Writing with Partners: Chapters 4 and 5

So my writing partner just put up chapter 4, in which Delia practically strangled Jake for taking the ticket she mistakenly left in his portfolio at the restaurant.  But she also introduced another facet of her personality, an introverted woman who works in a people-oriented field.

Chapter 5:

Jake watched to make sure Delia arrived home safely. Once he saw she was inside, he drove away. Shaking his head, he murmured, “Man, what a spitfire! I never knew she was like that.”

Getting home, he tried to figure out whether his behavior was really so out of line. Picking up the phone, he called the one person he knew who could be guaranteed to give him valuable feedback, Susan Greaves, his older sister.

“Hey, Sue, it’s me.”

“What’s up, Baby Brother?”

“Nothing much, just looking for some advice.”

“Let me guess, something involving a woman?”

Jake rolled his eyes. “How did you know?”

Sue laughed. “That’s the only time you really call me for advice,
plus, ever since I proved to be right that Tracey Hunt was a witch and a half, you have been practically kissing my feet.”

Jake could practically see her grin. “Yeah, I know, Sis, you told me she was a psycho early on, but I didn’t listen. The hot body and the sex did me in.”

“So, another hot chick is tying you up in knots?”

“No, not tying me up in knots, but she’s making me think. I wouldn’t have called you otherwise, but I swear I was having PTSD flashbacks to Tracey and her madness.”

Jake told Sue briefly what happened, the mix up over the ticket, his not returning it, and Delia not calling him at the station to find it.

“You remember how Tracey was, she could never take a joke or go with the flow, she could never accept responsibility for anything. Everything was all me, me, me, how I ruined everything and made her miserable. That was just how I felt.”

“Yes, I understand. Perhaps she was in a bad mood, or it was a personality thing. She might be the quiet type, and might have thought you were coming on a bit strong. Who knows, she could still be raw from the break-up of her marriage. Didn’t she work primarily in the back when Tommy had the place?”

“Yes, she was like a mouse, doing whatever she was doing in the back there.”

“In any event, it might be hard for her, having to run such a people-oriented business. I agree, a different woman might have just gone with it and laughed at the joke. After all, her friend couldn’t make it, and you were willing to reimburse her. Or if she were really interested, she could have really put it out there.”

“I was hoping we would have laughed at the joke and talked about it, at least. But she wasn’t having it!”

Sue howled. “Mr. Smooth got shot down!”

“So what do you think I should do?”

“Well, it depends. Are you interested?”

“I thought I was, but after this, I have some serious reservations. Not only was she not interested, but her behavior made me pause.”

“Understandable. Why not lay low for a while, then, don’t go by, just leave it at that.”

“That’s a good idea. She did say that she would calm down eventually. It’s not as though I go there all the time. ”

“Sounds like a plan. Keep me posted.”

“There won’t be anything to tell you about, I don’t think.”

Sue giggled. “You never know, Jake, you never know. Something just occurred to me, I wonder, was Delia protesting too much?”

Jake shook his head as he hung up. “Women, I’ll just never get them.” But Sue definitely got him thinking.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.

Writing With Partners, Chapters 2 and 3



So my writing partner just posted chapter 2, and it was fantastic.  In her scene, Jake and his two colleagues have lunch.  At the end of their meal, Delia, the owner, has to go to their table to make change for them.  There was some mild flirting.  But she was distracted; she had a phone call from a friend who couldn’t make it to a concert they were supposed to attend that evening.  She mistakenly gave Jake the extra ticket she had. She only realized it hours later when she was about to leave the house.

Here is my next chapter.

Chapter 3:


Jake smiled as he watched Delia return to the back room.


Pete just stared at him as he bobbed his head, “Man, I don’t know how you do it, flirting with the ladies like that.”


Alex gave Jake a quick wink before he responded to Pete.  “The problem is, you don’t have the what do I call it, the smoothness of a guy like Jake.  He knows how to make a move.  Mind you, I had it when I was younger, and I still do, as my dear bride of 30 years could tell you, it is just something a guy has, or he doesn’t!”


Jake guffawed, “Tell it, Grandpa, tell it!” He opened the black folder to take his change.  As expected, he saw the receipt and a few bills.  He also noticed something that made his eyes gleam.  Some kind of ticket?  Thinking quickly, he put on his poker face for the guys as he put everything into his wallet.


He wanted to get a handle on things without the other guys’ input.  Although they often traveled together when they came to union office, he was glad that this time around, they each took their own cars, because driving back to his station gave him the time to process what had just happened.


Jake got into the car, locked it and put on his seat belt.  He opened up his wallet and found the ticket.  He read out loud:  “Creations’ Peak, 7:00pm, the Mudhouse Bar.”  He knew the place, a well known popular location in a neighboring town.


Driving out of the parking lot, he pondered.  In all likelihood, it was a mistake, Delia didn’t mean to invite him to a concert.  He could go back to the diner and give her the ticket, he was sure she would have appreciated it.


But Alex would whack him over the head if he did something like that.  That just wasn’t the move a Mr. Smooth would make.  That was the sort of thing Pete would do, return the ticket and not take advantage of the opportunity.


Jake thought about Delia for a bit.  He didn’t know her well.  He only knew her through the diner.  When Tommy Hearns had the restaurant, she was mostly in the back, and didn’t deal with customers much.


But after she got it, the place blossomed, and it was something he always admired about her, how she really turned the place around to make it more than twice what it was in Tommy Hearns’ day.  It was the food, the decor, even the name.


She was a good businesswoman.  Beyond that, Delia was an attractive woman, with a down to earth and natural beauty.  Moreover, he liked flirting with her.  It just never occurred to him to make anything more about it.  But her mistake was going to change that!


Smiling a devilish grin, Jake made note of the concert and drove back to his office.  There wasn’t much work for him to do, the usual reports, so he was able to leave on time.


Getting home, he changed out of his firefighter’s dress uniform, checked the mail and his phone messages, then looked to see what he had in the refrigerator.  Nothing.  He had to admit, Delia’s food really filled him up at lunch.  “Man, I could eat like that all time!”


Jake decided he would go to the Mudhouse early, so that he could have dinner and look for Delia once she arrived.   He watched television for a bit to hear the local news on the public station.  As expected, the reporter talked about the budget negotiations.  As usual, there was no money, and the needs of the community were increasing.  What else was new?


After resting, Jake got up.  It was time to go.  He put on an oxford shirt, dark denims, and loafers.  Grabbing a sports jacket, he walked out to his car. He put on the radio to the local rock station.  They were advertising the concert.  That gave him a sense of what the band was like.  Reminded him of Soundgarten and Pearl Jam.


Getting to the bar, Jake had a beer and chicken parmigiana with broccoli on the side.  After he finished eating, he walked over to the area where the concert was to take place.  He faced the door.  A few minutes later, he saw Delia walk inside.  She wasn’t dressed too fancily, so it was clear she’d made a mistake, she hadn’t invited him out for a date.


He smirked once she saw him and made eye contact.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.

Writing from Inspiration: Life Imitates Art?

This sounds like something straight out of a Daniel Silva novel, a high suspense thriller.  The possibilities for the writer seem endless.

The story goes back a few weeks.  On the Rooshvforum, the owner of the site reported that one of its members, “Rawmeo,” had died in Thailand.  I had seen the occasional essay he posted onto the message board about his life as an ex-pat there.  He seemed to be living the life, a wealthy young man with a wife and mistresses on the side.

The moment I saw the post that he died, I did a web search for foreigners dying in Thailand, and I thought I found a match.  His name was given as Alexandre Cazes, a 26 year old French Canadian.  The claim was he died of suicide in prison because he was facing extradition to the U.S.

Then I found news stories about the deceased.  He was an apparent underground crime lord who hosted a dark web site dedicated to supporting the endeavors of those pursuing illegal purchases of drugs, guns, and identity theft information.  His enterprise facilitated the purchases and sales, based upon a commission.

Going back to the Rooshvforum site, I saw all the posts he made, one in particular where he boasted about his wealth.  Members of the group questioned him about how he could have gotten so much money in such a short time.  He included pictures and apparently sent videos to prove he really was wealthy.

Sometime thereafter, the post discussing his death and all his posts were locked.  These were made accessible only to registered members of the site.

Recently, the owner of the site posted an essay and confirmed what I had guessed, that “Rawmeo” was Alexandre Cazes and that the authorities had investigated him through his posts on the site.  Just think of the surveillance that must have required, including engaging with him on the message board!

The U.S. government is pursing a forfeiture action to seize his assets, estimated to be worth $23 million.

Someone suggested one major mistake was that he moved to Thailand instead of a country where he would have been more likely to fit in, like Argentina.

Cazes is in the picture on the left, in front of the very car I saw in one of his  posts.  The Argentinian soccer player in the middle of the picture on the right resembles him.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.

Goodreads, Writing with Partners

When I joined Goodreads, I looked around to find groups I wanted to join.  One of them was Writing with Partners, where “romance novels are discussed” and “members also write amateur romance stories.”  We can collaborate with other members.  This to me was too fun for words.  So when the moderators opened up the latest round of story writing, I signed up and asked for one collaborator.  There is some interest, I will see how it goes.

What I appreciate is that the moderators created a “Wheel of Fortune” type system, where we each get three spins, one of the time period, one for the hero, and another for the heroine.  My time period was open, so I made it the modern day, a contemporary romance.  My hero came up as blue collar, my heroine, as someone who works with food.

Earlier in the day, I was out and about, I had an appointment downtown.  Whenever I walk around, I notice the buildings and landmarks.  Some like to watch people, I like to study buildings.  So in any event, there is a building on my way that is some type of administrative building for the Fire Department.  After my appointment, I went to a nearby diner to eat.

Afterwards, I knew I had it, how I would begin my story.  But in any event, I wanted it to interest them and excite them with the possibilities, something that would draw them in.  So here it goes.  Enjoy!

Matt Bomer Takes A Break On The 'White Collar' Set In NYC

Jake Rogers, a 32 year old firefighter.

Chapter 1:
Jake Rogers walked out of the Fire Department union office in a nasty mood. A ten year veteran and a lieutenant in his station, he was the union representative for the department’s sub region that encompassed several districts throughout the town. The municipal authorities were not budging on providing extra money for the department, and they were already understaffed.

In the past year, there had been several losses of men and losses of fire equipment after a few tragedies. He recalled the memorial services he was obligated to attend. Part of a fraternity where he held a strong leadership position, he led the others in looking out for their own, even if that meant fighting the Budget Office.

Following his captain, Alex Donovan, and one of the other lieutenants, Pete Townsend, they went out the door into the bright sunshine. Alex was the first to speak. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m hungry as can be. Fighting city hall always gives me a serious appetite, like I want to gobble everything in sight.”

Jake laughed. “It is the energy from arguing and fighting, makes you want to replenish it all. I know the place.” Pointing left, he guided the others, “the East River Dive.”

Pete looked at him askance. “You are sure I won’t get ptomaine poisoning? The name doesn’t sound too wholesome.”

Jake replied, “I know the owner, she has a good restaurant, but the name was a joke. People get it, that when you see it and go in, the place, it doesn’t look like a dive at all. That makes people want to stay, and they go back again and again. The food is really great!”

Walking along, the others were curious. Arriving a few minutes later, Jake opened the door. Delia Saunders, the owner, watched as they entered.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.

Men want relationships more than women?

I found some interesting research from several years ago, that men want relationships more than women do:  link; link.


That came as a surprise.  I always presumed the opposite, and perhaps that is a stereotype, albeit a dated one?  But it seems that today, young women are more afraid than men of being tied down in relationships.  They prefer their independence and their careers.

The implications of this came to me this morning, as I was reading a novel.  This writer has a collection of books involving several friends and their paths towards dating and marriage.  The book covers and blurbs were all written from the men’s perspective:  link.

Take about an “ah ha” moment.  I’ve been grappling recently with cover images and book blurbs for the two novels I’m working on.  The problem, I think, is that I was formulating them primarily from the women’s point of view, looking for images of young women and imagining book titles in light of their stories.  But it just wasn’t coming out right.

Once I revised my thinking process and started thinking from a guy’s point of view, things started to fall into place.  Suddenly, the book blurbs made sense, as well as the titles.  I could more easily find images for the covers:  link.

The irony is that the ideas for the books originally came out of imagining a group of young men dealing with change of life issues:  career changes and relationship interests.

Copyright Barbara James.  All rights reserved.