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First Page: Pacific Passion – Contemporary Romance

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Chapter One

Champaign bubbles burst on her tongue while sunshine reflected on the waters of the Pacific and penetrated her skin. Soft gaze set on the horizon, Alexa Black vaguely listened to the voice of the man next to her as inspiration untangled a character complexity she was working through for her upcoming film.

“You know what I mean?”

Alexa—tall, tan, blonde and grateful for it—took in a breath of ocean air that surrounded the bow of the yacht she was perched on then glanced over at her friend, the wild boy Thane Davenport III, British heir to oil money.

“Not really. I was in a zone.” She said, unapologetically. “Warm today. What month is this again?”

Thane laughed. “How you managed to direct the American blockbuster of the summer last year is beyond me.“

“I’m an excellent director.” She said, lifting her glass of champagne to the sun, her imaginative blue eyes peering through the bubbles, envisioning little worlds trailing up to the surface, bursting out at the top.

“With the body of a sultry surf goddess.” He added, only slightly distracting her from the creative flow that perpetually meandered through her.
Her own easy laugh lingered above the beat of an Ellie Golding dubstep remix coming from the main cabin of the yacht.

“Then cheers to my mother who gave me this body.” The champagne brightened in her mouth, at once silky and citrusy. “Cristal? 2006? Yeah, it’s not a Methuselah but it’s got a good peachy dance to it.” She said, having answered her own question.

“Oh, you’re good. A cheeky champagne goddess.” He amended.

“Learning the art of drinking is something that comes with the territory of touring with one’s rock star mom, but apparently I’m not a very good time-keeper. What month is it again? February? March?” Alexa fidgeted with her string bikini strap. Sun, wine, boat, boy. All were fun but she itched to return to her brother’s cabana where she currently resided, plotting, and planning—well, her version of planning—the film she’d written and was set to direct beginning in June.

The familiar propulsion toward creating, producing, satiating her never-ending curiosity moved in at the same rate as the afternoon clouds, shadowing the northwestern coast of Kauai.

She accomplished more by the age of twenty-four than most but she did it with such ease and grace—and lack of regard for silly linear things like dates and times—that people saw her as lazy, spoiled, and blasé. She was spoiled, she admitted, in that she had love and support from her legendary mom and superstar brother, but never lazy, never blasé about things she cared about.

Deepest Blue was her film—finally she was going to direct a script she’d written, one that had come from her spirited surf and wine goddess soul, she thought with a quick tug of smile. The last film was exciting—loud action and punchy angles—but this one was her baby and she could see it all play out on the screen of her mind. Again an action flick, but one with depth, heart, intrigue, and rich, intoxicating, colors, philosophical twists and, for the fun, some sneaky and smooth ass-kicking. Plus, she was doing it on her own with no help from her family, no riding on their coattails. This one was hers, she’d hustled on her own name, her own time, her own sweat to get funding, a studio to distribute, a co-producer to deal with the details that she hated doing, a stellar director of photography and cinematographer, and a cast that mixed both big names and solid newbies. She beamed bright with eager pride and active anticipation. June was fast approaching—depending on what month it was—and she still had much to do.

Thane rose at the first drop of rain. “Oh, I bloody well hate the rain. Why does my brother always insist on coming to Kauai? Aside from seeing you, which is fantastic by the way, it rains every blessed day. How do you stand it?”

While he grumbled and wandered back to the galley where his brother and a group of girls danced drunkenly, Alexa welcomed the change—in weather and in energy. She relished it—if the wind didn’t naturally blow through stale moments, bringing in new, she’d go out of her mind.

She was made to direct action movies—they moved fast, stuff blew up and then it was onto the next, and she loved every moment of it. Even the hard parts—keeping schedule, being patient when details like lighting inevitably went wrong—those things were tolerable when each day was wild, imaginative, and different. She was twenty-four and living the life she’d always known was hers with nothing and no one holding her down.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Lori
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 04:31:14

    No. Just no.

    First of all, you spelled champagne wrong and that was your very first word. I mean, your very first word is spelled wrong. Where do you go from there?

    Oh, a 24 year old goddess who sits on yachts, is supposedly a creative genius and doesn’t know what month it is. I don’t believe her.

    Also, there’s no way she’s 24 and has directed a Hollywood action film. I can believe she might make her own art film or smaller film but 24 year olds directing Hollywood movies are rare and they aren’t doing it through nepotism.

    I don’t believe a word you’ve written. Whether its well written or not, it’s so far from reality as to make me want to throw it across the room.

    Sorry author, this one doesn’t fly.

  2. Kate Sherwood
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 05:45:33

    Yeah, I’m also struggling with disbelief on this one.

    The heroine feels like a Mary Sue. She’s gorgeous, everyone loves her, a wine expert, a brilliant director, and even has the ‘failing’ that’s just a cute little quirk – doesn’t know what month it is? Tee hee, who cares! Except that she MUST care, if she’s working in a cut throat business like movies. Putting an action movie together is a huge damn job that requires a lot of coordination between different people, and that coordination isn’t going to happen if the person in charge doesn’t know what MONTH it is.

    And, yeah, 24 is far too young for this kind of success, especially for someone as flaky as this heroine apparently is. Is it necessary for the plot? Could her upcoming movie be an indie, and she HAS ridden in on family coattails and is therefore even more desperate to make it a success? Could she be at least a couple years older?

    The ease of her life doesn’t just make the story feel unrealistic, it also makes the character hard to relate to. My hope for this plot based on what I’ve read is a sort of Overboard story, that old Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn movie where the rich woman falls off her yacht and has amnesia and has to adapt to life as a peasant. Something where the heroine FAILS, and fails hard and fails because she’s just not good enough. THEN she’d be accessible.

    I’m aware that this is a bit of a double standard… we’re used to the thirty-year-old self-made-billionaire trope for MALE characters in romances, so why can’t I accept a similar improbability here? Well, partly because 30 is a good bit older than 24, in terms of productive adult years. Also partly because the male billionaires are usually given a career trajectory that’s at least a BIT more likely than this one. And partly the personality of the character, I think… the whole don’t-know-the-month thing is just SO flaky – how the hell could she be successful? At least the male billionaires tend to be driven and super-aware of things.

    But also – I don’t like that trope very much with male characters, so I really don’t want to see it expand into the female characters!

    On top of all that, I’m wondering if this is where your story starts. Unless the next paragraph involves the boat blowing up or something, I feel like this is all back story. I still have no idea what the plot or conflict of this book will be.

  3. Ros
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 06:23:00

    “Thane Davenport III, British heir to oil money.”

    Davenport is fine. Thane is very unlikely. III is flat-out wrong. We don’t do that in the UK.

  4. Carol McKenzie
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 06:28:51

    Hi Author:

    Yes, for the record, your first use of Champagne is the spelling of the city in Illinois, not the bubbly drink.

    And speaking of bubbles bursting, watch the alliteration. You have four examples in the first paragraph: bubbles bursting, Pacific and penetrating, vaguely and voice, character complexity. It gives your writing a sing-song quality that’s distracting and makes the writing sound forced.

    You have some odd turns of phrase and word usage. It’s like you almost get the right word or phrase, but not quite. While the rays of the sun do penetrate our skin, it’s a very clinical, PSA way of saying she’s basking in the sun. And I would hope air surrounds more than just the bow of the yacht. It should be present everywhere. I don’t think she can use her inspiration untangles things. She can use her imagination, her mind, her fingers. Cabanas are not permanent residences; they’re the places where you lounge or change clothes at the beach or pool.

    You also have enough adjectives to sink that yacht. “Imaginative blue eyes” for one…that whole bit can be cut. Much of the writing is a bit on the purple side, far too descriptive in not such a good way.

    Punctuation: at the end of quotes, it’s ….word,” she said. There’s a comma, and the pronoun is not capitalized.

    And, as above, your heroine and the premise is unbelievable. I might be able to swallow a twenty-four year-old Wunderkind bankrolled by the family, but I really can’t believe she has such disregard for silly linear things like time. I believe, through no actual experience of my own, but from watching all the extra features on DVDs, that filming a movie runs on a very tight schedule. Making movies costs a ton of money and running off schedule costs money. Even if she were using family funds, eventually someone would cut off the money and wrap up the movie.

    So would I read on? No. Sorry. The writing would drive me off the page before the silly heroine, whose name I cannot remember, which is not a good thing, and the unreal premise. I’ve gotten distracted by the spelling, by the purple prose, by the imaginative blue eyes and then I’d be turned off by story.

    I’d suggest reading as a way to help with the writing. Find Stephen King’s “On Writing” for starters. He explains the mechanics of writing good prose, and then, like him and his writing or not, he does a good job of explaining, as best anyone can, how to create believable stories and characters.

    Then read books, lots of them. Find books people love and read to find out how the author did it. Read bad books that people hated and try to see the difference between the two.

    Above all, keep writing. Even when people don’t like what you’ve written. Everything can be fixed or changed or rewritten. It’s all a process, every word, every page. For all of us.

  5. cleo
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 08:51:12

    I liked “tall, tan, blonde and grateful for it” – I like the turn of phrase (although I think it scans better without tan) and hint of self awareness. I agree with the Mary Sue comments, but I also think there’s the beginnings of an interesting character, buried under all of the alliterations and improbably perfect life. I feel like you’re going for a blonder, more confident Sophie Coppola. Which could be interesting. But she’s not real yet, not as she’s written.

  6. theo
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 12:47:27

    I have to agree with the other comments regarding believability here. There just isn’t any as it’s written now. And I also thought, hmmm…champagne spelled wrong does not bode well for the rest of the story. Cleo mentioned Sofie Coppola and I agree, this seems to be headed that way, but by the time she directed The Virgin Suicides, she had two shorts she’d directed as well as a list of acting credits, cinematography and other behind the scenes credits to her name. Hollywood is very fickle. She might have a famous father, but very few in Hollywood can ride their parent’s coattails, case in point: actors and actresses with famous screen parents who have struggled with their own careers and sometimes just quit.

    That coupled with the fact that she’s thinking way, way too long and hard and too much about where she is in the business is an info dump for me. Most of us don’t think that way unless we’re drunk or in an argument with someone trying to prove ourselves and then, it’s voiced. Not thought.

    Maybe you have something good under all of this. I don’t know. I think you should rethink what’s going on here though and how you can make it something anyone picking it up can believe. Sorry, I know a lot of these comments are harsh. They’re not meant to be mean, they’re meant to help you find your story.

  7. Michele Mills
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 17:45:16

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t get much farther than the first paragraph. The misspelled word threw me and I was just plain confused due to the awkward phrasing of those first few sentences.
    When I got to the dialogue underneath.”You know what I mean?” I thought-no I don’t!
    The sentence under that -tall, tan, blonde and grateful for it- that part is good, maybe open with that sentence instead?
    Everyone else has already covered the changes needed beautifully and given you valuable feedback. Good luck with your revisions. Thank you for posting.

  8. sao
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 18:28:43

    Alexa is sickeningly perfect and utterly implausible. Your page is an adjective laden mess of backstory.
    little of what’s written makes sense.
    You appear to know nothing about the movie industry. Producers are the people who worry about the budget for which keeping on schedule is vital. Your description made it sound like she’s still writing. Who invests in an unfinished script and already has cast and crew luned up. Write what you know.

  9. Marianne McA
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 18:33:08

    Overall, I sort of like this. Whatever I’ve been reading, it feels like a long time since I’ve read a heroine who is just ludicrously gorgeous. I like the way she’s unapologetic, and I’m intrigued by the rock star mum and superstar brother.

    It’s not, I agree, very probable – but I can do improbable if I like the set-up and something here pulls me in.

    However, I have lots of niggles.

    “… as inspiration untangled a character complexity” – I know what you mean here, and the fact that this is what she’s pondering makes her immediately interesting as a character, but it’s an awkward phrase to decode.

    “Thane Davenport III, British heir to oil money.” I agree with whoever said that neither the Thane or lll sound British, and I’d add neither does the oil money.

    “… the creative flow that perpetually meandered through her.” This is more an observation, and I don’t know anything about film, though my daughter who is about this girl’s age has written and directed plays. I’m seeing the writer here, in her creativity, her absorption with her characters – but not the director. You tell us about her hustling, but it’s hard to believe that a girl who isn’t details orientated can be an excellent director. Given her achievement is so unlikely at her age, she needs to come across as extraordinary.
    Unless it’s absolutely necessary for her to be both writer and director, I’d let her be one or the other, or let her be older, or let it be a My Big Fat Greek Wedding type of situation where she wrote something a bit brilliant based on her home life, and because of her mum’s/brother’s fame it was picked up by a studio and they wanted it so much that they let her direct. Action films are expensive.

    ““Cristal? 2006? Yeah, it’s not a Methuselah.. ” just confuses me. It comes across as she wants a Methuselah, but there are only two people here so why? How much is she intending to drink?

    But despite the niggles, there’s something here that I like.

    Good luck.

  10. Lindsay
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 20:51:17

    What pulls me into a story is conflict, preferably set up from the very first page. Characters are interesting because they WANT something, even if it’s just a glass of water. Your character doesn’t seem to want anything (or want FOR anything) and is sitting contentedly on her yacht being a champagne snob — she doesn’t want a drink, doesn’t want to move, doesn’t have any interest in the guy with her, doesn’t even really want to know what month it is. That sounds like a great vacation… and a really boring story. You mention the movie she wants to direct but it sounds like it’s already good to go and all taken care of, so she’s just lounging waiting for it all to happen now. Not knowing what month it is makes me think she’s been sitting in the sun for months, and will likely still be sitting in the sun months from now — the story is dead in the water.

    If it started with her there and her phone goes off and one of her starring roles is canceling/on fire/in jail, suddenly we have conflict. The boat breaks down. Mr Rich is eaten by a shark. Now I’m interested to know what’s going on. As it is, I didn’t want to read about how perfect she looked and how perfect her life was, and also really didn’t buy blockbuster hollywood director at 24 (even with a rock-star mom, and if that was the case, why was funding hard for her to pin down?). Indie that took off, sure, but not mainstream.

    Hollywood is a brutal place for women in film, especially aspiring directors, and even if I were to accept her being one of the very very few who make it, she would not be resting on her laurels — every day would be a fight tooth and nail, because hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake and tens of millions have been spent and that can all vanish in a puff of smoke. Again, that’s interesting reading, if maybe a bit too realistic for people, as it takes an iron hide to get through it for such a visible person like a director who also happens to be a woman. I work in a similar industry and my studio head is a woman, and the bullshit she deals with (at 39) on a daily basis is truly staggering.

  11. Isla
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 23:04:34

    I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time to read the first page of a ms and provide constructive feedback. I found some of the comments to be quite interesting. It’s my job, as a writer, to tell a story of what may be unbelievable and make it believable and human. Given the feedback, this clearly didn’t come across on the first page so I have work to do!

    Again, you have my sincere appreciation for your time and thoughtful feedback.

    Cheers,
    Isla

  12. Jane Lovering
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 03:15:52

    Can I just add, re the ‘tall, tan, blonde and grateful for it’ line, that the only thing she can be grateful for is the ‘tall’? Tan and blonde don’t have to be natural. And, from the sound of it, probably aren’t.

  13. Kristi
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 15:49:20

    I thought the ‘tan’ thrown in was too much. I had to repeat it twice in my head. It was cute but it would be cuter if it was ‘tall, blonde, and grateful for it’ swings better. I also completely agree with the alliteration and the adjectives. The first paragraph felt like it was trying to hard. ‘as inspiration untangled a character complexity ” What?

    It has potential though. :) It’s just too much right now. Thanks for sharing!

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