Shakespeare,” Austin said as he stepped forward.

The man’s blue eyes twinkled. “I have indeed, young man. Royal Shakespeare, 1971 through 75. Astute.” He shook Austin’s hand.

“No one rumbles like a Shakespearian,” Austin replied. “Which must make you Gordon Vogel.”

“It must, indeed! Gordon Oliver Desmond Vogel, God for short.” He turned to his wife, smirking. “You told me he was sharp. Who’s your friend?” He held out his hand to Dwight.

“Dwight Wales. He’s my personal assistant and good friend.”

“Everyone needs those,” Gordon said, shaking Dwight’s hand. “Friends, I mean. Assistants are a dime a dozen.”

“Not good ones,” Dwight said confidently. “We go for a dollar a dozen.”

Gordon burst out laughing at the silly joke. “I like this one too. Can we keep them, Mummy?” He sounded like a child, directing the comment to his wife. “Sit, everyone. Beverages. Sam-u-el!” He drew out the name like a battle cry.

The windows shook when he called the name. An elderly gentleman in a black suit came to stand by the sunken room.

“You bellowed, sir?”

“Beverages, Samuel. Tea?” He asked the room in general. “Yes, tea. The Oolong.”

“As you wish, sir.” He bowed, turning his back to the room.

“Great man. Deaf as a post,” Gordon muttered.

“I can hear you,” Samuel said. “I’m not deaf.”

“He’s not. I just like yelling. Sit!”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Something New – Part 25

something new coverThe press conference went well. Austin played his part perfectly.

They laughed as the elevator opened. Stu was waiting for them, grinning.

“Beautiful job. Where to now?”

“Lunch,” Liat said. “I’m starving.”

“We’ve got the whole city to choose from.”

“Sarducci’s,” Liat replied.

Dwight pulled out his phone and made a call. “They’ll have a private dining room for us. Go to the back door,” he told Stu.

“You got it!”

“Let’s eat, then you need to discuss the schedule for all your interviews with Dwight and your agent.”

“All my interviews? I thought there were just the two.”

“After this? Everyone is rabid to chat with you.”

“I was hoping that my statement would make them less interested, not more.”

“Ride the wave, dear,” she advised. “This is a great forum for you.”

“For the show, you mean.”

“No, for you. You believe everything you said today. There are more important things than gossip and celebrities. If we spent as much time worrying about the country and less time worrying about movie stars, we’d be a far better place.”

They pulled up to the back door of Sarducci’s Italian Restaurant. The hostess, a tall blonde woman, met them at the door and led them to a private dining room. When Stu had parked the car, he joined them. Hors d’ouevres circulated on Venitian glass serving trays, accompanied by champagne. Soon, lunch was served.

Austin took his first bite. The flavors rolled across his tongue and he smiled. “Divine,” he said as the waitress refilled his water. “Please give my compliments to the chef.”

“I will, Mr. Templeton, thank you.”

The waitress moved away, but Austin caught her sleeve.

“Ask her if I detect a hint of anise and just a touch of—” he smacked his lips a second. “No, fennel, not anise. It’s really unique.”

“I’ll ask.”

A few minutes later, a short, petite woman with long black hair and a chef’s cap, walked into the room. The men rose, including Austin, though he had no idea who she was. Grinning, she came over to him, her hand out.

“You’re good. You tasted the fennel. Not even my father caught that.”

“There’s cardamom too, but I didn’t catch that until after the waitress left. Nice background to the garlic, onion and pepper.”

“Are you a chef?”

“No, I just love to eat. I can barely boil water, but I appreciate good food. It is delicious, Chef. Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. Come back any time.”

“Thank you. If you keep cooking like that, I’ll eat here all the time.”

“I’ll keep cooking like that.” She winked and left.

Applause followed the chef out. A waiter closed the door behind her.

Dwight’s phone rang. He wandered away from the table before answering. “No kidding!” He couldn’t seem to contain his delight. “Thanks, Babs.” He scurried over to the table. “How soon can we get to Riverside?” he asked Stu.

“If we hurry and there’s not too much traffic, forty minutes, an hour tops.”

“Come,” he gestured to Liat and Austin. “Elaine, you too.”

“What? Where?” Liat asked.

“We’ve been summoned,” he replied. “To the Presence.”

Obviously understanding, the women stood, preparing to go. Stu dropped his napkin and hitched up his pants.

Austin frowned. “What are you talking about?” Austin followed Dwight to the door.

“Honestly, do I have to tell you everything?” Dwight stopped, incredulous.

“Apparently, yes. What’s the Presence?”

“It’s not a what, it’s a who.”

“Okay, that then.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Something New – Part 24

something new coverWaking a little late Saturday morning, Austin is greeted with several phone messages, including several from Liat. He calls her first and finds out there is a press conference at the studio, to counter the charges levied by Irving. When he gets outside his apartment building, he’s greeted by reporters and cameras.

“What was that?”

“Fame.”

“That’s all Irving’s doing?”

“Mostly, yes.”

“Bastard.”

Dwight and Stu laughed.

“Do I have lines or am I winging this?”

“Lines.” Dwight handed him his phone.

Austin flipped through the e-mail his friend had been sent. He read it through twice, making sure he had all in his mind.

“Don’t ad lib,” Dwight cautioned. “Stick to the script.”

“Right.”

They arrived at the network building and drove into an underground garage. The building was surrounded by rival networks converging upon them. They all headed to the front door and were guided to an auditorium. Austin and his entourage went to the back elevator reserved for executives and others too important to brave the public places.

Dwight did a last minute primping, making sure Austin’s tie was straight, his hair contained and his handkerchief suitably fluffed. Liat waited in the wings stage right. Her mother was already on stage, talking to the press.

“Without further adieu, I present Austin Templeton.” She gestured to the wings, clapping.

Austin entered, shoulders back, chin up. He worked the crowd like a politician on the election trail. Smiling and waving, he stood with Elaine, posing for pictures. He kissed her hand before she stepped aside. Cameras clicked, people jostled. He winked at her when his back was turned to the audience, before stepping on his mark, exactly center stage. He didn’t have a microphone, that anyone could see, but he spoke with confidence.

“Good morning, everyone. I trust you slept well.” He paused a moment, smiling. “Seems that there are ugly rumors flying about and I’d like to put those to rest, if I may. I’d like to begin by saying that I am, quite frankly, deeply concerned about Irving. I strove to keep our relationship professional, but perhaps he misinterpreted that as being aloof.” He shrugged. “Who can say? In any case, if he wishes to believe that I was rude to him or insulted him, that’s his choice. I wish him the best of luck in his professional career and appreciate the direction he gave me.” He bowed, turning to exit.

“Austin!” one woman up front called. “Show us your bum!”

He leaned forward, hand to his ear. “Excuse me?”

“Your bum,” she repeated eagerly.

Austin walked to the front of the stage, crouching in front of her. “Have there been any robberies this morning? Muggings, murders? Stock fraud, car crashes? Are there people sleeping in boxes in ally ways because they can’t afford a home? Do people starve to death and wander the streets because they lost their jobs to outsourcing?”

The woman stared at him, dumbfounded. Some of the reporters caught on, but most of them stared too.

“Because I find it hard to believe that this petty argument between me and Irving Childers is worth this amount of air time. How much money did you spend getting over here for this? What is this press conference costing the network? Tomorrow, over coffee and bagels, will the American public be talking about the war, the homeless, the starving or the terminally ill? Or will they, in fact, be talking about this tripe as they sip their seven dollar lattes and chow down on expensive pastries?” He glared at them, standing suddenly.

“This is a farce and I no longer want to be party to it. When you have important things to ask, I’d be happy to chat. Until then, go home.” He spun angrily and strode off the stage.

Shocked faces greeted him in the wings. Dwight followed, with Liat trotting behind.

Elaine watched him, smiling. “Good lad!” Putting on a solemn face, she went back to the stage. “I apologize, ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Templeton has left the building and will be unavailable for contact. Any questions may be directed to my staff. Please pick up the press kit on your way out.” She, too, exited.

Chaos ensued. No one had ever been dismissed from a press conference so precipitously. They weren’t sure whether to be insulted or respect the hell out of the kid. The more perceptive chose to look closely at his statement. Others chose to feel insulted. Either way, Austin was the talk of the town.

By the elevator, Austin waited for Dwight and Liat to catch up. Dwight smiled, holding out his hand. Austin smirked, grabbing it. They exchanged a brief hug. He turned to Liat, tugging her into his arms, kissing her surprised mouth.

“How was I?” he asked Elaine, as she approached.

“Bloody perfect! You were wonderfully condescending. It doesn’t hurt that you feel strongly on the subject. I happen to agree with you. It’s a wretched nuisance and a waste of everyone’s time. Thank you.”

“Did you plant her? Because that was almost too perfect.”

“Oh, no. She’s really a reporter. But before the conference, I had people chatting the reporters up and one of them made a remark to her, and others, on the subject of your magnificent derriere. Couldn’t have done better if we’d said it ourselves.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Something New – Part 23

something new coverAustin didn’t realize what a shit storm had been stirred up by Irving being fired. Now, everyone wants a piece of him, but not in a fun way.

When he turned his phone on the next morning, there were 30 new messages, mostly from networks wanting comments about Irving. He also heard from Irving’s lawyers, saying that he’d defamed Irving’s character and they were filing charges against him. He heard from the network lawyers wanting to know what he’d said to or about Irving. Radio and TV stations wanted him to do interviews. The last few messages were from Liat, Dwight and Elaine. He chose to call Liat first.

“Austin? Oh, thank God! Can you believe the shit storm that’s sprung up?”

“No. I’m stunned. I never said a word about him to anyone. He may be a turd, but I’m not going to bad mouth him.”

“He says you insulted him to his face.”

“I barely spoke to him. When I did, I was polite. You heard me.”

“I know, I’m just letting you know what he’s saying.”

“Does he think it’s my fault he was fired?”

“Yes.”

“Bugger.”

“It’s all right. Mum has the lawyers armed and ready. They’ve got a statement for you to make. They want to do a press conference at eleven this morning. Can you do it?”

“I guess I’ll have to.” He glanced at his watch. “I’ll need a shower. I just got up a little while ago.”

“Okay, we’re sending a car to pick you up at ten forty-five. Do you have a suit?”

“Yes.”

“Wear it. Don’t worry. I’ll be there too. He’s gone after me as well.”

“The dirty bugger.”

“See you soon. I have to go.”

“See you. Bye.”

“Bye.”

He hung up and headed for the bathroom to shower and shave. His front door opened.

“Where are you?”

“Naked in the bathroom.”

Dwight appeared at his bedroom door. “Who have you talked to this morning?”

“Liat. I’m getting ready now.”

“Great. Stu’s picking us up in thirty minutes.”

“Then get out so I can bathe.”

“I’ve seen your arse.”

“But not the other bits. Go.” He pointed to the door.

Dwight huffed out. Austin heard the door open and close again as he got out of the shower. When he walked into his bedroom, he saw a new suit lying on the bed. It was navy blue and far nicer than anything he’d ever owned. A dark red shirt and a silver and blue tie lay next to it. There was a handkerchief in the pocket, fluffed and flared like a fan. A pair of new, expensive shoes, sat on the floor.

Austin dried his hair and got dressed. He was just doing up his tie when Dwight returned. He stopped in the doorway, admiring his friend.

“You look great. Very impressive.”

“Love the suit.”

“I knew you would. Early birthday.”

“Thank you. Must have cost a fortune.”

“I was owed a few favors. A friend of mine makes suits. He’d love your endorsement. He’ll keep you in suits for life.”

“I can do that. Is Babs okay with it?”

“Sure is. Time to go.” His phone beeped. “Stu’s downstairs. Walk right to the car. Don’t stop.”

Austin frowned. “I know how to get in a car.”

“Not like this, you don’t.”

Chaos greeted them. There was an aisle cleared between the door and the waiting car, the crowd held back by police officers. Stu stood beside it, back door open. Austin and Dwight dashed across, dove in the car and the door slammed behind them. Frantic reporters, cameramen and photographers followed them into the street. Stu sped away, neatly avoiding the ones too stupid to stay out of the street.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Something New – Part 22

something new cover

A few minutes later, his phone pinged showing a text. It was Liat’s number, sent by Dwight. A second one followed.

“Any action?”

“Little bit. Progress.”

“Good. Go watch yourself. You’re about to be executed.”

“Bugger all. Who cares?”

His phone rang. He’d barely said hello when Dwight started talking.

“I’ve never met anyone as uninterested in his own career as you are.”

“Are there really web sites devoted to my bum?”

“What? Yes. So?”

“So, there are people starving and living on the street and they’re waxing pornographic about my ass? What’s wrong with people?”

“You got me. Nothing better to do. You do have a very nice ass, Austin. But it’s not worth the attention it’s getting.”

“Precisely my point. Am I doing the talk shows and so on?”

“Yes. I’ll coordinate with Sandy and Robert so we can schedule around you. They may want Liat too. Babs is following up on that.”

“What days?”

“I’m sending a schedule. The next week will be rather tight, but we can manage.”

“You take such good care of me. Do I thank you properly for that?”

“All the time, my friend.”

Austin smiled. “Yes, you are my friend. And thank you for that too.”

Dwight cleared his throat. “You’re a good guy, Austin. Don’t ever lose that.”

“If I tried to be an arrogant prick, you’d kick my magnificent bum.”

Dwight laughed. “Yes, I would. Oops, there’s Babs again. Need to go. Night!”

“Goodnight.”

Austin clicked on the TV and channel surfed until he saw his own face staring into the camera, eyes wide, mouth open with surprise. An alien dictator had him prisoner and he’d attempted to escape, but was caught at the last moment. Things were about to get ugly when he worked his technological magic and managed to escape with the dictator’s beautiful daughter in tow. She’d helped him escape, of course, after a night of unbridled passion with The Magician. He dumped her in the next episode, kiting off with some other winsome lass.

“Where do they go, do you suppose?” he mused. “Is there a home for The Magician’s abandoned companions? Do we every fully explain their disappearance?” He thought back to the scripts and decided they didn’t. They skipped time and took him to another location, sans companion. “What a bastard he is.”

He fixed himself some tea and warmed a few leftovers. He wasn’t terribly hungry, but he wanted something to do while he watched The Magician’s antics.

“People actually like this?”

He switched channels and watched a marathon of Bones. He liked the show. At least the characters served a useful purpose. Aside from dropping his pants and, occasionally, saving the human race from their own stupidity, The Magician did nothing noteworthy.

The news came on at eleven. He rarely watched it, since he had to go to bed early.

“The lead story tonight, director Irving Childers storms off the set of The Magician.”

“That’s their lead? There are people dying in the war and they lead off with that? What’s wrong with them?”

Magician producer, Elaine Vogel, had this to say.”

The picture cut over to Elaine. She was outside the sound stage, smiling. “Mr. Childers is extremely difficult to work with, often changing his mind and having to reshoot frequently. He keeps the actors and crew on edge. After he verbally attacked the show’s star, Austin Templeton, I told him to leave. Austin is a lovely young man, very talented, with a stellar reputation. I couldn’t allow that to continue.” She ended the interview and went back inside.

Austin clicked it off. He couldn’t believe that story was considered that important. His phone rang. He answered, not really paying attention to it.

“Mr. Templeton? Channel Seven news. Could we get a statement about Irving Childers?”

“No. And stop calling. I’m going to bed.” He hung up.

The phone rang again. This time, it was Channel Three. He blocked the call. In the space of five minutes, he had calls from all the major local stations. Disgusted, he turned off his phone and went to bed.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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