Category Archives: Dawn at Last

Excerpt from Dawn at Last

One can no more bury the past than control the future, though I suppose many of us try to do both, in various degrees. This is one of the central themes in Dawn at Last, a book about being wanted in three states . . . the past, the present and the future.

One of the main characters seems more consumed with the past than the others. Some see her as an ice queen, though she’s never struck me that way . . . perhaps more of a victim? Yet she doesn’t want to see herself that way –  the victim – though she knows there is plenty of truth to that. To accept it as true is to admit defeat . . . the warrior within can’t do that, and so the child within continues to suffer:

       “You two are really something else . . . such smart men! You know I’m mostly full of shit, more screwed up than I ever realized, until now . . . most of my life is one big lie. But then in my own defense, present company excepted, most of my life has been with people who, well, let’s just leave that out for now . . . Anyway, just so you know, Ben and all the others got exactly what they paid for. They got their ‘charming companionship’ every time – two hours at a time – the truth is they probably got more than their money’s worth . . . an ongoing, unattainable fantasy.”

She stops there. That lump comes back to her throat, brought on by her words, as they turn into thoughts. The epiphany is crushing . . . she is still living the life that she thought was left behind, the life of Dawn Belcourt, the expert in fantasy fulfillment. Her title had changed, but the role was much the same, though now there is no more fulfillment – not for anyone, and especially not for Donna Belauche.

Pierre and Charles are deeply disturbed. They are not bothered by anything she has said, but more by the current image of the woman they adore, in spite of all her acting. Now she is just sitting there, her glass shaking uncontrollably, as some of the wine dribbles down her top while she tries to drink it. She manages to put the wine glass down on the table without more spilling. Donna puts one hand over her mouth as she looks out, and then up, pensively, into the darkness of the night, into the rain.

She cannot speak and the two men know that. She bites her lower lip. The light coming from the pictures now reveals the water, but not the water from the dripping rain. Instead, the light watches the flow of tears that she tries to contain in the wells of her eyes. She appears to be on the verge of a complete breakdown, the weight of years of secret pain and sorrow, like a dam about to burst. However, in this moment, all that Pierre can see of her is a tender and hurting child.

He stands up and reaches out his hand to her. It’s an unspoken invitation for her to stand up, and when she does, he just holds her and hugs her. The tears flow uncontrollably now, and her body shakes in unison to the sobbing. He holds her a little tighter. There is nothing more he can do. She too is without choice, so Donna squeezes Pierre as tightly as she can . . . she just can’t stop the crying.

The mind is such a wonderful paradox, so fragile and yet so strong. It seems there are so many people ready to take advantage of both aspects. However, Dawn at Last is really about people who care about each other, each one differently, and despite each others’ peculiar secrets, longings, and deceptions.

I find it hard to choose excerpts from the book without spoiling it for any readers, though the one above is a pivotal one. I’ll just trust my extinct that it won’t be a spoiler for you, should you ever decide to read the book. In a way this excerpt is misleading – the sadness of it – the book as a whole really isn’t that way.

As usual, after posting something a little sad, I like to finish with something more upbeat, and Dawn at Last is overall full of reasons to smile . . . here’s to wishing you more ups than downs:

Pain & Glory

Find Dawn at Last at:     Amazon       Barnes & Noble        Apple

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Be My Guest

DAL_1Gplus

When I first released my debut novel it was kind of thrilling – the feeling, not the book – it’s exciting but not a thriller!

Back then I didn’t realize how difficult it is have one’s book “discovered”. Naive I suppose, but I’m glad I was . . . without a certain amount of child-like innocence I’m not sure the book would have ever been written. I like to think there is plenty of that naivete throughout Dawn at Last, which is odd given the rather serious and adult themes . . . undercurrents.

It felt much like preparing a fine meal, ten years in the making, and then opening the door to hall, ready to serve up a feast. I like to cook for someone special, one of life’s simple pleasures. While I wrote the novel because I just had to, it was never just for me but rather for a guest of one. Often I’d think of one person reading it, but no one in particular. I can’t imagine writing in any other way.

A Playful Reminder

Last week I came across something on YouTube that reminded me of this joy of launching my novel. It’s an old Disney clip, from that string of musical stories that came out just while my dear ones were my little ones. Watching them with my girls was very much like being a kid again, at least for awhile.

Aside from the launching of the book though, it’s quite remarkable how this short musical piece also ties in to much of the content of the book – in a condensed kind of way.

There is this issue of serving – giving with no expectations other than the pleasure of another – turning work into play? There is the curious combination of a little clock and a candle, an odd combination to say the least! For me clocks give a false perception of time, while with candles – within the flame – there is something timeless.

There is fine French dining, plenty of dancing, reasons to pop the cork, something about flowers and even tea. To top it all off, there is only one guest, and it seems an inquisitive one, delighted by the feast. She’s very much an individual, as are all six of the main characters in Dawn at Last.

Oopsy Daisy!

The funny thing is that perhaps this individuality comes out the most when they all sit down to one meal, or should I say when they all try to work together in preparing it? Now that I think of it, that Ben guy is smarter than I thought . . . he got away with simply pouring a little champagne . . . kind of like me getting out of doing the dishes!

I hope your week is full of “Oopsy daisies”, so please be my guest and take a few minutes to enjoy this fine dining experience.

My Smashwords Author Interview

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Did Knee

Smashwords has this really nice feature. Authors can select from a list of questions and provide answers that form an interview. There’s also the option of selecting your own questions. It’s a great way to explain one’s work, much easier than trying to do it in an essay or a blog post.

Rather than send you to my Smashwords page, I’ve included the interview here, just below. If you have questions of your own, please feel free to use the reply link and ask away . . . just don’t ask about my radio, okay?

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Is it true that you write naked?

 Now why does this question remind me of Marilyn Monroe? There was all those reporters asking her is she has anything on when she goes to sleep. She once gave me this fantastic response, “Did I have something on? Of course I did, I had the radio on!”

My writing doesn’t punch the clock, except perhaps when I’m writing about something timeless. I haven’t worn a watch in over a decade. I’m not always writing, but when I do it can be noon as easily as the middle of the night. When I actually sit down and type is another story. My mind is very active – sometimes too busy – I get lost in my thoughts. When that happens I may just as well be naked. But then, even with our clothes on, aren’t we all pretty much that way?

 What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

 I have a strong need for finding a creative outlet. It really is a passion and a very satisfying one. I’m an artist as well. While I’ve always felt that I would do a little writing some day, there were times that I didn’t think the joy of creating art could be found in writing. I’m so glad to find out that I was wrong! It seems storytelling is a bit of a gift for me, and moving people, making them happy, giving them something to think about . . . this process is one of my great joys in living.

What do your fans mean to you?

When I hear from a fan, when she tells me what the book has meant to her, that can go right to the heart. It’s one thing to write something, hoping that it affects someone in a very positive way – it’s quite another to find out about that when it actually happens. While I don’t need that kind of feedback for motivation, it certainly does help. It’s much the same with my art. Sometimes I ask myself, “Why bother, aside from my own joy in the process?” Then a few people come along and tell me how it has moved them somehow, and I know it’s not just about me, that it is simply something worth doing, and so I continue.

How do  you approach cover design?

 I’m a firm believer that the cover shouldn’t matter. I also know that from a marketing perspective, it is important, especially in terms of catching people’s attention, and even more so for an unknown talent. As an artist, it is a different kind of challenge, and I couldn’t be more pleased in finally coming up with a cover that matches the book in both content and tone. I guess I’m a bit of a tease, and my cover is a gorgeous tease, but also it’s an honest one. It’s also a little mysterious, as it’s supposed to be!

What is your writing process?

Basically it comes down to elements and rules. While I’ve internalized much of the “Element of Style”, I still refer to it in a pinch. I’ve been using it for over 30 years now. I’ve studied all kinds of writing manuals over the years, though it seems the best ones have to do with writing advertising copy. Those books really do teach one how to write concisely, yet effectively. As for rules, once again I lean towards simplicity. I follow W. Somerset Maugham’s teachings, something I stumbled upon over 20 years ago, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Funny how it works. I read his “Of Human Bondage” in high school and now after all this time I begin my novel with three words, “Bound and impatient.” It seems like my characters must be somewhat like Maugham, just trying to figure out the rules of life are as they move along. One of them wants to be a writer.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

First of all, when I’m writing that is almost the only thing I do. Then there is the time spent on marketing, which actually takes up more time than the writing, at least for now, as an unknown independent author. When I’m not doing something book-related, by far my favorite activity is my art. Between the two that doesn’t leave much time, and that time is spent mostly with family, a little reading, watching a good movie, going for walks, trying to make the odd person laugh or smile – mostly strangers – or just being a pain in the ass for someone – mostly friends.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

 At my age, and almost without exception, there is this incredible urge to pee. Not to pee? That is out of the question!

Is there anything you want to say specifically about Dawn at Last?

 The most frustrating aspect of trying to describe the book concerns this issue of genre. I never gave it much thought until after the book was finished. It really crosses a number of genres, and I can’t find one where there’s a really snug fit. I really wish “Adult bedtime stories” would become a genre. That’s perhaps the best tag I could put on it, in a few words. My hope is that people will read the first few chapters and then decide if it fits for them. It really is one of those books that kind of grows on you as it moves along, so if you enjoy the first 10%, it only gets better.

What are you working on next?

 When I was about 2/3 done Dawn at Last it occurred to me that this could easily turn into a trilogy and I was quite excited about that. Since finishing the book I’ve vacillated on that notion, but readers keep telling me that I must continue the story. So given that, and my joy in cooking, for now I am stewing!

The characters make it easy to continue the story, but they also make it more difficult to keep them out of trouble. After all, there is only so much an author can do to protect the likes of Dawn and Sunni and Andrea. The trouble I see them getting into down the road is already starting to piss me off, and it doesn’t look like the men in their lives are going to help them too much, though I’m sure they will try their best.

Is it true that you once looked like Brad Pitt?

 Well yes, so I’ve been told, but you have to consider the source. She was only about 11 at the time, one of my two daughters, and the comment came shortly before her birthday . . . such a clever little girl! They are both gifted in their own ways . . . remarkable young ladies . . . now much quicker than their father. By that I mean it took me about 10 years to finally explain to my little one that since I’m older than him, in fact he looks a little like me. To clarify though, the actual statement was, “You know dad, if you had hair you’d look just like Brad Pitt!”

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Now please don’t be shy about using these share buttons – I’m honored when you do. 🙂

Dawn at Last – Book Description

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Some call it sinful, others say divine . . . they all call it refreshing.

A smart and sexy romance, perhaps the kind your mother doesn’t want you to know? Chances are she will love it too, even though this is definitely not old school shenanigans!

Secrets deeper than the Seven Seas . . .

Modern day Victoria, BC sets the stage for Donna Belauche, a professional intimacy counselor who keeps her client list short and her list of friends shorter.  Life is far from fun and games for Donna. In her quiet time, it is not her work that brings her to the brink of madness. It’s the weight of her past – so many deep secrets – almost crushing her. Holding love at arm’s length, she pushes men away, even one who especially adores her.

That’s when she wrote in her journal, “genuinely kind and charming,” but next to that she added “perhaps a little dangerous…be very careful.”

Making Dali Blush

As she pushes love away, Donna devotes her free time to the pursuit of a different kind of passion – a hobby involving tulips, a creative exploration of women – an exploration of what some call sinful, and yet others divine. She is not alone in this project. She and her partners do it all in the name of art . . . but have they taken it all too far?

As wonderful as it seemed, still is it even okay, or was it all just decadence? Yet such a sweet decadence, as fresh as the first drop of honey.

It’s funny how it works when love’s at play.

Some say this book is controversial because of its characters – interracial relationships, unconventional pasts, and affairs between lady friends who are oblivious to the label, “lesbian romance”. They see nothing unusual in any of it. For them it is just how they live. There is Ben, the house painter who will paint most anything, and a server named Sunni, with a thing for buns. Along with three others, they manage to help Donna find her way, almost in spite of themselves.  They don’t realize how important each is to the other, especially to Donna, as she scratches away at the ties that bind her.

Untwisting the Night Away

The lives of these misfits twist together like vines – never knowing exactly where they will wind up. Through all the intertwining, love offers up one amusing surprise after another.  Then, on one final night – three men and three ladies – everything finally comes together. Lives are changed forever . . . but for the better? How does one ever really know? At last, is it ever just about love?

Read these comments from fans of Dawn at Last . . .

Exciting and Adventurous – The intersecting plot lines led me on an adventure, an intriguing blend of humour and mystery.

Fresh and Amusing – The humor and wit throughout is really enjoyable. The interracial relationships feel very contemporary, and say a lot about love in today’s world.

Breath-taking and Sexy – The intimate scenes are seductive, making me want to be involved – a wonderful adult romance.

Complex and Mysterious -The emotional journey is challenging. It took me through many stages before emerging at the other end with my own thoughts and revelations.

Dangerous and Raw – There are times in the book where I sensed an element of risk and it heightened the experience.

Entertaining and Evocative – Overall the book is fun. It’s a wonderful adult romance. The story, themes and characters stayed in my mind long after I finished the book – waiting for the sequel now!

“Dawn at Last” is Now on Amazon

original art - Prayery

There’s a lot of playful mystery in “Dawn at Last” – six main interweaving characters.

It’s taken a lot of time and effort, but it was worth it.

Over the past month or so I’ve made some changes to my novel, previously published as Sunni Knows, but renamed Dawn at Last. By the way, did you know that apparently The Great Gatsby was once titled Trimalchio in West Egg . . . yes, books do go through title changes.

The content is mostly the same, with a little refining of the first chapter and a little addition to the ending. It seems that while my fans loved the book, for many the original ending felt unresolved. It took a lot resolve to fix that, but I’m glad I did – the ending is now more exquisite . . . at last.

You can see the new cover over to the right side – if you click on it, you will be taken to the Amazon page of Dawn at Last. I don’t mind saying that it’s fantastic and really goes with the tone of the book. A huge thank you goes out to Sandra Parlow, a wonderful lady and an excellent photographer. She allowed me to use some of her photography – the basis for the imagery on the cover – you can easily find her amazing work on Google+.

I’d also like to thank an anonymous friend for her musings and guidance throughout this process, the extent of which could fill an entirely different book!

Finally, it will about a week before Amazon has the “Look Inside” feature working – after that you can read the first 10% of the book for free. That should take you about half way through Chapter 3 – The Grape Squishing, although that’s a bit of a tease because by the end of that chapter things start getting a little juicy.

In the meantime, if want to get a feel for the book, I’ve posted first chapter on my Facebook Notes, and here’s the link to that: Chapter 1 – The Ending Begins .

A Little Magic

One thing I love about my kind of painting is how unpredictable it can be.

Last night I had a wonderful time polishing up colom, putting the finishing touches on it . . . for a comparison, see My Saturday Column – Pardon the Typoh! I lost track of time and almost packed it in when I was done at 2:30 in the morning . . . but I didn’t.

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colom – finally finished!

As often happens when I’m finally finished a picture, such as colom above, I’ll spend a little more time just playing with it – this where life becomes unpredictable – at 3:00 in the morning, after playing with a few effects, a little magic happened. The picture below is what I’m talking about . . . it’s still untitled, but I really couldn’t wait to put it up here, and soon it will also be on my site.

Finally, the funny thing is that I went to bed last night thinking about how much this new picture ties in to my novel, Dawn at Last, at least in the emotion of it all. For a minute I thought perhaps it would make a great cover, but I’m not really sure about that.

If I ever do a hard cover version though, I’m sure it will include some of this art as an appendix, or perhaps I will call it a heart – a book should have a heart, right?  🙂

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A Pinterest Guide to Dawn at Last – Part II

Now for the rest of the story – Dawn at Last . . . and she wants to be in pictures!

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s installment of one Pinterest picture for each of 26 chapters – the first 13 are in A Pinterest Guide to Dawn at Last.

Here’s chapters 14 through 26 . . . as always, I hope you enjoy the show . . . that’s all folks!

Chapter 14 – The Gathering of a Monkey, a Toad, and a Chicken

Chapter 14 - The Gathering of a Monkey, a Toad, and a Chicken

Chapter 15 – The Goddess Awakens?

Chapter 15 - The Goddess Awakens?

Chapter 16 – And So They Dance

Chapter 16 - And So They Dance  Pilar - Shadow Dancing

Chapter 17 – Pushing Buttons . . . and Talking it Over

Chapter 17 - Pushing Buttons . . . and Talking it Over  Said Alice.

Chapter 18 – On to the Frying Pan

Chapter 18 - On to the Frying Pan

Chapter 19 – A Late Lunch of Cognac and Pastrami

Chapter 19 - Today, Instead of Robin, I have Cognac and Pastrami

Chapter 20 – Look Out . . . Wet Flooring!

Chapter 20 - Look Out . . . Wet Flooring! -     "Some things only women can do" - Jackass - hahahah

Chapter 21 – 317 Browning Road . . . Revisited

Chapter 21 - 317 Browning Road . . . Revisited

Chapter 22 – The Painting

Chapter 22 - The Painting -  “Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except yourself.”  Siddhartha Gautama

Chapter 23 – The Musketeers Get Defensive

Chapter 23 - The Musketeers Get Defensive

Chapter 24 – We Can Still Dance

Chapter 24 - We Can Still Dance

Chapter 25 – Sunni’s Happy Daze

Chapter 25 - Sunni's Happy Daze

Chapter 26 – Getting the Giggles

Chapter 26 - Getting the Giggles

There you have, and I’d love to hear your comments – have any favorites?