It’s done! It’s done! It’s done! I want to shout it through the house and run around like a crazy person. I want to twirl, hop and thrash about and…do the dance. Yes, there’s a dance. The fourth book, Emily’s Calling, (third in the series) is finished, ka-put, put to bed – done. Well, phase one anyway.
As usual it’s late at night and I sit in my big bed with my laptop (much to my chiropractor’s dismay) while my son sleeps and my husband watches a “thriller” of some kind – I don’t like realistically terrifying movies. So as I strike the last keys on my computer typing something close to “The End,” I smile. I reflect like a bad movie’s slow motion flashback at all the different emotions I’ve gone through with each scene. I laugh at the time I slammed my computer shut – frustrated with Emily and her behavior. I feel my shoulders droop when I think about the times I had to have a box of tissue close to wipe away the tears. I sigh when I think back to how, when, and where I was when I had a plot breakthrough – the jogging trail – the shower – an important meeting (shh.) But above all I feel proud that I finished another novel. One that, like the other three, I’ve read numerous times during the writing process and thought, “who wrote this?” Sometimes in awe of a great chapter and sometimes in awe of the lack of one.
But above all I’m happy, no elated, that I finished another book. Then there’s this tiny twinge of sadness that comes with elation. I wonder if other authors have this mixture of bitter sweet when they finish a novel. Simply put, I know I’ll miss my characters. Hence the series. I get wrapped up in their daily lives as if I’m sitting right next to Emily, listening to her friends, feeling her happiness and sadness. I imagine that’s why authors write series and spin-offs; for that very reason. So while I can’t promise you a fifth book in the Emily series, I can’t promise you there won’t be one. You’ll all have to keep reading and see.
Once I’ve edited Emily’s Calling I’ll leave you with more excerpts, but for now here’s one to satisfy those of you who have been asking me to share.
Running with Joel:
In each of the books there is something that grounds the story. Something that brings you back into Emily’s psyche while the plot takes off with all of the characters. In Call Me Emily it was her constant struggle to find the right southern California outfit. While in her closet thumbing through her clothes, she starts to learn about herself as an independent college-aged woman. That theme runs throughout Call Me Emily. In the same spirit, Emily’s Calling has something similar. While the plot takes on it’s own life for Emily, her friends and her family, the one constant is her friendship with Joel. They have a standing running schedule that they keep to. During those runs Emily talks to Joel about what’s going on in her life; events that change daily for Emily. Events that frame her transformation from college student to independent – career Emily. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:
Emily and Joel
I opened the door and the fresh beach air rushed over and past me. “Joel. Hey.” I moved aside for him to enter. He was dressed in his running gear.
“Hey Em’ly. You forgot again, didn’t you?” Joel’s thick Louisiana accent still held true even though he’d lived in southern California now for years. I could always hear it best when he said my name. He pronounced it like no one else. And yes, I had forgotten.
“I’ll be right back.” I ran to my room to change, and when I turned to close the door I saw him pick up one of Trish’s Cosmopolitan magazines only briefly then toss it back on the table as if simply holding it would make him a little more feminine. Boys! Whatever.
In no time I was in my running clothes and on the familiar path Joel and I had found a couple years earlier. It followed the side of the mountain that rose abruptly from the sandy beach just down a bit from the house Trish and I rented. The weeds were tall on the hill for this early in the summer, but the path remained clear; a sign that we weren’t the only ones that used it regularly.
I let Joel lead and fell into his pace fairly easily considering he had a much longer stride than me. We talked, keeping our voices above the sound of the crashing waves below and our feet as they trampled the earth. As if he didn’t know I would have trouble talking through my breathing on our climb up the hill, he asked me a question anyway. “Sue and Hunter will be gettin’ in soon huh? And your Dad, right?”
Two things were funny about those questions. One, my mom, Susan, only let Joel call her Sue. Otherwise, she hated the nickname. Two, he knew when they were getting in. He and Ethan had been best friends for years now. And, as my friend too, he knew I knew. I responded briefly anyway. “Yeah.”
“So, you excited about tonight?”
Seriously Joel? Can’t we wait until we reach the top? I thought to myself then responded briefly again. “Yeah.”
We reached the top and I stopped, bent at the waist and rested my hands on my thighs searching for my breath. “Is that fun for you?” I tried my angry face but behind it was a joking one, so it didn’t work.
“You know that hill kills me.” I stood up and stretched my arm across my chest. “Yet you always force me to talk on our way up.”
He leaned toward me. “I know.”
“Brat!” He’d definitely earned that title after the last three years running together. He was a good friend. The best, really. But, still a pain in the you-know-what. “Did you talk to Ethan today? Is Allison excited about graduation?”
“No, I didn’t call. You know how those two are. I’m sure they were still staring into each others eyes over breakfast or something.”
I sighed after I took a drink from my water bottle then we started along the path again. That was one thing we both agreed on. Allison, once only my friend, started dating my brother at the end of our freshman year and they’d been inseparable ever since. As much as it made me happy that they had each other, it was still a little sickening to me, a single girl. Joel, on the other hand, was in a long-standing and long-distance relationship with his high school sweetheart. I imagined his annoyance with their cooing love glances had to do with how much he missed her.
We turned and headed back toward my house. It was heating up and promised to be a warm day. I felt the perspiration on my neck and forehead and wiped my brow with the back of my hand. I looked at Joel and saw his sandy-brown hair growing darker on the sides, a true indication of sweating. Thank goodness it wasn’t just me. I knew he was a stronger runner than I, but I didn’t always like to admit it. We looped around and were back on the path that hugged the side of the mountain overlooking the beach. Cars were already lined up parallel parked with their trunks popped up full of beach chairs and towels. I heard the surfers talk to each other loudly over the crashing waves. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but their low voices promised some sort of conversation containing the words “bro” and “dude.” I felt a little smile sneak out of the corner of my mouth as I relished how content I felt while I ran the last stretch of trail before it came to an end and opened up to the beach. Physical exertion combined with the salty and crisp scent of the ocean air spelled perfect for me.
Joel smacked my back somewhat gently as he came to a walk beside me as if we were racing all along. We weren’t. “Sorry I’ll miss tonight. You better tell me all ‘bout it.”
I nodded. It was a bummer he couldn’t come to my graduation. We’d had such a blast at he and Ethan’s a couple of years earlier. But I understood. He was leaving for Louisiana in a few hours: visiting his girlfriend for the week and probably trying to talk her into moving out her next year when she graduated. I wondered how that discussion would go.
“So, next Tuesday. A night run? Em’ly?”
“Sure,” I replied, out of breath and pissed off in a funny kind of way that he was having no trouble reinstating his jog all the way to his car. He was pulling out of his parking spot and waving to me before I even crossed the street to get to my house.