May I Misquote You?

This was originally written June 2, 2010, for my Fun in Writing group. The topic for the week was a special adage. Since I couldn’t really get my head around that, I wrote this instead. ~ Dellani

I couldn’t think of anything to fit this subject, so I changed it up a little to quotes that are frequently misquoted. Shakespeare suffers a lot from this, but so do movies, plays, books and even songs.

One that springs to mind, since I just saw it on DVD, is from Hamlet. When he’s in the graveyard and picks up the skull, he’s often misquoted as saying, “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well.” Not so! He says, “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.”

A second one, also from Hamlet, when the queen is asked her opinion of the play: “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” Instead, it’s: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Another one, this time from MacBeth: “Bubble, bubble toil and trouble.” When if fact, it’s “Double, double toil and trouble.”

Leaving Shakespeare for the moment, let’s reflect on a couple of Bogart movies. The main one misquoted is from Casablanca. It is, of course, in reference to their famous song. So often, this line is not only misquoted, it’s attributed to the wrong character. How often have we seen Bogart impersonators take on the famous overbite and say, “Play it again, Sam.”

He doesn’t even say the line! Ingrid Bergman spoke to Sam and said, “Play it, Sam.”

From another Bogart movie, the famous whistle quote. I’ve always heard, “You know how to whistle, just pucker up and blow.” Lauren Bacall didn’t say that at all. “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” (Though I like pucker up and blow better.)

Moving on to another movie icon, Mae West. We’ve all heard “Come up and see me sometime.” She actually said, “Why don’t you come up some time and see me?”

One of my favorite misquotes of all time was said by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Everyone always says, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Poor Harry didn’t say that at all. He said, Ah-ah. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots, or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, PUNK?”

So, in conclusion, I leave you with a great quote, (which is correct) and sums up my point perfectly: “What we’ve got here… is a failure to communicate!”

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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter J – Just When You Thought It Was Safe

ABC ChallengeJust When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water. . . .

This article doesn’t really have anything to do with that at all. I needed a title with a J and ended up with the tag line for Jaws II. Mostly, I want to talk about books in a series.

Some authors like to write books in a series, others abhor the idea of sequels. I stand on the side of those who like books in a series. Not all my books are in series. Most notably, my sci-fi books – The Lone Wolf Series. The first three are out: Lone Wolf, Shakazhan and The Maker.lone wolf series banner 3

The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes - 200I do have books that are loosely grouped and are series-ish. Of these books, I have The Ninja Tattoo, Conduct Unbecoming, Call Me and Mirrored. These are all set in Florida and have a lot of the same people in them. Another book, associated with Conduct Unbecoming, is my romantic suspense novel, Bad Fall. Though it’s set in Ohio, it is a spin off of Conduct Unbecoming. Couldn’t really call it a series, more a continuation of the story begun therein.conduct unbecoming front cover

I like writing books in a series, or those that are associated with one another, because I like exploring the characters more in depth. A stand alone book is great, I have quite a few of these, but I don’t feel as if I can fully dive into the background of a character in a stand alone.

The character of Wil VanLipsig, in my sci-fi series, is so complex, I even wrote several short stories in order to look into his history more deeply. Things that are mentioned in passing in the series, are explored in more detail in the short stories. I am currently sharing one white lie coverof these, A Little White Lie, on my website every Thursday.

© Dellani Oakes 2015

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Editing, An Author’s Nightmare

cropped-lone-wolf-cover-scanned-500-x-7501.jpgI’ve spoken to a lot of authors over the last six years of radio shows. Occasionally, I ask them which phase of writing is the most difficult for them. Almost unanimously, they say Editing. Beginning the edits on The Kahlea, Lone Wolf Book 4, I am in agreement. I detest editing.

I’m not talking about reading through and tweaking the manuscript, making a few minor changes here and there. I’m talking about finding flawed passages and having to rewrite them. Or realizing that an entire storyline needs to be renovated or completely cut out. These things are like Hydras. You think you have all the references to them eliminated, only to have another one raise its ugly head somewhere else.

The Kahlea, like the other Lone Wolf books, has a lot of sub-plots and I’m trying to consolidate some and get rid of others. Why are there so many? Good question. I blame my husband. He likes intricate plots with lots of sub-text and crap going on all over the place. He would read through and tell me things I needed to add. He said it like that, “You need to add something about (wild, unnecessary random shit).”

Being fairly new at writing, I believed him and followed his requests. Finally, when he got off on some other bizarre tangent, I put my down and said No, both loudly and clearly. (Mostly loudly, I admit).

Not everyone wants to know that and it slows down the story,” I explained.

But it would make a cool sub-plot.”Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]

What he still fails to realize that all these extra details require full explanation and resolution later in the book. It takes time and a lot of pages to do that properly. My daughter said something interesting the other day. She said when she gets to a part of a book that she finds boring, she skips it. She doesn’t care if she misses details, because she can usually pick up the thread of events later. She reads my sci-fi manuscripts for me and will skip scenes in them too. However, one thing she likes about my editing is that I will take those long, boring passages and get rid of them.

You don’t leave them in there to bore me. I like that about your books, Mom. They keep moving.” High praise from my busy, easily bored daughter.

This echoes my own feeling about books. I, too, have skipped boring parts. If something doesn’t catch my interest, or keep me in the moment, I’ll flip pages until my attention is engaged again. Sometimes it isn’t. Those books are set aside unfinished, and I’m okay with that. I know people who will keep reading a bad book because they don’t want to give up on it. I look at it this way, that’s hours of my life I won’t get back and couldn’t spend on something I liked. I’m the same way with movies and TV shows. If they fail to entertain, off they go.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]As I said above, I’m working on The Kahlea. It’s easier than the first three, because I knew more what I was doing, but it’s still full of those pesky sub-plots. Some of them get developed in later books, so I can’t get rid of them entirely, but others will go in the Outtakes folder.

In today’s reading, I came across this passage and I really like it. For those who haven’t read the other books (and what’s wrong with you? Get on that immediately!) I have an alien race called the Kindred. They are short and furry, highly advanced, intelligent creatures. Their spiritual leader is The High Elder. He’s blind, but still manages to kick serious ass. I absolutely love this guy. He’s annoyingly enigmatic at times—this being one such time. He’s talking to Dr. Stanley Savolopis, whom he regards as a son, even if he’s human. Stan is experiencing a rare moment of doubt, remembering a woman he’d loved and left over forty years ago.

Stan was many things, sentimental had never been one of them. Hard nosed, stubborn, callous, even cruel and uncaring; these were all terms which had been used to describe him. He could neither refute nor deny the description. He was all these things and more.

“She deserved a better man than me.”

A tingling touched his mind, like little fingers tickling his psyche. Turning around, he saw the High Elder standing behind and to his left, touching a crystalline ashtray on the desk. His hazy eyes riveted Stan’s, looking into his soul, although the Kindred man was blind.

“Is that what you believe of yourself, my son?”

“I don’t know, Great Father. Sometimes.”

“Why?”

Stan blinked, not at first knowing an answer, not a simple one anyway. “Many reasons. Everything I’ve done, I thought I was doing something good, noble, worthwhile, important. All I’ve done is pervert, annihilate, corrupt. . .” A flood of unfamiliar emotions welled in him—predominantly doubt.

“Never doubt yourself, my son. How often have you been told that?”

“More times than I can remember. My dad used to say that to me all the time.”

“Did you doubt him?”

“No.”

“Did he doubt you?”

“Never.” Stan paused. “What are you getting at exactly?”

“Exactly? Perhaps nothing. In general, a great deal. If you want specifics, then talk to someone else. I speak in generalities. It’s up to you to supply more.”

“I guess what you’re saying is if my dad believed in me, I should believe in myself?”

The High Elder smiled with a slight inclination of his head. “To ridicule yourself besmirches his memory.”

Stan’s father had died at fifty. He’d never even seen his son become a doctor. He’d labored far too hard all his life and had worked himself to death.

“I suppose you’re right.”

A chuckled thought followed Stan’s statement. “I’m always right, except when I’m not. But I don’t doubt myself. So I can never be completely wrong.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakesauthor dellani oakes banner in red from Christina

If you enjoyed this passage, I hope you’ll check out other books in the series. If sci-fi isn’t your style, I also have historical romance, retro romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

All my books are available from:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords Second Wind

Smashwords Tirgearr

Discover Undiscovered! A New Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Undiscovered

To Purchase Undiscovered

Undiscovered has some mature content and is not appropriate for readers under 17.

Kent Griswald is a high powered movie executive known for his micro-managing and aggressive supervision of a movie from beginning to end. He’s not well liked professionally or personally, so when someone puts a knife in his chest, no one is terribly surprised. However, someone also took pot shots at his younger brother, Connor, who has no enemies. Detectives Walter Scott and Vanessa Weinstein are called in on the case, ready for action.

Detective Scott hadn’t counted on the eyewitness, Cadence Stuart. Pretty and personable, she’s also terrified that the killer may come after her next. It’s up to Scott to protect her from the tall, dark killer. Unfortunately, so far, the killer’s identity and whereabouts are Undiscovered.

Cadence sank into a soft chair in his outer office as he shut the door on the sales room. Closing her eyes, she let the murmur of voices wash over her. The loud report of a heavy caliber rifle shocked the air. Another followed.

Cadence ran down the hall. That sounded like it came from the room she’d been showing. What the hell? Frozen with indecision, she stood in the hallway. Pounding footsteps sounded from down the corridor to her left.

Turning, she saw a man in a black ski mask and anonymous clothing barreling down the hall toward the elevator ahead of her. Although he was running away from her, she noticed he was tall, broad shouldered and moved like an athlete. He hit the stairway, running full tilt. It wouldn’t take him long to clear four stories to the ground floor.

Bob and the Andersons ran to the hallway behind her, crowding to get past.

“What was that?” Bob demanded.

“Sounded like a gunshot,” Ted replied, wide eyed.

Susan clung to him, weeping hysterically. Cadence whipped out her phone and called 911.

“What’s the nature of your emergency?”

“I’m at the Ocean Sun condo,” Cadence replied. “I want to report a 10-10.”

There was a pause. “Possible shots fired? You a cop, sugar?”

Cadence didn’t like the dispatcher’s tone.

“My dad is. Listen, there’s really a problem here.”

“Already got a call, got two officers rolling. You say you’re in the condo?”

“Yes, ma’am. Fourth floor.”

“Not on the beach?”

Cadence paused. “No. Inside, on the fourth floor.”

“I’ll send someone else. The other officers are responding to a call on the beach at that same address.”

“Thank you. My name is Cadence Stuart. I’ll meet the officers down at the front desk.”

“Thank you, Miss Stuart. I’ll tell them.”

“Bob, call the front desk. Tell them the cops are coming. I’ll be down in a minute.”

“Will do, sugar.”

Cadence ran to the living room of the open unit. Pandemonium on the beach greeted her. A cluster of people stood around something, many of them crying, some talking on phones. Utter chaos ensued.

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Dellani Oakes has been telling stories her entire life. She started with tales of Rainbow School when she was three and her sister started kindergarten. Soon, Dellani progressed to poems and song parodies. Eventually, she tried her hand at short stories and humorous essays.

In college, Dellani began to write plays and that love of dialogue has stayed with her. She enjoys building characters by what they say as much as what they do.

Dellani doesn’t know whether to include writing amongst her hobbies, because it’s really more of an obsession. Perhaps she should, otherwise she hasn’t anything to list. For fun, she hosts two Blog Talk Radio shows a month, Dellani’s Tea Time and What’s Write for Me. She also heads two, small, local writing groups a week.

Dellani makes her home on the east coast of Florida near Daytona Beach, where she lives with her husband and three of her four children. Undiscovered is her eighth book.

Others include:

Indian Summer – historical romance

Lone Wolf, Shakazhan, The Maker – sci-fi series

The Ninja Tattoo

Conduct Unbecoming

Under the Western Sky

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I’m a Bit of a Perfectionist

Undiscovered by Dellani Oakes - 200I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I qualify that because looking around my house, you wouldn’t know it. Perfectionist isn’t to be confused with OCD, though I fall prey to that on occasion. I am, however, a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my writing.

Finding the right word delights me. I can spend hours poring over my work, reading and perfecting. Sometimes, I find things that shock me – as I did with something I read over a couple days ago. There were bits and pieces in there that sounded as if they’d been written by someone else. I was appalled. Needless to say, I fixed it immediately.

As compulsive as I am with being precise in written form, I am equally precise when I speak. I found out long ago that being precise leaves the speaker in a stronger position. This has come in handy as a teacher and parent. Try as they might, they will try to get around it, but if I’ve said exactly what I mean, it’s much harder to creatively interpret it. Giving them very little wiggle room has saved me a lot of grief.

Treat your readers the same way. Be exact and say what you mean. Do not be vague. Try not to leave your readers guessing. Why? Because otherwise your message is lost and the audience is confused. Choose words carefully. Keep your voice strong and don’t be repetitive. Keep it simple, avoiding long, flowery passages. These may amuse the author, but a reader loses interest. Describe things fully, but don’t over describe. Many readers are put off by long, descriptive passages. Find a balance between dialogue and narrative.

In fact – be a perfectionist.

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The Writing Addiction

I have an addiction for which there is no cure. There’s no Twelve Step Program to lead me home, no anonymous meetings I can attend to rid me of this curse. This addiction won’t kill me, but it can make me extremely hard to live with.

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerWhat am I addicted to? The same thing we all are, writing. Regardless of genre, style, or approach, we’ve all broken out in a cold sweat when the urge to write hits us. Ever been standing in line at the grocery store, and the perfect opening sentence hits you like a sack of potatoes? How about driving to work, or taking the kids to school, and a sweet bit of dialogue between the hero and the villain pops into your mind?

Like Tantalus, we wait to commit this to paper, digging desperately in the glove compartment for a piece of paper and a pen. If none comes immediately to hand, we try to memorize it, repeating it over and over in our minds until we get home. Then there had better not be anyone in the way, or they get mown down in an attempt to purge!

Although symptoms may vary, some things hold constant. An abrupt end to a conversation, followed by a mad flurry for a pen and paper, or a suicidal dash to the computer, are early warning signs.

Glazed eyes, inappropriate answers to simple questions, distraction, peevishness, herald stage two.

Stage three may have a sudden onset. No one has been able to pinpoint the exact time that writing addiction becomes serious. However, the symptoms remain constant. The addict breaks into a sweat, the body tenses preparatory to a leap toward the computer. The heart races, nerves jangle, feet tap, tempers flare! Being caught in a writer’s frenzy can get ugly very quickly! Extreme caution is advised.

The delusional among us will way, “It’s not that serious, I can give it up any time.” I want to yell at them, “Wake up and smell the ink!” Denial of an addiction does not make it go away.

Are you at risk? Ask yourself the following:

1. Do you often skip meals or lose sleep because you are writing?

2. Do you let the phone ring, entrusting your calls to the voice mail?

3. Do you lose track of time easily?

4. Do you say to your wife, husband, child, significant other, “I’m coming in a minute! I just need to finish this thought!”

5. Is your desk covered with stacks of random papers and suffocating in sticky notes, all of which have writing ideas, corrections or additions scribbled on them?

If you answered yes to only one of these questions: There is still hope for you. You do not suffer from a serious addiction (Unless it was number 5, in which case you’re out of luck!)

If you answered yes to two: You are in the early stages of an addiction. Intervention might still be effective at this point.

If you answered yes to three: You are too deeply enured to escape! You are an addict! Intervention is no longer effective.

If you answered yes to four: There is no hope, you are hopelessly addicted. However, your need for a fix is not quite urgent, though it is compelling.

If you answered yes to five: Hang it up, it’s all over. You are a full blown addict. Only regular fixes will help you lead a semi-normal life. Writing is no longer just a cathartic high, it is life itself!

I sit here, knowing myself to be in the fifth, irrefutable stage, and sigh. I ask myself, would I have it any other way?

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

indian summerlone wolf coverPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]

ninjatattoo-175x260Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 200conduct unbecoming FINAL FRONT COVER largeUndiscovered by Dellani Oakes - 200

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Whose Book Is It Anyway?

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerFor the last seven years I’ve participated in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in the month of November. Every year, I’ve set myself a goal to write a novel of 50,000 words or more and every year I’ve finished early. This year was no different, except that I finished my 50,000 words by November 7. This is unprecedented. The novel was really finished by November 5, but I didn’t have 50k words and it took me two more days of writing to get to the limit in order to “win” my NaNo challenge.

Since I finished so early, my buddy, Christine Buchner, and several other helpful souls decided I needed more to do and gave me another challenge, take their random ideas and put them into a story. I might finish it by the end of November, I might not, but so far I am 22,413 words in and finding it a fun experiment.

The starting elements were:

Someone with the name Morgan—Barbara Ehrentreu

A Frisbee—Karen Vaughan

An Asian person—Devika Fernando

An ability to telepathically communicate with fish in an aquarium—Christine Buchner

Below is an excerpt from chapter one of Whose Book Is It Anyway?

Whose Book Is It Anyway?

Inspired by the authors and occupants of The Secret Garden of Thoughts

November 7, 2014

CHAPTER ONE

“Apple Bunnies,” I swore softly as I tried to shave without cutting myself. “FudgeTarts! Oh, hell! Dammit!” I nicked myself a couple times. The razor was super dull, which tells me that Grace had probably used it on her legs.

I’m really trying to cut back, truly, I am, but there are days when Fudge Tarts and Apple Bunnies simply don’t make the grade. I’ve done my best to eliminate the F-word, but it still pops up with alarming frequency. When I get really angry, there’s nothing more satisfying than setting off an F-bomb. Besides, it annoys my roommate and that’s the most satisfying of all, since she’s the one who usually makes me say it. Repeatedly, I might add. Loudly and with varying degrees of emphasis.

But today, I’m trying to be good. Today, we have company coming and I have go behave myself. I want them to like me—really like me—then maybe Grace will see me as something more than a roommate and more of a mate-mate.

Perhaps I should explain. My name is Duff Morgan. I’m 27, single, unattached and hot for my roommate who thinks that I’m only good for scrubbing the bathroom, completing the odd do it yourself project or opening jars. She does not see me as manly, marginally handsome or terribly interesting. I fell into her friend category right after she met me and I can’t seem to climb out no matter what I do.

Grace is gorgeous. Nearly six feet of woman, she’s built like a goddess. She’s got sun bleached blonde hair and dark brown eyes—like melted chocolate. Yeah—I’ve got it bad. I sound like a soppy chick flick.

One thing she does like about me, I’m six foot four. She can take me to parties as her escort and not tower over me in heels. I clean up pretty good. I have a couple suits and can manage to get through an evening without scratching inappropriately. I even know what fork to use with which course and how to taste wine. I know all this because Grace has taught me.

We’ve been roommates for the last three years. I’ve seen a lot of men come and go. Occasionally, there’s the asshole who needs a lesson in manners. Enter the six foot four roommate with big muscles and gorilla arms. I put on my crazy ex routine and run them off if they cause trouble. One guy was being super persistent. He wanted to do something kinky with a Frisbee. Never was entirely clear on what, but it upset Grace. I ran in, saved the day and got rid of lover boy. He left the Frisbee. I had it mounted in a shadow box for her last birthday.

I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with Grace, because I think it was immediately. But I remember the day she put me in the friendship box and locked the lid. It was November 7, 2011. We’d been sharing a house for nearly six months. Her boyfriend, a perpetual asshole, had been cheating on her—pretty much from day one, but would she listen? No. It took finding them together, in my room, for her to believe that he was a douchebag who needed a beat down. It was her birthday party and the jerk had the balls to take another woman to bed—my bed! I still haven’t forgiven him. I burned the sheets. I liked those sheets.

The party ended soon after that and I was left to comfort Grace. I got her favorite ice cream from the freezer (Phish Food), put on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (her favorite movie, which I hate) and sat down with a bottle of chocolate wine.

“Duff, you’re such a great guy,” she sniffled. “You’re the best friend a girl could have.”

My heart, understandably, sank to my size 16 feet. “You deserve the best, Grace. That guy wasn’t any good for you.”

“I know. I always pick the worst guys in the world!”

I couldn’t deny that she had a talent for it. Not that they were all bad, but the bad ones tended to out number the good.

“You need someone else to pick the man for you,” I suggested.

“I do! You could help me. You have a kind of radar for bad guys. You could steer me away from them and zero in on a good one.”

Yeah. Me. But did I say it? I did not. Why? I don’t know! I have no idea why I didn’t just open my mouth and tell her I loved her. Still haven’t done it three years later. Am I amazingly lame or what? But with that, I handed her the key to the friendship box, climbed in and helped her turn it in the lock.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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Kitchen Disasters

This is something I wrote for Fun in Writing Group May 28, 2014

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerAnyone who has ever set foot in a kitchen knows what potential disasters lie therein. Whether it’s from mis-measured ingredients, substitutions that didn’t quite make the grade, or an obstinate, uncooperative oven, disasters happen. I’ve had a lot over the years, but a few stand out in my mind.

One of my early disasters included my sister. It was our parents’ anniversary and we wanted to fix them breakfast and take it to them in bed. I’m not sure whose idea this was. I was only 7 and my sister was 9. Our kitchen skills were minimal. We had no idea how to fix coffee or pancakes or even scramble and egg. We decided upon toast and fresh squeezed juice.

Unfortunately – no fruit to squeeze, so we fixed ice water. That decided upon, we embarked on toast.

Our toaster was an old fashioned kind. It didn’t have a press down button or a timer. It was triangular with slotted doors on each side. It had one temperature setting—ON. To operate, you opened the door with the little knob on top, slid a piece of bread into the slot, shut the door and waited until it browned. How long you left it depended on how brown you wanted it. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop automatically.

You can imagine the disaster potential this presented for two industrious, and somewhat oblivious, children. We forgot about the toast until it was flaming. I’m not talking smoking a little, this was full on flames! They shot up, igniting a picture of a rooster I’d made with colored macaroni. It burned beautifully, blackening the wall and the calendar.

Our screams woke our parents. Our father ran to the kitchen, yanked the flaming picture from the wall and threw it in the sink. Our mother unplugged the toaster and carried it outside, depositing the bread cinders in the backyard.

I know they wanted to yell, but once they found out we’d been trying to fix them breakfast, the stopped. We were forbidden to use any kitchen implements without adult supervision—especially the toaster!

Many years later, as an adult, I wanted to bake my mother a special birthday cake. It was her seventieth birthday and wanted something more than a box cake. I had a wonderful recipe I wanted to try, so I set about gathering ingredients and mixing it up. I popped it in the oven. It smelled fabulous. I made the frosting and put it in the refrigerator, waiting for the beautiful cake to bake.

It was perfection! I poked a cake tester in a few inches. It came out clean, so I let the cake cool a little and inverted it on a plate. To my amazement, it slid out just right, not sticking to the pan. The bottom touched the plate and I heard a SLUUUURP PLOP! The inside was RAW! It got all over the table and floor before I realized what was happening. Although the outer crust was baked, the core was still liquid.

Upset, but determined, I cleaned it up and started over. I’m sure you can guess what happened. By the time the second cake came out, I was hysterical, but stubborn. I was ready to make a third attempt, but my husband put his foot down. He went to the cupboard and pulled out a box mix and handed it to me.

No more! You’re making yourself crazy! Your mother will appreciate the effort. It doesn’t have to be a from-scratch cake.”

I wanted to argue, but I knew he was right. He helped me clean up the second disaster, which was nearly as bad as the first, and I made the boxed cake. Damn thing came out perfectly!

To this day, I don’t know where I went wrong with the other cake. Maybe it was a bad recipe. Maybe it was a fluke of my less than stellar oven. All I know is that, wonderful or not, I’ve never made it again. Nearly all my cakes are from boxes and I haven’t had any trouble with them.

My husband, wonderful man that he is, reminds me from time to time that I haven’t had a major kitchen disaster in years. I tell him that’s because I’ve got mad kitchen skills now.

Nope,” he tells me with annoying confidence. “That’s because you’re good enough to skirt the every day ones. That means when you have one, you’ll probably burn the house down.”

© Dellani Oakes

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On music, muses and the writing bug.

One of author Dellani Oakes’ favorite questions to ask a radio guest is When did you know you had been bitten by the writing bug.

I was first stung during my high school English classes.  I have always loved the creative writing sections of my classes. I was kind of a loner as a kid and had a lot of time on my hands to create. I basically wrote to kill time and boredom.

Again when I was older I was on medical leave from work.  I was faced with hours of watching the afternoon soaps and staring at the four walls.  I sat down at my computer and created what came to be DEAD ON ARRIVAL. 

What did I do to feed the muse during my writing? Music. I discovered that my muse needed music to operate at full tilt. The genre of choice was and still is classic 70′s rock. Sometimes I go for one hit wonders of the 80′s depending on the story  

If I was never bitten by another bug I am glad it was the writing bug.  I am currently working on the forth book in my series and two other independent stories. So Mr. writing bug, BRING IT ON, BITE ME!

 

Writing to a Formula? No Thanks!

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerI stopped reading a book today. I set it aside and vowed not to read anymore. Just like that. Why? Because I saw where it was going. Not only that, I realized that it was something I wasn’t going to enjoy.

Anyone who has read my books knows that I don’t write to the standard romance formula: boy meets girl, boy kisses girl, boy & girl fight, boy hates girl, then they figure out they’re in love, but won’t talk about it and fall in love despite themselves.

I don’t like that plot line. Isn’t the whole point of a romance for the couple to fall in love and be happy? I read books like this one and I wonder how they are going to get along later and how soon after the wedding will they get divorced? I give it six months to a year.

In my romance and romantic suspense novels, the characters meet, feel that spark of attraction and move heaven and earth to get together. They may be foiled by circumstances, driven apart by conflict—but it’s external, not between them. I use adversity to bring them closer, to face their problems together.

Having a couple fight through two thirds (or more) of a novel doesn’t interest me. Having some roué sweep an unwilling ingenue off her feet isn’t seductive, it’s insulting. This scenario is most often used in historical romance novels. I find it offensive. In my historical romance, the hero does get a little ahead of himself, but his intended puts the brakes on. Realizing that it’s not the time to consummate their love, he respects her innocence and fears rather than playing on them. He doesn’t want to, and I’m sure it’s pure torture for him, but he loves her enough to stop.

In my contemporary writing, the pace of the romance varies, depending upon the characters. Sometimes it’s weeks, sometimes it’s only a matter of days, before they get together. They come together by mutual desire and lust, neither one of them forcing the other into bed. And they don’t fight afterward. Usually, they enjoy it so much, they do it again!

Granted, I have tried the other formula for a novel. It doesn’t work well for me. I can’t stand to see my characters miserable. That’s not to say that my characters don’t argue or have misunderstandings, but they resolve their differences. They talk about it and get their feelings aired. I know not all couples do this, but my husband and I do. We try not to argue, though we do exchange heated comments from time to time. Then we take our neutral corners and discuss something when we can be more calm and cool headed. It’s worked for over 30 years, so I guess we’re doing something right.

Getting back to the book I mentioned above—the reason I got so annoyed with it was that the male lead had just trashed the hopes and dreams of the young woman. She goes outside, weeping piteously. He hears her and goes outside to see what’s wrong. (Huh?) He just destroyed her emotionally and he doesn’t know why she’s crying? (Dumb ass)

Next, he—who has just devastated her—gives her comfort, his arms and lips seeking hers—and all that crap. She—whose life has been destroyed by this hedonistic, self-centered, egoist—falls into his arms. He’s just ruined her last hope of getting control of her life, and she’s drawn to him, kissing him in passion. (Oh, yes, she’s a virgin.) She’s allowing this total bastard to ravage her. I got to the point where he bared her breasts and stopped reading.

Really? She hates him. He’s taken possession of her home, is turning her and her little brother out without a cent and she’s letting him do the nasty in the garden at night? I couldn’t stand it. If I believed in burning books, this would be the first one in. I’m not offended by the sex. If you’ve read my books, you certainly know that. I’m offended by the abject stupidity of the characters.

He’s a jerk with his own agenda. She’s a helpless little twit. I want to box their ears and shake them until they get some sense—or their brains scramble. I don’t care which.

I know this formula is an accepted plot line for many a romance novel. I want to assure my readers that you’ll never see it from me. And if you do, you have my permission to shake me until my brains scramble, because I’ll obviously have lost all my sense.

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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