Everyone Needs A Little Help Sometimes

For various reasons, writing has been hard for me this year. I finished my first manuscript early in the year and took a bit of a break before I started planning my second.

I’ve never been a very thorough planner. I’ve had vague outlines before, but I’ve always been a pantster at heart. For this second story I set about finding a good way to plan, because everything I’d tried before had fallen flat. My main aim: to write faster.

romancing the beat coverLike every aspiring writer,  I’ve read various blog posts and books about writing craft, but nothing really seemed to fit writing romance. Then during my Twitter time, I noticed that several published authors who I read or follow on Twitter kept recommending Gwen Hayes’ book, ‘Romancing the Beat’ – Story Structure for Writing Romance. Or as Gwen calls it ‘Writing Kissing Books‘.

To say that this book is a revelation is an understatement.

I bought the paperback because I like to highlight and write on stuff. I could’ve highlighted the entire book! Her writing style is funny and often irreverent. She’s a successful romance author in her own right, as well as an editor to others. So, as far as I’m concerned, she’s the person I wanted to be ‘talking’ to.

An extract from the blurb captures the uniqueness of writing romance: “Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.”

A lightbulb went off in my head and suddenly everything made sense. Gwen then takes you through twenty romance beats, split into four easy to follow sections. I duly bought some index cards in four different colours –  they’re so pretty – and planned my second book.

Below is an example of the first phase of beats:

gwen c

PDF available on her website just click the image

It still wasn’t easy to plan my writing because I struggle to see the story very clearly until I’m writing it. I’m pretty sure that’s something that I’ve just got to accept about myself. However, I have now got a SOLID outline and I know where my MCs need to be emotionally at each beat in the story.

So as I’m writing, I can change and fiddle with the setting or characters in a scene without altering too much because I’m following the overall plan. It’s genius, really.

I thought that planning meant I couldn’t be flexible and go off on an interesting tangent if I wanted to, but actually, it gives me the freedom to do that, knowing that I’m not going to get lost.

I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re trying to write kissing books.

Happy writing,

KTx

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Laid Bare

Daisy Morris tapped her fingers on the porch railing, took a long drink of her wine and continued to fume. It might be freeze-your-nips-off weather here in North London, but she wasn’t feeling the cold. Her ire was evaporating the snow in mid-air.

She’d had to drag herself out to her parents’ annual Christmas party tonight. If it hadn’t been six months since her previous visit, she probably would’ve bailed. She’d stared at her PJs for ten minutes, before, with a little pathetic sob, she’d shoved them under her duvet and got dressed to come here.

She hadn’t wanted to come because she’d known – oh, she’d known – what would be waiting for her here. Every year it was the same, just in different outfits. Cardboard cutouts of what her mother thought she should be doing with her life. And every cardboard cutout that was presented to her carried a placard saying: ‘Your life isn’t good enough.’

You aren’t good enough.

This year it was financial advisor Kevin Shaw, with his side parting, chinos and checked, button down shirt. She’d lasted just under five minutes before she’d snorted in disgust and walked away. She didn’t have to look at her mother to see the angry disappointment in her eyes. The familiarity of it was tattooed in her brain. The knowledge of it a tight knot in her chest.

“What are you doing out here? It’s freezing.”

Matt O’Connor, great. Her humiliation was complete. Daisy closed her eyes and prayed for patience.

Not bothering to look at him she said, “I’m fine. Go back in.”

Completely ignoring her, he stepped beside her. “I saw you talking to Kevin what’s-his-face. I timed it: you lasted four minutes and twenty-nine seconds.”

Still not looking at him, she huffed out a laugh and muttered, “I knew it.”

“Would I be right in saying he didn’t ring your bell?”

“Please, don’t talk about my bell.”

Matt laughed softly. It was like the palm of his hand stroking over the curve of her behind. Rolling her eyes discreetly, she stomped her feet and shook off the feeling.

After a quiet moment he said, “Jesus, your mother is relentless. You need to tell her to stop.”

“What? You mean you don’t think I should be more accommodating?”

Matt snorted his amusement.

“Jack’s laying bets that you’re going to stop coming around.”

Her brother could well win that bet.

“Tell your best mate he can sod off.” She tried to take another drink and realised it was empty. She needed a refill. “And I want fifty percent of any money he makes off me.”

Finally turning her head to look at him, she found him grinning, his dark blues eyes sparkling down at her.

“Will do,” he said taking a drink from his bottle of beer.

It took a while for him to look away.

She rolled her shoulders.

They both stood quietly looking out at the softly falling snow. The white blanket covering the ground looked pristine and perfect. She wanted to run through it and churn it all up.

“What are you going to do?”

“About my mum?”

“Yeah, she needs to back off or she’s going to lose you.” He cleared his throat and took another drink. “I can see how close you are to saying ‘fuck it!’”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“Probably, but then I have the opposite problem. No one gives a shit who I date.”

She’d bet money there were words literally carved into the tip of her tongue.

Instead, she said, “Lucky you.”

He shrugged as he raised the bottle to his mouth. “Not so much.” Taking a final drink before setting the bottle down on the table beside him.

Her head turned at his overly nonchalant tone.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself!” she snapped. “No-one’s questioning your life choices, your career, your age, your single status. No-one’s pressuring you to get married and have a kid or six. No-one’s looking at you and pitying you. No-one’s interfering in your goddamn life.”

She took a deep, shaky breath. “You can do whatever the hell you want and no-one will question it because you’ve got a dick.”

“Hey! Leave my dick out of it. Especially when you’re so angry. He’s scared and doesn’t know how to deal with that much aggression.”

She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing and gave him the side-eye. “Well, your dick’s blatantly never lived. There’s nothing wrong with a good bout of sexual aggression.”

“Is it weird that that turns me on?”

“Oh, forgodsake, Matt!” She laughed, her eyes drawn to him. She hated how he always made her feel better.

He waggled his eyebrows. “I can just see you in heels and a corset with a crop in your hand, right now.”

Ok, hold on, there’s no way he could know about that, right?

She gave what she hoped was a convincing laugh. “You wish.”

“I do actually.”

Her heart stopped. Literally stopped. Then did a huge, alarming thud in her chest before continuing to pump an overload of adrenaline around her body.

“You might have to work up to the crop though.”

“What the hell?” she said quietly as she turned to him.

“I think we should start off steady. You know go out on a few dates before you-”

“This isn’t funny,” she whispered hastily, finally meeting his eyes. The humour she’d expected wasn’t there. Well, it was, but it was muted. There was an intensity though that made the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

What was happening?

She suddenly felt laid bare, naked, under a spotlight on a stage; her needs and desires available for everyone to see. To be dissected and analysed, pitied and dismissed.

“I don’t know what you think you know, but…” She watched a snowflake melt from his hair and run down his temple, “… you don’t know it.”

Well, that told him.

His cheek creased in a smile and the drop of water ran off on a different course.

“I know plenty, Daisy Morris.”

“No. You. Don’t.”

She dared him with her eyes to push this. Normally it worked. This time, she was more than a little shaken to see that he was picking up the gauntlet.

His body turned and moved into hers. She wanted to step back but the body that she’d always prided for its control remained rigidly still. Waiting.

She watched his hand move slowly towards her face and flinched when his cold fingers touched her cheek, sliding over her cheekbone to her temple, and into her hair. Every millimetre of her skin felt like it was suffering from a static shock. Too much sensitivity: too much anticipation.

There had never been a moment when she didn’t want him, but after watching the third, fourth, fifth sweet, unassuming girlfriend paraded past her, there had come the realisation that she would never be what he needed. The loneliness that had taken up residence in her heart a long, long time ago was a permanent fixture now. A deep crevasse with his name on it. That was the price she’d paid for refusing to compromise who she was and she was more than ok with that. Most of the time.

But now he was touching her and looking at her like she was more than just Daisy Morris, his best friend’s sister.

What the ever loving hell?

“What are you doing?” She wished her voice sounded stronger.

“What I should’ve had the guts to do years ago.”

She shook her head. “No! You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to mess everything up.”

His other hand came up to hold her head still. “Nothing’s going to get messed up.”

She’d never seen him so intent, so serious. Her gaze was locked with his and he could see everything. She could see the knowledge in his eyes.

She tried to pull away. A last ditch attempt to respond to her survival instinct that was telling her to get the fuck out of there. “I can’t do this.”

His fingers tightened infinitesimally.  A flicker of fear within the deep blue. She realised she could see everything too.

She held very still, her eyes burning with the need to blink, but she wanted to see it all. The tension around his eyes, the firm set of his beautifully shaped mouth, the tick in his cheek that revealed his clenched jaw.

She blinked and whispered. “What is this?”

His nostrils flared a little as he took a deep breath, but his eyes never left her face. She felt them travel over her lips, felt the skin burn in the winter night.

“This is me trying to persuade you that we should be together, that you should take a chance on me. I want you just the way you are, Daisy. I don’t want you to change a goddamn thing.”

“Oh.” The wave of acceptance stole her breath and her words.

His dark eyebrows shot up. “Is that it?”

Her brain stuttered. “I need a minute.”

“Why? We’ve already wasted years.” He stepped closer, his warm breath a cloud between them in the cold night air. “Kiss me, Daisy. Don’t think right now, just please give me what I’ve needed for so long.”

She didn’t know what to do with the burst of excitement that shot through her body. She was worried she wouldn’t be able to harness it and she’d scare him away, but she couldn’t take her eyes off his mouth.

She was going to have him. She was finally going to kiss him. Here on her parents’ front porch in the freezing cold. Their lips would probably freeze together. Maybe they’d be better off going full Eskimo and rubbing noses? She tried to suppress the slightly hysterical laughter that wanted to escape.

He must have seen the hysteria because his fingers spread behind her neck and began to draw reassuring circles. They felt good, but the worry she saw in his eyes didn’t.

Her spine straightened. Her eyes fixed on his and she let him see her decision. She didn’t want there to be any doubt. She watched the lines of tension around his eyes relax. She watched his lips soften and open a little, felt her mouth water with anticipation.

“Come here.” Her words clear and sure.

Stepping into him, she brought their bodies together and curled her hand around the back of his neck. She briefly felt the juxtaposition of his familiarity and the strangeness of holding him as a lover, but it soon passed as she concentrated on his mouth. She felt his hands fall to her back, holding her close.

Bringing their mouths together, feeling the soft heat of his lips, she fell into their kiss.

He followed her lead, opened his mouth and let her taste him. He gave her a little moan to keep when she pressed him closer, kissed him deeper. She couldn’t go easy. It wasn’t a pretty kiss, teeth clashed and lips were bitten. Eventually, she pulled back to see his glazed eyes and trace his red, puffy lips with her thumb. His tongue flicked out to lick the tip and she had to lock her knees.

“You want this?”

“Yes,” he breathed.

Reading the certainty in his eyes, she made her decision.

“One hundred percent or nothing. Do you understand?”

He nodded. “I’m all in. I just want to be yours, Daisy.”

Jesus! She was humbled by his openness. She was going to give him anything he wanted. She could just see it.

“Can you drive?”

“Yeah, I only had that one beer.”

“Good. Go inside and say your goodbyes. I want you at my place in thirty minutes.”

The excitement and eagerness he couldn’t hide made her laugh softly. She watched him walk into the house. He’d need to get better at hiding that.

 

O’Shea’s #8 – Into Dust (m/m)

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the eighth one. Older brother’s best friend trope (male / male). It’s a little longer than the others. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Each step Sam had taken from home to O’Shea’s had dredged up every idiotic, stupid thing he’d ever done in front of Nate Jackson. Why, oh why, he thought, as he stomped his way down the street, couldn’t he have just declined the invite for this birthday get together tonight?

Nate was his brother’s best friend, he would’ve gotten over it. Maybe.

Nate would more than likely bring his latest boy and he’d be wide eyed and stunning like all the rest, and Sam would end up sitting there, smiling and resorting to quietly plotting gruesome deaths for the latest characters he was writing.

It didn’t help that there was a little masochistic voice in the back of his head saying, “It doesn’t matter that he remembers your spotty phase, or that time you accidentally mooned him when the elastic went on your trunks… and he saw your pride in tatters when Josh Hardy dumped you just before Valentine’s Day in 2005. You’re going to see him for the first time in six months. That’s all that matters. Seeing Nate.”

Six months. They’d never gone that long without seeing each other before. But after the last time he’d just had enough.

He couldn’t deal with seeing him and not being able to… God! What did he want? To call Nate his? To know he had the right to touch him – to go home with him – wake up with him?

They’d talked and laughed over a few pints of beer; the banter had been amazing. For the first time in forever they’d both been single and in the same city at the same time, he’d thought, he’d really thought that it might be their chance.

Then a couple of his friends turned up from work and one of them was a jacked blonde who blatantly had his knowing eyes set on Nate. Sam had felt such a heavy wave of weariness wash over him. Looking back he realised it had taken him under and swept all the fight out of him.

He’d given up. He wasn’t proud of that and it triggered the uncomfortable thought that maybe he’d given up too many times over the years.

Now, Sam wondered if that wave had washed all the good memories away, leaving him with only the embarrassing moments catalogued in his brain. They ran on a loop as he made his way into O’Shea’s and apparently there was no way to hit STOP.

With pale cheeks already flushed from the cool Spring wind, they immediately started to heat up from the rush of warmth in the Irish pub. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was going to be beyond excruciating.

He needed beer and lots of it – maybe even tequila.

Dragging himself to the bar, he tugged off his grey beanie, finger combed his short black hair into some semblance of respectability and shoved it into his coat pocket, purposefully not looking around. He needed a minute to gather himself and find his smile.

A chaotic mixture of emotions swarmed through him, anger at missed opportunities, devastation each time he’d watched Nate with another man, joy for all the laughter and good times they’d shared. Hell, he’d probably still be stuck in a closet somewhere if it weren’t for Nate.

His clenched fist pressed against the cold ache in his chest. He needed some tequila fire – stat – and he needed to get over this shit and move on. Some budding form of what felt like resolve started to straighten his spine.

Enough was enough. Maybe tonight could be the start of a new phase, a cleansing of all the emotions that held him back?

Ben, O’Shea’s bartender headed over with a smile.

“S’up, Ben.”

“What can I get for you?”

“Tequila me!”

Ben’s dark eyebrows shot up. “What’s got you riled up?”

“I’m about to put myself through hell. I need some help.” He slapped his hand on the bar. “Lay it on me.”

“Make that two,” demanded a low voice behind him.

Sam closed his eyes and winced. Struggling to swallow in his dry throat, he tried unsuccessfully to look nonchalant as he turned to greet the man who was spurring him toward tequila.

“Hello, Nate, How’s it going?”

Barely able to meet his dark brown eyes, Sam couldn’t stop his gaze from taking in every beloved detail of Nate’s familiar face. The stubble on his strong jaw that outlined his full lips made Sam lick his own, he couldn’t help it.

The light dusting of freckles high on his cheek bones that he’d always wanted to trace with his tongue. His stomach lurched as he was reminded how completely out of reach Nate was. Turning back to the bar he took hold of the salt that Ben had set up for him, licked the inside of his wrist and tapped a bit onto his moist skin.

Nate coughed. “Give a guy some warning, would you?”

Frowning, he stopped his arm as it was halfway to his mouth and glanced over his shoulder again. “What?”

His big, warm hand took hold of Sam’s forearm. “I want to lick it off.”

He couldn’t have heard him right. A grating, awkward laugh slipped out of his mouth and he shrugged Nate’s hand off his arm; a strange mix of uncertainty and excitement shimmering over his skin.

“Get your own tequila, buddy.” He licked the salt, maybe, possibly a little slower than he would’ve done normally and tossed the tequila back, welcoming the familiar warmth through his body and into his empty stomach. Closing his eyes as the sourness of the lime exploded in his mouth, he wondered what the hell to do next.

“I’ve never wanted to be a slice of lime more in my life,” Nate said roughly.

“Pardon?!” Sam coughed out. “Are you drunk already?”

“Come on,” he demanded, taking Sam’s hand. “We need to talk.”

“We do? Nate! What is wrong with you?” He hissed as Nate dragged him through the crowd back to the door of O’Shea’s.

Outside the cold blast of air mixed strangely with the warmth still coursing through his body from the tequila. He felt outside of himself, like an observer to whatever drama was about to unfold. Nate’s warm, rough hand gripped his own and Sam didn’t understand why he had hold of him so tight, but it felt good so he left it there.

Allowing Nate to lead him around the corner into a narrow alley, Sam eventually felt the rough wall at his back as the hot wall of Nate’s body moved towards him. He tore his stare from Nate’s broad chest up to rich, brown eyes that were looking pretty heated.

Sam narrowed his eyes at him. “Why are you so pissed off with me?”

Nate narrowed his eyes back. “Why are you so damn blind?!”

His eyes widened in surprise. “What?”

Nate shoved his hand through his thick, unruly hair. “Why did you need that tequila?”

“I-”

“Why is it hell for you to come see me for my birthday?”

A stab of guilt. “Nate-”

“I haven’t seen you for six months, Sam. Six months. We’ve never gone that long without seeing each other.”

“I’ve been busy,” he answered sharply, and I didn’t want to know if you went home with the blonde, he thought bitterly. Pissed off with himself for even making that a possibility when he’d left so suddenly that night. The anger in Nate’s words vibrated like an arrow in Sam’s chest. He felt a knot of irritation start to form where the arrow pierced him and his defenses rose.

He took a breath in preparation.

“What do I have to do to get you to see me?”

Sam blinked and exhaled a gust of air as Nate’s soft words crashed through his brain. Too late he saw the hurt in his eyes and the tension around his beautiful mouth. What the hell was happening? What had he missed?

“Nate, I…” He shook his head, trying to figure out what this meant, but a lifetime of doubts and longing, unrequited feelings and humiliating attempts to get his attention were blocking his synapses.

“Shit!” Nate shoved his hands in his jean pockets and hunched his shoulders. “I thought… I thought this was the right time. Looks like I was wrong.”

He took his eyes away from Sam to stare at the wall behind him. Sam felt goose bumps spread over his skin and a painful jolt of panic made his heart thud as Nate began to turn away.

“Nate,” he whispered. Barely believing.

“Don’t worry about it, Sam, I… just forget I said anything, ok?”

Nate’s brittle smile hurt his heart as he began to move away from Sam, along with a burst of indignation.

“Hold on a minute!” He puffed out a frustrated breath when Nate stopped but didn’t turn to face him. “You can’t just spring this on me and expect me to instantly know what to say. When have I ever known what to say in mortifyingly awkward situations?”

Slowly, so slowly, Nate turned to him with his eyebrows raised. “Mortifyingly awkward? Gee thanks,” he said dryly.

Sam shrugged nonchalantly, but inside he was just starting to think about pumping his fist in celebration. “I need you to be a little clearer, Nate. I’m not admitting anything until you’ve stated plainly exactly what you want.”

He could give him that at least.

“So you’ve got things you want to admit then?” He asked, clearly stalling and looking a little hopeful.

Sam waved his hand dismissively. “Tell me what you want: slowly and clearly, please.”

Nate took a step closer, then another. “You want it slowly and clearly?”

“Yeah,” Sam said a little croakily. God he was just so… Ungh!

A gust of wind swirled down the alley, plastering Nate’s dark grey t-shirt across his torso and whipping his hair into disarray.

His hands came to rest on the wall either side of Sam’s head and he felt every last ounce of that resolve crumble into dust at his feet. He gave it an enthusiastic kick and scattered it in the wind.

“You’re sure you can handle another mortifyingly awkward moment?” Nate asked softly with a glint in his eyes.

Sam felt his whole body go pliant and loose, but managed to nod as Nate’s head lowered until his lips rested by Sam’s ear. His eyes closed as Nate’s warm breath caressed his skin. A long, sumptuous shiver stroking down his spine.

Finally, he said the words Sam had waited a lifetime to hear.

“You. I want you.”

 

 

Screw You, Inspirational Quotes!

 

wonder-woman-facepalm

“I can’t even… just don’t ask, ok?”

 

I have decided that this whole writing thing is designed to break you and the only people who survive in this game are the ones who say, “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.”

You’ve got to be up for a bit of a fight, or a good scrap as they say round where I’m from.

My social media is full of inspirational quotes. I read them and at the time I think, ‘yeah, that’s so true’ or ‘I really need to absorb that thought and remember it next time things don’t go well.’

Right now, I just want to say to all those people who came up with those snappy little phrases that say so much, but give you absolutely no idea how to achieve them:

“Screw you!”

The hardest days are the days when you doubt what you’re writing (that’s my inspirational quote for you!)

When you believe in your story and how you’re telling it, rejection from outside sources is bearable, because this is a subjective game and you believe that someone out there will like what you write because it’s at least half decent, right? But on those darkest of dark days, when you don’t like your own words, it just feels like you’re typing them into a black hole and what’s the ever loving point in that?

Basically, the point of this rant is that I had a plan. That plan is no longer working for me, so I’m thinking about changing it. I’m also questioning the need to change it, because isn’t the point of having a plan, to stick to it?

Excuse me for a moment, while I just go and bang my head against a wall somewhere.

Ok, I’m back.

So…. it’s pretty clear that I’m having a crisis of confidence. I don’t know what the answers are at the moment. What I do know, is that I’m driving myself a little crazy vacillating between getting on with my planned writing project or changing course completely.

I’m giving myself today to weigh up the pros and cons, then a decision WILL be made.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I’m saying “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.” (There’s another inspirational quote for you!)

Yey, me. *Half-hearted fist pump*

 

 

 

 

 

O’Shea’s #7 – Silver Fox

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the seventh one. May to December or older man / younger woman… I hope you enjoy it.

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A man. A tall man, with broad shoulders that currently shaped his expensive looking overcoat to perfection, was stood in front of her at the bar. A flash of silver and white caught and held her attention as he turned his head. The contrast between the silver and black hair was startling. She squinted a little trying to see better and found herself taking a slow step towards him.

Yes, now she could see other silver hairs shimmering through the thick black and oh Lord! His stubble was mainly silver and white, with a bit of dark grey shot through for good measure.

Wow. She’d never realised that was a thing for her, but from the way her eyes were glued to his head, she thought she’d better take a look at the silver-fox romances in the library on her break. She could even do a quick Twitter shout out to ask for some recommendations from her book buddies.

Biting her lip in excitement (the thought of new books did that to her), she stepped around him and gave the bartender a shy nod as he gestured that he’d be with her next.

Standing next to the Silver Fox, she made sure to give herself plenty of space but couldn’t help looking at his hand that rested on the dark mahogany of the bar.

Left hand. No ring. Also no tan line.

Ok, he was probably divorced because if he was married he’d wear one. He’d want everyone to know that he was taken. His skin was tanned and she could just make out some callouses on the thumb that he was tapping against the wood and a few scars across the back.

He probably sailed the world on his yacht and had beautiful women in each port.

“What can I get for you?”

Abruptly yanked back into the real world, instead of making up plot bunnies, Jackie quietly ordered a pint of Black Sheep and looked around for a place to sit. Her feet were aching like nobody’s business after working all day at the library. She kept hopping from one to the other, trying to take the weight off. Twenty-eight was too young for bunions, right?

It was busy in O’Shea’s tonight, she’d be lucky to get a booth. Checking the time, she rolled her eyes. Her sister was always late, so she’d brought her Kindle. She’d learned her lesson there years ago. All her introvert anxieties about being alone in public magically disappeared when she had her nose in a book.

“Busy in here tonight, hey?” a deep voice rumbled next to her.

Taking a quick peek up and to her right, she met a pair of deep, deep blue eyes spanned by a wealth of lines. She managed a small nod and some kind of sound that she hoped he’d take as affirmation.

The lines around his eyes deepened as he smiled gently. “There’s a stool here if you want a seat.” He nodded his head to the opposite side of him and she tore her eyes away from his to see the empty stool against the bar.

She really wanted that seat. “Do you mind?” she asked quietly.

“Not at all. Here,” he stepped back a little, protecting her from the jostling crowd, so she could sidestep to it.

Her eyes went a little wider when she brushed against the front of him. She coughed and got comfortable, tucking her throbbing feet onto the rest. She didn’t know where to look. God!

“Better?” he asked drawing her eyes back to him.

This time she thought she saw a twinkle in his eyes but quickly talked herself out of that one. She nodded instead. “Thank you, I really needed that.”

“Long day?” He angled towards her, taking a drink from his glass of Guinness.

She sighed. It looked like they were going to have a conversation. This never went well.

“Yes, and I was on my feet for most of it. So…”

“So… Why are you here and not at home taking a hot bath?”

She shrugged awkwardly, her mind blanked out. She had nothing.

Warm blue eyes roamed across her face. “Sorry, was that a little too personal?”

Rolling her shoulder, she rubbed her nose and tried not to blush. “Kind of, yeah.”

“I guess we should really share our names before I tell you off for not looking after yourself, huh?”

She snorted out a surprised laugh and tried to figure out the ratio of anxiety and excitement she was feeling. Amazingly, excitement seemed to be winning 60 / 40.

“Well, yeah, I suppose.”

“Ted,” he stuck out his hand.

Jackie looked at it for a few seconds before she slowly raised hers. She had to swallow pretty deeply when his big, warm hand engulfed her own. She’d had no idea that that little circle of skin in the middle of her palm was an erogenous zone.

Apparently, she’d had no idea about a lot of things.

She couldn’t take her eyes off their hands: his so tanned and big, hers pale and small.

She tried to remember the last time she’d chosen to touch a man, but her mind was too busy computing the different sensations of his skin and the light dusting of dark hairs on the back of his hand.

Her heart thudded hard but steadily, this was attraction, she was sure, she’d read about it enough, but a strange sense of calm also settled around her allowing her to think about raising her eyes to his. She needed to see what he was thinking.

Her eyes were struggling to move past his amazing chest when she suddenly realised that she’d been holding his hand for ages, just staring at it. God! He must think she was a total weirdo. She tried to jerk her hand away, but his tightened and held her firm. Her eyes flew to his.

“Tell me,” he murmured.

Jackie shook her head a little dazedly. “What?” she whispered unconsciously moving closer.

Her eyes danced over his face. She couldn’t get enough of looking at him. She felt her lips moving into a smile to mirror his.

“Everything,” he said.

****

Thanks for reading.

Kx

Hacking A Limb Off – Otherwise Known As Editing.

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*Stands up*

“Hi, my name is KT and I have a real problem deleting my words. Thanks.”

*Sits down*

A few days ago I read a tweet from one of my favourite authors, Melissa Blue, saying that she’d deleted a whole scene while editing a draft. I nearly had a panic attack on her behalf.

I have come to realise that I have a serious problem… deleting big chunks of my words. I will do almost ANYTHING to not have to do it. My thought process goes something like this:

‘I spent bloody ages writing that. Blood, sweat and tears, a ton of chocolate, pounds of nuts and every other thing I nibble on when I’m writing will not have been nibbled in vain, Goddammit! I am NOT deleting it. No way. No.’

The editing process for me is more about adding and tightening things up than getting rid of much. I write quite slowly, editing as I go, so I don’t ever come to edit a draft that is a disaster.

So far I haven’t deleted a whole scene, I have only added them. I’m girding my loins for that day, I tell you.

Obviously, this is not the best approach to editing. I’m working on it. Slowly but surely I’m realising that they’re not wasted words and it wasn’t wasted time. They’re training, practise, experience.

I have thousands of words stored on my computer from unfinished stories, early short stories and flash fiction that will probably never see the light of day. Every single word was practise; every paragraph was me finding my style and learning how to do this thing called writing a novel.

More importantly, every word brought me closer to my first big goal. Finishing!

Hopefully the more I write, the faster I’ll get. So I foresee more mistakes or changes in future editing sessions on this second manuscript. This will mean more deleting I’m sure, so deep breathing may be necessary, but I’ll get through it…

I hope!

Thanks for reading,

Kx

 

O’Shea’s #6 – Kate

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the sixth one. Friends to lovers… I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

The early summer sun felt good on his back as Jay pushed through the doors to O’Shea’s. He’d worked up a thirst during the twenty-minute walk from his house. While he walked, he’d been running through some work issues, trying not to think too hard about who he was about to meet.

He wasn’t happy about the low-level nerves that had kept his stomach tight and his thumbnail short for the past week since she’d emailed him about meeting up.

It was just Kate.

They’d been good friends through university and they hadn’t seen each other for a few years but it would be fine. They’d have a catch up over a few drinks, maybe call for a curry on the way home.

It would be fine. Great even.

Images of her had been flickering through his mind all week, but along with images of her had been images of Dan. By the time Jay had laid eyes on her at uni, they’d already hooked up and they never unhooked. Together. Forever.

He’d been too late and the bittersweet taste of that had haunted him for months. Until he’d wrangled that ghost into submission. So he’d fully committed himself to trying as many different tastes as he could at uni. He’d been determined that she’d never know. If you can’t have the girl, then have some pride and all that shit.

Yeah, he’d managed that for the most part. Although, he was pretty sure he hadn’t always been one hundred percent successful. That irked him, but what could you do? Too many nights drinking too much booze and pining for your best friend’s girl. There were bound to be some slip ups, right?

So here he was, searching O’Shea’s for her tell-tale red hair, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest, hoping he didn’t look too pathetically eager to see her.

There!

He caught a brief glimpse of ruby red and like a heat-seeking missile started threading himself through the after work crowd. He saw her tuck a thick, glossy strand of hair behind her ear and remembered a hundred other times she’d done the same. Her little crescent moon tattoo appearing like magic on her neck, just below her ear – taunting him and testing him at the same time – his loyalty, his self-control – testing his self-respect.

He had never and would never blame her for his feelings. She’d never led him on, nor given him any idea that she’d felt even remotely the same. That wasn’t Kate. She was in love with Dan and she’d let the whole world see it.

Now he was close enough to see the sweep of her eye lashes and the freckles dotted over her cheek.

“K-t-.” The first attempt came out completely scrambled. He coughed and tried again. “Kate.”

She turned towards him and he watched her face light up. It was like the sun rising. His gaze swept over her, sparkling green eyes, rose coloured lips – the bottom one fuller than the top, soft pink in her cheeks. He saw them shape his name in a low whisper as she pushed her chair back to stand up.

She stepped into his arms. He felt the warmth of her body, smelled the wildflowers in her hair and closed his eyes. He needed to hold her. Just for a moment. Then he’d let her go. Well, he’d let her go in a minute or ten.

“Jay,” she laughed with her face pressed against his shoulder, “it’s so good to see you.”

“You too, Kate.”

Then he asked the question that had been drilling a hole in his chest for the past week.

“Where’s Dan?”

He saw a rainbow of emotions cross her face: pain, sadness, acceptance and held his breath.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx