We're having a Halloween party at Amira Press! You can get a full version of this story (written by little ole' me) by clicking here and reading how to get the free download. Make sure to ask for "Puppy Dog Eyes" by Lesli Richardson.
Believe me, the full story is a howl! :) --- (Copyright 2008 by Lesli Richardson, unauthorized duplication prohibited. All rights reserved.)
Puppy Dog Eyes
By Lesli Richardson
“So, what are you wearing to the party this weekend?” she asked Scudder.
Her team partner didn’t look up from his computer monitor, simply shrugged. The slight gesture of his broad shoulders made her heart race.
“I don’t think I’m going, Tess,” he said.
Tessa Gilroy crossed her arms and leaned against her desk. “Scudder Harris, you’re not telling me you’re going to bail on the company Halloween shindig, are you?”
He shrugged again, and she wished he’d stop doing that. Or take his shirt off before he did. Damn, she bet he had a gorgeous chest…
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you.” He finally leaned back in his chair and swiveled it to meet her gaze, which was deadly to her reserve. Dennis “Scudder” Harris had huge, sweet golden brown eyes that melted her insides and sent all the juices straight to her nether regions, and brilliant jet black hair that glinted with almost blue highlights when they sat outside and ate their lunch.
“Why not?” she asked.
“Why not what?”
“Why aren’t you going?”
He cocked his head. “Because I don’t know many of the people there, and I don’t have a costume.” Employees and their families from all of the regional offices were invited, several hundred people, most likely, would attend.
“It’ll be a full moon, beautiful night, perfect for a costume party. Come on, you have to go so I don’t have to go alone.”
At the mention of the full moon, a cloud crossed his face. “I’ll pass, sorry.”
She’d broken up with her skunk of a boyfriend a week before Scudder came to work for Callahan Consulting five months prior, and been assigned to her team. Team being a misnomer, because it was just the two of them. She knew Scudder was thirty-five, single, and straight, but beyond that, his life was a mystery. They talked about a lot of things, just not about him.
Her pouty face usually won him over. “Please?” She leaned forward, her arms on her desk, trying to entice him to look down her blouse.
He kindly laughed. “Tess, I’m sorry sweetie.”
She recognized the stubborn set of his jaw. Short of begging him to make wild monkey love to her on their shared office floor, she’d thrown just about every hint known to womankind at him that she wanted to go out with him. Well, except outright ask him, but he couldn’t be that thick, could he?
It wasn’t like he didn’t flirt back, because he did. One day in particular left her gasping for breath and heading to the bathroom to freshen up.
And he was gorgeous, six-two and solid, with a fluid, natural gait that left her panting after him when she watched the way his tight ass moved inside his khaki slacks.
“I’m going as a sexy witch,” she purred. “You should see how low–and high–my costume is cut.”
His eyes crinkled. “I’m sure it’s very alluring, kiddo, but we need to get this project done or you won’t be going to any party this weekend because we’ll be working.”
It was Thursday, meaning she had one more work day to convince him to take her to the annual corporate Halloween bash, held at the boss’s large, private estate north of Tampa. She would go regardless, but she didn’t want to go alone if she could talk Scudder into taking her.
At lunch he reached for his small cooler. “You eating with me today?”
She nodded. “Even though you’re standing me up this weekend.” Who was she kidding? They’d eaten together every day since they started working together.
He rolled his eyes, but smiled. “You’re incorrigible, girl.” He gently kicked their door shut and leaned over her desk. “Maybe I’d like to be alone with you, not with a loud, obnoxious group of drunks.”
Her heart pounded as his eyes playfully narrowed. “Just because I don’t want to go to a party with you doesn’t mean I won’t go out with you. All you have to do is ask.”
Speech escaped her for a moment. “I…I thought you didn’t want to go out with me.”
He gently chucked her under the chin. “I just wanted to see how long it took you to come right out and say it.” He straightened and walked to the door, opening it. She still sat at her desk, stunned.
“Well, are we eating lunch or not?”
She nodded, fumbled her lunch bag, and followed him out the door on feet that didn’t seem to touch the floor.
The upshot: "This book was very interesting and the paranormal creatures, while having familiar names, are explained in a different way that makes this story somewhat unique. Ms. Richardson’s writing is well-paced and flows smoothly throughout the book. Her dialog and interactions between characters are realistic and development of the secondary characters is very good. I did find Taz overly whiny at times especially in the beginning when she’s told what she is and her responsibilities. I also thought that Matthias, even though totally besotted with her, should take a firmer stand. However these are minor complaints in a story that was otherwise well-executed. After reading Love & Brimstone I was glad to know that this is the start of a series. This story does have a conclusion but there is definitely room for expansion and evolution of these characters and their relationships. I look forward to the release of further books in this series."
I am probably the second to last person on Earth to both watch "The Devil Wears Prada" and to read "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. I just watched the first this morning on HBO, and I'm a little over 200 pages into the second as of last night. (The last person, of course, is my husband.)
Which is ironic in several ways, the least of which is that I invoked TDWP in my manuscript, "Good Will Ghost Hunting: Demon Seed." I'm not a total cave-dwelling critter, so I've seen various promos and interviews and reviews of TDWP and knew that Meryl Streep's character was a total fashionista biatch. My husband was reading my rough draft last night and asked me, "How did you know Manolo whatever shoes are in?"
The unintended insult didn't hit me until this morning. (Of course he did NOT mean it as an insult, so it's a dang tootin' good thing that I know my husband well. *LOL*)
Back up to last night, I shrugged and told the truth, "I don't know." I researched, is the easy answer. I'm one of those people who pick up useless (to me) trivia and store it away. (Which is why I probably have to have a list of things to do every morning so I don't forget those.) I'd never seen TDWP (the irony is that it was on HBO this morning after having this conversation last night).
The unintended insult (and trust me, he did not intend it in this way) is that I literally haven't bought any new clothes in...well, let's say that it's a good thing Sprawl Mart doesn't depend on me for my wardrobe purchases. I am totally not a clothes hound. (Now, I can put a hurting on a budget at Home Depot...)
Roundabout my point is research. As a writer, you've got to be observant. And you have to be open to things falling into your lap. You have to be willing to walk outside your comfort zone and invest a little time and energy into your work. And you also need to be open to whatever little snippets of information might fall into your life. You can't hold onto all of the flotsam forever, but you have to find your personal way of dealing with those little random, odd factoids that drift your way.
So the good news is that "Love and Brimstone" is getting great reviews. The bad news is I'm ripping my hair out now over the sequel. Not because the story isn't coming together, because it is. Frankly, I think it's a good book.
Now I sit and look at it and think, is it good enough? Is it as good as the first one? I need to tweak this and rewrite that and reword that paragraph...
I'm finding it hard to let go.
I'm supposing other writers probably have this performance anxiety, and I'm wondering if it's going to hit me like this as I get into the sequels for the "Good Will Ghost Hunting" series too. Because I want my readers to like this book as much as they've liked the first one. I want them to say, "Oh!" and not, "oh."
I can keep procrastinating if I want, but that doesn't get it published now, does it? *LOL* Eventually I'll have to hand it over to my publisher and keep my fingers crossed.
There's always a feeling of...melancholy, mixed with relief and euphoria when I turn a manuscript into an editor. Such as I did this morning. My first book in the "Good Will Ghost Hunting" series, contracted to Lyrical Press, Inc., is officially in the pipe. It was actually a rather easy "birth," relatively speaking in terms of completing a writing project. I was surprised how quickly this story came together in my mind.
It's a good kind of scary because it's "out of my hands" so to speak, until we get to the line edit/revision phase. It's no longer this isolated critter on my hard drive, it's out there for others to love (hopefully) or hate (I hope not). So far my editor has loved the excerpts I've sent her along the way, and beta readers have enjoyed it, so I'm praying for the love line of thinking.
And now I switch gears from demons back to vampires to work on more of the "Love and Brimstone" series of books. Whew!
The upshot: "WOW!!!!! Lesli Richardson's Love & Brimstone kept me on the edge of my seat. I've gotten used to "A-B-C" books that are easy to tell exactly what will happen ten pages in. This book has more twists and turns than a Celtic knot. I loved the main characters and this completely new take on vampires and paranormals. "Love & Brimstone is the first book in a planned series." according to Amira Press. My response: Yay!!!"
Copyright 2008-2013, Lesli Richardson. Unauthorized Duplication Prohibited (Links Welcomed). No snarks were harmed in the making of this blog. (Although a few were mercilessly tickled until they piddled.)