My writer brain’s been in Maui. Only the brain, though, alas.

maui2

My best-selling title in 2013 so far has been The Supermodel’s Best Friend, and some have asked (thank you for that, by the way) about a sequel.

Good news! I’m working on it now. Unfortunately, Miles is happily hitched with Lucy, so I couldn’t give him another book (I know, I know) but I have made him the inspiration for this one. (My working title is The Start-Up, but this will change after I write and delete and rewrite and cry and rewrite then publish. And maybe again after that. For instance, I think The Geek Who Loved Me needs a name change… BUT I DIGRESS.)

Our new heroine, Nicki, is crushed to learn that Miles Girard, our hero from Supermodel, is getting married and will never, ever get together with her. Ever. So off to Maui she goes for the summer (she’s a junior high teacher) to live it up as a fearless, happy, independent woman who isn’t afraid to live–or fly over large bodies of open water, drive a rental car, eat in a restaurant by herself, have sex without carving her heart out with an X-ACTO blade, expose her semi-naked body in public, or learn to swim.

Maybe you noticed the sex part of her premature bucket list. That’s not really the theme, though; she’s got a lot of hang-ups to tackle first. Which might make her too annoying for some readers, but that’s just how she is. I may be the writer but there’s only so much I can do to control these people.

Luckily for those of us who really like male characters (and the rest of them) it’s not all about her. I’ve got just the man cooked up for Nicki…I love this guy, I really do. After Miles in Supermodel, I wasn’t sure if I could ever love another man. But Ansel (named by his parents after Ansel Adams) is just the fun-loving, failed venture capitalist (The Start-Up, get it?) to get me typing faster. While my fingers go tippy-tap, so does Nicki’s heart.

Barf, I know, but I mean it. I really do.

Tippy tap tippy tap… sigh. I’ll post my progress. Slow but steady. Thanks for your patience.

First page of a rough draft (omg): Fat Girl Gets the Guy

Fat Girl Gets the Guy is a working title that seems to have stuck. Depending on how the story unfolds, I might change it – but I admit I’ve grown pretty fond of the story it conjures up. This is Mark’s book, the sequel to Love Handles. I expect to publish it in late May 2012. Normally I don’t open the door on what I’m writing, but if folks are interested I’ll give it a shot.

This is a very early draft. All typos and grammar mistakes are mine. (But you knew that, didn’t you?) I’m using ye olde Courier fonte and underlining the italics to emphasize its draftiness.

Chapter 1
It was the first time Rose had ever been asked to take off her clothes for a job interview.
“You don’t want me to totally strip, though, right?” Rose asked the lady with hair like a snowball. White and round.
Like me, Rose thought.
“What kind of bra are you wearing?”
Rose looked down at her chest, unusually compressed for the occasion. “It’s a sports bra. Brand new.”
“Panties?” the lady asked.
“What do you mean?”
“What kind of underpants?”
This is a very odd conversation, Rose thought. She didn’t even know the lady’s name. The receptionist had sent her up to the engineering floor for her appointment and Snowball Head had ushered her down a hallway without any preamble.
“They’re just… regular. Not a thong or anything.”
“Control-top?”
“No.”
The lady nodded. “Good. We’ll need to know your real numbers. We’ll add on a little for the bust.” Then she nudged Rose deeper into the storage closet and pulled the door shut between them.
Rose looked around. She’d imagined something a little more glamorous than a small, dim closet overstuffed with clothes on racks and sagging shipping boxes. Maybe the fashion industry in San Francisco was as casual as everything else on the West Coast. And, of course, Fite Fitness was just an athleticwear company, not couture or anything.
Rose unzipped her knee-high leather boots and pulled them off, unwound her favorite silk scarf, then stripped off her low-rise black pants and magenta wrap sweater and folded it all into a neat pile. She left on her trio of long silver necklaces and assorted bangles and stood there, wearing just her underwear and jewelry, wondering if the lady expected her to walk around in the big workroom outside in all her full-figured glory.
Crossing her arms under her breasts, Rose decided to wait where she was. It was drafty out there.
After a minute there was a knock on the door. Rose opened it a crack and met the impatient eyes of the white-haired woman looking over her bifocals.
“Ready?”

Rose opened the door wider. “I guess. I’m not sure what you want me to do.”

“You’ve never modeled before?”
Keeping a straight face, Rose said, “It’s been a few years.”
The lady stepped inside and closed the door. “You certainly have the hair for it. And the skin. I’d kill to have skin like yours.” Her gaze dropped down over Rose’s exposed, pale form.
“Thanks.” Rose was used to people complimenting her Barbie-like blond hair and peaches-and-cream complexion. Right before they suggested how lovely she could have been if she’d just stop eating. “By the way, what’s your name? I like to know the names of people I get naked with.”
The woman glanced up at her over her bifocals. “Meryl.” She peeled off one of the measuring tapes she wore around her neck and moved closer, her arms extended in front of her like a cartoon zombie. “Hands up. And don’t suck anything in, please.”
Rose did as she was told, feeling the brush of the Meryl’s fingers against the sensitive flesh of her waist, the small of her back, her abdomen. The tape met over her tummy in Meryl’s small hands.
Don’t suck it in. What did that mean? It was impossible not to tense a little bit under the circumstances. Taking a shallow breath, Rose looked over Meryl’s fluffy white head and focused on a very slim pair of black running pants hanging on the back of the door. “You’re just starting a plus-sized line?”
“Mmm,” Meryl said. “Waist, thirty-eight and a quarter.” She let one end of the tape fall to the floor as she jotted a note in a yellow pad balanced on top of one of the lopsided boxes. “That might be a problem.”
“I told Blair I didn’t know what my measurements were but she said you guys wanted to meet me anyway.”
“Let’s see what else you’ve got.”
“Plenty, as it happens,” Rose said.
Meryl leaned in to measure her bust. “Arms up again, please.” She slid the tape back and forth, paused. “Forty-seven and a quarter. But I’ll add on an inch to allow for the bra.”
Rose stared at the ceiling. This was unexpectedly embarrassing. When her roommate had told her about a job that paid seventy dollars an hour just to try on clothes, she’d been happy to hop on the first BART train to San Francisco. She hadn’t considered how being poked and prodded might make her feel like a seventh grader undressing in the school locker room for the first time.
The tape moved down to her hips. Meryl slid it around and held on with one hand as if she were lassoing a calf–
Don’t go there, girl, Rose told herself. Chin up. Big and beautiful.
“Forty-eight and a quarter,” Meryl said, wrapping the tape around her neck. “Well, that one’s within spec.”
“I really do wear an 18. Often. Well, sometimes.”
Moving to the door, Meryl tucked her yellow pad into her pocket. “You can get dressed. I won’t need the rest of your numbers.”
Rose propped her hands on her hips. “Too big?”
“A little bit. Thanks for coming in… uh… ” She stared.
“Rose.”
“Right,” Meryl said. “Rose. Thanks for making the trip. You can bill us for the full hour.”
Rose let out the breath she’d been holding. So much for that. For a few days she’d enjoyed a little fantasy about making some easy money. It would’ve been fun to tell people she was a model. Without lying.
“If I lost a few pounds,” Rose said, would you be interested in having me come back in?”
Turning back from the open doorway, Meryl shook her head. “Probably not. We need somebody whose weight is really stable. If you lost it, chances are you’d just gain it back. Bodies have a mind of their own, you know? Yours is probably happiest where it’s at.”
“That is so true. Let me call my grandmother and you can repeat that to her.”
With a little smile, Meryl said, “Best of luck to you,” and closed the door.
While she got dressed, Rose reflected that if ever there was a good time to max out her credit card, this was it. Clothes, shoes, makeup, jewelry–San Francisco’s best shops were only a few blocks away.
After all, it wasn’t every day a girl found out she was too fat to be a plus-sized model.
* * * * * * *

Flirting in a Yoga Yurt: Excerpt from a work in progress

Working title: Supermodel’s Best Friend, Billionaire’s College Dropout Buddy

They began with a long period of closed-eye meditation that had Lucy yawning uncontrollably. The only reason she had said she was coming to the class was to get rid of Alex the night before, and now there they were.

She opened her eyes a crack and studied him. He had a nice profile, a strong chin, a healthy body. He had a nice sprinkling of brown hair on his arms and legs, and strong-looking hands and feet.
He was well-educated, ambitious, had a good job, wanted kids. If he’d had drug or gambling or mental problems, Fawn wouldn’t have set them up.
Perfect in so many ways.
The door opened, bringing in a gust of cold, damp air and a large, damp man. Wearing a fleece sweatshirt and jeans, Miles met her gaze from the doorway for a moment before he bent over to unlace his boots.
Lucy’s heart began to pound. She turned back to the front of the room and squeezed her eyes shut, but she could still see him in her imagination—the combed-back hair just out of the shower, the calm intelligence in his eyes, the hint of a smile on the lips she had tasted just the day before.
She had to admit it. Her hormones were jonesing for the wrong guy. It was like her web browser kept sending her to the wrong link. No matter how many times she clicked “Alex,” her body redirected her to “Miles.”
She had to look at him again.
Nice jeans,” Alex muttered, turning back to the front of the room.
Should I change?” Miles asked Mary. “I’ve never done this before.”
Well . . . why don’t you stay and we’ll see. Once you go, you might be reluctant to come back. Getting here is so often the biggest challenge.”
Great.” Miles grabbed a mat and strode over to Lucy’s side, ignoring Alex. “Morning.”
She felt her face flood with heat. Closing her eyes, she ducked her head and told her respiratory system to calm the hell down. “Morning.”
He unrolled the mat and fell down on top of it with a grunt. After manually arranging his legs into a cross-legged position, forcing his knees down with his big hands, he swore under his breath. “Sorry. Sore from a run. Don’t mind me.”
Maybe you need a recovery day,” Alex said.
I thought yoga might be the perfect thing to loosen me up.” Miles looked up at the teacher, excessive innocence in his gray eyes. “Is yoga good for flexibility?”
Absolutely. Just give it time.” Mary beamed at him with evangelical good cheer. “Take it slow and you’ll find yoga is a path away from injury.”
Sounds good to me,” Miles said. “Batter up.”
Lucy folded her lips between her teeth to hide another smile.
Alex exhaled loudly through his mouth, sucked in more air, let out another one.
You can get started now,” Miles said. “I’m ready.”
We already started,” Alex said tightly.
Really? Awesome. I can do this.”
He sounded so sincere, and looked so proud to sit cross-legged on the floor, Lucy caught his gaze in the mirror and smiled at him. He had such a friendly face, broad and open, nothing pinched or held back. When he smiled back at her, a dimple flashed in his left cheek and she gazed at it for a long moment.
Smiling, Mary settled herself in front of them. “Wonderful. Now, reach your hands forward and stretch to the top of your mat, keeping your sitz bones grounded—“
Sit bone?” Miles bent forward, but just barely. His arms pointed rigidly ahead like a kid learning how to dive.
Alex stopped pretending to be self-contained. In fact, he looked like he was about to erupt. “Miles, if you think this is so funny, maybe you should leave.”
A quick frown passed over Mary’s face. “We’ve got a place for everyone here. Nobody should be worried about what his or her neighbor is doing.” She got up and went over to Miles, touched his shoulder. “That’s it. You just need a little support.” She padded off to the racks behind them and returned with two large cork blocks and set them under Miles’s hands.
Alex snorted and Mary shot him another displeased look. Miles appeared to be making a genuine effort to fold himself forward, then from side to side as Mary instructed, and didn’t say another word. Nevertheless, Lucy could feel the tension building in the room like a kettle over the stove.
The next postures had them on their hands and knees, and that was no problem. They all arched their backs and hunched themselves over and breathed as Mary told them, Alex with obvious enthusiasm, exhaling his air out with a hunh that was so loud Lucy glanced at Miles to see what he would do. He caught her eye and winked.
Hunh! Alex went again, and Lucy had to bite her lip and stare at her hands pressing into the mat to stop herself from laughing out loud.
Hunh!
The laugh burst out of her. Alex swung his head sideways to look at her in dismay.
Sorry,” she said, swallowing air and staring at the floor again.
She kept it together for another few minutes, even during the Modified Plank and the Child’s Pose—which for Miles required the addition of another pair of blocks under his arms.
But then came Downward Facing Dog.
He watched Alex, Lucy, and Mary position themselves, then tried to lift his own butt in the air. He didn’t come close to looking like an upside-down V; his knees were bent, his head was lifted, and his chest was parallel to the floor.
Woof,” he said. “Does this work for you?”
Mary stood up from her own pose, went over to him, and tried stack the blocks higher so he could straighten his legs. “It’s not what works for me, it’s what works for you.”
He grunted and dropped his knees to the floor. “Maybe I’m more of a caterpillar. Is there a caterpillar pose?”
She touched his broad back and smiled. “We’ll do Cobra in a minute.”
Should the instructor be touching one of her students so much? It’s not like she could imbue his body with flexibility through the power of her skinny little fingers. And why did she keep smiling at him?
Lucy’s thoughts continued along these lines throughout Triangle Pose and all the Warriors. It’s like Mary was choosing poses she knew Miles wouldn’t be able to do so she would have to stroke his big, strong, inflexible muscles. And then get him hot and sweaty so he had to take off the bulky sweatshirt, exposing the thin, skimpy t-shirt he wore underneath.
His jeans strained against his thighs, his back stretched the jersey of the t-shirt, his strong arms lifted over his head and he looked like Atlas himself.
Lucy lost her balance and fell to her hands and knees.
Listen to your body,” Mary said.
The instructor might have been surprised to know what Lucy’s body was saying, because it had nothing to do with yoga. She got back to her feet and tried to balance with her legs three feet apart. Just don’t look at him.
They folded over and got down into Plank Pose, which was a little more than Lucy’s arms were up to. She slumped down to her knees and then flopped onto her belly.
In spite of Miles’s jokes about being a caterpillar, he wasn’t having any trouble with holding himself off the ground in the Plank’s pushup position. His broad shoulders flexed with muscle and his legs stretched out behind him firm and immobile.
From her bellyflop position on the floor, Lucy watched Mary with narrowed eyes to see if she would find an excuse to go touch him again. “Readjust” him.
Hunh!
Lucy looked over at Alex, caught him looking at her, and smiled politely.
Try Child’s Pose if you need a rest,” he said.
I’m fine right here.” She closed her eyes and put her cheek on the mat, forced to listen to Mary’s footsteps pass by her and hover next to Miles again. Hussy Pose.
OK, you’ve officially lost it, Lucy.
She joined into the rest of the positions as well as she could, grateful when they moved onto their backs for leg stretches and twists and she could stare at the ceiling instead of at Miles’s body, and later when they went limp, closed their eyes, and drifted off into a state of total relaxation.
Yeah, right.
As soon as Mary told them to wiggle their fingers, Lucy was getting to her feet and rolling up her mat. Miles was still sprawled out on his back next to her, a peaceful calm on his face, and she felt a powerful urge to adjust him.
He opened his eyes, those smiling gray eyes, and made a face. “I think I’m stuck.”
Before Mary could rush over to help, Lucy bent over and held out her hand. “Here.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You got superpowers I don’t know about?”
Try me.”
He grinned and her stomach did a chatoranga. “I will.” He lifted one hand, put it in hers, and pulled. She tumbled forward and landed on top of him, her face in the crook of his shoulder and her butt in the air. “Whoops,” he said.
Déjà vu,” she muttered. She could feel his heart pounding under her cheek, smell him.
Ah, French. The language of love,” he said softly in her ear.
Her free hand in the middle of his huge chest, she pushed herself up to kneel next to him, unable to look away from his face. His sensuous mouth was curved up in a smile, but his eyes were serious and dark.
Alex appeared on his other side. “How the mighty have fallen.” He grabbed Miles’s opposite shoulder and rolled him over onto his side, facing away from Lucy. “Yoga’s not for everyone.”
The hem of Miles’s sweatshirt had risen up, exposing the base of his spine and the hint of two dimples above the waistband of his jeans.
The blood rushed out of Lucy’s head. She stumbled onto her feet and carried the mat over to the rack, her mouth dry.
Holy Moses.
Are you all right?” Mary asked her.
Nope, Lucy thought. Not at all.