Elise K Ackers new book, Ask Me To Stay, published with DestinyRomance is the first in a series of three Elise will publish with Destiny Romance this year. Elise has been on a singing, dancing, blogging tour through April that I must admit, leaves me dizzy just watching! So I am very glad she has sat down long enough to be my guest today!
LM: Would you please share with us the opening paragraph of your current book in at least two stages?
EA: The very first version of Ask Me To Stay:
Death was damned inconvenient. Sure, Bree wasn’t exactly high-stepping it in her modern and somehow feminine casket, but her troubles were over.
Ethan’s were just beginning.
All eyes were on him, despite the occasion. He was neither the deceased nor the widow, yet his existence commanded attention. The rogue brother-in-law, home to offer his condolences after years of neglect. Dean’s kid brother. The youngest son, the youngest Foster.
Ethan thumbed his beer. He knew what they all thought of him. If he couldn’t guess, the locals were kind enough to whisper within earshot. A drinking problem. A falling-out with his brother. Off the tracks, headed for ruin.
It was all true enough.
And the polished version:
Death brought people together. It paid no mind to schedules, to relationships, to distance. And the more senseless and untimely the death, the more people seemed to fracture. Bree Foster, who had so often been described as full of life, was now anything but, and standing in the living room of the house he had grown up in, surrounded by mourners gathered for her wake, Ethan was struggling to believe that his sister-in-law was gone. Here one moment, gone the next – leaving behind a family she adored, and a brother-in-law she hardly knew.
All eyes were on him, despite the occasion. He was neither the deceased nor the widower, yet his presence commanded attention. The reprobated wanderer, home to offer his condolences after years of neglect. Dean’s kid brother. The youngest son, the youngest Foster.
Ethan thumbed his beer. He knew what they all thought of him. And if he couldn’t guess, the locals were kind enough to whisper within earshot. A drinking problem. A falling-out with his brother. Off the tracks, headed for ruin.
Some of it was true enough.
LM: 8 lines from the top of page 88 (yes, I stole this idea, sorry!)
away from the tree and stumbled the remaining distance. She needed her keys. And she needed to be away from the heartache she had inflicted on herself. Because she couldn’t do it again. She couldn’t stand there and watch Ethan leave her in his dust for a second time.
Sam wasn’t that girl – that girl who didn’t get it. She was smart and independent. She was courageous and she went after what she wanted. But Sam didn’t bounce. When she was hurt, it crippled her.
She had to leave town for a while. She’d come back when he was gone, pick up the pieces and move on. It was the only way to get through this.
LM: What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’ in terms of Writing Craft.
EA: I used to struggle with short sentences. It took me a fair while to realise that a short sentence had the capacity to deliver far more punch than a longer, wordier one. That was a real light bulb moment for me – I used to try to say everything at once, amongst too many commas and semi-colons. Not so much now. I’m a big fan of varying sentence lengths now.
LM: Interesting Elise. I feel like I write ‘short’ too.
LM: What keeps you awake at night?
EA: Regrets. Things I said, things I didn’t. Better ways to have said things. But, if I can quieten that voice, then there’s always the crowd of characters jabbering away, telling me their stories. They can be pretty obnoxious about being heard sometimes!
LM: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? (You can assume there are magical batteries for anything requiring power).
- your favourite paperback
- your significant other
- I will take my chances on there being a gorgeous girl, or gorgeous man (whichever the case may be) to help me pitch my tent
- food I don’t have to catch first
- wine (you can assume it will always be cold – unless you prefer red)
- battery powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods (and George Clooney – no, that’s cheating – no George)
- a torch in case the candles go out
- change of clothes
- mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB
Which suggests I’m up for a potentially romantic getaway, free from raw food, with a “get me out of here” tweet at the ready, should my castaway mate confess to loving skinny jeans, Collingwood and Vin Diesel films.
LM:Hey! That’s cheating. You did your own psychology analysis! You’re the first guest I’ve had who was ready to take their chances on a gorgeous bloke arriving out of the bush mists… This is a romance site, remember! It could happen! Go Elise I say.
LM: My book is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner?
LM: Can you share your favourite 250 words from Ask Me To Stay and tell us why it’s your favourite part?
Kneeling beneath the shower in the tub of the upstairs bathroom, Ethan gripped the new metal bar and surrendered his entire body weight to its mercy. Rowan and Nina watched from the sink counter, their feet bumping against the cupboard doors.
No one fell. Nothing broke.
Rowan and Nina each took a turn holding it. Rowan was more thorough in his testing than his sister, who attempted to use it as a monkey bar.
‘It’s not for playing on,’ Ethan warned. His stern tone made her pause. ‘It’s only for if you need help, do you understand?’
She nodded soberly.
He crossed to the countertop and removed something palm-sized from a supermarket bag. ‘I also got you guys this.’ He held it out to them. ‘Soap on a rope. You hook it around your wrist.’ He demonstrated on a wide-eyed Rowan. ‘You can’t drop it. See?’
Rowan uncurled his fingers and the soap bounced on its rope in the air. He did it again and again before he allowed Ethan to hook the soap over the shower tap.
‘When it gets skinny just ask your dad for a new one, okay?’
The kids returned to their perch and Ethan set about neatening up the wall tiling grout.
His audience was silent and patient. When Ethan was done, Rowan handed him a piece of paper. Ethan thumbed the sticky tape against the new shower rail. Rowan’s WET sign was back at work.
He stood back and admired the job. His heart fluttered when tiny fingers hooked around his elbow.
‘I wish you’d come before.’ Nina rubbed her nose as she stared at the shower.
This is my favourite part because of how real it feels to me, like a scene in a movie. I see the faces of those gorgeous, grieving children; I hear their feet banging against the cupboard door. Their uncle is trying to fix their fractured lives however he can, and my heart goes out to Ethan in this scene. But this section is a real turning point for the three of them. It’s an important moment, and it has replayed in my mind countless times.
When family tragedy brings bad boy Ethan Foster home, he doesn’t expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything – and Ethan’s was ruined long ago. Nobody wants him around, particularly not Sam O’Hara, the girl he left behind.
There’s still a powerful spark between them, but Sam is afraid to risk her heart again. And Ethan is hiding a secret that will have repercussions for his whole family. Will the townspeople ever forgive him? More importantly, will those he loves the most find it in their hearts to take him back?