Building of the City by Dellani Oakes

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Creating a believable setting isn’t as easy as you might think. Using a place you know as a backdrop is easier, but what if your action can’t all be done at real locations? Time to get inventive.

By inventive, I don’t mean digging out road maps to some city that fits your needs, why not make something up?

For So Much It Hurts, among others, I wanted a big city, but didn’t want to use NYC, Chicago or other metropolis. Why? Because I’m basically lazy and don’t fancy the research. Also, if I get my facts wrong, someone will call me on it. As I don’t much like the idea of engaging internet trolls, I chose to make my own.

This city has no name. I couldn’t come up with a name that sounded credible. I hate the hokey names they give cities in soap operas (and Sunnydale was taken) I didn’t want more trolls crawling out of the woodwork telling me their city has that name and X was wrong with my tale. Therefore, it is a mysterious city somewhere near Canada and west of NYC, but east of Chicago.

I created some landmarks—a magnificent art deco hotel, a newspaper, a coffee shop, mall, art gallery, museums, aquarium and other sights to see. There is no map except the one in my mind, traffic is as busy or not as I choose. Some characters live in a ritzy development near the lake, others in less pricey and prestigious areas of the city.

An architectural firm does remodels of old, historic buildings—making exclusive condos from an old department store, for example.

The City has spies, thieves, billionaires, wealthy old families, nouveau riche, doctors, lawyers and rock stars.

There are upscale suburbs, low class urban areas, sleepy small towns a few miles away from the craziness of the city—idyllic, quiet, crime free, there is a lake nearby and mountains. In short, any environment I want, is available. I have all flexibility I want with none of the real life hassles.

To keep it believable, I have traffic jams, crimes,emergencies, accidents—all the things we have in real life. They aren’t the focus of my story, but the bustle of the city is always there. I’ve written a lot of books in this imaginary setting, so many, she has become very real to me. She’s as much a character as the people who live in her environs.

Why do I refer to the City as She? Because, she is like a mother to the people who live there. She sets guardians to watch over them, doing their best to protect her young. Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people (or bad people, as the case may be) and the City’s guardians can’t save them all. That doesn’t stop them from trying.

The first story written in my city, was Best Medicine. It hasn’t been published yet, but I will do it one day. My problem with my City books is that I’m not sure which to publish first. Best Medicine started it all, introducing some pivotal characters, but some of the books are more fun. They can stand alone, but do share characters, so you see my quandary.

My newest book, So Much It Hurts, is set in my City. It stands on its own, but also fits into the fabric woven in the City. I don’t know if Pia, Flynn and Yancy will get into other City books, but it’s entirely possible. I never say never with my writing, because I get blindsided, more often than not.

I love my imaginary city, somewhere up north. One day, I may work on a map, but I prefer keeping her in my imagination, telling her tales; sharing her joys and pains. I’ll keep writing her stories, sharing moments from the lives she nurtures and cares for. I hope that when I, eventually, get them published, readers will love her as much as I do.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Excerpt from So Much It Hurts

Flynn slung his around Pia’s shoulders and she hooked her thumb in his belt loop.

We’re going to campus, Amita,” he called to her at the desk.

Don’t get lost!”

I promise. I have an unerring sense of direction.” He wandered to the left and right. “I know there’s a front door here somewhere.” It did his heart good that Pia giggled at his silly joke. “We can walk or we can drive. Which do you want to do?”

How far is it?”

About six blocks.” He examined the traffic. “At this time of day, after rush hour and before noon, we’d make good time. If you have an eight or one o’clock class, it’s better to walk or bike. I go early and come home late, so I usually leave around seven and get there on time. Coming home is better.”

Gawd! I’m gonna have to get used to city traffic. Back home, it’s distance not cars you have to account for. And the occasional cow. Sometimes they get loose and wander. There was one who would hop the fence and lie in the middle of the road.”

How inconvenient.”

No kidding! She wouldn’t move, no matter how much you honked, and the bar pits on the side are deep there, with a narrow shoulder.”

Bar pits?”

The ditches on the side of the road. You have to learn to speak Nebraskan.” She added a distinctly nasal twang to her voice. “They borrow–bar–to build up the road.”

Bar pits. Hmmm.” Flynn nodded. “Why don’t we walk this time and I can show you some sights along the way?”

Sounds good. I’m up for anything.”

Got good walking shoes?”

I wore my comfy boots.” She showed him her soft-soled boots.

Perfect. Okay. Do you know the address here?”

Yes. I got that much under control. And the bus stop is that way.” She pointed to their right.

Correct. Campus is the opposite direction. If you take the bus, take the number seven to Trinity.”

Seven to Trinity.” She whipped out her phone and left a note to herself. “Any changes?”

No. It’s a straight shot. The Trinity stop comes in on the side of campus near the Fine Arts buildings, so it’s perfect for us. If Yancy takes the bus, he has to wait for the number ten, which lets off on Springfield. It’s on the opposite side. I think the left-brained business majors didn’t want to be anywhere near us right-brained freaks.”

We are pretty freaky.”

It took Yancy a while to get used to me. His family is so straight! I don’t think I’ve ever seen his old man crack a smile. And me, throwing out comic gems. Sad, really.”

Tragic.”

Speaking of comedy, across the street to your right is the Cheezers Comedy Club. They have stand up, but four nights a week, they do improv.”

No, I love that! Is it expensive?”

Surprisingly affordable. I’ve got some buddies who work there. I’ve used a few of the cast members as models. There’s one guy, taller than me. He’s a freak of nature. I think he’s six foot eight.”

He ate his Wheaties for breakfast.”

By the box. There’s the Thai Garden.” He pointed directly to their left.

As they walked slowly along, he pointed out various points of interest: restaurants, a pawn shop, music store, art supply, grocery store and movie theatre.

You weren’t kidding about how close it all is. I’ll have to explore Making Music soon. I can’t go long without a fix.”

We can go in now, if you want.” He turned to face the store.

The front window was filled with shiny saxophones, sparkling flutes, and tantalizing objects Flynn couldn’t name. It caught his artist’s eye, drawing him in.

Today’s goal is campus.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Available Now fro Pre-Order: So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes

Coming November 1, 2017 from Tirgearr Publishing – So Much It Hurts! This delightful romance is set in a big city somewhere up north. I’ve never given it a name, and the residents refer to it as The City.

Pia Donovan is a small town girl. Newly in the City from a tiny town in Nebraska, she is overwhelmed by the fast pace. After a long day of getting lost in the worst part of town, she arrives at her destination; an historic, grand hotel in the downtown area. Picking her way across the rutted ground in front of the building, she loses her balance, nearly falling into the arms of Flynn Chancellor. Handsome and friendly, Flynn presents a happy distraction for a girl who’s trying to recover from a broken heart.

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Sweet, sultry music poured from the open second-story windows as Pia walked across the pitted, uneven ground. Scattered with puddles and trash, it wasn’t a very inviting aspect. The old, grand hotel building loomed above her, intimidating in the dusky light after sunset. Sighing, she forged ahead, dragging her rolling suitcase after her. It bumped into a particularly deep hole and caught. Yanking, she lost her balance and teetered to the right.

Watch out!” Strong hands caught her, setting her on her feet. The same hands lifted her suitcase. “You all right, little lady?”

Pia wasn’t sure she liked being called a little lady by any man, but when she turned to look at him, she decided he had the right to. He was at least six foot three, maybe taller. She, a petite five three, was indeed a little lady. He flashed a brilliant smile at her.

You’re the newbie.” He extended his hand. “Flynn Chancellor. Welcome to the fold.”

Pia Donovan. Thank you. How does this work, exactly?”

Didn’t get orientation?” He tugged her suitcase, ushering Pia inside.

Sort of? They told me to report here this afternoon, but I took the wrong bus and ended up on the way to Maryville. I got as far as Walnut Street and finally figured out I was in the wrong spot.”

Ooh, not a place for a lady of your delicate sensibilities to be.”

Yeah, tell me about it. The driver wouldn’t let me out on the street. He dropped me at a satellite station and told me the right bus to take back.”

That was nice of him.”

He said he has a granddaughter my age. He wouldn’t set her loose to the wolves.”

Flynn chuckled. “Apt. I grew up in that area. It ain’t pretty.” He opened the door for her, letting her walk under his arm. It was an easy fit. “Where are you from, Pia Donovan?”

Out of state. I moved here from Nebraska. Outside Kearney.”

No kidding? What brings you up here?”

I got a scholarship to City University.”

In?”

He opened a set of inner doors which led into a large, open area. To the right and left there were arched doorways which had once led to reception and lobby areas. They were now full of cast-off furniture and crowds of men and women, all about her age. Every ethnic blend imaginable greeted her small-town Nebraska eyes.

Music.”

We’ve got several music majors here. I’ll show you around, if you want.”

I’d like that, thank you. How do I get settled?”

We talk to Amita.” He pointed to the desk area. It had formally been the receptionist’s desk — a tall, dark wooden structure that wrapped around like a bar.

When was this place built?”

Early 1900s.”

And they’re tearing it down?”

No. It will, eventually, be renovated.”

She nodded, looking around her at the early elegance of the place. It sported dark wood wainscoting, light walls, brass wall sconces. This was in stark contrast with the battered linoleum laid over the original hardwood floors, holes in the walls, and pieces of plywood over missing glass panes.

You wouldn’t know to look at it, but it was a showplace in its time. Celebrities from all over the world visited. It was built by one of the founding families, so they will never tear it down.”

It’s still got a stateliness to it, doesn’t it?”

It does,” he agreed.

No one was at the desk, but he leaned over and called through an open doorway. “Oi, Amita! Found our newbie!”

A tall, mocha-skinned woman with wildly curly hair came out, wiping her hands on a dish towel. “Hi! You must be Pia. I’m Amita, I’m the resident manager. We expected you ages ago.”

I got lost.”

Ended up on Walnut Street,” Flynn added.

Oh, my God! And lived to tell about it!”

Flynn chuckled and leaned against the tall desk, hands in pockets. Pia had a moment to take in details she hadn’t noticed outside in the dusk. He was broad-shouldered, with dancing green eyes. His chestnut colored hair was nearly to his shoulders, thick and straight, covered by a faded black fedora. Steel gauges, about the size of a quarter, stretched each earlobe. His arms were covered by intricate tattoos, forming sleeves from wrist up. His shirtsleeves were rolled just past his elbows. Rusty black pants, which looked as if they had seen better days, dangled from colorful suspenders. His huge feet were covered in clunky, leather boots. Every piece of clothing was spattered with different colors of paint.

You’ll be in the Ambassador Suite,” Amita said with a grin, handing over a registration card for Pia to sign.

Sounds elegant.”

It’s great!” Flynn said with a grin.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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What’s In a Name?

I’ve written a lot of books – well over a hundred. Some will be published, others will never see the light of day. In all those books, I have characters. These characters need names. I’ve noticed, over the years, that I have a tendency to use the same names for minor characters with alarming frequency.

I didn’t realize how alarming until I decided to take a tally. Considering I have approximately 108 finished novels/ novellas, and roughly 50 unfinished works (not including short stories) that’s a lot of names! I try to keep the main character names unique, but there are, apparently, some I loved so much, I used them for more than one character. At least they are in worlds which will not collide, or I’d be in serious trouble. I can change a minor character’s name, or even a main character if I catch it before he or she has fully evolved. I’ve done that four times, that I can think of. Once a story is finished, I won’t change a main character’s name, though I have altered the names of a few adjunct characters.

To get back to my little OCD moment…. I wondered how many times I’d used certain names, so I went through my notebooks, checking cast lists, and counted. The results shocked me. I have now made myself a list of names never to use again. I’ll have to find alternatives. The list below includes only the names of those I had remembered to write down. There could very easily be a few more Bobs, Williams or Toms around, for which I cannot account. I will, eventually, endeavor to change out some of these names, because there are only so many Bobs anyone can possibly know. In my list below, I included only the names I’d used 15 times or more.

Dellani’s Most Used Names:

Cindy 15

Paul 15

Richard 15

Sam 15

Charles 17

David 17

Ed 17

John 19

James 20

Tom 20

And the top two names were (drumroll please):

Coming in at #2 Most Used Name was – William at a rollicking 29

The #1 Top Used Name was – Robert! At a whopping 32!! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know that many people named Bob.

Keep in mind, these totals include combination names like Joe Bob, Billy Bob, Jimmy Joe Bob Earl…. (I had 7 Earls, 4 Joes) I’ve made a complete list and the top contenders have a list of their own Names Never to Use Again! Meanwhile, I need to come up with alternatives…. Bother.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

First Meeting from It Takes a Thief by Dellani

Love in the City

it-takes-a-thief-coverI’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – I love first meetings. It’s fun for me to see how the two main characters react to one another. Often, it sets the tone of their relationship, but other times…they just don’t go that well.

Jason Banes is a thief, however, he’s found himself on the wrong end of a murder charge. He admits to the accompanying theft, but maintains his innocence in the multiple murders he’s charged with. When compelling evidence comes out that he’s telling the truth, he’s released into FBI custody in order to help them find the person who is ultimately responsible, the elusive Orchid. Unfortunately, Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole, doesn’t seem very happy to meet him.

The woman was medium height with an athletic build. Her hair was an average shade of light brown, worn in a sloppy bun as if she couldn’t be…

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Characters from The Maker by Dellani Oakes

Sci-Fi and Fantasy by Dellani

The Maker frontNot all the new characters in The Maker are human, in fact, most of them are some sort of bipedal alien race. There are others, however, who are just as important, but aren’t remotely human. In fact, some of the best characters in the books are the sentient ships. We’ve already met Styx, Hammer, Anvil and Quick Silver. They are a family unit who have been remarkably helpful to the folk of Shakazhan.

Now, however, a galaxy wide call has gone out and the Timokuan people must respond. The ships are the ones who must carry them to Shakazhan. This scene takes place as the Timokuan prepare to depart. It is customary for the mated pairs to travel, leaving their children for who knows how long, because there isn’t any room on the ship for them. Reluctantly, Tianna and Lordvik must leave their family behind.

A gentle…

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Character Quotes from Lone Wolf

lone wolf front“The next time I see your sorry asses, they’d better be shining like the sun. When I report here this time tomorrow, I’d better find this hell hole shipshape, or all of you will be re-evaluating your career in the Mining Guild. Dismissed!”

There was a shocked silence. No one moved, no one spoke. Marc rounded on them.

“I said dismissed, you lazy sacks of shit! Now move before I bust the entire crew back to Miner One!”

This last was yelled so loudly, Matilda stiffened. She had never seen Marc this angry. The crew scurried off to their appointed tasks. Marc walked up to her, the officers scattering at his approach. Dropping his chin, his hands still behind his back, he lowered his voice so only she could hear him.

“Did I sound authentic enough, baby?”

He winked at her surreptitiously. It was all she could do not to burst out laughing. The only thing that helped her control herself was knowing what it would do to discipline if she did.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from Conduct Unbecoming by Dellani

conduct front cover“You like bacon,” he called as he walked past the door.

“Do you seriously need an answer to that question?”

Jasper chuckled. “I’m gonna take that as a yes.”

Nadeya opened the bathroom door. “That would be wise.”

Jasper chuckled and headed to the kitchen in his boxers. Nadeya came out a few minutes later, dressed in sleek black pants and a black tank top.

“Don’t you wear pants, Officer Waters?”

Jasper laughed. “Not so much. I’m used to being alone. Sorry.”

“I don’t mind. I was just curious. Maybe I should wander around in my panties.”

He nodded. “You could. Then again, you’d have to call an ambulance, cause I think a sight that incredible would surely give me heart failure.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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It’s Christmas in July!

Cereal Authors

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What’s that I hear? Sleigh bells? Can it be Santa? What’s he doing outside my window in July? He’s looking for the Christmas in July Event hosted by Maria Devivo on Facebook July 25

Smart Santa! Authors from all genres and all over the world are taking turns chatting, playing games, giving away prizes and freebies from 10:00 a.m. To 8:00 p.m. Eastern time (9 CDT, 8 MDT, 7 PDT)

And the coolest part? Dellani is there from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EDT to talk about her romantic suspense book, Room 103. Join us for a fun filled day. We’re going to have a blast!

room 103 front cover Cover by Suzette Vaughn

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Announcing One Night in Daytona Beach by Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

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It’s finally here! The long anticipated (at least for me) One Night in Daytona Beach, #17 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing, is Available Now! Grab your copy while it’s still only .99 cents!

When I first heard of the City Night Series, I was intrigued. The parameters of 24 hour time frame and erotic romance, were somewhat daunting as I usually extend my stories over longer periods of time. However, I saw it as a challenge. However, I couldn’t think of a city, that I had knowledge of, which could be in any way interesting. I’ve lived a lot of places, and visited more, but somehow I didn’t think that One Night in Lubbock, Texas sounded quite as enticing as I might like. And then Troy Lambert wrote about Boise, Idaho and I knew that I could do it. Thank you, Troy!

My own city, in…

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