Friday, November 9, 2012

I've been tagged in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Okay, now I'm in scramble mode.  I've been tagged in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, thanks to my friend and fellow author, Tammy Dennings Maggy.  Thanks, Tammy--like my brain isn't fried enough, huh?  Just kidding.

Here are the rules of the hop:
  •  Give credit to the one who tagged you--Thanks again, Tammy.
  • Answer the following eight questions about your latest work in progress
  • Tag five other authors and let them know you've tagged them
Okay, this is why I'm scrambling...which work in progress do I talk about?  I have one that's complete, two that are in revisions or another that is completely raw (a genuine work in progress as I have no idea where it's gonna end up).  I think I'll do an eenie meenie miney mo (and, no, I'm sure that's not how you spell that so use use your phonetics, please). 

What is the title of your book?
Dancing Barefoot

Where did the idea come from for your book?
Long ago--too long ago--I traveled to Europe after college.  While there, I fell for a European (go figure) that I left to come back to the USA.  I romanticized him in the subsequent years, but used to think about what life would have been like had I been braver and stayed with him--even for a year or so.  Those fantasies sparked the idea for Dancing Barefoot.  

What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary romance

What characters would you choose to play the characters in a movie? Daniella van Graas and Bradley Cooper (although my character Jacques has blonde hair that skims the shoulders so he'd need to grow it out a bit. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your novel?
Well, the truth is I wrote Dancing Barefoot about a decade ago, but shelved it for all of this time.  It was a labor of love, took about a year to write, and now I'm revising it to make it current.  Also, I'm a much better writer now thanks to the editors I've had along the way and the experience I've accumulated, so revising is actually pretty fun.  I'd almost forgotten how much I loved this story. 

What other books would you compare it to within your genre?
Wow...any contemporary romance with high emotion.  I'm drawing a blank and apologize to all of the other authors on my bookshelves right now that I'm not giving you credit here.  

My character Jessica Moriarty
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My time in Europe back when I was in my 20s.  I was carefree, full of ambition and big dreams.  I thought I'd conquer the world...and here I a life much different than I'd envisioned.  That's the inspiration...what if I'd made a different choice back then?  What kind of life would I have now?  

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?  How about a teaser?  
This is a book about choices--do you live the life of your dreams or live up to the expectations of others?  Do you pick the sure thing or bet it all on the wild card?  Jessica and Jacques meet again after she's already made her choice...but will she risk the guaranteed good life for the man whose heart she broke when she left him in Italy?  More importantly, will he let her back after she's let him down before?

Excerpt of my work in progress, Dancing Barefoot:

“I thought you would be married to some safe accountant or something by now.”  He grabbed the sandwich from her, his eyes hard and scrutinizing.  “I mean, you’re thirty now.  As far as plans go, isn’t there a nice man and a house with a picket fence in your near future?  A dog maybe?  And what is it called in the States?  The PTA?”
God, he knew how to piss her off.  He couldn’t simply keep the small talk light.  He had to go in for the kill.  
“Congratulations on your career, Jacques.  Must be thrilling.” She ripped off a piece  of her sandwich and shoved it into her mouth without looking away from his eyes.  
“Exciting as hell.”
“Traveling the world, a new woman with a flick of your finger.  Must me damn exciting.”  She turned her back on him and poured herself a glass of water.  No more alcohol.  Not for a few days minimum.  
“The women are the best part.  I can’t keep them out of my bed.”
“Must get tiring, all that sex and travel.”
He said nothing.  When she turned, he had leaned his hip against the stove, tilted his head toward the ceiling and closed his eyes.  He looked like a man weary of the fight.  
“Do you remember the first meal I made you?” 
He grinned at the ceiling without opening his eyes.  “A pastrami sandwich on fresh baked bread from the market down the street.  You warned me not to expect anything more than sandwiches.”   
 “We had every window open to get some air because it was so damn hot our clothes were sticking to our skin.”
“So we took them off.” His gaze caressed her face. 
“And we drank an entire bottle of wine.” Her breath caught in her throat. 
“And we had gelato for dessert.” Thumbs in the loops of his jeans, he turned away from her.  “If I remember right, that gelato cooled us off in creative and erotic ways.”
She studied the way the material of his shirt stretched across his back.  “Must be why I crave Italian from time to time.”
Energy snapped off him as he moved and muttered beneath his breath.
“Still muttering and pacing,” she whispered.  “I swore that when I saw you again I’d be cool and sophisticated, that I’d have all the right words.” 
“You planned on seeing me again?”  
“Hoped.” She dragged her gaze to his face.  “Can’t you forgive me?  I miss knowing you, miss talking to Ava.  I miss all of it.”
“And is that what you want from me? Forgiveness?”  He frowned again, as if desperate to understand her.  
“More than anything,” she whispered.
“How come you never looked back?  Not once did you look back.  You left me standing in that garden and just walked away.”  He closed the space between them with two slow steps.  “Like I meant nothing.  When I got home, you had disappeared.  Vanished.  You didn’t even say good-bye.”
“I had responsibilities, no choices.” Regret rolled through her.  
“You had a choice.”
“No, I didn’t.” All of the reasons that had seemed important five years ago seemed insignificant now. “I can’t explain.”
His arms pinned her against the counter.  “I haven’t wanted to remember you in a very long time.”
“I suppose not.” 
“But I have.”
“Me, too.”  
“Are you happy?”
“What do you mean?” She folded her arms across her chest.  
“Did you make the right choice?  Leaving me?  Leaving our life together?  Tell me you’re happy and I’ll walk out of your life forever.”
“What does it matter?  I can’t undo it.” 
“Why is it a difficult question for you to answer? Why can’t you tell me that you have no regrets?  I want to hear it.”
“Of course I have regrets, but so what?  What good does that do us?”
“That’s why I came here tonight, to see…”
“See what? I’ve done what I said I would do.”  Pride forced her head high.  “I’m up for associate partner at my firm.  I’m a good—no, great—architect.  We both succeeded without each other.  Good for us.”
“You’re lying.  You’re not happy.”  His hand framed the side of her face, forcing her to look at him. “I see it in your face. It’s like you’ve died.”
“When did you get so mean?”  Too tired to fight, tears blurred her eyes.  “Get out.  Enough insults for one night.  Just go.”
“Why are you still wearing my ring?”  His voice was low and powerful in the small room.
“Why do you?” 
“My ring.”  Dark blond hair covered his left eye when he bent forward, only a breath away from her face.  “Why are you wearing it?  Does it mean anything to you or do you just think it’s pretty?”
“Please go.”  She flattened her hands against his chest, but wished she hadn’t.  The feel of his hard body beneath her hands liquified her bones.  
He slammed his hand against the counter.  “You just left.  One day we’re living together, talking about having a life together and then you walked away without ever looking back.” 
“If I had looked back that day, I never could have left.” Her lungs deflated like air from a balloon.  Breathing ceased.  “I needed to come back, to—”
“To be safe?  To do the right thing?”  He had her pinned against the counter. “I thought you would at least stay in touch with me, the man you supposedly loved, the man you said you wanted to marry, the man you said you needed…but you disappeared.”
“You had my address. I didn’t disappear.”  
“And I wrote to you, but you never wrote back.  You let me go without a word.  Until today, I hadn’t heard from you in five years, yet here you are wearing my ring.”
“I said I was sorry.” Every inch of her quaked with restrained emotion.  “Leave now.  Go.  Good luck with your exhibit, the workshop, with your life, all of it.  Just get the hell out of my house.”
“Do you know why I brought your address with me?  Do you?”
“You wanted to tell me off, right?  That’s why you came here, to hurt me one last time.” 
“I wanted to show you how much I don’t care.”
“Doesn’t that show me how much you really do care?”
A fraction of an inch separated their bodies.  She dragged her gaze over the opened buttons of his shirt, over his neck, over his lips until resting on the deep green of his eyes.  Boldness replaced caution.  
Standing on tiptoes, she smoothed her hands along the front of his chest.  Touching him again was like coming home from a long, exhausting journey.  Her fingers curled into the thickness of his hair. 
He shook his head once as if trying to clear his mind.  Only once.  He stared at her lips.  His hands curled around her forearms, but he didn’t push her away.  
“Kiss me,” she whispered against his mouth.
“No,” he whispered as his hands curled into her hair.
Their mouths met in a kiss that melted her skin like candle wax, turning them into one being, one entity consumed by passion.  
Passion overrode all other thought or senses.  Her hands stroked his back, kneading and searching. Every sense was alive with his touch, with his kiss. The need for him was an ache that burned deep.  Hot.  Necessary.  Urgent.
God, she had missed this.  Missed him. 
Then he stopped.  
His chest rose and fell against hers. 
“I need to go,” he said. 
“Stay.”  She wanted to scream, stomp her foot like a child, fall to her knees …anything to make him stay. 
“There is someone else, Jess.”  His quiet words sliced her heart into a million pieces.  “I came here for answers, to understand.  That’s all.”
“And now you understand?” 
“No.”  He shook his head, a slight grin curving his lips.  “But I accept that I will never understand.”
She pushed herself away from the counter and rubbed the palm of her hand over her face.  Of course he had someone else.  Five years had passed.  She had discarded him like a used napkin. 
“You are serious with this woman?  What you said about the different women all the time was just to hurt me, right?”
“Yes to both questions.” 
A chasm ripped through the room, creating a space larger than the ocean that had once separated them.  She felt the loss of him again, more powerful, more poignant than before. 
“I wish it wasn’t like this between us…” 
“I’m still the same man you left in Italy.  The reasons you left haven’t changed.  I’m a gypsy at heart, never in one place longer than six months or so.  What did you call me?  A wanderer?”  He looked at the matching ring on his finger and blew out a long breath.
“Please leave.  Your girlfriend must be wondering what the hell you’re doing.”  She hugged her arms across her chest and tapped her foot against the floor. “Please leave, Jacques.”
“Am I wrong?  Are you happy?  Tell me I’m wrong about you.  Tell me that you love being an architect.  Tell me that you honestly don’t ever think about me.”  With every word, his face mirrored the agony she felt.  “Tell me that you have no regrets, that you are happy with your life as it is now.”
“My life is damn near perfect.” She forced a smile.  “Partnership is in sight, remember?  Corner office here I come.  I have everything I’ve ever wanted.  It’s a fucking love fest.”
 “It’s time I let this go then.” With a quick movement, he pulled the ring from his finger and laid it on the back of the red chair
She stared at the ring against the faded fabric.  “Please don’t leave it.  Like you said, it’s yours.”
“Keep it, throw it away, it no longer matters to me. Be well, bella.” Door open, he hesitated at the threshold and looked around the room before meeting her gaze again.  
Bella.  The word hung in the air as they stared at one another, the language of Italy dancing in her memory and tugging at her heart. 
Caro…” she whispered.   
Without another look back, he closed the door behind him.
She listened to the fall of his footsteps on the stairs, the outside door opening and closing, and folded his ring into her palm. Fingers touched lips still swollen from his kiss.  Silent tears streaked her face.

Okay, that's the end of the excerpt. No, I have no idea when I'll be done with the revisions.  I love these characters, though! Here are the authors I'm tagging--give them a day to catch up because they're just getting tagged now:


Sherry Gloag said...

:-) Well I hope you don't take too long with the revisions, I love this excerpt.

Amber Lea Easton said...

Oh, the pressure, Sherry! LOL Thanks. I'm working on it right now, actually.

Nicole Morgan said...

Nice teaser with that excerpt, Amber! Sounds like this one is going to be a great one! :)

Amber Lea Easton said...

Thanks, Nicole! I wrote it a long time ago and it's fun to revise it now. I'd forgotten how much I love these characters. Now if only I can finish the revisions...that would be sweet. :-) Thanks, again!
Amber Lea Easton