Sunday, October 30, 2011

An Analogy

Reading a good book is like a four-year-old’s Halloween.  If you haven’t yet figured out why, we’ll spell it out for you in a few paragraphs. First, a little personal background.

Evans learned to read because of a girl. He managed to make it through school all the way up to his high school junior year by taking the same classes as his smart older sister had the year before. It was kind of ingenious, really. He “borrowed” the near perfect reports and tests she’d carefully saved as a record to her glorious scholastic accomplishments, made a few deliberate mistakes, and collected an easy “B” from the previous year’s “A.” But then Evans fell in love with a dark-eyed literate beauty and, in the hopes of having something intelligent to say to her, actually read a book. It was Catcher in the Rye and it irrevocably changed his life. The beauty went on to marry her childhood sweetheart while Evans began to gorge himself at the literary feast where he once just pretended to eat.

Lynn’s introduction to the joys of reading were not too dissimilar. She was too popular and too consumed with social interaction to do more than the minimum reading to get through high school. But she fell in with a learned crowd in college and they introduced her to The Lord of the Rings. Mesmerized and enchanted by worlds she’d never guessed existed, she would often avoid the mundane subjects her major required in order to pursue love and high adventure between the pages of a paperback novel. Lynn hopes her students never learn how good friends and good books allowed her to procrastinate in business classes while she collected her bachelor’s in Marketing. It wasn’t until Evans helped convince her that she needed to line up her talents with a suitable career that Lynn began her three plus decade of excellence in the science of education, first as a student and then as a teacher. A side benefit was that the reading is so much more entertaining in the Education Department.

We’ve both learned what other devoted readers have: that a good book captures you. It’s not like going to the movies or interacting on the web. Maybe it’s because a reader must meet a book halfway before the magic occurs, but being consumed by another’s written story is an unparalleled escape that can’t be matched by cinema, an amusement park, or Facebook, at least not when you’re an adult. It seems different for kids. 
Before we are capable of understanding that there is more to the world than what happens outside our five senses, we can happily get lost in make believe. Watching our four-year-old grandson don a costume and ask for treats on Halloween looks like what reading a good book does for us. In both cases there is a transformation that goes beyond logic and touches on magic. We lose the innocent escapes as we grow older and more worldly, but, luckily, they can be replaced. There are worlds and wonders waiting for those who are willing to experience a book and, this time of year, they even come with chocolate.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When All Else Fails, Try Poetry

We’ve got nothing this week! Nada. Zip.
So Evans dug through the back of his hard drive and came up with some free verse he’s written. The first one was from Promise, the book we killed last week. The rest are from moments in time when it seemed like the best way to say something was a poem. We hope you like them.

A Warrior’s Request
Slip away from your patent leather existence,
with its neat bows and reserved affections,
and bathe with me in the ice blue silk of our pleasure.
Don’t be frightened.
When my ragged longing reaches to hold your naked hopes hard next to mine,
the demon’s desire won’t devour you.
It won’t.
It won’t.
I promise.
So slip away and take me into your clothless beauty
where two caring can quench their thirsts for each other.
Then show me how I might find a certain peace in your arms
without battle
and guileless dreams in your touch
without war.

An Impossible Notion
A thought.
A wondrous possibility,
too rare, too fine, and too unlikely to be true,
keeps tickling me.
I need to find out if you’re laughing too.
Playing Hooky
The sunlight found my window today when I was supposed to be working
and teased me until I left the data to analyze itself
while I walked among the roses.
It would have been smarter I know,
just to close the blinds and concentrate,
but it’s too late now.
The flowers held me captive
and the warmth drained away any hope of coherent thought.
So, since there was nothing for it,
I decided that I might as well think of you and wonder
if the sunlight found your window too.

Other hours call me
from beneath our public smiles
and hint of breathless possibilities
both naked and daring.

How can we still be connected? 
It’s not rational and I’m always rational now.
But from yesterday’s somewhere, a girl I loved found me
and we picked up the conversation as if we’d just got out of class
instead of letting more than a quarter century slip by.

How can I hear her laughing?
It’s not reasonable and I’m the king of reason now.
But her firelight pixie voice echoes in the soulless bits sent through a virtual desert
and her teasing smile is transmitted along with today’s mischief
into my inbox.

How can she still care (and why does it matter)?
It’s not something I should think about now.
But a woman, who was once a girl I loved, found me
and I can’t stop feeling that some of what we were then
is timeless.

I catch my breath with the thought of you sometimes.
And in that reality suspended second,
released as I am from structured expectation,
your image will float before me smiling,
inviting my touch.
It’s ever only a moment.
The phantom suggestion dissolves with my stuttered exhale.
But it will make me wonder
if your breath is ever caught over me sometimes
and, if so,
does it leave your fingers tingling.

Indian Summer
Even now,
when black sky besieged by a tireless moon
blossoms in bare light dress,
I’m reminded of how the water reflected glow
danced in your eyes.
These are the nights,
warmed by hot cloudless days,
where I recall how your soft pink nipples pressed their anxious lead
and enticed me to bathe in the dark lake of your sweet summer smell.
In this luminous dark,
I hear again the strings of cherished fidelities as they fly from my lips
and feel again that desire for my hands to wander
over your tanned and laughing body.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Death Of A Story

Last week was exciting. There is something incredibly fulfilling about finally completing everything and rolling out a new novel. This week we had the opposite experience. We killed a book without publishing it. Although we can’t hide the fact that it is disappointing, in many ways we learn more from our “failures” than from our successes.

Promise was first written in the heat of passion. Evans wanted to capture the overwhelming feelings of unexpected first love that was both unusual and universal. A love that was instant, deep, quiet, and scary all at the same time. And he wanted unforgettable characters that everyone could relate to. In short, he wanted to push the boundaries of a young adult love story. The first draft was 120,000 words, twice as long as it was supposed to be and, while obviously full of passion, it was a jumbled mess.

We worked on Promise together for more than two years. Lynn loved the ideas but knew that the book couldn’t work the way it was first delivered. She was ruthless about restructuring the story to make it coherent while trying to divest it of anything not germane. She sent it out to readers multiple times and we reworked the narrative over and over again, eventually getting the word count down to 95,000. Then we sent it out again and the reviews weren’t great. One of the biggest problems we had was selling the idea that high school kids could be that mature. The other was that there wasn’t enough doubt about how it would end up. Our readers loved some parts, but not the book as a whole.

Evans took it back and restructured the first half, making the characters older and removing anything not connected to the main story. We reread it this week with the idea that we’d pick Promise up again and push it through until it was finally right. However, we both reached the conclusion that Promise was never going to fly. We know at this point that many independent authors would just go ahead and publish the last clean copy anyway and we can understand why they would. But even though we’ve spent hundreds of hours working on it, we just can’t ask people to read something we’ve written if it isn’t our best. Instead we’ll move Promise into the home of wayward stories with the hope that we can mine some of our favorite parts for future novels.

So, though it’s a little sad that you may never get to read the scene where the protagonist gets her face slapped during her best friend’s art exhibition or learn how passionately we can write a lesbian love scene while still remaining tasteful, we know we’ve grown as writers from the experience. And, maybe, making writers better is the most any book can do for its authors. If that’s true, then for us Promise has been a success.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Valentine's Game

We love weeks like this! After the challenge of writing the novel, the struggle to edit and refine it, and then the pure toil of getting it ready to be published, there comes the time to announce that it is finally available for everyone to read. That’s what’s happening right now. Our second novel, The Valentine’s Game, is out in the world just waiting for hungry eyes to devour it.

This time it is even more exciting because we have a brand new internet location to go with the book. Now all you’ll have to do is go to to find descriptions, reviews, and links for all our published novels. It’s the easy way for you and all your friends to get your very own copy of The Valentine’s Game and all of our other published novels.

We naturally think all of our stories are worthwhile, but there is something truly special about The Valentine’s Game. It’s a romance but not like any romance we’ve ever read or even heard about. It’s fun, fast paced, a little quirky, and, even if we must say so ourselves, a pure delight to read and re-read. It’s the perfect escape from the everyday.

Like our previous novel, The Valentine’s Game is an eBook available in a number of easily accessible formats. For our loyal fans who have favorite reading devices, it can be purchased directly from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iTunes bookstore. Although we make a dollar less per book when you buy it from one of these locations we actually want our readers to get them at these sites if you’ll give us a review when you’ve finished reading the book. That way, people who haven’t discovered Lynn Evans yet will believe you when you tell them that The Valentine’s Game was a great read. If there is no way we can convince you to give us a review, then you might as well buy the book from us and read it on your Kindle, Nook, or iPad. We promise to put the extra dollar to good use.

So go to right now to read details about The Valentine’s Game and choose a place to get it. Trust us; you’ll be glad you did. It’s a story worth the read.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dedicated To Love

Our baby girl wasn’t much for being a baby. Sarah was grown up by the time she was ten and she was so smart it made us nervous. Sarah was beyond us mathematically before she was out of grade school. She was so far ahead of the rest of her trigonometry class in the eighth grade that the teacher didn’t include Sarah when he set the curve and some of the college kids she was taking the class with paid her to tutor them. Going against stereotypes, however, Sarah was and still is an immensely social being. She has friends from one to a hundred and every parent she met, she seduced. We had a hundred offers to take Sarah off our hands. She also loves to dance, tells delightful stories, and isn’t afraid to make a fool of herself. Her extended family has her pegged as a klutz and whenever something is spilled during a holiday meal, Sarah usually gets the blame, even when she isn’t in the same state.

Sarah has a physics degree from Stanford and a law degree from Berkeley. She can relate hilarious tales about cross-dating young men from these notorious rivals. But it was dancing away from academia where she met the young man with whom she now intends to spend her life. Being parents, we weren’t sure at first if Terence was a good fit for our Sarah. He is every bit as intelligent and even more worldly than she is. But Terence doesn’t fit neatly into a box either. He is equally at home wining and dining celebrities and the press as a public relations hot shot or in working alone in the wilderness cataloging wildlife, which is what Terence did before he got a job with the Berkeley Repertoire Theater. We wondered if there was too much chemistry between them and worried that their love would combust with the slightest spark. But they have told us separately how much the other means to them and the look in their eyes convinced us that their love cannot be denied. And, when we think about it, since it is Sarah, it couldn’t be any other way. She was never meant for a safe and quiet life. Like everything else she does, Sarah’s love for Terence and his love for her must be written large across the emotional landscape. It can’t be whispered in a quiet breeze but must be sung on high from a choir of a thousand angels.

In one of those wonderfully serendipitous moments in life, we finished a love story about a young couple who has to overcome some unique challenges in order to find true love at nearly the same time we learned of Sarah’s and Terence’s engagement. That made it easy for us to figure out who we would dedicate the novel to. So now, when you get a copy of The Valentine’s Game and see our inscription to Sarah and Terence, you’ll know that we are thrilled that our baby girl has found love with a charming and clever young man. We just know that their lives together will be the stuff of legend and can’t wait to see what happens when they join forces completely. We are also patiently waiting for our next grandchild and will apply absolutely no pressure on our daughter and future son in-law to hurry up and give us a reason to spend our free time buying baby clothes in Berkeley. Really, no pressure whatsoever!