Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I entered the Brava Novella Contest again this year at the behest of one of my crit partners. For some mysterious reason, she had a strong feeling I should, and when Sunny has strong feelings, I tend to listen. She knows things regular mortals don't ;)

Anyway, I'm not attached to any particular outcome. I enjoy entering certain contests because A) They're free, and B) They're a fun way to get exposure. But entering gave me an idea -- something I've never, ever done before!

I'm going to show you my entry!

This might not seem that unusual, but I've never shown anyone except my crit partners (and Sis) a work-in-progress -- never put an unfinished, unedited, uncontracted snippet out there for public consumption or enjoyment. But, since it might never appear in the Brava contest finals, and you'd have to wait a while to see it in print, here's a small taste of Charade (working title). Let me know what you think!

Chapter One

“He wore an eyepatch, Robin. An eyepatch. I’m not going back down there.” Sela Wilson tugged her push-up bra out through her sleeve and tossed it into the open suitcase. She scratched her back where the bra strap had been and practically had an orgasm—the only kind she was likely to get here. “You guys go have fun with your heroes and I’ll stay here and read.”

Here was her room inside a “Scottish” castle in Saratoga, New York, where rich, bored and, quite possibly, desperate women flocked for the seasonal Fantasy Weekend. Here you could supposedly choose your ultimate romance hero. At least that’s what the glossy brochure said.

Apparently, here, actors were ready and waiting to bring your most breathless fantasy to life—be it with a fireman, doctor or tycoon. Ostensibly, these were chaste weekends, but the small print in the brochure mentioned a discreet don’t ask/don’t tell policy that’d made Robin and Carla wet their panties. Sela too, to be fair. But she generally approached these things with less hope.

“Oh, come on,” Robin hollered through the door of her adjoining room. “Maybe it was his first time. Give him another chance.”

“No.” She’d been willing to play along when Robin suggested they actually participate. Sounded cheesy, but you never knew. Could’ve been fun. And it might’ve been had she chosen a cowboy, like Robin had, or a Navy seal, like Carla. But she hadn’t. Sela had chosen a Gothic hero, picturing a tortured, brooding man like Lawrence Olivier in Rebecca. What she got was a man wearing an eye patch and a rubber scar on his cheek.

Carla bounced into the room in a black polka dot bubble skirt. With her skippy blonde curls and tight white tank, she looked like a pedophile’s legal dream girl. “You’re not going down for the Friday Mixer?”

Sela shook her thick, brown hair out of a ponytail and scratched her scalp. Man. That felt almost as good as the bra-strap-scratch. “I’ll pass on the Friday Mixer. I’m afraid his scar might peel off in my drink.”

“Ew.” Carla wrinkled her nose. “I can’t believe that. Did you request a different guy?”


Robin wandered in wearing a green satin halter dress, her elegant auburn hair in a French twist. Sela’s general style tended to Sporty Spice. Combined, the three women always caused a male buzz.

Robin arched a brow. “And?”

“There is no one else.”

To be fair, the guy himself wasn’t the problem. He’d have been hot enough if she liked his type. Tall, lean, dark hair, square mouth and pale blue eyes—at least the one she could see. But Sela couldn’t get past the dollar-store eyepatch, hence, she couldn’t stop laughing. Oh, and his wooden emo voice, too. He’d been a really bad actor. She seriously hoped he didn’t earn his living this way.

By contrast, Robin’s hero was all Marlboro man—slow drawl and lazy smile. Sex in a saddle. Carla’s seal was ripped, agile and Alpha. She’d already changed panties twice in anticipation of the Friday Mixer.

So they had decent actors here. Really they did. It was a high quality joint. Sela adored her lush bedroom with its classy accoutrements and fixtures. It’s just that she wouldn’t be sharing it. Not with a disfigured ventriloquist’s dummy.

“We feel so bad,” the two women sang at once.

“I know.” And she did. Of all the friends she’d ever had, these two were the best. They’d shared a lot of wacky weekend adventures. You win some you lose some. But overall, she’d had fun. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine here with my book.” And Charlie, she silently added.

Charlie, her dildo, named for the boy who’d deflowered her during homecoming week. He actually hadn’t been a bad lover, and they’d really liked each other. Sometimes, she wondered what ever happened to Charlie, so it made her feel good to name her dildo after him. She was a nostalgic schmuck that way.

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Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

In the 6th paragraph, you use the word pedophile. That turned me off. The word has too many negative connotations. This was not meant to be nasty as I think you know by now that I love your work. I thought long and hard about this and decided since you asked for the comments, I would let you know what I think.

On the brighter side, the story has a lot going for it and I enjoyed it except for that word.

September 06, 2007 3:38 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Oh hell, Bev. I know you didn't mean it in a nasty way! Don't ever worry about speaking your mind or telling me what doesn't work for you -- God knows my editors and crit partners have.

I always say it's my job to push the envelope as far as possible, and my editor's/crit partner's job to pull me back. Now it's Bev's job too! LOL.

I truly appreciate the critical feedback!

September 06, 2007 3:58 PM  
Blogger Renee' said...

If this book's plot was a man who was interested in a child, then I would join you in your opinion Bev. However, in my opinion, the use of the word pedophile was descriptive of a common fantasy role-play scenario, It fit the parameters of the storyline as was indicated previously.

It is taboo but it is also the typical Lolita complex. I mean come on, most women are aware that men have this fantasy, and many men will admit to it as well.
Take a look at the Halloween Costume stores this year and you will see a variety of School Girl costumes. And of course any erotic store as well.

How many mainstream authors have used the barely legal Heroine and the much older mature man to feed into both genders fantasies of young, innocent untried women being tutored in the ways of sex. Often times the hero admits to having loved the Heroine since she was a teenager.

Even women enjoy this fantasy. Think Summer of 42, when a coming of age young teenage boy was lead into manhood by a much older woman.

The school uniform, knee socks, and pony tails are all part of a costume for role-play for many adults, males and females alike.. This does not mean that they are in actual fact pedophiles. So long as the characters in the book are adults, past the age of consent, I feel it is alright to act out any fantasy they are comfortable with.

September 06, 2007 7:12 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Hey, this convo has inspired a new and, I think, funnier descriptive: With her skippy blonde curls and tight white tank, she looked like a legal Lolita.

How's that?

September 06, 2007 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Okay, Renee I see your point and I agree with it somewhat but I had what Ann Landers used to call a "funny uncle" and I'm just gunshy of the word pedophile.

Ann, I think you came up with a winner. A legal Lolita sounds much better.

September 06, 2007 10:32 PM  
Blogger Renee' said...

Cool,as Lolita is actually in the dictionary:

Lo·li·ta [lō ltə] n
desirable young girl: a young teenage girl regarded or depicted as the object of sexual desire

So changing it brings the vision to mind.

Well Ann, this looks like another I will have to buy when you finish it. Only this time I can say, Hey how cool she used the Lolita line. he he

Bev, I hear where you are coming from. A weird 'uncle Ernie" is something that can be traumatic. Two points of view are always good.

I have a question for you Ann. How did you pick your critique partner?


September 07, 2007 12:48 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Renee, back in 2000 I joined the eHarlequin Learn To Write message boards. You wouldn't believe the (now) successful authors who started, unpublished, there with me: Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, Heather Rae Jenkins, Dee Tenorio, Diana Peterfreund, Marley Gibson, Jana DeLeon...the list goes on and on.

Anyway, as with these huge groups, we started forming smaller, more manageable private groups as we got to know each other. Eventually, Merry Stahel started the Belfry Collective critique group with Lyn Cash (Sunny) and I was invited to join. I'd known these women and their writing for a long time. It's amazing how well you can get to know someone online through their writing voice.

The mission statement of the Belfry was simple: get published. We were tough on each other and paid close attention to the market. Almost all of us are now published, and the rest are close.

So, the short answer is it was a long process of finding writers whose opinions I trusted and who had the ability to give a real critique. All the Belfry members have different strengths when they critique, so our success has been a group effort. I'm very proud of us!

September 07, 2007 5:42 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Oh, and as an important PS -- you have to have the ability to set your ego aside and take the crits. Be objective about your own writing and suck it up or a crit group won't work for you.

September 07, 2007 6:15 AM  
Blogger Renee' said...

gee, I am now wondering what my writing voice tells you about me! LOL

I have the Smut Sluts as my critique group. They are tough


September 07, 2007 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this story. You know why? Because I am have been kicking around a very similar story in my head the last few

By the way I think all girls should name their sex toys Charlie :)

September 19, 2007 10:06 PM  

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