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Friday, August 12, 2011

GUEST BLOG: DEE TENORIO

"Making Pineapple Upside Down Cake"

You probably are wondering if I misunderstood which blog I was writing on today. Or, maybe, you thought you were about to get an awesome baking tip. Alas, I'm here to talk to you about...the dreaded "Pineapple" book. And how it's possible to come out of one with something more delicious than you imagined.

Which leads to the first question you must be asking—What on EARTH is a pineapple book?

That, my friends, is what writers call the painful experience of writing a book that insists on being difficult. Like giving birth to a pineapple—and trust me, that's what it feels like. Like some hard, oddly shaped thing with spiky things all over it is trying to come out of your mind, leaving the author only one option—push through the discomfort and try to get out of the book alive.

See, you go into it with the best of intentions. You think you have it planned. The synopsis is great, the plot works wonderfully and your characters are perfect for the story. You're gonna knock this book out and go about your life in the meantime.

And at first, it's going along fine. Pineapple books are like that. But then you get to know your characters a little bit and you realize, this hero or heroine would never do what you have planned. But, you're not daunted yet, every story needs a little adjustment. You can tweak this. You can tweak that. And ok, that, too. And...and...annnnnd....annnnnnnd....

This is that part where you look at your synopsis and say, "Uh oh, I think I'm off the grid, folks." (And possibly other, bluer things. I usually do, anyway.)

Then it turns into decision time. You can go back, look for where you made your wrong turn and head back to the safety of your well-planned, if slightly altered, synopsis. Or you can follow the characters and this new story and maybe unearth something better than you ever imagined.

Personally, I cling desperately to the synopsis even as my characters wildly drive me into the arms of insanity. Deadlines are not the place to go traipsing willy-nilly through the forest, I always remind myself, but I'm also a huge proponent for going where the story leads. In the end, it's never really a contest. Because one thing I've learned is that pineapple books are often the ones where I grow as a writer. I stretch and push against my mental envelope and get deeper into my own emotional responses. 

When the book hurts, you're doing something right.

There is a price for this, though. You're going to pull out some hair. You are going to lose some sleep—probably a lot. And you're going to burn dinner. OFTEN. In my case, I usually come out sick and sleepless, too. But you're also going to come out the other side with more confidence, a stronger sense of what you can achieve and a decided militance concerning synopses, lol.

So how do you get your Pineapple Upside Down Cake? Well, the pineapple comes of it's own accord. The upside-down, well, that's the state of your life for a little while as you push out the pineapple. The cake? That's what you get from facing the challenge and working through it. It's one of those rare times when you can have your cake and eat it too.

So, who out there has faced a pineapple of your own (doesn't have to be writing)? Share your pineapple in the comments and be entered to win an ecopy of both "Tempting The Enemy" (Book 1 of the Resurrection series) and the soon to be released Book 2, "Deceiving The Protector"! 1 winner, international is just fine. 

Just to give you a taste of what you'll be getting into, here's a quick excerpt!

EXCERPT:

The scent was finally clear.

And it went straight to his head.

Female. Apples. Cool water. Rich earth. Rain. Sunshine.

He almost couldn’t separate the impressions, but the discordant thread of fear kept him from running forward after it. Wherever she was, she was aware she’d been followed. If there was one thing he knew about strays, forewarned meant forearmed.

He followed the scent trail slowly, stepping carefully down the embankment, not needing to draw in a full breath to sense her anymore. To taste her. Soft, almost floral but not quite. Cool, like a fresh stream, crisp, laced with…mint. For some reason, the bouquet reminded him of his childhood back in South Dakota, when spring had just begun to melt the snows. Fresh, untouched…promising.

He stilled at the unexpected memory, blinking a few times to clear it from his head. This wasn’t South Dakota and this female might still turn out to be feral. A clouded head could get him killed.

He searched around, but there was still no trace of anyone on the ground.

He nearly missed the bag lying almost under the root of an apple tree. The beaten tan backpack with a sleeping roll tightly tied beneath it blended almost perfectly with the dirt. Almost as if it had been chosen for that specific purpose. But that wasn’t what had him freezing in place.

Crouched on one thick upper limb, nearly hidden by fat, healthy foliage, a woman waited, not even breathing. Green eyes watched him, almost the same color as the light-speckled leaves obscuring her face. Focused. Unblinking. A predator’s stare, waiting for him to walk into her trap.

Attraction kicked him in the gut hard, his body responding to that even glare so fast he just stopped himself from sucking a breath in through his teeth. Difficult not to like a woman smart enough to nearly get the jump on him.

He came closer, keeping his posture relaxed. Loose-limbed. Unthreatening. A human would probably think he was just strolling, but the woman in the tree wasn’t human. She had to have scented what he was as well because she didn’t seem to be lowering her guard. Had yet to blink even. Cautious.

That was fair. In this day and age, a female alone had to be paranoid to survive, period. But her guard seemed a little higher than most, the grip of her fingers on the tree strung extra tight, especially for a shifter with sheathed claws. As if taking the wrong step might turn her from cornered to kamikaze. He stopped moving, taking stock of her once more from this closer position.

Full pink lips that reminded him of lush roses were drawn into an implacable line. Seemed wrong, to see a mouth that inviting pulled into such a stark, emotionless shape. A thick sheaf of wheat-colored hair hung over one shoulder in a fat braid, the tail of which curled around the pleasant hint of a breast. Inexplicably for early August, a dark red winter scarf—looped loosely a few times around her neck—obscured those possible curves more than the fluttering leaves. A smudge of dust smeared one flushed cheek while thick bangs, unevenly cut and wet with sweat, put the bits of her face that he could see into that tiniest bit more shadow. Except for those eyes. They glowed—rebellious, apprehensive, ready for an attack.

Did she have as many knives on her body as he did? The look she was giving him had him guessing she might be packing more. And a few more teeth, too.

The kick in his gut turned into a battering ram.

Screw his assigned agenda, this had just gotten interesting. He bit back the smile that tugged his lips. He already knew it wouldn’t help him lure her closer. The instinctive pleasure of a chasing Wolf never gave the prey much comfort.

“Hello up there,” he said, still a few feet from the foot of the tree, looking at her from under the brim of his hat. His heel made a scuffing sound on the ground as he kicked a pebble out from under his boot.

Her lip moved, just as a soft, feminine snarl rumbled from her throat.

“You wouldn’t be planning to take those apples without paying for them, now, would you?” His aw-shucks voice had gotten him in with the most nervous strays in Resurrection like a magic wand. If she wasn’t feral, she should calm right down.

Another step closer and he could see a bit more of her. Her shirt was bigger on her than he’d first thought. Her arm where she braced herself to the trunk of the tree was wiry. Small, over-defined muscles rippled under golden skin, no trace of softness to them at all. The same to her throat. She was all hard angles and sinews. Her bones stood out too far from her flesh, hollowed cheeks leaving her full features sharp and forbidding.

The absolute wrongness of that had him forgetting his plan for a crucial half second and losing his practiced expression for one that did nothing to hide his scowl. Like a shot, she bolted up a branch, behind more leaves, so fast he almost missed the movement, and he swallowed a bitter curse at his own stupidity. This wasn’t his first stray. He knew better than to spook them, especially the half-starved ones.

As shifters, they were stronger than humans, could survive harsher conditions for longer, but it also made them more instinctive. A hell of a lot less reasonable. This one looked like she’d gone damn close to the outside of what even a shifter could endure.

The protector in him couldn’t let that go. He circled around until he could get a bead on her again through the coverage. “How long has it been since you ate?”

They were supposed to have fed her at the last safe house on the Underground, but that would have been at least two days ago.

“I have protein bars in my pack if you’re hungry.”

Her mouth pressed tighter together, her gaze icy as hell, before she moved to another branch.

Shit, this wasn’t going well at all. He raised his hands, letting her see that his claws were sheathed. “You don’t have to worry, okay? My name is Jensen Tate. I’m from the Underground and I’ve been looking for you. I’m here to help.”

“I don’t need help.” She might smell like spring, and all that golden skin and hair might look like summer, but the cold hiss of her voice was pure winter. Deep winter.

Well, he’d never liked acting charming anyway. He put his hands down to his hips. “You don’t know what’s going on out there. You’re not safe.”

Her chin dipped ever so slightly, and damn if she didn’t smirk at him as if that was obvious.

This time his boot scuffed the ground with frustration. “Look, lady, I’ve been tracking you all day on zero sleep and double time, don’t you think the least you could do is come down here and talk to me?”

“No.” Just that. No. As if she could stay in that tree all damn day.

Given the stubborn cut of her jaw and mouth, he grudgingly accepted that she could stay there all damn year. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

“I’ve heard that one before.”

She probably had. Tate ground his teeth, wishing for once his sense of smell wasn’t so strong. This close, his senses were clouded by her. Heat or no Heat, she was intoxicating. Distracting. Arousing…

He twisted his head until he felt the relieving crack of the joint, then the other way until it did the same for that side. There wasn’t going to be any of that kind of thinking, even if she wasn’t looking at him as if he were some kind of creature. He was there to do a job. A Sibile job. If that didn’t kill a hard-on in zero-point-two seconds flat, nothing would.

They stared at each other for another soundless second.

Nope. She still smelled good enough to eat. To drink and let the flavor of her stay on his tongue to savor before dipping down again for more.

Damn it.

“You have to get down here so we can get moving. I need to get you somewhere safer. Now.” Before he got it in his head to unwrap her from that scarf and find out for himself exactly where her soft spots might be. “This part of the Underground is shutting down.”

A flicker in those leaf-colored eyes. “You’re taking me to my next safe house?”

The one she was supposed to have already gotten to, except the woman seemed to travel slower than molasses on a frigid day when she wasn’t up in a fucking tree. He ground his teeth in an effort to speak calmly. “Yes.”

“Then I’ll make sure to get there on my own by sunup.”

His glare didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest. “That’s not acceptable to the Alpha.” Not to mention physically impossible. Her assigned safe house was more than two full days’ travel.

One of her shoulders hitched disinterestedly. Nothing else on her moved.

Goddamn it. “Might as well get down here, I’m not going anywhere until you do.”

“I’m not the one in a hurry.”

“You should be.” He allowed the darkest aspects of his Wolf to rumble through his voice. 

She might not be interested in what he had to say, but there wasn’t a Wolf born who didn’t respond to dominance.

An eyebrow raised on her face, but that was it.

Well, shit. That just left him with the truth. “There’s a killer out there, lady. Targeting shifters.”

“Everyone’s targeting shifters. That’s not new.”

“This one’s hunting travelers on the Underground.”

She wasn’t so glib this time, her cool-toned voice dropping to a softer rumble. One his ears liked much better. Smoky, rough. The kind of voice he liked waking up to in the predawn hours. “If I’m dead, it won’t matter to me, will it?”

Until he registered what she was saying.

Something dark snaked though his gut. The low, menacing growl couldn’t be kept in. “It matters to the Alpha. You’re a traveler, you’re under his protection.”

She blew her bangs out of her face, fluttering the leaf in front of her face in the process. Here he was, hot, tired, uncomfortably aware of her, and all the while she looked as if he was ruining her Saturday afternoon by coming along to save her life. Worse, those damn full lips looked absolutely suckable when pursed. “Protection is just a fancy word for control.”

Well, she might be annoying, but she wasn’t stupid.

At least he finally had something he could use to get her on the ground. “You’re always free to leave the Underground and try your luck with the humans. Maybe we should start with the owner of this orchard. Think he’ll shoot first or second when I tell him I spotted a shifter stealing from his trees?”

The straight line of her mouth turned into a mutinous little rainbow-shape. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh, honey, you wouldn’t believe the things I dare.” Neither could he, not with her strangely compelling scent taking his imagination places the little cutthroat up there probably wouldn’t appreciate. “Now get your ass out of the tree or I’ll help the farmer load the gun.”

“That’s supposed to inspire me to trust you?”

“Who said anything about trust?” He bent to pick up her bag from under the root when she suddenly jumped down, nearly landing on his arm. Tate glanced up, counting a good eight feet from where she’d climbed to where she now crouched, her eyes hard as frozen emeralds, guarding the pack as if it were the gateway to the Holy Land. If he didn’t know better, he’d expect a hiss and a scratch. “You sure you’re not a cat?”

Jumps like that on weak bones tended to cause breaks, but she hadn’t so much as flinched, not even as she stood to her full height. “Don’t touch my stuff. Never touch me or anything of mine. Ever.

Tate straightened, his frown a hard thing against his teeth. She was even thinner than he thought. Taller, too. The top of her head actually came all the way to his chin. But that height didn’t work in her favor. She looked as though a hard Santa Ana breeze could knock her over. Old, worn boy-jeans hung on her hips, rolled cuffs too wide around her calves. True anger, flash-burn hot and fluid, coursed through him. How long had she been running on empty before she found the Underground? And why hadn’t their people tied her up and poured food down her throat? Shit, he might have to do that himself. A few more days like this and she’d be too weak to eat. His jaws ground together. Not acceptable.

“You deaf or you just like people yelling at you?”

He lifted his hand in mock surrender, stepping back. She wanted to carry her bag, fine. Hard as it was to fight the urge to protect, he did it. Because something else bothered him even more than the clear marks of starvation. The look in her eyes as she’d stopped him.
For a half a second, she’d looked…scared. Terrified. And not of him.

No doubt about it. This assignment had Aw, fuck written all over it.

Twice.

But it didn’t matter how bad his instincts said this was. What mattered was that she was alive, still strong enough to recover. He’d deal with the rest later.


____________________________________

Author Bio:
Dee Tenorio has a few reality issues. After much therapy for the problem—if one can call being awakened in the night by visions of hot able-bodied men a problem—she has proved incurable. It turns out she enjoys tormenting herself by writing sizzling, steamy romances of various genres spanning paranormal mystery dramas, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Preferably starring the sexy, somewhat grumpy heroes described above and smart-mouthed heroines who have much better hair than she does.
 
The best part is, no more therapy bills!

Well, not for Dee, anyway. Her husband and kids, on the other hand...

If you would like to learn more about Dee and her work, please visit her website at www.deetenorio.com or her blog at www.deetenorio.com/Blog/.

2 comments:

Debby said...

I visited the site and it as very well done.
debby236 at gmail dot com

shadow_kohler said...

This sounds awesome! I want this book so much! The excerpt hooked me and i want to keep reading! Thanks for teasing me and sharing! ;)
shadow_kohler(at)att(dot)net