Write To Her Heart
Click on image to enlarge.
by Marie Medina
Description: When an online romance finally bites the dust, Ashley wants to get back to her first love, writing. She jumps at the chance to meet Thomas, another online friend and fellow writer who has been both supportive and helpful with her recent writing projects. Thomas knows his late night chats with Ashley have inspired both of them in their writing careers, but he's ready to inspire her heart and body the way he's inspired her mind. Once they're finally face to face, he intends to go far beyond words to show her how romantic and erotic their own story could be.
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: October 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [46 KB]
Reading time: 24-33 min.
Gerry: Maybe you should edit your own stories. You'd obviously do a better job than your publisher's "editing team" does.
Ashley stared at the words that had just popped up in the Yahoo Messenger window. What was he talking about? She'd just told him about a lukewarm review she'd gotten on a recent release, but the review hadn't said anything about editing. Her eyes focused on the quotation marks he'd chosen to use. She glanced back over her own messages and realized what he was referring to.
In reply, she typed, No. I meant the review had typos. Not my novel. The review had five typos. Plus the reviewer got the hero's name wrong. That's why I was saying it's easy to take the constructive comments and discard the rest.
Why had he thought she was referring to her own work? More importantly, why wasn't he apologizing for the jab at her publisher? After a moment, she sighed because she knew the answer. He didn't respect her work because it was romance, and he didn't respect her publisher because they focused on e-books and only did some print. She had been so excited when she and Gerry met online almost a year ago. The attraction had been immediate. His being a writer had thrilled her, but as months had passed that thrill had faded as he had time and again backhandedly criticized her publisher and very subtly put her down. He'd published a short story in a very successful science fiction anthology ten years earlier, and he was still riding high off of that. She'd been in several traditional print anthologies as well, but even her own science fiction offering hadn't pleased him. He'd said it was "pretty good" for a story that was "mostly talking heads." When she'd laughed and pointed out that the main character was a sentient computer that could not gesture or have facial expressions, he'd replied with a "yeah" and then said he needed to sign off to get ready for bed.
She didn't feel like fighting, so she tried to change the subject. How was your day? They had chatted briefly that morning, and he'd said he would be pretty busy, so grounding him back in the real world should be easy enough.
Gerry: It was okay. Everyone around me is as incompetent as ever.
She silently wondered if that were actually true. She'd started to sense that most of his co-workers simply didn't do things the same way he did, but she knew that idea would get a very negative response.
Gerry: But I checked out your blog again. That new picture in the corner looks much better.
She smiled, but then she frowned. The picture before had been one of her favorite book covers. You didn't like that other cover?
Gerry: It had the word "anthology" right on the cover. Not very professional.
She started to type, but then she pulled her fingers back and counted to ten. Well, it is an anthology.
Gerry: Your publisher should look at some real books. You never plaster a word like that across the cover. You just don't.
That explanation was about as clear as mud. She glanced at the full bookshelf by her desk, spotting two national bestsellers with the word "anthology" on the spine and three more with the words "collected stories." She sighed, knowing it would be pointless to tell him their titles. Real books? Her books weren't "real"? The book he was referring to was her most recent print offering, and she had sent him a copy in the mail a week earlier. She suddenly wished she hadn't wasted the postage. You do know we get to design our own covers, right? We work one-on-one with the artists. My publisher didn't just hand me a cover. When an anthology has multiple authors, it's obvious it's a collection, but single author anthologies need to be labeled in some way, don't you think? Readers do sometimes get angry when they thought they were buying a novel but get a bunch of short stories. I've seen more than enough one-star reviews on Amazon over this issue.
Gerry: I'm just saying they should look at what real publishers do.
Real publishers? That did it. Gerry, my publisher is real. I do not self-publish, and they are not a vanity press. And what exactly qualifies as a "real" book anyway? Why aren't my books real?
Gerry: I'm gonna go. You're obviously overstressed and taking it out on me.
What? How could he not only not reply to her questions but also not even accept the fact he had been rude? The way he expressed his opinions bothered her far more than the opinions themselves did. So I'm only mad at you because I'm overstressed? Over what? It couldn't possibly be anything you've said tonight?
Gerry: I've done nothing but try to help you rise above where you are now. With my help maybe one day you'll be successful.
Successful? She had nearly fifty publication credits--he had one. She got substantial royalty checks every quarter--he got random checks for twenty-seven cents from, ironically, e-book sales of the now out-of-print anthology he apparently thought God kept on his nightstand.
She took a breath and typed. Gerry, we need to talk later, but I'm gonna let you go for now, okay?
Gerry: Good night.
No protest? That was probably best. Night.
She signed off and leaned back in her chair, thinking about how easily he'd let her sign off. When they'd first met, he wouldn't have let her go until everything was settled and she had reassured him that she was okay. The first time she'd ever really gotten angry with him, he'd even said she almost gave him a panic attack. He obviously didn't care so much about her emotional state these days. She also thought about how long it had been since they'd ended their chat with the words "love you." Where had their relationship gone wrong? Was there even really a relationship at all anymore? They'd never met in person, but that didn't really matter to her at this point. She didn't want to meet him in person. Part of her brain tried to defend him, but she told it to be quiet. She would be happier if she didn't try to make a dysfunctional relationship work.
She logged into her email and smiled. Thomas had replied to her already. She'd sent him a draft of one of her stories, and she'd been a little nervous about his reaction. He liked her stories and novels, and they talked about writing all the time, but he'd never read any of her unpolished prose before. She clicked on his message and read:
I really love this one! It reminds me of your goblin king story a bit. I made a few comments. Hope that's okay. Missed chatting with you tonight. Maybe tomorrow night?
Now she wished she had been logged into Facebook so she could have chatted with him instead of sitting at her desk editing with Yahoo Messenger open on the off-chance Gerry would be on. At the same time though, she was glad her lessening feelings for Gerry had finally outed themselves. He kept mentioning them meeting, so she needed to say something and let him know she no longer had those kinds of feelings for him. They simply weren't as compatible as they'd originally thought.
She downloaded the attachment from Thomas' email and opened the document. She blinked. Thomas had actually proofread the story and tracked his changes in Word. She saw corrections to her typos and little grammatical mistakes highlighted. He currently worked as a technical writer and did freelance editing, and his skills and experience showed right away. He'd also left her several notes in the margins, pointing out lots of things he loved and giving her gentle prodding to expand a couple of sections. His comments on the love scenes were actually a little flirtatious, which caused her stomach to flutter a bit. She had asked for his ideas about the ending, and he had left three suggestions at the end of her manuscript. His comments reflected, as his email had, that he'd read all of the stories and novels she'd emailed to him. The evil part of her brain thought of Gerry, whom she'd met about a month before Thomas. She'd sent Gerry a print copy of her first novel six months ago, but he still hadn't finished it, while she had spent two weeks scouring used bookstores for a print copy of the anthology he'd been in, finally having to resort to seeking it out online. And he'd even admitted that he hadn't yet downloaded most of her e-books from the emails she'd sent. Nearly a hundred dollars in free books, but he couldn't even be bothered to put them on his computer.
She bit her lip, feeling guilty. She and Gerry were different, and their romance had only started because they'd both been lonely and somehow managed to give one another some form of comfort and...love? She didn't know anymore. Maybe she'd loved him once, but she didn't now, and that was another reason they needed to talk. Keeping him in the dark about her feelings was very unfair.
Looking over Thomas' comments, she managed to smile again. Her online love connection had failed, but it was starting to look like she might have finally found something she'd wanted even more than a lover: a writing partner. She immediately began brainstorming ideas for the final scene of her story. Thomas' suggestions were great, and she wanted to get some writing done before she talked to him again so she could literally show him how much he'd inspired her. More and more lately, she'd found herself far less concerned with impressing Gerry and far more invested in making Thomas proud of her. When her fingers began flying across the keys, Thomas was the only man in her thoughts.