Now Available: FUGUE (ESX, Book #5)

Will Jett crack from the pressure of hiding her relationship with Koty and hiding his involvement with Perpetual Smile from the media?

Fugue is the 5th book in the ESX series.

Fugue (ESX, Book #5), by Elizabeth Barone

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Excerpt

Sunlight slanted in through the large window. Squeezing her eyes tighter against the light seeping in through her lids, Jett felt a headache coming on. She hadn’t meant to drink so much the night before, but Koty had ordered them a bottle of wine and it had actually been good. She wasn’t much of a wine fan. It usually made her head hurt in the morning, and tasted like rancid grape juice. But Koty apparently had a knack for picking wine, because the bottle from the night before hadn’t lasted two hours. Blinking, she shaded her eyes as they adjusted. Turning onto her side, she watched as Koty slept.

He lay on his back, chest rising and falling in slow rhythm. With his eyes closed, he looked younger. If it weren’t for the stubble lining his cheeks and the dark circles under his eyes from sneaking around the last few days, she would have pegged him at eighteen, not twenty-three.

Panic tugged at her, not for the first time in the last three days. Perpetual Smile had a couple of days before they had to be at the next city on their itinerary. The guys had decided that they wanted to stay in Indianapolis. They hadn’t given her much of a say. It didn’t really matter, though. Even though ESX was performing every night, Koty flew back and forth just to see her. In the past three days, he had been on just as many flights—more, if Jett counted the connecting flight from the Detroit airport. They had yet to even define their relationship, yet he was already going above and beyond for her.

She sighed, wondering what she was doing with him. Sleeping with Perpetual Smile’s newest member couldn’t end well for her—especially with the band watching her the way a new mother watches her infant sleep. Their feelings were less than tender toward her, though. If she made one wrong move, they could—and would—kick her out. She wouldn’t even get a chance to defend herself. In fact, despite their alleged concerns about her, they hadn’t given her much of a chance to explain herself at all.

Stretching, still laying on her side, she watched as Koty’s eyes moved under his lids. She should probably just break things off with him—whatever their status was. She hated to feel like a needy teenager, but it made her crazy that they had slept together half a dozen times and she still had yet to know what, exactly, they were. She refused to be the one to bring it up. So far, she had Koty believing that she was unfazed by anything. By begging him to call her his girlfriend, she would shatter that image.

The whole thing was ridiculous, she surmised as he rolled onto his side. His eyes were still closed, but she had a feeling he would be waking up soon. She hated that she felt like such a woman. Weak, little girls did things like worry about guys. She had never worried about her status with Phillip. From the very beginning, they hadn’t needed to hide anything. Sure, their relationship put pressure on the band. Sometimes, it even caused issues in the studio and on stage. The whole reason they had broken up was because they had determined that dating each other while they were both still in Perpetual Smile was a bad idea. Even when they became friends with benefits, she hadn’t wondered. Their relationship had been easy, in so many ways.

She rolled her eyes at herself. Even her thoughts sounded female and crazy. If she told Koty what she was thinking, she mused, he would probably run in the other direction. So far, though, a small voice reminded her, he had stuck around—even when she had been unnecessarily horrible to him. Men put up with a lot from the opposite sex.

Still, she wished she knew what they were. Everything could crumble underneath her at any second. She wasn’t used to walking on tightropes and feeling so vulnerable. Jett Costa wasn’t the type to let romance get in the way of her life.

Making a face at the thought of the R word, she resisted the urge to gag. Having sex with a soon-to-be ex-boy band singer was hardly romantic. She was as pathetic as the forty-something-year-old women who chased after Justin Bieber when he first came into the pop scene.

Jett shook her head at herself. Her thoughts were getting crazier and crazier as the morning went on.

Next to her, Koty stirred. She glanced at his face. His eyes fluttered open. He blinked the sleep away and focused on her. A smile spread across his face. She couldn’t help but smile back. For a lame boy band singer, he was pretty cool. She had to admit it. At the very least, he put up with her crap, and didn’t seem to care what happened to his career. As far as she was concerned, he was very punk rock.

She resisted rolling her eyes at herself again. She wondered what in the world had happened to her. If Phillip were still alive, he would laugh at her.

The smile on Koty’s face widened. Then, he grew serious. He leaned in close to her, his eyes fluttering closed again. She met his lips with hers, enjoying how warm they felt. Her mouth moved against his, and she felt her heart pound against her chest. Scooting closer, she draped an arm over his shoulder. His skin was soft and warm, despite the hard the muscles underneath. He crushed her body to his, and she grinned against the kiss as she realized that all of him was awake.

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“Get Pop Cultured” at Barnes & Noble in Waterbury, CT on Sunday, July 20th

Get Pop-Cultured

Once in a while, I do some “spring cleaning” around my website. While tidying up the Events page, I realized it’s been some time since I did a live event. A couple of days later Robin, one of the managers at my Barnes & Noble, emailed me and asked if I’d like to do a reading as part of their Get Pop Cultured event. Robin and everyone else at BN have been so good to me these last couple of years. Brick and mortar stores get a lot of flogging, but these guys work hard to connect their customers with authors both local and from around the country.

I always say yes to Robin and her team. Every one of them is sweet and friendly and fun to be around.

This Sunday, July 20th, I will be at the Waterbury Barnes & Noble, reading Crazy Comes in Threes for the first time. I will be giving away candy and will have some prizes with me.

If you live in Connecticut, come on down!

What: Reading of Crazy Comes in Threes; signed copies will be available for purchase
Where:
 Barnes & Noble, 235 Union Street, Waterbury, CT 06706
When: Sunday, July 20th, 2014 at 2pm
Cost: Free, though you may want to get a coffee and snack in the cafe
Prizes: 2 gorgeous journals to raffle; exclusive signed ESX postcards for Nook readers

Bring a friend and come hang out while I get super animated and read. (Just wait. I make all kinds of faces!)

If you don’t live in Connecticut, don’t despair! Barnes & Noble’s Get Pop Cultured event is running across the country. Check their website for events near you.

I am also hoping to stream the event on YouTube. No promises, because I can be totally technologically challenged, but make sure you are subscribed to me on YouTube so that you can watch if I do get it going.

Are you planning on coming? Wear orange in support of Crazy Comes in Threes!

Plot or Pants? How I Write Books So Quickly

While I’m not vomiting full-length novels, I am able to produce work pretty quickly. I can write a novella in a couple of weeks and have written a novel in under a month. It’s taken me some time, but I’ve pretty much fine-tuned my writing process. Since a few people have asked recently, I figured I’d do a quick post.

Pre-Writing

Before I start writing anything, I figure out what my plot is and who my characters are. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, because this process varies for me. Sometimes I get ideas in the shower, sometimes I’ll get them literally while writing something else. Developing characters is sometimes very easy for me, and sometimes feels more like banging my head against a wall. Usually, I will pick an actor to portray them in my mind while I write. It makes it easier to describe them if I have Pinterest open. (The Comes in Threes series, for example, has a full cast on the board I created.)

I usually write a full synopsis, describing the beginning, middle, and end. This usually changes sooner or later, but I just run with whatever I’ve got so far. For my entire process, nothing is set in stone until I hit publish. ;)

After I’ve written the synopsis, I set a word count budget for the entire project. Sometimes I already know this before I’ve written the synopsis, but other times I get a better idea based on its length.

Writing

Taking the synopsis, I create a chapter by chapter breakdown of the book. This is less like an outline and more like a really terrible first draft. This is where I pants things. I write in third person, present tense:

Chapter 4

The rehab center that J goes to is nothing like it described in the brochures. Outlook Shores is supposed to be sunny and open and relaxing. The “lake” is really just a big dirty pond. The “cabins” that patients stay in are more like prison cells. [...] It feels like hell but the delirium tremens are even worse. She feels like she is going insane. Even with the help of the detox medication, she has a hard time. She had no idea she ever had a problem until she decided to stop.

This chapter is four or five paragraphs long. It describes everything that happens in the chapter, in the most half-assed way possible. My objective here is to just get it on the page. The last sentence I type is usually some sort of cliffhanger, leading into the next chapter. I also give each chapter a word count goal, depending on the budgeted length of the project.

When I start writing the first draft, I’m really just re-writing the outline. I fill in gaps and give it voice. My outlines are always third person, present tense, but in my first drafts, I write in the tense I think is best for the story. For the ESX series, I write in third person, past tense. The point of view switches back and forth, from Koty to Jett. For Sade on the Wall, I wrote in first person, past tense.

I use my crappy draft AKA outline as more of a guide than anything else. Things change all the time, as I see fit. Sometimes, my characters take over and make their own decisions, screwing everything up. I just go with it.

Post-Writing

When I finish the manuscript, I tuck it away for at least a couple of weeks. Then I repeat the process, with another project. (I keep a tight production schedule.)

After some time, I pull it out and begin the editing process. This is a whole other post in itself, but basically I search for typos, inconsistencies, and any other issues. My first drafts are usually pretty tight, from what my colleagues have told me, and I think this is because of my process. I’m impatient and I don’t like to spend a lot of time on things (mostly because my anxiety takes over and I overthink and overanalyze every little thing). I also get super excited about my work and want to share it with my readers as soon as it is the best it can be.

I used to get upset when I found a typo after publishing and really beat on myself about it. I’ve learned to let go a little; no matter how many eyeballs you use and meticulous editors you hire, some pesky mistakes will still sneak through. I’ve learned that all I can do is my best, and then, in the words of fine artist Skye Taylor, “Be done with it.”