Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Limits Of Willpower

By Ava March

“It’s the third house from the end. Left side. The white one.” As if that last bit was all that helpful. Alex resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Most every house on his street resembled his own - a small white bungalow built around 1950.

“I know. I remember.”

Alex glanced to Mark. The man had only been to his house once. A handful of hours ago to pick him up, and it was dark now. He couldn’t help but be impressed.

Mark turned into his driveway and put the pickup truck in park. Without the noise from the street, Alex could hear the song that played on the radio. Billie Holiday’s scratchy voice seeped from the speakers in a low melodic rhythm. Old jazz? Interesting. He would have never guessed Mark was into it, but now, well, it seemed to fit him as perfectly as the navy polo that stretched across the broad width of his chest.

Discreetly rubbing his damp palms on his thighs, Alex shifted in the passenger seat and looked out the window. The outdoor light he’d flicked on right before leaving the house illuminated his front door. Well, he was officially home. Should he just get out of the truck, or did Mark want to kiss him? Or maybe he wasn’t really interested in him? Mark hadn’t said a word since they had left the movie theatre parking lot. Hell, Alex hated first dates. Truth be told, he sucked at them. Especially if he was attracted to the guy. Nerves clashing with the attraction heating his skin, tying his tongue into knots. Two hours at the theatre sitting next to Mark, so close every breath held a light, teasing hint of his cologne and every move brought some part of Alex’s body brushing against his…

“I had a nice evening.”

Alex swallowed, trying to find his voice, and looked to Mark whose shoulders were turned slightly toward him, left wrist resting casually on the steering wheel. “Yeah, me, too.”

Breath held and pressing down on his thigh to keep his leg from jittering, he waited as Mark’s gaze swept over his face. If he could just get past the first couple of dates. Past that awkward place where every word, every move, could be the wrong one. Constantly second guessing himself was damn tiring. He liked Mark, at least what he knew of him so far, and he was definitely attracted to him. He had a thing for strong, dark haired men and Mark, even with his good looks, didn’t seem to be an arrogant ass. A definite plus.

The song faded, offering a brief moment of silence before another began.

And then it occurred to him. He’s waiting for you to get out of the truck, idiot.

Disappointment and embarrassment washed over him. “Thanks for the movie,” he mumbled, as he reached for the lever on the door.


“Yeah?” he said, turning back to Mark. But the word was lost in his throat as warm lips met his.


Contemporaries. I love to read them. Most of my favorite of favorite books are contemporary m/m romances. But as much as I love them, I simply cannot write them. My voice just isn’t suited to them.

It’s odd. It’s not like I talk like a woman from Regency England in everyday life. But if I tried to write a contemporary, my heroes would come out sounding like stuffy old men (did you notice how there isn’t much dialogue in my short little scene? - yeah, that was on purpose *g*). It’s like my muse has one track - historical - and that’s all it can do. You’d think with the amount of contemporaries I have read, that some of it would have sunk into the writing part of my head. But nope.

I tried once, a couple years ago, to start a contemporary. The idea for the scene was right there, I could see it playing out in my head, but damn if it wouldn’t go down onto the page. Seriously. I couldn’t even get past page one. Very frustrating exercise in futility.

And that little scene above? Took me two nights to write.

I’ve come to accept that just because I love to read something doesn’t mean that I can write it. It’s like the time I tried to learn how to play the violin. I bought one, practiced every night for like a year, and…damn I sucked. Will power can only go so far. At some point talent has to kick in, and like with my violin (that’s really pretty and has a beautiful rich tone…when my hubby plays it, that is), the talent for contemporaries just isn’t there for me.

Fortunately, I love historicals, too. Love my men in their stark white cravats and embroidered silk waistcoats. Love how they are mindful of the rules of proper decorum, but are very willing to throw the rules aside when behind closed doors. Still, it would be nice if I could write a book someday where my heroes could hold hands in public. Ah well, since that time will never come, I’ll get my hand-holding fix from books written by authors who have that talent to translate today onto the page.

Authors like Devon Rhodes. :D A huge thanks goes out to her for the invitation to guest post on Oh Get A Grip! *muwh* She knows I love her ;)


Ava March


From Afar - Samhain/Feb 2009
Convincing Arthur - Loose Id
M/M Erotic Romance…in the Regency Era


  1. Now I DO know how long it took you to write this scene, but I have no doubts that if you really put your mind to it, you'd write as wonderful contemps as historicals. And you'd get to use slang, modern conveniences, and the hand-holding...didn't even occur to me until you mentioned it!

    Unfortunately that would take time away from creating your rakes and gentlemen, and that would be a damn shame!

    Thank you so much for agreeing to guest post this week!

    Hugs! Devon

  2. Trying too hard to write never worked for me. But I leave a notebook everywhere in case I think of something spontaneously.

  3. Hello, Ava,

    I'll swap you... I can write contemporary with no problems, but historicals are painfully hard. It's not just the historical detail. If I'm diligent with my research, I can find the details I want. The critical issue is having a sense of the people: how they talked, what they felt, their habitual gestures, their assumptions. I can do it for the Victorian period, for some reason, but with most other periods I have no ability at all.

    Thanks for joining us and offering a fascinating look at the other side of the coin (for me at least).


  4. Love the little bit that you did manage to get out - But honestly I love your guys in top coats and talking double talk lots more...

    Hope you can mange contemp someday.


  5. Oh, I so hear you Ava! It's almost hilarious. I live now and yet, I can't for the life of me write contemporary dialogue without it coming out sounding old school British. Either that or my hero sounds like an old stuffy man. Yeah...real sexy, lol.

    No worries, as EH said, I love your historicals. They happen to be my favorite genre so I hope you never give them up ;)

  6. Hi Ava!

    Well, this scene was stellar! Loved it... but agree with others - we don't want you to hurt yourself trying to write one thing when you are so fabulous at another!


  7. Hey Devon!! Thanks for having me here today, and thanks for the vote of confidence. It was fun to be able to use modern words in my little scene - I even worked an 'ass' in there. LOL.

    Secretia - I know what you mean. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable, and trying too hard takes all the fun out of it. I've got one of those notebooks, too, that I drag with me all over the house (and a little one in my purse as well). They are full of scribbled notes that no one but me could ever make heads or tails of.

    You hit the nail on the head, Lisabet. It's the sense of the characters that I can't get a grip on when it comes to writing contemporaries. How they think, the words they use, their mannerisms. Kinda weird, since I live in 2009 - you'd think the 'how they think' thing would be the easy part. Nope. lol

    Thanks EH!! Though if I ever did try to write a contemp it would probably take me 6 mths to write a 20k novella. Maybe I can rope Shawn into helping me one day - I think the only way I'd be able to write one would be if I did it with someone who knew what they were doing.

    Hi Baraba! It is almost hilarious - I'd have this gorgeous, sexy hero...until he opened his mouth. 'I say, old chap..' he-he Then all the sexiness would just drain away. And no worries - I'll never give up historicals. I love them way too much.

  8. Ava,

    I'm with you. I can writer contemporary, but I'm much more comfortable writing in another place and time, usually fantasy or sci-fi based ;)

    However, the scene you wrote for the post worked very well. Maybe it's just a matter of practice. Unlike the violin, which I cannot play either, to save my life.

  9. Ava,

    One of the things I've enjoyed with this week's challenge was the scary pleasure of dipping my toes into an unfamiliar genre.

    I enjoyed what you'd written but and it didn't come across as laboured. However, it's heartening to hear that I'm not the only one who found the exercise fun but challenging.




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