Get your print or ebook copy December 4th.
Emily’s Calling paperback and ebook copies will be ready for purchase December 4th. This particular cover gave us a little trouble, so I’m a little behind. But bear with me, Emily’s Calling will be ready for your Holiday shopping by the first week in December.
amazon.com, barnes&noble.com, smashwords.com, kobobooks.com
That’s right. Black Friday is the day to order or download your copy of Emily’s Calling. The third book in the Emily Series will be available for those special people on your Holiday list or for your own reading pleasure. Just visit Amazon, Barnes&Noble Smashwords or Kobo.
The forth and final book, Meet Emily, will be released this spring. Check back for a firm release date.
When Emily graduates from Cal West University she discovers a career with great opportunity and status, the promise of something special with not one but two men, and friends and family at every turn. For Emily, things seldom stay the same for long…what challenges and choices will her career and relationships bring? Who’s a friend, who’s a lover? And will the watchful eyes and opinions of everyone who means anything to her get in the way? Out of college and into the “real world” tests Emily’s biggest choices so far.
That’s right! Emily Calls It will be released September 20th.
Look for it in paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon.com
All other ebook versions at:
Don’t waste any time getting your hands on a copy because the next book in the Emily Series, Emily’s Calling will be released winter, 2012.
That’s right, folks. Stay tuned because I’ll be releasing book two and three of the Emily Series: Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. Look for Emily Calls It early this fall and Emily’s Calling following shortly behind.
My work is done. Well, not really. I now become the project manager of the world’s most personal project. The writing is finished, but now it undergoes one final round of editing, cover design and interior layout. And I have people for that – thank goodness.
Many of you have already purchased a paperback copy or downloaded Call Me Emily. And I thank you for that. I hope you’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. As you probably already read, there’s a little bit of Emily Calls It tacked on to the end of Call Me Emily. But for a little treat, here’s a little more.
This scene is one I really enjoyed writing. Emily is home for a week trying to regain her balance after a very tumultuous first year of college. Her good friends feel the need to throw a little distraction Emily’s way in the form of a very good looking, tan, green-eyed guy.
Chapter Three . On The Mend
I pulled up to the restaurant and saw Scott’s car immediately. Inside, he was at the bar talking to the bartender.
“Hi.” I slid onto a stool.
“Hi Emily.” He pivoted toward me. “You look nice.” He touched my hand as he had before and leaned into me, kissing my cheek. The bartender went back to drying glasses but kept an eye on us and a smirk on his face.
“Thank you,” I said a little nervously. He looked good too, but I didn’t think to say it. He wore jeans again; this time rip free, and a white, button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His white shirt set off his tan, and the green of his eyes seemed even more vivid. He was a good looking guy, and I was noticing.
“Should we get a table or would you like to have a drink here first?” He tapped his finger on the bar.
I was actually pretty hungry. “Oh, I think I’m ready to get a table if you are.” He swung his legs around and hopped off his stool with ease. Something that I could never have done. I scooted off my stool, trying to be as ladylike as possible. While we waited for the hostess, I felt Scott rest his hand in the middle of my back. I mentally replayed my “relax” mantra a few times before it took effect.
During dinner the conversation came with ease. I wondered once or twice what we were doing there. He knew I was leaving in a couple of days, and I knew it, too. Our date seemed superfluous. Yet, here I was enjoying his company. I learned a few things about him that evening.
He was majoring in Business at San Francisco State. He knew Doug, Shayla’s boyfriend, from football. He was from a small neighboring town where he lived with his parents (still married) and two sisters. He seemed to have all of the northern California qualities including the summer pear orchard job. But there was something else about him I couldn’t quite pin down. Maybe it was spending the school year in San Francisco. Maybe living in the city had added something to him and I was picking it up. I wanted to know more, which kind of surprised me.
After dinner I was completely stuffed. I ate everything on my plate, not the least bit self-conscious about it. That whole act of eating a little green salad on a date never really appealed to me. Scott was a good eater too, but that wasn’t unusual for a nineteen- year-old guy. At least not in my experience. We both relaxed after our plates were cleared.
“I was thinking, Emily, maybe we could go out to the lake?” He paused and played nervously with his napkin. I thought it was cute.
“That sounds nice.” And it did. It was a warm night and a walk by the lake sounded like a pleasant idea. I hadn’t been back to the lake since the summer before, and I always enjoyed being there. The lake was manmade and had once been a deep valley. It was a couple miles below the highway surrounded by camping spots. Leading to the lake was a long expanse of lush, green lawn spotted with purple clover. During the day you had to be careful not to step on the bumblebees, but at night you could run around without the threat of a sting. I’d spent every summer there since grade school.
“Come on,” he said playfully taking my hand. We passed my car on the way to his.
“Hang on a second.” I paused by the passenger door of my car and reached inside for my sweater. It was a warm night, but you never know.
“Nice car.” Scott commented with a smirk. Why did everyone have to make fun of my car? Yes it was old, big, and bright turquoise, but come on.
“What?” I love my car.” I swung the door shut waiting for its creak and slam as older cars do. Scott just smiled, running his hand along the roof. He was making fun of me, but I didn’t really mind.
He opened the passenger’s side door of his car and rested his folded arms on the top of it while he watched me sit. It seemed I always lucked out with the chivalrous dates. And who was I kidding, I loved it. I reached across and unlocked his door for him, nestling into my seat and fastening my seat belt. His car was smaller than mine, but that’s not news, as mine’s kind of a tank. Scotts’ car was a Saab of some sort, a car I’d never ridden in before. The ignition wasn’t up by the steering wheel like you might expect, but instead lower on the console. Pretty cool.
On the way to the lake we talked more, mainly about school. I listened to him, of course, but my mind started to wander. Would he try to kiss me? If he did, how would I react? Usually I knew the answer, but tonight even my own emotions, as they came, were unexpected.
The heat hadn’t dissipated at all, even by the lake, so no need for my sweater. I guess I’d become used to living by the ocean and the whole “breeze off the water” thing didn’t apply here. I slipped off my sandals as we walked across the grass. The cool grass felt almost cold underfoot. I watched each step for the bees even though I knew there wouldn’t be any lurking. Scott looked at me sideways with a grin.
“You know there aren’t any bees, right?” How did he know that’s what I was thinking? I let out a half-sigh, half-laugh and started walking normally. We reached a picnic table, and Scott sat on the top resting his hands beside him.
“What’s interesting,” I used the table seat as a boost to sit next to him, “Is how still and tranquil the lake looks. I don’t remember it like this, and I’ve been coming here for years.”
“You probably haven’t seen it at night recently.”
“I guess you’re right.” I leaned back resting my hands behind me. “It’s really pretty here. I almost forgot.”
“Yeah, I felt that way too. Now I really appreciate how peaceful it is here.” He leaned back.
“I haven’t heard many people say that, but you’re right. I can’t believe how much I took for granted around here.” It was nice we shared a respect for the area. I saw it with new eyes: I couldn’t explain it, but he knew. It was quiet between us for a dozen or so seconds. My eyes were fixed on the water, until I realized we were both quiet. I looked at him, noticing he may have been looking my way for a while. I smiled, acknowledging his look, but my smile faded I watched his stare travel from my eyes to my lips and back. He drew me into those deep green eyes of his and I felt hypnotized. I didn’t move. I don’t even know if I breathed. He moved closer. I felt the warmth of his breath on my neck, and the touch of his fingers on my hand, my wrist, my arm, until he rested his hand on my shoulder. When he moved away a little I put my hand on his arm. He paused with his face an inch from mine. He looked into my eyes waiting…just waiting. Then he swept his lips across mine. Moving his hand from my shoulder to my cheek he continued to kiss me, gentle at first. Once I responded things changed and the kisses deepened. Then I panicked. I pulled away. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but I just couldn’t. Then I saw the look on his face.
More to come…
This character introduction might be the most fun I’ve had telling all of you about my characters. Shayla and Jessica are ever present in the whole Emily series as it spans the four books.
Jessica is Emily’s best friend from way back. They’ve known each other since grammar school, so to them it feels like sisterhood. Jessica is a soft and sweet soul. She’s the friend that is always there even when she’s not. Much time can pass and Emily and Jessica hardly skip a beat; jumping right back into conversation as if the phone was never hung up. Jessica goes to college in Washington State, miles away from Emily, but during the summer break they meet back in their home town and mischievous events occur.
Speaking of mischievous. Shayla fits into that word like a hand does to a glove. For as far back as anyone can remember, Emily, Jessica and Shayla were inseparable. Jessica the calm and Shayla the instigator. If you ever need a laugh, a lift or a smile, Shayla is your girl. She’s fun to the core, and you can’t help but unconditionally love her – although you wish for conditions every moment you are around her. Emily considers herself the buffer between Jessica and Shayla, but no buffer is every really needed. The dynamic between the three of them is priceless and beautiful.
And now comes the part of the post when I tell you what these characters mean to me. As I have mentioned in past character introductions, many of my characters have no basis in my reality. They are fiction through and through. I’d be lying if I told you Jessica and Shayla fell into that category.
Jessica is based upon my friend Larise. A truly wonderful person who spends her days enlightening the minds of second graders and her nights tending to her beautiful family. She lives far away and we rarely are able to talk, but when I hear her voice or see her handwriting I can’t help but be pulled from whatever I’m doing and placed smack back into the last time we communicated; as if no time had passed at all.
Shayla is based upon my friend Shannon. Shannon is another truly amazing person who has the power and energy of a small child yet she’s perfectly evolved. She’s funny. – I mean really funny, but soulful at the same time. She’s almost hard to describe, but to really nail it I’d have to quote the reaction everyone has to her. It goes something like this: “I just love that girl.” and “You can’t help but love Shannon.”
What’s been amazing about the writing process is that even though I have been apart from these two amazing women for far too long, I felt like I saw them every day while I brought my stories to life. We recently reunited, and when I finally pulled them into my arms and gave them a well deserved hug, I felt like I missed them less than I would have had they not lived in the pages I spent the last few years writing.
So, thank you Larise and Shannon for being at my side while I rounded out this story of love and friendship. Because you both are truly my love and my friendship.
In this scene, Emily goes back to the Valley for Thanksgiving break. She’s home only minutes when Jessica and Shayla arrive.
Call Me Emily
Home for Thanksgiving
“So, I’m sure you kids want to catch up to your friends, but be sure to be home for dinner.”
“Sure Mom.” I knew she missed us and I wouldn’t miss dinner with her for anything. At the same time, I knew Jessica would be in town and probably Shayla too. I couldn’t wait to see them. I looked around and ran my tongue across my teeth. I needed to clean up before I saw anyone. “You know what Mom? I feel scummy from such a long drive. I think I’ll take a bath. Do you mind?”
“Go ahead honey,” she hugged me and added a little kiss on my cheek. “It’s good to have you home,” she smiled, holding my shoulders. She switched gears quickly yelling for my brothers. I took that as a good indicator that I could slip into a hot tub without being bothered. I grabbed some jeans and a tee-shirt and retreated to the bathroom. Passing the linen closet, I grabbed a washcloth and towel and locked the bathroom door behind me. As I inched my way into the piping hot tub, I thought about my week ahead. I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family. It was good to be home. I yawned and closed my eyes letting the hot water seep in and surround me. Just as I thought I could easily drift off to sleep, I was startled with a knock at the door.
“Guys, I’m in the tub,” I shouted without opening my eyes.
“It’s not your brothers!” a voice shouted back at me.
“So let us in,” said a second voice.
“Jess? Shayla? Grab the key above the door.” We kept the key there in case my little brother locked himself in; as he used to do. I quickly got out of the tub and wrapped myself in a towel.
“Hey Em! You didn’t have to get out,” Shayla said with a smirk. Jessica just smiled at me.
“No big deal. I just needed a quick soak.” We gave them each a quick hug. “How did you know I was here?” I asked perplexed by their quick arrival.
“Please, Brad saw you guys drive by and called me.” Shayla’s cousin could always be counted on to keep the town up on its gossip.
“So what are your plans while you’re home?” Jessica asked putting one of her fingers to her chin.
“No real plans. My mom wants me home for dinner tonight. But other than that, I’m free. What’s up?”
“So, she won’t mind if we steal you?” Shayla asked.
“No, we don’t have anything going. What do you want to do?” I couldn’t wait to fall back into hanging with Jessica and Shayla. I really missed them. I wanted to find out how they were doing in school, how it was going with Jessica’s new guy, and how all the gang was.
The three of us took off shortly after that. A bunch of people we knew were getting together in town at the coffee shop. There were a few people I would love to see and a few I wouldn’t mind avoiding, but that was another story.
As we drove out of the valley I watched the blur of the pasture fences, the occasional farmhouse and the mountains in the distance. Everything passed my vision like a slideshow. It was fall now, and the valley looked different than when I left it, but still every bump and turn mixed with the scent of fresh, damp hay smelled like home. I felt myself sigh and my chest tighten. I don’t think I bargained for how much I would think of Christian.
Trish moves into the story just as Emily is starting to really get into her design classes. She is introduced in Call Me Emily but her character becomes even more integrated in Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. Trish is one of those deeply evolved friends you meet when you yourself have far to go. She’s cool, calm and collected and always seems to make good decisions. (Something Emily longs to do.) Trish is older than Emily, but only by about four years. She’s from the East Coast and is attending California West University to get her second Bachelors degree. Trish is quite beautiful; model-like in fact. But it’s not her beauty that invites you in, it’s something else. She’s warm and caring, but sarcastic and funny at the same time. Trish is supportive of Emily and wants her to date and have fun. But she also has a little bit of big sister in her, and keeps a close eye on Emily and her relationship with Graham.
When I created Trish I didn’t base her on any one particular girl, but instead I thought back to several of my college friends that helped guide me during those fairly tumultuous years.
Below is an excerpt Call Me Emily and one from Emily’s Calling. The first is an early exchange that Emily and Trish have that lends itself to a deeper friendship than the kind that simply passes once a shared class has ended.
The second excerpt…fast forward a few years and it’s graduation day. Trish and Emily have become great friends and are now about to enter the “real world.”
Call Me Emily
The Balancing Act
Thursday was a busy day in Design 101. Midterms meant projects for design students, so although it was a relief not to study in the traditional sense for this class, the project was intense. Trish and I were partners on an office building. Everyone was paired up that day painting and gluing. I wondered if the white paint would ever come out from under my nails.
“So this Graham, he’s good to you?” she asked in a way only someone with a few years on me could ask.
“Yeah, of course.”
“You’ve never felt like this before?” She held a balsa wood column in place.
“I don’t know, it’s early.” But the truth was I hadn’t felt this way. The intensity was unparalleled. Trish smiled. One that came from experience. Then she moved our conversation back to the project.
A New Day
“Good morning graduating class of 1994.” Trish lifted her cup in my direction. Her long auburn hair was pulled into a ponytail and in even the most casual shorts she still could easily have passed for a model: tall-thin-beautiful. A combination you would hate about her if she weren’t so completely likeable.
“It is a good morning, isn’t it?” I said as I approached the kitchen. She handed me a cup and rested against the countertop. I poured quickly and lifted it to my lips. It was a ritual that started my first day of college which now seemed long ago. Trish rolled her eyes as she usually did at my morning ritual but did so with a smirk.
“So when is the family getting in?” she asked holding onto her cup with both hands.
“Mom, Grandma and Hunter should get to Ethan’s house…” I looked at the microwave clock. “In a couple of hours. What about your family?”
“You remember. I have to pick them up at the airport.” She looked at her watch. “Now! Crap!” I heard the slam of the coffee cup as she grabbed the keys from across the counter, then the door shut before I had a chance to say anything.
“Bye,” I called after the door closed. Then I heard a knock about two seconds later. At her fierce pace I was sure it wasn’t Trish.
I opened the door and fresh beach air rushed over and past me. “Joel. Hey.” I moved aside for him to enter. He was dressed in his running gear.
Character introduction #4 is dedicated to Joel. Fourth to appear in the story, Joel could be mistaken for Emily’s love interest. And to speak to that, I’d have to say, you’ll see. Joel is a character that appears throughout the first three books. He’s Ethan, Emily’s brother’s best friend. He and Emily cross paths regularly in Call Me Emily and even more frequently in Emily Calls It. And don’t forget his regular appearances in Emily’s Calling. Joel is the quintessential nice guy from the south. He’s tall and muscular but also smart as a whip, and he passed on an athletic scholarship to accept an academic one. While Ethan is fully submerged in Southern California life, Joel still maintains his southern character and charm.
As the story progresses and Emily gets involved with Graham, you wonder if she’ll ever see the potential relationship that lurks in Joel. And if and when she does, was she right to make that leap? The presence of Joel and the introduction of new male characters makes you question who will be the guy for her, and if she will make the right choice. Here’s an excerpt from Joel and Emily’s first meeting. After the first day of school, Emily starts decorating her apartment to make it hers. She begins by painting the kitchen. Just when she’s finishing up there’s a knock at the door.
Cleaning up, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the microwave. What was that on my forehead? I leaned in closer to see a big streak of green paint. And the spatters across my shirt and down my right arm. How did I do that? As I pulled down the last of the tape, there was a knock at the door. Great! Who could that be? And furthermore, I was not dressed for visitors. I set down the big mess of tape and went to the door. Through the peephole I saw a couple of guys faced away from the door. Oh, no, neighbors. I opened the door and decided to get it over with.
“Hey Em. What’s up? You renovating or something?” My brother moved past me, not waiting for a response.
“No, just painting the kitchen,” I said looking up at the second guy.
“Hey. I’m Joel,” he said with a slow, deep drawl. I immediately paid attention.
“Oh, this is my sister Emily,” said Ethan, turning back to us.
“Come in. Oh, and forgive the mess.”
“We were just heading out for a run and decided to stop by. Want to come?” Ethan asked.
“I need to finish cleaning up,” I said, looking down as I tried to smooth out my shirt. It was a hopeless attempt.
“Wow, Em, this looks great,” Ethan said.
“Thanks.” He walked toward the wall. “Oh, be careful, it’s still wet.” I warned him.
“Yeah, you’ve got yur-self a nice place. My apartment’s plain,” Joel added. With every word I wondered about his possible hometown. It definitely wasn’t Texas, but where? I didn’t ask.
“You’d have to know my sister. In no time she’ll completely change this place.”
“I could use some tips,” Joel said.
I smiled not really knowing if he was posing a question or stating a fact.
“Well,” Ethan said looking from me to Joel then back to me, “we better go.”
“It was a pleasure Em’ly,” Joel said leaning up against the front door.
“Nice to meet you too,” I translated to California style. Then I glanced at my brother, whose sober frown indicated he didn’t approve of our little flirtation.
“Bye Ethan. Maybe I’ll see you on campus tomorrow.”
“Actually, did you want to see that new Tom Cruise movie Saturday night?” he asked. I wanted to reply with something smart like, Saturday night? With your little sister? But I figured he was going for nice, and so far this alone thing wasn’t that great.
“Cool, I’ll call you with the times.”
“OK, I’ll see ya,” I smiled a smile only he would understand and shut the door. OK, I knew three things for sure:
First, my brother didn’t like it when his friends flirted with me – despite the fact he’d been doing it for years with my friends. And, I liked it a little that he was so annoyed with me. Second, it was nice to have someone flirt with me when I was covered in paint splatters. And third, I knew Mom must be on his case to not leave me alone too much. But alone I was and I had plenty to do. Back to my reading assignments I went.
Ah Graham. Week three of my character introductions continues with Graham. Emily meets Graham almost immediately when she starts University. He charismatic, chivalrous, persistent and above all, hot. It’s obvious upon meeting him that his experience outweighs hers by leaps and bounds; which let’s face it, is extremely sexy at her age. The way he looks out of the corners of his eyes at her with a sly and flirtatious smile drives her crazy. And his ever so often rescues from her ridiculous clumsy streak only endear him more to her.
After numerous advances, Emily agrees to go out with Graham, sending her down a fast and turbulent path that leads her to question a great many things that she has come to know in her life.
So to address the endless question about who I based Graham on. It’s funny actually. Graham has always stood completely on his own two feet for me. I see no ex boyfriend or past crush. I only see him. I picture his face, his now typical smirk and the fast black car he drives, and he seems like a real person to me. And I can honestly say, I fabricated him completely out of thin air. That said, he absolutely lived in my life when I wrote Call Me Emily, Emily Calls It and Emily’s Calling. There were days when I knew I was about to write a twist and turn with Graham and I dreaded it. I didn’t want to taint the connection I felt to him. I know, crazy talk right? Well who knows, but that set of feelings I felt for him helped me to create an amazing character that I think all women will fall in love with and all men would want to hang out with. I could go on and on about Graham – and I have. But I think this example from Call Me Emily will give you a nice little picture of THE GUY. The one that turns Emily’s world upside down. Sometimes in a good way, and sometimes not.
To pick one excerpt that sums up Graham is like picking one pair of shoes. And if you know me, that’s almost impossible. So after reviewing about twenty Graham scenes, I decided to include the scene that shows the intensity that is Graham. The moment when Emily’s life stands on end. It’s a pivotal scene for a few reasons. See if you can pick them out.
It’s Emily and Graham first date. While they’ve spent time flirting in Spanish class, this is the first time he’s taken her out. Over dinner they discuss her love of art history. And the evening takes off from there. Oh, and yes, there is the kiss. THE KISS that says much more than “I like you.”
The First Kiss
“My parents have a Toulouse-Lautrec. Maybe you’d like to see it sometime?” He moved his thumb across my fingertips. It wasn’t surprising that his mother would own exquisite paintings, but to get your hands on an original Toulouse-Lautrec was no small feat.
“I’d like that.” The thought of meeting his parents was kind of nerve-wracking and seemed an early topic, but I really wanted to see the painting.
“Actually,” he paused and looked for a second like he might not say anything else, “they are out of town previewing colleges with my brother, and the house is just a few blocks away. What do you think?”
My instinct was to say no, but I couldn’t help myself. I was having such a nice time with him and I was curious about seeing a real work of art. “I’d love to see it.” That also meant I didn’t have to meet his parents right now, and that was a relief.
When we drove up, the place was black. Not one light was on, so I knew they must be out of town. Again he placed his hand in the middle of my upper back to lead me to the front door. The way he did this made me wonder if it was a typical posturing for him and his dates. But I didn’t dwell on that thought.
He reached inside the door and turned on the porch light and the entry light, or rather the chandelier. There were several lights across the front that illuminated the long house. I would describe it as a beach house, but there was nothing quaint and beachy about it. It was big and illustrious with heavy white shutters and a sweeping roof that came down and ended in thick eves. It was monumental, like the rich grandfather of all beach houses. I was impressed.
“Come on.” He passed me in the entry and took my hand to lead me to another room. I followed along, but looked up at the chandelier as I passed under it, mesmerized by the light as it danced across each of the cut glass pieces. He paused in front of the open door to the next room and flipped on a series of light switches. Against the far wall was the painting. I knew it immediately. It was smaller than I thought it would be, and framed in a heavy gold-tipped frame. It was placed with nothing around it, and three lights above that were probably installed specifically for viewing it. I walked straight over, not waiting for Graham.
“See the way he used the brush? The strokes are so unique.” I reached up and hovered my fingers above the painting, not wanting to get too close. I traced the brushstrokes in the air above the painting following every loop. I heard him come up behind me.
I looked out of the right corners of my eyes without turning around, trying to see how close he was to me. Then I felt the buttons of his shirt graze my back. I stopped talking; his closeness had stopped my train of thought. I felt his breath caress my back. Looking over my shoulder, I met his eyes. Without breaking our eye contact, he turned me around taking a step to the side of the painting and me with him.
I stood with my back against the wall questioning him without saying a word. He never took his eyes from mine as he wrapped our hands together. He leaned into me touching his lips to mine. It was a gentle and quick kiss. When he pulled away, I was surprised at my reaction; I followed his kiss wanting more. I kept my eyes with his, trying to figure out what he would do next. As he pulled back from me just one corner of his mouth turned up into a smile; I think he knew I wanted him to kiss me again. He lifted his hands to my face and pulled me closer. This time his lips parted mine softly. He moved his hands from my face along my neck as his kiss became deeper. His body pressed against mine pushing me further into the wall behind me. I pressed my hands against the wall to brace myself. His kisses slowed, soft again but rich with pleasure. As he pulled away, he swept a few strands of hair from my face and tucked them behind my ear.
“I guess I can’t call you Spanish Girl anymore,” he said as another smile snuck out of the corner of his mouth.
“I guess you’ll have to call me Emily.”
“I guess.” He leaned into me again and swept his lips across mine. I moved my hands from the wall along his chest, up to his face and kissed him back. It was divine.
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.