By E. Ayers (Guest Blogger)
Ready for a change of pace? Want to move to a mid-sized city in the eastern United States? It's a nice place to live, work, play, and fall in love. It's also fictional.
When I first started writing I was told to anchor the story. If I chose a real place, I had to be careful where everyone went, where they ate, and that happened to them. I didn't want to be accused of portraying a place in a bad light. Every city has its good points and its bad ones. Yet, I wanted that special energy that is in every city. I also wanted to be able to fire the city manager.
Ever notice when approaching a city and the tops of the skyscrapers come into view how our skin prickles with excitement? I'm not sure why that happens but it does. I wanted that pace, that flow, and that vibe of a bustling city. There also something else about a city - a plethora of people!
Cities are melting pots. I like that diversity. A city also provides a mixture of people who come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. There are those who are newcomers and those who grew up together. There's lots to do and places to visit. Staying home on Friday night being bored is a preference because a city provides plenty of other options.
I don't think heroines need to wear a size two, have blue eyes, and blonde hair. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. When does an ordinary man become handsome and sexy? When the right woman falls in love with him. And what is ordinary? What is normal?
Very slowly, River City was born. It sprouted a university and a major hospital, a historical area, congestion, expressways, bypasses, interstates, railroads, a water supply, businesses, shopping areas, markets, parks, a museum, an orchestra, an airport, and the suburbs. It's still growing! I built a city and in it are young people building careers and trying to make their world a better place.
Most series must be read in order and it's difficult to jump into the middle of one. I didn't want that. Some of my character do show up in other books mainly because people who are active in their community tend to know the other people who are also active. Some are friends and some are acquaintances. The glue is the city.
I have only three requirements for my River City characters: they must be young, they must be actively doing something to make the place better by either financially contributing, volunteering, or their job has a direct impact on the community, and most importantly, they must be good people. They have juice, they are ones who get things done and make things happen.
I strive for realism in what I write. I allow the characters to dictate what they want. Everyone is different. I write about falling in love. Making it last usually isn't easy. When two people have careers, and most young people have careers, it's difficult to find time for another person. People shouldn't have to give up something for love. A couple should enhance each others lives and make it fuller. It's about complimenting and balancing each other. Team work. They both must respect each other and themselves.
That doesn't mean there aren't sacrifices. What are you willing to do for the person you love? There's also an issue of trust. Communication is a huge element in any relationship. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree, and sometimes it takes a little extra work to see the other side of the issue. Falling in lust is easy, but falling in love is very special.
In my writer's mind, a city becomes fertile ground with an infinite number of characters who need me as a matchmaker. I built a city, with a proud history, it isn't perfect, but I hope you'll enjoy your stay.
Thanks, Lisabet, for having me as your guest. I'm going to give away copies of my River City books to your commenters. They need to leave a comment on your blog and email me with their River City book choice to be entered into the drawing.
If you ask businessman Mac McGuire, he'll tell you this is his story. He fell head over heels in love with Amanda Conner, an unfettered beauty with a turbulent past. Wanting her is one thing, winning her trust is another. From the violence of River City’s housing projects, to the glamorous digs of the downtown, and out to the lake district, this is one time that his money isn't working in his favor.
When Dallas Nixon's parents throw her out, she seeks a safe haven. She arrives on the doorstep of the one person she always trusted, except Patrick Makowllen isn't looking to adopt a foul-mouthed waif with blue hair and yellow contacts. He reluctantly shelters her. The last thing he wants is someone sharing his life - he's a meat and potatoes guy, and she's a vegetarian. Against his own better judgment, he opens his heart and kisses his well-ordered, mundane life goodbye.
Tate Zaro has a black belt in TaeKwonDo, a career, and doesn't yearn for a man in her life. So why does she take a lousy paying job with a boss she dislikes, to be with a guy who spends his Saturdays coaching soccer? Life does not always give you what you want. Sometimes you get more than you ever expected.
The next River City book should be available Spring 2012.
Here's a snippet from Wanting.
Silence filled the air again. He took a sip of his coffee and then looked at Amanda. She was wearing the same knit top she had worn on their first date and he suspected it was either the best thing she owned or the only thing she owned.
His mind raced. He wanted to talk to her about her past. The only way he'd know for certain was to ask, yet molestation wasn't something normally discussed, nor was it considered polite conversation. His brain was telling him to deal with it, as if she were a client who needed to be told unwelcome news.
''Amanda, at some point in your life something has happened to you. There's something very wrong, and I'm fairly certain I know what it is, but we can't discuss it until I know specifically, so you need to start talking.'' He knew what he said was lame, but he was trying to open the door for her to tell him rather than accusing her of being a victim.
''I have no idea what you're implying.''
''Yes, you do.''
''No, there's nothing. I'm going to bed now.'' She started to stand, but he was on his feet in a flash.
''No, Amanda, you're going to sit here and talk. Whatever has happened to you is affecting us, and I want to know what it is. So have a seat and get it out.''
She got that icy hard glare on her face, and her pale blue eyes had turned to a cold gray. ''I don't know what you are insinuating.''
''I had one class in psychology in college and to me it was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.'' He took a breath, ''If you want to discuss stocks, options, markets, mortgages, and commodities - then you'd be on my playing field, but not psychology. I do know if you keep things inside and allow them to fester, they only get worse.'' He watched her body stiffen. ''Sometimes you have to drag up the past, take a good hard look at it, and then move on. Something happened to you, something that's now having an impact on our relationship. We need to talk about it, but we can't discuss it until you tell me what it is.''
She sat quietly and stared into her lap. The ticking of the clock on the table seemed twice as loud.
''Take my hand and tell me what happened. What has made you so scared to be near me, so fearful? You know deep down inside of you that I will never do anything to you, yet you are still frightened.''
She ignored his hand, but he could see the tears welling in her eyes. He found a box of tissues, and laid it upon her lap.
She composed herself and said, ''I can't talk about it. I don't remember.''
''How old were you?'' he asked, in a quiet voice.
''I don't know, maybe six or seven the first time.'' She wrung her hands as she spoke. Her shoulders hunched and slowly she drew herself into a ball and wrapped her arms around her legs.
''Who was it?''
She closed her eyes. Her brow furrowed, then her expression changed to a grimace. ''I don't remember. I really don't remember. I just remember all the pain.''
He shook his head.
She sobbed and blurted out bits and pieces of the story.
He remained silent and listened. Occasionally, he reached over and touched her shoulder or her knee. He wanted to wrap her up in his arms and tell her that no one was ever going to harm her again. The more she rambled, the more the story's fragments came together. Her eyes were now wide open but unseeing. The realization that her mother wasn't just hooking, she was also selling her young daughter to the highest bidder, wrapped around his stomach. Half of what Amanda said didn't even make sense. It was a child's perception of a hideous crime against her.
At one point she quit talking, uncurled from her knot, put her head back, and closed her eyes again. Her face was now red and puffy from crying, and although it was not hot in the condo, her hair was damp around her face from sweating. He retrieved a washcloth from the little bathroom, wet it, and brought it to her. Sitting on the arm of the sofa, he wiped her face and watched her breathe.
He wanted to kiss her lips, but he knew he'd better not do anything she could misconstrue as taking advantage of her. Instead, he sat quietly beside her. After a few minutes, he stood and walked to the kitchen. Wringing the washcloth under cold water, he brought it back, folded it, and placed it on her forehead. He wanted to ask her if she was okay, but that would have been stupid because she wasn't, so he stayed near her until she was ready to talk again. There was no sound other than her breathing and the rhythmic tick of the clock.
He reached over and was taking the washcloth from her face when she opened her eyes, looked up at him, and said, ''No man will ever have me again, never. I can't. I'm sorry, but I can't.''
He leaned down and kissed her damp forehead. ''No, Amanda, you're not a little girl anymore. You are a grown woman. The difference is now you can control your life and your body.''
He touched her hot, rosy-red cheek with his thumb. ''You have the right to make your own decisions. Giving yourself and your body to another person is not a light decision. It should only be done if you truly love the other person and there's a commitment between you. I have fallen madly in love with you, and I think you know that. But I will never take from you what you are not willing or ready to give.''
She closed her eyes again, and took a deep breath. He went to the kitchen and brought back the freshly dampened cloth. He picked up their cups of cold coffee, and refilled them with a fresh supply then sat on the arm of the sofa and gently touched her face. ''Sit up and drink some coffee. Do you want to talk some more?''
''I feel horrible.'' She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. ''You must hate me.''
''Never. No. You were the victim of a crime.'' He tucked her wayward lock of hair behind her ear. ''You are not responsible for what happened to you. The crime that was committed against you was hidden, and your wounds healed, but it left mental scars.'' Her gaze locked with his, staring deep into the very fiber of his being. ''Drink your coffee.''
''But you have to understand that I could never allow another man near me. I can't go through that ever again.''