On Writing: The Power of the Wolverine ~ Outside the Margins with CJane Elliott

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CJane-Elliott_OTM

Hello there! I recently attended the Dreamspinner Press Authors Workshop and it was fantastic to see old friends, make new ones, and get re-inspired about writing. One of the workshops was by the inimitable Damon Suede. I realize last month’s column was also about what I learned from Damon Suede, but what can I say? The man has such good stuff to share!

This particular workshop dealt with writing stories that capture the reader and don’t let go—stories so compelling the reader can’t stop reading. Damon talked about “sofa scenes,” where the characters sit on the sofa and have a talk. Or one character by themselves is thinking about their life. We all know those scenes: we’ve written them or read them. “What about throwing a wolverine into the scene?” Damon suggested. As in, put in a twist, an unexpected action that makes the scene more compelling.

Wolverine_on_rock

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Gulo_gulo#/media/File:Wolverine_on_rock.jpg

I applied the “wolverine fix” (my words, not Damon’s) to a scene from my novel submission for Dreamspun Desires. Jonathan Vallen has moved away from Boston and his hellish job trying to run his father’s company. In a “sofa scene,” he’s musing about his future while he rings in the New Year. Here’s the scene, pre-wolverine (by the way, Jonathan’s mother died a year before and left him the Cape Cod cottage in her will):

PRE-WOLVERINE

CAPE COD – New Year’s Eve

Jonathan picked up a glass of champagne from the table and raised it in a toast.

“To you, Mother. Happy New Year. Here’s to my new life. Thank you for making it possible.”

He sipped the bubbly and set down his glass with a sigh of satisfaction. Being all alone to ring in the New Year was exactly what he wanted. Anthony thought he was crazy to be out on the Cape all by himself and tried to get him to come to a party in Boston, but the Cape was where Jonathan wanted to be. He had no problem being alone. And he loved his little cottage.

His happiness dimmed for a moment as memories rose of his bitter arguments with Father over the last week. Jonathan felt for him, he really did. Losing the last member of his nuclear family from Boston and giving up the dream that Jonathan would succeed him in the business had to be hard. But life was hard. They’d both lost the two other people they loved the most in this world. Jonathan wished he could have made up for those losses by being a different person. But he couldn’t.

Jonathan sighed and surveyed the cozy room, then smiled. One day he’d like not to be all alone on New Year’s Eve. He’d like to have a dog and, okay, a great guy to cozy up next to. But for right now, Jonathan was content and filled with anticipation for beginning a whole new life.


Now here’s the same scene into which I threw a wolverine—Jonathan’s father.

SCENE WITH WOLVERINE

CAPE COD – New Year’s Eve

Jonathan picked up a glass of champagne from the table and raised it in a toast.

“To you, Mother. Happy New Year. Here’s to my new life. Thank you for making it possible.”

He sipped the bubbly and set down his glass with a sigh of satisfaction. Being all alone to ring in the New Year was exactly what he wanted. Anthony thought he was crazy to be out on the Cape all by himself and had tried to get him to come to a party in Boston, but the Cape was where Jonathan wanted to be. He had no problem being alone. And he loved his little cottage.

Jonathan surveyed the cozy room, then smiled. One day he’d like not to be all alone on New Year’s Eve. He’d like to have a dog and, okay, a great guy to cozy up next to. But for right now, Jonathan was content and filled with anticipation for beginning a whole new life.

His phone buzzed. When he saw Father’s name on the display, he almost didn’t pick up. But duty still tugged. Battling visions of Father alone and drunk on New Year’s Eve, he answered.

“Happy New Year, Father.”

“It will be when you come to your senses and get your ass back to Boston.”

Jonathan concentrated on taking a cleansing breath. “I’m not planning to do that. As I’ve told you the last three times you called.”

“Do you want Vallen Industries to be sold to some stranger because no one in the family is willing to run it when I retire?”

I don’t care. Jonathan didn’t think Father wanted the true answer, though. “I’m sure you won’t have to sell it.”

“Oh yeah? Who do you think is going to step in after Pellegrini turns it around? Your faggot cousin Anthony? That’s a laugh.”

Hands shaking, Jonathan tried for another calming breath. “Don’t call him that.”

“Why not? It’s what he is. At least you’re not a fag. Even if you’re a pansy-ass who can’t run a company.”

Tears stung Jonathan’s eyes. He opened his mouth but no words came. All his life  Father had berated him for not being good enough. And all his life he’d become mute and powerless in the face of Father’s rage. A wave of bitter grief knocked him breathless. Mother. She’d always been his refuge from Father’s lacerating anger. Come back. Please.

Mumbling “I gotta go,” Jonathan hung up on Father, his optimistic mood gone.

Who did he think he was, anyway, to believe he deserved to be happy?


Rather more compelling, yes? And after I wrote it, I realized it contributes much more to Jonathan’s story arc, because later in the story Jonathan stands up to his father and speaks  his mind. This scene makes the later one that much more powerful.

My book link today is the very first story I ever wrote. It’s not the first I ever published, but it’s the one that first came out of my pen. I’m sure now I could find a hundred flaws and places I should have thrown a wolverine into, but this story remains dear to my heart.

Next month I’ll have a cover, blurb, and excerpt for Sand-Man’s Journey, my 3rd story in the Wild and Precious series, out May 4th from Dreamspinner. Until then, happy writing and reading!

 

~CJane Elliott


StayRightHere

Title: Stay Right Here
Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 04/11/2012
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Genre: Contemporary

Blurb:

Sometime in the last few months, aspiring musician Bryan Roberts lost the spark that made him love to sing. But when he meets singer/songwriter wannabe Mark Miller at an open mic night, the music starts to speak to him once more. Mutually attracted and inspired, Mark and Bryan commit themselves to their craft in a way they never have before.

The chemistry between Mark and Bryan is pitch-perfect. There’s just one tiny problem: Bryan already has David, a great boyfriend who helped him pick up the pieces when his last relationship went sour. But while Bryan struggles between passion and faithfulness, an earthquake shakes the city—and his perception of what’s right.

Excerpt

He hesitates, reaching toward his jacket, when Bryan suddenly looks up and straight at him. Their eyes lock for a moment, and Bryan tilts his head toward an exit hallway, raising his eyebrows questioningly. Mark nods, his heart beginning to pound and his mouth dry. He gathers his jacket and guitar and throws money on the bar, saying in response to Murphy’s questioning look, “I think I may have just gotten propositioned.”

Trying to look casual—which is hard to do in the wake of Murphy’s earsplitting “Woohoo, Hallelujah!”—he saunters to the back corner of the bar, where a hallway leads to the bathrooms and to an exit door. He feels kind of silly and conspicuous just loitering around, so he goes into the men’s room to take advantage of the facilities and try to pull himself together. After relieving himself (bliss after all of the beer that he doesn’t normally drink), he washes his hands and eyes himself in the mirror, muttering, “Okay, Miller, you got this. No problem.” He takes a deep breath and turns to the door.

All his pumped up bravado disappears along with the strength in his knees when he opens the door and comes face to face with Bryan, who is lounging against the wall, arms folded across his broad chest, his amazing eyes staring straight at him. They are slightly narrowed now, and he looks like a sexy panther waiting to pounce.

“Hey,” says Bryan, softly.

“Oh. Hi there,” Mark croaks, then clears his throat.

Bryan gazes down at him for a few seconds, a small smile curving his lips, and then reaches out and takes his wrist, drawing him down the hallway toward the exit door. Mark puts up no resistance, clutching his guitar case in the other hand and stumbling slightly to keep up with Bryan’s long strides.

Bryan pushes open the door, looks from side to side, and pulls Mark outside with him. As soon as the door shuts, he feels Bryan’s large, warm hands on either side of his face and tilts his head up expectantly. Bryan smells so good he wants to bury his nose in his chest. He’s gazing down into Mark’s face like he’s searching for something. Mark stands shakily, his hand still clutching his guitar, his heart feeling like it’s trying to beat its way out of his chest. He’s flushed and warm and trying mightily to meet Bryan’s piercing gaze.

“You are adorable,” Bryan says, smiling, then sighs suddenly and brings his gorgeous mouth down on his. Oh my God. It feels large, warm, and delicious, and like nothing Mark has ever tasted before. A shock of desire shoots straight to his groin, and he drops his guitar case with a clunk. He opens his mouth under Bryan’s, grabbing his arms to stay upright. He gasps as Bryan turns him, continuing to kiss him slow and wet, crowds him up against the wall of the building, and pushes his thigh between his legs. Mark feels like he might pass out from sheer pleasure.

Both of them are beginning to moan and gasp for breath when Bryan suddenly places his palms on the wall on either side of him and pulls away, panting, head bowed.

“Shit,” Bryan says hoarsely, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have started this. I have a boyfriend. Damn. Fuck. Hell. I never do this. You… you’re….”

Bryan exhales loudly and with a sound of frustration pushes away from the wall, breathing hard, no longer looking at him.

Mark feels like he just got run over by a truck. His breath comes in gasps, his body literally aches, and he’s shaking a little. He stares at Bryan, who’s so gorgeous right now, breathing raggedly with his mouth wet and sort of bruised-looking, dark hair hanging in his eyes, that it’s all he can do not to grab him. But as a stricken and slightly embarrassed expression crosses Bryan’s face, Mark has a weird urge to reassure him. He tries to collect himself enough to speak.

“Hey man.” Mark clears his throat, which feels surprisingly tight. “It’s okay. I mean, can’t say I’m not disappointed, but I understand. You’re taken. We kinda got carried away in the moment but… you’re taken.” He isn’t even surprised. This is so the story of his life.

Links

Stay Right Here on Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About CJane Elliott


After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.

In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
E-mail: cjaneelliott@gmail.com
Website: http://www.cjaneelliott.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJaneElliott
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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