I don't read or write fiction.
So I was surprised to be invited to apply for a ghostwriting gig as a... romance writer! 🤣
I've been out-of-relationship for awhile, so romance doesn't feel very familiar, either.
But I still went for it, mostly because of this excerpt from their description:
For these projects, note that the hero/heroine's romance IS the plot (everything else that happens should revolve around the characters' interactions). The story isn't what keeps our readers turning the pages in our books, the CHARACTERS are (we can't emphasize this enough). We're looking for stories that are fresh, fun, and sexy and specifically DO NOT have complex plot twists or storylines. One of our most popular NYT bestsellers was a hilarious romantic novel where the hero and heroine stayed in a house and talked the entire time, with no secondary characters AT ALL. Similarly, our readers like our isolated cabin in the woods romances that likewise focus on a fun, funny, sexy tale of two people in isolation.
Maybe it was the "isolated cabin in the woods," that hooked me.
When I applied, I was forthright about not knowing, reading, or writing fiction.
But I also told them I thought I might have some transferrable skills that could fast-track my learning curve.
I submitted the following sample below.
(FYI: Franti is 100% made-up, and the winter clothes in the image above don't match the story.)
Fat, heavy drops raced down.
They banned together, and formed a union that broke her internet signal.
"First world problems are real, when you live in the first world... or work for those who do," she thought to herself.
A digital nomad with a true lust for life, Lobelia had moved herself to a Caribbean paradise.
Her online freelance-writing clients were still based in the States, though... and they were not sympathetic to wonky wifi connections.
Under a deadline and unable to work, she was stressed.
And in he came.
"Forced break," Franti boomed.
He carried a freshly blended mango, pineapple and lime smoothie that he handed to her.
"See why I love you so!" she screamed in delight.
Lobelia loved her tropical smoothies, and she loved her tropical man.
She met Franti on a permaculture farm. They were both learning to install regenerative food systems, and the spark between them -- over a sage bush -- was undeniable.
They bonded immediately, as if they were merely continuing their connection, from another life-time.
"They will feel like home," finally made sense to Lobelia, ever since Franti had entered her life.
She took several sips, "Mmmmm..." she purred, looking at him gratefully, loving the tastes in her mouth.
With his usual bass, Franti declared: "No open tabs. No word-counts. Just you and me tonight, baby. I did a special rain-dance, to get this time with you."
"Oh, I have you to thank for this outage?! I'd be mad about that... if I weren't so flattered."
"Come here," he said.
"Ooooh, masculine decisiveness feels so good coming from him," she mused.
Lobelia put her glass down, and scooted toward him.
She got close to his caramel face, "Yes?"
He pulled even closer, so that their exhalations warmed each other's upper lips.
They were both neurally-sensitive empaths, and they never tired of exploring the subtleties of each other's body and energy.
One day, they stumbled upon this unusually satisfying thing... that when your upper lip is warmly breathed upon by the out-breath of your beloved's nostrils -- and vice versa -- you unite so deeply and tenderly, it is common to end up weeping together.
And if there is any sadness in those tears, it is only because of all the previous moments that were lived without knowing this kind of closeness.
It's different from the athletic gasping that happens after cardio-sex. (And there IS a place for that!) But this is more similar to the way kittens share breath, snuggled nose to nose.
It is a primal, pre-linguistic, innocent place that all lovers should experience at least once.
Franti and Lobelia breath-bonded so often, it had turned into a shared meditation.
And when one of them was imbalanced, or not being their best possible self, they helped the other return to the home-base of their heart.
It's short, less than 500 words.
Since I don't know the conventions and formulas -- and don't necessarily want to learn them -- maybe I could take a more anarchistic approach to fiction?
I suggested the publishers roll out a series of "empathic fiction," or "tantric fiction."
And if they don't want to, maybe I will continue to play around with the idea myself.
I don't mean to be disrespectful to genre-readers who expect their tropes and formulaic sequence... but those probably aren't my readers.
I'm wondering if people who are interested in personal growth and evolution might also enjoy some dialogue, setting descriptions and plotted action to carry the wisdom. Like I tried to do with the nuzzled breathing. It's a great experience that, hopefully, others might be curious to try after reading about it.
Sapient seeds can be planted all throughout an entertaining or even enticing piece of written work.
What are your thoughts about a hybrid of tantra and/or empathy, joined with fiction??
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