It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author Melody DeBlois, who tells us about...
Writers Who Have Influenced Me
In the fifth grade, I discovered Louisa May Alcott, and my life was forever changed. I started with Little Women, which made me emulate Jo March. In fact, I wouldn’t answer to my own name; only to Jo. That strong-willed heroine was so dear to my heart, I packed a bag and ran away. I wanted her to teach me how to write. I got as far as the gas station a mile off before discovering Ms. Alcott was long dead. Still, the impression she made on me remained. She wrote several novels that were like the writing style of the day. She kept being rejected until she used her own experiences to create fiction. From Jo’s writing journey, I learned the value of writing about what you know.
In Senior Year, a friend talked me into giving a story I wrote to a teacher I’d never met. When I got it back, I was horrified at all the “chicken scratches”, as I called them, that she had liberally applied to her critique of my work. Foolishly, I said, “I can’t even read what she wrote.” My friend took me to her class to meet her. I found Mrs. Barber in a wheelchair, a victim of polio. Turns out, Elsie Oakes Barber wrote a fictional account of her ordeal. Until reading The Trembling Years, I had never been as moved by the written word. She made me feel all the pain of that terrible disease. I suffered the emotions she experienced. I reread the book again a couple of summers ago, and it was just as profound. From Mrs. Barber’s beautiful and heartfelt account, I learned to write from the truth.
When I started writing each day, I discovered a book called If You Want to Write. Brenda Ueland was a force of nature who believed a writer must always be improving without reservation or looking back. To be a great writer one must be a great person. Ms. Ueland exemplified her beliefs. In her eighties, she broke records in swimming and was knighted by the king of Norway. At 93 years, she had published six million beautiful words. Whenever I’m licking the wounds of a nasty rejection, I turn to Ms. Ueland for encouragement. She says, “Be careless, reckless, be a lion! Be a pirate when you write.” Most people are too scared, too self-conscious, too proud, too shy to write what they truly believe. She taught me that everyone is talented, original, and has something to say.
What led me into writing romance were two novels, both written by men. One was Robert Nathan’s Portrait of Jennie. It’s about an artist who falls in love with a ghost. The writing is lyrical and full of imagery. The second book Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson was released originally as Bid Time Return. The movie title was more successful. Matheson says he lived this book while he wrote. It’s a haunting blend of romance, the supernatural, and mystery. It was one of the first in what would be a never-ending sea of time travels. The hero falls in love with a heroine from 1896. Different eras, yes, full of exploding passion. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end happily. The romance in both books, though, captured me. Although I don’t ordinarily write paranormal elements, eventually I’d like to try my hand at it. Matheson and Nathan influenced me with their stories.
One of the nice things about being a writer is that deep appreciation for good writing. There are hundreds of writers who have influenced me along the way. There’s Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. I just finished a book this morning by Rosamunde Pilcher. I also read Lauren Blakely for her voice. And, recently, I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid. She wrote One True Loves, Daisy Jones and the Six and many others. More favorites are Lisa See—The Island of Sea Women and Delia Owens—Where the Crawdads Sing. I learn a little from all the writers I read daily. It keeps my life rich.
by Melody DeBlois
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
Madison receives acclaim for running a talent agency for people with disabilities, but she doesn't know how to take care of herself. When her altruism becomes life-threatening—a matter of either develop healthy habits or die—she joins a reality TV show that pairs her with hot, raven-haired Brandon. He is witty, sexy, and her teacher. That makes him off limits.
After a successful run on a soap opera, Brandon stepped away from empty fame and now focuses on his work as TV's most noted health teacher. He has one fast rule—never fall for a student. But when he meets Madison, their chemistry is combustible. There's no hiding their conflict or their attraction, especially when it's all caught on film.
On the beach, Madison started to gather energy, so that when they went into downward-facing dog, he discovered, with her well-earned agility, she didn’t bend her knees as usual.
“Madison, you’re touching the ground!”
She beamed up at him. “I am!”
She was unimaginably beautiful. The way the sun seized the golden streaks in her red hair, the way the natural wave framed her angular face, distracted him. He had his fantasies about her, and this was one of them. The two of them by themselves on the beach, doing yoga. The only problem? The usual. They were not alone.
Warrior pose brought with it an expression of victory on her part, and child’s pose caused her to fold up within herself like a flower after sunset. No woman had ever done the positions with as much raw sensuality. Being with her made him, the yogic practitioner, forget how to move and how to breathe.
This day she stood taller and bent farther. The muscles in her arms supported her with effortlessness. Even her hands seemed stronger than before. She balanced herself with greater ease, like a goddess surveying her kingdom by the sea. Brandon closed his eyes against the gush of erotic pictures she evoked in him. He had been with her too long, yet not long enough.
When they finished, she purred, “I just might learn to love this.”
“You did well.”
“Do you think it was the fancy yoga outfit?”
He shook his head. “Nah, I think it was the woman.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born in California, award winning author, Melody DeBlois follows the sun. When she isn’t swimming laps, she’s writing sweet and sassy romances. Her heroines are self-reliant and smart and her heroes are kind by nature and love dogs. She lives in California during the summer and spends winters in Arizona with her husband. She has plotted her novels while hiking the beach or trekking across the desert. Her most treasured possession is family.
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