Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome Toni V. Sweeney

Today's a first for me. Should have been doing this for awhile. I've had a couple special bloggers, but never a guest blogger. Today I'm welcoming Toni V. Sweeney.

Blood Bay


On November 15 and again on December 15, two of my “lost” novels will find their way to publication.

I call them my lost novels because they were exactly that…for all intents and purposes lost, deleted, thrown away, and gone for good.

Almost twenty years ago, in what I can only describe as a fit of undiagnosed menopausal depression in which I decided I was about to die, I threw away the only copies of several of my manuscripts and deleted the originals from my computer.  Crazy, huh? Even I admit it was somewhat…rash.  Later, I regretted it, but by then, it was too late, of course.  Not only were the hardcopies gone, but the computer on which they had been written was on its last electronic legs and was in storage where I couldn’t get to it without a struggle. 

I thought about those stories often, remembered enough of a couple to actually rewrite them and get them published, but the others…only a chapter or two or a mere set of fragments, a few sentences at most, and the glimmer of the idea.  Believe me, I found myself wishing more than once that I could go back and undo what I’d done but as we all know, that’s impossible. They were gone.  If I went any further with them, I’d have to rewrite those first, precious pages, and as everyone knows, you can rewrite something but you can never recapture exactly the way you originally said it.

Ten years passed, and then…one of those minor miraculous moments happened.  Someone I’d once known, and lost track of, sent me an e-mail.  He was deleting files from his computer and had come upon a folder with my name on it.  In it were copies of some early novels I’d written and sent him to read.  Would I like to have to have them back?

Are you kidding? Yes!

Most of the manuscripts I received were some I had copies of and I’d gone on to polish and edit.  They had actually been published, but tucked in among them were a partial chapter and two very small fragments…of something called Blood Bay…and For the Love in Adler’s Brain.

Blood Bay is my version of Cape Fear. Set on an island off the coast of Georgia, a young woman, agoraphobic after an assault ten years before, is brought out of her shell by a young man determined to show her that love is neither demented nor violent.  Their budding affair is interrupted by the escape from prison of the man who assaulted her and left her for dead, and he’s heading to the island, to finish what he started ten years before. That’s the premise of Blood Bay, told from the viewpoint of Connell Ambers, the victim, Tucker MacKenzie, her would-be lover, and Benjamin Reed, the escaped rapist.  It’s a thriller, like nothing I’d ever written before, and very graphic, and after I finished, I wondered if it was too different for me to submit anywhere.

For the Love in Adler's Brain
The other story was also outside the box.  For the Love in Adler’s Brain is a science fiction romance, light on the science, heavy on the romance.  Adler is a government assassin, an android, the most perfect human replicant ever created.  When he falls in love and decides to take his services and his secrets and retire, he’s destroyed instead.  Though his body is gone, his still-sentient brain continues to hold enough love for his human sweetheart to communicate with her, so she hires a private detective to finds its whereabouts with the idea of building him a new body in which to house it.  Unfortunately, the detective falls in love with her, also, and thereby hangs the tale…

Is that one also too different? I wondered. Finally, after much consideration, I submitted both books to Class Act Books;  Blood Bay was released November 15; For the Love in Adler’s Brain will follow on December 15.

What’s the moral of this story?  No matter if you’re certain you aren’t going to live another day, don’t ever throw away any manuscript without keeping at least one copy, tucked away somewhere.  The sun may come up tomorrow and you’ll still be here and wanting that story!

Excerpt from Blood Bay:

She brought the bowl to the table, setting it down, then reached for the saucer holding the toast. It joined the bowl on the table.
“That’s a lot of toast. Where are you going to put it?”
“It’s not for me.” She pulled another saucer from the cabinet, placed three of the slices on it and set it before him. “Enjoy.”
“I’ve already eaten,” he reminded her.
“My Mama taught me never to eat in front of anyone unless you offered him some. Eat.” While she was talking, she took a small jar from the refrigerator, placing it and a little knife beside the toast.
He inspected the jar. It was decorated with a raised design of apples and berries, was open-mouthed with paraffin poured thickly across the top.
“This looks home-made.” He used the knife to remove the paraffin, balancing it sticky-side up on the edge of the saucer. Tuck plunged the knife into the jam, scooped out a red mass--Plums? Raspberries?--then began to spread it evenly over the first slice of toast. He raised it, took a tentative bite. “This is good. Delicious, in fact.”
“Thank you.”
He looked up at her. She retrieved utensils from a drawer and sat down.
“You made this?”
“Don’t look so surprised. I don’t just sit around here and paint all day. I’m not just a pretty face. I’ve other talents.” She studied the bowl.
“Indeed you do.” He probably sounded more enthusiastic than he should but he couldn’t help it. No other young woman of his acquaintance could make jam. If any of them wanted jam, jelly, or preserves, she just drove to the nearest supermarket. “Artistic, beautiful, and she can cook. Ms. Ambers, marry me.”
She seemed to freeze but when she looked up at him, there was an odd glint in her eyes. “I don’t know you well enough to marry you, Mr. MacKenzie. No. Sorry.”
“Perhaps after I’ve been around a while?”
“Are you going to be around a while?”
“I hope so. Truthfully, I make a better second impression than a first. I kind of grow on people.”
“Like mold.” She made it a statement, studying her spoon. “Actually, this is your third impression. We’ll see.” She got up, going back to the refrigerator. This time when she returned, she held a tub of margarine. Opening it, she set it before Tuck. “Butter your toast before it gets cold.”
Obediently, he took the tub.  “Hey, this is real butter.”
“Nothing gets past you, does it?” Her observation was dry.
“Well, I am a college man.”
“And a comedian. Tell me, Mr. MacKenzie, how many times did you make the Dean’s List?”
“I quit counting after the third semester. Say, would it be too much to ask you to call me Tucker? Or Tuck, if you’d like.”
That made her look up at him again. Frowning. Thinking. He could see the wheels turning. The spoon fell from her fingers, sinking into the grits. “Oh God, you’re Friar Tuck!”
He wasn’t certain which shocked him more, the expletive or the nickname.
“Now I know why you thought I should know who you are. Jess talked about you all the time.”
“Not all of it was true,” he said it only half jokingly.
“No?” She looked thoughtful, obviously remembering things her brother had said. He hoped it wasn’t some of the more scandalous stuff. No such luck. “Not even that bit about the Farraday twins?”
“Oh. That.” Tuck had the grace to look away and was startled to feel his face getting hot. “Grossly exaggerated, I assure you.”
“As I remember, Jess sounded envious whenever he spoke of it, which was very often for nearly three months.” She plunged the spoon into the grits, blew on them slightly, then tasted and swallowed. “You know, I always envisioned you as a short, plump guy with a tonsure.”
“Wrong all around. Neither short, nor plump, and I have all my hair, as you can see.”
“Um.”
Presently, the toast was gone and the last spoonful eaten. She stood up abruptly, reaching for his saucer. “I’ll just wash these…”
“Let me help.” He caught at the saucer, tugging on it and after a moment, she let it go.
“That’s not necess--”
“Mother always told me a man who gets dishes dirty should be prepared to help clean them.”
“How’d your Daddy feel about that?”
“He bought her a dishwasher.”
She was laughing as she allowed him to carry the dishes to the sink. Not loud, more a soft breathy sound, but a laugh nevertheless. It sounded oddly sexy. Tuck forced that thought out of his mind.
The sink was a large single one, no compartments for washing and then rinsing. Connell splashed liquid soap onto the porcelain surface, turned the hot water on full blast and watched the suds rise. Taking the saucer and bowl from Tuck, she placed them on the surface of the bubbles. Together they watched the china sink through the suds. She was reaching for a plastic net scrubber as he turned back to get their cups.
“I’ll dry.” He dropped them into the water.
“Sorry. Around here, we don’t dry.” She gestured at a plastic-coated wire contraption resting on a white Rubbermaid drain mat to one side of the sink.
“Then I’ll drain.” He took the first washed-and-rinsed saucer from her and set it in the rack. She reached for another.

You can find Toni V. Sweeney on her blog Welcome to Toniverse. 


1 comment:

  1. Hi, Toni -- I still have one unpubbed manuscript in a binder and several chapters of another printed out. Not that any of them will be super easy to find, but I do have them someplace. :) I'm really glad you got at least partials back and rewrote the rest. Blood Bay sounds truly chilling!

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