Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Guest Blogger: Nevea Lane

The Golden Sentence

I was lounging in my chair, drinking apple cider, with my mp3 player plugged into my ears. I am jamming to Miles Davis and reading, when I read it: it made me pull the headphones out of ear and read it again. “Her scent was an aphrodisiac and mixed perfectly with the aroma from the ocean that breezed in through the opened sliding glass doors” Education of Simon Lane – Pat Cromwell. That is the sentence that made me stop.

There are certain sentences that will make a reader pause and re-read those lines over and over again. We see it in movies all the time, “You had me at ‘hello’” (Jerry Maguire) “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” (Dead Poets Society)

Perhaps I’m a nerdy narcissist, but I believe that in every single work by an author you read should have that one sentence that makes you pause. I call it “the golden sentence.” These are the hooks, the lines, and the ‘one thing’ that’s kept you going or coming back for more—those sentences, to me you, aregolden. Some might not find “He could see himself coming home to her every day,” in Escape to Heaven by Reana Malori to be all that bold of a statement, but I love it because it breaks down the male psyche of ‘commitment’ and tells us that our hero is falling for the heroine. It lets us know he wants her. I bet you just thought that sentence was just filler huh?

Being an author, sometimes I find it tempting to lead the reader to find the same sentence I consider ‘golden’, but where is the fun in that. People are individuals and I wouldn’t want someone telling me that “You’ve never been just my friend.” in Windows by Billy London isn’t a golden sentence.

Crafting these sentences however can make you want to cry, yell, maim someone or burn a house down. It takes dedication and commitment to not water down your words, to make that sentence stand up to the editing process. When you finally craft that sentence that cannot be butchered and stripped down, you look at it and smile. You look at it and smile because the pain of birthing that sentence is worth it.

When I write, I start with that sentence. I’m a pantser to a fault, not to mention I have a technical writing background which likes the passive sentence so much, my first drafts usually read like a manual to build your own dirigible. So I start with that sentence, that one golden piece of prose that can set the whole story in motion and expand. Do you have any golden sentences? Go back and read them. Relive the memories with those words and realize that words are truly priceless.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Guest Blogger: Latrivia S. Nelson

Writing The Grunt: Why This Volume of The Lonely Heart Series Hit Home
By: Latrivia S. Nelson
Submitted Exclusively to Beautiful Trouble Publishing

The Lonely Heart Series is supposed to be comprised of novelettes only, but The Grunt was 309 pages long. Why? It hit home. Being married to a Marine and having lived at Camp Lejeune for nearly four years, I took in a lot of experiences. So, when I sat down to write The Grunt, I found that what I wanted to say would not fit into my normal formula for a short book.

Just to give you a little background, here is the synopsis of The Grunt:

Staff Sergeant Brett Black has a bad feeling that something is going to go terribly wrong. And as a Recon Marine, he pays attention to his gut. Only nothing can prepare him for what he encounters when he arrives at home from the base. His wife is leaving him, and there is nothing he can do about it.

Abandoned with a kid, the super alpha-male has to become domesticated quickly or find a willing substitute to help him with his son. Only the substitute he finds is no substitution.

Courtney Lawless is a true wild card. The budding librarian loves the classics and carries herself like a lady by day. But she also is full of life and surfs the waves of the Atlantic Ocean by night. Since her parents won’t pay for college because of bad decisions in her past, the reformed bad-girl takes a job as Brett’s live-in nanny to finish paying for school.

Brett has never seen a woman of such complex duality. Used to a wife who won’t clean, cook or even talk to him, when he starts to live with Courtney, he realizes what he’s been missing his entire life. Educated, amazing and refreshingly honest, the only thing that that this transparent beauty hides from her new boss is that she’s also the Lieutenant Colonel’s daughter.

Faced with another deployment to Afghanistan soon, the brooding Marine is forced to come out his shell to fight for what he loves, only this time, the war is at home.

Back to the Conversation:

Adam and I started out our marriage as an active duty family in the Marine Corps. During that time, I witnessed a lot of different types of relationships. Some were the most beautiful that I’d ever seen and some were the most deceitful. Interracial couplings were normal too. It was one of the few places that no one ever stared at you because you were with someone different. And the children were so beautiful. Mine fit right in. It was great. Plus, the coast of North Carolina is beautiful. The sunsets will take your breath away and the beaches are some of the most peaceful that I’ve ever walked on.

I was always writing notes in my little book while I was there. And I promised one day to write a story about love in the Corps.

This surely won’t be my only one but it is my first. I’m happy about it. It was a joy to sit down and write about a sexy alpha male who was also a killing machine, but we all know how much I love that concept. I’ve been beating that dead horse for three years now and counting.

The Grunt hits home because love while serving the military is never easy. No matter what you do, your relationship will always be second to their responsibilities to our country. Now, they don’t want it that way. The men and women who sacrifice and serve the country are always torn. They feel horrible about being away from their loved ones, but they have a responsibility that is sworn by an oath. And we need them to fulfill that promise. It’s the only way that we stay safe (not to say that in a way that takes away from God’s unyielding protection that protects us all).

Anyway, in the story Brett took that oath and is now bound to it. So, when he is widowed, he has the option of getting out of the Corps and watching his career flush its way down the toilet, or he can recruit someone to help him keep his family and his position in Recon, one of the hardest special operations units to get into.

Intro to Courtney: I loved writing her character. If you notice, she’s a normal person. True, she has her issues, one of them being the inability to follow through. How many of us can raise our hands on that one? But her endearing qualities far outweigh her issues and her capacity to love shines as bright as the sun.

The combination of the characters is supposed to give you hope. You see two people who need each other, who meet a need in each other’s life and ultimately find love because they are able to just be.

Speaking of people that fit that storyline…

I remember when Adam was hurt during the last tour to Iraq while he was in Light Armor Recon. I was nine months pregnant and had gone back to Memphis to give birth to our daughter when a phone call came telling me that Adam had been blown up. It was like the life had been sucked out of me. I remember the way the room seemed to spin around me, getting smaller and smaller with every evolution. I went into labor right then in a frantic hysteria that lasted a few days.

Ultimately, God blessed us. Adam survived, but men with him did not, some were so badly injured until all the surgeries in the world couldn’t make them whole again. Their sacrifice was and is huge. They do it every day, quietly, unnoticed and selflessly. It’s funny how you can walk around and see heroes every day and not know it.

I have a special place in my heart for anyone who has ever served and for every spouse, child and parent of a service member. We all play our role.

You can see the inner-workings of the family in The Grunt. Even if you’ve never known a military person before reading this story, I think that you’ll walk away with a greater appreciation for the Corps and for love at first sight.

What about you? What makes you tick when you write or read a story? Everyone has a thing. I’m always looking for new ideas.

Drop me a line and tell me what you think of The Grunt or send me a picture of your Grunt. I’m working on a book trailer right now for the book and we’ll release the paperback on August 30th, but I’d also like to put together a Grunt book trailer comprised strictly of military personnel from my readers.

Hope you enjoy and it’s always great to be on this blog. I love you guys and the way that you connect people together.

XoXo and all that jazz,

Latrivia S. Nelson