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Sunday, June 24, 2012


Can’t Get There From Here
Road Construction and Storytelling

My turn to blog was rapidly approaching and I had no ideas. Nada. Not a one. With this on my mind, I headed out to the gym one sunny day. I go to the gym five times a week, a much needed physical break from the computer. On this day, I started the fifteen minute trip in a cheerful mood, enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to my workout on the exercise bike, my Kindle propped in front of me. I couldn’t wait to finish Adele DuBois’ excellent book, “Desert Wild.” I love to read while exercising, and to especially read erotic romance. I get good workouts from those sexy books. The hotter they get, the harder I pedal. I should market this as a new health regimen: read hot books as part of your fitness routine.

My trip went smoothly for seven minutes, then I hit a roadblock. Literally. Is there a lot of road construction where you live? Since last summer I’ve been surrounded by construction, reminding me of the adage, “You can’t get there from here.” As I sat in my car, fuming, as the construction worker held up the huge STOP sign, I started thinking about how writing a book is like hitting road construction.

I always know how each of my stories will begin and end. Like my trip to the gym, I know where I’m going. Also like my trip, I sometimes run into a huge STOP sign. I’ll be writing blissfully, everything going smoothly, following my outline. Then, wham! Roadblock! The story isn’t following the route I’ve mapped.

If I’m lucky, my characters will take me on a detour to a road that’s more exciting and adventuresome than the one I’d charted for them. In those cases, I follow their lead. However, with my current WIP, a romantic suspense, my characters took me down a bumpy road and began acting like the Keystone Cops and not a couple in danger. I had to pull them back onto the path I’d set for them. But how?

Not only had I run into a major roadblock, but my car (aka brain) stalled. I was stuck. My critique group said my hero was beginning to be TSTL (too stupid to live). He seemed to be my major problem. Maybe he didn’t like having a heroine who was kick-ass and could best him in a fight. Whatever the reason, he wasn’t acting like a hero. Where had I taken that wrong turn?

Several agonizing days followed, when finally the construction worker in my head turned the STOP sign to SLOW. I’d figured out how to make my hero heroic. I was driving down that highway again to my destination.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you been jolted to a stop because your story started to go in the wrong direction? What about you readers out there? Have you loved the beginning of a novel and settled in for an emotional, unforgettable ride only to have the book stall somewhere in the middle?

The roads around me are still congested by construction, delaying me everywhere I go. At least the work zone in my head has cleared.

Below is a little tease from my latest release, “Storm of Desire.” A raging January nor’easter causes a major detour in the lives of Samantha and Aiden. Only this emotional detour is wickedly sexy and wild.

Sam closed her eyes now and let that night [with Aiden] play out in her head like a movie. They’d barely made it into his apartment before they started stripping each other, leaving behind a trail of garments from the door to his bed.
Remembering his scorching mouth and hands, Sam touched her breasts under the thin silk of her nightgown. She massaged them, rolling the nipples between her fingers, pushing her breasts together, seeing Aiden as he’d been that night. He’d made love to her with a tempting combination of hunger and tenderness, worshipping her with his hands and mouth and body, unselfishly giving her fulfillment over and over before he found his own release.
Heat stole over her, putting her on edge. She shouldn’t have run from him tonight. Now that she’d tasted him again, she wanted to feast on him.
A loud rumble shook the house. Sam let out a small scream and sat up, clutching the comforter to her chest. Screeching, the cats ran off.
She heard footsteps, then her bedroom door flew open. “Sam! Are you okay?”
The flashlight Aiden held filtered dim light through the room and silhouetted his body in the doorway.
“Yes. What was that noise?”
He moved into the room. As her eyes adjusted, she saw he wore boxers that rode low on his slim hips. His legs were long and beautifully formed, and his chest bare, the muscles defined and taut.
Her breathing went shallow.
“It may have been a telephone pole going down, or maybe lightning hit a transformer,” he said. “I looked out, but I didn’t see anything.”
“It startled me, but I’ll be okay.” More than okay, she thought as she deliberately let the comforter slide down her torso. “Looks like the cats ran off though. They were keeping me warm.”
Aiden’s gaze went to her breasts, barely covered by the silk nightgown. Her nipples puckered. “I could keep you warm,” he offered, his voice thick.
She knew he wouldn’t do anything she didn’t want. The choice was hers.
“Then keep me warm, Aiden.”
 He sucked in an audible breath, took a step forward, then halted, shaking his head. “No, I don’t think so.”
“What?” Fresh humiliation washed over her as she sat there half-naked, hot tears forming in her eyes.
“You’ve been running hot and cold on me for what feels like my whole fucking life. And you’re doing it again. Not tonight, baby.” He turned away.
“Aiden, wait.”
He stopped with his back to her. “Go to sleep, Sam.”
She cast pride aside, knowing if he walked out now, he wouldn’t be back. “Please don’t go. I…I’m sorry about what happened earlier.”
“And the rest?” His voice was a barely disguised growl.
“I need you. Please.”


Tina Donahue said...

Oh lord, yes, I've ground to a stop many times. That's why I plot fully with outlines before I write the first sentence of Chapter One. I have to know where I'm going and how to get there. My outlines are often as long as my novels and serve as dry runs for the real thing. By the time I start writing, it goes really fast, usually without any hitches. I sweat it out during the outline. :)

Enjoyed your excerpt, Cara. Storm of Desire sounds like a great story.

Sandy said...

Both have happened to me, Cara. lol Road construction is everywhere around here. I hit those road blocks while writing all the time.

So glad you found a way out of your stop. Great excerpt, and I love the cover.

Adele Dubois said...

You made my day, Cara. My week! I'm happy to know that my book DESERT WILD helped you get a good workout. ")

I'm honored that you read my story during your exercise routine. I'm also impressed by your dedication to exercise. Five times per week is two days more than I manage. No wonder you're so trim.

Just finished STORM OF DESIRE and loved it. Congratulations on another good book!


jean hart stewart said...

Sounds familiar. If I hit a stop sign I often consciously think of the problem before I go to sleep. I usually wake up with an idea of where to go. Wonderful excerpt!

Anonymous said...

Has this happened? happens every time I write anything!!! LOL!! Great post, Cara!!!

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, everyone. Tina, I admire that you do such detailed outlines. My outlines aren't as detailed which is probably why my characters go off on their own roads.

Sandy, glad you like my cover. Thanks.

Adele, I love your books. Glad you enjoyed Storm.

Jean, I will sometimes come up with my answer after I've slept on the problem.

Thanks, Tessy, I love your books too.

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